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She’s Not Just for Children: Three New Pieces Inspired by Mother Goose

“Monday’s child is fair of face,

Tuesday’s child is full of grace,

Wednesday’s child is full of woe,

Thursday’s child has far to go.

Friday’s child is loving and giving,

Saturday’s child works hard for a living,

But the child born on the Sabbath Day,

Is fair and wise and good and gay.

– Mother Goose

 

I first heard the poem Monday’s Child several years ago. It was a beautiful late summer afternoon, and I had just spent the day photographing my youngest sister in the flowerbeds of our back garden. Attempting (and failing) to find a caption to post with these images on Instagram, I eventually grew frustrated and asked my mom’s opinion.

 

 

“Monday’s child”, she told me.

Confused, I asked what Monday had to do with the image I was about to share.

My mom clarified, “No… it’s a poem. Look it up.”

 

As it turns out, the caption was perfect, especially considering the fact that my sister was actually born on a Monday. Fair of face seemed like a fitting description: my young, innocent sister surrounded by butterfly bushes and the vibrant blooms of late summer’s warmth. The perfect caption now found, I typed up the poem and shared it to my instagram feed.

 

 

Since that day, the poem Monday’s Child has remained at the back of my mind, tempting me for years to do a small series based around this whimsical description of each day of the week. With all my other projects going on, though, I never allowed myself to truly entertain the thought. However, with the premature ending of my 365 project, I found that I was itching to have my camera back in my hands. Monday’s Child was calling my name.

Oddly enough, I had exactly the right number of friends I needed for this project, which made this new mini-series seem like it was meant to be. In my mind, I felt that this would be the perfect way for me to remember, years from now, all the silly adventures I dragged my friends through. Perhaps they’ve just been humoring my (sometimes ridiculous) passion for storytelling,  but my time spent wandering through forests or shooting in my cramped dining room with these ladies are some of my favorite memories here in Boston.

 

 

The night we shot the first three images in the series, we spent the evening sharing a meal and listened to music as we laughed and relaxed with each other. After our meal, we folded up my antique dining room table, converting the space into my studio, and began to recreate this poem. Costumes donned, black backdrop in place, we continued to giggle (which sounds so ridiculous, but it always inevitably happens when girlfriends are together) as we created the images for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday’s children.

 

 

Although I have yet to photograph the rest of the week (meaning posting these today will be sharing them out of order) I wanted to show you anyway. Patience has never been a virtue of mine, but I think when it means I get to share new images earlier, it is alright.

 

I’d be curious to know if you can guess which day is which. Did I make it fairly obvious, or does it leave you wondering? Please tell me in the comments below!

I Would Spend Every Day Here If I Could

When I moved to the city, I expected I would be spending the next few years of my life as a minimalist. In fact, I expected to find myself confined to a capsule wardrobe, collapsible kitchen table, and multi-purpose kitchen/bed/living/dining room all contained in an apartment roughly the size of my childhood bedroom.

 

Every morning I work on my various photography projects with a glass of Teapigs Licorice & Peppermint Tea. The tea in this shot is real… the amount of organization… not so much.

 

So when a kindly realtor took me to the sixth and final apartment on my pre-move house hunting trip, leading me up the stairs into a spacious, brightly lit, two-story apartment, I knew I had to live there. Not only could I sleep and eat in two different rooms (and keep all of my shoes), I also had a space where I could place all my sewing projects, photography ideas, and various crafting adventures, containing it all in one single room: the office.

 

The dress on the mannequin is a work in progress for my new series Passages. I’ve been working on drafting a pattern for what WILL be a pale green gown, using old shifts purchased from the thrift store (no guilt in cutting $7 sheets up!).

 

(I’m sure my roommates are grateful every day that they can now enjoy Netflix binges without my creations taking up every surface of the TV room…)

(… at least on most days… sometimes the explosion into overflow spaces just can’t be helped.)

 

Normally, I share the products of my time spent in this room, but today I wanted to flip the lens around and show you the sunny world where my imagination is allowed to run wild.

