Category: blogging

Photography Lesson

Today was a really fun day.  For years I have been less than satisfied with the photography on my blog and that is quite shameful for a Wagner as everyone in my family is a good photographer.  My Brother, Dad and Grandpa have all spent time as professional photographers and they each have different styles but are very talented. My brother is perhaps the most successful and has done a lot of skateboard and other sports photography.  Recently he did a shoot in Iceland for Nike as part of the Nike Poler shoes.

So, like I said photography is pretty intense in my family and I never felt I was very good at it.  Usually I hoped that the content would be good enough to outweigh the crappy photos.  Clearly if I’ve grown in readership for nearly 6 years there is some truth to that but recently I got the opportunity to do a guest blog for my friend over at The Little Ferraro Kitchen which will be posted on Nov 13th!!

I knew if I was going to guest post on her site that my photos needed to match up with the quality on her blog, so I bought a nice camera and my Dad instructed me as he did the amazing food photography for the post (seriously you guys will be blown away).

I’m super excited and working with my Dad made me want to keep learning and trying to get better.  Yes, my photos may never be as good as his but I can improve and learn more.  So, I asked my friend Kristi Linton if she would give me a lesson today and she agreed.  Fortunately I had received 2 subscription boxes that were good test subjects for me to practice on.  We went over backdrops, lighting, using mirrors and flashlights, tripods and even took some photos on the floor next to the kitchen glass door and I think they turned out pretty well.

These items are from:

Cheryl’s cookies-  Great prices and delicious cookies.  They have a quarterly subscription cookie service and individual orders.  This tin I got on discount as an end of Halloween sale http://www.cheryls.com/

Bklyn organics- $15 box you can order through their etsy shop . Included personal note and only one month required.  http://www.etsy.com/shop/BklynOrganics

Flicker box- This is a fun candle box.  I liked all the scents. Not too overpowering. $25 a month. http://myflickerbox.sqsp.com/

I am excited to keep learning and getting better.

Cheryl's cookies.  The best sugar cookie you've ever had.
Cheryl’s cookies. The best sugar cookie you’ve ever had.
Flicker box
Flicker box.  I think this photo turned out particularly nice.
Bklyn Organics box
Bklyn Organics box.  Included a personally written list of items. 

 

Kristi and I had a lot of fun during our lesson.  Also me sporting Poler hoodie
Kristi and I had a lot of fun during our lesson. Also me sporting Poler hoodie

Thank You for Reading

It’s late but I wanted to do a quick thank you.  All of my friends are posting daily thank you’s on facebook which is awesome but really today there is one major thing I am thankful for.  I am thankful to all of you. I had a rough October but November has started out great.  Thank you to all of you for reading no matter my mood or topic.  I know there are readers who follow religiously but haven’t made a comment in years (Becca and Suzanna I know you read!).  I am so grateful.  I hope you know that.

thank-you-for-readingThank you for reading when I inspire you.  Thank you for reading when I tick you off a little bit.  Thank you for reading when I bore you.  Thank you for reading when I make you laugh.  Aside from friends and faith, it is the best thing in my life.  Thank you especially to the people who read regularly not just when I do something bold.

Thank you to fellow bloggers who inspire me with their posts especially Samantha Ferraro, Forest Hartman, Christine Plouvier, Abbey Kidd, Tracy Christensen  Emily at Blogging Runner for giving me so much support.  Some of you I have met.  Rest of you if you ever come to Utah dinner is on me. (there are so many but they have been so supportive).

I sound like I’m dieing or something or winning an Oscar but I really am grateful.  I told my siblings that all I really wanted for Christmas was for them to comment on my blog every week or so.  I’m partly kidding but it really does mean a lot to me when people read.   I am also grateful to my sisters Meg and Anna for being the standout family readers by far and away.  Thanks!

I suppose it means a lot to any writer when people actually read what they write (go figure I know) and I’m no different.  It feels like you have a legacy and people might remember you for something.  Who doesn’t want that?

I’m grateful to my swim friends, trainers, writing group, twitter friends, cousins, coworkers, voice teachers, fellow parishioners…I could go on.  I really am just grateful.

What brought this all on is I was talking with a friend in the stake presidency who has taken my letter on the midsingles situation and shown it to area leadership and asked a question on the topic to two apostles.  It meant a lot to me to be taken seriously and to feel like just maybe I did something good with my words.

Maybe nothing will come of it.  Maybe it will just make a few of the people who commented feel understood but that’s good enough for me.

Hey, it made me feel understood and isn’t that why I started this whole thing?

In my first post on my preblog I said “First, I am never going to be happy living my life for other people’s expectations. Second, I need to take more comfort from the love of those that care for me instead of being devastated by the criticism of those that don’t. Third, I have to be my own advocate.

Why is it that I seem to believe in other people more than I believe in myself?Honestly, I think I am my toughest critic. I am starting to accept that I am not proving anything to anyone by the way I live my life. I have to believe that those that come into contact with me, including my employers, are lucky to know me. That I am valuable just for being me” (pretty good advice.  I should listen to myself sometimes).

