How We Became Photographers – The Long Story

THE LONG STORY… (narration by Alisha)

OK this is going to be long if you want to know the whole story, so grab a cup of tea, and make yourself comfortable.

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I grew up an only child in the King County area of WA with a no-friends-over policy at my mom’s house, weekends and an annual summer road trip alone with my dad and a lot of time to entertain myself. My dad had taken black and white photography in high school and loved to share his photos with me. Although they were not professional, the photos of hiking trips with beautiful landscapes influenced my fascination with photography. On my 9th birthday I received a hot pink Kodak film camera, coincidentally my Chow Chow, Brandy, had puppies the same day. The 1st photos I’ve ever taken was a photoshoot of puppies. Growing up, my mother was obsessed with taking snapshots just as well, but developing the film was months or years later. In an effort to make my mom’s photos better since they tended to turn out blurry of me, I started to learn where to stand and how fast I could move depending on the lighting.

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As a young girl I was a dedicated Girl Scout and competed in scholarship pageants. The pageants were focused on poise, education and volunteer work. For a couple years I volunteered every weekend for special olympics bowlers and occasionally at their holiday festivals. These experiences provided me the opportunity to be around a variety of people and to see beauty in all shapes and sizes. In modeling/acting classes I was photographed by professional photographers. This gave me an inside perspective about commercial work and posing models, information I find valuable even today.

A photo I took of my dad when I was 13 in Yellow Stone

A photo I took of my dad when I was 13 in Yellow Stone

In the early 90s my grandma purchased a full frame SLR (film) camera and took hobby photography very serious. Seeing the photos she took of her award winning garden inspired me. I eaves dropped while she would talk about using the camera and when I was bored, I read and admired the photography books that were under her living room coffee table. Summer trips to national parks became practice grounds to learn skills about lighting and composition. There were no controls on the camera unfortunately and because it was film, I would try my best to envision how the photos would turn out. Most photos taken on our trip were of my dad or my shadow/reflection to prove I was there. I learned quickly that friends/family looking at my photos would take a short moment to see landscapes, but when a person was in the image, they were always more interested. I think this is where my love for portraiture really stems from.

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Throughout high school (TJHS) I had my mind made up that I was going to be a dance major. My life revolved around dance rehearsals and performance schedules, I took photos all along the way. In college, I majored in dance for the first 2 years. At the time I owned a 2.5 megapixel digital camera and thought I had the world at my finger tips. As an elective, I signed up for a basic photography class, not realizing that my digital camera would not be allowed. Early in the semester I decided to drop the class due to the cost and time involved with film photography. After all, it was just for fun and dance was my future.

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It seems that every aspect of my life has emphasized visual skills. I grew up dancing and for 8 years taught competitive jazz, tap, ballet and hiphop at private studios in WA & CA. I coached 2 high school teams in CA and traveled with a company called United Spirit Association teaching high school dance team summer camps in the Western U.S.. The understanding of body placement, symmetry, posing formations, timing, visual story telling and facial expressions can be seen in my photography to this day. At times I taught dance for programs that did not offer professional photography at recitals. My mom and I would stage photo days at dress rehearsal just so we could document the dancers and provided the opportunity to have photos in costumes. I made photo albums from each of my classes and would share them in the waiting room for guests to browse while classes were in session. Although photography was not my passion at the moment, it was always there lingering.

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Holland was born in LaJolla, CA and grew up in San Diego & Orange County before moving to Oklahoma in High School. Holland and I met while he was stationed at Ft. Lewis as an Army Ranger Sniper. To this day I think the skills he learned as a sniper benefit his impeccable camera aim and breathing techniques. We were introduced by a mutual friend and knew each other a year before dating while he spent time in the U.S. and Afghanistan. That year I was designated photographer at 2 family member’s weddings with my ‘new technology’ a 3.3 megapixel Canon (It was SO cool at the time). I wasn’t trying to be a professional, or even a photographer, but I felt that someone needed to document the weddings for them since no other photographer was there and my grandma no longer took photos with her SLR due to wrist pain.

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We dated for a few months before he proposed. We had a 3 day engagement followed by small wedding in March of 2003. We hired a photographer last minute, who did a fabulous job at our vintage looking mini wedding at the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle. Photo above by Heather.

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One week later Holland was deployed to Iraq and once again I was left with a camera and opportunity to entertain myself. I promised him a daily journal and decided to make it a photo journal so that he would know he was on my mind. At that time I was teaching dance on weekends, working downtown Seattle during the day and going to school with a new major in Sign Language. Every day I took a photo, printed & taped it into the journal with a handwritten entry. Months later when he was allowed to receive mail I was able to send him the journal. I still can’t explain how happy I am that I decided to do this. I think the journal project is what really sparked my interest beyond snapshots.

