Welcome to the B-Side of the business where you get an inside peek of the backstage area of JDP.

I’m Jasemine, in case you didn’t know. I travel as a photographer, I write novels that I swear are better than my personal instagram narratives , and fashion is my favorite off duty hobby. I live life like a rockstar, and every photoshoot is like performing in my favorite city.

Catch up on our latest photoshoots, my craziest looks, and if you want.. You can even learn a little more about me.

Things I Recommend

The fashionista in me wouldn’t let you leave without hooking you up with some awesome places to scoop your own gear. Check these out!

Also, if you’re a fan girling fanatic or just wanna see some cool blogs I visit a lot, check these out:

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An Open Letter To The Readers Aka The Royal.

May 27, 2014 2 min read No Comments

Dear Reader Aka Royal

The forthcoming book in the Twisted Trilogy is meant to be different than the last. The first book, Twisted Illusions, is meant to tell a story. This book is meant to teach you the story and the final book is meant to guide your way into feeling the story. Despite it all being the same continuous flow, each book is meant to strengthen something inside of you that you didn’t know was there. There’s a piece of this story in all of us. That being said, this Twisted Tuesday, gives you a snippet from the newest book coming September 7, 2014 which challenges you to become royal.

What Does It Mean To Be Royal?

Royalty is a sense of great respect that a lot of people mistake for worship. It is when someone has so much love and devotion to to you, that you are considered great. Many people believe that royalty is something that is achieved by a substantial amount of money or a huge following. In reality, royalty is based off of respect. More lately than ever, I’ve been addressing my colleagues with the term “Royal”, especially considering my colleagues have slowly transformed into a team. We address one another as king or queen because each and everyone of us are Kings and Queens of our destiny.

Twisted Abandon continues the story that Twisted Illusions left off with, but each chapter begins with a royal address encouraging you to maintain your royalty. It’s all about the respect you give yourself first because if you don’t, who will? When you radiate your confidence within yourself, others will begin to extend to you the same amount of respect. Don’t get confused, confidence and cockiness are two very separate things. The difference is with royalty, you love yourself enough to know the difference between realness and facades.

I challenge you from this day forward to be royalty and to challenge yourself to only accept the good. Don’t let anyone treat you any lower than you would treat someone you had full respect for. Royalty stops for no one and is completely created for everyone. Your crown has already been made, you just need to wear it.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday which will give you the next Royal Address taken straight out of the book that will be available September 07th, 2014 (which is coincidentally my birthday.)

Stay Royal. Happy Tuesday.


Royal-Address-1

The photo above that is the backdrop for the Royal Address is a photograph taken from the latest session, which is a lovely engagement session. There is a blog coming soon about it. Stay tuned for that, and for more Royal Addresses.

Lighten Up: Photography, Feelings and You.

May 22, 2014 5 min read No Comments

This Thursday’s Lighten Up Discusses Feelings (And no I’m not a Therapist)

Feelings are infinite. We forget that sometimes. like, you don’t want feelings for your ex anymore, why? They’re there. They’ve been there. They’re always there like relatives you never speak to but still send you generic poorly written wall posts on Facebook sometimes. [My Personal Blog]

The Story

Here’s a word that I don’t use to describe myself often: envious. Yes, I said it. It isn’t because I’m angry, and definitely not because I’m jealous but at a certain point in time as a photographer, I paused and felt envy at all the others around me. “This person has the camera I want,” and “This person achieved the exact editing style I did in my head.” A few weeks ago, I talked about success is a building and you have many bricks, but that definitely doesn’t mean that sometimes, you don’t admire other architecture. Immediately after envying the photographers around me, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. Why do I feel this way? I’m not supposed to. Gah.

So, I quickly began to bottle it up because I wanted to be like my father… always happy. My dad was a giving man. He made brownies, he bought clothes for his friends, he made music for people to jam to at weddings. He gave his all. I don’t remember my dad going a day without smiling. It’s the thing everyone who knew him well enough associates me with. The thing about my dad was that even though he gave his everything, he never ran out of smiles. Even when I stepped out of line, he’d yell at me as any parent would but afterwards he’d smile. He’d make me brownies. He’d hug me and tell me that he was sorry and that he loved me. I understood discipline so well because of the way he raised me.

