Creativity

Do the Doing

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Being a creative person is a life fraught with emotion and wanting. Blessing or a curse? Dreamers, we imagine our lives fulfilled creatively, we see a life that is made up of pieces of a creativity puzzle that we are constantly craving. It’s that voice inside us that is constantly dissatisfied with the place in which we are standing, the lack of colour in our wardrobes, and that gaping hole in our portfolios. If I make this move, I will get this which will lead me to that. And then when I have that, I will be able to do this which will of course make me eternally happy. I will have arrived.

So often we are caught in the hustle, that we trip over our own expectations and find ourselves feeling overwhelmed beyond the point of no return. We are too focused on the end result, rather than the process. And in reality, the journey is actually the part that matters most- it’s where the doing transpires, where the learning takes place and the growing happens. Lately, I’ve been feeling a lot of the negative feelings attached to the seeking and haven’t been focused enough on the doing. It’s a bad place to be because in the end it just makes you feel like crap. What’s the point if you aren’t doing the doing… right? Isn’t that the reason we are here? To create?

In Shoot By Design, I share a lot about the journey and how finding your style comes through the doing. It comes from making mistakes and trying things out. It doesn’t come from looking at other people’s work and hoping that one day your work will magically be as awesome as theirs. It comes from doing the work and understanding that this is a process that takes time to unfold.

Do you get more out of the doing or the end result? I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

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The summer class of Shoot By Design runs from Monday June 4th to Friday July 13th. You can read information about the course here and registrations are open now. Register here.

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Lately on Instagram

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ciabatta bread in my kitchen; Sean looking through vinyl at East St Records in Seattle; Fallen camelia petals in our neighbourhood; Scituate Harbour, Massachusetts; Stranded for 4 hours at Montreal Airport; Flying over Boston; Fallen cherry blossom petals in Vancouver; looking over downtown Vancouver from Kitsilano; Radiohead in Seattle; On my desk.

You can follow my life on Instagram at @mandaroid.

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My Travel Journal

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I have travelled a lot in the last 6 months and I foresee more before the year is out. Travel and shooting has always been my greatest love and as I’ve done my whole life, a big part of travel is documenting my time. From the time I was a wee thing, I have always documented my life, whether it be through photographs, collecting keepsakes from places visited, writing poems and journal entries, buying jewelry or clothing to commemorate a special time, or collecting cards and ticket stubs from concerts; it has always been a great part of how I organise my life. Collecting little memories and wrapping them up in boxes and books- my mother did the same and she passed it onto me.

When I arrived in Morocco, I was horrified to discover that I had left my Moleskine at home, so my journal unfortunately didn’t happen there. I scrounged around for scraps of paper to jot down moments that I could later transfer into a notebook.

On our first day in Paris, I wandered upon the book store, La Hune (a reader shared the name with me) and bought myself a little notebook to write in. The notebook itself has no brand or labeling whatsoever and I wish I’d bought more of them because it’s already full and I adore its soft cover and smooth writing pages.

Never great prose or even anything remotely interesting, the writing is fairly diary-esque as I jot down places visited, places to go back to, songs we listened to, and things we ate. I may note down a funny moment we shared or a travel “catch phrase”. Do you have those? There is always someone we meet or a song we hear that provides a quote worthy expression that is quoted till its death whilst away.

Along with my photographs, having these journals allows me to be transported back to all these special places in a moment…treasured keepsakes that will be with me no matter where I go. Do you do anything similar? Who else shares my love of ephemera and reminiscence?

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Does Your Heart Wander Too?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

You know when you read a book and it speaks to your heart so clearly that you feel as though it was written specifically for you? I felt that whilst reading every word of Pia Jane Bijkerk‘s My Heart Wanders. If you love to travel, to discover, to follow your heart, to make your home beautiful no matter where you are, then this book will speak straight to your soul.

