How to Stay Creative

For a lot of creatives out there, including myself, we have to produce day-in, and day-out so we can gain some traction in this digital world - Hoping our work can be seen by the right person, but what happens when you hit the “creative wall?” If you’re reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about, and it happens quite frequently, even for the most experienced. When that arises we often have questions such as: Do I like this, who would like this, and what can I do better from my own critique/criticism from others? In the art world, no matter if it’s journalism, painting, music, or photography, you have to hear the good, and bad. It’s a huge learning curve when someone doesn’t like your work, or you don’t see as many likes on a particular post compared to the other. One way to grow is listen to your audience, ask questions, and don’t be stubborn. An ego can’t make you creative; creativity comes from within, without barriers, and smugness. Have an open mind, and you will succeed.

With this in mind, what can you do to make your next piece interesting, awesome, and most importantly, memorable? First and foremost, do your research. Look at the competition in your similar style, and see what they’re doing, but do not plagiarize their work. That defeats the purpose for you to grow. To step it up to the next level, think beyond the box, and add your personal touch to make your work stand out. Similar editing styles do exists, but there are so many ways that can stretch your imagination. For example, everyone can take a simple landscape photograph, but making it creative with new perspectives from angles, adding layers with other photographs you’ve taken, or from stock images that is legally allowed for you to use from sites like can dramatically improve the shot, making it original, and something you can be proud of.

Also, I cannot stress this enough, the most important aspect of photography is a story. We are engaged by reading stories told by our friends, historians, and those whom inspire us to find aspiration. It is the driving force to portray your work in a new light, and help guide you to success. Start by telling the world what it took to take this photograph, where and why did you travel to this location, and what experience(s) did you have seconds before you snapped that shutter? Your story does not have to be a novel, but a few sentences can explain your work, and people will follow, because they simply enjoyed it, and can’t wait to read more that comes in the future. It also helps you to stay creative, not just from your photography, but with your words. People can feel a lot, and tell a lot about someone how they portray a story.

Lastly, setting the mood. This is not only for date nights. Your workspace has to be an area where you can get in the zone, and shut of the outside world. Setting the mood is a vital step that should be practiced every time you’re trying to prepare yourself for endless hours in front of the computer, or preparing a blank canvas waiting for the brush sweeping your new palette of colors forward. We all have our on ways to meditate, but dimming the lights, listening to music, lighting a few candles with a glass of wine are great ways to whine down. Pun intended! Most importantly, and suggested by many, put the phone down. Make sure to silence it, or have it in the other room. The fewer distractions, the better. A workspace should be comfortable, and not disruptive. Make your workspace your Zen, be happy, and make it count.   

5 Tips To Up Your Photography Game

1.       Composition

Setting up your composition is something you have to plan beforehand. Whether it’s shooting a wedding, portraits, or shooting landscapes always set a goal to what you want to achieve with certain lenses, effects, or being inspired from your favorite photographers work. Once given the opportunity, see the shot before snapping away. Portraits require more thought, because you’re collaborating with your client and what their specific needs are. When doing on location portraits, make sure you use a telephoto lens for that bokeh effect to blur out the background with your depth-of-field. When shooting portraits in landscape, and portrait view, keep your subject to the left or right. The placement will make or break your shot. The rule of thirds is very important aspect of photography (examples are below) and it will guide you to have great composition 100% of the time.  With landscape photography, keep in mind that your shot has to be straight and leveled with the horizon. Make sure you do not Dutch angle anything for it will decrease your showmanship as a professional.

Example of the rule of thirds

Example of the rule of thirds

Example of a bokeh effect

Example of a bokeh effect

2.       On Camera Filters, or Gels

Ever notice why your shots may have a washed out sky or the color might be flat? Adding an on camera filter can add more depth, and vibrancy to each shot. Neutral density filters are best for long exposure shots for waterfalls and city shots with rivers being super smooth. Adding a polarizer can take that harshness out in mostly sunny conditions to add rich deep colors and saturate the flat areas making your images pop. Not only does it help achieve a better image, it also protects your lenses from scratching. For portraiture, all you need is a UV filter to protect your lens and the DSLR sensor from the sun’s rays. The same type of filter is found on your sunglasses. Colored gels can help a ton when you do black and white photography, adding more depth to bring out highlights and tone to your pictures. It is a little bit of a hassle because you need two parts: a bracket to slide the gel in and the gel filter itself, but it’s great when you want to be super creative and keeps photography exciting.