That’s what I wanted to be. Always giving and always happy. It didn’t surprise me that the more I began to give, the more the people around me would begin reaping benefits that I had wanted my whole life, and suddenly… I was envious all over again. Why couldn’t I get it right? I’ll tell you why.

Feelings

Someone who hates someone but won’t mention it to them is what is most commonly known as a fake person. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smiled in someone’s face to avoid conflict in the past and how BAD that turned out. I always assumed it was because of my smiles, when in reality… It was the opposite. It was the avoidance of conflict. Why not speak my mind? Why not tell people what bothers me? Was I afraid I was going to lose my friends who constantly made me miserable? Was it because I was scared to explore the truth?

It’s beyond okay to feel. Sometimes we let this fear of the outcome make us want to bury ourselves. When something is buried upon a mountain of more things, it eventually stacks up and overflows. Well, my envy? It got so bad that everyone knew the persons I was envious of and were all kind of embarrassed of me. So, I sat down and explored my feelings.

The Exploration of Envy. [A Timeline of My Demise.]

I wanted recognition for my work.

I wanted to be able to progress on my own personal scale, and because I wasn’t moving.. I felt like I wasn’t doing anything. As I continuously helped teach others what I already knew, I began to feel inferior in my own field.

As a result of my feeling useless, I became hard on myself and when I constantly witnessed the person I was envious of taking steps I wanted to, it just made me more hard on myself.

Stress became a huge defining factor and I began to lack sleep. Less sleep meant more frustrating outbursts.

A simple face was made at me when one of those outbursts occurred and suddenly, I began to look deep within myself.

My envy had nothing to do with the other person. When I finally got my head out of my rear end and stopped pretending as though I was emotionless, I realized where it was stemming from. Where was my drive to overcome the middle rock of my career? I had lost the will to progress and became satisfied with being at a standstill. It was because of that “envious rage” that I realized that I’d been missing out on chances to better myself and to get the next level.

I thought to myself, I’m okay to feel but I’m drowning in this self-pity instead of using the emotion to drive myself further. Next thing you know, I was back on my A game. Photographing everyday, and I could see the emotion and life coming back into my portraits. It wasn’t just this dull, stoic “I have to do this,” it was the creative composition and drive that I’d seen in my fellow brethren of the photo world!

So I extend to you the same hand I pulled myself out of the crunches with and I challenge you to Lighten Up!

Hit up that “relative” you’ve been abandoning because you’re ashamed to face it head on. Let your feelings be your guide and remind yourself through the journey that you are someone. Develop mantras to remind yourself that this “Exploration of Emotion” isn’t meant to get you stranded there. I mean, how would you really like to be stranded in one set of feels forever? Find a way to grow from it!

What was my mantra during my Envious Expedition? I learned them from a very profound and infamous international wedding photographer:

But I’ve come to a point in my career where I know who I am. I know what I shoot, and if, after explaining my vision to others, they want to see their lives documented through my lens, I’m honored. I believe we’re all capable of the same thing. – Jasmine Star

Photography to me is an honor, not a competition. Somewhere deep inside, I’d lost sight of that and in turn lost sight of myself. Once I found that, it was beyond easy to remember who I am and what I shoot. 

 What Have I Been Up To?

 

I just got back from Anime Central not too long ago and although I was like “Yay home!” I’m on my way back out the door in a week or so for Lansing! Yeah, it’s like that! 😀

In the meantime in between time, I’m working on a huge gallery to showcase both the A and B sides of Anime Central. Every year my roommates and I throw this huge party and we all hang out and reminisce on memories, and this year you will too!

If you’re subscribed to the email list, you’ll be getting the first exclusive peek, otherwise you’ll have to wait until official link is released!

