Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Website Design Update!

Hours have been wasted on branding and website design. Hours and hours! It's so stressful when you're trying to start your company and you can't figure out what your colours, design, and style should be. It's a major headache. I spent my first year of photography wasting time on all this. For some reason it was my priority (over practicing photography or getting clients) — totally wacky, especially when I re-did everything like every other week! Finally last summer I create a design that I LOVED! Since then I've only made little tweaks & improvements. It's so fun watching it just get better & better and it feels wonderful to be able to feel proud of it — it is, after all, my storefront where I get to show off all my hard work :) So this week, I'm very excited to celebrate my website's facelift! Nothing massive, just a few spicy updates! New photos! New Before & Afters! A newsletter signup for & a menu bar that's a little more stylish! Check it out :D

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Prodigal Wife & The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

So you're not going to believe this but...I can be very moody. I don't roller coaster through moods though. Instead it's more like I float through life on a happy path of puffy joy clouds and every couple months I slip off the edge and land in a moody ditch. I get stuck there for a few hours and it takes a change of weather for me to muster the strength to crawl back up to the happy road. 

Why do I slip into the ditch? Hard to say...fatigue? stubbornness? selfishness? The only person who ever really sees this mood is Miggy — poor fella. The one I love most sees me at my worst; truly unfair, I know. Apparently, this is normal. Everybody does it, but that doesn't mean that I want to be normal. I want to rise above it.

What do my moods look like? No smiles. Monotone voice. Short answers. No eye contact. No positive feedback. Grumbles and complaints might even appear. It's not scary, just ultra depressing for everyone involved. 

How do I climb out of the ditch? Exercise. Hanging out with my girlfriends. Yoga. Going on a walk. Journaling. Reading an inspiration self-help book that encourages me to remove all negativity from my mind. Something that jolts me free, reminds me of how I want to be, reenergises me so I have the strength to overcome the mood.

Last week I was on Skype with Miggy — yes, he's still in Scotland waiting for his green card. I've taken forever to get visa paperwork done. I've been too busy, too tired, too selfish with my time, too worried that when he arrives I will loose my free-time and independence. It's terrible, I know. I really have been feeling soo exhausted and the idea of doing paperwork was so daunting. I felt bad that I didn't have the energy to finish it in one sitting and when people keep asking me why its taking so long I felt guilty. I could have taken a couple days off work to recover energy and then devote another day to paperwork but it just seemed so crazy and "impossible" to take that many days away from running my business (as if the world would fall apart). I have put my own business priorities above my priorities of being Miggy's best friend. :(

My parents inquired about the visa paperwork over Starbucks that morning and then on Skype that afternoon Miggy asked me again and my frustration and guilt kicked me straight into the moody ditch and I stayed there for over an hour. I can't believe he had the patience to stay with me on Skype and try and cheer me up. He asked me to tell him how I was feeling. What he was doing to bother me and how he could make it better. And what did I do? Grumble, shrug, roll the eyes, sigh, hang up. Basically, what a bitch.

So I grabbed the book I'm reading "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari" (you seriously should read this), mushed some bananas, peanut butter & Graham crackers together in a bowl, wrapped myself in my mom's sleeping back and went and sat outside on the wet porch beside Riley the horse (our horse wanders freely around our garden). I read furiously through the pages, spooning the mushy food into my mouth, and occasionally petting Riley's long nose. 

I came across a passage in the book that said our lives are governed by our thoughts. Negative thoughts lead to a negative life. We cannot even have tolerance for one negative thought as it will take root and take over out entire mind and ruin our lives. Instead, whenever we see a negative thought appear in our mind, we need to eliminate it immediately and replace it with a positive thought. 

Talk about a relevant message. I was literally bathing myself in negativity at this point. So I stood up, shook off the mood and logged back onto Skype (hoping Miggy would still be awake and online.) Ring ring. Ring Ring. Hello?

"Hi, Migs. I'm really sorry."

"That's ok, love. I knew you were just in a mood." 

Best husband ever. He'd already forgiven me and welcomed me back with arms wide open. 

