Musing Mondays: About insecurities & copycats

About "Musing Mondays"
*Musing Mondays is a weekly blog series where I want to write and talk about topics that kept my mind busy in the week prior: from the growth process to educational and eye opening moments and simply the artist finding her way into this world. This is my place to be transparant and talk; where I hope this may help others reading this in any way possible. Following the road of creative expression can be a lonely one at times*


Past weekend I had the opportunity to meet and hang out with Antti Karpinnen; an incredible finnish photographer and photoshop wizard. Also someone who blew my mind in a few seconds when we got to work together on some personal work here in my humble home studio & also has given me in a few second some serious life insights I want to share on this blog:

This blog will cover 2 aspects: one is realising that I'm way to competitive over something I should - especially in light of recent events; more about that tomorrow I hope - not be competitive about. I'm still struggling to put "my knowledge" - as limited as it is - out there while at the same time, I have a deep running desire to share my experience and knowledge with those who are interested. Working with Antti on the same concepts with the same models and styling & even his light set-ups (which I was allowed "to steal" as I jokingly said it) has show me that this entire "competitive" thing and my being fed-up with people copying me is a waste of energy and here is why: first of all; the obvious is that negative energy sucks the life out of you & I honestly don't feel like continuing that road. Secondly; it made me realise I have a major "flaw" in me that should now get wrinkled out a little bit more: it comes from insecurity.

Considering I should be confident in my work as I do this full-time, this struck me deeply in the calm hours after everyone left. While in a rare case or 2, I'm just feeling seriously on edge because even I had in the first moments the idea I "released a lesser quality piece" (pieces looked so incredibly alike to mine in my signature style) - in like 99% of the cases it's just because I'm insecure about my own qualities and vision.

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Working side by side with Antti has showed me that I have these qualities but I'm just not fully releasing my own capability and the fact I have my own signature style and vision & it has grown because I spend years perfecting it and I'm still far from done. People can copy it; but in the essence my work can never be the same because it's not I who made it and that will always be visible. Especially now with my recent (location) work I saw this a lot more happening.

Another aspect I learned that weekend is how incredibly little I actually know. It was such a humbling experience to be thought by Antti in a few minutes what I've been trying to figure out for a year or so now. It's also why I seriously want to step away from this "competitive" nature of mine and I just want to start sharing everything. Like I should care about such things. Being able to connect with people, networking, creating together is such an awesome experience and I cannot wait to inspire others like he did to me and made them realise what an amazing world is out there. For me also; it made me realised how much is still out there and I need to learn so so so much more. It honestly feels amazing because I felt down and uninspired and being pushed out of my zones is so inspiring to me!

In general I also just try to make life "more simple" by little steps and moving from chaos into a certain determined life structure allowing myself to breath. I already worked towards this in my new weekly schedule and I 'm really curious to see how life will develop now for me.

 

Musing Mondays: Adventure zone

About "Musing Mondays" 
*Musing Mondays is a series of blogs I release every week with my own thoughts regarding the my work as artist & the process behind it. I wanted to do this as online diary, both showcasing what happens when you're a full-time artist and being more transparent at the same time*

It's yet another monday, which means it's time for the series of blog called "Musing Mondays" - where I talk about things on my mind. And to be honest; it's a lot right now I don't even know how to translate it into words yet (I will try below for something I'm now most busy with):

Creating art & being an artist is a rocky road. If you do it professional, it usually gets a whole lot more tricky because the passion of art changes into the determination of running a business as your job. This is something I have finally found peace with and placed in my mind and it's allowing me to work towards my future & my goals. On the other hand right now; I'm struggling with placing in my own personal emotions towards creation and the process of it - after switching to a more professional point of view.

So I decided to take a break, which I've done and still am doing from creating any personal work in april. It's something I'm going to push on a little bit longer while I'm starting to put things together to start picking it up again during may & june. This is partially because I don't feel ready yet to create; but also to "teach" myself to not dive heads over heels into something and create something that isn't something I can put in my portfolio (which has now become my main goal).  It's a more strict way of creating but I feel approaching my work & projects as a commission that needs preparation I feel it might push myself further. Currently I feel like I've hit a wall both technically & artistically and while I could practice on older work; I want to challenge myself with full new sets entirely dedicated to this approach.

I used to create out of an emotional way of dealing with both reality and to make "myself more useful" to the world. It's something I could fairly easily do and I felt like a valueble human constantly sharing work on social media and receiving the appreciation of it. Of course like this, it's impossible to grow as I stayed inside my comfort zone(s). So it's time to both create for myself again and feed my inner artist but also go outside my comfort zone and create work that will level me up (hopefully) and push me out there more again.

Reading like this it feels like a major issue and something very hard to do but honestly: I haven't felt this relaxed in a long time both professional, artistivally & in my personal life. It's a lot of big words and talking; but it's good on the other hand because it means I'm not going into circles but pushing down to the matter and trying ways to solve the situation instead of just hiding behind more work for social media. I love working and thinking and creating; I just need to figure out how to do it properly and with success (or at least with the intention to do so).

Artists. We're a constant work-in-progress ourselves I guess ...

Musing Mondays: Comfort zones

About "Musing Mondays" 
*Musing Mondays is a series of blogs I release every week with my own thoughts regarding the my work as artist & the process behind it. I wanted to do this as online diary, both showcasing what happens when you're a full-time artist and being more transparent at the same time*

Comfort Zones (and going outside them)

 After this session I decided to focus on studio mostly - probably because I was tired of the Belgium weather and the hazards it brought sometimes. Kika blazed through it though despite it all and we made it work; but I vividly remember the cold and rain.

After this session I decided to focus on studio mostly - probably because I was tired of the Belgium weather and the hazards it brought sometimes. Kika blazed through it though despite it all and we made it work; but I vividly remember the cold and rain.

I vividly remember that back in the winter of 2015, I simply stated "I wasn't inspired by location anymore and therefore; I would quit it until an until further to determine date" - I set up my small home set-up and started my career as what now is know as "Studio Sheridan's Art" . Looking back; I'm sure this has been a determining factor to stand out as artist that allowed me to make a name for myself and to fulfill my dream to become a professional at one point.

Back then - and ironically - I hated studio to the bone . I just didn't understand it, it was boring & I didn't had no clue how to do it because everything was so complicated and I had barely the equipment. But I had it 'in my head' and I thought: just do it. Whatever. Comfort zones are there to break and so; I picked up studio (in my bedroom. Sitting on my bed. Because I had just one tiny room as I started working my old job. Good memories ...). I get these moments sometimes I become obsessed with something in a short amount of time and I guess doing studio was that thing. I did some location work after but it quickly dissapeared and I became a full-time artificial light & studio photographer (and really enjoying it too!) - I've been doing studio now until the spring of 2018 (with the location shoots in those years maybe countable on one hand alone already).

But just like I back then decided very abruptely I didn't want to do location anymore ... I'm now feeling I've settled in this comfort zone that leaves me uninspired, unchallenged and simply .. unsatisfied as artist as well. I also feel a lot of people started shooting and doing the same things and I might have some personal ego playing up; pushing me to do something completely else. I think the second comes from the first as from the moment I'm unsatisfied with my work, I become increasingly jealous of what others do and I feel everyone is invading my personal space because they're so much better. It's something I don't want to feel; but happens a bit too much lately.

 This is one of my first very successful studio sessions: which also greatly defined my current style & approach of my studio signature style.

This is one of my first very successful studio sessions: which also greatly defined my current style & approach of my studio signature style.

Now we're the spring of 2018: I'm still in my 'break' (which you can read more about here) and I cannot express my happiness enough for making this decision. It allowed me to take fifteen steps back, finish projects & assignments, sort & organise ... But also to help me evaluate my inner demons and struggles I fight on a daily base. Any artist will feel me on this & being a professional doesn't help as I always try to improve who I am, what my business is & how to stand out. Without losing what I want these days. Which is a lot yet has suddenly become very "simple" for me to understand:

I decided to take a break from my beloved series "Arcadia" and turn that inspiration in another direction yet true to it's origins: shoot it on location. Create a world, a real world, filled with knights & shieldmaidens, fallen kings and rising queens.