Chop Chronicles Chapter Seven: The Hair Journey

May 12, 2014 7 min read 1 Comment

She’s just a small town girl! Living in a natural world!

Hey guys! So Chapter Seven of the Chop Chronicles is very comparable to the undocumented fourteenth month of my last natural hair journey. There was a red mohawk, there were curls and there was a girl whose natural hair journey could be described in three words: “trial and error.” When my Chop Chronicles journey began, I promised myself that it’d be about becoming one with myself and not just my hair. I tried to do headwraps and hoop earrings. I tried to sport the Erykah Badu afro.  I even tried rocking protective styling but I found myself reverting back to my favorite me: the girl with the red mohawk. Having color treated hair meant that I was going to have to do more than just rub olive oil into my scalp (Which if you have a shaved head is amazing) and I promised myself that if I would dabble into the color treated world again, I’d go in with a plan. So,  Chapter Seven of the Chop Chronicles talks about the Natural Hair Journey so far.

Hair Journey: For The Love Of My Hair.

Red natural hair
April 2013 [ First Natural Hair Journey] Notice how my hair is all coarse, the texture’s different, and how dry it looks overall. It’s unhealthy.

The first round of my journey, there were a lot of don’ts that I did. I bleached my hair multiple times in a month. I was putting heat to it a lot, and I still couldn’t get used to the fro hawk. It just wasn’t a part of my hair that I liked which I’ve learned a lesson about the second go. Every part of your body is a part of who you are, even if you don’t like it so learn to love it! To me, nappy was a thing and I didn’t want to have nappy afro hair, I wanted to have straight, sleek, gorgeous red hair. The more I gave heat to my hair, the more it became dry, brittle and far from the look I wanted to achieve. My hair wasn’t fried but definitely had lost it’s original structure and sleekness.

It was a friend of mine who works at Sally’s who introduced me to a new method of dying my hair that didn’t use a high dosage of bleach, if any at all. It didn’t burn when it went into my hair and it left it ridiculously close to it’s normal curl pattern. The best part is that my hair takes to the shades of red I’ve used phenomenally, so I only have to dye my hair once every three months or so.

It wasn’t long before I stopped straightening my hair so much and started waiting. That was one thing I refrained from in my past journey was waiting. Patience isn’t my strong suit, what can I say? Yet, now when I’ve had the urges to have super straight hair, I’ll run my fingers through my curls. They’re crazy! The less I straightened my hair, the more I started to see it transform back to its springy, soft, self. On top of that, when it came time to straighten it, it cooperated with the help of my heat protectant because it wasn’t constantly being burned straight

red hair natural hair journey
[May 2014] My hair is fuller, more moisturized and has a consistent texture to it. This is what my hair looks like when it looks healthy
I found that the more I ran my fingers through my hair, the more times I’d reach over and grab moisturizer and just gently run it through my curls. My hair LOVED the feeling of my hands. You know how we as women (or men, if they’re reading) were told to love ourselves first before we are loved? I noticed that when I would give my hair that gentle attention, I would feel more amorous toward my hands. I started easing up on the way I bit my fingernails and they began to grow a little. The love I shared with a part of my body became universal and I started loving myself fully. It was that easy.

 

So because I’ve been keeping a journal of my hair growth and the changes it’s made not just through the last journey till now but also each month, I thought I’d share some of my dos, don’ts, and of course my regimen with you guys. Remember my disclaimer: Everything that works for me may not work for you. I still haven’t taken the time to venture into trying to learn about what my hair type is because there’s been a lot going on in other aspects of my life but trust and believe that it’s still just as important. That being said, again.. experiment, play around, learn what works for you. I’m blessed with a crown of hair that cooperates and listens to me but I also bless my crown with the nourishment it asks me for.

My Personal Dos And Don’ts.

Bahh2

Do take pictures to track your progress. I get excited looking back on my folders from my shaved head all the way up to the present month. It makes me feel so accomplished. Consider making this a backpacking trip through your mind, body and soul.

