My name is Diana Elizabeth. I'm a photographer, writer, graphic designer and model who had memorable days reporting from the LA red carpet for E! Online. I love sharing my life as a creative professional and the things that I discover along the way - with camera in hand.

My husband and I live in a restored 1952 red brick home that sits on a former citrus grove in Phoenix. I enjoy traveling, home improvement projects, and gardening. This is a glimpse into my life and work.

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Category Archives: Photography

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There’s one more thing I want to talk about that I love having in my back pocket during the reception – a cheap little video light.

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Polaroid Video light, $20

Video Light uses:

  • Polaroid Video light, $20 or any video light that just stays on – is a good idea for the cake who somehow got placed in the corner with no pin lighting, desserts on a dark table that were forgotten about, or to bring your own spot light.
  • You could probably also use the flash on your iPhone too (leave it on of course so it’s like a flashlight).

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I have my assistant Amy hold it at an angle and I just grab a few shots.  We walk around to all the details with it and I open my aperture up wide.

That wraps up my off camera reception lighting series!  If you have any questions please ask.

I’d love to hear if there’s anything else you’d want me to cover – to make Wednesday posts more beneficial to you.

Off Camera Flash Post Series

For Photographers, Photography

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We are continuing the off camera set up I use during wedding receptions.  In this post I’m going to mention some extra pieces of equipment that will help with making your off camera flash images look better.

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Additional equipment I talk about in this post:

Flash Diffuser

IMG_0310 Your diffuser should always be positioned like a whale tale – instructions come with your diffuser

Battery Pack

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  • If you use full-power, or start to take a lot of images at once, like a burst, you may notice it drains your battery quicker or has a slower time recharging.  This when a battery pack comes in handy – if you want to be shooting bursts – your flash will power up quicker. You need to find a battery pack that suits your camera model.  It plugs right into your flash – because you’re powering the flash.
  • I was told to use Energizer AA Rechargeable batteries 2300 mAh, because they last longer and provides high power.  Pair it with this charger.  I own two chargers so I can recharge quicker before a big shoot or wedding.

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The items in this post are must-haves for every wedding photographer.

Off Camera Flash Post Series

For Photographers, Photography

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It’s been nine years of running my graphic design/branding boutique, Silver Spoon Studio and also being a photographer for the past five years – I’ve really learned so much along the way.  Mistakes were plentiful as much as the successes.  Turning a passion into a full-time while on my own, meant I was really putting myself to the test.

I mention the last sentence because I think it’s frightening for a single gal to do something on her own with no backup plan other than her college degree, experienced resume and whatever is in savings or stock accounts but I say it because I want to empower you.  If you wonder if you need to have a safety net in order to pursue dreams – probably better yes, but I wouldn’t put dreams on hold for that.  Just save enough money and build up your dream while you have a steady 9 to 5 job.  I used my shoe money to invest in lenses and equipment.

So many things I’ve learned that I wanted to pass along to you if you are boss lady.

9 lessons I’ve learned:

  1.  Learn to evolve.  The economy changes, industries become saturated, and if you don’t offer multiple services you won’t be able to move with the changes.  From graphic design, marketing to photography and writing, it’s a good thing to have several skills when you are in a pinch and need to evolve to make money.
  2. Learning to say no to opportunities that don’t make sense. It’s not being snobby, it’s being selective or rather realistic on what you want or can allow to do given time, energy and if it’s a good fit for what you actually do.  Once you realize you are the boss of you, you realize your ability to exercise no – whether it’s now or later, or just not right now. It’s also saying no to just looking busy because if it doesn’t pay the bills or have interest to you, that’s OK.  Have no guilt.
  3. Always charge.  There are things you don’t charge, like normal friend things you do, but when it comes to things you do as a profession, you must and should exercise your right to charge, after all, you could be using that time taking a paid job.  Your real friends will understand that it’s your bread and butter, we all have bills to pay.
  4. Stay positive and be around positive people.  If you’re going to make it, you have to believe it and you have to surround yourself with people who believe it too.  Have meet ups to talk shop and just encourage one another, it’s best to find those who are in the same boat as you, starting up or more advanced.  If you’re going to complain or whine, stop doing what you’re doing.
  5. Share the networking/wealth.  The best way to make friends in the business is to include them or pass along a referral.  The good vibes will always come back. It’s also nice to have a buddy so you don’t go alone to networking events.
  6. Stay on brand. This includes your marketing collateral, thank you cards, packaging, all of it – to the way you dress and respond to emails and present yourself is important.  Be a thankful business owner and send thank you cards and gifts at the appropriate time.
  7. Take advice from people who have done it – successfully.  I listen with both ears from a person I know has done it well and who I want to model myself after.  If someone has failed you can listen to their lessons in failure, and pay attention to the success of someone who has been successful.
  8. Consider a loss as a valuable lesson.  If you experience a bad client or project (we ALL have) or you felt you didn’t charge enough for your time – that is not wasteful, it’s a huge lesson you will take with you and hopefully never experience again.  Knowledge is power.  Mistake on you? Apologize when necessary – own it, and fix it – whether it’s a discount or doing another job on you.
  9. Education is worth the investment.  Education will always be worth the money – classes, workshops, conferences will sharpen your skills and one lesson can turn into a profitable one!  You will always get your money back from attending a workshop as long as you take the knowledge and put it to good use.

