The Immortals by S. E. Lister

Imagine the joy of finding a bookish gem. Literary content that there has not been any hype about. In a ‘bargains’ box at that local bookstore you go to. Edges already a little bent and spine beginning to break. Imagine carrying it home in your coat pocket, smile on your face, because no matter how good or bad it might be, you saved that book. You  showed it kindness and for that there is only one thing it can give back to you- another new, great adventure. That is the story of how I found ‘The Immortals’ by S. E. Lister and without forestalling too much, it’s the beginning of an infinite love.

This a story of falling through time, of an uncontrollable journey, of lost wanderers. This is the story of Rosa Hyde, of the Immortals.

“The possibilities of their stories were dazzling. […] In the bright, broken light there was something unreal about the four of them, Tommy Rust and Amber Lakshmi, Nate and Harris Black. As though they were figures fixed in a varnished painting, beyond the touch of air or dust. Rosa thought that they looked everlastingly beautiful.”

In order of a trauma in her father’s past Rosa Hyde has never left the year 1945. In all her seventeen years of life her family and her are forced to live through the same year time after time, from beginning to end and over again. For most of those seventeen years, she did not know how that was possible until she escapes, falling through time. But she finds company in Tommy Rust, a man certain that he will will forever, an Immortal, like her. Roaming the millennia they wander, ever admiring the places, wherever the tides might take them.

“She rose, and crossed the room to the wide window. A pair of passers-by were arguing animatedly, the tinkling of piano keys echoing across the cobbles from a nearby café. The sounding of a motorcar horn, an outburst of laughter. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she lifted her face to the fresh night air. The sky above the city was clear, stars sharp as gems. She remembered when she had looked out over London in the same manner, then flung open her arms and danced with the joy of possibility. At the time no dream had seemed greater than that of keeping her feet on the same ground. How small, how simple-minded the thoughts appeared now.”

But as easily as the tides had brought Tommy and her, and the other Immortals together they fall apart the same, leaving her falling through time all over again.

“[…] perhaps they had already gone their separate ways, four bodies spinning off into space. You could find them if you wanted to, Rosa reminded herself. You will find them again f you only catch the right current, in the right place. There is no call for panic, gypsy girl, much less grief. After all, you never belonged to one another.”

But from that point on something is different. It seems that the tides too are aware of it’s travelers, and that the harder they hold on to anything that is dear to them, the faster it all falls apart and there is nothing they can do.

my thoughts- As you might have been able to tell, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did, but also know, that it is unlike others. The Immortals is not like other time traveling novels, in my eyes. I have always, until The Immortals, thought of something you do willingly, with an automaton or something. The Immortals are either born with the ‘ability’ to travel through millennia or are assigned with it by an Immortal close to them. Whenever a tide takes them, they fall, never knowing where they will arrive, only being able to take with them what they are carrying at that moment. I find the idea of that very fascinating and beyond anything I have yet read on the topic. It feels more real, to me in a way, than all other forms of time traveling, especially because it is so abrupt. But that surely isn’t all. In my opinion The Immortals is another one of those books more about the characters than the plot. The plot is messy and unordered, which is a little disturbing from time to time, but spreads a certain atmosphere and is with that an important part of it. The characters too are all a little strange, but well developed in the context of the plot. What made me love this books so much, you ask yourselves? The writing. As you might have already realized, it’s likely a book gets right to my heart just in order for it’s style. With The Immortals I have found another vastly beautiful collection of words that I will most likely hold dear for the rest of my life. It is a book made for dog-earing pages and underlining sentences. Here is some proof, if you doubt it…

“[…] wished she could look in every direction at once, that each part of the scene was a page in a book she could open, savour, open again.”

“The collection of stars wheeled within his oversized eyes, as though they took in all of the universe, as though he had swallowed it whole.”

“They were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon, sipping hot coffee, coats about their shoulders. The autumn sunlight cast a rosy glow over the rooftops and the cobbled street below […]”

“And what do you know. What did you ever know, gypsy girl. That disembodied grin which was once bright with golden promise, wide as a never-ending lifetime.”

