Monday, October 15, 2007

Collage and the American Hero

It turns out that I have an American Hero and a heck of a great guy living across the street from me, and since I was asked to shoot a Veteran's Day cover for a local magazine, I decided that John Mogan would be the perfect candidate. He came over and we did a photo shoot with very hard light, which I always use on people that have great faces...People who don't have very even features and high cheekbones and widely spaced eyes aren't candidates for hard light, but hard lighting on people who do have great faces really brings out their best features. John has really blue eyes, so I shot him from above to let his eyes get really wide. I painted in even more blue and took the edge off his suit with a blending brush, and he looked great, but something was still missing. My art director, Jonathan, said that I could do what I wanted, so I asked John if I could borrow some of his scrapbooks. He had pictures from when he was young, letters from his relatives about how awesome he is, tons of war shots and a framed shadowbox his awards and medals and his Colonel's bars, which was really cool. I brought about 64 pictures and leters into Photoshop, because I was so entranced by the story of John's life, but then I realized that this had to fit on an 8 1/2 x11 sheet of paper with cover writing on it, so after a lot of angsting, I pared down to things that I couldn't live without, that I felt showed the life of a hero. There was one particularly touching letter from a cousin, Margaret, I believe, whose letter said "I always knew that John was my mother's favorite, but it was all right, becaue he was everyone's " I don't know why, but I had to keep it, because it just spoke legions about the kind of guy that would spend 30 years defending his country and remembering stories about every soldier that had been lost during his duty. I took the blue from John's eyes and made that the background, then I layered the shadowbox of medals on top and took them down to about 25% opacity. Then I took every medal and bar, and placed them individually so that they could make triangles, which I'll talk about later. John didn't feel right about wearing his uniform for the shot, and I felt that it needed a little more that said "Veteran's Day". I remembered a picture of a flag that I had taken in Telluride last July 4th, (photograph everything!) and painted it with a blending tool to make it look like it was blowing in the wind. I lowered the opacity to 33%, and then I basically moved all of the other shots around until I felt good about them. I know all about the rules of photography and line, and anyone can learn them, rule of thirds, s curve, there's a million of them, and I can talk about them another time if you want me to, but I have always felt that FEEL is more important then rules. I adjusted opacity from 5% to 79%, and adjusted sizes with the opacity to show what I felt should feel more important to Veteran's day. The rule of triangles is a huge one for me, I adore triangles, they're what keep the viewer's eyes bouncing around the picture, and so keep viewers viewing longer, so I tried to make sure that there were a lot of them color wise and shape wise. If it's hard for you to see, look at the letter in the middle left and the red stripe to the upper right of his eyes. They both lead to his eyes, as do the red stripe on out left of his face, the red medal to the right of his face, and his face under the soldiers hat on the bottom right. The idea is to never let a line lead the viewer out of the picture, and I can not say enough about this rule. It totally rocks. There are at least 20 more triangles in the shot. Drop me a line if you need help seeing them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Makes Ya Want to have Another

Meet Baby Noah, whose parents drove TWO hours to come to have this tiny ANGEL photographed. Ooh, I just love all of his little folds and his sweet little arm reaching out like that! He just embodies the most cuddly little sweet baby EVER. I wish my dried out little skinny girls looked like this when they were babies. I just want to SQUEEZE him, and that's what I wanted to try to show when I took this photo. An interesting thing about babies...when you turn them on their sides, they always scrunch up their legs. Ooh, trade secret. I have to admit, until people know me, I know I seem like a total freak. I mean, I have my daughter Zoe's mo-ped pillow and body pillow under there, and we're in my living room shooting using window light...I hate using flash on babies...I think it hurts their eyes, and I'm telling them to put their precious angel in all of these awkward's a good thing I get results, I tell ya. I have always been one of those people where if you give me fishing wire and an eyelash curler, I can take on the world, but all of my "official stuff" stays buried in the garage. I mean, I had a 4000 square foot studio in North Dakota, 50 lights, backgrounds to die for sitting in my garage, and I'm using wall, floors and window light ? I don't get it. But with the painting, I thingk having set looks stifles creativity to make it the way I want it. Anyway, he was an absolute joy to shoot, and I feel totally honored that those guys came all the way up just to hang out with me.

