What happened to September?

•October 23, 2010 • 1 Comment

Somehow a lot of time has passed, and it turns out I inadvertently left my blog unattended-to for two whole months, just after promising to spend more time updating it more regularly! It was sunny summertime when I last wrote anything here, and now the trees outside my windows are bare and the air has that obvious feel to it that snow will soon be on the way. Days have been passing me by like traffic on a busy street the last while, and the first half of October has been no exception with huge changes and decisions being made and a hurricane leaving shambles of my guts. But then this week came along and finally allowed me an opportunity to breathe.

So it goes.

Lets start from the top – you might want to grab a coffee, because in choosing to read this update, you will probably be here a while. Just a heads-up.

Here I sit, with my favourite giant Christmas mug full of cream soda beside me, and a lot on my mind. The mug is symbolic because my choosing to use it symbolizes an excitement about the festive season that has lay dormant inside of me since I was a young child. Yesterday afternoon, while taking a walk on my break from an extra-uneventful day at work, I found myself enticed by a Christmas ornament turnstile in a quaint little downtown corner shop. In the last dozen or so years, I can’t recall a time when I started looking forward to the season so early – in fact, most Christmases I have found myself dreading, and thinking I would rather just get through them and back to regular life. The last couple of years though, and this year in particular, my mindset is quite different. In my head, I was already selecting new festive mugs that my hubby and I could sip our morning coffee from on Christmas morning, and ornaments I thought I might like to show him, that we might consider hanging on our tree this year. Yesterday was the first mildly chilly day this month and I was wearing my mid-length lightweight black wool jacket for the first time this season. It felt nice keeping my hands scrunched in my pockets, even though I’m not really particularly fond of colder weather. So far this year the temperature has been pretty decent, and I can’t complain.

While I was wandering through the store, I was thinking about some of the big things going on in my life right now.

Last week, I gave my notice that I was leaving my job. I have been working at the same place for over three years, so I suppose a minor emotional attachment to the place was warranted, but oddly I was still surprised when the prospect of leaving had me feeling a little sad. After all, I met my wonderful husband there, and we had spent the entire two first years of our marriage working alongside one another. I had met lots of different people working there, some whose company I enjoyed very much and others perhaps not quite so much, but all people I won’t soon forget. I was pretty nervous when I finally sat down in my bosses office and gave him the envelope that held my resignation paper, but the reaction from him made it easy for me to feel good about my decision. He agreed with what I had said in my letter about a person needing to follow their chosen path and that I had selected a good time to do so, being still young and able to make adjustments and choose a new path in life. It felt good to know that my boss, someone who I will always consider a friend, understood the necessity of my choice. I was breathing much easier as I went back down to my desk underground to start gathering up my things to take home with me over the next two weeks. My last day will be October 29th.

Growing up in Canada, I fully appreciate that a person needs to work to live. Not everybody can grow up wealthy and many people must work extra long hours just to survive. I admit, there have been times where I have had to work at multiple jobs to scrape by and live in less-than-ideal conditions, and I too have had jobs that I didn’t enjoy in the slightest. I remember when $5.90 an hour was starting wage at many jobs, and working split shifts between 7:30 in the morning and 10:30 at night was a typical day. Of course, back then I didn’t envision my life turning out as it has – for the better, that is, and I am eternally thankful for it – instead, I had simply resigned myself to accepting the grind.

But the last 3 years have marked a major turning point in life for me. I took a job that paid better than I had ever earned before, I met – and married – a man who cares for me unconditionally and who I love more and more each day, and I realized after a great deal of soul-searching that the time had come to make my childhood dreams a reality. While the job I had been working for so long was taking care of my financial needs, it was not allowing me to grow personally. I am a caring person, and working in a retail environment wasn’t giving me the sorts of situations that were fuelled by necessity or urgency. I didn’t feel that I was helping anyone on any real emotional level which left my days seemingly mundane and redundant. Working at a desk in an underground office left me lethargic and lazy and I found myself feeling constantly exhausted and less and less good about myself and my appearance. I am also a very creative person, and I have been releasing my penned-up creative energy though my photography – but even that wasn’t fulfilling my need to express myself. I needed to find a way to engage myself in something that would provide mental, physical and creative stimulus while also giving me the sense that I was making a difference, even in some small way.

