Tag Archives: Mt. Washington

The Outbound

6 Apr
Crystal Cascade :: New Hampshire

Crystal Cascade :: New Hampshire

Spring is finally springing, and I am so happy to be back outside, filling my life with adventure.  So often, I get asked about where shots were taken and what the journey to get there was like….  Well, as of this week, it just became a lot easier to find those answers.

I have started posting my trips up on The Outbound Collective, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  It’s an online adventure resource goldmine.  If you want more information about the practical aspects of making a trip up a particular mountain, or trekking a desert, or kayaking a river…they probably have it.  In particular, they are filled to the brim with info about the west coast…but I intend to beef up their page with plenty of east coast adventures in the coming weeks.  All you have to do is follow and save any trips you like, and when you’re ready for a vacation….viola!  Instant trip guide!

So, if you want the details on how grueling a hike was to get to the peak of that mountain to take that pretty picture…well…go read about it on my Adventure page.  Then you will be a little more prepared for when you make your own trek into the great….where ever. lol

The above shot was from last year, when I took a trip up Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman Ravine Trail.  Read more about it (and see more pretty, some previously unpublished photos) here!

 

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Top 5 of 2014

30 Dec
Bones in the Sand

Bones in the Sand :: Maine

Tis the season for end of the year recaps and “best of” lists (and presents and family and joy), so I challenged myself to narrow my list down to just 5 images that I personally love the best.  It’s been a year of major photography and artistic growth for me, so each of these images represents, in part, one of my milestones.

The top image, “Bones in the Sand” is memorable for me because it was a trip that required some will power to make – a 1:30 am wake up call, and a 4 hour drive to get there – for a sunrise that never really manifested.  But it has always been a struggle for me to get up early, and it felt like a bit of a turning point for me.

Also, it was one of the first images I really remember laboring over the edit for.  Not as in…I don’t know what I’m doing, how do I make XYZ happen….but more of a drive to make sure that my art was worth the effort I had put in to capture the edit.  I remember worrying down to the littlest detail, wanting everything – even the title of the image to be perfect.  In retrospect, I think that is one of the characteristics needed to put out good, consistent work and I’ve finally reached that milestone.

 

Our Rain Song

Our Rain Song :: Vermont

Our Rain Song continues to be a bit of a personal favorite, even though it never seems to catch fire with the rest of the world.  This image came with a lesson on life – remember to enjoy the journey.  You can read the full story here, but the short version was a 2+ mile hike up to see this lake and the sky opened up.  I got very frustrated I was unable to put together a good shot.  When I let those negative emotions go and just appreciated the good things that day had to offer, I had a “creative ah ha!” moment and the image just came together.

 

In Wildness

In Wildness

In Wildness came together based on some of the most important characteristics a landscaper can have – it was the result of patience, perseverance and the willingness to put ourselves out into the world to find the beautiful spaces left to us. This lake was also about 2 miles in (about halfway to the summit of a 4m hike), and the weather was a bit dreary.  In typical New England fashion, it couldn’t decide if it wanted to be overcast, windy, cold, sunny, sleeting or mild.  I believe Mama Nature settled on a mix of them all. haha

When we arrived at the lake, I marveled at the view.  I took my camera out trying to find the right composition and everything I did kept falling a bit flat.  The lighting just wasn’t very dynamic, but I knew we couldn’t linger all day…we still had half a mountain to conquer.  ‘Just a few more minutes,’ I kept thinking.  I knew there was something in the spot that could be magical, I just had to find it.  As I settled into search mode, the clouds started to shift and some sunlight hit the ravine.  It was thhheeeee moment I had been waiting for.

The weekend was physically exhausting, but ultimately, I was able to overcome the difficulties and uncomfortable (aka kinda dangerous…don’t read this, Mom!) conditions, I was able to focus and be patient and walk (limp) away with a few beautiful images. 🙂

 

Dreamsong

Dreamsong

Dreamsong was based around one major principle…find a new shot.  This image was taken in Acadia National Park  – a beautiful, very popular (highly photographed) place.  I had already seen a million gorgeous shots of Otter Cliffs, Bass Harbor Light and Cadillac Mountain…the world didn’t need one more. haha  I mean, don’t get me wrong…I took photos of the light house, but I have yet to edit it.  I wanted to do something different though.  I wanted to make an image of Acadia that was a representation of my vision, not a rehash of someone else’s composition.  Thankfully, this beach/tree allowed me to do just that. 🙂  At the time, I didn’t know it would end up being one of my favorites, but everything came together perfectly.

