On Instagram Live [Year of Me Challenge Video 2], I mentioned I would do a post on where to find products to beautify your flatlay photos for Instagram, so here we are. My first post in months.
To simplify everything, I’ve created an Amazon store that you can access here [AMAZON STORE] or in my bio on Instagram [@michellekennethpw]. In the store, look under “As Seen on Instagram – Backgrounds.” I added everything I spoke about in the video from pretty giftwrap paper to the foam boards to the photography background paper.
For those who were not able to see the video, that’s what this post is for. I’m going to share my tips on how to create the beautiful flatlay photos you see of food, books and various other products. Believe me, those gorgeous flatlay photos against gorgeous wooden floors are not really wooden floors.
Flatlay Photos Tip One: Giftwrap Paper
When I first started out doing flatlays, I used a lot of gift wrap paper I picked up from places like Paper Source or Papyrus. They have an array of beautiful one sheet paper that ranges anywhere between $5-$12 per sheet. Since I’m a lover of paper products, I would sometimes go in and peruse their selection, looking for the perfect backgrounds to use. It was my treat to self because the paper was just so beautiful.
Even something as simple as paint splattered on craft paper created interesting backgrounds for photos. While you could probably make this yourself at home, I’m not that talented. I purchased this from one of the Makers on Amazon.
One of the benefits to double-sided paper is that sometimes when you need just a blank background, but with texture, it serves as a perfect backdrop so you can add your own extras in the photo.
Ever wonder how people got their floors so immaculately clean EVERY SINGLE TIME they took photos using their floors as a backdrop? Or did you ever think, wow, they have incredible marble countertops? I swear I did every single time. Imagine my surprise when I learned their secret.
They were using Photography Background Paper.
There are various different floor backdrops out there. Most sheets of photography background paper are double-sided with two different backgrounds on each side. Costs for these sheets can range between $11 for a single double-sided sheet to $20-$40 for 2-4 sheets.
You can even find backdrops that can serve as a wall for pictures where you need a wall background for book stacks or just a clean back drop for regular non-flatlay photos.
They even have concrete floors for a more intriguing contrast.
I mean, have you ever seen a concrete floor so clean that you could eat off of it???
My favorite backgrounds though are for those who post about food. Not everyone is blessed with marble countertops. Yet, there’s a way to fake it.
For those who like a more wintry or darker background, they do have black marble countertop paper to use. I am considering trying the darker side of food photography later this year, but it might also work for those Instagram feeds that are a bit on the darker side.
Tip Three: Scrapbook Paper
I am relatively new to this tip. @notinjersey (Dara) was using a background I absolutely loved, so I asked her where she got her photography backdrop paper. Imagine my surprise when she shared it was scrapbook paper.
Scrapbook paper comes in varying sizes. I recommend getting the 12×12 (or larger, if that exists) for your flatlay needs. Each package contains 2 sheets each of multiple backgrounds. This may be the most cost efficient method for those just starting out or those who want to not invest a lot of money into this. I bought two packages of scrapbook paper and it cost a little less than $6 each.
For this photo for The Photographer, I used two sheets from the package I purchased.
In this photo, I am using only one sheet of the scrapbook paper.
Tip Four: The Extras for Flatlay Photos
For this tip, I want to give a shoutout to @stephsbooktherapy for this little tip. Go to her Instagram for a tutorial on how to use foam boards with your photography background paper (Tip Two).
I purchased two of the largest foam boards I could find on Amazon, but it ended up being too small. Steph informed me she had to get hers custom cut to fit the actual size of the photography background paper.
So since I’m stuck with these two boards that don’t fit my paper, I started using them for something else. I use them as a flat surface for photos. I can still lay the paper down on top of it or binder clip one side and tuck the corners down underneath my couch cushions (or have Matthew sit on one side of it to keep the corners from curling).
Since these are white boards, they can also help serve as a way to soften the photo or refract the light to brighten the photo. Just position the white board outside of the frame. You’ll be able to see the difference. Find the right spot with the light and then take your photo.
In the photo above, Matthew is sitting on the white board. You see how it brightened up the photo and gave him a softer look? No filter or adjustment was needed.
Truthfully, yes you can live without these boards, but if you’re serious about this, I think it’s worth buying a couple, or even getting them custom cut to fit the photography backdrops. It will just make your life easier when you go to photograph your flatlays. For Steph, she uses one board to create the wall, and the other to create the floor.
Here’s the shop [AMAZON] where you can find everything I’ve referenced in this post, including the white boards. You will not be able to find the actual gift wrap paper I’ve used in Tip One. I’ve listed similar items in the shop. If you love paper as much as I do, I recommend Paper Source and Papyrus to view their handmade collection.
I am happy to announce that I am now an Amazon influencer. You will be able to shop my favorite picks and finds that I feature both here and on social media directly through Amazon.
If you check out Amazon.com, you may notice Cosmopolitan magazine appears with their own influencer page like the one below.
Influencer pages are a new and unique way to help our readers and followers find and purchase items we love or feature in our publications and on our social media accounts. If you are not already in love with Amazon, you may fall in love now that they are tapping your favorite influencers to work with.
This month, I am featuring my favorite picks for Valentine’s Day. Ladies, if you are looking for something to wear on date night, I got you.
For those wanting to know which kitchen gadgets I am using this year as I focus on my Love Yourself campaign, I have those listed. For those looking for the perfect gifts for your favorite cooks, I highly suggest the Instant Pot and the Click and Grow. You can find those items on my Amazon Page. [I will be talking more about the Instant Pot and Click and Grow in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!]
One thing I am asked a lot from the people at Amazon is what gadget I am using, especially when it comes to cameras. Amazon is getting ready to launch a new camera made specifically with influencers and fashion minded folks in mind. It’s not on the market yet, but keep a lookout for it. It’s listed on my Amazon Page (Echo Look).
When I get home tonight, it should be waiting for me, along with my groceries. And yes, I shop exclusively with Amazon Fresh for all of my grocery needs. Since they purchased Whole Foods and lowered the prices, they’ve improved the grocery selections for Fresh customers.
For the books I’ve read so far this year, you will be able to find them on my Amazon Page. My favorite beauty products are also listed. As many beauty products as I test out, I am only listing my favorites and items I use regularly that I swear by.
When I finish my kitchen update, you will understand why I listed a few home improvement products. It is perfect for the apartment dwellers who hate the way their kitchen looks. In other words, those products are a sneak peek into upcoming content here on the site.
I am very happy with this new collaboration. Amazon has been very helpful over these past few years when it comes to PW. They’ve helped me with the little details (like those ‘how in the hell do I do this’ questions). They are also the ones responsible for helping me set up the design of the PW Book Club page.
As a loyal customer of Amazon, I am amazed at what they come out with to make my life easier. As far as this site is concerned, I can’t even begin to tell you how much this company has been great to work with. They are so helpful. The fact they are creating products designed with influencers in mind, we may be seeing the beginning of the next phase for influencers.