I am of the belief that a person should strive to do something they love, when deciding where to work and how to live their life. While I have chosen jobs in the past that were not my favourite place to be or task to do, I was not miserable with my occupation. That being said, I haven’t been excited to get up and get started each morning either, and it didn’t take long for me to realize what exactly what was missing from my life: Personal fulfillment from my job. A person will spend at least one-third of nearly every day of their life working, and I do not want to give that kind of time and effort to something I do not enjoy. Too many people do exactly that, and I have chosen not to be one of them. I have been given this one life, and it is my single chance to make the most of myself and to be happy, and I intend to do just that.

My passions lie in three different fields: travel, photography, and animals (not necessarily in that order). My wish to travel is one I share with my husband – as is photography. I have never had a goal to make a living from either, and I simply enjoy both for what they are. I live in Calgary and I understand the reality that a quarter of its population has lofty goals to succeed in the artistic realm of work, especially the field of photography. So before you start to worry, NO, I am not going to stop taking pictures. I love photography and will not ever stop pressing forward with my art. However, I am realistic and I know that, at least for now, I cannot make a living off of it. Perhaps one day I might, but until then, I will do something else that I love.

That is where my new occupation of choice comes into play. Ever since I was a small child, I have dreamed of surrounding myself with animals and have always wanted to do something to help them. But I do not have the stomach for surgery, or the heart of steel to put an animal to sleep on a regular basis, and donating to the local shelter can only go so far. I have never intended to go into the veterinary field, and I found myself short of ideas on how to make a living working with animals beyond that. Until now. I have earned a chance to work full-time in a career where I will be surrounded by animals, where I can be creatively and physically challenged, and where I can work to my full potential and grow, knowing that I am doing something that is meaningful and helpful. I will spend my time focusing my energy on controlling my body and my my mindset, while expanding my creativity and working in direct contact with something that interests me, something I love: animals. And I have grand plans to learn and grow with not just the field I am starting out in, but in the fields of animal care, behaviour and training as well. I am looking forward to finding a renewed pride in my work and expanding my knowledge-base. I am excited to be embarking on what I know is going to be a life-changing path and seeing where it will take me. I can’t wait to get started!

Oh, and for those of you interested in my most recent photographic endeavours, images will be posted soon, but you should also check out www.Holgablog.com – a huge project my husband and I have taken on and are very excited about! – more on that to come shortly as well.

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And the Winners Are…

•August 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Well, the big day is finally here, and with your help we managed to reach that (slightly adjusted) 150-fan goal on the Sheena Irene Facebook page! Thanks to everyone who suggested out the link and a special thanks to those of you who became the newest names on the list!I had originally hoped for 165 fans, but I just got excited and I really wanted to be able to hold this draw and start sending out some prizes! So without further adieu, here are the names of the big winners!

Stacey Halleran! You are the winner of a signed 24-inch print of your single favorite image from any of the following three albums! Intimate Details, Surroundings or Armor Fur & Feathers

Elizabeth Ast! You are the winner of a coupon for $75 off a portrait sitting – a savings of approximately 40%! (includes maternity, individual, engagement, couples, mommy/babies sittings, family sitting up to 7 people, any comparable sitting)

Randey Buela! You have won a limited edition signed gallery-style custom print of your favorite image from my Instant Satisfaction album!

Stacey and Randey, when you have a chance, please let me know either on Facebook or via email (info@sheenairenephoto.com) which image you would like – I will also need an address where I can send your print once it is completed! Elizabeth, please send me your email address and I will send you all the details of your prize.

Thanks again everyone for participating, and keep watching for more upcoming draws and deals!