Help Me Help Team Wish!

So, my friend across the street, Dyanne, is doing the three day walk for Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research, and I am helping her by accepting donations of $100 and up made out to Team W.I.S.H. I will take peoples photographs, (and pets, too!) and you will get a photo session and painted 8x10, which is a $500 gift for giving $100 to Team W.I.S.H! That's a pretty great deal, I think, and for a GREAT cause. Check out the press release below...and then give me a call!
October 3, 2007
Award Winning photographer Barbara Stitzer wants to Make a Difference in the Fight Against Breast Cancer
Anthem, AZ October 1, 2007: Award winning photographer Barbara Stitzer wants to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer by offering Anthem based Team W.I.S.H.(Walking In Spirit and Hope), four time participant in the Arizona Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, a unique photo fundraising opportunity. Stitzer is committed to aid in the Team’s effort to raise funds in their pledge to finding a cure for this deadly disease. Stitzer and Team W.IS.H.’s partnership is designed to benefit the community at large and will serve as a way to allow individuals to make tax-deductible contributions to Team W.I.S.H. for which they will receive a memorable reminder of their generosity. As her thank you for donating $100.00 or more to Team W.I.S.H.
and supporting this wonderful cause, Stitzer will photograph an individual, family, or a pet and turn it into a one of a kind 8 X 10 digital painting (a $500.00 value) and give it to the donator. For those securing their bookings with a donation to Team W.I.S.H. by November 30, 2007 can take up to six months to have their photo taken.

Barbara’s 25 twenty-five-year career includes modeling, acting, writing, editing, photography, and most recently as speaker for Millers Professional Imaging lab. Stitzer, part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team for disaster coverage at the Los Angeles Times, has won over 400 local, regional and national Addy awards for excellence in advertising photography, and won the 2002-2003 YWCA’s Woman of Distinction award for excellence in her field. In addition to claiming the grand prize in more than 100 photo contests, in 2006, Stitzer was the First Place Winner of Digital Imagemaker’s prestigious Painter IX Award.

For the last four years, Team W.I.S.H. has participated in the Arizona 3-Day 60 Mile Breast Cancer Walk, which is for women and men who want to make a personal difference in the fight against breast cancer. During that time, with the support and donations of family members, neighbors, friends, and local businesses, Team W.I.S.H. Arizona has raised over $550,000.00 for breast cancer awareness, education, and research.

Nancy G. Brinker pledged to her sister, Susan G. Komen, dying from breast cancer, that she would commit herself to finding a cure for this lethal disease. In 1982, Brinker’s promise was realized in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, by launching a global breast cancer movement. Today, Komen for the Cure is the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find a cure. Because of events such as the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk and the Komen Race for The Cure, the organization has invested nearly $1 billion in its endeavor to eradicate breast cancer, becoming the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to fighting this fatal disease.

Approximately 200,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and nearly 40,000 will die from the disease. According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, every 3 minutes a new case of breast cancer is diagnosed, and surprisingly, of those diagnosed more than 1,500 will be men and 400 will die. One woman will die every 13 minutes. One in seven women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. As members of Team W.I.S.H., we walk in spirit and hope because we cannot walk away!

With the Christmas season rapidly approaching, Barbara’s offer provides a unique gift-giving opportunity. Imagine donating $100.00 in the name of each family so they can create a life-long memory by having a family photo taken. In addition, each donation is one step closer to saving a life.

Any one wishing to make a team donation should mail their check made payable to Team W.I.S.H to 3434 W. Anthem Way, PMB #232, Anthem, Arizona, 85086, Attention: DRM account.

For further information, contact Barbara Stitzer Photography at 623.455.9444, e-mail: or visit
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