Fashion. Books. Home. Food. DIY. These are all things this site promises to deliver, but it has not really lived up to doing just that. Or perhaps, it was something I always wanted to deliver, but needed some sort of direction on how I would deliver that to you.
When people ask me about this site, I never really passionately talk about it. Perfectionist Wannabe has not been in a place I was proud of yet. I was honest about that with the people I met. I did not know how to find that sweet spot where I was content with what I was putting out there.
So I went on a mission to discover what exactly I loved about magazines. Blogs were no longer the answer to what I was looking for.
The Bold Type
As I flipped through a stack of magazines, Freeform’s The Bold Type, a show about three young women working for a fashion magazine, played in the background. The show centers around a writer, a secretary turned stylist, and a social media director. As the girls go from one disaster to another, it is the wisdom of their editor that resonates.
1) Write from your own perspective in life.
2) Print is dying. The electronic age is making print media obsolete, so it is important to focus only on that.
Taking these two points, I began to see a clearer vision of what I wanted.
To get a better handle on how book reviews should be done, I went to the best source: O Magazine. As I read through the book reviews, I saw the importance of writing about experiencing the book. Describing feelings eloquently is what ultimately gets people to read a book.
I read about one reviewer’s morning before she even sat down to read the book. She made me experience her morning with her. There was nothing extraordinary about it. Her morning was a regular morning, just like anyone else’s morning. But by the time she sat down to read the book, I wanted to read whatever she was reading, even though she told me so little about the book.
What made this particular review stand out is that it was written incredibly well. That is the beauty in writing a good review. The writer made me see reviews, not just book reviews, in a whole new light.
Finally, it began to occur to me what I was unhappy with. I was dissatisfied with the voice I used on this site. I was mimicking other bloggers and what they were doing instead of focusing on what I ultimately wanted to do with this site.
In the back of my mind, my friends who are well read, played in the back of my mind. Their comments on fast literature (i.e. the books saturating our market), started to bring me down. As much as I shared their opinions on great literature, it made me ask if what I write is great literature. Would they even think I was good enough?
This is where that sense of wanting to be perfect comes in. There is that fear of never being good enough for my friends to recommend my work to others. They are brutally honest (which I respect and need). What if what I was doing did not live up to their standards?
In our opinion, discovering an author or a book that is well written is difficult to find these days. If you think about blogs in this context, it is not so often you will come across a lot of well written blogs.
Magazines and newspapers house many of the best writers that live up to these standards. Yet, these types of publications are failing because of the saturation of mediocre or poorly written content flooding the market. That means there are a lot of incredible writers out there that go undiscovered by the masses.
There are a lot of blogs out there I love that are both inspiring and beautiful. I like their brand. Even though many of these bloggers are the first of their kind in their niche markets, there are many who try to emulate that same voice, which in turn creates a problem. That brand’s voice is copied, and then it becomes overdone, watering down the original voice. I know, because this site started to do the same thing. I ultimately did not want that.
The direction this site lacked was always something very simple. It was missing my voice and the way I wanted to write and present my views of the world. I spent too much time trying to be like the other bloggers. As a result, I forgot why I created this site to begin with…to share my own adventure into learning how to be a better version of myself.
A Sense of Direction
Most noteworthy of this entire adventure are the opportunities that presented itself to me over these past few years. From Martha Stewart’s American Made to Tribeca Film Festival to Book Expo America (BEA), the universe gave me every single tool I needed to discover how to create my vision for Perfectionist Wannabe.
As a result of those experiences, I learned that even though I believe I am not doing enough, the industry communicated the exact opposite. Publishers explained to me at BEA that I was doing the right thing. I did exactly what they were looking for in order to work with them. They decided who they were allowing into the BEA this year, and I was among the select few they allowed in. [Of all the publishers I spoke with, they only counted three bloggers that were allowed to attend, unlike previous years where the expo was saturated with bloggers.]
What all of these incredible experiences tell me is that I was always on the right track.
I finally had an AHA! moment somewhere between flipping through the magazines and binge watching The Bold Type. This site is my resumé. In the end, this site is about a brand. These past few years of discovery was about defining that brand. That is the only thing it’s been about. In a sense, this site is turning into a better version of itself.
So what can you look forward to? Better content. More continuous posts. A more active social media experience. Better inspiration. More importantly, my voice.
We all make them. Some try to say they tossed their resolutions out before the ball even dropped. Then there are those who realize that they need a change. Very few stick to those resolutions just a day into the new year. Others go two to three weeks into the new year. Some see it through for the first three months and then give up. Then there are those who truly stick to their resolutions because they wanted to see it through until the end.
Over these last couple of years, I’ve tried to make resolutions, but because I was a little stuck in life, I just didn’t care about those resolutions because I wasn’t quite sure what it was about me that I wanted to change.
For those who don’t know, I was faced with my own mortality back in 2013 when I was told I had a tumor in my parathyroid gland (the gland that synthesizes calcium). The gland and the tumor had to come out. I was told to prepare for the worst. The worst was death. I found out in August 2013. On October 22, 2013, I went under the knife and woke up a very different person.
I’ve been pushing myself since then to try to get back to some sort of normalcy. But it just wouldn’t come. That normalcy is about finding out who you are now that everything in your universe has changed. This is normal for people who have had a major surgery or are faced with their own mortality (like a heart attack, an accident, cancer, etc.). Your life before that moment means nothing to you. It’s who you are after the surgery or life threatening moment that you are trying to define. Just who are you now and what do you want out of life?
Since the surgery, I’ve had friends so absorbed in their own worlds that the second they can stop and ask what is going on they are shocked to discover just how much I’ve been struggling since the surgery and what I’ve been doing to get back to being normal again. I can tell you one thing…it has not been easy.
But this year, I feel like it is time to evolve into the person I am trying to become, and in some cases, get back to.
This past year, I’ve been sharing a few of the things I’ve been doing on Instagram and Twitter. It’s a way to take a glimpse at the path I’m ultimately following. I’ve found that when you are on the right path, everything works out more magically for you than you can ever imagine. I’ve made a lot of new friends this past year and have met and spoken to a lot of incredible people this past year. When I got the invitation to Martha Stewart’s conference, I was shocked.
That was synchronicity. It was the defining moment of 2015 that helped me understand what I was going to do with my life. What direction my life was heading was all laid before me in that conference. It was like I could finally connect the dots stretching across the universe before me to create a new destiny. In other words, I finally saw the person I was to become.
When people ask me what my resolution this year is, I say it’s to work on my Type-A personality. People laugh like that’s absolutely crazy. Who wants to work on being Type-A? Well, I’ve been lingering between Type-A and B and I’m kind of sick and tired of being stuck in the middle there, gravitating between getting shit done and being too lazy to do it.
