a photography tip: steller – where everybody becomes an artist + a storyteller

like we all need another app on our already maxed out smartphones. right? and like we need one more thing to take our focus away from real life + the present moment. right?

we don’t. our 21st century everyday life is already filled up with obsessively checking texts, Facebook, instagram, emails, news, and tweeting things all from our little phones. we do it constantly. so much so that it just might be a problem for some of us. i often wonder about myself. at least i’m trying to keep myself in check, yeah?

but, even with all of that information, and my unsolicited advice to take it easy with our phones, to put them down + look around instead of down at a screen, to go off the grid on a regular basis… even with all of that said, i am still going to share with you a tip about a fantastic photography app.

and even though this app takes up some more time that we could use to be doing something else, i actually believe that it is something that can inspire us.

perhaps 21st century creativity has just made art + creativity more available to us through apps like instagram… and stellar.

steller is a photography app for sharing photos, but unlike instagram that shares one photo at a time, steller tells stories through images. it’s an app that allows you to upload a series of photos from your camera to create whatever kind of story you wish. it’s a great tool for telling beautiful visual stories. capture that perfect weekend getaway you just had. snap shots of your outfits over a week, or share an entire recipe through photos. take photos of your favorite design ideas. the possibilities are endless.

click –> here to get a little sampling of what some people are posting on steller right now. i’ll wait for you to come back…


now that you’ve seen and explored some of the stories on steller, i’ll bet you’re as blown away as i am at the talent that’s out there. my inspiration soul is pretty much set on fire every time i look at steller stories. and, instead of thinking, “i can never create something that beautiful”, i find myself motivated + knowing that i absolutely can create something that beautiful.

so, here are a few tips on how to do just that:

1. choose the theme you wish to use // steller has some fantastic themes already ready for you to simply add your photos to.  just choose whichever you like and begin to build your story.

2. choose + upload your photos (a series of something that will tell whatever story you wish to tell).

3. choose the layout for each photo page // it’s super easy. there are templates for the theme you chose at the bottom of the page. give your story just the look + feel that you want.

4. add a new page to add some text to your story // it’s easy to add a page and then type out an fun introduction explaining what your story is about. but, it doesn’t have to stop there. add a page with quotes, or tel your story with alternating word + photo pages.

5. you can even add videos //  now, i haven’t added any videos yet, but i’ve seen some beautiful examples like –> here and here.

6. don’t forget to add a page for text as your last page // leave your contact info, some hashtags, ask questions. anything to engage others + provide a way to contact with you in other places around the internet

7. rearrange your pages // you can see your pages, move them around and even delete some if you want. then, go back and add more if you want.

8. preview your story, fix whatever needs fixing, and then publish!

9. it’s easy to find inspiration by exploring using the little compass icon at the bottom of the app. click through the collections that pop up, or search for hashtags. the stories are boundless, endless wells of beauty and wonder.


you can find my profile on steller –> here. or just click on the widget right over here ——->

i haven’t created that many stories… i am trying to pace myself. hehe. still, i have already been featured by steller a few times. exciting!!

here is my most popular story on steller. it was so easy to create, and it ended up being in steller’s top 20 for 2 days! click on the photo to see the whole story.

summer in stockholm steller-1

the most recent feature was when steller created a story to inspire others to take photos of the streets around them (steller often gives great tips and ideas, so be sure to follow their profile). the hashtag they asked everyone to use is #stellerstreet.

in their little instruction story, they featured my cover photo for my summer in stockholm story. so freaking cool! (click on the photo to see the story on steller – and my photo in it!).

steller

so, there you go. a new app for you to explore – and download, if you’re into it. you can download it from itunes  here or simply type “steller” in on your smartphone’s app store.

app or no app, we can all use a boost of in our creativity. am i right? and telling stories through images is a perfect way to capture a moment or challenge ourselves to find a series of shots and put them together as a collection. it’s like having a chance to show our art in our own little gallery.

of course, this can be done with any kind of camera. it can be posted on instagram, Facebook, emailed, or even printed out and hung on our walls.

i’m gonna invite each of you to join me in september in creating our own collections of stories  throughout the month of september. i’ll pick a few themes and share the challenges here, and then you can join me in picking up your camera and creating your own art, telling your own stories through photos and text. images and words.

all of us are artists. all of us have our own stories to tell. let’s use september to share that with each each? are you in? *more details to come soon!*

until then, happy snapping!

onwards + upwards! xo

project 30: a guest post on kate’s beautiful blog

my blogging + instagram buddy kate, from 365til30, has a fabulously inspiring blog series called “project 30″. it’s a little q + a with different women in their 30s.

last week i got an unexpected email from kate asking me if i wanted to be a part of the series and do one of her little “interviews”! how fun is that?! i was so happily surprised + completely honored. but, i was a bit worried. i’m not really in my 30s anymore…

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so, i emailed kate back and said that i’ve love to be a part of her series, but i warned her that i am over the “age limit”. she totally didn’t care about that, and invited to to share my thoughts anyway, which just touched my soul to the core.

well, friends, here’s the link to kate’s blog, where you can read my interview and all of the “wisdom” and thoughts that i have about life as a 20 something + life as a  30 something, from the perspective of a 40 year old. hehe.

enjoy!

