Lensbaby Sol45: The enemy of perfection, the ally of creativity

This is my best friend, my brother. He’d hate for me to say this. He’s a private guy. I’d like to tell you we had an immediate friendship but I’d be lying. We were in our mid-twenties then and when we were introduced to each other, I knew I wanted to know the man but to this day… I’m surprised how important his friendship is to me.

So, when he said he was coming to visit (all the way from Spain), I immediately thought “he’s not escaping my house without a concept studio session.”

What was the concept? Getting to the complexity and the straightforwardness of his personality. He is a guarded person. Alvaro is a lone wolf type. He has deep love for people that lets in but he’s not a person that needs to have people around constantly. He’s alone; just not lonely. Give him a good book and you won’t hear from him for several hours. He’s also a politics geek and one of the smartest people I know… not always but most of the time. ;)

When we are together we talk about art, politics, feminism and make lots and lots of dick jokes… we also have Monty Python level humor (take it as you wish). Basically, we oscillate between 15 year olds and 40 year olds.

I love the dude and I wanted to put all of that in those photos. I even bought a special lens for this: The lensbaby Sol45. And BOY! did it deliver or what!? I was really curious to try this lens in the studio and had only received it a week prior. Yes, it is a difficult lens to use but when it works, it WORKS! I had been eyeing one for a good long time and finally pulled the trigger and I am not disappointed with the results.

Check out my lens Baby!

My first Quinceañera; at Balboa Park no less!

My first and my last… if I have anything to say about it. for 2 reasons mainly:

1, because I’m 42 and I don’t have the Benjamin Button syndrome and therefore I cannot go back in time.

and 2, more importantly, because I am not a 15 year old girl.

With that said… I’ll do Quinceañeras any day of the week. THAT was fun! Mainly because I am not used to it and I really wanted to try my hand at traditional portraiture! and again, it does not get more traditional than a good quinceañera at Balboa Park; and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that I might add. If that’s what the young lady wants, that’s what the young lady gets!! lol.

YES… me… the documentary photography guy… posed portraits. I’m sure more than one of y’all will have a conniption about it. HA!

I love me a great portrait but, if I choose to be a documentary photographer for people, it does not mean that I cannot or won’t do portraits. It just means that I am better at the story telling.

What do you think?

147Photos takes photos at Coasterra for ABC San Diego

What a wonderful time I had! Thank you to Deborah Young, one of the board members of the Association of Bridal Consultants (the San Diego chapter) for inviting me to shoot the event. I would have gone all the same since I am a member but that was a great time. I got to meet some amazing people, take some pictures and have a great meal at one of the best locations in San Diego. SWEET!

Click on the image, take a look.

A most wonderful 50th birthday party

I am your Palm Springs Family Documentary photographer.

No worries, I am not moving from San Diego anytime soon but I feel fancy and uber glamour saying that.

moving on…

My friend Monica, an amaaaaaazing macro photographer turned 50 a few months ago and she decided to celebrate it in style: renting a house in Palm Springs for herself, her partner and her friends. Nice… and I was along for the ride. Whaaaaaaat!?

I loved being there for my friend, loved that she trusted me to shoot her birthday party and loved the party. Even the drive to Palm Springs from San Diego is fantastic. it was a nice day in SoCal, so I was able to drive with the windows down and Prince blasting the entire time. I had a great time with this wonderful group of people coming from all over to be with their friend.

Here are a few of my favorite shots:

Go big or go home!! Tyler and Lyndsey elope to San Diego

I mean, if you’re going to elope and do a small wedding, you might as well go big and have the smallest of weddings and do it during the 4th of July weekend… because, why not… they’re Canadians. LOL.

The awesome Deborah Young, a very well respected wedding officiant from San Diego called me and asked me if I was willing and available to shoot a very small and very short wedding a whole 3 days before the wedding was to take place as she apologized for the last minute request. The couple was coming on vacation to sunny city and wanted to get hitched… in a spur of the moment kind of way…

“hmmm… well, let me see if I’m available”

**flipping through the pages of my imaginary paper calendar**

“Yes Deborah… I believe I am”

That’s right… 3 days later, I was at Tyler and Lyndsey’s wedding which included all but 4 people: Deborah The wedding officiant, the couple and yours truly at Seagrove Park in Del Mar at Sunset. I had never met the couple for obvious reasons but we had a fantastic time! they are lovely people and I felt immediately comfortable with them.

Now, believe me that’s up close and incredibly personal. As you can see in the pictures, there’s no reason for me to be anywhere but right with them… all up in the grill.

I was involved! I had never been a witness at a wedding but I guess I can cross that off my bucket list now.

I hope you enjoy the photos… I am very proud of them.