Sheena

Save BIG on print purchases now!

•August 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Recently I started doing large-format digital printing and I have a small pile of big beautiful 16″ prints up for grabs at a fraction of regular price! I have only one of each of the following images printed on archival quality acid-free paper, and I am offering them for purchase at a special one-time price of $59 (regular price $149), which includes free shipping within Canada and continental US. If you are interested in purchasing any of these ready-to-go prints, please contact me now!

Once again, there is only ONE of each of these images available and they will go on a first-come first-served basis to anyone who wants to get in on this special pricing offer.

And if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to become a fan on my Facebook page for a chance to win great prizes in the big draw taking place this Friday, August 20th, 2010!

Thanks again!

Sheena

FACEBOOK CONTEST TIME!

•August 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Okay folks, here we go!

The week has found me very excited about the interest out there in my photography, with over 130 fans on Facebook, over 100 followers on Twitter, and I am also thrilled to announce that I have already surpassed 2100 visits to my web site, with over 300 visits in the last 2 weeks alone!

So, I would like to thank all the people who are actively watching my work, following me, hiring me, and sending me input and comments and suggestions about my photography. I love you all! And to show my appreciation, I am going to be drawing 3 names from my list of Facebook fans on August 20th, 2010 , and each winner will receive one of these three gifts, chosen at random:

1) A signed 24-inch print of any one digital image of your choice from any of the following three albums: Intimate Details, Surroundings or Armor Fur & Feathers (restriction may apply based on original file size)

2) A coupon for $75 off a portrait sitting – a savings of approximately 40% (includes maternity, individual, engagement, couples, mommy/babies sittings, family sitting up to 7 people, any comparable sitting)

3) A limited edition signed gallery-style custom print of any one image from my Instant Satisfaction album

The catch: I would like to reach 165 Facebook fans by 12 noon on August 20th, 2010. Please, take a moment and click on the ‘Suggest to Friends’ link below my profile picture and send this offer along to a few of your family and friends. Let them know that by clicking the ‘Like’ button at the top of the page, they will be automatically entered in the draw for the three awesome prizes above.

Thanks again, everyone!

– Sheena

NOTE: As posted on Facebook, I am now only hoping to reach 150 fans by 12 noon on Friday, August 20th, 2010 – we made it to 141 so that’s only 9 more people! I hope you will help me reach my goal so that I can draw some names for these prizes!

Macro Photography

•August 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Back in the day, when I got my first digital camera (Canon 10D), I used to shoot with my not-so-great Sigma 18-55mm lens that had a little macro switch on it.  I eventually figured out that if I zoomed in to the 55mm length, I could then trigger the macro switch which would allow me to get much closer to my subjects and focus on smaller details, making them larger than life. I was pretty excited. However, my excitement faded to frustration when I learned the limits of my little lens and met with a few crippling difficulties, including soft focus, bad depth of field, and not being able to get close enough to pick up as much detail as I wanted.

Then a few years passed and I sold off all my digital camera gear…

During this period I tested a couple of different lenses on what will very soon be my camera of choice, the Nikon D700, and I developed a bit of an infatuation with the Nikkor AF-S 105mm f2.8 VR ED Micro lens. The wide aperture of this lens lets in tonnes of light and allowed me to have an extremely shallow depth of field so that I could focus on the smallest detail, giving my shots a nearly unreal appearance. I started to notice things I hadn’t caught before, such as little white striping in the petals of those tiny purple wildflowers I so often saw in the mountains, or pollen pooling in the top of tiny dew drops left on leaves. It was like discovering another world! Excited by my new-found discovery, I set about shooting as many thing as I could, to see what the possibilities of the lens were.

Then the time came to give back the borrowed equipment, and while I was sad to see it go, I take comfort in the fact that I will very soon have that same set-up of my very own, to use whenever I want.

