PHOTOGRAPHER'S NOTES: BETHANY'S FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY PROCESS

 
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By Bethany Reed, (@brrphoto

 

Pre-Production

Whether I am working on an idea of my own or helping to produce someone else’s idea, my workflow [when approaching a fashion shoot] is usually always the same. The very first thing I do is look for inspiration to start putting together a mood board - so that way when I do present my idea to whoever I am asking to be on board, [like a modeling agency], they immediately have an idea of what I want to do. A mood board/vision board is a collection of images (or sometimes even physical materials/text) that can help get across the concept of the shoot. I use this to help pin down hair, makeup, location, wardrobe, and the overall mood of the shoot. Pinterest is amazing!

Here is a mood board from a recent shoot of mine. The idea was to go over to Sun Valley, where Southern CA was recently hit with some pretty horrible fires to find some charred up spots to shoot in. That was really the bones of the shoot and we built it from there. The model knew of an amazing HMUA (hair and makeup artist) and the two of them exchanged some ideas that she later shared them with me. Later, I added that to my mood board. I tried to include sample images of the location as well as some props I wanted to try, and some wardrobe and posing inspo.

 

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After we set a date that worked for all of us my last step was to find a stylist. I used to really love styling all of my own shoots but having a professional stylist on board elevates the shoot to another level, especially if it’s an editorial. Financially, it makes more sense right now as well since I used to buy/thrift all of  my own pieces, and that really adds up quickly. Once the stylist was confirmed I was then able to create a Call Sheet (essentially a schedule of the day that also includes the entire team’s contact information and the shoot details. I also include my mood board on my call sheet) and send it out to everyone. When working through a model's agent, it is imperative to keep them in the loop and make sure they receive all of this information as well.

Day Of

On shoot days I’m always super nervous. Especially because as the photographer, if you’re not setting up a studio or prepping in another way, the first hour or two of the shoot you’re just sitting around waiting for the model to finish hair and makeup and planning out shots in your head.

This particular shoot I wanted to be more editorial than my recent work so when shooting, my focus was centered heavily on posing. This is where working with an experienced model was a must for me - I love weird and unusual movement and exaggerated angles and not all models know how to move that way. I used my wide angle (24-70mm) lens a lot of this day to really exaggerate the model and capture how amazing our location was. I also had a separate filter with me that I had covered with a thin layer of chap-stick to give some of the images this pretty hazy feel. If i’m not using that I’m using my Sigma Art 50mm for the tighter shots.

On test shoots it is also my job to remember to not only shoot for myself, but to get shots focused on the styling and the hair/makeup so that every member of the team has usable images.

We were only able to shoot three looks that day because we ran out of light, and hair/makeup was changed after each look. If you’re hoping to submit for publication you probably want to have anywhere from 4-7 looks, although there are plenty of publications that accept way fewer looks. We also had a later call time than I prefer, but due to scheduling sometimes that is unavoidable. The earlier the better is my motto because there are usually problems to solve and if you start early you have time to solve them. 

Post-Production

Although I don’t always follow this rule, I TRY to import my images into Lightroom immediately after the shoot and back them up to a drive just in case. After that I go through all of the images and star my favorites, then I send those in contact sheets to the team so they can pick their selects. I don’t always know what to look for in hair and makeup shots so I value the opinions of my team. If working through an agency I also send the contact sheets their way so they can pick their choices to be retouched. I am notorious for spreading myself too thin and retouching way too many images but it is not uncommon to only receive a handful of photos from a test shoot - especially since time is money and no one was being paid. 

Here is a sample image from our shoot and a brief run-down of my retouching workflow:

-  First I do global adjustments in Lightroom. 
(adjusting highlights and shadows as well as color sometimes and enabling profile corrections.)

- Then, from Lightroom I open the image in Photoshop to do more detailed retouching.

- Once I am satisfied I save the images back into Lightroom and add any finishing touches. 99% of the time there is some grain. For this, I look to see that those changes are subtle. I try to keep my retouching as realistic as possible. 

 

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Photographed by Bethany Reed

Here are some rules I follow when shooting fashion:

- Usually I shoot the model BELOW eye level; this helps elongate them.

- I also Keep a close eye on wardrobe - it’s the little things that can turn a beautiful image into a messy one.

- If your model has their hands in their pockets, remember THUMBS OUT! Otherwise they have wrists with no hands attached.

- I often carry around reference poses on my phone for models who aren't as experienced or to make sure we get a similar shot.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GLOSSIER DESIGN ASSISTANT, ASHLEE CRUZ

 
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By Ashlee Cruz (@pinay_spice

Hello! 

My name is Ashlee Cruz, and I’m a freelancer and design assistant at Glossier. I’m also the owner of a growing vintage company (@choisevintage on Instagram, my regular account is @pinay_spice). I recently moved to New York City, as interning for Glossier was my first job post-graduation, and time has moved quickly over the past eight months. As someone who thrives in chaos I feel at home.

6am:

I get up pretty early to work on personal and freelance projects. Right now, art directing Choise Vintage has taken up a lot of this down time. After making some French press, I obsessively moodboard for photoshoots. I love collaborating with friends, photographers, models, graphic designers, etc. There’s nothing more exciting than building this small artist community in Bushwick out of love.

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8am:

I feed Phil, my cat. Water my hardy pothos plants twice a week. Maybe touch up my bleached hair before work. This was a DIY job, and if you’ve had experience bleaching hair on your own, I’ll give you my recipe for success:

 

Bleach twice with Quick Blue and 30 volume developer.

Mask overnight.

Figure out what level you bleached your hair to (probably 8/9)

Match your level to a shade of Wella toner (I bleached my hair to a level 9, so I used T14 Pale Ash Blonde).

Use hella hair masks and OLAPLEX!

 

For more information about Ashlee's at home bleaching technique check out Becoming a Blonde Unicorn in the Comfort of Your Own Home

 

My morning skincare and makeup routine is as follows:

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser and/or Micellar Water

Glossier Priming Moisturizer

Sephora LashCraft Mascara

Glossier Boy Brow in Black

Some kind of lipstick color that suits my outfit. It’s the fun part.

