laughing eyes

Some things change
Funny, isn’t it? How life has a way of giving you what you need. Figuring out that it’s also what you want is part of the challenge. Commitments, obligations. Family, friends, work. Good stuff. But gets in the way of good camera time.
It’s been far too long since my last post here. It’s been far too long since I’ve had some time with just me and my camera, shooting what I want.
Some things remain the same
My 4th time shooting Muertos y Marigolds Dia de los Muertos, in the South Valley of Albuquerque.  It’s a visually stunning event that continues to grow. Indio-hispanic-anglo traditions mingle together in one big social-statement-experience.  It’s held in one of the poorest neighborhoods, but one of the richest in tradition, heritage and pride. Skeletons, and beautiful costumes. Floats and humor. Plus, there’s candy. And low riders. And bands and dancers.  Did I mention the candy? There are kids there too. It’s not scary or spooky. We honor our dead, and the dead speak through us and to us, telling us the truths that we are too blind in our “aliveness” to see.
Each year, my favorite photog friends and I turn out to shoot this beautiful event.  We really do treat it as our own personal photo shoot.  In years past, the crowds were so small that entire sections of the parade route were bare.  Not this year.  But the crowds tolerated us, cheered us, as they cheered the calaveras, the kids, the social commentary. And the candy.
See you next year.


Flashbus, light and layers

I signed up for Flashbus.  And it.was.awesome.  Freakin’ off the charts amazing.  Let me set the stage for you –
Albuquerque Convention Center.  200 people.  One day.  $100.  And more information, technique and philosophy about lighting than I could digest in months.
The morning started with David Hobby (you know, the blogger from, the expert on lighting scenes with small flashes. him.) First, the guy is smart as hell.  Second, he knows how to light a scene.  And third (and this is MY thing), he can really train and hold an audience’s attention.  Key light, fill light, accent light.  Layer, layer, layer.  And shoot manual.  Ok, David.  I’m picking up what you’re putting down.  (I did also win a 15″ Lumiquest lightbox, thanks to my friend Marc and the film camera easily accessible in my *emera bag.  Thanks David, for the extra swag!)

Lunch at the Gold Street Cafe with some of my favorite photog guys! (that’s the thing about going to a strobist event, not very many women…)

And then back to watch Joe McNally build some amazing portraits.  Joe is a National Geographic photographer, and has the most brilliant of eyes.  It was fascinating to watch him work, on the fly, and put together lights, mood, and portraits.  Shooting TTL holds some appeal for me, and his effects are stunning.  It’s harder to replicate than Hobby’s approach, and more room for camera error, but some great lessons to be learned.  Including, purchase gaffer tape and have several extra strobes laying around, and assistants to do my bidding.  Not a bad life!  Joe’s blog post from the Albuquerque stop –

Still, so much to learn.  All in all, an amazing day.  I can’t wait for my Orbis flashring to arrive.

If you have the chance to jump on the Flashbus tour, you absolutely should.  It’s.freaking.amazing.

Location Scouting

It's nice to have a willing model on a location check.

I’m always on the lookout for great places to take portraits.  And I’m blessed to live in a beautiful part of the country, and in a city with plenty of amazing backdrops.

This weekend, I was scouting out a location for a large group shoot.  So, off the National Hispanic Cultural Center we went.  It’s a gorgeous facility, with great architecture, and the most interesting walls around.  This shot is of Kristin, in the purple wall outside the Disney theater.  There are gorgeous, New Mexico brown adobe walls.  Maroon and red walls.  Purple (two different shades). Brick floors as far as the eye can see.  And it’s all outside, bouncing that gorgeous New Mexico light around.

Shooting portraits without a studio, relying only on the beauty around, has given me the opportunity to re-examine the community I’ve lived in for almost 20 years.  To find the beauty, to appreciate the color and vibrancy.  To see my world with new eyes.

Some of my favorite places?  The botanic garden, the foothills, and the painted fence downtown.

