Wednesday, July 31, 2013

blogger of the month: tieka of selective potential

Today I am very excited to introduce you to Tieka, the beautiful blogger behind Selective Potential! She kindly allowed me to interview her, and it was so fun getting to know a little bit about her, her love of lighthouses and seasons, and of course her personal style! I love how she often incorporates bright colors into her ensembles and loves to be matchy matchy with her surroundings.

First things first, can you tell just a little bit about yourself?

Well, my name is Tieka and I run the blog, Selective Potential! I graduated with my BFA in digital media and I work full-time as a graphic designer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In my free-time when I'm not working or blogging, I spend time with my boyfriend, Eric, and our puppy, Winny. We listen to a lot of music, play music, travel around the state a lot and watch a lot of movies! I also am in love with my mint-green scooter, lighthouses + confetti cake. :)

You've been blogging for a pretty long time (almost four years now!). What has been the craziest or strangest thing that has come from blogging?

I've had some pretty crazy experiences - all good! But one of the oddest ones was... I was checking out at an Urban Outfitters in Chicago. The girl looks at me and smiles and goes, "Tieka, really? Do you really need another one of these cardigans?" I was absolutely stunned! It turned out she was a blog reader and knew I had already owned two of the same cardigan from UO. Haha! I died laughing. It was surreal to be noticed in public, especially in a big city four hours away from home!

I've been loving your lighthouse series! What's your favorite lighthouse you've visited so far?

I absolutely love all of the lighthouses in Michigan. One of my favorite ones has to be Big Sable Point in Ludington, Michigan though. You have to walk two miles to get there (so rare!) and it's black/white striped and so unique. Plus it's on a bay, so it's facing water on the west and north side of it. I love it!

What's your favorite outfit, and why? (hard question, I know. :)

One of my favorite outfits of all time was from a post called "An old silo". It was when the Delightful Dozen was in full swing, and we all styled this adorable floral skirt from Julie of Orchid Grey. I just thought the patterns went together so well + I felt so great wearing it! I ended up spotting a picture of Susan's inspiration board from ModCloth and this outfit was posted to it. I was so flattered!

You're very talented at matching outfits to seasons (such as this one.) Do you have any advice for people who want to dress to match the season?

It's honestly pretty easy! I just think of the best parts of each season and dress for the place I'm going. Like, I knew I was going to be taking photos at the pink trees, so I grabbed pink items from my closet and [saw] how they worked together. Typically if you're dressing to match nature, the outfit will probably go together pretty well. If nature intended it, well then... it must work! When I think of spring, I obviously think of florals, pastels, bright colors. In autumn, I'm constantly dressed in burnt orange, browns, etc. Winter and summer are a bit trickier, but it gives you more freedom to perhaps dress outside the seasonal box?

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you want to have with you? (Other than Eric and Winny of course.)

Well, if I had Wifi, 1) I'd for sure be bringing my Macbook Pro - ha! Netflix, Internet, The Sims 2? That'd be pretty perfect. I'd be entertained for months! 2) Burt's Bees chapstick. I cannot live a day without it. 3) An unlimited supply of daily contact lenses. I have the worst eyesight in the world and I absolutely loathe wearing my glasses. ;)

What's one style or type of clothing that you wish you could pull off?

Well, this is going to sound odd, but clothes that require small boobs. Haha! Like strapless dresses, or deep v-necks, sweetheart necklines, etc. I've always had such a hard time pulling those off and there are so many items that I've had to put back on the rack because they just don't fit my boobs!

I recently wrote an article on confidence and happiness here on Introvert's Introduction. Do you have any tips for someone to become more confident with themselves?

It's all about accepting yourself, to be honest. And if you aren't willing to accept yourself, you have to be willing to change. And in order to change, you have to accept that you'll be working really hard. I felt completely self-conscious before I lost 35 pounds. I refused to buy any type of cute clothing that'd show off my body in any way, or draw attention to myself. I wasn't willing to accept myself in that way, so I had to work really hard to change. And even after I lost all of the weight, I had to really work hard at finally "accepting" myself! But once I did, I felt confident enough to do anything! It's something I still struggle with ALL the time, but on the days you can accept yourself and who you are (and not compare yourself to others), you'll feel so much happier.

