Epiphany in Mexican Muralism

As many of you know, last year I, Carrie-Anne, decided to go back to school for my Masters in Fine Arts degree. This has always been a personal goal of mine and with a little positive energy, prayer, and much help from the Veterans Administration–it came knocking at my door. In the Spring of 2014, I began attending Long Island University for my MFA in studio art with a concentration in photography. It has been an absolutely amazing ride!

My goal for going back to school, was not only to work with and be around other photographers, but to also work with and be around other artists with similar passions; it was to learn things that I had never explored before – ceramics, painting, print making. To see photography in a different way, to learn about myself and the deliberate choices that I sometimes unconsciously make in my art work.

What I am working on now-

In the Spring of 2015, I took my last required Art History course. I had already taken History of Photography 1 and 2, and in my undergrad I had taken art history in the Rococo, Renaissance and Medieval periods. So when I saw Mexican Muralism, taught by Niria E. Leyva-Gutiérrez Ph.D as an option for my graduate studies, I immediately took it. It is now, and will probably always be, the hardest Art history course I have taken to date. I don’t really know what I was expecting, but I not only had to learn the art that was coming out of Mexico, I had to learn the history of Mexico. I mean of course I did! How can you study Mexican Muralism and not know the history of Mexico? I mean art imitates life does it not?

I will say, we were so incredibly blessed with an amazing Professor who was so passionate about the subject. In class, we studied “Los Tres Grandes,” The three BIG ones – Diego, Siqueros, and Orozco. Of course, with Diego, we studied the amazing Frida Coelho. I struggled a bit. I felt like I was studying and reading all of the time. By the second week of class, more than 5 people had dropped out.

I am really glad I stuck it out. It inspired me and led me to one of my current, in progress, bodies of work.

First, let me explain the circumstances of the night that it came about:

Many of you who know me, know that I tend to be a bit OCD. When I enter a room, I like to stand in a certain place, be in a certain area, and in a class, I like to sit on a certain side and in a certain place as well. I generally like an area where I can see the whole room and where it is not too terribly congested. On one particular day, I had come to class about 10 minutes late. When I entered the room, not only was my seat taken, but every seat in that general area of the classroom had been taken! Annoyed and a bit disheveled, I reluctantly found a chair on the other side of the classroom, behind two girls who always chatted throughout the entire class, both of which mostly surfed the internet looking for clothes and such.

Annoyed, I sat down and kept my hat on, pulled down to just above my eyes. This is how I block people out. Niria was handing back out midterm exams, 3 essay questions. I got an A-. It was then that even she noticed me in my discomfort on the “wrong side” of the room. We chuckled and she began her lesson.

David Alfaro Siqueiros_Proletarian Victim_1933

David Alfaro Siqueiros_Proletarian Victim_1933

On this day we would be discussing David Alfaro Siqueiros. As she began her lecture and going through his work, I found myself sketching. At first, just a few notes, but then I began to feverishly sketch out proposed studio lighting, model ideas, and names and dates of certain Siqueiros pieces. I became so incredibly inspired by her talk, by this class, and by the work of Siqueiros. I thought to myself: these would really look great in studio. As many of you know, once upon a time I was a pretty accomplished designer. I think that it was because of that era of my life that I now choose to use as minimal Photoshop as possible in my photography.

I believe that there is a certain level of knowledge and skill attained when one can come to a place where they strive to first get it “right” in camera. So when I am in post-process of my images (in the “editing phase”) I will, most of the time, only do in Lightroom, what I would be able to do in a traditional darkroom. Usually, there is no photoshop involved. And these next 4 or 5 pieces would involve tricky lighting and body makeup.

Every artist should have a network of really good friends, with different talents, who love to work on something creative… just for the sake of doing it. Art for Arts sake. I am blessed with a nice network of other creatives, makeup artists, other photographers, models, etc. My makeup artist was the first call. Now I do work with quite a few makeup artists, one or two for my portrait sessions… but I knew this project would require a certain level of special effects make up. I immediately called my very good friend, Grace Vasquez. And like Thomas Hart Benton said when commissioned to create his amazing mural “America Today,” I told Grace that while I could not pay her, I would be able to “finance the eggs.” Anything she needed, airbrush, make up, anything at all, would be provided…. Oh and of course, I would feed her! With that, our deal was made and we set out to create our first piece together, a recreation of Proletarian Victim, 1933, by David Alfaro S David Alfaro Siqueiros, iqueiros. We found a model willing to hold the grueling pose in the nude and we set out to the studio.

