photo by caroline jensen

I feel like I mention this at least once a year, I am a broken record when it comes to this recommendation, but I think it’s such an amazing resource with such a nominal investment that it warrants my yakking on about it.  The resource is for photo enthusiasts, it’s a forum that has grown into a huge online community of both amateur and professional photographers and even offers some of the best classes in the industry, it’s called Clickin’ Moms–cringe.  I know, I know the name is to be desired, it doesn’t translate what high quality is available to you.  I have belonged to the forum for nearly six years so way before I became a mother myself, so no kiddies required!  If you have any interest in photography it’s worth taking a peek.  I am mentioning again today because I saw that they were offering a free 30 day trial, which I think would give you plenty of time to get a feel of what Clickin’ Moms has to offer.  Even if you don’t join the forum, you can still get a ton of generously ladled out info at their blog.  They are also hosting what looks to me to be an awesome conference called Click Away, oh how I want to attend, it looks like good times!  Sue Bryce, one of my fave photographers is going to be there.  I recently took one of their mini classes called ‘breakouts’ (I know, another unfortunate name, sorry friends!) for creating beautiful black & white images.  I love b & w’s but I always find it hard to know what type of light will translate well into a b&w conversion, after taking the class (on line mind you, at 3 a.m.) I feel like I have a little more of a feel for what I need to do to create a more impactful b&w image.

The photo above is from one of their classes Shooting 304 : The Art of Observation, taught by Caroline Jensen. I am freakin’ in love with this image (beautiful tones), yes, I now totally want to take this class too!  I think you will find there are a ton of classes you will want to take, but just join the forum, it’s inexpensive, lurk, there’s tons of info that’s available and people are willing to answer questions or point you in the direction where you can find answers. It’s free for 30 days so that’s even less of an investment, I love this forum so much I just subscribe automatically now, I don’t want to miss a thing.  I hope you check it out and find it somewhat helpful to you in your photography journey!

photo by caroline jensen

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they just welcomed to the world a sweet baby girl! Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.


elizabeth messina_CHOCOLATE PIE besotted blog

I am an Elizabeth Messina fan, you?  So, when she emailed photographs of her friend Elizabeth Colling’s new Pop-Up Pie venture I knew I wanted to share (how could I not?). Elizabeth Colling’s name might seem familiar to you as well since she is one of the food editors at the illustrious Martha Stewart Living empire (a huge stamp of food approval). The pie I am featuring is a chocolate ganache with chocolate cookie crust (did you just gain 5 pounds reading that?). I better show off the pie so you can really get the full effect….

elizabeth messina_chocolate ganache ii besotted blog

Pies come in re-useable tart pan and are $43 per pie (there’s three other delicious flavors-double crusted apple brown butter, southern pecan with a classic pate brisee crust and pumpkin with graham cracker crust). Pies can be picked up in beautiful Montecito, California at the Jenni Kayne Home Store on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 and there will be limited shipping available too, just contact Elizabeth Colling for details!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December (possibly November). Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

For those that can’t make it to Montecito, are out of shipping distance or those that are just feeling inspired Elizabeth Colling is generously sharing her recipe with us! [Read more...]


