Top 10 Favorite Photos of 2015 / by Nolita Ihama

In honor of the last day of 2015, i thought it would be cool to share my personal favorites from the year:

   TEN:   So, I had to include this image in the count down because a lot of people don't know this is actually where I started off in photography. Prior to this I had bought a DSLR camera, but I planned on only using it for video recording. When my friends Yasmin and Tosin needed grad photos and didn't want to really have to pay for them, I volunteered to take them because I already had a nice camera. I didn't plan to get very seriously into photography, I just wanted to get my money's worth from purchasing the camera. It was after I saw how their pictures came out that I was like hmm... maybe I kind of like taking pictures. This photo was actually taken with a kit lense and only edited in VSCO because I really did not know anything about lenses at the time or about editing for that matter. The bubbles were not even prior planned, I looked in my purse to find my phone, and i was like "hey! you guys should blow bubbles in some shots, that would be cute!" I think it goes to show that photography really isn't only about having all the nice things to shoot with (although it does help), it doesn't show that you have talent. Creativity stems from within, and there is no amount of schooling, or amount of "nice equipment" that can help you gain that. 

TEN: So, I had to include this image in the count down because a lot of people don't know this is actually where I started off in photography. Prior to this I had bought a DSLR camera, but I planned on only using it for video recording. When my friends Yasmin and Tosin needed grad photos and didn't want to really have to pay for them, I volunteered to take them because I already had a nice camera. I didn't plan to get very seriously into photography, I just wanted to get my money's worth from purchasing the camera. It was after I saw how their pictures came out that I was like hmm... maybe I kind of like taking pictures. This photo was actually taken with a kit lense and only edited in VSCO because I really did not know anything about lenses at the time or about editing for that matter. The bubbles were not even prior planned, I looked in my purse to find my phone, and i was like "hey! you guys should blow bubbles in some shots, that would be cute!" I think it goes to show that photography really isn't only about having all the nice things to shoot with (although it does help), it doesn't show that you have talent. Creativity stems from within, and there is no amount of schooling, or amount of "nice equipment" that can help you gain that. 

   NINE:   Now these two tied for this spot because it is really the theme in the photo that I loved. First of all this is probably the first time that i ever seriously photographed men for a higher purpose such as graduation photos. A constant theme that you can see throughout my photos is that I like to incorporate greenery & there are only a few photoshoots that i shot over this past year that did not incorporate greenery. Since i always shoot so many women, it always worked out. But with shooting men, i was always like hmm I may need to find a different way to photograph men cause I don't know how the greenery would look against a man. But as you can see from these two shots, the theme actually turns out perfectly, and definitely enhances the features they already have. "Men in greenery" is a theme that i definitely plan to shoot more of in 2016.    SEE MORE OF DON HERE  ||  SEE MORE OF ADAM HERE

NINE: Now these two tied for this spot because it is really the theme in the photo that I loved. First of all this is probably the first time that i ever seriously photographed men for a higher purpose such as graduation photos. A constant theme that you can see throughout my photos is that I like to incorporate greenery & there are only a few photoshoots that i shot over this past year that did not incorporate greenery. Since i always shoot so many women, it always worked out. But with shooting men, i was always like hmm I may need to find a different way to photograph men cause I don't know how the greenery would look against a man. But as you can see from these two shots, the theme actually turns out perfectly, and definitely enhances the features they already have. "Men in greenery" is a theme that i definitely plan to shoot more of in 2016. 

SEE MORE OF DON HERE || SEE MORE OF ADAM HERE

   EIGHT:   My next top favorite photo goes to my little high school graduate Carah! There really isn't a perfect explanation for this photo because it speaks for itself: the gust of wind came at the perfect time (with the help of  Aquia  holding onto her kimono [cropped out though]) and Carah was a great model who I enjoyed candidly shooting. Apart from that Carah was one of the first people that i shot when i FINALLY dropped my kit lens after doing months of research about lenses that I wanted to seriously step up to, and that was the 50mm f/1.4. Like this lens literally changed the game for me and my shots. I was beyond in love with it.    SEE MORE OF CARAH HERE

EIGHT: My next top favorite photo goes to my little high school graduate Carah! There really isn't a perfect explanation for this photo because it speaks for itself: the gust of wind came at the perfect time (with the help of Aquia holding onto her kimono [cropped out though]) and Carah was a great model who I enjoyed candidly shooting. Apart from that Carah was one of the first people that i shot when i FINALLY dropped my kit lens after doing months of research about lenses that I wanted to seriously step up to, and that was the 50mm f/1.4. Like this lens literally changed the game for me and my shots. I was beyond in love with it. 

