“What inspires you to create art?”

I hear that a lot. Especially when I have created a piece that is odd and strange and ….well, a bit out there. Inspiration, for me, comes from many places. Dreams especially. I have bizarre dreams and sometimes I think it’s just the artist brain gathering ideas and presenting them like “What should we do next?”

Sometimes I see a painting and really like the colors and think it will be the perfect combination to create a texture. We had frost on our windows once and I took a photo of it to use as an overlay on some winter photos. Sometimes the simple things work really well too.

I also love looking at Pinterest. Pinterest is my go-to place when I want to relax. I can still keep my brain occupied and yet, let the creative part of my brain wander around.

I love looking at other photographer’s work, but I don’t try to duplicate what has already been done. Sometimes I will notice that an idea or concept is the same, but that they were executed very differently. It’s a very cool thing to notice that there is another person out there who thinks along the same artistic lines that you do and that you aren’t alone in your somewhat bizarre thinking!

And I think that is what inspires me most…..the realization that my brain is free to explore whatever it chooses to. No matter how weird, bizarre, or even freaky people might think it is, it’s mine. I created it. These ideas have to come out and I have to create them to put them aside and move on.

If you are a photographer or an artist and you want to create, DO IT. Explore those sides. Does it mean you have to put them in your portfolio? No. But it does mean that you had the guts to create something from your vision, your perspective, and created a piece that is uniquely your own. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and don’t be afraid to ruffle feathers. Art isn’t about playing it safe. Art is about expressing who you are and what you see. The good, the bad, and even the ugly.

If you want to create…..look within you. Listen to those little voices and what they are saying. Don’t be afraid to go outside of your comfort zone. If you play it safe, you will never know what you could have achieved!

One must work and dare if one really wants to live.
~Vincent Van Gogh

June Photographer Inspiration {Spotlight & Giveaway!}

It’s June and I am a little behind, but it’s time for the June Photographer Spotlight, but this is one photographer you are going to LOVE and she is totally worth waiting for!

This month I am going to introduce you to a photographer and designer that I have been a fan of  for years. She is not only a wonderful photographer and designer, but I feel very honored to count her among my friends as well. 

So, everyone, here is the phenomenal…

Stacey Severt of Wild Hearts Photography

Here is a little bit about Stacey….

I have been married to my wonderful hubby, Jim, for almost 22 years (this month!). We were childhood sweethearts and married right out of high school. He is my soul mate and has been so supportive of all of my business endeavors. After earning a Master’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology, I went on to work full-time in that field until we started our family in 2001. We have 2 beautiful daughters that are such a blessing to us! After becoming a mommy, I began to look for ways that I could work from home. This eventually led to me turning my photography hobby into a business. While I am still a licensed speech therapist, and continued doing that on a limited basis for some time, I have now transitioned to doing my photography and design work full-time.  Besides photography, my favorite things to do are spending time with my family at the beach, hiking at the park, and watching movies.  I also love working in my flower beds and reading.

Time for a little Q&A session with Stacey…..

1.       Use one sentence to describe your photography style.
My photography style is focused on a “non-traditional” lifestyle approach and is eclectic, fun, fresh, full of contrasts, and…..different!

2.       Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration all over the place!  I’m always looking at light and color and how it changes and evokes emotion.  The biggest source of my inspiration is this world that God gave us….I’m amazed at the beauty that surrounds us in nature and I love shooting outdoors and finding the beauty in any location.  I also love unexpected beauty…such as that found in the rusty, grungy, deteriorating, and basically falling apart in places like abandoned buildings and urban environments.  Texture is another thing that I look for and these type of locations offer plenty of texture, color, and light!  And, of course, I am inspired by so many of the wonderful photographers that I have found online…it’s wonderful to see things from others’ perspectives!

3.       Besides your camera, what piece of equipment do you find that you can not live without?
Besides my camera, I cannot live without my reflector/external flash.  I know that’s two items, but they kind of serve the same purpose.  I am a “mostly” natural light shooter, but I’m not afraid to use my flash when necessary to achieve the correct exposure.

