Friday, August 31

photography: what i've learned

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much to my surprise, i've gotten a few dozen emails asking about my photography (what?!) and even for my advice. let me start by saying this: i am a complete amateur and i debated big time whether anything i had to say about it should be posted like this. everything i've learned, i've taught myself and here's the big kicker: i've only been doing it for a couple of months. however, there are some things i feel confident in sharing about what i've learned that work well for me and while i can't answer every question i get, i thought i'd share a couple things.

(one: know your camera)
i had no idea that buying a lens was going to hurl me into this world of photography and hook me like it did, but once i started i couldn't stop. however, i have never taken a class and i probably will sound like the biggest fool in the world but when i purchased my pricey 50mm lens, i still didn't really know how to use my SLR. shameful, i know. once i got going, i had to learn fast. i googled everything and learned my camera inside and out. i'm still learning, but i can say affirmatively that i know what every single button on my camera does. you don't need a class to get into photography and that thought was only reinforced when i had coffee with a friend who is a successful (and brilliant) photographer who told me he'd never taken one either. use your resources! i spent hours and hours on the internet learning about my camera.

(two: know your subjects & 
what they want)
before i took my sister's senior pictures, i asked another one of my favorite photographers for her best piece of advice and it was rather simple: the better you know your client, the better the pictures will turn out. also, the more comfortable they are with you, the better the pictures will turn out. i think it's safe to say that i know my sister better than anyone in the world so taking hers felt easy and natural. however, once i started taking pictures of people i'd never met before or only kind of knew, i made sure i talked to them before hand and kept the conversation as casual and easy as possible. also, because a lot of my paid gigs this summer were my first, i knew i needed to produce pictures that they loved before anything else. sure, i had to like them and they had to fit my style, but in getting good words out there and referrals, i made sure i knew what every person wanted. i asked a couple of people i worked with to create pinterest boards of ideas. i wouldn't recommend this all the time because they then tend to compare your pictures with another photographer's work, but it helped me figure out what aesthetic they were going for and how we could collaborate to use their inspiration but still keep it "ours". i also had them make a list of outfits, locations, and/or props/setups they wanted to use. the creative aspect of taking pictures was the most fun for me and i had a blast working with clients to create a "unique" set of portraits. i depend largely on word of mouth to get clients and making sure they love them is pivotal to getting future references.

(three: wear comfortable clothing)
this is only a small thing, but it makes the biggest difference in the WORLD. the first time i went out on an official 'shoot', i wore a short dress without spandex, sandals, and i didn't have any pockets. i ended up with bloody toes from the gravel and sticks i walked on and inappropriately flashing, well, everyone. i now know to always wear shorts that move, close toed shoes and/or boots, and to bring some sort of bag or item of clothing with multiple pockets. i hate my camera bag and don't actually use it when i'm out, but instead i just take a medium sized cross-body purse to store my lens cap, notebook, and spare memory cards.

(four: keep a journal)
one of the first things i did once people started asking me to take their portraits was buying a notebook. my little pink moleskin is my baby. i record ideas that pop into my head, i take notes about how different shoots went and what angles/light was most flattering for someone, directing subjects and how to best get them to do what you want, and record every location i go to, every date of every shoot, and every useful piece of information for later. i actually have no idea of journal keeping for photography is "normal" but it was immensely helpful for me! plus, i like having a photography bank of all my favorite places to shoot at and to know when the light was best at that particular place.

(five: do your research)
once a client knew what they wanted and i had an idea of what we were going to do, i spent anywhere from an hour to two hours researching for their shoots. this included writing down poses and different shots i wanted to take, deciding which outfits they wanted to wear would look best where, and made a schedule. being prepared goes above and beyond once you're with a client and they're asking you, "what do i do with my hands? how do i stand?". i got better as time went on but prior to doing research, it was kind of a mess and wasn't very efficient whatsoever.

(six: have fun and just go with it)
i'm sure all of the above sounds like i'm either ADD or OCD, but either way, as much planning and organizing i do going into shoots, sometimes our ideas just flat out don't work or we get to our location too late/too early and we have to improvise. i've learned that sometimes just going with what's there and in front of me works just as well and some of my favorite shots have been from these catastrophic moments where it's cloudy outside when it was sunny earlier or a girl's dress strap broke and now has to wear something completely different. honestly, being prepared is key, but being excited and having fun during is just as important because if you're not excited, the pictures will show it. my worst shots have been taken when i was disappointed or fed up with a shoot going wrong and i've had to learn to yank my brain out of that dark corner and just improvise. thus, why i sometimes tell people to "go twirl in that field! lay down in the grass! lean against a wall!". if it works, it works. 

