Finding your own path…

So I actually started writing this blog a year ago but never had the guts to finish it. Who was I to say anything about jumping into the world of freelance photography when I had only just leaped. I left it but never deleted it thinking maybe one day I’d come back to it and here I am. The original blog I wrote a year ago with a few revisions.

Like many people I know 2015 was kind of shitty and I spent much of 2016 rebuilding myself, growing and learning. I want to start off by thanking everyone who has played a part in helping me through the last two years and anyone who has supported my crazy dreams. For real though, it was a team effort. I had spent countless nights contemplating selling all my gear and finding a new path.  But I couldn’t forget about the countless hours and effort I had already put in working on my craft. Breaking into the freelance world for any artist is terrifying and daunting task but it’s worth the jump.

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In 2012, I had graduated with a BFA in Photography and spent the last 5 years trying to juggle working full or part-time jobs and a freelance career that seemed like it would never take off. I was tired of watching others grow while I felt like I was standing still. So when the opportunity arose for a paid trip to Greece for 1 month, I had to take it.  I worked part-time in retail at the time and I would be leaving during peak season so the choice would come with a consequence. I wouldn’t be able to leave my position during one of the busiest times of the year fir that long but at this point I knew what I had to do. As much as I enjoyed working there, how often would I be asked to shoot a wedding in Greece, and spend a month travelling for free? I was extremely excited and nervous at the same time. I knew I didn’t want to come back and work retail again but I didn’t have many freelance gigs lined up so I didn’t know how I would pay my bills. As terrifying as it was, I knew this was a chance to clear my mind and figure out where to go from there.

I knew full well I was leaving with no safety net to return to. I grabbed my camera and with $100 in my pocket and a willingness to live life as it came I boarded the plan with hopes of remembering what I loved about shooting in the first place.

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And boy, was it worth it.

I explored the streets of Athens, Perama, Porto Xeli and Mani for a month. New places and places I remembered from my childhood. This was my 4th time back since I was 6 years old but my first time taking it all in from behind the lens. It was nice not feeling like a tourist, although I know I looked out of place with my big camera I still felt at home. I photographed a wedding and a baptism while I was there (I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous) and had lined up a few more shoots for when I got back. The time to clear my mind had worked and I knew what I wanted to focus on.

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Photographers often talk about a moment. Capturing the moment. The moment it clicks. The decisive moment. The moment where intuition and spontaneity meet. It’s a gut reaction we have to a fleeting moment. We have the need to capture that thing, exactly as it is, in that exact spot, at that exact time because it will never be the same ever again. This is why I had grabbed a camera. Because images by masters like Weegee and Henri Cartier Bresson are imprinted in my brain. A photograph, is the only thing that has ever left me speechless. That is my only goal as a photographer, to capture moments that evoke emotion. 

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I had seen it at least a dozen times, people losing their drive, from classmates to coworkers and that’s what was happening to me. Maybe it’s because of a poor education system, an unfulfilling job or a detrimental relationship that has you doubting yourself, but whatever the reason, we are our own worst critics. And that’s when I realised I had to change my train of thought. I always believed I had to have another job just in case my photography didn’t do well. But I wasn’t even giving myself a chance, my time and attention were constantly divided, I was a mess. So this trip was a blessing in disguise.

A year later I can truly say you have to give your dreams a chance or they’ll never have the opportunity to flourish. Can you really say you gave it your all if you give up?

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On top of my own event photography, I assist wedding studios on the weekends (which takes up a lot of my social time, sorry friends) and am able to set my schedule to revolve around my music photography. Being able to work for myself has given me the chance to focus on improving my skills, take on creative shoots and pursue greater tasks.

I know it sounds cliche but Alexander Graham Bell once said “When one door closes another door opens.” And it did.

Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t all peaches and cream, there’s still a lot to learn, But I’m only just getting started and I’m so excited for the challenge.

No matter what path you’re on in life, what I’ve learned is that you have to be your own cheerleader. There are enough people in this world who will think and speak poorly of you, so why are you adding yourself to that list? Positivity is infectious so surround yourself will people who support you.

If it wasn’t for finding The Photo Ladies, joining their community last year and seeing all these inspirational woman and amazing photographers pursuing their dreams, I may have never thought I could do it.

