Thursday, April 30, 2015

How To Be A Photog & Still Have Friends

Ask anyone who has spent time with me since high school: I have had a camera on my person constantly for over 15 years now. It is beyond rare that I am without one. Yes, I use my cell phone for pics- mainly for Instagram- but I almost always have either my point & shoot (perfect for skiing, tiny handbags, etc.) or my DSLR in addition to that and it’s where I prefer to take most of my photos. Capturing images of everything I do isn’t something that has sprung on me since the social media craze sprang into action: I have always done it. Always will do it. And find it gives me great joy. Pictures are, by far, my hugest passion and hobby

What has changed since social media is the fact that you can easily share all the pictures you take now (yay!) but alongside that, there’s also a larger audience- which can be a bummer for some.

Like I said, I have been snapping away on a real camera forever but there has definitely been a level of growth in how I have gone about not only the images I take but also how I present them online. As someone who loves capturing moments but who doesn’t want to make anyone feel bad - here’s a few tips I’ve learned along the way (Spoiler alert: They’re common sense. But I find that they have great value):


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The Cardinal Rule: Do not post pictures that are obviously super unflattering.
^Why would I ever upload unflattering pics of others when I have gorgeous ones like these- of my friend Shanin- to upload instead?

Everyone is obviously going to have those times when a picture is just a big fat bummer of themselves. Trust me when I tell you that that person would much rather never see that picture online rather than have you post it because it’s “still a good one of us on our trip”. No. They don’t want it online. Period. Even if there’s a huge cactus behind them with a lightning bolt in the background. Or they’re with an elephant whose trunk is caressing their face. They don’t want that online. Period. Try to look at each image you upload with that mindset: Would this person like this photo? Would they be grossly upset by it? If the answer is yes, don’t post it of them. Don’t. With every album I post, I 100% swear to you that I have gone through each image one by one to ensure that there’s not one that would give someone that pit in their stomach when they realize that everyone has access to a picture that makes them want to curl up into the fetal position.

Modify Images As Needed
^An image from my rehearsal dinner, Sept. 2014. I had a line of bridesmaids behind me but they were all laughing so hard that they looked a little delightfully crazed. I figured they'd be happier this way.

Say you have a large group photo of all your friends, smiling and looking happy as can be at a baby shower. But over there in the corner is Jane Doe swatting away a bee with an abhorrent look on her face. Oh, man. Jane looks weird but it’s such a good memory - to post or not to post, that is the question. The answer? Crop Jane out. In my opinion, it’s not rude. I have noticed that most would consider it ruder to include Jane so she doesn’t feel left out rather than remove her from an image where she would obviously be embarrassed by her expression. Additionally, learning how to use a blemish remover tool will go a long way.

Know the difference in fun party pictures and bad party pictures.
^Of course you can upload Vegas pics. Just be selective!
You and your group trying out a new brewery? Great picture!
Cheersing before you hit the town? Perfect!
Erica passed out at 2 AM after a night of bar hopping? No.
Googly-Eyed images of your friends eating Taco Bell on the couch in their pajamas? Have you learned nothing from this post…

I used to be a horrible offender of this during my college years. I would snap, snap, snap at anything and then post away the next day because “ZOMG!!!! CHEERS TO COLLEGE. WE’RE HAVING SO MUCH FUN.” Needless to say those images have all been blocked and locked down now (In my partial defense- at that time FB was limited to ONLY other college students). Because that’s really unfair to do to others let alone yourself. There’s a fine line in party pictures but if you think hard about it, it’s not that difficult to see. Is this a picture of your friends celebrating, enjoying time together and smiling a plenty with clear eyes and drinks in their hands? I’m sure it’s okay. Or are they all cross-eyed taking shots in a dark bar with neon lighting in the peripheral? Might want to rethink that.

 Note the context of the photo and the person

^Vacation pictures = good.

I think there's a big difference between a photo of someone dancing it up, sweaty and happy at a wedding rather than a hot mess on a nameless Saturday night at the pub down the street. One is a bit more socially acceptable than the other in terms of if your friends will be upset that you posted it or not. Also, some people might love a picture of them being wild while others would be humiliated. Take that all into account.

When in doubt- email that great, unflattering photo.
^Cool view, weird face = a good candidate for the email photo.

