I've taken nearly a two week break from the blog (insert monkey covering mouth with hands emoji). I feel overwhelmingly guilty that I put creating content on the back burner (or set that burner to "off"?) but I'm beyond thankful that I could turn that part of my brain off for the past few weeks because things have been more than slightly overwhelming. I mentioned in my last Toast Talk that my creative sabbatical was happening and that I might be stepping away from the blog so that I could focus on learning from my friend-turned-photogrpahy-mentor Leslee. And guess what? I actually took the time off! Leslee was with me from March 5th through the 11th and in that time we drove from Dallas to Austin, Austin to Houston, Houston to Bellville, and finally Bellville to Dallas. The driving and shooting/learning sessions were enough to wipe me out but to challenge myself even more I decided it would be a great idea to get a horrible cold. Nothing like snotting on my keyboard and having watery eyes while looking through a viewfinder to feel like a rockstar. Being sick and driving all over Texas aside, I had the. best. time with Leslee and learned so much from her. She flew back to Nashville last Wednesday afternoon and then I left Dallas to head back to Houston on Thursday to prepare for Sally's Bachelorette Weekend in the country.
I loathe when people say, “I’m so busy.” Everyone is busy! But guys, I have been slammed. I got back from Houston yesterday and I leave tomorrow for Charleston. I’m not complaining – or humble bragging – I’m just trying to explain for why I’ve been so MIA. Y’all should know by now that I hate disappointing…but maybe it will make you feel better to know that I’m sitting in a messy apartment, with a face that’s breaking out from stress, and a long list of posts I need create.
Blah, blah, let’s get back to talking about what I did on my creative sabbatical! Before Leslee arrived I filled out a little Q+A about goals, current struggles, specific areas I need to work on, etc. The two of us sat down and made a list of technical things to go over (lenses, camera settings, using light, etc.) and subject matter I would be shooting (styled shots for beauty, interiors, people and lifestyle, etc.). From there we mapped out what days we would travel and what we would cover each day. I’m such a visual learner and Leslee is the same way – so she made for a great instructor. It also helped that this wasn’t her first rodeo…she has held many a photography workshop and has mentored second shooters for years.
I don’t think I would have gotten so much out of our time together had I not already had handle on using my camera. I’ve been shooting manual for years so we were able to skip into specific settings that I could quickly understand how to use. Some of what we did was direct instructions – Leslee showing me how to light something, or directing me on setting up a shot – but most of it was me shadowing her. Getting an understanding of how she takes in a room, an object, a setting and being able to capture it in a way that’s elevated and compelling was hugely helpful for me to see. In Austin we walked around South Congress with our cameras and took shots of the same things/places. Later we were able to compare and contrast each of our photos…a lot of the images we took were similar but I was able to see the differences in how she composed a shot vs. how I did and that really helped me improve. In Houston we focused on styling and shooting interior spaces and this was one of my favorite parts. Leslee is a natural at capturing the beauty of people and seeing how she takes a similar but much more technical approach to a room made a lot of sense. In Dallas we practiced styling various objects in different parts of my apartment (so great for me to see how to work with what I have) and spent a good amount of time going over editing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop.
It was a whirlwind and a lot to go over in such a short amount of time, but I feel so awesome about what I took away from the experience. Even more than that, I loved getting to connect with Leslee. She’s such a smart, passionate, creative person and holds herself to seriously high standards no matter what she is working on or what she is photographing. To say that she is wickedly talented is an understatement. She is also such a good time to be around and ridiculously funny. I’m really lucky that she took the time away from her life to a week with little old me. This creative sabbatical project was so much more than I ever imagined it could be. Letting myself take the time to focus on improving and being creative was exactly what I needed to feel more passion for what I create on this blog. I still have a lot on my plate until Sally’s wedding in April (maid of honor duties are no joke) so please bear with me as I try to balance work with life, but I’m really excited of what I have in the pipeline and projects ahead!
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!