 

9am:

I am riding the JMZ train to work, overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan skyline. As small as this is, it’s the best part of my day. It’s grounding to see the city during my everyday commute. I get obsessed with certain bands and artists, because music is really helpful for my anxiety. My current obsession is Rex Orange County, but usually I’ll listen to 60s music while reading "Just Kids" by Patti Smith. This lets everyone know that I’m a secret romantic, haha.

11am:

Work grind. As a design assistant, I am bouncing around the creative team’s projects. I help with everyone from packaging to design to creative ops. It’s a packed office between Chinatown and SoHo, and there are so many food options. Some days are very chill and relaxing, but others may include running to Canal Plastics or bringing vendors to the lovely 11 Howard Hotel. 

1:30pm:

Late lunch. I usually bring my own lunch but eat at Canal Street Market with a coworker. Sometimes I’ll take a walk around the area and snap some photos. If I really need to, I find myself going to MUJI or the jewelry stores on Canal Street to unwind.

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6:30pm:

Office hours are over. At the end of the day, I remind myself I’m only 23 and I feel pretty accomplished for what I have done. Even though I’m freelancing in the creative world; I think a lot of other immigrant Americans who are afraid to pursue their dream of working in the arts, due to pressure from their immigrant parents or fear of failure. Being a creative means learning from your mistakes and continuing to grow from them, and it takes years to refine whatever craft you choose. 

9pm:

I’m honestly, probably, swiping through Tinder in bed. I turn into gremlin, watching Hot Wings on YouTube eating Takis and salad. If I have plans, I’m grabbing soup dumplings with my freelancer friends and planning photoshoots, or at a Bushwick skater bar with another Tinder date. My friends jokingly call me a savage, but it’s true. You have to keep it real.

 

Photographed by Laura Beckerdite @lalalauramae_ 

 

I don’t have a nighttime skincare routine. My lovely roommate and I usually do some catching up before going to bed. At the end of the day, I really think about the platonic friendships that have turned into family. It’s tough being in the city alone, and it’s even tougher when you don’t get monetary help from your parents. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same advantages you may have. The people who have helped me navigate Glossier and Choise are the ones holding me down. This is a small thanks to them. 

 

3 WAYS TO WEAR THE LEATHER JACKET

 
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By Raynalyn Apuya, (@raynalynaa

As someone who travels, well...more often than not, I find myself constantly reaching towards the same piece over and over again—a [faux] leather jacket. It is definitely very useful here in Barcelona, Spain, especially during their colder than "LA winter". There is just a surplus of things that you can do with this essential, and one of them consists of the necessary operation of layering in the dead of winter. You can either layer under or even over with this multi-functional garment and still look snazzy without the look of thick suffocating bundlesWhen traveling on vacation, I don't know about you, but I want to feel good, look good, and be present with my surroundings. The last thing I want to do is worry about sacrificing my look for warmth. With the use of these basic complimentary silhouettes, here are three ways to style this fundamental piece.

LOOK ONE

This is a casual yet stylish way to spice up and layer with a leather jacket. This leather jacket is specifically from Zara. I got it as a Christmas gift, and let me just say, this is the best gift ever. I use it nonstop. 

Because of its boxy cut, I gravitated towards a slimmer silhouette for my bottom half. I wore a thrifted plaid grandpa sweater on the top and some black skinnies and Old Skool Vans on the bottom. I made sure to layer up with UNIQLO's life-saving Heattech long sleeve and leggings underneath. It is their innovative take on retaining your own body heat within thin layers. I find myself only having to layer 3-4x max if I use these. So I highly recommend! 

Lastly, I finished off the look with some small silver geometric earrings to match the hardware of the jacket and a baker boy's hat from ASOS to play with the silhouette a little more. 

 

LOOK TWO

This look is indeed more polished, especially with my naturally pin straight hair. It is a bit more flexible when it comes to that ultimate day to night look and combines quintessentially similar elements as look one. I combine a loose upper frame with a tighter lower frame. 

On my upper half, I layered a red thrifted mock neck tee with another boxy cut layer under the leather jacket. This blazer from Zara adds a cool cascade effect, adding dimension to the whole look. I then chose trousers for the bottom that look elegant but are still comfy and loose enough to layer underneath.

I wrapped up the look with a pair of black chunky heeled boots with another pair of silver geometric earrings to match the jacket's hardware. Except this time, these earrings have a longer frame to add to the whole cascade effect. 

 

LOOK THREE

Look three is for those who want to have a fun girls' night out! This look utilizes the same silhouette dynamic as the previous two outfits, with a slimmer upper frame and a baggier lower frame. 

I layer my leather jacket over this thick dope thrifted turtleneck that has a cool zipper detail, giving off some UNIF vibes. I additionally go for a less traditional pant with these thrifted Levis cut off frayed denim. I then balance out the overall boyish cut of the pants with these slimming sock booties from ALDO, topping it off with this baker boy hat, again to keep in the warmth and play some more with the shadow of the look. 

All in all, it is about using your creativity in order to still turn heads during the winter time. What are your tips and tricks for styling with a leather jacket? 

 

Best, 

Raynalyn 

Stay connected with Raynalyn on Instagram @raynalynaa and don't forget to subscribe to her Youtube channel

 

13 THINGS I LEARNED FROM MICHELLE OBAMA'S MODERATED CONVERSATION IN INDIANAPOLIS

 
Photographed by Daniel Arthur Jacobson

Photographed by Daniel Arthur Jacobson

By Lamya Cruz, 

When Michelle Obama speaks, you listen. She gives it to you straight no chaser. And her strong encouraging spirit cannot go unnoticed. And let’s face it, it would be hard to walk out of a stadium of 12,000 people without feeling an ounce of inspiration and empowerment from the former First Lady herself. It felt as if she was speaking to just me at times, as I am sure it probably did for so many other men and women that night. And as a gift from me to you, I am going to share 13 Things I learned from Michelle Obama, because these gems of insight are just way too good not to.

 

1. It Takes A Village

The former first lady touched upon the support she had from her family and community growing up. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and neighborhood mothers were a positive influence on her and many other children in the community. Her own mother [a homemaker]  was also a major support system for her and other kids. Overtime it helped sustain her and has gotten Mrs. Obama to where she is today.