Thank you again so much for letting me interview you! It was so fun getting to know just a little bit about your life and some of your insights.

And be sure to check out Tieka's beautiful blog here and show her some love.

Have a great day everyone!

*photos (copyright 2013 Selective Potential) are used with permission.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

severed tie dyes

severed tie dyes

I'm mostly uploading this to say that I'm quitting my 30 day self portrait challenge. My internet got shut off (it took great efforts for me to upload this at work) and it won't be turned on for about two weeks. I hate not posting every day when I'm doing an every day project, so I'm calling it quits. Also I wasn't really having fun with it. At this point in my life, I want to focus on quality and not quantity, and that will be better done if I don't force shoots and allow myself to shoot other people.

On the upside, I'm going on a three day backpacking trip into the wilds of Alaska and will be visiting a ton of cool places. You can expect a couple photos from that.

It's time for me to quit making mediocre photographs.

That being said, I still want to work on the list I made for myself at the beginning of the challenge, so you'll still see a lot of fun behind the scenes stuff and before and afters and whatnot. In fact, I have two processing videos in the works!

As far as the internet thing goes, you don't have to worry about that either. I thankfully had a few outfits all ready to go (still have to write the posts though), so I can do all those internet type things at work (the only thing that's an issue is uploading from my laptop). So you'll still get your fun daily dose of Introvert's Introduction!

I hope you all have a fantastic day. :)

thoughts on // confidence and happiness

For a long time I struggled with confidence in myself and being happy with who I was, and through blogging I discovered that a lot of people felt the same way. Who doesn't have days where they question their self worth? Today I am a lot better (though not completely, because it is a long process), but I've been thinking a lot about this and hope to share some tips to gain confidence in yourself. Granted, you cannot become happy with who you are overnight, and even after three years of doing some of these things I'm still not always 100% confident. I still have fears and insecurities. You won't see a change right away, but I encourage you to keep trying and keep striving to be the best person you can be. Even if it may take a long time, you will see improvements.

Physical Appearance;

As girls, this is probably the biggest thing we struggle with, which is a shame because at the end of the day, our physical appearance means very little compared to our character. The outer layer of who we show to the world will fade, but what is on the inside will shine through until our death. But I also don't like the notion that looks don't matter, because in our society they do. You probably shouldn't go to certain places in certain types of clothing, and it is important to be healthy and care for your body. But I don't want anyone to think that this is most important, or that I'm endorsing changing something that is impossible to change, such as your body type or bone structure or whatever. Everyone is beautiful, and there is great beauty in diversity.

That being said, as a woman, a lot of confidence comes from appearance, and if you don't like the way something about yourself looks, then by all means, change it! We live in an imperfect world and we are imperfect people and if you want to improve something about yourself to gain confidence, who would stop you? In my life personally, I don't like my teeth. They're pretty yellow, and I'm always embarrassed to smile because I know they don't look the best they can be. So finally a couple days ago I bought Crest Whitening Strips in the hopes of getting pretty white teeth. Another thing I don't really like is my nose. It's slightly crooked, so 99% of the time I twist my head slightly to the right because that side of my nose looks cute and small, whereas the other side looks big. I do this for nearly all of my photos. One way I'm trying to change how I feel about my nose is by taking lots and lots of flattering photos of myself looking towards the left (my left), like in this photo. If I had taken that photo two years ago, you would have never seen it. I have often found that in repeating something over and over again, I start to believe it or get used to it or don't think it's so weird looking after all.