Realizing you are in 1 of 2 positions:

  1. Starting out you need to book anything and everything.  You take any job.  You are learning what you love, what you hate, but neither really matters yet because you’re so happy to get a job.  A job is a job.  That’s OK, you need to either build your portfolio, figure out who you are, what you like, don’t like, or build up your bank account.  This is not a bad place to be, this is probably when you will make a lot of money by taking any opportunity and make the most out of networking opportunities.
  2. Selective due to time or perspective.  You start to have less and less time, or you realize that job isn’t worth the time because 1) You don’t have much time or 2) It doesn’t make you happy.  Best of all, you have the ability to say no because you have worked hard enough to be selective about the jobs you take (every business owner’s dream), or you are financially in a place where you only want to do what makes you keeps you creative, and happy.

Knowing what position you are in and realizing sometimes you can go back between the two, will allow you can make wiser decisions with your time and talents.  It will also help you keep the right perspective so you can also avoid entrepreneurial burn out.  And always be kind to everyone, even if you are discouraged, even if you find yourself not at the level you want to be yet, the more you are around the energy the more it should propel you, learn all you can from one another and share – this world can be a lonely place without encouraging friends who know the ups and downs of being a small business owner.

{Photo: Melissa Schollaert / Makeup and hair: Lizzy Marsh}

For Photographers, Photography

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To continue from last week’s off camera flash post when we talked about the Radio Popper radio triggers, I want to go into settings.

Camera settings

  • I stay on manual mode – I am always in control.
  • Remember you are adding plenty of light therefore you don’t need a high ISO, I’m on 100 or 200.
  • I shoot around f/5.6 because I want my subject really in focus.
  • Shutter speed sort of matters but not really – it goes only to 1/200 as the fastest.  I just ignore the shutter speed honestly and just keep taking shots until it looks good and I’m happy with the photo.  The shutter speed is essentially just allowing in the ambient light – the light that’s already in the room, even if dim, whatever light is on in the reception hall.
  • Sometimes a quick shutter can give the off camera flash a starburst effect.

Flash settings – on camera

  • Depending on how close the subject is to you, you can adjust your on camera flash to be full power (1/1), 1/2 power, 1/4 power, or 1/8.  I would strongly suggest not doing full-power unless your super far away from the dance floor getting a wide angle shot.
  • Your flash power depends on how close or far your subject is to you.

Flash settings – off camera

  • Since I control the intensity of the flash off camera from my Radio Popper attached to my camera, I adjust the intensity to my liking and just check to see if I like it – there are no rules. 
  • A brighter the flash the more it lights up the room or can give a beautiful airy affect.
  • I put a subject – usually my second shooter in the middle of the dance floor to test my settings until I like it.

Settings are a hard thing – there’s no magic setting, you take a couple and move them, then it changes, just play around and always check!

Flash placement

Your off camera flash is like the sun if you were shooting outdoors – and you were a photographer who like to backlight.  The reason why you need an off camera flash is to illuminate the location so it doesn’t look like you’re shooting in black tunnel when you use one flash.  It makes everything else around lighter, and you can adjust it by your shutter – adding whatever amount of ambient light or as little!

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  • Place flash out of the way, or by speakers or in the back by a curtain so it’s camouflaged and will lessen risk of an excited wedding guest who needs to run to the dance floor because their song has come on – my poor flash has tumbled many times.

Ambient lighting

This is with a quick shutter so I don’t let in a lot of ambient light:

More ambient light (slower shutter):

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What you can do with off camera lighting:

You can turn off the flash on your camera and only illuminate the back of your couple.

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If close enough to the flash you can turn your on camera flash off, slow shutter to get ambient lighting, and get something like this.

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Off Camera Flash Post Series

For Photographers, Photography

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I was requested to post about my off camera flash equipment and set up and I wanted this to be a few different posts as it can be overwhelming.

Before I begin there are so many different ways to work off camera flash / reception lighting – it’s like asking someone for directions to the mall – there are no wrong ways to get there, and you can use a bike, walk, use the bus or car, you still get there.  Then there are old models, and newer models, so it just gets all complicated, dated, and well, clearly I’m just going to talk about how I get there because it’s all I know and since I’m self-taught, I’m going to talk in layman terms.

