Tag Archives: challenge

Personal Growth and Being Our Bsst Selves

14 Jun

E932C254-33DA-4581-8964-FD6995EFB3A9

“Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”

This is, admittedly, not a photography post. It’s a post about life.

About a year and a half ago my life changed drastically. It was painful and difficult and left me in a rut. I needed something to get me going in the right direction. On a whim, I asked a few friends if they wanted to try salsa lessons. Note: I had two left feet, and the grace of a newborn foal. (Lots of legs and elbows going everywhere, with no coordination.) But I have always told myself we are our own biggest limitation, and so I set out to prove to myself that I could do this.

Fast forward 11 month later and I did something terrifying (for me). I got up on a stage and danced. Before the performance I was shaking and my heart was racing. But after months of practice, I knew I didn’t want to to let my fellow dancers down. I went out onto that stage and hoped that I would make them proud.

238DCC72-1156-47B3-9FF5-8500A5C433D6Trying something new and scary as an adult has been challenging but oh so rewarding. I’m so grateful to our teacher for believing in me enough to let me dance his choreographed routine, and for the patience and support he has shown me. I’m grateful to Melissa @melequine for her willingness to try new things with me and encourage me to grow. I’m grateful to Cricket , Sarah, David, Monica and Waldo for their friendship (along with all of the other rad people that I’ve met through dancing). And last but not least, I’m incredibly grateful for Jorge , the best dang dance partner a girl could ask for. You push me to be better in all things and forgive me when I step on your toes. 😋

FD098C90-1F14-46EC-8D6B-C88842B4ADE3Opportunities to grow are all around us, you just have to be open to them. Be brave, try new things, make beautiful memories and live your life to the fullest. In the end, we can’t keep the money or the cars or the stuff….but our experiences and the way we choose to live our lives will be with us forever. ❤️

Photos by Melissa Couture.

 

 

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This and That, Hodge and Podge

10 Apr
Vigilance :: Beavertail Lighthouse :: RI

Vigilance :: Beavertail Lighthouse :: RI

 

So I learned a few things this past week….

First, many many thanks to all of the people who were kind enough to give feedback on which images to cull from the Places gallery.  I have taken out several based on your suggestions, though I do have a few more to cut out still.  Let’s call it a work in progress…therefore, your input is still appreciated if you care to give it. haha

Second, thanks to your input, I found out that way more of you like the above photo than I thought. That actually came as a bit of a surprise.  It’s one of my personal favorites (and that isn’t just because I had to brave a raging ocean to my right and the whipping winds of an oncoming storm while I balanced myself and my tripod precariously on slippery rocks…which…by the way, don’t do that.  It was stupid!) but all this time, I never got feedback either way on the image.  Y’all made me smile an awful lot to know it’s an appreciate image!

Thirdly…third-ish? Ummm…next….I wanted to remind everyone that this weekend is the final weekend to take and submit an image for the 10 minute challenge.  Now look…I’m just as much of a slacker as the next person (meaning, I haven’t done mine yet either) but by the time Sunday rolls around, I expect to see my email brimming with your super awesome images, mmmkay?  Brimming!

Brimming…such an odd word, but so satisfying to type.  Brimming, I say!

Ummm…what else?  Oh yes, a little business time. Because I have my business socks on. (FOTC fans out there?  No?) I was super humbled today when I started my day off with 900 followers (more now)…I am grateful that each an every one of you takes time out of your day to take a galnce, every now and then, at some of my photos.  It is so difficult to make it in the world of art, both in the financial sense and in the “hey, the market is overly saturated with a ton of talented people” sense.  So, I am flattered that you all chose to follow my work, my vision and my terrible sense of humor. 🙂

Of you 900, if any of you are Facebookers, can you do my a little itsy bitsy favor, and make sure to like my Facebook page as well?  All of that stuff helps to spread the word.  To you it’s just a like and some (extremely awesome, stunningly, achingly beautiful) noise in your feed.  To me, it’s marketing.  Every comment you leave puts the photo you enjoyed into the feed of your friends, who might…just maybe…enjoy the image as well.  Or own a high end gallery in New York and want to hang my work there.  You know…either or. haha  So, if you’re in a generous mood, go here and follow my stuff. 🙂

Okay…so in summary… Thanks for being so supportive, thank you for the feedback on The Great Gallery Clean-Up of 2014, and don’t forget to submit your 10 minute challenge photos to seespotsphoto at yahoo dot com!

xo
Shannon

Shooting With Purpose

17 Dec
Snow Bound

Snow Bound

I’m going to start this photo blog post out with a horse reference…  Makes perfect sense, right?

