What Headshot Background Should I Have?

posted on: March 31, 2014

The background for your headshot or portrait helps to establish a mood and atmosphere that provides subtle suggestions about you, your work, and your style.  To help you decide which background would be best for you, here are a few things to take into consideration:

How Will Your Portrait Be Used Most Often?

Does this photo need to blend into a website, conference poster, online directory, or anything else which requires a standardized look?  If so, white or plain colored are backdrops often used to create a consistent look on a website or in a directory of other professionals.  If you already have a website that your image needs to be standardized with, it would be good to share the site in advance with your photographer so that they can also choose the appropriate lighting for you and your background.  Lighting alone can be used to create a mood and feeling for your portrait, and it's important that this lighting be carefully considered by a professional when using a plain background.

Does this photo need to quickly and clearly communicate something about the person or an  experience or feeling that isn't directly apparent otherwise?  If so, carefully choosing an environmental background is going to be the fastest method to communicate an intent most clearly to the viewer.  Magazines, news publications, and small business websites often benefit most from portraits that provide more context and information about the person in the portrait, so that the image itself can tell a story about a person before any further information is given.

Health Coach Headshot - DawnKelli's Headshot

Environmental Background:

Benefits: Environmental portraits can be taken indoors, outdoors, during the day, or at night and help provide a context, situation, or scenario that the viewer can identify with beyond making assumptions from hairstyle and clothing alone.  For example, showing a female in a workout outfit on white might suggest a studio yoga instructor to one person or a runner to another, but putting her in the context of a gym with weights will help more clearly identify her as a personal trainer.  Seeing a man in a suit on a grey background might suggest a general business person, but when photographed in the context of a courtroom or library can more easily suggest a lawyer.  A happy face in an urban environment suggests something different than a happy face in a beach environment.  Subtle clues are provided by environmental context that can help a portrait more clearly and easily communicate a role, career, or context for working with someone that cannot be easily achieved with plain backgrounds in the studio, which is why environmental backgrounds are often used in magazine and news contexts.  Environmental backgrounds can be found anywhere and allow for a variety of lighting methods.

Drawbacks: Not all environments are ideal for photography and some may produce distracting elements that take the attention off of the portrait if not photographed carefully.  It's important to work with an experienced professional who can carefully craft an image in an environment that keeps the attention focused on the portrait itself while still using the background as a true secondary element in the image.  This is the easiest type of portrait for many people to take, but the hardest to make look professional if you don't know the subtleties and art of portrait photography.

Where It Shows Up Most: Editorial magazine features, newspaper articles, small business portraits, modeling portfolios, executive portraits, and actor headshots.

Suburbia Headshots for UML Off Broadway Players

Marta Sinclair - Author Headshot

Plain Colored Background:

Benefits: Colored backgrounds can help suggest a mood without suggesting a specific context, and can be used to help highlight and flatter different skin/eye/hair tones in a portrait.  Color psychology can be applied to help attract the right audience or generate desired feelings about the person in the portrait.  A colored background creates a natural frame around an image that is less likely to blend into the white page of a magazine or online article.  A wide variety of lighting techniques can be used to achieve a great portrait against a colored background.

Drawbacks: Colors can often be tied to certain periods of time and may help date the image over time (but this is no more dramatic than hairstyles and clothing).  Colors can repel certain people as easily as they attract others.  Clothing choices may need to be chosen carefully to avoid blending or clashing with a background color.

Where It Shows Up Most: Fashion advertising, actor headshots, modeling portfolios, small business portraits, corporate headshots, and printed directories.

Singer Headshot - Sara


Doug Personal Lifestyle Portrait

High Key White Background:

Benefits: A completely clean white background can be versatile in many different contexts and helps keep the attention of the image focused completely on the person being photographed.  A true white background can create a borderless look when placed on a white page in websites, conference booklets, annual reports, and presentation posters.  If used against a dark page or background, the high key white will help the headshot pop off the page by creating a high contrast and brightness point to draw the eye.  High key white offers the most consistency when paired with other high key white portraits photographed by different photographers or at different times..

