How I Found My Inner Voice

When I first started blogging almost officially a year ago, I was nervous about the possibility of people actually looking at my work. I had read and seen so many great blogs I couldn’t imagine trying to jump in. But like all things in life, the way it turned out was nothing like I imagined! This is the story of my inner voice.

Over this first year I really started to learn a lot about myself, and about the work I bring to the table. Photography can be daunting when you are first starting out. You don’t have the best camera on the market or the most expensive lenses. But as an art form, all photographers have something else that doesn’t involve equipment. Style helps put your ideas and inspiration to your own test. Style makes your work unique and your own.

I knew I wanted to do something different with my blog once I came back from my trip to New Orleans. I wouldn’t stand a chance between these lifestyle and fashion bloggers with their own professional photographers and whole team of support behind them. But I did know I could bring something special to the table.

That is when I decided that I wanted to be photoshop free and really develop my own style as down-to-earth and raw. This blog isn’t the story of competition, it’s the real story of the places I go and the things that I see. I am to capture life’s little beautiful moments. Having a style driving me and goals to aspire to are really helping set the tone for 2018. I want to make even greater strides this year

Here are just a few tips to help you develop your own personal style this 2018.

 

What do you want your readers to know?

All bloggers have an end game. The message that you want to get across is also the message you want your work to speak. Some people want to help manage money, document fashion, showcase a certain portfolio of work. Once you have determined you’re final end goal your set up for success.

Incorporate your personal taste.

People like to read work that is passionate, honest, and true-to-self. If you want to make your site full of bright pink lettering and images, go for it! If you think using a very minimal site to house your photos is the way to go, all for it. Find what works for you!

Determine your dislikes.

Self-examination can be the true key to just starting. You know what you want to do with your space, but what you don’t want to do can be just as revealing. This helps keep truthfulness to your work and helps take the stress out of competition.

Make mistakes.

This may be the most important lesson of all. No one is going to get it right the first time. Finding personal style is an ongoing journey that can take time. If something doesn’t work for you, change and change again. Sometimes the hardest failures are the best way to learn.

Christmas in the West Village

I knew on a recent day off that the West Village was the perfect place to explore for some low-key Christmas magic. This holiday season there is a lot to celebrate, and I can’t help but feeling each Christmas gets more special. Hope you all have a wonderful holiday and can’t wait to see what 2018 will bring!

What I Learned in my First Year of Blogging

2017 was a big year for me. I started into a new career that I love, I finally purchased my first camera, and I started this blog! I took my camera to New Orleans, San Francisco, Naples and Greece. I dragged it through subways, parks, over bridges and onto the beach. Overall I can definitely say this year taught me a lot. Here are some of the best things I learned from my first year of blogging.

It’s Hard Work

Blogging can be really hard work. You have to take the time to gather content, sit down to write, work through all of the pictures you take. It definitely hasn’t been easy but has been so rewarding.

Promotion, Promotion, Promotion

Though my blog always has been and always will be mostly for myself, getting readers to actually look through your stuff is much harder than it seems. I think this is also an area that even the most experienced bloggers struggle with. Hopefully 2018 will hold even more venues to get my blog out to viewers!

Website Building is so Rewarding

Building the actual website for me has been the most fun. Though I don’t know ANYTHING about coding or tech (thanks WordPress!) finally seeing the finished product as something tangible and on the internet is so cool.

You’ll Discover a New You

A couple months into my blogging I realized that the initial vision I had for the space changed. I started taking out any edits or photoshopping from my pictures; I actively chose to keep them all raw. Finding that inner voice and style in my photography has been the best part of starting this blog.

Set Realistic Goals

One of the fastest way to reach new milestones with something as daunting as your own personal online website is by goal setting. At the same time, developing voice and audience takes time. Don’t beat yourself up over unrealistic expectations.

Only Publish Passionate Content

This is the most important piece of advice! It doesn’t matter what the topic is, if you are passionate about something then it will shine through in your work. People want to engage with content that has passion behind it.

