Rebecca Peterson Studio
Graphic Design + Art Direction

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Creativity. Design. Life.

Studio Photography | Cheat Sheet
A few years ago, I decided that I was tired of having dark, blurry Instagram photos and I wanted to level-up my photography skills. I started working with my iPhone 4 and slowly progressed to where I am today. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I do think my photography skills have improved a LOT and I’ve picked up some useful tricks along the way. Even though I'm more interested in product photography and photo styling than portrait photography, the general principles are the same, so I thought I would share what I know.

Lighting

Note: I prefer a soft, natural light look (I would also say I prefer cooler colors over warmer colors) so if that's not your style, go ahead and skip this part.
  • If you don’t have natural light, put your camera away and do something else. Seriously. It’s really not possible to get a good photo when it’s high noon or really dark or overcast. 
  • Shoot with your subject facing the window for more even light.
  • If you’re shooting something on the floor, place it closer to the window.
  • If you’re shooting something on a table, place it farther away from the window so you avoid the harsh direct light.
  • Avoid using different light sources. When using natural light, turn off the lights in the room.
Photography is my favorite way to document my love of beauty and design.

Camera Settings

Shooting in manual is the only way to get great photos. After you’ve figured out what f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO mean, the next step is understanding the hierarchy of those settings.
  • Aperture/f-stop is the most important setting (I never change my aperture from 1.8 because I really like that soft focus).
  • Shutter speed is the next most important setting. To make sure your photos are sharp, never shoot below 1/125. Annie, my photography mentor, never shoots below 1/250, but if I don’t have great light (which I never do), I’ll go as low as 1/125.
  • ISO is the last setting you should adjust. I keep my ISO at 100 because my camera images get really grainy at higher ISOs, but nicer cameras can look good anywhere from 100 to 800.
  • If you can’t avoid using a high ISO, put the picture in B&W and go for an “editorial” type shot.
  • Always shoot in RAW and export in JPG. RAW allows you to capture more detail (for me that means light) and gives you more elements to edit.
  • If you’re shooting outside and it’s too bright, bump up your shutter speed instead of your aperture so you don’t lose your soft focus. If you can, lower your ISO.

Styling

You can generally use the same settings for portrait photography and product photography.
  • Always put things closer together than you think they should be.
  • People should always be touching.
  • Never cut people off at the edge of their limb. Cut them off in the middle of the limb and your eye will fill in the rest.
  • Follow the rule of thirds. This was a rule I didn’t understand for a long time (even though I had it explained to me a million times). This is the secret: Have the focus of your photo only cross at ONE point on the grid. That makes a big difference in where your eye ends up.
  • Any well-composed photo should have three things: Color, pattern, and texture. If you include those 3 elements, you’ll always have a great photo. (I'm going to write another article about how to use the principle of color-pattern-texture to level-up everything in your life!)

I still have a lot to learn about photography, but having a list of tips always makes me feel better! I'm excited to see how my pictures improve as I practice taking more photos and learn more about using my camera.


Rebecca
Rebecca PetersonComment
My Summer Routine 2017
The most effective way to do it is to do it.
— Amelia Earhart

Happy June! I know June is almost half-way over at this point but I’m just barely getting into my summer schedule and I wanted to share it! It’s fun to see how your life changes in different seasons and throughout different phases of life. 

WEEKDAY ROUTINE

7AM Wake up/shower

7:30AM Get dressed
I’ve been planning out my outfits for the week in my notebook. There’s a picture of my system below.  it’s not anything terribly fancy, but it has helped me to wear more of my clothes and look more put together! I can also get ready a lot faster when I already know what I’m wearing. Check out my OUTFITS Pinterest board to see what kind of outfits I like.

7:40AM Hair/makeup
I have my hair and makeup routine down pretty well. Since I cut my hair short, I’ve been wearing it down every day and I love how easy it is for me to straighten a few pieces and go! My makeup routine is pretty basic, I just brush on some foundation, blush, mascara and go. (That makes it sound like I don’t wear very much makeup which is totally false, but the actual routine is easy haha).