Drawbacks: Portrait may come across as sterile or institutional due to the lack of context.  Provides no additional mood or clues for the viewer.  May create a surreal "floating head" effect if used the wrong way on a white page.  May require additional lighting on location or studio expenses to achieve the high-key look.

Where It Shows Up Most: Stock photography, corporate portraits, and online directories.

Citi Center HeadshotCiti Center Headshot

Get The Best Profile Photo Possible

posted on: March 26, 2014

As a photographer, I'm always aiming to create images that help people sell themselves or their product online.  I love that Photo Feeler, a site for testing your profile photo against the metrics identified below, recently did a study on how different elements of a photo help or hurt your chances (see info graphic following).  I know that I've experienced the effects of a good or bad photo online when being chosen to be hired for a job and especially in the online dating world where all you get is a 2D image and a bit of text to make a decision to meet someone in person or not!  Whether we like it or not, our online image is often the first impression that people have of us, and sometimes it's the only impression they get if that impression isn't favorable right off the bat!  If you see that your profile pic suffers from some of the drawbacks researched below and you haven't been able to nail it on your own, get in touch with me to schedule a profile photo update soon!  If I can't help you, I'll help you find someone who can!

The Perfect Profile Photo Infographic

Unhappiness Happens - Gratitude Journal #14

posted on: March 25, 2014

I'm generally an optimistic person, but there are times in my life when I forget what it means to be happy.  As a child, I found happiness in the most random places,  "Mom, check this out- what a cool looking bug!"  As an adult I may be more likely to say, "Ack!  A bug!  Kill it!"  When did that innocent delight in the smallest oddity turn into disgust?

Remember to be kind to yourself and others

While wisdom brings lessons of being safer and protecting ourselves from danger, we must be careful not to squash our inner child.  

I fully admit to regularly pulling the sarcasm card and being very jaded by things like celebrity, expensive toys, and even the hype that comes with the neighborhood I'm currently living in.  However, if I'm too cynical, and if I forget to appreciate or take delight in the small things, than nothing becomes satisfying anymore, and I become unhappy about everything and anything.  This is why, even if we have everything we want, we can still be incredibly unhappy.  I was there once, and it really sucked to have everything I wanted and still be deeply unsatisfied, because at that point, there's no where else to go but down.

Happiness doesn't exist in the ownership of luxury items, and happiness isn't something that happens after you've obtained a college degree, the next level in your career, the first child in your family, a bigger home, that purse you've been wanting, or a new puppy.  Happiness is a choice and a decision.  It's a feeling that you cultivate or squash with every thought.  Expressing judgement, sarcasm, anger, hate, fear- all of these feelings will squash happiness in an instant.  While expressing gratitude, generosity, empathy, hope, and love will all lead to greater happiness, almost instantly.

Unconditional happiness means not putting off your happiness or expecting it to happen at some other point in time.  Not waiting on someone or something else to happen before you decide you'll finally be happy.

Instant Me Time

Happiness is a choice to love everything as it is right now.  

Happiness is wanting what you already have.  It's recognizing that you are in control of what you say yes to and what you choose to surround yourself with.  It's an acknowledgment that you are enough, just as you are right now.  It's a realization that this part of your journey, no matter how difficult, is just as rich, meaningful, and full of abundance as any other part of your past or future.

If we refuse to be unhappy, regardless of our circumstance, we become creative about ways we can make our self happy no matter where we are.

I am grateful for the times when I have forgotten how to feel happy, because it helps me know that something is out of balance in how I'm perceiving the world at large.  Once I can recognize that I'm being unhappy, it's my reminder that I'm forgetting to be grateful, generous, empathetic, hopeful, and loving.  Unhappiness is my reminder to nurture my inner child by taking delight in the smallest things and finding ways to have fun right here and now without the need for anything else to change.  When I can recognize that I'm being unhappy, than I can remember what I need to do to get back to that place of unconditional happiness.  Sharing this gratitude journal with you is just one of the things that helps remind me of what happiness is- openness and kindness with myself and the world at large- and if you have a gratitude journal, I'd love to read yours as well!