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My hope for all of you for the remainder of 2017 is to have the courage to pursue your dreams. Figure out what you’re passionate about, find your drive and when you do, don’t let it die. Make the jump, trust yourself and your abilities. Once you believe in yourself, you open yourself up to greater opportunities each and every day. Never doubt the time and effort you have put into perfecting your craft. They say it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to excel in your field, so why give up now?

Thank you for reading this, despite being super wordy & cheesy I hope you enjoyed and I hope you find whatever it is that makes you happy.

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Surfing in Scarborough

Last Friday’s adventure with fellow music photographer, Janine Van Oostrom included watching surfers on a beach in Scarborough and searching for vintage cameras. Janine and I met  while shooting the Coleman Hell Sugar Beach Session at 102.1 The Edge last month. We introduced ourselves and realized we’re both members of a collective of female photographers from across the world called The Photo Ladies (www.thephotoladies.com) . We also realized we enjoyed vintage camera collecting so I invited Janine to explore the antique shops along Kingston Road since I hadn’t been yet. We quickly realized these shops were asking for more than we would’ve like to spend and since our camera hunt was a bit of a bust I decided to give Janine a little tour of south Scarborough.

As you’ve most likely noticed, I’ve been to The Bluffs quite a few times in the last few weeks. There’s something calming about watching the tide come in. There are so many places to explore so you’ll be seeing it often. On this particular day it was a bit cold anda rather windy. The beach from Alyna & Ishkhan’s session was now 4 feet under water. We watched in awe as brave souls in body suits waded out to try and catch some waves. My iPhone battery was low and ended up dying because of the cold (grr) but I had my D800 and 50mm 1.4 lens. Definitely not the lens of choice, I wish I had my telephoto, but you work with what you have.

 

I edited these photos in Lightroom using XEQUALS Presets which are some pretty awesome film simulation presets I was introduced to. The beautiful part about them is they layer the effects so it’s really given me an opportunity to really take charge of my editing. You can find more about them here. My favourite are the cross-processing and contrast paper filters.

Thanks for viewing. Follow along on my daily adventures on Instagram @vengenzafotos

 

 

 

Foggy Exploration with Alyna & Ishkhan

We’ve been having some unpredictable and unseasonably warm weather in Toronto so when I woke up to a warm foggy day last Thursday I put out a call to action!
Why not take advantage of this opportunity? Do you know what fog machines and their liquids cost?
Luckily, Alyna and Ishkhan came to the rescue! They responded to my facebook post and we set off on a foggy day adventure.


The fog had started to move by that point so we went to the Bluffs where we hoped the fog would still be thick; and was it ever. You could barely see the towering rocks, everything felt so quiet and eerie, no horizon in sight yet there was something romantic about it.

We took advantage of the low tide and I asked them if they wouldn’t mind taking some photographs for me. I loved the way her hair and his hat pop with monochromatic view of the lake. It really was a fun day.

What was unique about this process for me was there it was completely on a whim. I didn’t tell them what to wear or where we were going, we only decided after getting in the car. We got to the location and just went with it. I’m really hoping to do more of these soon, Lets go out and shoot!

(Also, we happened upon this super photographic pupper who kept posing for the camera. I love him.)

Follow along on my Instagram stories to see daily adventures, previews for new work and creative stuff I’m working on! @VengenzaFotos

xo Joanna

 

Ria & Joe | Wedding Preview

I had a blast capturing RIa & Joe’s big day and I couldn’t wait to share these with you guys. It’s been a hectic week but I finally had time to edit so here are some of my favourites.

The last few weddings we’ve had to worry about rain but luckily it wasn’t too heavy so we were still able to get photos outside. PLUS we found this awesome covered bridge perfect for shelter & photos, thanks to the lady we met in the forest who assured us it was worth the muddy trek! Boy, was she right!  We also lucked out when the Embassy Grand in Bolton has this absolutely beautifully lit room where we got to take more photos of the bridal party.

It was a perfect day, I don’t ever think I’ve ever had that much fun or laughed so hard.
Thank you Ria & Joe for making me feel like family and trusting me to capture your special day!

 

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Street Dogs & Cats of Greece

I posted a few photos on my instagram while in Greece but here’s a few more of the street animals I encountered. Many of them very friendly, especially the dogs.

My aunt was telling me that the street dogs in Porto Xeli only live maybe two years because of hunger or getting hit by a car but the dog you see above has been taken care of by the locals so he has gotten to be much older.

It was hard to see and I wish I could have helped more of them. Before I left I bought some food and gave it to family to feed the local cats, at least for a little while.

