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Posts tagged ‘photography’

How She Does It: Meet Becca Ellis

Photographer Becca Ellis lives in a small beachside community in Kitsap County, WA (right near me, we just figured out!) with her husband and three children. When she is not behind the lens, she enjoys running, gardening, writing, fine art modeling, exploring and hiking in the beautiful PNW, sharing a cup of coffee or tea, painting, and creating music. I hope to soon meet Becca in person for a cup of tea—but in the meantime, the following interview *feels* like having a cup of tea in person—which we can all share together. Enjoy!


PictureOfBecca

Becca Ellis

SM: Please introduce yourself and your family.
BE: I live in a sleepy little beachside community on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington state with my husband, three kids (ages 7, 5, and almost 1 year), and cat. I grew up a city girl, but after falling in love, getting married, and having kids, we moved back to where my husband grew up and have settled into a simpler, slower, rural lifestyle and absolutely love it. We spend much of our free time exploring different beaches and parks, gardening, and taking walks in our own community down to our local beach.

SM: Tell us about your artwork/creative endeavors.
BE: I am the owner of Soma Art Photography, based here on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State. I specialize in maternity, birth, and newborn photography. While I tend to have a documentary approach to photography, I am also heavily drawn to creating strong portraits of women, particularly mothers, acknowledging and celebrating the unique role they play in the world and memorializing the season they are currently in.

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Soma Art Photography

I also love to capture the connection shared between family members, which is why I am so drawn to birth—the raw emotion and sacred bonding that takes place when a baby is born is unlike any other experience I know. I originally ventured into professional photography out of a desire to become a midwife. I was invited to attend births as a photographer for a local doula, and after a few births, I was hooked! After a year of attending births as an amateur and building my portfolio, I launched my business in spring of 2015.

I also run a personal blog, B.E. Blog, which began as a way to document and write about simplifying our family’s lifestyle in just about every aspect from our home to what we eat to parenting and more. Today the subjects are more broad and cover different interests and questions I find myself asking, but I still find myself centering on simplicity often.

My latest project is PenCraftLove, a shop I started on Etsy where I create and sell organizational templates, planners, and fun and inspiring wall art printables. I hope to expand as time goes on, but it has been a fun new outlet for my graphic artist aspirations.

SM: What goals do you have for your art? How would you define your “life’s work”?
BE: I am a maker and always have been since I was young. I have a tendency to jump from one project to another as I follow my interests—I have always had the mindset that if I want to make or do something myself, there is nothing stopping me (short of finances), other than devoting some time to education and practice. So, my art is fluid and changes with time, but I know I will always create. My “life’s work” feels hard to pin down, but I have enjoyed settling on photography these past few years and developing my craft and personal artistic style. My greatest hope for my photography is that I will create something that my clients cherish forever and that it will emotionally stir people and form a connection with them in some way.

SomaArtBirth

Soma Art Photography

SM: How has motherhood changed you creatively?
BE: Motherhood has helped me see the beauty in creating just to experience the process. With kids, the process is really the important part of exposing them to art and different mediums. Most of the time, they aren’t going to end up with a masterpiece (even if we feel sentimental about their preschool watercolor prints ourselves). I love devoting time to creating with my kids and it has always been important to me that they don’t become bogged down with worrying about creating something perfect—I want them to have fun and simply enjoy the process of experimenting and creating something uniquely theirs. Learning this has helped me loosen up and give myself permission to explore different ideas without worrying about the outcome being perfect. Sometimes I can devote hours to something that ends up feeling like a total “flop,” but what I learn from it is actually very valuable. Actually, many times I end up loving something that I created which happened completely by accident!

MyDaughter

Becca’s daughter

SM: Where do you do your creative work?
BE: We live in a small house without much of an office space. I used to work with my laptop in bed or on the living room floor with Netflix in the background. I still paint and draw in the kitchen, due to it being convenient and I can keep an eye on my kids, and I often will do my editing work with my laptop down there if it is the middle of the day. I also set up a desk in our loft where I can work at my computer and have my printer and other supplies handy. When I have a designated space it makes it much easier to sit and get more work done than if I feel like I have to pick up my work and put it away every time we have a meal or need the table for something.

