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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They say decorating is never ending – so true.  While I’ve been incredibly content with the way our home has come together, when I was offered to collaborate with Build.com, I jumped at the chance to update Mr. Wonderful’s bathroom!

Build.com was so easy to find what I needed and some products have product videos tutorials on how to install the product up! I’m also proud to say Benjamin and I installed everything all by ourself!  Changing lights is actually incredibly easy – don’t be intimidated!

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The good husband had to deal with a very girly bathroom that was supposed to be mine so I added some nautical touches for him with a thrift store picture and a barometer eBay find.

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Items courtesy of Build.com

I decided to mix metal finishes after seeing this image on Pinterest.

I love the champagne bronze/gold look (yes, slightly different than brass) that is trendy right now – but I didn’t want to get too carried away with then having to replace the shower head, faucet, and suddenly go too modern.

I decided to change the knobs, a very affordable cost, at just $3 per knob, a $15 upgrade isn’t bad!

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Murray Feiss 2 Light Vanity to replace the crystal one.

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And let’s also admire this very fancy Kohler Tissue Holder:

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Build.com provided me with a few items so I could experience their amazing customer service and ease of use.  All opinions are my own.

Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R

Decor, Home + Garden, Product Reviews

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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

eShakti-custom-clothing-online-review-diana-elizabeth-fashion-blogger-111 Chambray top: Forever21 / Gingham check full skirt: eShakti (c/o) / Wedges: Fergie / Bangle: J.Crew (similar)

I was elated to see two pages in this month’s InStyle magazine saying gingham is one of the trendy prints this spring!

eShakti is an online store that makes custom sizes from 0-36W and you can pick how long or short you want your outfits.  You select your dress, say your size, then add your height and if you want custom styling which you can select: as shown, short length, above the knee, knee length, or below the knee.  This helps with style preferences – I tend to like skirts knee length or lower.

Best part of this skirt – it has pockets!!!!!!!

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The skirt has an elastic back waist so it fits just right, I was worried it would be too tight or too loose, so I was so glad to see it had smocked back!  It’s my new spring skirt!

This also looked like a photoshoot-with-bunny kinda skirt.  Liberty sat confused for a bit before scampering off smelling her hay box in the corner.

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Equipment used: Sony NEX-5R + 18-55mm

Lifestyle, Style

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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

I am truly loving these hikes I’ve been taking this week!  I think the reason is because at the end of a hike there’s a reward – like discovering 900 year old ancient ruins, or a breathtaking view of Sedona.  I know the top of Camelback Mountain offers an amazing view of Phoenix but does that hike have to be THAT HARD?  I’ve hiked it a total of three times to the top out of anger – typically due to breakups, let’s be honest.

This week my Monday kicked off with my girlfriend Ricki who was my yoga/meditation model and we headed up to Cave Creek to check out the Sears Kay Indian Ruins.  I’m really excited to share these images with you after the April issue of PHOENIX magazine comes out.

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I wanted a boulder shot so bad and this one was off the edge of the top of the mountain and I begged Ricki to get on.  Then I begged her not to fall off.

Those are just iPhone photos but my favorite shot looks like it should be an outdoor allergy pill advertisement.

The 16-35mm/F2.8 L did a great job, the rental covered 2 of my 5 shoots and the only ones I really needed to capture the great outdoors anyway.  I still can’t tell you if I want to buy it, but I do think renting it just seems to make more sense.  I am just not loving capturing subjects with it because you pretty much have to place your subject (a person) right in the middle to avoid warping, even with lens corrections in post it doesn’t seem to fix it well so I have to edit a bit more.  If anyone has experience shooting with a crazy wide angle like that with any advice please let me know.  I’m considering the 24mm/F1.4 L now, oh decisions. Ah!

Things I learned this week:

  • My cracked LCD screen on my Canon 5D Mark III was in fact a protective cover I forgot I put on.  Thank God, so worth the $10!
  • 5 editorial shoots in 8 days is a lot, but I’m so beyond happy to be doing what I love for a publication I respect and am proud to be a regular contributor.  If I could do a shoot every day, I’d love it!
  • Wearing heels that are too big are terrible/embarrassing to be seen attempting to walk in, and darn near impossible.
  • Just received boxes from Build.com, Mr. Wonderful’s bathroom is getting a little makeover, can’t wait to show you!

And because everyone loves a bunny picture!

I hope you all have a happy Valentine’s Day!  You are loved, by me.  xx

Lifestyle, Personal

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If you’re a chalkboard/sign writing lover, I wanted to share this chalk marker that has two tips – a round tip and a beveled tip all in one!  Last month I had a few signs I needed to write on for client Bella Lily Bridal.

Here is an 8 pack of colors, the solid white ones are currently sold out, but the colors are so fun!

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My calligraphy online class helped a lot with my writing with a nib, these chalk markers though are so fun!  Remember to store them horizontally and not in a cup!

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Decor, Home + Garden

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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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