Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Four Years Later - Reflection and Resolution

Some of my recent favorites-click to enlarge

For the one or two people who actually still read my little blog that started as an outlet for me to express all sides of myself, let me say thank you for hanging in there, checking back occasionally, or just remembering that it's here at all.

 Even if this is completely new to you and you're thinking "yeeeah...she never updates this thing. See ya!" I don't blame you. But hear this: it will continue on elsewhere, where I will update much more religiously, on a much more directed path: photography.

I'm in the process now of redesigning my photography website to include a built-in blog under the Jessica Shea Photography name. This one just seems so ADHD haha. It served it's purpose, but now I'm on a mission.

I will still have a link to this one; I like seeing how far I've come. Hard to believe I've had it going since 2009! I remember so clearly how overwhelmingly excited I was to start sharing my thoughts, my dreams, my talents with the world. I would watch the page view count rise by one or two every day and smile. I started it was while I was still in school, with surprisingly a lot of free time to post, not to mention regular photo/poetry/writing assignments to post about because of classes, my job, the atmosphere.

But since then my posts became more and more infrequent. I graduated from college and launched my photography website, positive that I would land a fantastic photo job and put my degree to use.


After graduation, I moved to Roanoke with my boyfriend (now husband), where we really struggled to be happy as I worked full time at a grocery store while freelancing for a small local newspaper for next to nothing...moved 9 months later to Virginia Beach because the hubs was promoted to an incredibly profitable store and even then, I bounced around jobs until now. I had transferred to the same grocery store here, got fired within a month because my drawer was over by a few cents a couple times...which led me to a complete and total meltdown. I had never been fired before in my life, let alone from a place I literally dreamt of all the dramatic ways I could quit and throw it in their face because of how horrible it was.

After dusting myself off, I found an open internship position for an oceanfront advertising agency on via Craigslist, which led to three months of unpaid crazy strenuous days on commercial shoots out in 100 degree Virginia summer humidity. Because it was unpaid, I picked up a job at Buckle where I've always shopped for my double extra long jeans ;)

In the fall (2011 at this point) the advertising agency hired me on as a freelancer and started paying me. It was great, I felt accomplished at least being in the right field. Then, in April, they ran out of work for me. I had taken the internship as a non-college student with the since they had pretty expressly stated that it would lead to a full time position. Hence why I busted my ass for free for three loooong months. So this came as a real let down, once more, that I was no longer needed and they had no problem with just saying "welp, it's been real, thanks for your help," and sent me from 40+ hours a week to none.

Oh, and this was all right before my wedding in May. 

I was unemployed AGAIN for about a week before I frantically found a temporary grant-funded position at a local University as a receptionist, out of my field once again, just so I could help pay for my wedding.

I had every intention of pursuing the marketing department while I was there. I went at them hard--very persistent, constantly following up with every conversation...to no avail. Even met with the director of the department in person, who said she really liked me and wanted me...just had to "obtain the budget" to pay me. She even went so far as to lead me on with a potential job position, casually throwing a $42,000 salary up in the air like it was no big deal, asking me how quickly I could respond to that position if it were posted. For a solid week my mind painted beautiful images of all the "what ifs" that this job could lead to...teasing my poor self with all the dreams of things we could afford with that kind of salary...as I sit there answering phones for $11 an hour. That could've meant new camera gear...vacations...quitting my backup job I've had this whole time, Buckle...well, that came and went, the job never appeared because there was a "hiring freeze" and too much "politics" on campus. I even photographed the University's president at a campus event for them. She was impressed, got the pictures I took for free, and I was left behind again as my 5 months ran up.

So that job ended, and in the month leading up to my last day, I was stressin'. Too many times I've tried to transition into and out of jobs, and this time was really hard because I knew when my last day was and had to tell companies I was applying to that my start date wasn't until the end of the month.

I was out of the job for about a week, had three interviews lined up the week after my last day at the university, and was offered all but the one I thought I wanted the most. The first company I interviewed for was made up of truly genuine people who I could see myself loving to work with, but it was potentially another temporary job and I was trying to stay far away from anything temporary. I wanted the last one because it was salaried with a growing company doing social media, marketing and design. They didn't offer me the job, and I was really disappointed...but it turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me.

Because everything happens for a reason. 

I do find myself questioning it, but I'll be damned if it doesn't prove itself at some point!

The following week, I started my new job at the small, family-owned printing/promotional company with the really nice people...where I am now. I had originally applied for a font desk position, but had brought my resume with me to the interview and as soon as the owner saw it, she said, "oh we're not wasting your skills up at the front desk!"