{If you appreciated this post, please join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing YOUR OWN GRATITUDE JOURNAL and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

How to Create a Large Group Photo of All Guests at Wedding

posted on: March 20, 2014

Large Group Wedding Photo 7

If I could only do one posed photo during a wedding, I'd want it to be a large group shot of all the guests.  After all, celebrating with the friends and family who love and support your marriage is the whole reason for having a wedding and not just running to city hall for a marriage license!  That being said, a large group shot of all the guests is often one of the most challenging images to create on the wedding day without turning it into a huge production- but after doing it for so many of my wedding couples, I can definitely say that there are several ways to make it easier and low-stress for everyone involved.

1. Decide on a Time & Location When Guests Are Already Gathered Together
Often, the most ideal time is immediately after the ceremony has ended, but before people have started to leave.  While I have done arrangements during the reception that involved everyone crowding on the dance floor, or going outside to get a shot from a balcony, by far the most convenient arrangement is getting people right after the ceremony.

Large Group Wedding Photo 5

2. Find a High Point To Shoot From, Tiered Steps, or a Natural Slope for Gathering Guests
The absolute easiest arrangement is shooting from a balcony at the back of a church or hotel ballroom and simply asking the guests to turn around and look up at the photographer.  The second easiest option is asking guests to file out onto the steps of a natural exit point from the ceremony.  The most chaotic, but possible in a pinch, is asking guests to move to a completely different location together where there's a natural slope in a hill, or where the photographer can get a higher vantage point with a ladder over flat ground.  The more traveling and set-up involved means additional time for chaos to ensue before the image can be created, and the more chaotic it gets, the harder it is to rein it back in.

Large Group Wedding Photo 4

3. Decide How It Will Be Lit
Lighting is often figured out after the location is selected because we have more viable lighting options than we do location options.  However, in the case of an outdoor image, you need to be aware of any surrounding trees that might create dappled light and whether the guests could be looking into the sun or if they'll be in full shade.  If the set-up is indoors, is there a ceiling that a flash can be bounced off of to help spread a small flash?  Is the room lighting sufficient, or can it be turned all the way up by a lighting tech person after the ceremony has finished to help with the group shot?  Will any additional lights need to be set up in advance to cover the crowd?  A professional photographer will know and understand how to light this group shot in advance.

4. Prepare Guests With An Announcement Before It Happens
While an announcement in your wedding program is a nice way to prepare guests for this super awesome group shot, it's best if the wedding officiant can make an announcement with basic instructions about what to do before the couple actually walks down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.

Large Group Wedding Photo 1

5. Get Important People In Front
The couple, the wedding party, and the immediate family should all be in the front row of the image so that they take center stage in the image and don't get lost in the large crowd of guests.  This is often facilitated by simply having the couple, wedding party, and family members exit at the end of the ceremony as they normally would, and then return to the room at the back or file at the front of the steps with room for people to fill in behind them.

6. Check for Hidden Faces
Some people assume that if they can see the photographer with one eye, the photographer can see their whole face.  That might work for peek-a-boo, but not for this group shot.  Short people hidden in back rows or behind taller people can either easily be asked to move to the outside edge of the very same row, or to the front with little hassle to the rest of the crowd.  If you have time and space to ask tall people to move to the back, that's another quick and effective way to sort the crowd since most of those people know who they are and have been moving to the back row since middle-school (I'm a back-row regular myself.)

Large Group Wedding Photo 2

7. Encourage Everyone to Move In Closer Together
Our natural tendency is to have some personal space around us, but that makes for very sloppy looking group photos, especially when it's such a large group of people.  I've found that by asking guests to give the couple a group hug by getting as close as possible to their neighbor, reminding them that everyone is friends and family here, they become a little more willing to relax their personal space barriers and guards against being shoulder to shoulder with other people.

