A Sound Unheard Can Still Touch You

I was approached by a dear friend of mine to photograph a monk at a temple on Mt. Misen upon Miyajima Island nearby Hatsukaichi, Japan.  This monk holds a very special place in the heart of my friend and she wanted to give back to all his support in the form of a timeless portrait that would live on past his days.

So, what did I say to this invitation?

ABSOLUTELY!!!

I have witnessed a Buddhist prayer in the past and would absolutely find it to be an honor to photograph the “source” of these immensely moving experiences.

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So, off I went to Miyajima!

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I carried my backpack with my camera, three lenses and speedlite and a bag with a lightstand, octobox and boomstick.  When I jumped off the ferry and walked onto the island, I ran/jogged my way to the ropeway gondola to catch a lift to the summit of Mt. Misen.  (Whew, I was sweating a bit.)

After meeting my friend and her family, we set out to make a surprise visit to Monk Yoyusan, who was unaware he was about to be professionally photographed!

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For the most part, I photographed the encounter between my friend and Monk Yoyusan in a documentary way.  There is a much more delicate and sensitive reason as to why I was photographing Yoyusan for my friend.  And that story is not mine to tell.

When I was in his presence, I was able to see how joyful and carefree Monk Yoyusan is.  His personality radiates comfort, humor and hospitality.  I felt like I knew him, although, I had never met him before.

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Of course, I had never met a monk either, so I didn’t have anyone to compare him with! *giggle*

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I was able to witness a very unique version of “PPAP.”

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I was humbled to see a dear friend expose her most vulnerable emotion.

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I saw the passing of knowledge from one generation to another.

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I felt his drumming vibrating in my chest.

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The tinkling and chiming of the staff heightened my sense of ceremony.

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His chanting calmed my thoughts and allowed me to focus on and capture what I felt, not what I wanted to create.

I felt great joy and laughed behind my camera.

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There were messages all around.

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And when it came time to create a portrait for him, well, it was a bit awkward!  My light was big and chunky; got in the way, was heavy.  He had never been photographed professionally in this manner and was humbled and somewhat troubled as to what he should do.  But, when I asked him to kneel, place his hands together and bring himself into prayer, the room quietened.

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Even now, when reading this and looking at this image, knowing of his future, knowing of the change that awaits him, that awaits all of us, I feel intensely emotional.

His acceptance.  His beliefs.

In his presence, the world seemed to stop moving.

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I wanted to stay there.

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I looked around.

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And I turned back.

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Life is magnificent.  People are magnificent.  And through sadness, through hardship, there will always be wonderful moments of joy and true happiness.

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This visit to Mt. Misen to create a portrait of Monk Yoyusan will forever be etched into my mind and heart.  Thank you, Yoyusan.  Thank you, my dear friend Kaori, for you have given me an opportunity to connect with an amazing man.

Yoyusan

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Blooming In Effect

I know it’s the last day of April, and those of you who know me know that I’m a last-minute gal.  Life just has a way of slowing me down, and I’m sure it’s for the best.

My April self portrait is in the works, and I’m excited to get this finally moving.  However, I don’t have a finished portrait just yet.  So, here is a sneak peek of what is to come:

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Follow my blog,

the T-A-P Blog at tashaacosta.com,

to see the finished product soon!

Perspective and Style

The moment we open our eyes, tilt our heads to the side, and look at those around us from a different perspective is the moment we step into their world.

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“My style is simple, kinda girly, but with a bit of an edge.”

– Erin Heatherton

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IMG_5523-Edit_ChantalYbarraWe dress for ourselves.  Our hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes, even our “delicates,” are for us.

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 “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” – Rachel Zoe

Thank you Chantal!  A little head tilt, a bit of upside-down camera tricks on my part and you became my muse for that day.

Photographer Hunt

This Friday, follow the Sakuras along the Nishiki River to find

Tasha Acosta

Fine Art Photographer!

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I will be set up with my camera and lights south of the Kintai Bridge alongside the Nishiki River. If you find me, you get ONE COMPLIMENTARY PORTRAIT with my Premium Editing Application.

If you find me, you get ONE COMPLIMENTARY PORTRAIT!

