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InstaFave Friday: Hello, weekend!

FilmInstaFave Fridayinstagram July 22, 2016

The sun might as well be on Earth with us in Alabama this week. Hello, July and hello weekend!

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@johnhdwagner

IndieFilmLab_@Watson_film
@watson_film

IndieFilmLab_@teanroberts
@teanroberts

InstaFave Friday: Ode to Summer

Filminstagram July 15, 2016

IndieFilmLab_@charliewboucher
@charliewboucher

 

IndieFilmLab_@jenniferlawrencephoto
@jenniferlawrencephoto

 

IndieFilmLab_@jordanskphotography
@jordanskphotography

 

IndieFilmLab_@hales_yes
@hales_yes

Artist Spotlight: Eric James Leffler

Artist SpotlightFilmInterviewStraps July 11, 2016

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Those guys that are always trying something new. The folks who try something just to see what happens. That’s Eric James Leffler. Scroll on down and you’ll take notice of the almost-magical double exposures that pop up often on the Indie Film Lab instagram feed (we dig them!) Since 2010, Eric, a Walnut Creek, Ca. resident, has worked professionally as a wedding and portrait photographer in the San Francisco area. A year abroad in Australia with camera in hand supplied his initial interest in photography. The adventurous spirit of film photography won him back. An element of surprise, both in double exposures and the process of shooting film overall, has become an evident part of his work. Trying something unique, picking up a different body, etc.—it’s clear he’s having a blast. Thanks for taking us along for the ride, Eric!

Y’all follow along this week as Eric teaches more about how he works, and plays.

 

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IFL: How did photography become a part of your life?
EJ: I always enjoyed art growing up—pencil sketching as a kid, graphic design in high school. I definitely get my artistic side from my mom, who is still painting, creating and inspiring me to this day. Photography for me came later. I spent a year abroad living in Australia, and before I left, my uncle handed me down an old 35mm Minolta X-700 SLR and some lenses.  I spent most of that year taking travel photos, learning how to use the kit and really appreciating photography for the first time. I remember how inspired I was, and the rush of dropping film off at the generic one-hour-photo labs in Sydney and seeing the 4×6 prints the next day. When I returned home, time went by, I got caught up in the day jobs, I didn’t pick up a camera or do anything creative for years, I played soccer, I enjoyed a social life, paid my bills, life went on until I took a family cruise to Alaska in 2008. My dad had picked up a Nikon CoolPix P80 for the family to use, which I happily commandeered.  That little fella was the fanciest thing I’d seen with 10mp, manual control and an 18x zoom.  The excitement of taking pictures and creating something came flooding back. A passion I didn’t know I still had was reigniting. The following year he helped me finally invest in my first DSLR, a Nikon D90 kit. Without his help, I may still be holding out for my first DSLR and who knows what I would be doing today.  

 

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IFL: Why film?
EJ: The number one reason for me is pretty simple—it’s flat out FUN! As someone who shoots digital for the majority of my paid work (30-40 weddings a year and many portrait sessions in between), DSLR’s are necessary tools for what I do. They are work horses. But for me, they all start to feel the same after a while.

Today, I am very much a hybrid shooter in every sense, shooting primarily digital for my paid work and film for all of my personal work. With my personal work and photography at it’s core for me is most often simply about creating something. It is an artistic endeavor, a creative pursuit, a visual pleasure. The simple need to create something new is what drives me.

After several years of shooting nothing but digital, I felt a growing need to switch things up and shake myself out of my comfort zone. I am constantly thinking of what to do next, ways to try something different, to make something original, to do something unique. Shooting with film was one way to satisfy this. There are so many unique elements to the film world of which I knew little to nothing about two years ago: 6×7’s, 645’s, rangefinders, Land cameras, waist level viewfinders, eye-level prisms, C-41, E6, film backs, dark slides, incident meters, pushing film, rating film, AIS lenses, APO lenses, vintage Russian lenses, A-76 batteries, 2CR5 batteries, the list goes on. Shooting film opened up a whole new world to me in many ways. One I am still exploring.

Another reason is the change of pace and process it provides. The entire process is more involved, from choosing which film stock to buy, finding space in your fridge to store it, choosing which to use on a given day, switching the film spools, loading the film, thinking about every exposure and working with limitations. Making notes, keeping the exposed film somewhere safe, packing up the USPS box, dropping it in the mail, waiting a few weeks for the scans, and finally…experiencing the joy of seeing my photos for the first time. This all makes me value these photos that much more. This change of pace and process helps me. It fuels me and balances me from my digital work.