Picture yourself walking on an idyllic horse farm in Kentucky.  Crisp white board fences, manicured fields and paths, and running around inside those fences is a group of young race horses.  (Thoroughbreds, for those of you in the know.) They’re delicate, yet powerful.  Their hair shines in the sun and a cool breeze lifts their manes and tails, so they float in the air, giving the horses an air of magic.  One of them lifts his chiseled face from the grass and looks your way, and you almost drown in the liquid softness of his eyes.  That kind of horse makes a statement.

Now, picture yourself on a farm wading through ankle deep mud and a cloud of black flies.  To your left is a red, dilapidated barn, the paint is peeling and the roof is caving in.  To your right is a huge, clunky beast – a draft horse – standing 1.5 times taller than you, with dinner plates for feet and a matted, tangled mane and clipped off tail.  He is powerful, my god is he powerful, but refined…no?  Elegant?  Absolutely not.  Then again, he doesn’t need to be.  He wasn’t bred for speed or beauty (though I suppose it’s in the eye of the beholder).  He was bred to work.

Two very different animals, the Thoroughbred and the draft horse, but both serve a purpose.

In photo-land, you also have your statement shots and you have your work horse shots.  Your statement shots are the one that catch people’s eye, that whisper to their soul (hopefully whispering, “Buy me”) and help you build your brand.  On the other hand, your work horse shots are meant to build your wallet.  They are the images you take with a purpose in mind, to license, to use in products, marketing, etc etc.  The photo at the top of the post, that’s a work horse.

Currently, I have an online store and a a series of free images available on my Facebook page, and when I’m out shooting, those projects are always at the back of my mind.

Free Facebook Banner - Autumn Reflections

Free Facebook Banner – Autumn Reflections

This photo – taken in October in Granby, CT – is one of many, many work horse images in my portfolio.  When I took it, I knew the sky was a bit lackluster, but the crisp reflection in the swampy water were stunning.  (That’s all part of training your eyes to see the beauty in a scene, even if the scene as a whole isn’t breath-taking.)  Now, over the last few years, I’ve put together a series of banners for anyone who follows my FB page *hint hint*, which only utilize a narrow band within the image.  That made this autumn photo a prime candidate for one of my freebies.

As for the winter scene at the top?  That is already getting a lot of mileage.  When I went out shooting that snowy day, I knew I needed more winter scene images to put together “holiday products” for the store.  Know of any ladies looking for a pretty new wristlet? 😉

Wristlet - www.zazzle.com/skalahan

Wristlet – http://www.zazzle.com/skalahan

UPDATES!

The fundraiser for the typhoon victims is done!  Many thanks for everyone who helped by spreading the word, making a purchase, or donating directly to your relief organization of choice!  Also a big thanks to all of the small businesses who added their own donations to the pot.  There is strength in numbers, and I’m so proud to be a part of community efforts like this.

Also, if you’re interested in joining our fun little Winter Photo Challenge, email me your final photo by December 21!  Hope you can join us!

It’s a Gallery Kind of Weekend!

12 Aug
Annisquam Light Monochrome

Annisquam Light Monochrome

Not long ago, I mentioned a mini-challenege I was working on with David Pasillas meant to encourage the skill of self-editing.  In a nut shell, the task was to take 100 photos of any given subject and whittle your submissions down to just 2 images – the ones you felt were the strongest.

This was a pretty intimidating challenge for a lot of people…we know, it’s a busy time of year for most people and 100 seeeeeemmmsss like such a big number. 😉

We actually recieved a lot of positive feedback from people who didn’t find the time to do a 100-series, but nonetheless were inspired to apply the idea of a strong self edit to their own work.  In the end, that’s what these challenges are all about!  Education and inspiration are something the entire community benefits from. 🙂  For those of you who were able to submit images, we appreciate it!!

