20 Jul 2011

Guest post, Christina Greve of Divas and Dreams.

Hello everybody, today I am delighted to introduce you to the lovely Christina Greve (who I'm sure needs no introduction)  writer and photographer of Divas and Dreams blog.  I first discovered Christians blog  while taking part in the Blogging Your Way course run by Holly Becker (Deco8) back in 2010, and have been an avid fan ever since, and been meaning to have Christina as guest for ages now!
Christina's Blog struck a cord with me, her photography has  such a lovely aesthetic about it, and at the time I had just started an AS level photography course at my local college.  I was very interested in  learning that Christina is a self taught photographer, and her blog  is full of very beautiful  photography that I just love, and,  I am pleased to say that I will be taking part in Christina photography workshop very soon!
So I thought it would be great to have Christina as guest here on This Home Sweet Home to share with you some of her thoughts on photography, blogging, and running her workshops.  So without further ado I give you Christina Greve,

So Christina welcome to This Home Sweet Home its lovely to finally have you as a guest here.  Make yourself at home and grab a cuppa of your favourite drink....Which is...? 
Coffee - to be exact; nespresso with sugar and creme..lol... I drink to many of those during the day but it makes me happy :-)

Would you mind telling us a little about yourself,  background and what you did before taking up photography?
I´m 37 years old and from Denmark. I take portraits of women only and shoots boudoir and nude too. I love, love, love to photograph women! I have lived abroad for 10 years but we are back in our home town Aarhus now - both me and my husband grew up here, actually we where born in the same apartment building since my parents lived right above his parents. I have never really settled anywhere and I´m always on the search for inspiration. The worst feeling I know is to be bored...lol.. Before I became a full time photographer I had my own psychology clinic and had many great years work with coaching, mindfulness, cognitive therapy and meditation. My background as a therapist has definately helped shape me as the photographer that I have become. Both in relation to my messages and my visual expression, and in the contact with the women that I photograph. Very soon they feel comfortable and relaxed, which is of outermost importance for the pictures to be excellent. Furthermore, I have painted art pictures for many years, and not least my background knowledge of colour, contrast and composition gives me strength, when I work with photography

Have you always had an interest in photography and when did you first discover the love for taking photos.
It started when I was a teenager. I got my own analog camera at 13 after saving for month. I learned everything about developing my own pictures in the darkroom and was very excited, but I really dreamed about being a fashion designer and at the age of only 15 I hosted my own fashion show...lol... I was so ambitious.... but my parents always told me that it was IMPOSSIBLE to make a living by being an artist and only a few "made it" to the top. I know they meant it in a good way and just wanted me to get a good secure education, so after a few years in art school I gave in and gave up believing in myself. I took a good education, I got married and got 3 lovely kids....everything creative seemed fare away and I had to become 35 years old before I found photography again...can you believe that! A few years ago I lost a loved one and during the grieving process I picked up a digital camera. It gave me so much comfort and support during that very hard time in my life and it helped me rediscover how much being creative meant to me.

What kind of camera, lens and equipment do you personally use? 
I shoot with Canon EOS 7D and often have either a Canon 550D or a analog camera as a second one - just to create different perspectives. I´m very close to invest in a Canon 5D but I´m not sure my husband agrees..lol.. other than that I use a reflector and fill boards to help me get good light. Oh and I can´t shoot with out my tripod....it´s just the way it is - I want those tack sharp eyes!

Do you have a favourite time of year/place, space lighting conditions that you like?
I love the time from May until September, the light is wonderful to work in when shooting in natural light only. I struggle a lot during winter because that time of year is very cold and dark in Denmark where I live. At the moment I am preparing myself for the winter by learning to work with strobes - honestly I never thought I would go in that direction but if I want great photos during winter time there is no way around it. At the moment I´m investing in Profoto light which is very expensive but gives beautiful light and done the right way it can look almost as you used daylight. My favorite light to shoot in is in the golden sun - just before the sun goes down, it´s so flattering and beautiful!

