I owe you…

To all my readers and followers, I owe you. You see before May of 2014 I was posting on this blog pretty regularly. From May through December I was strangely quiet; as many of you know that in and of itself is very strange. I am rarely quiet. You read this blog to see images […]

2014 in Review

I know its been a long time since I posted. It’s been a very busy year! my first shoot of 2014 was doing my own portrait, then off to New York to work with Beate Chelette. That was just the beginning!

Rather than bore you with the details check out the video. It is just a few random shoots from this this great year. Enjoy!

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Motivation

What motivates us to do the things we do? Of course I can’t speak to what motivates you but I can think and write about what motivates me. I should have an idea at least!

As a photographer many things motivate me. I love the challenge of capturing images, especially capturing images that I have never tried to capture before. I very much enjoy that I know I will never know all that there is to know about the art. Photography is so vast that I just don’t have enough time to learn it all. Anyone that tells you that they do know it all doesn’t know how vast it truly is. But is this what actually motivates me to keep getting up in the morning?

There is a passion that I have for photography that I can’t explain. I know that the instant gratification of digital certainly helps keep me interested in trying a particular shot until I get it where I want it. That doesn’t explain what hooked me back in the 70s when I was thrust into a darkroom. I still remember the feeling I got when I watched that image appear on the paper.

That feeling is what motivates me. It is what makes me want to create every day and every day I do my best to create something. Some days it may not be an image, it may be an idea, it may even be helping someone else create something, but each and every day I need to create. At times I am not sure if it is motivation or obsession. I think my wife would say it’s probably both.

I hope that you are doing what you are motivated to do. Perhaps what you do for a living isn’t your passion, but hopefully you have the opportunity to feed that part of yourself. For a long time I worked at doing things I was very good at doing but I wasn’t motivated to do. Being the perfectionist that I am this left little or no time to do what I really wanted… no needed to do.

 

One day my sister was looking at an image I created and she said, “And you don’t do this for a living, why?” She was the first to say it but over the next few years she wasn’t the only one. Eventually I had to sit down and think, what was I afraid of? My father used to say I was afraid of success, my high school guidance counselor said I was afraid to fail, but when I thought of photography I wasn’t afraid of anything. I have to say here that this can be a bad thing but that is another story for another time. Suffice to say pay attention to what you are doing when trying to get the shot.

So if photography let me forget any fears I may (or may not) have, what was I waiting for? That is the day that Michael Albany Photography was born.

I specialize in shooting architecture and people. These two types of photography are far from each other. Where one is like herding cats, the other is like waiting for the sun to rise. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to do too, wait for the sun. The vast differences between them is what attracts me to both. They both feed different parts of me.

I see beauty in different places. I see it in the structure and lines in a building. I see it in the curves and subtle shadows of the human form. I see the life that once was in old abandoned buildings, and I see the life that has yet to come in a young face.

How can I not be motivated by that?

 

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Where does the time go?

So here it is the end of April and I am just starting my blog entry for January. Not too far behind, nah. Where does all the time go?

I hope you are wondering what I have been up to, what I have been shooting, what amazing projects have I begun (and finished at this point), what spectacular images have I created? I can say that some great images have come out of the last few months; I have photographed some wonderfully amazing people, some events that were exciting and fun, and so much more. It has been a very busy year so far!

In my last post I was celebrating my wonderful wife and our time together. She thinks it’s corny but hey, I kinda like her so call me corny. It turns out that so many people liked the images I took of her to say “Happy Anniversary Baby!” that I was asked time and time again to do something similar for friends and clients. Who am I to say no? Of course I would shoot these people and help bring out their wonderful personalities!

In fact there were so many requests to create this type of imagery for people I have had to start an entirely new website just for the boudoir images. You can see a few below, to see even more head out to BoudoirPhilly.com and see a lot more!

Photographing beautiful women isn’t all I have been doing (not that I am complaining at all). There have been events like the Mt. Airy Art Garage’s opening to celebrate their quilt show. Needless to say the quilts were stunning!

I have been to Manhattan to shoot a fantastic singer Randy Herman. We shot his new album cover throughout the snowstorm in January. Lucky for us Grand Central is a great place to create images that show him “Moving Through Time”. You can learn all about Randy on his website, therandyherman.com and check out the new album (as well as the cover art of course), I think you will love it!

