Photo Crafts

As you know, I turn some of my photos into greeting cards to sell on Etsy and at art and craft fairs. In addition to that, I’m looking for other things I can make. So, I did a Google search and wound up on Pinterest, and these are the crafts that I found that I think would do well with landscape photos.

  • Photo Blocks
  • Coasters
  • Photo Calendars

Photo Blocks

This craft looks like the most fun to me, and I can’t wait to give it a go. This is a project that doesn’t involve mod podge, which is great because I tend to make a mess when it comes to that. The one thing that will make a mess will be painting the wood, and I will probably have to do that part in our basement away from our nosy cat.

Coasters

A while back, I tried to make coasters, and they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. I think it was because I didn’t grab the right materials for the project. But I do want to try again. The sample tiles I grabbed had a texture, and they felt weird. But I’m going to try a different hardware store for other samples.  

Photo Calendars

I love the idea of making reusable calendars. I’m trying to be more aware of single use items and if I can find a reusable alternative, I want to use it. This might be the most difficult craft to do, but I’m looking forward to trying it.

These crafts will be my winter projects. I’ll blog about each one as I do them to let you know how they went and if I want to keep making them. Do you have any other craft suggestions that I should look into? Drop them in the comments below.

Planning My 2022

I am a big fan of goal setting and planning. And being close to the end of 2021, now is a great time to start planning my business goals for 2022. I’m going to look at my photography goals and habits, education I want to focus on, social media content, and financial goals. I also want to create action steps for how to crush those goals next year.

2022 planning
My 2022 planning notes.

Photography Goals and Habits

I want to become a better photographer, which means taking more photos. I just have to find more things to photograph. I’m in the process of creating a photography bucket list, which I’m hoping to blog about later this month, once I have more than three items on it.

I’m also considering doing a photo challenge or two. Feel free and challenge me in the comments below.

As for habits. I need to start taking my camera out at least three times a week. That could get challenging in the winter with it getting dark so early, and working so much at the day job, but I need to start making this more of a priority than I have been. If that means sunrise photography in my backyard, then maybe it should.

Education

I love learning new things, especially if they will help me and my business in the long run. A few things I want to learn how to do better/more effectively include:

  • SEO marketing on my blog and Etsy
  • Basic accounting
  • Social Media

I am considering using my free trial of courses on LinkedIn, but I want to take full advantage of that, so I’m going to wait until probably March, when my husband is super busy at work and I won’t miss out on time together.

Social Media Content Planning

I enjoy creating content for my blog, Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram. Although my Pinterest and Instagram accounts have been neglected lately, sorry if you follow me there. I want to start posting at times that get the most interaction.

In order to do that, I need to start tracking when I post and the results. I also need to create a calendar and stick to that schedule. Any tips on the best times to post?

Financial Goals

My ultimate goal is to earn enough to become a full-time photographer. That’s my long-term goal, that I’m slowly building toward, as I know it won’t happen overnight. I have yearly goals, that gradually increase to a full-time income.

I also believe in having multiple streams of income, just in case one thing fails, so I’m currently looking at creating those streams. So far, I have:

  • Etsy
  • Blog Ads
  • Art and Craft Fairs

In the next couple of weeks, I’m looking at adding

  • A shop on my website
  • A shop on my Facebook page

For 2022 I plan on going to more than a few art and craft fairs, which means I need to start looking for some. I’m part of a group on Facebook that posts upcoming shows pretty regularly, I just need to check in on that frequently and find dates that shouldn’t interfere with my work schedule.

Items I Need

In order to crush these goals, here are a few items that I should invest in to help keep track of what I have done, and what I need to do yet.

  • Calendar. I need a desk calendar and I need to block off my weekends to work so I don’t accidentally book something for a day I’m not available. It will also help me keep track of my social media posts.
  • To Do List. I love writing to do lists, and I really love crossing things off. This will help me keep track of my monthly goals and see what I need to work on better in the future.
  • Notebook/Computer. This will help me when I’m working on my education so I can take notes, and then use what I learn to grow.
  • Cameras. I won’t have a photography business if I don’t take my cameras out and grow as a photographer.