My friend said to me after Thanksgiving that she had read that the way you can tell if a person is Type-A or Type-B all falls under when they put their Christmas tree up. Type-A’s have the tree up no later than the day after Thanksgiving. Type-B’s procrastinate. They get their trees up no later than Christmas Eve. My tree was up the day after Thanksgiving. Waiting until Christmas Eve would have driven me crazy since there’s so much to do between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Now, I’m going nuts because the tree is still up and it’s January 2. No worries…it’s coming down at some point today. I only kept it up until now because Matthew Lucifer’s birthday was yesterday and he loves hiding out under the tree.
Getting back to being Type-A, it falls under being a Perfectionist Wannabe. Martha Stewart is the epitome of the Perfectionist. After all, when it comes to home stuff, don’t we ask, “What would Martha do?” One thing I learned at the conference is that we all need to be just as good as Martha, so that one day people will say, “What would ______ do?”
So this year, at the top of my list is to work on being a Type-A for one simple reason…because focusing on being that Type-A is what drives the motivation behind doing all of the things I want to do in life. I’m tired of dreaming or just trying to figure out what I want to do. Being a Type-A motivates me to stop thinking about it and just do it already. Meandering between Type-A and Type-B to me means thinking about it, thinking about doing it, and then coming up with a lot of reasons on why I can’t do it. When you do that, you find you start to suffer.
So I’m going to take you through each resolution one at a time.
FOCUS ON BEING THE TYPE-A PERSONALITY.
KON MARI (DECLUTTER) THE HELL OUT OF MY LIFE IN ALL ASPECTS: HOME, MIND, BODY, FINANCES, AND LIFE.
Over the next five months, I’ll be sharing how I’m decluttering the various aspects of my life. The reason why I chose to make this a major resolution is because I found that I was buried under so much stuff that each weekend when I told myself I was going to write, I’d find myself spending the entire weekend cleaning and taking care of stuff around the house. I never got around to doing the things I wanted to do to advance my life because I was too busy taking care of the shit I already had in my life. In November, I learned about the Japanese art of decluttering and started to apply it to my life. I feel so much better now that I’ve started to create the right kind of change in my life. I’m getting rid of things so I don’t have to take care of them anymore. The less tidying I have to do, the more time I have to do the things I really want to be doing with my life.
I learned over these last couple of months that decluttering doesn’t just happen with your things, but it should also happen with the things you keep in your heart and your mind. It should happen with your finances. You have to clean house in every single aspect.
One thing I didn’t expect out of this were the emotions that come out of nowhere. They’re emotions you never knew you had. It can be pretty ugly to face, but it gets to the root of the problem with why you stockpile so many things around you…why you shop so much…why you do X, Y and Z until you are drowning in it. When you face it, it will help you move forward to living with only the things you need in order to be happy.
PRACTICE YOGA REGULARLY.
This year will mark my 40th year of life. One of the goals I’ve had for myself since I was in my early 20s was to have a yogalicious body. Well, that Type-B in me has procrastinated until now. So this is the year I want to finally make that change a permanent change.
DEVELOP CONTENT DAILY FOR PERFECTIONIST WANNABE. WORK HARD AT MAKING THE SITE SUCCESSFUL.
One thing I’ve discovered over these last few months is that the thing I wanted to do most was create more content and make this site successful. But being bogged down with so many other things (like stuff) made me realize it’s time to be that Type-A, declutter the stuff that doesn’t bring me joy, and really bust my ass to do the things I want to do for this site.
Two days in a row of posting in 2016. You can say I’m off to a good start.
I’ve been promoting my work, researching and putting things together to make sure I turn this site in the direction I want it to go into.
READ 52+ BOOKS THIS YEAR. 12 OF WHICH NEED TO BE A CLASSIC (1 CLASSIC A MONTH).
This is a resolution I make every year. These last two years, it’s fallen to the wayside. I decided to really to get things moving this year, especially since I’ve been talking to publishers these last six months.
These past few days, I’ve been following a lot of Instagram accounts for people who love books. I’ve followed a January Instagram challenge. I’ve sorted through and picked the books I want to read and review this month. Photographed it. Posted it. More importantly, I’ve spent plenty of time reading, so I know I’ll cross one book off my ‘to be read’ list later today. That’s one book down by the second day in 2016. That is huge progress, especially since that’s a book I was supposed to review months ago.
52 books may seem like a lot, but I hope to read over 100. There were a few Instagram accounts I followed that read over 100 books in 2015! If they can make it possible, I know I can at least attempt to read over 52 books this year. I’d feel like I accomplished something HUGE!
I do listen to audio books at the office and while I’m commuting or walking. I’ve cracked out a few books this past year that way. Now that I feel passionate about reading again and have started following a community with that same passion, I believe this is definitely a resolution that will be completed by the end of 2016.
[NOTE: If you have a resolution you need help with, follow inspiring accounts on Instagram of people with that same goal in mind. A lot of times seeing something visually beautiful and stimulating, sharing your progress and joining challenges will help inspire you to complete your goal.]
GO ON A SPENDING DIET (SEE #2). HAVE FEWER, BUT BETTER THINGS.
I carry a piece of paper in my wallet that says “Have Fewer, But Better Things.” At first, figuring out what ‘better things’ was netted me a lot of stuff just to pare it down to figure out what was ‘better.’ In the process, I discovered what I truly loved. I kept only the things I knew would last for a very, very long time. These were the things that I enjoyed. In the process, I started to find my own sense of style. No more are the things that don’t fit, pinch a little, or I don’t feel absolutely amazing in. They were donated or sold.
I also have a large entertainment collection consisting of videos and books. I learned new ways to pare those things down, and go digital. That meant getting with the times and investing in new technology that would allow me to simplify my life, organize everything, and help me to get rid of things that would only require maintenance and space in my home. The goal is essentially to have fewer, but better things.
That means…for the next 6 months, while I am saving for another resolution, I’ll be focused on a spending diet so I don’t accumulate while I’m trying to declutter and get things under control. The focus is fewer, but better things. I already have the better things, I just need to pare all the other stuff out just to make sure that’s all I have. I don’t want to add to it anymore.
PHOTOGRAPH MORE. RELEASE THE WORKS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS (like the Pete Yorn photo collection like the photo that appears above).
So when I met Pete Yorn after one of his concerts in NYC, I mentioned I was a photographer, because I had been photographing him all night in front of the stage. He asked me where my studio was (I had a good laugh).
I promised him a couple of years ago I’d release my photo collection of him from that night. Yeah. It’s been two years. That Type-A in me from here on out will be getting that collection, as well as all of the others, out this year. After all, there are some photos out there that is available for sale through stock photography already. I just have to work on a few more of my relationships with a few other stock photography companies this year. Trust me, it’s on my TO DO list.
The stuff like this Pete Yorn photo are treated a little differently. When the collection is released, it’s not available for stock photography. It will be available in more of the art photography form. A little pricier than licensing to publish a photo. His photos are part of the Rockstar collection. I would like to continue the Rockstar collection this year. We’ll see who I add to the collection…
FINISH THE NOVEL. NO EXCUSES.
