Avia Photography

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Columbia, Missouri, United States
Warning, the following ramblings are those of a sometimes sidetracked photographer avoiding accomplishing tasks on her list. All we ask is that if you use one of our photos from here or elsewise, you kindly give us credit. = )

Monday, December 21, 2009

Brian's first HDR attempt

Brian here, had a quiet moment so I thought I'd sneak in a post of my own. Two weekends ago Mallory and I were staying at the Westin in Crown Center, KC with my parents for a little Christmas trip. Directly out our balcony window was the Liberty Memorial, the only memorial dedicated to soldiers who fought in World War I. I must have glanced at it 20 times throughout the day saying to myself "I've got to take a picture of that". It wasn't until we got back to the room that night that it hit me, I'll do an HDR shot!

Now I'll be the first to admit that HDR photography is a bit of a fad (for those of you who don't know, HDR is where you take 3 or more pictures of the same thing, some much brighter so there are less shadows, and some much darker so bright lights can be seen with detail, and then a computer program combines them) but I figured it might be fun to try. I opened the door to the balcony, dragged a small table out with me (the tripod was in the car) and went to work. 30 minutes and many frozen fingers/toes later, here is what I got. The results are pretty cool, I have to admit.

P.S. You may notice there is a horizontal line of lights, just below the smoke, behind the tower. I have NO idea what that is. It was there in some pictures, and gone in others. UFO? If anyone has a guess or an answer, I'd love to hear it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

.:more out-takes:.

This is why I love photographing children. They can still make these faces and totally get away with it. It's no wonder I'm addicted to photographing the flower girls at weddings. Look at this little one!

.:i love headshots:.

There's something I absolutely adore about taking headshots. Maybe it was because the first time I took over the stage was when I demanded my own solo spot in our preschool Christmas concert when I was three. I've been a recovering addict of the stage ever sense. A dear friend of mine and I discussed our love for theatre a few nights ago and came to the conclusion that our addiction is in large part a combination of the adrenaline rush from connecting with the audience and the incredible feeling of being part of a group creative process with fellow actors & creatives.

Speaking of headshots, you may recognize this fellow from when we first did his headshots in May. (You can find that post here.) He said at that time that he was mourning the loss of his hair he had always had. For the play he had just come out of his hair had to be relaxed (for you white folk reading this, that's a chemical they put on hair to permanently straighten it whereby if the person wants to go back natural he has to shave it all off and start all over). His hair has returned after many months of letting it go back to it's original state so we needed to take photos of him with his gorgeous natural locks.

You may have seen Chris recently in a production called Holding Up the Sky, written by Mizzou's very own Professor Clyde Ruffin. The show was so good it was invited to compete in the regional KCACTF festival in January. If it does well enough, it will go on to nationals. The University is holding a free performance for all of you folks that live in Columbia on Friday, January 15th if you're game to attend. This young man stars in the show and it'd be a shame to miss it. Brian and I saw it a few weeks ago and it was absolutely incredible. And it takes a lot for us to say that. But remember, you saw him here first. (If you're signed in to facebook or reading this post from there, click here to get more info on the show.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


One of my favorite parts of posed group photos are the out-takes. I always need to test the lighting before we do any sort of studio-type shoots to make sure the lighting is working. Brian is almost always my guinea pig but on this occasion we were doing family portraits and Spencer, the family's 8-year-old, was hanging close by and joined in on the light-testing magic. As I was going back through the family photos, I found this one. I'm sure Brian was probably the ring-leader on this one.

I've also pasted our new logo! Thanks to those of you that helped us in that decision-making process. I'm hoping I won't be kicking myself soon for having designed an unusually-shaped logo. I guess we'll see...

We're almost caught up on photos which means we are on to the next phase: album designing!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Ah... headshots. For all of my life I can remember looking up at billboards as we passed them in car trips and noticing headshots of a myriad of folks: insurance salesmen, doctors, real estate agents, reporters, funeral home directors, you name it, these men and women all had their heads plastered eight feet high. The disparity that I continued to notice was the quality of their headshots. To put it bluntly, they were pitiful photographs. Even as someone who didn't take photos at the time I could tell you that the people looked disingenuous, stuffy, and uncomfortable. Not to mention it appeared that most photographers had no idea what they were doing with lighting when they took these shots. It broke my heart that the persons being shot probably paid someone to take such an awful photo of them. I still see these unacceptable headshots plastered EVERYWHERE and, as corny as it sounds, it makes me weep inside.

