Taking Control.

A while back, my youngest son comes into my room crying. He asks me to come with him. He likes to Skype with his friends from school so I thought nothing of it. Apparently he had found a friend he didn’t know from school, another boy around his age, to play Minecraft with. This boy along with 2 others were bullying my son. I read the texts back and forth and was not too happy with what I saw.

While sitting there, the boy “skyped” my son. So I answered. (note, neither have their webcams on). I hear a young voice pop up and I say hello, that I’m the mom and I don’t appreciate him harassing my kid.

He proceeds to curse at me and then tells me I “sound like an 80 yr old woman.” I, of course burst out laughing because it was so…. dumb. I told him thank you, and goodbye.

Here comes in the difference between being a bullied CHILD and a “bullied” adult: I then went in and blocked the contacts. I then deleted the contacts.  I am an adult, so I took control. I then asked him…. “Who are these people to you?” My son had felt helpless, he is a child. It’s to be expected. As adults, WE control how we feel. WE control who we listen to. WE control how we react.

Tears still in his eyes, though a little less so after the eruption of laughter….. he asks me how to deal with this. The thing is, he is bullied all the time. At school, online etc.. I tried to explain to him that when you think for yourself, and march to the beat of your own drum, people feel threatened by that. They don’t like it. Since the dawn of time, those who are different have been persecuted for it. He really enjoys being in his own world and I commend him for that. He has his very own story line and he isn’t afraid to speak up. As his mother, it is my job not to “fix” it all for him, but to aid him in getting a hold of the situation. Yes, I step in when needed, but I won’t be able to fight his battles forever.

 

My Story

I have become so accustomed to being “hated” on, it surprises me to have anyone actually take the time to get to know me. I grew up being pushed around, having my hair pulled (I grew up with Shirly Temple curls), being called ugly, fat, weird etc. Groups of kids would wait at the bus stop after school to “beat me up.” I once was pushed around and picked on so badly on my bus, I ended up having a panic attack. My mom had to work to support us so nobody was really there to “defend” me. I had to learn on my own. Looking back, I was that little girl who picked out her own clothes did her own hair and her own thing. I didn’t like to take my shoes off, I wasn’t very fond of people seeing my feet. This made for difficult nap times in Kindergarten, time-outs were often. I was bossy. It was my way or the highway. I had a temper too. I wanted to do things myself. To put it frankly, I was a real pain in the ass. I was also quiet. Reserved. Lived in my own head. The perfect victim.

By high school, the bullying was just a day to day thing for me. I ignored it. Read my books on the bus, retreated into my own mind for comfort. One day in Drama class, I happened to see one of the boys who bullied me sitting alone. My curiosity got the better of me and I went over and quietly asked him, “why do you pick on me?”

He told me, “because you look like you can handle it. I’m expected to be this big ‘jock’ and to be popular, so I do it to get a laugh from my friends.” I understood, I was shocked. It was literally as though he was hoping I’d ask so he could just rid himself of the guilt. That day on, he never bullied me the same way again. We actually “teased” each other more than anything. No, we never became friends, but I understood. It was no excuse by any stretch of the imagination. Bullies are people too. Something drives them to do what they do. Whether it’s low self-esteem, family expectations or just fearing what they don’t understand.

Not everyone can “handle” it though. I had far worse things to deal with so the bullying was breeze when put into perspective. It helped me release those feelings of “sorrow” when people were mean and replace them with more curiosity as to why they behaved the way they did.

In the long run. Learning how to react to bullying as a child, helps as you get older. The problem is, not every child has a good support system to help them deal with it. Every person is different. I let my kids know to be there for those who might be bullied. Stand up for them and offer them support. As adults, we should do the same. Instead of attacking others, we should try to understand them instead.

 

 

When a Good Old Fashioned F-Bomb is the RIGHT Answer…

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Imagine this. For only a moment.

You work your ass off for years. Slowly building a brand. You didn’t buy your 100K likes on Facebook. There was none of that “Political Facebook-ing.”  You didn’t join the “viral” universe to make a name for yourself. You worked your ass off. Poured your blood, sweat and tears into making something you can be proud of, something you can whole heartily say…. “I DID THIS.”

I forgot to mention. You’re also a mother, a wife and most importantly; a human being.

One morning you wake up only to find out an entire website has been created about you. On that website are hundreds of comments calling you “fat,” “cunt,” “bitch,” etc…

Let’s press pause for a minute. I was one of those unfortunate souls who fell into the vat of ickiness and listened to the rumors. That was until I got to know some of the people who were being attacked. One in particular really changed my viewpoint on how I see those in “photographic” positions of assumed power. I will forever be in her debt.

Press play.

Now lets add in a few FB groups dedicated to ripping you, your lifestyle and your life’s work apart. Sprinkle on a few sneaky bastards that gather groups of people do a “buy-in” into your workshops (with the purpose of recording them and sharing them on file sharing sites), and add a dash of action makers who try to get into your editing workshops for the sole purpose of creating action sets THEY can sell.

That’s just breakfast.

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For lunch you get to have a few hundred people on Facebook telling you each and everyday how to run your business. A few who think your work is porn, some who question your ability to keep your clients safe and at least one or two who feel the need to declare their immediate action to unfollow you.

By now you are probably getting at least a little flustered. Remember, you are also running a full time business, raising a few kids, having a normal life and on top of that…adminning a Facebook page.

Dinner rolls around and you have received at least two fake emails telling you about more internet articles being written about you, more web pages being created to bash you and at least one telling you what an evil bitch you are and that you should die.