 

Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

Last, but certainly not least, Silk Ribbons is in my tops because it was a reminder that the details are just as important as a grand, sweeping scene. 🙂

 

Happy end to a 2014, and hope that you all have a lovely 2015!!

 

Xoxo

Shannon

Give Thanks

25 Nov
Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

Silk Ribbons :: Ricketts Glen, PA

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. -JFK

There is so much in our lives, both good and bad, that fill up our days that it can seem overwhelming.  I’ve found though, that a moment of gratitude can do wonders to give you perspective about what is important versus what is just “noise”.  It can drastically improve your mood and remind us to have some humility.

 

That being said, I want to take a moment to recognize the sources of joy in my life, and then encourage you to do the same. 🙂

 

Today, and every day, I am grateful for all of the blessings in my life.  I have my health, security, stability and opportunities to improve my life if I’m brave enough to reach for them.  I live in a place that recognizes my basic human rights.

The Hearts Overflows

The Hearts Overflows

I am surrounded by people who love and support me.  I was lucky enough to be born into a family that values things like compassion, kindness, and laughter.  I get to share my life with an incredible man who supports my dreams and enjoys making memories with me.  I literally have the best friends a girl could ask for.

Dreamsong

Dreamsong

I’ve seen enough beauty in this world to make anyone’s heart overflow with joy.  The power of nature, the rain, the wind, the lightning, the cold, the feel of the setting sun on my skin on a summer day, the colors of a dramatic sky, the smell of new grass and lilies, the sound of the ocean, watching children play and people love…

In Wildness

In Wildness

Adventure fills my soul, leads me to exciting places, introduces me to new people and enriches my life in a way that words can only barely describe.  I’m grateful to have wanderlust in my blood, to have had a family that nurtured it, and to now have the resources to follow its call.

Hope Rises

Hope Rises

The world is such a wonderful, frightening, beautiful place filled with an exquisite tapestry of human existence.  Every day I draw breath I am grateful that I get to be a part of it, grateful for the experiences that shaped me and the memories that sustain me.

We Are One

We Are One :: California

Thank you to each and every one of you for being part of my life.  Your support, your kindness, your smiles (or emoticons as the case may be), your love fills my life with so much joy.  You’ve all had a hand in shaping my life and I’m grateful for your influence.  It’s always appreciated when you take a moment to send me a note or comments.  I love the discussions and friendships that can be built from a photo.  And most importantly, you are a huge source inspiration.  Your perception and appreciation of my work is a humbling thing.  It’s incredible to think that my images can brighten someone’s day and my experiences (mistakes) help teach someone on the other side of the world.

 

Now, I challenge all of you to think about the blessings in your own life.  We all have our struggles, but perhaps focusing on the positives will help the negatives seem that much more bearable. 🙂

 

For those of you in the USA, Happy Thanksgiving week!  For my international friends, happy regular week! haha  Hope it’s a good one!

 

xoxo

Shannon

10 Tips for a Successful Photography Start-up

11 Sep
In Wildness

In Wildness

In Wildness is the preservation of the World. -Henry David Thoreau

 

When I saw that quote, I felt it in my bones.  So often, my heart cries for the wild, to be out among the trees and splashing in streams.  But while that sense of adventure sustains my soul, it’s not what my business needs to succeed.  And that, my friends, is one of the major obstacles for us creative brain types.

 

Success as a photographer requires a few things.  First, you must be willing and able to embrace your artistic nature, to work on your skills and to learn from critiques.  Second, you need to suppress your artistic nature and embrace the ideas of organization, planning and structure.  And finally…throw in a dash of drive, perseverance and belief in your worth to round out your business plan.  Afterall, the qualities needed to hike 10 miles over two days in bad weather, to endure physical discomfort and to stay focused (all of which happened to get the above image) are the same qualities that will allow you to keep your eyes forward, looking to your next goal or milestone even when you run into problems, mistakes and failed attempts.

 

Alright, lets explore these ideas, shall we?