Have you started your 2022 planning yet? What are you hoping to accomplish in the new year? Let me know in the comments below.

I’m Dreaming of a White Picket Fence for my She Shed

Ok so, I’m not really dreaming of a white picket fence in front of my she shed. But I am dreaming of my she shed. A space a call my own, where I can leave my photography gear set up and out of the way.

I mentioned this to my husband again tonight, just feeling him out and seeing if it could happen someday, and he said as long as I could wait a few years it would probably be doable. We have other house projects that are more of a priority, so I can wait. I’ve been doing a lot of waiting for things I want lately, so I think I’m getting better at it. Maybe?

Anyway, as of right now, this is what I want my she shed/photo studio to look like.

Exterior

It doesn’t need to be very big. Just 10 feet by 10 feet I think. That should be plenty of space for what I want to do.

I want a couple of windows to let in some sunlight. I’m thinking on two of the three exterior walls that I’ll have. The fourth wall is going to be a room divider so we can store all of our season yard equipment when we’re not using it.

Our current shed situation is not on a foundation, so the critters have gotten into it. So, we are for sure going to get a concrete slab poured for this project.

We’re also considering solar power. I’ve got a lot of things that I want to plug in, and solar power is probably the cheapest way to do that, in the long run.

Interior

For the interior wall I would like a build in book case. I have a lot of books that are business, photography, or writing related, and I want to keep them all where I plan on working so I can reference them quickly.

I want to have a table running the length of the second wall. I’m going to use that space to do my product photography for my greeting cards. I also plan on making my greeting cards there too. I want to be able to keep my tripod and greeting card supplies out without them being in the way.

I plan on either moving my current desk, or getting a new desk and putting it against the third wall. That way I can do all of my admin tasks out there too.

The fourth wall is where I plan on putting my electric fire place, and my kitchenette supplies. I want to have a coffee maker, mini-fridge, microwave, and a few dishes. That way, I can have hot coffee without having to go back to the house every so often to refill it.

Décor

As of right now, I want two walls to be black with one of those being chalkboard paint. I’m not sure what color I want the book case to be. Would that look ok black? Otherwise I’ll leave it whatever wood we wind up using. Maybe a nice oak? Anyway, the fourth wall is going to be a reddish-purple.

I also want to get a few plants to kill. My thumb isn’t even a little bit green, but maybe if there isn’t a cat playing with them they might stand a chance. But the plants need to be able to survive the cold weather as the heater won’t be on all the time. Any thoughts? I might have to go the fake plant route. This is what I want my she shed/photo studio to look like as of right now. I’ll keep you all posted as the project evolves, and starts to happen. I’ll give you a photo tour of it when I have it set up and decorated how I want.

Black and White Photo of the Week

When we were in Utah, I promised that I was going to start a new blog series of black and white photos. And while we were there, I took eight that would do well to kickstart this project. And I had every intention of doing that, until I went through the rest of my photos and saw this one.

A white flower among tall grass and lily pads.
This single white flower pops amidst all the gay lily pads and tall grass.

I took this photo when we went to visit my folks back in August. It was on our last day back home, and we were actually on our way back to Oshkosh when we stopped for this photo. (I thought I had blogged about this particular spot, but apparently not. I did share a few images on my Instagram though).

When I saw it in color, I wasn’t that impressed with it. It was too busy for my taste, and I felt that I had stronger images from that location. It wasn’t the photo I was looking for when I took it, and I almost deleted it.

But when I was going through my photos to add more to this series, this is the one that stood out the most. The single white flower pops amidst all the gray grass and lily pads, draws your eye to it. Almost forcing you to ignore the mess.

Even though I adore this photo in black and white, I still find it too messy. So, I probably won’t do much with it after this. However, I did want to share it with you guys to get your thoughts on it.

Do you think it’s too messy? Do you think it works anyway? Comment your thoughts below.