4.       If you were going to travel for one year and could only pack what would fit into an average sized backpack, what would you pack? (You don’t have to include food,  that will be provided along the way!)
Bible, Camera, flash, and memory cards (of course!), iPhone, iPad, comb and hair ties, one bottle of bright pink, OPI nail polish for my toes, toothbrush, lotion, and tons of lip balm.  I’m pretty basic, lol!

5.       If you could take one single photograph to signify your life, what would it look like?
It would have my family and I either at the beach (our favorite place) or at our house out in the field.  Just us together…that is our true happiness!  (Maybe we would be eating some ice cream-that makes us pretty happy, too!)

6.       Have there been moments when you wanted to stop shooting professionally? If so, what changed your mind?
Yes.  I honestly say that I think all photographer’s feel this way at times when struggling to find the balance between work and family.  What changed my mind is the awesome clients that I have, my love for photography, and the wonderful support system I have with my family.  They make it possible for me to move beyond the difficult times and keep doing what I love.

7.       What has been the biggest challenge you have faced while following your photography dream? What has been the greatest reward?
The biggest challenge is most definitely finding the balance, but working for myself is the biggest reward…it’s all tied together.  When moving from a fast-paced career in the medical field, I looked forward to working from home and leaving behind the hectic schedules and demands.  Unfortunately, I am a pretty demanding boss, so sometimes I find it difficult to separate myself from my work since it’s always here with me.  I have found that setting a schedule for my work day has helped immensely.  I have had to learn to treat my work at home just like I would a regular job, and setting boundaries has been good.  I love the flexibility I have and the ability to work around my family/household commitments and health needs.

8.       If you were given a choice to attend any workshop or seminar anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, what one would you choose and why?
Well…..this is a tough one!  I’ve heard so many good and not-so-good things about different workshops and it kind of makes me a little scared to try one.  I guess I would have to say either a workshop with MIchele of Pinkle Toes Photography (favorite photog from way back!),  the CRAVE Photography workshop (just because her work is so awesome), or the Kelley Ryden and Tracy Raver Baby Posing workshop (since newborns are what I have the least experience with).  Sorry, that’s three….  

9.       How do you budget your time to make sure you are staying on task? What keeps you motivated when you have deadlines?
Oh, this is difficult when you are your own boss, for sure!  I would have to say that I’m a pretty self-motivated person, so even though I work from home, I still approach each day as if I am going to work.  I keep lists and try to remind myself of all deadlines coming up.  There are times when I “get stuck” in the middle of a project and I try to break it down and focus on smaller goals until it’s finished.

10.   Do you ever shoot self-portraits?
Haha!  No, I’m terrible at self-portraits!  What I do sometimes do is have my hubby shoot a photo for me, which is how most of my photos have come about.  I did do our family photos a couple of years ago using a tripod and the camera shutter timer….this was somewhat of a nightmare, but did yield some great photos, surprisingly, lol!

11.   What would you say has been the hardest lesson to learn about photography? What would you change about your business if you had to do it all over again from the beginning?
For me, the hardest lesson to learn has been more about the “business” side of professional photography.  I am so much more people-oriented and I prefer the interaction of shooting the photos and talking with my clients.  Taxes, paperwork, budgeting, legal stuff, etc.  have all been necessary, but least favorite activities!  I wish I had known more about these areas when I first started. 

12.   Do you have a photography “hero” that inspires you and that you look up to? If so, are you willing to share who it is?
Yes!  I have so many, but I will say that Michele Anderson of Pinkle Toes Photography has been my photography “hero” for so many years…I found her work when I first started learning about photography and was very inspired by her wonderful lifestyle sessions!  I would love to have Michele take my family’s photos sometime, but alas, she lives too far away!

13.   How do you scout locations for shoots? Are they just places you know or do you go out searching for new and cool places?
It’s a little bit of both.  I know several great places that I use on a regular basis and sometimes I scout whenever I’m looking for a new place or have a specific look in mind for a shoot.  I truly love it when I visit a place without photography in mind and become inspired by the surroundings.  Then I will often wait for just the perfect shoot to use that location.  We are very fortunate to have an abundance of great location spots where I live, so I feel very blessed in that aspect.

14.   Besides photography, do you do any other forms of art? (painting, drawing, etc.)
I have done a little painting and the graphic design work, of course.  I also sing and play the piano and guitar, although, not as much as I used to.  I am a big fan of the arts and love to attend ballets, operas, musicals, and visit the art museum.