1) Define your success:

The first step to success is to define what success means to you.  If your aspirations stop at “making some money doing what you love”, then so be it.  If you plan on reaching for the stars, well, I applaud you…set attainable goals for yourself and build on each baby step.  I promise you, no matter what path you choose, there will be many people that will question your methods, your pricing and your judgment.  Ultimately, it’s up to you to sort out the useful suggestions from the criticisms that will pull you away from your dreams (while trying to shove you into someone else’s definition of success).

2) Remember your roots:

You got into <insert your art genre here> for a reason, right? The willingness to create is a wonderful thing, and isn’t to be taken lightly.  Having a creative outlet can enrich your life in so many ways, and remembering why you do what you do can help sustain you when times are tough. You will make mistakes, and it will suck.  Remember, that’s part of the learning process.  Don’t let too much pride or a stubborn nature become another obstacle to your success.  It’s not easy to open your eyes and ears to useful critiques (key word being useful…see #1) and grow based on that feedback.  But grow you must if you’re looking to stand out in a heavily saturated market.

3) Invest in yourself:

Growth can’t happen without effort on your part.  Find a workshop you can afford and attend it.  Watch youtube videos on the latest editing technique.  Read blog posts and tutorials on how to achieve what you want to achieve.  Study up on the newest whatever it is…giant ring light, light painting, luminosity masks…etc.  There will always be more to learn, and making the effort to do so will show in the quality of your work.  That is important because without a solid portfolio and understanding of what you bring to the table, it’s very difficult to understand your worth and sell yourself to a client.

4) Be thoughtful and organized:

The difference between having a dream and having a goal is planning.  A dream is a nebulous half formed idea that you hope will happen to you someday.  A goal is something you work towards, step by laborious step, until you’ve achieved and moved on to the next goal.  To reach those milestones, you need plans.  And lists.  And a calendar.  And lots and lots of sticky notes.

For example, yesterday’s to-do included…
~ Between 10-11 am = promote blog tour project on Twitter, business Facebook page and in a Facebook group.  On twitter, use link to blog tour page.
~ 3ish pm = Twitter post attaching blog tour photo to catch people’s eye
~ Between 4-5pm = post blog tour image on Instagram, tag someone likely to re-share.  Link Instagram to personal Facebook page so friends and family see to post
~ write out tomorrow’s blog, set release between 10-11
~ plan tomorrow’s promo… market on wordpress, link new blog to a Facebook group (landscapes, nature, etc), #tbt on personal page with old trip/image to promote
~Monday post newest blog shot to 500px, pinterest, and 500px Facebook group at 8a, 10a or 4-5p
~Next Tuesday, post about art hanging at Francesca’s restaurant in Canton, CT.  Tag them on FB to increase views.

5) Invest your time and resources wisely:

So…why do I choose to post on social medias around 8a, 10a or between 4-5p?  Because our generation checks their phones and social medias before they go to work, when their attention starts to wander at work and they need a coffee break, and then as soon as they get out of work but before they are home and start the routine of picking up children, cooking dinner, doing homework, etc.  Posting at times when my target market won’t see what I have to offer is a waste of time.  Furthermore, I’ve read that some social medias track people who spam their feeds and write them out of the algorithms.  No idea if that’s true, but it helps ease my conscience about not posting non-stop. haha

Why do I choose not to post on Fridays?  In my experience, unless you’re posting early, you won’t get much feedback.  Once 5pm hits, people are focused on their weekend plans, not what pretty picture you have to offer that day.  If I do post, it’s generally a fluff post or a personal post.  And yes, those personal posts are also work.  Your market wants more than just a nameless, faceless artist in their feed.  Art is an emotional experience and you want people to invest in you so they eventually invest in your art.

Are you starting to see what I mean about investing wisely?  It’s not just financial advice.  Keep track of what does and doesn’t bring you results.  Cull the useless stuff, be consistent about the stuff that works and be on the look out for new ways to put yourself out there.

6) Be bold.  Be personable.:

As I said, personality counts here.  If you have two photographers of equal skill to work with, and one of them is an arrogant jerk, or a socially awkward weirdo, or completely aloof, disorganized and/or never returns your emails and phone calls… while the other is funny, nice, tries to please the customer, communicates well and in a timely fashion….  Well, I know who I’d choose.

You can NEVER have too many people in your corner.  Make friends.  Network.  Enjoy your peers…it’s part of the ride.

