Nature shoot

Capturing natural moments of time in nature.

One of my favorite places to shoot photos is outside, especially in the summer and fall. Nothing is more exciting than finding a new place to explore with friends and then shoot photos along the way. Back home over the summer, a few friends and I always go on what we call our photo adventures and I have some of the best memories from them.

This photoshoot in particular was soon after Covid-19 blew up and we all got sent home from school. It was a difficult time, and I was incredibly bored and at a loss of what to do with my time. So, my friend and I decided to go on a mini hike and take photos one day, and I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny spring day that made for great photos! We went to a forest preserve called Veterans Acres Park, one of my favorite places to be back home. There, we were able to find sections of the park that we had never explored before and got some wonderful pictures.

The photo above is one of the only few photos I’ve taken that are posed a specific way. While we were walking around, we found this stretch of land filled with these umbrella looking plants, and it was so pretty. Hidden in them, there were several wooden stool seats, and I knew right away that we had to try to capture something from it. Luckily, I was able to get the perfect picture!

This photo is one of my favorite because of the way the lighting shines through. It’s got this ethereal, calm feel to it and the colors all work really well together. One of my techniques of shooting pictures is capturing natural moments in time. Candids are my favorite, and I love photos where it’s clear that it’s natural and authentic and not posed. This is one of those types of photos. My friend was looking around and happened to turn his head and position his body this way on his own, and I took the photo the second he did. Everything fell into place in this image!

This is another natural moment I caught of my friend laughing at something. What I love about this photo is the angle I got it from and the way the trees cover the background. Even the little detail if him playing with his hands is great because it adds to that natural, candid feel.

For editing, I didn’t alter too much. Usually when I edit, unless I have an idea in mind for a shoot that is specifically for something, I like a natural, simple editing style. Most of these photos were edited through VSCO’s editing feature and others were touched up with photoshop.

Flowers and bees

How writing has helped me grow as a person.

Initially, before I began putting together my book, writing was a way for me to cope. It was an escape, a tool to help me process what was going on around me and help me better understand all my feelings. Writing has also helped me grow as a person. One of the coolest things about the book I’ve written is that I started writing it about seven years ago when I was 14. This project gives me a look into the past and the person I used to be and shows me all my growth since; as a person and with my writing. This piece in particular, Flowers and bees, is a wonderful example of self growth and the thought process behind trying to deal with the struggle of self worth.

She felt like the wilted flower in the garden; the one that couldn't seem to keep up with the other vibrant flowers that stand so tall with confidence. They reach towards the sun while she was stuck beneath the shade, struggling to grow to her fullest potential like the rest. 

Her mind tells her she's ugly, that she will never find a way to like who she is. 

The bee's float by and tell her that she's beautiful, that she should love the person she's grown to be. You've overcome so much considering the circumstances you've been given. You are blooming like the others. 

But it didn't feel like she had bloomed at all;
she had been wilting away for a while now. She nitpicked every aspect of herself and the gloomy nature of her existence in the shade. Why did everything feel like a challenge? The world seemed to enjoy pulling her back, throwing problem after problem in her path to overcome. And with those obstacles, she felt like she was wilting even more, losing sight of the positive, bright person she wanted to be. 

She wants to be that best version of herself, to be happy, free of worry.  She wants to be the type of person that people want to be around. She wants to make a difference, to help others, to make an impact. She didn't want to be stuck in the shade anymore. 

The bee's float by one last time, hugging her tightly before they leave. You already are that person. You help us, after all, they buzz. 

This piece explores my internal struggle of being too hard on myself. I’m constantly setting these high expectations and standards for myself and if I don’t get to exactly where I think I should be I’m incredibly hard on myself. Even if I know I’m doing great or being the person I want to be, I still fall habit into thinking that it’s never enough. Simply, I look down on who I am even though I shouldn’t be because in reality I’m already being my best self and embodying that person I love and want to be. And, everyone around me loves me and who I am.

Writing out these feelings in a creative way allowed me to soak in what I was feeling as well as process my thoughts. It forced me to really think, and it guided me to a place where I could recognize that I was being too hard on myself and understand that I am enough. My entire book is a journey of self revelation and growth, it was a healing project.

Being at Drake has also helped me grow as a writer and given me opportunities to expand my writing and make connections that will help me down the road. If you want to keep up with any of my art, you can find on instagram and VSCO.

Psychedelic shoot

My photoshoot for the Drake Magazine feature article about psychedelics.

When I initially saw that this topic was going to be a feature article for the Drake Magazine last fall, I was so excited to claim it as my project. This was my first time shooting for a feature where there would be a series of photos used for the story. I was so excited to get to shoot photos with models and play around with a different type of editing that was harder than I was used to. With that said, this shoot was definitely a challenge for me, but it was a really good challenge and I was very happy with my results.

The photoshoot did start off a little rough. The vision I had in my mind wasn’t transferring in person or on the camera the way I wanted it to and I was beginning to get a little flustered and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish the end goal I had wanted. I tried several different poses with the models on their own and together and it wasn’t clicking right; I wasn’t getting that dreamy, hazy feel I needed in the photos.

During a little break we took to find more poses online, I was digging through my camera bag and found a set of lens covers I had tucked away. One of the lens covers was purple and so I decided to put that on the camera lens and see what happened. Right away, everything clicked together. The purple lens along with the soft glow of the sun made the entire photoshoot fall into place as well as it created that feel I had been looking for. When thinking about psychedelics and what to do for the shoot, I felt that color was important, and this lens cover got that color for me. The lens also allowed me to keep a common theme with editing in each photo.

The editing process was smooth and fun! I played a lot with color, photos I took off the internet and turned into filters, copy and past and opacity. I was very pleased and proud with how each photo turned out and how my vision was able to come to life. I absolutely love the color scheme and the calm, dreamy feel that popped from the photos. And, because of this experience, I have a new trick up my sleeve for any future photoshoots or projects I want to work on.

You can find article about psychedelics, The Light Side of the Moon, in the Drake Magazine Fall 2020 edition. You can also view some of these photos on my VSCO.