my first printed photo portfolio

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this post was created in partnership with blurb.

i got put onto blurb years ago when i first started shooting -- roughly 8-ish years ago -- and remember being in complete and total awe that any regular person could self-publish 'a real professional book' about whatever their heart desired. i decided that one day i was going to make an awesome book about something and print it through the blurb platform, even if it was just one copy for myself.

years passed and no book, but the dream remained. recently, i was able to realize my fantasy after blurb themselves offered me an opportunity to create a book to celebrate the launch of their new layflat book format. i was like, 'duh, hi. yesplz.'

the layflat book format is blurb's fancy new creation that allows books to -- wait for it -- lay completely flat so you don't lose any part of your image to the center. aka you can have full bleed two page spreads that win at life more than any other two page spreads in existence. 

of all the things, why did i decide on making a photo portfolio? when i first moved to new york about six and a half years ago (i have no idea where the time went), i was looking into printed portfolios; i'd been researching a screw-post situation for which i'd have to buy inserts and then pay for prints -- the smallest size for maybe a 40ish image portfolio was going to run me like $600-700. i decided to opt for an ipad solution instead and that's what i've been rocking with since about 2012.

this blurb project finally allowed me to delve into the long-time-coming realm of printed portfolios in a new way and presented me the super valuable opportunity to practice laying out a photo book -- something i've never done before and is really its own art form.

i prepared myself for a daunting task as i've been told that book and magazine layout design can be a beast. however, thanks to blurb's bookwright software and preset layouts to get me started with how things work and can look, the task was much more approachable than i thought it might be. and honestly, praise due to layflat book format for greatly expanding my layout possibilities and ability to play; i can imagine that with a limited gutter situation, layout options would be much more challenging.

i felt so gleefully reckless splaying photos across the gutter on as many pages as possible.

i got the large landscape style book and upon receiving it, i can tell you that the thing is not a casual situation -- it is an event; it is also neon grellow -- because, why not? the build of the hardcover is solid and the pages are substantial. to create the layflat effect, all the pages are essentially two 100 lb. stock pages glued together, yielding a luxurious page weight of 200 lb. in effect. not for the faint of heart.

the opening page is my only full bleed spread in the book and really, i sort of made it by accident; i dragged the image in just to see what would happen and it looked so good, i kept it. the feel of this layout combined with the richness of the color in the print quality is especially bold and striking.

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the cost of the book with shipping came out to something like $250ish (which i luckily didn't have to pay, compliments of blurb). crazy that it was about half the price of the portfolio option i was looking at some years ago. that considered, i could see printing a portfolio like this bi-annually or quarterly as a real possibility for adding a special touch to portfolio review meetings; i find that photo editors really welcome and cherish the nostalgia and tactile nature of print.

if you feeling extra fancy, blurb books can be sold on the blurb bookstore (which ships worldwide), apple ibooks, amazon, or via ingram (a distributor to many bookstores). and if perhaps, maybe, you feel like getting your very own copy of my october 2017 portfolio from the blurb bookstore -- that can happen.

perusing through the leave behind series some photo editors have on their instagrams, i've become quite fascinated with the creative ways people choose to present their printed photo portfolios; any fun ideas you have in mind or have seen out there in the world? also curious to hear your experiences about self-publishing since this is a space i'd love to grow into more with time -- maybe next time with a magazine or a trade book :)

how do you showcase your work or photography?

spontaneous crystal therapy

 photo // pinterest

photo // pinterest

my crystal bowl has sat there for years, relatively untouched; presumably clearing and shifting energetic fields unseen and unknown to me.

the other day i was drawn to one crystal, then another, and another. the minute i grasped the trio in my palm, i began shaking (as i do at times when energy is shifting/clearing/generating) and underwent my first spontaneous intuitive crystal healing; i was pretty sure i wasn't done and 15-20 minutes later i went through one of my craziest shake sessions to date.

i kept this trio by my bedside and near me during the day for the following couple days during which i still felt a charge/connection. today i picked them up, felt nothing immediately, and became quite clear our work was done for now.

as i set them down back into my bowl, i stayed for a minute to see if any other crystals wanted to connect with me. i grabbed a black tourmaline (grounding/protecting) first and placed it in my left palm, then the white selenite (elevating/opening); recognizing the duality in color and vibration, i placed the selenite in my right palm. again, an immediate energetic response.