Often times, you are selling yourself as much as you are selling your vision and creations.  Be bold.  Introduce yourself.  Ask how you can become a part of their team.  Take chances.  Run a class or a workshop.  Build your resume.  Believe in what you have to offer.  And remember, price yourself accordingly.

7) This is a business, remember?:

Believe in your work.  You have spent countless hours studying youtube videos and attending lighting seminars.  You have dropped thousands of dollars on equipment, insurance, travel, etc…remember those expenditure sheets you fill out during tax season?  They hurt to look at, don’t they.  You have invested in yourself so that, in the end, you can get paid for your work.

For most new entrepreneurs, the goal is simply to cover your costs as you build a portfolio and your skill sets.  You will read a million blog posts about not giving away your work for free, about undervaluing yourself and the effect that has on the market, about how you paint yourself into a corner when you charge less than other professionals think you should…and I’m not going to say they are wrong.  There is evidence to support all of what you’ve read.  But everyone has to start somewhere, and I’m not going to judge you for charging an amount appropriate to your skill level.  What I will do, though, is encourage you to grow your rates as you grow your skill.

Yes, chances are you will lose clients who are used to paying the lesser rate.  But as you lose them, you will be gaining a new market.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more money if your skills and experiences can support what you’re asking.  Because…did I mention this is a business?  (Or, at the very least, an expensive hobby that you can convince others to help support? lol) Time is money and you should be compensated for yours.

8) Specialize:

I have news for you.  You’re probably not good at everything all of the time.  How can you be?  To really learn and focus on every aspect and genre within your art would require infinite amounts of time, talent and resources, which most people simply don’t have.  When you think of it in those terms, it seems unrealistic to expect to really that you will excel as a fashion photographer, landscape photographer, newborn photographer, astrophotographer and live concert photographer.  More likely, if you see one person offering workshops in all of those areas, they are excellent at one or two and passable at the rest.  (I will admit, there are a few people who are truly gifted and do well in multiple specialties…I can think of one guy off the top of my head who has his hands in a lot of pots and always makes quality images…but that kind of talent is rare.)

So, rather than make passable images that blend into the crowd of a million other passable images, find your thing and shine.  For example…I am primarily a landscape kind of gal.  If you’ve looked at my portfolio, you know this.  I am also a wedding photographer whose skills run to details shots, seeing bigger picture shot set-ups, organization, and couples portraits.  My second is an amazing candid photographer…I am not.  I know this, so for the most part, I rely on her for those shots and for her ability to manage the crowd and make children laugh for their portraits.

I am, speaking of, also 150% NOT a newborn shoot kind of gal and I’m okay with that.  (I’m afraid I’ll break them!)  But my second shooter…well…she just loves every part of newborn shoots and it shows in her work.  When we pick up a baby shoot, I don’t even bring my camera.  I’ll just hold the reflectors and hand her some props, thank you very much.

I know my skills sets and while I work to improve the rest of what I lack, I don’t expect to specialize in everything.  And again…I’ve come to terms with it.

9) Diversify:

Yeah yeah, contradictory, I know.  But really, what I mean is diversify your income streams.  Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  Put on clinics.  Sell your prints.  Get hired for events.  Have an online store where you sell pillows and how-to-photography books.  If one source of revenue dries up, at least you won’t be claiming bankruptcy.

10) Be grateful:

Your attitude about life affects everything about your life.  Have goals, work hard but remember to appreciate how far you’ve already come or you will drown in a sea of negatives….all of the goals you haven’t met yet, the missteps along the way, the measuring yourself against other artists, etc.  Gratitude will go a long way towards giving you perspective and keeping you humble (and personable!)

and finally…the bonus…

11) You are you.  Don’t try to be someone else.:

At some point in our careers, we all mimic another person’s style because we admire their work or we envy their success…or some reason in between that I haven’t thought of.  That is a normal step in developing your own “signature thing”.  The key is to be conscious of it and try not to linger in someone else’s footprint for too long.  You will never be them and comparing yourself to them and their success is a dangerous path leading to a downward spiral.  Instead of chastising yourself for not doing what someone else does to the degree that they do it, recognize what it is about their style that you like and then incorporate it into your work, putting your own twist on it, making it your own.  Then, people can look at your stuff and wonder, “How did he/she do that??  It’s awesome!”