…I think that should be it. The last thing I have to say about that book- i you are still looking for a special book for autumn, this should be added to your list. It has some massive autumn vibes, I can’t even say why, but it just seems to be written to be read with rain outside the window, a lit candle and under the warm sheet of a bed. It just feels right. Give it a try (and if you actually do so, tell me all your thoughts!).

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If we were Villains by M. L. Rio

IMG_5352.JPG“For someone who loved words as much as I did, it was amazing how often they failed me.”

Imagine living on words. Imagine living throughout the words of another person. A person who lived far before your time being. I am talking about Shakespeare. Imagine dedicating your whole existence to Shakespeare.

“‘Do you blame Shakespeare for any of it?’ The question is so unlikely, so nonsensical coming from such a sensible man, that I can’t suppress a smile. ‘I blame him for all of it,’ I say.”

That’s what Oliver and his classmates at Dellecher do. Or rather, once did. Because it’s been ten years since Oliver has last been at Dellecher, serving ten years for a murder he may or may not have committed.

“‘It’s not all bad. I still get letters trying to convince me that you’re innocent.’ ‘Yeah,’ I say. ‘I get those, too.’ ‘Are you convinced yet?’ ‘No. I know better.'”

Being released after all, he finds that he is not the only one, who cannot forget and after ten years, he might finally be ready to share what happened a decade ago.

“Could I explain it all to Colborne, the little twists and turns and final exodos? I study his blank open face, the gray eyes winged now by crow’s-feet, but clear and bright as they have always been. ‘All right,’ I say. ‘I’ll tell you a story. […]'”

As they start their fourth year of acting at the elite conversatory Dellecher they think it is going to be just as it has always been. The seven of them, never apart, playing the same roles in life as on stage.

“Enter the players. There were seven of us, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.”

But then everything begins to shift as castings get changed and the friends seem to drift apart. And all of a sudden they find themselves actors in a tragedy they never intended to play. Their every-day rivalry becomes more and more present until one of them is found dead, while the rest of them have to face their most significant role yet. Convincing the police, and each other, that they are innocent.

my thoughts- I bought this book before having read The Secret History by Donna Tartt and remember being unsure about buying it for exactly that reason. You’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with The Secret History, well, it is said to be similar to it and I thought, why have two books of the same kind, without you knowing if you like it? I had already fallen in love with the cover though, so I ended up buying it. Then I read The Secret History and liked, but was far from loving it. I had my doubts about this book after that, but started reading it anyways, a few weeks later. I was drawn to it from the first page. If We Were Villains hooked me in all the possible ways. It is written in in first-person, from Oliver’s point of view, and has a unique, yet easily understandable writing style, that was straight forward or describing at exactly the right times, which made the plot have a good pace. The writing style also made a good access to the the characters possible. I liked Oliver since page one and rooted with him all throughout the story, looking at things through his eyes. Him and all other characters were really well developed. Some points of the plot itself were a little predictable, but that makes complete sense, because it fits Oliver’s character (as you will learn, while reading the book) to realize some things a little later than the rest, meaning relations ships going on unofficially and stuff. I also really loved the way the story was told. In the ‘now’ at the beginning of each ‘act’ to then continue by looking back at past events, like unraveling it the other way around, from back to front, from present to past. That was a refreshing way to deal with a murder case in a book. Another thing I was obsessed with was the autumn-ish, fall-ish feeling it spread. While reading I stumbled over some incredibly beautiful fall quotes, that I still have to go look for again sometime soon. And there is more positiveness about it. If we were Villains easily manages to encourage to read Shakespeare, and a lot of it, I feel. Reading the characters act out all those plays and roles from works like ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Romeo and Juliet’ gives me a lot of incentive to check them all out and to study them. What else I can say is that it stays suspenseful until the very very end, but there’s nothing more coming from me now. I’m done, and you, you just go get the book. Oh, and don’t you dare not tell me if you end up liking it!

If you haven’t got enough of this book yet, go check out my currently developing If we were Villains board on my Pinterest.

yours, anna xx

de Paris.