Thank you Miggy for being my best friend, even when I suck at being yours. I love you.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Announcing .... thePhotoChicks PODCAST

Coming next weekend to the airwaves — a brand new podcast from the lovely Cheryl Ford & ME!!
Last month I was lying in bed dreaming of marketing ideas and pop bam boozael I decided that a podcast was the next big thang. But girls don't go to the bathroom alone so I called my #1 girl and pitched her the idea. At first... hesitation and then....excitement. Hours of planning & recording later and we're ready to rumble. Episodes 1-5 will be published on iTunes next Saturday. After that, you'll be able to join Cheryl & me every other Saturday for loads of chitter chatter about photography, small creative business & women's lifestyle!

Make Sure to Follow Us on...

Please address all love notes & fanmail to:

Have a fab day!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let's Get Personal :: Emotions are Like Sperm

Chocolate chip muffins and chai tea. Heather was not only feeding me food in her gorgeous beachy themed kitchen, my fabulous neighbor (and more importantly, friend) was unloading mountains of inspirational info — books I HAD TO READ and blogs I HAD TO FOLLOW. She told me about Kris Carr, Danielle LaPorte, and a bunch of other women whose names I can't remember ("Send me a list in an email, Heather." I asked her, since that's the only way I can remember things for other people these days — shameful.) Anyway, inspiration flying at me and then we agreed....

We both love it when people are completely open, vulnerable, and raw. None of this superficial "I'm fine" stuff, or just talking about the facts and figures of life and business. We want to hear about peoples problems, messy feelings, and deepest desires. We admire people most when we hear about their fears and what them overcome them. People who magically have it all together are boring & unrelatable (is that a word?).

I have always loved wearing my heart of my sleeve — being totally open, sharing almost everything with almost anybody. When I don't spill my guts I feel stifled. It's not for everybody perhaps but it's the  only way I want to live. I don't see benefit of hiding anything inside and every time I share freely I'm reminded of how beautiful it is when we, as humans, share life together and support one another by revealing our truest selves. Unsurprisingly...sometimes I may share a little too much ;)

I want to do that more on my blog. From here on out, I'm going to start exposing more of my weaknesses, struggles, fears, desires, failures and all that other stuff that seems so terrible until we get it out in the open and we see it for what it really is. 

Here's a "charming" analogy for you.... These emotions are just like sperm. Inside the body it has incredible potential (for good or evil) but kept inside it can drive a man crazy. Outside of the body, it dies a quick death and becomes harmless OR when shared with another person it has the ability to grow into a little miracle of new life! (Gorgeous little allegory eh?  lol — its the first thing I thought of and I don't have time to sit around all evening and think of an alternative one — I'm open to suggestions :P)  

So that's it. It started with chocolate muffins, moved on to a decision to personalise it up, and finished with a sperm analogy! lol Have a wonderful day! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Glam the Dress :: Behind the Scenes VIDEO

Cheryl & I were sitting in the Barns & Noble Starbucks brainstorming bridal shoot ideas over green tea (and whatever she drinks — I never remember :P). Let's get 3 girls each day and borrow dresses from the wonderful Jen at Blue Sky Bridal and we'll shoot and my house and we'll go all day long and end up with tons of billions of photos to add to our portfolios! Cheryl was after your classic bridal portraits & I was on the hunt for glam-the-dress portraits; aka. glamour portraits but with your wedding dress. Glam the Dress is an awesome alternative to the destructive "Trash the Dress" sessions which are becoming all the rage and make Cheryl, Jen and me very sad :( boo We don't like Trash the Dress - we just don't get it. But we LOVE LOVE LOVE Glam the Dress. We've been going video crazy this year! Here's our first Glam-the-Dress behind the scenes video starring the beautiful and vivacious Rachel! Enjoy ;)

Photography :: Chamonix Thurston-Rattue
Make Up By :: Hanna Mazur 
Behind the Scenes Photography & Video by :: Cheryl Ford 
Model :: Rachel Tuttle
Dress: Blue Sky Bridal 

Friday, February 15, 2013

What Will Be Will Be :: IB Exams Pride & Prejudice Style!