I've always hated my forehead, so in seventh grade I finally got bangs, and I haven't looked back. That haircut still brings so much confidence to me. In junior high, I would literally spend hours straightening my hair before school to get my locks to be all nice and in control, and while it was insane to get up three hours before school to do that, I felt so much more confident (and a little tired) going throughout my day. Then I chopped all my hair off, went with a boy cut, and slicked my bangs to the side (that was short lived). No longer could I hide behind the security blanket that was my hair, and I think it was a really good thing. Instead of worrying every day about my hair or how it was so short, I thought, "Well I can't change anything about this, so I'm going to enjoy it." And I did! I loved having short hair while I had it, and it helped me to let go of a temporary thing like hair.

Around the time I cut my hair, I stopped wearing makeup completely. I used proactive for my zits, and I refused to cover up my face, no matter how embarrassed or naked I felt without the cakiness on my skin. The first few weeks of school I was so self conscious about my face. "Were people looking at my zits? Will they still like me? Will they think I'm ugly?" But eventually I got so tired of thinking these things, that I just stopped and said, "Eff them." I came to the realization that the people I was trying to impress didn't care about me at all, so I wasn't going to care about what they thought. The reality is that they were so concerned with themselves, they didn't have time to worry about me. The people who truly care about you won't care if there's a zit on your face or not.

Today I wear makeup because I think it's fun, but I could just as easily go out without wearing any and feel perfectly fine.

So to gain confidence in your physical appearance:

1. If you don't like it, change it! Dye your hair if you hate the color, buy cream if you don't like your skin, wear nail polish if you want to stop biting your nails, you're free to change something you don't like.

2. Immerse yourself in your insecurity. Sometimes you just have to be absolutely insane and jump right in. Cut all your hair off, quit wearing makeup entirely. Have fun with it though!

3. Remember that the people you're trying to impress don't care about you, and the people you care about don't need impressing.

One more thing I did, my boyfriend Matt actually made me promise to do every single day. When we first started dating, I didn't really think I was pretty at all, so he made me pinky promise (and you never break a pinky promise!) to look in the mirror every morning and say, "I am the most beautiful girl in the entire world." I hated saying that. But I grumbled and said it to an ugly face every morning before school. But then a couple months passed and I began to think, "You know, this face isn't really that bad." And then a few more months passed and I thought, "I look pretty good today!" Now I don't have to say it to myself anymore, because I no longer think I'm ugly. Sure, I have bad days, but for the most part, I could care less about how I look because I know that "I'm the most beautiful girl in the world." Pinky promise that you'll say that to yourself in the mirror every day.

Social Situations;

I can only speak for introverted people like myself, but when I get into a social situation, I am hugely insecure. This isn't just introversion, but also because I'm shy around people I don't know. If it's even just a couple people I don't know that well, I for the life of me cannot bring myself to speak up. Last thanksgiving I had to stay over at someone's house who I had only briefly met once before, and I had to spend the entire week with a ton of people I had never met before. Matt was the only person I really felt comfortable talking with (and the random dogs that were hanging out), so I stuck by him the whole time in an effort to feel less awkward than if I was chilling out in a corner or in the bathroom by myself. I'm sure all the people were nice and kind and lovely people, in fact I know that, and it's sad that I wasn't brave or confident enough to talk to them first. But it was awful and I couldn't wait to go back to the comfort and familiarity of school.

First things first, don't ever feel bad for who you are. Don't use introversion as an apology! I have had one person tell me, "I'm sorry I'm so quiet. I'm an introvert." I was so sad when he told me that because you should never have to apologize for the way your brain functions. But at the same time, don't use it as an excuse either. "No way will I talk to those people, I'm an introvert." I hate it when people use my personality type as an excuse to not do something or meet someone.

For me, I am afraid that people will find me uninteresting or they won't like me ... or the dreaded awkward silence. Oh how I cringe at the awkward silence. A good thing to do would be to ask a lot of questions. People love talking about themselves, and if you can get someone going on what they're passionate about, you can just sit back and listen, which will hopefully open up more questions for you to ask, and the conversation will continue on. Always always always tell yourself that you are interesting and that people have a right to get to know you because you have something wonderful to offer them. You are interesting and cool, and no one, not even yourself, should make you feel boring or unlikable.

