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Alethia Rains

Graphics. Photography. Design

Working on the inside: My behind the scenes experience with Meg Bitton.

It’s been a while since I got on here and actually posted anything. It’s been a hectic few months full of trials and tribulations. Not long ago, my daughter had the opportunity to model for a Meg Bitton workshop. I was excited but scared at the same time. Mira has not had anyone, but me, take her photo. I was essentially throwing her into a situation where multiple people would be all up in her face snapping photos and giving her direction. Then again I thought to myself, this will be good. I was thinking for not only Mira but for Meg’s workshop attendees as well. Ok I’ll admit, I really wanted to see how Meg would handle Miss Mira if she had a meltdown!

Fact of the matter is this. Not all clients are going to be models. Mira, while she does model, has not been in a situation before where she had to sit and pose for an all day workshop. She is a regular kid with a regular mom. There are no competitions or cheer practices or soccer games for her to get the feeling of what it means to perform. I am not a PTA mom baking cookies in the kitchen every day and making muffins for the Church fundraisers. I am a busy working mother of three who also has the propensity to be very anti-large-group orientated.

I spent the majority of the workshop hiding in the back dying of camera envy. I was not there as a workshop attendee, it was not my place to be a part of it. On the other side of things….. I like to learn on my own. It’s a pig-headed trait of mine. I am an observer more than anything. So in this post are some behind the scenes shots of how I saw things at Meg Bitton’s workshop.

Focus

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One of the first things I noticed was the focus of the group on what Meg was saying. Do I know what Meg was saying? Nope. I was completely awe-struck at the intensity of the focus in the group. That is not an easy task. Ask any teacher how many times he or she has had a group of students completely at ease, but also completely focused on what they were saying. It’s probably a pipe dream for most.

After all of the chit chat and such, it was time to get the models ready. Another beautiful young lady went before Mira, to my relief, so she could watch what was going on before it was her turn. Was this a strategy thought up by Meg? I have no idea, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Meg knows Mira is shy so I got the feeling much of what was going on was planned.

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Meg went over all of the logistics of the shot and took photos demonstrating these in action to the group.

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I asked Mira to watch the model so she would know what to expect and I watched the group to see how they were absorbing the information. Once again, intense focus. This I believe demonstrates Meg’s ability to command a room. There are no other words to describe it. It’s not a dominating factor, it’s a matter of knowing your shit and feeling confident enough in your abilities that you are able to share your knowledge with others. Nobody was diddling away on their cell phones or chatting  in the corner.

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Once it was Mira’s turn, I got very anxious but also very proud. I had no idea how Mira would take being put in front of a group of people or have someone else standing in front of her giving her commands.

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Then, something happened that I was not expecting……..

Connection.

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Meg barely said anything to Mira. For the first part of her taking Mira’s photos, there were no words spoken. What does this mean? MEG GOT IT.  She knew what was needed.  Instead, she took the time to establish a connection. That is not something learned or taught, it’s something that comes from within. You gotta know when to shut the fuck up and just listen with your soul.

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Each and every attendee got one on one time with Meg. Meg’s assistant was always there to help and I often saw her sitting down with one of the other photographers helping them better understand the functions of their camera. That is what I observed. Complete and total immersion. At a moment of doubt, Meg would ask the person… why? Why are you doubting yourself? Don’t do that.

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When it was time to go outside, I was able to not only watch from afar, but to really watch how Meg utilized her surroundings to teach the group that you don’t need to go anywhere, but right outside your door.

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I’m not here to kiss ass. I was not offered anything to write this or to take the photos. I WANTED to. Anyone who knows me knows I will not blow smoke up anyone’s ass for any reason what so ever.  I can’t really say anything about what was taught or offer any insight about her editing because that was not my reason for being there.

I enjoyed watching (in a non-stalker kind of way). I am an observer by default. I don’t remember names until I get to know someone, but I remember your genuine smile, that back tattoo you were trying to hide, the way your hair curled on the ends of your enviable haircut, the uncomfortable stance of someone who I could tell had really pushed herself to be there, the look on your face when you were really inspired, the obvious hours spent in the gym perfecting your body while you were there to perfect your creativity and an uncertainty that slowly faded in each and every one of you as the day went on.