No more procrastinating. Just finish it.
LIVE EACH DAY FULLY. WORK HARD. PLAY HARD. ENJOY IT ALL, EVEN THE TOUGH STUFF.
WRITE, WRITE AND WRITE. THEN WRITE SOME MORE BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO WRITE.
TRY TO EAT MORE FRUITS/VEGETABLES WITH EACH MEAL. SNEAK IT IN SOMEHOW.
Since the surgery in 2013, I gravitate between being a foodie and a kiddie. That first year, you couldn’t ask me to get beyond eating what you’d feed your 5 year old child. Grilled cheese. Chicken nuggets. Tater tots. Spaghetti with meat sauce. You know, the simple stuff.
I couldn’t enjoy the finer things that first year after the surgery. Now, I either have a foodie moment, or I eat kid food. There’s no in between. When people say they’re on a diet, I look at them like…what’s that?
I don’t eat a lot of food. I only eat as much as my body is interested in eating (which isn’t much). What I would like to do is in that little amount of food I consume, that my veggies be more than ketchup with my chicken nuggets. I would like to enjoy fruits and vegetables again. This is a 2 year struggle post-op. I’m hoping this is the year I get beyond the protein and carbs and can really add in fruits/vegetables on a regular basis.
MAKE MORE FRIENDS AND CONTACTS. GET TO KNOW YOUR FOLLOWERS.
Over the years, I have tried not to get close to people. I’ve tried to make sure there was that barrier. You can say there were a few too many stalkers and weirdos in my past that contributed to that decision.
Over these last couple of years, I’ve learned that I can handle the crazies and the fans that call me all the time, text me, message me to the point of…ok…you’re being a little awkward and weird. I can handle it now.
Why punish everyone because there are a few people that get a little nutso? There are a lot of great people out there. I’ve made some great friends over this last year in the various industry events I’ve attended. I’ve been learning to start being friendlier to complete strangers on social media, and not so guarded. Kindness gets you so much farther in the world these days. Besides, being kind and just talking to people (including the homeless) has made me really see life in a whole new perspective. It’s helped me to finally see humanity in everyone…including the forgotten and ignored.
FIND A SITTER FOR MATTHEW SO YOU CAN GO ON VACATION THIS YEAR.
So the main reason why I have not been able to travel in these last two years was because I was under a medical travel restriction the first year post-op. After that, I adopted Matthew Lucifer. He’s my sweet, adorable, can turn into Lucifer himself, Maine Coon cat. He’s not a normal cat. He is HIGH MAINTENANCE.
I can leave the other cat home for a week…no problem. Matthew…I can’t leave alone for one night. Both cats would be dehydrated if I left them alone a whole day, because Matthew plays with water. He dumps out his water bowl so he can play in the water. I have not been able to kick him of this habit. He literally picks the heavy container up using his entire body weight to dump out the contents. I fill his water bowl 3 times every morning. Usually, there’s no water in the bowl when I get home.
Matthew is like a 4-year old child (he turned 4 yesterday). You can’t leave him alone unattended for too long. He is very social, but he’s not good with sleepovers because he is known to bite and keep people up all night long. I had mom brain the whole first year I had him. He’s been sleeping from 8PM-5:30AM for only 3 months now. He wakes at 5:30AM, wakes mom up, and doesn’t stop until 6AM when it’s time for breakfast. If you don’t rise to feed him at 6AM, plan on dealing with Lucifer until you get out of bed. Full on cat attack while you’re trying to sleep. Every morning it is like this.
If only I could find him a sitter so I can go to South America…I could really begin to travel again.
BUY YOUR NEW HOME BY THE END OF THE YEAR.
I’ve been tossing between buying/building for the last two years. This is the year I’ll make that decision. I am tired of living where I’m living now, being bothered by other people. I just want a place all my own without crazy landlords calling me up about apartments that have nothing to do with me. Like I care the person next to me is moving out. Why are you telling me to list their apartment? It has nothing to do with me. [Yes, this did happen just last month.]
HIT ALL MONTHLY FINANCIAL GOALS YOU’VE SET FOR YOURSELF. HUSTLE.
If you want to reach your own financial goals, you have to buckle down and get serious about it. If I want to build my dream house, it requires the right funds. If I want this site to do what I want it to do, I have to hustle. If I want my own personal success and dreams to come true, I have to hustle. The goal this year is to make sure all of those goals are met, especially financially. It is not cheap to do the things I do. There is a lot of money vested into the success of this site. Between events, appearances, the correct wardrobe to go with it, conferences, etc. it costs a lot to go and do these things.
I have a certain audience and they are my peers. Who are my peers? The same people who understand that if you want a dream to come true, it takes a lot of your own capital. You have to really invest in that life in order to make yourself successful. If you want to be a millionaire, you have to surround yourself with millionaires. You want to be an artist, you have to surround yourself with other artists. You want to be a writer, you have to surround yourself with people in the industry.
When you have money and invest in putting yourself among those people that are the influencers and will inspire you to make your dream happen, it’s easier. Most people think that success comes from luck, busting your ass, etc. I’ll let you in on a secret…it is a whole lot easier when you have the money that can put you in the same audience as those people you admire and strive to be like.
What I plan to do over the course of this next year requires some serious hustle in order for this site (and my life) to turn into what I envision it to be.
All of the previous resolutions, especially the Type-A resolution, is what will fuel me in making sure that the ultimate goal for 2016 for this site comes to fruition.
So over this year, I’ll be sharing this Type-A hustle journey with you. There are so many aspects to it, especially with the decluttering over these next 5 months.
If you love to read books, follow my Instagram: diaryofaperfectionistwannabe. I’ll be joining a lot of the reading challenges and discussing books there, since there is a pretty huge community there discussing it. I’ll also look for other avenues to discuss books/movies, etc. with everyone if I see there’s an interest.
At any rate, I look forward to talking to everybody. Feel free to share your resolutions or thoughts below. Is there anything you’d like to see from the site this year? Just let me know. I already have one request in re: Justin Bieber…
Everyone has their own U2 story…that story when they first fell in love with the music.
For me, it was just one of those bucket list moments. I was living in Washington, DC, trying to find some direction in my 20-something life. Fresh out of college. Maybe I was working in politics or law during that time. I can’t remember. U2 came to town and I said to myself, “I have to see this band at least once in my lifetime.”
I wasn’t a huge die hard fan. I knew a few of their songs. I mean…who doesn’t? I still remember “Where the Streets Have No Name” being among the first music videos I had ever seen on MTV during those days when I would sneak out and go over to my neighbor’s house to watch the forbidden MTV with my friend.
When I went to see them play at MCI Center in DC, I had no idea what U2 would do to me that night. I went in expecting nothing, and U2 changed my entire existence.
It was like they were making love to their music. I could feel each note in every single cell of my body. The energy of each note vibrated within my very being. I became intoxicated with the rhythm and flow of the music. It was like I was riding the waves that they bring. [“Even Better Than The Real Thing” reference.] They literally blew my mind.