 

 

This room (and indeed, the rest of the house) has come a long way since I first moved in almost two years ago. Apart from a pile of stuff to take to the thrift store and some still-unpacked boxes, my computer desk was the only thing in the room for those first few months.

The first thing to arrive in the room, the desk is my favorite piece in the office (and maybe in the entire house). While still in Arkansas, I spent the last weeks leading up to my move to Boston creating this desk with my grandpa. After drafting our plans, we spent our last few weeks together in his shop as he taught me how to use his vintage tools (seriously, I think they’re from the 30s… or 40s….). In the end, despite the hours we put into it, we cut the deadline a little bit too close and didn’t get a chance to stain and varnish the desk before it was time for me to load everything into my rented U-haul. I ended up varnishing the desk in this room a few days after my move. Sadly, my grandpa has still never seen just how beautiful it turned out. Every time I sit down at my desk, though, I think of my grandpa, and that has brought such a happy spirit to the room.

 

 

The gallery wall is a collection of items I’ve found at thrift stores in all the various places I’ve lived: hats from England, picture frames from Boston, and plaques from coworkers back in my Walmart Home Office days. I also have a few of my own images hung there….

… although I’m thinking it’s about time to put some updated work in their place. Gratefully, a lot has changed in the past two years. Any thoughts on which pieces I should hang? Pretty please leave your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to know which pieces are your favorite!

 

This chair used to be a heinous orange velvet that maybe had seen better days, but I’m not so sure. With a color that hideous, one can only guess. I’m pretty happy with the beautification using an absolutely lovely royal blue velvet.

 

Something else I love about this space (and the rest of my apartment) is that almost everything is second hand or thrifted in some way. In fact, my desk, photography equipment, and the mannequin in the corner are the only things that are new. Despite their thrifted origins, every piece in this room, from my sewing machine to my velvet tufted chair, create such a wonderful sense of peace and happiness for me… perhaps because most of it IS thrifted. My friends often joke with me that I can’t help but make everything around me beautiful, but I think it’s true. I love transforming and restoring things to their deserved beauty, and I think this room is evidence of that.

 

That frame? Totally found it in the neighbors trash.

 

In an ideal world, I would spend my days alternating between developing new stories at my sewing table and bringing them to life at my computer desk: creating whatever my heart imagined, and enjoying the sun filtering in through the four big windows in the room. With all the love put into this room, it truly has become a magical place for me. A place where I can find joy and allow my imagination to amble aimlessly for hours on end.

 

The baby scale was one of my first thrift store finds here in Boston! It also holds the only three plants I’ve been able to both keep alive and maintain all of their original leaves. Plant lady status is a work in progress.

 

How grateful I am for the simple pleasure of being able to dream in such a bright, sunny place.

 

Now I’m curious, what is your favorite space in your house?

When Time is the Enemy…

Have you ever regretted not documenting something?

Maybe it was that one time you forgot your camera, or that one time you saved all of your tickets from trips to foreign lands, only to misplace them somewhere. Eventually you forget the memories entirely. You forget where you placed all those souvenirs, and eventually they disappear, never to be seen again.

When I finished Daughters of the King, the entirety of what I had spent the last three years creating was scattered across various blog posts, website pages, and costume trunks. I felt almost like someone who had misplaced their memories. In fact, at times, I felt that the only evidence this series had ever existed now lay hidden within the depths of my website and the costume trunk sitting in the corner of my living room. Out of sight, and quickly slipping out of mind.

As I thought about it, it began to seem pretty remarkable how quickly three years of work could almost disappear. As if nothing had ever happened. I just couldn’t let this be true.

And so I decided to create something that would, at least in some small way, keep the story that I had created alive. At the beginning of the year, I once again pulled out all my costumes, all my props, and all my sketches from their hiding places, carefully photographing each piece, compiling every blog post, and collecting each web page, placing it all in one book.

 

 

To look through this book, to remember all the beautiful young women I met and the valuable lessons I learned, has been a wonderful way of keeping my accomplishment from feeling like it has disappeared entirely. Like a yearbook of sorts, I have loved reading through all of my favorite stories and memories that were collected as I crafted my costumes, explored new locations, and got to know new people.

