Tax Day!

"The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax" -Albert Einstein.

TODAY IS TAX DAY!!! DEADLINE IS HERE!!! UH OH!! Man, let me tell you I do not look forward to this time of year, and Mister Einstein said it right!! Taxes are soo overwhelming and intimidating, I don't care how organized I am when it comes to tax season, I never look forward to it. I sit on the edge of my seat as I turn all my paperwork into my accountant wondering if I'm going to have a refund or am I going to owe. I just cant take it!!

I submitted my taxes the other night but with today being the deadline, and some of yall filing extensions I thought I would share some resources that I found helpful so when next year comes around you and I are on top of our game.

Tax season is the only thing that keeps me on my game when it comes to collecting receipts and such, even if I dont use them for filing its always interesting to see how much I've spent on a single project. I'm still in a trial and error mode searching for a tracking system that is easy for me. Right now I have a simple excel spreadsheet that I'm checking into constantly and recording expenses. Its month 3 though, so Im praying that this is something I will keep consistent with, but so far so good. Let me tell you I will abandon a system in a second if its not working for me. Systems for record keeping really should be as easy as possible because otherwise you simply will not do it Its also smart to know how much money you are spending and what your spending it on. Personal Finance 101 right?!

So keeping along with this whole taxes thing, I simply wanted to share 2 podcasts about taxes I recently listened to. These podcasts are my one of my favorite podcasts on personal finance from Money Girl.

How to Pay Less in Taxes (Part 1)

How to Pay Less in Taxes (Part 2)

Hopefully you find these helpful, and cheers to a new year of consistent proper recordkeeping

If you have any tax tips or resources  I would love to hear about them in the comments

Welcome to the "Year of Greater"

"Cousin Nick playing dominoes" Summer, 2013
I spent my New Year's holiday praising the Lord at New Life Covenant Church. Going to church each new year has become somewhat of a tradition for me. It just makes me feel good and, you don't have to worry about overpriced events. I hit up a few house parties after and its a great low cost, spiritually fed beginning to the new year :). The service was awesome, there were tons of people there, the energy was anointed and super gospel singer Fred Hammond even performed. Everyone was excited to thank 2013 for all its blessings welcome 2014.  The night was truly special!!

I was inspired, blessed and encouraged when Pastor Hannah declared 2014 to be THE YEAR OF GREATER!  Awesome! I'm ready for it, my goals are set, I've got my mind right and I'm so excited to make 2014 exactly the way I want it to be.

I hope your as ready for 2014 as I am!!
Cheers to having a Year of Greater!

Dont Brush Me Off, Pass Me On

Stephanie Graham, So This One Guy
"Multiple Chicks", So This One Guy Series, 2011

I recently reached out to a fellow artist to ask some questions about her process for a new piece I've been working on.Visually, I knew what I wanted , but how to actually make it happen? Well this was a question that I knew could be solved with a quick conversation from my artistic colleague who worked in this medium all the time. I sent her a message asking for a few minutes of her time.

What happened next is the reason for this post, as its sort of a "oh no she didn't moment". When she replied back to me with this:

"Great to hear from you! I am out of town most of the month and enormously busy, Sorry wont be able to meet. I am sure you know how to create your vision. Best!" 

Hmmmm okay, I just stared at my computer because I wasnt asking for help with visions, mostly technical application, but more than that WAS I JUST GIVEN THE BRUSH OFF? Was I passed to the left.  Did she even read the message?

Ok fine, she cant help me, everyone is busy and although I was slightly annoyed by the tone of the response, I 100% understand. I've been on the receiving end of emails that request time and energy towards someone else goals, and as much as you want to help, if you took people up on replying to each of those emails, coffee and cocktails meetings, you could easily find yourself in a full time job of free consulting and THIS IS NOT THAT. HOWEVER, I do believe though that if someone has the courage (especially if they dont know you) to craft an email asking for help, then it is your responsibility to be as helpful as you can to them, and you can do that without them monopolizing alot of your time.

So how does one do that?