ADITL with the Villosos

My sister-in-law wanted to do an ADITL session with me and I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable sessions I have ever had the pleasure to shoot. It was a true “Day in the life” as it almost did not happen… even the morning of as you can read below. As you can tell, my SIL is very honest and very real when talking about the circumstances of the session but I am so happy with the way it turned out.

"My brother-in-law, Antoine Didienne, does these awesome "day-in-the-life" photo shoots. No posing, no prompting; just do your thing while he takes pictures.

When we scheduled ours, I had planned on doing my hair, putting on a little make-up, and wearing cuter pajamas for that "i woke up like this" look, but alas, Adelbert Villoso and I had been weaning Ofie off of milk during the night, and it was a rough one. Bet was asking me to cancel since we were both exhausted, but it was the middle of the night and Antoine was supposed to come around 9am. I felt badly to cancel last minute, so I said that we'd just have him come and get it over with, as I was not in the mood to have my picture taken either.

Anyway, morning comes and the house is a mess, Bet and I crawl out of bed and hadn't even brushed our teeth yet when Antoine arrives. When we tell him about our night, he asks if we'd like to reschedule, we agree, but since he's over, he might as well have some breakfast and coffee. Since he's waiting for breakfast and coffee, he might as well take some pictures.

This is a real day in our lives: no make-up, no prepping and not enough sleep. Not to say that everyday is like this, but with two toddlers, we definitely have hard days and nights. Thanks to Antoine for still making us look good!

I am NOT a wedding photographer

I say it on a regular basis… I am a documentary photographer that shoots weddings…

In a very recent issue of my awesomest newsletter (which, shame on you if you’re not subscribed already), I talk about my non-traditional approach to family and wedding photography. You can check it out here.

The good news is that documentary wedding photography gets a guest spot on CNN… woot woot! And, If you want to read the article (you should), click on that screenshot.

My interpretation of wedding photography is extremely similar to my colleague’s so I’ll do a little exercise here and answer the questions CNN asked of Ian (without looking at his answers) as if they had interviewed me. I think that’s kind of fun.

Here goes:

What aspects of wedding photography appeal to you as a photographer?

I love documenting weddings because they are essentially stories packaged and tied up with a pretty little bow on top. They have clear beginnings, middle and and ends… the stress of the day always brings out an amped up version of people’s personalties. It is about drama, emotions, fun, tears and love. It is beautiful. I’ve never been to a wedding I didn’t love. It’s a celebration of lives coming together. It’s about new beginnings. It’s about being human. All that interested me deeply and I felt naturally drawn to weddings.

In your view, how has the lucrative wedding industry evolved for photographers?

When I started photography, we were at the height of the “boho chic” style and hipsterism, especially in photography. There were a lot of warn and earthy tones and of taking pictures in fields. it was very Pinterest and it was everywhere!! It was a fad. I was just starting back then and even I tried to make my photos look a bit like that… but I hated myself for it. When it comes to photography, I can’t help but being my own. I was not able to dissociate my art from my self and I could not turn out photos I felt proud of if they were imitating a style I did not believe in. I had to figure out a way to create art that would stand on its own and my interests in photography were photojournalism and documentary photographers from the 1950s. I think you can see that in my photos today.

Your photos capture lots of very spontaneous moments. Do you find that people feel pressured to act a certain way when a photographer is around? How do you get those candid shots?

In talk to the couples and families I shoot with about what they should expect from my behavior at their wedding or their family shoot. I expect people to feel a little weird around me for the first 30 minutes and then they invariably stop caring that I’m around taking photos. In fact, I’ll take it a step further to help the process. I talk to them. I engage them during my sessions. I crack jokes, I have conversations, I tease a little. All of this is to get people to trust me that I’m here for their story. I’m not here to make them look bad. I’m here to service the story and I truly mean that. That’s why candid moments are best to tell those stories.

The only ones that I feel truly person for the camera without shame or self-restraint are the kids. And I love it. Kids are honest in that sense. They cannot escape from themselves unlike we adults do so often.

Do you have a favorite photo from the series?

My favorite photos are invariably the ones where I see true emotions in them. When I find photos where the bride, groom or even better the dad seeing his daughter getting married get emotional, it is photography gold for me. The power of that raw moment is precious for my couples… especially years down the line. Posed portraits of couples tell me nothing about who they are but a candid photo of them forgetting that I am there absolutely will. Kids pulling funny faces or crying or having a tantrum is always amazing because it is real. It happened. I was there. I want my couples to remember those moments because that’s what they will remember and laugh about 10 years from now.

How do you find your clients, and what kind of relationship do you form with them before and during the wedding?