(seven: charge when you're approached)
it's kind of a weird thing when t he pictures you've taken of people who are your friends/little sister's friends that paid you to take them show up on facebook and the works and soon other people are asking you to take them... but not necessarily for money. my parents got on me about these "free-bee" shoots when people approached me to go have a "photoshoot yay!". my deal now is that if i ask someone directly to take pictures of them, i won't charge, but if someone approaches me and asks, i tell them simply to pay what they can afford or to take me out to coffee. planned client shoots are different, but casual "for no good reason" shoots still take time and many hours editing so i've had to figure out that i can't just let those slide completely. it's awkward and terrible and i hate this side of the business, but it's important, too.

i hope *some* of this was helpful. honestly, i'm no pro and i'm really just starting, but if you enjoy it, don't let inexperience set you back. go big and try new things. i've only posted a couple pictures here and there, but i plan to make one post of all my favorite shots and update semi-regularly!

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Thursday, August 30

so far in my junior year of college...

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  • saying i'm a JUNIOR in college hasn't gotten any less weird.
  • i convinced myself pretty early in the summer that at the very least, it was a good thing i went to a big college and running into someone who will remain unnamed that you all know who i'm talking about would happen at a minimum because after all, at any given moment between classes there are a few thousand students walking around. that wasn't so. the dreaded moment happened not thirty seconds after my first class and again the day after that. the good news? i'm a worry wart. i had nothing to worry about and won't have anything to worry about and hopefully soon that person will be "named" rather than "he who will reamin unnamed".
  • grocery shopping is the literal death of me. as in, jenny and i have gone every single day of the week. even when i make myself a list of all the things i "need", there are things i discover i have to buy once i'm cooking that completely slipped my mind. butter, eggs, salt, and a cookie sheet fall into that category. clearly, if it wasn't obvious, i have never lived on my own in my life.
  • i'm the worst pre-med student on campus and no longer feel legitimate enough to hang out in the honors college study room. i'm taking physics, developmental psychology, creative writing non-fiction, and introduction to russian culture. i should be taking anatomy and microbiology but i'm not so i can get these hunky dory english requirements out of the way. and all i can think is that all of these overachievers are judging me for listening to music and blogging away on my taylor swift covered macbook while they're memorizing organic molecule structures just the way i used to judge everyone else in here. oops.
  • i'm counting down the days until gossip girl premieres again. 
  • being single and surrounded by flocks of missoulian hipster is the best and worst. take what just happened before i wrote that sentence, for example. i didn't even pay attention to his face and couldn't tell you a single detail about what he looked like, but with one glance i saw his pin-stripped button up shirt tucked into his colored denim and i was transfixed. the eye contact lasted a solid three "mississippi" seconds before i could tear my eyes away. this happens not once, not twice, not even three times a day, but probably five times an hour. who am i kidding? i can't hate hipsters for the life of me.
  • it's quite possible that on a friday night you'll run into your girlcrush since the cafeteria days of your freshmen year because she has impeccable style and you'll take a picture with her and she will tell you that she recognizes you, too, because she loved your style as well. 
  • waking up at 6:15am every single day hasn't proven to be exhausting and awful like i thought. in fact, the whole living off campus thing is kind of a dream. forcing myself to wake up early, get completely ready and eat a full breakfast instead of going to class in pj's and on an empty stomach is extremely beneficial. 
  • living without a car and internet is extremely difficult and that will hopefully be solved... soon.

Wednesday, August 29

scalloped

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Any outfit that allows me to move around however I please and bend down to pick up the five thousand pencils I drop in a day, has either mint or a bow involved, and makes me feel like a cross between peter pan and batman is a winner. Seriously, let me wear this every day and I would. I think I found my dream pair of shorts and I never want winter to come so that I can continue to wear them obsessively (I do this, frequently). The scalloped hem, color, high-waisted fit... need I say more? It's true love.

School started on Monday and I have to say... I feel like the biggest slacker in the pre-med world. While I'm taking physics, I opted out of anatomy and physiology until summer school and I'm finishing up my pre-english requirements so that I can declare myself a double major in english which means that the rest of my classes are writing and english related. Not to belittle the english world in the very least because I know that I'll be busy with my required twenty hours of journaling a week and many, many papers to write... but after only taking science classes every semester I'm kind of excited for a change of pace.

