Kai joined our family in 2020!

This post is mainly a large gallery of photos I love from the first year with our dog Kai. Kai joined us August 8, 2020, at 8 weeks old. She is a blue merle Australian Shepherd.

Similar to many young children I loved animals and dreamed of being a vet when I grew up and while I went down a different path that love of animals never left. I grew up with a dog for much of my life and when he passed I had already met my now-husband who had a dog. We soon moved in together and I have continued to spend my life with dogs. Behr is now 12 years old and during 2020 we took the opportunity that my having 6 months of work from home provided to get a puppy! We welcomed Kai into our home at 8 weeks old getting to know Behr and our cat Simba. Kai is the youngest I have even had a puppy from and it has been a wonderful journey. The photos start from when we got her and grow to her at about 14 months old.

Instagram: @behr_thedog

50 Faces: Alexis Lemus

I want to note that the photos in this 50 face project will not all follow the same format, I am not limiting myself to simple professional portraits, conceptual portraits, or any specific category of portraiture. They may all be different depending on time restrictions, location, the model, etc. The photo of Brys was taken quickly and meant to be a simple portrait. These images were taken over more time and some were a bit conceptual in that they used the environment and the harsh light of midday sun in a very purposeful way.

I should also note since these photos are of my boyfriend and he's easy to bug to model likely will not be the only photos I take of him for this project.

While hiking in Blue Hills this past Saturday (6/18) my boyfriend, Alexis Lemus, was kind enough to model for me and allow me to work on a few ideas I'd been wanting to try. Once Behr had finished swimming in the pond and we began our hike, I started looking for interesting areas to use as our location for photos. At first the paths were well traveled and any spot we might like would be often interrupted. After walking a bit further we found some odd rocks that had a dip in them you could imagine sitting it. I worked with alexis and this rock for some more simple portraits.



If you took a photography class you were probably told midday sun it terrible lighting for shooting  especially for portraits. If you never took a class you might also have noticed when you take selfies on your phone that there is really harsh lighting on your face, lots of deep shadows, and funny shapes. In class you would have also been taught that if you had to shoot in midday sun you should look for shade or use diffusors to avoid such harsh lighting. All of this is very true but I love playing with harsh light and the strong contrast and highlights you can get from midday sun. While doing so I do my best to make sure that light doesn't touch my models face and adds to the photo instead of working against me. It is still not ideal lighting but you can get some really interesting highlights and shapes you just have to be careful it isn't distracting from your concept.

After I used the odd shape of the rock Alexis climbed on top of them just for fun but when he was up there I notice the light raked across his abdomen and worked to keep that light off his face while I shoot some more.


This is an example of where the location and lighting just didn't work out as well in camera as it looked in concept. We kept walking for a bit after the first photos and I saw this broken tree with lots of branches coming out of it. I began to imagine how I might use the lines of the tree and Alexis's body to make an interesting composition. I worked to have his body create a continuous line in a bit of an odd shape while still looking natural. While I took this shot I thought it would be the most interesting one conceptually and to edit. However, once I began to edit I realized the lighting here had been less than ideal, it didn't do anything for him, or set the tone of the image. I may try to continue editing this image but I believe the concept ended up being more interesting than the final image.


I have to say this is my favorite image! It also was a struggle to edit, I think I am happy with this edit but I may play some more and I may post another post with all my attempts. I also saw this as a huge opportunity to work on my black and white photos as I've mentioned before I am particularly picky about black and white and you won't often find it in my work.

For this image we found another fallen tree with branches in odd shapes. I asked Alexis to get into a bit of an uncomfortable position to make interesting shapes between his body and the fallen branches. I loved the angles of the tree and his body made as well as the shapes of leaves on his chest and abdomen the harsh lighting made. The bright midday sun light his body through the trees but also the background where it filtered through the trees. This created a strong push and pull between background and foreground which I wasn't looking for in this particular image. I worked hard to keep the tones of grey I loved in the foreground but flatten the background so it was less distracting. How successful you think I was probably varies based on the styles you like but I do love this image.


And lastly I found more fallen branches and tried a few simpler shots but we were short on time and starting to find ticks on us so here's just one quick shot!