Becca's Desk

Becca’s desk

SM: Do you have a schedule for your creative work?
BE: Right now, with three young kids at home (two school aged, one under a year old) and a husband who works full time, I generally work when he is home in the evening after the kids go to bed or on the weekends. I am able to get some work done during the day when the kids are in school/napping. It has worked OK to just work when I have a moment without it planned out, but for the new school season, it feels important to schedule out some specific time that I can be uninterrupted on a regular basis. I really believe this will help me be more productive and present with everything I do, whether it be for work or family.

SM: What does creative success mean to you?
BE: In the past, I think it would have meant that I am busy all the time (high demand for my work) and I have many fans and admirers. Lately though, it has much more to do with being true to myself as an artist and individual and having my work mean something to the people who connect with it.

SM: What makes you feel successful as a mother?
BE: I think it is both important for my kids to see me work hard to achieve my goals and provide for my family, and also to be present and available to them. It doesn’t happen every day and we all extend a lot of grace to each other when we fail to pay attention to each other’s needs, but I can see the difference in everyone when we have settled into a daily rhythm that works for our family—life doesn’t feel so rushed and we have plenty of opportunities to connect throughout the day. There is a feeling of peace in our home. This is when I can rest easy knowing I have given them what they need from me as their mother.

MyYoungestSon

Becca’s youngest Son

SM: What do you struggle with most?
BE: Self-promotion and placing value on my work. I have always been a very self-conscious person. Each year, I get a little older and a little wiser and I care a little bit less about what others think about me—it has taken a long time to get to where I am today! Yet, I still doubt and overthink things and worry that I’m just not “that good” or that anyone will see any value in my art, or even care to see it. To be truthful, I get a lot of anxiety over sharing my work on social media sites, so I am constantly struggling with figuring out the balance in marketing/networking and what feels good to me.

SM: What inspires you?
BE: I draw inspiration from many sources. Books, nature, music, my kids. When I see or hear an authentic voice in another’s work, writing or art, it moves me. When I see someone share a photograph or piece of art that they created that you just KNOW they put their soul into, because you can feel it—this inspires me. People embracing and sharing the beauty they see makes me want to dig deeper and find those extra minutes that seem to be hiding from me to do more. I find a lot of inspiration on Instagram [you can find Becca on Insta here and here] and am mostly drawn to following accounts where I see this—people developing and sharing their craft with a passion that truly reflects who they are. I can always tell when I am not being authentic and am just trying to be more like someone else, because I think it will gain me popularity points. I try to stop myself in those moments and take some time to re-center and remind myself who I am and what unique perspective I have to bring to the world, even if it isn’t going to get the most “likes.” 

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Soma Art Photography

SM: What do you want your life to look like in 10 years?
BE: When I dream of the future, I envision a small house on some acreage with rows of flowers dancing in the sun. I see myself waking up to the morning light seeping in through the slits of the curtains and sitting at my desk and writing and painting with my cup of tea or coffee. I see working with clients and families who appreciate and value my style and are eager to invest in my artwork. I see my husband and I working together for our own businesses, sharing the load of household and careers and embracing a simple and sustainable lifestyle, deciding our own schedules and investing in our values. I see creating a space of community and gathering with others. I don’t know exactly what my art might be in 10 years, because I hope it will always be evolving as I grow and learn more and go to the places life takes us, but my hope is that it will become richer with each passing year and give something back to the community I live in.

SM: What are you reading right now?
BE: I always have about 5 open books on my nightstand and can hardly help myself from picking up more every time I’m at the library with my kids. I just finished Jewel’s Never Broken and it was so inspiring and ribbed with truth. I am currently reading Writing Wild by Tina Welling and am learning so much about tuning into my own creative process from it.

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Becca and son

SM: What are your top 5 favorite blogs/online resources?
BE: For photography inspiration/eye candy I love LooksLikeFilm and the 5 Minute Project.

Click’n Moms also has some great articles and breakout classes all about photography, although I have yet to invest in taking one, I have heard great things about many of them.

I also tried out the SkillShare App for a few months and really enjoyed the online workshops I took—there are so many different subjects to learn directly from experts and artists from business to photo editing to social media skills.

SM: What do you wish you’d known a decade ago?
BE: That it’s okay to laugh hard and let tears fall, that you can’t live up to everyone’s expectations and you will always be too much or too little for someone—so just be you and do the things that are burning inside without worrying so much about what everyone thinks.