Photograph by Rylee HitchnerThis post is a public apology, a heeded warning, sage advice and a gripe all rolled up into one.  Now that I am pregnant I have decided to become an extreme multi-tasker, it’s not working out as well as planned.  First, let me publicly and humbly apologize to the uber talented Rylee Hitchner and Pearl & Godiva.  A couple weeks back I got an email from Pearl that she wanted me to do some lettering for a Rylee Hitchner shoot, it was all the stationery for a mock wedding, all I heard was “Rylee Hitchner shoot.”  I adore this girl, her talent is in spades and Pearl’s work is amazing as well.  Let’s step back a couple steps here, a couple weeks ago I had just stopped being fed through a tube and was just sitting up again, yes, I am getting better but no, I am not even close to being back on track. There is something well known in the world of both impending motherhood and motherhood it is called ‘pregnancy brain’ wherein you don’t think as clearly and in my case not at all. Did I mention I was just getting back to sitting upright?  Two weeks would not be enough time if I was 100%, it would be impossible in my current condition, plus the project had to be shipped overseas and to not incur exorbitant fee’s would need to be sent at least a week+ in advanced.  Let me also mention some other fun facts my ‘p’ brain was not considering A) I hadn’t been lettering at all for at least the last 6 months B) I am just learning to string words together with my lettering C) I don’t do wedding work or lettering in my business which makes a spec (gratis) project foolish for me, but all I could think of was ‘Rylee Hitchner’.  I was in essence a bit star struck.  If I was in my right mind I would have politely declined, but since my brain has been replaced with this new fangled non-rational one I said “sure!”  I think you might be seeing what a disaster in the making this is, no?  I missed my overnight deadline as I thought I had an extra day (see pregnancy brain), then we decided the morning of deadline I would send my work digitally and they would print there. Mind you as mentioned I am still not 100% and maybe it was also stress induced but I started getting sick again a couple days ago, the day of the rushed project my fingers had become sausage size (it’s called edema), I could not bend them to hold my pen holder and nib. From sitting down too long my ankles and feet swelled to disproportionate sizing (hamhocks come to mind). With only a few precious hours to work with I went to plan B a gorgeous font by my friends at Magpie Paperworks. I already knew this was a disaster but I still wanted to come through with something. I sent digital comps in the morning (comps are visual renditions of what you are presenting to the client) to make sure I was headed in the right direction, my heart raced, I was sweating, my fingers were numb. Hours ticked by, I begged for feedback on the comps so I could adjust accordingly, I did not hear back I kept working in between being sick. Alas, I threw up the white flag of surrender after hours of working and not getting feedback–I had to give up.  I sent the comps again + all the original files and got a-“Sorry, we are not going to use these”. Not only was I sick and swollen, my ego had been as Pearl likes to use the word, “gutted”.  I crawled into bed, cried my swollen head off (I cry easier these days) and fell asleep for the rest of the day.  Don’t get me wrong, I know this was a mishap of grand proportions, even with my brain not working properly I clearly see my role in this disaster thus my public apology.

Now on to the heeded warnings + sage advice a.k.a how this whole fiasco could have been avoided. Let’s talk spec work (where you work gratis in exchange for potential exposure).  I am all for spec work if it makes sense for your brand and your business.  In my case, where I am at currently I don’t have near future plans to add lettering or wedding work to my offerings (I am not confident enough in my skills) so this was a very foolish (read stupid) move. I took this amazing opportunity away from someone that could have benefited from the experience + exposure and that is my worse regret (again see pregnancy brain and how I am not thinking).

When taking on spec work, you should treat it as if it is a paying client and vice versa on the part of the individual requesting you to do this work for free. I plan to offer a download soon of a checklist on this, but in the interim here are some things I learned in regards to spec lettering projects–Create a timeline for you and your ‘client’, make sure you have a list of all your deliverables and the dates due ie. when will you send initial comps to client? Date when you expect to have feedback from client? How many comps you will be providing on spec before you will ask for a fee (this will eliminate the spec client from taking advantage of you)? Get the exact wording of everything from the client.  I had worked on another spec lettering project a while back that did not come into fruition and the client said I had ‘free reign’ for the wording, so I took the time to come up with the bride and grooms name, dates, etc. When I sent to the spec client they said the names were not ‘X” enough and the shoot was for the summer (where I had put in fall dates).  I had to start over again (lettering, cleaning up artwork, re-formatting files and re-creating comps–hours of work). Most of you that are working on spec jobs it’s because you are trying to build your portfolio and get exposure, which means you probably have a full-time job on top of running a household and being informed that all the work you created which you eeked out precious hours for is now null and void, that’s just not okay. Tell the client you will be happy to work on spec if they provide you all the copy (wording) and of course agree to your timelines.  You will be nervous enough trying to create the most beautiful lettering for the project you should not have to think of what you will be lettering.  You may worry that if you make these demands the client will walk away, this could happen, but more than likely the client will have more respect for you and treat you as a creative equal and realize that you take your craft seriously and are a true professional (unlike someone we know, yes, I am talking about moi). Hindsight is 20/20, looking back I would have not taken this project on, it didn’t make sense for me, but when I did I should have had something in writing so that both myself and my client were accountable.