There is a scene in Pride & Prejudice where Elizabeth Bennett is standing on the edge of a cliff in the Peak know the one I'm talking about - she's staring out into the distance, the wind whipping through the fabric of her dress and coat, the music score builds to this mix of serenity and anticipation. Iconic image on the big screen. 

My legs were swung over the side of a big red leather arm chair in my parent's family room. There were only a few weeks left of high school and my final IB exams were approaching — the exams that would determine whether or not I was going to be accepted St. Andrews, to the university of my dreams. The pressure was building and I has this painful English essay to survive through — my interest in studying had evaporated over the previous months and I was running on fumes...fumes of hope and determination. That sick feeling was in my stomach — you know the one where you know you HAVE to do this essay but every ounce of your being doesn't want to, but it doesn't matter how you feel you just HAVE to do it anyway, and you dream about the day when it's finished and all in the past, feeling like it's never going to come? My world was consumed by this stress of HAVING to work, hoping to succeed and fearing what would happen should I fail. 

But as I sat there watching Lizzy on the mountain, the world fell into perspective. This was one of those moments of clarity where you feel like you've step out of the buzzing world around you — you think this must be how it feels to be a monk; uber aware of what really matters and afraid of the impending moment when you'll be sucked back into the normal hustle and bussle. 

In this tranquil minute, my English essay seemed so small and trivial. If I didn't ace the assignment; if I didn't make it into St. Andrews; if I didn't check all the boxes of my perfect plan; life would still go on and it would still be beautiful. The big problems were suddenly dwarfed by the little joys of simply being alive.

Those 30 seconds played over and over again in my mind as I worked through the essay, survived the exam and awaited the results. I went into my exams free of nerves, everyone around me sweating like pigs — I felt like an oasis of acceptance.... "what will be, will be." I'd done the best I could and now it was out of my hands. It was time to sit back, accept the results and enjoy the bigger picture. 

Two months later my phone rang. My history teacher and IB counselor was at the other end of the line. All he said was, "33. Congratulations. Have an amazing time." 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Want to Start Journaling? :: Write One Sentence Per Day!

Once upon a dark night in January, back when I was 12 years old, my family watched Bridget Jones' Diary. My eyes were opened to the cool-ness of writing a journal and that night I started recording my exciting pre-teen life. 

I wrote in my journal virtually every day until I was 20 — mid-way through university. Even though I wasn't writing on paper as often, I was still blogging for the sake of my family (mom & grandma) back home in Seattle. (One day I'd love to print off all my blog posts into a coffee table book! That would be awesome!) Then I graduated and became a photographer and figured I should start a new blog (you're on it right now woohoo!) and for over a year, this was more or less my journal. 

BUT now I'm migrating my most ponderings to paper again — inspired by a conversation with my friend Dana. How fascinating it is to look back at old journal entries and realise how times have changed and how we've overcome issues that used to be our biggest problems. What an amazing tool for tracking your personal growth! I just love it.

Dana and I both have the same problem though....we're rather busy and don't feel we have enough time to sit and journal. So I thought of a handy wee solution....write just one sentence per day. Keep your journal by your bed and before you turn off the light, write down one sentence. You might end up writing more! 

If nothing else, you'll end up with a journal full of sentences that summarise your life — even this as a project in itself would be fascinating. If you had to sum up your day/week/month/year/life in one sentence, what would it be?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Struggling to Speak :: Tongue Tied & Twisted

Lately I've started sucking at speaking. Women speak an average of 12,000 words each day, or something crazy like that) & I must be exceeding my limit because these days I'm tongue-tied,  running out of words & staring all too often at the ceiling, hoping it will magically deliver all the words I'm searching for. I loose my train of thought every few sentences or I watch that train zoom down the tracks at an uncontrollable speed. Maybe soon, I'll have to resort to grunts and nods. 

To be honest, I think my tongue-tied-ness is largely due to fatigue. I've been rather self-abusive for the sake of work over the past couple weeks — too many photo shoots booked, piles of photos-to-be-edited stacking up on my desktop, tea dates, too many computer waves, forgetting to eat my vegetables, avoiding the gym, & late nights watching "Once Upon a Time" (if you aren't watching this show already, you should be because it's da bomb).