I'm sorry, come again??

The owner herself looked at me, barely knowing me at all, and saw my potential. That was one of the best feelings in the world.

I work in their Art Department doing all kinds of things, from design work to a tiny bit of product photography.

And wouldn't you believe it, on my second day the owner comes into my office to talk about a new client...and take a wild guess which business it was?

The one job I interviewed that turned me down. Hah. Oh life, how ironic you are sometimes!

Literally, we were printing the business cards for the very woman who interviewed me! It would be months later before I saw her again in person when she came to pick up a banner we made for her.

Not sure if she recognized me....I think she did, just had no idea how or why ;)

So in between all this, I've been doing side photography jobs like senior portraits, maternity shoots, weddings, events, etc. Oh and I still work at good ole Buckle! Though now that it looks like my current job is going to hire me on full time, since I've been through an employment agency up until now. I think it's time to close that chapter and really focus on developing my photography and having weekends to do that.

Forgive me for deciding to write an essay to make up for my lack of writing in the past couple of years, but I felt I owed an explanation to the internet and all my followers who might have given up on me. A glimpse into why I wasn't really able...or sometimes willing...to make a simple post.

Be on the lookout for my new blog on my website to see when it re-launches!

It's been real y'all. I thank you guys again for joining me on my blogging journey, and it ain't goodbye, just see ya later!

Thanks for sticking around and reading all that! You rock :)
<3 jshea="" p="">

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Lesson in Hope

*insert world's biggest sigh of relief here*

I think this Instagram picture I took recently is the perfect way to sum things up. Sometimes when we're lost, we turn around right before we get to where we need to be. Don't turn around...keep going. Hope is on the horizon.

I now work at a place where I can not only be creative, but where that creativity is --get this--appreciated. 

What a concept :) it only took two+ years out of college to get here! But you know what, if it weren't for all the miscellaneous, random jobs I've had in the past, I'm not sure I'd appreciate this one as much as I do now. As you could probably tell from my last post, I'd almost given up and turned around....I was very, very close. Instead, I powered through it, and I'm truly glad I did. It feels so good to be appreciated and have coworkers who not only value your work, but you as a person. Not to mention the fact that they have hope for you, and believe in what you can do. 

Swing by my Instagram for more lovely pics! I'm thinking I'll do more posts like this so they're more frequent. That and I'm obsessed with Instagram :D

Have a great weekend, maybe it will lead to a new horizon for you as well :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

When Life Likes To See How Much You Can Take...

Do you ever get tired of hearing the same old adages that are supposed to make you feel better, but really just make your eyes roll?

"The night is darkest before the dawn."
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
"It could always be worse," or "look at the bright side!"
"Anything worth having doesn't come easy."
"It's not about how many times you get knocked down, but about how many times you get back up...."

...and on and on. I'm well aware that negativity feeds negativity, and only results in more negative things. I really do try to be a positive person, but lately I can't help but get caught up in all of the unlucky, unfortunate events that keep happening one after the other. Like life is testing me to see how much I can handle. And sure enough, my close friends or people who see me every day have noticed not only that I'm feeling sick, but just not as upbeat as I normally am, and they all chime in with one of the above sayings in an attempt to give me perspective or cheer me back up. My favorite is the one with the half shrug and an eyebrow raise/smirk. You know what face I'm talking about.

I catch myself complaining, or wallowing in self-pity, and get frustrated because that's not who I am. I find myself saying, "I'm not asking for much, I just want to put my skills to use and have them be appreciated." And then my inner voice goes "STOP IT!"

It's quite a challenge to maintain a positive attitude as a passionate photographer and creative individual when my 5 year old DSLR got rained on a couple of weeks ago at the East Coast Surf Championships and was rendered "un-fixable" because of all the corrosion inside. The camera that started it all--fostered my love for photography, provided some of my first great images, got me my first photo job as a staff photographer for my college newspaper--is just gone.

A lot of people probably think I'm nutso for having such emotional ties to an inanimate object, but in a lot of ways it's like saying goodbye to an old pet, one you've been through so much with. Photography is the one thing in life that I don't have to think about when I do it, and I love the perspective it gives me on simple, everyday things. Just check out my Instagram
and you'll see what I mean. That camera is what helped me realize all this.