Seven Tips for Outdoor Photography When the Temperature Drops

With winter swiftly approaching, and the cold and snow with it, outdoor photography can be miserable. Especially when your alternative is a warm, comfy bed. Unfortunately, winter is also when the clouds tend to be more cooperative and interesting to look at. Below are seven tips for outdoor photography when the temperature is less than ideal.

  1. Dress for the weather
  2. Get hand and feet warmers
  3. Use your tripod
  4. Keep your spare batteries warm
  5. Keep your camera in a sealable plastic bag
  6. Take a hot shower when you get home
  7. Reward yourself with a hot drink

Dress for the Weather

The first tip for outdoor photography is to dress warm and in layers. You don’t want to get cold to the point where you start to shiver and cause unnecessary camera shake, creating blurry photos.  So, check the weather before you go. I normally go out for sunrise, so I check the night before, but it’s safe for me to assume that it’s going to be cold. So, I generally wear, fleece lined tights, leggings, wool socks, and jeans, a tank top, long sleeve tee, short sleeve tee, a hooded sweatshirt, and a fleece. This is all under my winter coat and snow pants. I also have a hat and gloves, and if there’s snow on the ground my winter boots.

Get Hand and Feet Warmers

Late last winter I asked my mom if she could make me some hand and feet warmers. I told her it was no rush, and I got them in April. That’s not important to the story really. Anyway, I’m trying to be more conscientious of using re-useable items more than single use items, which is why I asked her in the first place. Since I didn’t get them until the spring, I haven’t tried them yet, but they should stay warm for as long as I’m out on those cold mornings. On a side note, if you want your own set, or anything else, just shoot her a message on Instagram.

The hand and feet warmers my mom made for me.
The hand and feet warmers that my mom made for me. I can’t wait to use them this winter to keep my fingers and toes warm.

Use a Tripod

I am not a fan of using a tripod if I don’t have to, but if I have to I will. And when it’s cold out is one of those times when I have to. I’m cold all the time, and being outside in the winter only makes it worse. And I don’t want blurry photos because I was shivering and didn’t realize it.

Keep Spare Batteries Warm

Camera batteries don’t play well with the cold, so they tend to drain quicker. Especially when in use. So, you’ll want to bring your spare batteries with you, and you’ll want to keep them warm so they have some juice when you need to switch them out. Put your spares in a pocket close to your skin, so your body heat will transfer to the batteries.

Keep Your Camera Gear in a Sealable Plastic Bag

These next three tips for outdoor photography are more for when you’re finished. This one will help keep your camera safe, and the next two are for you. When you’re all done for the session, take out your SD card and battery, so you can start processing your photos and charging your batteries, and then put your camera in a bag with some of that cold air it was in. Then put that bag back in your camera bag and bring it inside with you. That way, your camera can slowly warm up instead of going from one extreme to the other. If you go from really cold to really warm, you risk getting condensation on the sensor, and water and cameras don’t get along.

Take a Hot Shower

Once you get home from an exciting day of winter photography, take a hot shower to warm up again. Or you can do what I do, and turn up the furnace and sit in front of a vent. I’m a floor sitter, so I do this more than the hot shower. But do whatever works for you.

Reward Yourself with a Hot Drink

Before I go out, I brew a pot of coffee and I leave it on. That way, when I come home, I get to have a piping hot cup to warm up from the inside out. It’s also nice to hold the hot mug in my ice-cold hands.

These are my seven tips for outdoor photography in the winter. What do you do to stay warm? Since it is winter most of the year in Wisconsin, I’m always looking for more ways to keep from freezing.

Non-Camera Gear Essentials

I don’t really like the way I phrase the title of this blog post, but I can’t think of a better way. What I’m trying to say is this will be about the gear essentials that I carry in my camera bag that don’t include my camera, lenses, or spare batteries.

Every Day Gear Essentials

The first thing I have is my hand sanitizer. I got it, along with my “caticorn” key chain holder from Bath and Body Works. The horn lights up and I’m in love with it. I was quite sad when I saw that the horn was starting to break, but that’s what I get for not putting it in my bag when we traveled.

One of my gear essentials. This is my hand sanitizer and caticorn key chain.
My hand sanitizer key chain, clipped to the outside of my bag.