If my colleague wold have sent me the following message back, I would have felt like she cared, I would have been helped and the world would be a better place. That message would have said: "Great to hear from you! I am out of town most of the month and enormously busy, Sorry wont be able to meet, BUT CHECK OUT (INSERT A HELPFUL RESOURCE THAT COULD BE A GOOD STARTING POINT HERE) I am sure THAT COULD GIVE YOU A GOOD know how to create your vision. See you soon,Best!"  

We all need boundaries, and its important that we establish them. So here are some other great ideas that I've seen others doing:

Create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Section and direct people there before sending you an email.  Fashion blogger, Gabifresh directs her readers to read her FAQ section before sending a personal email.

Include a email/contact policy on your blog or website.Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield has a policy for how she handles personal emails, I had a question for her once and that was squared up by doing a search in her blog. Easy for me as I didn't have to draft and email or wait for a response.

Now, What if you need advice? How does one approach people for help?
should we approach people for help? How should we respond... I have a few ideas.


#1.  Realize that you might not get the answer your are looking for!! Thats number one, where I thought ole girl was going to be open arms to me like she has been in the past. WRONG!! She simply didn't have the time, and you know what its all good, and you sometimes wont have the time either

#2. KnowEXACTLY what it is you need help with.  If your asking someone for their time you need to be as specific as possible.

#3 Run a Google search of what you need advice with and explore those outlets first. Run a twitter search, Join a LinkedIn or Facebook group around the topic your seeking advice in. **This will be super important so that when you do ask for help you've already done your homework and will know some of these resources in case they come up, that is impressive*

What do you think? Have you been asked for advice that you dont have the time to give? Has someone given you indirect advice that was helpful? How do you handle this? Would love to hear from you

So Long Summer.. It Was a Good One

It was all about work for the Summer of 2013,  I had gazelle intensity and worked really hard on if anyone asked me if I was dating anyone, I said yes, and his name is MY ARTWORK ( lame I know but it helped me stay on track)! I got alot done and I'm really proud of myself!  I made new images for my project "So This One Guy", released the first sound for audiograham, a collaboration of a visual art and music project, and worked on the new Wachowskis film"Jupiter Ascending" with Warner Brothers. It was  one full summer!!  I was able to find some time for play though, which made those moments even more special! 

Here is a image recap of Summer 2013

(startiing from top Left: )Michelle telling her guy story// Jaime+ Me at Juptier Ascending Wrap Party// Set Decorator, Peter Walpole and Me

Chance, Rena and me, having a impromptu photo shoot on a boat ride// Lindsey,Jade and I chilling at a rooftop party//Tierra Verse, and friend taking client orders  and measurements at Niehla's Fall Fashion Preview.

(starting from top left:)My father and I on the set of one of my shoots// fireworks at Navy Pier//Uncle Jessie and wife Jade at their wedding reception picnic// car tattoo-fake? I'' let you decide//Niehla and Tiffany at Niehal's Fashion preview/ Model wearing one of Niehla's pieces

Hope you had the oppurtunity to enjoy your Summer!!! What kind of fun did you get into?

RIP Mentor, Ron Pitts

One of my mentors Ron Pitts, passed away Sunday. Ron had an amazing life, he was a history maker. Ron was the first black professor hired at Columbia College Chicago , where I received my degree in cinematography.  Ron had a warm, and playful spirit, and taught me to handle all aspects of the film business with love even when you have to be tough. Unfortunately it has been a while since I've seen Ron. I've told him how much I appreciated him before, but I would have loved to have told him again.
I will miss him, but I practice the lessons he taught me everyday. 

Check out this video. RIP

45 Lessons Life Taught Me

I found these lessons on Facebook and  they were right on time. Today has been such a challenging day, but God is good. So check out this list, written by Regina Brett.  

45 Lessons Life Taught Me by Regina Brett:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Its estimated 93% won't share this. 

I'm in the 7%.

Friends are the family that we choose.

Welcome to AudioGraham

The first installment of my new long term project Audiograham has launched and I want to share it with you. Audiograham, is a collaboration between music and visual art. I photographed 5 music artists in the hip hop and jazz community in Chicago and their music was mixed by DJ Sean Alvarez. 

I will probably write a blog post or two about the process, but in the meantime check it out, download the music and check out the website for more details.  Oh and BTW I made the website myself also on wordpress, a whole other blog post in itself lol.

Let me know what you think. I would love you hear from you