First Snow in New York City

I know, I know, you guys have missed me. The good news is I’m almost free of my studying and free of Christmas shopping responsibilities! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are ready for a few more months of cold. Winter in New York City can be brutal, but is saved by one thing … SNOW.

The recent snow (which I’m surprised happened so early) reminded me of some gorgeous pictures I shot last year of a snowy East Village I wanted to share for you all. The best part about New York City in the snow is how the whole atmosphere seems to slow down. No racing traffic, no angry pedestrians, parks full of people. Last year my friends and I braved the cold of Central Park amid a huge snow storm for some amazing pictures. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

 

Exploring San Francisco

Being able to escape New York once in awhile is definitely a treat, and a city like San Francisco is the perfect place to do so. Besides that fact that walking can be difficult (I see you hills), this city has everything. Here are some of my favorite places I explored while on a short weekend there.

Mission Thrift

Seated right in the heart of the Mission District this thrift store has a ton of character and definitely was worth seeing. The Mission is also home to the Everlane Lab and a Reformation storefront.

Tartine

This bakery has probably the best croissant I’ve ever eaten. This legendary spot is well known for having decadent cakes and eclair’s also so make a trip here! Tartine Manufactory is the bakery’s restaurant and is relatively nearby the bakery but I didn’t make it there.

Mission Dolores Park

Peaceful, sunny and full of people even on a weekday. This park was the perfect way to end a day of non-stop walking.

Mr. Holmes Bakery

Well-known for their cruffin I had to make a spot here to pick up a few pastries for my family to try. I throughly enjoyed the cruffin. They also come out with a special flavor each day; you never know what you might get!

Jane on Fillmore

I heard so many things about this place before arriving. Jane has an awesome menu and an inviting atmosphere for a perfect lunch. It can get crowded but waiting for a table is so worth it!

Haight-Ashbury Streets

The birthplace of the hippie movement still has a ton of spunk. Lined with trendy thrift stores, record shops and cafes. I loved exploring here with my family. It’s also nearby some awesome parks.

Painted Ladies

What San Francisco trip would be complete without a trip to the iconic Full House setting? The painted ladies are truly awesome but be prepared for the walk up-hill to get to them!

Cliff House

Sure, it may be a huge tourist destination but Cliff House is a really a must-see in my opinion. The views are incredible and is definitely unlike anything we ever get in NYC. Make sure to take a jacket because the winds and fog can get chilly. Catch the sunset here and a few drinks.

Overall my short trip 3-day trip to San Francisco was definitely sweet. This city is large with a ton of things to see so make sure to come hungry and ready for exploring!

Northern California and Wine Country

When glancing at the last time I posted on this blog, I feel ashamed! Over a month ago?! Time definitely gets away from me at moments.

It has been a busy fall for me. The heat has been distracting since it still felt like early September for most of October, so maybe I’ve almost forgotten what season we are in. Work is ramping up as I am studying for a new certification which will not only make me more knowledgable but hopefully springboard me into the next big opportunity.

Luckily I was able to get away and visit my brother who is currently a California resident for the semester somewhere near Sacramento! We got to explore San Francisco, Sonoma County (wine country) and some of Northern California.

I definitely would recommend the places we went to for wine tasting: Kendall-Jackson, Clos du Bois, and Francis Coppola winery. Kendall-Jackson had beautiful gardens and a gorgeous tasting room. Francis Coppola even had an outdoor pool and bar with an inside museum (he’s a really famous movie producer).

Northern California is beautiful and it’s so sad to know that so many people were hurt and lost their homes in the fires. As we drove we could see scorched hills and burned trees. Employees at the wineries spoke of stories of losing their homes, or their neighbors homes. There are many ways you can still help the victims, now that the fires are contained (but still burning). Visit this page to learn how you can help!

Traveling Greece: Athens Photo Essay

Despite the mixed reviews we had from others, Athens was a nice surprise at the end of our Greek vacation. The Old City which is where the Acropolis sits directly in the middle of is full of beautiful white washed houses with terra-cotta plated roofs. Graffiti lines the streets in the most beautiful arrays of color. Cafes and tavernas dot the streets and keep it loud enough to not feel empty.