Below is the first draft, my notes for fixing some issues, and the final UNEDITED piece. 🙂

Carrie Anne Gonzalez, Proletarian Victim First Draft, 201

Carrie Anne Gonzalez Proletarian Victim Shoot – Notes

Carrie Anne Gonzalez, Proletarian Victim (after David Alfaro Siqueiros, Proletarian Victim, 1933), 2015

Carrie Anne Gonzalez, Proletarian Victim (after David Alfaro Siqueiros, Proletarian Victim, 1933), 2015

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Amanda and Jerry

Second shooter, Joseph, and I really enjoy shooting our weddings together. We love being apart of our couple’s big day, and getting to know both them and their families. Amanda and Jerry were no exception. During the months and weeks leading up tp the big day, we really got a chance to bond with them, be it over beers or coffee, many laughs were had. Amanda and Jerry were just as excited to have us photograph their wedding, as we were to shoot it. Guys, it was truly an honor and a blessing. I hope you love your images, and we can’t wait to see you again! Congratulations!

You can view some highlights from their wedding here.

Why I Hate Summer Sunsets

I’m a full time marketer, a full time writer, and Carrie would call me a most-of-the-time critic. I love things that are beautiful, but I really hate cliché, which leads me to this article…sunsets during summer.

Well…I love sunsets and warm weather, especially with a drink on the beach at dusk surrounded by friends and camera in hand. But it’s so cliché! It falls into the category of “everyone is a photographer” because they added a sepia filter to their sunset picture and posted it on Instagram. So to all instagramers—think of something more original! Yes, it’s beautiful, but seriously, google “summer sunset,” is your work really better?

Okay, so you’re capturing your moment. What differentiates that sunset from others? What makes that day stand out? I bet a year from now, you’ll know where you were but not who you were with, what made that day rock or insufferable, and you can’t even remember the date.

To that end, remember that truly great photography doesn’t rest within HDR and editing, it derives from the photographer. Some tips and tricks to help differentiate your landscape shots:

  1. Solid ND filters and polarizing filters still have their place in landscape shots.
  2. Solid neutral density filters reduce the amount of light entering the lens, which extends shutter speeds for long-exposure shots.
  3. Polarizer filters remove reflections from the surface of water and shiny leaves.
  4. Polarizer filters also help boost the contrast between blue skies and white cloud

– T.

The Beauty of Band Shooting

There’s another part of Theresa and Carrie’s lives they haven’t mentioned enough, in my opinion, and that would be me! My name is Catherine Weston and currently I’m interning for the studio in regards to the public relations aspect, and yes, you read that correctly, I’m also Theresa’s younger sister! I’ve worked with both Theresa and Carrie on numerous occasions and I have to admit that working with Carrie Weston Studios has really helped to expand my interest and love of photography. While I do enjoy all different types of photography and I love what the studio has to offer with its unique outlook on weddings, family, etc., I believe that band photography takes the number one spot on my  list of favorite categories because not only is there an aura of excitement and positive energy, but there is also a mixture of passion for the arts that’s hard to find anywhere else…

Excitement is in the air, the lights are low, anticipation is high.

The crowd looks excited and they’re all waiting for the show to start; the equipment is all set to go.

Having the right atmosphere and the proper sound means everything to a band about to perform in front of a live audience, so that’s all they need…right?

Wrong.

New bands need decent marketing—and it’s true, a band won’t get anywhere without good quality recordings and a clean website to display its contact information. So what else is missing?

A photographer!

Photography is one of the key factors in moving a musician/band toward the success that they’ve always dreamed of; how are they going to take the right steps to make it big if there’s nothing to show the world aside from some low-quality demo videos on Youtube? When prospective listeners can see a visual of how hard the band is working and the energy being thrown around on stage or behind the scenes, they become more interested.

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Just this past week, I was doing a shoot for the up and coming band “We Build Tomorrow” as they played a show at the Summer Festival in Potsdam, NY. As I ran, crouched, and climbed on some things I probably shouldn’t have to get the perfect shots, it was one of the more fun shoots I’ve done in my life thus far! The most rewarding feeling isn’t even getting the amazing shot you work so hard to achieve…it isn’t even the gratitude received by the members of the band after the show is over…the real feeling that makes it all worth it at the end of the day is knowing that I helped some talented people gain some really amazing recognition. Throughout the rest of the summer festival there were compliments thrown at the band left and right, but when I got back to my computer and threw those pictures up online for them, the amount of views, “likes,” “favorites,” and “re-tweets” skyrocketed.

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Through the help of this one, single shoot combined with true musical talent, “We Build Tomorrow” is now becoming more popular and they are on their way to recording their first official demo album.