15.    Do you have any advice for new photographers?
Yes….and you’ve heard it before…..Don’t give up!  Try not to get discouraged when you think it’s not working out.  We ALL have those times, and I still have days when I feel uninspired or it seems like my work is not what I want it to be.  Photography is one of those things that SEEMS like it will be easy to learn, easy to do, easy to turn into a profession.  Well, it’s not any of those things, it’s tough, but if you love it, it can be so rewarding!  I promise, it’s worth the effort and the waiting that it takes.  

Here is a little bit about her business and the links so that you can find her and love her and swoon over her work just as much as I do!!!!

Wild Hearts Photography: I have been offering custom photography services for about 7 years. It has been a long and often difficult journey as I taught myself the necessary skills and built my business and the Wild Hearts brand from the ground up. After the first couple of years in business, I began to focus more on the “lifestyle” type of photography that appealed so much to me. I love capturing those un-posed moments of a child or family just being themselves. I now offer both studio and location photography services, with a continued focus on capturing life-as-it-happens. I also offer many custom, “boutique-style” products for my clients, which is what eventually led me to start doing digital design work.  I’m beyond excited to see how my business has blossomed even more with the event of Facebook marketing.  This has allowed me to meet so many new clients, other photographers, and vendors to network with.

WHP Designs: I had started designing cards and collages for my own photography clients and began to think that other photographers would like to use my designs for their clients, as well. My design business was officially launched at the end of 2010 and so quickly outgrew my blog site format, that I had to have a new site designed with more functionality within a couple of months. My focus in my design work is creating beautiful and easy-to-use templates that offer a wide variety of options. I have a very eclectic nature and that translates over to my photography and graphic design. I have a love for country, vintage style, and urban grunge looks, which is something you will see frequently in my work. I was so excited when I was approached by Jennifer of Photo Prop Floors and Backdrops about a collaboration of our businesses. I loved the idea of seeing my designs as backdrops, and was completely honored that the first and best vinyl/canvas backdrop company on the market was interested in me! It has been such an honor to work with their company!  I love doing custom work for my design clients, as well, helping them to achieve that totally branded package for their business.  I will continue to add more designs to my product offerings to keep things fresh!


Now for the giveaway part of it….are you ready?

Stacey is going to give one of you a set of her photo display template bundles!

What an awesome way to show off how photos will look when displayed! And WHP templates are so easy to use!

To enter: (mandatory for entry)
Go to Wild Hearts Photography’s Facebook page and like WHP! Feel free to admire her photographs and visit her shop too. You will find all kinds of goodies there!

Additional entries are all optional. You do not have to do any of the others to be entered!

Entries will be accepted until midnight on June 16, 2012.

To make it easy to enter I am using Rafflecopter!

Winner has been drawn courtesy of Rafflecopter….Sherry Wood McManis you won!! I will be sending you an email!

Bits of Creativity & Inspiration

Do you ever have one of those days where you think of a million things that would be super awesome to do and then turn around and have a few days of nothing…zilch…no inspiration? I had one of those days this week and I just wanted to go home, curl up in my bed, and sleep the world away.

But I didn’t get that chance.

I looked through my inspiration notebook and found some ideas that had been running around in my head during one of my (many) sleepless nights and decided to get to work on those. It has kept me busy and kept me occupied and hasn’t allowed my brain to wander and the best part is, I felt productive! I just love it when I get things done! When I get creative I work…a lot. I also decided to knock a few things off my to-do list. (Yes, I was feeling quite ambitious!)

I had also been asked by a photographer to look through her work and give her a few critiques. I am pleased to say that there were so many wonderful things I was able to say. She has stayed away from all the “trendy” things like selective color, overusing props, etc. Her images were what I would call “timeless”. It made me start thinking about the trends in photography and what people will think of them in 10 year or 25 years even.

Being able to check some things off my to-do list allowed me some time to look through my images and think about where I want them to be and what I want them to look like.

I don’t want my images to be overdone or out-of-date (eventually I know they will, but I hope that is a long time down the road!). I see photographers get swept up in their “I know how to put text on photos” mindset and every photo has a name, a quote,  or a (weak) attempt at graffiti. (Sorry, that is an art and you have to know what you are doing to get that to look natural!).