 

2. Push Through Your Doubts

Even Michelle Obama had doubts, as hard as that is to believe. As a kid she didn’t think she was good enough. “Kids who grow up [that are minorities] are wondering why are people afraid? And naturally have questions about their own ability.” She overcame this by growing up, she said. “You practice by pushing through it. Ignoring it. And achieving the expectations put on you. Get up every day and just do it. There is no magic to just doing and pushing… preserving… you learn that you are smart and often times smarter than some of the people doing what you do.”  

 

3. Just A ‘Regular Shmegular Girl’ Trying to Make A Difference For Others

She was once that kid wondering what it was like inside the White House, so she wanted to open it up for the kids who didn’t think they would ever have the opportunity to experience the White House themselves. She and husband, former President Barack Obama set up mentor programs for kids to spend time at the White House and experience it first-hand and all it had to offer, which may have included hanging out with world renowned performers. She wanted them to feel, “a part of it.”    

 

4. Being A Fashion Icon

She never set out to make a “fashion statement”. Instead she wanted to be “cute and comfortable.” “And you’re only as comfortable with people as yourself.” Dressing well and appropriate for the activity was important—practical things. “Fashion has to work for you… You should do what works for you and what makes you feel comfortable.” She wants to focus more on connecting with others than her ensemble. And when people say she is a fashion icon she just simply says, “Okay.”

 

5. A People Person

Public life for Michelle Obama, "wasn’t that easy.” She also states that, “In the end you really have to like people because these are people jobs. You have to feel comfortable in your skin with people.” It was easy for her to be First Lady because every day she was with people. That gave her purpose and energy. She was authentic to herself.

 

6. Know Who You Are

Which brings me to my next lesson--be who you are and know who you are. “The me you see on stage is the same me you see backstage or at home.” She is consistently herself and she’s okay with who she is and it makes her public life a whole lot easier.

 

7. Find What Fits and Go To School!  

Mrs. Obama stated that public service is,” hard.” And once again stresses the importance of connecting. “You have to be a people person and you have to have knowledge—that’s important. It’s not an easy life and before you jump you have to know the sacrifice… We need diversity and strong female voices, and there needs to be other people in the room and not a one sided thing with just men. Start getting ready and understand how it works and please go to school. So many different roles people can play… Internships… Volunteering. Try on some different shoes and see where you're most comfortable in.”   

 

8. A Seat At the Table

She was, as she says, “loud and persistent.” And being a woman and a black woman at that she knew she could bring a different perspective and opinion. She also joined a recruitment team to see how they selected people, and as you would assume the circle was kind of small. “Being at the table was a start, but I had to add that value and not be worried about speaking out and saying my opinion… It takes courage and also maybe you might get kicked off the table, but speak up and have confidence and see that your experience has value… We have to be vocal, take risks and speak up.”

 

9. She Doesn’t Have All The Answers Sway But She Wants to Help Find The Solutions  

She believes that there should be opportunities and resources for those that cannot just do it for themselves and she would rather spend the time working on those solutions for people or kids that are not being invested in. She doesn’t know the answer but she wants to help find the solution.

 

10. The Importance of Mental Health

 “Sadly, we live in a society where mental health is stigmatized. It is important to know that people are not broken but to be okay about getting help and not feeling a since of stigma from it. Mental health should be given the same respect and care as any other health issue.”

 

11. Women Empowered Economically

“…the internal work we have to do as women, to think about ourselves first instead of last, especially when it comes to asking for equal pay... We have to have some kind of conversation among ourselves so that we can be honest and break those traumas and fears. We have to tap into that place and figure out what’s going on and be brave and fight for this stuff. Are we comfortable and afraid to lose ground? Or do we want the changes within those leadership positions?”

 

12. Make Sure You Are An Asset

Michelle Obama talked about carving out a role for herself as a “new kind of first lady”, and becoming an asset during the campaign and in the white house. “The more that people saw me being an asset, the more I could figure out how to use that to make changes, resources and gain support. Advocating and adding value, and being clear on boundaries and creating those within which you want to work.”  

 

13. Have Some Decency, Please  

“People are just trying to get by and they want a fair shake. If we just believe in the decency and act on it—that’s powerful.”  

 

Visit the Women's Fund to find out more ways to make a difference and support both women and girls in the Indiana community! 

 

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF FITNESS INSTRUCTOR AND LIFESTYLE BLOGGER, TAYLOR MIKISKA

 
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By Taylor Mikiska, (@taylormikiska

Well hello!

I’m Taylor- a Midwest transplant to LA, a realistic optimist, and collector of Polish pottery.  I teach group fitness (weight training and spin) and run a lifestyle blog (www.taylormikiska.com).  I love love love teaching.  It brings me so much joy to give people the tools and encouragement to find their own strength. Even though teaching is a huge part of who I am, it isn’t the only thing I am, and I’m a huge believer that everyone is much more than the ways they make money, so that’s where the blog comes in!  I love exploring all different parts of “lifestyle” and finding out all the ways people are more connected than they realize.  Every day is completely different for me, but here’s what this one was like… 

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I’m an unbearable early bird. I love mornings and usually wake up between 5 and 5:30 every day.  Having time to be alone and to make sure I have everything ready for the day is key to keeping my stress levels low.  I start every morning brushing my teeth and washing my face with cold water, which is kind of awful [tbh], but I have rosacea and find the cold water really does help! 

 

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Then I’m off to teach!  This is David- one of my lovely co-workers.  The studio I teach in (The Wall) is currently going through some pretty huge changes!  We’ve been in this pop up space for just over a year, but are closing the pop up at the end of this month before our flagship studio opens!  It’s going to be HUGE and have tons of classes.  We’re set to open in April, but it’s definitely been slower since announcing the flagship. My days may not be jam packed with teaching right now, but the current schedule is giving me tons of time to work on my blog, which I’m really loving. 

 

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After class, I grab a juice from Moon Juice.  I love the add ins moon juice offers. This particular green concoction is blended with avocado, spirit dust, and CBD oil.  The “moon dusts” at Moon Juice are comprised of different herb and mushroom blends and are a super mood boosters.  I love that CBD is an option here as well.  It always helps me relax after a high intensity class.

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Post juice, I go for a grocery run! I’m low on pretty much everything lol. I get lots of veggies, some dates and blackberries, and restock my honey! A bunch of oranges too because I love me some citrus! If I have food at home, I’ll eat at home. I love going out to eat, but it’s definitely not ideal for my wallet. I’m trying to actually use recipes more often, but I mostly graze and just eat whatever’s around throughout the day! I don’t have any specific diet- I’ll literally eat anything, but if I’m eating at home, It’s usually just fruits and veggies, and big breakfasts on my mornings off!

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Next, I meet up for some social media planning with one of my favorite bloggers and good friend @sarahcarolincrawford of www.thefluf.com . Sarah and I get together once a week to help each other shoot content for our blogs and social media.  It’s made such a huge difference in the consistency of my content and takes away all anxiety of not having anything to post.  It’s also just really wonderful to have someone who I know isn’t going to judge me for taking too many pictures or caring about my social presence in the first place. We talk about our grand visions, brands who'd we’d like to work with, and ways we try to navigate the crazy Instagram algorithm. On this day, I knew I needed fitness content! I’m always trying to find new ways to make my fitness posts really me . I think a lot of fitness can come off sort of intimidating, so I always aim to bring some light and color to it.  We just shot these around our neighborhood (did I mention we’re neighbors?!) and had a blast doing it. 

 

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After hanging with Sarah, I head to Mama Shelter in Hollywood for my last meeting of the day! It’s one of my favorite spots to just hang out and get some work done! Idk why, but hotels make me feel fancy, and I like that.  I usually just order fries and bring my laptop!  I’ll work on playlists for class, plan content, and answer emails. I have my meeting- a fellow blogger who just moved from Virginia! She’s not launched yet, but I’m so excited for her. I’m always happy to meet with girls I’ve connected with on social media and see if there are things we can work on together. And why not meet up with a new friend in a pretty place and just appreciate that you’re there ya know? So, that’s what we did! 

 

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I head home, have dinner with my boyfriend, shower and finally get to finish my book! I have the full review posted on my blog now actually! Also, don’t judge I wear the same PJs for a few days haha.  I always try to read before bed instead of looking at my phone. I adored this book- The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Highly recommend!  It was about 4 siblings, and I’m the oldest of 4 siblings, so I felt very connected to it.

But that’s all for this day!  Like I said, every day is different, but I know each day is mine to make what I can of it and I really love that.  Thank you for reading along!

xx

Taylor 

Stay connected! Follow Taylor on Instagram @taylormikiska and check out her blog taylormikiska.com

 

BRE'S 7 TIPS FOR HEALTHIER LOOKING SKIN

 

By Bre'Auna McCoy, (@aesthetically_bre

Have you ever looked at a person and wondered how they got such amazing skin? Skincare is preventive, you should have at least some type of skincare routine. I say start simple: don’t sleep in makeup, drink plenty of water, mask and stay moisturized.  

1. HYDRATION IS KEY

Our body uses water in all of its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate our body’s temperature. It’s good to stay hydrated by eating and drinking foods that contain water. Get rid of sugary drinks or at least limit the amount, and perhaps start your day with a warm glass of lemon water.

2. CLEANSING

Cleansing your skin is just as important as hydration.

Cleansing your skin can help combat acne, breakouts, and irritations. And please, do not sleep in makeup!! This is vital because sleeping in makeup can clog pores, irritate the skin, cause breakouts, and much more.  

3. EXFOLIATE

Exfoliate with a gentle exfoliate 1-2 days per week or as needed.

Do not use drugstore exfoliator’s, because they are abrasive and can cause lesions, worsen hyperpigmentation, bruise or scar the skin.

You want an exfoliating product with a low grit, such as Corn Cob Meal, Rice Bran, and Rice Extract.

You can also use liquid exfoliator’s. However, this should be done by professionals only. So look for a good Esthetician to help you with your skincare needs.  

4. MASK

Masking helps relieve irritations, flare-ups from eczema, psoriasis and so on.

Masking can also aid in slow down the aging process. My favorite masks are gel based. Something with aloe, cucumber, avocado. These are cooling and calming agents. For easily irritated, acne prone skin or if you want more moisture--try colloidal-based oatmeal. 

The fewer chemicals the better.  

5. TONE

A toner can be really good for people with oily or acne-prone skin. I often use Witch Hazel and Rose Water.

Skin Bracers or Fresheners are the mildest forms of toners, they usually contain water and humectants like glycerin. Plus, they usually don’t contain alcohol. Skin Tonics is a toner that is a bit stronger and has very small amounts of alcohol.

6. MOISTURIZE

Depending on what you like (from the lightest to the heaviest) make sure that you are moisturized. I like a heavy night cream moisturizer because I have eczema. A heavier cream in the evening allows more time for the product to penetrate into the skin overnight. Thus, leaving the skin feeling soft and dewy in the morning. While airy and light during the day. This is especially good if you plan to wear makeup or just don’t want to look greasy.

Some of my favorite moisturizer products include Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil, and Rose Oil. 

7. LAST BUT NOT LEAST GET ON A SCHEDULE

In the beginning, you will feel discouraged and it may seem like a ton of work. However, once you create a schedule and get into the swing of things it will become second nature. Healthy skin does not happen overnight. With a little bit of dedication and elbow grease, you can do it! Take these helpful tips and find what works for you.

 
 

IT'S IN MY CLOSET (WINTER EDITION) FT. LAURYN HAYES

 
Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

By Lauryn Hayes, (@_laurynhayes) 

As a southern girl who grew up mostly in the hot Texas climate, winter was pretty non existent for me. Needless to say, my first winter here in New York City has been a bit of a culture shock. Don’t get me wrong, the snow was cute at first but after a couple of days, I realized I was extremely unprepared for what Mother Nature had in store for me.

 

Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

However, after interviewing a few seasoned veterans of winter weather I feel like I finally have my winter essentials together.  

The Essentials

I usually find myself reaching for a black turtleneck to layer underneath cardigans and coats. It is a simplistic classic that serves as a base for many of my winter looks. After grabbing one of my trusty tops I always grab my light wash mom jeans. Comfortable, classic, and forgiving after that tray of Christmas cookies. I find I am always throwing these on for my day to day looks. I like to add a belt if I want to elevate the look or add more shape.

