Behind the Scenes: Daydreamers

The weekend before last I had a wonderful time with new friends and old. Two of my friends, Marisa and Jessi, and I attended The Wilds Ones workshop at Great Falls Park. There we shared stories, helped one another with creating new and awesome conceptual images, and definitely got some interesting looks by some of the other park visitors that day. We had a perfect overcast day, and I loved scaling the cliffs and watching others create.

An interesting fella I met that day was Weston, who happily modeled for me for this image. We wondered off aways from the group towards the end of the day to check out a different location and the fall colors against the rocks just looked too fantastic not to use somehow. Since he was already half naked shooting self portraits already, I grabbed him quickly for this shot. 

Featuring Creatives - Interview No. 2

Against My Vows

Against My Vows

The End Is Nigh

The End Is Nigh

Turn Back Time

Turn Back Time

A Dance With The Devil 

A Dance With The Devil 

Self Portrait 

Self Portrait 

The Sky of The Sky of a Tree Called Life

The Sky of The Sky of a Tree Called Life

First, tell me as much as you can about yourself in a haiku.

The coldest winter 
thawed my heart, and I found love
in pictures of life

How did you get your start with what you do?

Amani- I started by just wanting to experiment with photo-manipulation and seeing what I can create on photoshop. I only started “officially” after I attended Brooke Shaden’s workshop a year ago. That’s when I realized that photography is the medium I’ve been looking for all this time to express how I feel.

How have you seen yourself grow as an artist?

Amani- I see inspiration everywhere now. At the beginning I separated photography from my everyday life, and it wasn’t something I was constantly doing. Now, it’s all I think about. I see textures everywhere, and whenever I come across an interesting object, my first thought is “how can I use that in a picture?”. When it comes to the technical stuff, I think I managed to develop my skills on photoshop with trying out different styles and just experimenting in general.

What's one art-related memory that sticks out in your mind?

Amani- I’d have to say that it was Brooke’s workshop. I remember going not knowing exactly what the workshop would be like - it was the first photography workshop I ever attended and I was scared. I was intimidated because everyone was older than me, and everyone had better gear. I went with my old Canon 550D and an old 50mm lens. It wasn’t until the second day of the workshop that I started being more confident - Brooke saw my work and told me it should be in a gallery. That’s something I’d never forget.

What are a few things on your "Bucket List?"

Amani- Oh my, I have so many.

  • Travel, as much as I can.
  • To have one of my images on a book cover.
  • Get a masters degree in Fine Arts and teach art and photography at a university, and also teach workshops.
  • To grow, as a person and as a photographer, to be kinder - to others and to myself, to love with all my heart.

What have you been currently up to?

Amani- I’m almost halfway through my 52 Week Project, and that’s always keeping me busy. But I’m also trying to get into galleries, both national and international. Nothing is set yet, but I’m determined to make it happen!

What fuels your artistic soul?

Amani- Everyday experiences and emotions- from love to loss, from betrayal to joy. I find inspiration in knowing that feelings are universal, it’s something we all have in common, no matter where we are in the world.

Who are three artists you're either inspired by or look up to?

Amani- I hate to sound repetitive but I have to say Brooke Shaden, of course. I also admire Lara Jade’s work - I prefer her older conceptual work but I still find her fashion photography inspiring. And Rob Woodcox - not only is his photography absolutely amazing, he seems like such a great person, I’d love to attend one of his workshops someday.

What would a 'perfect' day for you be like?

Amani- A perfect day would be: waking up before sunrise to do a shoot (either by the beach or in a forest), then watching the sunrise with a warm cup of coffee. After that, I’d spend a few hours immersed in a novel, then I’d grab lunch with a close friend and spend some time with my family. The rest of the day, I’d spend editing.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Amani- I just want to say thank you. To you, Kory, for giving me the opportunity to share all of this with you and your readers, and to everyone who’s been following my work and supporting me this past year. It means the world to me.

Behind the Scenes: Las Vegas Creative Photography Workshop Part 2

Our group shot with smelly Jenna. 

(L to R) Jenna, Pete, Joshua, me, Ashley, and Kathy.

Our beautiful morning sunrise.  

After shooting long-exposures of the crashed airplane we turned in for the night. A small group of us agreed to wake up super early the morning and sneak in another fun shoot on our trip together. 

We hit the road when it was still pitch-black out and drove towards our shooting location from the previous day. On our way there the day before, we had spotted some areas on the side of the desert road with some small bodies of water that we knew we would like to revisit.

The landscape looked so amazing with the towering mountains surrounding us in all directions. Well, on the road we had a bit of a hard time finding the location and the water. We had prepared a bit too early and it was still too dark out. After circling around once or twice, we found our little sweet spot on the side of the road. We sat in the car waiting for the sun and trying to keep warm. 

Once we started seeing the first signs of light, we unloaded the plethora of vintage outfits and props we had in the trunk. Our creative juices were flowing (with the help of a little coffee) and we all helped each other bring to life each others concepts. 

Because there was water, at least one of us out of the group were getting in the cat urine  smelling runoff sewage that we once viewed as beautiful and scenic. Jenna (the Super Trooper that she is) got down and dirty as I had her lay in the mud and have some water thrown at her. I shot a few concepts that morning I've yet to start working on, so keep an eye out! Jenna had a fun concept running through her mind with some rather large rope I had brought along on the trip, so I got a little wet myself to even out the playing field; it was only fair.

We dried up, quickly took a group shot and set on back to the hotel from some breakfast (WAFFLES!). After eating, Josh and Jenna continued with the workshop. We went over some editing processes and then had time to work on some of our new images. Wrapping up the editing, we took a break for lunch and finished up the workshop with learning some neat things about social networking and marketing. At the end, there was a prize giveaway!

Some of the group left after we officially ended the workshop. Those of us with still time left joined Jenna and Josh at the indoor pool at the hotel, and helped Josh out with one more shoot before he had to fly back home and move into his new apartment. 

A few of us gathered for dinner our last night together. We enjoyed some laughs at an interesting local bar and called it a night; it'd been such a long day. I luckily persuaded Jenna to wake up early again and we set out towards our first shooting location for one final last-minute shoot, and our friend Janelle joined as she set out to continue her road trip across the country. 

Our workshop shooting location, in Eldorado Canyon. 

Funny outtake I shot after posing for my photo. 

I really wanted to shoot a concept I had floating in my head with one of the vintage cars on the property near the dangerous cactus field and I was so excited to get a second chance to do so. We didn't wake up as early as the previous day, and when we arrived, the blazing sun against our surroundings looked amazing. 

I was so satisfied with how my shoot went and walked over to Jenna as she finished shooting a beautiful concept. We looked at the time and it was time to head out, but I started to jump up and down when lighting struck my brain! I got Jenna into a vintage dress and scoured the property for a pitchfork. I had to re-create American Gothic by Grant Wood. As Janelle shot us, Jenna and I almost lost our eyes to the blazing sun and but we were just overjoyed with our morning to really care. 

I waited with Jenna at the airport and after she left, I had some time to kill in Las Vegas, so I explored some of the strip! I went to the Luxor Hotel & Casino and checked out their Titanic Artifact Exhibition. I used to work at the one here in Philadelphia, last year during the 100th anniversary of the sinking, and I was curious to see the other items they had there on display. I even got free admission because I had my old work ID badge on me, how awesome! I explored some of the other nearby casino's and made my way back to the airport and return to reality in Philly. This workshop and trip was amazing, and the people I met were equally awesome. It's so great to meet up with other creatives. Amazing things are bound to happen.