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Creativity… Better Done than Done Perfect

I had a student say she had a former photography teacher tell the class that "Every photo should be a work of art." and she asked me if I think that's true. And I said that's complete garbage.  I mean, what a creativity-crushing statement to give a new photographer! I sincerely hope this teacher was joking, or just trying to push for everyone's best, but if they were serious, shame on them. "Better done than done perfect" has always been a favorite life motto for me. It suits me because I gulp life down in pretty big chunks so I don't really have time to devote absolute perfection in any one area. So I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. {affiliate link} She is a huge cheerleader for creative souls to just get their dang work out there and then get back to creating more! If you feel like you have even one creative bone in your body (which really, all of us do!) then I highly recommend this book. As a teacher, and

What is “Golden Hour” Anyways?

Golden Hour is a professional photographer's favorite magic trick. It's a bit of a misnomer because it's actually a two hour chunk of time either right after the sun rises or right before the sun sets.     As someone who loves drama and bright splashes of light in her work, Golden Hour delivers almost every time.     But it also provides the opportunity for a really soft, natural light that flatters everyone. No harsh shadows under the chin or eyes, nice soft well... golden light! (for lack of a better word!)     There is something about Golden Hour that makes everything sparkle and shine! This image of this picnic table at any other time of day would not be nearly as inviting.     See? This isn't Golden Hour. This is Boring Hour. It's fine, it's just not singing to me.     But here, in Golden hour, it gets me feeling all poetic and nostalgic about summer, don't you

Reflections | Classes with Jess at 171

I now have two full sessions and a handful of workshops under my belt, so I can maybe stop calling myself a 171 rookie. Obviously, I'm going to be learning and growing and getting better as a teacher every time I step in front of a new group of students. But I definitely feel like I'm getting the hang of it. And I LOVE IT.     Teaching photography has been a wonderful experience and a welcome addition to my business. My favorite part for sure has been watching the smile that accompanies the moment something realizes they "get it."     Shooting in manual mode with a DSLR camera is a really interesting experience because once you learn what the main buttons and functions mean, it's like you suddenly have the keys to unlock a whole new realm of creative possibility!     There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing a camera upgrade and realizing you can't really fix most of the problems you were

Kids in the Kitchen | Bacon & Chive Potato Salad

I've got another kid-friendly recipe for you and this time it's one my kids actually ate! Imagine that ;-) Also it's great for summer BBQs, as my friends can attest to.     Yes, they're jumping for joy because I brought my potato salad that night. I know. It's life-changing!     Anyways it's life-changing because it's loaded with bacon but I don't know how virtuous you can feel after eating it... it's still pretty heavy and true to the general ingredients of it's normal potato salad cousins.     Bacon & Chive Potato Salad 6-8 medium potatoes, washed and cut into chunks 10 eggs sour cream yellow mustard one bunch of chives or green onions, diced one package of bacon, cooked and crumbled 1-1 and 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 2 tablespoons herbed seasoning salt (or regular salt)   So the day before your next BBQ you cut up the potatoes and boil them along with the eggs. When

Kids in the Kitchen | Avocado Chicken Salad

Optimistic Mom-myth: when kids help you cook, they are more invested in the food and they are more likely to adventurously try said food. Parenting reality: not in this case.      What made my kids hate the wonderful, delicious, avocado so much? Why can't I convince them to love the heavenly combination of avocado, lime, and cilantro? Why do they call guacamole "that yucky green stuff we don't like?" Why? Why? WHY?     Well I'm nothing if not stubborn and eternally optimistic. But when it comes to avocados I'm mostly stubborn. Cause by george these girls have GOT to grow up to love Tex-Mex as much as meeeeee! Anyways I tried (again) an old recipe and this time I tried to entice them to make it with me to see if that would help them feel more invested in, I don't know, actually eating it. Spoiler alert: it didn't help. Not this time anyways. But that's okay, I'm sure you guys can still appreciate this simple summery

Classes with Jess | Mastering Manual Mode at 171 Cedar Arts Center

There are a lot of people wandering around this wonderful world with a camera they just don't quite know how to use. It can be super frustrating and intimidating to open the box of your fancy new gear and realize that you haven't the slightest idea where to start with all those buttons and settings. It's scary, I know.  And I'm here to help! Bring your camera to 171 Cedar Arts Center on Friday nights and we will go over all the creative settings you need to know to get the images you've been pining for.     Some people go years and years without learning how to take their camera out of auto and into manual mode. But not you! Cause you're going to sign up for this class and learn how to shoot creatively.  In this class we're going to take baby steps out of those automatic settings and into the slightly scary amazing realm of manual, where you will discover the power to finally get the shots you want. You know your camera is capable of more and I

Classes with Jess | Momtography at 171 Cedar Arts Center

So if you checked out the complete class list that I'm teaching over at 171 Cedar Arts Center this session then you saw I'm teaching a fun Wednesday morning class for moms of young children. Momtography: The Art of Photographing Your Kids is going to be all about helping moms who have a passion for documenting these fleeting moments of childhood but feel like they're always bumping up against the frustrations of fast moving tiny humans. I've got tons of pro tips ready for you!   *** I hope it goes without saying that "Momtography" is an obviously gender-specific term that I just think is funny. Moms tend to be the ones at home with their young kiddos and they tend to be the family photographers. But for heaven's sake if you're a Dad who's rockin' either of those roles in your family please PLEASE join me for this class! ***     Besides being a pro because I'm literally a professional photographer (who has taken thousands of pictures of

Announcing: Photography Classes with Jess!

You guys! You guys! YOU GUYS! (<--- I'm jumping up and down like a crazy woman) I'm teaching classes at 171 Cedar Arts Center this session! So if you've ever looked at my work or read my blog or been one of my clients and thought "Man, I wish I could hang out with this girl and learn how to take pictures better" then YOU. ARE. IN. LUCK. because I've got three awesome classes open (plus one workshop) where we can get together and talk photography! If you're impatient to see all the options before I finish the blog posts ;-) I totally understand and you can check them out here. My Monday night class is going to be for teens (ages 12-17) and it's called Mobile Photography: Beyond the Selfie.      The idea for this class was born from my intense hatred of selfies ;-) Not because I don't love seeing everyone's beautiful faces. (I love faces, see?) It's just that I know there are so many potential artists out there who feel the burn in their

Kids in the Kitchen | Scrambled Egg Soup

You're gonna love this soup recipe. Only two ingredients guys. Chicken stock and eggs. Wait, three ingredients... you gotta have a heaping hunk of patience with kiddos in the kitchen ;-) Oh crap you also need salt and pepper. So ignore my "two ingredient" comment. But whatever it's so easy even your littlest helpers can help big time!      Quick note on farm fresh eggs. I hard boil about a dozen a week (school lunches and quick protein snacks) and I found a trick. You do need to treat fresh eggs differently when you're trying to hard boil them because otherwise the shell will not peel right AT ALL. It sucks. So I follow my America's Test Kitchen {affiliate link} rule of bringing the water to boil, removing from the heat and covering for 10 minutes, then a 5 minute ice bath. BUT I now punch a tiny hole in the bottom of each egg first and am happy to report clean angst-free peeling!  Key is to just poke a hole through the shell without