8AM Leave for work
I commute 30 minutes to work every day, so I try to listen to church talks or audiobooks. I tried listening to The Untethered Soul but I just couldn’t get into it! I’m looking for something new. Also, yes, I usually don’t eat breakfast, but there is a cafeteria at work, so if I’m starving I can get something there.

8:30AM - 5PM Work
I start the day by answering emails and making a to do list, then I have a quick stand-up meeting with my team, then the rest of my day is just meetings, designing things, and reviewing projects. If you want to know more about my job, you can read the FAQ page of this site.

5PM Drive home

5:30PM Unwind
When I get home from work, I like to decompress from the activities of the day, (because if I don’t, I just end up crashing on the couch anyway)! I usually look at social media, talk to my husband, get a snack, etc.

6:30PM Dinner/walk
My husband usually makes dinner (because he is a saint) and after we’re through eating, we’ll take a walk around the neighborhood. Since we live in an apartment, I love walking through areas where the houses have yards and porches and gardens. I take A LOT of pictures during these walks.

8PM Work time
I have SO MANY exciting projects I’m working on this summer--both personally and professionally. I’m trying to be better about giving myself time to work towards my goals, and setting aside time in the evening has really helped me make that happen. “Working” means sitting in front of my computer with a glass of cold mint tea, designing/writing/building whatever while watching TV. My husband is building his own software application right now, so it’s fun to sit next to each other and work on that kind of stuff. We usually take a break at some point and either make a treat, take another walk, or just talk.

11:30PM Get ready for bed
I wish I could say that I go to bed super early and I’m so healthy and organized, but the truth is that I get sucked into my projects and I don’t want to stop working! Around 11PM I’ll take a shower, read from the scriptures and change my clothes. By the time I do all of that, it’s pretty late.

12AM Go to bed :)

SPECIAL EVENTS

Monday: Grocery shopping

Tuesday: Personal care night (My husband always has church meetings, so I like to take a bubble bath and watch The Bachelor while I work on my computer.)

Friday: Date night! The recreation center in Provo is my FAVORITE place to go on a Friday night. There’s no lines for the machines, the track is open, and the pool is pretty much vacant. We (Husband + I) like to work out for a bit, head down to the pool, and finish in the hot tub. We usually go out to eat afterwards, too, because exercise makes me sooooooo hungry.

On the weekends, I like to sleep in and take my time getting ready. Saturday is usually for errands/projects, and Sunday is for movies, relaxing, and treats. I’m on the lookout for a new series of movies or TV shows to watch on Sundays, so if anybody has a suggestion, let me know! I also use Sunday as a time to plan everything for the next week, including my outfits, tasks, and goals. You can see an example of that in the picture above.

I think the “secret” of creating a successful routine is (a) lowering your expectations of what you can accomplish and (b) actually knowing what you want to accomplish! Once I realized that meditation wasn’t going to happen for me every morning, I could sleep in for 15 minutes longer without feeling guilty. AND it gave me more time to do the things that are really important to me, like doing my hair and reading from the scriptures. I read a quote once that said something like, “Routines aren’t RUTS, they are the habits of success.” And I agree!

Thanks for reading!

Rebecca
♥♥♥

Getting Out of My Rut
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Blah.

That’s how I’ve felt lately.

I’ve been in a rut for the last month or so. After the busyness of the holiday season passed, I found myself needing to nourish my personal life but not sure how to do it. I spend most of my time at work so I focused on that first. I work 8 to 5 most days, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to a weight-lifting class in the afternoon, so I stay a bit later. I’ve really enjoyed exercising (somewhat) consistently! I no longer feel like I’m going to die when I pick up the kettlebells and I think I’m actually getting stronger! But besides work and working out, my life has felt boring. I hate saying that. I’ve been looking for a creative project to do in my free time, but nothing has caught my eye. I made a list of things I want to learn/talents I want to develop, and that helped a little:

  • Watercoloring

  • Building a website from scratch

  • Abstract art

  • Cooking a pot roast

  • Product photography

  • Writing/blogging

  • Baking

  • Fashion illustration

  • Interior design (CAD software)

  • Family history

  • Community service

  • Videography

Honestly, sometimes I feel like the secret to getting out of a rut is just doing SOMETHING. It doesn’t have to be the most meaningful activity in the world, it can just be something that gets you off social media and into a project. I’ll tell you about a few other things that have helped me feel less blah lately.