Under the first rule I posted, I believe you shouldn’t post an unflattering picture of someone even if there’s other cool elements to it. However, that doesn’t mean the person might not appreciate the humor of their Kim Kardashian ugly-cry face when they’re hiking a cool trail. Just email it to them. They might laugh about it when they receive it that way. But when it’s dispersed to 1,500 others as well, I doubt they’ll get the joke more than they get that you just put them on blast.

And finally, always be willing to take down a photo without getting mad.
^Our family dog, Maddie, looks incredibly cute here. But who knows what she would say if she were a human. Maybe she'd think she looks like a dope despite that adorable smile. Allow people the right to remove.

Even though I try really hard to only post pictures I think others would be okay with, I sometimes don’t get it right. Where one person looks really pretty to me might be the shot where they think they look super weird. I may not see it … but … I’ll always remove an image upon request if someone is uncomfortable with it. Always. And I’ve told my friends that countless times over.

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At the end of the day, if your friends/family trust your discretion in the photos you take and what would make the ‘final cut’ of going online: You will be able to take more photos without everyone’s complaints. I find that for me, it not only allows me the freedom to continue my favorite hobby but it ensures that I’m not hurting the feelings of everyone I know. Besides, if they trust that you won’t put certain pictures online- you will have a large portfolio of private images to laugh over as you get older. Ones they would be mad if they even see a flash go off during the event if they didn’t TRUST YOU to not post it. 

I was in Las Vegas for my bachelorette party and while there, we captured the good, the bad & the ugly. The good made it online. The bad & the ugly are just for posterity amongst the group. Another example: I took about 500 pictures the day my sister gave birth. However, I only showed a small amount of them and they were the ones that I knew she would be okay with. Most were far too intimate and I’m grateful that I had her faith in me to know the difference and snap away that day without her worrying I would post something inappropriate.

Any other tips or thoughts?

^Camera at my side always.
I’m always down to improve even further on this. Mainly because my camera and I aren’t going anywhere anytime soon ... which is exactly the hope I have for all my friendships.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Stepping, Sipping & Savoring

I could go on 500 walks an hour and it would never be enough. In fact, walking & eating is one of my very favorite ways to explore a new city. Walk around, take a million photos, stop to eat & drink, repeat. repeat. repeat. repeat. Not only are you immersing yourself in the unfamiliar but you are savoring it with every inch of your dang fine senses. And all the walking helps to cancel out all the eating. Not that I care too much about eating at a time like that. I'm on vacation in this scenario for goodness sake!
(^ Beauty on Mississippi Ave. 4/25/15)

Of course, I wasn't in a new city last weekend but I was on a street I don't go to toooooo much. It's across the river, tucked-in stealthily behind a big commercial hospital but it holds a very Portland, very independent vibe of its own if you are lucky enough to stumble upon it.

Jay and I scooped Chandler up early Saturday afternoon and took our time meandering the shops and food carts that we passed. I messed around with my camera, Jay read menus posted on the outside of restaurants (Respectively, two of our favorite things to do) and I, of course, enjoyed the simplicity with some of my favorite beings.

At the end of our trek, we parked our derrieres at Ecliptic Brewery. He got an IPA. I felt like a traitor to breweries and ordered rosé. I just wasn't feeling the beer, What can I say? Sorry brew Gods. Next time. Next time.

It was, for all intents and purposes, an utterly delightful way to spend a Saturday afternoon and soak in the one free day we working folk get that isn't marred by having to go to bed early or wake up early (can you hear me silently weeping?).

It certainly wasn't a new city and we didn't have that coveted "drunk with joy" vacation mindset. But I find that if you walk slow enough and take the time to make a street your muse- it can feel like a brand new treat in an otherwise familiar space.

**I'm not sure why some of these photos turned neon once in this post. Whhhhy?**

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Right To Select Your Outfit

I remember what it felt like taking my baseball mitt off. I remember the clicking of my cleats. I remember the argument with my parents. I remember the smell of the car. I remember opening the bag to see the weird outfit picked out for me. I remember everything about that night when I went from playing sports outside and straight to the Christmas party thereafter because I was so unbelievably uncomfortable.