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Once Holland returned from Iraq, we moved to California (2004) and purchases our first Digital SLR. The thrill of holding it made me want to take photos of everything, all day. We purchased an Olympus 7 megapixel camera. Most of the photos were of Holland and our lives in Orange County. After a couple years we got our first puppy, Charlie (fawn Boxer), and as you all know Boxer puppies are adorable and absolutely irresistible as a photo subject. We took many photos of him growing up and I compiled his story onto a free website (before myspace & facebook). This prompted me to take a photoshop course so I could make him a business card.

 

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One day while volunteering at a local shelter I ran into a woman in need of photos and a website to help out homeless Boxers in OC. So it began, Boxer OC Rescue was established. I volunteered to run their website for 2 years, and helped take photos of homeless dogs for their bio or for fundraising announcements. Holland and I volunteered our photography at the big rescue events as a fundraiser. This is when strangers started asking us for a business card, which we did not have yet. It wasn’t until Dec. 2005 when we volunteered to take photos of dogs with Santa that we decided it was time to venture into photography as a business.

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I was still teaching dance, but I was babying a physical injury (sciatic nerve damage) and knew that my back couldn’t take the impact of dancing much longer. During the day I continued taking classes for Sign Language, but wasn’t sure if interpreting was right for me and my goal of owning a dance studio for the deaf was no longer my top priority. As a new photography business we began to get recognition as dog photographers. We even won a couple hobbyist photo competitions that were published internationally in a dog magazine. Holland encouraged me to officially get my business license and we were Alisha McGraw Photography…because we didn’t want to have to fill out the paperwork for a fictitious name.

Together we researched online and soaked up as much information as possible. We began to frequent workshops provided by WPPI & NAPP for photography and photoshop. We started our own collection of photography related books and DVDS. We soon realized the complexity of mastering digital photography. Both of us were going to school to get our A.A., we had a long talk and came to the conclusion that photography is something that could be more long term than dance. So, when we graduated with our Associates I left the dance world, or at least the teaching aspect, and moved to Sherman Oaks, CA to attend CSU-Northridge.

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L.A. is known for being very cut-throat and it lived up to its expectations in every way. There were so many photographers in the area and we did all we could to just keep afloat while going to school. I was more nervous that it might not work out and really felt that becoming an ASL Interpreter may be the better option for survival. We decided to continue trying, at least until we graduated. We added a new family member, our deaf Boston Terrier Coco, so that Charlie had a friend to play with. Our neighbor was a cinematographer for a big studio in L.A. and although he traveled often he always came back to the quaint apartment next door. He was very influential in our photography business. He was a Hasselblad & Canon enthusiast, with a MA degree in cinematography and a plethora of knowledge about photography. He was in the market for a new camera and made a deal with us, if we bought his Canon 5D with lenses he would provide a couple private tutorials. This was by far the best trade we have made.

215665_7824529854_381_nTaking money from our savings, we purchased the camera with accompanying private lessons from a real technical photographer’s perspective. It opened our eyes to a lot of the photography field. Basically we ate a giant piece of humble pie. Fortunately for us we really like a good challenge and were motivated on a whole new level to take more college courses and workshops to practice and learn more skills. Our personal vintage style was being recognized by others and requests for pin up photography slowly trickled our way.

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In June 2007 Holland and I graduated with our B.A. degrees (History for Holland & Deaf Studies for me). Photography was going well, we gained a couple contracts with leading pet calendars and magazines that published us and we felt like things were successful enough to continue with our investment in photography. I was hired for part-time interpreting in San Diego, CA and Holland began his journey for a M.A. Degree in Library Sciences. We moved to San Diego, and I became Nationally Certified for American Sign Language Intepreting and held 2 full time careers for the 6 years we lived in San Diego, CA. At one point we tried to be a foster family for a dog, which did not last long, we are foster failures and adopted Rocket, our second deaf Boston Terrier.

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Holland graduated with his Master Degree in 2010 and with perfect timing to help do more for our business. Photography was officially busy for us and I really needed help before I became insane. So, Holland became a full time photographer too. It just so happens we tried our hand at fostering a dog one last time, and once again we ended up adding a new family member instead. We welcomed our 3rd deaf dog, a Boxer we named Dottie. Our house is officially full and over flowing with love from our 4 furry kids. We attend workshops and college classes monthly. I do believe I will be a student for life, always improving skills and learning new tricks. I am actively working towards earning the title Master Photographer from PPA. In 2012 earning 3 titles “Animal Photographer of the Year, in CA/ PPC“, “2012 Heidi M Starlite Award, CA/PPC”  and the “2012 Digital Artist of the Year, San Diego PPSDC“. We were starting to really take off and along came a reminder about the importance of health, don’t worry all is well it was just a scare…which lead to thoughts about our future.   526123_10150645033978034_1762717549_n

