The Oui We team shares a guide to the best murals in Nashville, TN!Read More
by Oui We contributor: Sam Spahr
There always comes a day when boredom and lack of inspiration strike. Yuck, I know. Crawling out from under the covers is getting harder. You swear someone switched your morning coffee for decaf. Every move you made today was carbon copy of yesterday, and don’t ya feel a little icky just thinking about it?
Me too! Plane, train, or automobile, near or far, sometimes you just gotta get out there and find where your little soul spark ran off to. And it happens to everyone. I promise you. Painter to paralegal, poet to plumber, we need inspiration to get through the day, but where are you heading to look for it?
This question prompted me to reach out to a friend about her experience with runaway sparks and efforts to search for them.
Natalie Phillips @nattiephilphoto is a very much a modern woman (the kick-ass kind killlin’ it 7 days a week). No, really. Monday - Friday she’s an Admin Assistant at a local accounting firm and grows her business, Natalie Phillips Photography, on the weekends covering everything from weddings to lifestyle shoots.
Sam Spahr for Oui We: Natalie, working as much as you do, how do you know when your flame is fizzling? What’s your signal that it’s time to find a little inspiration to get through your jammed schedule?
Natalie: I can never pin point when the spark starts to disappear; I usually realize it after it’s gone. I get grumpy and feel tired, and that’s when I know it is time for a break. I think because I’m either at the office, on location, or turning out client galleries, I feel like I need a trip maybe more often than the the average person. It’s that feeling of being stuck in one place too long that can act as a signal for me.
SS: Tending to that spark can be different for everyone, some need rest, or a relaxing place to tap back in while others need more excitement or adventure. What’s your inspiration style? What kind of things do you look for in your destinations?
NP: I look for a place that gives me a balance between rest/rejuvenation vs. adventure. The destination has to fulfill the deepest parts of my soul, and for me that means it also has to be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, I’ll often check Instagram to see photographs of the places I want to go to make sure they are going to strike me visually. That’s a huge part of the inspiration for me.
SS: It sounds like a place really has to work overtime for you! Where have you been that matched the qualities you describe?
NP: I’ve traveled a good bit in the last couple of years: Mexico, Costa Rica, Europe, Canada and a couple of cross country road trips. But, I found Austria to be a favorite, and particularly Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. I’ve been twice, so I guess it really does the job for me.
SS: What about Banff had you coming back for more?
NP: That place is absolutely timeless. It’s a never ending fountain of rejuvenation, of everything I need. Just standing in the grandness of the landscape can have you feeling like you’re on another planet. I could go there twice a year and still want more - it’s never enough.
SS: Well, I will certainly be adding it to my list. Natalie, thanks so much for this quick share! Before we go, something tells me you already know where you’re headed next.
NP: Yes! I’m hitting Mallorca, Spain in a few short months.
Time to burn out the “un” from the “inspired” neon sign in your soul? Let us know where you’ve gone to find that pesky little spark again.
all photos courtesy of Natalie Phillips
Sam Spahr is an artist-educator who gets her kicks sharing the magic of the arts with kids and adults alike. She has a penchant for ancient artworks and helping others find the connections between now and then. When not inside a studio or bookshop, you can find her paddling out somewhere with her hubs and pup. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, but loves eating even more, especially in new cities and cultures.
A dandelion rose:
Under the spell of a 5 a.m. full moon and
a blur that comes an hour and 57 minutes of clock ticking time later she woke, again.
She lived each night begging for a coaxing by the sun,
swaying from luring with syrup yellow and lucidly driving thorns into story covered fingers all the same.
I'm not so sure that I should call this post a travel post. Perhaps traveling back in time a little bit. I used to spend my nights, sometimes days anxiously scribbling, typing, brain dumping the ideas that came slamming through my mind.
I never considered myself a writer, and when I became one a good warm up was to let these mind wanderings take shape as little stories. The words I create need the imagery, the imagery needs the words, I'm never quite sure which inspires the other.
In the present, on this particular day Ben and I wandered for an afternoon at the Botanical Gardens. I sipped rosé, and lingered below the sun flair. Snapping photos in a harsh light, creating happy little accidents.
He by the way, is the happiest accident I can ever imagine.
Last night over drinks with a cousin I haven't seen since in a while, I talked about how Ben and I met. I told the story, but the part I left out was when I glanced across a room, his eyes catching mine. I left out how I knew that moment was never an accident at all.
I haven't looked away from Ben since, the prickly rose thorn of a girl I could be before him took flight like the seed puff on a dandelion.
p.s. I think sometimes I'll come back to sharing these little mind wandering stories like I used to. It feels good to me, so maybe you too?
p.p.s. I love you guys forever for reading. And those that were reading those stories summers ago, when all I could do was drink wine and wander off to the next little adventure, I'm so glad you're still here.