I walked away from that concert a changed person. It began a new adventure into discovering who I was.
From wanting to change the world, working with non-profit groups, to learning more about the issues around the world, I began to see who I was in the grander scheme of the universe. The music opened my mind to who I am and who I could be.
I was sitting in traffic on the way to work one day and “Stuck in a Moment (You Can’t Get Out of)” came on the radio. Bono was singing, “You’ve got to get yourself together, you got stuck in a moment and you can’t get out of it.” I listened to that over and over again and then said, “NO. I’m not stuck. Not anymore.” And that’s when I decided to leave DC and pursue a different path in life.
I was young, not dumb
Just wishing to be blinded by you
We were pilgrims on our way
“The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)”
Behind the Lens
In due time, I would end up in New York City. I never understood why I ended up here, all I knew was that this is where my path led. It was while I was here that I discovered who I am and the person I will become. I’m a writer first and foremost. When I first started out writing for Orato.com back in 2007, they asked that I start submitting my own photos with my work.
My editor pushed me in that direction, because she was also a photographer herself. That push ended up opening me up to understanding how I see the world. Photography is one of the best ways for me to visually see how I am improving spiritually in life. It’s not the quality of the camera that determines if the picture is a better picture. It’s the person behind the camera.
I read this story the other day:
A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.’ – Sam Haskins
In other words, it’s the person using the device that creates wonder, not the device itself.
A friend once told me that I have the ability to capture the beauty in the moment. It’s how I look at the world. I look for the beauty in the moment. It’s in that moment that helps me to remember and connect to the things I’ve forgotten and will forget. To capture the beauty of that moment, I have a visual aid as I take the steps to remembering what happened in that exact moment.
I mention the importance of remembering things forgotten because after the last tumor, I lost a lot of my memories. I spent the next year trying to piece things back together again. I created a 4’x4′ collage of photos of the places I had been from all over the world. It was a collection of beautiful moments.
Each day, I would stand in front of that collage and focus on one photo trying to remember where I was, who was there with me, what I ate while I was there, the smells, and how I felt. Who was I in that moment? A simple photo is a beautiful memory to me and a key piece in remembering who I was. It became a training tool to help me focus. It was like playing a game of Memory, but matching the photo to the actual life event that had become lost in the river of forgetting.
Bono made a comment during the show about ‘photographs.’ He said we were missing the moment. We were missing the concert because we were glued to our devices. I beg to differ, Bono. The person behind the lens of my camera is documenting a moment that is going to be relived again and again and again. More importantly, any person who knows me can tell you, what you see in the final product is not just the subject. You’re seeing how I see you. I’m able to pull out the beauty of that moment so that I can share it with the world. Some people will see it, others won’t.
I can find a simple moment that may mean nothing at the moment to anyone and create a moment that means everything to everyone who sees the photo. It creates a symbolic gesture that will take your breath away every single time you see it. Yet, in that actual moment, it means nothing to the person being photographed.
The joy isn’t just in the music and seeing U2 on stage. For me, the joy is being able to finally photograph them and share just what I see. While some of these photos look distorted due to the lighting, etc., that’s not what I see. I see the energy. I see the soul. I see the life force. I see the beauty in the art. It’s how I see them.
U2 was formed the year I was born. It’s a bit synchronistic how their music would follow me throughout my journey in life. Joshua Tree. Achtung Baby. Rattle and Hum. Zooropa. All That You Can’t Leave Behind. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Invisible. Big Girls Are the Best. What’s Going On?
There was even a time a musician was trying to get me to forgive him and come back to him. When he saw me walk into the club one night, he stopped right in the middle of a song he was playing, pointed to me and said, “This one is for you,” and started strumming out the chords to the song. He knew how much I loved U2. When I realized what he was doing, I walked right out of the club. I wouldn’t let him bastardize U2 or equate some memory of him to a U2 song.
I won’t let anyone I have come across in this lifetime connect themselves to a U2 song. To me, “One” is not about two lovers fighting. To me, “One” is about my relationship with God when I’m mad at him for breaking my heart. Some rockstar wants to make it about us? No. I can’t ever let him do that, because then I’d never listen to the song again.
To me, “One” is God asking me: “Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now? You got someone to blame.” When I was really mad, that song would come on and it would make me really reflect deep within my soul about the relationship I have with God, the father. I would probably not have forgiven God for breaking me if it weren’t for that song.
Since that concert in DC, U2’s music has become my spiritual soundtrack in life. It’s not always just the lyrics to the songs. A lot of times it’s just the music. Desire is one of my favorite songs. I have no idea what it’s about. It’s one of the first (and only) songs I learned to play on the guitar. Who knew that what The Edge makes sound so complicated is actually just a few chords mixed in with his genius?! That’s what I call art. Or how about Larry Mullen, Jr. on the drums in “Sunday Bloody Sunday?” Or Adam Clayton on the bass in “Bullet the Blue Sky?”
If there was any song that explained my entire spiritual existence, it is “Running to Stand Still.” What the song is really about is not what it means to me. The song is my spiritual journey in life. “She said, I’ve gotta do something about where we’re going…” “I see seven towers, but I only see one way out.” “You got to cry without weeping, Talk without speaking, Scream without raising your voice,” “She’s running to stand still.”
This song probably has some of the most powerful words in it. To the band, it’s a song about a heroin-addict couple in Dublin. To me, it represents the internal spiritual journey filled with conflicts and choices that come along when deciding what to do. The feeling that you’re running through life only to be able to stand still…that’s the power in words. It explains who I am.
Words mean something different to everyone when they relate to what is being said. What one person says can mean something powerful in different ways to those who hear it. The author of the words may mean one thing, but how the audience relates to the words is something incredible in and of itself. They are the words that provide spiritual growth in a multitude of ways. That is how God speaks. He says a million things all at once. Our simple minds can’t register it all in one swoop, but the masses together can understand every single word, because we each understand the message in our own way.
U2 is the soundtrack of my life. When I’m writing spiritually and want to get to the core of how I feel and the message I’m trying to relate, only U2 plays in my ears. They provide the music to every soulful piece I write. Their music has been so much a part of my journey in life.
When I was in Fes, Morocco, my guide asked me if I knew who U2 was. I laughed and said, “Of course. They’re my favorite band.” He then told me that they spent a lot of time here working on their music. Who knew that the days that followed, I would end up connecting to Morocco in Mysterious Ways. It’s a very spiritual place, and a country I hold very dear to my heart.
As I started writing about my journey after the riad doors closed and I was locked in at sunset, I turned on my computer, put my earphones on and listened to U2 as I went through my photos and wrote about my journey through this desert land that made me feel God everywhere. He was in the broken smiles of the nomads, the sands that blew in the wind, and the mountains that called out my name. God was everywhere. I could feel him everywhere. That is why Morocco is so important to me. It changed my soul. It is one of the most magical places on the planet.
