My Friends Make Art is a blog initiative featuring my friends’ creative works and interviews about their individual explorations. Whether they be visual artists, writers, musicians, designers, dancers, etc., here, we will explore their work, processes, and inspirations.
Music, food, friends, and fun - what more could you want from a Summer Party? I’m sad I didn’t bring my real camera, but I wanted to experience this event, not photograph it so these shots are just what I took on my phone with vscocam.
So many great groups representing Philly were there. First off, I have to give a shout out to my friend and amazing entrepreneur, creator and founder of Hooley Coloring, Alli Blum. Hooley is coloring for grown-ups and they teamed up with Philly Love Notes and had special post-cards at the event where you could color and then write your love note! Super fun. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming events with Hooley.
The Spring Art Star Craft Bazaar is an outdoor retail art/craft show that is organized & juried by Philadelphia’s Art Star Gallery & Boutique. Over 100 local & national artists have been selected to set up shop & sell their wares at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing. Shoppers can expect high quality handmade goods that reflect the unique & often quirky aesthetic found at Art Star’s popular retail shop. Art Star has carefully curated a diverse collection of artists that create anything & everything, including housewares, paper goods, dolls, prints, ceramics, clothing, accessories, paintings/drawings, sculpture, and many other one-of-a-kind curiosities. All items have been handmade from a variety of mediums that include fabric, clay, glass, wood, paper & much more. The event will also include interactive craft demonstrations / make & takes for the entire family by local artists & art organizations including paper crafts, screen printing, relief sculpture, heat transfers and more! Live music by local Philly bands presented by Philebrity – all day, each day.
The post-graduate life is notoriously dreary. There you are applying to several opportunities, constantly striving to get your name and work out there, and becoming increasingly used to rejection. Then you rinse and repeat. If you’re lucky enough to get hired somewhere you’re more often than not underpaid, overworked, and/or under appreciated.
This isn’t the rule - it’s more an observation from my own experience as well as seeing the younger workforce entrants who have followed me. You can blame the economy, the job opportunities, or just chalk it up to a sign of the times, but let’s try and be stronger than that.
As a graduate, you will have many people try to take advantage of you. You may feel you don’t have the experience to back up the level of confidence that you see in the people around you. Simply put, that’s crap. Experience doesn’t always equal intelligence and it certainly doesn’t equate to superiority.
I’m not saying after you graduate you should walk around like you know everything better than everyone else — in fact, don’t do that. What I’m trying to say is don’t let the post-grad negative experience slow you down or get in the way of your growth.
Like a high school MVP going to play college ball for the first time, you’ve just graduated and feel at the top of your game. The first time you get tackled by an upperclassmen, or get to work with people more talented than you, may be overwhelming. You’re insecurities could come to the fore. Don’t let them.
One of my favorite singers, Jason Mraz, sings a line in his “Song for a Friend” that strikes a chord with me every time I hear it: “If you stumble onto something better, remember that it’s humble that you seek.” Be proud of the work you accomplish; of the obstacles you are able to surmount, but remember you always have more to learn. If you meet someone who’s work impresses you - ask to collaborate, or better yet try to gain a mentor there.
Arguably the most respectable quality to have at work would be honesty. Know where your weaknesses lie. Either figure out a way to address them, or ask for help. When I started at my job, I’m sure I annoyed the crap out of my managers, but I learned to do my work well and was able to help improve some of our processes in the long run. But I couldn’t start working on something without knowing how it was done before me.
When working with a client - if they are asking for an impossible deadline: tell them. Don’t make false promises that will anger your client and make you resent the project in the long run. If the client wants to know why something will take a long time, explain it to them. The clients that understand and respect your honesty and time are the ones you’ll love working with in the end.
The most commonly used and completely useless phrase you’ll hear when you start working after graduation is: Charge what you’re worth.
Greaaat. Awesome. Can someone help me figure out how to equate my worth to dollars? Ok? Thanks.
Fresh out of school, you’ll more often than not feel like you don’t have much of a foot to stand on for charging what others in your field are. But remind yourself of this: you should be getting paid for the work you do.
People don’t seem to understand that they aren’t just paying you for your level of effort. They’re paying for your expertise, your talent, your work, the ownership of said work, and your time. Many people debate whether an hourly rateis better than a fixed and vice versa. Personally, I think it depends on the project, client, and time available. In the end, you have to discover your process by experience.