HandletteredPrintfromMyEtsyShop

SM: What advice would you offer to other artists/writers struggling to find the time and means to be more creative?
BE: Just start. Every day, even if it is only ten minutes or fewer, it is that much more than nothing. I have found that starting is the hardest part—once you get going, it will be easier each day to find the passion and motivation you need. Of course, there will always be slumps and days you don’t feel like doing it; don’t let that get you down forever. Take a break, re-center, and go at it again. Also, don’t be too worried if something doesn’t turn out. Chances are a lot of things aren’t going to, but the process is so important and you will grow from it until you really discover what it is you have been waiting to do all this time.

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Connect with Becca!
Blog: beccaellis.wordpress.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/soma_art_photography
Instagram: www.instagram.com/pencraftlove
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/somaartphoto
Facebook: www.facebook.com/somaartphotography
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/pencraftlove

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Joyelle: What Is Good for Us

I had to laugh the other day when Sheri McConnell
posted this as her Twitter update:

Before you diagnose yourself w/depression or low self-esteem, 
first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

Clearly this post resonated with many others too,
because I saw it re-tweeted several times through the day.
And I think that we all laugh because we see
how we have done this to ourselves.
I know I have driven myself into therapy
because I wasn’t careful enough about choosing
who I had around me.

I am a highly sensitive person,
as I think most artists are.
I am also very empathic,
and have a great desire to prove my own worth
by taking care of others.
This is not a healthy combination.

I have learned to recognize this pattern in myself.

After reading The Happiness Project,
one of my personal 12 Commandments became
“When you feel the urge to do more, STOP.”
Because I know that I often over-extend myself.

I am trying to
“pick out what is good”
for me.

Some of the things I have learned in this process:
*if you want to have a good marriage,
spend time with couples who treat each
other with love and respect
*if you want to make more art,
surround yourself with artists
*if you want to have more fun,
surround yourself with people
who make you laugh

I could go on, but you get the idea.

What about you?

What do you want more of? Less of?
What can you pick out that is good for you?

Crossposted from An Artful Endeavor

Jodi: TtV — Through the Viewfinder — Love

I have found a new love! It’s called TtV (through the viewfinder) and I was hooked the minute I saw this post from Julie Bergmann, one of my FB friends and an incredibly creative spirit.

Her link intrigued me — especially with my collection of vintage cams — the main reason I started collecting them was my weird love of the way the pictures look in camera. I love the noise, the light leaks, the vintage feel and the dust! I went to her flickr stream and fell in love!

I searched flickr and found a group with 6600+ members. The pictures were absolutely breathtaking — like I’d stepped into a magical world! So, when I realized that I already had the cameras that would allow me to do this type of photography — my Brownie Hawkeye, my Kodak Duaflex and my Argus 75 — I couldn’t wait to get started!

I needed a bit more technical information about the process so I went to one of my favorite photography sites, JPG, and found this article. It really helped to make sense of it all. Another very informative and goofy site is Photojojo. Their article on TtV really simplifies the process for anyone who’s itching to try it out.

The one thing that I honestly haven’t done yet is to make the contraption that they talk about — the one that joins the 2 cameras together for added stability and so that no light is able to get in. So far, I’ve not been disappointed with any of my shots but, I do plan on rigging up something in the summer, once I can get outside and shoot for extended periods of time. I want the full TtV experience!

The first picture is what the process actually looks like. I’m aiming into the viewfinder of my Brownie Hawkeye and taking a picture of what is in the viewfinder.

The neat thing is that there is no film involved! I use my Canon 7D DSLR and my 100 mm macro lens — this gives me a nice, crisp shot of what is in the viewfinder of my Hawkeye. Here is a SOOC (straight out of camera) shot of what is downloaded from my 7D and before any editing.


The viewfinder of the Hawkeye.


I really like that there is not alot of editing involved. I crop out everything but the thick black border — the hallmark of TtV, regardless of the vintage camera that you use — and depending on how I’m feeling, I may saturate, de-saturate or run a vintage action on it.

The final TtV image. I left this one unedited to show you the dreamy, noisy
feel to the image.
My boys through the viewfinder.

I edited this one of my toddler more true to TtV. Darker, blurrier, and noisy!

Another characteristic to TtV shots is that they are reversed. I took this picture of an old telephone with my 7D and my Kodak Duaflex IV. You’ll see the letters and numbers are reversed. Some photographers choose to flip the image while editing so that it is visually correct — I don’t. I like the quirky look.


An old Northern Electric phone done in TtV and sepia-toned.
This image was my very first sale in my Etsy shop! It’s my favorite!