The second essential item I carry is my pepper spray. I go out alone in the dark a lot and I want to be safe from wild animals and other people. You can never be too careful these days. Thankfully, I haven’t had to use it, and I hope that I never do. But my husband and I both feel better that I have it.

I am a writer in another life, so I tend to carry pens and paper with me wherever I go, and my camera bag is no exception. In addition to writing stories, I tend to come up with to do lists, content, or other random thoughts that I want to remember, when I least expect it and my memory isn’t that good. So, I just got down my thoughts and try to decipher my chicken scratch when I get home.

When I plan on going out all day, or if my location is further away from home than the Fox Valley, I pack a few snacks. It’s usually just a couple of granola bars, or something else light, but it’s enough to keep the hanger away until I get home for a more substantial meal.

There are also random toiletries in my bag. Hear me out. I have a couple of packs of Kleenex, a tube of chap stick, a toothbrush, a travel wipe from the airline (mainly because I haven’t taken it out yet), a spare hair tie, and a bunch of band-aids.

To be honest, these are only in my bag because I haven’t taken them out from our recent travels. But I’m thinking about keeping them in there. I have seasonal allergies, my immune system is garbage, and my nose randomly runs when I come in after being out in the cold. I’m addicted to chap stick. After I eat, I like to brush the food out of my teeth. It’s an old habit from when I had braces. And band-aids are always a good idea to carry. I could honestly probably ditch the travel wipe and the hair tie. I have hand sanitizer so I probably don’t need a wipe. My hair is usually up before I leave so I shouldn’t need a spare one of those either.

Seasonal Gear Essentials

One seasonal essential that I carry in my bag is my gloves and my hat. I carry them in the spring and autumn months just in case the weather turns. I live in Wisconsin, so that happens often and I don’t like to be cold.

Another seasonal essential is sunscreen. I have fair skin and I burn easily. I need to wear sunscreen often. Although, thinking about it, I should put sunscreen on in the winter months too, not just in the summer.

why my bag is always heavy. I feel like I should try and take some things out, but I’m not quite sure what. Do you want to know what camera gear I carry? I can turn that into a blog post later this month if you’re interested.

Essentials I Should Have But Don’t

Even though I need to ditch some things out of my bag, there are a few essentials that I don’t have that I would like to include.

The first is a camera cleaning kit. Or even just a microfiber cloth. I really should get one to include, in case it rains while I’m out, or the waves splash really high, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

The second is a multitool. I took it out because I didn’t want it to get confiscated by the airport and I haven’t put it back in yet. However, the one I have doesn’t have a sharp edge to it, and a blade might be helpful.

What do you carry in your bag? What are your essential items that you can’t go on photography adventures without?

The Top 10 States I want to Visit

We just got back from vacation, which makes the timing of this post a little awkward, but I want to tell you all my list of top 10 states in the United States that I want to visit. This list is in no particular order, other than they are in the order that they popped in my head.

top 10 states that I want to visit. Photo of the sunset with the wing of our airplane.
  1. New Mexico
  2. Washington
  3. Montana
  4. Louisiana
  5. North Carolina
  6. Colorado
  7. Alaska
  8. Maine
  9. Missouri
  10. Oregon

New Mexico

It has been suggested by a friend that I go to New Mexico. Specifically, Santa Fe. I am in love with the desert and the south western cuisine, so this is definitely high on the list.

Washington

I have always wanted to go to Washington. I think it’s the combination of Mount St Helens, Mount Rainier, and the Pacific Coast line. We’ve never seen the Pacific Ocean, and it is calling to me.

Montana

Going to Utah woke up my interest in looking at the mountains; driving through them not so much. I’ve heard that Montana had amazing views of the Rockies and there are a lot of other interesting natural landscapes to see there.

Louisiana

I’m not really sure why I want to see Louisiana. I think it’s all the history and culture there. My husband loves seafood, and that may be my way to bribe him to take me there.

North Carolina

I’ve heard that North Carolina is a really pretty area, and I’d love to see it for myself. Looking on their website, it has everything that I like. Hiking, mountains, and sandy beaches. Yes please.

