Showing posts with label writings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writings. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

learning to wait while dreaming big

Perhaps it is being rather bored this spring break, or perhaps it is simply that standard time of the week, that I once again feel the need to A. Think of big ideas and plans for the future, and then B. Get incredibly discouraged and depressed about them.

First of all, let's talk about the dreaming big part. I firmly believe that nearly anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it. Most people never reach their full potential and it is only those who drive themselves farther that will fulfill their dreams. (Very, very few people are lucky, but most people work for what they get). During my junior high musician phase, I had a certain lyric I wrote (that I subsequently plastered everywhere) that went: "you can't live in your dreams tomorrow if you don't dream them today." And to an extent I still hold that angsty saying to be true. If you don't have a dream, then it won't come true. In more practical terms, if you don't have a plan to achieve something, then you won't achieve it. So dream the biggest, craziest dream you can, and then go after it. And be okay when the dream changes, or when you discover it wasn't quite what you wanted, because even in my twenty measly years of existence, my dreams have changed and I have to come to terms with that.

While the dream is in place, you must wait. While every other day I freak myself out by thinking, "Oh man, I only have two years left of school, and I have no plan for supporting myself (much less getting that dream job)," I also have to remind myself that, hey, I'm only twenty, hardly anybody has it figured out by now, and most people don't have it figured out when they're thirty (or forty, or fifty), and that's okay. For myself: it is seriously okay that I don't know how to get to where I want to go. It's okay that I am not qualified enough yet or outgoing enough yet or talented enough yet, because the great thing about the word "yet" is that it is conditional, and only I can remove it from the picture. And that takes time.

And it's okay that these things take time. While I'm waiting, it's important to plan, it's important (and okay!) to make mistakes, it's okay to not be proud of what I do, as long as I learn from those mistakes and keep trying. It's okay for the timing not to be right or for people to say "no" or for my knowledge and equipment to be limited. It's okay to not know everything. And it is certainly okay to fake it until I make it. That's all anyone can do anyways.

It's hard waiting for something that largely depends upon what I do with the time that I have. But coming to the realization that waiting is okay and necessary is the first step to achieving dreams.

Friday, February 7, 2014

for study // the process of coming up with ideas

The creative process, or coming up with ideas, is somewhat elusive to a lot of people. Over the years I've been able to figure out how to be able to come up with ideas on a time limit, and come up with several good ones for the same concept. Today I want to share with you my own process for generating ideas, whether that be photo concepts or story ideas or anything else.

Step One: Freak Out

Okay, now that we have freaking out--"Oh crap, I have two photo assignments due in one week plus a fiction writing assignment, what am I going to do?"--out of the way, we can calm down. It's hard to be doing several projects at one time, and the very first step is to freak out so that I can then calm down and focus and get to work. It's also good to write out a list and prioritize each task. Which one is due first, which one will take the most time, etc. are important questions to ask. When you figure out which thing you need to do first, then you're good to go.

Step Two: Brainstorm

A. I gain inspiration from many things. Music is a huge factor, as I often take lyrics and create photos based on them. In 2010 I even did a photo series based on a particular song, which was a huge turning point for my photography. Listen to music, listen to the lyrics, pay attention to how a piece makes you feel, and try to visualize something from the story it tells or how the harmonies affect you. Though it is a cliche, inspiration is literally everywhere. It's all a matter of opening your eyes, trying to look at things from different angles, and thinking to yourself, "How can I turn this situation or this scene into a great photo? A great story?" I like to call this method of being aware of the world "perceptive brainstorming". It's exploiting things already in the world--newspaper clippings, other photos, conversations, words, a mountain scene, anything--and transforming them.

Example one: The idea for this photo came about from the Red String of Fate, which I thought was a very beautiful concept. After I got the initial inspiration, I sketched out ideas, came up with camera angles and props, and went to work!

Example two: While I do sketch out a lot of my ideas, sometimes it's okay to go out without any plan in mind. There was an art installation on the university quad that I knew was too good to pass up, so I made my model interact with it to create this piece. It was in thinking about strings and people's reaction to the piece and how humans are connected that I came up with the title, "Societal Convergence" and I am sure there is a novel hidden in there somewhere.

Example three: This was the final photo in my 2012 365 project. Throughout that year I had been doing a series all about coming out of the fog or funk that I was in and stepping into the light. This was the first photo in that series, and the series was simply putting an image to my feelings towards photography and art.

Example four: This photo was inspired by this song. I wanted to do a photo with a train that would express the feelings I felt from listening to the song.

In taking my Introduction to Graphic Design class last semester, I came away with several other brainstorming methods that I now use in everyday life. These are from the book Graphic Design Solutions by Robin Landa, which is overall a great resource for creatives, even if you aren't interested in Graphic Design.