Desolation

It’s not easy. Always being the one there for everybody. You get the feeling of, “who is there for me?”  So often we find ourselves the ones who have to put on a happy face for the kids. The ones who have to get the job done because frankly, it won’t do itself. We have to be the ones persevering despite our thoughts and feelings. We cry alone, wipe away the tears, take a deep breath and take Toby to practice. We cook the dinner and feed the family while our insides feel like they might just collapse at any moment. Is this what it means to be a mom? Nobody ever tells you about it. Our own mothers didn’t tell us about it. It’s like the dark secret nobody talks about. Sure loads of moms have their family and friends to whine to when their food processor breaks or their pet gerbil dies. They have someone there to help shoulder the pain, but what about the rest of us? What about those of us who are not the social archetype? Where do we turn when we hurt?

I’ll tell you. We turn inside. We focus on what keeps our lives normal, we do that and do it well. We smile when we want to frown. You’ll see us throw ourselves into our work, our kids and our family. We do so to keep our sanity. We are not avoiding you, we are trying to save ourselves. So next time one of your cooky friends stops talking for a bit, or doesn’t know what to say. Think about what they may be trying to shoulder.  It’s nothing personal. We can only take so much at one time.

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Photography: Art VS Product

You’re an artist, you see people in your local group looking for photographers… you message or post your services. You contact the potential client, explain your prices and everything seems good. Then you never hear from them again. What happened?

A week or so later you see the same client posting all of their photos from another photographer. Now you feel like a loser. Like your work wasn’t good enough.

That’s not the issue. That particular client wasn’t looking for art. They were looking for pictures.

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Some people treat photography like it’s another Jamberry, MaryKay or Scentsy business. They grab a good camera and if they have the disposable income, they grab some good lenses and call it a day. They are now a professional photographer.

This works for them. This works for their clients. There is nothing wrong with it.

The issue is when creative people, artists, and dreamers who look at photography like an extension of their very soul get pushed to the bottom of the pile. They usually cost more. They spend more time on their craft. They work for hours perfecting and fine tuning their skills. They focus on their work…. Really FOCUS. They FEEL what they create. It’s not just another job. They end up taking it personally, as though something is wrong with their work.

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It is frustrating to compete with them I know. Usually, it’s a thread…. someone looking for a photographer. They want an affordable photographer that has a quick turn around. Specials, deals and percentages off. They want a (Scentsy, Jamberry, 31 gifts, Avon, Body by Vi) seller. That’s what photography is to them. It’s another thing to buy.

ITS NOT PERSONAL

Those are NOT your clients.

Your clients seek you out. They want your vision. They look at you as an artist. They are willing to pay a premium for a premium product.

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If you have any doubt about this, go look at some of the most famous successful photographers. Look at their work. Look at their prices. I guarantee you they are not posting in groups about their BOGO deals and offering to do weddings for $100. They offer a unique product. They aren’t offering 100’s of photos in both color and black and white ran through a quick batch edit. (Imagine trying to artistically hand edit 100 photos and have them to your client in 2 days)

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We need those people. They are not “faux-togs,” “cheapies,” or even bad photographers; just a different point of view. They offer a service much like those vendors in the mall or the Direct TV people in Walmart. It’s usually quick and easy and it makes them money. It works for them and the clients they attract.

For an artist, this is good. It weeds out the people you are not working for. It’s not competition. Walmart is a huge company that offers good prices on goods. Then you have Whole Foods which offers a higher quality, higher prices, fewer goods. Neither is struggling to find customers nor are they fighting each other for them.

You may find yourself doing the cheaper work for a while and that’s ok. You have to start somewhere. Eventually when you find your special place in the art world, you will see that the Whole Foods customers are knocking on your door. Those are your clients. They want art and are willing to pay for it and appreciate it.