All of this would fly out the window if the end results weren’t also spectacular. It has been said by many, film has soul. It has character. It has a depth to it that is hard to describe at times. No offense to the one-hour photo labs in Sydney, but the “look” of film is something I didn’t fully appreciate until I received my first scans from Indie Film Lab in 2014. I’ve been hooked ever since.

 

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IFL: Do you travel often for work? What does your everyday look like when not traveling?
EJ: I love to travel. I was blessed to get some great opportunities during my first few years of business shooting weddings in Hawaii, Mexico, Oregon, New Orleans and Florence, Italy. Most of my weddings and portrait sessions are in and around the San Francisco Bay Area which I can never complain about. I am very grateful to call this beautiful area home and to visit different parts of it every week.

IFL: Do you have a favorite geographical place to shoot?
EJ: My go to spot is a local hilltop—a nice open space up the road from my house. It’s great for Golden Hour, which is really more like Golden 10 minutes. But oh, those 10 minutes.

IFL: What’s your favorite film stock?
EJ: I’ve come to really like Kodak Gold 200 and Max 400 for warmer golden hour shots. I like Portra 800 for cooler indoor window light settings. Usually HP5 for B/W. Ilford 3200 on 120.  Kodak Pro-Image 100 is nice, but not made anymore I don’t think (can still be found on Ebay.)  Would love to shoot more with CineStill.

IFL: What other art forms or artists are you drawn to? What/who/where gets you inspired?
EJ: There are so many talented photographers I have drawn and continue to draw inspiration from. Too many to list. I am working on finding more inspiration from other art forms outside of photography, like cinema and music.

In many ways, it’s the film gear itself that fires me up more than anything. I just find these older cameras and lenses so much fun to use. They all have their unique character and personality and inspire me constantly to put them to use.

 

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IFL: Any gear secrets you’re up for sharing?
EJ: I’ve become a bit of a film camera collector these past couple years. I like trading in gear for something different every now and then. For me, cameras are a lot like cities—I kind of want to visit the best ones and my favorites I’ll keep returning to. I completely agree with Ryan Brenizer, who acknowledges that while “owning extra gear is a novelty, it is also a great way to avoid one of the biggest challenges for a full time photographer: avoiding burnout.” 

The film cameras I keep going back to the most are probably the Nikon FM3A (once my FE2 stopped working) and Leica M6. The Contax T2 or Olympus Stylus usually go in my pocket when I head to the bar or to the game with friends. I take along my Nikon F6 for when I visit my brother and his family since auto-focus is quite handy with two little nieces and three pets running around. The Voigtlander Bessaflex might be my dark horse favorite for portraits. It’s so simple and smooth and great for when I want to use older 42mm screw mount lens like the Jupiter-9, Helios 44-2, or my new favorite, the Carl Zeiss Flektogon 35mm 2.4.

I’ve recently been experimenting with older uncoated lenses to have fun with sun flare, many of them under $100 on Ebay.   

The Hold Fast Money Maker straps (especially the new skinny versions) are the best option I’ve found for carrying 2-3 cameras around by far, and the cloth pouch they come in works great as a film pouch.

 

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Can you handle skinny jeans?
I’m not sure skinny jeans could handle me.

What makes you dance?
I wouldn’t say I dance often but the mood can certainly strike at a moment’s notice.  I learned I could dance at a George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic concert in 2003.  I had no idea.

Favorite music:
When I am not listening to the ballgame on AM radio or Howard Stern on Sirius, I usually have it tuned to BB King’s Bluesville or Alt Nation.

More of Eric’s work here:
Website – ericjamesphoto.com
Blog – ericjamesphoto.com/blog/
Instagram – ericjamesleffler

InstaFave Friday: ‘Ode to NYC

FilmIndie Lifeinstagram July 8, 2016

Catch a glimpse of @JoshuaMoates feed this week? He’s killin’ it with throwbacks from a NYC visit. We’re all daydreaming right along with you, Josh.

 

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InstaFave Friday: Lean in

FilmInstaFave Fridayinstagram July 1, 2016

Off to adventure in freedom. Freedom to do all the things or a little bit of nothing.

If you haven’t seen Finding Dory, go on and get to it.

 

IndieFilmLab_hollycuaresma
@hollycuaresma

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InstaFave Friday: Fan Club

FilmInstaFave Fridayinstagram June 24, 2016

Thanks @charliewboucher for the Insta-love this week. It gets us fired up to see folks using film and trying new things. Our crew is game for questions and helping users learn more.

