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


We Are Siamese, If You Please....

I have this song in my head this morning. I really think its a jam and of course a classic!
                                                     The August Break, Day #11, Siamese Cats, "Lady and the Tramp"

Oh, a Filter is a Coming....

The Filter Photo Festival is in September and I'm stoked that I will be in town and able to participate! Its going to be good, I'm excited and nervous at the same time,  but overall I'm looking forward to sharing my new projects with the photo community in Midwest!

I think there is still time to participate and have your work reviewed if your interested. Get the details here

Oh yeah and mark you calendars for Saturday September 28th, thats the night of the portfolio walk, and it would be great for you to come, see the work of fellow photographers, mix, mingle and of course, meet me :)

The Great Escape

 The August Break, Day#7, The Great Escape' © Jeff Evans
Stuart Pilkington is a photo- grapher and art photography curator based in the United Kingdom. has selected my friend Jeff Evans image 'The Great Escape' for the project BOOK • FILM • PAINTING.  You can take a look at the project here and see more of Jeffs work here

Oh... Livebooks *sigh*

If your a photographer you might have heard the buzz around my website provider Livebooks being acquired by a company called Wedding Wire (see the blog post here.) The photo community has gone crazy and Livebook competitors are jumping on Livebooks clients to get our business. However, Livebooks as asked for time, to show us this new transition will be seamless and will work in our favor, so I'm going to honor that request and see what happens...

Keeping my fingers crossed.

I Mustache You a Question...

The August Break, Day#5, Selfie ,I mustache you a question

Jay Z's 'Picasso Baby'

Jay Z's 'Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film' made its debut last night. I think its interesting to bring this type of platform into the art gallery space. Pretty cool. 

The August Break, Day #4, Jay Z, Picasso Baby

Come to the Roof Darling

The August Break, Day#3, Rooftop View, Fulton Market

2 Quick Lessons, We Can All Learn From Lindsey

The August Break, Day#2, Lindsey- 4th of July Weekend

This is my girl Lindsey, I met her a few years back at our mutual friend Janelles cd release party and we've been hanging out since.  Lindsey works as a social media consultant and also maintains a blog and YouTube channel where she discusses her weight loss journey, style, hair care and purity. Its good stuff! I'm a fan of hers and lucky to call her my homegirl.

I was watching one of her videos this morning when I realized a few things that just wanted to share here. I was inspired and its just two things so here we go:

1. You have to put yourself out there.
Lindsey doesn't mind talking about anything to anyone. You never know how your helping someone from sharing your own experiences. This is the case for business or personal.  Its a good thing to let people know what your up too. I like being relatable, but of course you select how much you want to share. 

2. Establish boundaries for yourself and stick to it.
People say that this is a issue for a lot of creatives but I believe that its true for EVERYONE regardless if you're creative or not, but I HATE DISCIPLINE AND ROUTINE. However, discipline and routine is the foundation for alot of success in peoples lives! As much as I hate waking up at 5:30a to complete art admin work, or workout. I HAVE TO DO IT if Im going to meet my goals. UGH!! 
Okay enough of my crying about that (at least until the next post).  Lindsey is leading a life of purity, and has lost over 100 lbs. I admire that about her simply because it takes discipline and constant self-evaluation and awareness to achieve that type of greatness. I know its not always easy she would tell you that herself, but I strive to be consistent in my personal and business goals everyday, so I find it inspiring, and hearing about the bad times are also helpful to know I'm not the only one. Life is a sturuggle sometimes period, but its all good.

So check her out and keep fighting the good fight!!
Thanks for reading

If I Were a Boy...

The August Break, Day One

I've been working on some images for my boy project. This is a snap I made last night (midnight to be exact) in my apartment doing some makeup tests. *Sigh* It's hard being a guy :) Looking forward to sharing this project with you. You can see the others I've done on my website under the So This One Guy tab. 

