Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Check it out

So this is definitely the funniest check I've ever received for my photographic services. It made me laugh out loud.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


While in Tennessee for my Thanksgiving break, I did a portrait session for one of my mom's contacts from church. I really enjoyed meeting the family and photographing their son, William. He is just as cute as can be, and a true two-year-old boy, through and through! We were able to do a lot of different things, including photographing him in front of the Christmas tree, in his playroom, and outside. I think the variety of locations worked well for some unique portraits that really captured his spirit. At the end of the session I was exhausted from running around after him and wondering if I got much at all. But after looking through the images, I'm totally happy! I may not have had a whole bunch of the cheesy, look-at-the-camera photos, (which is hard to accomplish with any two-year-old) but I definitely got some great smiles and natural expressions. I've posted just a few of my favorites.

A Thanksgiving Story

I don't know about the rest of you, but I had a fabulous Thanksgiving! I was lucky enough to be able to go home to my parents' house in Tennessee for a few days (not long enough!). I guess the funniest thing that happened was my brother missed Thanksgiving. Wait, that sounds bad... but it's exactly what happened. He mistakenly booked his flight from Florida for the Thursday before Thanksgiving and never realized it. So when he showed up to the airport Thanksgiving day with bags fully packed, he couldn't understand why he wasn't being allowed to check in. And then he looked at the dates on his ticket. Oops. Before you think I'm a mean sister for laughing at this, I'll let you know that it did all work out. He was able to come the following day, Mom did a fantastic job of holding off Thanksgiving dinner (those Cornish hens were awesome!), and we all lived happily ever after. It's just one of those things that you just have to laugh at, because really there's nothing else you can do. I'm sure Jeff will think it's funny too, it just might take him a few years. But the irony of the whole thing? He's a logistics coordinator.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Connor and Faith

Not too long ago, I was in West Virginia helping my friend Matt shoot a wedding. Being in WV for the weekend allowed me to also do a portrait session for Alisha's twin babies. I photographed Ross and Alisha's wedding back in June, so this was a real treat to get a repeat client and see the new little ones. Babies are always tricky to photograph, and this was no exception! And however difficult one baby is, multiply it by two for a real challenge! But I wasn't in a hurry, so I waited through a couple of naps, feedings, and outfit changes and finally came out with a few really nice images. I had a great time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In front of the camera for a change

So in my efforts to finish up my website and get this whole show on the road, I decided I also needed a professional portrait so people could at least recognize me when I show up at their wedding, or portrait session, or whatever. For this job, I approached my friend and fellow photog, Stephanie, who I believe I've mentioned a couple of times in previous posts. I noticed her website was also missing a photo of her, so I suggested a trade. A couple of weeks ago we went to Quiet Waters Park (here in Annapolis) to photograph the falls colors (what was left of them) and of course, each other. I have to say, it was probably good for me to experience what I put my clients through. ("Smile! No, not a fake one. Gimme a real smile!" etc, etc.) I definitely prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it! But even despite me being quite awkward and uncomfortable, Stephanie got some great shots! I don't know how she likes her photos, but I was really happy with mine. I've posted my favorites of both of us. One thing is for sure, I need a tan!!!

Photos of Steph by me:

Photos of me by Steph:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Officially Launched

Big news! Emily Chastain Photography is officially here! Woo hoo! This has been a long time in the works, but my website is finally completed. I am very happy with the finished product - it looks classy, it's easily updated, and it's quick to load. I'm all official on the business side of things, so now my next step is to advertise more. Spread the word! While this blog will remain my personal blog for now, I have renamed it, revamped it, and plan to include more Emily Chastain Photography photos and updates in the future.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Monopoly

I was looking for a great low-budget gift idea for my boyfriend's recent birthday. Metallica tickets wouldn't work - not only was the concert the day I had to shoot a wedding, it certainly didn't qualify as low-budget. I did a scavenger hunt last year, so I couldn't reuse that one quite so soon. I racked my brain and suddenly found an inspiration - a custom Monopoly game! Monopoly is pretty much the only board game he'll play, and it is definitely the only one he owns. I wish I could claim this idea as all my own, but I remember being in high school and one of my friends created a custom Monopoly board and I thought it was just about the coolest thing ever. And a little online searching revealed that he was not the first to think of it either. So armed with inspiration and a good idea, I had to figure out how to execute it. I'm writing this blog post in hope that my efforts will help inspire and guide other people out there because there aren't a whole lot of resources for this!

So my search started online, where I did find a Monopoly kit (Make Your Own Opoly) you can buy and customize (somewhat) to make it work for you. After looking into it a bit, I found that it was much too limiting for what I wanted. Not only are the cards different sizes from the originals, the whole board is different. It has only 9 spaces on each side of the board instead of the traditional 11. Lame. I also came across Hasbro's option for custom Monopoly - My Monopoly - where you can create your own Monopoly board online and they print it all and send it to you. Which seemed promising, until I saw the price tag and the fact that they ship to UK addresses only.