 

Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

Photographed by Lauryn Hayes

The coat in my opinion is the most important part of a winter look. It is the first thing people see and can add so much flavor to a basic winter essenemble. I usually op for my trusty black Vince Camuto trench coat or my super affordable Forever 21 shearling coat, but before I walk out of the door I always make sure to throw something on my head [heat escapes the fastest; mostly out of your head] and this is really a easy way to spice up your look during the winter months. I love my red leather beret from Forever 21 and my bright red knit beanie is great for keeping your head warm. 

Stay connected! Follow Lauryn on Instagram @_laurynhayes 

 

IT'S IN MY CLOSET (WINTER EDITION) FT. DESIREE SABRINA

 

By, Desiree Sabrina (@desireesabrina

My name is Desiree but everyone calls me Dez. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA the city with the best weather ever! (Literally).

When asked about my winter style-inspo I thought, 'wait, there really isn't a true “winter” in Los Angeles.' But that doesn't mean that I can't layer up on those 60 degree days. Some of my favorite staple items during this time are jackets, cardigans, and knitted sweaters. But, I am sure you're thinking, "Why, if it's not that cold in LA during winter?" 

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Well, I can simply wear a tank top or a t-shirt underneath my cover ups, just in case it gets too warm throughout the the day. And if it does get too cold at night, I have a jacket or sweater to layer up with. But seriously, who doesn’t love a cozy knitted sweater around this time of year?

Another item I tend to over buy all winter season long are booties! I feel like booties can go with anything from jeans, to a dress, to shorts! My two favorite pairs of booties right now are from Urban Outfitters and Forever 21; they're not too pricey and look good with any outfit.

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I have been into darker colors this winter season but I’m definitely digging it and adding my own spark to it with accessories such as a hat or a purse. Personally I like simple, but I usually try to wear one main piece that will stand out. I hope you enjoyed this! Xoxo. 

Stay Connected! Desiree is a Glossier rep and get 20% off your first order at www.glossier.com/reps/desiree also follower her on Instagram @desireesabrina

 

KRISTINA TODINI: HOW TRAVELING MADE ME APPRECIATE MY OWN FOOD CULTURE

 
Photographed by Kristina Todini

Photographed by Kristina Todini

By, Kristina Todini (@fork.in.the.road)

I grew up on macaroni and cheese and hotdogs and my family has a tradition of ordering takeout for holidays. There are no beloved recipes handed down from my grandmother and I didn’t know how to bake a chicken breast until the tender age of 22. Raised in the landlocked American Midwest, I didn’t see the ocean until I was 11 and at the time the only “ethnic” foods I dared to consume were tacos, pizza, and chicken fried rice.

To say I was sheltered culturally would be a severe understatement.

It wasn’t until I began working in restaurants in my early twenties that I ventured outside of my food comfort zone. I slowly began to like seafood and realized brussel sprouts were no longer the bane of my existence. I gained a taste for good wine and cheeses beyond those melted and drizzled on top of fried foods. And at the same time I was expanding my palate, I was also stepping outside my comfort zone with a newfound love of travel and exploration.

I first stepped foot on foreign soil in Italy at the age of 24 and the trip was a pivotal moment with my outlook on food...and on life. The Italians’ commitment to fresh, seasonal, and simple ingredients shine through every dish and they do not cut corners when it comes to quality. In a twist of fate, six months after my trip to Italy I met an Italian man while I was on vacation, married him in Vegas five months later, and spent many summers in Italy with his family drinking espresso in tiny coffee shops and cooking homemade pizza in backyard ovens. It was quite a culture shock coming from my hometown in Missouri, but in the best possible way.

I have since eaten my way through twenty countries and countless cities on my treks across the world. I have barbecued kangaroo and emu in the Australian outback, munched on fried crickets in Mexico City, and hiked the jungles of Thailand for a cup of coffee. I have drank coca tea while watching the sun rise on Machu Picchu and sipped on caipirinhas while viewing the sunset over the hills of Rio de Janeiro. And in each of these places I found that no matter where you are from or what you believe, loving delicious food is what we all have in common.

If I had to choose one thing that has changed my outlook on life it would 100% be travel. Exploring new countries and immersing myself in different cultures has pushed the limits of my comfort zone, tested my biases and preconceived notions, and humbled me with a respect for not only the profound differences of the people in this world, but also for the stark similarities.

And it was in travel that I realized something: I did not come from a “lack” of food culture. I realized that my own food upbringing was a culture in and of itself. A culture of backyard barbecues, casseroles, fast foods, and beer in red Dixie cups. A culture of baseball, swimming in rivers, catching tadpoles, and chasing lightning bugs. I had spent so many years trying to escape my Midwest upbringing and looking at other cultures as more refined, when in fact my own region is what shaped me into the adventurous eater I am today.

So instead of looking back on frozen pizzas and boxed meals with disdain, instead I now appreciate the experience of the fast food culture I came from. While I may explore new recipes and kitchen techniques acquired from my travels, I keep it simple in the kitchen due to my Midwest preference to get in and get out without all the fuss. I may drink fancy wine from carafes but that doesn’t mean I will ever have a matching set of wine glasses--and I’ve realized now that that’s okay, because in the end what my upbringing and travels have taught me is that the act of eating together and sharing experiences over food is universal, no matter what is on the table.

Kristina Todini, RDN is a registered dietitian living in San Francisco, CA. She photographs and writes about food, travel, and sustainability on the blog Fork in the Road when she isn’t tasting her way across the globe. You can connect with her on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

RAVEN ROBERTS - SO YOU WANNA BE A THRIFTER?

 

By Raven Roberts (@_ravenroberts), 

First of all, congratulations, thrifting, is such an amazing way to add some great unique pieces into your wardrobe. So first off, get to know the stores. Try and visit different ones each time you thrift, just so you can get acclimated with the stores around you. Some thrift stores have days where certain items are on sale, whether it is in a certain category (dresses, shoes, accessories, etc.), a day of the week (50% on Tuesdays) or color of the week* (50% off for the week). Always find out their return policy, because each store is different and some may differ from state to state. For example, some Goodwill’s take returns, usually 7 days, but most don’t so be sure to ask.

On your visit, there are two ways to shop: for something specific or just because. When shopping for something specific, focus on what you’re looking for first; it is so easy to get sidetracked in a thrift store. Once you’ve checked the section(s) you can start exploring other areas. No matter how you shop, have the day’s sales in the back of your head when choosing items.

Check Pricing.

You can’t compare prices to other thrift stores but I usually google the brand if I don’t know it off hand. If it’s a discontinued brand there will sometimes be pricing on sites like eBay or you can gauge how popular the brand once was. I try to stay away from Forever21 and H&M items because the pricing is usually around the same as it would be new in store. I do sometimes find the items I want in store so I will purchase it then. Re-imagine items. Think of how you can up-cycle items with minor alterations. Calculate the cost of the dress and alterations and see if it’s worth the value.

Photographed by Zach Alston

Photographed by Zach Alston

 

Inspect the clothing.

Look for stains and holes, assess whether they can come out or be mended. Stains like oil, ink, coffee or wine won’t come out. Holes in seams are the easiest to repair, some other holes can be fixed with a patch or alterations. Alterations can include, making something short sleeved, hemming a skirt, making pants into shorts, etc.

Try it on.

Wear clothes you can easily get in and out of if there’s a dressing room. If there isn’t a dressing room, I suggest leggings and a tight top, something you can put clothes over easily. If there’s absolutely no way to try on the item, put it up to your body and try to estimate it as much as possible. Keep in mind vintage sizing. Vintage sizing usually runs smaller than our current sizing, about 2 or 3 sizes. For example, I am usually a 0-2 and in vintage sizing I would be a 4-6; sometimes an occasional 8, depending on if I want it over-sized or not.  The further back the decade, the more in sizing I have to go back. Another example, a dress from the 80's I’d be a 4 but a dress from the 50's or 60's I’d be a 6.

**Color of the Week - some places will tag their clothes as they arrive each week with different colors. To keep clothes moving quickly, they put the oldest tag color on sale each week, so each week a different color is on sale.

Time to hit the register.

Most thrift stores keep their nicer small accessories and jewelry by the register. I usually look at items while I’m being checked out. If this is your first time at the store be sure to ask about their return policy here.

Once you get your items home, wash them or get them dry cleaned before wearing. Furthermore, take your items and get them altered. And of course enjoy!!!

Stay Connected! Follow Raven on Instagram @_ravenroberts and check out her blog at www.style.ravenroberts.com 

 

IT'S IN MY CLOSET (WINTER EDITION) FT. TIERRA HOGAN

 

By Tierra Hogan (@hello_hogan)

When I was asked to write about my personal style I really had to sit down and think about it…. My personal style? I could go on for days about my sweat pant collection, but I don’t think you want to read about that.

Well first and foremost my personal style is 100% defined by the seasons. The weather is dictator of what I decide to throw on, it even commands my makeup and hair routine. In the winter months, if I had to define my personal style I would say Tom-boy sexy. I love anything oversized and I strongly believe in showing off just one aspect of the body at once. Now that I’m a self-proclaimed grown woman I like to try to leave some to the imagination, ask 18-20-year-old me the same question? Well she thought she was Nicki Minaj. If I’m showing legs, which is my go-to, I’m wearing something baggy on top.

Winter for me is about keeping warm while still looking cute and my style is anything that I can feel sexy in but also nothing that I have to suck in my gut for.

So what clothes am I buying? You might ask. Well I’ll tell you.

Bottoms

I’m all about boyfriend jeans, culottes, wide leg pants, ankle cuts, and loose fit trousers. I love the feel of taking a menswear style trouser and making it sexy. I feel powerful in a style meant for a guy and I love the feel of sexiness without needing my clothes to be form fitting or super revealing.

Tops

As for tops, depending on the fit of the pant, I’m all about oversized hoodies under an oversize jean jacket. For the work place, a loose fit tee under a nice blazer makes for the perfect outfit.

Now for accessories!

I’m all about a statement earring, my outfits are typically simple and dark in color so the pop of the earring, ties it all together.

Shoes

Shoes, shoes, shoes

Living in NY I’m getting more into my game. I’m definitely into clunky boots, lug heels, and sneakers. My go-to right now are the Fenty x Puma. I’m all about vans, converse and oxford shoes for women. Again, more masculine type shoes.

A bonus feature…

 I love to add fun socks. The more random the sock pattern the more excited I get about the sock.

I’m a nice mix of dramatic and monotone, literally my personally is a little bipolar and this translates into my personal style. While you’ll notice a lot of black in my closet, I bust out with a pink fur coat and huge earrings. I’m tom-boy sexy, as Starburst would say, “A juicy contradiction.” 

Stay Connected! Follow Tierra on Instagram @hello_hogan and check out her blog at www.hellohogan.com

 

Q&A WITH GIRL BOSS JEN ZEANO OF JEN ZEANO DESIGNS

 
 
 

By Lamya Cruz

VIM MOOD CHAT: Founder and Designer, Jen Zeano of jenzeanodesigns.com

How do you get the attention of a well-to-do celebrity, and have them wear your merchandise, you ask? Jen Zeano, 25, operates a fun and stylish lifestyle brand that has attracted the attention from several notable rising starts. Her designs empower women and Latina's. Zeano discusses embracing your passion, perseverance, and the real story behind--producer, entrepreneur and Golden Globe Award winning actress, Gina Rodriguez rocking one of Zeano's best-selling t-shirts. 

VM: WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOU? 

JEN ZEANO: I am married, I have been married to my wife, [Veronica] for a little over three years. I'm twenty-five and I have two fur babies; a bunny and a dog. I actually went to school for social work and psychology, which I know is completely different from what I am currently doing, but I tried being in the field and I just didn't like having a boss. (Laughs) So I just decided to do my own thing.

VM: WHAT WAS THE DEFINING MOMENT THAT YOU REALIZED YOU WANTED TO START A WOMEN-LATINA EMPOWERMENT MERCHANDISING BRAND?  