CURRENT STORY…

After a lot of thought, Holland and I decided to move back to my hometown in WA State in 2013, where we met and it all began. After a year of adventures in WA we were weeks away from purchasing our first home when our Boxer Charlie, the fur-kid who started our professional photography adventure, passed away from cancer on April 30th 2014. He missed being in our new home by just a few days, we were devastated, making the rest of the year the most difficult in our lives. We received keys to our new home in Kent WA and are enjoying being home owners. It is our residential-studio, 50/50 home and work space, with plenty of room in the yard for gardening, beekeeping and doggy shenanigans.

McGraw Family card 2014 www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com

In May 2015 Holland was hired at Metro Seattle and began working as a part time photographer with me. In 2015 I traveled photographing clients in CA, OR, TN, NY and WI but missed home very much, I was so used to having Holland with me on travels. So after the travel season we sat down and decided maybe it would be beneficial if I didn’t do so many photo tours in different states. I agreed to travel mostly for wedding photography plus 1 photo tour out of state each year if we got another puppy. So, January of 2016 we brought home our newest Boxer puppy, PeeWee, he is hearing and brindle and really helped be the ears for our Deaf dogs once again.

9 weeks old puppy PeeWee somelikeitshotphotography.com

Mother’s Day 2016 Holland and I found out we were pregnant!! This was big news since we had been trying for several years. Since then we’ve been in a whirl wind of changes!! Holland stepped out of our business as he began his full time career at Metro. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy one, 25 weeks of extreme morning sickness, just my luck…I put photo shoots on hold as I was on bed rest for a bit. Our happy healthy baby boy was born in January 2017! I started offering photo shoots again in April 2017, I look forward to meeting and photographing you!!! ~Alisha

 

OoLaLa Boudoir January 2015

OoLaLa Boudoir with tophat Jan 2015 www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

The entire month of January 2015 we are offering Vintage 1920s Style boudoir photoshoots at our Kent, WA location. These are perfect timing for Valentine’s Day gifts and are at a special discounted rate all month, $200 + cost of images (that is a $100 savings). We will pamper you on your photo day with 1920s style hair and make-up before photographing with our vintage sofa, chair, and end with a claw foot bubble bath.

How it works?

  1. Please read the entire blog
  2. Once you’re ready to book a date, complete the form below.
  3. We will email back with some dates available for your consultation and a $100 paypal invoice to book the January date you are hoping for…the remaining $100 will be due the day of your photoshoot.
  4. Consultations take place at our Kent, WA location. We will go over wardrobe, styling options and ordering options. We suggest the earlier the better, this way you have time to prepare for your photoshoot without feeling rushed.
  5. Your Oo La La Boudoir photoshoot includes hair & make-up styling. It will take approximately 5 hours total for styling and photos at our Kent, WA location. Because we are indoors the photoshoots can take place any time of day. You will need to select an AVAILABLE Jan 2015 date from Our Calendar
  6. Approx. 2 weeks after your photoshoot you will receive an online ordering gallery with 50-100 images. This gallery will be available for 6 months. You can purchase any of the items from our Boutique – click on an item to see the price/details.
  7. Once an image is ordered we will give it the lovely Some Like It Shot editing, enhancing the features you love and editing the things you don’t.
  8. Ready to OoLaLa Boudoir? Please complete this form & we will be in touch (please make sure to check your spam folder! sometimes our emails automatically go there)


OoLaLa Boudoir Vintage Valentines Day photoshoots Kent Seattle Tacoma WA www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com

Dia De Los Muertos – Day of The Dead

This year seems to have been especially hard on us and many of our friends. So many people seemed to lose the ones they loved; whether that be human or pets. Not a month went by where at least one of our close friends didn’t go through the painful heart break, and after losing our first fur child Charlie in April we have a new perspective on the pain this causes. This Day of the Dead we decided to give honor to Charlie, for all that he taught us while he was alive and after he died. Dia Day Los Muertos is a 2 day celebration in which the pain is subsided as we honor those who have left us. Nov 1st it typically Dia De Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) honoring children who have died. Since we considered Charlie our child we felt today was the best day to honor his life. Mr. Boo, this one is for you.

Doggie De Los Muertos www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle WA

 

We’ve had clients participate in Dia De Los Muertos style creative photoshoots as well and hope more come include some of this traditional celebration into their fall photoshoots.

