It is said that one’s hands can tell tales about the owner, from details of their background to character, health, relationship bliss, future and fortune. Therefore, it’s no wonder that hands are fascinating appendages of human structure that’s worth admiring and photographing.
For the H letter of the photo theme challenge, it was a tussle between doing photos for History or Hands. I love history and I am one of those who haunts museums and soaks up stories of long past history, but I settled for Hands in this case.
Close-up portraits of body parts can be magnificent. They can also have a meaning and send a strong message. Such photographic portraits imply which sex the part belongs to, the possible age of the owner, their social condition, and a lot of other things. Our body parts portraits reveal many details than one would be tempted to believe.
Photographing The Hands
While photographing these hands, my main interest is to tell the person’s story. For example, the first photo is the cobbler that I pass by occasionally. His hands were always busy repairing shoes and I wanted to take shots of them whilst he worked.
The second photo is a perfumer at work. She makes fragrance from natural ingredients and always had some henna painting on her hands. I wanted to capture her painted hands as she worked and filled the bottles.
My focus is on my subject’s story. I wanted the character of their hands to show their reality and not glamourous images.
Tips & Recommendations for photographing hands:
Try to tell your subject’s story that anyone looking at the photo later can interpret the story that your image portrays.
Think about your lighting and use it to enhance the story.
Place continuous lighting on the side of your subject which will show the lines of the skin better.
Use a tripod when possible for best shots.
Use your macro lens for close-ups.
Have fun and be creative. Play with a variety of positions.
To join the photography theme challenge for practice, check this link and you can find other photo tips here.
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Public speaking comes with its own fair share of challenges. One of the terrifying aspects of public speaking is addressing a crowd.
Many people admit to being nervous and developing stage fright of having to take a stand before others to make a speech, yet oratory skills are one of the most valued and profitable business skills.
If you want to develop your public speaking abilities, the fear of public speaking is controlled and overcome with practice and the right techniques.
A little thing I always say to myself that makes me smile and relax is, ‘while I’m here being busy worrying about not making a fool of myself before these people, they are probably busy admiring my new shoes and how good I look, they are just people like me.’
Expect to be nervous and admit it if need be
Bear in mind that even experienced speakers do get nervous. Don’t try to undermine your feelings. You can even admit to your jitters humorously to your audience. That way they are more accommodating to your errors and would not be expecting a World-class presentation. It gives you the opportunity to relax and be yourself to turn your jitters into energy that you can use to boost a delivery that surprises even you.
Redefine your audience
Our stage fright is usually based on self-preoccupied thoughts. Thoughts such as ‘I am going to suck at this, how am I doing, I am not good enough et cetera,’ keeps the focus on you and these thoughts only grow as long as your focus is on them. Take the focus off yourself and think of your audience. ‘Are you carrying them along? Is your voice projecting enough’?
Redefine your perspectives for assessing your audience. Probably, instead of seeing them as judges who are busy evaluating you, you could think of them as teammates who are genuinely interested in hearing your opinion and possibly learning something from you – what is that one thing you would want them to leave with?
Every successful action requires preparation. This is your key to a successful presentation – speech. Knowing what you are going to say, who to, and why you want to say what you wish to say has a way of instilling confidence.
Practice does make perfect
Hone your skills through practice. These days opportunity presents itself in many ways. Start small. It could be through videos (vlogging) podcasting, speaking to small, supportive audiences where less is at stake. Find and join Toastmasters around you. Consider working with a coach or taking a Dale Carnegie course on Effective Speaking or working with a private coach.
Remember To Breathe
Minutes before you step on to that podium to begin your speech, take several deliberate, slow, deep breaths through your nose, filling your abdomen and exhale through your mouth, repeat silently to yourself, ‘relax, be confident and vocal.’
Rehearse Your Speech
Stand up straight and tall, walk around as you practice out loud and use the right vocal pitch. Don’t yell your speech at your audience. Don’t memorize your speech word for word. Memorizing your speech means can lead to speaking disaster. Once you lose your train of memory, everything would likely go downhill from that point and you’ll lose focus. Talk through your speech, think it through point by point and listen to yourself as you speak. Imagine that you’re explaining your main ideas to a friend or a colleague and having a normal conversation.
Simplify Your Thoughts
Don’t try to put too much in one speech. Most times when a speaker tries to add too much in a speech, it burdens the mind over the fact that you could forget an aspect of your speech and lose your train of thought. Your aim instead is to communicate one basic idea. Keep your points short and straightforward.
