august, joplin photobooth: sci fi theme!

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As per usual, 9art hosted a Photo Booth at Joplin, MO’s one and only third thursday art walk. This month’s theme was ‘sci fi’… which gave us a nice range of possibilities, from star trek to dr who to star wars (don’t you confuse with star trek. DON’T YOU DO IT)!

Of course, it really just ended up being about the lightsabers… there are few things more fun to pose with than lightsabers, when it comes down to it.

here ya go…

 

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I’m gonna close out with a side-by-side: Chris & Sam from ‘Images in Tile’ (their co-worker John is pictured above with the wonderful green hair). Chris is re-creating an image I took a few years back of Chris’ star wars loving, superposin’ boys. Every so often they re-do the pose at a Photo Booth, but since they weren’t able to be there this time, Chris and Sam decided to give it a go. Not bad fellas, not bad at all. 😉
 

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First day of school.

Oh gosh. First day of school for our firstborn. How did this happen? How are we not more ready? How is he SO ready?

And the next phase of life begins. Here’s a peek into MY life this morning. Happy kindergarten, Harry! 🙂

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this is what happens every time I point the camera at this kid…

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While he and his sister Maggie never vocalized the fact that they might miss each other, there was an awful lot of kisses exchanged. It’s funny what becomes ‘sappy’ in later life that’s so pure in little ones.

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On losing ones’ dignity for the greater good (or, how to take great kids portraits)

18b

 

Last week I got to do 9art’s ‘back-to-school’ mini sessions, and they went SO great. It was as simple as it gets… 15-20 minute sessions, one batch in the park and one batch in the studio.

I found the experience to be an interesting refresher on HOW to take pictures of children. It took me a good long time to be able to take good pictures of kids in 15 minutes.

So, photographers (and parents): I’ve compiled this short list of tips to show how I got shots like the one above, instead of shots like the one below:

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HOW TO TAKE PICTURES OF CHILDREN

 

#1: do not try to ‘place’ a child’s fingers, feet, shoulders, chin, head in any kind of preconceived way.

Misery will leak out of their soul through their eyes if you do. Or, if you do….

#2: ACT LIKE AN IDIOT.

If you can convince a child that you are ridiculous, outmatch THEIR silly faces, and surprise them in any way…

  • -sneeze so hard you ‘fall down’ (or, really fall down and scrape up your arm like I did)
    -put a tiny, tiny hat on your head
    -pretend a pebble weights 200lbs and you can’t possibly lift it
    -make as many fart noises as possible
    -squeak, squeal, scream, sing, and do mickey mouse impressions

#3: Don’t treat every child like they will respond to you like any other child.
Some kids need you to completely ignore them for like 10 minutes before you can take a single picture that’s any good.

Some kids need you to make a game out of everything.

Some kids need you to engage in extreme negotiations (if you let me take one picture of you, smiling with your sister and not moving, I’ll let you kick me in the shin).

Some kids need you to just sprint after them and yell something surprising every so often so you can use those precious milliseconds when they turn back to snap pictures.

Some kids just need you to make them laugh.

EVERY. KID. IS DIFFERENT.

#5: While, yes, sometimes you must be a ridiculous presence, you must also be a calming and patient presence– for the sake of both child and parent. If you show the slightest hint of frustration that you can’t get the shot you want RIGHT NOW, you will fail miserably at this, and you will drive the parent to try to force something that can’t be forced- only making things worse.

You have to meet the kid where they’re at. And you have to reassure the parent that it’s ok- that yes, it’s completely normal for their kid to do everything BUT pose for a picture. Because seriously, it is.

#6: don’t expect those kiddos to sit in any one spot (and be happy about it) for any longer than 5 seconds. If you absolutely must (and yes, sometimes you must), then….

#7: ACT LIKE AN IDIOT. (see list above).

So yeah. The real trick here, is humble thyself. And the funny thing about it? You walk away with the parents’ supreme trust and respect, like, for life.

Now, the pictures… enjoy, guys. 🙂

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#7: (bonus tip for scrolling all the way down!) Let the kids be ridiculous themselves. It’s the moment you tell them to stop being kids that things go downhill. Endure some outrageously silly moments (w/ pre-negotiated ‘posed’ moments in return). It’s worth it, I promise.

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The Beguiling Beachner Bunch!

Every now and again, I’m asked not only to take family photos, but to document something that goes deeper than just…

‘hey. look at our family.’

Amy is a client and friend of mine who lives ubSpringfield, MO. She and the rest of her siblings recently discovered that her parents would be unexpectedly selling the house/property they grew up in. Now, that’s not a bad thing- her parents are ready to start a new adventure in life, and how great is that? So few people take that opportunity later in life.

But, of course, it’s still a little sad. And a big enough deal that the kids & their families decided to all come together at the home one last time- pouring in from Oregon, California, and Kansas City, among other places.

What a better time to take family photos? When they are paying tribute- to childhood, to family, to being united in one location, full of memories.

The home itself & the property it sits on couldn’t be more beautiful- in the middle of kansas, you’re used to cornfields and lots of flat flat FLAT land. But unexpectedly, as you approach the property, you find hills and forest and a wonderful little lake, with the home nestled in above it, overlooking nature in all its’ glory.