When we finally started taking photos for real one thing Brian and I promised was that we'd work to try to get a shot that was not only lit absolutely beautifully (and in a flattering manner) but one in which the subject didn't look like they were in dire pain. The latter objective is much more difficult to achieve than the former when you're doing a simple headshot, but we still try. Headshots are a portion of what we've been up to lately, with our major batches being the theatre faculty and staff at MU and the dental staff at Accent Dental these last few weeks. Because I really truly do like doing headshots, I wanted to display them. So I borrowed a simple design I did for Second Baptist's Women's Day CD Promotional Poster back in September (for kicks, I added that below the headshot photos) and just stuck them all together. Much better than those stuffy mile high billboards you see along I-70 & I-63 if I do say so myself.

For safety purposes, I took off the latter half of Reverend Myra's phone number so she doesn't have everyone and their mother calling her at 4:00 a.m. wanting a CD. But I guess if anyone actually wanted to purchase one let me know and I'll give her the info. = ) Happy week after Thanksgiving! (Oh, and for kickers, which of the following faces looks familiar...?)

So if you know of anyone who needs their company's headshots updated...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

.:i love lofts:.

I feel like this last year has been one big crash course on architectural photography for me and I've surprisingly found that I love it! I notice myself closely scrutinizing hotel marketing pieces to see if lampshades & windows are blown, where the photographer placed any off-camera lighting, and how the room was staged. I make mental notes on what I shouldn't do and move on. Sometimes I think that maybe I should have the audacity to approach hotel management and tell them that their photography needs some help and that I'd do an incredible job if they'd just hire me to replace it. I have yet to do it (although I did do it at the Pacers' game this last Friday... the program photography was unexcusably atrocious with unflattering lighting for the portraits and a variant of the same background that made it look very unprofessional).

Even more fun for me, though, is shooting a loftspace. I get ridiculously stoked to shoot a loft. For some reason, to me, shooting a loft is like piggybacking on someone's dreams of adventure and getting to taste that thrill for just a moment. Does anyone else get sucked in like I do?

Next dream: shoot for a national magazine. Preferably Architectural Digest, The Knot Magazine, or National Geographic would all be magazines I'd settle for. = )

Saturday, November 21, 2009

.:life antagonists:.

You may notice that the following photo is awful. It's from Brian's iPhone. I purposefully left my camera at home for our NBA games.

Brian and I just returned from our annual “getaway vacation”. Last year we made a trek out to Indianapolis to watch the opening game of the Celtics vs. the Pacers whereas this year we stayed a few days longer and caught two Pacers games.

Brian and I have been talking a lot recently about how human beings innately find an antagonist in life. Our discussion started when we watched “The Singing Revolution” which was about the revolution of a former Soviet bloc country that led to the downfall of the Soviet Union. One man mentioned in the documentary that while they were still part of the U.S.S.R. the arts of his country were much richer because they all had a common enemy and oppressor to fight against. He said that since the downfall of the regime his people had been struggling to find a purpose, a common something to fight against, and thus had turned to crime and drugs and materialism. The people had finally lost their common oppressor they had worked so hard to rid themselves of, so they created their own self-oppressors.

The film led to a long ongoing discussion between Brian and I about our innate need to fight against someone or something. We call the other force (our oppressor, or, antagonist if you will) evil, vilify it, and spend our time and efforts struggling against it, oftentimes irrationally and without affording the opposite side the decency of any grace. This struggle was poignantly exampled this week in Indy.