Don't play too much with photoshop or colored gels. Use the natural light, use smoke bombs, use real fire, use the elements of wind & water and create something that feels equally as much as a story straight out of a movie without the use of any additions in photoshop like fire (sparks) or smoke and the awesome tricks of artificial light and color. While both ways are equally creative and true in their way; for me relying on everything around me instead of bending it to my will is something highly out of my comfort zone as there is little room to make mistakes as I'm a horrible photoshop manipulator as I've always strived to do "as much as possible in camera" .

I'm curious to see how this project will develop: for the past few days I've been secretly pinning a ton of images to start understanding and shaping my vision I see in my head & to shape my inspiration into something more visual. Slowly the first projects have been kicked off as well with a few models casting and behind the scenes I'm trying to figure out how I will bring these ideas to life.

I want this to become the most epic thing I've ever done. Because that's the only way to ever come outside your comfort zone: do the things you fear. And I fear not being able to create anymore.






 

 



 

I edited your work!

So before I had to shoot today; I decided to reach out on my social media and ask for five raw files to edit! It's something I saw going around and I thought it would be fun to go check it out myself. So here we go! Hope you all enjoy this little fun sheridanigan. For me personally this showed again how crazy different we all are in our artistic visions and approaches; I also réally enjoyed editing other people their work for an afternoon and evening of creative relaxing and messing around.

- None of these photos belong to me; but are from the lovely people who send me their originals. Credits to the entire team(s) involved are in the description below. I only take credit for the post-processing part -

Credits
(Picture above) Photographer:  / Headpiece: Isla Campbell Millinery and Costumery
Credits (Picture Left - at Instagram): @christina_clasen / mua @mariaannaa_ / model @onroadtrip
Credits (Picture Right):
Photographer: Zachary Satko / Model - Ashley Stone

Credits
Credits (Picture Left - at Instagram:): Photographer - @75creatives & Model/MUA/Designer - @maskfame_hairstyle_makeup
Credits (Picture Right): Self-Portrait by Gizzy Lovett / Dress by Anton Krug / Headpiece by Rosenrot Photography & Design

Credits:

(Photo left): Photographer: Igor Benic / Model: Sara Stojkanovic / Make up: Sonja Vukovic
Photo (Right): Erik Noppe


Which one is your favorite? Let me know!

Taking a (month long) break from photography as a full-time photographer

What it feels like to take a break from shooting for almost an entire month (at least) from taking photographs ...

.... while you run a photostudio as a full-time living & professional photographer.

"Now how does it feel? Taking a break from shooting all the time? Are you happy?" - Jenske from Jane Von Vintage (who a lot of you will probably know as she does a lot of work for me) asked this to me today when I visited the Nyx store for some emergency make-up since I'm going to Elfia this saturday (I havent been to an event or con since 2015 I think; so I need to look fab-u-lous).

The answer came without a though: it felt so freaking amazing.

Seriously. Despite my initial sleepless nights and the stress it gave me to not be in the studio for over a month (for personal work) & with a minimum of clients (I have some from mid april on; but the absolute minimum. Everything is scheduled from may on again); it's one of the best decisions I've made in my entire full-time career.

Now let me break this down first: to understand where I come from is the following schedule with a minimum of at least 3 to 4 shooting days a week. With each shoot specifically having at least 2 sets. So that means in a single week I could easily do 6 to 10 shoots (sets or outfits: including hair & make-up); easily going up to 12 to 15. This was both client work and personal work. In between that I had also full-day commissions, had private classes to teach & of course: a hell lot of editing to do. Some management and administration was never far away and social media was my daily job. My personal life was also dominated from september until end of february with the full-time care of my boyfriend who had a heavy surgery (his spine needed fixing - which was heavily needed but taking care a was a full-time nursing job) & a household to run. So imagine that: that kinda full-time schedule for personal work + a full-time job in photography + full-time health care + a huge household to run. I did this all by myself and ofcourse: nobody is resistant to such a schedule. Looking back I don't know how I got through that half year but I somehow did (we are capable OF A LOT MORE than you think!) . - just re-reading that made me tired already.

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Back on track: It was not a fun time but it was a time I am now heavily embracing because it has made me a much better person. It also made me more responsible and conscious, I've lost my wild hairs and I'm taking my own health (personal & professional) first over anyone else. I also got a bit more down to earth with my two feet which is néver a bad thing.

All of that is also why I decided I needed a serious break from shooting. Like: serious. Nothing. I posted it a few times. I'm sure people didn't believe me as I tried that before. But that was before everything happened from 2017. I also quitted collabs for like, 99% . Something people probabyl didn't take that serious either.

I did both things and I'm now mid april; feeling incredibly relaxed. I did more in not even 2 weeks compared to the past 2 months (still got 2 more weeks to go from my break!). I haven't even planned anything yet except some rough concepts and plans that where already there and I'm now giving shape, slowly but steady. Instead, I've been putting time in myself (developing a healthy sleeping pattern, working out daily, even did some shopping today!) but I've also been working long hours for the business: finalising my websites, updating my portfolio, tackling tons of things I didn't do, shipping all kind of boxes, spring cleaning my workspaces, doing the online wardrobe catalogue, administration, emails & messages, finishing clients & commissions, working on my new prices and packages. Next week is a lot more practical (more editing & a lot of planning, marketing and preparing).

In this super fast world; I think it's important to create time. Even if that means "delaying" commissions and shoots. I was in no shape (mentally, physically, professionaly) to continue and my service was severely suffering from it. I wasn't going for a short fix, so I decided to do that incredibly scary thing and just be like: I'm booked full for this month; everything goes to may & up to august. Now is my time to work on the business behind the scenes and myself (because without me; there can be no service and results).

It's a very valuable lesson I learned. I do not recommend doing it this hardcore; but I do think I will make this a permanent solution in my business to create a week every 1,5 month where I just don't take bookings or commissions & I can catch up on everything else related to the business and to recharge my batteries. And that's something I can recommend anyone out there. - For my own future: I don't know when I will be shooting again; to be honest right now: I don't even think I will ever create like I did. I think if I do now 2 or 3 shoots a month it's going to be a lot. I realised there is more to it then posting on social media to "stay relevant" and I rather work for a curated timeline that is the result of a lot of financial, time, energy and research with more attention to detail, technique and finish in camera & post-processing alone.

We shall see. But for now: I am the happiest I've ever been in the past 2 years. And that's all that matters for now. I got an amazing set of clients from may on all the way to august and a lot more is happening so I seriously cannot wait to see how this will all develop now!

Musing Mondays: Rediscovering My Art

About "Musing Mondays" 
*Musing Mondays is a series of blogs I release every week with my own thoughts regarding the my work as artist & the process behind it. I wanted to do this as online diary, both showcasing what happens when you're a full-time artist and being more transparent at the same time*

Musing Mondays

Rediscovering my art


I'm going to kick off a new project called "Musing Mondays" on Kindle Inspiration & this blog with a topic I've been pondering about behind the scenes for a while now: "What the f*** am I doing, creating & being inspired by lately? Because I hella don't know anymore".

Seriously. I don't. I still blame my personal hell of 2017; but considering we're mid april now and kicking on to may somehow, with spring on my front door (or balcony, it's my morning routine with the cats to sit outside enjoying the morning now) ... I think it's also time to leave the past in the past. Including my insecurities and struggles I've "lost my voice in art" and that I'm getting nowhere. You know, there is a time to mourn and  to feel bad but at one point it's time to gather the pieces of your art soul and bring it back together with a touch of gold as broken doesn't mean defeated. It's just changed appearance and structure.

Easier said then done, with my philosophical self: so for this musing monday I decided to make it a hell lot easier: let's just put all of my favorite pieces of 2018 so far (roughly) together and sort it by style, appearance, editing technique & team and see what comes out of it. I'm more of a visual person in the long run so I hope this will help:

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And so here we are: a bunch of photographs I've made with some of my favorite people in this world who still - despite it all - believe in me and my crazy ideas. Thumbs up to them!

So what does this tell me when I look at it?

- I like the second row the most: the muted tones, the painterly touch, the simplicity & minimal approach that only let the actual subject shine ten times more.

- I love the upper row. I have a soft spot for colorgels because they allow me to create portraits that feel more surreal & often bring out all these details. I also get a lot of "it looks like a game" commentary and that makes me véry happy.