Thanks so much to Amy and to her family for trusting me to do this session during a once-in-a-lifetime gathering.

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how do you get kids to smile naturally for a picture? KITTENZZZZ. alwayzzz.

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In a tribute to childhood in the country (something I’m very familiar with myself), we included the BB guns in the shoot. Each kiddo had their own.

In hindsight, I should have assumed that out of 5 kids aiming a gun at my face/lens, one of em probably forgot the safety. What can I say. it’s a dangerous job…

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I enjoy the subtle things going on between the first and second picture shown below…call it the astounding-temporary-transformation of a real family into a photo family.

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photographer recovers from burnout (written for creative folks)

The person who creates from the noise simply adds to the noise. The person who creates from a place of listening, however, can actually make something worthwhile and enjoy his work in the process.

-Michael Gungor, ‘the Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse’

 

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warning: this post is way more personal and rambly than most of what I post on here. If you genuinely want to know more about what’s going on in MY personal life- or if you are a creative soul who’s ever hit a brick wall and can identify with that feeling- read on! If you’re really just here for cool pictures, well, scroll really fast, I’ll throw a few in.  😉

I took last week off.

I needed it.

Like, REALLY needed it.

Businesspeople get burnt out by being in a constant state of connecting, orchestrating, planning, selling… artists get burnt out by pressure, by creative dry spells, and really, just by themselves. The mind of an artist is worse than any 11 headed, fire breathing, Justin Bieber crooning, used car salesman, dragon-demon-monster that you could conjure.

And businesspeople run the risk of wearing everyone AROUND them out by being mentally withdrawn and seeing everything in such a practical light that emotion is shut out completely. (My wife calls this ‘business mode’ and HATES it when I’m in that state of mind).

When you find yourself in the precarious situation of having to be both things at once- an ‘artist’, who is also running a business- I won’t lie, it can be a bit much.

That makes me sound ungrateful, which I’m not. I have a job in which I get to sit in a local coffeeshop much of my workweek. I get to interact with fantastic people. I have the honor of having an employee that loves her job and does it well. I found something I love to do, and I’m DOING IT, full time. My work is fun, rewarding, unique. And, for the most part, it puts bread on the table and supports my little family. I don’t take any of that for granted. I’m thankful, beyond thankful, in a state of praise to God who granted me this life.

 

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But it’s hard. It’s hard to market yourself. It’s hard to be a photographer in one of the fastest growing fields in the country. ‘Everybody and their dog has a good camera and thinks they’re a photographer now’, you hear people say.

Well, it’s true. Everybody. And their dog. I got underbid on a commercial shoot by a Staffordshire Bull Terrier last week. And by a poodle just this morning.

ok, ok, it’s not THAT bad yet. But I don’t want to lie… sometimes, business is slow. It’s a competitive field, and I don’t want to build up a facade, in which everyone thinks ‘wow HE’S got it made! he must be ROLLING in it!’ because, truth be told, I’m not. It’s one of the hardest summers yet.

But in the end… I love what I do. I’m called to do this. God will provide. And the jobs will trickle in as they always do.

So why the rant? Why this personal?

It’s the result of a whole lot of soul searching this past week. I’d hit a wall… my creativity waning, my focus gone, anxiety clouding my days. It’s a dark place to be.
 

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I got some answers this last week. I got some refreshment for my soul. I got away from the noise. I re-connected to my maker. I re-learned how to appreciate the ART side of what I do by appreciating the existence of art to begin with.

How’d I start that process? And, to echo another friend of mine also combatting a creative slump, how do you RE-SET yourself as a creative person?

That’s just one question out of many. There are so many questions for artists… and by artists, I mean anyone with even an inkling of creativity (and honestly, that includes businesspeople too).

I’d like to help answer some of those questions. Not because I HAVE all the answers by any means whatsoever, but because I’m on a quest to find them, and am discovering some helpful resources on the way. I’d like to designate a post here and there, on this blog, to fellow artists.
 

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So keep an eye out. More to come. In the meanwhile, as always, we’ll have more work from recent shoots, as well as some new ideas rolling in for 9art, including a limited edition Joplin prints series.

And if you are an artist- whether established or novice- if you are someone who loves to create- I would love to connect with you.

-Mark

4th of july

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Hope you had a good 4th. Since I didn’t get to editing these until last week, I’m going to just go ahead and pretend that our national holiday is actually the 4th of August.

SO: this is, in fact, very timely.
 
You all know I don’t post personal pictures incredibly often, but as I was working through what I thought was a very ordinary set of photos, I felt like I found both some magic and some laughs in these. So my plan is to start off with the laughs, and end with the magic…

I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

To start off, the star of the show, the one and only, ‘pooping puppy’. (my 3 year old was delighted, anyway).
 
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not the brightest dog. And a moment I REALLY wish I had video capability on my camera (just this once).
 
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Too old for sparklers? NEVER, my friends.
 
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You only need one hand for the sparkler. The other one stays on the hip.
 
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This face belongs in the movie ‘300’.
 

Tonight, we light roman candles in hellllll!

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fireworks are not food, take 2:
 
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strobes are for shadow dancing.
 
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switching from funny…
 
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photo credit goes to my wife for the next 2.

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