Bonjour, mes amis. Je ne sais pas si tu sais, mais j’aime français, privilégié la ville de Paris. I know, I know, I’m getting back to english now, but since I have recently been to Paris for the fifths time and it it starting to feel a tiny bit like a second home, I thought I’d tell you a bit about my love for the city d’amour and throw in some shots I took throughout my time there while I’m at it. Before we get started, if you are from Paris or France, I do not mean to offend in any way. Things as the typical clothing style surely do not mesh with everyone and I know that.

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Let’s talk about the Parisian clothing style first. As you might know, I am obsessed with the simplicity and at the same time elegancy of the Parisian clothing style. I like the thought of putting on red lipstick and pulling up ones hair only to go out to pick up breakfast (though I’d probably never be brave enough to actually do that, but if it’d be part of the simple life, maybe I would…?). Beside the hair styles and make-up I can most identify with the clothes itself. There aren’t many colors when referring to a Parisian outfit. There is black and white, sometimes red in accessories, as a nail polish or lipstick, and then sometimes there is this light shade of brown and that’s it. Black and white stripes play a big role in french fashion, just as coats, turtle neck sweaters, blouses and very feminine shoes. The accessories are kept simple, just as the colors and clothes itself. There might be small earrings such as pearls and surely perfume. And while at it- Have you ever seen a Parisian woman walk around carrying a bag pack? No, you have not of course. It is common to have all important things in a small handbag. All in all the Parisian clothing style is kept very simple with little highlights, but mostly very expensive as the clothes usually is of well-known brands.

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To get on to the food. Everyone knows Paris for their good and mostly exquisite kitchen. While there are quite many specialities, I find myself drawn to french pastries and bread. This sounds very boring indeed, but Paris is the best place to get a Baguette. A long bread, you think? Far more than that. Bakeries all around the city sell fresh Baguettes with almost anything you can imagine. Chicken, salad, turkey, tomatoes, mozzarella and so on and on, and you cannot imagine how good a lunch this makes. Every time I have yet been to Paris, I mostly ate bread, for like the whole week and it does not even get boring, I swear. Another french treat I love are croissants. I can never get enough of them. I mean, you can have them all around the world mostly, but a croissant in Paris? Even the thought makes it taste a hundred times better. Surely I have to talk about Crêpes as well. As a kid who grew up eating mostly nothing but Crêpes when- and wherever I could, eating this in Paris is a match made in heaven. Just like croissants they taste better than anywhere else and are can be ordered in what feels like a hundred variations, sweet and salty and can be bought every 200 meters. Not to forget Paris special and exquisite treat the Macaron. It is a sweet treat that comes in different colors and flavors. The price of it is pretty shockingly expensive but if you ever get to Paris just treat yourself to a few and enjoy.

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The following paragraph will refer to the experience I have made according to the people and language in Paris. The times I have been there I have made good and bad experiences alike. With my family, when I have been to Paris the first few times, people on the street weren’t willing to help to help us find a certain Metro station for example, acting as if they could not understand us in neither English nor simple French. The last two times, this had changed. I have had people just suddenly starting to talk to me, asking me if I need help or where I am from, being interested in who visits their city. Referring to the language I would definitely recommend you to have some french vocabulary at hand when going to Paris. Just look up some words or phrases you think could be helpful in advance. If you want me to I can even send you a vocab list with useful stuff I made for my class for my most recent trip to Paris. Don’t be afraid to ask!

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Lastly I have a few tips for you on places you should visit (places I like best). The top tip from me, which I keep taking about is that if you want to see Paris from above, then you should not go up the Eiffel Tower (which is a fun thing if you go up by stairs, don’t get me wrong). In my opinion you have the best view on Paris from the Arc de Triomphe, because from there you get to see the Eiffel Tower and believe me, it is simply so beautiful. You will not regret it! A must-visit tip is for all my bookworms is Shakespeare and Company near Notre Dame. It is a heaven for all people who love books, even to those who do not. Many books have been written about it and throughout the many years it has already existed many incredible people have been there (such as Allen Ginsberg!!!). Juts give it a chance and thank me later. The area all around the bookstore in general is my favorite to be around in Paris, because it unites a lot of lovely thing. In many little streets there you can get all kinds of different foods, there a little parcs to rest with benches and small stores and great places to get souvenirs for an acceptable amount of money. So if you only have a day in Paris, spend you time all around Notre Dame and check out the view from the Arc de Triomphe and you’ll be all set! So this is a big yes to the Paris! By the way, you are free to send me question referring to a trip to Paris any time and I will try to answer them as best as I can.