- The third row (and fourth also) is my current research of "how I can translate my work into a more modern & contemporary setting that will allow me to make it more of a product for sale rather then a piece of art" - something I have been pondering about & has been brought forth by the universe a few times in form of external conversations without asking for it (my sceptical soul of the higher force was triggered as it felt as both a warning as a suggestion that I'm on a good road with this  thought process). This row is still very specifically artistically and with a lot of fantasy influences though (which isn't bad).

- The final row, the fourth: is literally me trying to break outside my box of black backdrop; using a bright color of red. A lot of movemement, trying to make it more fashion and different. It's still a heavily work in progress as red is such a strong color but I really love being able to create different images that still feel slightly antique .

So all this together, let's give it a summary: it feels incredible to me to be able to analyse my work theoretically instead of emotionally/subjectively. I'm aware this is not a way for everyone (it hasn't been for me for 9 years!) but I have found myself lately more "inspired" (say motivated) to look at everything from a very analytical, objective point of view in both business as my personal work and art. This also due to me having made the decision that my photography as entirely is now a professional occupation of mine instead (which I'm very passionated about; but its a professional matter in my life). This has been véry rocky to say the least, but it also cleared up a lot of things for me because it doesn't allow for any personal interference anymore and it allows me to really dedicate time and energy into each project, vision, idea and train-of-thought. It's what makes a job awesome. My job is awesome ( aka dreamjob; I have to think how to become better).

My goals right now are very "simple": I want to use my influences of "fantasy" , mythology & masters of the old art to create images and portraits that are either more minimal and mysterious; focussing on the subject(s) & allowing them to speak (row 2 mostly) while at the same time for the second "style" to push myself to create images that are even more "out of this world" focussing on movement & expression (row 1 mostly - also heavily going back to my style of my "Arcadia" series).

I want my work to go over the line of digital art, feel almost traditional while using only a camera, my light set-up(s) and styling with photoshop for the finishing touches only (as far as possible - very close to row 3). While I cannot share my moodboard(s) yet; I hope to follow up in a few months with new examples and show how I translate my inspiration into my own reality.

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How do you translate inspiration? Do you also look back at your own work to get re-inspired or analyse? Or are you more "emotive" and you go with the flow? Or do you use both? Let me know! I would love to hear your approach.

Building a wardrobe: Purchasing pieces

Building A Wardrobe: Purchasing the pieces


A while ago I wrote a blog about one of my most asked questions: how did I get sponsored/gifted so many pieces that are in my wardrobe right now? Today I want to talk about another great way to build a wardrobe - which seems pretty obvious at first but has some really interesting points I want to touch - : Purchasing pieces.

While this seems pretty obvious to me; I do feel there is still a lot of ... misconception about it. Building a wardrobe isn't cheap and while you can do it cheap; I want to point out that cheap isn't always the long-term solution. Both for you (and your (future) business) but also for the world as a whole. I'm going pretty deep into this down below this blogpost. First some storytime:

Purchasing pieces: How & where do you start (or did I start)?
I've been collecting (hoarding) costumes since I was a kid and once I went to Antwerp in 2008 it kinda escalated from there. I started crafting my own costumes from cheap options I found in Zeeman or Wibra or I thrifted second hand online (facebook, second hand shops) and in real life. I also picked up some OC (original character) cosplaying vibes and tribal bellydance. So obviously: I needed more costumes. Everywhere I went, I was on the lookout for pieces. I also bought a lot from Ebay as it was a cheap option (with my student budget). I also got the occassional piece as a gift and I bought more from friends and online sales. 

Right now I also purchase a lot of pieces from actual stores  (Think Twice in Belgium most of all for example), but also a lot of handmade from designers all over the world. Be it directly from their stores or through online sales. I also have some (online) addresses I check regularly for new designs they're selling (again, second hand stores). Sometimes designers also contact me and offer me prototypes or pieces before they sell it online (easier for them, fun for me!). I'm also still hunting down everywhere I go for original looking pieces and if you take some patience with it and keep an open mind: it can go pretty fast. Now there is this more delicate topic I want to delve into:

 This dress is another piece I bought from a headdress designer/model who cleared out her wardrobe.

This dress is another piece I bought from a headdress designer/model who cleared out her wardrobe.

Why would  you do this? Let me tell you: I purchase handmade because I cannot demand or justifice my prices if I'm not willing to fully value and understand the prices my fellow independent business ask for their work (and pay for it without asking for a discount or deal). You cannot make an excuse for this: if you want to get paid for your craft, you must be willing to pay for the craft of others as well. It's that simple. Don't be a hypocrite. And also: buying handmade is great for the economic (because you're literally paying someone their salary. Salaries are cool! We all like a salary at the end of the month). And believe me: we all love that *ping* when a sale has made so you get good karma above it too! Making people happy is really awesome to do.

Another reason is that I want to raise my prices by september 2018 and I want the value of my service to reflect what I offer: a high quality, unique, almost entirely ethically sourced and impressive one-of-a-kind wardrobe. You can't get that with ebay and h&m.

Now beside all that: building a wardrobe & the purchasing part is a really time-consuming project. Unless you're blessed by a great wallet full of coin to spend. A lot of us start from scratch and it can be frustrating at times. Please don't be disappointed: keep your eyes open, save up, take the time to go out & check shops once every two weeks for pieces. Become part of selling groups online on facebook, scout depop, go to markets, ask around if people want to get rid of things ... there are so many ways to purchase a wardrobe without breaking the bank too much and without supporting the fash fashion industry. Its also incredibly worth it to save up for special pieces (birthday money anyone?).

It's also important for me to mention: if you want to make this your business or you're in business. It's a necessary, evil investment. As much as your camera and your lights. Don't skimp on it. Value what you do as much as you value your photoshop. Because it will allow you to understand your own services even better and how (potential) clients will aproach it.

Good luck & most of all: have fun with it! Over & Out!

 I bought this stunning pink dress from sale one of my fellow photographers did. Got it for around 50 euros (with shipping).

I bought this stunning pink dress from sale one of my fellow photographers did. Got it for around 50 euros (with shipping).

Why do I avoid as much as possible to buy from chain stores and/or websites like ebay or wish?

I'm a person that feels pretty dedicated to ensuring an life as ethical as possible as a non-vegan/vegetarian, non-activist, regular 27 year old (I cannot be more mediocre in my lifestyle. I do eat like 85/90% veggie though). I try to make my impact on the world in an as less-negative way as possible without either being hypocrite or blind for one thing and promoting the other (which is easier said then done; but I try to get my intentions as good as possible while learning as much as I can. I think educating yourself is the best way to learn & I'm not here to preach about it outside this blog either). This affected my business in such a way I'm moving more and more away (almost entirely, unless necessary) from the fast fashion industry .

Its great to buy pieces for a few bucks but I don't feel creating a wardrobe that is made by underpaid workers, often underage, working in harsh working conditions with crazy hours. With an industry that is polluting the world as we know it and contributing to this decay that is so widespread. I did (and sometimes still do purchase) pieces from chain stores like H&M . But I avoid shops where clothing is suspiciously low (like Primark). This is a very personal decision I made and one that is also greatly affecting my wallet but I feel this is one I do want to address. While I won't shoot you if you do - I did it in the past too, out of simply not knowing yet & because I had a shoestring budget - I want to simply share my opinions and I hope it might inspire you to do the same from now on or once you have this opportunity (even if it's just an occassional piece). I think intentions and actions speak louder when made from a personal zone instead of being pushed by an activist that is demanding either one or the other. This is incredibly personal to write for me but I do feel this is incredibly important to mention. Beside something I'm honestly really dedicated too: buy handmade from independent designers.

 Now this was me second most expensive purchase: I bought the "Lunar Moth" corset + matching dress for Rainbow Curve Corsetry. I set up a payment plan for it as it was ... very expensive (almost 4 digits). But its handmade, its incredibly stunning & I have 0 regrets! There goes nothing above offering my clients these pieces to wear and to support my artistic industry in more ways than just promoting a friend with some pretty pictures. I bought a lot more handmade already since then and I'm almost entirely moving to second hand only AND handmade to build my wardrobe.

