Clickin Walk 2018

This year Jo Davis and I opted to lead the St. Paul, MN Clickin' Walk and selected the Rice Park area to explore.  I'd been down there a few times and love the area.  There are a lot of historic buildings and so many small shops and busy sidewalks.  

We met outside of Dunn Bros Coffee and one of the first things I did was run inside to grab a piping hot cup.  Even though we've lived in Minnesota for two plus years now I'm still not used to the cold.  Our walk boasted a whopping forty-ish degrees and my Arizona was definitely showing.

After a stroll through an antique shop we visited the Landmark Center.  This was a strategically planned stop since we suspected that it would be chilly.  We didn't know it would be so cold and breezy so this worked out well in our favor.  

This building is amazing.  Rounded towers, intricately carved wall panels, dome ceilings.  Seriously, there is a reason that people get married here.  The rooms are full of history, even complete with letters written in the 1930's in display cases for viewing.

Our Landmark tour complete, we braved the city streets again.  Admittedly there may have been more chatting than actual photo taking going on but I've seen the Instagrams - these ladies have shared some amazing images.

After the official walk ended with lunch at Burger Moe's four of us decided to keep the fun going and headed to the Cathedral of Saint Paul.  This is one of my favorite places to photograph.  

And after this pit stop?  Pfft, we STILL weren't done!  We set out on foot and explored the neighborhood nearby.  These are exactly the type of houses I love.  Old Victorians, Colonials, etc.  Each house had its own personality that was almost tangible.  

For day 1 I made the command decision that I was going to only bring my Sony A6000 - a camera that I have been struggling to love - in an attempt to really put it to the test and figure it out.  While I ended up with a lot of images that I adore I really did feel hindered by the limitations of this guy the entire day.  I knew before the walk was half over that I'd be bringing my Nikon to St. Cloud the following morning.

Eventually we headed back to the Cathedral to pick up our vehicles.  None of us could resist stopping one more time for some outdoor shots of the impressive architecture.  

This is the only shot where I felt privileged rather than hindered by the crop sensor.  I was able to zoom in on the Capitol building which sat about a mile or so away.

Day 2 started with the drive to Blaine to pick up Elena so that we could make the trek to St. Cloud together.  It was another overcast and chilly day though not as windy as the day before, thank goodness.  I don't think I could have survived another one of those days.  

I don't know what it is about GPS and St. Cloud but it has never done me right.  Thankfully Elena was able to call Carrie of CBaylessPhotography (my co-lead for the walk even though she did all of the work.  Thank you Carrie!) and we were navigated to the right place.  

We set out to explore the Beaver Island Park and I was immediately stunned by how many people were out fishing.  This guy was actually IN the water.  I couldn't believe it.  I was bundled up in multiple layers and this dude was legit standing in the freezing water.

Carrie had brought both her daughter and the daughter of a friend of hers.  Her friend's daughter and I clicked right away.  We spent the afternoon talking about photography, modeling, and music.  

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at the Green Mill restaurant where I had the BEST FRIGGEN SALAD I've ever had in my life.  EVER.  And I've had a salad or two.  I even had to text my husband to sing this salad's praises.  

After our meal we decided to keep on exploring.  Carrie knew a route that would take us right by the Mississippi River and we were able to get some amazing shots. 

So that was the 2018 Clickin Walk!  Definitely another FUN year to put in the books.  

What's In My Bag? | Minneapolis Portrait Photographer

How I Set Up and Shoot My Self Portraits | Minneapolis Portrait Photographer

But First, Let Me Take A #Selfie

I admit it and I have no maybe a little shame:  I love to take selfies.  Ever since I got my first little point and shoot I would set my camera up on a shelf and model for the imaginary paparazzi.  This from the woman who hates having her picture taken <sigh>.  

iPhone self portraitsiPhone selfies

Now that I've got a few years of serious photography under my belt guess what...I still take selfies on a regular basis.  It's just a lot more of a production now since, unlike my trusty iPhone (which believe me I still use), I have a lot more equipment to set up and take down.

For me the science behind my preference for selfies is three-fold.  I don't like looking like a tool anymore than my genetic makeup forces me to (my lack of grace and poise is legendary, people).  By taking self portraits I can cut loose and experiment a LOT more than I'm able when someone else is behind the camera.  

And number two I can experiment with settings, lighting, and backdrops without having a model or (god forbid) a client tapping their toes impatiently while I fiddle around with all of my stuff.

Lastly, I can experiment with all kinds of makeup and styles that aren't necessarily part of my portfolio.  I have had a love for theatrical makeup and styling ever since my early twenties when I went to my first underground club.

Old Hollywood Glamour

My Selfie Gear 

My gear setup has evolved over the course of my selfie career so I'll just do a quick run-through of the basics.

Nikon D750
Nikkor 50mm lens
Altura TTL flash for Nikon
Altura wireless flash triggers
Light stands (1 or 2 depending on lighting that day)
32" Octobox
24x36" 5 in 1 reflector

And now the less than glamorous truth about my selfie studio: 

Yep.  It's my bedroom, folks.  Dim light and a bit cramped but the only place in my house where my kids know not to mess around in.   Behind where I stand is a plain wall that I can either use as-is or lean my foldable backdrop against.

selfie grunge, 90's fashion

While I do have continuous light soft boxes and even a ring light this is what I use most often due to its ease of setup and portability.  I usually take my selfies when my boys are playing on their tablets and I have to cram hair, makeup, styling, setup, and photography into that hour and a half.  

The Process

The first thing I do is envision the final shot that I'm aiming for in my head.  Do I need anything that I don't have?  Makeup?  Glycerin?  How long will this look take to make happen?

The next thing I do after I've decided on the type of shot I want to get is to set up my lights.  This step comes before setting up my camera because obviously I can't adjust my settings for light that isn't there.  The following image isn't mine but accurately displays my standard setup:

Now my D750 can utilize my cell phone as a wireless trigger and when taking self portraits I use this feature every time.  I can see myself on my cell phone screen and not only make sure I'm in focus but also make sure the scene is exactly how I want it.

When I used to shoot with a camera that didn't have this feature I would stick something where I intended to stand, usually a tripod but anything tall enough will work.  A vacuum even.  Then I set my camera up (I shoot in full manual mode so I adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for the lights).  Lastly I make sure my face detection is ON (I used to go without on my D5300 but this way results in many more savable shots) and then set my remote timer on a 2 second delay so I have time to toss or hide the remote before the shutter clicks.  The remote I used was a ten dollar one purchased on Amazon that was compatible with my camera.

Getting the height just right takes some practice.  I usually take a test shot first to check the lighting, settings, and camera height and make adjustments accordingly.  Once I have everything the way I want it it's time to start clicking away.  

I'll be honest...for each selfie session I end up with just a handful of keepers.  The reason behind this is twofold:  First, I don't need twelve images of me in the same lighting/makeup/outfit.  Second, as I'm sure you can relate to, I'm SO critical of myself that I end up tossing the majority right out of the gate.

Another thing to remember when culling your selfie images:  Don't toss every single one straight away.  See what you can do in post-processing to save a few of the immediate "Oh no"'s.  A creative crop, a dramatic black and white, you never know what will turn a crummy image into a WOW image!

4 on 4 | Bye Autumn Edition

Every month myself and a very talented group of ladies from Clickin Moms get together to create the "4 on 4 Blog Circle" showcasing 4 of our favorite images from the month. Be sure to click the link at the bottom of this post to explore the circle! 

By far my favorite thing about living here in Minnesota is the weather.  The mild summers, the frigid winters, and absolutely the crisp autumn days.