[Photography] How To Encourage Your Gift

A walk around my university campus in Sackville, New Brunswick.

A walk around my former university campus in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Are you stuck in a photography rut?  Do you want to improve your skills but aren’t sure where to start?  This post is for you!  I was recently asked this question by a friend of mine and thought I’d share my thoughts.

Question:

My wife is really good at photography.  I love the pictures she takes.  But she doesn’t seem to pick up her camera for months and I want to inspire her and encourage her gifting.  What did you do to motivate your self?  What things did you do to encourage your gifting?

Answer: 

  • THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO: Keep your camera out of the bag and in an easy to reach place.  You will be much more likely to take pictures if your camera is accessible.
  • Project 365: A project that challenges you to take at least one photo every day for a year.  I completed my first Project 365 in 2014 and it was a very worthwhile and helpful experience.   If that seems like too much you could do a Project 52, which is one photo per week.
  • Daily Photo Challenges: There are many daily challenges that give you a prompt for inspiration.  My favourite one is from Fat Mum Slim.
  • Come up with your own project.  I started The Most Important Thing project a few years ago to develop my portraiture skills.  Take your passion and turn it into a documentary project.
  • Go for a walk every day and bring your camera.  Try to explore as many new streets and places as you can!
  • Keep yourself accountable: share your images on social media and with your friends.  People’s likes and comments always encourage me to keep going!
  • Get a good editing program for your computer like Lightroom or Photoshop(I recommend Lightroom for beginners as it is more user friendly)
  • Do free portrait sessions if you are interested in portrait photography.  There is no better way to get better at portraits than just going and practicing!  I gave so many free sessions when I was starting out and it definitely paid off!  Offer a session for a family, a friend with a newborn, or a couple who just got engaged.
  • Similarly, get involved in an existing project like Help Portrait in which you do a portrait session for someone in need.  I plan to take part in this year’s event which is happening on December 3rd.
  • Hire me!  I am starting a portfolio review service in which I will review twenty of your best images and lovingly critique each one, helping you to know what you should work on and how you can improve.  I am offering this service for $30 CAD right now!  Contact me for more information.

Some other ideas you could try for a week or month:

  • Shoot everything with one lens.  If you only have one lens, consider buying or renting a new lens.
  • Process everything in black and white.
  • Take a picture of a stranger.
  • Shoot everything at the lowest aperture your lens will go.
  • Shoot at night with a tripod and slow shutter speed.
  • Shoot everything that is colourful.
  • Enter Contests – online, magazines, Jones Soda Labels… do a search!
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A couple of years ago my Dad suggested I submit a photo to the Jones Soda company.  I sent in two, and this one was chosen!  I was over the moon!

One of the best things you can do is just bring your camera with you everywhere you go.  I caught the following images because of slugging my camera around.  Yes, it’s heavy and cumbersome, but it’s usually worth it😉

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I didn’t have the best light in my apartment where we used to live so I would bring my children and camera to the park where I had lots of beautiful natural light.

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I love capturing natural scenes like this.  If I have a friend with me I’ll ask them to sit near what I really want to take a picture of and then snap away.  Yep, I’m sneaky like that.

What do you do when you’re stuck in a photography rut?

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[Personal] Rainbow Christianity

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Until this moment, I’ve stayed quiet about this controversial topic.  I feel like it’s been bubbling inside of me for years and years, and in light of recent events, I know it’s time to say something.

I grew up attending the United Church of Canada. Though I don’t recall it being mentioned in a sermon or in Sunday School, I remember that the congregation as a whole did not discriminate against homosexuality.

I have relatives who are gay, and my family has loved, supported and treated them as we do our relatives who are not gay. In fact, my grandfather, a retired minister, has been an influential advocate of rights for people who are LGBTQ, even receiving the Order of Canada award in 2004 for his efforts.

I am so, so glad I was brought up in a church and in a family that treated people equally, regardless of who they love, because that is what laid the foundation for my opinion on this matter.

My first encounter with Christians who strongly opposed homosexuality happened at an InterVarsity Christian retreat during my university years. I must have brought up the topic in conversation with someone and they suggested I talk to a leader about it. I don’t remember the details of the conversation, only that my arguments were considered invalid. Homosexuality was a sin, end of story.  I wasn’t convinced, but I was sad.

In the following years at university, in my time as a missionary, in personal relationships and in various churches I encountered the same views.  I deeply considered what the Bible said about it. It never felt right, and I never adopted the belief of homosexuality as a sin. But I went silent  whenever the topic came up, and hoped the conversation would change quickly. I suppose I was afraid people would think I wasn’t a “good Christian”. I also tend to avoid confrontation, and I don’t enjoy debating with people whose minds are made up.