You’re not always going to be the best in your field and in fact - I hope you never feel that you are. "I bet if you all had it all figured out, then you’d never get out of bed" sings the wise Jason Mraz. And just like he says, once you’re the “best” at something, that’s it. You’ve finished. There’s nowhere else for you to go. That’s not to say you shouldn’t always try to be the best. The trying is definitely where it’s at.
The best thing you can do to up your value is learning. Don’t ever stop learning. Take classes if you can. Go to meet ups and network with people dealing with the same hurdles as you. Read and follow blogs of professional peers or successful entrepreneurs and bloggers. Ask questions - of teachers, on twitter, your friends, your barista - whoever!
In addition to all that, reflect on your progress thus far. At the end of every project you complete - for a client or a friend - write a case study. Describe the process and the project. What worked with your process? What can you improve for next time? What surprised you? What motivated you? This isn’t just a great practice for you - it’s also a great way to communicate your workflow to potential clients and also inform them as to how a project would progress.
So, what’s the difference?
In the end, your experiences will be your guide. But you should know that you are not alone. Don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel. We’ve all been there and many professionals out there are happy to answer any questions you may ask. You just have to ask.
On Saturday, May 10th, approximately 400 people showed up to support Canine Partners for Life and to dance the night away. The party got underway with a reception on the expansive terrace of Heartwood Farm in Newtown Square.
Then the action moved inside to a beautifully appointed tent that looked like something out of a movie set. Inside the
music rocked, as the auctions benefiting CPL got underway. Service dogs and CPL puppies mingled with the crowd (some of them even made it onto the dance floor with their human partners). It was a lot of fun and a huge success. Thanks to Esther and Paul Gansky who offered Heartwood as a site for the event and to everyone who came out to support CPL’s efforts. Photos by Katharine Friedgen and Hannah Close.
Alli Blum, founder of Hooley and FaireGood, is the next artist on the docket to be featured on My Friends Make Art. Working on the photographs from the portrait session with her has me so excited I had to share a sneak peak. :)
A few weeks back I shot head shots for Matthew. He’s an aspiring actor and performer and he wanted head shots that he could use for auditions as well as building his website. That being said, he wanted some to be more candid, approachable, and less traditional.
Those words were music to my ears. Many people just want the standard in-your-face-solid-color-background headshot. After shooting a few of these here’s a list of what I recommend to help your client love the results and you be able to include them in your portfolio:
1. Collaborate & Communicate with Research
The first thing I do with many clients, not just my photographic ones, is I create a project mood board in Pinterest and I add them as a pinner. I ask them to add examples of what they like and in the description write what they like or don’t like about that example. As I add things they’ll “like” a post or use the link to send me an email and discuss it further. Here’s the project mood board that Matthew and I made together: Project Headshots.
2. Know Where You’re Going
If you plan on just shooting in a studio - this one doesn’t really apply to you. But if you’re venturing outside, which I highly recommend, then you must know where your going. I’m not a stickler to plans so I wouldn’t say schedule the day to death, but it helps you stay on a better timeline to go to a location you’ve previously scouted and know how close the next stop is.
3. Plan for textures, colors, and angles
You’ve walked around your city enough to know that cool beaten down wall that has just the perfect hue to bring out your model’s eyes. Or maybe you’ve passed a large marble building and you love how the light hits it - take note. Make a note in your phone of great portrait locations. These will become your map for tip #2. And not only will your client love them, but they’ll become pieces you’ll be proud to put in your portfolio.
4. Cheer them on! But be honest.
One mistake I see a few photographer’s make is that they only communicate with the client to correct their posture or tell them to smile. This leads to squinty faces and awkwardly standing, insecure photos. It’s your job as a photographer to make the client feel comfortable in front of your camera. If they are feeling awkward the photo will look awkward - but only you, as the photographer, can communicate that to them.
I like to start them off with super smiles and really serious faces - get those facial muscles stretched, then we work for the in between. And when they get it perfectly - I tell them. Don’t Austin Power’s them, but make it fun and funny and you could get a really great, honest smile from them.
5. Don’t be afraid of trying new things.
Matt asked me if he could do some candid shots. That was new for me during head shots. People are usually asking me to make sure the background is as abstract as possible or if the lighting is working. So when Matt asked for something that felt more like portraiture, I got excited. I didn’t even realize I was dividing portraits and head shots in my mind. But I definitely was.
We ended up staging him in a cafe with a coffee and newspaper and we did some very candid shots, some posed, but all were relaxed. What I learned from this was twofold. The first was: don’t limit yourself in any project because you think the client wants something generic. And the second: embrace every suggestion even if you can’t fully do something the client requests - look for a way to approximate it.