as i sat down, i placed the tourmaline on the left of my seat and the selenite on the right; and surely, i felt the crystals interacting to create a potent energetic field, forming something of a 180 degree arc around and above me; i'm buzzing as i write this.

a reminder that all in our lives ripens when it is time for us to receive it. 

half of the crystals i've used were gifted to me, half i've had for years; we came together for these moments.

it's really quite surreal to follow your intuition and connectedness as it opens; kind of like the real life magical land i always dreamed about when i was little. i knew it was real.


bleeker: a personal + professional development fellowship

in january 2017, i'll be joining the good folks at bleeker for a unique year-long personal and professional development fellowship. unlike many fellowships, bleeker does not hinge on a monetary grant but instead gifts its fellows with a thoughtfully crafted resource framework. the core of the program includes four main elements — executive coaching, monthly workshops, mentorship, and a full-time administrative assistant — intended to actively and regularly engage fellows in their development process.

bleeker has two fellowship cycles each year in both new york city and the bay area. one cycle begins in january and the other begins in july. applications for the july nyc and bay area cohorts are still open and are due january 31. you can go to this link for more detailed info about the fellowship and to apply.

before beginning our first group session in january, we were asked to fill out a questionnaire to help guide our experience; they said it would take 20 minutes but i knew i was going to have to set a few hours aside when i saw questions on there like “what is your purpose?” if you read my inaugural blog post, you know that’s a question i’m constantly asking myself that is forever yielding new nuance and answers. 

as always, i learned more about myself and my path from this inquiry and also got pretty real about some shit that somehow even surprised me. like, how the 'positive' and 'negative' ways people might describe me are almost opposites or two sides of the same coin. or how the “projects” reflecting my abilities that i was most moved to write first have nothing to do with my photography career. i also came away grateful for the subtle and new articulations i found to communicate how i presently view my purpose and path. you can dig into my questionnaire below:

describe a positive impact that you've made on your community, neighborhood, company, city or country.

by being honest and open about my challenges, my growth, and who i am, i have inspired others to find their strength and follow their truth.

describe the positive impact that you intend to create in the future.

more of the above but with more structure and intentionality; applying that same ethos to various models for conversations, art, media, community spaces, cultural exchange, and social problem solving. with an additional focus on integrating a value of healing into our daily work, lives, relationships, and into a new paradigm for activism. specific areas of impact i am interested in are feminism (+ challenging what that's come to mean in the mainstream),  multiculturalism, and social equality for marginalized groups.

describe the projects that you've initiated, led or contributed to that best define your abilities.

'the forum' - founding + moderating a discussion group series about whatever is on participants' hearts and minds in the moment; 'freewrite' - a social media short poem/personal adage series that encourages mindfulness, awareness, vulnerability, and authenticity; leading an intro to chi gong session in my home after a particularly challenging time with police brutality news & helping soothe my peers' systems; keeping a photography business and portfolio thatconsciously represent and honor people of color; capturing people through portraits that are honest and down to earth; creating space to capture raw and vulnerable cast portraits for the 'fit the description' documentary (it features honest conversations between black male police officers and black male civilians)

what is your purpose?

to foster healing and peace by extracting and illuminating truth from confusion, chaos, and seeming contradiction/disparity; and as such, to be a bridge for people and institutions. i see myself as a communicator/storyteller, strategic facilitator, and community builder.

what are your principles or values? (the rules that guide your personal and professional actions when no one is looking.)

authenticity, truth, healing, justice, balance, inner peace, contentment, mindfulness.

describe your personality. (how would your friends, teammates, family members and collaborators describe what it's like to spend time with you?)

insightful, intense, loving, silly, withdrawn/in her own world; what it's like to spend time with me? sometimes healing, inspiring, warm, and other times uncomfortable, challenging, isolating. 

what is your professional trajectory?

i am interested in using my experience with photography, writing, media, marketing, and community building to conceive and produce multidisciplinary projects for social impact-- whether that entails me drawing from my own skills/talents or acting more as a visionary and culling the talents of other individuals. at the moment, my sights are primarily on devising a web-based social project + community spaces that foster empathy, conversation, learning breakthroughs, healing, and creative activism.

accepting others as they are

 photo // CC0

photo // CC0

in the past year, i experienced one of the most profound pains of my life; through it, i came away with many gems. i've been grateful for one in particular lately: 

a newfound ability to truly receive, love, and accept people as they are.