Now this was me second most expensive purchase: I bought the "Lunar Moth" corset + matching dress for Rainbow Curve Corsetry.
I set up a payment plan for it as it was ... very expensive (almost 4 digits). But its handmade, its incredibly stunning & I have 0 regrets! There goes nothing above offering my clients these pieces to wear and to support my artistic industry in more ways than just promoting a friend with some pretty pictures. I bought a lot more handmade already since then and I'm almost entirely moving to second hand only AND handmade to build my wardrobe.

Building A Wardrobe: Sponsored by Designers

Building A Wardrobe - Getting sponsored by designers


"Building A Wardrobe: Getting sponsored by designers" - How I got so many items to keep.

It's a question if I often get and I want to start digging into this over the course over a few blogs, with the first one tackling - also one of the most delicate topics - : getting sponsored. While most of my clothing wardrobe is years of hoarding, most of my headpieces and other accessoires are build on years of mutual beneficial collaboration and since a short time a change in my business workflow. This resulted in a wardrobe with easily over a hundred headpieces by now and is still ongoing.

I have some golden rules for collaborations in general (and for me, these are closely knit together with sponsorships): The only thing I've never done is asking for a sponsorship. I've never reached out to a designer asking to send me free stuff in exchange for marketing material. I've rarely touched on the subject when in a conversation of collaboration either when I reach out. I do mention it when people reach out to me (as asking party) and I feel interested in collaborating but I'm not in the game anymore to just shoot and send it back since a good year now.

For me it's an incredible important detail to always keep in mind who is behind the messages (and the shop) and realise there is an actual person behind the screen, often running the entire shop on him or herself (with help of a partner or friend in some cases). Now that is out: here are the three most common scenarios for me & how I got into all of this:


Note before reading: This blog touches mostly on me working with independent and small businesses and rarely to never involve bigger companies. This is also mostly based on my experiences for the past years when growing as photographer and my first year as growing business.

 Arma Medusa has sponsored me for a long time now and her amazing hand-jewelry has starred in many of my work: both for clients as personal. She's one of the few designers I ever went up to & said: "I have an idea" and she created pieces for that. I still use all of her work to this day on a very regular base.

Arma Medusa has sponsored me for a long time now and her amazing hand-jewelry has starred in many of my work: both for clients as personal. She's one of the few designers I ever went up to & said: "I have an idea" and she created pieces for that. I still use all of her work to this day on a very regular base.


"How I got pieces to keep - The 3 ways"

- 1. Gifts during/after the collaboration

One of the most common ones where a designer has gifted me one (or rarely more) pieces as a thank you for the work I have done in collaboration for them (or in advance they tell me I can keep a piece). A succesfull collaboration is worth more than gold and it can be an incredibly uplifting and rewarding experience for all parties involved: getting great images for a webshop is one of the most important aspects of selling and the photographer (and rest) of the team involved gets epic pictures for their portfolios. All parties also have some great content for social media!

In this stage, a designer has often gifted me a piece I really liked or they let me choose one. This often comes out of the blue for me as well as I never expect something in return because I value their trust and investment already enough because it's still sending pieces to a total stranger somewhere in Belgium in hopes it gets there safe, survives the time there & gets back in one piece. Also don't drop "subtle hints" - chances are they heard it all and we all do see it coming from miles away.

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- 2. Actual sponsorships

My work with Hysteria Machine is a great example of this: back in 2014 I had worked with her for a few times and she wanted to get a team together to shoot her work on a regular base for a consistent style and simply because to have less stress & hassle. I was one of the people chosen and we worked together for a long time: I would shoot (new) pieces for her and her business. In return for all the pieces I got, she could use all the photos I made for promotional & commercial business.

An important note on sponsorships is this: don't be greedy. While she has send me tons of stuff; since a while she hasn't asked me and I always respect the boundaries (and also: don't ask for the "why" - nobody owes you an explanation why (not) anymore). A sponsorship should always be a business relationship and kept as a business relationship. Don't use it to get that one piece you really want thats new and take advantage of your sponsorship. If you want it & your sponsor doesn't say anything about sending it to you: either shut up about it or buy it (and support a small independent business. See my note below at the end about this).

I follow a lot of amazing designers and sometimes they put up calls like this. You can always apply for it and see what happens or let it grow organically after a one or multiple great collaborations. Because believe me: designers are perfectly capable of putting one-and-one together at times and they will consider it probably. Maybe for one or two; maybe more. Just let them decide and give them some personal space.

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- 3. Trading

A trade is something I started doing about a year ago after I realised I had over 500 euros in expenses for shipping & import taxes alone in less then 3 months after I got a note from my accountant. This was a serious wakeup call for me as well as I was already a full-time business paying a double rent and heavily investing into letting it all grow. Using the "trade" mechanism is not something I would recommend doing from the start as I feel this is something for the more "experienced" photographers out there and only when you're being approached.

When I get approached now for a collaboration I will carefully check out the person messaging me to see what (s)he has to offer and if it's worth putting my business & personal time, money and other investments & financial loss in it. Usually I will decline and offer my rates instead ; though in some cases when I really like the work I will say yes: on the one condition I can get a piece of/or pieces making up to at least x-value to add to my wardrobe as compensation. It's up to the designer contacting me if (s)he agrees on this or not; which will also give me an insight in if (s)he values my investment enough. As I will equally demand the same respect of those I work with for my investments as I try to value in them and what they do for me.

This is something I only started doing since a year or so & I only do when I genuinly like the piece(s) the person is offering. Even if I get a piece/pieces ; I still need to keep my end of the bargain and deliver photos in return. As mentioned on the side here right as well: while I love shooting & supporting independent businesses: I've learned the very hard way that my business always comes  first. That doesn't mean you should be an entitled twat as you can seriously be a genuine, caring person without sacrifing the health of your business and yourself. I don't want to use my advantage of being a more well-know photographer to get freebies to collect and never do anything with. Which is why I've got way more selective about this and why I only offer this when I genuinly both like a piece as when I'm pretty sure my clients will like this.


* This is how I did it. I only started receiving and doing this since end 2014 (I've been pretty active shooting since 2009) and only after I developed a great portfolio and some name-ish as well. Sponsorships are a great deal & shouldn't be taking lightly. How cool as it sounds (and is!). While mistakes always happen (and I had many): always stay honest and genuine. That usually saves you and you can always work something out.

Hope you all enjoyed this read! Drop me a message if you ever have any questions & I will do my best to get back to you!*

 nI've purchased the "Madonna Halo" by Hysteria Machine with my own money after saving up a LONG time to get it & had to wait a while to get it after. Worth it 200% ! Even if you have/had a great relationship, it never entitles you to freebies just because  you want it  . Support your fellow independent people in more ways than just pictures.

nI've purchased the "Madonna Halo" by Hysteria Machine with my own money after saving up a LONG time to get it & had to wait a while to get it after. Worth it 200% ! Even if you have/had a great relationship, it never entitles you to freebies just because you want it . Support your fellow independent people in more ways than just pictures.

 Another great example of a collaboration/sponsorship/purchase all at once is with "Raspberry Mazohyst" : initially I reached out to him for my "Eden Project" ; which he declined as he didn't do collabs. He did offer me a discount, which after a while of saving up used to get two of his cross-designs. He added up to three more pieces of his choice for me to use for all of my projects at around the same time after that. Right now we're working on an actual collaboration (ship to me & back) for a project as well. A relationship with a designer can go all directions at once as well and thats why I find it so important to always remember you're dealing with a person on the other side of the screen. I own about 7 or 8 pieces from him (including a one-of-a-kind I got offered to purchase at the discount).  We get along great on a personal level too which is always a great factor as well; but I feel strongly about even valueing people even more when such developments happen.  I genuinly care about working with small independent businesses to provide amazing images: be it through trade, sponsorship or commission (or all at once and more). But I also learned that  my business  comes first: so it's all about staying true to what you want (for yourself & your business) & desire to receive from others. I use that as a way of "checking myself" when reaching out to others or being in a negotiating.

Another great example of a collaboration/sponsorship/purchase all at once is with "Raspberry Mazohyst" : initially I reached out to him for my "Eden Project" ; which he declined as he didn't do collabs. He did offer me a discount, which after a while of saving up used to get two of his cross-designs. He added up to three more pieces of his choice for me to use for all of my projects at around the same time after that. Right now we're working on an actual collaboration (ship to me & back) for a project as well. A relationship with a designer can go all directions at once as well and thats why I find it so important to always remember you're dealing with a person on the other side of the screen. I own about 7 or 8 pieces from him (including a one-of-a-kind I got offered to purchase at the discount).