My third TLR (twin lens reflex) camera is an Argus 75 that I found on ebay. It was in great shape and good and dusty! All of the speckles that you see are permanently embedded in the viewfinder. I can’t imagine ever cleaning it! I took this shot in the back of our truck — I balanced the Argus on the edge of the truck and shot straight down.

Winter in Timmins, ON. All I did to edit this one was slide the saturation up a notch. The sky was beautiful that day!
My husband. Edited to have a 70s feel.
Me. My daughter took this extreme closeup. Boo!

That’s my new love, TtV, in a nutshell. It’s definitely not for everyone — if you like clean, sharp pictures, you probably never made it to the end of this article! Ha! If you’re a lover of noise, speckles and something different — like I am — go and get yourself a Duaflex or an Argus and get shooting!

Joyelle: A Toddler’s-Eye View

Yesterday my 3-year-old son discovered the camera. Now, given that his father and I are both photo obsessed (to the point that we have weekly photo dates and are signed up for a photo retreat together this March) the only really surprising thing is that Gabe hasn’t picked up a camera sooner. I do have to put in a little disclaimer here, that the camera he picked up was our point-and-shoot Fuji, not one of our two DSLR cameras. So instead of freaking out and yelling “PUT THAT THING DOWN NOW!” I was like, “Go nuts, kid.” And he did.

For the last day and a half he has been snapping pictures of anything and everything, from the pantry cupboards to our cat (many, many pictures of the cat), his grandmother, his Ikea crawling tube, rocks, and his own shadow. He especially seems to like extreme close-ups, which come out in a cool blur of color. At one point he was closing in on his sippy cup and his grandma said something like “Don’t do that dear, it won’t look good,” and I practically jumped down her throat. OK, not quite that bad. But I did tell her to let him have his experiments. We’re in the digital age, he can take as many pictures as he wants!

After a day and a half of photo taking, he had filled up the memory card. Here is where I thought the hard part would come. I wanted to teach him about the most important part of photography — editing. So I loaded all his photos onto the computer and asked him to give me a “yes” or “no” as to whether he liked each image. What surprised me was how a string of “no”s came out easily. He kept his favourite subjects (the cat, grandma, his Ikea crawling tube) and quickly nixed anything that he didn’t love. I ended up over-riding his “no” a couple times when I wanted to keep an image. After all, it’s my baby’s first photo shoot! And that shot of the cement tiles was really cool!

And what I have now is really priceless. A collection of images, literally from my toddler’s point of view. I get to see the world from his perspective. And it’s chaotic and swirly and beautiful. And it may just be that I am biased because his father and I are both artists, but I think this first venture into photography shows his already acute artistic eye. But then, all children are artists. We only cease to be artists when we cease believing in our art.

So here again I can learn from my son. I can see his joy in capturing the moments of his day, and it is a reflection of the joy I feel when I look at my world through that lens. It reminds me why I love photography so much. Because in that process of re-framing your world, you become child-like in wonder at the smallest thing. That awe, that connection to the world around me, is why I keep coming back to my camera. It is meditation in motion. And I am so excited that now my son gets to have that experience with me.

Wendi: A Writer’s Introduction

I am a WAHM, working as a freelance writer and photographer, currently in Act II of a very happy and successful professional life. Prior to taking on these creative challenges I spent nearly 20 years working for two national nonprofit children’s organizations.

Through each of my professions, the one thing I have always been committed to is helping other parents get more joy and be more successful in the hardest and most rewarding job ever. When I’m not wrangling babies I’m a writing articles about nonprofit business management for Stevenson, Inc.

As a freelance writer my works about parenting and child welfare have been published on a regional and local level. I was recently featured as a guest blogger on Fans of Being a Mom and keep my own blog, Warts and All.

On the creative front, I love experimenting with my new digital SLR camera and sharing my love of photography with others. With two young children, I have to say that most of my creativity right now goes into planning what I will enjoy doing when I have more time, including scrapping some of the 10,000+ pictures I have taken since my kids were born. Right now I’ll settle for just getting them organized.

I’m an avid reader and love connecting with other moms over all things parenting.

I live in upstate New York with my husband and our children, ages 7 and 3. I can be reached at www.wendibrandowwrites.com.