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La La Land, a movie discussion

…and yet another thing to welcome to the blog… movie discussions. This long-term blog series will share my thoughts on some of the movies I come by, starting with La La Land, which I have recently watched a lot and wanted to share my opinion on with you. Please note that from a certain point on, this blog will contain spoilers (which I will surely point out again when I get there) and you should not continue reading if you haven’t yet watched the film.

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La La Land is a movie with a very new and special concept, in my opinion and can therefore not really be compared to other films hitting the theaters these days. Looking at it from a greater distance though, you are likely to enjoy this if you grew up watching Mamma Mia (like me) or, looking from an even greater distance, High School Musical, though as I said already, it’s not really comparable, but it is definitely much more like a musical, rather than a movie. So the first thing you should pull into consideration is if you think or know that this could be your cup of tea. If you can answer that with a yes, you are a step closer to a new favorite film of yours.

That brings us right to the music, the soundtrack of the film, which is one of the best I have listened to in a long time. As one of the topics that is dealt with is Jazz the score has some quite jazzy tunes, which I found myself falling in love with very quickly, as I enjoy almost anything vintage and find myself often dancing to older music, rather than what is in the charts these days. Beneath the incredible songs the sounds are very well made as well. Watching the film you will be able to realize that right in the beginning, as the camera is rolling by some cars waiting in line and the people in them listening to different kinds of music, so that it grows louder approaching them and quiter while rolling away.

Which brings us right to the camera work. The camera work is very stage like, if I can put it like that. We have spot ons and offs, just like on stage. But since the film is very much like a musical, this is more than just fitting. In case, I even think, that this was supposed to underline Mia’s role in the film. Since she is an (aspiring) actress, the movie, which she is a big part of, adopts that from her, just like it does with the Jazz music, which is Seb’s speciality as a(n) (aspiring) musician.

To get right to the actors and their acting. I found myself drawn to Ryan Gosling playing Sebastian a lot faster than Emma Stone as Mia. Mostly I think that this is, because it felt like Emma was putting a little too much effort in being Mia. To me it seemed like she was acting a little too much, being a bit too loud or quite, a little too embarrassed, a little too-much-everything. On another side I think, that this is less Emma’s doing and more the directors and I partly do understand, that this might just be part of Mia’s special character. Anyways, I enjoyed Ryan’s acting just a little bit more, but that is probably just because I could slightly relate to Seb more than I could to Mia.

I know that all this does not seem to have a proper concept to you, but it is now time to get to the story of the film. Seeing the trailer a couple of times before I watched the film, I expected a lot more story to this than there was at first sight. When I first watched it, I actually found myself almost unable to find a real one, with a beginning and an end and that whole part in the middle, but with each time I rewatch it, there seems to be more to the story it tells. It is obvious that this is a story about a young woman and a young man, with a dream, which they are struggling to reach. The movie starts with their ways crossing accidentally several times until they begin to actually sense the others presence and things go differently than expected…

(attention. please do not keep reading if you do not want to be spoilt, because in the following I will discuss further events and the ending of the film. thank you.)

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Mia and Seb spend some very happy months together, pushing each other to conquer their dreams, until Seb accepts a job offer he thinks Mia wants him to take seriously and things go down. While Seb is starting to adjust to his new job, that is in case not his dream, Mia works to live hers. Both fail and leave each other broken and done with what they once wanted. Until one day Seb again pushed Mia to go on, to live her dream, and has success. It is only then that their ways truly part. What I feel is kind of an epilogue picks up quite a few years later, with Mia having a husband that is not Seb and a child and being a successful actress and Seb finally having made his dream of an own Jazz Club come true, which Mia discovers accidentally with her husband one night. When Sebastian spots her in the crowd, he starts playing their tune and Mia finds her self thinking of an alternate ending for both of them together, imagining what it would have been like if everything would have turned out perfectly for them.