In the movie We Bought a Zoo the dad said, "All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you, something great will come of it." Sometimes in social situations, you just have to throw caution to the wind, hold your breath, and do something absolutely terrifying. For my 2012 365 project, one day my friend and I were walking around and we saw a group of fire fighters and trucks finishing up a fire scene. I walked around for ten minutes being absolutely petrified, because I really wanted to ask a fire fighter to model for me. My heart was beating out of my chest, and I hadn't even tried to approach them yet! I almost walked away without asking, but then I thought to myself, "What would Sarah do?" Sarah is one of my photographer friends who had terrible social anxiety in high school, but now is teaching workshops all over the US and is doing incredible things. I knew that she would be so disappointed if she knew that I passed up this opportunity, so I took a deep breath, started counting down from twenty, and walked up and asked if someone wanted to model for me. It was so scary and I was freaking out silently the entire time and even all day after I had done it, but it was the most amazing feeling and I got one of my favorite photos ever from it. The saying is true, something great will come from those twenty seconds of insane courage.

I've written a lot about personalities and introversion, so if you want to read a bit more, you can check out some blog posts here, here, and here!

So in social situations:

1. Don't let your personality be an excuse to never branch out. Your comfort zone is there for a reason, but expand it!
2. Don't feel sorry for who you are. If you're an introvert and need to go home a little early for the party or stick with one or two people you're comfortable with, don't feel bad! Only feel bad if you know you missed an opportunity, and use that disappointment to fuel your next opportunity.
3. Ask a lot of questions. And listen to the answers.
4. Use up those twenty seconds of courage! And add a few more seconds if you have to. I guarantee something great will come from it.

Everyday happiness;

Confidence and happiness go pretty hand in hand, I think, and there are a lot of little things I've found that improve my happiness. I don't know if I'm manic depressive, or just a moody young adult, but some days I feel incredibly low and have to work very, very hard to feel happiness. I've talked with a couple of you about this, and I've loved having those conversations! It's very nice to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with these things, and we really have to stick together. A few things I've learned to be happy are as follows:

1. Do things that make you happy. This may seem obvious, but sometimes when I'm feeling low, it takes everything in me to get up and draw or read or write something. But when I finally force myself to do those things, I start to feel better.
2. Go outside. Lay out in the grass. Find shapes in the clouds. Dance in the rain. Enjoy nature and be completely overwhelmed by it.
3. Here are some more steps to happiness, thanks to tumblr. A lot of these are great, small things you can do to simplify your life.

I also recently found this great quote:

"I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is." -- Hugh Mackay

I love that quote so much. When I look back on all the major challenges and low points in my life, even though those times were painful, I'm glad they happened because they really did help me become more whole. And with anything in life, confidence, happiness, anything, it's all a journey and you're never finished improving. You only have one life to live, and there's no use living it in insecurity and unhappiness. I know it's hard and will take a lot of time, but these are all ways that I've made change in myself and I hope it will help you as well!

If you ever need anyone to talk with, I'm always open. You can leave me a comment or email me here.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

my week in instagram #53

Fishing in Prince William Sound.

Beautiful cotton candy clouds.

Cool clouds. // Dinner date with a handsome guy.

What I have to remind myself every day: to calm down.

Other things that occurred this week:

1. I developed an addiction to the mcdonalds monopoly game. Boardwalk you shall be miiiine!
2. Saw Wolverine with crazy people.
3. Watched an entire season of America's Next Top Model in one day.
4. Bought cute presents for people.
5. Started using crest whitening strips and am now documenting the process. I'll post the results on the blog to see if it actually worked!
6. Made new business cards. Can't wait to share another review with you guys! (Also a review on my new portfolio book!)