The shorthand story is like this: I had just finished a rec softball game on a December night with my high school friends. It had been a long day of running, throwing, sliding, mud, repeating. By the time my parents came to pick me up, I was head to toe covered in earth. The soggy pacific northwest was evident from my muddy cleats up to my wet ears. I was a mess.

The plan after this game was to head straight to a family friend’s Christmas party. Underestimating the amount of dirty I would be, we all assumed that I could quickly change in the car on the ride over and mesh right into the merry fun with the family at the party. However, I was far dirtier than people had anticipated and on top of that, the outfit that was brought to me by my family was not the one I had laid out on my bed for them to grab. It was wrong, all wrong: A loose flannel shirt that didn’t fit me. Corduroy pants that I hadn’t worn in a couple years. And doc marten boots that were no friend to the end of the hems. The entire look was wrong and was a big, masculine mess to me.

“Why did you bring me this?? This is not what I laid out!” I shouted from the back seat of the car as I begrudgingly started swapping out my outfits. “I’m not going to this Christmas party!! I don’t want to wear this!!!”

“You’re going. I’m sorry this is not the outfit you had in mind but we are going to the party, so change,” was the official party response from the front seat. 

As I put this outfit on and felt every ill-fitting pant leg and every butchy aspect of doc marten boots with a flannel shirt, I remember exactly how I felt: Humiliated.
^The right to smile this big about who you are.
We went to the Christmas party and I stayed near my sister, hiding in the corner and finding things to laugh about with her among the crab cakes and holiday spirit. Every time someone came over to say hi to us, I winced knowing I was emerging in this weird, masculine outfit my dad had somehow picked out for me. I remember feeling completely out of place and uncomfortable in my own skin.

That was one night: A fleeting few hours in one evening. Nothing important to anyone. And yet I remember every detail of that party based on how badly I felt with what the world was seeing of me.  What I was wearing was wrong. It was a boy’s outfit. And I felt uncomfortable being me. I just wanted to stay in the corner with my sister and not be seen.

That tiny story, that unbelievably unremarkable event that is long lost into the folds of anyone’s memory is the closest thing I have to understanding how someone like Bruce Jenner feels when they feel that their outward depiction doesn't align with who they are. Clearly, I have no idea how that feels beyond my one example of a time when I felt embarrassed with how I looked: Because I had to wear an outfit for a few hours one night, long ago. That’s all I got. And that isn’t much.

But it does give me something to go off of in terms of how bizarre that must feel. How much I’m sure this feeling affects every ounce of their happiness.  How those who feel this way likely spend a lot of time in the corner of parties, hoping no one comes to see what they’re showing off. Because it’s not anything they want to show off. It’s wrong. The entire thing is wrong.

I feel that if there’s arguably any purpose to life, it’s the right to be happy. The right to be who you want to be. The right to feel happiness in every fabric of your being. I have little patience for people who stifle others' ability to do that with their own set of guidelines on how life should be lived. Everyone has their own journey, their own personal manifest and every single person has the right to be happy with what they show the world. They have the right to love who they want. Live how they want. Make their own choices. To me, that is the purpose of life- being happy with yourself. No matter the cost or criticism.

I watched Bruce Jenner on Friday night with my girlfriends over wine & appetizers and I was overwhelmed with his story. Through discussions and some tear dabbing, I realized that this sweet person had been wrapped up in an ‘outfit’ he hated for far too long. How happy I am that he is getting to change the clothes in the bag. For once, he’s getting to pick out his outfit. And head to the Christmas party like himself. And not hide in the corner with his sister in the familiar. He’s allowed to circle the room and engage people. And introduce himself as who he feels like he has always been. I’m so unbelievably happy that his story is now changing. He’s opening the bag of clothes in the back of that car and seeing that he gets to put on exactly what he had laid out for himself.

And that makes me overwhelmingly happy. For him. For anyone. For you. For me

Thank you, Bruce for sharing.

Live and let live.
Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

*Per his direction in the interview, I am using male pronouns.
Friday, April 24, 2015

Little Things Lately ...

Wearing//A white tank-top and sailor pajama bottoms [As I type this].

Watching// 'Game of Thrones' and in total fear that the few remaining characters I love will be murdered soon as George RR Martin is the greatest serial killer in literary history.

Excited to// Move this summer. Not sure where we will be living but all I know is that it won't be in our current building. It's been good to us, but it's time to graduate from this square footage.

