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Baltimore Lancaster Portrait Photographer Food Artemas Photography-7

Fire. Why wouldn’t fire be added to an already incredible evening of eye popping food and wine? Because when you sit down to plan a party and think, “What could really top off this event?” The answer would have to be fire. And not just a big ol’ bonfire, but a bonfire that burns down to red hot ash that your guests walk across. And if that’s not enough, then you cool them off with liquid nitrogen ice cream. And I get excited when I manage to match my socks.

This was a private event and one of the coolest things I’ve had the chance to photograph. Most of you already know I spent years in the restaurant industry, so when food and wine are involved it makes my day. I wish I could share all the details, but it was a very private event so I’m leaving you with these photos. By the way, those big, bone in hunks of beef you see on the grill? Bison. I literally wanted to pick one up with my hand and chomp down Fred Flintstone style. But I wasn’t hired to be the official food taster. So I just stared. And wept a little.

A huge thank you to everyone involved for pulling off this event and having me along for the ride. I’m heading out to walk across the hot pavement. Because that’s about as daring as I get these days.

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It’s 5:00 AM on Monday morning and I’m sitting in my dark office, waiting for the sun to rise. It’s completely silent except for the low hum of the air conditioner. I’m reflecting on the past two and a half months and the burn out that took over my love of photography. To be honest, I didn’t really see it coming. Maybe it was the insanely busy year I had last year. Maybe it was closing two studios and beginning the search for a better location. Maybe it was the back and forth between Baltimore and Lancaster. I’m not sure. I do know that one day I woke up feeling completely overwhelmed, not sure how to move forward, and just burnt out. I stared at my camera and didn’t even want to pick it up. In fact, I wanted to anything else except take pictures.

So I took a week to think it over. I knew I wasn’t giving up on photography. I love it and it’s become a huge part of who I am. Honestly, there’s nothing else I’d rather do. But I had to kick this cloud of despair. So I started thinking about something, anything, I could do to completely change gears and get myself creating again. I had talked about building a shed for years and decided this was as good a time as any. It would be a huge distraction, take a lot of energy, time, and possibly be the reset I needed. So I got some blueprints, loaded up on supplies, and went to work.

Instead of a small garden shed, I decided to put up a big ol’ 12′ x 20′, hold-the-mower-and-most-of-our-stuff shed. And I was determined to do it by myself. No help. After the first few days, I thought I was going to be hospitalized. I was totally in love with being outdoors, and building something with my hands. The sweat, and strain, and labor of the whole thing was like therapy. I could feel the stress and negativity going away with each swing of the hammer. It started with some simple digging to level the ground, and started to become this massive undertaking. There were days when I thought the shed might kill me. But the incredible feeling it was giving me was too much to pass up. I knew I couldn’t stop. And that was the great part about it. I had started a project that HAD to be completed. I couldn’t just leave a bunch of wood in the yard.

When it came to the roof, I finally had to admit I needed help or I would never get the plywood up on the roof. The shed was just too big and on the left side, the peak of the roof is 16 feet off the ground. I raised the white flag and had my neighbor help me with the roof. After getting the plywood up, I was back on my own to shingle it. I smelled like tar and asphalt for four days and probably sweated off ten pounds. But it was coming together. It was actually turning into something. I couldn’t believe it as I would stare out the window each night at the days progress. I was feeling ALIVE, and the stress and worry that had overtaken me was just about gone.

As I stared at this thing I had set out to build, I began to look at it as a rebuilding of myself. As the shed grew, I could feel myself becoming “me” again. Seven years of self employment had been bottled up and I was getting all the stress out. It had become so much more than a building. More than a place to store “stuff.” It was a symbol of picking myself up and moving on. Keep moving on.

Today I got the doors built and installed, as well as the windows put in. There are still some details to take care of, trim to install, and painting to be done. But at this point I have built a functional, water tight, shed. And I feel an immense sense of accomplishment and pride when I look at it. That’s my blood, sweat, and smashed fingers out there. And I know if I can get through all the labor it took to build it, I can get through anything. I’m ready to pick up where I left off, get back to work, and reclaim my passion for photography. My mind feels clear again, and I’m ready to improve as a photographer, a father, a husband, and a human being.