We sat in these wonderful seats behind the Pacers’ bench on Wednesday in front of two children around the age of 10 and one of the boy’s fathers. The entire time, the kids and father threw loud and inappropriate insult after insult at the referees and opposing Knicks. For those of you that don’t follow the NBA as closely as Brian does, let me tell you a little sidebar story. Eddy Curry who plays for the New York Knicks, has had a rough go of it these last few years. Some of the problems have been his fault while others have not. He has struggled with many personal issues (a failed marriage, allegations and lawsuits, a court-ordered paternity test, a home foreclosure) in addition to weight gain, which is probably directly related to his personal devastations. In January of this year, while the man was still in crisis, it was discovered that his ex girlfriend along with his 9-month old daughter were found shot and murdered by her abusive boyfriend and that his 3-year-old son had witnessed the whole thing. He gained even more weight, making Eddy the unplayable player even more unplayable. Long story short, even in the midst of these trials going on around him this summer he stepped up his game and started working with a trainer and fitness coach to bring his weight back down to try and salvage a career he has been on the precipice of losing. He's lost a significant amount of weight and has been working hard to get back into the game. This Wednesday was the first game he’s played in over a year and he did well. He hustled and kept his head in the game. Yes, he is still a little heavier than he should be and perhaps a bit slower, but still, he was a man who has clearly stepped up to the plate, taken responsibility for his pitfalls and decided to do something about his failures and make a comeback. That’s an inspirational story for anyone. He is not a perfect role model yet, but he’s working to dig himself out of his mess, which is more than many of us can say and that deserves our respect. End sidebar—back to the game. So the father and children are behind us and decide to start screaming, “Want a doughnut, Eddy?” and other weight-related insults every time Eddy is up to make a freethrow. From overhearing their short conversations between one another, they knew Eddy’s struggles and what he’d been through, but they didn’t care anyway. Low blows were more important than treating a man with decency. Our seats were close enough and they were loud enough that their words would be piercingly clear to Eddy on the court who missed every one of those freethrows, if I remember correctly. Yet another constant reminder of his failure came to him the first time he was back, and even worse the reminders came from the mouths of innocent babes whose fathers have taught them the legacy of insult. Great job, Dad.

In real life, few of us are insensitive and rude enough to make comments like this to someone who has already come so far and come out of so much difficulty. How many of us would walk up to someone who has lost nearly 100 lbs. and tell them that they should just give up because they'll always be fat? I think we would find this absolutely appalling. Yet, because it’s in sports, it seems completely appropriate to the opposing fans in the heat of the moment. Why? I think that it all comes back to the need for an antagonist. It’s okay if we dog on a villain, right?

How often do we do this in our lives? We lose all rational thoughts. We vilify someone or something or a cause and refuse to look at those human beings as worthy of respect. Brian has recently joined our interactive theatre troupe where he plays, for lack of a better description, the villain in the sketch. Normally people jump in to the sketch (as we invite them to do to help solve the scenario) and continue to vilify the villain and lecture him and try all sorts of insults to whip him into obedience and respect but it never works. What does work, you ask? When someone finally stops, realizes that this villain is a person with reason and ration behind his thought framework, identifies with his hurts, and treats him as a human being. Only then does the villain begin to open up, to drop his defenses, and to begin to listen. Respect and empathy are always the catalysts. Hate breeds more hate. Bitterness breeds more bitterness. Anger breeds more anger.

In this Thanksgiving season, let’s think of one person or people group that we have vilified--either rationally or irrationally. Politics are an easy subject in which most of us have difficulty in seeing the other side, myself included. To my conservative brothers and sisters, let's work to see our President for his character, rather than political beliefs, as an intelligent, humble, compassionate man who, during his campaign, gave constant reminders to his campaign staff to save the shampoo & soaps at each hotel stay so that they could donate them to the local homeless shelters. To my liberal brothers and sisters, realize that conservatives reach out, too. I accidentally caught the 700 Club this week which focused a long segment of their show on the Poverty & Justice Bible from the American Bible Society that highlights every place God talks about his heart for the impoverished and needy in Scripture—which happens to be almost 10% of the entire Bible—and then challenged their conservative Christian brothers and sisters to put their money where their mouth was because it was God’s priority. Both sides want freedom and compassion and an end to poverty but they just have different ideas of how to reach that end.
So, for Thanksgiving, let’s stop spouting words of venom and start bubbling words of kindness and compassion and understanding. Think of that person or group that you just cannot stand. Got them in your head? Write down all of their wonderful attributes that you have had difficulty acknowledging because you’ve been focusing so much on the things you hate about them. After you’ve done that, I would suggest possibly contacting them. You may need to be the one to apologize, even if you are the wronged. Bitterness can destroy us and it can rob us of many rich relationships we might have otherwise had. I have written more than one of these letters in my day and I’m thankful to report that, as hard as it was to contact these persons who I felt wronged me, we have fully reconciled and great friendships were birthed. It never would have happened had I held onto all of that pain and hurt and never went before them in humility.

We all need an antagonist, it seems to be ingrained in our very being so let’s be the bigger man and choose a new antagonist. Rather than hating KU or our spouse or Obama or James Dobson or Canon cameras or our boss or drinking or Christians or a family member or an ex significant other, let’s explore our common ground with one another in love. Let us call our new antagonist the hatred and division and injustice in the world that separates mankind. If we have something to fight against, to rail against, to bring out our passion, we feel alive. So let’s choose division to fight against. Let’s choose hatred. Let’s choose bitterness in ourselves and the wounds that comes from it. To borrow Shakespeare, I bet our enemies, like us, also bleed.