Let’s not forget dessert.

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For dessert you get to watch your entire portfolio being re-created in your newsfeed and watch other people take credit for your imagination, your creativity and your unmistaken style. Then you get to be told to basically take it up the ass like a good photographer and just smile and nod. You’re a professional remember?

FUCK THAT

When did it become OK to be a constant victim? When did it become OK to show people how to take it up the ass? That’s what is going on. By sitting by and doing nothing and just smiling and deleting hundreds of comments a day….you’re taking it up the ass and telling others who look up to you, to do the same. Wasting HOURS of your time….sitting there moderating each and every hateful comment because you’re suppose to bend over and take it. GRAB THOSE ANKLES!!!! Because not only are you supposed to just take it, there is ZERO lube involved.

Stressed out. Upset. Angry. Sad. Humiliated. Devastated. Depressed.

But your supposed to smile…..?

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YAY FOR ME!!!!

This is where it is perfectly OK to drop the f-bomb. Tell those people to STFU. Fuck you and shut the fuck up. Those who stand up for themselves often find themselves standing alone. It’s not popular to stand up for yourself. It’s not “politically correct.” Some of us are just sick and tired of being ramrodded in the ass… at least grab the lube next time.

Halo and Blending videos….

The Videos….

Please be warned. Some adult language is used. (oh and you might not want to eat beforehand either…)  :P

Halo….

 

Blending….

I can see your halo………No really I can.

Halo-ing.

What the “f” is that you might ask? It’s when you edit and end up with a halo around the head of your subject. The majority of the time I see it when a sky is added to a pic or perhaps a background is blurred in post and especially when a lot of color is added.

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My EXACT face when I see it…

How do you NOT get a halo? This literally takes messing up over and over again to master.  You have to either blend your added awesomeness via the “Blending Options” panel or get really f-ing good at feathering your selection (subject selected via lasso tool) then zooming in and brushing off all that background fake-ness in an epic masking mastery frenzy. There are a lot of ways to do it, these were just mine. I do try to avoid shooting people’s heads in the blown out sky; however, when it can’t be avoided I typically try to add a little sky or at least a color.

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Blended… Fake sky.

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NOT ONE ounce of real sunset was here. It was a craptastic overcast day… This was done using the Blending Option panel… and some serious masking….. and EW look at the fudged up watermark…. oh well.

How do you know if your Halo-ing the hell outta your pics? Stand back away from your screen. Usually I spot it right away, but it can take time to notice it going on. It’s most common around people’s heads. Maybe we are all just angels? Now you might be asking, how the heck do I NOT do this then? Well it’s too much to explain here without you dying of boredom and ending up in a swamp of confusion. I will have to shoot a video to explain so stay tuned. :D

The Clone Wars…

Are you wookin’ kidding me? (tee-hee)

This is not an ill referenced version of Star Wars nor is it a pun on the popular Photoshop tool.

Picture this, you come up with an amazing concept. You pour your heart and soul into it. Eagerly and with slight anticipation, you post your new image to Facebook or other social media site. It’s a hit! Everyone loves it! Then it starts… the clones. Not two days later you see similar images popping up in your newsfeed. Those people are taking credit for YOUR concept. If that’s not bad enough…. soon they start offering webinars, workshops and classes making MONEY off of YOUR ideas. How does that feel? ……..Like shit.

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Hard at work….

When this question of “is this OK?” is posted to social media, most people say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While that may be the case, for an artist…. it hurts. This is not a famous artist using the works of his equally famous predecessors as inspiration. People have copied art for centuries. The issue here is that people are doing it in the same moment. The very same week! With zero regard for the original idealist. Zero credit given, but yet all credit taken without the blink of an eye. These are not ‘inspired images’, they are point blank down to the color of the dress and the type of model used, copied.

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Can I try?

What does this do to the “artist?”

To the original, it can feel as though all of your hard work is for nothing. Your inspiration is for nothing, your talent is for nothing. You did all the hard work and now the rest just reap the rewards. We have all scrolled our newsfeed and seen a beautiful image, and then the “same” image will pop up over and over and over again on different pages for weeks to come.  It takes away from the beauty of the original because it’s now a common sight.  When it’s in your everyday, you just don’t appreciate it as much anymore.

Now, what does that do to the copier? It actually damages them. You might ask…”How so?” Well,  they no longer have to “create” and just like with any talent, creativity must be earned through practice, insight and soul searching. If you don’t constantly push yourself, then you’ll eventually lose out on so many opportunities of personal growth and creativity. Those who build entire portfolios off of another artists work (for example basically an entire portfolio of similar models, similar outfits and similar poses along with editing style), cheat themselves. We don’t remember Picasso’s copycats do we? We remember the original. The greats are the ones who get their place in history. The copy cats might get some viral praise and acclaim, but just like those popular viral videos….they too are eventually…. forgotten.

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The great divide… who was the original?

What is the answer?

Look through your body of work. Did you basically adopt another person’s editing style? Can you objectively look at your work and see yourself represented, or is your work full of other people’s ideas and creativity?

Ask yourself… “If I were to put my portfolio side by side with another artist, will people be able recognize MY work… or recognize the other artist in my own?”

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to step back and re-evaluate. Stop following those people you know influence you for a little bit, or better yet, step away from the computer for a week. Go out and shoot for yourself, edit…for yourself and see what you come up with. Step away from the action sets and try your own thing. In the end you might just find yourself. <3

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The Whole “Self”