50 Faces: Brys Scotland

Beginning the 50 Faces project (which I wrote about in another blog) this time I told myself I wanted to do more than 50 photos of faces but rather 50 different individuals. It makes the project larger in scope while also implying there is one that stands out above the rest in all the photos I might take of that person. This means that there will be at least 50 blog posts featuring faces, and in the end you will see many more than 50 photos, but I will do a few blog posts at the end that identify 50 favorites for different reasons, 1 per person... if I can stick to that.

To start the 50 faces project I took a photo of my co-worker and friend, Brys Scotland, before she moved from MA back to Colorado. I didn't have much time, it was her last day at work, so I grabbed my camera and brought it to the mall with us on lunch. On the way back to the office I noticed some trees covered in vines by the mall and stopped to shoot a few photos at that location really quickly. This photos was unplanned, not conceptual in nature, and intended to be a simple portrait. While shooting I moved her around the area a bit until at the end I found the spot I liked and caught a moment where the wind gave her hair some movement and her expression was natural.


I was very happy to start the project off with this picture especially given that we only worked on it for 10-15 minutes. It was a simple portrait but a successful one. I was happy with the composition and scenery, her expression, and the movement in the image.


Portrait of Carlos at sunset

CDIA: 50 Faces Project

When I started the part time photography certificate program at CDIA in Waltham one of the first projects they assigned us was to shoot 50 faces. It was an assignment created to help us get comfortable shooting portraits and start to learn what to look for. We learned even if you captured the right emotion if the lighting was off it wasn't a good photo, that if you didn't connect with the subject there was no emotion, how distracting your background could be, ways to adjust the lighting with simple props, and so much more.

Here are a few of my more successful images, several of which were taken after the project was completed because I knew more about how to take a successful portrait.

Portrait of Danny taken on a sail boat
Portrait taken on a sail boat

The above photos are of my brother and my mother taken on a sail boat several summers ago. They worked well as a pair. When you are shooting  candids sometimes you can't avoid some technical errors because you aren't setting the scene. These family photos were candid and a boat limits your movement. The photo of my brother has some lighting on his face that is a bit off, it would have been best if it was completely in shadow like my mothers. Both images also include glasses which can cause reflection issues and also obscure the eyes, which as human indicate emotion. In my mothers photo it would have been best to move the "lifesling" guide that was behind her, it can be distracting especially because as humans we try to read text when we see it. But over all these images work well as a pair, both individuals are wearing sunglasses, hats, and grey sweaters and clearing on a boat; they both appear happy, relaxed, and to be enjoying a vacation. Sometimes you can't get the perfect image technically but doesn't mean  you can't take a good photo.

Portrait of Carlos at sunset

The above photo is of my friend Carlos. When I first started the 50 face project my classmates and teachers remarked upon the quality of my photos of men being greater than those of women. This confused me a bit as I didn't think I had many male friends or an affinity for those images. Trying to see what my classmates saw I realized a few things about my work. I would overlook technical quality if the expression was right and men looked more at ease, weren't trying as hard in my photos than a woman. I was better at shooting the photos of men while having a random conversation and putting them at ease, while a woman was cognizant of the camera the whole time and I wasn't as good at distracting them. This photo was a favorite of mine because it is such a candid moment and had a beautiful soft rim light from the sunset.

During this time in the 50 faces projects, because it was so intensive and we just had to shoot 50 faces, I was just asking people if I could photograph them and doing it when they had free time. It was done without much thought as the best time of day or location for an image. I just happened to be leaving my house with my friend and stop him to take this photo. Doing this project the way we did made us evaluate why some photos worked and some didn't but forced us to work with the time we had and see what we could do.

Portrait of Cassandra

As we worked through the project we were also learning in class. The above image of my friend Cassandra was taken in my drive way during a bright sunny day. By this time I had learned way to deal with that sun. We had her back to the sun and she used some white foam core to bounce light back into her face so it was not too dark.

Portrait of Ian in some old foundation

The above photo was taken much later in the project of my friend Ian. He knew of an old foundation in the woods we could visit and use for a shoot. This was more intentional and planned than the initial 50 faces. We gave thought to the surroundings, time of day, and lighting more than before.

This project was a great learning experience and forced us to quickly learn how to deal with people and different situations while shooting. I highly recommend this project and hope to come back and post another 50 faces project in the near future.