Don’t continuously compare your growth to other people. I’m short.  I’ve always been short. I’m 22 and 4’11. I don’t compare the methods of eating and nourishing my body to that of a person who is 6’11. People grow differently and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Wear your length proudly. I obsessed over this huge fro that Bea had,  turns out one day she just straight up said it was a wig. Imagine my disappointment! I was devastated, but it taught me that I can’t continuously compare my hair or myself to others. You never know what you may learn.

Don’t use a billion products at once.  I talked about that in my last CC. Seriously, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t.

Don’t push yourself. Hair-wise, body wise, mind wise.. Understand that encouraging yourself and pushing yourself are different. I’ve come to learn that when I push myself too hard mind wise, my hair suffers. My body and I are one in the best and worst ways. I like to use the term guide myself because to me it implies no negative reinforcement. People are going to mistreat you and talk down to you in life. Why would you do that to yourself? If you don’t believe in you, who will? 

Finally do listen to your body. Your body will speak loud to you. If you do like me and perm your hair after dying it because you’re in the middle of a mid-mid life crisis, and it begins to fall out by the handful, you may have goofed. Which is okay. Just because you don’t listen to someone right away doesn’t mean that you can’t still take their advice. Your hair as well as the rest of your body will indicate to you its likes and dislikes.

 And Now the Reason That You all Came Here… The Regimen!

Alright

Daily: [When My Hair Is Straight.] 

Dr. Miracle’s Hot Gro is on my scalp, massaged in with my lovely fingers followed by a calm edges and ends rub with Castor oil.
I use Fantasia Heat Protectant serum when I’m using my flat iron, because it can get hot and the serum keeps my hair soft when it’s straight.

I wrap my hair every night and yeah! It’s golden.

I wash my hair every third week of the month. Although it’s advised to use color treated shampoo on color treated hair, I use Shea Moisture restorative conditioner and moisture retention shampoo because it makes my hair smell phenomenal. I’d advice against it if you’re using a color treated regimen because using a non color treated shampoo may strip your hair color faster.

I also make my own homemade deep conditioner and there are tons of recipes on the web for that!

Daily: [When My Hair is Curly]

I use pink lotion each day to rub into my scalp, (not pictured above) is hair mayonnaise. Oddly I started with Africa’s Best Hair Mayonnaise and then eventually start making my own and keeping it in the Africa’s Best Hair Mayonnaise jar so that my grandma wouldn’t yell at me. It’s what makes my curls retract back to their spirally tight cuteness after a wash and then I seal all that moisture in with tea tree oil. There are so many oils that you can use, but I heard that peppermint oil is supposed to do wonders for people with dandruff and DO I HAVE DANDRUFF! So, tea tree oil, mixed in with peppermint oil is phenomenal.

Regardless of what my hair looks like, I do my best to wrap it every night. 

I get asked all the time about what hair dye I use, and my answer is simply that I use a lot. I think people think I’m being rude and not wanting to “share my secrets” which is just not the case. I use tons of different dyes. Each time I go to change my hair, it’s a different color because I use a different dye. That being said, try what works best for you with EVERY THING.

Be one with your body and yourself. More importantly, remember that I’m 4’11. Some of us weren’t made to have big hair but we were all made to wear our crowns proud.

This naturalista is hasta la vista! 

Till next time, and there’s so much more to come.
Jasemine-Denise
xo

Lighten Up Thursday: Super Success

May 8, 2014 3 min read 1 Comment

Each and every one of us is super in a way that won’t always come in the same form. A lot of the time, we anticipate being successful in the way that many before us have. “Maybe, if I’m super pretty or have the fanciest camera, people will want to listen and value what I have to say. I want them to invest interest and time in my work so I have to create myself from my heroes and do whatever it takes as long as someone’s done it before me and has proven that their method will gain me super success!” Let me tell you that it doesn’t work. At least, not for most people. There are exceptions but trust me when I say you don’t want to be one of them. This Lighten Up Thursday speaks about being a Super you. 