B. The first tool from the book to generate ideas is "Group Brainstorming", which is pretty self-explainatory. It's the idea that a problem is presented to a group, and when one person thinks up an idea, it triggers more within the group. To apply it specifically to myself, whenever I get a new assignment for my photography class, the first thing I do, even before I do perceptive brainstorming, is present the assignment to my friends. They all have varying degrees of creativity, which allows each of them to contribute something different. For example, my latest assignment was based on the prompt "A strange day, indeed." Super vague, right? This one was a challenge for me since because it was so vague, I couldn't really grab onto anything from the prompt to take it to something different. I thought of doing an alien photo like I did in 2010, but wasn't really keen on doing something like that. Everyone in my apartment wracked our brains for a couple nights, until finally one person thought, "Let's do something like Narnia!" It might have been a joke, but as I looked outside with snow starting to fall on the ground (a very strange thing indeed for this part of Oregon), and saw it swirling around the lamp posts, I knew it would be perfect (that photo will be released in the next couple of weeks!).

C. Another way to generate ideas is "Mind Mapping", which is a way to organize word associations. You draw a circle around a starting word on a sheet of paper, then let similar words branch off of those, until you have a map of many different avenues and streets.

D. A third way is to simply create. The best way to not have writer's block? Write! Sometimes you just have to draw out weird things that make no sense to get ideas. One thing I like to do is scribble on a piece of paper and then try to picture a scene from the nonsense. It's a fun way to come up with ideas.

Here's a quick example of mind mapping and scribbling. For the mind mapping, I came up with a silly portrait idea of someone holding melting ice cream, or an epic scene of someone traveling inside a dark tunnel, or the idea of how a forest fire is started by a single spark. For the scribbling, I saw the face of a cute old mountain man with birds and twigs and things living in his beard. In fact, I think there's a poem about that, which is another great place for inspiration!

Step Three: Be Brave!

Above all else, it's important to be brave when coming up with ideas. Don't let any thought be too out of the ordinary or too extravagant. And then go out and do it! I have so many photos that have never been published online because they didn't quite work out, but that's okay. I can revisit those ideas when I'm more skilled, and I know what I want and what I don't want from a photo. The point is to be brave and try everything.

Here was the complete process I went through to create this photo.

I freaked out a bit, because my birthday was coming up, because I had done birthday portraits for the past few years, and because I didn't have any ideas for this year's photo. Then I calmed down and thought. Last semester I did a research paper on Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar in which I discussed the separative self. I became obsessed with the concept because it had so many different facets to it--being different things for different people, having complex personalities, forgetting who you really are--so after I figured out I wanted to create a photo based upon that, I sketched. The top sketch was my first crude idea of going for a straightforward interpretation of the concept. The second sketch was a bit more detailed. I played around with lines a bit, and I also wrote some text to go along with the piece. The motif of water that I used in the text helped me determine the drips in the photo (which can also represent the disintegration of the internal self). Then I shot the actual photo. Once I finished shooting, I let the idea sit for a few days and then I brought it into photoshop. Here it is good to note that photoshop is another great tool in generating ideas, as oftentimes my initial idea for a photo changes when I bring it up on the program. This is a good example of that. You'll note that in the final photo, only three heads ended up being used. It's important to be okay with the fact that your ideas might change. In fact, it's likely that they will change, whether they be a photo or a story you're writing or anything.

And above all else, use the fear of failure as fuel to push you harder and farther. If you're afraid you're not creative or you don't come up with good ideas, put that thought in a deep, dark cave and burn it. Because generating ideas is nothing more than observing the world and making sense of the things we see. It may take a while, maybe even years to get to a place where idea-generation comes naturally. The fact of the matter is that it is natural, but too many people ignore that ability and become stiff. It takes a bit of time to loosen up the joints, but have patience, be brave, and have fun!

If you want to read a bit more about improving your creativity, be sure to check out this article as well.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

for study // all things grow

(the moment I knew what I wanted to do with my life)

I've actually been writing this post over several months, and requiring it for class only gives me the push to actually finish.

It's so strange and beautiful to me how little, inconsequential things in one's life can build up to giant things; how little actions you took as a child transformed you into the person you are today and prepared you for opportunities and challenges that you could have never dreamed up. For everything that I am passionate about, there was great influence to culture those passions from my childhood--specific, perfectly timed things that are only labeled after looking back.

For photography, I never considered it a possibility for someone to have a job taking photos until I was a junior in high school (about halfway through my first 365 project). I never imagined that the photographic medium would mean so much to me in my "adult" years, and yet I can see so many things leading up to this moment. I can remember spending summers in my grandparents' town when I was in kindergarten and first grade. We would go to the local walmart so I could purchase disposable cameras, and then I would consequently go home with literally hundreds of photos of the alley cats that I sought out. Hundreds. And of course there were the typical junior high dressing room photos and camp photos, and I loved making ridiculous videos with my friends and siblings. It wasn't until January 1st, 2010, that I thought, "I think I'm going to start a 365 project!". It was that insane, impulse decision that changed my life and sparked a passion that I'm seeking to exploit forever. Who knew that the crazy cat photographer would end up being a real photographer? It was because of other photographers who I met in real life after following online for years, the magazine publications, the clients who trusted me to take photos of important events in their lives, and the biggest Triple "S" Award that showed me that maybe I could actually do this. And in this day where everyone is a "photographer", encouragement is absolutely necessary. Photography is for the special few; it is a unique and beautiful opportunity, but it also is a great responsibility to bring along the people who can't be there in person. I want to have that responsibility.