We get along great on a personal level too which is always a great factor as well; but I feel strongly about even valueing people even more when such developments happen.

I genuinly care about working with small independent businesses to provide amazing images: be it through trade, sponsorship or commission (or all at once and more). But I also learned that my business comes first: so it's all about staying true to what you want (for yourself & your business) & desire to receive from others. I use that as a way of "checking myself" when reaching out to others or being in a negotiating.


*IMPORTANT NOTE:
You are not worth it if you aren't willing to actually pay actual money for a piece. While I often get compared to a forever hoarding dragon like Smaug because I like all the pretty things I see passing by & want to have it all: it doesn't mean I should just get it "because I'm Sheridan's Art" or even expect it to be send my way. Sponsorships are a delicate relationship of mutual trust and benefit and should never be exploited by either party. I have bought multiple pieces by now because I didn't get them & I really wanted it. Just like in collaborations (and this is why I never ask for sponsorships): you're satisfying your needs if you reach out to someone; not theirs. So buy the piece instead of asking for it. And if you can't pay it: save up. Or at least inquire if there are rental options & actually do rent out the piece(s).

A Freelancer Schedule

Yesterday I had a honest moment about my current state of mind and life. And instead of settling only on that and log back in once I got that all sorted: I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about the changes I want to implement in my life right now to make a positive change. One of the things I spoke about was that I absolutely do not work properly with a "9-to-5" schedule; however I feel a certain basic routine might help me also with ensuring I can get my work done and create time. Right now my life is a mess of non-stop work and juggling 5 tasks at once above the casual multitasking so I decided to give myself a basic schedule I need to keep myself too somehow. I try to see this as a guideline and not a routine. It's healthy to have a certain week planned ahead for someone like me so I cannot procrastinate and keep it hanging until it's too late. In the end; I always remind myself: I run a business. And discipline should be part of running a business as much as loving your job is. It's amazing to being able to run your business but I also feel it's time to both find a balance between that idea I "can do what I want, when I want" beside the "you run a business, so here are certain expectations and deadlines and routine you need to keep yourself too" - My goal now is trying to find that balance.

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Looking at it like that: it's a lot. Though a lot can easily be scheduled & I did that exact same thing here in the follow up.

I have a few regular days set up for shooting based upon when my clients are available for portrait sessions and/or private classes; those days are: wednesday, friday, saturday & sunday. Usually I only take on 3 days a week for sessions (with up to 2 solo sessions or up to 3 sessions for one person depending on how much they booked me). I use the extra day for when I have a very busy period or when I need a weekend day off for family.

My current team is pretty flexible but have days they need to work. Except (for now) one day which has unofficially become my "personal shooting work day): tuesday.

Somehow my "day off" is going to be easiest when I choose for "monday" as that is usually when I had a crazy weekend, I might have things to prepare for that tuesday (if I shoot personal work) and it's one of the fun perks of being a freelancer you can take the dreaded monday away from work. Also I'm getting a little bit older soon, so sometimes being able to sleep to a whopping 8 o'clock in the morning (I'm an early bird) is nice for my beautysleep.

And those work-out days? I think my monday, tuesday & thursday are going to be those dreaded days. Maybe I will hit the gym more often in between and make it part of a healthy morning routine, but for now I want to have at least three days I need to go. The rest I will see how I start feeling about it. I find that my health is becoming more & more important to me after heavily neglecting it for a long time (years now). Together with that gym-plan I also want to spend more time cooking actual meals and not throw some things together to make sure I'm not hungry. I feel with people like me: often we put ourselves on the very last & our art goes first place followed by our job. So I want to change that around.


Will this work out? To a certain degree I think it does. There will be days and weeks I cannot keep myself to it; as that's also part of life. But for now I feel my current approach will allow myself to setle in and take on life. Right now I'm incredibly worried and stressed out so giving myself a (temporarily) guideline should help me out (I hope) to overcome this all and renew my energy to tackle the next part in this chapter of life.

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First of all I wanted to get my goals straight; I have always a lot of plans and ideas and inspiration so my biggest talent is also my hardest downfall. I want to do it all and preferably all at once right now. So here are my current resolutions:

1. Personal life:
- Ensure I work out 3 times a week for an hour each time at least
- Cook at least 5 times (with the possibility to warm up leftovers)
- Take at least one day off a week (this is the hardest for me): to hang out with friends, play games, edit all day if I want, play with the cats, go do something random, ...

2. Work (Business)
- Spend 5 days a week working on my business
- Get one day free for "Kindle Inspiration" & everything I want to do for it.
- Spend half my time on marketing, social media, finding clients, develop business relationships, refining my skills & learning more things. Includes also working on my visual side of things for upcoming projects, pitching & expansion of portfolio.
- Spend my second half of my time on finishing clients, working on my service, refining my service, speed up my turnaround without losing its quality (only increase)

3. Work (Personal)
- Shoot a maximum of 1 personal work day every 2 weeks, with a maximum of 2 concepts on that day alone. (Before I usually used to do this 2 to 4 days a week with even more concepts).
- Work for the coming future almost only on my visions & inspiration alone, allowing myself to tune in with my roots and develop my portfolio like I want it without any outside pressure and expectations.

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Now Or Never Anymore

(Important note: this is about my personal/collaborative work & has nothing to do with my clients & commissions; in fact I want to shoot less in my free time so I have more time & energy for those specifically!).

Update: I spoke here about how & what I'm going to do to channel these feelings and do something about it!

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I felt it's time to write honestly about something on here, considering I want to use this platform as a way to inspire & educate others out there. It's not something I want to write about with pleasure; but I feel transparancy is becoming something rare and I want to try and stay authentic: so here is a honest moment in time.

I'm tired of creating.
I find it hard to like my job.
My creativity has burned up.
(And I really don't want it; in fact after nearly losing my dreamjob *which is this here yes* I'm starting to realise how much I love it and how much I need to change to make it something I love again and want to give my everything too)

There. It's out now.
I've been slowly but steady bringing out the word that I want to shoot less (personal/free/collaborative) work; something I said before in the years past but never like I mean it now: I'm honestly really really really tired. I'm tired physically, I'm tired mentally and I feel my creativity is not living up to my expectations and due to that; I also feel I'm letting my collaborats and clients down.

It's kinda really stressfull and it wears me down heavily to enjoy it all. And that's because I worked too much; that thing that everyone tells you to do all the time.

"You got to work hard. Shoot 24/7. Create. Improve. Create. Grow. Don't give up".

Its true; but too much is too much and I feel that too little people speak up about that it's not about "more is better"; the quality of work you put into it (and not just pressing the shutter & post-processing it) is actually hella way more important. But its just often the most dreadful & uncreative part of it all.

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It's always strange how easily it is to listen to someone his or her story and be like: "dude, just change that and this and do it different and shit will be fine!". But it always takes some time before you actually realise how true it is (sorry boyfriend, sorry mom & dad. You where right on this one).

If I don't stop now and change my life 360 degrees and start pursuing the idea that only I am the one who should decide the value of my life; I won't get far. I'm now more and more just realising that it should be totally possible to stay true to my beliefs to be a good person, help and support others without damaging myself, my business and my life. That it's fine to put myself on the first line on times as right now, I'm no good to anyone. As person and as photographer and as business. And people will call me "selfish" and "a bitch" and "egocentric". Thing is: I know how it is to be one. I used to be young and wild and self-centered. Life pretty much kicked me under my butt at the "young age of near 27 (for the last few days)" (also thanks karma; I'm grateful). I'm learning myself that it will happen and it is okay as long as I know I'm being the best person I can be, without sacrificing myself, my business & my vision for someone or anyone else. Because it's perfectly possible to disagree on something and yet still give someone all the support they need. Even if that means by letting them go.

Self-love & self-care should be held high as value and be teached a lot more. I see it happening to me; I see it happening around me. I'm realising how deeply this feeling can run and I might sometimes be a cause of it as I'm always creating, always working & always dreaming up the next big thing.

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"Supremacy" from my "Arcadia" series; still one of my prime works. Also one that feels "SA" to me the most of all to this date as well. Marked also the started of the entire "Arcadia" series as well ...


