Aug 26, 2013

Kickstart the Year - Start having the year you want right now!

Time Management Ninja +Craig Jarrow
Get a Notebook

There's nothing worse than knowing you wrote that important phone number/ email/ whatever down somewhere but you just can't find it. That frustrating feeling of recalling writing but having NO idea where that miscellaneous piece of paper went. I hate that feeling. I have three places that I keep all my notes. I have a Moleskine journal (I have tons of these on hand for when one gets filled up, I can just grab a fresh one) that lives permanently in my handbag. I also use Evernote. I often say that if I could have a love affair with a piece of software, it'd be with Evernote. Moleskine actually makes a notebook that is compatible with Evernote in very high-tech, fancy ways that I have yet to explore. I hear it's quite fabulous. My favorite thing about Evernote is that it syncs across all my devices. I have it on my phone and it has been wonderful for keeping me organized. 

I also use a steno notebook at my studio. This notebook houses ALL kinds of awesomeness. It's used strictly for work related notes. The Moleskine in my bag is for a wide range of note taking but gets a ton of action just the same.

Ultimately, as much as I love using digital tools for note taking, something about the act of writing on real sheets of paper makes the info & ideas stick in a more retrievable part of my brain. Judging by the massive stack of pretty journals I keep at my bedside table, I'd say that my truest love is beautiful notebooks. Honestly, I dont' know if I'll ever journal in such a quantity as to warrant so many books but that doesn't stop me from buying them. Notebooks, journals, planners, I love them all.

Aug 12, 2013

Kickstart the Year - Start having the year you want right now!

Time Management Ninja +Craig Jarrow

Is your anchor holding you down ?
Oh the things that get in the way of task completion or goal achievement. Most of the time, the delays are legitimate, external and often out of our control - weather, clients, vehicles, cashflow, etc. but the rest of the time, the delays are our own doing - procrastination, avoidance, making excuses, etc. I know I've been guilty of all of those things at one time or another. When I use those methods of self-sabotage, I never feel great. I feel pretty rotten, actually. Like a bit of a loser, if I'm being totally honest. When I employ the discipline necessary to focus, channel my best mojo and crank out work I'm proud of in a timeline I am also happy with, then all is right with the world.

I can usually work around the things that are beyond my control but I allow myself to be at the mercy of my fictional limitations and create behaviors to support those limitations. The complaint of "not enough time" is often reinforced by screwing around and wasting time rather than knuckling down and getting shizz done. The illusion of "I don't know how" is effortless perpetuated by NOT gathering the info that supports knowing how or figuring it out. I am really good at making excuses. I can always talk a good game. I'm a master bullsh***er. Honestly. I do it to myself ALL the time. This might be a great time to stop doing that. Or at least do less of it. Get real, quit screwing around, do my best work all the time and be free of limiting beliefs because they are, after all, total fiction.

Facebook & email are my biggest procrastination tools. Starting August 1, 2013 I will be on a FB/email diet. I will be researching software and other tools to facilitate this self-imposed intervention. I'm equally excited and dreading the diet. I will share my thoughts on the experience. Stay tuned.

Aug 5, 2013

What's in the Bag - Volume 8

I own two speedlights – Nikon SB900 and SB910.

 The only difference is that the 910 is newer. They put out a TON of juice and after a recent workshop, I've begun a serious love affair with these bad boys. I can rock some super fun lighting setups, which I love because it gives me more creative control in an outdoor or indoor environment where it's quite possible (or kinda guaranteed) that the existing lighting may need a bit of help.

I also love how small & portable these lights are compared to my studio strobes. Now, granted, my preference is to shoot in my studio but I have been incorporating these little powerhouses into a few more of my studio shoots even when I'm using my strobes as primary light sources. The most important thing I can say about speedlights is to get them OFF your camera. On-board flash is never flattering but taking it to either camera right or left and placing it at a 45 degree angle to the subject, NOW we're making some magic! I also use a Lastolite portable softbox with these flashes. It replicates the soft light effect that I love in the studio and I gotta say, being able to bring these effects to location shoots is preety fabulous!

I also purchased Rogue Gels for my flashes. They are extremely cool and fun to play with. I have not spent a huge amount of time getting a feel for all the incredible effects achieved by these gels but just knowing that I can alter the color of the flashes makes me all creative and jiggity!!

Have you ever played with modifying the color of the light you're shooting? If so, how did you change the light color/temperature and what did you think of the results?

Jul 29, 2013

Kickstart The Year - Start having the year you want right now!

Time Management Ninja +Craig Jarrow

This program - Kickstart The Year - has helped me to whip myself into shape. This next exercise in particular has precipitated a HUGE change - info to follow.

I worked on this chapter and was astounded by the amount of time in a day that I was giving to either email or Facebook. Stupid Facebook! I now have taken steps to quit handing over my time, my focus and ultimately my productivity ( $$ MONEY $$) to Facebook & Email.

The challenge in this exercise is to check email (when I say "email" throughout this entry, I'll be including Facebook in there) only three times.  Also, turn the email OFF on my cell phone. Then, turn OFF the notifications for email/FB. This was terrifying at first!! The urge to peek is massive. I feel a bit like a junkie!