Photography can help achieve many things and not just the expected—it is especially handy in achieving the unexpected too! Shooting for unrecognized bands might just be my favorite thing to do with my camera, and it taught me that through pursuing my own passion and working together with other people involved with different passions, more doors can open and anything can happen.

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* To check out more of my stuff and see how Theresa and Carrie inspired me to pursue my own dreams, feel free to follow me on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/CatherineWestonPhotography?ref_type=bookmark

Valentines Day

Valentines Day is an anticipated and hated holiday. I myself have gone through many phases:
Child Theresa:
Yayyy, I get to hand out cards in class and mommy is going to bake cakes!
Teenage Theresa:
If I have a Valentine, that’s cool, but I totally don’t believe in this holiday. And if I don’t, I’m dressing black and bringing in black roses for my girlfriends.
College Theresa:
I’m broke. This holiday was created by American capitalists trying to make more money. Let’s get a bottle of wine (to anyone willing to partake with me) and call it a night.
Adult Theresa:
We should get off for this holiday. But since we don’t, how should I celebrate it?
Valentine’s Day after all doesn’t necessarily mean COUPLES, ROMANCE, CANDLES, etc. Over the years, I’ve learned that one of the most important forms love can take is love for oneself. I now believe in the ritual of pampering…I’ve had Carrie do boudoir shoots for me and have found that to be the greatest Valentine’s Day gift of all. I had a blast being on camera, getting my makeup done and playing dress up for the day. What did I do with the images? I made a book and eventually decided to let my boyfriend see. But the book is still mine—a strong reminder of my confidence and beauty.
Before I sound too egotistical, Valentine’s Day can also be about family. Since my mom has always baked and decorated and celebrated the holiday, this year I had some photos printed on canvas of me and my siblings. Now we’re grown, at different locations throughout the US…I thought it was a nice way to tell her I love her (and it was…. I couldn’t hold out until Valentine’s Day to give it to her!)
And to be honest, yes, I do have a boyfriend. We typically don’t celebrate (with the exception of the standard Pinot Noir of course) but the last year marked our five year anniversary…and I’ve got something up my sleeve. To be honest, I’m hoping he does too and the ideal gift for someone like me who loves the power of memories, photographs and of course him…would be a shoot. It’s a great day out and encourages you to spend time together.
So whether you’re single, dating, married or happily divorced, remember that this is a day  or love, and love takes on many faces.

Two Toddlers & a Family Portrait

When Theresa asked me to write this blog post, I had no idea what I would say. I have to admit – most of the time when she asks me to write a blog post I totally avoid it and ignore it until she hopefully forgets. Sometimes she does… sometimes she doesn’t. We recently scheduled a family photo session over at the Northport Marina. When she asked me to write about the experience, I had no idea what I would say. Until, that is, I began to edit the photos from that day.

I was nervous about the shoot. Kristin and I had spoken weeks before and even in the days leading up to the shoot. Her and her husband wanted a family photo session with their toddler twins. I have to admit, my throat closed a bit as this as I said “Great! What days are good for you?” In as much excitement as I could muster. It wasn;t doing the shoot persay – It was that I had never had to photograph TWO toddlers at once – even more so photographing 2 toddlers and a set of parents where everyone will be looking at me??!

Impossible!! I had to take a breather and was grateful for the few weeks before our session to have time to sit on it and gather my thoughts. In the days before the shoot, I reminded Kristin that I was not “Sears,” that if she was looking for that type of posed thing, that it wasn’t me. She was great and laughed at my concerns – I think my reminding her of my shooting style was actually my reminding me. “I capture the moments.” I said “the interactions between family members. The smiles, the faces, the concerns, the questions… I capture memories. Artwork, that I hope you will hang on your walls for years to come.”

Carrie-Anne Gonzalez

We were to meet at Northport Park at 4pm – after nap and snack time, before dinner time. I solicited my 12 year old niece to be my assistant for the day. Not only does she have a really good eye, but I needed someone to hold reflectors and such, just in case. When we arrived we cased out the park looking for not the perfect “scenery,” but the perfect light. To my dismay the sun was still very high in the sky which meant harsh shadows everywhere. Still, that is the photographers plight – find the light, manipulate the light, know the light. The blessing was it WAS a beautiful warm day. As we walked around casing different areas of the park, taking into consideration both scenery AND light, I made mental notes of things I wanted to try – “kid sandwich here, tell me a secret pose, parents hold children’s hands and swing… etc”

All of my planning went out the window as soon as these two adorable, energetic, rambunctious children stepped out of their stroller. I know Kristin really wanted to get all 4 of them in a shot and for a while it was a struggle. One parent, one toddler, or Two parents, one toddler – no problem… but all 4? Finally, I reminded myself – capture the moments… let them play. And that is exactly what we did. I attempted some shots where the parents were behind the children a few feet, but these toddlers were exited to run about in the openness and so… we let them. It was an amazing experience. I have to admit I was not only exhausted, but nervous as to how this was going to come out. All the while Theresa’s voice in my head saying “What are you nervous about? You are a national award winning photographer.” Yes, yes I am…. Everything will be fine.