I feel it's time for me to "dissapear" a little bit on certain things and starting taking some major steps back with what I do when I'm not working on clients. I spoke about it on my Facebook and as well a little bit on my Instagram stories: I don't feel like shooting more isn't working. In fact: its holding me back to evolve in life & my business and even pushing me backwards. It's been a véry hard pill to swallow for me and I've been fighting over it with myself for a long time now (and with my so here as well. Stubborness is a double edged knife). I love shooting, I love editing. But now I grew "older" I realised that it was a form of escapism from my fears, to make myself a "valuable person" and some kind of work-binge to make me feel good. And accomplished and like, meaningfull.

Right now the only thing I want is to work on my business, start working on projects, work on "Kindle Inspiration" here & actually move away from shooting unless it's for what used to my biggest passion: my awesome job. My job has become a routine and it has been the biggest joy-killer in my life. It also affected my mental health as I basically am not made for a 9-to-5 mentally (and thats what my freelance job is now). And I can't break out of it and  you know why? There are always people asking for photos, collabs to be arranged, promised I need to keep, shoots I need to finish and moments of inspiration to post-process. Expectations are pretty high and I am broke because all my money goes into free productions and shipping expenses. For yet another shoot. While now I realised how expensive it is to run a business in Belgium and I cant sleep at night because bills keep coming in non-stop (long live being your own boss!) & the reality is that I don't sleep very well over it.

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Writing this is not easy. But I do feel it's important to get "out there" - while I finish up these last collabs, work out the last crazy ideas & try to wrap up my mind that I might go on a little personal hiatus soon: I also feel more and more in a healthy way tired because I'm letting go and allowing myself to change my vision and values in life to become a better person. One that can run her business much better, one that refine her service & that can create more meaningful art and bring a whole new experience to her clients. I want to be able to put so much more in my business and spend instead of 75% of my waking time on personal work (25% on my business and that 5% for everything else in life which includes eating healthy & sleep), 65% of my waking time in my business, 10% in personal workand keep the remaining 25% for other projects in life, hanging out with friends and sleeping/living a healthier lifestyle that will allow me to age more gracefully and not wear my soul out for the likes and appreciation of this fast-paced age of social media and instant satisfaction. Because how I can I inspire & motivate others, if I have lost my passion for it all? Thats the question I asked myself and found the answer too.

Currently, I'm both dreading and loving the remaining projects. Once I'm on set: I love it, I love the shooting. I love the editing. I love creating. But it's hard to focus in advance as it feels like "I lose a day to work on my clients". Personal was there to charge my batteries over 9000 so I could work 20 hours and be happy about it. But I look forward (with a somehow heavy heart, I'm afraid of the art-addiction-withdrawals) once I take a break from creating new personal work. Its going to be one hell of an interesting life lesson for sure, but like my tarot cards always said: "one should not be afraid to look up the silence and solitude" (I always get the hermit). So I guess it's time to learn and be happy with myself alone, without art to make me feel a valuable person. Because without, I feel absolutely worthless. And that's the root of all evil now.


I still got some epic projects planned with some epic heroes of mine: in fact thats why I'm taking such a major step back. I want to be able to put my energy in that & that alone. Get hyped when I finish up those late night deadlines for clients and wake up knowing again I have the most fucking awesome job in life. I want to be able to put all these extra hours in my clients, getting photos done faster, get my services leveled up, expand my business and start working on how I work on my education as I want nothing more than inspiring others to start creating (and try to learn them not to make my crazy mistakes). Deep inside, I feel I'm making the best decision ever. It's just so incredibly scary to do so. Even though I already started doing it and I am not only getting my head cleared, I also can feel the first real sparks of happiness again like I used to feel. With less weight on my shoulders. I can't WAIT to build more on my business now, once I "slept of the wintersleep" I wrapped myself in.

2017 was a mess for me, like many. I want to look back and make 2018 the year that I fully took life in own hands and made it something I can look back on and be hella proud of what I've done. And not only because I made pretty photos. I want to be so much more and actually overcome my own worst enemy inside my head.

Thank you so much for reading.
I love you all <3

Netherlands, Artgasms & Mohawks for days

Netherlands, Artgasms & Mohawks for days

A while back I was in the Netherlands, visiting Josefien Hoekstra & her amazing studio in Amersfoort (and going on some more adventure after; but more about that later): I worked with some new people and some of my favorite people and it ended up in this creative mess of colors, kaleidoscopes & big headpieces. I shared one set before (because got slightly overboard) which you can find here . I had so much fun and I really worked outside of my own comfort zone these days which really made me happy.

Lately I felt somehow like running into a wall and trying different things has helped me to understand what really inspired me. Though before I go into all of that, here are the awesome results I've been able to create with some amazing people! Thank you all so much if you read this!

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*Click on the photos to enlarge*

Model - Nathaly Blue
Makeup - Ashley Design Make-up Artistry
Mohawk - Pioro Blue
Photography - Sheridan's Art

Model - Necia Navine
Makeup - Ashley Design Make-up Artistry
Latex - Marquis Fashion
Photography - Sheridan's Art

Model/Makeup - Necia Navine
Headpiece/Shoulderpieces/Breastpiece: Pioro Blue
Claws - Arma Medusa
Photography - Sheridan's Art

Model - Necia Navine
Makeup - Ashley Design Make-up Artistry
Couture - Rainbow Curve Corsetry
Mohawk - Pioro Blue
Photography - Sheridan's Art

"Save Me Your Prayers"

"Save Me Your Prayers"

Beginning of february I traveled to the Netherlands to visit the amazing Josefien Hoekstra in her Studio XO in Amersfoort for both client as personal work. It was something I really looked forward to after working mainly from home all the time and to work with both new faces, new clients and a different space.

Now while it's pretty well know I'm very picky when it comes to models I work with as I always have a certain look & aura in mind: there are always some exceptions that happen on your path. I think the most noticeable in my entire career is my dear Nathaly Blue who mostly specialises in latex & fetish kind of modeling; while I'm at the other side of the spectrum creating fantasy stories & painting-inspired works (even when working on my "Eden Project" ). Miss Blue is also one of the only persons on this world right now who can take me out of my comfort zone in such a way I shoot things I thought I would never really shoot: like a sexy, fetish in latex 'dressed' nun rocking a giant oversized cross bsdm collar while showing some underboob. It kinda happened and to be honest: this is by far one of my most favorite sets I've ever shot in my career as photographer so far: fashion meets latex and a hella lot o'beauty and talent. Kinda everything I ever wanted without knowing I wanted it. That's a true "art-chemistry" relationship for me and I'm very grateful to be able to work with people like her.

Josefien was so kind to let me play around with her Lensbaby Lens (thank you!!!) and of course I had to use my fractals to create even more interesting looks. If you go for it, I guess once should go all the way.

While I'm unsure if I will touch such a subject again (even though it did really spark my interest to try my hands more on this "editorial fetish") - I guess I will just let it come without pushing too much boundaries and goals. For now I want to proudly present you her beautiful sets I'm really hyped about to share with all of you!

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Credits

Model / Latex & Halo - Nathaly Blue
Makeup - Ashley Design & Makeup Artistry
Collar - Raspberry Mazohyst
Photography - Sheridan's Art

*First set shot with a Lensbaby Lens / Kaleidoscope Effect shot entirely in camera*
Technical Aspects: 50mm 1.4 / 5D Mark 3 ; Edited in Adobe Raw & Photoshop CC

- Click on the photos to enlarge -

A Change In Pace

I speak a lot about collaborations and the highs & lows of it. After spending three days working for clients and shooting personal work in the Netherlands with an amazing team & some real lovely people: I thought it would be time as well to write a little about how I currently feel about this entire industry of "working in name of art" (from my perspective & also answer some much asked questions while I'm on it:)

The question of "can we work together/collaborate?" is an almost daily on one my social media and one I always answer the same too: "No. This is my job. Here are my rates" (more or less). There are some rare occassions where I do meet up with some new lovely creatures who are actively pursuing a career or their passion in this world of art; but I feel less & less both inspired as insisted to work with new people.

