Gift Giving for Creative Types

There are only a few days left for Christmas and unfortunately there was no time to shop because your head was either deep in business files at work or buried in books at school. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t conjure up an amazing gift for your loved ones especially for those creative types who appreciate cool thoughtful gifts. I am going to list some videos that I found online that could help you with your dilemma.

Cool Photography Inspired Gifts:

Who doesn’t like gifts with photos? This type of gift is especially perfect for grandmothers who cherish anything that includes images of their grandchildren and for, of course, people who appreciate photography. If you have that amazing selfie or picture of your loved one why not turn it into a creative photography gift. Watch COOPH's video for some inspiration.

Cool Gifts for Techies

What if your loved one is a tech junkie? This video by TechSource lists some amazing affordable tech accessories for that a loved one who is obsessed with their camera, Ipad or Playstation. These accessories will soup up the items they already own, which I guarantee will have your techie loved one appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Frame a Poster or Drawing for Fine Art lovers

Do you have an art piece or drawing you would like to frame? Follow these steps in this video by chezlin to make that picture into an art piece. I remember my younger brother framed a picture he drew for my birthday and I was blown away at the way he framed it!

 

Cute and Practical Gifts for Foodies and Cooks!

This video by Very Good Looking showcases small items that you could buy for your favourite foodie. She tends to stick to one brand but I love the items that she chooses which could be picked up at any home style store. Take advantage of your mail system as they are working hard to bring gift to your home as soon as they can and order these type of items online. 

Four Books you Should Read as an Aspiring Photographer

When I started to take pictures, I always tried to look for DIY books that would take my photography to the next level. I was very specific when I started to shoot, I wanted to make sure that I had the correct lens and I wanted to shoot exclusively in natural lighting before I started to shoot in flash mode. After a lot of researching and purchases, I’ve narrowed my favourite books to four specific titles.

 

1. Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young

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Food photography is an art that is different from other types of photography because the lighting styles are completely different. For most natural light subjects the lighting is usually situated in front of the subject to illuminate their face but in food photography the main light is usually situated behind the subject, in this case food. What I love about this book is that it shows you all the possible lighting situations for different types of food styling. Young also gives tips on what types of lens and accessories needed to get that great shot. In terms of food styling, she gives tips on how to elevate food items such as spaghetti. For example, to make the illusion of more food just add a Styrofoam Dome or to make a scene look more natural add a little mess such as bread crumbs. I recommend this book to photographers who have a handle on lighting before they delve in the technical aspects of this book.

 

2. The Luminous Portrait by Elizabeth Messina

This book delves into the world of natural light photography. Messina is an excellent instructor who discusses what type of photography looks great in this type of lighting. What is interesting about this book is that she is pushes the viewers to capture the best picture at the time of production so that you don't spend time in post production. She wants the reader to be fully immersed in their work while shooting so they could work on their analytic and creativity skills.  She also offers insight to those that are interested in shooting film citing that film cameras offer more control and preparation to obtain amazing shots.

 

3. Natural Newborn Baby Photography: A Guide to Posing, Shooting, and Business by Robin Long

This book is a great how-to book for newborn photography. Robin Long gets into the nitty-gritty of how photographers need to prepare when planning a newborn shoot with parents. Her book goes through an array of advice from how you should respond to appointment consultations to how you should edit each picture on photoshop. What is interesting about this book is that she focuses on the business of photography, which is helpful for entrepreneurs in photography. Another aspect of the book is focused on how to gain trust from parents and how to make the baby comfortable during the photoshoot. I would recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about doing lifestyle photography.

 

4. Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs By Henry Carroll

This handy book by Henry Carroll is the best little pocket photography book for beginners. If you just purchased a new DSLR and have no idea what M mode is then this book is for you. Carrol's instructions and examples will keep you at ease by telling you what each mode is for and what effect you can achieve with each. The examples that he uses are from great photographers, in which he explains that you could also achieve the same results. I would suggest doing of the tasks that he mentions so that you could work your photography muscles and get used to the different options on your new digital cameras.  

 

Photo of the Day - Brazilian- Style Rosca

Homemade Brazilian-style Rosca for the Holiday Season. This sweet bread is a very common bread that is made by Brazilian mothers who want to treat their families with yummy deliciousness. I first tried my own Rosca when my Brazilian husband grandmother sent one my way. I remember thinking it was the most delicious sweet bread and it was even tastier because of the love it was made with. If you're interested in making this I will post the recipe below:

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akes 4 small breads.

  • 50 gm bakers yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 7 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs

Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup hot water and 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • Stir and let thicken

Mix yeast with warm water and 1 cup flour. Leaven approximately 2 hours. In a bowl beat eggs, sugar and salt. Add butter. Whisk with yeast. Gradually add flour. Knead until dough forms a ball, approximately 10 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm spot approximately 2 hours. Divide dough into 4 pieces which are rolled into tubular shapes, stretched and twisted, each 3 feet long. Fold each piece in half and twist again to shape into a braid. Rest on a greased cookie sheet 1 hour. Bake in 350 F oven for 45 minutes. Brush with glaze while warm.

