} Instagram Photo Editing

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In the amateur digital photography world, there is usually three main opinion groups when the subject is photo editing:

The purist: the photo is what it is, don’t you dare manipulate it’s final result. Doing so is considered as lying visually.
The moderate: the photo ain’t bad as it is, but a few tweaks are in order, usually sticking to the cropping/color/saturation/contrast settings.
The funky creative: the more editing, the merrier! The original photograph is seen more as a starting point than a result, such as a painter would perceive a canvas.

I would say I’ve been standing pretty firmly for years in the “moderate” category, perhaps because of my graphic design background, and being used to use Photoshop. Plus, I think tweaking photos is fun, weird me. ;)

I am also a believer that for an amateur, all photography tools are acceptable, and that each option has it’s good and bad sides. So yes, I also think phone/iPod/tablets photography have their value as well, and so does Instagram and editing apps. To me, it’s all about how you use it, and if you can see it for what it is, which makes photography accessible to pretty much anyone nowadays.

I would say my own Instagram is a half of “show and tell” (in which I just want to show something and the actual picture result/quality doesn’t quite matter much to me), a quarter for work specific images, and the last quarter as a photography artistic outlet.

Last Sunday, I downloaded (for free) an app for my iPod touch (I don’t have a cell) called iColorama S (regular price of $2,99). (And NO, I was not asked, nor am I paid to give a review of it, lol!) I mostly use “App Of The Day” to snatch up some paying photography apps for free, so it was a lucky day! haha!

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Anyway, I had taken a picture the night before that needed editing before adding it to my IG (Instagram).You can see above the original un-modified iPod Touch shot. Kinda boring a bit, no?

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And so yesterday I played around with the new app, starting with regular classic adjusting tools such as cropping and color, as you can see above. Already a little more graphic and dramatic! This was going to be my basis for the other tweaking testings…

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I then went to explore more functions, starting with some bolder, but still sort of “classic” settings, as seen above. I have to say that what I liked most is that almost each option has precise settings that you can adjust even more, giving you quite a lot of control over the end result. You can also decide to save or not your modifications in one option before going to another, practical!

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After that, I fell on the mirror function, and I was thinking this option would be like in most apps, meaning that either top or bottom half, or, left or right side would be mirrored and that would be pretty much it as far as possibilities goes. But oh, turns out the X and Y mirrors can be a lot more manipulated than that! AND both at the same time too. FINALLY!! I had LOTS of fun with it creating patterns and shapes that were not really even there to start with, as you can see! lol

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Then I decided to go see the world as a “funky creative”, even tho these kinds of filters and options are not usually my cup of tea… Turns out, I kinda liked some of them. Mostly the “drawing” one (because I can’t really draw and gives me an idea of how it *could* look if I did, or something like that. lol), and the “pixel” ones that I thought could look interesting in a precise project or idea, or for global inspiration. Some were “cartoon looking”, others a bit much for me (such as the Escher twirl one, which I know, yes, that HE is an awesome artist, but I can’t see much how to use this filter myself).

All in all, what I’m trying to say, is that, without anyone proclaiming themselves an actual pro photographer, anyone can have fun with photography and editing, even on just a phone, and even if just for the sake of personal visual contributions to one’s life.

And yes, Instagram is totally okay if that’s all you have and/or want to actually use. As proof, go check out one of my friends’ account that I think takes full advantage of IG and photo editing via apps: aelxndr. What you think? :)

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} Bracelets at Nea

For 7 years (wow, that sounds crazy), I barely made any bracelets. It’s weird… Wrist wear ideas haven’t came to me naturally in the past, perhaps because I don’t really wear some myself (altho I like when I see them on other people), which makes me 1- not think about them a lot, 2- not really “get” them. What I mean by that is hard to explain… It’s as if necklaces and earrings are like a comforting and yummy homemade meal, and then as if I had to cook molecular cuisine. lol!

