The Creative Process

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gigi-embrechts-78

Most photographers today realize that unless you are doing photo journalism the image that comes out of camera and the image you have in mind are far from each other. If you are a photographer like me who wants to create fine art photography  the camera is just the start. Something like an artist first pencil of the rough image, or a writers first few sentences this is not the final product but just the beginning.

With all the digital tools we have to create it is no wonder we are seeing some amazing digital art and photography all over the web. When I first started down the photography road and just learning to get comfortable with my camera I remember looking at those amazing images and saying "yes but they are not real they were photoshopped" like photoshopped meant that the photographer did not have to have the camera skills to take the photograph but opted to just do something with it in Photoshop. As I learned and grew I realized this is far from the truth.

You have to be an accomplished photographer to get a great image, even if it is just the starting part. You need to know what subject your subject is, where to place the subject in the photograph, how to direct the viewer to the subject, get great exposure and focus and do this all under great light which is really like your paint. A photographer with experience hopes you will linger in the photograph and connect as they did to the subject. What comes out of the camera is only the start to achieving this goal.

Sometimes however in the case of this photograph, I had no idea what I wanted to do with this image. I just knew that when I saw this mare and foal I loved the close connection they had. There were many distractions in the background but I  was focusing on them. In fact when I uploaded this image I passed it by several times due to all the distractions, and just wrote it off as a lesson in moving to avoid distractions and  get a better angle. I did not delete it, but it was going to live in my archives as a lesson learned for quiet a while.

But it kept haunting me because of the eye of the mare and the connection she had with her foal, Something told me it was worth looking at again. Then it dawned on me that if I play with it maybe I could use the digital tools I have to make something create something.

Here is where I started and the different things I tried before getting to the final image at the top

After trial and error of this photograph I had finally created something I really loved. It started as just a photograph, but it would not leave me alone and ended up to be an art piece I loved so much I made the investment to have it framed and is now hanging proudly on my wall. It also taught me to look at photography a bit different. Look for the art, look at my subject more and know there could be a hidden gem in there. I do not always have to take the perfect photograph when it comes to background and distractions but I do have to make sure the exposure is correct, the focus is right and the subject is placed where I need it to be. But the bigger lesson is to slow down and listen to what my subject wants to say. Then it is my job to create and tell that story.

This image will be available for purchase on my website https://gigiembrechts.com

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It Truly Is A Small Word

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who lives a life that is unique and hard to manage. As some of you know I live spring and summer in Belgium, {my husband's home country} and fall and winter in Colorado to be with family along with stops in the Chicago area where I was born. This type of lifestyle is hard to manage when you have a photography business because I am always on the move. It does create great opportunities, but managing paperwork, computers, second residence, communication with family and friends and language and cultural differences can be quiet a challenge. Many times my I feel I am the only one who lives such a lifestyle and I am on my own when dealing with all the challenges.  But a recent trip to a small town in Shell, Wyoming made me realize just what a small world this truly is.

A group of fellow equine photographers ventured to a fabulous guest ranch to create winter images of horses and western lifestyle images. We stayed the week at The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch located in Shell, Wyoming with a population of 63. This ranch is set just below the beautiful Big Horn Mountains. It took my breath away with the beautiful log cabin lodge and quaint cabins set in fresh snow with views of the mountains everywhere you looked. It brought back my memories of living in Montana.

After settling in to our quaint log cabin room we all met for the get acquainted dinner in the lodge. That is when I discovered that this beautiful guest ranch was managed by a couple from Belgium. I could not believe that I would hearing that lovely Belgian accent so familiar to me in such a remote place. Peter De Cabooter and his wife Marijn Werquin (just to clarify in Belgium women do not take the family name of their husbands which I think is great} manage this lovely lodge and guest ranch and also live a similar lifestyle as myself. Who would have thought I would find a couple from Belgian in such a remote location?

We had a chance to talk about Belgium, living in the two countries and how we both handle the travel of back and forth and all that goes with living in to different cultures.  Having met them made me feel a bit more content with my very different lifestyle. I realized that there must be many who live this multi-cultural life and deal with all the excitement and challenges that comes with this.

Having worked with my husband on several guest ranches while living in Montana for 10 years, I quickly recognized how Peter and Marijn bring the best of Belgium to this small western community. The ranch offers nothing shy of quality from the beautiful log lodge and quaint cabins to an accomplished chef Sheena cooking meals you would only expect in high level restaurants. All the staff was professional, friendly and very qualified for the position they were hired to do. Peter told me during one of our conversations during cocktail hour that he understands that if he hires the best employees he know he has to offer them a long-term career so they can keep the high level of employees that they have. Unlike the ranches we worked on that after three months you were scrambling to find another job for the rest of the year which most likely not make if possible to return to the guest ranch the following season leaving the owners to continually trying  find new employees. Which in return leaves regular guests wondering what to expect the following year.

