Winslet & Rhys

I forget how I came across Winslet and Rhys, but I'd been following them on instagram for a while before I got a chance to visit their store. It opened fairly recently near the main drag of the Avondale neighborhood, about two miles from downtown Birmingham. It was opened by Brittany Baker, who just also happens a letterpress artist, and Mallory Collier. On one of my visits to the store I had the pleasure of chatting with Brittany, who is super sweet by the way, and learned that the name Winslet and Rhys was inspired by each of their maiden names, Winslett and Rice, respectively. How fun, right?!

Unlike a lot of stores in California with a similar aesthetic, Winslet & Rhys offer a good range of price points for their pieces, many of which are made by local or independent artists. A necklace I've been eye-ing is about $40, which is quite affordable considering it's handmade by an artist here in town. It was the perfect store to buy my sister-in-law her Christmas present, a simple cuff from Maslo Jewelry, based in Richmond, VA. Mallory and Brittany do a really great job curating beautiful and unique items for whatever you're looking for whether that's home goods, jewelry, clothing, or cute, little baby things. They have a little bit of everything. 

If you're ever visiting me or local, Winslet and Rhys is definitely a place to buy something for yourself and a friend. Speaking of which, since it's Valentine's Day, you could definitely pick up a last minute gift for your honey at Winslet and Rhys. (They have stuff for guys, too!) 

Anyway, I hope your day is filled with lots of love. Check out Winslet & Rhys and Happy Valentine's Day!

Oh, and how lovely is their store? Don't you just wish this was how your home looked?

 

Winslet & Rhys, 4000 3rd Avenue South, Suite 105, BIrmingham, AL. January 27, 2017 | Fuji x100s

My 5 Takeaways from Teaching at Alt Summit

The Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs

Alt is where it all started for me.

Somehow two years ago I got it in my head to apply to be a speaker at Alt. I pitched a bunch of different ideas and was chosen (woot) to speak on editing, specifically "How to Develop a Consistent Style". I prepared for weeks and the classed turned out pretty good (although it could have used some finessing).  Since then I've found the courage to pitch different classes at other conferences and even hosted my own workshop, each time honing in what works and what doesn't work. 

Upon hearing Alt Summit would be in Palm Springs, I applied again to be speaker at Alt and got those magic words from the Design Mom, Gabrielle Blair, in response, "Congratulations! You've been selected as a speaker for Alt Summit 2017." I would be teaching a photo editing workshop. I literally screamed when I got the email. 

Fast forward to Thursday morning of the conference, with my hair and makeup did, I taught photo editing to my cozy class of 25-30 attendees. The hour and fifteen minutes flew by, and I felt so completely happy with how it turned out. So I just wanted to shared some takeaways I learned from teaching at Alt this year. 

1. Unexpected challenges can foster creative problem solving and better results.  

In that same email congratulating me on being a speaker, Gabrielle snuck in a little fun surprise, "The room will not have a screen or projector. So please plan your class as a true, hands-on type workshop." Yikes. Those words haunted me. How do you teach a class about work done solely on a computer without a screen or projector? What does hands-on really mean?? Blerg. Can you feel how stressed I was?

So that was my challenge: how do I effectively teach a bunch of people "blindly"? I queried one of my handy facebook groups and got several helpful suggestions which eventually inspired my final solution. I ended up asking all the students to bring a laptop and gave them each a digital folder containing a pdf of the slides of my talking points and a Lightroom catalog for them to follow along with. I made sure my entire spiel was only twenty minutes so I could spend the rest of the time going around helping people one-on-one. Overall I think this workshop was more successful than any of my other talks, and I owe it to not having a projector. Had I had a projector and screen I imagine my workshop would have been pretty dry. The way I presented ended up being completely much more effective as I was forced to go table to table to help attendees individually and see what their specific needs were. 

2. Teaching will bring out the best or the worst of you. 

Teaching is no joke. It's not easy. It's stressful and challenging for someone like me. I honestly had to learn to be a better person while I was teaching my class. There were plenty of moments when I thought I was going to go crazy. I definitely had to exercise plenty of grace and patience, but it all worth it. 

3. Ask for help and accept it when it's offered. 

Like I mentioned before, in a facebook group I asked how I could teach an editing class without a screen or projector. The help and resources I received from that simple ask were invaluable to me. I really owe much of the success of the workshop to those who helped me in that group. So often someone else has already solved your problem, so why not take advantage of their knowledge and save yourself some of the legwork. I saved so much time figuring out my pickle by simply asking for help. You really have nothing to lose by asking for a little help. 

At my workshop I had an Alt representative. I wish I could remember his name because he was so incredibly helpful. While I was preparing to speak, my Alt rep went around helping people load the workshop material on their computers. That little bit of help was really loads and loads helpful to me. Part of my personality is to always turn away help--I never want to put someone out or inconvenience them, so over the years I've really had to learn to accept help when it's offered because utilizing the people around me is really such an invaluable asset. 

photo by justin hackworth

photo by justin hackworth

4. Trust yourself. 

When I was in college I presented a multi-million dollar housing project to Bank of America for a competition. I was super nervous, but I'll never forget what one of my teammates said to calm my nerves, "You know this material. Trust yourself." To this day her words have stuck with me. Even though I'm pretty snazzy at editing, I was scared about my workshop. What if no one learned anything? What if no one showed up? What if I didn't make sense? What if my screen/projector solution didn't work? But I knew the material backwards and forwards, so I trusted that. I trusted myself. In the end that's all I needed and everything worked out. A couple people might have even told me it was the best class they'd been to at the conference. (cue happy dance.)