Expenses?  This is tricky, if you have the budget I would say count this as the money you are spending for your exposure/advertising (the materials and shipping), if you don’t have the extra money (and can’t borrow it or find another way), you can be honest with the client and tell them how badly you want to do this project and that you will do an amazing job but you need assistance with materials or shipping (especially if it is an overnight job overseas). I haven’t worked in nearly six months, have incredibly huge medical bills and my shop has been pretty dead, buying materials and then the potential of over nighting the finished project overseas is an expense I could not afford right now (again, not thinking at all). I hope this little tid bit helps, it’s hard to know what to expect when this is all new to you. When I ran my PR business I would tell my interns and jr. staff ‘all we have are our reputations’, you need to preserve that, think about how you want to be perceived and be authentic to who you are (much easier to be you than someone else).  I like to think of myself as a professional and I take great pride in my work, this little (okay, big) fiasco was not a representation of who I am and my principles–in a word I f’d up, I hope I may have saved you from doing the same.

P.S. This spec advice should also be considered for whatever your medium is–photography, writing, styling, graphic design, etc.

photo by rylee hitchner

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.


meg fish books the portrait

Maybe it’s something in the air all these amazing talents willing to share their knowledge and expertise; whatever it is I am feeling so lucky and grateful, you? The sharing of knowledge and “secrets” seems to be more prevalent in the photography industry but I do hope other creative industries catch on and it becomes more and more accessible to learn from individuals that are at the top of their craft. I would put Meg Fish at the top of hers, she’s an amazing photographer specializing in pregnancy and baby. The light she captures is just so beautiful, soft and ethereal.  I love that her photos are never contrived and the tones are perfect for a baby–buttery soft and filled with love. When she mentioned she was coming out with a book, (soon to be series!), I knew that it was something that I must spread the word on. I have poured over the first one in the series–‘Portrait’ several times now.  I love that it is written in Meg’s voice, it’s as if she is there teaching you, it’s very easy to comprehend and I loved all her tips (especially her posing guide). You will need a basic knowledge of Photoshop to follow her very easy + effective editing steps and of course your camera. With her soft reassuring tone, I am sure you will be able to create some beautiful images of your own. It is geared towards newborns, but I am a fan of Meg’s photography in general and feel like the tips could translate to other subjects pretty seamlessly. If you are looking for a photo 101 course this is not your book, but if you are like me always looking to enhance your skills and learn from someone who’s work you admire than I think you will be thrilled to add this to your photography library!

P.S. She offers both a PDF version (for those that can’t wait) and a hardcopy, you can find it here.

P.P.S. Meg generously has put together a mini mag/tutorial called ‘Finding the light’ it’s free!

P.P.P. S. She also offers a template for baby’s first year photo book, which is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups.


JenHuangGuideCoverI don’t spend my budget on many ‘things’ anymore. When I ran my bi-coastal fashion PR/lifestyle firm all I did was collect the latest shoes, bags, accessories, etc.  I felt like I needed these things to be able to do my job and that was partly true (fashion can be cut throat), but even though I loved helping individuals build their dreams, I felt lacking in the fulfillment department. By nature I am a minimalist and all the ‘stuff’ eventually weighed me down. I left that life behind for a more calm less ‘stuff’ driven me. I hardly shop at all now and when I do I feel like I invest rather than buy things that won’t enhance my life and I can enjoy for years to come (I am always up for a bargain though).  One of my major shifts is what I spend on is investing in my continuing education–I love to take classes, workshops and buy books on whatever subject of the month I have an interest in. It’s a lot less expensive than designer shoes (more comfortable as well) and I never feel buyers remorse like I used to. A few months ago, I had the opportunity and great pleasure to attend photographer Jen Huang’s film photography workshop in Santa Barbara. It was pure bliss for me; I loved the location, the people I met both the behind the scene players (make-up, artists, stylists, etc.), my fellow participants and of course learning from a talent I truly admire. I learned so much in such a short amount of time and will always cherish the experience. Many of you emailed me and asked about the class and wished you could have attended/afforded it especially those overseas. Lucky for us Jen has decided to package her workshop up at a fraction of the price of her live workshops. You can learn all her ‘secrets’  like where she develops her film, what film she prefers, cameras, lenses, and much more.


The workshop-in-a-box comes with a 200 page book filled with beautiful images like the one above, indicating all the settings Jen used to create her beautiful images. If you have been wanting to delve deeper into fine art photography and film than this is a tool I highly recommend to assist you getting to the next level. If you have looked into film photography workshops, you’ll know that they are a pricey investment, this is a true gift to be able to take this workshop from your own home, anywhere in the world at a price that you can most likely recoup in your first client film session!


Let me know if you have any questions about her live workshops, I am happy to answer. Are you taking any classes/workshops this summer? Have you learned something new lately? Read a book on how-to do something? I am always curious about so many subjects and I figure that you are too!

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