For writing, its always been in my genes. My mother is a freelance writer (and on a separate thought, I recently learned that photography is in my genes as well--my late grandfather was a film photographer), and my little sister is also a writer. It's in our family and was a profession I always dreamed of doing. I've told this story before here, of when I wrote my first "story", but the answer to our assignment is this: I've always wanted to be a writer, and no matter how much I run away from it, it is in my blood. There was the typical elementary school writing assignment, and my teacher was so impressed that she had me read it in front of the class (that is the story I am still dreaming of to this day), then there was a different teacher in seventh grade who encouraged me to submit poetry (and then a short story) to an anthology book, then magazine publications, scholarships for writers conferences and specifically Caleb Breakey, who was one of my mentors and greatly influenced how I write, and the list continues ... Everything is a stepping stone, building up to this moment in life. Everything I've ever done builds up to the moment that I am living in now, and then that moment becomes a stepping stone for the next moment. It goes on and on until my life is complete.

Even with things like graphic design, blogging, and social media that I'm interested in today were stemmed from designing birthday invitations on Microsoft Publisher and creating Neopets layouts with HTML (ten year old Lauren was really popular, let me tell you), and keeping random diaries. Everything I've grown up doing has just been cultivated and honed into what I currently want to do--and what I hope to do in the future.

Recently I had to "defend" my two majors of English and Art in order to get financial aid (it was accepted, just for the record), and every day it seems, there is just one more thing that makes me realize that these two things of Writing and Photography are the two things I'm meant to be doing in life. From teachers and editors and colleagues and publishers and photographers and artists encouraging me, especially in times when I've doubted myself (and trust me, that happens nearly every day), I am reminded that everything in life happens for a reason, and my experiences and struggles and crazy hobbies all have a purpose.

I am so thankful that these things I am interested in are intricately connected. I need writing to portray my photo concepts, discuss methods and give tutorials, let people know about what I'm photographing, email clients, etc.. I need photography to help visualize writing concepts, for cover design, for description. I need blogging for both, to market myself, to show my work, and social media also helps in this way as well.

Okay, well I want to keep talking about this subject of growing passions from childhood, but I'm done talking about myself. I really and truly want to hear about the little things that brought you to this moment in life right now. From you bloggers and fashion people, to the scientists and writers, and everyone in between, let's continue this conversation! I know we've talked about passions before, but now I want to get into everyone's beginnings. Since we are all human and have a story to share--and deserve to have it be shared--let this be the place where it's shared. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

my winter break

with iphone photos

This morning found me waking up in a groggy haze, as I usually do when the buzz of my alarm goes off. Snow was falling as it usually does, and a cat was purring at my feet as he usually does. Only this morning I pulled a suitcase behind me, wore a new hat on my head, and kissed the head of every furry creature and loving human in my house. It always feels weird coming back home, like everything starts up again right where I left off. Who knows if hopping off the plane in Oregon will feel the same way, even though I've done this many times before. I'm always nervous-excited about what the future holds, even the immediate future. Especially the immediate future, when I know that one action will lead to the next one, then the next one, and before I know it my entire life will have passed by.

This upcoming semester I'm taking more classes for my majors, Intermediate Ceramics and Intermediate Photography, Studies in Writing and Writing Fiction, and then a Psalms class and Philosophy of the Arts. I'm also meeting with professors to hopefully audit (or do an independent study of) a Portfolio Development class, which I really hope I'll be able to do. I am always so excited to go back to college, but there is a part of me that will miss the mountains, the fresh salmon, and the ever changing northern lights. So many kids can't wait to get out of Alaska, myself included, but once you get out, there's always something that draws you back, and you begin to wonder why you ever wanted to leave in the first place.

This has been a good break though. I felt comfortable with being alone, kept myself busy at home, and was excited and engaging when I hung out with people. It's been a time to simply relax and renew, to take a deep breath before plunging into another semester and another year. Though I say it all the time, I am very excited to see what this year holds, and where my photography will take me.

For now it is taking me back to my beautiful state of Oregon, with its rolling hills and tall trees and perfect, perfect beaches. I am a hopeless romantic with everything in life, locations probably most of all. I am in love with every tree and mountain and vineyard we drive past, and being reunited with it all is one of the best feelings ever. Stepping onto the airplane in Alaska is sad, because I am leaving part of myself behind. Being in the air is pure bliss, because I find part of myself within the clouds and the unsheltered sunlight. Stepping off of the airplane and taking those first steps in Oregon is like falling in love, because part of myself is there as well, among those pine needles and ocean waves.