5. Share knowledge generously. 

I once had a mentor who shared everything about his business with me from his business practices to his insurance agent. He was generous with his knowledge and I'm indebted to him for that, so I've always used that as a model in how I want to interact with other creatives. I tell my creative friends I have no secrets with regards to my business. And I really don't. If there's something you want to know about my business I'll share it with you. 

At my workshop I was so happy to see that the attendees were learning something. Even if it was just one small thing, I was happy I could share that with them. There's no reason for me to keep this editing knowledge to myself when I could instead be helping people with what I know. 

All in all I felt like my workshop was a total success. I'm so thankful for the people who attended my workshop, their patience with me, and the really, really good questions they asked. 

 

Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs, CA. February 2, 2016 | Fuji x100s



Ryan

Birmingham Alabama Fashion Photographer
 

Downtown Birmingham, AL. 2016 | Canon 5d markii 50mm 1.2

Thriving (at least trying to)

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, 
but to thrive; and to do so with
some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
– Maya Angelou

I'll be honest, moving my business to Birmingham was not what I expected.

By the time I'd move to Birmingham I'd already grown a thriving business in the Bay Area, where I lived, a great client base in New York, shot in several other states and out of the country, and was making more than what I would have made if I was still an architect.  How hard would it be to grow another base in another city? Pretty freakin difficult if that city is Birmingham. Culturally and financially and stylistically there's overlap between New York and California. I found clients in New York who could relate to me and appreciate my style, and most importantly, find value in my pricing. Here in Birmingham it's a whole other market. It seems pretty obvious as I'm typing it, but I really had no idea.  I can't seem to navigate the wedding industry here where couples are paying tens of thousands of dollars on their weddings but only willing to pay two thousand dollars for their photographer. I don't know how to navigate through a city where everything is word of mouth, but most of my friends are married. I'm constantly wondering if people are not booking me because I'm not white. 

I had pretty good success my first year here booking shoots and weddings, mostly by the grace of God and dumb luck, but my sophomore Birmingham year was a huge struggle. I learned a whole lot about hustle. I'm having to rebuild my business, trying to remember all the things that worked for me eight years ago when I first started it. There are definitely moments I feel like a failure. I'll find myself in the middle of conversations with people about my business, and I'm too embarrassed to really elaborate on how my business has had to shift from shooting to editing. Or how I'm only making a fraction of what I used to make when I was living in California.  

Recently as I was reflecting on 2016, all this "failure" started to hit me to a point where I actually started talking about that shame and failure I was feeling, and it felt like a turning point. I'd always been open about giving credit to God for my success. (He truly is the reason I'm where I am today.) My old adage was that the plans God has for me are far greater than any I could ever imagine for myself. But those words were just a cloak to mask the fear I was actually feeling. I wasn't truly holding onto those words I'd live by in years past or really trusting God fully with my business. Would I find more work? Would I survive? All those insecurities were building up behind the happy face I was putting on. So that was it. I needed to make a change. I needed to be open with my fears. I needed to shine some light on the struggle I was living with. I'm at a place now where I'm trying to remember that God really is in control, and all I have to do is trust in Him and move forward, to take one step at a time as He leads. 

Who knows why God is leading me down this path. But now at least I'm reminded, that whatever that path is, it's part of His plans for my life, and that's a good place to be. I don't need to walk this path alone; I'm surrounded by friends and family who've supported me from the beginning and will continue to do so. So please keep me in your prayers as I try to put my trust fully in God and navigate this new frontier.  

Like the quote above, I don't want to just be surviving. I want to be thriving. 

 

Samford University, Birmingham, AL. 2016 | Canon Rebel XSN. film developed by Indie Film Lab

Know Thyself

"Observe all men; thy self most."
- Benjamin Franklin

The other morning I woke up in the biggest funk. Maybe it was that awful nightmare I had. Maybe it was seeing a missed opportunity. Maybe it was realization of something too unexpected. Maybe it was being cooped up. Or the rain. Or the tube strike. Maybe because it was Monday. Who knows.

Whatever it was, I was feeling quite anxious.

I remember the first time I heard the word anxious used in a context other than in reference to anticipation and eagerness; it was used to convey worry, nervousness or unease, and I thought, "That's me. That's me right now." At times I suffer from anxiety; I feel so overwhelmed that I want to cry or it makes me so physically exhausted that all I feel like I can do is sleep. Anxiety makes me feel like I can't think or mentally process anything or that I'm spiraling into a bottomless pit. Sometimes it's set off by something, but other times it comes upon me for no apparent reason. 

When I realized what was going on with me was anxiety, it suddenly became easier to deal with, even if ever so slightly. It was like I suddenly put a name to an answer to a question I never realized I was asking. I started to get to know myself better, seeing what worked and what didn't work. I eventually learned what would help me when I felt anxious like taking a step back and just stopping what I was doing, taking a walk, laying down and decompressing, reading or talking things through with someone. 

So yesterday, that's what I did. I did all those things. Lance and I walked over seven miles through west London. We pored over books in several bookstores. We talked about life and serious things and laughed at silly things. We read. While my anxiety lingered with me throughout the day, I was able to manage some of those feelings enough to not let it ruin my day. Sometimes I face struggles that I feel I cannot overcome, but over the years I've learned the answer can often be found in simply knowing myself better. 

 

Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Birmingham, AL | Canon Rebel XSN. film processed by Indie Film Lab