Becoming a Maker

Last year, while I was pregnant with my daughter, I had specific things that I envisioned her having, and one of those was bonnets. I just loved seeing babies in bonnets. Unfortunately, I could only every find bonnets for $25-$50 CAD in the style that I liked. To put it simply, they were something I couldn’t afford (especially since I wanted her to have one for every outfit – ha!). Finally I couldn’t stand not having any for her so I bought myself a sewing machine and taught myself how to use it. I figured if I could learn how to sew then I could save some money. I am so glad that I bought that sewing machine because it has become a small part of me.

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Now, I can’t even count how many bonnets I’ve made (okay, I probably could, if I took some time to). I’ve altered the pattern (what feels like) a million times to get the fit I like on my daughter’s round head. When she was newborn I had to redo the pattern to get a small enough bonnet for her little head and as she grows I continue altering. Recently I gave away five of Alba’s bonnets to someone who needed them more than her, the great part is I am easily making more for her to replace the five that we gave away. It’s not costing me much financially as a lot of the fabrics I use are given to me in the form of old sheets (thanks mama!).

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Crocheted pixie hats and mittens for my daughter.

Recently I’ve also started delving into other projects. I’ve sewn some skirts/dresses for my daughter and myself, as well as taught myself to crochet. I can make things. A lot of these are beginner projects but I hope to make her some heirloom pieces that she can give to her children or that I can keep for any other children I may have.

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A pinafore dress and bunny bonnet I made for Alba’s first Easter.

 

The best part of all of this isn’t the money I am saving learning how to make things (instead of buy), nor is it the possibility that my grand-children will get to wear these clothes, instead it’s that I am spending time on me. Myself. While I was pregnant, one of the things I worried about was my identity. Who would I be after my daughter was born? Mother is such a beautiful title, and it is a part of my core, I was made to be Alba’s Mother, but I am more than her Mother. I am still Claudine, someone who wasn’t a mom for the past 27 years and as I navigate through my motherhood story I am trying to keep a grasp on that.  I’ve read and heard about drowning in parenthood and that hasn’t happened to me (yet, I’m sure it will come at some point). I’ve heard that the days are long, that it’s monotonous, and I think (for me) that hasn’t happened because (when I can) I take the time to just do “me” things. It’s therapeutic. I love being a Mom, and I think one of the reasons I love it is because I try to have balance and spend time on myself, especially in these wonderful early days when I’m with her literally 24/7. So, when Alba sleeps, I like to make things (or do something that I enjoy). I think this makes me a better mama, a happier mama, and I truly wish I could stay home with her forever because I am enjoying every single day.

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It’s not always easy. Sometimes I have to sew on the floor because she’s napping on the couch and I want to be in the same room as her. Another time I sewed on the floor in the basement because everywhere else in the house someone was sleeping and I didn’t want to wake anyone up but I really wanted to finish my project. To say I love it is a little bit of an understatement.

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Alba wearing the same bonnet in both images. On the right image we are bother wearing skirts that I made. 

 

Since Alba joined my life just a short 5 months ago, I have become slightly terrified of becoming an empty nester in the future (yes, I think about things like that), but at least I’ll have my sewing machine with me (*insert laughing emoticon).

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re+work

The first time I used studio lights was in Patuanak. I was hired for a Christmas Gathering and the Chief and Council wanted everyone to have photos done in front of the big tree/presents/etc. I knew the lights would be awful in that location – band hall – so I borrowed a basic set off my photog friend Tracey, of Copperblue Designs. I got set up, did a ish-load of photos, had not a damn clue what I was doing (for real tho), and managed to deliver some crisp, clear and well-lit photos to my community.

It was good learning something new.

But still, let me be the first to say that studio work is not my strong point. And even the word “studio” is adorable right now. I’m lucky enough to have some talented friends that let me rent space when needed – Hi, Miywasin Studio and Maki Fotos – but more often then not, I am rocking the home-studio for some of my work. It’s kind of awkward inviting strangers into your home, another reason I don’t do a lot of studio lighting work, but whatever. Suck it up, laugh about it, and move forward. Get shit done, amiright?

I admire many photographers who can rock a studio set-up and deliver constant, on point photos – people like Melody Charlie or Poihakena Portraits – but that just ain’t me. Yet.