Honestly, I fall in love wherever I go. And though I am sad to leave my family and friends and state, I am very happy to be back in Oregon.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

my new years resolutions + general thoughts

+ motivation quotes

Hello 2014, I do hope you are filled with some unbelievable things. I have big plans for you, and though I'm sure there will undoubtedly be a few pit stops and roadblocks, I have a feeling you and I are going to see many beautiful landscapes. So let's get to it, shall we? Here's what I'm hoping we will be able to do, though I am not against going above and beyond. In fact, I encourage it.

1. Build my portfolio
- this will be the year to hone in my craft and build up a killer portfolio. Next year will be the marketing year.

2. Get down to business with keywording stock photos.

3. Get into more freelance graphic design projects.

4. All A's in school.
-this one seems like elementary school Lauren all over again, but it's a measurable way of me wanting to just focus even more on school this upcoming semester. I was very focused last semester, but I know there's room for even more improvement.

5. Draw more.

6. Write something. Anything.

I have a love/hate relationship with the new year, because (and I apologize for how this will sound) I feel as though no other person in the world takes it as seriously as me. Self improvement is so hugely important to me, as is the idea of time. I'm constantly fascinated with how time works, and New Year's is probably the most emotional holiday for me as it symbolizes the passing of time and the chance of becoming a better person. And yet I am just like every person because in a few months we'll stop doing our workouts, stop working hard in school, etc., etc., etc.. And then we'll say, "____ is the year that's going to change!" Enter into a neverending cycle. So who knows if 2014 will be another race around the track. I hope not. I'm not planning on it.

2013 was sort of a break for me, a break to focus on myself as a person, to do a lot of introspection, to figure out what I want to do with my life. And while I am only (almost) twenty, and I know plans change and I will change, I've always known generally what I want to do with my life. Each year builds upon itself in that my generalizations become more specific. Now I know I want to be a photographer. Not just, "Oh I'm gonna be a photographer!" But I really want to focus on the art of it. I want to create art. I'm going to create art. And not just that, but I am going to create art that forces peoples' attention. Because as humans we all have something to say, to help others, to help ourselves, and I need to say a couple of things. (But I should also say that I am still in love with client work and have no intention of not doing it in the future.) 2013 was the blueprint stage. 2014 will be the creating stage. 2015 will be the marketing stage.

(2013 was not a particularly exciting year by way of tangible accomplishments. My two biggest accomplishments were being published in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and receiving the Triple "S" Award, the latter contributing to the "blueprint stage", in that I finally figured out at least the general direction I wanted my photography to go.)

Truly talented people, those iconic sort of people, were the ones who were so obsessed with their craft that they refused to give time to hardly anything else. I think it's been too long of a stretch of me dabbling in a lot of things. Being a "fashion" blogger and being a general lazy person being the two biggest factors.

I have this fear that what I decide to focus my energies on will end up being the wrong thing. My two loves in life are photography and writing, and for the past several years I have focused on the former. And it's terrifying to pursue just one because what if the other was what I was supposed to pursue? Part of me listens to the advice that being a jack of all trades truly does mean being a master of none, but then part of me thinks, who decided that that had to be the case? Why can't I do all the things I'm passionate about? Surely I have these passions for a reason--not to place one at a higher importance than the other, but to exploit every drop of desire I have to pursue them with everything I've got.

This whole "outfit blogging" thing has stretched me thin. I recall one day over lunch, saying to my boyfriend that I didn't want to blog anymore. That idea had been looming in my mind for quite some time, and I was scared to say it out loud because I knew how much I enjoyed it at one point, I knew how much it helped me gain confidence (and a backbone) for myself, and I knew how much I adored (and still adore) the community of it all. It seems as though everyone is a blogger these days, and in doing my own research, it seems a complete luck of the draw that a blogger becomes "successful". I've decided that I'll never be one of those successful fashion blogger types, and that's a perfectly fine thing. It isn't a huge passion of mine, and I'm fine to let it go. However, documentation and community are important to me, so for that reason (along with the whole, I have to market myself and my work and social media and all those lovely spider webs) I'm certainly not going to quit. Just no more silly outfit posts. Unless I'm feeling especially creative with my outfit. I am not going to limit myself by saying I won't do something ever again. I sort of alluded to this change a couple months ago with a blog redesign, and perhaps you've noticed it with the slowing of outfit posts.