I promise as soooon as I'm done with my bedroom and putting everything together I'll take pictures but right now I'm missing a bedframe and sleeping on a mattress in the middle of the floor and my walls are completely blank.

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also... just pretend along with me that hanging out on mountain peaks in montana is an every day occurrence dressed up like this and it's something i do with my best friends when school is slow all the time.
top: anthropologie // bottoms: ruche // shoes & hat: urban outfitters

Tuesday, August 28

a beginning's end

dear summer, 

before summer even started, i made a list of everything i wanted to do being the list maker that i am. i wanted to hike step-toe butte, i wanted to skinny dip, i wanted to go to union town at long last, i wanted to spend a day at the dunes, and i wanted to go to farmer's market every saturday morning... with someone else. it was only after the big change happened, i realized that everything i wanted to do i wanted to do with someone and no where on my list was something i wanted just for myself. maybe that should have been a red flag. and for a couple of days, i mulled over the fact that everything i wanted to do was no longer possible and i let that sink in. i could have kept thinking about that, but instead i did exactly what my mom and friends told me to. i made a new list of things i wanted for just me. maybe i'd share some of the experiences with other people and others would be there with me, but i made a list of things i wanted to accomplish on my own unsure of whether it would really live up to my old list or the old summer i had planned.

as it turns out, the unplanned can be beautiful. there's beauty in just falling in love with yourself again and finding the pleasure in spending time focusing on you again. drinking coffee every morning and waking up before everyone else in the house to just enjoy the silence, spending an entire evening with a cup of tea and my book, taking the long ways home listening to my iPod on full blast, escaping town on weekends to spend time with people who have been nothing but marvelous in my life, and just enjoying myself again. then there were the bigger things.

i don't really know where it started. i was restless and bored and needed something to fill my evenings when hanging out with myself and my thoughts became too much. i knew i wanted to take my sister's senior portraits and i knew i wanted a new lens to do that because mine was far from ideal for that task. so, during a sale weekend, i bought one. just like that. and from there, i started taking pictures of my sister and i fell head over heels. from there, her friends got word, i booked gigs, took family portraits for a couple of friends, took a real engagement shoot, and then finally some people that weren't my friends and liked my photography. i'm a complete amateur. never taken a class, barely know what i'm doing. i googled everything i didn't know, learned about every single button spending hours on the internet reading. but it didn't matter, because every second i spent researching, taking notes, journaling about photography, taking pictures, and editing was incredible. i've fallen for a completely new art and while i still don't have much experience, the experience i gained was enough to make me want to keep pushing myself further. 

this summer wouldn't have happened if not for the unexpected. i learned to love just being alone and as much as i wished i'd had someone there during the rough days and how sad i am that the difficult days ahead will also be done alone, i'm more than capable of getting through it all by myself. my friends and my little sister are incredibly supportive and listened to me rant for hours and often told me the things i didn't want to hear but needed to hear. i'm happy and i'm okay, but i think i knew i would be the entire time. this was never about being afraid to be alone, but being afraid of losing someone who was a big part of my life and their presence in it. i'm more proud of my blog than ever before because it's more my own than ever before. i'm proud of the decisions i made for this semester and my future because i wasn't subconsciously categorizing where another person would fit even if including someone else wasn't my intention. i'm better. 

this summer was all about me and i wouldn't
have had it any other way.
love,
maggeygrace

Monday, August 27

you want me to do what with a sheet?

the recipe for success your first time taking sort of awesome informal "fashion-y" pictures? grab one pretty old high school aquaintence, your best tulle dress, a forest that provides perfect lighting, and a couple of crazy ideas you're not sure will work at all. i had a blast taking these pictures after feeling somewhat restless taking formal senior portraits so thank you bianka for not thinking i was too crazy when I asked you to prance around in a forest and toss a sheet in the air. also, i'm kind of loving this photography business and next in store...practicing my styling? dressing people up in my clothes is also proving to be, well, addicting, too. this was really, really fun.
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Saturday, August 25

my favorite kind of people

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aren't afraid to sing in the car even if their voice is the worst noise in the world.
laugh at themselves and at me. if i can laugh at me, don't be afraid to do the same. it's more comfortable and fun that way.
give hugs, even if maybe you haven't met them in real life before.
can have completely different interests and beliefs, but are able to respect whatever differences we may have and have a blast.
own up to the fact that they are awesome, without thinking they are better than other awesome and not awesome people. i just love people that love themselves.
ask questions.
take pictures for my blog unsolicited. it's a silly little blog but it means a lot.
are genuinely themselves, however that may be.


