Category Archives: Photography

Creating a Zine

I am developing a new zine! For those of you who don’t know what a zine is, it’s basically a small “magazine” that includes mostly visual art in one medium and for one story line/creative purpose. I have one zine that I put together while I was in college. It’s all about college life and has pictures like one of a blue rubber ducky that I won out of the crane machine and me sitting on a bench alone – both things that basically sum up my college career… 🙂

I want to produce another zine with more photos, so I hope to take 50 zine pictures by the end of the year! I’ll reveal a little more about this creative project at some point, but I’m really looking forward to seeing it all together, and I hope you all are too!

My Photo Editing Playlist!

Music has so much power on our brains – the science behind why teachers play music in the classroom is very compelling. Music activates parts of our brain that help us to understand things easier and better in the long-term. It also helps to activate the brain’s “focus zone” and push us to get more done in a shorter time without realizing it. Have you ever been cleaning the house or working in the yard with the music blaring and suddenly an hour’s gone by and you’ve made some real progress on your tasks? Part of that is because the music activates your brain which pushes you to work harder.

It is for these reasons that I have created a musical playlist I use when I edit my photos! I have 22 songs – so about an hour’s worth of music – that I will play in increments. I hit “shuffle” and play 5 songs at a time before I take a short break. This makes sure that I’m not sitting at my desk for more than 15 minutes at a time or staring at a screen for too long and straining my eyes. During my breaks, I’ll get up and stretch, take a lap around my apartment, and pick up little things that are out of place. This way, I feel like I’m still doing something productive, my mind isn’t foggy with stuff lying around everywhere, and I’m getting in more movement during the day!

If you want to listen to my editing playlist on Spotify, click here. Let me know what you think of my song selections in the comments!

23 Places I’m Photographing

It’s a wonder that I’m almost 23 years old and still haven’t seen a lot of the East Coast where I live. I’m always wishing to go on more trips, and I think it’s finally time to make that wish come true. Like I said, I’m almost 23. So here are 23 places I’d love to visit for their photograph-able wonders. (Pssst! Click on the name of each place to find out more about that location.)

A Day in the Life of a Photographer

I honestly had no idea what I was signing up for when I started out in the photography industry. Before I started my business, when I realized I was super into photography in general, I was just a freshman in college who had no idea what I was doing or how to work a “good camera.” My day-in-the-life would have looked a lot different during those days. Since starting my business, I have developed a routine for the day-to-day of my business and my passion. Keep reading if you want to know more!

The Mornings

I start my mornings off like anyone else – tired and groggy with crusty eyes and bad breath. I know that’s pretty TMI, but I felt like you guys needed to know that I don’t wake up ready to go by any means. IMG_1716After I do the normal waking-up things (bathroom, phone, etc.), I make a cup of coffee (because duh) and drink it on the way to the gym (where I enjoy a nice mediocre workout). I’ve been trying to up my gym game recently, but it’s been really difficult to even get out of bed on cold mornings let alone motivate myself to leave the house before 6AM to get in an above-average workout.

After the gym, I have to get to work where I answer phone calls and complete inter-office projects for other people. I actually don’t mind customer service, and it gives me time to work on Gray Graphics stuff when I’m not on the phone or otherwise engaged. Speaking of working on Gray Graphics stuff – this is usually about the time when I’ll pull up my IMG_1712Google calendar and make sure I’m aware of any appointments or to-dos that I’ve listed there. If there are to-dos dealing with my marketing strategy, I’ll take care of them right away. A growing business is a marketed business (and vice versa). “Working on Gray Graphics stuff” usually entails checking/updating all of my social media accounts, glancing at my website to test out the newest links and make sure everything works, writing/scheduling blog posts for the week/month, looking through the giant white Gray Graphics binder, and editing pictures. This last thing is very time-consuming but so satisfying!

The Afternoons

Most of the time, I will work myself all the way into the afternoons which is when I’ll put aside Gray Graphics for about an hour (’cause a girl’s gotta eat!). AfterIMG_0007 lunch, I head to my second job where I’m the head instructor/administrator at a tutoring company. I have way less free time to work on Gray Graphics stuff at this job, so I usually see a lot less (if any at all) of my giant business organization binder in the afternoons/evenings. I don’t mind that because I honestly love being the head instructor at this place; I’m good at what I do there, and I feel needed there. I would definitely rather work for myself, but hey! You gotta do what you gotta do, and I gotta pay for a wedding somehow!

The Evenings

I don’t get off of my second job until some time between 7:30 and 9 o’clock at night. I know that’s a pretty extreme variance in time, but it depends on how much stuff I have to do. I almost always go home around 8 or 8:30. Once I get back home, I usually change into more comfortable clothes (AKA sweat pants because I just don’t care and I’m at home so don’t judge me). Dinner is almost always ready by the time I get home; my fiance and I live with his parents until after the wedding, and his mom makes dinner so that I can eat it when I get home. Because she’s a really nice lady! 🙂

IMG_0039After dinner, I do some more Gray Graphics work – check on social media updates I’ve gotten throughout the day, edit IMG_0040more pictures, fine-tune the blog or website, enter some financial data, etc. I try to schedule in some me-time somewhere to read a book or do some journaling because otherwise I would go crazy. There are a lot of things to do when you own a business, and it never lightens up. There’s always tomorrow’s to-do list, which I actually really enjoy. It never gets boring.

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Even though my life is pretty hectic – I have two jobs to pay my bills and take care of my wedding PLUS I own Gray Graphics – I wouldn’t have it any other way… Okay, that’s not entirely true. I would love to just be able to focus on my business, but that’s not in the cards for me yet. And that’s totally fine! I’m young; I’ll figure it out! 🙂

Every-Day Practice: Boosting Your Photography Skills

Hey everyone! So this week, I thought I would talk a little bit about what I do to keep my photography skills in shape.