Dia De Los Angelitos Child Day of the Dead www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

Black Widow Dia De Los Muertos Catrina Kent WA Seattle www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com

Dia De Los Muertos Celebration Catrinas www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com  Sombrero Dia De Los Muertos www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Seattle WA

to be or not to be painted dis de los muertos www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.comamor de los muertos couple with spider chrome car www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.comblack and white dia de los muertos shadows www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com paws whiskers dia de los muertos www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.comskeleton moon de los muertos www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com

 

Some like it colorful

Some like it creative

Some Like It Shot

Marbles The Cocker Spaniel & The AVHS Calendar Contest

If you live in Auburn you’re probably aware of the new Auburn Valley Humane Society that opened January 2013 in Auburn, WA! What you may not know is that we at Some Like It Shot Photography are volunteer photographers there, once a month, photographing animals looking for homes to be posted on their website for you all to see.

spring flowers with Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

We also participate in their fun events like Barktoberfest held annually in October. Last year we donated a free pet photoshoot to be raffled off an lucky Marbles was the winner!! His mom was super excited because she said every time she took his photo he looked like a black blur on the screen, he was so fast! Marbles the Cocker Spaniel was just a young pup in the fall  so we decided to take photos in the spring. It was worth the wait, with all the beautiful lupines and warm weather.

Happy Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

One great way that Marbles’ family is giving back to AVHS is by entering their pet photo contest for their annual calendar! Anyone can enter their pet’s photo now through September 30th 2014. It is $10 to enter your pet’s photo and of course that is a donation to the Humane Society to change the lives of lost, abandoned, and homeless animals in our community.

gift certificate Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

People can vote on your image until October 21st. Each $1 donation counts as a vote, once again you are making a donation to a wonderful cause in a fun way!

photo contest winner Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

The top 12 images on October 12th will be included in the 2016 Auburn Valley Humane Society Calendar.

Barktoberfest Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

Marbles would LOVE your vote!! VOTE HERE until October 21st 2014!! (This is the Link if you need to copy & paste it: http://auburnvalleyhs.org/pet-photo-calendar-contest/pet-profile/?cont=11&pet=568 )

calendar contest Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

Marbles is currently in the Top 12 in the Calendar Contest but that could change at any moment!! Hope you’ll help him, and help homeless animals at the same time!grass Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

OH & If you like our pet photography come visit us at this year’s Barktoberfest!!! October 11th 2014 10:00AM – 2:00PM at Auburn’s Roegner Park 601 Oravet’s Road SE, Auburn WA  …Besides the Rover Romp Walk/Run 3/5K, we will have a booth there so come say hi! Also, we donated another Pet Photoshoot gift certificate to be raffled off at this year’s event, come try your luck and see if you could be as lucky as adorable Mr Marbles the Cocker Spaniel, our 2013 winner.

warm weather Marbles the black Cocker Spaniel pet photoshoot by www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Kent Seattle Tacoma WA

Good Luck in the photo contest Marbles, we voted for you!!!

Some like to win raffles

Some like to win calendar contests

Some Like It Shot

(*just a friendly reminder for those wondering, Some Like It Shot must pre approve with written consent before you are allowed to enter our images from your photoshoot into publications and contests* We pre-approve the Auburn Valley Humane Society Calendar Contest and hope that more clients will participate for such a great cause)

Sizzling Sassy Celeste PinUp

Washington summers have always been beautiful with the shimmer off of the green trees and flowers all around. In more recent years I feel like it has been getting sizzlin’ hot too and Sassy Celeste proclaimed summer pinups are no longer just for CA girls!

Sassy Celeste pinup in Hood Canal Puget Sound, blue skies, Wa, stylist Nina Young, © www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com western washington

It all started out sweet and innocent, posing with the shiny red Chevy truck in a knee length yellow dress, we took photos in the trailer it was pulling as well.

Sassy Celeste PinUp with Ford Truck Kent WA www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com

The sweet and innocent look didn’t last long though, after all these were a surprise for her husband over seas and we were pretty sure he would be interested in some sassy photos.

Sassy Celeste PinUp, stylist Nina Young, © www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Seattle, Kent, Tacoma WA

Once the pencil skirt and convertibles were ready it was the true Sassy Celeste style.

Sassy Celeste with Chevelle cooling off, stylist Nina Young, © www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Seattle Tacoma WA

I’m positive he liked the photos!

Sassy Celeste pinUp sepia with Ford Galaxy, stylist nina young, © www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com Puget Sound WA

It was an All American pinup summer day in Hood Canal with Sassy Celeste!

All American Ford Pin Up Sassy Celeste with the Galaxy, flag and reflection, © www.SomeLikeItShotPhotography.com, Western WA

Some like it summers at the beach

Some like cruising in convertibles

Some Like It Shot

(Special Thanks to Truck & Galaxy Owner Mike Anderson, and Chevelle Owner Danielle Anderson, and stylist Nina Young)