Visualize A Successful Speech
Practice relaxation techniques days before your presentation. Find a quiet place to lie down or sit comfortably for a quarter of an hour. Take deep, slow breaths. Close your eyes and imagine your upcoming speaking engagement. Picture yourself connecting and addressing your audience with confidence.
Invest in visual aids
Think of presenting with engaging, well-outlined PowerPoint slides. Half of the time, this reduces your audience’s attention on you. They will focus more on reading through your interesting slides. With less attention on you, this would probably help you to relax and speak better.
Connect with your audience
Connect with your audience beforehand by introducing yourself and having a brief chat with some people. During your speech, look them in the eye and speak to one person at a time. That brief connection makes your job as a speaker easier. While making your presentation, if you can make them laugh and be more interactive with you, your presentation will have that casual feel to it which will make it more memorable than others. Ultimately you will find it easier to do.
Use opinion and anecdotes
When speaking, add a few of your personal examples or opinions to buttress your points. Think of examples that relate to your speech well ahead of time. Adding your personal touch to a presentation rouses the need-to-know interest of your audience – because people just like knowing stuff about other people – it gives them that feel that they can connect with you or that your example resonates with them. This elevates your presentation and increases your confidence as well as that of your audience.
Maintain eye contact and a friendly mien as you speak. To your audience, they will see a friendly and personable presenter. Most times people won’t see how nervous you are. They don’t know that the butterflies in your stomach have tripled and are doing somersaults and that your heart is about to pound out of your chest. Just breathe, smile, stand tall and look confident, even if you are feeling particularly small in that moment. You’ll sail through.
No one told you that it would be a slow climb of grits, cramped fingers and the snail pace attention from your expected dream audience.
No one told you that finding fame or making money from blogging is not easy pickings and that there are many days the thrill would fizzle out faster than the time it took the ink of your words to dry.
No one told you when you started blogging, all awash with excitement and so much to say, that time might come when you find yourself writing terse sentences such as:
Sorry I haven’t posted for AGES, guys.
Don’t know what to say….blah, blah.
If you are contemplating tossing in your paddle and jumping out of the choppy waters of your blogging boat; I would say, halt!
As a matter of fact, according to online research, most bloggers struggle and 95% of bloggers give up and abandon their blogs within six months of starting.
They open a blog, post with enough enthusiasm to keep a steam engine running for a while, then they either find a niche and a particular way of expressing themselves, or they run out of steam, lose heart and walk away.
The highway of the huge worldwide web is dotted with blogs abandoned by their owners and sometimes, it gives one a reason to pause and ponder why.
A common reason beginner bloggers give up is because they become frustrated by the technical side of things. They find customizing their blogs tedious and coupled with other stress factors, they pack up their bags and leave the scene.
Following quickly behind this is the fast-moving, ever-evolving world of social media that requires tons of attention to grow and engage an audience.
The toll from trying to grow a blog in the sea of blogs is the number one reason why bloggers quit.
Running out of ideas on what to blog about, not knowing what to do about their blog and a hectic lifestyle add themselves to the steamy cocktail to make it more challenging.
Don’t Become A Statistic
We all want a successful blog, but the difference between success and failure lies in doing the needful to succeed.
Success in general, regardless of the area it is in life, requires dogged discipline and consistency. It requires applying the right strategies and sticking with it for the long haul. People don’t become successful by giving up too soon.
I know that there’s a huge difference between saying “be patient and keep going”, and the reality, but with a pragmatic approach, your blog can survive and thrive. It need not become a statistic.
Have a rock-solid Blogging Why. The why of your blogging is the reason that will keep you going and when you feel like giving up, focus on your WHY. Your Why must be continually self-affirming and before your eye’s.
When you’ve got ‘Why’ create ‘How’to back it up. Set specific goals that are completely within your control, and don’t give up until you’ve accomplished that goal. This is how you make a successful blog.
When things get difficult, which is a certainty, take a step back, exhale and look at what your priorities are. Are you able to cut back on your frequency of posting to once or twice a week until you can get a handle on things? It’s certainly better to scale back than to give up completely.
If you feel stressed or a burnout, take the time to refresh. Don’t go on a guilt trip. Feeling guilty will only create more tension about it.
Search for inspiration from others, but don’t be fooled by the appearances that they’ve got it all sorted. They too had to struggle with their website design (probably still struggling), testing different methods, making mistakes in their articles et cetera. Cut yourself some slack, cheer others on and you’ll find support.
Keep your eyes away from the statistics for a while. Enjoy the process of your blogging without allowing the rise and fall of traffic to decide the value of your article. Statistics are transitory and subject to change.
Shift your focus from how far you have to go, to how far you’ve come in your blogging journey.