The next part will sound very selfish and very self-centered; but I think from a certain point (and I've realised this way too late) it's a very necessary thing to achieve and pursue in this creative industry once you hit a certain mark and have a certain goal or career in sight. The market is heavily oversaturated these days as photography and everything around has become super accessible for even the lowest budgets. And while there is nothing wrong with that; I do feel there is a massive shift when it comes to a certain entitlement that anyone can get anything from everyone. This is something I heavily struggled with as I'm a serious people pleaser and I like to do nothing more than to see people happy with photos I've made off/for them. Which, in return, does not pay my bills. It does not give me the necessary time to recharge and it definitely doesn't give my body and mind the necessary break to deal with the crazy schedule I work on. Leading to my current state of pure exhaustion (a happy exhaustion, but on this monday I won't be doing much retouching for some commissions I have waiting, making my near future another heavy long day).

And there is nothing wrong with that; I can do the coolest job I could dream off. But I've realised now for real that I do not wish to continue this path as it's not giving me the artgasms to finish a new piece of art (except for the past days, but that was because I did the very thing I'm about to say): I'm only creating for myself again, with people around me who both embrace me as a person as my artistic vision.

 From my "Blue Blood" series with some of my favorite people: model is Fox &amp; Lionheart with makeup by Jane Von Vintage &amp; Hair by Julia Lion Hair. The epic collar is by Raspberry Mazohyst and one of my biggest inspirations and influencers as we both resonate deeply with each other on how we feel about life, collaborations and creating art together and with others (I'm also a huge fan of his creations!)

From my "Blue Blood" series with some of my favorite people: model is Fox & Lionheart with makeup by Jane Von Vintage & Hair by Julia Lion Hair. The epic collar is by Raspberry Mazohyst and one of my biggest inspirations and influencers as we both resonate deeply with each other on how we feel about life, collaborations and creating art together and with others (I'm also a huge fan of his creations!)

From my collaboration with both Arda Wigs as Thrjar Jewelry ; model is Illyria Okami wearing styling by my partner Mytholon & a headpiece by Delorian Creations.

I've decided to give barely any ground to those (in terms of time, investment & energy) if they're not my personal close friends or concepts/themes I'm not interested in. I'm not interested anymore in working with those who only want to work with me for the models or designer pieces I get to work with and want to do their thing with it or give me the feeling my voice gets lost. I want to work with people I can easily go get a hot chocolat with as well as create something epic we all feel the art-vibes from while together merging our aesthetics & vision to make a beautiful art-symphony. And those I look up to, I reach out to myself: because I'm incredibly inspired and I want to give all I have for it with them (if they want me that is).

Collaborations have shifted as much as I have and I've come on a very personal point in life where I feel my life is drained of everything that makes it worth living and beautifully inspired. For someone who basically is a walking maelstrom of concepts & ideas; not feeling the vibes as I should feel them makes me very unhappy (as shallow as it sounds). Together with the urgent loom of aging (I'm turning 27 in a month, which seems very young yet I can feel the first touches of aging coming): I want to do things that make me happy because this is my life and when I die, I would regret not doing it.

Creating art is like growing up: mistakes will be made, perspectives shift, you outgrow certain things and grow into new things. In a year, or two or ten: I will go back to my old ways. Life and history repeats itself, always. And that's perfectly fine too! But we live in the present and sometimes (or a bit more often): one should do the things  you love the most. I'm so deeply grateful for the opportunities that life and people have given me. It's not a light decision I made either however, it's one that can only benefit my life and those around me. And for me right now: that's the most important thing. As for me now: creating  something new is less important compared to the time I could give to those around me & myself. And not just to create something new for social media.




 


P.S I'm not quitting collaborations. I got a massive list of amazing people (new and old) I'm teaming up with; as well as some new faces (mostly clients! I got such stunning clients ...) who I want to gently borrow for one of my many ongoing ideas. I just don't feel urged anymore by my surroundings and/or social media to "be refreshing/be new/create/post/..." - I just want to do what I enjoy and now I'm coming out of a heavy life period in my private life; I feel spending time differently for other results is more interesting to me than yet another something-art I don't feel the vibes from as I'm simply creating too much (its a thing yes). I just feel being "selfish" is an amazing thing a lot more people should do. It also has given me a much deeper understanding and appreciation of those who work with me; as well as a deeper understanding of what I want & others want. And it's okay to part ways over that and support them in other ways in their journey. Be it direct or indirect. So *raises glass of chocolat* here is to a new life lesson!

"Make collaborations great again"

How I feel as full-time professional freelancer about collaborations ...
And why I think we need to have a little chat about it:

Now this is one of those blogs that I've been wanting to write for a very long time. Not because I'm frustrated on a daily base (though yes, those days do happen sometimes); simply because I feel it needs to be adressed as a whole situation because I feel it's tainting the creative industry as I know it now, with a little bit of frustration and drama here and there:

When we talk "collab(oration" or "tf(c)" or "testing" we are talking about working together on a (single) project where no $$ payment is involved for anyone. It's something anyone will and should continue doing; from beginning people to semi-pro to full professionals. Usually, this is on a more or less regular base for a wide variety of reasons (experience, portfolio, fun or simply because one can and want). Sometimes, this includes that people get freebies or some trade happens; but usually (and normally in my opinion) it's more about the process of creating something together everyone can use for some/various reasons. Professional or not. And from various conversations in the past days, weeks & months: it's also something all of my creative (full-time) fellows have agreed with me on:

Now I had my fair share of collaborations; in fact my entire full-time business is build upon this and to this date I'm still collaborating with various hypertalented people national and international to bring concepts and projects to life. It's the fuel between commercial & commission assignments and something I love to do because I'm a most of all creator, my camera is my first medium as artist I succeeded in on a bigger level.

Now before I continue I want to point out I am a professional full-time artist and educator. While this seems like a small detail - even if you're doing this part-time - it's a massive game changer between those who do it for fun & as semi-pro compared to those who actually do this as an actual day time job supporting household, life and business and only that with no other sources of income. I've been through this entire process (doing it as a hobby, then studies, then part-time and finally full-time) and it doesn't really matter when you read this where you identify yourself: I don't feel entitled because I do this as a job, for me the only thing that really matters is how much fun you have with it. But it does matter a lot when it comes to your expectations of the people you reach out too to work with for free. Small change, big difference.

 Another one of my free projects with Jane Von Vintage &amp; Julia Lion hair (the series is "Space Girls" ) , with Maki as a model - this was to get creative differentely. It resulted in already one paid commission inspired on this series on which I will try to bring in them as creative team to finish the look for my client to her wishes. This was both to do something else &amp; experiment as to challenge ourselves and have a diversity in our portfolio.

Another one of my free projects with Jane Von Vintage & Julia Lion hair (the series is "Space Girls" ) , with Maki as a model - this was to get creative differentely. It resulted in already one paid commission inspired on this series on which I will try to bring in them as creative team to finish the look for my client to her wishes. This was both to do something else & experiment as to challenge ourselves and have a diversity in our portfolio.

Let me break it down:
When you create something, usually a lot of time is involved: preparations (communication, planning; fitness), gathering supplies (fabric, props, dresses, , ...), actual production (shooting, pattern drawing, sewing, mould making, post-production, ...), after production (retouching, finishing details, painting ....). Its a time consuming and costly matter; no matter for who. I've done 2 years of specialisation in fashion so I know how expensive fabric and sewing supplies are, but I'm now a pro photographer so I know how crazy the investment for a single studio light can be. I've dabbled in modeling and creating unique costumes/characters for my cosplays so I know how long it can take to build something from scratch. Its what also has brought me a great understanding and respect for anyone involved in every production.

Prices only go up if you're higher on the pro-ladder and time gets more valuable to irreplacable as one runs a business. Time spend creating on things non-commercial or collaborative are a financial loss and time loss until the results pay off in new assignments or commission(s). While this is not always bad, as free work can be amazing to charge the creative batteries, we become more careful to protect ourselves and our time/investment (I didn't and it costed me a lot more than some sleepless nights). So when I'm now approached with the typical message of "I LOVE your work, can we work together?" ... I usually ask myself "but what do you offer in return?"

You see, earlier I mentioned something about "instant satisfaction & gratification"; having epic photos for your social media is a must these days. I'm included as that is the face of my business (and generally, I love creating pretty things which I can share with the world. Its why I started creating in the first place). Reaching out to people who make epic work is a very easy way: imagine posting THAT on your Instagram wearing that beautiful dress with that epic photographer behind the camera. ALL FOR NOTHING!