<<  click here (or below) to read my interview  >>

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and, a great big thanks again to kate for inviting me to be a part of her project 30 interviews! i am so overwhelmed + honored to be in such great company of some very inspiring women!

onwards + upwards! xoxo

// find kate’s blog here //

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5 steps to creating a zen work space + making your dreams come true

if there is one thing that i have learned about getting stuff done (other than needing to have a daily routine),  it is that having a designated space to call my own is a must. in order to create things, work, write, and focus, it is a really good idea to have a place to go to. a place that where you know that “this is where i make shit happen”.

to be honest, i’m not the best at-home worker, though i love to be at home. but, since i’m not the most disciplined person in the world, i need a place that i know i my place to get down to business. and i need that place to be nothing else. what i mean, is, i cannot work in bed. i cannot work on the sofa. perhaps i can work at the kitchen table, but it’s not quite as effective or fun as working at my special place.

my love + i have always had a place that we’ve designated as our work space. in our first apartment together, it was a desk that we shared. the desk was in our bedroom. not ideal, but all we could muster in our tiny apartment. in our second place together in asheville, we had a whole entire room dedicated to work and we called it our studio. lina practically lived there since she was studying then. it was a huge space and so inspiring.

our current place, a cozy, loft-feeling apartment in sweden, is quite small, so we have a corner that we share. i was a little skeptical about sharing space with my wife after having a studio with two desks, but, it actually works just fine. besides, it has helped me focus on simplifying, minimizing, and being creative.

you really don’t need that much space to create your own creative work area. and, the less stuff you have, the better.

with that said, i though i’d share with you my tips for a zen, minimalistic, inspiring creative/work station. my ideas work for tiny corners, basement offices, outside studios, and everything in-between, even your office at work. anywhere you need to have to focus and make things happen: art, studying, bill paying, writing, reading, business deals, computer work, photography, making jewelry… you get the idea. even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, this kind of space is perfect for everyone.

1. seek simplicity

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i highly recommend clean minimalism. if there is one thing i have learned from the swedes, is that this minimalist look makes you feel calm. when things are decluttered and organized, there is a sense of freedom. yes, it is practical. but that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be fun + personal. so, wherever your space is, keep it clean. every night reorganize and put away the things you’ve been working on. i guarantee that in the morning, or the next time you have to sit down + do something, your space will make you smile.

as for organization + stuff, you really don’t need a ton of things on your desk. a couple of boxes or baskets, your computer, some pens, perhaps a notepad of some sort. that’s it. all of your important papers + things can be stored in other places. closets, bookshelves. use binders + boxes/baskets to put paper, mail, envelops, etc. in. and then place them in different areas of the room. just not on your desk. save that area for doing your work. and, if it is empty + clean + ready for you to use, it’s much easier to get started on what you need to do.

2. be comfortable + cozy

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if you’re going to spend lots of time in your work space, then by all means, make it comfy. my love is a graphic designer + i am a writer/blogger, so computers are a big deal in our home. and we sit at the desk very, very often.

make sure that, if you are sitting, your desk and chair are the right height for you. we have a vintage green chair that is not the best desk chair available. but, for us, it was all about style. well, actually, we didn’t choose the chair. it was left in the apartment. and, in order to save money, we decided to go with it. however, we did purchase a cozy, soft (fake) sheep skin cover to throw over the chair. it helps out a lot!

the other thing to be aware of is where you place things on your desk. make sure you can reach things easily, and that everything is streamlined within an arm’s reach. there’s nothing more annoying than having to stand up to reach a pen or bend far over to pic up a notebook off of the floor.

it’s ok if the work space gets messy while you are working. i hope that is happening to you! just remember to re-organize it when you are done.

3. create rituals

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rituals are little acts that we engage in to help make us aware. they also alert us that something important is about to take place – something that deserves our attention, something that is important + worthy. really what rituals do is to create atmosphere.

i have a few rituals that i use every time i sit down at my work space. i always, always, always light a candle. that’s first. it helps me slow down and remember that what i am about to do is something that i choose to do from my soul. it’s not some mindless activity, but something sacred. at night, the candle glows along with the lamp in the room. during the day, the candle burns, even as the natural sunlight beams into the space. no matter what time of day i sit down, the candle is lit.

i also open up spotify and listen to music. my music depends on my mood. often i choose my playlist of the month, but not always. some days the music reflects the weather – gray + rainy, or bright sunshine. i don’t listen to it very loudly, but just in the background. it’s like having a comforting friend nearby. plus, it’s inspiring!

and lastly, i have something to drink beside me. if you know me, you know that it is usually coffee. almost always coffee. but, if i write/work at night, then i may have a glass of wine or a beer sitting on the desk. and, if i find myself working for a very long period of time, i grab my water bottle and sip on it. hydration is very, very important. not to mention, it perks you up. but, honestly, it’s like 97% of the time coffee that i enjoy. hehe.

all of these rituals keep me calm. they create an atmosphere of peace and quiet, then i can focus on what is most important. give it a try!