 

 

 

Whenever I pick up a camera, or a new idea comes to me, my next thought is to always wonder “how can than this be an inspiration to others?” How can what I have learned and what I have created help others who are following behind me on this journey? Art is a powerful thing that can change people’s lives. The stories within Alex Stoddard’s images had this effect on me. Walking down a path with an end destination of a job with the United States government, the work of a 17 year old boy opened up a divergence in the road to which I gravitated. While a job with the United States government isn’t something I’ve ruled out entirely and it certainly isn’t anything I look down open, I feel grateful every day for the passion and fire that conceptual photography brings to my life, and for the love of which Daughters of the King helped foster for the past three years.

– An excerpt from my book, Daughters of the King.

 

 

Originally I made this book for myself, to look back on and remember the combined effort of three years of passion and persistence. However, after thinking it through I have realized that I am not the only one who waited three years to see this project through. You did too. And because of this, I have decided to offer this book for sale. 

If you were touched, at least in some small way, by the work that went into this series, grab yourself a copy!

 

 

And if you haven’t already, when you sign up for my mailing list, I am giving away free bookmark templates of my Daughters of the King series this month only. I will only be offering these through the end of the month, so sign up now!

 

 

Access your free bookmark printables from my Daughters of the King series by filling out the form below!
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Exclusive! Finding My Way Out of Sorrow: Where Passages Began

Two and half years ago, I was more depressed than I had ever remembered being.

This is perhaps a rather dramatic thing for me to say, considering no one had died and neither myself nor anyone close to me had sustained any life-changing injury or illness. Really, it was something almost trivial… but it brought me to my knees, all the same.

For months, I whispered my prayers, asking for just a little bit of brightness at a time when happiness eluded me. The heartache and inescapable sadness I felt is something I can still remember to this day…

 

 

Want to read more about what inspired me to start my newest series, Passages?

I only share these updates with my subscribers, so if you’re not signed up for my mailing list, come join us now and see all the behind the scenes sketches, videos, photos, and more!

 

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I’ve Decided to Quit… and Here’s Why I’m Alright With That

When I was a little girl, I loved to hold my breath. I especially loved to hold it through the long, dark tunnels we passed through on our trips to visit our Texas cousins each year. As we drove through the stone channels bisecting the Ozark mountains, I often competed, both with myself and my siblings, on who could last the longest. Just as the hood of our big Suburban touched the shadowed edge of the tunnel, I would take a tremendous, desperate breath of air, intent on making it the entire length without opening my mouth.

After a certain point, however, that breath, which had seemed so refreshing at first, began to feel more like a burden, every passing second providing less oxygen… less purpose to my body.

 

 

As I’ve been working on my 365, I’ve begun to realize that this project is a lot like that breath of air. Like taking that desperate gulp at the beginning of my childhood tunnels, this project was something I needed when I started it. I had been so entrenched in the process of planning and executing my images that I had almost forgotten how to be spontaneous, or how to create, just for the sake of creating. Over the past six months of constantly creating new work, I rediscovered that ability, bringing a handful of images to life that, despite a lack of planning, turned out beautifully.

However, like that pent-up air in the tunnels of my childhood, I have come to the decision that it is time to let the old air out and breath in anew. This is not to say that my 365 was a waste of time. Rather, I think working on this project was crucial in helping me in creating habits and acquiring skills that will make me better on many levels. A better photographer. A better artist. More organized. More ready to stop thinking and start acting.

 

 

It taught me how to be creative again, something I think I had lost a little bit of in the past three years. I had become so entrenched in the process of planning to perfection that I needed to once again learn how to spontaneously grab a dress and my camera and run off into the woods to tell a story. Because somewhere in the middle is that happy spot. Where my images are purposeful, but not excruciatingly slow in their creation. Where I no longer find myself delaying because everything isn’t “perfect.” My 365 taught me that there is no perfection… there is only growth.