I think my love of photography has been absolutely renewed. For a while there, I had considered putting my camera down and finding a new niche – and while I have indeed gone searching for somewhere entirely new to release my creative energies and am actively working toward it day by day, I have changed my mind on letting go of my camera. In fact, quite to the contrary, I think I will be holding onto my camera much tighter from now on!

For your viewing pleasure, I have posted an entirely new album in my online gallery to display a few of my favourite shots captured with the 105mm macro lens entitled intimate details – please take a moment to have a look. I hope you enjoy them!

Side note: All the images found in the intimate details gallery on my web site are now on sale! Please use my contact form for pricing if you wish to make a purchase.

Baby Bump!

•August 7, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A special thanks to Dean and Kaitlin, the awesome couple who were kind enough to hire me on to do (my very first!) maternity shoot to show off the cute little bump that will soon be their little baby boy, Zephran.

The actual shots were taken in full colour, but since this is just a teaser for the happy couple, I thought I would post them in black and white for now.

As always, these images remain ©Sheena Irene Photo, so no unauthorized reproduction please. I am sure Dean and Kaitlin will be most happy to offer up a copy once they have the images in their hands. You can click on each thumbnail to see a larger image. Thanks for having a look!

Upcoming changes!

•July 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Well, it has certainly been a while since I posted anything new, at least new related to my photography, so here is an update to outline a few things I have been piecing together these last few weeks that you will see come together in the not-too-distant future.

First things first, I have decided to get serious about my blog. I have been slacking a bit since returning from South America at the end of May and I am working myself up toward posting at least once a week from now on. I’ve got all sorts of newly-named categories that I had hoped to fill with lots of examples, tips, tricks and toys  (Photo Journal, Wishlist, Purchase Opportunities, Mini-Gallery), and now I’m really going to crack down on posting so you can expect to see lots more posts coming and probably more categories as well very soon.

Side note: feel free to send a comment or two along with your ideas of what you might like to see more of/less of, or category suggestions as well.

On the topic of getting serious about my blog, I have decided to purchase my own blog domain, so you won’t see WordPress in my blog address any longer. I’ll be making this change shortly and I’ll issue an update so you can get the new address – but feel free to subscribe to my blog for email updates on upcoming posts as well. I’m also really hoping to get more followers on my blog, so feel free to share it out with your friends and family – be sure to let them know that there are prizes to be won by subscribing, and also for following me on Facebook, including signed prints and limited time coupons for photo sessions!

Something else I would like to do is similar to a little adventure called Project 365 – you’ve probably heard of folks who intend to take a photo a day for one year, and I’ve come up with a plan to give it a go but take my own little spin on it. I’m going to do Project 52 with one image posted weekly (keep reading before you make a judgement and call me lazy for not posting daily!) and to go along with the photo I am going to write a haiku describing my thoughts on the image. The images aren’t necessarily going to be works of art, but sometimes just an image of something I might find funny or sad or maybe even infuriating, anything that might strike a chord in me. I’d like to be able to induce emotion with each image and that is going to be the theme of my project. Keep your eyes peeled for week number one coming soon!

As for my web site, there is going to be a rearranging of images in the gallery, including samples from my very first upcoming maternity shoot that will be displayed in my ‘Recent Work’ album. The older work that is currently showing in that album will be shuffled off into respective locations by content and style, as it is getting a bit out of date and it’s time to reveal something fresh. I am also considering creating a new logo as well – I’ve never been one to settle on one design for anything so it might be a long time before I land on something that I truly love and want to keep.

Last but not least, I’d like to expand my photography niche a little and start adding people into my work a bit more. I have always shied away from working with folks because I seem to get nervous too easily, but I intend to incorporate the human element into my ever-growing fine art efforts in some way as often as possible. I’m not yet sure exactly in what capacity I will be making this happen, but you can expect to see something interesting in coming months.

As always, thank you so much for stopping by and for your interest in my photography. I hope that you will enjoy looking through my future projects as much as I am going to enjoy creating them!

– Sheena