 

 

Inspiration from Latin American Women Artists

So, I am trying to come up with a art project. One that would showcase Latin American art. In order to conceptualize it, I went to search for some inspiration among self identified Latin American women across the web. I searched on Instagram, Twitter and even among local Latin American artists. What I did was compile a handful of them and list the characteristics that make them unique and how they inspire me as a growing artist. 

Xaviera Lopez (Chilean)

The first artist that is incredibly awe dropping AMAZING is Xaviera Lopez who hails from Chile. Her art combines illustration with video art. Her mixture of these mediums creates such beautiful, whimsical creations. As seen in the video below she brings magical features to show that wonderful aura her subjects have in the inside and out. The reason it calls to me is because she combines illustration with some video art. This type of illustration is something that could accentuate an art concept especially when dealing with conceptual themes such as culture and inner beauty.

A video posted by Xaviera López (@xavieralopez) on

Shalak Attack (Chilean-Canadian)

Shalak Attack is an muralist from Toronto, whose family emigrated from Chile after the military coup in 1970's. Her art is inspired by surrealism, magical realism and Latin American history usually accompanied with large wisps of bright colours. The themes that she uses in her art range from women's issues, Indigenous mythical stories and social issues. Her colourful techniques allow her images to look more powerful and sometimes juxtapose it with harsh and violent social situations such as her mural entitled Deshumidade. This mural is her critique of the Brazilian social situation during the 2014 Fifa World Cup, where military officials forcefully removed people from their homes. Although it an awful situation, she uses colours to highlight the violence, which in a way illuminates the realities that take place in corrupt countries. In some of her murals, she also showcases women in strong poses which show them as powerful, courageous and resilient; a theme that is prevalent in many of her murals.

Lido Pimienta - (Colombian-Canadian)

Lido Pimienta is a Colombian-born artist in Toronto. Her background in art includes an array of different art genres, such as song-writing, drama production, illustration, paint and design. What inspires me most of her is her original illustrations that showcase social issues pertaining to women of colour. She also uses bright colours to highlight the beautiful aura among her subject and uses bold lines to accentuate their ethnic features such as the bulbous nose that is usually downplayed in fashion and european art. Her art is unapologetic and vocal, she is not afraid to show that black is beautiful and is vocal in social issues such as Black Lives Matters. I  would also recommend listening to her music as it usually talks about the same things but in a different medium.

A photo posted by Lido Pimienta (@lidopimienta) on

What I Learned while doing Maternity Photos


I love to take pictures of soon-to-be mothers. They’re radiant, beautiful and excited for what is to come. However, when taking pictures it's important to keep the mothers hydrated and comfortable! So, what I do is meet with the parents beforehand and I discuss the guidelines before production starts.

First, I like to know whether or not there will other people in the session with them. This could be variety of people such as older children, grand-parents or partner.  Second, I ask them how many wardrobe changes they would like to make.

Offer makeup services as an extra service. If you don’t know how to apply makeup, hire someone who does. Of course, this will be an added cost to the mother but it’s worth to see her  feel more beautiful and comfortable in sessions. I had one mother who thought she looked exhausted and I had false eyelashes on me and she was happy that I offered to put it on for her. Because of this, I always include make-up as an option.

During the photoshoot, it’s imperative to keep mothers hydrated. When women are in their third trimester they lose a lot of water because the body is keeping the baby hydrated. So, it's important to have a large pitcher of water on site. And of course, since the mother is drinking a lot of water, it's important to keep in mind that there will be a lot of washroom breaks. Even if you think, you have that perfect shot, make sure you ask every ten minutes if she needs a break.

In terms of lighting, I feel like mothers look so much more radiant in natural lighting. The natural light shows their glow without the need of extra lights. One book that I recommend on natural lighting is The Luminous Portrait by Elizabeth Messina.

To sum up I will provide a small little cheat sheet below:

  • Know how many people will be in the shot so you can plan beforehand

  • Discuss number of wardrobe changes

  • Offer makeup as as an add-on option to the shoot

  • Have a water pitcher handy or bring water bottles

  • Offer a break time in 10 minute intervals

  • Natural light always looks best!

 

Dia de los Muertos: Lucia’s Story


This past weekend I attended the Day of the Dead celebration at Wychwood Barns or as Spanish speakers call it Dia de Los Muertos/Difuntos. This day is celebrated in many parts of Latin America to honour their loved ones who have passed. The celebration varies from country to country. For instance in El Salvador, it is usually a more somber occasion where family members visit their loved ones and pray at their tombs, whereas in Mexico it is more celebratory, colourful and grandiose.  I usually love going to Mexican inspired events to watch the beautiful indigenous dances and visit the beautiful altars. However, there was something that caught my eye at the celebration; an art installation by LACSN - Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network that brought awareness to femicide in Latin America.     

This art installation was held in a small hallway away from the main Day of the Dead activities. On one side they had red dresses and shoes to represent the murdered women and on the other they had piece of chart paper to list the frequency in which women were killed in many Latin American Countries. As I learned, femicide is a huge issue in Latin America. In fact, as reported in insightcrime.org, Latin America has the most female murders in the world, with 7 Latin American countries in the top 10 countries for the highest female murder rate with 98% of cases going unprosecuted.