 

 

It also taught me how to share. To show all the details behind the scenes in a way that felt genuine to myself. Sharing all the videos, blog posts. and sketches gave me a way to be a better storyteller. I believe that, in some small way, I learned how to bring you, even if just for the length of one blog post, into my world and immerse you in the fairy tales I envision.

So to say I am sad to be leaving this 365 behind is both incredibly accurate and strangely wrong. The perfectionist in me.. the finisher, the “DON’T QUIT!”-er, absolutely despises the fact that I’m doing this. Because I know in my heart that I am capable of finishing the last 215 days. However, my heart knows that it is time to release and breathe in again. To turn my attention to something even better.

 

And that is Passages.

 

 

A new series that has been growing in my heart since July 2014 and will now, finally, come to life. Because of what I’ve learned between Days 1 and 138, the story of a young girl named Chloe, who ventures out into the world, intent on starting her own adventure, won’t just be a story for me to read to you. It will be a story we can read together.

Through small stumbles, moments of despair, lessons learned, and challenges triumphed, we can watch Chloe’s travels together, as they lead her to the person she is meant to be: a tenacious heroin, intent on, and capable of, achieving all that she was destined to be.

 

 

But I want this to be special. Like a handwritten note in the mail, or a favorite childhood story read just before drifting off to sleep…

So I’ll only be sharing it with my email subscribers.

If you’re not already an email subscriber, you can join and read along with me by filling out the form below. New images, behind the scenes videos, and excerpts of stories will all be sent to your inbox, where you can join and share all the updates and news about this exciting new series I’m thrilled to begin.

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You know that feeling you get when you’re just about to open a brand new book and dive into a new world? Well that’s how I’m feeling right now as I sit here, typing this and anticipating next week’s email arrival in your inbox. That’s when the story begins! I hope you’ll join me!

 

Yours,

Perhaps This Was Only Natural…

Perhaps it was only natural…

… only natural that after devoting myself wholeheartedly to photography for almost eight years, that I would eventually try my hand at videography. And I suppose it was only natural that I would actually fall in love with compiling all those clips, finding the perfect music to accompany the memories associated with each and every one of my shoots.

As I’ve been working on my 365 project, I’ve been trying to record all of the behind the scenes details. Creating costumes, laughing with friends, and frolicking through fields and over forested paths. Videoing all of this, in a way, has brought a new sense of life to my photography. While my images have became a memory, frozen in time, these videos have served as the living embodiment of these memories.

Of course, I’m still very new to this medium, but it has been a fun process to learn about. So I thought that today I would share my three favorite behind the scenes videos that I have created so far.

 

 

 

 

Yes, the videos are shaky in some areas, and of course the scene changes are significantly less than professional, but there is laughter and happiness contained within each video. When I watch them, I remember being out in the brisk cold air, wandering around my favorite locations with my best friends. I remember the late nights spent creating in my bedroom and I smile. That is why these videos exist. To bring a smile to my face and to the face of everyone who participated (even you, as the viewer).

I create these videos to give you a glimpse into my creative world. It’s not always perfect, and most of the time I am figuring things out as I go, but I always find that it is in those moments, when I am just “figuring it out” that the magic appears. It appears in the process and it appears in the adventure.

Why I Dont See It the Way You Do

When I look at my images I see things very differently from the way you see them.

For example, when you look at it, what do you see? What do you think about? Do you see a simple story of a girl, cradling something precious to her? Or do you see a young witch or magician, learning how to create light for the first time? With art, the story will always be different for each viewer. Their unique life story fills in the blanks where words would normally convey the tale.

What do I see in this image? In all my images?

I see much more than the fairytales portrayed in each of my pieces. Rather, underlying all that,  I see the story of the image’s creation. The dingy garage we shot in, the dress I spent weeks sewing together, and the metallic paint my sister and I giggled over as we painted her body gold. I see the work and the love that went into each individual piece, slowly bringing it to life with each stitch of thread and each click of the shutter. And I want you to see it too, at least for today, when I share the transformation of how Magic’s Origin grew from just a thought to a whimsical reality.