I love Jesus, I love the Bible, and I do not believe that being LGBTQ is a sin. I have a number of arguments for my belief, (which I would be happy to have a respectful discussion about), but the primary one is that I believe love is good, whether you are a man who loves a woman, a man who loves a man, a woman who loves a man, a woman who loves a woman, or anything in between.

In researching for this blog post I found an amazing article and video that you MUST watch if you are a Christian struggling with what the Bible says about homosexuality.  It might just change your mind.  Here’s the article: God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same Sex-Sex Relationships.

I know I’m not alone. Let’s speak out and hopefully encourage healing for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. If you agree with me, please share this post or write your own message of love and support.  We can use our voices to change the attitudes of others and hopefully shine some light in this troubled world.

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Dear Ones who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans or Queer:

You are amazing.  You are beautiful.  You are wonderful as you are.  You don’t need to change, you only need to be yourself.  Celebrate the things you love and what makes you YOU.  I love you, I accept you, I support you, I cheer you on.  God loves you, He accepts you, supports you, and cheers you on.  Now press play below and rock out to this song.

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I do encourage respectful discussion about this topic.  Hurtful comments will not be approved or allowed on this blog.  Feel free to contact me personally.

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[Personal] Shasta is four and he is hilarious.

Our sweet, silly Shasta is FOUR!  If you have had the pleasure of meeting him, especially in the last year or two, you know how special he is.  He has said a LOT of hilarious, cute, and inappropriate things this past year and to celebrate this wonderful boy I’m sharing a few gems with you.  You’re welcome.

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Shasta Q4

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ShastaQ7

ShastaQ8

ShastaQ9

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Shasta Q11

ShastaQ12

ShastaQ13

ShastaQ17

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ShastaQ15

shastaQ11

ShastaQ16

ShastaQ18

A few more:

S: What’s that mommy?
Me: It’s a tampon.
S: For the mommy boo boo?
Me: Yes.
S: It’s not a cookie?
Me: No, it’s not a cookie.
Thank you mom. You’re so helpful.
Can you be the hurt lady and I’ll be the sad doctor?
Me: I’m sorry for being in a bad mood.  I’m just in a funk and I need to snap out of it.
Shasta: Is it an uptown funk?
I used to play with it a lot when I was a kid. 
I’m not happy because I’m sad. 
This hexagon has a lot of mass. 
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I can hardly wait to hear what he’ll say as a four year old.  Thank you Shasta for helping me to become a better person, for being yourself, and for making me smile every day.  You are a blessing to everyone you meet!
Thank you for my birthday party, Mom!

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[Photography] The 100 Strangers Project: #10 Diane & #11 Breno

Read more about The 100 Strangers Project here.

#10: Diane

This lovely lady is the owner of my favourite consignment shop(Brechó) in Floripa, Brecho de Marte.  It’s on the way to my bus stop, so I pop in there frequently.  Diane is always very friendly and helpful and on this day, which happened to be my birthday, I was in the mood to take a Stranger Portrait, and she cheerfully agreed.

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#11: Breno

I met Breno at the Lagoa Craft Market.  He was selling bracelets, earrings and other jewellery he had made.  Right away I noticed that he was a very sweet, soft spoken man.  He showed me how he made the bracelets, and talked about how much he enjoyed creating things.  Halfway through our interaction I asked, “Qual é teu nome?”(What is your name?)  He looked at me for a moment with bewilderment.  He said, “You took those words right out of my mouth.  I opened my mouth to ask those exact words and you said them.”  We talked about how important it is to be kind to people, even and especially people we don’t know.  Our world is going a bit crazy but many good people exist, and we need to connect with each other.  Breno said some very kind words to me and I felt like we bonded over that short time.  During our conversation I thought, “I want to remember this connection.  I’m going to ask him for a photo.”  I then explained my project and he was very willing to take part.

With Breno I learned something.  While this project is meant to improve my portraiture skills and feel comfortable approaching strangers, it’s about more than that.  It’s about connecting with “strangers,” who really are only strangers until you start having a conversation.  It’s about acknowledging and connecting with other human beings.  It is one of my personal goals to try and acknowledge people more, even if it’s just looking at people in the eye and smiling at people I pass on the street.

Of course, we have to be safe and cautious when we speak to people we don’t know.  But let’s not allow fear to rule.  Let’s connect with our fellow human beings.  You might even meet a gem like Breno.

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See my other strangers here!

 

[Music] Top Canadian Sounds 2016

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Happy belated Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!!!  To celebrate I’m sharing my favourite current Canadian musicians with you.  I am a forever fan of Joni Mitchell, Michael Buble, and the Barenaked Ladies, but these lesser-known artists and groups deserve a listen.