Sure, I could go into all the ridiculous other unfortunate things that have happened in the past month or two. But I don't think I have enough space on here to do so (hah), and who would want to read all of that anyway? Enough is enough. I can't keep letting this negativity eat away at me. Nowadays it's so easy to get sucked into this black hole of self pity and whine and complain, and no one wants to be around that kind of person. Clearly the stress of it all has now made me sick, and that's a wake up call in and of itself. So I resort to my other love, writing, which I haven't been able to do a lot of lately. Right now I work full time Mon-Fri 8-5 at a university, a position that ends in two weeks, while working weekends at the mall, and owning my own photography business doing freelance gigs on the side. I do this because I know none of it is permanent and can change in an instant, and God forbid I wind up with nothing. But as a result, I'm on overload all. the. time. For once I would love to just find a creative job that lets me utilize all of my talents...then I wouldn't be stretched so thin. I'd hate to be a "Jack of all trades but an Ace of none."

So on a more positive note,  I'd like to share with you all some of the last images I got to take on my trusty 40D before its untimely death. Ironically I had such a blast at the 50th ECSC this year. It's the epitome of the kind of event I love covering: it's outside on the beach, lots of people having a good time (makes for great candids), lots of activities going on (AWESOME action shots) and concerts like three times a day. But this made it such a roller coaster of emotions. I experienced such a high after photographing Breathe Carolina that Friday night (they do the song "Blackout" on the radio right now). They put on one hell of a concert, and I got to shoot from literally right under them in the VIP area...all of that joy only to be crushed by a heavy rainstorm that ruined my camera the following morning. Luckily, one of my friends let me borrow his 5D to continue shooting that weekend...but I just couldn't get into it after that knowing my camera was probably done for.

So anyway, here are a few of my favorite images from that weekend, for more head on over to my website: www.jessicasheaphotography.com. And I'm sure you're wondering where all of the surfing pictures are....another irony, I didn't get any this year. My zoom lens was on my camera when it got rained on and totally ruined the autofocus. I was letting it air dry the whole weekend :/

But I'm happy with the other shots that made me focus on instead:
Breathe Carolina's David Schmitt

Breathe Carolina's Kyle Even

Men's footvolley tournament

EJ Bollmann from Va Beach's Cheap Thrills

Thanks for hanging in there till the end if you read all that!! Hopefully the pictures were worth it :)

Until next time--
"Life is like photography, we develop from the negatives."

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Say Hello To Our Newest Addition!

About a month ago, my husband and I made the decision to purchase a 2013 Mustang GT. He's always been a fan of Mustangs, had an '03 Cobra when we met, so this was a long time coming. He's missed it ever since he sold it about 5 years ago (got horrible gas mileage, he was visiting me every weekend up at school). But I can't wait to learn to drive it! I've never owned a manual transmission, so that should be real fun....:-P 

So of course, the first thing I wanted to do was take it for a photo shoot! And you know what, it's much harder than I thought to find an ideal location to photograph a car, especially a sports car. Somewhere with no power lines, a simple background, and enough open space to make the car the central focus point. Lord. We drove around for about 2 hours trying to scout a location, since it's pretty impossible to research places ahead of time not knowing what you're looking for! So this shot was literally pure luck, or simply preparation met with opportunity. I was ready to hop out and shoot at a moment's notice! It was my husband's last ditch effort/idea of a place to go, this back residential road. I wasn't really feeling it, my mind racing to figure out how I could compose this shot (sun was setting fast) just to get SOMETHING after all the driving we did! It was still a fun ride regardless, but c'mon. I wanted a good shot! I was set to get one that night.

Then it hit me. I saw the sun setting over by an elementary school randomly placed among neighborhoods. There was an empty parking lot save for one random electrical looking truck in the background. I got out and directed my husband where to position the car just right, and he hopped out. I snapped a few shots from a few different angles, and the rest is history. Then, spent about 3 hours photoshopping the best one to make it perfect. Considering I had no lighting other than the super bright sun setting behind the car, the foreground was obviously pretty dark. So I brought that up to balance out the light, smoothed out some of the reflections, took out the license plate and voila! Oh and I may have bumped up the saturation of the sunset colors a bit ;)

Let me know what you think! You can also see our story over on Ford Social Here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Baby Shower Collage!

Time for an update. Only took till March of the new year!! I recently attended a friend and coworker's baby shower. Of course, I brought my camera. It made for some really cute pictures, so I threw a bunch together and made a collage out of them. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

...and a Happy New Year, everyone :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Quick update!

Hey guys! So it's no secret I don't update this blog as often as I should, but I felt the need today to do so! Here's a portrait I took of a local artist, Bob Langston at the 2011 East Coast Surf Championships. He designed both the ECSC poster this year and this skateboard deck he's holding!

You can head HERE to my website to check out the rest of the coverage from it too! Thanks for stopping by :)