 

 

It begins with the concept. The idea. Sometimes that idea is inspired by a quote, sometimes by a personal experience. In the case with Magic’s Origin, it was inspired by an answer to a prayer. The full story of exactly how I was inspired can be read HERE.

Step 2: Research – Once an idea has formed, I turn to Pinterest  to research everything from costuming and makeup, to lighting and locations. Each idea I have has its own Pinterest board where I can collect the small inspirations and ideas I find as work on the piece progresses.

Step 3: Illustration – With an idea for the costuming and location, I then do a rough sketch in my art journal. This helps me to visualize what it is I’m trying to create. (Interesting side note: sometimes I actually skip Step 2, depending on how clearly I can see in my mind what I’m trying to create).

 

 

Step 4: Thinning and Fleshing Out – After sketching everything out, I go back to Pinterest. Looking through my board, I weed out what no longer fits my vision and begin to create a more solidified idea for my new image. After this stage, I know exactly how I want the piece to look. This is tremendously helpful when it comes time to take the image because I know exactly what I want. I’m not (figuratively and literally) taking a shot in the dark and just hoping it all turns out how I wanted.

 

 

Step 5: Location Scouting – With the solidified image in my head, it is then (most of the time) pretty easy to find where I want the image to be taken. Sometimes it’s simple and it takes place in a studio, meaning anywhere that I can set up my backdrop and lights. Sometimes the scenery I need is a bit more specific, requiring a few scouting adventures to find exactly where my scene actually exists. This can at times take several weeks before I find what I need, but it’s always worth the extra effort to find that perfect spot (like in Scarlet and Gold, which took about a month to find THIS location).

Step 6: Prop & Costume Creation – Steps 5 and 6 generally happen at the same time, especially if, like with Scarlet and Gold, I need a very specific location that can take weeks to track down. So far, all of my costumes have been created with repurposed materials (including wedding dresses, duvet covers, bed sheets, and leftover fabric from other craft projects).

 

 

Step 7: Set up – Once everything is created, finalized, and scheduled, I gather my model, costume, and any necessary props and lighting and set up my scene. Generally speaking, it takes about an hour to do the entire shoot. Sometimes it seems excessive when I think of all those weeks of preparation and hours of creation all boiling down to one solitary hour in front of the camera. But the thrill I get from that, when I finally see what used to be a hazy image in my mind finally brought to life in front of my eyes, is exhilarating and absolutely enchanting.

 

 

Step 8: Edit – The final step is the editing. First I comb through everything I shot, deleting the images that don’t fit exactly with the story I have in mind. Eventually I narrow it down to one final image, which I then devote several hours in photoshop to. I do everything from fixing minor flaws in the image (like that troublesome pimple right in the middle of my model’s forehead), to adjusting the lighting and the color balance. I find that these simple fixes, with a touch of light painting here and there, combine to create an image that belongs in a whimsical and enchanting storybook.

After all that, I save my image and I simply stare at the piece for a few minutes, appreciating all the hard work that went into creating that one solitary image. I love photography and have for the past ten years. I don’t anticipate this is something that will change any time soon. However, I have found that, despite how much photography sets my soul on fire, I have a passion for the entire process. While it’s certainly not a quick process, I love every step of the journey. To me, it feels as if each step of the journey brings with it a new source of joy, like a small, bubbling spring of excitement, bringing me closer and closer to my vision each step of the way.

 

122 Days Gone in the Blink of an Eye

And just like that, month four has come and gone. It’s crazy to think that I am one third of the way through this project already. It seems like just last week that I wandered through my favorite New England field with my friend Kari, photographing Scarlet and Gold on that gorgeous Autumn evening.

 

 

Month four has been busy. But strangely it has also seemed to just flow smoothly, which has been a very welcome change compared to the last time I attempted a 365. In my first attempt, by day 60 I felt so completely overwhelmed that within the week I ended up quitting my project. This time around, it feels like there are a million things I need to get done at any one time, however I’m not drowning. I feel more like the speed boat skimming by on top of the water, zipping from place to place. It’s a strange feeling, but I am most certainly not complaining.