i find myself disappointed less, and when disappointment does creep up, i'm much better equipped to reframe;

what is actuality? what are my projections, my expectations, my ego? who would i be without these expectations — who would we be?

i've been especially in awe of my ability to let go without apathy, disdain, or spite — or at least much less of it; a subconscious shift that recognizes the subtle difference between releasing and detaching.

to let go yet still sustain connection, care.

related and bizarre is a willing acknowledgment and acceptance that anyone and everyone has the capacity to surprise me, let me down, stray from course, and to deeply hurt me — i don't hope for it but i yield to a certain inevitability now; it's just not personal anymore.

at one point, i would have considered accepting this reality lonely; instead, i find an odd comfort in knowing that i can no longer be side-swept by a hopeful ignorance that my loved ones won't one day go out and be extra human. lifting the veil has also empowered me to renew my commitment to myself as my own greatest ally; now that i know that for real for real 'all i have is me,' i find solace in also happening to be the one thing that i do have control over.

though i've only just begun to cultivate and strengthen these shifts, i'm already moved by the felt peace, openness, warmth, and lightness they've inspired in myself and those around me; in many ways, i feel new — and so do my relationships and my life.

in allyship with anger, fear, and pain

 photo // CC0

photo // CC0

the most potent balm;
a dialogue
in allyship
with your anger
and pain.

most often, our relationships with anger, fear, and pain tend to center around our reactions to the emotions themselves; themes of frustration, shame, avoidance, and overwhelm pervade. this unfortunately only compounds existing “negative” feelings and drives us deeper into cycles of misery, escapism, helplessness, and self-judgment. we begin to feel like we’re drowning.

in these instances, we have opted to merge with the challenging emotions; take them on and wear them as parts of our identity and who we are — perhaps even beginning to look at ourselves as deficient. in my view, this is inaccurate as our essential selves are always whole, powerful, and wise. our spirits are indestructible and i personally refuse to see it any other way.

what i have to come to learn is that anger, fear, and pain are messengers; they are not negative, but are rather gifts we receive to learn more about ourselves and our relationship to this world and this existence. through my own rigorous experience, i’ve learned the unparalleled transformative power of making friends with my anger, pain, and fear — as entities separate from my true self whom have come to me as my teachers.

in unpacking the underlying truths my anger, pain, and fear reflect, i have come to more deeply meet and embody my true self, what i stand for, my connection with others, and the nature of existence. committing to this process has allowed me a greater acceptance for what is (no matter what) while simultaneously equipping me with a resolve to go out and fight for who i am and what i believe in with a delicacy and strength i’ve only just met.

yes, i preach love — lots of it; but my love is not one of passivity, one that turns a blind eye to injustice, or one that withholds itself from so-called ‘lower based emotions.’ if so inclined, i encourage you to connect with your anger, pain, and fear. ask them what they have to say; layer by layer — until you have stripped down to the core — to the truth. the fire behind that truth will naturally propel you to transform both what is within and what is beyond.

with love,
seher is here and this is why

 photo // self portrait

photo // self portrait

writing this is the most nerve-wracking shit i’ve done in a while. in anticipation, i ate a whole meal and drank some water just before starting. still, i find myself dizzy. heart’s beating fast. something like public speaking jitters except the only thing i’m actually facing in this moment is myself. maybe it’s not so peculiar; our relationship with ourselves is ultimately the most frightening and highest stakes one of all. 

putting myself out there to the internet world is requiring me to more firmly own myself and the things i am about to share.

launching this new website means many things to me at once:

  • self acceptance and stepping into my name
  • getting out of my own way and honoring my work
  • owning both what i know and what i don’t know about my purpose
  • taking what i do know and formally claiming a career pivot
  • a jumping off point for projects that embrace my skills and interests more fully
  • a platform with the intentionality to communicate who i am and what i stand for

this site will be a living representation of my personal and professional metamorphosis in progress. you will find projects popping up in my new ‘projects’ section that may involve photography or have nothing to do with photography at all. this site is me officially giving myself license to do whatever the fuck i want — and a declaration to others of the dynamism and relationship with the unknown i intend to fully embrace.

and this blog will perhaps be the thread that weaves it all together. just like everything, i have no concrete plans for it. the possibilities: anything and everything on my mind and in my world. a window into my process and my path to purpose. still, definitely open, fluid, and real.