In 15 years do you think that client would want an image that says her name and Senior 2012 (or an inspirational quote) on it or do you think she would rather have a beautiful black and white portrait? They both would be considered art, but I think the b&w would be the one she would prefer to display. It has that “timeless” feature that images need to be a lasting work of art.

It’s easy to get swept up in the here and now and to try to copy every photographer and every prop just to keep up, but realistically, you may be doing your own art and photography a disservice by doing that. You don’t want to be known for using every prop every made, you want to be known for your images!

Start keeping a photographer’s journal of ideas, even if you have to keep it on your bedside table. Write down the things that inspire you. Create a bookmark on your computer labeled “Inspiration and Creativity” and bookmark the things that speak to you and make you want to create. Join Pinterest if you haven’t already and you will be guaranteed to find all sorts of things that will spark your creativity. (If you need an invitation to Pinterest, let me know and I will send you one! If you are already on there…head over and follow me HERE.)

Don’t follow the crowd, break away from the crowd. Shoot images in a way that reflects you, your vision, and the values you have for your business. Don’t be swayed by trying to keep up with what other photographers are doing. If someone says “I have this awesome idea, we want our image of our baby black and white except the diaper.” you have the opportunity to say “Well, selective color might be cute, but why don’t we try **insert great idea** to get some amazing images that you will love even more…” and then rock those shots. In that way, you didn’t tell your client “NO! I don’t do that!”, but you led them to an image that in several years they will still love. You want them to keep coming back to your for your great work that they are proud to hang in their home, not because you follow every fad or trend that is out there!

(And just my two cents, images of babies should showcase the baby, not your prop collection. Think soft and sweet. No glass. Nothing breakable….)

Your clients tastes will change, trends will come and go, but at the end of the day, it’s your business name that will go on the image. Your reputation and your future name in the industry are based on what you create and put out there. Don’t do shots you aren’t comfortable doing, don’t shoot on active railroad tracks (it’s a Federal offense, FYI!) and don’t put babies in glass jars or anything breakable.

Be proud of what you create and let your creativity and inspiration soar. Breaking away from the trends and the fads will be something that will actually free you and let you be able to create some amazing images. Timeless images. When you let your imagination and creativity take center stage,  they will take you and your business to places you never thought possible!

May Photographer Spotlight {Inspiration}

I had this wonderful (I thought!) idea to every month pick a photographer that I love, ask them questions and spotlight their work. I asked a few photographers if they would be interested and am so excited that they said “Yes”. (I already have my photographers lined up for the next 3 months! Yay!)

One of the most wonderful things about being a photographer is meeting people. I have met some amazing people who are clients and some amazing people who are fellow photographers. I feel very honored to be in the company of some of these photographers.

For May, the photographer I am going to spotlight is very special to me. (She is almost like a daughter to me, in fact, I actually call her my daughter! lol). She is a 17 year old from Utah and she will blow you away with her wonderful photography. (And yes, you read that right, she is 17 and she is super amazing!). She is a natural talent and she has a great eye. She is still evolving and finding her way in the photography world, but I have no doubt that we all will be seeing some pretty great things from her. So without further delay, here is my May Photographer…..

Rachel Shearer

First of all, a little bit about Rachel….

My name is Rachel Shearer–aspiring photographer and hopeful teenager! My dream is, of course, to become a fabulous photographer, but more than that, I want to be a truly good person. I don’t want to step on everyone to get to the top, I want to be the stepping stone for those that are hurting. Sometimes the only thing that can keep me going when I want to stay in bed and cry is the thought that I might be able to help someone else because of the experience I had. I want to be someone people know they can go to for help, I want to be as Christlike as humanly possible! 

I took a photography class because I thought it sounded like fun, and had no idea what it would lead to! About a year ago (May) was when I realized how much I really loved it, and started working to become a photographer. I’m mostly self-taught with DSLR’s and PhotoShop. I’m definitely still learning–and have a long way to go, but I’ve also come a long way! I’ve learned how to make actions (right now only for CS) and sell them for low prices in my shop! I mostly post on my Facebook page, but I’m starting to blog a lot more–and of course I’m on pinterest! Amazing site for inspiration 🙂

Now for some fun questions. Let’s get to know her a little more!

