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 […]

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 […]

Antique vs Vintage: What’s the difference?

Before I had started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins, I had always used the words vintage and antique interchangeably. It turns out that they are not the same. Antiques are items that are over 100 years old. There is no definitive rule for vintage, but it usually refers to items that are around twenty years or older.   One of the models that I frequently work with is known for her beautiful vintage wardrobe. Her name is Liliana, and I met her roughly three years ago when I was working on my first book, Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Most of our shoots have been in the studio, but this time we decided to photograph at her home, which she has furnished and decorated with antiques and vintage items. Her home reminded me of something that I would see in a magazine or a museum. She told me that most of the items she found in Goodwill stores around the Phoenix metropolitan area. Needless to say, I was in awe of her home and often got distracted looking at all the figurines, artwork, and other items that I don’t usually see anywhere else. […]

Why I Wrote A Book About Mannequins

  I had never planned to work on a project involving mannequins. Even though I found them interesting, I just never thought to write a book about them. This changed during a trip I took with a friend of mine back in 2015. The two of us were walking along State Street in Santa Barbara, California when an antique store caught our attention. Their store front was so colorful and filled with interesting things that we were immediately drawn in, as though strings were pulling us into the store. Once inside, I started to notice several mannequin heads perched on shelves and stuffed between other antique and vintage items. Each one was different. I was so enchanted by these busts that I started to take pictures of them with my phone. I didn’t touch or move them. I only wanted to show their beauty and uniqueness.   From that point on I began photographing mannequins whenever I saw them in an antique store. I also started reading about their history, and I learned a lot of things that surprised me about these fashion dolls. Mannequins have been used for thousands of years. In 1923, Howard Carter discovered a mannequin that […]

Adjusting to the “New Normal”: Life in the time of COVID

I know everyone has been affected by COVID-19 in one way or another, and some have been more affected than others. In fact, I’ve been reluctant to express how the pandemic impacted me because I know that on the spectrum of struggles there are people out there who have it much worse. However, regardless of where anyone is in the spectrum, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a connection between current events and our emotional health. As a dear friend once told me, “Pain is not a competition.”   Since we are in the midst of unprecedented times, I’ve had to completely rework my timeline and strategy for my projects. Most of my freelance work has been on hold because people aren’t hosting or attending large events. This means that I have had to reevaluate my budget for publishing, marketing, and advertising. Since I’ve had a career in the arts since I was eighteen, I understand that uncertainty comes with the territory and being able to adapt is crucial. For me, this means exploring new ways to create content and generate revenue.   I’m still in the process of figuring it out, but I’ve made changes to my workflow […]

Author Photo: Why you need to have one

Having a really good author photo is especially important because anywhere between 600,000 and a million books are published each year. That’s a lot of competition. Even if you’re a phenomenal writer, you still want to do everything you can to increase your chances of a potential buyer noticing your book. While you may think of the author photo as just the small square image inside your book, there are many other uses of your photo that you probably haven’t considered.   In this blog, I’ll explain why author photos are important and give you some tips on making sure you put your best foot — or in this case your face — forward. Why do I need an author photo? Some people just don’t like having their photo taken. I completely understand those people because I’m one of them. However, there are some things in life that you simply can’t avoid, and this is one of them. Creating your brand is one of the most important elements in creating a successful career as an author. Your photo is a part of that branding. You don’t have to have a bunch of photos of yourself, but I do recommend having […]

The Second Book: Lessons Gained and Lessons Learned

When I was in graduate school, a mentor told me that each book was like starting over. Each project has its own differences and challenges. I didn’t completely understand this until I started working on my second book, which explores the history of mannequins. Of course there were certain things that were easier about making this book because I had learned those lessons while working on Tattle Tales. However, when it came time to publish the second book, I realized that I had to do things differently. This meant another learning curve and a bit of frustration.   Being a writer, and especially a self-published author, means that you’re constantly learning. Besides developing your skills as a writer, you have to stay on top of all the new ways of marketing, publishing, and distributing. In the age of technology, the rules are always evolving and changing. Additionally, what works for one book may not work for the other book. I’ve listed some of the lessons I have learned from my second book.   The message of this post is to urge self-published authors to be flexible and open minded. I had a much different idea of my path when I […]

Mannequins Play a New Role

  Since the lockdown in March, many things in our world has changed. Besides the fact that much of the country is in shutdown, we are also getting used to new rules and trends, such as masks, plastic partitions, virtual interactions, and refraining from any social interactions that involve touching (like hand shakes and hugs). It’s a whole new world, and humans once again prove that during challenging times the creative mind can produce some entertaining solutions.   Later this year I will be releasing my second book, Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel. In my book, I explore the history of mannequins and how they have played an important role in our society. These fashion figures reflect the social norms of the time, showing what is popular and desirable to own. When stores began closing their doors due to the pandemic shutdown, I wondered what would become of mannequins. So much of their existence is dependent on people shopping in brick and mortar stores. A friend sent me an article from The Guardian, which reported that restaurants were using mannequins and blow up dolls to occupy some of the tables to creatively implement social distancing. While some people might […]

Working with Mannequins

      When I was working on Mannequins: Stories of the First Supermodel, I purchased these two busts for an idea I had for an artistic photoshoot. I have not yet finished this project, but I have worked frequently with these two beauties.   As someone who likes to try new ideas with lighting, I like the idea of being able to practice before experimenting at a photoshoot. When I’m working with a model, I like to be fully prepared. It doesn’t mean that I’m not making adjustments during the photoshoot, but I don’t want to waste precious time. If I do want to try out an idea, I’ll wait until the end of the shoot.   Mannequins are great because you can practice your photography whenever the mood strikes you. They can’t talk back or complain that you’re taking too long. They are very patient and forgiving models. 😉 The names of these two mannequins are Melina and Monique.

My Return to Writing Fiction

Even though my first book was nonfiction, I actually started out as a novelist. In 2012, I graduated with a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. I was in the process of reworking my first novel when I realized that I needed to step away from the story to clear my head. During what was supposed to be a short break resulted in Tattle Tales: Tattoo Stories and Portraits. Now, I’m getting ready to publish my second photography book, which covers the subject of mannequins.   Just as I was getting ready to start my third book, COVID-19 spread throughout the world and halted my progress. I’ll admit that I felt disappointed, but one of the things I have learned as an artist has been adapting to change. The arts is one of the least stable careers for a variety of reasons and therefore the only way to have longevity is to be able to adapt and transform. As a result of the lockdown, I had to choose a different route for my third book. I have decided to return to my roots, which is fiction.   During my two years as graduate […]