What do you say? Let’s start making the world a better place. You may just find yourself acknowledging when KU made a good play rather than screaming insults at them. = )

Leave a comment if you’re going to participate!

(P.S. You can become a fan on www.facebook.com/aviaphotography to help us out and subscribe to the actual blog at aviaphotography.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

.:what machines were:.


Seriously, this kid is going somewhere. Listen to his music and I dare you not to start moving with it. It's addictive.

Friday, November 13, 2009

.:for the canon lovers:.

Dear Canon users,

Your cameras will continue to be inferior to Nikon. The photo you see below was shot at ISO 6400 at 1/60s, f/2.8 with no flash, retouching or noiseware. (Dramatic pause while you clean up the mess you made when you just spit out your coffee upon reading this.) I dare you to use your pitiful cameras to try and shoot the same.

Switch while you still can. Soon Nikon will be taking applications to purchase their equipment and anyone with a history in Canon will be denied. You heard it here, folks.


Mallory & Brian

(P.S. I was going to add in "Mallory & Brian let out menacing laughs." but I don't think I have ever let out anything close to a menacing laugh.)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

.:ann & rakesh:.

I cannot tell you how stoked Brian & I were to shoot Ann & Rakesh's wedding in St. Louis. Hello? Colors, variety, texture, non-white people? (Some of you may know that Brian and I's biggest hangup before we got married is that we were marrying another white person. Weird, huh?) We drove up to St. Louis a few weeks prior to their wedding to check out Sheldon Concert Hall, where their wedding and reception would be held. It was the first time we met Ann, who was, comfortingly, just my height! She was kind, laidback, and loved to laugh. She said she and Rakesh just enjoyed one another and that's what she wanted to capture. Well, that, along with their stellar Indian wedding.

Ann's whole family geared up for the wedding by learning all about the traditional Indian ceremony (which normally includes several DAYS of celebration and several clothing changes throughout the celebrations!) and were stoked when Rakesh's mom brought back traditional Indian garments for them to wear for the wedding. (By the way, an Indian Sari uses draw strings, which I have never seen incorporated in western dress in such a classy manner... can someone tell the fashion industry this would be a lifesaver to all of us, especially during the holidays?). Indian weddings do not have a rehearsal so they were dependent on videos of other Indian ceremonies and the many fantastic friends and family of Rakesh who helped coach them throughout the day. Ann's mom had a huge grin on her face the entire day and her dad was such a great sport! The ceremonies are not in English and, thus, when Ann's father had to do all of his responses in another language, more than once he had to ask the priest to repeat his words so he could say it.

Seriously, Westerners, why do we not know how to celebrate like this? From the clothing changes to the massive party to the multi-day celebration to the friends and family from all over the continent... a wedding is a day to rejoice! When I was sitting at one of the tables during the meal for the reception, a young woman next to me said for Hindu weddings your date & time was often set according to the stars. The Hindu priest kept referring to "this auspicious time and this auspicious day" because it was holy. She also said she once attended a wedding at 7:00 in the morning because that was what the stars said. We take so much for granted.

I will say that the day went so well in large part because of Sabrina and her assistant Cassie, their incredibly talented wedding planner (check out their website at proposingdreams.com) who were there the whole day and took care of everything. I arrived to hear Sabrina say to Ann, "Don't let Rakesh worry about anything. I know he loves lists and crossing things off, but he's not to worry about any of it today. I have it covered." Seeing the relief and comfort on Ann's face was fantastic. As a result of Sabrina being there, Ann & Rakesh had to do nothing but relax and enjoy their celebration together! Before we started doing wedding photography, I thought that wedding planners were silly. However, after seeing the same pattern over and over the day of the wedding (sleep-deprived brides, family feuds brought on by reception decorations, cellphones that run out of juice halfway through the day from use, frantic last minute trips to wal-mart, scrambling to finish the programs the day before, hemming bridesmaids dresses the day of...) and then being at the few weddings with wedding planners... what a HUGE difference they make. With wedding planners around the relatives and bridal party are calm and relaxed and have all slept the night before. Peace of mind is so totally worth it!

I think I'm already writing a book, so I'll just shut up and let you see their gorgeous pictures. I need an editor because I just didn't have the heart to narrow the photos down any further. If you really enjoy these, make sure to check out January's St. Louis Magazine, where these two will be featured in the Unveiled Bridal 2010 section. They deserve it.

Click below for a slideshow of my favorites from the day: