I say it a lot, but I just don’t know where the time has gone. How is it that I have an almost six-year-old daughter?
Yesterday, we had dance recital pictures. I didn’t get to photograph and document as much of the getting ready process as I wanted. Documenting yourself and your fidgety daughter on a time crunch is hard. But we had a blast. We belted out songs while I curled Evey’s hair, and we played with some make up, before going to Bob Morgan’s Portrait Studio.
After her studio photos, Evey and I went down the street and had our own mini lifestyle photography party. I cannot express how much fun I had watching her prance around in her costume, showing me her sweet dance moves and being a giant goofball. It was a spur of the moment, off-the-cuff sort of photography session but man did we have an amazing time. We stayed out playing until the sun went down. And I honestly couldn’t ask for a better way to spend a Friday night. Nothing is better than quality time with my favorite tiny person. I hope you enjoy these images as much as we do!
I try to keep the habit of giving myself photography related ‘homework’ each week, and in that sense, this week was no different. However, this week, I wanted to create galleries on my site, so there was more than just the blog aspect. I also wanted to do it myself, with as little help as possible, which meant navigating new territory in WordPress for me.
This was my first real foray in creating more than a simple blog post, so I was a bit nervous to attempt it. However, after working with it a lot this past week, I can say I definitely think WordPress is really easy to use and intuitive when it comes to building pages. I felt like a wizard when I was able to create several new photo galleries and pages all on my own. I even tweaked the menus and created my own layouts how I wanted. They sound like little things, but having the freedom to tweak my website when the mood strikes me, without needing much help.
That being said, I am also lucky enough to have an ‘in’ contact to help me with WordPress when I come across difficulties: my wonderful mother (although I did try not to harass her too much this week). She is the one who introduced me to WordPress and taught me the basics in order to work on my own site. Since she has way more knowledge when it comes to WordPress and the interweb world, I went ahead and did a little Q&A with her about WordPress and why she uses it for most of her sites, so I could pass the info along to anyone who might be interested.
What are the advantages of using WordPress?
There are so many advantages to creating a site with WordPress. It’s super popular, well supported in a huge online community, and it’s open source. All of this to say, there are a ton of resources available to make the most out of WordPress. This includes themes that give your site a unique look and feel and plugins that expand, secure, and enhance features on your website. In addition to what WordPress offers, it can be installed on the server of your choice. This last bit is important because many website builders have to stay where they’re built. With WordPress, you can install or move it to any server. I’ve talked about some of this here and here.
But people say there is a steep learning curve with WordPress. Is that true?
I really don’t think so. I’ve created sites for clients that have never worked on a website before and after giving them a bit of training they take it over. In fact, I build websites so that my clients can make changes themselves to keep their site more relevant for their website visitors. There are themes out there that make creating custom pages, galleries and more, super easy with drag-and-drop page layouts. I’ve found that if you can get around on something like Facebook, you can use WordPress. Again, the right theme can do wonders.
Can I create a WordPress site myself??
Yes, absolutely. When it comes to setting up WordPress, a lot of web hosting services offer a one-click type of installation. From there, it’s a question of choosing a theme, and installing a couple of plugins that will help your website. Also, some themes offer demo content that will layout all of the pages for you so that all you need to do is replace the demo content with your website content.
What is your favorite easy theme with a demo layout?
As we talked about, a theme gives WordPress websites the look and feel, the framework, for the site. Some themes have additional features like built-in forms, portfolios, galleries, maps, and more. My favorite easy-to-use theme is Enfold. It’s a premium theme so there’s a cost, but it’s well worth it. It allows you to create unique page layouts for pages, posts or portfolio items. It also has a number of demos that you can import and replace with your content. You can create and move sections around by pointing and clicking. And the newest version is optimized for better performance and faster page loading.
What plugins should I install?
Well, the plugins I install on every site I work on are Wordfence and Yoast SEO.
Wordfence is an outstanding security plugin that protects websites. It scans your site to let you know if you have any security issues, blocks malicious traffic, and lets you know when you need to update plugins to keep your site safe. The free version of Wordfence also includes a spam filter for comments.
Yoast SEOis a search engine optimization plugin that helps you to optimize your site for search engines like Google. It has a stepped setup process to help configure it for individual websites. Yoast SEO has so many features. You can set custom titles and descriptions for each page (these titles and descriptions are what come up in search engine results). This plugin also lets you check your web pages to see how they’re ranking for keyword terms. There’s so much more to the plugins I’ve listed, but they are the must installs for me.
Is there anything else I should know about WordPress?
Hmm. There’s so much, really. I guess the main thing is that WordPress give you tons of flexibility and control. You can install it wherever you want and be able to expand it in whatever way you want. While website builders have come a long way, the one thing that keeps me working with WordPress is that it’s on the server of my choice and I am not limited in how it looks, or what I add on. And if I outgrow my web hosting server, I can move it or upgrade. I’m not limited or boxed into anything.
This past week I got the opportunity to travel to upstate New York to visit my family. I love visiting family & I love traveling so it was a win all around. I also decided to use it as a good excuse to document my trip. My camera was in my purse the whole time and I loved it. I had a blast trying out some new ways to see things and new compositions. It was a good reminder that I need to make sure I have my camera on me all the time, always looking for light, lines and interesting things to document.
My parents live up in the Mohawk Valley, NY and I love it up there. There are so many interesting and fun places to explore in the area. Most of all though, it’s just a nice, calming place to be. I had such a relaxing time there and enjoyed it immensely. So please enjoy some of the neat things I got to document while I was in New York.
I’ve been grappling a lot lately with what kind of photographer I am. People have been asking me more since I put up this blog, and a lot of times I’m just not sure what to say, or how to define my work. Documentary photographer is my go to, but sometimes I feel like it’s too vague.
I love photographing my daughter a ton. What parent doesn’t? I want to make sure I don’t forget anything. I love capturing her growing and changing stages. But does that make me a kids or family photographer? I’m not so sure.
And ever since I came across Eric Kim’s site, I fell in love with the idea of street photography. But does it count as street photography if I live in Clovis, NM, and not in a big city? Or if I take more pictures of the buildings and actual streets than people?
I honestly spend about as much time driving around photographing Clovis and the surrounding areas, as I do snapping pictures of my child. But I don’t live in a big city, like most street photographers do, and many of my favorite images from my adventures don’t necessarily include people. So where does that leave me?
I used to think that maybe it’s a flaw I have, not being able to categorize myself. Everyone does it, so why can’t I? I’m sure fitting more comfortably into a specific type of photographer would help me sell myself more, too. But the reality is that I just can’t bring myself to pigeon-hole my photography too much.
I think maybe it’s because I’m labeled in a hundred different ways each day, from single-mom to millennial and frankly, I’m tired of it. Photography is my creative outlet. It’s one of my favorite things that continually brings me joy, and allows me to express myself. And in order to do that, I need to feel free to photograph whatever the hell I want, without worrying if it fits with a specific label.
I think I just have to live with the broad term for my work: Documentary photography. For me, documentary photography means photographing the things around you as they are. And all the things I get the most joy from photographing are in a documentary capacity. When I photograph my daughter, it’s about documenting her childhood, so always remember. I absolutely love documenting the town I live in, and the quirky small town vibe that comes with the streets, buildings, and people of Clovis. I bring my camera just about everywhere with me so I can’t miss anything. It’s all about preserving the life around me, everything I love and find interesting, in photographs so I won’t forget.
https://i2.wp.com/shelrogers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/DSCF7537.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500Sarahhttps://shelrogers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/shelrogerslogo2016-300x21.pngSarah2018-04-09 16:20:072018-11-18 10:10:16To Be or Not To Be
I’m apart of this awesome little photography community called Unraveled Academy and each month they post an assignment they’d like the students to work on. I joined a little late in the month, but I still had a week left in March so I figured I’d try out photography assignment they had posted and dabble in some self portraits.
There are many reasons to explore self portrait photography. Honestly, it’s a great way to practice your technical skills: lighting, posing, angles, composition, etc. You have a ready and willing(well at least somewhat) model available to do what you want. It takes more time, but it also puts you in the model’s shoes, so you can understand what you’re putting your subjects through. Understanding and connection to your subjects is vital for a photographer. The best portraits are captured when there is a great connection between the photographer and the subject.
Self portrait photography also encourages self-expression and self-reflection. You really have to ask yourself what exactly are you trying to convey? Are you just trying to look pretty? Are you documenting something specific? What are you trying to reveal in your images? Who exactly is that person behind the camera?
I ask myself a lot of these questions and more when I work on self portraits. And when I was working on this photo assignment, I realized something about myself. I tend to use self-portraits to help me work through tough situations. I took a lot of self portraits when I went through my divorce, or having trouble being so far from home. And so I was drawn to this assignment for a similar reason.
Nearly six months ago, I went through a traumatic experience. I don’t think I’m ready to write more about it. Or at least in a such a public setting. However, my self portrait project definitely became about that experience and using my photographs to express how I’ve been trying to work through it. I’ve tried too hard just to put it behind me and forget about it. But it’s still there, always looming in the background. Each time I’m reacquainted with what happened, it’s like a slap in the face. Or a shower of icy water that freezes the air in my lungs.
I keep going through these waves of thinking I’m alright, immediately followed up by feeling suffocated by harsh reality. I constantly wish I could go back to feeling like myself, the real me I was before all of this. But the truth is she’s gone. What’s done is done. There’s nothing that I can do to change the past. But I do need to be comfortable with this new me. She’s what I’ve got right now.
It’s Easter weekend so everyone is doing Easter-y type things. Including my tiny family. Which means my camera has been out nonstop and I’ve been photographing all the Easter-y things. But this weekend has also been rife with nostalgic overlaps from my own childhood.
I was a pretty artsy kid and loved all things crafty. I even came up with my own system of how to make little pipe-cleaner people for my sister and I to play with. And now Evey was finally old enough for her very own little pipe-cleaner people. This weekend, I introduced my wee girl into the art of pipe-cleaner creations. So of course I had to document the occasion.
We had a blast. And of course she insisted on taking her little people everywhere with her.
It made my heart happier than I can explain, seeing her play with the little people I created for her. Documenting the joy on her face as she watched them come into being was absolutely wonderful. There was something special about bringing something from my own childhood back to life, and watching her enjoy it as much as I did. And let’s be honest, I still do.
As we all know, today is Easter. Easter egg hunts were always a special activity for my family growing up. As we grew older, my parents made them harder and harder to find, and I must say, the hunts grew very elaborate. We even continued the tradition into adulthood, and my sister and I would take a turn hiding eggs for my parents to find as well.
So watching Evey grow to love hunting for eggs is also very special for me. She is getting so much better each year! I can’t wait to up my game next year.
And while the egg hunting is super fun, the most touching part was being able to watch her run around and enjoy her day, in an Easter dress passed down from my sister. A dress that I remember my sister wearing as we hunted for our own eggs in our favorite house in England.
Parenting is hard. Seriously. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. But these are the moments I live for. These are the moments I am compelled to photograph, so I can’t ever forget them. I cherish the fun times we enjoy and the passing down of fun family traditions. I feel so lucky that I can share these fun things from my own childhood, and bring them back to life with my sweet girl.
https://i1.wp.com/shelrogers.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/DSCF7529.jpg?fit=1500%2C1000&ssl=110001500Sarahhttps://shelrogers.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/shelrogerslogo2016-300x21.pngSarah2018-04-01 19:52:122018-11-18 10:10:17Passing Down Traditions