The National Gardens are a nice shady respite from the blaring heat of the sun of this city. The neighborhood of Monastiraki which lies close by has tons of restaurants, and a huge outdoor market.

Here is a sprinkle of some of my favorite photos from Athens. Hope you enjoy!

Verb Products for the Perfect Air-Dry Hair

When it comes to hair, I have always had a love/hate relationship with mine. The extremely thick, wavy and frizzy texture that sits atop my head rarely decided to cooperate throughout most of my life. I was that girl that, even after a good hour of blowout, walks out the door to find immediate pouf and waves despite how stick straight I worked it (hello 90s).

I had seemed to try everything. Hairspray galore, drugstore creams that claimed to solve all my problems, keratin infused shampoos. Nothing seemed to help until I changed the way I approached the whole act of washing and taking care of my hair. And of course, from finding the perfect products.

This post is going to detail the in’s and out’s of my hair and how I manage it to let it air-dry most days of the week.

The Foundation

It’s important to note that my hair is color treated (highlighted) and because I live a very active lifestyle I wash more often than I should. I wash my hair about every other day and sometimes every day. The naturally frizzy and wavy texture means it is drier than most to begin with, not to mention the frequent washing and lightener which help to dry it out.

In The Shower

I use Verb Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner daily on my hair. The formulas are rich but weightless and won’t make my hair greasy. To make matters more complicated, I walk a tight balance between greasy top and dry ends. When I shampoo I mostly apply the formula to my roots only, and I apply the conditioner mostly to my ends only. No exceptions to this rule.

Once a week I use the Verb Hydrating Mask to help add even more hydration and lock in moisture for the week. I don’t skimp out on this and use it all over my head (roots included) and let it set for about 30 min before washing it out. The formula is amazingly weightless.

Out of The Shower

It’s important to use a microfiber towel, and though I have not upgraded yet I want to also invest in silk pillowcases for sleeping. On the days that I haven’t used the Hydrating Mask, I apply a combination of a dime size of Verb Styling Cream plus two pumps of Verb Ghost Oil mixed together from roots to ends of my hair.

Overall, I really think the key to letting your natural texture shine through is being able to accept who you are. Sure, your hair isn’t going to lay right every day but isn’t that the amazing part about it? Your natural waves, crazy as they may be, tell a story about who you are as a person. And that is the best part of all.

I Tried The Ordinary’s Serums

I want to preface this by saying: I used to know very little about serums, acids, toners, and the like. All of the skincare regimens these days (thanks Korea) involve so many steps and products it can make my head spin. The one morning I woke up after a particularly exhausting week and just felt like my skin knew it too. I felt dry and dull, and knew I could do something to step up my game to prevent this next time. And, in comes The Ordinary.

For those of you who are considered skincare moguls, you probably have already heard of this line. For me, it was my first time reading about the Canadian brand and it all seemed too good to be true. The Ordinary is a brand under the DECEIM umbrella of beauty companies.

What I love is that the products are meant to cut out the noise of high-end packaging, marketing, etc to just bring you the down and dirty: pure scientific ingredients that are proven to work. They want to bring quality concentrated products to the market without over-inflating price and are fully transparent about what you are getting for your money.

I knew enough about what I was looking for to pick out four different serums to try and share for all of you. I never in my life would have thought I ordered four serums at once, but wait until you see these prices. The most expensive serum I purchased was around $12, and most were around $5. I use them after cleansing and before moisturizing once, sometimes twice, a day. Let’s talk about what I picked and why.

Ascorbyl Glucoside Solution 12%    $12.90

Many popular skincare brands offer Vitamin C serums due to it’s well-known benefits. Vitamin C has been known to have anti-aging properties and helps to fight dullness and evens tone of the skin. The Ordinary offers several types of Vitamin C solutions, but this one in particular I picked because it is easy for beginners (make sure to read up on why before buying a product with high concentrations of Vitamin C).