1. Use one sentence to describe your style of photography.

My style is still kind of being developed, I’m not really sure how to describe it–but I love a mix of vintage and modern!

2. When did you realize you wanted to be a photographer?

About a year ago… I used to want to be a lawyer, then towards the end of a beginning photography class, I realized that it was what I truly loved!

3. Where do you find your inspiration?

I find inspiration through most everything–fashion, magazines, colors, movies, music, books, just anything around me!

4. What was the best photography advice anyone gave you?

Being told that with my passion no one could keep me from succeeding. I’ve had more than one person tell me I shouldn’t major in photography–because it isn’t a viable life choice. But because of people, like you Lori, that keep pushing me by telling me I’ve got talent, I refuse to give up!

5. Describe yourself (not your photography) in 3 words.

Loving, Passionate, Steadfast

6. If you could only take one single photograph to signify your life, what would it look like?

It would be one of the really busy photographs–lots of props, but with the model the main focus. I would have a model surrounded by things I love–cameras and things that signify who I am and what I love. It would be a mixture of vintage and modern, color, in style and my style–just something to display who I am.

7. Do you ever shoot self-portraits? 

Not really, I find it kind of difficult with a DSLR. Plus, I’m really self conscious so I’m super harsh when taking my own photo.

8. What has been the biggest challenge you have had while following your dream of being a photographer? What has been the greatest reward of following your dream of being a photographer?
I think the biggest challenge has just been trying to fight off the naysayers. There’s always going to be that one person who says I can’t make a living off of photography, that I’m not that good, and a lot of other things that have been not nice. There are going to be professional photographers telling me I shouldn’t be presenting myself the way I am because I’m just a teenager. There are going to be people trying to belittle me every which way. It’s been challenging to deal with them with class–I have most definitely wanted to fight back, but I choose not to because I don’t like fights. I won’t avoid problems, but I will avoid a fight if at all possible. 

Without a doubt, the greatest reward from photography for me, has been the boost it’s given me. It’s boosted my self confidence, my happiness, even my social skills! Because of photography I’ve made amazing friends, reconnected with old friends, and even learned who wasn’t a friend. Photography has helped shape my life!

9. When you are feeling uninspired what do you do to spark your creativity?

I step back, and don’t think about looking for inspiration. I take a break and just do other things, and before long I’m hit with an idea for a shoot!

10. If you were going to travel for a year and could only pack what would fit into 1 average sized backpack, what would you pack? (Food you will be getting along the way, so you don’t need to account for that!)

A few changes of clothes (sealed with those super sealer things that suck all the air out so that take up barely any space. My camera, a laptop, soap and other basic hygiene products, my cell phone of course! My memory foam pillow (also sealed in a magic bag), my wallet (with all it’s contents), annnd that’s probably all I can fit.

11. Are there any movies or books that have inspired your photography? If so, which ones?

Oh there are just so so many! I literally can’t even list them. I’m a total movie geek, I love books, and I’ve taken a little inspiration from nearly every single one!

12. If you could photograph one person, who would it be and why?

I would die if I could photograph Taylor Swift! She’s gorgeous, completely photogenic, I love the styling of all of her shoots, and she’s such an inspiring person. I just love her!

13. Have there been moments when you felt you should throw in the towel and find a new career? If so, what did you do to get yourself out of that place?

Honestly, no. In fact, I keep thinking that if photography doesn’t work out for me, I’m screwed, because photography is all I can think of doing!

14. If you were given $1000 would you spend it on photography equipment or going to a photography workshop? Why?

I would LOVE to attend a workshop, but I think I would get equipment. I don’t have the best equipment–used camera and lens, and that’s all I have as far as actual equipment. I love my camera, but I definitely need some newer stuff!

15. If you could pass along any advice to new photographers what would it be?
Don’t charge until you’re sure you’re ready. Taking portraits as a career is so much different than taking them of your friends. Sometimes people go into it before they know their camera or even what they’re getting into, and are far too overwhelmed! It’s best to be ready so that you won’t want to give up, then jump right into the thick of it all

If you want to check out Rachel’s work or stop by her FB page and say “Hi”, here are the links to her pages again! She has some beautiful images, so be sure to check her out!

