AfTeR DaRk.. finding the light.


I am on facebook these days, and I see posts from lots of folks.  Most are about what they are eating, doing or thinking.  Occasionally there will be posts that are a bit more serious.  Sometimes I post that type, most of the time I post random things that I find interesting or that compel me to share so that others are informed about different things.

I often share about being gluten free and healthy ideas, occasionally I post about naughty treats, and I am always in favor of helping abandon dogs find forever homes.  Sometimes I share the work I’ve been doing with my photography, or what ever is relevant to me at that moment.  I am often quite grateful when it comes to how I’ve been treated by my awesome husband or other’s who’ve gone out of their way to make things a little easier for me or to share about an experience I’ve had where I felt included.

I had the opportunity to attend a photography event called After Dark.  Jason had time off to go, it was with in driving distance, we had saved a little money to make this sort of thing possible, and the creators of the event made it so that it was affordable for Jason to attend with me to help me.  With out his assistance I couldn’t have gone.  We loaded up my scooter and all of our gear, as we had booked a photoshoot on our way there.

When we arrived the usual nerves appeared.  I reminded myself that I was there to have fun and just do what I could.  I also had hopes of meeting some of the people that I’d come across in various chat rooms.  I realize fully that my being in a scooter is a barrier for some people.  They just don’t see themselves slowing down long enough to take a moment to connect, or they’ve been brought up by their folks to not stare, there for making no eye contact, and completely ignoring someone with a disability.  Which just seems odd to the person with the disability.  Yep.  I am in a scooter, I have trouble negotiating while on my feet and I get tired very fast.  I miss having Luka my former Service Dog.  He can’t go out to help me anymore, he was diagnosed with Lupus and he is retired, he has been for some time really.

I am an outgoing person, so blending into the background isn’t my style.  If this were acceptable I would totally rig up fancy pink lights, streamers, and confetti to toss about I would.  I’d give nifty things away and smile at everyone, and shake their hands and give hugs.  Yeah, I am that sort of person… I know.. completely annoying, and able to make people uncomfortable in a heartbeat who are introverted or prefer to not be noticed.  AKA my husband Jason.  =D

So here we were, Jason did all of the heavy lifting, and the difficult work of finding the accessible routes to our rooms and classes.  He scouted in advance, and made sure I found where I needed to go.  Often escorting me for the first few days until I didn’t get turned around any more.  (Being directionally challenged isn’t that fun.)  Of course from the very first moments, I was chatting it up with whomever came into my space..   Huge smile on my face and a cold hand extended to meet with their warm hand.  Mostly men, that is typical.. women don’t seem to take time to notice, they also travel in herds, and are not usually looking about for new faces.  Men seem to be comfortable walking about on their own, doing their own thing and on their own time schedule.  I met lots of photographers.  Made several new friends, and the best part is I attended all but two classes.  The morning I couldn’t attend classes was also the morning after my scooter had died..

Every morning I woke with a migraine except one morning.  I asked Jason to wake me up early just in case.. so then he would make me a shake and give me a shot and I’d take the rest of the medications that I’ve discovered help my migraines go away..  I call it my cocktail.  Either a shot or a pill of migraine medicine, a strong pain reliever, and a muscle relaxer.  And Ice.  Two packs under my neck and two packs on my forehead…  While I rested and recovered Jason tracked down tools from the AD crew so he could repair my scooter.

If I catch things fast enough in the morning I can be good to go after lunch.  Which was the case in all but one day.  =D    Not to shabby!  One day I couldn’t get out of bed until 5pm, but that meant that I was still able to attend most of the events for the day.  I only missed two classes.

I forgot to mention one of the greatest things about this workshop is that classes don’t start until after lunch time..  Ha!  Now that is perfect for me because I usually am sick in the mornings.. The events start around one pm and go until three am.. Woo!  You see I am sitting here writing this and it is four am.  =D  I tried sleeping, I went to bed at ten pm.. but now I am wide awake.. go figure.

I had bad migraines the past three days and am now over them for the time being.  I just couldn’t sleep.  My mind started thinking and I needed to get this all out of my head.  So here I sit and write.

I did hang out with some girlfriends too!  I had a great time with them!  I’ve got more fb friends that I have now officially met in person!   What I find so interesting is that I wasn’t surprised when I met them about them being different than they were online.  I even got to take a few headshots of my friends!

Of course what I was in attendance for was the classes.  It was so difficult to decide on which classes to take.  The list of mentors was long and each one of them brought amazing talents to the table.  I had come with the goal of using my camera to learn things, but soon found that the classes with hands on shooting were a bit much for me.  Lots of people moving around and getting up close to the models etc..  this wasn’t a comfortable space for me.  I needed things to be rather still for me to stand up and shoot.

The great thing also about this event was that I wasn’t locked in to one class or event.  I could roam.  So that is what I did.  I found some informational types of classes that I was intrigued by, and sat in on several of those, in between those there were bay’s which I could go to that were not scheduled, and I could pick my camera up and work with a model.  These were less crowded and offered me the opportunity to use different gear.  There were lots of modifiers to play with and different setups in each bay, there were backdrops galore to choose from and there was always someone around to help if needed.