While I was in NY I had the opportunity to spend time with one of my favorite people in the world, Beate Chelette. I can tell you right now, she is one of the smartest people I know. You should check out her book, “Happy Woman, Happy World”; it’s not just for women. I have it in both hard copy and the ebook. I never want to miss a word of it!

Beate-001

book cover

StanSmith-001When I got back from NY I continued working with one of my favorite clients, Stan Smith, a Philly guy that is constantly helping the local neighborhoods to grow and flourish. This is the kind of guy who everyone should try to grow up to be. He not only refurbishes aging properties, but keeps them affordable for local businesses so that they contribute to the growth and well-being of the community, and that is before he even starts doing his work for the neighborhood and all the nonprofits he is involved in! Check him out at StanSmith.me, I think you will be impressed, I am.

Then there are the architectural shoots, the marches to help victims of sexual violence, business events in downtown Philadelphia, and so much more. Now that I write all this I see where the time has gone. It has gone into doing a lot of great work for a lot of great people!

This is just the beginning of 2014! More to come and I promise I won’t wait 4 months to post again.

 

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Happy Anniversary Baby!

You have probably heard the old saying “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” All it means is that when you do something for a living you tend to do it for others more than yourself or your family. Photography is no different. Contrary to what many photographers’ spouses say, we do not have a camera glued to our eye 24/7.

My wife is my favorite model; no ifs ands or buts about it. Unfortunately though I rarely photograph her. Either she is wiped out from a long day at the office or I am so far into working for clients that we just don’t get to it as much as we might like. I do try to shoot her at least once a year and although she did model for me once this year back in February, those images still haven’t made it to the blog!

For a while I have been contemplating a shoot with her, how I wanted to shoot it, what lighting to use, etc. Then last week a coworker of my wife’s mentioned that I am crazy for not shooting her more often (thank you George). He was right though and when Amy (my wife) mentioned it to me I said, “well how about Sunday we shoot then?” The date was set, time to shoot!

Christmas Eve is a special day for Amy and I. Not only is it the day that we usually celebrate the Christmas holiday with her family, it is also our wedding anniversary. For this shoot I wanted to do something special, I wanted to make sure that I did my best. These images are our gifts to each other. Her by modeling and me by doing my best for my best model.

 

The gift of these images is one of the best gifts my wife could give me.

Although I think these images show how beautiful my wife is, I think it barely scratches the surface of how wonderful and beautiful she actually is. I am one lucky S.O.B.

Happy Holidays!

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Even More NY Adventures!

As I mentioned in my last article “OMG What a Month” I was also in NY last month working on a calendar project for a non-profit. I said I would write about it when the calendar came out. Well, it’s out and you can order your copy here; The Calendar Project!

CalendarProject-2

Hollywood Stars!

There were a number of us involved in the project, 3 photographers, two art directors, many assistants and 20 or so models. It was a large project and we all think it came out really well. I wasn’t the only photographer on the project but as it turned out I did end up getting 6 images into the calendar, only two of which are posted here. In addition to having my images in the final calendar I also did the editing for all the images and I hope I did well by all the photographers.

This was a huge project for the small amount of time it took to go from concept to an actually printed piece. The efforts of the crew and everyone involved is what made it happen. Everyone volunteered for this and no one is getting paid in any way which makes it even more amazing. Even scheduling was a huge task due to everyone having their regular schedules to deal with and everyone made amazing sacrifices to pull it all together. As the only full time professional involved I think I had it easiest as my schedule is made up of this kind of thing all the time.

Poker

Poker

Everyone is hoping to get all the calendars sold by December 1st and they are about 50% sold now. This is a very limited printing and if you want a copy, you better hurry! You don’t want to miss this pinup inspired calendar. All the images are different but all have a retro feel. Some of the images are titled;

The Greaser
Singing in the Rain
Champagne Toast
The Rosie Riveters

Again, to get yours go to The Calendar Project and order now before they are gone!

 

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We All Have A Star Inside

As I wrote in my last post “Excitement!” I very much enjoy the images from old Hollywood. The variations, the light, the dramatic looks all lend themselves to the mystery of photography that grabbed me so long ago. The more I see of it the more I want to see and shoot! I can’t get enough of these images. I wonder what they would look like in color, what would the photographer of the 1940s do with the equipment available today, how would these old masters capture the personalities of today?