That being said, here is my second submission to the Self-Edit Challenge…and conveniently, it happens to a B&W of Annisquam Light for all you lighthouse/landscape lovers out there.  The entire gallery can be found here.

It’s On Like Donkey Kong!

4 Aug

As you know, the Self-Edit Challenge ends tomorrow!  In order to show you how ATTAINBLE 100 photos are, I wanted to give you a little peak at the Lightroom import from yesterday’s photo.

Totally do-able.  I have faith in you!!  Now go out there, take your photos and show David and I your best!! =)

XOXO

Shann

The Self Edit Mini-Challenge (Sorta)

27 Jul

One of the hardest things for any photographer to do is be objective about their work.  It’s not surprising – photography is an emotional art.  You aren’t just sharing an image.  You’re sharing your vision of the world, and your feelings about the moment as you press the shutter.  Photographers pour their heart into their work, and sometimes, it’s difficult to separate the emotional attachment you have for an image from the compositional and connective realities of what lies within the frame.

So David Pasillas and I are issuing a two-part mini-challenge.  First, push the limits of your creativity.  Second, embrace your objectivity.

Step 1: Grab your camera, any camera. Creativity isn’t limited by the tool, it lies within the artist.

Step 2: Pick a subject and take 100 different photos of it.

AGGGGHHHHHH!!  100 photos!!!???!!  We know, it’s a very intimidating number, but before you run for the hills, read the rest! 

100 photos isn’t that much, don’t let the number scare you.  For most people, especially those who shoot digital, that’s only about a ½ hour of work.  Consider it a 30-minute challenge rather than a 100 photo challenge.  And we fully encourage you to use those 30 minutes to rock the heck out of the photo world.  Use those 30-ish minutes to explore new angles, try different settings camera settings, manipulate the light subject.  If it’s something you’re interested in shooting – a flower, a tree, grandma, a car, whatever… – you’ll reach 100 images before you can say “Cheese”!

Step 3: BE RUTHLESS!  Choose your best 5-10 images, thinking about things like emotional impact, composition, exposure, artistic effect (etc) and edit them.  Of THOSE images, submit only the 2 strongest images to submit@davidpasillas.com.

This awesome challenge is going to allow for growth as a photographer in a couple of areas. First, it will put you in a position where you’re forced to push your creativity when shooting. Most likely, you’ll run out of ideas and end up crawling around on the ground to get a different perspective. If you don’t get to that point after 100 shots, shoot another 100….seriously. The more you shoot, the more you will get out of this exercise.

Second, you will gain some experience as an editor, because truly, being able to distance yourself emotionally to see an image for what it is…well, it’s an invaluable skill.  Self-editing is part of the foundation upon which your reputation will be built.  Not every photo taken is five-star material, but the strongest photographers know the importance of putting only the best images into a portfolio.  In this case, appearance is everything.  You want your name to be associated with powerful images, and the first step in that process is learning to recognize the weak ones.

Note, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love your art…just know that your emotional connection to an image doesn’t necessarily equate it to a marketable image.

In this case, imagine that you’re the editor of National Geographic, Life, or Sunset magazine. You get hundreds, nay, thousands of images coming across your desk each month. You have to choose the best of the best for the cover photo. You should have the same approach with your images. Choose the ones that you think should be in a magazine. Learn to pick out your best shots, understand why they work, and understand why the others don’t. Improve your skills as an editor and you’ll see the quality of your photos improve.

Here are a few helpful hints from David:

The first time I did this challenge, I was told to take 500 pictures of a single flower. I got to choose the flower and was free to do whatever I wanted. I feel like 500 might be a little intimidating for most of you at this point, so let’s start with 100.

Some things I tried or was told to try:
I used different lenses
shot both, wide angle and zoomed in
different aperture settings
many different angles and compositions
shot through things
shoot at different times of the day
set to manual focus and take some photos out of focus to achieve a painterly look
spray water on the flower
tear off the petals and make something with them

If you’re using an iPhone, try shooting with different camera apps. Get creative. Get weird.

This challenge will run through two weekends, from July 28 (Saturday) until August 5 (Sunday) at midnight.  So…ready to get your creative on???!!??