Jenna modeling in the woods on a small waterfall

Bear's Den - Getting Elemental

Towards the end of the summer last year I was getting antsy to take some more conceptual photos with models. Two of my friends, Jacqui and Jenna, both actresses, quickly volunteered and got excited about the photo shoot. They were most excited about being involved in coming up with a concept for the photos and exploring a new hiking spot. It was so easy to move forward with a plan with models as excited about the project as I was. We quickly researched and choose a location. We chooseBear's Den in New Salem, MA, somewhere we had never been before but it wasn't too far away with pretty waterfalls in the woods.

When we reached our destination we were surprised to find even more than we expected! We parked right off a main road and took a quick hike through some woods to a small clearing where there were a few steep paths that lead further into the woods. Once in the woods we found a stream on our right that wrapped around in front of us and to our left where there were large rock formations. By the stream we found the remains of an old foundation. Having planned our concept based on trees, rocks, and waterfalls without having prior knowledge of the foundation we did not include it but it was exciting to find more possibilities than we expected.

We walked around the huge stone formation by the stream and came to the waterfall. The girls started pulling out their dresses and showing me what the possibilities were. The concept we had agreed on ahead of time was elements and they had chosen their clothes with it in mind. We hadn't decided if our concept of elements would juxtaposed the natural landscape or match it. We started with both girls together in a shot each matching a different piece of the landscape, rock and moss. I love the the idea of this shot, but it was early in the day and we we're getting comfortable working together, just warming up. I'm not used to work with two models together either so these didn't end up being my favorite photos. I plan to challenge myself to work more successfully with two models in the same shot.

Models by mossy rocks and trees in the woods
Jacqui modeling by mossy rocks in the woods
Jenna Modeling by a small waterfall and rocks in the woods

Every where we turned there was something new to use for the backdrop of our photos and it was all very close together - we didn't have to walk or carry our things any further! I began to work with each of them individually, and while one was changing I would shoot the other.

Jacqui and Jenna got into it, deciding on their own to jump in the water to get the shot, pointing out to each other things to try or poses they've done before that might work, and when to hold a pose... they almost didn't need me! The lighting was a beautiful soft light, but it was coming from above the trees so to get the right lighting I often had to have the girl looking up especially as it got later in the day.

Jenna modeling by mossy forest floor and tree roots
Jacqui modeling on rocks in the woods

After we tried the group shot, I worked on a few photos with Jacqui that didn't come out quit like I'd thought, still warming up to the shoot, I'd say. We played with her green dress as almost part of the moss and tree tops but I wish I was just a little taller, I'm only 5'3", then I might have gotten the angle I wanted.

Then Jenna and I climbed up the steep hill next to the rocks we had just been playing on to shoot with some exposed roots. Jenna was wearing a red dress to represent fire and against the landscape. Complementary colors and the brilliant hue of the dress made for some striking images. Jenna ended up keeping the dress on for more than one shot. In these photos the destruction of some trees where the power of the roots still held it in place and moss and other plants flourished was a nice balance to the fire red of the dress, destruction to life.

Jacqui modeling on rocks in the woods
Jenna modeling in the woods by small waterfalls and rokcs

Jenna then jumped on top of one half of the water fall in the red dress and we took some awesome shots showing a lot of the landscape. Fire to water, opposite elements quite literally, but also using the movement and shape of the dress to match the soft organic beauty of flow of water against the harsh geometric shape of the rocks. These images embody a lot of what I love to do in my work, subtly juxtaposing different elements.

Jacqui modeling in the water by a small waterfall

Jacqui switched to a brown dress (one image above, more on my FB page: facebook.com/mswphoto) for more of an earthy dirt and soil element against rock and moss. Then she switched into a stunning yellow dress  like the light of the sun and we started playing on the rocks by the waterfall (image above) using the human organic form against the harsh geometric form of the rock, I'm seeing a pattern here. Then Jacqui took the plunge and lay down right in one of the falls like she was climbing up the falls. Here I snapped the only portrait from this shoot and one of my other favorite images. Green life and earth to Stone to Water and Sun. Jacqui also then jumped right in the pool of water above the second falls and we played with her dress under water.

Jacqui modeling in the water by a small waterfall

These are my favorite photos I have taken in recent times, they embody what I love to do with my work, I hope to show you more like this as summer begins, and put even more story behind them in the future. I'm sure you'll see Jenna and Jacqui again.