The serum itself is watery and cooling to the touch. Be careful not to use too much in order to not appear greasy afterwards! A few drops goes a long way. Overall I really enjoy using this serum. It can be used AM or PM and after consistent use it does seem to brighten my skin tone (or maybe that’s the good night’s sleep).

Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5    $6.80

Probably the most recognizable name of the products, Hyaluronic Acid is advertised everywhere these days even in many drugstore products (I see you, Olay). Able to hold up to 1,000 times it’s weight in water, this molecule is super hydrating and is considered one of the best. I have always fought with dry skin and so this serum was a no-brainer purchase for me.

This formula is more gel-like and isn’t too watery. Out of all of these serums, I like how this one feels on my skin the best. It’s fast absorbing and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy. After a week straight of using this product (AM or PM), I can definitely tell I am not running for my lotion nearly as often.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%    $5.90

I hadn’t heard of these active ingredients before researching, but probably because I don’t suffer from oily or acne prone skin on a regular basis. Particularly at certain times of the month or after long stressful weeks I will tend to break out. This serum is used to help control redness and reduce blemishes. It actually works by controlling sebum production in the skin and reduces the appearance of pores, while Zinc helps with redness.

This serum is probably the most impressive of the bunch. I like to use it at night (it makes your skin feel tight), but one application over my entire face before bed and I wake up the next day with visibly reduced blemishes. I honestly haven’t seen anything work this well for acne before!

Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG    $6.70

“It’s like coffee for your eyes!” I swear I’ve seen some sort of slogan like this on Pinterest somewhere. Many home remedies for eye masks include adding coffee grounds in to reap the benefits of caffeine for eye puffiness and dark circles. The Ordinary supports this research as well with this eye serum!

I have mixed feelings about this serum. You have to be careful applying it because it is slightly watery and getting it into your eyes will burn. On the bright side, the instant feeling on your skin is that of energy and awake-ness so I love applying it before work. Hard to say yet whether or not it really is reducing my dark circles (they are big) but I will keep using this in the hopes of a change!

Traveling Greece: Naxos

After we headed out to Mykonos, our second stop on our Greek journey was to the island of Naxos. This gorgeous island is the largest in the Cyclades island group and is only a short hour ride by ferry from Mykonos. It ended up being the perfect balance between the lively and super touristy island we had just left.

You step off the ship to see the Temple of Apollo sitting there on the hillside, its arch watching over the entire town. It sticks out from the mainland into the water on this little peninsula surrounded by beautiful blue ocean. It’s no wonder the ancient Greek’s picked the spot! It made for amazing pictures, and crowds lined up to see the sunset from the top at night.

Naxos Town

The town of Naxos is so fun! Though much smaller than Mykonos and quaint, it really had a lot to offer. The road that runs along the water is lined with shops and restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars. Families wander through the downtown every night of the week. Soccer (football) plays on outdoor screens at cafes, with lounge chairs and couches and strong espresso. Octopus hang on strings outside the restaurants just waiting to be picked by you to eat. It really is amazing.

Head up the side roads, and you’ll soon find steep narrow winding alleyways and quaint shops leading up to the castle of the town. It has been renovated into a walking museum of sorts and has some beautiful architecture hidden away inside.

It’s safe to say we were enchanted right away by this island. The hotel we picked ended up being perfect here also. Aeolis Boutique Hotel was situated just outside of downtown which made us feel like we really lived amongst the Greeks for our two short nights here.

Beaches

Naxos luckily has a fully functioning bus system, and for 3 euro we were able to jump on for a short drive over to Plaka beach which was highly recommended. These beaches are much less touristy than Mykonos. We went around 6pm to a mostly empty beach and stayed to enjoy our own private sunset on the water. Couldn’t have been more beautiful!

Overall

Naxos was the perfect compliment to Mykonos and I would highly recommend. You could even spend more days here than we did and do some of the bus tours or boating excursions the island has to offer. The quaint but lively town offered us the perfect view into true Greek island life.