JEN ZEANO:When I was in high school I thought, 'I wanted to be a psychologist—that’s what I want to do. I want to be a marriage counselor--that's my calling in life. I have to do it!' So, I went four years in college, and I got an associate’s in social work, so that I could start working in the field. But, I couldn’t land a job. So I was like, ‘that’s okay, I’m gonna get my bachelors.’ I ended up getting my bachelors back in 2014 and I still couldn’t land a job... I live in a small town. I live in a border town, actually. So, Mexico is just a few minutes away. But because of that same reason, I think that’s why there wasn’t many job opportunities. I just couldn’t find a job that I felt I was going to love. So, I actually started working for the state of Texas and I did that for about a year and it was so draining—having to work eight to five, and it was just the same thing over and over again; I just hated it. I hated it. Then I started working for a foster care agency and I really actually enjoyed that, but I just didn’t like having a boss. I didn’t like having a schedule, and the routine was just so boring for me that I had to find something else to do with my life that was actually going to bring me happiness, and that I could be able to bring that happiness to other people. I quit my job and thought, ‘what can I do that was going to bring me happiness and either help other people out or bring them happiness as well.’ And that’s when I was like, I have to create something that is all about positivity and girl power! So I just did it, and it’s kind of just has been taking off and I can’t even believe where we are right now.

VM: AND YOU STARTED YOUR COMPANY LAST YEAR, CORRECT? 

JEN ZEANO: Yes, I believe it was May of last year, so it’s been a little bit over a year… I was so determined to make this work. I said to myself, ‘this is what is going to make me happy and I have to make this work.’ So I have just been hustling, because I refuse for it not to work.  

VM: WHAT INSPIRES YOUR DESIGNS AND WAS THIS ALWAYS YOUR PASSION?

JEN ZEANO: I can’t say that it was always something that I wanted to do. It was just something that caught my attention. But then once I started doing it, I just wanted to keep doing it! It’s like my favorite part of the job; having new designs and new ideas, that's my favorite part of owning my business. Everything is usually inspired by my culture. So, like I mentioned, I am on a border town. We have Montemorelos literally a few minutes away and my whole family is over there. My parents go all the time, so sometimes I’ll like tag along. That’s usually where most of my inspiration comes from, I mean music… just our entire culture. Even food sometimes.

VM: YOUR ‘LATINA POWER’ T-SHIRT IS YOUR TOP SELLER, HOW DOES THAT FEEL?

JEN ZEANO: I think our ‘Latina Power’ shirt really made our business take off. That shirt has been our best seller for months. I think it is going to continue to be our best seller for a while.

VM: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR BRAND?

JEN ZEANO: My whole mission behind having the clothing line is to empower women. Because I am Latina, I tend to gravitate to encouraging other Latinas. I love to support other women that are running their own businesses and other women who are just supporting us and all of their endeavors. There are so many girls sending me pictures taking off their cap and gown wearing their ‘Latina Power’ t-shirt underneath, and I am just so inspired by that. You know, it keeps me going—it drives me. My whole mission is to keep on spreading girl power and Latina power. I love, love, love when it’s a topic of conversation, when someone sees you wearing the shirt and it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m Latina too!’ Before you know it, you’re bonding over something that’s just so beautiful.

VM: HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT STARTING YOUR OWN COMPANY? 

JEN ZEANO: Honestly, I had no idea when I first started. No idea. I just kind of dived right in. We actually started the business back in May with only three mugs and one shirt. We don’t even sell mugs anymore (laughs), because we just wanted to see how it would go and then we had that one shirt—and I think I only ordered about fifteen shirts. I was like, ‘let’s see if this works, let’s see if they sell, let’s see if I can get people to get on board’—and they did. Then, from one shirt we are currently at [I think] ten t-shirts that we have on our website right now. And we’ve added pins, stickers, caps, and it’s just been growing. Honestly, I had no clue what I was doing when I started. Sometimes, I still don’t know what I am doing (laughs), but it’s just been a learning process the whole time.

VM: HAS THE PROCESS EVER BEEN OVERWHELMING FOR YOU?

JEN ZEANO: Totally! It still happens sometimes. Sometimes I’m just so overwhelmed that I’m like, ‘What did I get myself into?’ But, even when I’m so overwhelmed and so stressed I’m still thinking about the next idea. And that’s when I’m like ‘there is no way you are ever going to stop doing this because you are already thinking about a month down the line of what product you are going to release. Especially in the beginning. There were so many times when I was thinking, ‘maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Maybe I need to find something else.’ Because, I didn’t go to school for like coding or web design or anything like that. So the whole technical aspect was like a nightmare for me. I just did not know where to start or how to start a shop online or how to do taxes… But I love it so much. I just keep pushing and I keep researching and learning; it’s been pretty amazing. But, there is always at some point that doubt that crosses your mind, but I’ve kept at it.   

VM: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MOST EMPOWERING THING SOMEONE CAN DO FOR THEMSELF?

JEN ZEANO: I think the most empowering thing you can do for yourself is bet on yourself. Believe in yourself, and just whatever you want to do with your life, just go for it! Whether it’s opening up your own business or going to school to be a lawyer, a doctor, you know… You just have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it. If you set your mind to it—go for it. A lot of the time we feel we have to doubt [ourselves] and question if we’re worth it or not. I think the answer should always be, 'Yes! I’m worth it.' And, 'Yes, I can do this!' You know, it’s just knowing in the back of your head no matter what happens you can be successful. Once you believe in yourself or your mission—then other people will believe in you too.

VM: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE INFLUENTIAL LATINAS LIKE ACTRESS AND PRODUCER, GINA RODRIGUEZ WEARING AND SUPPORTING YOUR MESSAGE?

JEN ZEANO: Oh my God, it was so surreal! I have no other word for it. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that even happened. How did I make that happen?!

VM: WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE TO PULL THAT OFF?

JEN ZEANO: I’m gonna tell the whole story and I don’t even think I’ve ever told the whole story. I actually tweeted her and I said something along the lines of, ‘What do I have to do to get you to wear one of my shirts?’ And she tweeted me back, and she was like, ‘I would love to rock this! Send it to me.’ And you know, I had a major panic attack. The fun part was afterwards because she told me to send it to her, but didn’t tell me where to… So, I was like, ‘Okay’—after I did my happy dance, running around the house, calling everyone [including my mom], I was like, ‘How do I get it to her?’ I mean it wasn’t like I had her home address. So, I did some major stalking (laughs) and I am sure when she hears this she’s going to laugh, because I googled and googled and spent hours trying to figure out where to send the shirt to, and I finally found somebody that was friends with her manager. I contacted her and I shipped the shirt to her and she gave it to her manager and her manager gave it to Gina... Not at all glamorous—it took a while. (Laughs)  You know, once she got it, I kid you not, it must have been probably like three or four days after that and she had posted a picture of it. So I was on cloud nine, because she obviously must have remembered that I was going to send her the shirt and she wore it and I was like over the moon excited!