How was your week? What was the crazies thing you did? I would love to know!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

it's up in the air

it's up in the air


I had this song stuck in my head while I was shooting this photo, which is weird because I have never heard any Lana Del Rey songs other than this one, and the only words I know are the chorus, but anyways, that what was playing over and over again. The background is the reflection of clouds on the back window of a car, and the foreground is an umbrella. I didn't really know what I was going to do for today's photo, but once I saw the clouds in the reflection, I thought it would make a nice backdrop!

This is also the second photo in the collaboration I'm doing with Heather and Kristi! Today's color is blue. I inadvertently was rocking the flickr colors of pink and blue, but I'm fine with that.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend! I for one am very glad it's Saturday, and I shall be the biggest couch potato in the world today (but hopefully I'll get some things on my to-do list.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

film friday: "gold" behind the scenes

+ behind the scenes photos

"Gold" behind the scenes video from Lauren Parker on Vimeo.

For this installment of film friday, I'm showing not only a behind the scenes video for one of my recent photos, but I also have some behind the scenes, before and afters and other fun photos from this shoot to share with you!

For "Gold" I shot in my bathroom, which is really quite nifty when I'm trying to get paint on and off my face (I took a shower immediately after the photo to get the paint off, which is why my hair is wet in that picture). You don't have to have a fancy studio or fancy lighting equipment to produce great images. I've been tempted recently to purchase lighting to practice with, but until I save up money and convince myself the purchase is justified, I'll continue improvise with what I have.

Here was the setup. I had my tripod standing right outside the bathtub facing me (as I was standing in front of the wall). I actually held a reflector in one hand and my remote which triggered the shutter button in the other. The available lighting was my ceiling light, so I used the reflector to bring some brightness into my face.

You can see the difference between using and not using a reflector really well here. For the longest time I didn't own one because I didn't see the point (that is, until I saw with my own eyes what a difference it made when I had to hold one for photos), but manipulating light to your advantage will greatly add to the quality of your photos.

Another thing I do for all of my creative or client photos is that I shoot in RAW. I didn't understand the importance of this until I did a lot of research and messed around with it a lot. Long story short, when you shoot a photo in RAW, you're saving all the information. So when I go to process it, I can change the white balance, color saturation, sharpness, practically anything, and I don't lose any of the photo information. If I shoot in only JPEG, it doesn't save all the information that was there at the time of shooting, only the information I had my settings on. In RAW, it saves all the settings (in a nutshell). This is a good, quick overview of the difference, and this shows you side-by-side photo comparisons.

Here is the example of an outtake between unprocessed RAW, and processed RAW:

Like I said before, for my creative and client shots (or even if I'm going on a trip), I always shoot in RAW because those photos have the potential to be printed or bought by stock agencies, so I need them to have the highest quality as possible. For any photo I put on Introvert's Introduction or the rest of the internet, I shoot in JPEG (or save a copy of a RAW file as a JPEG) because 1. I don't want high resolution images to be floating around for people to steal, and 2. There's really no need to create a photo that requires a lot of flexibility (or takes up a lot of space). When I'm out taking outfit photos, I have the time to make sure everything looks perfect, so I don't need to have the option to change white balance in a RAW format when I go back later to process the photos. I've already taken the time to do it with JPEG. If you have any questions or comments or further insight about this or anything else, please don't hesitate to leave a comment or contact me via email. I'd love to help you in any way I can!

And here is the final image!


I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

christmas in july

shirt: topshop // skirt/shoes: thrifted

I've had my eye on this crop top for months, and figured with the price it was only a dream for me to actually own it. I spent a good few weeks after I found it trying to convince myself that it was worth the price and talking about it constantly (and giving people hints to buy it for me, which obviously didn't work, haha). But then one day my friend Kailey noticed that it went on sale for half off, quickly notified me, and I never moved so fast for my debit card in all my life. And it finally came in the mail! Getting packages is so much fun, it's like receiving a present!