I think I'll pack up my girly briefcase now and drive over to grandma's house. She'll feed me some eggs & baked beans while I sit at her dining room table and edit more photos! When I'm sick of Photoshop for the day, we'll watch some Glee (I've got her hooked! haha) and then she'll feed me some more LOL

Have a wonderful day and good luck with this challenging work-life balance business.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Affirmation Jar :: Things You LOVE About YOU!

So I asked your opinion and you loved it....and I've done it! I have an affirmation jar in my studio! It sits on the make-up table and I ask every woman I photograph to write down her favourite feature and drop it in the jar. Watching it filling up is making me so happy. 

I've had to be super disciplined to stop myself from peeking in and seeing what women have written on the paint swatches (yes, I use colourful paint swatches for this project too! I'm addicted to those things). I can't wait until the end of the year when I get to empty it out and celebrate the beautifulness of all the women I've photographed this year! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Creating the Glamour Studio :: Thank You Mom!

"I'll knock down the walls," is what my mom said when I told her Miggy and I were moving to Seattle.  She called in the builders and they plowed down the walls of the children's wing of her house — that included my childhood bedroom, my brother's room & our playroom. She had grand visions of a giant en suite guest room...I had different ideas. I was thinking golden glitter, garment racks of sexy lingerie, giant pictures frames against the walls and giant styrofoam boards standing in the middle of the room. 

She still hates the styrofoam boards, but mom has temporary benched her own dreams of guest bedroom gorgeousness to help me accomplish my dreams. Layers of paint, climbing ladders to screw in chandeliers, hauling furniture around & putting up with construction disorder....all to help create my glamour studio and get me started down this beautiful path. Thank you mom! Every day you re-earn your status as "Employee of the Year" ;)

Walls knocked down.....

Painted White...
 I move in and make a mess!.....
Cement floor stained gold! 
Windows & Doors painted white!
New furniture dragged in! 
Ceiling lights ripped out — crystal chandeliers hung in their place!
 Ta-da! Not 100% finished but getting close!...
It's amazing to have an entire room designated entirely to glamour. Make-up in one corner. Shooting in the other corner. All equipment in one closet. All my sample artwork spread around. The opportunity to have this space, especially when I'm just getting my business off the ground is incredible. Thank you mom & dad!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Glamour Photography is the Experience of Ultimate Femininity

I said "Every woman wants to be beautiful."

Sophie sipped her tea, gave me that look, and said, "Gender is a spectrum. I have some girlfriends who feel very feminine one day and then the next day, they feel more masculine. Yes, they want to be beautiful, but their idea of "beauty" is often different than what is seen in fashion magazines and what you're doing with glamour photography. They don't alway shave their armpits and legs. They would rather wear comfy clothes than heels and corsets. They might consider glamour photography as superficial, objectifying women, and reiterating society's un-natural or unrealistic definitions of beauty. These women wouldn't let a makeup brush near their face. Could/would you still photograph them in your glamour studio?"

A week passed by and I worried about her comment. Not sure what my answer was. Of course I could take a beautiful portrait of this women she described...but would it be a glamour portrait? Does glamour rely on the hair & make-up or is the attitude and connection through the camera enough (thus making the hair & make up superfluous "icing on the cake")

One night after yoga, I went out on a dinner date with Amanda, another lovely friend, and I shared these thoughts with her....

A big smile appeared on her face and she said, "Gender is not black and white. It's a spectrum. Some days a woman might feel kinda girly and others she might feel more like a tomboy. We don't always fit into these perfectly defined gender boxes. There are some days when she doesn't want anything to do with makeup and other days when she wants to feel like a glamour queen bombshell. 

You, as a glamour photographer, are there for her on the days when she wants to celebrate her version of femininity at its positive extreme. Ultimate femininity is the experience you offer. All women are welcome, but not everyone will be interested and that's ok. You aren't trying to cater to or please everyone. You are simply a service provider with a specific clientele: women who feel like being pampered, playing dress up, wrapping themselves in pretty things, and celebrating a day trip to the feminine end of the gender spectrum.

What do you think?