As a photographer myself I can wonder or I can give it a shot (har har). Today’s celebrities very much fit a certain look and are within the elite of a certain type. Back in the golden years of Hollywood a broader sense of beauty was the norm. By today’s standards actresses such as Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow and Barbara Stanwick would not fit into the “stunning good looks” category but I defy you to say these women were not considered some of the most beautiful women of the age.

In order to try to figure out what the old masters would have shot I needed to find women that don’t consider themselves beautiful; actually they are more than just pretty, they are strong, wonderful everyday women and that in and of itself makes them beautiful.

A while back I started planning this photoshoot when I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in almost 10 years. Lisa and I ran into each other when I was photographing an apartment complex she was just moving into. It was great to see her and within minutes we decided to do a shoot together. It just blossomed from there! I invited my new neighbor to join us; she is an acting student at a local university and a tall statuesque blonde with amazing eyes that penetrate you to the core.

The shoot preparation was coming along well and I had no plans to add another model. One day my wife and I stopped by a restaurant after picking up some things at Target near our home. As our server came to our table I saw something that got my attention. “Uh Oh” was the look in my wife’s eye. “Here we go again.”

Although she is rather used to me pulling out a business card and asking someone if they would like to model for me I know it isn’t her favorite conversation to have over a meal. In her defense she does help me too by telling the person that, “No he isn’t a weirdo, he is really a professional photographer.” I honestly think this puts many people at ease and actually lets them consider the idea.

I told our server, Allie, about the shoot I had planned and that if she was interested to give contact me. I was very pleased when I heard from her shortly thereafter. She thought the whole thing would be fun. She was right: it was a blast!

I’ll never really know whether the old masters would have shot these three amazing women in the same way I did but I can tell you that these three everyday women became the Hollywood Stars I knew was a part of them. I’ll let you click through the images below and you tell me who is the Actress, the Mom, and the food service Server.

Who are you hiding inside? Bette Davis, Jane Russell, Katherine Hepburn, or maybe you have a little Mae West in there. Here’s my card, let me know if you want to find out. It will be fun! Just ask Allie.

 

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Excitement!

One of the reasons I originally got into photography was due to the Hollywood glamour shots of the 1930s, 40s and 50s shot of Hedy Lamar, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, the list goes on and on. When you add that lighting to the boudoir style images of the same era something magical happens! I was fascinated with that style of images and especially the lighting.

Today I don’t often get to shoot that style, but a shoot I did last week with model/actress Grace Gordon started to lend itself towards that style. We didn’t exactly go all the way to the Hollywood drama lighting but at the same time the images do have an old Hollywood look and feel to them.

Grace-130820-001

Grace Boudoir 1

If you have been following my blog for a while you may remember Grace from a shoot we did a couple of years ago. She appears in my portfolio gallery “Portraits & People” in 4 separate images as well as in the second image on the home page.  Needless to say we like working together.

Last week when Grace came to the studio we only had a loose idea of where we wanted to go with the images. We wanted something alluring and that would catch people’s eye. We decided to go for that old fashioned look and see what came out. I have to say that we were both very happy with the final results.

Many people will say, “Wow she looks great but I will never look that good.” If you think that, you would be wrong. True, Grace is a model and actress but she wasn’t 100% that day. She had a late night with a friend from out of town, she over slept and she had to dart to the studio to be only 30 minutes late. Excited is what she was; excited and enthusiastic! That is what shines through in these images.

Grace-Boudior-Web-008

Grace Boudoir 8

All actresses and actors are just normal people thrust into the limelight. At some point they still have to do laundry, cook dinner, and do the dishes. And who looks great the moment they wake up? Not me that’s for sure! The point is that they get excited about being in front of the camera and that is what shines through; that is what came through with Grace too.

Sure these are boudoir shots but they could be any shots of any person who is excited about having their picture taken. I shoot boudoir of both women and men too. Gender isn’t a barrier, willingness is all it takes. So when you schedule your portrait session, boudoir shoot or just your family portraits get excited, be enthusiastic and then be prepared to look as good as your favorite actor!

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