I have to say a huge “thank you!” to my wife, Amy, who has watched me spend hundreds of hours on this project. She had kept the kids busy and yes, lent a hand now and then when we needed to get the giant tarp over the roof when rain was coming. I also have to thank my mom who watched the kids on days when I was trying to finish up what seemed like a never ending project. So in the end, I didn’t really do this all by myself. I had the help and support of people close to me and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to get this far.

The burnout tried to get me. But I fought back and was determined to not let it define me. It’s been a crazy two and a half months, but it’s been worth every ounce of sweat and work. You really can do anything you put your mind to.

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  • Kat - Fantastic life lesson here! So important for photographers, creatives, to take some down time too!

  • Lindsay - Congratulations, Artemas! What a monumental task. I loved reading about your transition through the process, and I truly admire that you took control of your outlook and improving your mental state by doing something physical and attainable! I’m definitely inspired, thank you for sharing.

  • Betty - You are becoming Amish through osmosis—or harkening back to our Griffin ancestors who were farmers. Either way, an amazing accomplishment and a lovely reflection.

  • Artemas - Thanks Betty! Maybe it’s a blend of both? My dad has told me about our Griffin ancestors. I’ll go with them.

  • Artemas - Thanks Lindsay! It was one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done for myself.

  • Artemas - I appreciate it Kat! It was tough to be in that rut and away from the camera. But in the end, totally worth it.

  • Jeanne - Good job! Sounds like even photographers need some R&R.

    Beautiful shed! Now that we know you are experienced, we know who to call if we decide to do one! LOL

    Enjoyed reading about your experience!

  • Artemas - HA! Thanks Jeanne. And this will be the last shed I ever build. You may need to call Sheds R Us!

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Annette and Jason called me with a plan to do an anniversary session. It was their 13th anniversary and they wanted to celebrate by getting dressed up, in their wedding attire, which included Annette’s original wedding dress that still fit perfectly! We spent a few hours walking around the Lake Williams area and got a ton of great shots. There are so many to share but I wanted to post this one today. Even thought it looks like just two people kissing on a bridge, this is the bridge where they stopped for photos on their way to the senior prom. Almost 20 years ago they stood on this bridge and here they are today. Still together, still in love, with two children, and they were awesome to work with. Happy Anniversary!!

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Liam, buddy, slow it down. Already 18 months old and I don’t know where the time went. You and your brothers are cruising along and daddy’s not sure what’s happening. I do want to take a moment to thank you for sitting still for this photo. You also looked right at me and smiled, which was awesome. You’re the first child to do that. I appreciate it and will let you drive the car one day to pay you back. Keep smiling kiddo. I love you guys a whole bunch. But the growing up? Slow down a little. Seriously.

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Yesterday I had the opportunity to travel to the Philly area and attend the I Love Light workshop given by Easton Reynolds and Mike Allebach. Easton and his wife Laura, run LuRey Photography, and Mike is the original Tattooed Bride Photographer.┬áReally, they are both super cool, super passionate photographers who are working to elevate the industry and share their knowledge. Easton spent most of the day sharing his passion for light and breaking down the technical stuff so people could get a grasp on controlling light. If you’ve ever studied off camera lighting, and read about aperture, shutter speed, ratios, guide numbers, zooming, or modifiers, you have probably felt a little overwhelmed. Easton broke all that stuff down, and made sure those attending had their “A HA” moment.

He shared his lighting set ups, he explained different modifiers, different types of lights, the basic lighting set ups that everyone should know such as Rembrandt, Split, Butterfly, Broad, and Short Lighting. He went into detail about how aperture and shutter speed affect flash and available light. Inverse Square Law? Yep, covered that and gave a real world example so it wasn’t just a bunch of techie talk. He spent a good deal of time explaining how different modifiers affect the spread of light. In the photo at top left, you can see him attaching a grid to flash. Using the white screen as his subject, he shot tethered and fired the light at the screen. He cycled through several modifiers which allowed everyone to see exactly how the light changed. ┬áThere were also models present and he worked with them so everyone could see how light changes on the human face as you move it and modify it.