Personal style blogging is a wonderful thing and it helped me discover a lot about myself, and now that I've discovered it, there's no need to stay in a place that's now vacant. Take it like a cave explorer. I've found the diamonds, and now there's no use hanging around in an empty cave. It's time to find some more diamonds. One of my favorite blogs, the tone which I hope to emulate in my own blog--in the raw love for life and family--is The Road is Home. It is such a lovely story written by a beautiful woman who I only know through the small glimpses she shares to the world. I don't think I could ever write quite like her, nor do I want to--simply because that would not be fair to her nor would it be genuine to myself--but I just feel the need to tell you about her blog as it is beautiful and everyone needs more beautiful things in their life. I'm sorry this post is so haphazard, but I have been writing it over the course of several days, over the course of several different emotions and states of being (I've been sick so some paragraphs were written while I had drugs in me and while I felt too gross to do anything else), and perhaps this is also just part of my resolution to write something, anything, but I just feel like my fingers have to keep moving, moving, moving, and I haven't written anything in a state-of-consciousness sort of way for a long time and I fear that if I stop now it will never start up again.

That reminds me of the notorious writer's block, a vicious lie that lazy people like to throw about and those less lazy tend to believe. It was several years ago that someone told me that this was just an excuse, and while a lot of the time I haven't been able to overcome it, I do tend to believe it. Similarly to what I said in last year's resolution post, I've been reading a lot about things, the chief being about generating ideas, and while the term "writer's block" doesn't occur in this article, that's exactly what it's talking about. Instead of calling it writer's block, I would like to label it as life block, and let 2014 be the year I overcome it. I want to be more creative and proactive, more self-motivated and self-fulfilled. I want to seek happiness within myself and within creation and within those I love (though I am well aware that those I love will disappoint me), and not within people on a computer screen, be it those who pay attention to me or don't know that I exist or who are better along than me.

I want to overcome this literal writer's block, this photographic writer's block, this self-motivation writer's block, this general need to be accepted and successful by a certain age writer's block. Because seriously, why should I care about how much more successful people my age are than me? They aren't me and they don't know my life. I don't know theirs and in the big scheme of life, the only thing that will matter is how I impacted the world, not how much I worried about impacting it more or less than someone else. It's taking me too long to actively think this way, and I hope to overcome that writer's block as well.

Life is just a strange thing, and even though millions and billions of people have survived it before me, no one still knows what they're doing and no one has experienced life quite like me. We all have our own story to tell. I guess I just want to spend 2014 telling my side of the story, and hoping that it will help someone else tell theirs.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

art retreat 2013

through instagram photos.

This past weekend I got to hang out with 60+ crazy art people along the coast of Oregon. Especially since I've been too busy with school to shoot anything creative, I was extremely excited for the break to produce some new artwork. Despite getting sick with that nasty cold/throat thing that always happens around this time of year, I was still able to hang out on the beach literally from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, shooting concepts, assisting on photoshoots, and hanging out with people. On Sunday we went gallery and antique store hopping, which, even though I was too sick to fully enjoy, was still neat to look at art and dig through piles of antiques to find a couple treasures.

the morning beach // lunch at a local diner

endless photo adventures // antique store treasures // photographing dead things and lighthouses // viewing the coast

My love and connection to the ocean only grows and grows, and my desire to submerge myself into nature and creating and being surrounded by the beauty of the world grows as well. I've been thinking a lot about myself, who I am, and what I want to do with my life. For me and any other creatives out there, the desire to travel and create is very great, and I'm constantly wanting to be rid of extra things that distract me. Of course, actually getting rid of those distractions is a different story, so I'm thankful for weekends such as this one to eliminate anything that would hinder my desires, at least for a little bit of time.

pretty models and photographers // beach bits

But now I'm back in the real world. I skipped classes yesterday because of being sick, so it was a nice way to vacation from my vacation (funny how that works). Some of the images I got I'm really excited about, and I can't wait to work on them and release them when the proper time comes. After going to the beach, I realized how needed it actually was. There's just something about being surrounded by the ocean and creative people that's rejuvenating, and it's also nice to know that I can feel completely comfortable around people that I barely know, and just after a weekend call them my friends.

treasures collected from the trip // one last look at the beach

It is good to be back home though (where there is soup and medicine and a bed with minimal sand in it), and I am so thankful the ocean is close and my beautiful Oregon family is even closer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

thoughts on // friendship

Last night I found myself looking through every single tagged photo of myself on facebook, not because I'm consumed with myself (because as I was forced to remember, my junior high and high school years were not good to me look-wise), but mostly out of a boredom so great, only doing something such as absentmindedly clicking little arrows over pictures would cure. As someone who has had facebook for a long time (since 2007!), many pictures of me have surfaced over the years. As I looked through, I began to notice something, friends coming and going, months without a tagged photo of me, different types of photos appearing, and it really got me thinking about friendships. First of all, I am the type of person who knows a lot of people, but I am very good friends with a select few. I tend to invest deeply in just a handful of people. From being a military kid, I learned fast my relationships had to become deep quickly because I didn't have much time with people. I never lived more than three years in one place until I moved to Oklahoma the second time around. Then I lived there for five years. As one can imagine, I developed deep friendships with a group of people, and then continued that friendship for much of my developmental years (last end of elementary to middle of high school). Because of that, once I moved to Alaska, it was hard for me to make new friends because I was not only tied to people now thousands of miles away, but I had also forgotten how to create a bond between myself and another human. Coupled with that and my introversion and shyness around people I don't know, I've felt basically everything on the friendship scale.