The Story

My boyfriend and I are attached at the hip all the time. People say it continuously. We shower each other in compliments, we finish each other’s sentences, we giggle at weird hours of the night on the phone and under blankets. We’re your every day average couple. We also love doing super cliche things. Jason is a Superman fan. He doesn’t get offended when people make fun of him for it or anything. He just plain and shamelessly loves Superman. One day, on our way to work we ventured into the mall and into a store called Selfish. In it, we spotted the cutest Superman crop top. It wasn’t bedazzled like other tops in the story. It was modest and I wanted it. Yet, when we went into the sizes “XS” was non-existent and all the “S”s were gone. Disappointed, we left.

 

Superman Crop Top Matching TimbalandsFor years, I envied couples who match. Hell, Remia Riano and her boyfriend even have matching Timbalands and all I wanted was a shirt! It wasn’t just a Jason thing either. I was a huge *Nsync fan as a kid and Joey Fatone always wore Superman. I was a fan of the colors first then eventually became into the logo itself and was always looking for an excuse to wear it. As time passed, Jason could see the longing in my eyes every time we’d pass a matching couple. Suddenly, he had a brain blast! Maybe we’d been searching for my crop top in the wrong place! What if we went to a Walmart and into the kid’s section, bought a regular boy’s fitted Superman shirt and turned into a crop top.

At first, I scoffed. How unconventional and ridiculous! Why would I willingly purchase a little boy’s t-shirt….. An hour later, we were in Walmart. Soon after, I was tailoring the perfect Superman shirt. It wasn’t gaudy, the sleeves fit correctly, it was a perfect fit for me.

Processed with VSCOcam with s3 preset

Finally, it is mine! Shameless selfie! Even have a matching belly ring!

What Does Your Shirt Have To Do With My Success, Jasemine?

I’ll tell you reader! Your success is a crop top perfectly tailored and designed to fit you! The other paths to your super success are different. Each takes different amounts of time, different styles, different prices and so on. I don’t know about you but I never walk into a store and buy the exact dress I saw on someone else without trying it on for myself! That’s crazy! How will that look on me? What if I can’t take it back? When it comes to your super success story, don’t hesitate to make it completely your own! Don’t be afraid to take your time and to be specific. Your success is a super power! No seriously, it is! Those stories that saved your life are because someone who was cut from similar fabric like yours made it. It inspired you to go on because you saw in it success. That’s a power that we all possess! We don’t even have to be bit by a radioactive spider to activate it!

So Lighten Up.

Your super success may not be in a store full of historical success stories. Some of us.. No, all of us were made to blaze our own trails. Find yours. Use it, cut it, change it, revitalize it, whatever it takes to make your success a super success! Often times, people are looking to become super successful by the most popular method but never suspect that sometimes they have to take another route.

Brace yourself.

This isn’t even your final form.

xo.

Jasemine-Denise

Self Publishing, Book Summaries, And Me.

May 6, 2014 7 min read 3 Comments

Being an author doesn’t stop when you put your pen down. It’s so much more than that. 

When I set out to become a self-published author, it was by choice. I prided myself on many aspects of the freedoms it would provide for me. For example, I wanted to exclusively devise my “team” for the book if I needed one. I didn’t want a lot of high priced, fancy publishing houses getting involved because it just wasn’t what I wanted for myself and my career. There are so many positive things about being an “indie author” so don’t let any publishing company convince you to do anything. I’m not saying publishing companies are bad either. All I’m saying is that you have options and don’t just take the cheap or easy way out. Take the one that best suits your goals and ambitions as an author.

Today’s Twisted Tuesday, I am going to attempt to give you a little something big to take home with you. Insight, information, and a small little bit about my struggles. After all, Twisted Tuesday was invented so that I could create one on one moments with other authors as well as my readers.

How Do I Know Self Publishing Is For Me?