 

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Artist Spotlight: Ryan Ray

Artist SpotlightFilmInterviewKodak June 21, 2016

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Meet Ryan Ray—winner of being our brand of good people. The California native has photographed weddings for nine years and crafted a style of documentary photography rooted in celebrating a couple’s unique beauty and blessing to one another that breathes ease, natural beauty and genuine affection.
Ryan’s work is regularly featured in print publications (Martha Stewart Weddings, Southern Weddings, PEOPLE, Harper’s Bazaar, BRIDES) and online (Style Me Pretty, Once Wed, Snippet & Ink), but his gentle demeanor praised by clients made friends and fun-loving reputation for joining guests on dance floor only add to his success. Traveling for wedding weekends occupies most of his work schedule, but there’s no doubt home sweet home is now Texas with his sweet bride of seven years, Cary, and their newly adopted son from Taiwan. As if they weren’t enough, just mention tacos. We hope you enjoy getting to know Ryan (and his love of high-tops, tacos and being a steward of kindness) as much as we have as he hosts our feed on Instagram this week.

 

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IFL: How did photography become a part of your life?
RR: I stumbled across photography after seeing a friend of mine pursue it. I wanted something to do on the side that I really enjoyed. Little did I know what it would turn into. I am so grateful for this medium that has allowed me to see things and document life in a way to bless people, make a living, and see the world.

IFL: What/who/where gets you inspired?
RR: My faith really inspires me. I had a really tough upbringing and my faith has been the foundation of my strength, joy, and inspiration for as long as I can remember. I see life with great joy and I believe it translates to the work I do.

 

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IFL: Why film?
RR: Goodness, it is beautiful, isn’t it? Rich tones that can’t be replicated. I love the way it leads me to approach my clients. It is an art that allows me to visualize my image before I take it.

IFL: What’s your favorite film stock?
RR: KODAK! I have always been a fan of Portra 400

 

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IFL: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?
RR: I’d be a firefighter. I was a firefighter/paramedic for 10 years and absolutely loved it.

IFL: Do you have a favorite geographical place to shoot?
RR: Anywhere with good light. Love a great sunset. I am originally from CA before marrying my southern bride and moving to TX. I love shooting in CA, but who doesn’t?

 

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IFL: Any challenges you find in being a film photographer? Or supporting yourself as an artist?
RR: Being a film photographer is not easy. Weddings happen so quickly, and I don’t like to miss anything. I rarely have a second shooter. I am in go mode the whole wedding day. I don’t get easily distracted, and I love the pressure to deliver. I do miss 220! With that said, I never make excuses for my medium. If I can’t do the best job possible and deliver beautiful images with what I have, I am not working hard enough. I am really grateful for the beautiful Kodak film I feel privileged to shoot, and extremely thankful for an incredible lab that has been on this journey with me.

 

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IFL: Do you travel often for work? What does your everyday look like when not traveling?
RR: I travel for most of the work I do. It is not on purpose. I go wherever the work is and the clients I am commissioned by are.

IFL: Any gear secrets you’re up for sharing?
RR: High tops make you dance better. No joke.

 

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What makes you feel awesome?
High tops, denim, heather grey tees.

Favorite thing about your current home/town.
The people and Mexican food.

Food you love
Tacos!

What makes you dance? Do you dance?
Love dancing!! Just ask anyone who knows me. Never said I was a good dancer, but that doesn’t keep me from having a great time!

Can you handle skinny jeans?
Yup, I’m a fan.

 

More of Ryan’s work here:
Website – ryanrayphoto.com
Blog – ryanrayphoto.com/blog/
Instagram – imryanray

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InstaFave Friday: So Fresh

Filminstagram June 17, 2016

Thanks for the tag @serenajae. Loved having bold colors and fresh blooms fill up our feed! Killer floral design by @thebridescafe.

 

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Nancy Ray on Time Management : Part Two

Business LifeFilmGuest PostInterview June 17, 2016

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If you missed yesterday’s post with the beginning of Nancy Ray’s process on time management, check it out here.

 

3. Plan out each day by the hour
I love Whitney English’s Day Designer and Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner for this reason: You can map out your day hour by hour. Talk about making the most of your day! Every morning, I sit down and write down my top 3 priorities for the day. Then, I write out what I’m going to do hour by hour in order to accomplish those priorities.

