Monique's Blog


The next time the Renaissance Faire is in your town, I highly recommend experiencing the atmosphere and fun. It was 'photographer heaven' for me because they have performers that dress up in period costumes with makeup and wigs that love having their photographs taken. In addition to the interesting performers, I was able to photograph a performing hawk in flight, plus a close-up of a hawk and a kookaburra resting on it's handlers' arm. When was the last time that you saw a kookaburra in person - probably never. :)    I took over 200 photographs that day and loved every minute of it!


I designed the concept that balloons would represent raindrops. Then the pre-production process began. I went shopping for matching colored raincoat, umbrella and rain boots. I found these adorable polka dot umbrella and boots with delightful rainbow pastel colors. I located a pastel pink rain poncho. Next, I needed to find balloons that would support this color palette. Voila`.  I found them. Then I purchased a balloon pump so I could easily blow up 72 balloons. Next, I purchased fishing wire to be able to hang the 'raindrops.' I also anchored the 'puddle' balloons with either nuts or white masking tape. Anchoring the balloons prevented them from floating up into the studio lights for the Playful image when model, Shannon, kicked at the balloons. Thank you to Shannon for modeling in this photo shoot and to Ken and Christian for their  assistance!

The storyline is that she is discontented that  it is a rainy day. Then her childlike quality begins to stir as she kicks playfully at the balloons. Finally, she gives into her inner child and drops the umbrella to soak in the beauty of rainfall. Life can be easier when seen through our inner child. Next time it rains, stomp and splash in some rain puddles.  :)


The Teen Photography Workshop was a huge success. The teens became involved in the process of learning by providing input and asking questions throughout the workshop.

After the instruction portion was over, I gave them an assignment to implement three of the concepts taught in class and complete it in fifteen minutes. I provide props to work with or the option to photograph the exterior of the library architecture.

I am always thrilled when they bring back and show  photographs that demonstrate the concepts they have learned and see their unique creativity in the results of their image.

This year's winner of Photograph of the Day went to a young lady named Siena. Congratulations, Siena, on your image of the 'world' with a beautiful bokeh background utilizing a wide aperture. Well done! 


I will be teaching a Teen Photography Workshop on Wednesday, November 15th, from 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library. Pizza and a Poetry Workshop will follow from 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm,  teaching how to create Haiku and Haibun with their photography. The Poetry Workshop will be taught by Ms. Reese.

Teens (Grades 7 - 12) interested in participating in these workshops (pizza included) must sign up at the INFORMATION DESK at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library.


Exciting News! 

My artwork will be on display at the Rancho Santa Margarita Library for two months.

Photographs and Abstract Paintings will be available for viewing from October 28, 2017 through December 31, 2017.


Rancho Santa Margarita Library

30902 La Promesa Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688


Sun          Mon        Tues        Wed        Thurs        Fri        Sat

Closed     10--7       10-7         10-7        10-7          9-5       9-5

Note: All locations of OC Public Libraries are closed on holidays.

Contact (949) 459-6094




I worked as the Script Supervisor on the short film, Dallas, Sunday Morning, about Lee Harvey Oswald and Karen Carlin last year. As part of my job as Scripty, I take photographs to document continuity on the set for production design,  hair, makeup, and clothing. I also took images that were used for the Press Kit in promoting the film. I LOVE photographing movie sets because of the unique effects of lighting, fog machines, period clothing, camera and sound equipment and all the myriad of jobs handled by so many people to tell a story. 



I had the pleasure of meeting legendary photographer Harry Benson! I attended a screening of the film Shoot First along with a photography exhibition and a Q & A after the screening. As we looked at some of his photographs, he shared stories with me regarding his photograph of Jackie Kennedy, the Clinton’s and the night of the shooting of Robert F. Kennedy.

Shoot First is a biographical journey spanning over fifty years of Harry Benson’s professional career with a look back at his early life as well. His profession as a photojournalist came into the limelight when he had the pleasure to travel with and photograph The Beatles inaugural trip to the United States in 1964.

His iconic images are peppered throughout the film starting with the Beatles and continuing with Mohammad Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr., Winston Churchill, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Bobby Fischer, Greta Garbo, and countless more.

In addition to the troves of famous individuals that were photographed by Benson, other assignments sent him traveling the world over and covered historical moments like the Civil Rights Movement, the funerals of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, the Klu Klux Klan, the Watts Riots, the Somalia famine, the building and tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and personally for him the most heart-wrenching moment of Benson’s career, the Robert F. Kennedy assassination.

It was easy to see the qualities that made Benson a successful photographer within the film and during the Q & A. There is a disarming ease about him and quick wit combined with a competitive and tenacious determination to get the job done. He stated, “I always found that if you worked hard, you were inclined to get lucky or things began to flow for you…if you work hard, you know, it will come around.”

The Q & A audience learned that he likes to work with minimal equipment, typically one camera and two lenses in his pocket. He prefers to use a 28mm lens which allows him to get within close proximity to his subject. When asked, “What are you thinking when you’re actually shooting?” Benson responded, “Getting good pictures, to get as close as I can to somebody, try to take a picture that’s never [been shot]. What makes a picture interesting is you haven’t seen it before.”

When asked who he enjoyed shooting the most or just impressed him as a person, Benson quickly responded, “Bobby Fischer. Yeah, because he was the smartest, cleverest and tragic…”

When asked who he would still like to photograph, his reply was Mr. Putin.

Harry Benson was accompanied to the event with his wife and film’s co-producer Gigi Benson, plus son-in-law, actor Michael Landes.

Shoot First is a riveting, entertaining documentary. It accurately depicts Benson and you are swept away through happy, tumultuous, sad and endearing moments of history. You’ll learn behind the scenes stories of infamous individuals and will be in awe of Benson’s extensive library of powerful and emotionally-moving still photography.

This movie is an accumulation of a fascinating life that allows the viewer to travel alongside him. Benson at 86 years old has no intention of slowing down, so there will need to be a sequel.

Magnolia Pictures released the Documentary Shoot First  on December 9, 2016. It is currently available on Netflix.  

A movie trailer can be viewed at:

© Monique Dodge   All Rights Reserved.

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