Self publishing makes getting your book printed an easy thing but makes selling your book a different story. Don’t be fooled! Being an independent author or “an indie author” is not an easy endeavor. It gives you the freedom to publish almost anything but that doesn’t mean you bypass copyright, writer’s block, deadlines or that your book is guaranteed to be a best seller at all. It is simply meant that you are creating your own product and you are owning the responsibilities of seeing it through.

A publishing company will help you through some of the more difficult, nitty gritty, “boring” steps of being a writer. They help market you, build your target audience, coach you into maintaining the focus of your target audience, make sure your content is on point and so much more. Without them, you’ll be experiencing a lot of trial and error and much more research than ever. Yet even with them, if you want to succeed you should still be doing some sort of research.

Jesus, Jasemine. You’re contradicting yourself. Is self publishing hard or easy? Take it from someone who had once dreamt of owning a publishing company. no one can do exactly what you’ve learned to do exactly the way you know how. No one’s going to know that passion that you put out there, until you show it to them. All great things take research, effort, and a lot of trial and error. Everyone should have an amount of knowledge on something that other people are doing for them. For instance, how would you know whether or not your banker counted your money right if you can’t even count it? Think about it.

How Do I Know?

Once upon a time, The Final Martini had a publisher who edited my book, pushed deadlines and took 75% of my royalties. They had given me the welcome package of a lifetime, but gave me the service of hell. There were many errors in my book missed by their “notorious world-known editors” and I never book toured… Not even once. Why did that happen? A great majority of it was my fault. I wanted to be a published writer so bad, that I didn’t look into houses or talk to anyone. I just picked one, submitted a manuscript and thought for the best. Little did I know, I got the worst.

My publishing company, which I’ll go ahead and refuse to release the name of was ran by one man. There were no editors, there were no graphic designers, there was just a man who used a print on demand website to produce copies of my book and would only sell them when I did. There was no marketing plan, no target audience, it was just me going “Hey, guys! Buy my book!” and people did. He did nothing and yet, I was only receiving 15%, and if it wasn’t for the receipt for the print on demand company he left in the box he shipped to me, I would’ve never known what I knew now.

He was taking what I earned and keeping it for myself while forcing me to be my own editor, marketer and writer… Under his name. So I quit, and I began publishing independently.

That Sounds Great! Where Did It All Go Wrong?

I didn’t realize something until my second book. I can’t write bios. I don’t know how to say “My name is Jasemine-Denise and this is who I am.” I can’t conclude meetings either. I always end a meeting with “and yeah”. My biggest downfall of all time is that I can’t write a book summary. I can’t summarize anything. I gave up rather early in the game too. I came to terms with summaries just never being my thing and I released my second novel with a two sentence fluke on the back. all was well until I had encountered people who were genuinely interested. “What’s the book about?” they would ask because the back of it as well as the listing on Amazon and anywhere else didn’t contribute insight. I’d laugh, apologize and give them some quickly conjured up synopsis that didn’t accurately sum up the conflict, drama and that one hot steamy love scene that made Twisted Illusions something you would want to read when you’re really aching for a good book. I couldn’t even give them a genre. Why? Well, it seemed I’d missed the most important part of being an independent author. Always take the time out to your research. You never know when it will come back to bite you and it’s much better to risk a self given deadline than to suffer those hard bites.

Marketing Is Important, It’s What Sells Your Book…

and an important part of marketing any product is reviews. A book is a product and a very important one at that. It’s not like something that you built in five seconds, it’s an art… Something that you took your time on. There are so many ways to market something but in reality, when you go shopping for something online, reviews are what can eventually drive the sell. I decided it was time to do research and really get my book out there and every single book said “Reviewing is key.” At first, I approached friends who had bought the book with a simple Facebook Status. “Has anyone started reading my books?” A few people responded yes, some no, and others insisted it was nothing like my first. Then, I went to a few “book review” blogs and gave them a mention about my book. Tons of them responded and asked what was the book about? I sat completely disappointed because 1.) Why isn’t my book as good as my first? And 2.) Why don’t I know how to summarize my own book?