P.S. be careful carrying lots of things over rocks... I managed to drop my camera, no damage luckily!

Mickey my neighbors little Shitzu as a puppy, he has a cute over bite and a bump on his nose.

First Photography "Portfolio"

At the end of the two week photography summer class I took at CDIA before my junior  year of high school (which I mentioned in an earlier post) we put together our favorite images from the class in a portfolio and learned a bit about printing as well. My favorite photos included mostly flowers and animals, not a surprise as that is what I loved and was easy to find, some others also included favorites from vacations.



Most of opportunities for taking photos while in this short class came from being outside in my neighborhood and from field trips we took in class. The flower photos were all taken in my mother's many gardens (10 or more!), while the frog I found in my neighbors man-made Coy Pond. I have always loved nature and being outside so it was natural to try to capture what I saw.

Mickey my neighbors little Shitzu as a puppy, he has a cute over bite and a bump on his nose.

I also took some photos of my neighbors new puppy, a little Shitzu they named Mickey because they love disney. I snapped this shot of the cute little bump on his nose and his overbite while he was play with my 85 lb dog, Buddy! They were an odd match but quickly became fast friends, to this day Mickey will run up to my parents house looking for Buddy though he has been gone for several  years.

Boats in Edgartown Harbor Martha's Vineyard.

Rock Balancing on the beach at Martha's Vineyard.

Later in the summer I added a few new photos from our yearly vacation to Martha's Vineyard to my portfolio. When I was younger we visited Martha's Vineyard every year for 1-2 weeks and stayed at my uncles house in Edgartown. I took many photos photos but I especially liked the photo of the sail boats in Edgartown harbor and rock balancing I found on the beach. I can't remember if this photo was taken in the sand dunes by where we went cohoging or near Chappaquiddick while driving on the dunes before the sand bar connecting it to Martha's Vineyard was destroyed. I also took many photos of the ginger bread cottages and of course the miniature horses I mentioned before.

Blue Gingerbread cottage in Oak Bluffs Martha's Vineyard

White and Pink Gingerbread cottage in Oak Bluffs Martha's Vineyard


Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

A Play: A Southern Victory

Tuesday I had the opportunity to shoot some promotional photos for a play a friend of mine is producing. The play, A Southern Victory (asouthernvictory.wordpress.com), is a trilogy: Part I: Borders and Nations, Part II: Entering the Whirlwind, and Part III: The Day of Jubilee. The first of the plays premiers tonight at the Boston Playwrights Theatre.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

This was a fun shoot for me, it was something new, that I had never done before. I didn't have to create a character or get to know an individual. I didn't have to set the scene or  the lighting. The actors had their marks, were in character, and the lighting designer took care of the lights; it was all a part of the play. My job was to capture the key moments in an interesting composition, to understand what was important in a scene and how to show that in my images. The high key lighting and emotional journey of the characters was fun to capture.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

We worked on scenes involving a slave and a confederate soldier, a singer and a flapper, a couple, and a thanksgiving dinner.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

Scene from the play A Southern Victory, a trilogy.

More about the play

This series of plays follow it's own timeline in the history of the United States.

1865 The South won the Civil War and the confederate states continue theirs lives as they had. Despite defeat The Union abolishes slavery.

1914 WW1 begins. The Union joins the fight and the Confederacy does not.

1922 escaped slaves mingle with flappers in the northern speakeasies, Confederate and German agents forge an alliance to against the League of Nations, and abolitionists sell bootlegged booze to fund an underground war.

Present some extremists in the abolitionist movement have adopted an extreme counter-slavery measure: young men from the North blow themselves up in balls, streetcars, and picture houses in the South.

*information taken from the plays description since I haven't seen it yet!

Me in high school playing on the playground.

Summer Photography Class in High School

By the time I was in high school my interest in photography was evident and my parents offered to send me to a two week summer program for photography in Waltham, at the CDIA of BU (at the time). They got me a low level DSLR, a Nikon D40, with two lenses, and I took the class. I learned more about composition and lighting, I started learning Lightroom 2 and Photography CS2. That’s when I began to think more about how to make a good photo instead of just capturing the moment.

Sculpture in the DeCordova Sculpture Park.

Greg shooting me shooting him in a tree.

