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New Adventures at 171 | Photowalk Series with Jess!

This Spring and Summer, I will be adding a new type of class to my offerings at 171 Cedar Arts Center. We're taking our education out of the classroom and into the real world for some themed photowalks!  The first one is next Saturday, May 19th at Bluebird Trail Farm. (Check out the website here! They have so many cool things going on you can get involved in.)     As soon as my students started requesting a workshop on animal photography, I thought of Margie Seiderman and the passion she has for educational partnerships up at that wonderful farm of hers. Plus I know she has a never ending supply of fuzzy bunnies so...      Besides baby bunnies and chicks, we will have a fun assortment of other animals to play with, feed, and photograph. We will be given a farm tour and we will be walking around the nature trail (about a mile) so there will be an opportunity for photographing both domesticated and wild

Easy Day Trip | Altitude Trampoline Park

Happy Spring Break everyone!  If you're doing a staycation and haven't tried one of Rochester's trampoline park adventures, I highly recommend Altitude.     Especially if you feel like your kids are bouncing off the walls because of all this wintry weather we've been enjoying in Upstate NY ;-) Why not try some place you can ACTUALLY bounce off the walls?!?!?     It was most recommended to us because not only does it have the trampolines, as promised, but there's also a rock climbing wall above a foam pit! (And a battle beam, too!) I was quite surprised with how difficult it was to move through the foam pit. There was a lot of laughter and some worries about lost socks getting sucked away into the foam quick sand ;-)     I knew the little ladies would have a blast doing this but I had NO IDEA that I would have so much fun! There's nothing like bouncing and jumping and playing and laughing to make you

Chimping: My Definition and Encouragement

Chimping (v.) - the act of checking one's LCD screen on a digital camera after each shot is taken.      "They" say that "real" photographers don't chimp. That they should just know their settings well enough and be good enough that they don't need to check. If you've ever worked with me, taken a class with me, read my blog, or been around me more than five minutes, then you know I don't put much stock in what "they" say.      In fact, I think chimping is great! It's a main mark of the modern wonder that is digital photography!  I don't have any patience for McJudgypants-type people who are going to approach a photographer and ask them if they know what chimping is (because they want to point out that's what you're doing) and yes this did happen to me once on a shoot and yes I did roll my eyes out of my head. Listen, I've been shooting professionally for years and even on a paid shoot for a client - heck, especially on a

Classes with Jess | Travel Photography at The Rockwell Museum

At my recent Travel Photography Workshop at 171 in March, my students and I discussed the ways we can apply specific composition rules to make our travel photography more interesting. I showed them my basic gear and bags and told them my experiences in lugging my camera through 15 countries in the past ten years. My biggest tip: find a favorite "walk around" lens that can get you both wide shots and nice details, and keep your camera out and at the ready at all times.      I have learned that I am often lazy and whiny and I tire out easily if I carry too much gear with me around a big city or on a hike up a mountain. I've also found I need a bag that has side-access (over the shoulder) because I am not very likely to take the time to stop and take a backpack off to change out a lens.     One thing I love about our workshops at 171 Cedar Arts Center is that the back half is always a hands-on photo walk to the Gaffer District. With

Somebody Pinch Me: I Teach Photoshop Now

In the fall I wrapped up my first Photoshop class at 171 Cedar Arts Center. As I walked into the building and set up the projector to teach the last class, I was still just a little bit baffled. See, it was not easy for me to learn how to use the program and I remember being really timid about it at first. Just overwhelmed and pretty angsty. I never thought I would get the hang of it... CERTAINLY not enough to teach a short intro course on it! I don't quite know when I went from crying tears of frustration over the complexities of this program to using it with confidence every day in my professional life. I don't know when I went from apprehension to competence. When I went from fear to love.     But I do love Photoshop. I love the things I know about it, and I love how I'm pretty regularly learning new things about it. I love how it bridges the gap between what image I can take with my camera and what fine art I saw in my minds' eye. And I love

Local Event | Dollhouse & Miniatures Exhibit at the National Soaring Museum

I'm trying to be better about capitalizing on the many many many local gems I take for granted in this area.   Living in Corning, and in the Finger Lakes Region in general, it can be easy to get complacent about local travel and sightseeing. Which is a shame because there really is so much to see and experience! That's one reason I really like being a member of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce. I find out about so many great little events and exhibits and places I have meant to check out. Sometimes it's just that one member news email announcing a special exhibit to get my butt in gear and head over to that museum I've been meaning to take the girls to for over a year. It's a true story; that's literally what happened! A few weeks back I opened up my inbox and scrolled through the Chamber newsletter. And I found out that the National Soaring Museum in Elmira is currently hosting a special miniatures exhibit through

Event | Headshot Sessions by Corning Chamber of Commerce

Time for a great EVENT announcement! Coming soon to an arts center near you...     I'm working with the awesome double-prizes team of the Corning Area Chamber of Commerce AND 171 Cedar Arts Center to bring you a two-day event to fix your headshot problems!     Don't think you have a headshot problem? Well let's see here... Do you have a headshot on your website? On social media? On marketing materials for your business or company?  Is your headshot less than five years old?  Do you actually like your headshot? Does it look like you? The real you?  If you answered no to any of these questions, you have a headshot problem and I can fix it.     Just contact me here or email me (lifewjess@gmail.com) to snag your spot for a 15 minute headshot session on either Tuesday morning/early afternoon February 5th or Wednesday evening February 6th.     I believe really strongly in the power

What to Do If Santa Brought You a Scary Camera

I know how you feel...     ...When you ask for a big fancy camera and you pull it out of the box and realize you had no idea just how complicated it was going to be. 82 buttons. Did it really have to have 82 buttons? Fear not, there's another 171 photography class coming up with yours truly. Join me for five weeks of discussion on the finer points of good composition AND the meaning behind all those buttons on your new (or old) (or new to you) DSLR camera. We're going to unlock your creative control and learn how to use Manual Mode! You'll be able to actually get the bang for your buck you were hoping for in that camera.     Don't take my word for it... here are two former students to share their thoughts after taking a class with me: “This class was was such a fun experience! Jess brings such enthusiasm to the classroom, and really helped me feel more confident with my camera settings.” (Kara) “This class is definitely

Classes with Jess | Nighttime Photography, Holiday Edition

Ready to get your twinkle on?  Join me on Thursday, December 14th at 171 Cedar Arts Center for a holiday twist on my Nighttime Photography Workshop!     Bring your DSLR camera and your tripod (both are 100% essential for this class) and learn the art of long exposure. We'll be turning street lights and Christmas lights into starbursts that make your tail wag!      The class is from 5-8pm. We'll start at 171 getting comfortable with the concepts we need for this effect, and then we'll bundle up rain or shine and head out for a walk in the Gaffer District.     Please note: I'm going to roll with the weather for this workshop, so you need to dress appropriately and prepare to be flexible...      ... cause we're going outside, rain or SNOW ;-) But seriously, I'm almost crossing my fingers for snow. The only reason this workshop will be canceled is if it's a really bad,

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