3.       How To Make Your Photos Stand Out

With the increased amount of people taking pictures and social media, photos are a part of daily life. Everyone owns a smart phone to shoot photos. So the question is, how do you make your shots stand out when you visit a popular area where many people took pictures? This is how: Research what other people have been shooting by doing a quick google search, or inside your favorite social media app. It can give you an inside look from what other aspiring artists are doing. After that, you can go into a shoot and try to replicate those poses from those sources. With landscapes, you can add certain effects with camera filters and gels, editing in photoshop, and different lens combination such as macro photography with plant/animal life around you. Creating different angles that keep you inside the rule of thirds, and adding people to your shots with themes can be fun and exciting. Photoshop is very powerful tool while editing and the possibilities are endless inside it. For example, you can layer different photos in there and could be a great way to make your work stand out from the rest making it more creative. 

Here's an example how I created one image with layers, from my piece '"Star seeker"

4.       Story Telling

People love reading stories with life journeys bringing aspiring events to inspire others. After all, for thousands of years of documented history, we have been telling stories and sharing our experiences in hope that it will live on. Like music, people have a connection to it with compelling lyrics that people can relate to on an emotional level. We need an emotional connection, because it makes us feel alive. It also grounds us to know that other people out there have gone through those same experiences. In art, and more specifically here in photography, it's important to talk about how you took the shot, the thought process behind it, and what it took to tell your story.

I would recommend to not hashtag us to death, and please add the location where you shot your picture. People do get turned off by it, and some believe that too many hashtags means you’re desperate for likes/followers.  It makes people disengaged, and eventually not interested in your future posts. They will later see it as not interesting, and it's less of a chance for you to stand out here in this digitally connected world. So get out there and put in the work, and tell everyone what makes your work awesome.

5.       Lighting

Lighting is so important, but the hardest to master. Most cameras have a built-in flash, but they can give you a deer-in-headlights type image, or a harsh background shadow when shooting portraits. The best way to shoot portraits on your DSLR is a diffuser. A diffuser softens the lighting, and evens out your images. Pointing the flash up can fill in the gaps where the darker areas could be present, and decrease those shadows dramatically. Soft boxes are great for a constant even light, and umbrellas are great with weddings, or portrait photography. You can remotely set off the flash with a transmitter without worrying about battery life, and not worrying that your flash could blind your subjects. When shooting outside, umbrellas are not practical so reflectors held by an assistant is a great way to reflect light filling in the gaps that your flash cannot provide, and they’re super cheap too.

Making Friends on Social Media


The Top Five Know-How’s Making Friends on Social Media


With the world changing, and how less we've become to know someone in person, we are more involved to meet people online through social media. whether it be on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or if you're one of those who'd like to find that lost love through Tinder. The question is, how in the world do you make friends on social media? 

As a product of Generation X, I have adapted to the high demand to be digitally connected to the world of today, and not at all afraid of change, but as I grow older, I have noticed a few things: The number of friends begin to dwindle down to the ones whom you can count on with one or two hands, those whom you can trust, share stories of life experiences, and having similar interests that spark conversation on the daily. In return, the number of followers on social media are vast. From family, friends of the family, to your boyfriend/girlfriends family and friends, to people you don't even know, or people you have met a long time ago, but have no interests in hanging out, and finally, the ones whom you love to talk and leave snarky comments on their Facebook wall for the quick spur of the moment conversations from a status or photo meme that sparks up conversation, because it made you LMAO. That was a lot to say. Phew!