One of my favorite parts of Easton’s talk was “The Art of the Second Shot.” This is the idea of taking a photo and then looking for an “outside the box” way of taking the same photo. An example he showed was a groom getting ready on the wedding day. He took the obvious shot of the groom standing in his room, getting ready, and tying his tie. The thing was, the photo could have been taken anywhere and didn’t really tell a story as to where the wedding was being held. I’m going to get the location wrong, but it was a destination wedding in a tropical setting. So to tell the story, Easton actually backed out of the room, and shot from the outside in. Using the sliding glass doors he captured the reflection of the blue sky, clouds, and palm trees. In the room, he put a single light on the groom. So now he could expose for the dramatic sky and still light the groom inside. I wish I had the example to show you but trust me, the idea of “The Second Shot” is a great way to think of new ideas. He talked about practicing this by not moving your subject and just looking for new angles, and new ways to light the same photo. It can make a HUGE difference in the final photograph.

Later in the afternoon, Mike took the reigns and we went on a photo walk. Mike has helped release Profoto’s new B2 lighting system. You can see his video right here. It’s incredible and I highly recommend checking it out. I’m actually in love with the portability of these lights and hope to pick up a pair eventually. Everyone got a chance to shoot with the lights and we spent some time inside, shooting in a dark area of his studio and then we were off to a local park. At the park we were able to see how mobile the system is and is was a phenomenal way to create some dramatic portraits while the sun was setting. It can be powered up if you’re looking for more dramatic, edgy light. Or you can turn the power down and mix it with the natural light. Everything can be controlled from a transmitter which is mounted on your camera’s hot shoe. Not only is Profoto well known for their quality lights, they’re also known for their modifiers and they don’t disappoint with this system. There are a number of modifiers available specifically for the B2s.

If you know me, you know I’m somewhat of a lighting geek and start to babble a little when I talk about lights and modifiers. It was an awesome to spend time learning from Easton and Mike. The passion they have is contagious and they are definitely two photographers you should keep an eye on. Thank you both for an incredible workshop and keep killing it!!

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  • Crissy Everhart - Great review, Artemus!! Easton and Mike are definitely two pros to watch in this industry. I definitely recommend the class.

Yesterday we celebrated the seventh birthday of our first born. He is growing into a seriously incredible person and his personality and strong will are really starting to show through. He had a blast yesterday hanging out with family, got some cool Legos, and a new desk for his room. He’s a pretty solid mix of artistic and mathematics. Watching him switch from technical building and thinking to his artist side is phenomenal. We could not be more proud of him. It seems like only yesterday when we brought him home from the hospital. I think we were pretty much scared to death and despite all the “great ideas” on parenting we had, nothing prepared us for the reality. Seven years have passed and now there are three boys running wild around the house. I couldn’t be more thankful for this amazing family.

Jacob

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One of my personal favorites from Simona’s portrait session. I love black and whites and sometimes think about processing every photo as a black and white. But sometimes the color just can’t be ignored. I’m starting to ramble. Here she is: Simona.

 

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Easter is on it’s way and when the sun rises in two days, the boys will be up looking for eggs. (yes, I’m keeping this religious-neutral and everyone is welcome to celebrate whatever meaning Easter has to them.) This morning was the balance of answering email, preparing posts, working on editing, and helping my wife make sure the kids had fun with the eggs. I can remember being a child and thinking it was so cool that the eggs were changing color in this magical mix of liquid. This morning actually consisted of two boys dying the eggs and the youngest one smashing them into the table and eating the shells. Hey, that’s how you learn not to eat shells. Although I had a ton of work to catch up on, it’s important to learn to shut it off for an hour, be completely present with the kids, and photograph the Easter ritual. After all, the work will still be there. The egg dying is once a year and I want to see our kids smile, design their eggs, and maybe splash a good bit of dye all over the place. It used to be a struggle to separate myself from work, be present as a dad, and then go back to work. Honestly, it’s taken about two years of consistent effort, but I’m finally able to switch my mind from one activity to the next. And I love being able to soak in the memories with the kids. In 20 years, I’m going to be happy I took time to be there.

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