I have made maybe 4-5 of them over the years, but they didn’t sell or didn’t get much attention, which reinforced my “bracelet impostor” sentiment.

Last year, I started to warm up to the idea tho, after a couple of craftshow clients pointed out the lack of, and after having one very strong bracelet idea. ONE. haha! This one:

That little silver plated chevron SCREAMED bracelet to me, so I put my resistant little ass aside (lol) and went for it. What did I know, at the next PucesPop, the 5 I had  sold out before the end of the Saturday, and I was making 10 more that night for the last day of the show. They didn’t all sell (let’s not get carried away haha), but clearly my ONE bracelet was a hit!

What followed was a semi-unblock of my bracelet strike! I won’t lie, it’s still a little hard for me to create them. I always wonder about length, how they “fall”, how they move, how how how… But, working on it! ;)

Talking about length, if ever you want to share your “ideal bracelet length” with me, please go ahead in the comments, that would be insightful! At shows and with online sales, I can adjust for you, but for bricks&mortar shops, I have difficulty figuring out what’s a “good general size” to make it accessible to as many people as possible, since I am not there live to adjust to someone’s liking.

Meanwhile, he’s a little recap of my other available bracelets at this time! :)





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} End of 2013 Nea Recap

I’ve been on a really long blogging hiatus (besides last week’s post), right!? I’ve been having trouble redefining blogging for myself, since the previous way doesn’t seem to get my blood pumping of excitement anymore (not as much anyway). That’s without mentioning that Holiday season is a totally cra-zay time where blogging falls pretty far in the priority list…

That said, I also managed to create a lot of new items at the end of 2013, right before everything went haywire. lol!

So, here’s a little recap! :)

TheGeometrics





TheOrganics




TheSymbols



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} On Working For Free

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I have taken this subject seriously for over a decade. (Ok, I sound old! haha) Perhaps because I’ve been working for myself for 11 years now, always in artistic fields. I’m talking about the idea of “giving free work”.

I mentioned earlier the creative aspect, because this issue seems dominant (and frequent) in professions such as graphic design, photography, illustration, writing, handmade, music… Altho after asking around, it is obviously not reserved to more creative work; fields like computer programming, teaching, and in a way, professional sports, are also often asked to work for free.

Now, let me get something straight first. I am not talking here about investing skills in a non-profit that you care about (read on that (and this whole subject really) on my friend Pierre’s blog!). Nor lending physical goods, for a small amount of time, for a photoshoot, which will be returned intact and without fees to you. Nor helping your mother out with her lost kitty flyer. Nor giving simple opinions at a hangout with friends about their text on their website.

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I mean more like magazines and journals asking photographers to give a free picture(s), but “we’ll give you credit, of course”. Or a start-up company asking for free copy writing for their first website, but “we’ll pay you on future projects”. Or big music festivals asking small bands to play for free, because “it’s great exposure and visibility!”. Or a publishing company asking an illustrator to create them a book cover, because “it’ll be a great portfolio piece”.

Or, in handmade goods’ case, which is the category I’ve experienced personally for the past almost 8 years, a blog asking to send free samples, and then “I’ll blog about it”. Which is exactly what happened (for the I-can’t-even-count-how-many-times) to me a couple of weeks ago that got me feeling this urge to talk about it now (along with this NYtimes article from a couple of months back). For some reason, this time in particular urked me even more than usual (lol), because the email was filled with “I LOVEEE your work!!!!”, a “You inspire me!”, and a couple of “Handmade is my life’s passion!!!”. Which is very contradictory, because when you ask me for free items, you are saying that my work is not worth a penny to you. You are also acting like you don’t respect my time, all my efforts towards my career, nor my products. So NO, I don’t inspire you. And by not even offering to pay shipping costs, you’re adding salt on my wound (or, insult to injury, if you prefer). Even more, the blog in question (nope, won’t drop a name, ain’t giving it free publicity HA!) was in Italy (where I’ve sold only like twice ever), written in Italian (I can’t read it, hence I couldn’t even know if she wrote well or not), with really bad pictures (as in large-view-on-plaid-tablecloth-with-a-lot-of-flash bad), and it looked ugly as fuck as a whole (sorry, but it truly was a pain for my retina).

