Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SWP Spotlight ~ MUA of the Month ~ Lisa's Hair and Make-up

I hope you are enjoying this series.  I've lined up some amazing talent, and this month I'm featuring California native, Lisa from Lisa's Hair and Make-up.  She did all of the make-up and hair for this mother/daughter session and we had such fun!  Lisa even met us on-site for the session, and set up her station by the pool, which made things a breeze.  
Mother / Daughter session, with make-up and hair done by Lisa K. Saminathen.
  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.  My name is Lisa K. Saminathen. I was born and raised in San Jose, CA and attended Ganaye Academy where I focused on hair-styling. I received my license from the State Board of Barbering & Cosmetology in 2001. Over the past 13 years, I have specialized in weddings / engagements, fashion shows, pageants, photo shoots, and special events. I am married to a wonderful loving husband of over 7 years and we welcomed our son, Evan into this world in Aug 2012. Being a first time mom is definitely an exciting experience. Though the sleepless nights and 10-12 diaper changes throughout the day aren't fun, looking at his face makes everything worthwhile. He is our little bundle of joy!
  2. An artist at work, Lisa's attention to detail shows, and she had the process down to a science..
  3.  Why did you become a MUA? After receiving my cosmetology license. I did not see myself working in a salon. I always wanted to make my own time, so I became a freelancer. I started out hair-styling first but as the years went by, makeup grew on me. I started getting into makeup and applying it on my friends and family when they would go to weddings or my cousins for their senior proms. I was able to master and learned my own techniques and what type of products work and don't work for my clients. I started taking before and after photos of my clients and with their permission, I added them on Yelp. That's when my business escalated.
  4.  How long have you been in business? 13 years
  5. What’s your favorite make-up style? I love fashion runway makeup. It brings the creative side out of me.
  6. Everyone should be this pampered at least once!.
  7.   What’s your specialty? I mainly specialize in hair-styling and makeup. (Bridals, Editorial shoots, glamorous, etc..) 
  8. Where do you find inspiration? By networking with other artists and seeing their talents, inspires me to improve on my skill as a professional artist as well.
  9. What’s something people might not know about you?  I'm not exactly sure, I am a people person and for the first-timers meeting me, I get comments that I'm super friendly and very open. My question would probably be "What do people know about you?" I think they probably know everything. he he... 
  10. What’s your favorite thing to do when not working?  Spending time with my family. I work 7 days a week and having some free time is very important to spend it with my loved ones. 
  11. The reveal.
  12.  Do you have any make-up tips you’d like to share? Yes! The #1 question ladies always ask me is "How to conceal dark circles?" I would recommend using a color corrector. Mix green, purple and orange to help cancel out the bruising purple effect under your eyes.
  13. What’s the #1 thing women should be doing to help them look youthful (or age gracefully) that they aren't? Everyone needs a great moisturizer (BB Creams with SPF) It will protect your skin from sun damage and keeping it from drying out and I highly recommend a good scrub (Clinique or St.Ives Apricot) for your skin as well, it will help exfoliate those dead skin cells that often needs a little extra help removing. It will bring out that new, radiant skin hiding underneath there. :)
  14. How can people reach you?  You can check out my  Website | Facebook | Yelp or Phone# 408.824.0917  By appointment only.
As you can see a session with Lisa is such fun! (Plus she likes "Hello Kitty!" and that scores big points with me!) If you want to see more, head on over to my Vimeo site for a "Behind the Scenes" video.  I loved working with her in the past and look forward to more sessions with her in 2014.  
All smiles!  Thanks Lisa for the fabulously fun day!
Do note that Lisa's calendar fills up fast, and she's already booked for a lot of the wedding season already, so if you want to have a session with her this year, let me know ASAP so we save the date!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Being a Professional Portrait Photographer Means to Me

When I was young, I used to read all of the time. It wasn't uncommon for my parents to tell me to “turn off the light” because they could see it seeping out from under my bedroom door.   If the book was really good, I would grab the heavy silver flashlight that I made sure to have next to me, and read the story under the covers until I finished the book, the battery went dead, or I was busted when my parents came in to check if I had gone to sleep.  ~ This is likely why I had a hard time waking up in the morning to get ready for school, but that’s another story all together.   Come to think of it, this is probably why we usually had to use candles when the power went out too. :-)
These books were published long before I was born.

Even as an adult when I read a book, I finish it within a day or so.  (Unfortunately I can’t pull the flashlight trick on my husband since he shares the bed with me, so I now only read on weekends when he doesn't have to get up early and go to work.) When I travel I've been known to have to pick up a book on the second leg because I already read the first one.   (Now that there's digital I just download another on my phone.)  But I still have a soft spot for printed books, especially old ones. 