Watching the ending for the first time I was very confused and really disappointed, to be honest. I never imagined them both not ending up with one another, but having watched it a few more times, I think this ending is so much more meaningful than the other one would have been. It shows, that unlike in some other movies, life is not perfect and does not always turn out as wanted and that sometimes, no most times actually, you have to give up things, let go of things you love to reach what you dream of. It also shows, that you cannot reach your dreams all alone. That all on your own, you often loose faith. You often give up, without properly trying. La La Land shows that it is important to keep dreaming and to support other people and their dreams, just like your own. It highlights that it takes a lot f courage to believe and to finally achieve the things you dream of, but that with a little help, it is possible.

learning to calm down

lately I have been feeling stressed out a lot and had to figure out some simple things to calm down a little and since I know that I am far from alone with this, since there’s always work to do, exams to study for, money to earn, but mostly just a lot of pressure coming from peoples surroundings, I thought I’d share some of things that have been helping me get along, for you to try out eventually…

One, taking a hot bath. I know, this might sound a bit strange, but it really does wonders for me. Mind that by hot I mean just a little over your usual bathing temperature. One where it takes you a little longer to get fully into the water, you know what I mean? It makes me calmer than anything. I feel relaxed after getting out of the tub and it works even better if you take a little nap afterwards (but only about max. twenty minutes or you will feel really tired when waking up after napping for longer, promise, i know what I’m talking about).

Two, slow classical music. I didn’t used to be into classical music at all until a few weeks back, but around that time, I had to start writing really long essays for my major literature class at home within just a few days under the week and so I had to come up with an idea how to get through that and discovered classical music. It’s lyric-less character didn’t distract me from the words I had to write and at the same time calmed me, because silence really killed me while writing them.

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Three, good nights sleep. I’m a really easily-distracted sleeper when I am stressed, so what I discovered for me this past week feels like a wonder. No matter what temperature my room has, when I sleep, I am hot, which causes me to sleep pretty badly, waking up tired and exhausted. So I just put a mattress with some pillows and sheets directly by the window, opened it a little and went to sleep. I woke up feeling better than I had in ages, not at all hot and sweaty, and now it’s most likely I’m never going to sleep in my real bed ever again, huh, but whatever. I guess that’s a different story.

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Four, reading a few pages of a classic before going to sleep. Yes, there isn’t anything that sounds more boring that that in our century, but just try it out. It’s calm and mostly descriptive writing style will soothe you and calm you down, when at the same time getting your thoughts away from everything that is personally bothering you, like emptying your mind to prevent the Dark Lord from entering it (Potter thing that just had go in here, I’m sorry).

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Five, shut off phone at least half two hours a day for a break. With my social media (Bookstagram and Blogging) activity my phone can have a really distracting and most days even stressing effect on me. So it just helps me a lot to turn it off completely for a while each day, to either take some time to relax or to study more concentrated, without getting distracted by incoming messages. Some days it is enough for me to just put it into another room and walk away, so you don’t necessarily have to turn it off, if you don’t want to, the point is to not have it with you for a while a day.

I am hoping some of these can help you the way they help me. Don’t ever fail to message me if you want to talk. I have an open ear for all of you and I promise, I will answer. It might just take me a little time, but I will, and always remember- keep your head up. You’re getting through today and tomorrow and this week and this month and next month and the following one. You do. You can and you will, even if you might not think so right now. Take it day by day, in small bits. You are strong, I know it, and that’s why you can get through whatever you are struggling with. And even if today was exceptionally hard, or this week, or month. Don’t give up on yourself. Not today, not tomorrow and not ever. You deserve better. You deserve to be believed in. Especially by yourself. It will take time, surely, but you can learn, and before everything else, start learning that one thing. Start learning to believe in yourself.

yours, anna xx

The Blueberry Muffin

Welcome to this brand new row of blogs. I have always loved baking, since it soothes me, but I’m not that much of  a talent. Anyways, my creations do come out enjoyable and in ‘anna’s simplicity bakery’ I am going to share some of my favorites, that I’ve already been showing off around my social medias. They are all really simple to make and I hope you will end up liking them as much as I do. Here comes the first receipt… The Blueberry Muffin.