Friday, August 24

double dots

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I don't know when the obsession with polka dots began. Two people have said to me, "I think polka dots are your new floral," and I couldn't believe my eyes when I realized it was true; every other piece in my closet is practically polka-dotted. In fact, I think the way I dress has changed a lot in a very short amount of time and I'm wracking my brain trying to figure out why that is and how it happened exactly. I didn't set out to look different than before or change it up and the only explanation I can come up with is that the changes I went through are being reflected in how I express myself in whatever way it is that I am these days. I still love bright colors, but maybe not in such large doses. I've become a separates gal through and through. I'm definitely not and will never be a "high fashion" "trendy" gal but I think these days I'm geared towards timeless and more structured pieces with a twist. Blazers with polka dots (favorite back to school item), scalloped shorts, peplum white lace tops, button down tops in different patterns, and a lot of solids as well. Who knows!?

By the time you read this, I'll be back at school already and moved into my new apartment... permanently. I can't believe this. I can't believe how fast August went, how different the past couple of weeks have been mentally than the entire summer, how thankful I am for the experiences I had with new people and old, and that I'm going into my junior year of college. I have a direction that I lacked coming out of my last semester and a focus on me I'm excited about. I wrote a silly dumb letter to summer like I've done each summer now that I've been blogging and I was tearing up like a sap.

I love this blog, but not because of the posed pictures I post and outfits I dress up in, but because of this community and the amazing people I've met here. I know that's probably redundant and something everyone here says, but I'll never forget the support and love you've sent nor the many, many emails I've received this summer detailing personal stories and emotional periods you all have gone through. YOU are what inspire me to do better, be better, and keep on keepin' on. Thank you for all who have been any part of this little sector of my life.
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blazer: Ruche // dress: Selective Potential Shop // shorts: Charolette Russe //
shoes: Urban Outfitters

Wednesday, August 22

meant to be

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i'm going to tell you a story
about the time a girl asked one of her dearest friends if she'd want to take outfit photos for her because she was boyfriendless and newly single but mostly because her friend was extremely stylish and took amazing pictures. they made plans one evening to take pictures, but their plans fell through so completely out of the blue, they decided, LET'S TAKE THEM TONIGHT! so the girl did her hair really quickly and sped for maybe the first time in her life down the highway to get to the neighboring town where her photographer and stylish carless friend lived. she found her way pretty easily to her friend's house having been there quite a few times in the summer but once they set out to take pictures, she took a terribly wrong turn which lead to an unfortunate backwards way to get to where they wanted to actually be. it was an area of this town where she had never been nor knew anything of. driving at 10mph so as to avoid taking another wrong turn, they drove down a quiet residential street chatting aimlessly. appearing almost out of no where, she suddenly observed a boy and a girl walking down the street and looking more closely, a very well dressed boy and the thought crossed her mind, "so there IS more than just one adorably dressed hipster i could see myself dating in this world." 
*pause*
not even another millisecond long glance was needed for her to VERY quickly realize that this boy was in fact... her newly labeled EX-boyfriend. walking down the street, with a girl. the ex-boyfriend she'd one millisecond earlier decided was cute and well dressed and gave her faith that there were more people out there in the world than just the one she'd fallen in love with. on a quiet street, one she could not more literally have stumbled on, that she wouldn't have even been near if she'd left one minute later or one minute earlier. 

but here's where the story gets good because while she saw this person who she kind of hated but still kind of loved even when she shouldn't and didn't even know if she wanted to love, she also saw that this girl was wearing denim cutoffs and a ratty tank top and messy hair and while she probably is/was a really nice girl, the ex-girlfriend sitting in the car was wearing an awesome pink dress and having a really good hair day and had also snagged the ex-boyfriend for four hours on their first date once upon a time. and everything was okay because she wasn't bitter or resentful, she was just better off. no one ever would be the girl who did what she did and no one would ever replace her nor the memories of the two and a half years spent. maybe this was the moment to prove to her two months later that things were as they were and that's how they were meant to be. and who knows? maybe things had to happen so better things could fall into place.
and she was proud.

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dress: H&M // hat & flats: Urban Outfitters

Monday, August 20

quote-spiration

i'll be the very first person to admit that i love corny quotes and i kind of live by them. sometimes, a mix of jumbled confusing thoughts are said so simply in so few words. these are some i've loved all summer long.
thankful being with someone accept look again better worrying leaving love decisions move on better ahead my favorite things losing i knew ugliest days it can happen tricks