concord ma family photographer

the story about how i get to be a tester for sesame ellis actions

i'm going to warn you right now. this is going to be a very long, very wordy, very picture heavy post. i'm going to review something really awesome too. you know how i wrote that whole "oh what a transformation this past year has been" post? you know how i write like, 10 posts like that a month? this is going to be kind of like that. because it was just about a year ago, when i bought my first digital SLR (as opposed to the film ones i had learned anything and everything on) i did that thing where you sit and get sucked into photo blogs for hours at a time. hours people. i really mean it. it was at about that time that i stumbled upon the amazing sesame ellis/rachel devine. i immediately loved her. her 'about me' section was hilarious, i never use capitals, and in her picture she's nursing. bad ass.

when i look back at the blogs and tutorials hers is one of the few that actually really taught me something. she occasionally included stats on photos she shot on her blog. sometimes, i would put myself in a similar lighting situation and just match my settings to hers and adjust as needed. it really gave me the extra boost i needed to learn shooting manual. and the other thing is this. if you look at a bunch of photographers online, i feel like there is a thick concentration of photographers who heavily edit their photos. and in the beginning, i wondered if that was the way to be successful, or wondered if it was what all people wanted. but when i stumbled onto rachel's site it was really refreshing. she preaches getting the best shot in camera and not to over work your photos or date them with editing trends and popular props. stay true to the people in the photos, to the light and the natural moment. she is originally a film photographer, and is actually starting to work with film again, which has been really interesting to watch. and has really sparked my own interest in going back to film as well. but that's for another day. what i love about her work is it stays really true to her film roots. and the idea that back in the day, we didn't have photoshop or any of this other editing technology. you got what you got out of camera, more or less. she's always sold actions but i rarely had the extra $$ to get them. so basically i've just tried, through a lot of trial and error, to keep that philosophy. to try and get the best shot in camera. to really understand light and how to use it. i want my photos to be timeless and capture the reality of the people in them. and i've learned a lot about that from her.

in an unexpected twist, i noticed one day when a rachel devine (who is american born living in australia with her husband and three SERIOUSLY gorgeous kids) commented on my good friend jule's (american born living in australia with her husband and SERIOUSLY adorable son finn, who i met online) status. turns out they are close friends. what are the chances? i think rachel's a total celeb, jules gets to have easter dinner with her. but i digress.

recently rachel has been talking about releasing a new set of actions. i was really, really excited to see them. i knew rachel was recently more inspired than ever by film and i guessed these actions would really be a reflection of that. she talked about needing testers and i was all, omgpleaseme. so i tossed my name on the list and figured i probably wouldn't hear anything. then she posted a blog using some of the actions and mentioned she was getting closer to release. just out of curiosity i commented on the blog and asked if she had already sent the actions out to testers. much to my surprise, she responded and asked if i would please test them out for her. a year ago, i was not a photographer that rachel devine would ask to test actions and not because she didn't know me.

i haven't been given the full set yet, but what i have gotten so far i LOVE. the more i use them, the more i get to know them, the better i can navigate which action for what photos to convey what mood. i rarely use an action at full opacity and i always freshen up the image in ACR first. the actions are perfect, subtle, and give your photos just a hint of film nostalgia that i go weak in the knees for.

for starters, i picked a totally random, not great shot, of jack. just to show the different actions.

ok, because that's what every tester does. but then i figured, i should really put the actions to work. i'm sure rachel thought perhaps that i'd take adorable pictures of well styled little children. the truth is, my two boys are going through a simultaneous "i hate looking at your camera or taking part in your photography" phase. so the best i could come up with was our day trip to the farm. where the most cooperative subjects were live stock.

we spent an embarrassing amount of time with the baby chicks. ok. i spent an embarrassing amount of time with the baby chicks.

then we headed to the barn to see some sheep, a donkey and some goats.

and finally, when he couldn't fight it, i took one solitary picture of leo, looking at a bunny.

i am so glad to have these actions and i can't wait to get the rest of the set. the thing i love the MOST about these actions, is that they allow me to be me. i'm not buying these actions to buy someone else's style or look. they are right in line with my editing philosophy : less is more. they compliment and boost my photos in just the right way. i'm not sure of my audience, and if there are budding photographers out there interested in which actions i used and how much etc. but if you are a reader who is interested in more technical nonsense around here, please say so in the comments!!!

you can check rachel out on her personal blog here! and on her teaching blog, beyond snapshots with her partner peta mazey, here! thanks rachel!!

xo isabel