That's a little bit of background on my friend experiences. One thing I have learned through my friendships is this: you have to be willing to invest. That is a given, I hope, but you really have to make a conscious effort. For me, I literally have to think to myself, "I want to be that person's friend, therefore I have to talk with them and hang out with them and potentially feel awkward for a period of time. But I'm willing to do that." For some people, it seems like they just have to blink and everyone in the room is instantly their friend. But sometimes it's hard. Another thing I've learned is that the other person has to be willing to invest. I've had friends who I never fully felt comfortable with, and they weren't willing to compromise for me like I had been for them. If a person is not willing to give the amount of effort that you're giving, then you probably shouldn't be friends with that person. I'll have to warn you though, it will hurt. A lot. A lot a lot. If you're like me, you'll end up crying about this for months and you'll spend entire summers alone wondering why they don't like you and what you could have done differently and what's wrong with you, but trust me, I would much rather go through those feelings than feeling awkward and left out while I'm hanging out with people who should make me feel the opposite.

At the same time though, friendships can't always be skipping through fields of flowers. Like any relationship, they're tough and take a lot of work. You have to keep in contact. My old friends and I used to swear that we would grow old together and be crazy old ladies and be in each other's weddings and be friends forever, but then I didn't keep in contact and they didn't keep in contact, and eventually everything faded away. That is one of the saddest things. I still hurt because I think, "Did they really care about me?" (Of course, that's also me constantly over-analyzing everything.) But sometimes I wonder if they think that of me. I see their updates on facebook, and they are just ghosts of the people I remember, pixels of memories I had from years ago, memories that are a little blurry like a dream. And all I have to hold on to those memories are photos or status updates, but they don't seem real. So I'm begging you, if you have friends that you've lost contact with, please message them, send them an email, text, call, anything. I would give almost anything to be able to create new memories with people who are now confined to my computer screen and the one sided conversation known as the facebook newsfeed. Who knows what could happen? Maybe you guys will end up having wheel chair races at the nursing homes after all!

Now in my life, I'm finally surrounded by a beautiful group of girls, and I'm so excited because I get to live in an apartment with them this fall! College was such a blessing for me. Going into it, I was scared I wouldn't make any friends, because I was still unsure how to create deep relationships quickly and I knew people would try to create their circles within the first few weeks of attending. Living in close quarters with someone helps tremendously (or awfully, depending upon how compatible you are with the other person), because it forces you to get to know each other quickly. If a college environment isn't in your immediate future, I would say being deliberate is the best way to go. Be kind to people. Ask questions. That's one of my tools that I took into college. People love talking about themselves, so if you ask a lot of questions, it gets you out of talking and allows you to learn about the other person. Actually listen to them. In this day and age, too much time is spent thinking of what you're going to say next, ways to not make things awkward, pondering for minutes or hours over texts to decide the best wording. But I try to really stop and listen to what the other person is saying, and if I'm curious about something, I ask. Even if it's a very personal question I ask it anyways, because then a level of trust is established and the friendship can grow from that. And above all else, spend time with someone you can love. I think humans have the capability of loving any human they come in contact with, but there are some people who are more compatible than others. You tend to know soon after a few conversations whether or not a friendship will work. At the same time, let those conversations determine your pursuit, and not things that you've heard or even seen. My friends that I made in college, if I had known them in high school, I would have never been friends with them. Popular, sporty, beautiful, insanely smart and talented people ... I wouldn't have been brave enough to even talk to them because of how different they seem to be. But that's the beautiful thing about humans--despite our differences, we are all pretty similar.

To my old friends, I love you, I miss you, I think about you a lot. I hope one day we can be reunited. To those who decided not to be my friend, I'm trying to forgive you. I hope for nothing but happiness in your life. To my current friends, may our group facebook message never end, and may you all be in my wedding. And may we all have enough money for a friendship reunion every year, because you bring more joy into my life than you will ever know.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

three years ago today

May 21, 2010, my sister and I looking out the window in our cabin onto the ocean during the four day ferry ride.

Three years ago today, my family moved thousands of miles from everything we knew to embark on a new adventure. My father retired from the military and got a new job, and after living in the beautiful state of Oklahoma for five years, we packed our belongings and the six of us jumped in our trusty brown van to drive from Moore, Oklahoma all the way to Alaska. After spending two years in the last frontier previously, my parents were excited to finally go back to cool weather, fishing, friends, and snow. But my life was in Oklahoma, my friends, my church, my school (our class was like one big family). I've been through some tough things physically and experiencially, but moving this time around was by far the hardest thing for me. To go from having friends and a life that you are happy with to a place where no one talks to you and you spend months not hanging out with anyone and being completely alone, it puts a strain on your heart. I still feel the effects from it ... a memory, a song, certain people on facebook, old diary entries, old photographs, even packing to leave college brought me to many tears because I know what putting things in a box really means ... it means leaving all the things and people you love, and it strips you of the person you become until you don't even know who you are anymore.