Cool. Right?
Yeah.
Don't be that person.

 From a massive collab I've done for my "Moth Girl" series: I shot the Lunar Moth corset before in a collab with Rainbow Curve Corsetry. I saved up a long time to buy it finally (in a payment plan of 2 payments though). The wings I've bought for a workshop &amp; the designer HelloFaerie sponsored me a second set. It was her decision because she liked my work. I bought wings again. She made some for this project. Her decision too. Collaborations are a win-win and I'm not afraid to buy a piece if I think it will be great for my wardrobe. I'm a business after all; so that means I need to make investments too. It's all about balancing and respecting the boundaries of your fellow creatives.

From a massive collab I've done for my "Moth Girl" series: I shot the Lunar Moth corset before in a collab with Rainbow Curve Corsetry. I saved up a long time to buy it finally (in a payment plan of 2 payments though). The wings I've bought for a workshop & the designer HelloFaerie sponsored me a second set. It was her decision because she liked my work. I bought wings again. She made some for this project. Her decision too. Collaborations are a win-win and I'm not afraid to buy a piece if I think it will be great for my wardrobe. I'm a business after all; so that means I need to make investments too. It's all about balancing and respecting the boundaries of your fellow creatives.

 I regularely work with the amazing designer Royal Black Couture &amp; Corsetry. Mostly we do collaborations, which means I receive pieces I can shoot for both our portfolios (like this). However: this piece came into a hired booking I made for a client. I rented out a dress and considering we where shipping, I asked if she wanted to include that one piece shown here for my "Jesters" series. Moral of the story: there is always room for supporting a business, even if you already worked together. It depends on what you need it for.

I regularely work with the amazing designer Royal Black Couture & Corsetry. Mostly we do collaborations, which means I receive pieces I can shoot for both our portfolios (like this). However: this piece came into a hired booking I made for a client. I rented out a dress and considering we where shipping, I asked if she wanted to include that one piece shown here for my "Jesters" series. Moral of the story: there is always room for supporting a business, even if you already worked together. It depends on what you need it for.

My wall on facebook is 99% creatives: models, designers, photographers, wing creators & aspiring professional mermaids. An extremely lovely bunch I'm blessed to know, connect and interact with: with a lot of them being full-time independent businesses as well. I once jokingly said "make collabs great again" after I was involved in a conversation on Facebook about the amount of messages some of my fellow creatives (and me included) get when it comes to asking for "collaborations" or straight up discouns and freebies. Not to mention the many frustrated posts and even straight up sadness from being undervalued as a (professional) craftpeople as well (me included, again).

You see: this entire blog is going up to this point I've been wanting to make for a long time now. And I think it's something anyone should work on, not only in name of creation & art, but to rise up against the instant gratification of todays society so the value of creation is more than an extra like on your social media.

What do YOU bring & offer to the collab to make the person you contact with worth their time except your desires to have the final product/result to satisfy your own needs?

Because in the end: you reach out because you love what the person does. There is no shame in admitting that (actually, only reach out if you really like the work), but there should be some (major) consideration to what you offer in return when you do consider to reach out to someone.

From my perspective now- as full-time professional but there is no harm at all to follow this train of thought if you're doing it as hobby or semi-pro; as it will benefit the results and the general industry as a whole for sure - , beautifully put to words by Somnia Romantica not so long ago, making me fully understand my own feelings on how I should approach the collaborative side of my work; it's a lot more than just "creating beautiful photos for your social media and website". For a professional like me: it's sacrificing days of actual work I cannot spend on paid assignments that I need to cover all of the bills every households get (and no kids, exposure doesn't do the trick).
 

 This is one of these "golden" collabs as I call them: both Jane Von Vintage (MUA) as Julia Lion Hair (Hairstylist) are part of my team; which means they work with me on free work (my ideas mostly). In return, I bring them in on my client sets for paid assignments. We work great together both personally as professional. The cross from Raspberry Mazohyst is something I've bought, but I've received a discount from the designer as I'm a professional; in return he can use my work as promo material. Winwin for everyone involved. Finally, my model Fox &amp; Lionheart wanted to do more fashion &amp; beauty - something I wanted to try as well. Resulting in this first shoot from my new "Blue Blood" series.

This is one of these "golden" collabs as I call them: both Jane Von Vintage (MUA) as Julia Lion Hair (Hairstylist) are part of my team; which means they work with me on free work (my ideas mostly). In return, I bring them in on my client sets for paid assignments. We work great together both personally as professional. The cross from Raspberry Mazohyst is something I've bought, but I've received a discount from the designer as I'm a professional; in return he can use my work as promo material. Winwin for everyone involved. Finally, my model Fox & Lionheart wanted to do more fashion & beauty - something I wanted to try as well. Resulting in this first shoot from my new "Blue Blood" series.

I will néver say not to collaborate to build & grow, but if you are so madly in love with someone their work: offer something in return that is more than a message filled with compliments and your wish to even kill someone if that means working with you (true story, multiple times. I'm not alone in this either). You don't need to kill someone. In fact, that sounds even véry creepy. Usually, you will get amazing results if you offer something in return that is beneficial for the photographer/model/designer too: just a pretty picture or a nice face or a cool dress is just 1/5th of the work. Do you want to arrange a makeup? Do you know a great location? Do you have your own wardrobe? Can you bring the photographer in touch with an epic designer? Can you maybe give the designer some meters of gorgeous lace fabric you had laying around maybe? Do you as mua know a beautiful model that would fit the photographer his/her folio? Can you take care of things yourself? Are you willing to pay a sum to get things rolling?

Or do you just suspect your work is just show up, get it done and wait for the results/share the results once you feel like it/... without further investment?

And maybe, just maybe (actually, always). If you are approaching an actual full-time professional: don't try. Pay their rate & price. Don't hassle. Don't 'wing it'. Usually, if I see you're pretty damn epic, I will give you a discount or an extra set or do it all for free myself if I feel like it (and my clients know that). It's still my job after all. And if I make a decision, I like to make it on my own as I'm the boss of a small business.

Or at least, if you do want to try: maybe you can ask if they're open for collabs, but always add that line of "if not, can you please give me some information regarding rates of booking or hire". And mean it. Don't approach if you don't want to pay; we remember when the crickets happen. Always.

In my case, a concept has to be pretty damn epic if I want to spend half a working day preparing, a day shooting and a day post-processing for 3 to 6 photos I can share on my social media amongst the hundreds of shots I have waiting to be released and my own projects I'm working on for weeks & months now (which are very valuable to me). Its "my free time" and as a professional & adult; I don't have much free time to spare. And when I do; I want to feel I'm valued as a person and artist. Not to be your instant gratification for social media because I "got it all so whatever". Nobody wants to feel that way.

In the end, it's not even about the business. For actual business owners: yes, this is even more serious. But even if you do it just for fun; be that "good ripple" and make it a movement to appreciate those you work with (again). Small changes, big differences. Make collaborations not something thats only "about you" ; but make it something you work on together. Put time and money into it, offer something valuable and be genuine doing it. Dont do it to expect something in return. Do it because you honestly appreciate the team involved. It's up to you how you do it; but for some its pretty easy and straight forward.

Make collaborations, collaborations again. And make sure everyone benefits from it.
Not just your likes on IG alone.


This blog is ENTIRELY my opinion, salted by experienced and spiced up by conversations I've had with fellow (mostly professional & full-time) creatives. I have made TONS of mistakes in the past regarding this as well but I feel it's important to speak up these days for the general good. I'm not a perfect photographer either: my backlog is big when it comes to collabs (one of the reasons I'm now slowing down for a while) and I've been not-as-respectfull in my early stages as I didn't understand the work involved from parties (I do now). Fast forward to now (I started in 2009; we're september 2017 & I'm in business for a full year now) I've learned a great big deal about it. This is in no way to someone specific; but generally how I feel about approaching collabs (be it me asking someone or people reaching out to me). You can néver go wrong with being respectful and giving room. Testing & collabs is extremely important for anyone, in any stage. But I felt these days it wasn't balanced anymore. Maybe this blog will change something, maybe not. But I felt like speaking up about this. Even if it changes just someone perspective and it can bring one epic collab to life somewhere in this world.

Take care & don't forget: if you shoot for free; make sure its a hell of a lot of fun for everyone. It will only make the results better.