Pia shares her journey from her life in Sydney to experiences living Paris and finding peace on a quaint little houseboat in Amsterdam. Her words are so honest, yet quiet; and falling into her book is like sitting down to afternoon tea with a friend. It spoke so strongly to experiences I myself have faced and lead me on a journey to one I have dreamt about. Her book is filled with beautiful photographs, doodles and notes that are so perfectly Pia. I fell so deeply into her beautiful world and may have even shed a tear of two. Insightful, poetic and charming, My Heart Wanders is a wanderer’s treasure.

I was lucky enough to spend a lovely brunch with the lady herself while I was back home in Australia and she is just as beautiful in person as she is in book form. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, I can’t recommend it enough!

Find information about My Heart Wanders here.

p.s. Happy Australia Day- and yes, I had to share some Aussie love today!

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Blogging For The New Year

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hello everyone,

Let’s kick off the year with some blog talk. I get a lot of emails from people asking me about blogging in general and setting up a photoblog, and a number of the Shoot By Design participants have asked for advice, so I thought I’d share some of my blogging tips and ideas. I don’t have the biggest blog on the block but I have been doing it for many years and am happy to share the things I’ve learned along the way.

Write with passion and about things you care about

If you love to photograph, write about photography. If you love design, write about that. There is no point in starting a blog on a topic that you are not totally in love with. Passion is infectious.

Have a clear purpose for your blog

Blogs that work are ones that clearly define what they are about and are consistent. Wishy washy ideas and topics make for a wishy washy blog.

Style is who you are

Find a look, feel and voice that is yours and yours alone. The way to figure that out is by doing some self discovery and being honest about who you really are. You are probably never going to see a “What I’m wearing” post on this blog. I love clothes and fashion but the idea of me being a fashion model makes me break out in the sweats and it’s just not what my blog is about. I’ll leave the fashion blogs to the people who do it well. Find your thing, and do it as only you can do.

Reply to comments

I think this one is a no-brainer. The people who comment on your blog have taken time out of their own busy schedules to not only read but comment, so it’s common courtesy to reply to them when they leave you comments. Obviously, if you are getting 50 plus comments on every post, that will become too much to reply to every single one. I certainly haven’t replied to every comment ever written here but I try to get to the majority of them. I also make an effort to reply to comments where a specific question has been asked. This is just my personal opinion and many bloggers may disagree but I think it comes down to respect, old school manners, and building a community.

Build a community

Decide whether you want your blog to be a place where you just showcase your work or a place where community exists. For Mocking Bird, I enjoy having a community to build around. I love that I have regular blog readers and commenters and building the community comes through being engaged, through asking genuine questions of your readers and asking them to share. I use twitter and facebook as an extension of that community also.

Make things pretty

White backgrounds, easy to read fonts, music free (lots of people complain about websites that have music playing as it can be intrusive) and a nice header or logo will go a long way in making people want to come back for more. If you have the cash, hire a designer to give your blog a makeover but go to them with a clear vision of what you want. Speaking of which, mine is way overdue for an overhaul.

Use photographs

They will make your blog far more visually appealing.

People scan the internet and big wads of text are going to put people off. Breaking it up with images can help. We are all pushed for time and unless you are an amazing writer, people are going to pick and choose what they read and what they scan. Break up the text with images and you will get more interest.

And if you are sharing your own photography, post images that are at least 500 pixels wide. You want the photographs to be the focus, so show them off as best you can!

Be Yourself

I’m sure you read this everywhere, but it’s such an important part of making your blog stand out in a sea of tumblrs, blogspots and inspiration blogs. Those quirks and personality traits that make you different…use them, don’t shy away from them. Find the Bjork* inside you!

*Bjork is the only Bjork on planet earth and that is why she is so freaking cool.

These are just some of my ideas and you may disagree with them but I’ve found they work for me. Do you have any other tips you’d like to share? What works for you?

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Favourite Christmas Things List

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I could tell you that part of the great Winter Embrace of 2011 is really getting into the spirit of Christmas too but for this merry one, Christmas needs no encouraging. It has always been my favourite time of year and there’s really nothing about it that I don’t love. Christmas in Canada is oh so perfectly Christmassy and the experiences I’ve had have already lived up to so many childhood dreams. Rather than making a Christmas gift list this year, I’m making Christmas experience lists. That’s what it’s all about for me…the anticipation, the decorating, the smells, the moments shared with loved ones. So here’s my Christmas list of merry moments.