8. Count Down but Shoot On Every Count
A count down (3...2...1...) is nice for people who are sensitive to light, people who have a tendency to blink a lot, or just for letting people know that you actually need them to pay attention.  However, one of my secret moves is that I actually start shooting on 2 and I keep shooting after the final count.  It's best to prepare guests in advance by telling them that you're going to take multiple attempts at the group so that they don't start to disperse after just one count down.  Two or three count downs are generally all that's needed if multiple images are snapped during each count down.  Another body language clue to keep in mind and help the crowd understand that you're not done yet is keeping the camera up to your face rather than bringing it down to preview the shot.

Large Group Wedding Photo 6

9. Remember that Perfection is Impossible
There is nothing perfect about humanity, and when you put a large group of humans together, you're going to get a lot of imperfection.  You may take over 20 images of that large group and every single one will have something wrong with it regarding a person who isn't looking at the camera, someone important who blinked, or that awkward moment when someone opened their mouth to say something to the person next to them.  While there is PhotoShop when absolutely necessary, only so much swapping of heads, mouths, and eyes can be reasonably expected before you end up with a group of people who look like science experiments.  It's better to simply allow for a certain amount of imperfection and reality, rather than expecting something that isn't humanly possible.

Quick Summary of Tips:

- Decide how many rows of people you’ll have
- Decide how many people that places in each row (estimate 2ft for each person)
- Decide how you’ll be elevated or they’ll be stacked or standing/kneeling/sitting to see all faces
- Decide what kind of pose is most appropriate based on the use of the photo (for example, don’t have professionals in dresses sitting on the ground, but families in casual or sport clothing may be OK)
- Decide who needs to appear in the front row or most visible row for priority reasons
- Decide how you’ll get tall people to the back and short people to the front
- Make sure the group won’t be looking into the sun, or you’ll get squinty eyes
- Some people may have transition lenses that look like sunglasses, talk about this with the client in advance and find out how they feel about not people looking like they’re wearing sunglasses
- Confirm the details of the group shot with any coordinators or organizers for the day so they can help
- Speak loudly and remind everyone to look at you

- Make sure your aperture is at least F/8 and focused in the second row of people
- Make sure your shutter is at least 1/80th or faster of a second to avoid blur from movement
- 24mm Lens should be enough lens width if you have enough room, if you were in a small room or space you’d go wider, if you were shooting from a field into grandstands, you'd go tighter
- Take a ridiculous number of frames
- Count down between shots but keep shooting in between counts

Did you appreciate these tips?  Do you have any other questions?  Let me know by leaving a comment!

Photo Tip: Using a Tilt-Shift Lens on Washington Square

posted on: March 11, 2014

One of my favorites images from this weekend was tilting the focal plane to focus all the way up 5th Ave from Washington Square....
(I don't do many art prints, but I love this one so much that if you'd like a copy, contact me with the size you'd like and I'll send you a paypal invoice for your own special edition signed print. ;-))


The Tilt-Shift lens was originally designed to simulate what a bellows can do on a large format camera, which has historically been used most often in architectural photography, but with DSLRs this technique has also gained popularity for use as special effect photography, like miniaturizing a scene from above with a shallow plane of focus not usually possible at such focal distances.


If you haven't used a Tilt-Shift lens before, here are some basic tips of how you might use it:

What Does Shifting Do?
The "Shift" allows the camera to get a vantage point higher and lower, or further right and left than the actual camera position, without moving the camera.  This is great for when you're at the top of your tri-pod but just need a little extra vantage point, or you're on a rooftop and need your vantage point to be just a little lower without hanging your camera from a ledge.  It's also ideal for creating panoramic images when shifting from side to side and stitching together later without needing to do any additional barrel distortion corrections, because it's basically just adding width to either end of the lens.  This can also help in situations where there's street traffic in front of a building, you can shift your vantage point up to basically eliminate it from the frame without cutting off the bottom of the building.

