Tarot Deck: Queen of Swords

  The Queen of Swords is like the woman at the party who is elegant, witty, gracious, and more than capable of seeing through people’s facades. If you ask her a question, she will not mince words. She is honest and authentic, so, if you’re not ready to hear the truth, don’t ask her opinion.   As her title suggests, she carries a sword because she is the truth slayer. Her sword symbolizes mental clarity, which gives her the ability to cut through the noise and get to the truth. She is also adept at creating boundaries, without pushing anyone away. She knows that she can take care of herself and this strength only adds to her beauty.   This court card suggests someone who is able to discern false from truth in a manner that is diplomatic and discerning. Just because we can tell when someone is not being honest, doesn’t mean we have to start an argument with them. The Queen of Swords demonstrates that you can both maintain a healthy boundary and practice honesty while still being kind.

Self-Publishing Journey: The Importance of Staying Organized

Self-publishing my first book was one of the hardest things I have ever done. There were so many skills that I had to learn that my head would actually ache at the end of the day. The worst part, however, was that I never felt like I was on top of things. No matter how many hours I worked, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough done. My desk always looked like a tornado swept through my office. Finding a particular sheet of paper would provoke an anxiety attack.   When I was in high school and college, I thought that I was fairly organized, but when I started this journey of publishing Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I found myself constantly feeling overwhelmed, disorganized, and anxious. There were post-its everywhere with half-written notes. Because there were so many moving parts in the self-publishing process, it was easy for me to lose track. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any important deadlines, but I realized that I suffered more than I needed to because I wasn’t organized enough. I needed to create a system that would work for me.   It’s really important to have a method for staying organized. Each […]

Why You Should Consider KDP For Your Photography Book

One of the lessons I learned while working on my first book was the idea of selling it as an ebook. To be perfectly honest, I have never read an ebook. I guess you could say that I’m old-fashioned because I really enjoy reading from an actual book. I love the way they smell, and there is something about the physical act of holding a book and turning the pages that feels good to me. Plus, I like how they look on my bookshelf. Because I wasn’t that familiar with ebooks, I didn’t think that Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits would be appropriate as an ebook. For one thing, Tattle Tales is predominately photography, and I always felt that people would prefer to view photographs in an actual book instead of on a tablet or smart phone. Since the release of my book, I have reevaluated my position on ebooks for photography books and here’s why:   Benefits of Publishing Your Ebook on Kindle: 1.) Expand your exposure to other potential readers through Amazon Advertising: Since Amazon Advantage no longer accepts new members, I had to join Fulfillment by Amazon. FBA doesn’t allow book ads, so I had to […]

Lighting Challenge: Using Christmas Lights

  When I first started really getting serious about my photography, the one thing that really intimidated me was working with studio lights. Most of the time I tried getting away with just using natural or ambient light, which worked most of the time. However, there were photoshoots where I absolutely needed to use studio lighting. Before those shoots, I would suffer a lot of anxiety because I felt the pressure to get the lighting done right and in a short amount of time. I was afraid people would look down on me or judge me if it took me too many tries to get the lighting just right.   Taking classes on lighting was definitely helpful for me, but what has really helped me the most was practicing with my lighting kit over and over again and changing up the variables. It’s cool to check out what other photographers are doing, but, unless you have their exact kit, your results will be different. Instead, when I check out photographers on Instagram, I’ll adapt their techniques with what I have in my studio. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.   Confidence with lighting doesn’t happen over night. I have […]

My Writing Influences

When I was a writing student, one of my mentors taught me to carefully analyze and learn from authors I admired most. This isn’t to suggest that my writing voice will ever emulate the styles of those who have inspired me to write fiction, but, through the practice of studying great works, I have become more discerning and aware of my own habits and weaknesses. Becoming a skilled writer isn’t so much about sounding like everyone else. At least part of being a really good writer is about developing a strong authentic voice.   In college, I was obsessed with 19th century literature. Don’t laugh (okay, you can laugh), but I wanted to write like Herman Melville and Jane Austen. My first writing coach actually did kind of laugh at me because my writing style looked nothing like 19th century literature. Over the course of several months my mentor had me work on discovering my writing voice and learning about other novelists whose styles were a little more similar to mine.   Adjectives that have been used to describe my writing are terse, gritty, and masculine. I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy about this at first. However, as I started […]

Photographers Supporting Photographers

  When I first started to learn how to use a DSLR camera, I was amazed at how many photographers offered to help me grow and teach me some tricks of the trade. Stephen and Adam (pictured above) were two such photographers. Stephen was my first photography instructor, and Adam runs Global AZ Media. Thanks to Adam, I have covered several concerts that have come through the Phoenix area. Both of these photographers gave me opportunities to become a better photographer and photojournalist. When I started my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits, I wanted to interview these two and include them in my book because they both impacted my photography.   No art is created in a vacuum. It truly is a collaborative process because we can’t help but bring in experiences and lessons that we learn from other people. I always try to be supportive of other artists because I think that there is room for all of us, and I want to be part of an artistic community. Competition is a natural effect that drives many of us, but it doesn’t have to become a negative force in our lives. Someone once told me that […]

My Relationship With Fiction

Before I became a photographer, I studied creative writing. During my time as a graduate student at California College of the Arts, I finished my first (and very rough) draft of my novel in addition to a handful of short stories. When I started my novel, I didn’t even know it was going to be a novel. At the time, I was working with a mentor who wanted me to practice writing emotions associated with the description of a room. A single writing exercise turned in to the first two chapters of my story. Since then I have learned more about fiction through the process of writing my first novel.   It’s not easy for me to articulate my relationship with fiction because it has evolved over time. I used to believe that there was a sharp divide between myself and the material I created. The reason I chose fiction was that I wanted to explore personalities and subject matters that I thought I would never experience in my own life. It has always been too difficult for me to write about anything that too closely resembles my life. I can’t be entirely authentic because I get anxious. Part of […]

Tarot Deck: The Moon

  It is usually at night that our fears and anxieties begin to spiderweb. When you step outside, the moon (especially when it’s full) illuminates some things, but not everything. What we can’t see with our eyes, we fill in with our imagination. Often, this leads to worry, paranoia, or making rash decisions.   The Moon has a few interpretations. This card can mean confusion, deception, or worry. Sometimes the best thing to do when life is unclear is to be patient and wait for or gather more information. This is can be very challenging because people tend to want to resolve whatever is bothering them quickly. However, there are some situations where there is nothing you can do but wait.   When this card shows up in a reading, take stock in what could be contributing to your confusion or fears. During the darkest of times we can learn a lot about ourselves. Strength doesn’t develop unless we are being challenged. Take a deep breath, observe, and listen. Eventually, the darkness will pass.  

Tips for Photographing Art

  I really enjoy photographing art because I love to photograph visually stunning objects. Taking pictures of art is a form of product photography, where the goal is to create an image that accurately represents the art piece. Some art pieces are much more difficult to photograph than others. For example, glitter has proven to be my most challenging issue when I photograph art. In my personal life and work, glitter is my obsession. However, glitter produces a lot of highlights and in other places it can appear much darker than it actually is. When I correct one issue, another one emerges. In this particular instance, I recommend taking multiple photos with slightly varied lighting settings and check to see what looks most like the piece. It’s always good to be in communication with the client. If there’s more than one option, let the artist weigh in on the selection.   When I do art photoshoots, I work much differently than when I shoot for an art project or event. I’ve listed below some recommendations that have helped me.   1.)  Use a cable to connect your camera to Lightroom on your computer: I usually don’t like to use cables […]