  1. Folk/Bluegrass/Harmonies: The Good Lovelies are one of my all time favourite groups.  I love their use of instruments and harmonies.  Plus they seem like really cool people.  They won a Juno award for Roots and Traditional Album(Group). GoodLovelies.png
  2. Folk/Soothing: Jon Bryant is my friend Candace’s brother in law, which is how I found out about him.  I love his voice, songs and style.    jon-bryant
  3. Folk/Fun: David Myles is a Mount Allison Alumni(so obviously we share a special connection).  His songs are just lovely.   David_Myles_Riley_Smith-MG3-websize-copy-1024x683
  4. Folk/Children’s: Helen Austin/Big Little Lions I mentioned Helen in my post on Children’s Music – she played at a small event on Vancouver Island when Nuni and I were there in 2010.  Then this year I found out she is a JUNO award winner for her Children’s CD, Colour It.  I bought it and the kids and I love it.  She is also in a band called Big Little Lions and they are great too.  bll
  5. Female A Capella: Chic Gamine is a group I heard on an episode of the Vinyl Cafe and immediately I was blown away.  We bought their self-titled album on iTunes and Nuni and I love it. chic gamine
  6. Male A Capella: Cadence – oh how I love thee!!  I saw a show of theirs at university years ago, and absolutely fell in love.  I enjoy everything they create.  They are so fun and talented.cadence
  7. Country: Meaghen Blanchard is a very talented lady I went to university with.  I remember watching her perform at a university event and approaching her afterwards.  I told her if she ever made a CD, I wanted it.  Well, now she’s made three albums and is an accomplished artist.  She’s also won multiple East Coast Music Awards.  Her first album is my favourite, and my favourite songs are “Mothers”, “Mazie”, and “Great Big City”.  meaghen
  8. Jazz/Swing: The Brothers Arntzen is a wonderful duo/group that I saw performing at a swing night in Vancouver in 2013.  They have an amazing sound.  So great to see this kind of music alive and well! bros.jpg

Here is a playlist I made with one or two songs of every artist mentioned!  Enjoy!

Those are my current favs but I am always on the lookout for new ones!  Who are your favourites?

You may also enjoy:

natkingcole     raul midon

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[Photography] Lindsay’s Top Photography Tutorials

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As a self-taught photographer, I am so grateful for the internet!  I have learned so much from different websites and tutorials that other photographers have freely shared.  I’ve put together a list of resources that have been super helpful for me.  I’ve included articles about editing, posing, knowing your camera, and photo storage, among others.  I hope you find them as useful as I have!

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Top Nine Tutorials/Videos(and one of my own at the end)

  1. 51 Ways To Get People To Smile For a Photo from Photography Concentrate
  2. Video: How to take Headshots by Peter Hurley
  3. Yes, You Are Photogenic: How to Look Your Best in Photos by Studio5
  4. Take Great Photos of Your Newborn Baby by It’s Always Autumn
  5. 9 Tips for a Perfect Portrait Background by Envato Tuts
  6. How to Photograph Strangers When We Travel by Matador Network
  7. 4 Tips for Beginner DSLR Users by Shrimp Salad Circus
  8. Which Photo Storage App is Right For You? by CNET
  9. How to Create the Popular Matte Look in Lightroom by Trevor Dayley
  10. Lindsay’s Girl’s Night Workshop: How to Take Better Pictures and Look Good in Pictures by Lindsay Land

Click here or on the image below to watch my free Lightroom Editing Tutorials.

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My favourite photography websites are:

  1. Photography Concentrate: Lauren and Rob Lim are amazing.  They live in Alberta, have two little boys the same ages as mine, and take beautiful pictures.  They have oodles of free resources on their website as well as tutorials to purchase.  They are funny, knowledgable, personal, and I think we would be great friends if we lived in the same neighbourhood.
  2. Click it Up a Notch: A great site especially for parents looking to capture high quality images of their family. Courtney Slaznik does a fabulous job.
  3. I Heart Faces: Another fantastic site with free tutorials and photo challenges, focusing on portrait photography.
  4. Fat Mum Slim: Chantelle has monthly photo challenges that have really helped me to think outside the box and commit to taking photos every day.  She is fun, real and takes great photos with her phone.  I recommend following her on Facebook or Instagram.

You can watch other videos that I have found helpful on My Photography YouTube playlist.

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I also love Pinterest.  If I want to learn about a certain topic or get pose ideas for a photo shoot, I look through my boards of photography inspiration.

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Where do you go to learn about photography or get inspiration?

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I offer consulting services for beginner/intermediate photographers.  Do you have questions about photography?  Want some advice on your portfolio?  Have specific questions about how I work and get my shots?  Let’s talk.  Contact me and we can get started.