Favourite Things to Do at Christmas List

  • Cutting down our own Christmas tree. I’ve done it once and would love to do it again.
  • Wandering the streets with family looking at Christmas lights.
  • Decorating the tree and house till I can decorate no more. Ours is rustic and eclectic with treasures from my childhood and travels.
  • Baking Christmas cookies. I’ve been slack the last few years and have let my sister do it but this year I will bake!
  • Visiting a Christmas tree farm and wandering the rows whilst drinking hot chocolate. I’m yet to do this with hot chocolate. I must remember to visit at night next year.
  • Smelling our tree as I walk in the door.
  • Continue my grandmother’s tradition of lighting the family Christmas pudding with brandy. We’ve done it every year all my life. It’s always a big deal because it often never lights properly on the first go, so we all cheer when it does.
  • Listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album. I heart you Vince Guaraldi.
  • Sending Christmas cards across the seas. I have had these Rifle Design postcards for a couple of years and decided to use them instead of cards this year. They are too cute!
  • Listening to my Mum read The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.
  • Christmas drinks with friends.
  • Watching Christmas movies, even though I’ve seen them all as many times as I have had birthdays.
  • Making our yearly Christmas wish in my mum’s Christmas cake batter. We get to stir three times and make a wish. I never eat the fruit cake, but the smell of it cooking is pure Christmas to me.
  • Attending the German Christmas market in Vancouver- this was a first this year. It was worth going just to see the wooden stalls all decorated with greenery and lights.
  • Wrapping presents whilst listening to carols. I love wrapping gifts as much as I love giving them.
  • Shopping for a new decoration for the tree.
  • Finding a treat at the bottom of my chocolate stocking. Yes, we have separate chocolate stockings.
  • Watching The Year Without a Santa Claus and A Charlie Brown Christmas.
  • Seeing Christmas trees strapped to the roofs of cars.

And that’s just some of the things I love to do at Christmas. How about you?

Come back next week for my Ultimate Christmas Experience Dream List.

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Find The Beauty

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

And a ho! ho! ho! to you…

Here’s something a little different for me. I’ve been teaching my Shoot By Design course participants to step out of their comfort zones and I really should practise what I preach, right? So here I am with some darker images with no natural light in sight. I didn’t completely step away from my usual thing but just took one element that is stylistically me and did the opposite. Do you step out of your photography comfort zone often?

Winter 2011 is the year that I embrace rather than retreat. For the past 2 years I’ve whined and grimaced at the darkness of the winter months here in Canada. I’ve spent every wet and miserable day pining for the light from my homeland and I finally came to the realisation that it was a really stupid choice to make. I can sit and wallow and be depressed for 7 months or I can embrace it and find the beauty in the situation. Being that I grew up in a land where the light was never an issue and sunshine was always around the corner, moving to Vancouver (where it is literally one of the greyest places on earth) took a lot of getting used to. I had no idea how much it would affect me and last year was particularly tough. I knew that I couldn’t let it beat me this year, so I’m trying my hardest to embrace it with open arms and find the beauty.

And it’s amazing…ever since I made the decision to adapt, I’ve actually been enjoying it! I’m seeing the fog and the mist as an atmospheric canvas, I’m taking long walks in the forest, I’m seeing a new beauty in the murky light, I’m delighting in wearing boots and scarves and coats, and I’m carving out a new way to take photographs. I’m even shooting a personal project which kind of has me giddy. More on that one soon.

Embracing, yo! <— Jesse Pinkman has a lot to answer for.

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Why We Take Pictures

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why do we take pictures?

We take photographs to make the old new. We make pictures to create a possibility out of the impossible. Or is that an impossibility out of the possible? To make stars out of lights, bubbles out of shadows and rock stars out of ordinary people.

To climb, to create, to story tell.

To remember.

Why do you take pictures? Let’s make a list together. Tell me.

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