Colorado

We flew into Colorado on our way to Utah, and I’d love to see more of the state than the airport. My husband has been there a couple of times before so I’ll have my own personal tour guide, and mountain driver. Spoiler, this will be our vacation destination in 2022 unless something dramatic happens and we can’t go.

Alaska

My in-laws went to Alaska several years ago and the pictures they brought back with them are among my favorites. There are several national parks there, and we have a bucket list item of visiting all of them before we die. We’ve only seen a handful.

Maine

We have already been to Maine before, but I want to go back. Mainly because I want to watch the sunrise at Acadia National Park. Acadia National Park is one of the first places in the United States that sees the sun, and I want to talk my husband into taking me.

Missouri

Honestly, I picked this state at random while looking at the map of the United States. For as well travelled as we are becoming, we haven’t travelled much in the Midwest. Awkward, I know given that we live there.

Oregon

I’d like to see Oregon for similar reasons that I want to see Washington. I’m not big on the ocean, but for some reason the Pacific is calling to me. I think it’s because we’ve seen the Atlantic and I want to see how they compare.

Bonus Travel Destinations

Above are the top 10 states I want to see. This is just my list and a basic why I want to go there. I haven’t done any research or planning for what I want to do or see in particular. We have this tradition where we take turns picking where we want to go, and next year is his turn.

I also want to see all of the Great Lakes. I grew up on Lake Superior and I’ve visited Lake Michigan several times, but I’ve never seen Lakes Huron, Erie, and Ontario. I’d like to change that.

I would also like to do more Wisconsin travel. Having lived here all my life you’d think I would have seen more of the state than I have.

We also have a new rule that every five years or so we have to go to a desert state. We both love it there to enough to visit often. The transition to snow birds will be pretty swift for both of us I think, when the time comes.

Have you been to any of my top 10 states? Which ones? What is your favorite thing to do? What should we be sure to see and what should we avoid?

How I Balance A Photography Business with Life

It can be quite challenging to balance a photography business with everything else that is going on in your life. I find that it is most difficult to find the perfect balance between my day job, my family, and my photography. Those are the three things that have the most competition with each other. They are all quite time consuming but there is a way to manage it all. Here is what I do to be able to keep track of everything without losing my sanity.

How I Balance Photography with My Full-Time Job

  • To balance time with my full-time job I try and work around my schedule. It isn’t always easy, but I do what I can to make the best of my free time.
  • I manage all my admin stuff on the edges of the day. I wake up an hour before I have to start getting ready for work, mainly because I need that time to wake up, and I work on my business. I plan my blog posts, other content, and other computer work. I also use the time at night after dinner but before bed to finish up what I’ve started.
  • I spend part of my lunch hour creating my inventory. I turn some of my photo prints into greeting cards, so when I finish eating I work on them.
  • On my days off, I take my camera out. It’s easier for me to go out for sunrise when I don’t have to rush to work afterwards. I also go location scouting on those days for the same reason. By only going on my days off, I can take my time and not have to worry about being late for work.
  • I look for art and craft fairs for my weekends off for the same reason. I don’t want to risk calling in unnecessarily and risking my job.

How I Balance Photography with My Family

Going out for a walk with my husband and my camera is one way I like to balance my photography and my family.
My husband likes going out for afternoon walks with me and my camera.
  • To balance time with my family I try and work on my photo business when I’m home alone. Our days off don’t usually coincide which is unfortunate for our relationship, but for my business it works out ok. By doing it that way, I don’t miss out on what little time we have together.
  • That time between dinner and bedtime is also helpful for me to do my social media posting. We spend that time watching a movie, and I can’t just sit and enjoy the show. I have to be doing something with my hands, so I might as well do something productive.
  • When we are on vacation, I invite my husband to go out and watch the sunrise with me. It doesn’t always work out, but I have managed to convince him to join me a couple times. And those trips are extra special to me because we got to spend them together.
  • My husband is an outdoorsy person, so talking him into joining me for afternoon or early evening photography walks in the park are much easier. And they happen more frequently than the sunrise ones do. He also has a good eye and he usually points out compositions that I’ve either missed, or passed on initially.
  • He joins me at the craft fairs; we joke that he’s my intern. He helps me set up my booth and talk with all the people who stop by. We use the time in the car to talk and make plans.