SEE MORE OF CARAH HERE

   SEVEN:   So this next image was actually my "viewer's choice award" image because it actually pretty much almost got more "Likes" on instagram than my own personal images (i was low key like ok guys, thats enough LOL). I was actually surprised about how popular this image ended up being. Really it is a favorite to me because I feel like a lot of people think "there's really not much you can do with a grad photo" and it was the peak of me showing people that there is a TON that you can do with grad photos. Shooting grad photos this past semester was really my selling point, and I think how I gained popularity in the photography world, and i believe that was because I personally strongly DISLIKE traditional grad photos. I feel that yes it is definitely important to get the traditional shots in because they are keep sakes for the rest of the person's life (by traditional im reffering to cap and gown, next to some symbol of your alma mater btw). But other than that grad photos should show a growth and journey, it should show the person's personality, what they were about while they were in undergrad, what important accomplishment really stemmed their last few years. So I really worked hard throughout this past season to highlight those photos, and post those on IG instead of the "traditional ones" taken. So I guess an important tip I would give for graduate photography is plan outside the box. You can pretty much do anything with a grad photo if you stick a cap and stole in it....as depicted in this photo lol.    SEE MORE OF NANCY HERE

SEVEN: So this next image was actually my "viewer's choice award" image because it actually pretty much almost got more "Likes" on instagram than my own personal images (i was low key like ok guys, thats enough LOL). I was actually surprised about how popular this image ended up being. Really it is a favorite to me because I feel like a lot of people think "there's really not much you can do with a grad photo" and it was the peak of me showing people that there is a TON that you can do with grad photos. Shooting grad photos this past semester was really my selling point, and I think how I gained popularity in the photography world, and i believe that was because I personally strongly DISLIKE traditional grad photos. I feel that yes it is definitely important to get the traditional shots in because they are keep sakes for the rest of the person's life (by traditional im reffering to cap and gown, next to some symbol of your alma mater btw). But other than that grad photos should show a growth and journey, it should show the person's personality, what they were about while they were in undergrad, what important accomplishment really stemmed their last few years. So I really worked hard throughout this past season to highlight those photos, and post those on IG instead of the "traditional ones" taken. So I guess an important tip I would give for graduate photography is plan outside the box. You can pretty much do anything with a grad photo if you stick a cap and stole in it....as depicted in this photo lol. 

SEE MORE OF NANCY HERE

   SIX:   There's not really a big explanation to this next photo, I just really always liked the tone of it and how Raven posed & her expression. Spinning off of what I was saying with grad photography in the previous post, use your environment as much as you can. Another thing about me is that I do not like to edit the same "kind" of photo more than a few times. A great package of photos to me involves the client having many different "kinds" of photos, which means that the environment/background MUST change. Don't be too lazy that you don't venture out to the different places around campus that depict the alma mater. It brings different elements to the package. It can be more work, but in the end I believe it is more fruitful. Raven actually had my favorite set of pictures that were taken on campus because we did just that, and I liked how her photos ended up having a lot of variation.    SEE MORE OF RAVEN HERE

SIX: There's not really a big explanation to this next photo, I just really always liked the tone of it and how Raven posed & her expression. Spinning off of what I was saying with grad photography in the previous post, use your environment as much as you can. Another thing about me is that I do not like to edit the same "kind" of photo more than a few times. A great package of photos to me involves the client having many different "kinds" of photos, which means that the environment/background MUST change. Don't be too lazy that you don't venture out to the different places around campus that depict the alma mater. It brings different elements to the package. It can be more work, but in the end I believe it is more fruitful. Raven actually had my favorite set of pictures that were taken on campus because we did just that, and I liked how her photos ended up having a lot of variation. 

SEE MORE OF RAVEN HERE

   FIVE:   My next favorite photo of the year was this photo i took at my brother Patrick's wedding this summer. This was actually the first "event" that I shot and I really got to get an opportunity to get a feel of how this would go if I ever wanted to do this seriously. Unfortunately this was prior to when I invested in a better lens, so this was shot with a crappy box lens.. BUT i learned photoshop over the summer and I learned how to use layer masking to apply bokeh (background blurring) to all of my shots (although it literally takes FOREVER its nice to know how to do it by hand, and made me appreciate my next lens that much more).    SEE MORE OF PATRICK WEDS AQUIA HERE

FIVE: My next favorite photo of the year was this photo i took at my brother Patrick's wedding this summer. This was actually the first "event" that I shot and I really got to get an opportunity to get a feel of how this would go if I ever wanted to do this seriously. Unfortunately this was prior to when I invested in a better lens, so this was shot with a crappy box lens.. BUT i learned photoshop over the summer and I learned how to use layer masking to apply bokeh (background blurring) to all of my shots (although it literally takes FOREVER its nice to know how to do it by hand, and made me appreciate my next lens that much more). 

