Portland Street Photography // WDS Photo Walk

Portland Street Photography // WDS Photo Walk

I haven’t been blogging because I haven’t been able to work up in my office the past two weeks, thanks to a plethora of illness and snow days. But, today I’m dreaming of the beautiful sunshine we had in Portland last summer for the World Domination Summit. I know, the name sounds crazy and strange, but the people there are some of the best people I’ve ever met. They are kind and strong and adventurous. The first year I attended WDS, I was recently married and I was working a day job. I was dreaming of quitting and going full time as a photographer. I got to meet a bunch of people I’d only been internet friends with, and not only that, they gave me the support I needed to take a big leap. I took a few years off (after attending two years in a row) and last year I was able to go back. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in life since having N. I love being a parent but it’s been a new adventure that has brought up more questions than answers. To be honest, I don’t have many more answers, 8 months later. But I did have some great conversations with people that have had my gears turning and given me new inspiration. One of my favorite parts of WDS is all the attendee-led meet ups and adventures. I even led my first meet up this year on traveling as a family and with kids, which is something I’m super passionate about. My good friend Dustin Main, leads a photo walk every year, and I really enjoyed myself. I don’t normally shoot much on the street unless I’m traveling, and I don’t ever shoot with other people (unless I have a second shooter) so this was really fun.

Paris in October // Travel Photography on Film

Paris in October // Travel Photography on Film

Oh Paris. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to be the city I dreamed of, the city that inspired to me travel when I read about you so many years ago. But, you’re not that city. You’re great and you’re quirky and you’re filled with fun things, but we just didn’t jive. My heart wasn’t in it. It’s not you, it’s me has never felt more apropos. And I think that’s why I couldn’t love you. Because I wanted to love the pre-war Paris, the Hemingway Paris. But that Paris doesn’t exist anymore. And it doesn’t help that I can’t speak French, so I felt completely lost. When I took the train to Germany, it was almost like coming home. I knew how things worked and I fit in.

I still love the view from Sacre Coeur. That church will always have a special place in my heart (but I’d forgotten how many steps I had to walk up to get there). But while I think you’re nice, you don’t compare to the laughing, outgoing people of Munich. Or the artsy, hip vibe from Berlin. Or the layers of history and culture of Prague.

What saddened me the most about Paris, was that even though I stayed in an apartment out of the city center, an area that seemed to be mostly students, and not tourists, I still saw tourists everywhere. However, I’m still glad I came. And I’m still glad I gave you a second chance. And I will say, your gardens are top notch. I could spend weeks wandering through your gardens. You’ve given me so many ideas for my own garden. I guess that has to be enough.

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All photos taken on my Nikon FG-20 with Portra 400. Most of them are available for purchase as prints here.

Changes are Coming — Portland on Film

Changes are Coming — Portland on Film

We didn’t plan on things happening this way. But it did. An email, a mad dash to get our paperwork done, and boom. We’re parents.

In under 24 hours, we’ll go from being a family of 2 to a family of 3. In typical Emily fashion, I’ve waited til the very last minute to tell anyone. In fact, we only made the decision to become a family of 3 last Monday.

You see, tomorrow, our AFS (American Field Services) foreign exchange student arrives. I’m equal parts nervous and excited, which is, I suppose, to be expected.

In the past 72 hours or so, we’ve gone from having an empty spare room to having a room for a 16 year old boy from France. We’ll call him S, since I doubt he wants his life spread out all over the internet.

If I’m a little slow to respond, if things have been a little quiet around here, you know why.

In the meantime: here are some scans from our trip to Portland back in April. Wandering around the city, in Powells, and touring Pittock Mansion.

They’re all shot on Portra 400, which is a dream, and with my 1980’s 35mm camera. Developed at the FIND Lab. I’ve got more to show you from other places too. Be prepared!

Portland Film Photography // Emily Wenzel Photography

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6 Months In — Running a Business

6 Months In — Running a Business

Eastside Gallery - Berlin Wall

I’ve written this almost a dozen times. Erased it almost a dozen more. How do I describe what it’s been like being self employed for the past six months?