4. surround yourself with inspiration

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while i completely support creating a minimalist work space, i am in no way a minimalist person.  i love color, warmth, natural tones, wood, metal, funky stuff, vintage stuff. i’ve got a little gypsy heart. but i do also love the simplicity of monochromatic pallets, cleanliness, and organization. so, my personal style is a little mix of scandinavian simplicity + american hippie-ness. let’s call it urban boho.

and while i completely believe that we should not clutter up our work areas either, we should most definitely surround ourselves with things that inspire us. that may be artsy things, mottos, photos, trinkets, gadgets – anything that makes us smile and can potentially spark creativity. if i want to create something, i cannot have a blank canvas in front of me. when i get stuck writing, i look around. seeing something beautiful, i feel renewed. seeing something that sparks a memory gives me a sense of peace + calm. plus, looking at these little things around me, remind me who i am, what my goal is, and encourage me to keep on working.

this is where we can infuse a little personality into our work area. now, if i am honest, i could really go overboard with this. it is highly likely that i find lots of little mementoes to put out around me, creating a little altar. but then, things can get a bit messy + clutterd. so, i have learned to select just a few very meaningful things at a time. besides, there is no rule that says that i can’t re-arrange my personal/inspirational items every now + then!

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for now, we have a candle (that changes very often), some twinkle lights in a jar from north carolina, a little blue bird that was my grandmothers and has been displayed in every home that i have lived in, a wooden art figurine, cans with pens, a little wooden box from my brother’s home, a painting of the mountains of north carolina, an elvis coaster from our honeymoon road trip across the states, a basket beside the desk with maps + arrows from the cherokee indian reservation, my camera bag, and a simple calendar that my love gave me on the wall above. really the bluebird is mine and the wooden figure is lina’s, the painting of the mountains is actually hers too… i gave it to her for christmas this year. and that’s it. the rest of it is all stuff we’ve chosen together because they are important mementoes to both of us. the only thing that i want to add is a little art on the wall.

so, get creative with your space. keep it simple. but express yourself. pick things that make you feel like you. and let the creativity flow!

5. BE INTENTIONAL

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ok, friends. at one time multi-tasking seemed to be the thing. but, it’s out. intentional, focused work is now in. that means, do one thing at a time. creating specific times to do specific things.

sometimes i feel like i am all over the place. looking for jobs, writing a blog, taking photos, working on a book. it feels like i am never giving 100% to anything that i do. and i pretty much stink at multi-tasking. i need an extended period of uninterrupted time to be effective + productive. so, i have started trying to give myself permission to do one thing at a time. i may do all of those things in one day, but when i am writing, i am writing. when i am job-hunting, i am job hunting.

being intentional is really about being present. being in the here + now. not letting our minds fly all over the place, wondering if we should have done something else earlier or stressing out about the next task that comes in the day. it’s all about living in the moment. and giving ourselves that permission to be soaked into what we are engaged in.

the best way that i ensure that i am intentional about my work, giving it all the time that it needs, is that i schedule it. my daily routine includes chunks of time that i do certain things. ultimately, right now in my life, mornings are for creating and afternoons are for networking/job-searching. so, all of my writing, blogging/phtography takes part in the morning. and all of my practical things are taken care ofin the afternoon. of course, it’s not like that every day. i have created big chunks of time so i can be flexible. and i allow myself to be just that. life sometimes requires that i change things around or skip something all together.

the main thing is that i try my best (and am definitely not always successful) to make the main thing of the moment my main thing. no apologies. no regrets. hopefully no stress.  if i want to get done what i want to get done in a day, or even in a year, i simply must take care of all of these things. i must intentionally decide to make the things that i love to do and need to do a priority.


how are you feeling now? inspired? tired? overwhelmed? i know, it’s like doing work before you actually sit down to do work. but, i fully and wholeheartedly believe in creating a zen work space. one that expresses who i am. one that inspires me. on that helps to keep me focused + on track. one that makes doing work just a little bit more fun. i can honestly say that i truly look forward to sitting down to my little creative corner. when i am here, i know that i must focus. and, more importantly, i know that i am doing something to help make my dreams come true. this is where the magic happens… where i begin to follow my bliss.

share with me your ideas + thoughts about your work space. what do you need to have around you? what does your space look like? do you want to change anything? i’d love to hear from you!

you can read about my daily routine –> here

onwards + upwards! xoxo