VM: I CAN IMAGINE THAT HAD TO FEEL EXTREMELY GRATIFYING. 

JEN ZEANO: Yeah! I mean obviously she has such a huge following and she has such a big message of Latina empowerment and she has been amazing and now she just had that Latina luncheon and all that kind of stuff... It’s just so amazing to see her do well and to share this message of spreading empowerment for Latinas. I wish that I could sit down with her and have some coffee, you know after fan girling (laughs).   

VM: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?

JEN ZEANO: I like to spend time with my family, go to the park with my dog, Netflix—I tend to be obsessed with Netflix and Hulu. I am obsessed with Stranger Things and it is so good! I love to watch The Mindy Project, which is over. But, it was so good! Jane the Virgin on Netflix too (gotta support Gina!). There are just so many good things to watch. I could literally spend all day watching Netflix, if I had the time.

VM: WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED OVER TIME ABOUT YOURSELF?

JEN ZEANO: I think that I have learned how determined I can be. A lot of times when I was younger I felt like I wasn’t good at sticking to something, like a job—I would quit my jobs. So I would think that I was a quitter, because I didn’t like my job and I would leave. But, I have learned that it’s not that I was being a quitter; I had to just find something that was going to make me happy. Once I found that, I realized how determined I could be. There’s a lot of times when this business gets really hard and I’m like, ‘Is this worth it; to keep going?’ Then I am like, ‘Of course it is because it’s making you happy and other people happy.’ We really need to be heard, especially right now. So I have learned that determination is key and I like to think that I have that. I will literally do everything in my power to make it happen. I had to find my calling and something that was really going to make it okay to spend all day at a desk designing stuff, or all day packaging orders—it makes me happy. And I love sending out packages, and I always write a personalized thank you card on every order, because I want them to feel like I really care about them and the message I’m trying to spread.

Follow Jen Zeano on Twitter and Instagram @jenzeanodesigns also don't forget to shop at www.jenzeanodesigns.com 

 

DANCE IS FREEDOM

 

By, Shakara Strayhorn 

Picture by Henrique Junior

Picture by Henrique Junior

Do you remember the time when you experienced a moment when life stood still, when all your problems did not seem to matter? That moment for myself is called dance. Every time my bare feet come into contact with the floor, and the room is filled with rhythmic beats; making my body move through the ups, and the downs, as the beat moves around-and-around; has made my life feel at peace. Dancing is not just a hobby, it is a part of my heart, soul, and spirit. Without dance in my life I would not be the woman I am today.

Being able to dance every day, I am living my best life. So many people take life for granted. It is as though God has placed the rhythmic nature in me, to glide happily around like the need to breathe oxygen in and out. It is time to step out on faith, and elevate into the light, become your truth. Who cares what people may think? Your life is designed for you, not for others to validate. It is time to for you to become free. Dance, like no one is watching. Love, like you have never been hurt. Sing, like no one is listening, and love unconditionally like heaven is on earth.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF FLORIDA NEWS REPORTER, KARYS BELGER

 
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By, Karys Belger (@karysbelger)

Hi there!

My name is Karys Belger and I’m a reporter in Cape Coral, Florida. A little about me: This is my first job out of school and my first time living in Florida. I’m an MMJ, a multimedia journalist. This means that on any given day, I’m shooting and editing video and then dashing off to the next story. For the most part, it’s pretty unpredictable. But it’s my dream and I’m lucky to be doing it. So here it is, a day in my life. 

8:00 am:

Normally, I don’t have to work until 2:30 pm, but today my schedule is a little different. Today, I’m up by 8:00 am because I have to be in the office by ten, and that means I’m fueling up with my favorite drink—coffee. This is one of my favorite mugs and I use it just about every day. The only exception is when I forget to run the dishwasher the night before.

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10:05 or 10:10 am:

Around this time is our news meeting. Me, the news director, the assignment editor, the other reporters, and the digital editors all sit down and review which stories are doing well on the website and which ones we’re going to report on for the day. Today, I’m reporting on a series of robberies in a neighborhood in our viewing area.

12:00 pm:

I’m on the road and in the news truck. Today I’m lucky, I get a photographer to shoot for me so I can focus on getting the information we need for the story for our 6 pm newscast. But just like with all of our stories, it starts off with a little drive. Today I’m riding shotgun!

 

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As the day wears on, I have to, I have to start planning for the story, and getting as much information as I possibly can. Thankfully, I have my photographer Kevin with me. He’s able to make sure we get the shots we need, while I do things like call the sheriff’s office and map out where the robberies [that we are reporting on] took place. We’re not really done until about 3:30 in the afternoon. By now, we know that we are going to go live in the neighborhood where the robberies happened.

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Before editing, sometimes a girl has to eat! Nine times out of ten I’m doing both. Since the show is at 6 pm and my photos needs time to edit, I’m writing my script for my piece and eating at the same time. I like to think of it as creative calorie burning!

6:00 pm:

The show begins and I’m the lead. That means my story is the first one in the newscast. We’re live in the neighborhood where we shot earlier, and once I tell the viewers where I am, the studio shows the footage we shot and edited earlier. The magic of television.

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7:00 pm:

We’re back at the studio! So now I can check in with my team, and write up my web story. Sometimes that means goofing off with my team, like when my anchor Patrick decides to try out a new haircut.

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Later:

After I posted my story to the website, it is then time for my favorite part of the day. I take off my makeup and get into bed. I might journal if I have the energy.

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And that’s it! A day in my #ReporterLife. This is just one day. No two days are the same and I like it that way. The best part about my job is that I get to meet new people and find out new things. It’s a challenge sometimes, but that’s also what makes it so fun! This job is not for the faint of heart but I think what really makes it satisfying is knowing that tomorrow could hold something different. I always finish off with my favorite quote from Gone with the Wind, “Tomorrow is another day.”