By the way, Nashville darlings: if you want to experience your own Springtime spell go visit Cheekwood Estate & Gardens.
By the numbers there's 103,100 tulips, 20,000 + daffodils, and the same number of violets and pansies. There's a beer garden and space to picnic and I'm grateful for the ushering in of Spring feels those bloom create.
In this post I'm wearing Nars Velvet Matte Pencil in Famous Red.
Shop the full look (and my new book too) here:
After spending this year on the road I’ve got a big list of travel hacks.
The most important: find that person whose wanderlust philosophy lines up with yours, you’ve got to have a travel soul mate!
Secondly, travel like a minimalist.
For wanderers on lengthier trips you’ll be so glad you had less to lug along. I always include a few special pieces too - a favorite piece of jewelry can create a subtle transformation, and every girl likes to feel dressed up even when she’s living like a forest vagabond.
Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide...
It’s full of emerald valleys, alpine tundra meadows, airy mountain peaks and crystal lakes. There’s herds of elks in the low meadows, little red foxes dashing amongst the brush and 6 foot tall moose frequenting the willow thickets. It’s best to head out out at dusk to catch the action.
Over head there’s the darkest ravens and hawks peering down.
After a long day on the trails be sure to bring your picnic supplies in at night. We learned the hard way, the Grand Lake black bear snuck right into our cabin yard to see what crumbs we’d left in the baskets. It all ended well, after a serious clean up mission we won't make that mistake again.
Have a great weekend you guys! Get outside to play!
This feature has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and HP. All opinions are mine alone. #CreateWithHP #CollectiveBias
This week has been one for the books. Or at least, about a book.
After traveling all year creating the content for A Wanderful Life (the book I'm releasing next Spring if you're new here!) I'm finally back in my home office getting this baby underway. My big submission, 35,000+ words and hundreds and hundreds of photos, went off to my editor on Monday.
My three traveling partners on the book's 9 trips:
Allister Ann: A music and fashion photographer by day, an ethereal wildflower of a girl by night.
Keiko Lynn: My makeup maven and indie fashion loving friend with the swoon worthiest closet on planet earth.
T’Ben Alleman: My tour bus living bf with an electric cowboy style. A mariachi jacket layered over tie dye? It’s his grocery store attire.
I'm forever grateful to the three of them for being my soul mate travelin' crew. One of the best parts of these trips has been experiencing each destination with each of them.
Big advanced thank you to Hunter too, who shot the photos for both the Florida road trip and the Southern swamplands trek as well.
There's still so many photos in edits, however, I was way too excited to not at least give you guys a little peak at a few of my favorites Wanderful girls photographed on the road.
So here we go!
We had such a blast along the way and I can't believe it's finally time to lay everything out. Over the last several weeks my intern crew and I have been pulling our favorite photos to start narrowing down what will make the book. The process of going from idea to concept to finished product requires so much pre-planning!
One of the things I find to be important when I have new interns on our team is a quick lesson on how to build the mood boards, and the importance of creating a shot list.
Here's how we do it:
1. Pinterest Boards: We start with a basic Pinterest board that everyone on the team can pitch in ideas to.
2. Once we've created the board, I go back through the pins and create a shot list. It's important to know exactly how many photos we're intending to get in each set up, what the model will be wearing for each shot and if we require props, certain lighting, etc that needs to be noted as well.
3. I create the shot list with detailed notes of what our intended outcome. For example: if we want photos to tell a story that takes place over several days, we need to change wardrobe, hair, makeup and sometimes lighting and location too. As we work through the shoot it's important to check back and ensure no detail is missed. I use Go Moodboard, here's an example from our Route 66 Shoot. I can add the notes and organize the mood photos according to the shot list.
4. After the shoot, I like to select the photos that will best fit the story and then print them to get a perspective of what we have from each shoot. It's super helpful when working with the photo editor to have everything in front of you when making final selections!
Big thanks to HP for showing up fairy godmother style. We were in serious need of an affordable, high-quality printer for the office, something with high-yield ink cartridges that would print hundreds of photos without killing the cartridges (and the piggy bank). The printer we picked up prints twice as many pages with Original HP high-yield ink cartridges. I'm blown away by the quality and speed in which this thing gets work done.
Once we got the printer set up, which took a whole 2 minutes, we were able to print wirelessly from each device in the office - laptops, smartphones and tablets. We're also able to scan illustrations, memorabilia and all that fun stuff from the trips.
Btw, this was a first for me: because the Deskjet 3636 was the printer that would be exaclty what we needed I ordered online at Wal-Mart and picked it up in store. No line, no wait, just picked it up and was right back out the door. It's available in the Electronics Aisle too if you want to walk in and shop.
Can't wait to share more with you guys! What do you think so far?