What Does Tilting Do?
The tilt's main objective is to tilt the focal plane from being parallel to the sensor, to being at an angle from the sensor.  At the extremes of the tilt spectrum, you can end up with a thin line of focus to infinity in just one slice of your image at a much lower f-stop than is possible without a tilt lens.  Most often now the tilt function is used to blur distracting elements that would normally fall on the same plane as a subject, or create the miniature images from focal distances that generally don't make a shallow depth of field possible.  The images in this post and yesterday's were mostly using the Tilt function to create different planes of focus.

Can You Tilt and Shift at the Same Time?
While it's possible to both Tilt and Shift at the same time, the results really aren't going to be as great as if you're just using one function rather than both at the same time because with every exaggerated movement, you're also creating more distortion in the image and letting more light into the camera.  There's a little metal button on the side of the lens that you push to spin the lens element into portrait or landscape mode depending on how you want to tilt or shift the lens- you can even tilt or shift at a diagonal if you'd like, and the lens element will lock the lens in where you'd like.

How Do You Focus a TS Lens?
Because of the mechanics of the lens, there's no auto-focus capability.  You must manually focus the lens and use your eye as a gauge for sharpness with confirmation from your camera's AF points.  Unlike other lenses, you can generally see what's going to be in focus right in the lens, however it can be slightly difficult to distinguish exactly how much will be on the plane of focus depending on your aperture, which is why you should know your focal length math for greatest accuracy.

How Do You Get Accurate Exposures with a TS Lens?
Anytime you tilt or shift the lens, there are light leaks into the lens and the sensor, which means that your camera's meter won't read correctly when you're shifted or tilted.  You can get the closest exposure with your in-camera light meter when the tilt and the shift are set to "0" on the lens- at which point you would set your exposure settings in Manual mode before tilting or shifting to retain proper exposure.

What TS Lens Focal Length Should I Use?
Tilt-Shift lenses only come in prime focal lengths due to the mechanical structure, so if you're going to be using one, you'll need to choose the best focal length for your needs.  The images I've shared here are all from a Canon 45mm TS-E lens which works best if you have some distance between you and your subject, or are using it for more street photography, full size portraits, or product photography.  I've used this lens to get all the flowers down the aisle of a dark church in focus at f/2.8, but it's not wide enough to photograph the Chrysler building when you're on the same street.  The 17mm would be the ideal lens for dramatic sweeping landscape images or shooting ridiculously tall buildings from one street away, the 24mm would be great for interior architecture or photographing smaller buildings and exteriors like homes, and the 90mm would be best for macro or small product photography.  One tip for finding images taken with a particular lens is to search the Flickr catalog of images by the lens name.  There's often either a group dedicated to featuring the lens, or the lens info will show up in the EXIF metadata of images.

Want a little more explanation?  Here are some decent YouTube videos on the topic:

Demonstration of using the Tilt-Shift Lens:

Demonstration of creating a DIY bellows for Tilt-Shift effect:

New York City: Winter Weekend in Union Square

posted on: March 10, 2014

After weeks of relentless below freezing weather, we finally had a Saturday above 50ºF and everyone wanted to be outside and soak up the sunshine.  I had already blocked the day off in my calendar for myself so I decided to have some fun shooting with my 45mm Tilt-Shift lens, which rarely gets used. These were some of my favorite candid captures of people enjoying the time to relax outside...








Check back tomorrow for more Tilt-Shift images and some tips on how to use a Tilt-Shift lens!

Not Knowing What You Want To Be When You Grow Up - Gratitude Journal #13

posted on: March 9, 2014

I felt like the questions about what I wanted to be when I grew up started much earlier than they should have, like 5th grade when my room was still covered in stuffed animals.  I never knew how to answer that daunting question and for the longest time I would just shrug my shoulders and give an "I don't know" look.  In high school the question was being asked much more frequently, so I started testing different answers to see how people would respond.  It became blatantly clear that people didn't take me very seriously when I said I wanted to be a singer or an actress, despite the fact that I was one of the most active students in choirs, bands, and theatre productions- often singing solos, getting lead parts, or making first chair.