Carrie-Anne GonzalezAnd everything was. To experience a play date with this couple and their children, To capture the two very different personalities of these twins, was truly an amazing experience. The laughs, the running, the learning… seeing how children look to their parents and how parents adoringly and lovingly see their children. The ending result – art work for their walls.
Carrie-Anne Gonzalez

Why the Second Shooter Matters

Unfortunately, Carrie & I don’t have the chance to shoot together as often as we’d like. With conflicting schedules and the demands of scheduling at times that best serve our clients needs—it’s difficult for the two of us to arrive together at a shoot—which is why we value our interns and additional staff so much. Luckily, we had the opportunity to shoot the Leadership Huntington Foundation Gala & Graduation event last week—and we were able to do it together.

I have attended many networking events, galas, graduations and award ceremonies—and typically, there has been one photographer and one videographer. If that. Working with Carrie at this event truly brought out the significance of having an additional photographer. While she was working the room photographing the keynote speakers, the honorees, the politicians and graduates—I was photographing the details: the place setting, the candid moments, the musicians, etc.Leadership Huntington Foundation_CW Studios_2These type of events have a lot going on—while one photographer is being pulled one way, it’s easy for the other to drift around and look for the artistic shots that set us a part from our competitors—and set us a part from those who think they can pick up a camera and just photograph without professional training.Leadership Huntington Foundation_CW Studios_4Her batteries died, her flash timed out, there were awards being given and hands being shaken—yet it was all captured on film because we had two cameras and an extra pair of hands and eyes. Leadership Huntington Foundation_CW Studios_3It’s easy to work with one shooter for a portraiture session, for headshots, or even a small networking event. It’s definitely a necessity to ensure there are two photographers for large events over 50, such as weddings or galas to make sure that all of the details are caught on film. You may not think you care about the minor details during the event—but you’ll certainly be grateful to have them afterward.

Fall Madness

It’s been a while since we blogged…and this entry is coming from the mind of Theresa, which is atypical since most of the time it’s Carrie posting. We’ve been incredibly busy since our last post at the end of July…we’ve discovered that while we love wedding photography, corporate headshots, etc…our true passion lies within portraiture.

What’s really been a joy is watching Carrie work. While I have taken photographs my entire life, my passion has always been writing–so when it comes to photography, I always am looking for the story behind the shot. I feel we’ve really learned how to take art and transform it into a story over the last few months. Image

Bridal portraiture has certainly always been something we’ve excelled at…but more recently, we’ve had some real success with different types of shoots. Our recent favorite, and the biggest sensation at the most recent East Northport Chamber of Commerce Fair, was the session we had with a “mommy-to-be.”

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If you haven’t been to the studio or our Facebook page in a while, we recommend you do so. The studio is finally complete, with a full door installed and a welcoming, warm feeling full of lots of natural lighting.  We’ve been busy creating our promotional material for the fall, which will be focusing on portraiture, engagement sessions and of course, the holiday season.

Over the few years, the summer has always been a blank slate for creativity for Carrie and I. We still like to create and daydream….but that’s pretty much where it stopped. It seems that once you find your passion, it’s easy to keep the momentum going. We’re sad to say goodbye to summer, but happy to step into the final chapter of the year 2013.I can only say we’ve had a blast meeting new clients, making new friends and really fine-tuning our skills.

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Check us out on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and if you haven’t visited our new site: www.carriewestonstudios.com, you should see what we’ve been up to. Come meet us and get creative with the fall season.

We look forward to meeting you!

 

Studio Walkway

Working on the walkway for the studio entrance. Next project – opening the door with the help of JEG Construction!

New Studio Walkway

New Studio Walkway

Cat – Senior Portraits

Cat was back for the summer from her first year at college. Wanting to document this moment in her life, she called up Carrie Weston Studios to book a shoot, to include make up by Art by Betty Lynn. Here are some shots from that day.

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To view the rest of the album please visit our facebook page, and remember to “like” 🙂