I find my clients by talking to like-minded people but people find me and mostly chose me because of me. I care about them and I care for their legacy. My photos are aimed for that. Anybody who’s met knows that I am genuinely interested in people and their stories. I love shooting street portraits of strangers and some of the best photos I have ever taken were on the streets talking and photographing strangers. As I mentioned earlier, I am involved with my couples and their families. I’ll get on the dance floor, I’ll play with the kids and make funny faces.

With all that said, my first impressions are very very important in my style of shooting that’s why I like to come to a wedding knowing the bare minimum necessary. My art comes out as more genuine that way because I express my experience of the day through my camera.

How do your clients react to seeing your photos?

As I’ve mentioned, people hire me because of me, my style, my approach. They want someone they can rely on to be there for the story and they usually are very excited because to see the photos as they have no idea what I captured or not.

What do I do to relax on the 4th of July when the family comes over?

I take more pictures… that’s what I do.

I don’t know if I am a sick or if I just enjoy photography THAT MUCH… my guess is a little bit from column A and a little bit from Column B. :P

Anyways, I took some photos that day. I usually shoot on a dark grey background because I like the moodiness of darker backs but I’ve been obsessed with high key portraits lately and it so happened that I bought some new lighting equipment lately… so, I had to try it…!!

FYI:

I focused all my attention on lighting, on the expressions and on the poses. There is little to no editing done on these photos. especially no Photoshop of all the little flyaway hairs.

But, I was so happy with the results… especially with the photos I took of the little human children I have been raising. It is the perfect representation of their relationship. (I wish I could add the facepalm emoji right there)

Bryan's Grandma's last trip to Welk's

This is one of my favorite things to do: family house parties. They rule. The people are themselves, comfortable, relaxed. There’s always kids around which —for me— makes the shoot waaaay more fun. I thrive when I am photographing kids playing.

When he contracted me, Bryan told me that his grandma was not feeling too well and that she could not travel all that much as her health was failing. Maybe so but she is a fire cracker of a woman. She told me one thing that struck me especially: at that party, there were 2 sets of 4 generations and she was at the center of it… I mean, that’s pretty incredible.

This was a beautiful party and I loved being there to record it.

Here are some of my favorite stills from the day:

Antoine Didienne, featured on ImageBreak

I don’t necessarily seek to be featured on other publications but when the opportunity is brought to me, I definitely take it. :P

That’s where ImageBreak comes in. As many of you know, I’m a Fujifilm user (and proud of it!) and the founder of the magazine Fujilove thought my work was good enough to be featured on his new venture, the aforementioned IMageBreak.

This is mostly featuring an other side of my photography I don’t post on my 147Photos website or social media accounts. For that, I’ll direct you to antoinedidiennephoto.com or to @didio_town on Instagram.

In the mean time, I recommend you click the image and read (it’s a very quick read) this newsletter where I talk about my personal work.

Being interviewed by Cindy Matalucci for Wine Wednesdays

As I mentioned in my newsletter… oh yes, I have a newsletter and judging by the feedback I’m getting, it’s pretty amazing. No biggy. :D… But I digress.

So anyways, I mentioned in that “famous” newsletter that I was interviewed by my friend Cindy. She’s the creator and host of The Pulse, a local TV show that caters to everything San Diego. They talk about up-and-coming companies, people doing important and interesting stuff in our gorgeous city as well as a bunch of other stuff. They’re great. Love’em.

In the age of the podcast where raw honesty and openness is the law of the land, they are venturing into a new thing: doing long form interviews of interesting people in a slightly less polished version of their show. It’s pretty great I gotta say… I mean, I was on it after all. HA! ;)

Jokes aside, seeing myself on TV was cringe worthy for sure. It’s awkward, I look/was nervous and I have to live up to the invitation. After all, they are doing a whole episode about me and I HAVE to be interesting… otherwise, why am I on? Sooo, no pressure.

I relaxed after a while… there WAS wine involved. In the end, I think I did not embarrass myself. Pfffiu!

Watch it here

The Pulse Wine Wednesdays Episode 3 with local entrepreneur Antoine Didienne. Cindy & Antoine talk about Antoine moving here from France, making the transition in his career to a professional photographer, and the truth about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Antoine Didienne of 147Photos is an award winning wedding and family documentary photographer.

Antoine wrote a thing about a thing on a website.

I won’t bore you with a lengthy piece about a piece I wrote on a different website. I would appreciate it if you read it though (you can also click the picture). I am proud of it.

Full disclosure, I am a member and a sponsor of IFMA San Diego (IFMA being in the International Facilities Manager Association) that’s why my logo appears there… but I was very fortunate to be chosen to be the photographer at Mel and Steve’s wedding. They are a great couple and we got some amazing photos together.

Don’t believe me? Fine, I’ll prove it to you. Click that link to watch a photofilm of their wedding.