To my parents credit, they never discouraged me when I shared dreams of being a performer and they always told me that I can do anything I set my mind to doing.  It was all the other adults that were silently giving me that pat smile that said "oh, that's a nice dream honey, but what will you do for a career?"  Sometimes those words even made it out of their mouths and into my brain.  So, I tested telling people things like "Teacher" or "Lawyer" and found that the responses were always well-received without question or doubt, which slowly defined for me what people considered acceptable career options for me.

Some of the greats, painted by Rico Fonseca #publicart #nyc #greenwichvillage #streetart
(all images in this post are iPhone pics from my instagram feed)

Looking back now, I can see where they were coming from and the fact that they were just viewing the world through their local lens and limitations.  I lived in Michigan at the time, home of automotive manufacturing where very few full-time artists existed in any industry.  Creative pursuits were hobbies or side jobs for people, but not really professions.  In high school I dreamed of going to Julliard, but because I was pretty much living on my own and working a regular job by the time the applications were due, mine never got filled out.  With the doubts of so many "wise adults" rattling around in my head and confusing me on what I should do next, I shoved my dreams aside in favor of something more practical: time at a community college where I could figure things out while I still worked and lived on my own.

I was already working as a supervisor in a bookstore, so I enrolled in a business marketing and management program, enjoyed all the marketing psychology classes, but rolled my eyes at how common sense some of the management material was, and was utterly confused by a professor who decided to teach accounting through the division of pigs and cows into different cuts of meat without providing numbers I could apply to any other business.

I landed great jobs in the communications industry and financial services industry even before I even finished my degree and soon realized that I never wanted to be my boss or my bosses boss- so what was I doing on this marketing and management career path?!  I made great money for a 21 year old and held a position that my colleagues had gone to school and received MBA degrees for- but I knew that if I wasn't happy when everything was going just fine and I was making great money- I wasn't going to be happier in 5 years doing the same thing.

Don't think I'd try to open this door I those snakes were real #nyc #door #detail #architecture #latergram

"What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"

This question had flashed across my computer screen.  I really don't even know how it got there or where it came from, but the question hit me hard, right in the heart.  My first thought was of the Broadway theatre dream I'd left behind, but with a little more perspective on the real world I was living in and distance from all of my creative pursuits in school, I decided I didn't want to live in a tiny NYC apartment (ironic how that one turned out) and spend all of my time worrying about my next audition or how I would pay the bills between gigs, so the next best thing I could think of in Michigan was becoming a music teacher.

It had been four years since I'd performed anything as a singer or as an instrumentalist on flute, and I was worried I might not even have the chops for an audition.  I did two voice lessons to get some feedback on my audition pieces and the private teacher had zero feedback for me saying that I was already heads above her other students, so I just went for it.  I left 4 years of business school and experience behind, and went into a 5 year music education program and started to pursue something that I really loved, but also seemed safe enough that my family wouldn't need to worry about me.  I knew I was working toward a fall-back career, but this time the degree was a necessity for the job which somehow made me feel better about paying for it and investing time in it, but I had no idea what else I was capable of at the time, so music school kept me mentally challenged and engaged in something I loved while I continued to figure it all out.

While I was doing what I loved in my second round of college education, I was still working all sorts of different jobs outside of school, trying out everything that caught my eye.  I became a professional singer and sight-reader for a choir- which was something I'd never considered before and was a doorway that opened from taking the music education journey.  I gave educational tours and helped prepare grants for a historical mansion- also something I'd never considered before.  I worked as a professional model- and I'm still not even sure how or why that one happened, but it did pay well and gave me a small taste of what life was like being an independent contractor.  I helped administer and teach a creative performing arts camp- which was probably the closest thing to teaching music before my actual student teaching assignment turned into a full-time substitute music teacher position.  Have you noticed that no where in these paragraphs have I even mentioned considering PHOTOGRAPHY as a CAREER?!?

That's right.  The career I've had for almost 10 years now as a photographer was no where on my radar at the age of 5, 10, 15, 18, or even 22 when all those people were asking me what I wanted to do for a living.  I taught myself everything about photography by reading, experimenting, and journaling my process while trying to create personal art for my own walls.  I never received formalized education in photography- and even if it had been available, it just never seemed like something that appealed to me, but I had taken many different types of art classes over the course of my life and even did a 3rd grade science fair project on optical illusions of perspective, color, negative space, and line.