If you don’t appreciate and respect yourself as an artist, nobody else will either.
Know your worth.

The passing days.

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I envied her. Her ability to escape. She was able to leave and head toward the light. While my strength kept me behind I still felt the pull of that long warmth. Begging me to reach out for it. Would that be the only thing to come? Days pass, time goes by and nothing changes. It’s all still the same. I envied her. She got out. Everything stopped and she was finally free. Free from pain and doubt and self-loathing. I envied that.

I envied her. Her ability to escape. She was able to leave and head toward the light. While my strength kept me behind I still felt the pull of that long warmth. Begging me to reach out for it. Would that be the only thing to come? Days pass, time goes by and nothing changes. It’s all still the same. I envied her. She got out. Everything stopped and she was finally free. Free from pain and doubt and self-loathing. I envied that.

April…

April. My favorite month. With April came the sun. Unexpected things. Happiness. New tidings. With April came heart and soul. Most of all, came hope.

 

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This was March for me.

This was March for me. Slowly enjoying the warmer weather and trying to think outside the box. Embracing the imperfections and focusing on capturing what I saw in my mind’s eye.

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Taking Control.

A while back, my youngest son comes into my room crying. He asks me to come with him. He likes to Skype with his friends from school so I thought nothing of it. Apparently he had found a friend he didn’t know from school, another boy around his age, to play Minecraft with. This boy along with 2 others were bullying my son. I read the texts back and forth and was not too happy with what I saw.

While sitting there, the boy “skyped” my son. So I answered. (note, neither have their webcams on). I hear a young voice pop up and I say hello, that I’m the mom and I don’t appreciate him harassing my kid.

He proceeds to curse at me and then tells me I “sound like an 80 yr old woman.” I, of course burst out laughing because it was so…. dumb. I told him thank you, and goodbye.

Here comes in the difference between being a bullied CHILD and a “bullied” adult: I then went in and blocked the contacts. I then deleted the contacts.  I am an adult, so I took control. I then asked him…. “Who are these people to you?” My son had felt helpless, he is a child. It’s to be expected. As adults, WE control how we feel. WE control who we listen to. WE control how we react.

Tears still in his eyes, though a little less so after the eruption of laughter….. he asks me how to deal with this. The thing is, he is bullied all the time. At school, online etc.. I tried to explain to him that when you think for yourself, and march to the beat of your own drum, people feel threatened by that. They don’t like it. Since the dawn of time, those who are different have been persecuted for it. He really enjoys being in his own world and I commend him for that. He has his very own story line and he isn’t afraid to speak up. As his mother, it is my job not to “fix” it all for him, but to aid him in getting a hold of the situation. Yes, I step in when needed, but I won’t be able to fight his battles forever.

 

My Story

I have become so accustomed to being “hated” on, it surprises me to have anyone actually take the time to get to know me. I grew up being pushed around, having my hair pulled (I grew up with Shirly Temple curls), being called ugly, fat, weird etc. Groups of kids would wait at the bus stop after school to “beat me up.” I once was pushed around and picked on so badly on my bus, I ended up having a panic attack. My mom had to work to support us so nobody was really there to “defend” me. I had to learn on my own. Looking back, I was that little girl who picked out her own clothes did her own hair and her own thing. I didn’t like to take my shoes off, I wasn’t very fond of people seeing my feet. This made for difficult nap times in Kindergarten, time-outs were often. I was bossy. It was my way or the highway. I had a temper too. I wanted to do things myself. To put it frankly, I was a real pain in the ass. I was also quiet. Reserved. Lived in my own head. The perfect victim.

By high school, the bullying was just a day to day thing for me. I ignored it. Read my books on the bus, retreated into my own mind for comfort. One day in Drama class, I happened to see one of the boys who bullied me sitting alone. My curiosity got the better of me and I went over and quietly asked him, “why do you pick on me?”