The August Break 2013

I dont know about you, but this summer has been sort of cray (in a good way). I've been busy completing a body of work, trying to find time for play, hanging with family and  I'm currently in production on a Hollywood Feature. Nothing to fancy, just feeling really good about keeping a good pace and being productive.

So I came across this fun project called "The August Break" a photo exercise thats hosted by  author and photographer Susannah Conway. Katrina Tan of Pugly Pixel created the badge for The August Break too! Its beautiful right! I read her blog too she is *singing voice* amaze balls!

So the goal basically of The August Break is just to share images and take a break from the words. As productive as I've been i've slacked on getting content up on my blog as much as I want. So my goal with this "break" is to just have fun and share, but you can get the "official" details here

You should participate too! If you don't have a blog its all good you can share them on your Instagram, Facebook, yourself there are no rules, except to have fun,

Looking forward to sharing.

So This One Guy.. Video Interviews SUNDAY!

I've been working on a project titled "So This One Guy" for the past few years.  Its a project that includes a series of self-portraits, as well as video and audio interviews of women sharing their stories on dating. This Sunday and the following Saturday I'm inviting women to share their dating stories. If you have a funny or interesting story to share.

Email me at if your interested. I would love to include you in this project.

Okay easy mamma, its all good, just share with a friend or family member that you think might be interested.

Thanks  for being you!

In Between Drinks...

My friend Gil is having an art show tonight. If your in Chicago and free you should join us. Its going to be a great time. 

Balance, Sometimes It Works Other Times...

Its been full steam ahead these past few weeks at the Graham Empire,THANK GOD!  I worked a commercial job and as soon as it wrapped, rolled right into a feature film that will work me through the end of summer. All project where I just completed  my second week,  All great stuff, but its been all work!!! I've been able to hit up a family bbq and hang with my pop on Fathers Day but outside of that... Nothing all work.

So I'm trying to balance myself back out to where Im hanging out, working out and spending enough time to focus on my art practice as well as client work.  One thing I have learned though. Balance is in deed something that you will hit dead on and other times you wont. 

Im always interested in how others make life work, so please share your thoughts in the comments

Saturday with D2G

I had the opportunity to photograph hip hop artist D2G this past weekend. I met D2G a while back  when he performed at this show "Heavy Rotation" that happened monthly at Cafe Lura. What I found unique about D2 was that unlike some of the other artists that evening (and other evenings for that matter) that would perform and leave. D2 stayed the entire time long after he performed to support that other acts and partcipate in the open mic freestyle they had at the end of night. He was a true class act and I became an instant fan. 

My good friend and fellow artist Tone( pictured below), had already been working with D2G and painted this amazing painting inspired by one of his songs titled I-RAN.  so when I approached D2G about photographing him he was game, and Tone was also their to collaborate.

I-RAN Painting by Tone aka FeastisFamine

The three of us met for breakfast and that was all she wrote... We came up with some good ideas. I'm always inspired by other artists regardless of what their medium is, and I'm looking forward to more projects with these two. So there you have it! That's all she wrote!

It's also really important to me that as soon as its decided that I'm going to photograph someone that I try to support them and get to know them as much as I can to build a rapport. Plus,I  mean who turns down an opportunity for breakfast Delish!! LOL

We  had 3 locations and all in all I was pleased with the day. We closed out with a celebratory rum shot and chilled!

Here's a quick peek into some more images from the day

D2 with Artist/Friend/Collaborator Tone (@feastisfamine) 

Oh, and if your a hip hop fan you should def check out D2G's music. My favorites are his newest single "I-RAN" and "Windy"

Thanks for reading!!!

No more yes. It's either HELL YEAH! or no.

I came across this Derek Shivers fella yesterday while I was reading a blog post written by Colleen Wainwright for the ASMP Strictly Business blog. It was a good read and if your interested you can check it out here.

Derek Shivers has this "Hell Yeah" philosophy that I really connected with as its one of the foundations (next to God of course) of my art practice and how I make money.