Let me just say this:
• Credits, future potential projects (also called “opportunities”), and exposure don’t pay current bills. Ask anyone, in reality, these very rarely bring some concrete paid work. The chances of a company seeing one of your photos in the local paper and then actually researching you, contact you and offer you a paid contract are slim to none. Sure, it *could* happen. But I’m also sure your phone company *will* shut down your service if you don’t pay your bill… There is an epic rant by Harlan Ellison (pretty funny too!) on the subject over here, and you can also read a good article called “Opportunities Are Bullshit“.
• Your portfolio already exists, and that’s why they’re contacting you in the first place. Because they saw it, and liked it. That means your portfolio *already* works great. YAY!
• As far as blog posts go (which is also in the “exposure” realm), I think they ask for this to justify their own time spent on blogging. So basically, you’re asking me to sacrifice my finished product, and time, and materials, and even take extra money out of my pocket (shipping fees), in order of helping you feel like you’re not wasting your own time and energy? Puh-lease. Don’t forget that pretty much none of the great, interesting, inspiring and most read blogs ask people to give their work away: they either just blog about it because they want to, or actually buy an item for themselves first.

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I remember that in the early years of Etsy, there was chat rooms, and also live critique workshops, where one could voluntarily put their shop up for constructive comments from other sellers. I really loved participating in this, I felt like I could help others with the knowledge I had acquired over the previous months/years. They still had to do the work themselves, but having suggestions and opinions from people not as emotionally involved in the project is never a bad thing. However, one thing I always voiced my opinion against was “adding a free item” or “giving coupon codes for a next purchase” once you actually made a sale. I am against it yes, but my opinion is much less radical on this subject, simply because this is something one would decide of their own free will and initiative, not pressured into by someone else (altho at some point the practice was used SO much by so many sellers, that I did receive 2-3 “there was no free stuff with my order, this sucks” messages, which obviously I thought was annoying, and rude. lol).

I also remember that as a young graphic designer, right out of school in the early 2000′s, without any actual contracts in my portfolio, that suggestions of working for free in exchange for “exposure” and “portfolio pieces” was very enticing. I am guilty of doing a couple of free business cards back then, as well as doing a couple of projects for a very low pay (between 25 and 50% of actual worth). I also realized quickly that I lost much drive for the project once I got half way thru, and my self-confidence got screwed up fairly quickly in the process. But believe me, I totally understand that urge to actually create, as well as that desire to show what you’re capable of, to prove yourself to the world, at any cost. The problem with that is (this also applies even if you’re a veteran) that by giving of yourself for nothing (or undervaluing), you’re denying that vision of the person you want to be: a creative paid right. You’re shooting yourself in the foot, basically. It’s also cutting the grass under the feet of others in your field (they are your competition, yes, but they are also a lot of things that you want to be, such as actually paid), and hurting your profession as a whole (if everyone starts to sell themselves short, at some point no one will ever want to pay (or pay what it’s worth) for the service/object, EVER).

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As far as trades with strangers go, well… I do them myself once in a while, but only if I actually really WANT or NEED the product or service, and if they are of close value. The problem only arises if it’s something you don’t really desire, or if it’s not even close to being equal.