AUDIBLE

After trying (unsuccessfully) to listen to a book I really wanted to read on Overdrive, I caved and payed for an Audible subscription. I must say, I think it’s totally worth it! I listened to A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only downside is that the subscription only covers 1 book a month, and I finished my book in less than 2 weeks! So I’m figuring that out.

WALKS

I LOVE taking walks and now that the weather is warming up in Utah, I’ve been going on more of them! These are some pictures from my favorite walks.

 
 

BUYING GROCERIES ONLINE

One of my coworkers convinced me to buy my groceries online and it has been LIFE-CHANGING. (If you follow me on Instagram you already know this.) I place my order online and I pick it up on my way home from work. I shop at Macey’s and it’s only $1.99 (on top of your order price) to have someone select your groceries and bring them out to the car. It is heavenly. I still go to Winco about 1x a month but I don’t have to go more often than that and I can order things from Macey’s in between.

JOURNALING

I’m learning how to journal more effectively to help me process my feelings and deal with questions I have in my life. I have a journal that’s just for me (meaning I’m not ever going to show it to anybody), and I don’t write in it every day, but I try to write in it semi-frequently and I feel like it’s helped me to find more direction and not feel as overwhelmed at work and at home.

GOOGLE KEEP

If any of you don’t know what Google Keep is, I am about to rock your world. Google Keep is a website where you can take notes on virtual sticky notes. You can share your notes with people, set reminders, and turn them into checkboxes for to-do lists. I have a running list of “Groceries to Buy” that I share with my husband and then some miscellaneous notes for different projects and tasks.

 
 

Anyway, that’s basically it. I still feel blah from time to time, and I think that’s normal, but I’m getting better at finding something to do and not getting overwhelmed. I’m excited for spring and summer and more walks outside in the sunshine.

Thanks for reading!

Rebecca
♥♥♥


 

Rebecca PetersonComment
Things I Have Organized in 2017

I’ve been on a major organization kick lately. I made a goal to improve my physical environment this year, and to me that meant cleaning and organizing literally everything. It’s been a huge project because (a) I’m already pretty organized and (b) because I have REALLY limited space and A LOT of stuff. So with that introduction, here’s a list of all the things I organized in 2017!

THE BATHROOM

Our bathroom is teeny tiny with absolutely no storage. We don’t even have space around the sink to balance my hair straightener. I have to put it on the toilet seat while I do my hair. My goal was to organize everything without making it hard to access anything.

bathroom-organization-1

I bought these white baskets from Target that fit perfectly on the shelf above the toilet. There’s a big one beneath the sink for toilet paper, but I forgot to get a picture of it.

bathroom-organization-1

I found a cute hack on Pinterest for storing my makeup brushes. You put rocks in the bottom of a jar so that the brushes stand up on their own. It has actually helped a lot!

bathroom-organization-2

Next . . . UNDER THE SINK

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw me organize this space in real time. It was a little overwhelming because there was SOOOOO much stuff, but I found an awesome tutorial that inspired me to get started. I bought the silver stands/baskets from Amazon and I think they were worth every penny! I love how neat and clean everything is.

under-the-sink-organization-1
under-the-sink-organization-2

In my dream world, all of these cleaning supplies would be color-coordinated, like the tutorial. Haha my husband tells me I’m a nut, but I don’t mind!

under-the-sink-organization-3

THE REFRIGERATOR

Can I just say that cleaning out the fridge is so gross? I feel like I’ve been pretty good about wiping it down every once in a while, but it was still filthy!

fridge-organization-1

I used the same baskets from Target (I’m kind of obsessed, if you couldn’t tell) and I tried to keep it simple. There’s one for cans and leftovers, one for produce, one for cheese and bread, and one for miscellaneous items.

fridge-organization-2
fridge-organization-3

I haven’t figured out what to put in the actual produce drawers. We were kind of low on food when I did this, which honestly made it a lot easier to organize!

