Monday, January 25, 2016

This is the face of autism

I'm going to get off the topic of photography briefly for a moment if I may. Which of course I may, because it's my blog.

Many of you are familiar with my son. Most of you know him as "The Boy." From birth he's been a character. He keeps the adults and children around him entertained with his bizarre observations and quirky behavior. But he's also a handful when it comes to chores and tasks that require multiple steps. He has frequent meltdowns that to the outside observer look like temper tantrums. After years of counselors, special ed, and finally a full psych evaluation, we have accepted the realization that he is in fact on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. He also has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. We've got our hands full, but we already knew that. We've suspected this diagnosis for years.

He is high functioning, in the Asperger's range. He met all his developmental milestones as a baby and toddler, which is why the diagnosis is happening so late. He made good grades up through second grade so they had a hard time figuring him out when it came to special ed. He's now almost 10. To most people he seems "normal" but a bit odd, eccentric, quirky, undisciplined. But that doesn't mean he has it easy. This is something he will have to deal with his whole life.

He doesn't make friends easy. He's oblivious to social cues. He had one good friend at school but that friend's mom has forbidden her son from playing with The Boy because, among other reasons, he was being teased by other kids at school for helping my son. She also fears that he may be dangerous. He's not. He's gentle, loving and funny. She's ignorant about this disorder. But that doesn't change her decision.

Unfortunately, some of you reading this may be parents of those children who tease. You may say "not my son/daughter. They wouldn't tease a child for being different." But you aren't on that playground. You really don't know.

I spent some time with my son during recess today. We walked around and talked about what we saw. I could spot the "different" children instantly. They were usually alone. Sometimes content with that, sometimes not. The boy digging in the gravel, building pyramids. Alone and happy that way. The girl wandering around with her head down, looking up occasionally to watch the groups of giggling girls running around. She'd smile at them, hoping for an invite. But then return to her lonely wandering when no invitation came. Alone, but not wanting to be.

Another girl spent her recess alone, walking back and forth on the playgrounds edge, balancing herself on a straight line. Perhaps happy that way. She never looked up, never acknowledged anyone. My son left me once. To ask his lone friend if he could play with him. He returned to me seconds later. The answer was no.

I suggested to my son that he ask the boy playing in the gravel to play with him. He declined. I suggested he ask the girl wandering alone if she'd like to play. He declined. He didn't know how to make new friends. He shrugged with his head down and kicked some dirt.

As with most children with Asperger's, he's extremely intelligent, but his grades don't show it. He has trouble completing his work, staying focused and remembering to turn things in.

Many of our most brilliant artists and creators are just like him, or were at that age. Darryl Hannah (the actress), Clay Marzo (pro surfer), Tim Page (Pulitzer prize winning author), Courtney Love (alternative rocker), Matt Savage (musician), James Durbin (American Idol star), Tim Burton (creator of Nightmare Before Christmas among other masterpieces) and the one and only Dan Aykroyd. The list goes on and on. Some day they'll add my boy to the list of talented, prominent people with autism.

When The Boy was 7 he made a zombie movie with my iPad. It was without a doubt the most entertaining short film I'd seen in ages. At that time he said he wanted to be a film maker. He could be amazing if he pursues that path.

We had him enrolled in drum classes for a while. His teacher said he was a natural. He wrote songs and played the beats on a full set as he belted out his favorite original tune "The One Thing I Don't Think About is You." It was a brilliant break-up song. He could be a talented drummer in a famous band.

He loves video games and can master games quickly-- Often announcing to us a day or two after receiving a new game that he had "beaten" all the levels and was done with it. But he wishes it had more levels because it was fun. Perhaps we should stop buying and just rent them. He could have a career as a game maker.

He's interested in a lot of things that other kids his age are interested in -- comic books, games, super heroes. But not sports. He tried baseball and had fun at first -- until it got to be tedious. We had to forfeit a game because he refused to take the field for the final inning and we didn't have another player to take his place. He just decided he was done. That was not a fun evening.

Since the diagnosis we've come to terms with the fact that he will have to work harder his whole life at mundane tasks like homework, getting ready for bed, leaving the house every morning. That he will not do things the way other kids do and eventually other adults do them and that's okay. He's proud of the fact that he's different. "Different is good," he tells me.

We've found some good community resources to help us teach him ways of working with his "differentness." People keep telling me that he's "lucky" to have me and Jayme as his parents. But in my eyes, I'm the one who's lucky. I get to be his mom.