And for friends, I suggest going with your instinct perhaps? If it’s a case of the “can you program my whole CSS 5page bilingual website in exchange for a coffee and a hug?”, then you might have to either just say that you don’t feel like it/don’t have time, or think of a counter proposition that makes sense and suggest it. For example, a couple of rooms in your new apartment might need to be painted and it seems like about the same number of hours than the task they asked you for. They’ll either decline altogether because that made them realize what they were actually asking for (and hopefully, they are a true friend and will keep being your friend as usual), or think it’s totally worth it and you’ll both be happy! But if it’s something along the lines of “can you show me how to put this text in bold in my free WordPress blog post?”, then don’t be an asshole, don’t charge for that! lol

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Free work is never really free. Each time you do it, you hurt your value and loose some self-confidence, because it’s like accepting and agreeing that your skill is worth nothing. Personally, I prefer eating peanut butter toasts for a long while before I agree to that again. ;)

Ok, I think that I’ve gotten pretty much everything off my chest now. lol! Obviously, not everyone has such a radical opinion on the subject… Including Seth Godin (which surprised me actually) in his blog post “Should You Work For Free?“.

I accept other points of views, or a more nuanced opinion, so feel free to share them in comments, even if it’s to tell me that I’m totally wrong. lol! ;)

To finish on a less gloomy note, I suggest taking a look at this “Should I work For Free” visual chart for a humorous spin on a serious subject! ;)

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} Fêtes 2013 Holidays

I will be at 3 craft shows this Holiday season! Here are the details, and I hope to see you there! :)

Je serai à 3 foires artisanales des Fêtes cette année! Voici les détails et j’espère vous voir! :)

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Souk@Sat #10 (1201, boul. St-Laurent, Montréal)
* This event is 18yo+
* Cet évènement est 18ans+

Novembre 28 – 12pm : 9pm
Novembre 29 – 12pm : 9pm
Novembre 30 – 12pm : 7pm
Décembre 1 – 12pm : 7pm

From November 28th to December 1st, you can find my work at the SAT! My stitched pieces will be there, as well as all my jewelry. It’s just a wonderful event, full of high quality design and craft products. A must to buy some gifts for Xmas, or just to see some great Montreal talent! See you there! :)
* Please note that, because of Quebec alcohol permit laws, no one under 18yo can enter.

Du 28 novembre au 1er décembre, vous me trouverez à la SAT! J’aurai là-bas toute ma collection de broderies, ainsi que toute la collection de bijoux. Le Souk est un évènement fabuleux, rempli de produits design et créatifs de haute qualité. Parfait pour vos achats des Fêtes, ou simplement pour découvrir du talent Montréalais! Je vous y voit! :)
* Prenez note que, à cause des lois sur les permis d’alcool du Québec, aucune personne agée de moins de 18 ans n’est admise à l’intérieur.

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Smart Design Mart (5505, av. Casgrain, Montréal)

Décembre 6 – 5pm : 9pm
Décembre 7 – 11am : 6pm
Décembre 8 – 12pm : 5pm

On December 6-7-8, you will find me with all my work at SDM! This event is held in a huge space, and each artist is free to decorate theirs space as they’d like, which makes for a very unique vibe, an airy space and a fun way to shop for Xmas! Come say hello! :)

Les 6-7-8 décembre, venez me voir au SDM! Cet évènement se tient dans un très grand espace, et chaque artiste a la liberté de créer son propre environnement, ce qui rend le magasinage unique, dans un espace aéré, et en atmosphère spéciale pour les achats des Fêtes! Venez y faire un tour! :)

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Puces Pop (Église St-Denis, 5075, rue Rivard, Montréal)

Décembre 13 – 5pm : 9pm
Décembre 14 – 11am : 6pm
Décembre 15 – 11am : 6pm

On December 13-14-15, it’s time for a classic! I’ll bring tons of jewelry and some of my stitched pieces, so you can do some Holiday shopping! I’ll be glad to say hi, so make sure to come!! :)

Les 13-14-15 décembre, c’est le temps d’un classique! J’y serai avec des tonnes de bijoux ainsi qu’avec des pièces brodées, afin que vous puissiez faire du magasinage des Fêtes! Je serai contente de vous saluer, alors assurez-vous de venir faire un tour! :)

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