Having read so many books over the years, some of them are bound fade away to the recesses of my memory, while pieces others stay with me.  One such book was picked up at a garage sale when I was in Junior High. It was a 25¢ paperback, and the heroine was a photographer that captured weddings.  What I recall vividly was that she used a ladder to climb up and take images of the food!  Now food images and “behind the scenes” images are quite common today, but at the time I loved her attention to detail and the fact she didn't just stand behind a tripod and capture stiff, posed pictures.  (This was pre-digital, so the fact she spent time on the food pictures was also noteworthy since every image counted.)  This was just a brief blip of character development, but I can remember the scene described so well.   This was the first time I remember thinking I would love to become a photographer, and take lifestyle pictures. (Although I don’t think the term "lifestyle photography" existed at the time.)  It was the reason I took “Science 2” in High School and learned dark room techniques.  (Since I was the only girl in the class, it meant I was occasionally on the sidelines as the High School football photographer as well!) 

Cropped image showing my magazine stack when I was about 18.
It has taken me a long time to get where I am today, and I am far from done learning.  But in hindsight, photography has always been a part of my life.  In fact I recently found a picture of my first apartment in California, and there on my coffee table was an assortment of photography magazines. I had forgotten I even subscribed to them! ~ I was a nanny at the time, and yet found it important to spend money on multiple subscriptions to photography magazines.  I find this rather telling.

Things have changed so much since I first read that paperback book.  Almost everyone today has a camera right in their phone, and point and shoot cameras have gotten quite advanced as well.  With digital you aren't limited to a roll of 36 exposures.  Instead you can take thousands of pictures and “pick the best one”.  (Something people in the photo industry call “Spray and Pray”.)  Another common practice in digital photography is “Shoot and Burn", the photographer is hired to take as many pictures as possible and then burn them to a CD or memory card for the client.  Most of the time these are unedited files, or if processed, they’re not edited a great deal, nor are they optimized for the different print mediums, crop sizes, or web use, which is okay, because most of the time, these images never see the light of day, other than a couple of random social media posts.  Instead they are often left in a drawer “to do later”. 

iPhone image of my current magazine stack.
The thing that strikes me is that even though I grew up studying photography, read all of the magazines I could about the subject, and was rarely found without a camera in hand, I still hired a professional photographer to capture the special moments in my life.  (Reunions, milestone birthday parties, weddings, etc.) It wasn't because I didn't know how to take pictures, or couldn't, it was because I wanted them to take care of things for me.  (Kind of like my reasoning when I spend $5 on an espresso drink when I have all of the ingredients and an espresso machine at home.)

A pro will know where to stand to capture the perfect moment.  They can find (or create) the perfect light that will compliment their subject and set the mood.  They are able to coax their subject into flattering poses and smiles, as well as creatively capture the candid moments.  They have the knowledge to set up and re-create images without having to “spray and pray” and then sort through thousands of images to “get one that looks good” or just give the client the images to sort themselves. A pro will take these planned images and not only back them up, but edit them so you look your best (because, pimples and such can happen at the worst of times). They will have a color calibrated monitor, and the ability to print the images on professional grade materials, using a professional print lab.  On the down-side, a pro will also have to know how to run a business.  Which means pay taxes, obtain a business licence, etc.  This is the "dark side" of being a pro, but is equally important, and quite often overlooked.

My goal as a photographer is for my client to commission printed images. I have access to high quality print labs, and archival materials that aren't always available to my clients so why not take advantage of the service?  It does mean extra work to research the labs, and then optimize the digital files for the print medium selected.  It takes a lot less time to just shoot the images and burn a CD. With today's technology we can capture some pretty impressive digital images with our phones that work just fine for the web, and so we're overwhelmed with images online. that they're often posted and forgotten.  Instead, I want my client to love their images so much, they can't imagine not printing them! (As a thank you for their order, I often add a digital app of pictures for their phone/tablet so they get the best of both worlds.)

The only time I want a CD of images is when I specifically commission a session for online use or head shots.  Otherwise, I want my photographer to take advantage of their connections to quality labs, archival materials, and custom services, and I want them to take care of the hard stuff.  (The posing, edits, print lab coordination, matting, etc.).  I hire a pro for their knowledge, experience, and services, so I can "focus" on other things.

Everyone has their own idea of what a professional is, and as I get ready to attend a huge photography trade-show and workshop next month, I am aware of these differences even more.   I am really looking forward to not only attending, but to speaking with other members of my field; from shoot-and-burn photographers, to head-shot photographers, to ones who offer prints and custom services.  I'm looking forward to taking classes to learn new techniques, and to walking the trade-show floor to see what other print options and services might interest my clients.  I continue to learn and challenge myself, because I want to be able to take care of my clients, so that they don’t have to do the work themselves. It's what I expect when I purchase my $5 espresso drink, too.  I want someone who is not only knowledgeable about the service they provide, but someone who makes life easier in the process.