She came she sang, and I created this image of her.

Find Victoria:

Sam and Jim were tow of the assistants that seemed to be around when I was there.  Jim I found was always up to chatting and had lots of information that helped me choose where I wanted to go next.  By the last day and the last hours, I had really felt good about the models I worked with, sometimes only getting a couple of shots off with a model, sometimes working with them for 15-20 minutes on my own until someone else showed up who wanted to shoot.

Jason stayed up with me pretty late one evening, he was up later than he usually was every night but did his best to get some sleep.  Once he knew I could get around and felt that other’s were watching out for me he stopped checking on me every 1/2 hour.  (He’s my hero)  Of course I wasn’t always the best, I get easily distracted, and forget to check my phone when he is checking in with me.. Yeah, I stink at that…  So he’d get worried, and wake up and walk the 1/2 mile to where our classes were to find me.  (These were not endearing moments.. )

The last night it was nearly three in the morning, I had just finished shooting Wendy, she is on her way to becoming a doctor, and was one of the models.  I got to use a ring light while shooting her.  I fired off a couple of shots until I felt that I had gotten one that she would like.  Then I turned it over to another photographer so they could take their turn.  By then other photographers had seen me around, seen me shooting a bit, they were great about helping me and grabbed a hold of me to steady me through all of the moving people..  Wendy I noticed while shot her that her false lashes were coming unglued..  so I stopped the session handed off my camera, and asked if she had any eyelash glue.. she did and so I put her lashes back on for her.  So she would have good looking eyelashes in her pictures, not the creepy falling off sort..  Wendy didn’t really have long lashes of her own, so the lashes were fairly crucial to the look her makeup artist had created on her.

After working with Wendy and her lashes, I got back on my scooter and looked for my next middle of the night activity…  I don’t recall this guy’s name but in another bay two photographers were shooting this teenage boy.  I pulled up and asked if I could shoot too.  I noticed their lighting was a little off and asked what their goal was with it.  They said they didn’t know, they hadn’t much experience with lights and didn’t really know what to do or where to put them or how to get their camera settings exactly right.

Wendy at After Dark!

Lucky me!  I’d gotten all of this help in other area’s where I needed it, and I know lighting.  I am not a fancy teaching expert like the mentors at the classes, but I know what works and what doesn’t.  I had watched Jason and the other photographers fiddle with this different brand of lighting, so I had heard and seen how to manipulate it.  I had use the triggers in other bays through out the event and understood them enough to make them work, and I just had to figure out the receivers, and create the lighting style for them.  They were trying to take headshots.

I love doing headshots!  I have a favorite lighting set up for headshots!!  It was perfect!  The bay was mostly empty the model, and the two other photographers, no other movement there were lots of chairs set up and lots of things to hang on to so I could just move about pretty well.  It was fantastic.  I got to move the lights around change out the large modifiers, switch things around and set them up just perfect.  Then I got to fire off a few shots to get the settings on my camera correct, and help them figure out where they should be on their camera.  What fun!

I stuck around that bay for a bit making sure they got some good shots, his mom showed up and also said they could use some full length shots so I changed the light up again a bit for that and they took those shots.  This bay had an eye lighter!  I got to play with that which was fun!  Another new toy.  I have one of those that I made in my home studio.  I love it.  It was a great feeling to help the other photographers, it was fun to hear them be successful with their shots and become more confident.

One of them mentioned that they didn’t shoot with lights and have all of this gear.  So I shared with her how it was possible to get a similar look with less gear.  She was happy to know that also.  I think we were using about $7000 worth of gear in that bay to create the look..  which is a little pricey..  6 lights 6 modifiers, an eye lighter, backdrop, and backdrop stand and light stands.. not to mention receivers on each light and two triggers, and then their camera gear..  it could be more like 10G..

That isn’t in everyone’s budget..   Lucky me!  We have most of that gear for our studio while it is different brands than we used at the event, we can create the same look.

I’d say that for me the event came full circle.  I love sharing what I know and helping other’s have that ah ha moment.  I love learning, my favorite class was taught by Jon, he was teaching about personalities.. so of course I’d be drawn in.  I love personality information.  It fascinates me.  I love knowing more about myself of course, but find it a fun way to be able to connect to other people and figure out what is important to them.

Jon was also one of the mentors who happened by while I was shooting in an open bay with another mentor in the middle of all of the other classes.  I had the opportunity to get some hands on education with him and see the light from a different perspective.  I should say see the reflection.. so now I have another new addition to my lighting arsenal which will benefit me with some of the creative work I plan on doing!     Want to see the pictures I took?

One Creation from my AD experience!

When I am working hard to create something I forget about the pain and my imagination is able to run my mind.  It is a short period where life becomes more than myself, more beautiful, more imaginative, more whole.

To see more of the images I’ve created at the After Dark event, please visit my site at  some of the images are also on Facebook at:

Feel free to visit our pages and “LIKE” us!

A huge thank you to everyone who went out of their way to make this experience so fantastic, not only for me but for everyone else as well.

I am still raving about it!

Pink Doberman



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