WHEN: Friday, April 14th, 5:00-6:30 pm

WHERE: South of the Kintai Bridge, alongside the Nishiki River

WHY: Offering complimentary portraits for the Easter holiday

WHO: Anyone who can find her!

Please Understand the Following:
  • I will try my best to accommodate all who show during the times indicated.  If I have a large show-out, I will not be able to accommodate those who show after the indicated times (up to 5 minutes late).
  • If you choose to bring children, please make sure they are in a happy and healthy disposition.  These shoots will be quick and “to the point” to accommodate all the participants.

My March Madness

Life swings us from left to right.

At times, Life stops us.  No matter what we are doing.  No matter where we are.

Even when the world is upside down,

I try to keep myself focused on what’s important.

However, my insecurities, self-doubts and distrusts

pull me into a dark corner.

In this corner…

Life has left me alone to ponder…

My insecurities fill me with anguish.

Through this anguish, my most powerful quality pushes through.

My passion is full of energy.

Passions for Life’s lefts and rights.

Life’s frozen moments in time…

They grow into a fierce desire to destroy my insecurities.

I will not let you push me into the shadows.

I will not let you define me.

I control you!

Learning in Progress

Brooke Shaden.  She is an incredibly creative photographer.  I stumbled across her Instagram account about two months ago and have been in awe of the images she creates!  The planning she puts into every image is admirable.

A little backstory.  I had purchased a CreativeLive class several years ago and never found time to watch it.  Between chasing an 18-month old around the house and getting ready for a move across the world, it just “escaped” my mind that I ever bought it.

Since I have recently found time to better myself as a photographer and artist, I remembered.  “Wait!  I have a CreativeLive class I never watched!”  I go online, log in, go to my account and whose name did I see?

“Fine Art Portraits with Brooke Shaden”

It was like an omen.  I needed to follow this route.  Her process seemed simple enough.  Take pictures.  Composite pictures.  Alter lighting dynamics.  Adjust Color.  Place texture.  Done!  Well, there is a bit more to it than this, however, it is the basic flow.

And then, yesterday, I was inspired.

As I was snuggled next to my napping daughter, I thought, I hope she has beautiful, happy dreams.  And with that, I rolled out of bed, grabbed my camera, grabbed some fabric, grabbed some flowers the husband had bought me for no reason (love it) and setup the tripod.

Flower Bed Composite

Nope.

Flower Bed Composite

 

Nope.

Flower Bed Composite

 

 

Nope.

Okay.  Scratch that fabric.  Let’s start with this.

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Okay, could have been a bit brighter (this is an after thought, of course).

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Uhhh… Okay.

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Nope.

 

Get it?  Here?  No, here.  Okay.  Okay.

Then, 76 Raw images and 26 Photoshops layers later, I have this.

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It’s no Brooke Shaden image, but it is great practice for my fine art portraits to come!  I can’t wait to share some of the images I’ve been creating recently.  Hopefully, you’ll follow my site to see them.

Thanks for reading!  ‘Til next time.

– Tasha

 

 

‘Til Your Heart’s Content

February. February. February.  Oh, February.  You definitely pushed the boundaries of my comfort zone (which I thought would be much broader than what it was, actually) and technical preparation.

I had high hopes for a sensual shoot involving dynamic lighting techniques; however, I fell short.  (I know, right?  Like, WHAAAAAT?)  I wanted to create my own “laser cut” lantern to cover an off-camera flash to cast decorative shadows across my face and body.  After days of attempting to understand the Silhouette Cameo, I reached out and had a friend cut one for me.  She did great!  Everything I asked for.  Was what I asked for what I needed?  Nope.  The cut-outs were too wide and caused the light to blend with the shadows way too soon…  The result, a tiny area of about 20 inches where shadows were visible from a distance of 12 inches.  Yeah…..

Lesson Learned.

*Banging head on desk, wall and everything in between.*

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Lighting is difficult to master.  There are so many aspects of understanding lighting dynamics.  Furthermore, I thought I was much more confident about my body.  Ha!  Maybe, by myself, with the curtains drawn and an awesome mirror eight feet away.  It turns out, I’m pretty damn confident…WITH the clothes ON.

But it’s okay!  Because I my face was awesome!  Thanks to the amazing Caitlyn Shaw MUA.  The smooth makeup application was on-point.