Lisa On Location Photography

Friday, January 22, 2016

Intro to Digital Photography Class Now Forming in New Braunfels {New Braunfels Photography Class}

When I first started offering the Introduction to Digital Photography class through New Braunfels ISD I really didn't know what I was getting into. I put together a syllabus featuring some aspects of photography that I wish someone had simplified for me. I added a little exposure lesson, a little composition, a little lighting, a little printing and a little Photoshop.

Each one of those sections is deserving of an entire year-long college course. And I was attempting to teach them in hour-long segments over a 5-week course. It didn't take long to realize that I just don't have enough time to teach everything. I still have about the same layout as I did way back then. But instead of trying to teach too much, I just scratch the surface. I tell my students enough to get them started and send them on their way with homework.

Most of them come back week after week to show me what they photographed and tell me what they learned. We share their images with each other and talk about what makes them great and what would make them better.

This semester will make the 32nd class to teach in six years. Each semester I've held at least one intro course (sometimes it fills up and we add a second and once we even added a third) and in the spring I add a more advanced photo safari class for those students who took the first class and want to continue on.
Hundreds of students have gone through the course and gone out in the community to pursue their hobby. At least a couple have gone on to continue their photo education and become pros.

This semester's intro class begins on Thursday February 4 at 6:30 and continues for 5 weeks on the same night. The advanced photo safari class is open to students who have taken that intro class. This is the fun stuff when we go out on location to different spots to practice what we've learned in the first class. In the past we've gone on walk abouts in New Braunfels, photographed action shots at the skate park, brought studio lights in to practice indoor lighting, and we've met at night on the square to try practice night photography.

To sign up for the courses you can visit the New Braunfels ISD community education website or call their office at (830) 643-5729.

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Perhaps You've Seen Our Book? {New Braunfels Infrared Photography}

The mail brought a little pleasantness yesterday that I'm going to take a minute to brag on. My other half got some of his amazing infrared images published in a book by Amherst Media.

If you're in the photography industry you're aware of Amherst Media books. They are easy to read, informative guides to all areas of photography. I have a lot of their books and I use them frequently for ideas and inspiration as well as reminders about technical areas I may forget from time to time.

If you follow my blog you know that Jayme is really talented at infrared photography. If not take a look at these blog posts: Boudoir Infrared, Infrared Levitation, Infrared Weddings, Landscapes in Infrared, and this one to introduce you the technique.

The editor chose some of Jayme's levitation series as well as a wedding and an architectural image.

If you have any interest at all in infrared photography, I recommend you grab a copy. Here's a direct link to their listing on their page: Mastering Infrared Photography.

And here's a direct link to Amazon's listing of it: Mastering Infrared Photography.

Lisa On Location Photography

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Boudoir is Hot {New Braunfels Boudoir Photography}

The studio was a happening place last month. A lot of lucky husbands and boyfriends got some amazing gifts from their love. The next few weeks will be hopping as well. Unfortunately, however, they'll wait until the last minute so early February will be crazy.

A lot of people ask me how early they need to start their boudoir planning to give the gift of boudoir. I always tell them it depends on what you order. Here's a sample timeline if you were to call me early and had plenty of time. I like to sit down with you in the studio first if at all possible. This gives you a chance to meet me, to see the studio, and to get comfortable. At that point we'll talk about the session and how it'll go. We'll talk about wardrobe, makeup, and props. I'll likely ask you what you does for a living, what your significant other does for a living, what you like to do together and how long you've been together. We can use all these things in the boudoir session.

At that time we'll pick a date and a time and you'll leave with a good idea of what to bring. You may want to go shopping. I always recommend the Perky Peacock in New Braunfels. Their staff is amazing and when you tell them you're doing a shoot with me, they'll help you find the perfect outfits and give you a discount.

You may also opt to make a visit to a nail salon for a manicure. Your fingers will show up in some of the photos and you'll want them to look nice.

You may also opt for hair and makeup. You can go to a stylist you know and trust, you can do it yourself, or you can get me to help you book one of my favorite stylists right here in the studio. That's my favorite option. Then you can be in the studio before your session getting pampered, getting comfortable, listening to music, girl talking and sipping on wine or whatever you want.

You'll bring a suitcase full of clothing items with you and while you're getting your hair and makeup done I'll be laying them all out and we'll be talking about the pieces. We'll narrow it down to about 3-5 outfits. You may opt to being a shirt that belongs to your guy.