I find that quite often , photography and blogging seem go hand in hand  especially with homes and interiors blogs, can you give us, say, 3 or 4 tips for taking a great photo at home, with just a camera to create a  photo for a a blog.  
I can sure try :-)
Find the best/biggest window you have. Make sure to shoot during the day when the light is best but avoid harsh sunshine which will make your pictures really ugly with dark shadows. If the sun is to harsh you can use white curtain/bath curtain to cover for the harsh sun. The more soft light you have available the better. When I do still life or food photography I use a white board to put everything on and I use foam boards/reflectors to eliminate shadows. Here is 9 tips to think about:

1. Ask yourself this “Which story do I wish to tell with this picture? Sometime the story is just about a new pillow that you have made or the color of a pretty apple - the story dosent have to be big. But the story needs to get all the viewers attention.
2. Know that the background can make or brake a photo so remove distraction.
3. Move closer to your subject, frame it with your camera instead of cropping it in Photoshop.
4. Adjust White Balance before you shoot.
5. Avoid harsh shadows - it´s not so pretty.
6. Use natural light as much as you can - no direct flash and no direct sunlight.
7. Play with depth of field and create a sharp focus.
8. Keep moving things in your settings and try different possibilities.
9. Use tripod and a reflector.

Wow, thank you for those 9 great tips!  
Did you find any resources, books ,blogs, magazines etc useful when you first started out?
Oh my I did read a lot of blogs back then to find inspiration, today I don´t have so much time for it anymore. I was very much inspired by flickr and all the amazing photos to find there and I made some great friends from flickr a long the way too who still inspires me today. Today I´m also a huge fan of pinterest and instagram - those site gives me great inspiration too. I also took the e-course blogging your way with Holly from decor8 which really helped me getting to know all I needed to know about blogging. I will truly recommend it to all bloggers.

You've gone on to set your self up as a photographer, specializing in photographing women, but you also have lots of lovely photos on your blog of still life/lifestyle shoots, which do you enjoy more, styling and setting up a still life or styling and setting up to capture the perfect shot of your model?
My favorite thing is for sure to style women up, setting a scene, tell a story and capture their portraits. I do all styling myself except for makeup, so then I hire a makeup artist. I love food photography but it´s not my strongest side, just something I do for fun to relax.

Which brings me on to my next question,  when you are not taking photos how do you like to relax, and do you find it difficult working from home to get the right balance?
Relax what is that? Lol... I work too much and if I don´t work I think about work..haha.. honestly some days I work 12 hours... but I never see it as work, I see it as playing. Most of the time I´m at home in front of the computer doing post processing, preparing workshop material, preparing shoots, doing business, blogging, answering emails ect. So when my kids come home from school I´m always here, I´m always available for them and in the afternoon we often go out on a cafe to drink hot chocolate and chat or we will sit along time around the dinner table talk about things we love. My kids are teenagers and lucky me we have the same strong interest and passion for art, music, photography, film and fashion - so there is never a dull moment at my house. My kids inspire me so much and they are also my best friends. We are a very close family. But if I really need peace I will take a long walk in the woods with my husband and our dog - I love that so much and of course it´s even better if it includes a lunch right after - I just love food :-) or I will get a massage or lay in bed and read magazines...ahhh...

You recently started running your very own Divas and Dreams photography workshop, (which I am really looking forward to taking part in) that must be a great feeling, being able to get to a  point where you can pass on your knowledge to other's.  How is it all going and are you enjoying it?  
I´m so happy that you are joining my workshop - that is fantastic! Thank you so much for that. Well the upcoming workshop is only my second one and it sold out in 4 days. I´m used to teaching from my earlier job, but of course it´s new to me to teach photography. I´m no master at all the technical stuff - yet...smile, but I feel I´m very strong on creativty, working with people, posing, styling, blogging and running a business so on those subjects my students will get great information. Most of the women who join my workshops know me from my blog, they know my personality and my style, so they know I´m no tech nerd, but I do know what is needed to make good pictures and I try my best to teach that in a simple, fun and understandable way. I´m just so grateful to be able to teach so many lovely women about my passion and I always learn from them too - I love that. The workshop is a five week long journey and the one in August is sold out, the next one will be held in November. For those interested they can sign up on my mailing list or join the blog or facebook. That way they will know the dates as soon s possible. I love teaching so much that I´m preparing brand new material on portrait retouching and it will be released in the end of this year...yay :-)


Thank you so much Christina for taking the time to join us here today, and sharing with us how you found your way back to photography, and a little about your self and your beautiful photographs.   Its been lovely to have you, and I look forward to taking part in your workshop very soon.

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