Sometimes, you can meet someone that you genuinely like to talk to online. Just as you would in the real world that you can just connect with. Although they are real people, with real lives, problems, jobs and a life as you would expect, but you just can't seem to trust them. Why? Could it be that you need a voice to connect to their profile photo to confirm reality, to confirm that calling instead of texts are more human than other forms of communication? Are emoji’s enough? The desire of hearing someone is meaningful. The tone of someone's voice can attract us to want to hear more, or not at all. In person, you can see a person’s body language, how they react to the things they love, or hate. We can tell a lot about someone if they have a strong handshake, they give good hugs, and how they introduce themselves in social settings, like dinner parties, family, and business events. Online, a lot is lost. Mostly because people don't understand and know how to express themselves through texts. Most are lazy and want instant gratification by using acronyms, one letter words to fill out a conversation and with no feeling with simply using exclamations 

Have the past horror stories from the news embed this into our fear sensors that scream to our flight response? Obviously, there are warning signs which people who want too much too soon. I have some stories that would make you want to go EEEK, but always give that person a chance. I’m not saying you have to bring down your walls, and let the whole world know what you do without a filter, but all I’m saying is, take a few minutes of your time to reply. From my experiences, I’ve compiled the top five know-how's making friends on social media.


1.       Respond Accordingly

Yes, the growing amount of instant gratification is a problem nowadays, because we need it better and faster with technology. Now with social media we see the three dots in iMessage, or that so-and-so is typing in the background makes us feel anxious. Even more so when they type, and they end up just deleting everything they said. The anxious you asks them, “Hey, what were you typing?” They’ll respond with, “I didn't type anything.” Obviously this makes you irate, because this is something you can't turn off in the settings of your phone from the app. You have to stay calm and realize, and give them the benefit of doubt that they might be at work, someone is calling them, maybe they had a family emergency, or they just had to hit the bathroom. Don't expect an answer on the fly. Give that person time to respond, and when they respond, wait a few minutes meaning 15-30 minutes to respond back. It's a healthy alternative instead staring at your phone biting your fingernails, and pacing back and forth. If it's an important conversation, call them. Texting works for short messages.


2.       Be Kind and Respond

We are all always fighting time every day. With busy work weeks, cooking every day, and chores around the house, we sometimes forget to respond to our friend’s texts, phone calls, or notifications on social media. This is definitely an issue when you're trying to make friends. You could try spending 30 minutes a day (varies from person-to-person) reaching out. Even if you hit that like button from their message, it's still showing interest. Something is better than nothing.  Replying back to someone means you're engaging and you're taking back time to respond. It could benefit you and them.


3.       Spark Up The Conversation

You don't necessarily have to say,” Hello, how are you?” in a private message, but on their status, or photo upload. There's less of a chance that they will feel a reason not to respond, but If you like a photo, or status posted, you might ask yourself how do I do this? For example, if someone post a selfie, and you think they look nice, say something less abrasive. You could say “Hey, you're easy on the eyes” or “You did a nice job on your makeup - what kind do you use?” Be personable, but not intrusive where you make someone uncomfortable. Another example is to engage what their status is about a topic you’re interested in. Respond honest and be yourself and share your thoughts by being respectful to others who have responded in the thread.


4.       Pay It Forward

It's always good to help someone out when they're in need. In a professional setting, or in personal life. Making friends is all about trust from being honest, getting to know them with their, happiness, and being there for each other when tough times arise. If you're friend asks for a favor, try the best you can to help them out.  It could be a shoulder to lean on, or it could be helping them study for their exam. At the workplace you can be on the same team and you have to help each other out. Of course there's a balance to that. It has to work both ways to be beneficial to everyone. It can't be one sided.


5.       Build Relationships by Having Fun

Here in the social media world, amateurs, and professionals are looking to grow their following with goals in mind. Looking for new friends, followers, and even new employees can help market your brand to expand their reach, but you may ask yourself, “How do I do this?” The Solution is to be yourself and never lie about what you're doing. You must remember that this platform is for recognition, and you don't want new followers to lose their interests. Make it exciting with stories that are honest, interesting, or even controversial. For example, photos with no insight is like handing a resume for that next great job with a blank sheet of paper. Explain the photograph where it was shot, how you felt while photographing that scene, or how you achieved that cool effect in Photoshop. If your status is just a bunch of hashtags, or a vague sentence, then the attraction is very nil. In about short two sentences, you can explain a photograph. People love stories, so remember to tell yours.