Here’s my example for today:
No. 1: Blog Organization in Time
No. 2: Clear emails before the weekend
No. 3: Pack for weekend away
6:00 – Up! Coffee and Scripture and Prayer
7:00 – Read current book
8:00 – Prep studio / email clean up
9:00 – Consultation with Callie + Bride
10:00 – Blog
11:00 – Google Hangout with Amber Housely
12:00 – Lunch + UPS store + library (errands)
1:00 – Emails
2:00 – Emails
3:00 – Emails + Prep equipment for session
4:00 – Take care of Winston / ShootQ maintenance
5:00 – Drive to session
6:00 – Engagement Session
7:00 – Engagement Session
8:00 – Dinner / Pack for weekend
9:00 – Pack, catch up with Will
10:00 – Bed!

When I sit down and plan out my day at the beginning of my day, it keeps me on track to accomplish what I need to. Tomorrow, we leave early for a family wedding. I want to make sure everything is planned and accomplished before we leave! For example, I am confident I’ll enjoy my weekend and be fully present with my family if all of my emails are caught up, and if I’m packed tonight instead of rushing around in the morning.

 

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4. Become an Email Ninja
Call me crazy – I don’t care! It really helps me knock out some emails, y’all. I call is my Email Ninja game. Here’s how you play:

Step 1:
Grab a colorful post it note. Write the current time and number of emails in your inbox, then put the sticky at the bottom of your computer screen so it’s constantly in front of you.
Step 2: Put on music (Soundtracks only: no words! The Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack is my favorite email and blog writing music). Turn off all social media and distractions. The only reason you are allowed to get up from your chair is to use the bathroom. THAT’S IT.
Step 3: Answer as many emails as you possible can. Delete all junk mail without even reading the content. Be efficient and as fast as possible. Once you answer an email, FILE it so it’s out of your inbox.
Step 4: Grab that same post it note, and write the current time and number of emails in your inbox at the end of your email ninja game.
If your inbox is at zero, you WIN!
If you reached a goal you set for yourself in a certain amount of time, you WIN!
If you got distracted with social media, you LOSE.
If you got a snack, then started folding laundry, then decided to vacuum, you LOSE. (Been there, done that.)

 

5. Outsource
If your work is simply too much, it’s time to outsource. This is why I love Indie Film Lab! They take care of scanning our images and making them beautiful, which has cut down on our editing time substantially. As my business grew, I knew I had to hire some help. Here are a few ideas on ways you can outsource in your work and your personal life to make the most of your time:

Use a wonderful film lab like Indie Film Lab
Outsource your editing to a photo editor like Indie’s Post. service or one of my faves, Marissa Lynn
Hire an Intern (Not sure if you’re ready? Download this free guide.
Childcare (nanny sharing / day cares / baby sitters / “mama’s helper”)
Laundry (yes – there are local laundry folding services!)
Hire a virtual assistant

 

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6. Work hard, Rest well.
This last point is the WHY behind all of this. It is the most important point of all, actually. It’s the reason I’m passionate about managing my time and resources well! I believe we were created to live life to the full, to give our everything to our work, then to throw ourselves into good and true rest. To be face to face with family and our loved ones – not distracted with work undone or iPhones or Instagram. This can be so difficult in today’s world, but it’s worth fighting for!
Work Hard! How often do we say we are “working,” when really we are distracted, trying to tackle too many things at once, and looking at Instagram or at an online sale during work hours? I’ve been there, friends. It’s still a struggle! But one thing I know to be true: I love the feeling of coming to the end of a day, knowing that I worked hard, stayed focused, and accomplished all that I could for that day. Working hard allows us to truly appreciate good rest.
Rest well, friends. That means taking a weekly Sabbath, turning off social media, reading a book, getting outside, allowing your mind time and space to think and relax. Its good for the soul! This is not always easy to do, especially for entrepreneurs like myself, because there is always work to be done. Can I get an amen? It’s so hard to shut everything down for a day, but when I rest well, I can accomplish more fulfilling and focused work. When I work hard, I can rest well and be 100% present with those I love.

 

Learn more from Nancy Ray:
Blog – nancyrayphotography.com/blog
Nancy Ray Shop – nancyrayshop.com

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Nancy Ray on Time Management : Part One

Business LifeFilmGuest PostInterview June 16, 2016

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I’m going to be honest: time is my weakness. Often, I have a hard time focusing on what’s in front of me. I believe my generation (and especially the generation to follow) are going to have to fight distractions and teach ourselves to focus more than any other. With social media, fast-paced TV, our phones at our fingertips, texting, and constantly scrolling and seeing something new and fresh, it will take more self control than ever to sit and focus on just one thing for a long amount of time.

I will be the first to say I do not have it all together, but I want to keep learning.  I am not always on time – in fact, I’m often late and often distracted. However, I am striving to live fully in the moment, to say no to distractions, to do my best work and to rest well and often.