It was back to square one - I decided had to do it myself. I began looking for a template online... something to save me a bit of time so I didn't have to completely recreate the whole board from scratch. And I found a brilliant one, from a dude who had done the same thing I was aiming to do as a Christmas present. It was pretty much exactly what I was looking for, but I still had to make all my modifications. The template was a layered Photoshop document, sized to actual Monopoly dimensions, so all I did was download a few appropriate fonts, and make all the changes to the text. I wanted to have a slightly different theme from regular Monopoly, so I went with the idea of Trip-opoly. Instead of buying properties and building them up with houses and hotels, Trip-opoly would consist of purchasing different trips and enhancing them with tickets and passes. So "rent" became "reservation," "houses" became "tickets," and "hotels" became "full access passes." I made all the properties into places Paul and I traveled to in our year together. I also included a photo (faded into the background) of each place. I turned the railroads into our favorite restaurants, and the utilities into video games. Next I adjusted the property colors a bit to better match the original game. Only problem was I didn't have an original Monopoly game in my possession so I had to do it from memory. Turns out I was a little off, but not too bad. The result? The board you see a few paragraphs above.

I had it printed at WHCC (which services most of my photographic needs) as a 20x20 (actual board game size), lacquer-sprayed and mounted onto masonite. Masonite is a hard board, about 1/8inch thick - very durable. My only regret is that it doesn't fold so I couldn't really put it into a box.

Next I made the playing pieces. I bought polymer clay in a few different colors. Polymer clay can be sculpted into pretty much whatever you want and then you bake it in the oven to make it harden. That worked great. I created a few little cute clay pieces which came out like this:

Next up were the Chance and Community Chest cards. While the template I used had the appropriate sizes for these cards, that's about all it had. I created my own fortunes for the cards, but still kept the main ones from the original game as well (go to jail, advance to go, etc, etc.) I added a few clipart graphics to make them extra fancy, then printed them on yellow and orange cardstock from my printer at home.

Next step for me was to create the property cards. I retyped all the verbiage to match that of the game board, then had them all printed on one 16x20 sheet of photographic paper (from WHCC as well), took it to Office Depot, had it laminated and then cut them out. Worked better than I thought it would - they were even (pretty much) the correct thickness of the original cards.

Finally, I had to make the tickets and passes to replace the house/hotel pieces. I sculpted these out of clay too, but they weren't super cute or anything special so I didn't bother photographing them. The sheer quantity - 35 tickets and 12 passes - was enough to limit my creativity on that front.

So the only thing we'll have to use from the original Monopoly game when we play is the money and the dice! I guess you could make your own money too, but I wasn't about to attempt that..

My apologies if this is fairly tedious and boring for my usual blog readers (if I actually have any.) My hope is that I'll be able to help someone trying to do the same thing I did in the future. Plus I was kind of proud it of, so me writing about it on my blog saves you from having to hear about it in real life. Haha. All in all, it was a big job, but well worth it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Fair"ly Well

Guess that pretty much sums it up. I'm doing fairly well living my new life in Annapolis. And it is kind of a new life - I'm completely self-employed for the first time (and also completely freaked out by that), paying double the amount of money I was paying in Harrisonburg for an equal-size apartment, and struggling to make connections in a town that is much more culturally diverse and significantly less friendly.

All that said, I really love living here. It's a challenge, but one I needed. If I thought my life was stagnant before, I'm now in a full-blown waterfall!

Probably the biggest adjustment I've had to make is dealing with a more limited social calendar. After four years in the 'burg I finally felt like I was converting my temporary friends into life-long ones (if I've learned anything at all, it's that true friendships take years to build.) I miss the regular Thursday night Wii and boardgame night (yes, I am a self-admitted nerd). I miss the spontaneous dinner invites. I miss the chats over tea and snacks. (On a positive note, it is a great reprieve for my pocketbook.)

Here, I'm starting all over again. Not a huge problem, I've certainly done it a million times before, but I find that as I get older, people shrink more quickly into their pre-formed social circles and comfort zones. It takes longer to create the same knitted bonds of friendship I could easily weave in, say, college. Thinner threads, perhaps? Yikes, okay I think I've carried out that analogy far enough...

Anyway, I've completely digressed. The real point of this post was to talk about the fair I went to. Stephanie (my first Annapolis friend!) is a fellow photog and invited me to shoot the Maryland State Fair up in Timonium with her. We had a great time! It was almost weird to show up to an event with a camera and a tripod but no bride and groom. Ha. I went without any particular photographic vision or goal (not always the best idea) but just to see what I could see. Insert confession here: I love fairs. Always have, always will. There's something almost enchanting about the combination of fair food, carnies, rickety rides, impossible games, and screaming children. Individually they all suck. But collectively, that's where the magic happens.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hello June!

So May was a pretty crazy month for me. I'm happy to see June, not only for the warmer weather but also for a little bit of a break! To catch you up on things, here's what I've been up to for the past 4 weeks (complete with pictures!).