The installation also had a section in a stairway, where members of LACSN gave spectators the opportunity to hold a plaque that said: “Vivas nos Queremos” which translates to “We want her alive.” This slogan is a protest that has spread in Latin America to shed light on disturbingly high volume of violence against women. Before I got up to hold that plaque to take a picture, Maria Magdalena Diaz Arce, a member of LACSN, informed me about a prolific case in Argentina that is one of the most heinous crimes against young women to date. The murder of 16-year-old Lucia Perez.

Lucia Perez, 16-years-old, photo source 

Lucia Perez, 16-years-old, photo source 

On October 8, 2016, Perez was allegedly abducted by a local gang then drugged, raped, tortured and killed. After she was attacked, her assailants washed and cleaned her to make it seem like she had a drug overdose, and dropped her off at a rehab clinic. Upon closer inspection, the doctors realised there was signs of torture and two suspects who initially dropped her off, Matias Gabriel Farias, 23, and Juan Pablo Offidani, 41, were arrested. When this news was made public, woman across Argentina went into protest. This protest spread to other parts of Latin America such as Mexico, El Salvador and Colombia as it reignited the anger concerning the issue of femicide. Huffington Post reports that as of October 19, tens of thousands of people across Latin America would take to the streets with signs that said ”Ni Una Menos,” translated as “Not one more.”

As I heard Lucia’s story, I felt such profound sadness and realized that one of the purposes of Day of the Dead was to spread and honour the stories of these victims. Lucia represents the injustices against women in Latin America and it is our duty to spread her story. The dead have a voice and it’s our responsibility as the living to keep them alive.

To learn more about how you can help, please help fund organizations that directly help women and those that apply pressure to Latin American governments to do something about this issue. For more information please visit:

Globalfundforwoman.org

Mujer.ca

http://lacsn.weebly.com/

When is it a Good Time to Get a New Linkedin Profile Picture?


So you have a Linkedin profile photo and it's been four years since you last changed it, but does it represent you, your passion or current professional career? Is this photo something you would want displayed on your professional website or even to a large conference with 100,000 people? If it's not, then it's probably a good idea to change it. Hiring a professional for a headshot could be expensive, but ask yourself "is it worth the investment"? Here is a list of why you should change your profile picture.

 

When your picture doesn’t represent who you are currently.

Your profile picture should be a true representation of your current look and state of mind. My brother recently changed his professional profile picture because his previous one represented a much younger and inexperienced version of himself. A profile picture shouldn't be 5-10 years old because we change our look and our frames of mind. As time passes, we not only physically change, but we change psychologically. Pictures, whether we believe it or not, displays and captures our age and frame of mind. For instance, sometimes we look at an older picture and think to ourselves: "Wow, look at how much I've changed and how much I've learned." So don't share an inexperienced version of yourself and embrace your current age and maturity.

 

When you don’t have a Linkedin profile picture.

This pretty much explains itself, if you don’t have a Linkedin picture then get on it. According to Linkedin, a simple picture upload will make your profile seven times more likely to be viewed by potential employers. So, get yourself a profile picture - ASAP.

 

When your Linkedin picture looks like a selfie.

I can't stress this one enough, a profile picture that looks like a selfie should never be on Linkedin. I'm sure your instagram is full of them (I know mine is) but even your best duckface selfie shouldn't be your professional headshot. Why, you ask? Well, that certain angle you took that picture does not represent how we see you. Having a photographer take your photo allows them to take it at an angle that would most likely represent how people view and see you. According to Kim Lachance Shandrow from her post “8 Types of Photos You Should Never Use on Your Linkedin Profile” on Entrepreneur.com, she lists that some of the worst Linkedin Picture offences are “selfie in the mirror pic”, and the overkill filtered picture to name a few. She also adds that the “selfies of any kind are way too casual for Linkedin.” However, I think that there is an exception to this rule. If your photo doesn’t look like a selfie, then it could work. For instance, a professional selfie shouldn't show your arms grabbing the camera and should have good lighting and posture. To take a picture that doesn’t look like a selfie, I recommend to check out Photofeeler.com, a site that gives feedback on profile pictures. They share a small tutorial to achieve that look.  Now, in the mean time please replace that overly filtered, duckface selfie picture on your profile and find someone who can take a photo that represents a professional version of yourself.

 

When your profile looks uninteresting.

So, I've scrolled around some profiles pictures and the most uninteresting ones were flatly lit (meaning there was no lighting contrast), heavily pixelated and also had those mundane grey backgrounds, which gives it 1980's kinda look. To make a profile exciting, it should be expressive, personal and creative. Another great tip is to show your viewers and potential employer what you’re most passionate about. For instance, if you are a music writer, it would be a good idea to have to your favourite instrument displayed somewhere in the background. As well, if you have a favourite fashion item, then have it in your picture. So, use your passions and creativeness to make your profile both professional and unique.