That paragraph totally sounds like I'm a shopaholic, but keep in mind this only the second piece of clothing I've bought myself all summer, and I didn't even have to go real life shopping to do it. Online shopping really is my favorite. You can actually see all the clothes and not miss any options, and then you get to be surprised by the mailman. Of course, if something doesn't fit, you have to go through the hassle of returning it, or, if you're like me, you're too scared to go to the post office alone so you just alter the piece to fit you. (I'm kidding about the post office ... kind of. I'm an adult herp derp.) Online shopping = Christmas every day, if you ask me.

Hope you have a great rest of the week!

the benders of light

the benders of light


My friends Heather and Kristi are starting a photo series surrounding different colors. I had the pleasure of meeting Heather as she lives in the same state as me during college, and Kristi was one of my first flickr friends, so I am so excited we are finally doing this! Today is is yellow and I love seeing how we each interpret the color differently. We each have a unique style, so I'm excited to see what we come up with in the images that follow!

You can see Heather's photo here and Kristi's photo here!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

alaskan adventures // fishing in prince william sound

This past weekend I got to go with my parents, my brother, and my dad's friend (who owned the boat) to go fishing out of Prince William Sound. As someone who doesn't particularly like standing in a river waiting for hours for a fish, but loves spending time on a boat and actually catching fish, I was excited to spend an entire day on the ocean. Don't be fooled by the awesome weather in these photos! Usually it's pretty miserable weather, but I seem to always go on the one sunny day of the year. That's a good curse to have though, so I'm not complaining!

We woke up early and donned our warmest gear (though we shedded all but the minimum as the day progressed), prepared for intrepid winds and harsh seas. The extra water, Dramamine, and camera batteries were packed, and we began our trek in a camo-lined truck pulling a 25 foot boat down the highway.

Upon arriving and stowing our belongings and ourselves onto the boat, my brother William and I immediately fell asleep. Strangely though, it wasn't from taking any medicine to help with motion sickness, it was just because the waves were lulling us to sleep. I was actually surprised that I didn't need to take any drugs, considering driving for any amount of time in Oregon makes me carsick. But turbulent sea waves in Alaska? My tummy was in heaven, apparently.

We sailed out to one of the many lagoons in the area simply to explore, and came upon a school of fish jumping out of the water. So the anchor went down and our fishing poles went up, and we floating on the water's surface while a fresh breeze blew in and the sun shined overhead. It was in that moment I discovered what being an old man feels like, and let me tell you, it is a great feeling.

Over the course of the day, I caught only one fish, a Silver, but it was still quite exciting. My dad thought I had gotten stuck on a rock since I never felt the fish bite and it seems like he was swimming with us, but when we reeled it in, there was a fish on the end of the line! He put up quite a fight, but in the end I won and booped him on the head and soon I shall eat him. And he shall be delicious.

We also caught some shrimp (those were consumed very quickly) and an octopus, although he was returned to the sea. You can see a few more photos plus the fish I caught on instagram under the tag #hardcoreparkours2013 (and other family summer adventures as well).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

wishful thinking

dress: urban outfitters // shirt: mom's closet // tights/belt: forever 21 // cardigan: target

It seems like every possible version of this outfit has been on my body for the past few weeks. I love having opaque tights that let me sit criss-cross even in a dress, because I can never seem to sit like a normal person should. Whether I'm sitting in the office, at school, at home or wherever, I always love sitting criss-cross or with one knee up. Not very appropriate when I'm wearing not so opaque tights! It's usually so cold in the morning that I'm itching to cover up as much as possible (plus I hate being cold and having to get out of bed--that's an awful combination), but then by the time I'm done with work, I'm rushing to the car to take them off because of the heat.

Of course when I took these photos it was overcast, so not only did I need tights, but also a cardigan! Do you know what all these layers are really used for? Protection. They are my armor against the dreaded villain, the mosquito. Ugh, they have been so bad this summer, I can't even stand it. Strangely though, I've hardly been bitten, but maybe that's just because I drench myself in repellant every time I leave the house.

Hope you have a good day! May your weather be warm and your mosquito repellent strong.