 

 

Perhaps it is because I’ve made an effort to make this project fun this past month. Rather than thinking “just get out and shoot something”, I’ve tried to reframe it in “what haven’t I tried yet?” Consequently, this month, I’ve learned quite a few things:

 

1. Most notably, I’ve experimented quite a bit with studio lighting. Given the short days here in New England, and my weekend schedules of late, the only time I’ve had to shoot has been after work when the sun has gone down. I’ve taken to exploring lighting setups in my “studio” (read: my bedroom) at least once a week and I feel like I’ve made some progress because of it.

 

 

2. When I was younger, one of the things that held me back in ballet was that I was always too afraid to put emotion into my dancing. Sometimes I felt like I was more a machine, placing my feet and arms in all the right places, but refraining from expressing the depth of feeling true ballerinas were able to convey. Ballet is pretty, but not when performed by an emotionless robot. I’ve been rather emotional of late, though, and so, in an effort to be true to my motivation of capturing true stories, I have tried to show more of that in my images.

 

 

3. I’ve also tried my hand at crazy makeup! I can’t tell you how many ideas I have pinned away on various pinterest boards for years and years, thinking I would one day try them out. This month, I made sure “one day” happened and I feel like it adds a whole new level of artistry to my work.

 

 

4. Window light is AMAZING. I knew this in theory, but never personally until this month. This one wasa fun (and beautiful) one to experiment with. I even got a new profile picture out of it!

5. This month I tried to make my own mannequin, which I wrote about in last week’s blog post. However, after using it for a few weeks, I decided that in order to make this really work as a mannequin, I needed to put a little more attention (and materials) into it than I was willing to devote. I’m probably just going to buy an adjustable mannequin with the amazon gift cards I’ve been stockpiling for the last few weeks.

 

 

6. I also started making my own pattern for a custom dress (which I talked about this last week as well. You can read about it HERE. It’s been pretty fun!

7. Back button focusing also made it onto my list of things to try this month. Last September, a friend of mine finally showed me how to do it, however it wasn’t until this past month that I finally decided to take the time and really make an effort to learn it, probably because I only just replaced my missing tripod last month, which is a crucial tool in back button focusing. What can I say? Sometimes I tell myself buying fabric to reupholster my tufted armchair is more important than replacing the tripod I lost a year ago… it happens.

 

 

8. Sometimes my favorites are not going to be everyone else’s favorites, and sometimes everyone else’s favorites are going to be the images I dislike the most. It can be kind of frustrating at times, but that’s why I love art. Not only is it intensely personal to the creator, it’s also completely personal to the viewer, and what doesn’t necessarily speak to me, may be profound to my viewers (at least, that’s the hope).

9. I really enjoy working with multiple models. Sometimes I have felt that my images have started to become stagnant. How many photos of a girl in a dress can you take before it begins to tell the same story? I’m not saying this is always the case, but it is certainly easy to slip into that habit. I love the challenge that shooting with multiple models brings to the shoot and the dynamic shift in the story it can tell.

 

 

10. Editing snow photo shoots are much more difficult than normal photo shoots! I love my images to have richness to them, but I’ve found that it is really hard to make something rich and vibrant when 70% of the image is white (beautiful… but unsaturated, nonetheless).

 

 

For being the shortest month of the year, February definitely taught me more than any other months of this project. I wanted my 365 to be about trying new things and pushing myself outside my comfort zone. During this past month I feel like I really did live up to that mantra, and I can see the pay off. There are things I learned this month that before seemed like something I would never quite get. And other things that seemed out of reach and nigh impossible. But I tried it anyway. And now those things seem a lot more attainable.

I’ve been stressed and tired of working on this 365 at times, but when I write these monthly posts, it puts it all back into perspective: I wanted this year to be a year of growth, and so far it has been. I like to think of how much progress I will have made eight months from now, when I finally get to share day 365. It’ll be something to be proud of, I think.