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My equipment I talk about for this post:

I use two flashes – one goes on my camera and I put on a light stand, it’s called my “off camera flash”.  My flash models are a little older, but the reality is – they work, flash, and they do the job I need.  In terms of upgrading and when, my rule is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, easy enough ladies and gentleman.

The set up – on camera flash

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  1. Connect the sync cable (you must buy separately) from the Radio Popper trigger TO YOUR CAMERA, not to the flash.  If you connect it to your flash, you’ll have a delay.  Since the the release/shutter button is the boss of everything you want that direct connection from your camera.
  2. Make sure triggers are on the same channel and green light is on.

The set up – off camera flash

IMG_0303 (Just pretend it’s on a light stand instead of the foot)

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  1. Connect trigger (and the cube if you need it) – this just hooks to the flash.
  2. Important Note: Flashes from the factory go to sleep automatically after about 60 seconds to conserve battery power so you need to set the off camera flash to not fall asleep or else you’ll have to walk across the room every time and hit the pilot button to wake it up – not cool during a wedding reception.  Click here to watch a video on how to disable the sleep mode.
  3. Set flash to TTL – it’s the automatic no brainer setting.
  4. Make sure triggers are on the same channel and green light is on.
  5. Place off camera flash on a light stand out of the way – behind where your subject will be, think of it as the sun if you will be backlighting and you want the halo effect around your subject on the dance floor.  This is also where you choose as the good background.

How to use Radio Popper Triggers

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  • Everything on – camera, flashes, triggers? You’re all set up!  Hit the shutter and both flashes should go off at the same time!
  • To adjust the intensity of the off camera flash (since it’s on TTL), there is a dial on the trigger attached to your camera that can adjust the power/intensity of the flash across the room.  Isn’t that awesome?  So you can adjust the dial if your subject moves or you change your shutter speed.  I wrote on mine and my “sweet spot” on the dial.
  • To adjust the intensity of the flash on your camera you just change it as you would, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 power.

And that’s my flash trigger set up.

You may have a ton of questions on the technical stuff, but now you at least know how to trigger the flashes. Next Wednesday’s post I’ll go into settings, but feel free to ask questions below in the comments so I can make sure I answer any of your concerns.

For Photographers, Photography

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I was inspired to make paper dresses from old maps by a few items on a flash home sale site but the price tag was $300-$400.  I know I spent a hefty price tag on this artwork, but that was an oil painting.

I found the Paris and London map at Aaron Brothers and these two 5×7 shadow frames (but they hold 4×6) on sale – the total was about $45 because of the buy one frame get the second for a penny – the sale might be over but it comes around again come summer time, July.

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You could also consider saving maps when you travel and just cut it out when you return.

Other places to find maps (which are really wrapping paper) at Paper Source here.

For the pleats in the dress I thought I would fold it, but that doesn’t work well AT ALL.  Instead I cut everything and just used ZOTS adhesives. I took out the mat board and would place it over what I was making to see if it was cut to scale or not.

My office is now overly full of art that I need to do a bit of rearranging or purging – I’m pretty sure it will be a purge.

Photography

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Wedding ring shots are important, but I wouldn’t say they are necessary for every wedding, it depends on your couple.

I do think it’s an easy and creatively fun shot because it allows you to story tell or capture the wedding in a unique way. My second shooter Amy loves taking the rings and doing something fun, but I have to admit – I like taking them as well and seeing what I can come up with.  Here’s what we’ve learned about nailing that ring shot.

Wedding ring shot tips:

  • Don’t put rings anywhere you could potentially drop them and never be able to find them again – like a bridge over water, a drain close by, or anywhere it can roll away and never be seen again.
  • Look for fun textures and or color – shadows too.
  • Consider using natural elements that showcase where the wedding is taking place (desert plant if it’s a destination wedding in AZ and couple is from another part of the country, or seashell if in Hawaii)
  • Clean the rings including if moving in a flower bouquet, pollen will show up using that macro, I’ve seen it!
  • Consider using wedding details that are around (see straw shot).
  • Shoot at F3.5 or higher (I never use F2.8, I want all the rings in focus)
  • Always check to make sure you have all rings in focus.
  • Watch your reflection in his ring, especially (you can fix this in post since most times you can’t avoid it)
  • Ask for help – for the rings that hang on a flower, my assistant holds the flower steadily if necessary, with her hand under the rings incase they drop.

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On another note – since Wednesdays were primarily my photography post days (I decided to go back to the themed days of the week) I need ideas on what to write about.  So if there’s anything in particular you want me to write about please email me or leave a comment or else some Wednesday posts may not happen.

I love to help so if you have questions, let me know.  Thanks for reading!

For Photographers, Photography

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