The Final Martini is a dark suspenseful tale about a woman who goes on a search to find her husband only to find that he may not be who she was used to. It had a little romance in it but it was meant to be a thriller. It caught people’s attention because it was filled with murder, suspense, gritty things that people who enjoyed dark things would love, but Twisted Illusions was different.

That’s when I realized how important a summary has to be! After discussing the overwhelming depeletion of interest, I realized that between my first and second book, my target audience had changed. I needed to pinpoint its genre and write a synopsis or else I’d end up like Camille Harrison, the main character of Twisted who’s first book flopped and she eventually found herself trapped in writer’s block and searching for a reason to keep doing what she loved the most. It’s that simple. Lacking a strong synopsis will contribute to lack of knowing your target audience, your genre and the general direction of your marketing efforts.

Quickly I began researching and taking notes on how to write a synopsis, to find a genre, and to understand what kind of audience to approach. My trying to market Twisted Illusions to people who thrived off of horror and murder quickly became inhumane and ridiculous. I sat down, read my book and after defining a few key points, I had finally understood. Being an author doesn’t stop when you put your pen down. It’s so much more than that.

The second I switched the genre for my book and began catering to the contemporary romance audience of books, I started seeing results, instant results, better results.

So Ask Yourself. Is Self Publishing Right For You?

Are you ready to set aside the “It’s too hard!” attitude and really take time, and I mean lots of time to research your field. You need to learn how to market, how to target audience, how to do simple things like write a summary, etc. Even if it’s not for you, is publishing a book for you? Remember that no one’s going to do everything for you. They’re just there to guide you. Essentially, writing the book and everything that comes after it is just as much as your responsibility as it is anyone else’s. Don’t be like me. Don’t skip the most important steps of being a published writer because you’re afraid. It could be the difference between you selling 5 copies and selling 500.

What do you struggle with as a writer? Send a comment below and tell me! I’ll feature it the next time I do a Twisted Tuesday for the writers!

Catwoman Cosplay

April 30, 2014 4 min read 1 Comment

Catwoman Cosplay as my first official cosplay photo shoot of the year 2014? With one of my favorite cosplayers ever?! CAN YOU SAY HELL YES?!!! Cosplay is something that I’ve always admired but never been able to get into myself. I can alter outfits to look as punk as I want them to, but it will be nothing like the stunning ensembles I’ve seen at conventions like Anime Central. One of the most impressive members of the Chicago Cosplay Community is Kali Chillis who I had just been dying to shoot with for so many reasons.

The Background Of The Breakthrough In the Cosplay Community

Kali represents a small budding fraction of “Honey Dipped Cosplayers”. I have definitely become accustomed to calling it that after I was invited into the Facebook group that supports any woman of any size, color, or age cosplaying. (I do believe it’s a closed group, but if you share the interest among the other girls, it’s not hard at all to become a member.) For years, it’s seemed as though someone’s decided that “black people can’t cosplay white characters, superheroes, or anime characters” which is not only extremely unfair but embarrassing. A friend of mine put it best, she said: “I hate it when people say things like ‘Look, it’s a black Poison Ivy!’ Why do people say that?!'” I completely agree! Skin tone doesn’t define the time, effort, creativity and hard work that a cosplayer puts into their creation. They eagerly and diligently work for months on the art and it’s impressive! Yet, beautiful, well-done, cosplayers are getting labeled with terms like “race bent” as a representative of who they are. In case you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a spin-off of the word “genderbent” where fans create a gender switched version of a character.

That being said, I will willingly support any well-done cosplay regardless of the color simply because I can appreciate anyone who takes the time out to really create something amazing. Kali is the perfect example. She has folders  upon folders dwelling in her Facebook where she showcases patterns she’s created and step-by-step progression shots showing off each and every intricate design she’s created from scratch! It just so happens that her Catwoman Cosplay is actually fashioned from a Deviantart Fan Art that features an absolutely kawaii cartoon of Catwoman in a studded denim vest.