What a Hurdle Race and My 365 Project Have in Common

When you start a project, there are three hurdles you have to get over. The first hurdle is the initial leap, the test that convinces you this IS something you can do. The second: enduring what seems to be an endless middle, convincing you that this project is something worth finishing. Finally, the ultimate drive, allowing you to say that you finished something and to say it proudly.

 

Want this free wallpaper for your phone or mobile device? Get it HERE!

 

Recently I made it to day 100 of my 365 project (in celebration I made some free desktop wallpapers for your phone or computer, which can be downloaded HERE).  Making it this far has felt a lot like I jumped that first hurdle. I leapt, and when I landed, I realized I was invested in this project. My 365 has now become something to fight for and battle through, not just another project to grow tired of and add to the pile of unfinished efforts. In looking back at what I have accomplished so far, it is incredibly gratifying to see both areas of improvement, and areas where I was able to be honest with myself about my changing passions.

First, my editing speed has increased dramatically, allowing me to now spend about a fifth of the time that I used to spend on each image. For someone who is as much of a perfectionist as I am, this is HUGE, saving me so much frustration that my endless hours in photoshop used to cause me.

 

Want this free wallpaper for your phone or mobile device? Get it HERE!

 

Also, ideas seem to come to me now like an endless bubbling stream, guiding me steadfastly to new stories and tales. It is a wonderful feeling and although I sometimes worry that this stream will run dry, I try not to worry and just enjoy being in this moment of thriving creativity.

I have also found that, while studio lighting is still something I have a significant room for growth in, I have seen tremendous improvements over the last three and a half months in knowing about light placement and technique for creating the mood within my portraits. Studio lighting no longer seems even half as complicated as it did when I set out on this journey.

(Perhaps this means I can reward myself with better lighting equipment when this project finally wraps up? I think so!)

 

Want this free wallpaper for your phone or mobile device? Get it HERE!

 

Finally, I learned to stop trying so hard in areas where I wasn’t finding tremendous amounts of joy, and transfer that energy to new techniques that did. I finally admitted to myself that I didn’t love photoshop as much as I used to and surprisingly I was ok with that.  I still love it, do not get me wrong, however, lately I have been making an effort to spend more time on my growing love for sewing and prop creation. I have even found that my talents for both have increased dramatically over the short period of time where I have allowed myself to explore these processes more. The less time I spend in photoshop, the happier I have found I am with the end result.
So, as a celebration for making it past my first hurdle, I decided to create some free wallpapers of some of my favorite images from my 365 so far, with the quotes that inspired these images. You can get them by signing up for my mailing list right here:

 

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Why Sundays Are My Favorite Day of the Week

Growing up, I moved around quite a bit. In fact, the past year and a half I’ve spent here in Boston has been the longest I’ve lived in any one single home since I was 16. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because of the wonderful experiences I’ve had and incredible places I’ve visited. Now, one of the benefits of moving so much is that I have had ample opportunity to perfect my answer in the obligatory “get to know you game” (you know the one you have to play with all the other newcomers on the first day of class, church, work, you name it). However, despite my many chances at creating the perfect answer (the one that will make everyone want to be my friend and all the guys vying for an opportunity to take me out on a date), the best I can ever come up with is “my name is Madeline and I like to be creative and make pretty things.”

Um, possible the worst answer ever. Not only is it…. Well, lackluster… it’s also, as I’ve come to realize, very vague. But how else could you describe the thing that is most important to me? How else could you describe my tendency to buy stuff from thrift shops or scavenge them from the curb the night before trash day, take them home, and reinvent what was once ugly into something beautiful?

I love to make things beautiful. This is nothing I haven’t mentioned many times before. However today I realized that while I’ve talked about my love of thrifting and reinventing many times, apart from my photography, I’ve never actually shared any of my other “reinventive” projects with you. So today I wanted to give you a little peek into my home, to see what I get up to on Sunday afternoons (my designated “craft” day, and consequently favorite day of the week).