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… look at these, fresh from the oven …

Ingredients (modifiable):

150ml cup                          of plain Greek yogurt

250ml                                  of plain milk

150ml                                  of olive oil

500ml cup                          of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons                       of baking powder

250ml cup                         of sugar

some                                   grated vanilla

one                                      large egg

one cup                             of blueberries

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Then add together all the ‘wet’ ingredients, meaning yogurt, milk, olive-oil and the egg.

After that, add the dry ones one by one. First the flour, then baking powder, sugar and vanilla.

For the dough, add the blueberries at last, folding them in carefully.

Now grab a muffin tray and lay it out with muffin forms, add in the batter until almost full.

Bake for five minutes at 425F and then go down with the heat to 375F and leave in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Take them out & leave it in the tray for some more minutes to cool a bit, then get ’em out and enjoy them while they’re still warm.

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… freshly cracked up, prettily bleeding …

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… and remember, homemade looking pastry is on trend again …

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… can’t get any prettier zooming in, right?

…and there you have them already. Beautiful and easily made little muffins that usually come in twelve when I make them and can be eaten over several days without getting bad, or just as well eating ’em all just freshly out of the oven. Made another tray just this morning and can’t wait to get back to them tomorrow morning for breakfast (they are an ideal breakfast too, by the way). Hope you enjoyed this first receipt in a row of more coming in the future. Make sure to tell me if you try this out, spam me with shots of them over on my other social medias and talk to me about your new ideas for this little receipt of mine. I’m pumped for your opinions.

yours, anna xx

editing my photography

Many people recently requested me to explain how I edit my photos on Instagram, so I decided to explain with some supportive photos over here and give you some main tips on photography as well.

Let’s jump right in. To begin with the actual photo… I take my photos with the Nikon D3100 from my parents. Sometimes, but really rarely, with my phone (an iPhone 5c). The only app I use for editing my photos is VSCO. I just picked my recent shot from Instagram to show you the progress of editing…

Here is just the plain unedited photo to begin with…

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I’m currently using the A6 filter with a strength of about 8.4, so that you can see an affect but it doesn’t look too unnatural, edited.

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The next things I do almost always depend on the photo itself. But with mostly every photo I increase the temperature a little bit, about from +0 and +1.1.

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The next things I do, as I told you, depend on the photo itself. With this one I increased the contrast a bit to highlight the beautiful contrast between sunshine and shadows.

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Another thing I did with this was taking the exposure a little upwards.

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And voilà. Here we have the finished post. Simple, wasn’t it? and it still looks really natural, but manages to support my brownish, black and white theme, which I like a lot.

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The last thing to give you on your way for editing your photos are some main tips on photography I can give you itself. Because, well, you can only start editing you photos when you have some good quality photos at hand. Some most important things to achieve that are following…

The most important thing is the lightning. Always take photos in natural lightning to prevent from getting grainy, low-quality photos. We all know the scene. You take nice photos, you really like and such and then the quality isn’t really a bummer, which makes you feel really miserable and we don’t want that, do we?

The next tip is referring to lighting as well. With time I started to accept that some days, or better most days, there’s not that perfect ‘not too bright nor dark’ lightning. It is something like the photographers dream, that perfect lightning. So start working with what you have. It’s super sunny? Strange shadows seem to ruin your photos? So what? Make an achievement out of them. Like ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. Like I did with this photo. The shadows and sunshine give the photo a pretty special atmosphere, in my opinion. You can also experiment with various objects and the different shadows they throw. It can create incredibly unique shots.

The last two tips I have sound pretty simple, but might actually be quite hard to achieve. Be yourself, but also keep trying new things, experimenting. Try to find out what message, what story, you want to send out through your photography. Get out there. Watch the work of others. Look at photos on Pinterest similar to the kind of photos you want to take. Try to re-create the ones you like and when you get bored with that, start thinking of new things. Go out again. Keep your eyes open and use everything around you to get inspired. Photography is a lot about feeling and seeing, what isn’t visible at first sight. Remember that and then wander new places, get to know new people and almost take your camera, if possible. That’s how you get inspired, how you get the photos and then you edit them, always staying true to yourself.

yours, anna xx