Empire Framed #nyc #midtown #empirestate #architecture

The professional photographers I was aware of growing up either faced guns and violence because they were documenting scary stuff for the news, or make me feel really uncomfortable and awkward when they would take my school or church portrait.  The guy who did my modeling portfolio really creeped me out and none of the photographers I met made the job seem any more fun, interesting, or passionate than serving up food in a cafeteria (no offense to cafeteria workers who love feeding people for a living.)  All of those perceptions changed when I met a bunch of different wedding photographers while planning our wedding.  Finally, I met people who were being creative doing what they loved, and for the most part, doing it on their own terms in a variety of different ways!  However, I still had no intentions of actually becoming a photographer- I just thought it was cool that they got to do what they loved and make a career out of it.

Sharing my own photography with others started as a way for me to help my fellow students with their recital posters, audition pictures, and modeling portfolios, along with documenting major tours with our choir and turning the images into slideshows and albums.  I gave my friends photo gifts from images I'd taken at their wedding because it was basically the only thing I could afford at the time, but those images ended up in large wall collage frames or photo albums that went on coffee tables, and eventually that led to photographing my first paid wedding, which quickly turned into many weddings and a full time career as a self-employed photographer and small business owner!  It still baffles me how it all happened so quickly that I didn't even have time to reconsider any of what was going on.

A few years ago, I would have thought this was a dumb notion, and completely disregarded it. Now I understand.  It's such a fine line that we walk between going after big goals and crafting a life as we imagine it, and yet being fully embracing and accept

There were no other people in my family that served as a model of self-employment or small business ownership (except perhaps my maternal grandfather, a veterinarian who died before I was old enough to really know him.)  There were no other full-time artists in my family that served as a model for being a freelancer.  I had my background experience in everything BUT what I was now being called to do on a full time basis.  It was sink or swim and all my entrepreneurial experience and learning happened on the job, in real time, in make it or break it situations.  Yes, there were many things I was unprepared for before they happened, but I was always up front and honest about my experiences and remained willing to take a risk and try something outside of my comfort zone to see if it felt right.

I'm grateful for all the things I had to figure out on my own, for all the different jobs that taught me who I didn't want to be, for the failures that helped me realize when I didn't want something bad enough to fight for it, for the successes that taught me what came more naturally to me than others, and for a heart, mind, and soul that refuses to stick with something if I'm not completely in love with it.  I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up, but I've learned that by focusing on what makes me happy to show up and do the work and adapting to new opportunities by being open to change is far more valuable and important than planning ahead and expecting things to go a certain way.

So, if you find yourself at the age of 20, 35, 50, or 65 wondering what you're going to be when you grow up... just focus on what makes you happy or excited today, right now, and don't worry about where it will lead or what the outcome will be.  If you don't feel a defined direction in your life, than your task is to explore and discover more about yourself through following your passions.  Your heart knows when something feels good because it relaxes and opens up, so follow that feeling wherever it leads you and learn to enjoy the journey of self-discovery and service to the world at large.  You may not know what's around the next turn, but if you're doing things that make you happy and enjoying different ways of serving others, than you're exactly where you need to be right now.  Trust that this will all eventually lead to the wisdom you need, but don't allow the pressures of society or other people's expectations stunt your exploration process.

{If you appreciated this post, please share with those you think could benefit as well and join me in my journey to have a greater positive impact on the world by writing YOUR OWN GRATITUDE JOURNAL and sharing it or a link to it in the comments below. I would love to read your moments of gratitude and share them with others!}

LOVE IT: Farideh Ceaser Music Videos for Business

posted on: March 8, 2014

Once in a while, you come across someone that's just so awesome you have to blog about it.  Today, that is Farideh Ceaser, taking what we think in our heads and turning it into a song.  I don't think I need to say anymore because she won't need any further introduction after this goes viral..

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