STORAGE BINS

I don’t know what to call this project. We have a built-in bookshelf in our living room with open space underneath that I use for storing big stuff. I have one bin for Christmas decorations, one for sheets and linens, one for extra bags/luggage, and one for creative tools, like my laminator and glue gun.

I cleaned out every bin, threw stuff away, and reorganized everything to fit better.

storage-organization-1

Along with these bins, I organized the bin (I refuse to call them tupperwares) with all my harp music. Which led me to organizing . . .

storage-organization-2

MY MUSIC

Dun dun dun! This was the most difficult organization task BY FAR. I had binders and books and random copies of music all over the place. They were organized at one time in my life, but not now. Nothing was labeled correctly, all of the sheet protectors were falling apart, it was terrible.

music-organization-1

I took everything out, recorded the song titles, composers, and parts (solo, duet, what instruments, etc) and then put them in fresh, new sheet protectors in alphabetical order. I’m honestly so proud of this. I have one binder with Christmas music, and one binder of everything else. Everything is labeled and I have a massive table of contents so I know exactly what each binder contains.

music-organization-3

 

If you have a lot of music, I highly recommend doing this! It has made me eager to practice again and it also helped me feel accomplished because I have so many beautiful songs in my repertoire.

music-organization

Well, there you have it, folks! Everything I have organized (so far) in 2017. Because I’ve tried to tackle one project every weekend, I feel like my house has stayed a lot cleaner and feels more open and inviting. Here’s what’s left for me to do:

  • Under the bed
  • The cupboards
  • Shelf in the closet

I feel like organizing those spaces won’t be too bad because they’re not food/bathroom areas. I’m excited to see how happy and organized my apartment feels after going through everything and making it new again!

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca

Why I'm Getting Back Into Blogging

Hi. It’s me again.

I’ve been taking a blogging break. Actually, let’s call it a blogging sabbatical. (I think I always planned on coming back.)

 
 

When I started “blogging” in 2014, I did it as a way to showcase my design skills and demonstrate my industry knowledge. I thought it gave me more credibility when I met with recruiters in college. Maybe it did. But I quickly got bored. There are sooooo many design bloggers out there with tips on DIY logo design and squarespace hacks and I just didn’t feel like I had much to offer in the way of entrepreneurial design/freelance work. But I HAVE been feeling the desire to blog again. I work full-time so I won’t have a consistent writing schedule, but I just really enjoy coming up with ideas and crafting a blog post and designing images to go along with it. I’m not as interested in sharing my thoughts regarding design, although I’m sure that will come up from time to time.

From now on, my blog posts will fall under the creative/lifestyle category. I won’t share anything REALLY personal because I want to protect my privacy and the privacy of my family, but I’ll share things that I care about and (hopefully) give you a glimpse into my life.

Some of the things I want to tell you about:

  • My incredible job at The Younique Foundation
  • Decorating my apartment
  • My goals and what I’m doing to reach them
  • How I’m finding my creative style/voice
  • Getting back into exercising after sitting on my butt for literally 5 years
  • My hair journey (get excited for this)
  • Trying to live a more inspired life physically, mentally, spiritually, etc.
  • Tackling my email inbox
  • Setting boundaries on social media
  • Learning to watercolor and feeling like a real artist!
  • My curated Instagram account
  • Waking up early and taking responsibility for my life
  • Trying to do less boring stuff and do more fun stuff in 2017

Just writing out that list made me so excited! I’ve been learning so many new things and finding my voice and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca


 
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5 Strategies for Balancing Real Life and Digital Life

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my real life and my digital life. I know that too much electronic consumption can be damaging to your eyes and your brain and your relationships, but I don’t always know how to put away my phone without throwing it away forever. I believe that media is a tool that can be used to connect and teach and yes, entertain, but when media controls us more than we control it, there’s definitely a problem.