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Okay, and my chest HERE is pretty smooth and fantabulous (thanks to an amazing octobox).

Towards the end of the shoot, I wanted to push my image into a different “realm.”

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The first set of images Nizar (awesome trigger-woman) caught are very different from the last set.  This image below (along with the “fantabulous skin” shot) is from the first half of the shoot.

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Much different than the last two (including the one below).  But, I like that!  I like when one shoot can capture a variety of images.

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Let your creativity take you wherever it may!  Even when your lighting attempts fail you.  Just keep shooting ’til your heart’s content.

‘Til next month!

 

Off-the-Cuff Fun

I’ve been trying to create a studio lighting setup for my February self portrait and have hit a big bump in the road.  I’m sure I’ll get around it, but in the meantime, I decided to take one of these practice shots and let it inspire me.

When I’m editing, I listen to a series of radio stations from Pandora. It’s usually a collection of indietronica and neo soul.  Artists like The Hics, Odesza and Haley.  This edit was heavily influenced by what I was listening to yesterday!

I started with the following touched image and probably a song like Odesza‘s “I Want You.”

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Ehh, it’s not a stop-in-your-tracks photo.  There are many elements that aren’t well executed.  It was a test run for a different lighting setup that, because I failed to produce, ended up morphing into a completely different result.

However, I totally dig the look I’m giving!  So, I decided to enhance it.

As I was listening to Zeds Dead‘s single “Lights Out (ft. Atlas),” I started playing with my hair and eyes.

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What more?  I asked.

Then, The Hics’ song “Tangle” came on.  Whoo!  Goodness!  My body started to move while in the computer chair.  My arms came off the keyboard and started flowing in the air.  My heartbeat was pulsing, elevated… Mmmm.  Good song.

Layer…

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After layer…

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Until I stopped here.

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There isn’t anything too special about this final image, other than its mood has changed quite a bit from the original.

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For me, my future as a photographer is greatly dependent upon my growing knowledge of lighting and post processing, and executing both quickly and efficiently.  Practice, practice, practice is what it takes.  I’m not too concerned if the final product is a magnificent or just a small improvement from the original.  As long as I’m practicing my skills to better my inner photographer!

 

YouTube Channels for the mentioned artists:

Odesza – https://www.youtube.com/user/odeszamusic

Zeds Dead – https://www.youtube.com/user/ZedsDeadOfficial

The Hics – https://www.youtube.com/user/wearetheHICS

 


© 2017, Tasha Acosta, Photographer, All Rights Reserved.  Images from this site, its galleries and blog, may not be used without prior permission from the owner.

Quick Edits Develop Fast?

Often times, I find my images developing into something much more than I originally envisioned.  This is usually because the original image wasn’t as impactful to begin with.

My creative process usually flows like this:

  • Before the shoot:  I have an image in my head! Must…create…this……..now.
  • Day of shoot:  Okay, not what I envisioned.  Let’s try this… YES!!!!  
  • Days after the shoot:  Let’s just let those pictures marinate for a while.  My brain needs a break.
  • Day of editing:  Hmmm.  I just need one, for now.  One magnificent one!  Yes!!!! Come hither and let me amplify your magnificence.
  • Day after editing:  Ugh, I’m exhausted.  I just can’t maintain this “artistic” pace… Must…stay…away…from…computer.
  • Days/Weeks/Months later:  Let’s try another one of those images from that shoot.  Ehh, you’re…okay (talking to “ehh” photo).
  • Next editing day:  Ugh.  This is just not as magnificent as the first one I chose.  What can I do?

And then, my process shifts to create something that was never intended with the original shoot.

I attribute this “non-standard” workflow to my ever-growing knowledge of myself as a photographer.  I know my niche; however, I haven’t been practicing in the genre of fashion and fine art photography very long.  Therefore, things don’t just come all at once for me.

Enough of that!  Let’s talk about an intended quick edit that turned into something much more valuable.

I recently posted a shot from a photo session with a friend from last year on my Instagram feed.