What I Want to Incorporate

That is what I do right now to balance my photography business, my full-time job, and my family. There are a couple of other things that I want to try and incorporate into my current routine.

  • In a past life I got into bullet journaling and I loved it. But I don’t think I was doing it in a way that was working. I was tracking things that weren’t necessarily important. I recently decided to use my journal as a monthly to do list, so I can keep track of what I need to do.
  • I want to find a way to manage my time better. I wind up getting distracted by the internet whenever I go to create a post. Who doesn’t, I know, but I waste way too much time there. Any suggestions? Maybe I should get a kitchen timer?
  • I am trying to be a more consistent creator. Which means I should try to use my journal to create deadlines and make a calendar, and then I need to stick to them. However, I don’t want to be too consumed by this so I need to make easy deadlines and find that balance.

How do you balance everything you have going on? Any tips or tricks that I should work on? I’d love to hear what you think. Comment below with what you’ve found that helps you.

30 Blog Posts of November

Happy NaNoWriMo eve to all my fiction writer friends out there! I bet you didn’t expect to see a NaNo post on a photography blog, and honestly, I didn’t either. But here we are.In addition to being a photographer, I write fiction…or at least I used to. I haven’t picked up a pen in way too long. So now is as good of time as any to start that back up. This year I’m rebelling and doing a 30 blog posts of November project.

My 30 blog posts of November content list.
My content idea list. I’ve got a long way to go.

For those of you who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is national novel writing month. Basically writers all over the world spend the moth of November writing a 50,000 word first draft.

Only I’m not going to use NaNo as an excuse to write fiction. Only going to use it to write 30 blog posts and longer product descriptions for my Etsy shop. So I’m going to spend the better part of today, thinking about content ideas. Let me know in the comments below what you want to see.

This may be a slight challenge as my blog posts tend to be around 200~ish words in length, and for the month of November, they will need to be around 1,000. But I’m trying to get better at SEO and this is one way to do so.

Antelope Island

This was our last day in Utah and the only thing on the agenda was driving out to Antelope Island in the middle of Salt Lake. We were there for at least five hours, and had a great time hiking, taking photos, making TikToks, and even dipping our toes in the water.

Mountains, lake, tall grass, clouds, and blue sky; we couldn’t have asked for a better day.

The sun was pretty high in the sky by the time we got there in late morning, but the clouds helped make for more interesting photos.

When we paid for our park pass, we were given a map. On that map there were several warnings about the bison. They are very big, very fast, and very aggressive, so we didn’t want to get too close, even though I wanted to pet them. When they were first introduced to the island, there were only 12. But today, there are over 600 bison.

Bison

I’m not sure if we got lucky by seeing mist on the lake, or if that was just how it looks everyday and that is evaporation that we saw, but either way, it made for a moody look on the water. Does anyone know?

I don’t normally like to include human elements to my photos, being a landscape photographer and all. But I’m glad I made an exception to that to capture this trail leading the eye up to the mountains in background. I might try and do more of that at local parks now that I have a taste for it.

The trail we hiked.

After hiking along one of the trails, trying not to spook the bison, we walked for what seemed like forever to get to the lake. It looked like a lot of the water had evaporated, creating a really wide, rocky beach, but we finally arrived at the water. As we got close, I saw these rocks and had to take a picture of them. (And make a TikTok).

The rocks in the Salt Lake.

When we had seen all there was to see at Antelope Island, we headed back to our hotel to pack up all our stuff for the long day of flying on our anniversary. I’ll post all the photos from Utah on my Facebook page if you want to go back and look at them.

I hope you enjoyed following our Utah adventure, and I can’t wait to share our next big travel week next summer (I think). Next week we’ll be back to our normal, Wisconsin photography, unless the weather is too lousy to go out. But I’m thinking about going to a new location for sunrise.