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[Personal] Self-Love + Yoga/Meditation Routine

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I have been learning at lot recently on how to love myself.  I wrote another post a couple of years ago about this topic, but I have come so far.  My idea of self-love then was what I now think of as self-acceptance.  Self-acceptance is good, but we can take it further.  We can actually LOVE ourselves, be proud of who we are, and speak to ourselves as if we were our oldest and dearest friend.

But how?  This is not something we typically learn about in school or church, and I never even thought about it until I met someone who oozed gratitude and self-love.  I’d never met someone like that before and I wanted her happiness and shininess for myself!  She, along with other friends and internet articles, taught me to start with my thought life.  Our inner voice is the one we hear constantly, every single day of our lives.  We need to make sure this voice is the most loving, kind and patient voice we hear.  We can and should take control of our inner thoughts/self talk.

These are actual examples of things I used to say to myself.

“Oh, gross, is that how I really look?”

“Sometimes you just suck.”

“Guess we haven’t learned that lesson yet, have we?”

“I’m a horrible mother.”

“I’m not as smart as anyone here.”

“Maybe I should just stop singing/taking pictures, I’m never going to be as good as _____.”

After I started learning about self-love, I realised how these negative thoughts were affecting me.  They were bringing me down, obviously!  Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be like this.  I started being patient with myself when I make mistakes.  Actively praising myself for good things I’ve done.  Speaking to myself like I would to a friend.  Now I try to say things like,

“It’s gonna be okay.”

“It’s okay to make mistakes.”

“You’re doing the best you can.”

“Even if I could have done that better, I love myself.”

“No one is perfect.  You’re doing a great job.”

“I have great ideas!  I love the ideas I come up with!”

“I’m awesome.”

Negative thought patterns can die hard.  I still think negatively towards myself sometimes – but now I notice it, rebuke it, and replace it with a positive thought.  It’s a habit that takes time to change – gotta stay on it.

I started doing yoga with an app and youtube videos these last couple of months and I’ve been loving it.  After a while I came up with a routine where I combine different poses with affirmations and prayers.  I want to share it with you and recommend that you come up with your own poses and affirmations.  If you are not physically able to do yoga(or just would rather not), speak the words out loud to yourself.  It is a wonderful way to start each day.

This is my YOGA/MEDITATION Morning Routine (5-10 minutes)

  1. I start out by doing the first part of a sun salutation.  I raise my arms over my head and back down again, repeating these words: “I am grateful for this day, for the sun, for the light, for my life.  Thank you God for this day, for the sun, for the light, for my life.” I repeat these words over and over, adding whatever else comes to mind, until my armpits feel good and stretched.
  2. Going into the forward fold, I say these words: “I let go of all I cannot control.  I cast my cares upon the Lord for He cares for me.  I let all of my stress and worries go.”  I remember to breathe, and feel the stretch.  I hold this position and repeat these words as long as I feel needed.
  3. Downward dog: “I am strong, powerful and beautiful, inside and out.”  I say these words, out loud, convincingly, and repeat them over and over until I truly believe them.
  4. Lying on my front and pushing up to stretch the back, I smile and say, “I love myself. I love my life.  I love Jesus.”  Repeating these words and holding this pose for as long as needed, adding in other words and prayers that come to mind.
  5. I then go into child’s pose.  I say, “I am a child of God.  Thank you that I am a child of God.  I love my children.  Thank you for my children.  I love my husband.  Thank you for my husband.”
  6. Table pose: “I am doing a good job.  I am doing a good job as a wife, mother and as Lindsay.”
  7. Cat and Cow: I take this time to listen to God and to myself, breathing and being quiet, enjoying the stretch.
  8. From here I work my way back – to child’s pose, then downward dog, forward fold and reaching my arms over my head, saying the same things I said before.
  9. At the end I stretch my arms wide, forming a “t” with my body.  I smile, say anything else that needs to be said, and give myself a big hug, ending with “I love myself!”

There is power in speaking AND in hearing these words.  Make sure to say everything out loud, convincingly!  Smile while you stretch, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

I am on a wonderful journey of self-love.  I think I am an awesome person with great ideas.  I feel confident in who I am and in the decisions I make.  Do you know how amazing that feels?  Pretty darn amazing.  It’s like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders and my happiness level has gone up a notch or two.

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Imagine the world we would have if we all loved ourselves.  When we love ourselves, we are more joyful.  We shine.  We are able to love and forgive others more.  We are confident.  We are healing ourselves.

Give yourself a hug!  You rock!

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If you want to learn more here is a great article: “21 Tips to Release Self-Neglect and Love Yourself in Action”

Do you love yourself?  Do you want to love yourself more?

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