The initial elation of quitting my job and being self-employed was followed by the panic of no income. The fear that was, at times all-consuming. The strength of my friends and family, who picked me back up and pushed me forward, believed in me. Their support has been priceless. Truly. There are no words. There are a million words.

It hasn’t been an easy road – this one I’ve chosen – but I knew that. This is what happens when you take the road less traveled. Your life is thrown in turmoil, because it’s not an easy road to navigate. There is no GPS. You can and will sink to the lowest of lows. To the point where the fear of failure grips your heart in a vise, overwhelming all your ambition and dreams, and you’re searching for an office job because you’re scared. Scared you’re not good enough. Only to find that looking at office jobs, school jobs, grad school, is even less appealing that failing at photography. So you strengthen your resolve and turn away from the job applications. At other times, you’re tossed up to the mountaintops by an off-hand comment, a bit of praise, a moment of joy. The roller-coaster never stops. What I’ve found is that photography is a feast or famine industry, especially in the beginning. Wedding photography, they say, is not for the faint of heart. And it’s not just the actual photography that’s hard, it’s all the work surrounding it as well. It takes discipline to be self-employed.  And the road is different for everyone.

What I can tell you is this. Self-employment is not for everyone. It is a challenge and an adventure. It’s been almost six months since I walked away from my day job. Almost six months since I took a chance and decided to become self-employed. And six months in, I can say that this has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. Right now, I can say it’s all been worth it. Deciding to go with wedding photography in October was scary at first. It felt like I wasn’t actually doing anything.

Yet, looking back, I’m glad I quit my school job when I did. I was able to really dig into what my business needed to be successful. I was able to try out new things, learn about how to run a business. All without worrying about getting my clients’ work to them on time. Now, I feel like I’ve found my system (and it’s different for everyone and every business!).

Three major things I’ve learned:

Do your own research. Asking advice from friends in the business (or from friends who own small businesses) is helpful, especially when you have no idea where to start looking. However, it’s important to  make your own decisions. What works for your friends might not work for you. Everyone has a different way of doing things, and you’ll learn more by doing research than by only asking your friends’ advice. Not only that, if you take advice from friends who took advice from friends, you may not be getting the best information.

Find a schedule that works for you. I thought that because I was now full-time, I should treat my photography as a 9-5 job. But that wasn’t working for me. I couldn’t get up and work out in the morning and then work for 8 hours. I needed to break it down into smaller sections. An hour of something, followed by 30 minutes of something else. I learned that it was okay to mix in my “home” tasks (laundry, dishes, groceries) with my “work” tasks. I also found out that I needed a structured schedule. I needed to block out my days and weeks so that I was accountable. For me, Google Calendar works best. I can access it on my phone, create different calendars (to color code) for different things. I can easily move things around in my calendar if they take too long or my day changes.

Be Flexible. Just because I have a schedule doesn’t mean I always have to stick to it. Sometimes, I sit down to blog and just can’t find the words I want to share. Instead of struggling to put words to the page, I work on something else. Or, if I’m supposed to be editing but the weather is beautiful, I take advantage of that. Sunshine is a rare thing in Seattle & I take advantage of it. Being flexible allows me to follow my artistic senses, which is the reason I went full time to begin with.

Later this week, I hope to share the first (of possibly too many) posts on Germany.

Vancouver, BC — Travel

Vancouver, BC — Travel

Back in April, we took a trip to Vancouver, BC. I had never been, and since we had a free companion fare coupon for Amtrak Cascades, we decided to go to Vancouver. The train was fun, although slow. But we read and watched the beautiful scenery, and enjoyed ourselves once we got to Vancouver. I posted a quick preview in early May…and then nothing. Sorry! But I’m back now, with a few frames for you. The weather was supposed to be beautiful in Seattle, so of course it was gray and rainy our entire trip. We wandered around the city, found meaningful graffiti in a park playground, and toured one of the Olympic venues (BC Place), which is now the home of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

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