Feeling// Grateful for the dentist.  I broke.my.tooth last Saturday during a running fall and stayed inside like a leper for the rest of the weekend. Climbing into the dentist's chair on Monday, watching 'Frozen' and emerging 45 min. later all fixed-up was nothing short of a modern-day miracle. So grateful it's not 1874 and a broken tooth wasn't just my lot in life from that point on.

Listening to// "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding. I just love that song. And I also love listening to certain songs on repeat for hours much to most everyone I knows dismay.
Wanting// Black hair. Knowing I'm not going to highlight my hair this summer, I'm thinking the big jump will be the dark brown I am to a dark black next hair appointment. Basically, I just don't ever like natural looking hair color on myself. So goes the plight of the dirty-dishwater hair girl.

Reading// The novel "A Dog's Purpose" by W. Bruce Cameron and falling in love with every page.

Enjoying// Memories of my wedding. Starting the process of organizing photos and oh boy are they fun to view.

Drinking// Canned Club Soda like it's my job. My gosh that stuff is good. I could chug it all day long.

Smelling// Every possible flower in existence. Spring is blossoming all up in this city.

Anticipating// Watching Bruce Jenner tonight. I honestly can't wait. I've been dying to hear his side of it for so long. And I really like and respect him so I just hope he's happy. I'm sure he's looking forward to taking back his narrative after years of speculation and perhaps this will all seem less shocking once we hear it from him. We'll see!

What's up with you today?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

God Loves A Terrier

Let's talk about Chandler. I know I rarreeelyyy mention him here but I figured okay, okay, okay - I'll talk about him on the blog for once. Ha! But really, I have been meaning to get to a few items surrounding that furball for awhile now. As I discussed here, we got Chandler from the Humane Society and had no idea what type of dog he would end up being. Everyone agreed that he probably had some Lab in him but that was as far as anyone could go with it. 
As Chandler grew, there was a point when his paws were far bigger than the rest of him so the guess became that he was going to be huge (thankfully he's not only bc we idiotically ignored that and still let him sleep on our bed, imagine if he had been a large dog?). But most notably as he aged was the appearance of rough, wiry hair all over the place. And alongside that, a certain insane disposition for energy: Yipping at everything. Jumping higher than our heads. Turbo-charged on the field like no dog I had ever seen. Agility at the park (casually leaping over fences and once- a golden retriever!). He was like a little bullet.

Bullet + Wiry hair = a solid guess that this was in fact a terrier we were dealing with. I haven't ever specifically worked with terriers so I was (and still partially am) a bit ill-equipped to deal with all the energy that entails at times. They like to whiz, leap, bound, yip and jump to a level of enthusiasm I have never seen (and I grew up with herding mixes which I always thought were as energetic as it got). It's crazy!

Showing how much he knows me, for Christmas Jay gave me a doggy DNA test. And while I hope the practice of receiving DNA tests from Jay doesn't carry into the future (...), I was estatic to get this one and finally find out what made up my beloved companion.

We swabbed his cheek and sent-off his sample with our guesses and I am very proud to say that after researching terriers, looking at his characteristics and noting his behavior - my final guess was the correct one.

Chandler is a Lab/Jack Russell Terrier mix.

It explains the wiry hair, the insane jumping ability, the energeticness, the independence. It explains it all. The DNA indicates much more Lab than JRT however, he wholly has the spirit of one.

A couple weeks ago, we decided it was time to give Chandler his summer cut. We thought he might like a break from the long hair with the approaching heat and we were so curious to see what he would look like without it.

Thanks to my Dad willing to help, we shaved Chandler and got to see him transform from looking highly terrier to a little more Labish. It was and is funny. However, the DIY shaving left a little nick on his back leg. Not a big deal but the alcohol and Neosporin proved to be too intriguing to Chandler and he would not stop licking it thus not giving it a chance to heal. With no cone at home, we improvised with an airplane pillow and figured we were the smartest people around ... 

... until Jay left him at home with it all day by himself on a Monday. And I got to return to this...
^He gets in trouble for chewing but I can't really blame him for this one. He was basically left alone with a stuffed animal around his neck for eight hours. I'm not shocked this happened.

Yes, Chandler may look a bit more Labish now. But that boy is surely all Terrier.

Title of Post from this Grammy-worthy song