If there’s any album I’m closest to, it’s “Achtung Baby.” The song “Mysterious Ways” makes my soul dance. “Love is Blindness” is the song that explains the love of my life. The dark, eerie emotion you truly feel when you are still in love with someone who is six feet under and your heart refuses to move on. Some say the song is about committing the violent act of suicide. The love of my life put a bullet in his heart. Loving him has been like my “Love is drowning in a deep well.” Part of me knows that is how he felt as well.
This album defined those teenage years of my life.
Seeing U2 in concert in 2015 comes at the right moment. Post-op, I have felt lost and empty. Who I was prior to that surgery has been gone for some time now. Trying to figure out who I am after the surgery…that is the journey I am on. Just who is that person looking back at me in the mirror? What is she supposed to do with the rest of her life?
Every dream I had before the surgery died that day. I don’t dream anymore about being anyone or having a certain life. The things I wanted more than anything, I look at with disgust now. The question these last two years have been, “Just who are you now?”
That’s where filling that empty cup comes in. Seeing U2 in concert is like refilling that cup that had long gone dry. They’re not reminding me of who I was. They’re reminding me of who I am and who I can be. I am not my past. I am only my present. Who I choose to be in this moment is a writer and a photographer sharing a part of my life with you and what U2 means to me.
Using Fame to Better Humanity
One of the greatest lessons I ever learned from watching Bono was how he was using his fame to better humanity. Using his work as a model, when I’ve interviewed hockey players over these last seven years, I am always curious to hear what they are doing to give back to the world. How are they using their fame to better humanity?
The people I am most disappointed with are the ones who embraced their fame and fortune and gave back so little. A visit to the hospital or showing up at a kid’s hockey practice is such a huge thing for them. But they could do so much more.
Then you look at Bono. This guy worked towards getting AIDS patients the drugs they needed to help them. He’s working on getting water into homes so kids don’t risk their lives walking miles away to get clean water to bring home. Those kids risk being killed, kidnapped or raped just to get clean drinking water. While those of us complain about getting no 4G on their phone, there are people that don’t even have running water in their homes. When we don’t finish our meals and just throw it out, I’m always reminded of how there are people that would kill to have the scraps from our tables. There are kids out there that go through the dump just to find rotten food to eat.
There is so much we take for granted. We don’t know how lucky we are. That luck all depends upon where we were born on this planet.
If anything, the work Bono does is meant to not only educate the masses, but it is also designed to help inspire each and every single one of us to our own greatness.
When God gives you fame, you have a choice. Use it for good or use it for evil. Those who use it for good aim to change and inspire humanity to help them evolve into their own greatness. Those who use it for evil use it for their own selfish needs and concerns and give little or nothing back.
When I changed this site around, I wanted to focus on the needs of the many. What could I create that could help benefit humanity? That’s when I came up with the angle that I would share the stories of people out there who are living their dreams in order to inspire others to live their own dreams.
Choosing that path has led to some very incredible things and incredible moments. I’ve met people along the way who are not only just like me, but we are also inspiring each other to our own greatness. There are people I’ve met over these past few months who not only inspire me to work harder and to be wiser with the words I choose, but I am also inspiring them to do the same in their own field. Those are the people you keep close. Those are the people you support. They are part of your journey just as much as you are a part of their journey.
You don’t have to be a mega-rockstar to change the world. You can change the world by starting in your own world wherever you live. You can inspire others to their own greatness. I can tell you right now, there is no better gift you can give to someone than to help them on their journey in life. I’ve never met U2, but they have helped me in this lifetime in ways I can’t even explain or thank them enough for. They set the example of what it means to inspire the masses to be greater human beings. It should also inspire each and every person to do the same. Go out and inspire the people around you to be amazing.
Change begins within you. If you want to make this world a better place, you have to be the change you seek. Do what is right in your heart and follow it at all costs. That’s the journey you were always supposed to be on from the get go.
The photos in this post were all taken by me during the July 31, 2015 U2 concert at Madison Square Garden. These pictures join the Rockstar Collection I’ve been building up for the last few years. That series also includes photos of Constantine Maroulis and Pete Yorn. U2 was the final piece that was needed for the collection.
The collection will be released in the upcoming months, as well as the never before seen photos from the Pete Yorn concert.
Certain photographs in the series will be available for sale. Details will follow.
New York – It’s not so often that you find out that one of the most popular actors for the last 30+ years is not just an actor but a musician, too. Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael Bacon (The Bacon Brothers) stopped by the Cornell Club on Monday night for a talk and performance.
There was a rather huge attendance for the event at the Cornell Club. Between Cornell alumni and Hudson Union Society members, you had to get there early if you wanted a good seat.
You can hear the half hour conversation with Michael and Kevin Bacon in the audio clip below. For those who ever wondered what Kevin Bacon thought of the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon, he talks about it in the audio clip. Unfortunately, you will not hear the actual music performance. I wanted to leave that for the Youtube video (i.e. something that they put out themselves).
Over the course of this next month, we’re going to take a look at the French culture. From macarons, to the delectable French cuisine, to the art and literature, to fashion icons, and so on. We’ll dive into what we love about the French culture. We’ll even try out a few recipes to dispel the myth that cooking French food is difficult. Vive la France!
One of the most beautiful places on the face of this planet is Santorini, Greece. To be more specific, Oia, Santorini, Greece. For those looking for a honeymoon destination, I highly recommend booking yourself in Santorini.
A little unknown fact about Santorini…this island is ruled by the dogs. You’ll find them all over the island. The people of the island help take care of them. You’ll find buckets and bowls filled to the rim with dog food and water as you make your way around the little shops and buildings.
The dogs are seen as guardians of this ancient island (believed to be the resting point for Atlantis, which is buried somewhere underneath the Mediterranean waters near the volcano that you can see sitting across from the island).
Just so you understand the importance of these dogs…
When I was in Oia, Santorini, I hadn’t told my girlfriends that I knew my cancer had returned. I had planned on telling them during this trip. But because I was tired all of the time and barely eating, I had to tell them what was going on. Leave it to the dogs to out me.
On our first evening in Santorini, one of the dogs was walking around with a couple of tourists, but then he stopped and saw me walking up. He abandoned them to walk with me. He stayed with me for the next hour, acting as a tour guide. I told my friend we should do something different. Let’s follow the dog to see where he takes us.
He took us from one important spot to the next. We didn’t know where he was taking us until the next day when we ventured to those same spots during daylight hours. He took us to every single point that produced the best photograph of the island and its landmarks.
As we went from one section to the next, I realized that his territory ended. Within 30 seconds, a new dog picked us up and started walking with us. We’d walk into a new territory, the dog would stop, and then another dog would pick us up and walk with us.
This happened all throughout the trip. My friend said that when she went out alone, the dogs never bothered with her. She said she noticed that they only did this with me. She said that she’d never believe this if I had told her about it. Witnessing it with her own eyes, she was just amazed.