It is difficult to believe yet, but you – yes you – are making a difference. Someone else is watching you and learning from your attempts. So, don’t give up yet. Don’t let the lack of blog traffic and the monetization efforts that are yet to yield dividends discourage you.
Flower gardens come in various sizes, from the smallest to the large outlay of beautiful blooms that are aesthetically pleasing.
Knowing that the joys of a garden may well be short-lived, you could capture some of its’ beauty with the power of photography.
This would help you to keep those beautiful blooms and create new ways of seeing, and admiring, your garden over time.
A basic understanding of photography helps you to create fabulous photographs of your garden or the gardens that you come across.
Things To Note
Alway bear in mind that when photographing gardens, it’s not all about the plants in the garden, but it’s about light.
Essentially, “photography” means creating with light, and finding the proper light that fits the image you want to create. The right lighting is the key to beautiful, lasting pictures.
Learn to look at your photos from your camera’s point of view. Don’t just focus on what you like, but what’s really being captured in your viewfinder before you click that button.
Are there things that you don’t want in the frame? If so, that’s the time to adjust your angle either by taking a few steps forward, backwards, left or right or by tilting your camera up or down et cetera.
Lighting and Perspectives
Avoid bright, harsh lights. Most times, bright light is not the best lighting for your garden photos. Direct sunlight creates photos that have harsh contrasts while morning and evening light create softer and better images.
Try taking your photos from different perspectives, don’t centre the image and try to compose your photos with the rule of thirds in mind.
To join the photography theme challenge for practice, check this link and you can find other photo tips here. This post has affiliate links approved for this site.
One of the golden rules of writing is the ‘mini-skirt rule.’ Using the mini-skirt rule can certainly make your prose sexier and vibrant; if you get my drift.
The rule indicates that you should ‘keep your prose long enough to cover everything, but short enough to keep it interesting for your readers.’
Don’t have your writing dressed up like a Victorian lady trussed up in a ball gown with girdles and multi-layered petticoats, topped off with a jacket and a bountiful hat of peacock feathers and flowers. Phew! That is literally exhausting to think of.
It’s a fine art to write in a strategic manner and to create a balance between keeping the bare necessities with some flesh to the bones and over spilling the prose with excesses.
For writers of fiction, don’t waste your words and bore your readers to such tears that your story or your book ends up in the dust gathering pile of books that went unread.
When it comes to length, follow this rule in keeping your story short and engrossing and work at making your book ‘unputdownable.’
There are days that you would find yourself scribbling and tapping away with much zeal and then the following day you wake up to a blank mind that stretches from one day to the other, then weeks…months…and you are waiting for the inspiration to ignite. You’ve just been visited by the gremlin that blocks creativity aka writers’ block.
Writers’ block can last for as long as it chooses if you let it. It’s a common malaise that every writer struggles with now and again, but the most important thing is what you do when faced with it.
Writing is an art that takes a lot of brain power, creative energy, focus and mental acuity each time. It’s not a science that has a ‘Eureka formula fix’ as such, we have to approach its solution with that in mind.
Igniting that inspiration is not going to happen unless you take it in hand and having been writing for a while, here are some of the prescribed methods I use to doctor my creative constipation to enable easier passage of inspiration.
Finding The Culprit
The Sly One called Distraction: We are all busy people and in the midst of creating space for our writing passion, life certainly gets in the way. It requires diligent scheduling and great discipline on our part to balance our various interests and be freer of distractions.
The Passion Thief: You started off with lots of zest hammering away at the words, then, gulp, your passionate inspiring sizzle dwindles down from that lustful chemical burst to a barely there romantic kindling. This could be due to boredom and not necessarily loss of zeal. You’ve probably obsessed and nitpicked the writing too many times that your mind and eyes are bored. Give it a break – a couple of days, while you immerse yourself in other stimulating things. Avoid editing your work till you get to the end of your first draft.
The Burnout Bummer: There’s so much going on in your present life that you are simply exhausted in the bid to balance everything else in your busy life. It’s not a block but a mental cry for a mini-rest. Take hours off in between hectic schedule and do other things that have absolutely nothing to do with your writing. Take a mini-vacation/staycation.
Mr Analysis Paralysis: You are constantly analysing your content, thinking that it’s lacking in some aspect to the point of OCD. This is counterproductive. In as much as it’s recommended to do your best work, taking hours on end just to critique every minutiae detail before doing the real writing is time spent in reverse.
The Empty Motivation Tanks: Yes indeed, there are those days that we are simply not motivated to do anything even the writing that we love so much ‘cue in Bruno Mars song today I don’t feel doing anything.’ Well, this is the time to dig into your motivation list. What gets your adrenaline revving to go? Indulge and wake up the juice.