Some ladies opt to bring a jersey from their guy's favorite sports team or a uniform from his work. I've seen uniforms from the military, police officers, postal workers, fire fighters, dentists, surgeons, factory workers, pilots, and a host of business attire.

All that prep time can take a few days or a couple of weeks depending on your scheduling. Once the session is over, you'll leave with a hop in your step, a really great makeover, a feeling that you did something a little but naughty but more fun than you've had in a long time.

That's when I get to work. First I'll download your images and begin a cull of all the images that are not fit to show you. Maybe you blinked, my flash didn't go off, the focus wasn't just perfect or that post I put you in just didn't work. My bad.

Then I'll start all my pre-edits. I'll go into each image and sharpen, convert to black and white if that's what my vision was (and I don't just hit "greyscale" for that, trust me), make sure the white balance is working and crop if needed. Then I'll go through again and apply my digital magic. I'll remove blemishes, brighten eyes, a nip here a tuck there. I do enough so that you'll get an idea of what the final version will be. This whole process takes up to a week because I'm also doing that on all the other sessions I photographed recently as well.

Once these are done I like to have you come to the office to show them to you and talk about your order. But I will put them online with a password protected gallery for out of town clients, or clients who are unable to come to the office for whatever reason. I just caution against trusting your monitor to give you an accurate representation of color and brightness.

If you want to place an order for digital images only, then we're almost done. I'll order a fancy thumb drive or CD, burn them for you and you can pick those up within a couple of days. Or you can opt for an instant digital download and have them immediately. If you order prints, those go through a final round of edits, then are sent to a professional lab for the highest print quality. It will take a few days to process by the lab. If you order an album then we need to start the design process. You narrow down your image choices, I design the album within a few days and show you the proof. You suggest edits. It may take me a couple of days to do those edits and show it to you again. Then you say "I love it" and it goes to press. The albums can take 1-3 weeks to get back from the lab depending on their workload.

I usually recommend getting started on your boudoir experience earlier rather than later. I've had last minute orders that didn't quite make it on time despite my best intentions. I can't control the mail or the speed at which the lab fills my order. And there are only so many hours in a day for myself when it comes to the retouches.

I'm offering a special for a limited time only. My popular boudoir minis are coming up next Saturday. Call me now to hold your spot!

All my sessions are private and I never share your images online without your permission. The images you see here were taken of models who I photographed for the sole purpose of online sharing. Just the other day this lovely model spent some time with me. Give me a call so we can create these special images for you and your honey.

Lisa On Location Photography

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ringing in the new year in our nation's capital {New Braunfels Photography}

The past few weeks have flown by in a whirlwind for me, as I'm sure they have for you too. The holidays are always chaotic.

We had an amazing Christmas together with the family and the kids were once again spoiled with gifts and sweets. I went a little heavy on the sweets too!

And we managed to squeeze in a trip to Washington D.C. to visit Jayme's sister. We had never been to this area before so it was exciting for all of us.

The weather was rainy and cold at first, which providing some gorgeous photography opportunities for me. When this photo was taken we had just walked a few blocks from the hotel and I forgot to change out of my flimsy moccasins so my feet were soaking wet and COLD. It was taken from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

The rain continued into the next evening as well when we made a trip to nearby Alexandria, VA. I think we were lucky to be able to see the town like this. Most people tour King Street when it's sunny and pleasant. We were able to experience it differently.

The next photos were taken overlooking the water near Frontier Park. I loved the way the lights across the way were dancing on the water in the fog.

The weather finally cleared up on third day and gave us one of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen. The Washington Monument provided an excellent foreground for the sky.

Over the course of the week we were able to tour the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, the Air and Space Museum, The Holocaust Museum, the Archives, the Natural History Museum and a little bit of the Native American Museum. We walked miles and miles and miles and rode the subway frequently -- an adventure for my small town kids. By the end of our trip the kids had had enough togetherness and the squabbles were heard all over town.

When it was time to pack up were frantic when we couldn't find Sock Monkey. My son's treasured bedraggled toy since toddlerhood. After turning the room upside down and pleading with the housekeeping staff to do the same to the laundry room, we had no choice but to leave to catch our flight.

We were thrilled to get the call the next day that he had been found in the laundry and they would be shipping him home right away. Thank you so much to the staff at the Courtyard Marriott on 20th Street NW.

Lisa On Location Photography