In Belgium you can not just hang out your sign and run a business, you must be trained, schooled and certificate for the professional position in most cases. I see that at the HIdeout ranch Peter and Marijn have brought this quality to the ranch. I also experienced the friendliness and creativity of the employees that is so prevalent in our culture. Like Tom Bercher the head wrangler with his patience for us demanding photographers to Rebecca his wife who is the office manager and keeps everything running smooth.There were the two twin c cowboys  Greg and Mark Prows entertaining us all with their cowboy stories. So with the best of two cultures they have created a very unique and pleasant experience. This was the first time I experienced both of my worlds coming together in this lovely week.

I hope in the future I can bring my husband back to The HIdeout Lodge and Guest ranch so he too experience what it is like when you blend these two cultures together and how a quality ranch guest ranch can be run.

If you have a dream of experiencing the western lifestyle and want to ride a horse in the beautiful wide open spaces of Wyoming I highly recommend The HIdeout Ranch as a place for your destination. I guarantee you will not be disappointed and will you will have a once in a life time experience at this very unique and traditional western ranch.

Here are some of the photographs I took during the week. The interior image  are were created by the talented fellow photographer Rebbeca Neff.

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 Tom Bercher our vary patient and wonderful host.

Tom Bercher our vary patient and wonderful host.

 Rebecca taking a day out of the office

Rebecca taking a day out of the office

 Double Trouble Mark & Greg Prows

Double Trouble Mark & Greg Prows

 Augustus son of Rebecca and Tom Bercher

Augustus son of Rebecca and Tom Bercher

 Peter & Marijn

Peter & Marijn

 Marijn with her faithful border collie

Marijn with her faithful border collie

 The whole crew of riders

The whole crew of riders

Cabin Fever

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Cabin for sale

Cabin Fever is what I am experiencing right now, but unlike the definition describes about Cabin Fever my fever is a bit different.

I have a fever to own a cabin in the mountains. I have had this dream ever since I could understand the words to the song "Over the River and Through the Woods" I can still picture in my mind the snow, the horse-drawn carriage and going away from everyone to a place set in snow deep in the woods on a mountain somewhere. A dream is born.

This past weekend I went with my son and his family to Grand Mesa in Colorado. As we were driving towards the top of the Mesa it just did not seem like a place where there would be woods and snow, the surrounding area really seemed a bit like the Grand Canyon than a mountain top. Beautiful vast views of rocky buttes and open space, but not exactly what I had envisioned.

To my surprise as we reached the top the world changed. The snow was deep, aspen trees were everywhere mixed among towering pine trees. We were there, on top of the Mesa I was so amazed at how driving up to an elevation of 10,000 feet could completely change the landscape.

We came there with snowmobiles in tow and 3 small children. It was going to be a family time. But I also brought my camera and  each morning I would get up before just before dawn and walk along the snow-covered roads that were only accessible by snowmobile now. I could see all the cabins that were situated on the shores of the now frozen lakes. Some were new some were original older cabins, but there were cabins just the same. I was having Cabin Fever to own a cabin in such a beautiful spot.

I took pictures of some of the cabins that I could imagine myself living in. Snow piled outside so high the almost covered the windows. Small row boats leaning against the walls just waiting for summer to come back around. Stone chimneys where I could just smell the wood burning in crisp morning air. Outside the only sound was the wind blowing through the pines or a chirp of a chick-a-dee pecking at the pine cones. This is the place of my dreams.

I have a dream of owning a cabin in a place like this one day. Somewhere to go and photograph nature and wildlife and just enjoy the peace and quite that only nature can offer. Build a fire,make a fresh pot of coffee and go through the photographs I took just the night before during an amazing sunset.

So you see during this time of year when we spend more time indoors due to the cold and short days of winter, I do get Cabin Fever, but mine is a fever to be shut in a cabin in the deep winter months. Locked away from the world and enjoying the new snow cold crisp nights and a crackling fire.

Will this be the year  I finally find my cabin home? I have no idea, but for now just dreaming is good enough because dreams have a way of turning into reality if you believe they can.

Here are a few of the cabins I saw while staying in Grand Mesa National Forest