Chief Indiscipline: The timing never seems right hence you procrastinate for as long as ever. Discipline is a key to getting any writing done.
Runaway Characters: You’ve created these interesting characters, and now after having written dozens of pages your characters have literally veered off in unexpected directions that you are struggling to get a grip of what direction to take the story. Take a day a two and give your brain a challenge to think of bigger plots and picture.
The Doubting Thomas: Many writers struggle with self-doubt. They don’t trust their ideas or putting it out there for others to see. Self-doubt and fear are major reasons some would-be excellent writers never get to become that writer that they dream of.
Simple Solutions to Takedown The Enemy
Freewrite – write anything you can. What ‘s on your mind? Write it.
Read some affirmative and inspiring quotes to motivate you.
Take a walk – nature not only rejuvenates but brings forth inspiration.
Eliminate distractions and focus on writing. Use your distraction free writing mode for your blog: Shift + Alt + W or Omniwriter. Turn off other distracting gadgets like your phone.
Change your font family, size and colour. Sometimes little tweaks do the trick.
Sweat it out. Do something to get your blood pumping faster, like exercising.
Block out your writing time and make it a routine to write daily.
Change your scenery. On days that I’m stuck, I go to the café, library, park or somewhere that catches my fancy.
Find an exciting read, kick back and just soak in the penmanship of other authors.
Listening to music works for me. I enjoy a medley of tunes and depending on the writing genre I go from classical to jazz to afro, pop, dance hall…
Set it aside for a couple of days and meditate.
Source for interesting writing prompts.
Pretend that you are talking to someone and just let it flow.
Spend time with someone who makes you feel good.
Have a random chat with a stranger.
Do more research, brainstorm your ideas.
Indulge in other creative outlets.
If the start of the passage is proving tough, start from the middle, the beginning will fall into place.
Avoid editing while you write.
By all means, leave perfectionism out of it.
Writers’ block is not insurmountable. Your possibilities are endless, but your action is critical for any solution to work. Once you kick-start a solution heading towards resolution keep a steady momentum and take off from there.
Even if your writing is about your shopping list or your writers’ block, just write. You’ve got this.
Do you have solutions that could be added to this list? What works best for you? Check this link for essential Writer’s tips.
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Writing till you get that book done may involve some quirky habits like writing on the toilet. As unconventional and as shitty as this approach might sound, have you ever observed that loads of inspiration flood into your mind when you are on the potty or taking a shower?
Surprisingly, the onslaught of inspiration has a way of dwindling down or completely evaporating like a mist when you now settle down to get the writing done.
Here’s a tip. Have a handy notepad tucked away in the corner, preferably on the rack with your bathroom paraphernalia where you can quickly grab it to scribble those nutty ideas that pop into your head.
Of course, you are free to cut the unnecessary crap out.
To build better connections for your blog, it’s far more expedient to spend a little time a day to read and comment on several blogs that you follow, than going through hundreds of them leaving your likes and Gravatar on a consistent basis like a sticker.
Your comments leave a more valid impression behind. It’s a painstaking and time-consuming affair, but worthwhile in the long-term.
Remember that people follow people – they essentially follow the perceived personality behind the blog, even when the blogger is anonymous – and not necessarily the website. It’s the connections that form the backbone of your blog and those few minutes spent commenting builds a bridge to networking.
Networking means doing a whole gamut of things that I have written about here before such as:
Leaving comments on other blogs.
Responding to comments that others leave on yours.
The rule of thirds is possibly the most common essential photographic technique that is applied to your images to improve its composition and to create the right balance.
How to Use The Rule of Thirds.
The basic principle of the rule of thirds is to mentally imagine breaking your subject down into thirds in your viewfinder, horizontally and vertically, so that you have nine equal parts.
With this breakdown in mind, think about the elements of your photo that’s most important, and try to place them at or near the lines and intersections of the grid. They mustn’t be compulsorily lined up as long as they’re close.
Rule of thirds could be used for any image because it’s versatile. The general idea is that an off-centre composition is more aesthetically balanced and pleasing to the eyes’ than one when the subject is positioned right in the middle of the frame.
Playing or not Playing by the rules
Like most rules, the rule of thirds is not cast in stone and should never be applied blindly, particularly when it comes to creativity. In essence, this rule can equally be broken effectively and you would still end up with great images with its’ focal point in the centre of the square.
Simply think of the rule of thirds as one of those rules of thumb and excellent starting point for creating balance in any composition. It would come naturally with practice.
To join the photography theme challenge for practice, check this link and you can find other photo tips here.
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