What are your favorite places to shoot portraits?  Where do you get the best light?

and it’s 2011. Really.

A finalist in Pioneer Woman's Food assignment

A belated happy new year to you!  Is it just me, or do the holidays completely wipe you out?  From two weeks before Thanksgiving until December 26th, I feel I run on full throttle.  (I’m sure having 2 birthdays mixed in with all of the other festivities does little to slow us down…)  I love the shopping (online) and cooking (waaaay to much butter).  The weather is just sublime.  And my girls are the perfect age for Santa – seriously, the anticipation was palpable.  We spend time with perfectly sane, normal family. No bickering, back-stabbing, passive-aggressiveness.  Lots of love.

And yet, I feel the need to hibernate that whole week between Christmas and New Years.  Not-leave-the-house hibernate.

I had the privilege of taking some Christmas card shots for some pretty amazing families – thank you letting me help you create some wonderful memories!

I know! Just the cutest.

I love this one!

aren't they just adorable?

They did this with very little prompting. Crazy people. =

So, I hope that you had a great holiday season!  And that you have sufficiently recovered.

Oh, and I have spring fever.  =]

I really do love taking pictures

2010 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

I have my camera with me, everywhere I go.  Usually.

The other morning, we were getting ready to load up in the car for school.  Kristin said, “Mommy, you forgot your camera bag.”  Apparently, I’m not the only one who notices that I bring it everywhere.

Truth be told, I miss it when I don’t have it with me.  I love stopping on the side of the road to catch some wildflowers or some light, or a fence.  And, if I’m being really honest, I love going places where I know that there will be amazing shots. (so, on Monday?  I loaded up the girls and drove up to Santa Fe because I knew the leaves would be changing.  Did I think it would make for an amazing day with my children, hiking through the aspen, making memories and having fun?  Absolutely!  Did I also think it was a fantastic photo op?  Of course!)

I am so lucky to live in Albuquerque, where every year, for 9 days straight, they launch hot air balloons into the air so that I can bring my family to watch, and I can shoot the whole thing (yes, all for me… =]).  Every year, I drag my family out of bed in the dark (and friends too, if they happen to be willing/in town), so that I can watch the beauty, and watch the awe in their faces.  And more than once (this year, 4 times). (the breakfast burritos are really good, too.)

A friend asked me the other day, don’t I get bored?  Every year, same thing, same traffic, same crowds?  But I don’t.  Honestly, I don’t.  It’s new every year, the light, the crowds, the colors, the back story.  I love watching the world through my lenses, and finding new ways to see what I thought I had seen before.  And it’s gorgeously breathtakingly awesome.  I guarantee, I will be back next year.  Because I really do love taking pictures.

The Candidate

David Doyle, Candidate District 23

Meet David Doyle.

Dave is running in District 23 for the House seat here in New Mexico (Corrales, mostly).  He wants to fix the schools and grow jobs and restore some fiscal and economic responsibility to our state.

We did a shoot last Sunday at his house.  Went to the Corrales Grower’s Market so he could talk issues and shake some hands (and I could get some “candids”).  And I had the most fun on this shoot.  He’s funny, he’s smart, and he’s a really, really nice guy.  He’s not a politician – he’s a business owner, a husband and a father who can’t stand the way our government is working.  So he’s doing what few of us are brave enough to do – he’s trying to fix it.

I’m thinking about moving, just so I can vote for him.

Senior Moments

(c) Nancy Newell Photography

It had been a crazy few weeks.  My hard drive crashed.  My backups were less than reliable.  Fortunately, my Apple Care hadn’t expired yet, and I experienced a computer miracle long enough to retrieve everything I needed and wanted off of the drive.

My children are back in school (kindergarten? already?).  And life is settling back into what passes for normal around here.

Needless to say, it was a true pleasure to get out and shoot some senior portrait shots for Chelsea.  We danced between rain showers, enjoyed some beautiful light, and made good use of the old stone house up by La Luz trail.  She was a joy to work with!  Thanks Chelsea, and congratulations on your senior year!