He told me, “because you look like you can handle it. I’m expected to be this big ‘jock’ and to be popular, so I do it to get a laugh from my friends.” I understood, I was shocked. It was literally as though he was hoping I’d ask so he could just rid himself of the guilt. That day on, he never bullied me the same way again. We actually “teased” each other more than anything. No, we never became friends, but I understood. It was no excuse by any stretch of the imagination. Bullies are people too. Something drives them to do what they do. Whether it’s low self-esteem, family expectations or just fearing what they don’t understand.

Not everyone can “handle” it though. I had far worse things to deal with so the bullying was breeze when put into perspective. It helped me release those feelings of “sorrow” when people were mean and replace them with more curiosity as to why they behaved the way they did.

In the long run. Learning how to react to bullying as a child, helps as you get older. The problem is, not every child has a good support system to help them deal with it. Every person is different. I let my kids know to be there for those who might be bullied. Stand up for them and offer them support. As adults, we should do the same. Instead of attacking others, we should try to understand them instead.

 

 

When a Good Old Fashioned F-Bomb is the RIGHT Answer…

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Imagine this. For only a moment.

You work your ass off for years. Slowly building a brand. You didn’t buy your 100K likes on Facebook. There was none of that “Political Facebook-ing.”  You didn’t join the “viral” universe to make a name for yourself. You worked your ass off. Poured your blood, sweat and tears into making something you can be proud of, something you can whole heartily say…. “I DID THIS.”

I forgot to mention. You’re also a mother, a wife and most importantly; a human being.

One morning you wake up only to find out an entire website has been created about you. On that website are hundreds of comments calling you “fat,” “cunt,” “bitch,” etc…

Let’s press pause for a minute. I was one of those unfortunate souls who fell into the vat of ickiness and listened to the rumors. That was until I got to know some of the people who were being attacked. One in particular really changed my viewpoint on how I see those in “photographic” positions of assumed power. I will forever be in her debt.

Press play.

Now lets add in a few FB groups dedicated to ripping you, your lifestyle and your life’s work apart. Sprinkle on a few sneaky bastards that gather groups of people do a “buy-in” into your workshops (with the purpose of recording them and sharing them on file sharing sites), and add a dash of action makers who try to get into your editing workshops for the sole purpose of creating action sets THEY can sell.

That’s just breakfast.

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For lunch you get to have a few hundred people on Facebook telling you each and everyday how to run your business. A few who think your work is porn, some who question your ability to keep your clients safe and at least one or two who feel the need to declare their immediate action to unfollow you.

By now you are probably getting at least a little flustered. Remember, you are also running a full time business, raising a few kids, having a normal life and on top of that…adminning a Facebook page.

Dinner rolls around and you have received at least two fake emails telling you about more internet articles being written about you, more web pages being created to bash you and at least one telling you what an evil bitch you are and that you should die.

Let’s not forget dessert.

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For dessert you get to watch your entire portfolio being re-created in your newsfeed and watch other people take credit for your imagination, your creativity and your unmistaken style. Then you get to be told to basically take it up the ass like a good photographer and just smile and nod. You’re a professional remember?

FUCK THAT

When did it become OK to be a constant victim? When did it become OK to show people how to take it up the ass? That’s what is going on. By sitting by and doing nothing and just smiling and deleting hundreds of comments a day….you’re taking it up the ass and telling others who look up to you, to do the same. Wasting HOURS of your time….sitting there moderating each and every hateful comment because you’re suppose to bend over and take it. GRAB THOSE ANKLES!!!! Because not only are you supposed to just take it, there is ZERO lube involved.

Stressed out. Upset. Angry. Sad. Humiliated. Devastated. Depressed.

But your supposed to smile…..?

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YAY FOR ME!!!!

This is where it is perfectly OK to drop the f-bomb. Tell those people to STFU. Fuck you and shut the fuck up. Those who stand up for themselves often find themselves standing alone. It’s not popular to stand up for yourself. It’s not “politically correct.” Some of us are just sick and tired of being ramrodded in the ass… at least grab the lube next time.

Halo and Blending videos….

The Videos….

Please be warned. Some adult language is used. (oh and you might not want to eat beforehand either…)  :P

Halo….

 

Blending….

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