1. Attending my bro's graduation at UT (Tennessee, not Texas). Not the best shot, but it's the only one I got.

2. Visiting my grandparents in Mississippi. Trip with the whole fam. Fun stuff! We ventured over to New Orleans for a day too.

3. Shooting my friends John and Knicki's wedding at Virginia Beach. Rainy wedding, but it all worked out okay!

4. Moving to Annapolis and starting a new job. No pictures yet, but here's one from a previous Annapolis visit.

5. Visiting Seattle with Paul. SO awesome! I've never really spent any time on the west coast, and I loved it. The weather was perfect and I just never imagined how beautiful Seattle could be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Something I've been thinking about recently... I'm very thankful for the people in my life who don't live up to my expectations. I realize that sounds ridiculous, but instead of being frustrated, I'm choosing to be thankful. There are people who I love and I will always love, no matter how many stupid decisions they make (repeatedly) because I love them for who they are, and that won't ever change. While it is certainly frustrating to have people disappoint me, I am seeing it for the first time in a new light. It's a reminder to me. If I, imperfect and limited as I am, can still love people who screw up all the time, how much more does God love me? Wow.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So I watched maybe the last 10 minutes of Grey's Anatomy this evening (which I pretty much never do.) And they played this song "Break Me Out" by the Rescues (my #10 song on my best songs of 2008 list). I always feel a mixture of excitement and sadness when this happens. Kind of a bittersweet thing... when a band I really like and have listened to for a while finally makes it to t.v. or a commercial. Some part of me thinks, "They're mine, what's everyone else doing listening to them?"

Anyway, no real point to this post. Just trying to get back in the habit of writing a little something, here and there.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2009 Books I've Read

So I guess it's time to begin my 2009 list of books I've read. I read a total of 43 in 2008. Not a bad number, but I'd like to try and read even more. I think reading makes me smarter. Or at least it makes me feel smarter. Which is almost as good.

36. The Darling - Russell Banks 8.5/10

35. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden 9/10

34. The Go-Giver - Bob Burg and John David Mann 8.5/10

33. Small Business for Dummies - 8.5/10

32. Three Cups of Tea - Greg Mortenson 8/10

31. Bound for Glory - Woodie Guthrie 8/10

30. Dandelion Wine - Ray Bradbury 7.5/10

29. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer 7/10

28. Don't Look Down - Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer 6/10

27. A Wedding in December - Anita Shreve 6.5/10

26. Tomcat in Love - Tim O'Brien 7/10

25. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer 5.5/10

24. Plain Truth - Jodi Picoult 8/10

23. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Diaz 7.5/10

22. The Glass Castle - Jeannette Wells 9.5/10

21. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer 5/10

20. Twilight - Stephanie Meyer 4/10

19. A Cup Of Tea - Amy Ephron 7.5/10

18. Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding 8/10

17. The Memory Keeper's Daugher - Kim Edwards 8.5/10

16. The Mermaid Chair - Sue Monk Kidd 7.5/10

15. The Jane Austen Book Club - Karen Joy Fowler 7/10

14. Lying Awake - Mark Salzman 9/10

13. The Light of Day - Graham Swift 6.5/10

12. Peace Like A River - Leif Enger 9/10

11. Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner 9/10

10. Towelhead - Alicia Erian 8.5/10

9. Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper - Diablo Cody 9/10

8. Trunk Music - Michael Connelly 7.5/10

7. No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy 9/10

6. Until I Find You - John Irving 7.5/10

5. Cause Celeb - Helen Fielding 7/10

4. The Long Night of Winchell Dear - Robert Waller 7/10

3. Merde Actually - Stephen Clarke 5/10

2. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien 9/10

1. Under the Banner of Heaven - Jon Krakauer 7/10

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Top 15 Favorite Songs of 2008

Now, just because I write Top 15 Songs of 2008 does not mean these songs came out in 2008. These are just the songs I've listened to pretty much nonstop this year.

1. "The Reasons" - The Weakerthans
2. "Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova
3. "Alabaster" - Ricky Votolato
4. "Bleeding Heart Show" - The New Pornographers
5. "Fourth of July" - Shooter Jennings
6. "Motorcycle Drive By" - Third Eye Blind
7. "I Will Follow You Into The Dark" - Death Cab for Cutie
8. "Neon Bible" - Arcade Fire
9. "Stick Around" - Reckless Kelly
10. "Break Me Out" - The Rescues
11. "She Is My Everything" - John Prine
12. "Banditos" - The Refreshments
13. "Hear You Me" - Jimmy Eat World
14. "Tell Me A Lie" - Griffin House
15. "Love and Some Verses" - Iron & Wine

It's kind of funny... my brother has this long-standing theory: Bands that start their name with "The" are automatically awful. His four exceptions to the rule are The Beatles, The Who, The Eagles, and The Rolling Stones. An iffy fifth - The Black Crowes. Clearly we have different tastes in music. Four of the bands on my list start with "The". Any other opinions on this matter?