We've all been there right? I know I have,  you commit to a project and then something clicks inside you and you just wish you would have never said yes in the first place. Oops, that sucks!  I'm a woman of my word, but there has been moments where I do have to pull away from the project just because I cant get with it. Thankfully, I rarely get in situations like that anymore. 

I only work on projects that I absolutely believe in period. Its just not worth it otherwise. 

So lets re(commit) here as we move forward with the projects that we're working on:

When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than, “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!” - then my answer is no.- Derek Shivers

Cheers to happier projects!!
Thanks for reading

It's Who You Know...

Yesterday I met with my accountability partner discuss goals for the year and the progress we have made thus far with our art business and projects. I cant tell you enough how important having a partner to help through all of this is, she is smart,talented, funny, knowledgeable and of course INVALUABLE to my art practice.  Each time we meet, we listen to each other to discuss everything we have going on, we discuss work goals, fitness goals, art goals its all up for grabs. We congratulate each other as well as help each other with challenges, it keeps momentum in my world and thats important.

So anyhoo, one of my partners goals for 2013 is to continue to build and foster relationships with people in the art community. Awesome!!! Building relationships and keeping them consistent is the foundation of alot of goals, especially in arts and media so I was all for it.  Stephanie Graham the Career advisor kicked in and I introduced Deirdre to the RELATIONSHIP ACTION PLAN. A relationship action plan, or RAP as my girlfriend Mikey and I call it is a strategic plan on who you need to meet and how you will meet them to help you reach your goals. I think the term was coined by Keith Ferrazzi, a strategic consulting guru. 

We all know how beneficial it is to write out your goals, but it is good to have an idea of who is going to help you get there, so be sure to include a RAP into your plans too! It will take some research, LinkedIn searches, phone calls and emails but it becomes a lot less intimidating to do these things when you have a plan with action steps in the mix.

Try it! I found a really good article here about how John approached his RAP plan.

Good Luck!! 

I Heart Mighty Text

So.. I lost my iPhone, no wait I take that back.... someone stole my iPhone at my birthday shindig. ( stolen eases that pain that I really couldn't be so careless, you understand, PLUS I really do think it was stolen). AT ANY RATE that was in October and since I have to wait until February for my contract to renew to get a cheaper phone, (Can you believe AT&T wanted me to pay $250 for to early upgrade PLUS the cost of the phone HECK NO! I will wait until February thank you very much). So I ended up snagging this my first smartphone style Android to use while I wait for February 1st to come . 

So having spent the last few months as #TeamAndroid, I wanted to share my love for the app MIGHTY TEXT. It's Android specific and its AWESOME!!  In a nutshell Mighty Text allows you to text directly from your laptop. It has been my savior for me to keep in contact and have conversations with those friends that who no longer believe in the telephone , my buds who are on set and unable to talk and of course, my little sisters who really should be awarded worlds fast texter. (Is texter a word?)

Bravo to the fellas that put this together its really a gem.

Check it out for yourself let me know what you think!!

How Not to Act When a Co-Worker is Laid Off

HAPPY 2013!! We did it! We are here, so lets make the best of it! 

As I was saying in my last post,I was recently laid off, a wild and overwhelming experience that surprisingly seemed to effect my co-workers more than it affected me. So I had some insight about this experience that I wanted to share with you. Just in case you find yourself in this situation here are my thoughts on "How Not to Act When a Co-Worker is Laid Off". 

A few more I forgot to mention after a discussion from me and some girlfriends:

*Dont tell me to steal office supplies in a joking matter
*Dont ask me for my office chair or other supplies on my desk
*Do say that you are "sorry this happened" or " Lets go have a drink and forget about it, My treat"

Have you ever been laid off and experienced this? What are your Dos and Dont's? Tell me in the comments

Thanks for reading and watching :)
Stephanie Graham, Studio Blog. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.