 

So, there you go.  11 tips to help get your business mind right.  It’s not a complete list…and if I put my mind to it, I might be able to think of more…but then, what would I write about in future blog posts? haha  It’s also, most definitely, not the only way of doing things but it does highlight a lot of the lessons I’ve learned based on my experiences.  There is no substitute for your own personal experiences, but maybe, just maybe you’ll find something on this list that will help you grow your passion too. 🙂

Oh…and as for the photo at the top?  You know…that pretty little header to lead off all of these tips?  That is a view of Tuckerman’s from Hermit Lake on Mount Washington.  It was a dark and stormy weekend all around, but every now and again, the clouds would break and the sun would light our way. 🙂

Endless Summer

14 Aug
SSP Endless Summer :: Massachusetts

SSP Endless Summer :: Massachusetts

Gosh, this year is flying by.  Can you believe it’s already August?  I’m smack in the middle of my busiest season, and I feel like there isn’t a single minute I don’t have something to do.  On the one hand, it’s tough to stay on top of everything, organized all of the time, and find a way to get everything done in just a short 24 hr day!  On the other hand, though, I feel blessed to have so much opportunity, to be able to pursue what makes me happy, and to see the places I’ve seen…most of it in the name of photography.

Bixby in the Blue

Bixby in the Blue :: CA

It occurred to me the other day, I have been and done so many things in my life (with many many more to go) with a camera in my hand…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  With that in mind, David Pasillas and I have started up a blog tour project where my fellow bloggers (that’s you!) can contribute it you want.  All you have to do is be willing to give us your thoughts on what having a creative outlet has meant to your life.

If you’re interested in joining the fun, send me an email at seespotsphoto AT yahoo DOT com and I’ll send you the details. 🙂

Also, speaking of projects, the quote project is just about finished.  I picked a quote, and I’m working on the final piece of art now (with the help of my favorite font experts over at Print Therapy)…as soon as that’s finished, I’ll announce the winner!

I Go On Again, Because You Asked Me To :: NH

I Go On Again, Because You Asked Me To :: NH

Also also, I’m planning a hike up Mt Washington this weekend…trying Tuck’s for the first time…wish Sean and I luck!  We’re overnighting so I’m really hoping for good weather and some sweet sunset on top of a mountain shots. 🙂

AND NOW….another picture of summer in CT, because I can!

Beach House

Beach House

 

The “B-Side”

21 Nov
New Hampshire Cascades

New Hampshire Cascades

I suspect I might be dating myself here, but for those of you who remember the time when vinyl was king…you’ll probably also remember the term B-side.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term (aka…young’uns), side one of a record was generally reserved for the songs that the producer or record company intended to be the hit.  The other side of the record (or cassette, for you children of the 80’s), had everything else.  Generally speaking, the songs on the B-side weren’t quite as shiny, pop-y, catchy or marketable.

Well, my photography process also has a B-Side.  When I get home from a shoot or trip, my first instinct is to edit the stand out images.  The ones that just scream for attention.  They’re well composed, well exposed and just damn purty.

And then…there is everything else, which honestly, often gets forgotten.

Not today though!  Today, I looked through the archives, and edited a B-Side.  As to whether or not its an “Elvis Presley” B-Side, which were often considered to be just as good as the hits…or a Tommy Tutone B-Side, which was considered to be…

You know what?  Forget that. Let’s just bask in Jenny’s 867-5309 moments of fame.  Aaaaannnnd, enjoy my photo. 🙂

Finding Balance

19 Nov
Wild and Free

Wild and Free

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” -Henry David Thoreau

That quote by Thoreau really struck me.  It was an eloquent reminder to be a “smart shopper” and to invest in the things that matter.  Sometimes, taking a break to appreciate the beautiful chaos of nature is the most therapeutic thing we can do.  Find time for the things that make you happy. Appreciate, be grateful, smile, laugh and love. ❤

FUNDRAISER UPDATE

As you all know, I’m running a fundraiser for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. (50% of profits from sales through December 15, go here: www.zazzle.com/skalahan) Turns out, zazzle is also running a deal through 11/21 (sorry, I know, not much notice)…use the code HOLIDAYCOUNT for up to 60% off! And I’m pretty sure it is on the production end, not mine, so the donation to the Filipinos will be the same!