 

 

Last week I experimented with making a mannequin that was custom-sized to my own measurements. I had seen various tutorials here and there on the internet and, given the very unrealistic proportions of the mannequin I already owned, decided I wanted to give it a try. Because really, how could you mess up wrapping duct tape around yourself to make the perfect body cast? It sounded fun to me! I’m still very new to the world of dressmaking, so who knows if this is really something that will work, but I thought I’d give it a shot!

 

 

I’ve ALSO been working on creating my first dress, without a store bought pattern! It’s my first attempt, and so far it has been slow going, but it’s been really, really fun. Perhaps in another life (or my future life) I was meant to be a dressmaker…

 

 

I’ve also been working on, and am nearly finished with, an elegant blue-velvet-tufted chair that I just want to curl up and read in all day long! It’s been several months in the making, but now that I’m nearing the end, it’s been so worth every single sore finger, staple-gun bruise, and wire-cut (like paper cuts, but much, much worse)!

 

 

When I first found this chair in the furniture section of Savers, my favorite thrift shop, it was covered in a repulsive, tattered orange velvet. Not entirely convinced it was something I wanted to mess with (the chair was entirely tufted!), I ended up leaving the store and decided that if it was still there when I next went, I would consider buying it then. Of course, a few weeks later, when I returned and the heinous orange chair was still there, I just couldn’t resist. I had spent the past few weeks since I had first seen it, envisioning it recovered in a decadent blue velvet. When I saw the chair the second time around, I knew that $10 price tag was not going to stop me. Ten minutes later I found myself driving home with my folded-down-backseat filled entirely with an arm chair that had seen far, far better days.

 

 

It took a LOT longer to turn my dreams into reality this time around, and not just because I only had a few days a month to work on my little (but kind of big) project. It turns out that tufting is really hard! But I think it was all worth it in the end. I, of course, frustratingly ran out of tacks just a few short of what I needed to complete the arm, but once the mailman delivers those, I’ll be tacking up the last little bit and calling this project a success!

 

In addition to the armchair, when I started my 365 project back in October, I decided to give myself a little extra motivation for the days I didn’t want to go out and shoot. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I love photography, if you do anything every single day for a year, it can, at times get frustrating. So I set up a rewards system for myself in the form of milestone prizes. On days 100, 200, 300, and 365, I would buy myself things I had been wanting, but had never been able to justify with a simple “because I just want it!” I figured making my way steadily through a 365 project finally gave me that reason to buy the things I had been wanting.

 

 

So what kept me going all the way up to day 100? Call me a huge dork, but I wanted a laminator.

 

 

And she arrived yesterday! To be 100% honest, I just want to laminate everything in my house. Luckily only things smaller than an 8×11 piece of paper will fit in the machine, so I’ve settled for laminating some fun bookmarks and place-markers for my planner.

 

And on the photography side of things, I’m currently working on a piece with a working title of “Tied Down”. However, working titles for me are almost never the final title of an image. This is largely because, usually, when an idea comes to me, I just title it according to what is literally happening in the image. Some working titles have included “Snow Graves”, “Green Skirt Forest”, and “Kari Evergreen”, so needless to say, often a title change is later required once I’ve finished the image and need to complete the story the piece is conveying.

But this is what the image looks like so far. There will of course be a lot of things changed between now and when I put the final version on facebook and instagram, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a work in progress of my photo editing!

 

 

Lastly, I’ve been working on something the last few weeks that I am very excited about! A coffee table book for my Daughters of the King series! I’ve been sifting through every single image I’ve taken for this project, from the costume creation, locations, and prop designs and compiling them all in this book. While I have shared most of this in various blog posts throughout the three year journey to completing this series, I’m excited to finally have it in one place. A tangible place that I can hold with my hands and reminisce over. A place to appreciate all the details, thoughts, and ideas that went into this series as if it were one perfectly sized present. I’ll be sharing more about this book next week, but in the meantime, here’s a few sneaky looks:

 

 

February has been an exciting month so far, which is sort of crazy to me, since we’re only one week in. I think this bodes well for the rest of the month. There’s a palpable sense of excitement that I can feel coming in the next few weeks, and while I’m not entirely sure what it is, I’m just going to enjoy the ride it takes me on.

 

See you next week!