i bought this domain about two and a half years ago, just because i thought it would be good to own my name in this way online. i began to consider that it might be nice to move my website to this URL. soon, that tiny thought became a decided leaning towards changing my business name and web address to just “seher.” rehes creative just didn’t fit anymore, and by some miracle, i felt this unfamiliar pull to embrace my given name.

i spent most of my adult life brushing off compliments about how pretty my name is because it was never something i believed myself. apathy probably better described our relationship. i was teased for my name from childhood through high school and in retrospect, it came to represent the many ways i was different and didn’t fit in; i’d wrapped up much of my not-good-enough-ness in it. i realized that in naming myself “rehes” (my name backwards), it was my subconscious trying to hide from myself and the shame that came with my name.

i quickly became clear that owning “seher” represented a deeper shift: i was ready to more fully own and accept myself.

i started thinking about my name, particularly in the vein of career shifts i’d been thinking about. seher translates to dawn. i thought about beginnings, the sun; i realized my personal work of the last two years had lead me to explore coming into myself as an initiator, an illuminator. i’d also recently learned that my name in german means seer; another connection — i had spent the last two years deeply awakening to my intuition and inner knowing.

the inherent resonance my given name shares with the true self i have been unfolding gave me profound pause.

an intuitive initiator and illuminator; sharing and championing the truth of things, the truth of us — that is, in fact, what i care about most. writing this, i am in awe once again.

i’ve shared a bit about finding my purpose and exploring a career pivot on social media. recently, i wrote:

i’m coming to see myself more as a thinker, artistic communicator, and facilitator for the universal good. where i’m going, photography and writing — amongst other skills i intend to conscientiously develop — are simply my tools for self expression, individual/community/global healing, and mobilization towards social change. these values form the root of all things for me now — not photography, not writing, nor any other skill or talent i may possess.

i’ve spent the last couple years engaging in deep spiritual work to identify my life’s purpose and true gifts. upon getting a grasp on the general themes, it quickly became clear that my career needed to shift; as far as what the details look like, i accept that i cannot force the natural process of inner awakening — it’s all still a work in progress.

during this period, my relationship with photography has constantly been hazy and in flux; figuring out how to redefine my relationship with photography as i explore a somewhat nebulous career pivot is a constant challenge.

the last couple years found me frequently disconnected from photography and even resenting it; in so desperately wanting to figure out the complete picture of my purpose, photography oftentimes felt like a mindless distraction. so through all that, it feels really great to be able to say that this new site and the new work i’m sharing are something i feel proud of. i don't take time to do that too often — stop to feel proud of myself and celebrate myself. 

going through the labor of launching this site and framing it in a way that leaves open space for the other pieces of me and my talents that are slowly emerging — for me, it’s fuel. to look at work that i like is affirmation that i do want to keep shooting and reclaim my relationship with photography — reincarnating it into something that more fully speaks to my spirit and that of others.

as i continue my process of personal discovery, i am constantly updating what i think is exactly my purpose. right now, how i’ve chosen to phrase it is:

using art, media, and community building to promote personal healing and social equality.

i see personal transformation and healing as powerful catalysts for activism and social change. in some way, i also see my work exploring this important intersection. where i currently stand, the issues closest to my heart are social equality for women and people of color, and personal healing as it relates to mental health and the body-mind connection (subtle energy stuff).

in expanding the scope of my work, i have natural strengths i’m looking to exercise and develop. these include: idea generation, creative problem solving, facilitation (people + groups + ideas), storytelling (speaking + writing + photography), leadership, strategic planning, and building safe community spaces.

to help me do this, i am looking to connect with people working in progressive and interdisciplinary spaces in the arts, media, personal healing, and social equality. i’d like to partner with people and/or organizations already doing work in this realm — even in a volunteer capacity — to inform my career pivot and process of personal discovery by diving into the work itself. i want to begin exercising my entire skill set, contribute towards meaningful causes, get a lay of the land, and connect with like minded individuals. 

if anyone is willing and able to make an introduction, i would love to link with any relevant people, organizations, or companies. even if only for an informational interview! 

in any case — my deep gratitude to you for reading this far. and to so many of you — thank you for believing in me and in my work countless times where inside i was secretly at war with both. you've kept me going.