As I look back on who I was before I moved, who I was for the next two years, and who I am now, I am thankful for how far I've come. Though I would never want to experience it again, I'm glad I moved to Alaska. I fully believe that all things happen for a reason, and even in the darkest times in my life, I see how God was working and helping me through it. If I had never moved to Alaska, I would have never met Matt. I would have never started blogging. I would have never been able to explore the most beautiful place on earth. I would have never ended up at the college that I'm at now. And there's probably many other things I wouldn't have been able to do and become that I won't ever know about. Would I do it again? No. But would I wish it never happened? Never. I am so thankful it occurred, because from it my life is now filled with so much love I can hardly contain it.

Three years ago today, my life was dragged out from under me, and now I never take for granted my home, or my family, or the friends that love me for who I am. I remember everything that happened three years ago today. And it still makes me cry. Sometimes I still miss my friends in Oklahoma. I miss that we never talk anymore. I miss that they moved on and found new friends. Sometimes I hate that things have to change, but it's inevitable, and we just have to accept it and make the most of it. Life goes on and we have to cherish everything we have right now.

"May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand."

Saturday, April 13, 2013

the bench

the bench

A film photo taken and developed by me for my photo class.

Here is the short story I wrote to go along with the photo:

Funny how one object can hold the weight of the entire world—whether that weight be of the world changing or of the world falling apart—in the memory of one’s mind. It was a quiet sunny day, a cold, fall evening, a misting night with the stars beginning to twinkle into existence; it was a million different days and nights for the little wooden bench at the back of the park, with its rusting nails and chipping paint hanging on for dear life and weathering bark showing more of its skin than the paint that was fighting a losing battle.

A quiet, sunny day found the bench gazing upon two people, a man and a woman, walking up to it hand in hand. Her hair was curled and she wore a white dress with lace and flowers, and he wore glasses, a newsboy cap, a button down shirt, and a nervous smile. They sat down on the bench close to each other, the land silent save for the light wisps of wind giving hints about the future. The man stood up suddenly, that wind twirling the tuft of hair underneath his cap flirtatiously. He held onto his girl’s hand and led her a short distance from the bench. He spoke softly. The bench felt the same tickle from the wind and heard a bit of that future insight, and just like it heard, it watched as the man knelt down on one knee and pulled out a small, light pink box from inside his coat pocket. The girl gasped and started crying, but the bench knew from its lifetime of observations that these weren't sad tears. After several moments of the man talking and the girl wiping away tears, they sat again on the happy bench, she resting her head on his shoulder and him resting his head on hers. The three watched as the sun began to set on the gleaming city lights before them.

The sun was beginning to set on a cold, fall evening and the bench saw a girl walking towards it from the right, chatting away loudly on a cell phone in some language the bench didn’t understand. She had a bag over her shoulder and wore high heels and her feet jumped quickly one in front of the other as if in a race to a finish line. The bench felt its wood aching, wanting to let her rest on it. The view of the city was beautiful that day, with hues of red and orange and yellow glittering through the fog, and the bench knew, for it was wise and saw many people, that the girl needed a glimpse of those city lights and needed to be held within their aura. She needed just a moment to be reminded of the ground she came from and of the beauty of that ground. But as it was thinking about this the girl came and went. It saw her shadow leaving and then she was gone and only little stars began to twinkle from her trail.

The stars twinkled into existence as faint clouds cried over a darkening world. An old woman sat crying on the old bench, her tears mingling with raindrops dampening her graying hair. The bench too felt the weight of her sorrow caving in on it, and wished, as it had a million times before to a million different people, it could tell the woman to just look at the beautiful city, with its raindrop races sliding down every window and the stars being spotlights for every person who looked towards the hill where the bench stayed. It longed to pick up its stools and wrap around the woman, shield her from the rain and comfort her. But she just held her face in her hands, never looking at a city that held a lifetime of memories for her. If only she knew how many lifetimes the bench had seen and how life was still beautiful. She didn't notice the rain whispering thoughts of the morning.

No one knew quite like how the bench knew. It knew the city. It knew the people in it. It saw forever stretched out like it did not know time. And it knew that despite the good and the bad that people thought would change their lives forever, those things were only a progression to another day and another night, another year, another lifetime of memories, another lifetime of chances taken and chances missed.