It was a fun class, and I don't use the word fun randomly, one of our teachers would say "That's so fun" to every photo we took, she was very enthusiastic. We spent the two weeks both in the class room and exploring the immediate area. We shot on Moody St., at theDeCordova Sculpture Park, Walden Pond, and other locations. We tried studio lighting out for the first time and more.

Police Horses at Walden Pond.

Police Horses at Walden Pond.

Police Horses at Walden Pond.

We got silly with the Police horses at Walden Pond; yes I was in high school and still just as obsessed with horses.

I took another photography class in my high school, but my school was a bit behind in the programs and last minute the photography teacher was unavailable teach our class. A first time teacher with a background in ceramics ended up filling in as our photography teacher for the year. It was an interesting dynamic as she had a different perspective on the work and little knowledge of photoshop. It was a unique class seeing how photography critique worked from more traditional background. I also had the opportunity to help many other students who had no previous experience with a camera and the Adobe programs.

Sunset at the playground with tix tac toe.

Playing with aperture on the playground in high school.

Playing with composition on the playground in high school.

I took these photos on the playground while in high school when I was learning more about composition and aperture. And... in case I made you curious, yes, I was still trying to get the perfect picture of a chipmunk, that is just as silly as when I was younger.


Male Miniature Horse.

Miniature Horse's

My obsession with animals when I was younger was not limited to specific animals, however, that's not to say I didn't play favorites. As many people say as the stereotype of little girls, I wanted to do horse back riding and was especially enamored with horses. These incredible animals have so much strength and can run forever. This also affected my reading choices and I read many horse books (especially the Thoroughbred series and the classics, like Black Beauty).

When I was still fairly young I was lucky enough to have an uncle who let my family stay at his house on Martha's Vineyard in Edgartown every summer for a week or two. One summer a large dog standing on his hind legs came up on the back porch and scared me silly, I thought it was a bear he was so big! Another summer a goat came to visit the backyard and would run away from my brother, it was fun to watch. I soon discovered my uncle's neighbor owned miniature horses as well. The neighbors name was Sandy and she was kind enough to allow me to visit every summer and take photos of the animals she had at the time. These are some photos from my visits when I was in high school.

Here three babies, a foal and two fillies, had just been born. One of the mothers had Heterochromia, one blue eye and one brown, which she passed on to her baby. I had so much fun visiting these horses, you will photos of them again.

Baby miniature horse with one blue eye.

Rosie, mother miniature horse.

Baby miniature horse.

Baby miniature horse.


Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.

Getting Wolfy in the Arnold Arboretum

My friend Natalie and I came up with this fun idea to play with doing a sexy wolf photoshoot where she was the wolf. On a brisk winter day we decided to drag ourselves down to the Arnold Arboretum and look for somewhere fun to shoot. We soon came upon what we affectionately referred to as a human size bonsai tree, I know we could have looked at the actual name of the tree, since we were in the Arboretum, but to us that was a what it looked like and that’s all that mattered. It was a low growing tree with lots of beautiful twisted branches. At this point we had only walked feet from the entrance we came in and decided we should probably see more options before we stopped so we kept walking.

Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.
Starting to get silly and figure out how to make a human sexy wolf pose in the woods.

The next place we came to we decided to play with some shots, it was already 2:30 and sun set was as early as 4:15 as it was early January in Boston. We found some cool jagged rocks and started playing around. The lighting was difficult to work with as it didn’t hit her face and while I love the rim lighting on her spirit hood, which highlighted the wolf well, it was easily blown out so I had to shoot dark and use a reflector and tree branches to hold it up. We used a stool to help exaggerate the size of her body and draped her fur vest over it. Here we got silly and played around with what worked and was wolfy but still human. It was a learning experience and we may repeat this shoot in different seasons… so stay tuned.

Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.

Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.

Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.

After we played by the rocks for a while we headed back towards the entrance and our bonsai tree. Natalie took a quick climb into the tree and found the one opening with beautiful lighting from the setting sun streaming through and I began working my way steadily up and down the hill by the tree as well as around the tree to get the shot from every angle I could. Playing with the composition of the shot with the different twisted tree limbs while she remained in a very similar position. When I had to chose my favorite photos it was a bit of a struggle as the lighting on her face was so beautiful. So I apologize if there are many similar shots :D

Natalie modeling as a wolf in the woods.

More photos on my facebook page: facebook.com/mswphoto