A wise yoga teacher said yesterday “we are in the exhale”. We crave the heating power of inhalation, the excitement that comes from each new breath, giving the body and mind more energy, one more moment of life. Inhaling can be compared to external living. The heat and fire of summer and fall, socially engaged, busy all the time, staying out late, grinding away at work in an accelerated rhythm.

The late fall then gives way to winter, cooling things off, bringing us inside both house and heart. We crave warm blankets to curl under, cups of soup to cradle in our hands, movies and popcorn late at night. Work slows to a crawl as everyone takes time off; mentally, emotionally and physically.

We are in the exhale.

Photography has an inhalation and an exhalation to it, a rhythm to it. A wise shooter once said to me – shoot “the” frame (if you find it) twice. The second shot is always sharper. It’s because of the inhale, and the exhale. The inhale, the rush of adrenaline when you find an angle, a subject, a sliver of light that has not been interpreted in that way before, forces you to jam the shutter release in a panic. You hold your inhale, stunned that you got the shot (it never ceases to take us by surprise). Then, you shoot it again. You exhale, realize that your subject has not yet been snatched away, and you shoot calmly, quietly, patiently, in sync with what you are capturing.

It’s a beautiful thing, this inhale and exhale.

Family Portraits in 09 – Samara the Porcelin Doll

Happy New Year! Our tree has just come down, the ornaments put away, and the last of our holiday visitors have gone home to begin their 2009. Here in the world of Stacey Vaeth Photography, I’m putting into practice some great techniques I learned while training with the crew at DLWS and master shooter Joe McNally as well as getting geared up for a very busy 2009, including shooting at the 2009 Inaugural Peace Ball next Tuesday.

My first shoot of the new year was a bundle of fun. 17 month old Samara and her folks Chris and Jolina were a blast to work with. We got some great shots that I hope will be with the family for many years. Despite a minor setback after working at the Tidal Basin in 18 degree weather (and quickly coming to our senses and rescheduling for later in the afternoon!), we had a blast.

Samara – 17 months

Only Chris could make Samara giggle with glee. Perhaps because he is 3 times her height.

A beautiful moment with mom. I think they were focusing on the “Fish” in Chris’ iphone. A screensaver that turns out to be a infant saver as well. Soothed her quicker than a bottle of milk.

This tippy toe acrobatic feat never ceases to amaze me. Samara was trying to get tall enough to see the doggie walking by the window.

A moment with mom.

Ringing in the Holiday’s

The beauty of the holidays…(besides the obvious) is that I have time to work on some creative and no-pressure projects (i.e. no one is paying me or taking a once in a lifetime step – so i don’t have to worry about screwing it up!). Today I brought over two gorgeous friends of mine, Beth and Erin, and set em loose in front of the camera – and look what they did:

Honestly – give these ladies minimal guidance, set up some lights like the SB 800 as the main light in the lastolite 15×15 softbox – and they created such astounding beauty. Erin is here playing in my curtains, backlit by the sun – frontlit with studiolights and Sepia done in post.

Here she is looking uber-tough – done with a SB800 gelled with full cut CTO – taped off to create some irregular shadows (off high camera left) and a SB 600 dialed down three stops from the main light set about 5 feet off camera right and shot into a gold reflector that is in front of her face. What I love about this shot is that she is clearly on the move, and the reflection in her glasses gives a sensation of urban life.

And Beth – sat her down on a rickety old porch chair in the freezing cold with some directional natural light filling in her face – evened it out using the softbox 45 degrees camera left and up high – and look at those eyes – gorgeous –

And Erin in fur…

And the pair. Too bad I made Erin look like Santa Claus here – but hey – she’s pulling it off.

our parting shots today – getting cozy – erin in her usual spot – curled up with a book – what I love about this shot is of course the lines, but also that you are spying in on her – capturing a fleeting moment of sun flowing in on a Sunday afternoon –

beth making coffee look sexy…she thought this should be a Sanka ad. Anyone out there remember Sanka? I don’t think it ever looked this good…

Infant Toes

How you parents out there get anything done during the day is beyond me. With these little feet and fingers and cheeks to ooh and ahh at, I would be completely useless if I had one of my own. I had a very full day today, shooting little Aiden this morning, followed by a few client meetings to get everyone’s holiday print orders in. Today encapuslated why I love what I do. “Creating family heirlooms through fine art photography”. that was my mission statement when I opened Stacey Vaeth Photography, and to this day it continues to be the driving inspiration behind each and every shoot. These images, for instance. I cherish the fact that Aiden will have these images, printed big and beautiful, when he’s going off to college, getting married, and having kids of his own. And the prints that my clients ordered today – big canvases, float mounts, mobiles, and ornaments…truly we are creating fine art here.

I’ll be posting something more in detail this week – but if you’re looking for a gift idea, i’m going through photo session gift cards like hotcakes this year~
Happy Sunday all…

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

A few last shots from our recent stay on Lake Atitlan. The light was terrible, gray and flat all week long – so I lit these flowers with a gelled SB 800. I was amazed at how gentle i could get the light to dance on the delicate petals.

Revisiting the Past…

I love this tradition in Guatemala. Everyone comes to the airport and crowds the exterior to welcome home their loved ones.

ahhh. Juan and I are back in Guatemala for thanksgiving. It is interesting, this gift of art that I am so thankful for. To be let into the lives of my clients or perfect strangers, to capture them for one (usually otherwise rather un-noteworthy) moment. There is a lot of power in that. For the life of a photographer, we are entrusted with handling with respect the vulnerabilities of others.

That delicate balance…one of capturing a meaningful expression, a sensitive moment of pain or exultation, without exploiting the person behind the lens, is the ever present challenge of good photography.

Being back here in Guatemala, where my husband and I lived for three years, is to be back in this see-saw of good photography/trite photography. How do you capture the beauty of a people living in the recent wake of 36 years of civil unrest, a corrupt government that we cannot even begin to understand, and a generosity that defies all reason? You got me. I give it a go…but in the end, you have to see this country to to believe it.

Sanjeev and Jennifer

Here are a few pics from Sunday’s shoot with engaged couple Sanjeev and Jen. You can tell off the bat how supportive of each other and in love they are. These pics were taken at Meridian Hill Park, in NW DC, where Sanjeev proposed back in June. Despite the freezing cold weather, they look warm and toasty in each shot. I can’t wait to shoot what is sure to be their amazing wedding, next year.