While I’m not perfect, I do have systems in place that help me manage my time well in my work and home. Over time, I’ve learned a few tips that hopefully will help you too. If you’re like me, you’re ready to be one of those “early people!” You’re ready to finish your day feeling accomplished, rather than incomplete and rushed. We can do this, so let’s dive in together!

I have to start with this rather long excerpt from one of my favorite-ever books, Boundaries. Please stick with me here and read this. You won’t regret it! :

“Many people feel that their time is out of control. They are “eleventh hour people,” constantly on the edge of deadlines. Try as they might, they find the day – every day – getting away from then. There just aren’t enough hours to accomplish their tasks. The word easily doesn’t seem to be part of their personal experience. Some of the time binds these strugglers deal with are these:
• Business meetings
• Luncheon appointments
• Project deadlines
• Church and school activities
• Holiday mailings

… The problem often stems from one more more of the following causes:

1. Omnipotence: These people have unrealistic, somewhat grandiose expectations of what they can accomplish in a given amount of time. ‘No problem – I’ll do it’ is their motto.
2. Overresponsibily for the feelings of others. They think that leaving a party too early wil cause the host to feel abandoned.
3. Lack of realistic anxiety. They live so much in the present that they neglect to plan ahead for traffic, parking the car, or dressing for an outing.
4. Rationalization. They minimize the distress and inconvenience that others must put up with because of their lateness. They think, ‘They’re my friends – they’ll understand.’

The person with undeveloped time self-boundaries ends up frustrating not only others, but himself. He ends the day without the sense that a ‘desire realized is sweet to the soul’ (Prov 13:19). Instead, he is left with unrealized desires, half-baked projects, and the realization that tomorrow will begin with him running behind schedule.”

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The first time I read this section of Boundaries, I felt hope because I identified with it so much. After years of practice, I am no longer “rushing” through life.

If you are ready to take hold of your time, I would suggest trying the following exercises:

Track your time
Map out your ideal week
Plan every day hour by hour
Become an Email Ninja
Outsource
Work Hard, Rest Well

I’ve worked through each exercise in the past 2 years, and they have been invaluable to me! If I may make another suggestion, do NOT try to tackle all of these at once. Try one per week, or one per month even, and see how it works for you. I can confidently say that each of them WILL be worth your time!

In today’s post I’ll be sharing about the first two exercises. Stay tuned tomorrow for the next 4!

 

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1 : Track your Time

Last year, I read 168 Hours and it had such a profound impact on my life. Laura (the author) explains that the very first step to take hold of your time is to simply record how you are currently spending it. Although it seems daunting at first, it is actually quite simple! All you have to do is write down how you spend your time in 30 minute increments. You can see how I tracked my time for an entire month below. I highlighted my “work hours,” so I could realistically see how many hours a week I was working. I could also total my time for exercising, sleeping, hanging out with people I love, reading, etc. It was so enlightening to me! She warned us that we often tend to think we work much more than we actually do. That proved true for me. Here are a few takeaways that I had after doing this exercise:
– I thought I was working 50-60 hours/week, when I worked an average of 40 hours/week.
– It’s important to bundle all errands together once/week to save time driving. Driving can really add up.
– I was spending much more time with friends that I thought I was! We regularly ate dinner with friends and spent time in ministry at church.
– I wanted to spend more hours/week exercising.
– I wanted to spend more hours/week sleeping.
– I wanted to spend less hours/week driving.
– I wanted to be more intentional with how I spend my leisure time.  More baths, walks, and dinners at home. Less piddling at home, TV, and driving.
Here is a Time Log Download if you are up for the challenge!

 

2. Map out your ideal week
This post by Michael Hyatt inspired me to do this for myself, and it’s a game changer. I see in the “big picture,” so creating time blocks was immensely helpful for me! Here is a view of my ideal week. I’m currently in the process of updating it now. As a wedding photographer, it is helpful to update it seasonally. I would encourage you: update it when you need to! It’s like a time budget. It won’t work perfectly the first few months, but you’ll be able to make it work for you after a while if you are committed to trying it. When I do stick to my ideal week, it feels wonderful. But keep in mind: it’s called an IDEAL week for a reason, and life is not always ideal. Life happens! Allow for grace and change. Don’t set your plan so strictly that you don’t allow for the Lord to bring things your way if He wants to.

 

Learn more from Nancy Ray:
Blog – nancyrayphotography.com/blog
Nancy Ray Shop – nancyrayshop.com