I actually uninstalled my email app on my phone weeks ago. But for an upcoming personal project A RADICAL SABBATICAL -  THE DIGITAL DIET, I'll be uninstalling Facebook on my phone and installing FB Blocker software on my lap top and work computers for thirty days. I am slightly panicked about being so out of touch for so long but I am doing this as a gift to myself & my family. I can't even tell you the amount of time I spend checking my personal FB, my fan page, my gmail, my work email, the farm email... it's really kind of ridiculous! I will still check email twice a day on the days I'm in the studio only but that's it. Also, I'm imposing this diet on the rest of the family. We will all be putting our electronics (personal gaming systems, cell phones, iPods, etc) under lock & key. They will be released only for legitimate reasons. We currently do not have cable TV and that has been such a blessing. I can't wait to see how this digital diet affects us.

So starting August 1, the best way to reach me is the old fashioned way. On the phone. Facebook will be blocked and my cell phone will have no social media capability. Am I worried? Maybe a little. We have lots of social stuff going on that month  but I am confident that we will manage despite being mostly unplugged.

I want to know, could you do it? Are you willing to go on a RADICAL SABBATICAL - DIGITAL DIET along with me and my family? There's nothing to be scared of, except that maybe you'll like it!!

**disclaimer - I will continue to blog throughout this time and possibly have the occasional Tweet go out but those are all either automated or scheduled. I will NOT be interacting in those media. Wish me luck!!

Jul 17, 2013

Enchanting The Lens

Nikon D800 70mm ISO 100 F10 1/160sec

It is always such an honor to work with families who are expecting the arrival of a baby. So much expectation and hope is wrapped up in pregnancy and I do love spending a few hours getting to know the parents and siblings - to freeze this magical time forever. Creating images that convey the connection between parents & their unborn babe is so special and I end each session with a full, happy heart.

First time parents are especially fun to work with. They're excited, eager and mildly terrified. They are close to the date that they get to meet their beautiful offspring and when the stars align just "so", I get to meet that wee one and photograph them shortly after a shoot just like this. Maternity shoots are overflowing with love and that is second only to the intense affection that is evident in a newborn session.

I had a maternity shoot when I was pregnant with my oldest son. I wasn't able to find a photographer that I wanted to work with while pregnant with our youngest but those memories & images remind me of a pretty huge time in my life. A special change in priorities and a wonderful shift in how I lived my life. Beautiful reminders.

Nikon D800 60mm ISO100 F10 1/160sec

Jul 15, 2013

Kickstart The Year - Start having the year you want right now!

As part of an ongoing process of increasing my efficiency in home & work related tasks as well as overall personal development, I will be sharing entries that relate to a huge variety of workbooks I purchased at the end of last year called Kickstart The Year. My hope is that these posts will help me overhaul my sense of satisfaction in more areas of my life.
Time Management Ninja - +Craig Jarrow
This has been a slow but brutally effective series of improvements that I've been applying to my work & life. This chapter is bound to be more of the same. Bring it on!!
Chapter 15- Find a place for your stuff    
I am a HUGE fan of systems and putting things in the same place after each use. But it wasn't always this way. This love of repetition & order was borne of necessity. I hate not being able to find my things. I hate the panic of tearing the house apart in search of something that was JUST RIGHT HERE! In my adulthood, I've cultivated a series of steps to help eliminate forgetfulness and irritating time wasters like lost keys & sunglasses. This is an area where I excel. My husband, however has a lot of work to do in this department. Do I make the system for him and hope to hell he uses it or do we create a system together (and I still hope to hell he uses it?!). For now, this challenge applies to me. I will identify three commonly misplaced things and assign new homes to them. My intention is to eliminate future searches for these things due to their not having a proper, permanent home.

Item 1 :: My point & shoot camera
New Home :: This item will be stored on the bottom shelf of my bedside table. This is the place I store my spare journals & knitting tools. Nobody messes with that stuff. My camera should be rather safe here.

Item 2 :: my ipod/laptop headphones
New Home :: These items will be stored in my jewelry box. I don't use the box often but it is on my bedside table (see reasons above) I will always be able to find my headphones if they are returned to this location after every use.

Item 3 :: my lapdesk
New Home :: I use my lapdesk for most of my longer writing excursions. I will keep it under my side of the bed so that it is always available to me whenever I am sitting down to write. This has been the unofficial home for the lapdesk for the duration of the summer. Now it's official.

While I currently try to maximize this principle with other items, I'm certain that applying it to these few items will help me when sitting down to use these things. I will continue to apply it to other items as well. It works so well the rest of the time, why stop now?!

Jul 8, 2013

What's in the Bag - Volume 7

The original lens in my bag is an ancient Nikkor 70-210 5.6mm that I came to own around the same time I bought my first DSLR. It had a noisy motor but took incredible images at a massive focal range. This lens is a bit more of an investment. She retails on Amazon for more than $2500 but it is so versatile (especially if you are a wedding photographer!). 

I recently took this bad boy out on a trip with me to photograph the Yukon River Quest – the longest paddling race in the world (740kms!) .I was able to create some great images of the racers leaving the start line and of the very last paddler as he carefully made his way to the finish line. All amazing moments made possible by this seriously badass lens. 

Do you use this lens? I find it super heavy but it does take incredible images!! I want to hear from those of you who use it and what you think of it.