During one of our outings, I sat down to rest and I saw one of the dogs that had walked with us through most of our time there. He was walking with an old man that you could visually see had an ailment. The old man got to the top of the steps and took a seat near me, while the dog accompanied him. I started to watch the tourists walk by and the dogs paid no attention to them. It ends up they only paid attention to those that were sick.
While we were out walking one evening, my friend was going on and on about this Albanian she met during dinner. One of the dogs was with us when we stopped and she decided to go into a grocery store. I stood out in the street waiting for her. This Albanian she met earlier was walking down the path. The dog with me started growling and then barked. Within seconds, a whole pack of dogs came running out of nowhere. Three of them surrounded me and started pushing me towards the wall.
The rest went after the Albanian man, growling and barking at him. The dogs were livid.
My friend saw the commotion and how the dogs had surrounded me and were pushing me towards safety. She came out and saw the guy. She started chatting him up and introduced us. The entire time, I kept looking at all of the dogs surrounding us. I understood what they were all saying. This guy was really bad news.
I excused myself and my friend and said I wasn’t feeling well and needed to get back to the hotel. My friend obliged and we started walking away. The dogs walked with us down the road, huffing and puffing all the way. I turned to my friend and told her that I thought that guy was bad news and told her what happened when the dog saw him.
All of those dogs were protecting me. She even pointed out to me that they were only like this with me. They could care less about her.
I think that was the moment I almost cried, because I realized that I was in bad shape if the dogs could sense it. That cancer my doctor kept saying had returned…it was really there. This was back in 2009. It took 4 years for the cancer to make its appearance as a tumor in my parathyroid gland. Back in 2009, we were only discovering that it had returned. We were waiting to see where it would show up.
Santorini is a very beautiful island. The sunsets here are the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. The best spot is down by the castle wall in Oia.
You’ll see in one of these pictures a black dog sitting on a wall. At every sunset, he comes down to the castle wall and watches the sun setting. I’ve never seen a dog do that before. Every night when I went to watch the sunset there, without fail, he showed up and watched from the castle wall.
It just amazed me how special these dogs are. They know the beauty of this island. They are caring, protective, and giving.
The people of the island of Santorini understand that about these dogs. That’s why they all pitch in to take care of the guardians of the island.
With only a couple of days left in this month, I thought I’d share a few photos with you from my time in Venice, Italy.
Venice is a confusing place, especially if you’re walking around because there are so many waterways and canals. I didn’t do too much venturing around the city because a) I was jet lagged and b) I was lost most of the time.
When I travel, I like to pick up items that are reminiscent of the culture of the people or the traditions of the city. For Venice, I picked up a couple of intricately woven metal masks (shaped into lace patterns). They are two of my favorite things in my home because they are so delicate and beautiful. The woman I bought them from, I told her I’d be back in 10 days to buy them. She didn’t believe me.
I told her, I couldn’t carry around something so delicate all over Italy for two weeks. It was best I picked it up on the way home.
Ten days later, I walked back into her shop and picked up not one, but two masks. Yes, she was shocked I came back! The one I wanted was already sold, but I did find a similar one and then a smaller, more intricate one. It arrived home safely.
One of my favorite places in Venice is the market. I spent a lot of time there because they had unusual fruits and vegetables. I stopped each time to ask what the strange looking fruits/vegetables were. A lot of the stall owners were happy enough to let me try the different items. I bought fresh fruit for my journey and an extremely large packet of sun dried tomatoes.
I also found a man that sold pastas and oils during my trek in Venice. I bought so many ingredients from him in tins and glass that were all so beautiful. The contents may be gone, but the beautiful containers they came in align my kitchen shelves.
Venice is one of those places I’d like to go back to and photograph at various times of the year, exploring the different pathways throughout this water city.
Getting to review photos at home while I’m in the midst of a redecorating/renovation project is completely non-existent! I dug around my other blog for some photos I may have posted because I had some sort of vague recollection of posting a few photos from Bologna, Italy that I had already worked on.
Surprise! I did have a montage of pictures. Here they are:
If I can remember correctly, I had the tortellini in brodo (tortellini in broth) and the lasagna verte e bolognese ragu (green lasagna with bolognese sauce). These two dishes both originated in Bologna, Italy.
I also found a copy of Il Paradiso by Dante printed in 1900 while I was in Bologna. It was a very special find. Dante wrote the Divine Comedy in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy (Florence, Bologna, etc.).
You can read more about my adventure in Bologna (which actually did not start off on a positive note…something about falling off a train and getting hit by it…not fun at all)HERE. I don’t remember much of Bologna, just bits and pieces. It’s good to look at these pictures, because it refreshes my memory (something I’ve been struggling with since my surgery last October). I couldn’t remember where I saw a huge theater screen in the middle of a plaza when I was in Italy. I just remembered the screen was by King Neptune. Ends up…that was Bologna. You’ll see pictures of King Neptune in the photo montage.
I wanted to go back there one summer and watch a classic Italian film in the plaza. I think that experience would be absolutely magical. I think next year I’ll take a trip out to revisit a few of my favorite spots in Northern Italy.
I see a few shots from that group I may end up blowing up to mount on my gallery wall. A few of the ‘enraptured’ and the dark visage of King Neptune (the first shot I took of him when I found him in the plaza)…those would look perfect!
Re-reading the post on the visit to Bologna, I remember now how the city erupted when Italy won a futbol match. I was in the hotel when the entire city of Bologna cheered. It was so loud! It was like I was in the stadium surrounded by cheering fans. That’s how loud Bologna got that night when Italy won. Gotta say…that moment was just a tad bit amazing. 😉
While wandering around le rive gauche , I ran into a man making gigantic bubbles for children. You could hear the kids screeching with laughter and joy as the man created bubbles bigger than each of the kids just outside one of the large fountains. The kids looked at each bubble in complete awe and with excitement at each wonder.
You can’t help but remember what life was like when things were so new, amazing and wonderful when we were kids.
As I was walking by Le Pantheon, I came across a bunch of boys playing soccer in front of the building. The boys were happy enough to pose and play as I shot pictures of them playing their little game. The big kids and the little kids ran up and down the cobblestone courtyard playing their makeshift game of European football.
I have many favorite places in Paris. I think the place that is my favorite of all of them is none other than Notre Dame cathedral. I think over the last seven years, the place has become very special to me. It reminds me of my grandfather when he was on one of his adventures.
He used to foot the bill for me to travel all over the world. When I got back from Paris, I told him all about my adventures. The last time he had been in Paris was during World War II. He told me he had always wanted to go back, but for whatever reason, he never did.
I remember pausing when he said this and looking at him strangely. I was only 16 years old and I told him he needed to see the world. He needed to get out there and live the best life he could doing anything and everything he ever dreamed of doing just in case this was his only (or last) lifetime. He spent the last 15 years of his life doing just that.
This also started a new tradition after he died.