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Caitlyn came to me last year, with this wild makeup and asked me to photograph it. 😊 Honored and excited, I buzzed around my room, moving furniture, returning furniture, moving plants, returning plants, positioning lights, shifting lights…. After a little staring and really gathering the mood of her makeup, I positioned her as such, asked for a troubled expression, not sad, but concerned. Tada!
I want all aspects of my images to make an impact, to attract the eye. I want the viewer’s eye to constantly move and observe and enjoy. The true success of an image is making the viewer want more.

“The true success of an image is making the viewer want more.”  This is me.  I enjoy creating a desire to see more.  Desire, today, is often trumped by the immediate satisfaction we receive daily with social media and internet access.  If we desire it, we get it immediately.

Not with Tasha Acosta!  “Desire is the fundamental motivation of all human action.”  A big part of my photography is to create desire, to create a sense of excitement with the expectation of an outcome.

Okay, I’m side-tracking.  So!  This post I made regarding the above post created a desire in a friend to see more.  I sat down at my computer, grabbed an “Ehh” picture from that shoot and started working on it.

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After some quick edits that I typically execute in all of my fashion images, I ended up with this image on the right here. It’s a good image, good skin, not too heavily edited, which is what I like (unless I’m paying you as a model and desire a more conceptual finish).  Great makeup!  *wink wink* cough, Caitlyn Shaw MUA, cough.

However, it’s just not as impressing as the first image (above).  So, I pushed my chair back, crossed my arms and asked, “What can I do to make it…MORE?”

Studying it, I realized, Caitlyn’s gaze has nowhere to go.

Canvas extension.  Boom!

Then, well, What do I do with this white space?

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When I was doing my Project 365 last year, I happened across an Instagram following for blurred images (#projectblur).  Lots of motion blur through Photoshop processing.  I’m not sure how my brain made the leap from white negative space to motion blur, but it did.

Duplicate image.  Motion blur, HIGH SPEED!  Mask out hair, fine-tune selection at 200%.  Oops, hair is flat.  Liquify, poof!

Then, after all that, I push back from the computer.  It’s missing…vibrance.  What can I enhance?

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Add blue color tone, reduce opacity, mask out what I don’t want “colored” and viola!  Slap a watermark on it so there are no sneaky uses by companies, and I have a great editorial spread.

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There you go!

My process is slowly working it’s way to a fast and efficient workflow, which I’m proud of.  Baby steps.  It’s a lot of work, mentally and emotionally….blooming, that is.

“Solitude is the soil in which genius is planted, creativity grows, and legends bloom.”
– Mike Norton, White Mountain

Logo by Benjamin LeMar with LOGO BRAND Studio

Me, Myself and I

“There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.”

― Edgar Allan Poe

Where I am now is not where I used to be.  In the past, I created a lot of space between me and strangers or people I hardly knew when in close proximity, physically.  Looking others in the eye used to be one of the most unsettling experiences for me.

Are they looking at me, or are they looking at what makes me unattractive?

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The standard in which I “graded” myself was set by what I saw around me.  Whether it was on a magazine or that girl who got all the attention I desired.  I never looked in the mirror and graded myself off of what I saw gazing back at me.

Within the last several years, I have slowly uncovered a wonderful secret. Would you like to know?

I will only see myself as beautiful as I believe myself to be.

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No more do I rate myself.  No more do I compare myself to the woman next to me.  And I absolutely, positively will never let someone judge me for img_9918-edit_myjanuaryselfportraitwebsizedhow I look.  Because I look like me, and will never look like “her.”

This year, I will dive into me and bring to you a series of self portraits that explore the beauty and “strangeness” I see in myself.

January’s set of self portraits is about flattering myself with my work.  I’ve been pursuing photography for four years, and I’ve found myself attracted to fashion, conceptual/fine art and documentary photography.

(Side note: I don’t consider myself to be fashion forward by any means!)

I enjoy doing self portraits, but I’ve never tried to combine my interest in fashion photography with me as the model.  Therefore, I grabbed an outfit from my closet and decided to be my model and capture my personal beauty and appeal!  (Thanks to two talented friends, Caitlyn Shaw and Nizar Wogan.)

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I’m not the most fashionable.  I don’t have the most current outlook on what’s “in” and what’s “out.”  What I do have are clothes in my closet and a camera in my bag.  Let’s see what I can create this year!

 

PS – A shoutout to my ladies Kaori and Noriko for coming along and helping with the shoot!