SEE MORE OF PATRICK WEDS AQUIA HERE

   FOUR:   This next image is another image that i shot with my crappy kit lens over the summer when I was trying to learn more about photography and editing. It was still in the phase that I was learning photoshop & the importance of layer masking, So I just kind of played around with this and learned how to accomplish this effect. This image actually ended up being the "viewers choice" of my summer images, just like how Nancy's was of my grad images. I really liked Uloma's series because the weather was horrible (raining) and I did not know what i was doing, BUT they still turned out good. Another tip i would give to beginning photographers is shoot your friends as much as you can. I tag this past summer 2015 as my "learning period" because that is basically all i did in my free time, plan photoshoots around my friends for free so I could learn how to do things and get experience. The best part about it is that even if you don't know what you're doing, it's a very casual experience and I'm sure you guys will be chopping it up the entire time anyway (so your confusion won't even show). I also wanted to show yet another example that creativity really cannot be bought, or taught.

FOUR: This next image is another image that i shot with my crappy kit lens over the summer when I was trying to learn more about photography and editing. It was still in the phase that I was learning photoshop & the importance of layer masking, So I just kind of played around with this and learned how to accomplish this effect. This image actually ended up being the "viewers choice" of my summer images, just like how Nancy's was of my grad images. I really liked Uloma's series because the weather was horrible (raining) and I did not know what i was doing, BUT they still turned out good. Another tip i would give to beginning photographers is shoot your friends as much as you can. I tag this past summer 2015 as my "learning period" because that is basically all i did in my free time, plan photoshoots around my friends for free so I could learn how to do things and get experience. The best part about it is that even if you don't know what you're doing, it's a very casual experience and I'm sure you guys will be chopping it up the entire time anyway (so your confusion won't even show). I also wanted to show yet another example that creativity really cannot be bought, or taught.

   THREE:   Ok so ya'll should have already known this one was coming lol. i just loved this image, there really isn't a big explanation for it. Just beautiful people in my greenery :) and I do hope to shoot many more couples in this next year. (Another example of how you can do plenty with grad photos. Khadijah marrying Ali was a pivotal point in her undergraduate year, and having a little 15 minute couple shoot was definitely important to depict that)   SEE MORE OF KHADIJAH&ALI HERE

THREE: Ok so ya'll should have already known this one was coming lol. i just loved this image, there really isn't a big explanation for it. Just beautiful people in my greenery :) and I do hope to shoot many more couples in this next year. (Another example of how you can do plenty with grad photos. Khadijah marrying Ali was a pivotal point in her undergraduate year, and having a little 15 minute couple shoot was definitely important to depict that)

SEE MORE OF KHADIJAH&ALI HERE

   TWO:   These next set of images were shot at my sister's Traditional wedding. I loved how the colors came out, and it was just nice to get an opportunity to show my culture on my website. The first image was shot when I noticed that there were alot of hair ties in the way, so i thought it would be cool to look for the perfect moment to capture them in between the hair ties. The second image i believe i really liked because of the floating dollar lol.   SEE MORE OF MOYO WEDS JENNIFER HERE

TWO: These next set of images were shot at my sister's Traditional wedding. I loved how the colors came out, and it was just nice to get an opportunity to show my culture on my website. The first image was shot when I noticed that there were alot of hair ties in the way, so i thought it would be cool to look for the perfect moment to capture them in between the hair ties. The second image i believe i really liked because of the floating dollar lol.

SEE MORE OF MOYO WEDS JENNIFER HERE

   ONE:   Call me conceited LOL, i don't care. But my top favorite image of 2015 was a self portrait i shot in timer mode of myself. This is actually my all time favorite image of me. I just love the simplicity of it, and i love that it is very true to picture, as in I didn't edit the zit off of my forehead, or try to smooth off my edges in photoshop and i still loved it all the same. For me the biggest trouble I had this year "photography wise" was getting images of myself, i feel that I just did not have any "photographer friends" who would shoot images of me and I would do the same, and for me it really caused me to kind of fall back a bit in posting myself because i wanted professional images of me too next to the professional images of the people I was posting. So in 2016 taking more professional self portraits, and even collaborating with other photographers is definitely going to be one of my biggest goals.

ONE: Call me conceited LOL, i don't care. But my top favorite image of 2015 was a self portrait i shot in timer mode of myself. This is actually my all time favorite image of me. I just love the simplicity of it, and i love that it is very true to picture, as in I didn't edit the zit off of my forehead, or try to smooth off my edges in photoshop and i still loved it all the same. For me the biggest trouble I had this year "photography wise" was getting images of myself, i feel that I just did not have any "photographer friends" who would shoot images of me and I would do the same, and for me it really caused me to kind of fall back a bit in posting myself because i wanted professional images of me too next to the professional images of the people I was posting. So in 2016 taking more professional self portraits, and even collaborating with other photographers is definitely going to be one of my biggest goals.

UNTIL 2016!!

-NN