Inspired by…..{Alice Guy-Blaché}

I find inspiration in many forms and in many ways. I have found inspiration sometimes just by taking a drive and finding a new place that I have never been. Sometimes I see vintage clothing or jewelry and think I need to coordinate a photoshoot around that era or style. I find inspiration on Pinterest by looking at work by other photographers and artists. I find inspiration watching videos and movies and vintage films. A while back I discovered some silent films by Alice Guy-Blaché and was mesmorized by them. (I love silent films anyway, but some of these are hand colored reels…and so amazing!)

 Alice Guy-Blaché was born in 1873 and was a French pioneer filmmaker and she is considered to be one of the first directors of a fiction film and one of the first female directors in the motion picture industry. She was an innovator and employed special effects, using double exposure masking techniques and even running film backwards. She was ahead of her time in so many ways!

In 1907 she married Herbert Blaché and in 1910 they partnered with George A. Magie to form the Solax Company, which was the largest pre-Hollywood studio in America. They were working out of Fort Lee, New Jersey and with other studios in the area it was quickly becoming the film studio capital of America. (Can you believe that???? Not in Hollywood!!)

She placed a large sign in her studio that said “Be Natural”…now I don’t know about you, but I would really love to have one of those!

If you have a moment, take a little time to watch her films, and be inspired by her work, the beauty and simplicity of the films. Celebrate the woman who inspired so many at a time when women were not directors and producers and yet she rose above it to be one.

I adore her and I hope you will find inspiration in her work as well.

Beauty in Black and White

I recently was reading a book about Marlene Dietrich and couldn’t stop looking at all the glamour poses that were in the book. There are some photographers today who would critique them to death (too centered, skin tones blown out, shadows on her face, flyaway hairs…etc), but I was in love with them. I sat and just went back over and over to the images that spoke to me.

I decided I needed to do a black and white series. All images black and white. No color. It was great to find some inspiration and just run with it!

Here are some of the shots we did!


One of the best things I have learned by being a photographer has been to find beauty and inspiration in the most unconventional places. I don’t have to have everything be perfect forit to be beautiful. Not to say that there aren’t days when my inspiration has waned and I am feeling a little blah, but it usually doesn’t take much to spark my creativity and get me excited about shooting again.

I constantly find myself looking at other photographer’s work, not to compare myself to them, but to see what has inspired them. (And don’t ever steal someone’s work. It’s one thing to be inspired, but to blatantly rip them off is a no-no!). There are some amazing photographers out there and just looking at their work makes me want to grab my camera and head out the door.

Another avenue that seems to add fuel to my creative spark is Pinterest. Oh my, how I love Pinterest. Pinterest is a a social catalog and you can create boards and post things you like. I have a ton of boards and they range from photos of vintage cameras to weddings to style choices. Pinterest has grown in popularity and I really think it is because people are looking for that inspiration and that little “kick” to just get them going.

I have been lucky enough to befriend some fabulous photographers and when I see their work, I just want to push myself even more. It’s not about competition, but I know that I can do better and I want to do better. I look at images I took months ago, a year ago, two years ago, etc. and I critique them. With each shoot and each image I have gotten better. I have learned about my camera. Posing. Lighting. Learn. Learn. Learn.

My New Year’s Resolution every single year is to learn more about photography and editing.  While I am learning I am also finding and cultivating inspiration. As you learn more about techniques, you find that creatively you want to do more. It’s this circle and you can just keep going in that same small circle or you can choose to add to it and let that circle grow more and more.

I encourage every photographer I meet to keep a photographer’s notebook. You can write yourself notes, put ideas on paper, write down websites you like, tutorial info, and more. (I go through notebooks like crazy!).

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and leave your comfort zone. You don’t have to follow the same posing and shoots as everyone else. Find things that inspire you and let your inspiration lead you to places you have only dreamed of. Learn to find inspiration and beauty in everything you see. Imagine you have a viewfinder at your eye while you are sitting at a park bench or waiting for your kids to come out at school pickup. Eventually you can train yourself to find creative angles and beauty even where no one has seen it before!  Everyone’s path in photography is different and yours should be as unique and imaginative and you!