Avoid mindlessly consuming media! Find ways to balance your online and offline life. | via rebeccapetersonstudio.com

Avoid mindlessly consuming media! Find ways to balance your online and offline life. | via rebeccapetersonstudio.com

Here’s some easy-to-use strategies for balancing real life with digital life. Each of these strategies is based on academic principles of health and technology, coupled with my own experience.

1. Set aside “No Technology” times/places

The best way to balance the digital world with the real world is to set clear boundaries. iKeepSafe.org cited a study that suggested, “Children with bedroom TVs score lower on school tests and are more likely to have sleep problems. Having a TV in the bedroom is also strongly associated with a higher risk of smoking and being overweight.” One of my goals is to make our family dinner table technology free. It’s not too difficult right now because there’s just the two of us (me and my husband), but when I have kids, I want them to know that family time is not technology time. 

Read the iKeepSafe article HERE.
 

2. Find creative alternatives to media consumption

While doing research for this article, I discovered “Folk Rebellion,” an organization dedicated to finding life offline. Their website states: “Since the late 1970’s there’s been a 50% drop in the unstructured outdoor activities . . . The number of children riding bikes declined by more than 20% between 2000 and 2010.” (Check out Folk Rebellion HERE.To be honest, this information stings a little. I work full-time as a designer and I spend SO MUCH TIME inside, looking at a screen. Some days I get home and I just have to close my eyes because they burn from staring at that bright backlight. Studies suggest that media limits our brain activity because it’s so single-sensory (meaning it only involves some of our senses--usually sight and sound). If we can find alternative activities that are multi-sensory, things like making a good meal or taking a bubble bath, we’ll create a much stronger connection between our minds and our bodies, and also experience greater joy in those real life things.
 

3. Make physical activity a priority

One of the biggest problems with massive media consumption is that we consume it sitting down. (If you don’t see why that’s a problem, watch this TED talk.) I believe that if we make physical activity a priority, we’ll be less interested in living on a screen and we'll want to have more real-life experiences. Not just that, but exercise gives us more energy, better sleeping habits, and stronger muscles! I personally want to try and take a 15 minute walk every day, either by myself or with a friend, just to unwind and enjoy real life/real nature/real time.
 

4. Create, don’t just consume digital media

It has never been easier to create and publish media online. So why don’t more people do it? Some of our hesitation may come from fear (after all, the internet can be a very scary place), but I think the real reason is LAZINESS. It’s easy to sit on the couch and scroll through Facebook. It’s much harder to illustrate a picture, edit a video, or type up a poem. But these activities are much more beneficial than mindlessly consuming . They help us make sense of the world, develop our talents, and explore different fields. I think it's important to fine-tune and express our own thoughts every once in a while, rather than just absorb everyone else's. And don't be afraid to create something just for the sake of creation. There's value in that, too.

Read more about consuming less and creating more HERE. 
 

My favorite picture of me and Cob (my husband). I never want my digital life to replace the real-life relationship we have!

My favorite picture of me and Cob (my husband). I never want my digital life to replace the real-life relationship we have!

5. Value real life and real conversations more than anything on a screen

Here’s the truth. The only way you can ever balance real life and digital life is if you understand that one is superior to the other. The friends, the status, and the fun you have online can never compare to what you have in real life. So don’t try and force it! Use digital media to enhance your real-life connections, not REPLACE. This article from Psychology Today said it best: “Fundamentally, technology creates a mediated and low-resolution approximation of life that does offer utilitarian benefits and some entertainment value. But is it "real" enough to want to substitute much of real life? I don't think so. I'll take high-resolution and unmediated life any time.”

Visit Pyschology Today's article Virtual Life vs. Real Life HERE.

For more inspiration, check out these articles about creating a healthy balance between real life and your digital life:

No Sidebar: Unplugging
It's Tactical: Tips for Balancing Your Digital Life and Your Real Life
Quora: Tips for Creating a Healthy Balance Between Ones Real Life and Digital Life

 

I wonder if I could also ask a favor of you readers, because managing my real life and digital life is something I really struggle with. If you have a suggestion or strategy for other ways to balance your life online and offline, would you share them below or send me an email? I would love to learn from you.


Thanks for reading!

Rebecca