Being a photographer is just like being a musician, writer, athlete, insert other craft name here. The muscle memories that you create when you practice your skill are vital to your success. Normally, this translates into an every-day practice regimen, and photography is no different. I have to practice at it all the time – hopefully every day – in order to retain my skills and even to learn new things and get better at it.

Last weekend, I went on a trip to Kentucky with my fiance and his family. While we were there, I tried my hardest to pull my camera out at least once a day for just a few minutes to practice taking pictures of different scenes. What I found out was that practice does not make perfect.

The first picture I took of the moon (see above, left) was a lousy one. It was followed by about a billion other lousy ones, most of which were almost all black. Over the next few nights, I took more moon pictures and played around with the settings on my camera until I was able to take the better picture (see above, right). If I hadn’t taken out my camera every night to work on my craft, I wouldn’t have been messing around with the settings to find out that I needed a low ISO and high aperture with a slow shutter speed. (That’s camera-talk for settings that make me stand stick straight for a solid minute while my camera tries to catch up to the scene.)

The picture on the right isn’t perfect. In fact, I wish I was still in Kentucky so that I could pull out my camera and keep trying. What the picture does have is potential, and practicing will increase my chances of reaching that potential. So I encourage you to practice what you love every day – even if it’s just for five minutes. Whether you love to write, dance, sing, act, read, etc. – practicing can help you reach your potential.

Creative Photography (I Think)

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I am definitely an amateur. I mentioned in the April newsletter that I don’t have any formal (college) training in photography – I’ve only ever taken high school multimedia classes. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t still put my creative brain to the test and use up all of that energy to become a better creative photographer.

When I say creative photography, I don’t just mean being creative in the ways that I take pictures. I mean being creative in the subject matter department as well. For example, a lot of the pictures that you’ll find in the slideshow at the top of this blog post show non-human subjects. These pictures – because the subjects cannot produce their own emotion – have to be taken with creative critical thinking to evoke some sort of feeling in the viewer. Take a moment to play through the slideshow and just notice how you feel when looking at each picture.

Go ahead – go do it.

What did you notice from that exercise? That’s right – even pictures that don’t have human subjects can make you feel something. That’s because the photographer took those pictures with you in mind – or rather, with all viewers in mind. The photographer (in this case, me) knew what they wanted you to see in the picture and tried to capture what they wanted you to feel in the picture as well.

To put it another way: most photo shoots deal with photographing models. These models are real people who can project an emotion onto the camera so that you feel that same way while looking at photos of them. This is model-centered emotional photography. When you take away the model and replace them with an inanimate object, the photographer is challenged to take pictures (that still hold emotion) of something that can’t give any of that emotion. So the photographer has to get creative in order to produce the desired effect.

None of this is to say that a photographer can’t produce creative content when photographing models or other living subjects. Of course they can! Just type in “creative photography” on Google, and you’ll see plenty of proof of that. I’m just saying that it is more difficult to be creative without that living help. It was especially difficult for someone like me – who obviously does not have a lot of experience taking pictures of non-living things.

That being said, I hope you all enjoy the pictures in the slideshow above. I tried my best to be really creative and evoke some sort of emotion or feeling in them. If any of you have any questions or want to talk more about creative photography (or photography in general, really), please use the contact form on my website to send me a message. I would love to talk with you guys about my ideas or creative photography processes! As always, feel free to share this post on any of the social media links below. I hope you guys have a great week!

Taking Pictures of (Somewhat) Non-Moving Objects

Breathe. Focus. Just look through the lens. Don’t let them get away. Click! Yes! Cool deer shot.

Okay, just take the picture. You’ll get it. It’s fine. Click! Dammit. Well, that proves it: there’s no way to capture a picture of birds. Damn speed racers, that’s what they are…

Ah… This is a nice change of pace. Don’t have to worry about shutter speeds when none of the subjects move. Okay, I can do this. Landscape photography is where it’s at! Click! Click! Click!!!

 

 

 

 

Every time I look into the lens of my camera and see a landscape or nature shot looking back at me, I breathe a lot easier. There’s a whole stretch of land that isn’t going anywhere. Those trees? They won’t just pick up and move. Sure, the wind might rattle their branches a little, but that’s a far cry from uncooperative birds who move at the slightest sound. In landscape and nature photography, I can use my camera and my body (as opposed to someone else’s) as instruments to change the shot in any way I want. It’s therapeutic, really.

Most of the landscape/nature shots I’ve included in this post were taken at local parks. I walked around and just did my thing for a while – took pictures, sipped coffee, etc. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more grounded than when I was exploring these places. Even when it was only 40 degrees outside when I was walking around one of the parks, I felt like I could stay there forever.

The people who are close to me have been noticing that lately I’ve been going through more periods of emotional stress. I’ve been really happy most days, but there are days that I just feel so strung out and weighed down. These kinds of emotional twists and turns have been plaguing me since I was a teenager in the early years of high school. I can get pretty good at hiding them (which I know isn’t a skill I should necessarily be proud of).

But I don’t have to hide my emotions when I step into the world of parks and nature and animals. I can be myself – stress and all. It might sound depressing – a single person traveling around the woods reflecting on all of the things that make them feel sad or hurt or emotional. But oftentimes, the process of reflecting on those things and being able to do what I love at the same time will help balance me out. I come back from those explorations and photography journeys feeling refreshed and mellow and much happier in general.

I guess what I’m saying is that, yea, I have my days. But photography is a medium that requires you to get closer to yourself – to walk through your locations alone and give yourself time to think through life. It’s a beautiful feeling – one I hope to maintain through practicing what I love.