Be sure to follow for more photos and more of my adventures. Feel free to share or comment or send me an e-mail at shootme@vengenza.ca.

xo

jo

Week 1 – Perama, Greece

We arrived in Greece on the morning of July 7th. After a bit of a medical hiccup and quite a bit of turbulence on the plane, we landed safely and were greeted by my cousin Vasilis. His wedding (photos coming soon!) was in two days and everyone was rushing around making sure they had everything ready. I’m usually a bit nervous before a wedding but I was super nervous before this one. After having realized I left the tray of my Canon Selphy printer at home (d’oh!) I ended up buying a new one because we had planned to print photos during the reception.

I spent a bit of time visiting family. My cousin Dimitri owns the store across the street from my uncles house where we were staying. We went and visited my aunt and uncle where I snapped these fun portraits.

My days were spent visiting Dimitri’s shop and hanging out with my cousin’s son, George. Nights were spent with family around a table, eating, drinking, dancing, singing and reminiscing.

When I was 12 we came to Greece for a summer and a lot of days were spent splaying in this park at the bottom of the mountain. The park has since been deserted and I was warned to stay away due to the high number of refugees, of course this was after I wandered through it with my camera.

 

Thanks again for stopping by! Feel free to share, comment or send me an e-mail at shootme@vengenza.ca.

Machine Gun America

At the end of April we took a road trip down to Florida. As simply a passenger and not a driver I wasn’t in control of our stops but managed to photographed the sights as they passed. One important factor to note is I shot a lot of these through a car window so I brought along a circular polarizer to be able to shoot through the glass without reflection.

I got to borrow the Fuji X100T for the two weeks and really enjoyed it’s small size and how inconspicuous it was to those I may have been photographing or random passers by. I was worried about draining the battery too quickly so I often used the optical rangefinder, the only downside to that was that I wasn’t able to see the effect of my circular polarizer so I found myself switching back and forth from optical to digital viewfinders to make sure I was getting the desired effect. The battery actually lasted quite a while, I never had it die on me throughout the day. I like the focal length of the camera, it was just right for street shooting and the dynamic range of the camera is excellent, I only wish I hadn’t pushed the ISO as high as I did, it wasn’t necessary.

Here are a few of the photographs I took while I was down there, I’ve titled this blog after one of the stores located in Florida that we would drive by, there were probably half a dozen gun shops close to where we were staying but never did I feel unsafe, we just avoided honking when people cut us off.

More photos of my Florida adventures, recent concerts and portraits coming soon!

Be sure to folllow my instagram for more!

Forgotten photos from the streets in Greece

I’ve got a really bad travel itch, I just want to grab my camera and go!

But since I can’t do that I’ve been trying to curb my appetite by going over old photos from my travels and I found these from my trip to Greece in 2009. I found myself photographing the stray animals in the streets because; a) they don’t mind when you take their picture and b) to remember these furry friends who have been long forgotten.

Maybe it’s my love of film or the fact that this trip feels like such a long time ago but I found myself editing these into black and white but never the less, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed finding them after all this time.

I hope this satisfies my itch for now but I think a road trip is on the horizon for 2016.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ve liked what you’ve seen please follow for more!

xo jo

 

Mini Getaway to Niagara

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to Niagara Falls but it’s so close to home that I can’t help going back. Despite the Fog Advisory, it was actually a very mild day and there were lots of visitors for me to people watch. One of them happened to be a cute and cuddly Golden Retriever, I didn’t catch his name but he loved looking over the edge of the railings and when I asked his owner if I could take a picture, he turned and smiled for me.

After some delicious all you can eat sushi we headed to Cliffton Hill to check out the SkyWheel. Now I’m not a big fan of heights, I’m usually fine as long as I can’t see straight down. Unfortunately for me, the SkyWheel has beautiful temperature controlled gondolas that are surrounded by glass windows so I nervously laughed for the whole ride while my mom laughed at me.

 

Since I knew we were only going down for the day, I kept my camera bag light with only my D800 and 24-70. Despite having gone so many times, I like trips like these because they get me away from the usual scenery and push me to see a familiar place in a new way.

Thanks for stopping by! I’d love to hear from you too, feel free to comment or e-mail me at shootme@vengenza.ca

xo jo

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Clifton Hill | SkyWheel | Nikon D800 + Tamron 24-70 | Photo by Joanna Glezakos | Vengenza.ca