Jodi: My 2011 Goals — in Polaroids

I am not a “New Year’s resolutions” maker. If I want to change or accomplish something, I just do it. It seems foolish to wait until a certain date to make changes that you could, if you wanted to badly enough, make right now. But, I do look at the turn of the year as an opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing right (house clean, kids fed, husband smiley) and those things that I’m slacking off at (me time, my career, my outlets, my, my, my…). So, being a photographer who is obsessed with all things photographic, I decided to do things a little different this year. I recently discovered Jamie Ridler and her dreamboards and I really like that they put a picture to an idea. To me this makes it more real, so I borrowed this line of thinking and put my own spin on it!

I have a variety of cameras. My Canon 7D, my Minolta-35 mm, 120 medium formats, and 620 film cams. I also have a great collection of actual Polaroid cameras. They are probably my favorite of all of my ‘vintage’ cameras as they give me instant gratification (not to mention the amazing 70’s feel). So this year I set my main 2011 goals and then photographed them with my Polaroid Spectra 1200.

I recently made the difficult decision to close down my current daycare business in hopes of starting fresh with a photography business. 2011 for me is a completely fresh start and with that comes all new goals that could be set. My primary goal is to get my business established and generating some income. The first picture shows a small portion of my camera gear that is itching to be used in my new business. They also represent the vast amount of stuff that is piling up due to the fact that I don’t have a dedicated space.

Goal #1

Open my Photo Studio -- maybe 1/4 of my photo gear.

My second goal is tied to the first. I have always loved to dabble with paint, pastels, chalk, and all things crafty. I recently discovered that I have the desire to make my own textures and possibly artwork that incorporates my photos. I haven’t exactly narrowed this down — it’s a work in progress for now. All I do know is that I have two easels, sketch pads, watercolor canvases, and more paint, pencils, and chalk than one person probably needs. And they are homeless. They are currently piled up on my tiny desk in my room beside my littlest’s crib. My husband is always banging into them. He’s not very happy about this.

Goal #2

Create an Art Space -- it's piling up!

My third goal may be the one I’m looking most forward to. I am a caregiver by nature. I have run a daycare for 7 years and I have four kids. Before the daycare I was/am still a Certified Personal Trainer (ultimate career where you coddle people — exhausting) and I tried once during the 7 years to go back to work. I found work at the Red Cross doing personal care. In short, most of my adult life has involved me taking care of everyone around me. This year I solemnly vow to make more ‘me time’ and, here’s the kicker, not feel guilty that I could be doing something else. My picture shows my fave Aeropostale slippers and many Lush bath bombs that are unused. One is from Christmas last year! Yuck!

Goal #3

Make more 'me time' -- some of these bathbombs are from last Christmas!

Finally, I have always been a voracious reader. Between my cookbooks piling up in the kitchen, novels on my bedstand, photography and writing books in my office, aka the kitchen table, almost every corner of my home has a pile of books. The problem is that when I finally get the kids to bed, usually by 8, I still seem to have a million things left to do, whether for the current day or to get a jump on tomorrow. By the time I finally get up to bed, my favorite place to read, I fall asleep. I have to give myself permission to leave things for the next day and give myself that extra time to read.

Goal #4

Read more! I would love to finish any one of these!

I am hopeful. All the goals I have set are attainable — or I will make them attainable. I want my own business, I deserve more ‘me time,’ and I need to have a creative outlet — artwork and reading. I have posted the Polaroids on my bulletin board in my kitchen. I will look at them every day and when I accomplish that particular goal I will remove the Polaroid and tuck it away. I may even replace it with a new one!

2011, here I come!

Good luck with your 2011 goals — I’d love to hear about them!

Jodi

Jodi: An Introduction

[Editor’s note: Please join me in welcoming Jodi to the Studio Mothers community!]

I am a wife and mom to four great kids: 14, 12, 2.5 years, and 8 months old. I live up in Timmins, ON, Canada. I have been running a small home daycare for the past 7 years while I dabble with writing, blogging, mixed-media artforms, reading, cooking, baking, and my biggest passion, photography. I am a collector of vintage cameras (Brownies, Hawkeyes, Minolta), toy cameras (4 and 8 lens), and the proud owner of a Holga, a Diana, and too many Polaroids.

I recently graduated from the New York Institute’s Full Photography course and have committed to opening up my own photography studio where I plan to offer traditional indoor studio sessions and outdoor/location shoots. I also have delusions of grandeur that include my own line of fine art prints (check out my Etsy shop), notecards, templates, and anything else I can create in my little home photo/art studio. I love my Canon 7D and Photoshop Elements 9. Whatever would I do without you?

I look forward to being a part of a community that encourages creativity and family.

Where I can be found:



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