I don’t love studio work, but I accept the challenge. I want to try. I want to learn. I want to make the mistakes.

And while that is all good and fun, once the final products are delivered (which are generally clean commercial edits), I get to play.

I’m that person with 20+ photography apps on my phone. I adore iPhotography. I adore apps.

And how can you not?

A few simple clicks and a mood just changes…

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What was once clean and crisp commercial edits becomes dirty and grungy and I fall in love all over again.

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It’s through experimenting with apps that I can test how I feel about certain looks- Do I like faded, distressed, high-def, ultra-saturated, grunge? It’s through apps that I feel I can safely test out multiple looks on the same image, and see for myself how multiple meanings can come through on one image with just texture and tone adjusted.

It’s quick. It’s easy. I’m not saying apps replace Photoshop, at all, but I am saying for something on the go, apps are the next big thing to experiment with.

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Currently, my top five editing apps are:

  1. VSCO: Yasssssss. That’s all I gotta say. 
  2. Mextures: This is where all the grunge and distressed style comes in. There are cleaner looks, for sure, but I was specifically editing for high visuals in these sets above. 
  3. Prisma: Go check it out – you’ll know where that cool mosaic feature comes from. My only beef is that it makes all images a square, which is weak, but the editing looks are lovely.  
  4. Rhonna Designs: Excellent fonts (I love fonts) and multiple designers create design packs for all seasons, events, holidays, etc. 
  5. Polamatic: This gives you a polaroid look, and you can adjust the types of polaroid film as well as the frame. The film lover in me is entertained.  

So give it up, share a secret:

What’s your favourite editing app?  

 – tenille campbell

someday you’ll shine, and make them all blind…

“Let’s make a music video.”

“No.”

“Esjih. It’ll be fun.”

That was basically a conversation my cousin Tara and I had early last year. Tara is a seasoned rap artist, currently based out of Saskatoon. She was working on the final songs for her first EP release, Diary of a Mad Red Woman. I had previously filmed scenes for her first video, Tha Truth,  and she edited it. I didn’t know enough about film editing to even try.

So when she asked me to try again, I was nervous. Insecure. Give me a person to photograph, and I can rock it. Ask me to make a video, and I want to quickly yet quietly walk away. I was a photographer, not a videographer.

But it’s not like photographers don’t cross that chasm. I remember when Lightning Cloud’s “Walk Alone” came out, and I was struck by the visual imagery presented. When I looked it up and saw that the talented Tyson Anderson had directed and co-edited, I was all “yasssssssss.”

Doing some mini-research, it appears that this is a trend that goes beyond our rez-borders: even in mainstream media, there is an emergence of having photographers take over as visual directors for music videos. As photographers, we look for final visuals, memorable visuals…

“And that’s the trick: A key photographer will always help an artist put their best face forward. With no pesky dialogue or linear plot structure to get in the way, it becomes all about the image—and who better to create those?” – Janelle Okwodu, Voque

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We spent the day together, working with local make-up artist, Kacey Beaudry, for two specific looks. In between latte’s and travelling throughout the city for shooting locations, we managed to walk away with some magic.

I then spent hours in front of the computer, playing, learning through mistakes and laughter. I worked with Final Cut Pro, after reading a few reviews of what programs work best for amateur videography. I stayed up late while my daughter slept, drawn in by a new creative expression. Tara came over  few nights to fine-tune the final looks. While I know some prefer to have final control over their finished video, this was a serious collaboration between her vision and song and my interpretation of it.

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Finally, we were done, and I felt ridiculously attached to the final outcome. It’s not perfect. A year later, and I’m looking at it again with new, critical eyes, picking apart what I would do if I had the chance, yet I’m still proud. I’m still happy with what remains.

And while I still gravitate towards my camera rather then video, it opened my eyes. I used to think that I could only be One Thing – a Photographer. And now, working with the talented artists on tea&bannock, working with the many powerful Indigenous individuals with my photography business, I see how creativity isn’t defined by strict borders. My mentors aren’t just one thing – they are professors, film directors, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, moms, and activists.

They create with many mediums, and now, I see the appeal.

 

–  tenille campbell