hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Friday, January 31, 2014

The First Time with Phillip Ritchie

i am a photographer.  a good one. i don't always believe it. it seems to be the norm around creatives and i'm no different. i do weddings and i shoot women.  i love shooting women  i find it to be the most rewarding.  that said, i shoot the photographs to please my client (after myself) but in the end, the target audience is my client. 

when i met phillip ritchie he explained his process to me and it was such a deviation from my own process that i was intrigued. he had a vision and pieced everything together around that vision. he got the model, the mua, the set design, like pieces in a puzzle and shot the necessary number of images to get the vision. if he got it then he was done.  it's such a different approach from the photojournalist process of a wedding day or the flow posing and experimentation of boudoir photography.  and the only person he aims to please is himself. it seems so selfish and yet the results are amazing and the process is efficient.  

phillip has taken me on as student, he my mentor and last night was our first session. i had no idea what to expect. i don't think we really talked about it or defined it which put me to a disadvantage. the unknown is a scary thing and the imagination can go crazy. i was intimidated to say the least. the man is a master of his craft and i would be vulnerable in sharing my process or lack thereof. how much i was going to share on the first round was one of my concerns. do i come to the table with my usual arsenal of how i do things or do i break myself down completely to open up to his process entirely? i opted for the latter with one exception. i didn't put much thought into the model and mua situation. as i usually do with my clients i gave carte blanche to my model to take care of her clothes, styling, etc. my only request was that i wanted something glamorous and trusted that she would pull through as i knew she would. whoops. mistake number one and phillip was quick to point it out. "who are you doing this for and why are you doing it?" it was a reminder that if it's my portfolio build and my shoot (with no client to please) then i need to be the one directing everything from head to toe. TAKE THE TIME TO PLAN.

i learned three things from him last night:
  • shoot with intent - plan the image and work towards that plan
  • be meticulous - care about it enough to think about every aspect that would make the image good
  • be tenacious - work towards the best possible version of the image 
i made myself completely vulnerable, prepared to take on his process as he walked me through it. i tried holding off injecting my own usual methods because the point was to learn his. it was humbling, humiliating and effective. as we progressed it started to dawn on me that many of the things he does, i already do. our environments are little different, our subjects and purpose are different, but the method itself has the same foundation. like any student, i cannot take his method in its entirety and make it mine. i have to find the pieces that work for me and insert it into my style and make it my own. 

after breaking myself down for this i had to put myself back together and evaluate what just happened. the biggest lesson i learned as i tucked myself into bed and reflected on the night ... i am a good photographer. there's always room for improvement and last night i was given some lessons to help.

original post here

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

starting the year off with contentment

a trainer once told me that my biggest stumbling block to toning and overall physical fitness is that i'm not overweight.  what he meant was that i didn't have any major motivation or leaping changes that would push me to that goal.  what he was telling me was that my wishy-washy attitude was a product of my ability to easily hide what i didn't want others to see.  had i been motivated by a fitness contest or a more solid goal like running a marathon or something like that i would have been more successful.  he was right.

this thought, as random as it is this afternoon comes to me after watching a video about lizzie velasquez.  lizzie was once labeled the "world's ugliest woman" because of a rare condition that she suffers from that we don't even have enough understanding about.  this woman is now a motivational speaker and she says her condition has brought her strength, resolve and the ability to pursue her dreams.  part of me instantly jumped to my random thought ... she's an extreme case who used her extreme circumstances as leverage to motivate herself.  all my life complaints are so average.  i have stuff to complain about but then again, i really don't. but then again .. i'm kinda content.  there's goals here and there but nothing HUGE.  they are all attainable.  lately, my life has just been a happy little ramble.  just like this entry.  is it bad that i'm wishy washy right now?  i have a general path but nothing totally committed.  i'm taking opportunities as they occur and i'm just enjoying them.  i'm savoring moments and picking and choosing as i go.

i'm getting my feet back into the corporate world because i enjoyed my IT life and i enjoyed the money i made doing it.  i'm in the middle of reorganizing COCO gallery with a renewed focus on shooting women, glamour and families.  i'm stretching my wings on the artistic side of photography; shooting with a purpose (artistically).  i've joined a team of amazing photographers at lin and jirsa studios as a second photographer to round out my year of wedding photography.  it gives me an opportunity to learn from an amazingly talented and technical group of photographers.  it humbles me to no end to watch such talented people do their thing and for me to know that i still have so much to learn.  i work for SLR lounge doing video tutorials and product reviews, extending my reach and exposure in the photography world.  and i've been blessed to be associated with nice prints photography of the philippines who have been sending me to weddings internationally and exposing me to locations i would never had access to on my own.

all in all, things are WELL.  i'm content and there are no words to express how grateful i am to all the people that have provided me with opportunities.  and so we begin a new year.  this contentment has led me to where i am ... without even a resolution to start the year.  well ... maybe one.  savor every moment.  that's ok right?

this photo was taken for nice prints photography.  a outdoor winter wedding in england with a warm family full of love and kindness.  they've embraced me into their family and i look forward to seeing them again.