Funny how one object can hold the weight of the entire world—and yet, that weight did not sag its beams. It only left dents and scratches and paint chips and the bench knew that the city would continue, even if it—though it could stretch out the timelines of generations of people it knew—knew it would one day too lose the battle.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

thoughts on: photography as an art // my photographic style: closing the gap

+ photos from 2010-2011: when I was just starting out in photography

I have been writing this post over the course of several weeks, as I keep letting this idea smolder in my mind. This part was written from March:

This is brought to you by: the fact that this is mostly just my word vomit. Thank you, vomit.

day three hundred and fifty seven
day two hundred and eighty five

Viewing photography as an art is something that I've been struggling with recently, brought on by the fact that I realized a couple months ago that I never really considered myself an artist, at least when it came to taking photos. And even more recently, I heard that a photographer who considers that subject their art doesn't say they "take" photos, but rather they make them. And it makes sense. Painters don't take paintings, sculptors don't take sculptures, so photographers don't take photos. I've been trying to say that I make photos in an effort to really see it as an art again.

It's kind of challenging when people say that Art isn't really a "real" major, and it's even harder when people say that photography isn't even a "real" art. Yeah, I've had people tell me that, or that photography is easy, like it's their excuse as to why I'm good, because it's easy and anyone can do that. I mean, a lot of it these days is computer programs. I spend most of my time on photoshop, and probably only one tenth of the time actually taking the picture. But I know that photography doesn't come easy for everyone and there are certainly people who just aren't good at it. I guess the other complex thing about it is that unlike painting or drawing, there's a whole industry around photography. There's commercial, portrait, wedding photographers and while I would consider all of those snapshots, I wouldn't necessarily consider them art.

day three hundred and fifty nine

Perhaps my problem is not in convincing myself that photography is art, but that my creative photography is actually art. But what really constitutes art in the first place? Is it the amount of time spent creating it? Is it the use of the elements and principles? Is it the concept and meaning behind it? While I think these are all true some of the time, I don't think they're true all of the time.

Dare You To Move
The Future Is Bright

And now we come to today:

In doing an art project for class, I've been researching a lot about the great Ansel Adams, who was the most significant landscape photographer in America. The text above shows my previous feelings towards snapshots, but in since hearing what Ansel had to say about them, I've changed my mind. "The snapshot is not as simple a statement as some may believe. It represents something each of us has seen—more as human beings than as photographers … While to many the snapshot is a symbol of thoughtlessness and chance, it is a flash of recognition—something which for many reasons we wish to perpetuate. It may have real human and historic value. The more we look, the more we see, and the more we see, the more we respond. When we begin visualizing our responses to the world in terms of images, we become photographers in the most rewarding sense of the term."

River Flows In You
All Is Brilliant

I'm starting to come to terms with the fact that not every photo has to be some big endeavor in order to be art. Some of my most favorite photos are the ones that are simplistic, yet have something, maybe even one thing, that makes it surreal. My favorite photos are the ones that show the magic in life. I've been pulling a lot of inspiration from my favorite photographer ever, Greg Pths, as well as from Vilde Indrehus, Jack Batchelor, (among others), and artwork that I discover on tumblr. I'm no longer happy with this hyper realistic, expansion, photoshoppy look that a lot of photographers (including myself) have been doing (that's not to say I can't appreciate it, because some of those people are my friends and I admire them deeply), and while a lot of my photography has that style, when looking through my old photos, it does that have spark of what I really want my art to look like.

When I create a beautiful photograph, that makes me incredibly excited and passionate to shoot the next one and then the next one and the next. It's hard to push through when your pictures don't do that for you. I've talked with my photo professor about this too, that the 365 is really exhausting in that you keep having to outdo your previous photo, and when that doesn't happen, you get discouraged and start to feel like you're no good at all. It's a constant battle against yourself to be better and I suppose a lot of my thoughts about this whole photography thing have come from not only battling through myself for three consecutive years now, but also because now I'm no longer doing a project and now I'm just counting the casualties, to keep the metaphor going. Now I can be deliberate with my style and it's freeing and terrifying at the same time.

Basically, I'm deliberately changing my photographic, artistic style. Or, better yet, I am honing in on the glimmers of greatness that have been in my current style for the past three years of me doing photography. Phlearn did an awesome article about changing your photographic style right in the middle of all my struggles, which you should definitely read here. And my friend Sarah also wrote a great post that is similar to this discussion and came at the perfect time as well.

galaxies weave around us

It's scary to change a style, especially when people have become so familiar with my work, and so naturally I'm afraid people won't like the things I will produce in the future. But it all goes back to creating art and me being happy with what I make and being confident that I can call it art. I always always go back to this video, which is so inspiring and exactly how I feel. My work right now isn't up to my ambition. I know there is a spark of something awesome in it, but now I am entering the stage where I am trying to take that spark and light something on fire. The photos in this post are some of the ones from 2010/2011, when I literally just started picking up a camera and feeling really passionate about photography, which I feel have that little spark (and even some stuff from 2012/2013 have that element, but since they are already all on my blog I figured it would just be redundant). I don't know how the next few months will look. I may be taking more photos than ever, or it may be weeks at a time where I don't release anything. We will see. But coming from being afraid that my photography "phase" was over to being really excited to produce new art that I'm proud of, I'm really happy how things are beginning to settle.