As my father went through some old photos, he found one of my grandfather wearing a beret in front of Notre Dame. It’s funny how he wore those berets until he died. It was in Paris when that fashion trend of his began.
I framed that photo and put it up in my home. I look at it every single day.
When I went to Paris a couple of years ago, I sat outside of Notre Dame watching tourists come through…trying to figure out the places where my grandfather had been. I sat out there for two hours…just taking in the atmosphere of the place, trying to see if I could feel my grandfather’s presence there from long ago, hear his voice on the wind. Trust me, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss him. Traveling is my way of connecting to him, because I’m continuing our adventures around the world.
When I came back later in the afternoon to photograph the cathedral, I hadn’t realized that the guards had taken notice of me. I was looking for certain things there…Point Zero, the saints on the roof, the different stories the building was telling us…
It was like a treasure hunt. I was looking for things most tourists do not look for…and that’s what caught the attention of the guards. It was Point Zero that started it. No one really goes looking for Point Zero. Most tourists walk right over it, very few know about it. While it is considered the “Center of the French Universe,” it is the exact point where all distances in Paris are measured.
In mythical lore, it is one of the ley line points.
After I found Point Zero and started walking towards the cathedral, I saw three of the guards walking towards me. They didn’t say anything at the time. They started to follow me around, very closely, looking to see what I was seeing through the screen on my camera. I was so immersed in what I was doing, I never took notice of them until after I was inside and one of the guards said that all tourists needed to leave because it was time for mass.
I turned around to see the three guards behind me. One of them said I was okay. I could continue. So I continued. As they kept shuttling tourists out of the cathedral, one of them said to me, “We see what you are taking photos of. You see the beauty of this place the way we do. You can stay.”
I was so honored, but I didn’t want them to get into trouble, so I snapped a few more photos and as I walked out the gate one of the guards asked me if I got everything I needed. I told him, “How could I? There’s so much!”
The sun was starting to set, so I headed across the bridge and sat across from the cathedral along the river so I could take photos of the church at sunset.
When you really want to cherish a memory, especially one that is shared between generations, you spend the time reveling each and every crook and cranny. You try to see the beauty in every rock, cobblestone and rain drop. You try to memorize the way the light fell, or the man walking across the courtyard holding his son’s hand. This is the way I remember Notre Dame.
One of my favorite places in Paris is Montmartre. Some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had in Paris, I found in Montmartre. I loved the little markets and artists selling their paintings. More importantly, there’s Sacré Cœur at the top of the hill. When you start at the bottom and climb your way up to the top, your reward isn’t just the cathedral. When you turn around, you can see all of Paris behind you.
Here is my collection of photographs I took a few years ago when I made the big climb up the hill to Sacré Cœur. What I look for are the unique details that make everything so special. It’s finding these unique details that allows me to sneak by and get away with stuff while I’m photographing…especially in Paris.
One evening when I was photographing Notre Dame, the guards were closing up the church telling tourists to leave. I turned around and a couple of guards told me it was okay. I could stay. They had been standing behind me for several minutes watching what I was doing without my knowledge. They saw on the screen what I was taking photos of and said that I was looking at the cathedral the way they saw the cathedral. It was because of that, they wanted me to continue. I saw the beauty in the littlest detail and I was capturing each moment.
What you’ll see here are the moments I found beautiful while visiting Sacré Cœur. What’s funny is that during this climb up the hill, I was followed by a group of photographers who were watching me set up shop and photograph along the way. They followed me and tried to duplicate each shot. I felt like I was their teacher and they were my students.
While many of you that come to this site come here to check out the photos, videos and stories behind the scenes of being a hockey writer, it’s not so often that I get to show you that life outside of hockey. As I start embracing who I am and accepting that there are parts of my life I just can’t walk away from (like music), I realize that there are parts of my life that I take for granted, like all of those incredible things that happen in my life.
You know…that stuff that people sit there and say…’That didn’t happen to you. You weren’t there.’ Do you know how many people from home keep looking at my life and the photos I post up on Facebook thinking…’She’s got to be photoshopping these photos or stealing them from somewhere and putting them up as her own?’ I know they say that because some people have said it to me.
Do you know how many times I’ve been told I am not in that locker room? That I’m actually lying about it!
In other words…it’s that life that is just too good to be true to actually be real. But trust me, it’s real. There are things that happen in my life that I’ve stopped being shocked over because it happens so damn much.
Hugh Hefner talks about scrapbooking every single day and taking time out to just talk about what happened that day. To most of us, Hef has the life…why wouldn’t you want to remember each and every moment of that dream?
So as we move through this final season of hockey writing, I’m going to show you my world…one scrapbook page at a time.
Tonight’s page belongs to Constantine Maroulis.
As I write this, I’m listening to Constantine’s album. More specifically, I’m listening to “So Long.”
Now, I almost tweeted to Mr. Maroulis earlier today, “ROCK ON!” Ironically, that song has been stuck in my head for the last week! The Michael Damian version. Imagine my surprise that he opened the show with that song…and then talked about Michael Damian. Weirdness…yes.
One of the reasons why I wanted to go to this show was because I wanted to try my hand in photographing a rockstar up on stage. Figuring out all the 100s of features on this camera has been a challenge. So trying to watch the lighting of the show to decipher at what point I can start shooting and it actually come out right…is a lot like watching me photographing a hockey game…because I’m studying something happening in front of me.
Sure, I can hear the music around me…feel it…but capturing the moment…that’s something very different. I’m studying Constantine’s movements…his bad habits when he’s on stage…his facial expressions…and the light in the room and on the stage.
A lot like how I study hockey players on the ice. I’m watching and studying everything all the way down to the way they push off on their skate. Rock shows…it commands that same amount of attention.
The reason for going to this show…to watch someone doing what they love. Constantine has a way of making you feel that love and passion in what he does. He loves being that rockstar. There’s a beauty in it…and that’s what I wanted to capture.
That is one thing that I love watching people do…doing what they love. There is a beauty in it. It’s just like watching Martin Brodeur golf…there is a uniqueness to the beauty of the moment of watching him golf. He loves it…and that is the moment…photographing someone’s love or passion for what they love to do in life.
Constantine’s photos (as for my first time photographing a concert) actually made me realize that some of his photos were so unique and interesting that I wanted to make a special art series called “The Rockstar.” As you go through the slideshow…you’ll see the art pieces.
Here are a few of my favorites from the bunch.
I better stop now because I’ll end up posting them all up. 🙂
Thank you, Constantine and the band for a wonderful night of rock and roll (and some great photos).
I will say that what was also weird and ironic…you want to know what I miss about my days working in rock music? Those songs that rockstars write about you. On the way to the show, one of the songs my ex wrote about me came on my shuffle. It was about moving on in life…and it was a good sign of things to come.
I left the show and magically another song came on…that one about our breakup and how he saw me. All I could say to myself was…that boy really loved me enough to immortalize that love in music.
Any wonders why I love rock and roll? Because in the end…it’s all about love. And guess where happiness comes from? Love.