That was written in 2007 and the blog has certainly proven that last statement to be true 1,000 times.  I am valuable for just being me and writing.

“The best word shakers were the ones who understood the true power of words. They were the ones who could climb the highest. One such word shaker was a small, skinny girl. She was renowned as the best word shaker of her region because she knew how powerless a person could be WITHOUT words.”

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Pleasing No One

writing_is_a_struggle_against_silence_by_amazinganimegirl-d5f157w

So I learned a lesson in the last few days, one about standing up for my writing in a new way and that by trying to please everyone I pleased no one, least of all myself.

A few days ago I wrote a post I was very proud of about the commonly believed myth that weight has anything to do with finding a life partner.  This is something I have been told all my life and never really believed.  I see too much to argue against it everywhere I look.  As I mentioned in the post, even in Hollywood we see the movie The Heat has 2 actresses, one skinny, one plus size.  It is not the skinny one that is currently married.

Anyway, I used a framing device for this piece a horrible date I had been on where I was told I was fat, needed to diet and exercise in order to attract a suitable spouse.  While I felt hurt I felt the piece was fair as it disclosed no personal information and it could have easily been John Doe for all anyone knew.  He also had every right to write his side on his blog, get his friends to defend him.  I also had given him more of my personal information than he had of me so if anything the power play was in his hand.

Nevertheless, the post sprouted a wide array of opinions- most of the positive and I will admit many of them coming on my request, as I asked for defense (my friends are the best and so loyal).  There was a small minority that felt I had been a bully and unchristlike.

This was hard for me to hear because as a bullying victim I take that type of behavior very personally.  I sincerely didn’t believe that was what I had done but the idea that anyone, especially one very close person, thought that was what I had done bothered me.

So, in a moment of weakness I took the post down but this didn’t feel right either.  I saw the positive effect it was having and one girl even said “I needed to read this today! Thanks for posting, sometimes I feel like the only women dealing with this. You rock!”  If for this woman alone I felt the information needed to be out there.  What to do?  Again in a weak moment I decided to edit it to not include the date and just the weight discussion.  This was a much weaker post but i figured it was better than nothing.

Unfortunately when I did this the comments made no sense so I tried to change them in nominal ways, keeping their core content but a friend rightly pointed out this was censorship and not ethical.  I knew it wasn’t right when I was doing it but was down the rabbit hole at that point.

Eventually I reached a status where nobody was happy with me and for good cause.  Worst of all I risked alienating readers and especially hurting my friends who had come to my defense so quickly.  I reluctantly decided I’d made such a mess of things that I erased the post and moved on.

I would like to apologize for this whole episode and for deleting the comments you took time to craft.  My only defense is that I learned a lot from the experience.  I learned to trust my voice and trust my readers who overwhelmingly agreed with me and liked the post.  If I had just let it be and not worried about it everything would have blown over and been fine.

Writing is a bold endeavor and I am very proud of the fact that I have never held anything back on this blog.  It is the proudest thing I do.  It is the best part of my life.  In a way it is my life.  I need to honor my voice and writing and feel confident in what it tells me to produce.  Lesson learned.

If I can end with a plea.  If you were offended on either side I am sorry.  Please continue read (and thank you for the nearly uniform understanding and support I have felt in the last 2 days), share, comment and ponder.  I have written 720 posts over 6 years, what I conservatively estimate is 400,000 words.  If one post was handled poorly please give me a second chance.  I know what I have to say is important.  I have no editor but I do the best I can and I believe in my voice, now more than ever.

The greatest thing we can do in life is to be true to ourselves and serve God.  Sure love ya! To 400,000 more words and 6 more years. I will keep writing.  Thanks! Now on to Nanowrimo!

Cooking, Blogging Photography

So I have had an exhausting but fun day.  Sometimes I think the hardest days are the days doing normal stuff- cooking, cleaning, gardening etc).   My feet always hurt the most.  My body aches.  My back hurts more than in the toughest workouts.  Anyone else feel that way or is it just me in chronic pain village?

Anyway, today was very exciting.  I got to take the day off work and make the food for my piece on my guest blog at my friend Samantha Ferraro’s website http://littleferrarokitchen.com/

I’m really excited to get a chance to show what I can do and the tips I have come up with for cooking for 1 or 2.  Of course, I will go into the food when the post is put out but I’ll give you a taste

dinner

cheesecake pumpkin
Madi and my Mom helped out with a lot of the prep and cleaning. The cheesecakes were yummy
pumpkin cheesecakes
dad photography Dad taking photos of the food. The food was a little cold by the time we ate but it was well worth it.
No bake pumpkin cheesecakes. Turned out delish!

The most enjoyable part of the day for me, besides the food, was learning some things about food photography from my Dad.  He is a gifted photographer and I can’t believe how the photos turned out.  It is going to be an awesome post! cranberry sauce

Anyway, it was a really fun day and I feel excited and satisfied.  Even if a few people read it and like the recipes that’s all that matters.  Plus, it convinced me to buy a nicer camera, something I have thought about for some time.  To better blogging photos!

PS I think it would be fun to take a photography class at SLCC.  Anyone want to do it with me?