Personally, I think that Kali did a PHENOMENAL job even sporting green contacts to make it completely authentic, but I’ll let you be the judge officially! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Catwoman, and trust me when I say that this kitten’s got claws.  The mini session took place in downtown Chicago where Kali fearlessly walked the mysterious dark alleyways and underpasses slinking about as Catwoman herself would really do.

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Behind-The-Scenes-Teaser

The Model: Kali has a Facebook as well as a DeviantArt   where she showcases many of her other cosplays. Trust me, pick a link and venture through it. You’ll be impressed. Also! The artist who made the cosplay that Kali is modeling also has a Deviantart where she shows off that lovely Catwoman drawing.

What Have I Been Up To Lately?

 

I can’t tell you much but I can tell you that it involves a bow tie, me being extremely awkward and a lot of hotel room laughs. No! It’s not what you think it is, but it definitely was going on next door, and that was the scariest thing ever. Other than that, I’ve been having lots of meetings filled with lots of caffeine and consultations which are now free for aspiring Chicago models who may or may  not be looking to book me. Seven people have searched the words “Jasemine Denise Photography prices” or “Jasemine Denise Prices”, let me tell you, search high and low you will not find them.

Why?

I don’t want my clientele to look at my site, go “Hm, seems affordable” and click “book.” No, I want to see what you see when you sought out to book me. I’m not gonna charge you an arm and a leg, there’s no secret… Just know, if I’m going to photograph you I want it to because you saw the product, not the price tag. (Though you’ll find that my prices are pretty damn low.)

Know that you can always book me, with the contact link above and don’t forget to subscribe! I’ve got a looooot of cosplay shoots coming up, so you should be here to check them out!

Happy Convention Season
Jasemine-Denise

 

Lighten Up: Weight Bashing.

April 24, 2014 4 min read No Comments

Warning: This Lighten Up Thursday is so high up on the passion ladder that it may offend some close minded, judgmental people but I don’t care. Prepare for me to get completely real. Today’s Lighten Up Thursday discusses the big, bad W. Weight. 

The Story

In my family, I was always viewed as unhealthy for not having a “normal” petite. I eat like a bird but not on purpose and not all the time. It’s just the way I am. Family members have always expressed worry and suggested that I get tested for anorexia or bulimia. It bothered me so much that I stayed in my bedroom for family events and did my best to avoid any and all family events that involved food. Being raised in a family where being called “Fat” was an insult, I desperately craved answers to why it was completely okay to call me “unhealthy” in regards to the weight I physically couldn’t gain despite my best efforts to eat more.

I finally gave up and consulted my doctor who {thankfully} is also a therapist. I won’t say I “cried” to her but I mean… Okay, I cried. What’s wrong with me? Why do I have to be the unhealthy one just because I don’t eat as much as everyone else? I eat until I’m full! Why is it only a crime when I do it? On and on I rambled until my doctor put her hand up to tell me to stop. She said that it sounded to her like I was suffering from a case of judge-itis, and unfortunately there was only one cure.

She wrote me a prescription that only had two words: Self appreciation. 

What is “Judge-itis” and What Does It Have To Do with My Weight?

The most talked about picture I’ve ever posted was the hardest one I ever had to take. It was when I made the decision to take my doctor’s advice and refuse to let anyone’s negative comments dictate my comfort level with my own body. I made a day out of it, setting up my tripod and my camera. Slowly, I began to shed layers of clothes one by one in front of my camera which was slightly taboo for me. I was determined to create the image of appreciation. I turned on “Private Party” by Indie Arie blast as I danced around and loosened up. Finally, I achieved it. The feeling of self confidence.

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Family and friends alike were so quick to point at me and add commentary. “How could you, Jasemine? Respect yourself! Why would you post YOU NAKED ON THE INTERNET?” Judge…itis.

The photo was me giving myself the utmost respect and sharing it among those who I felt I could trust to understand. This is not ego or vanity, I’m just celebrating me. The photo was my way of shedding my insecurities and being happy with myself despite all hate campaigns advertising things like “Say no to zero.” Since when was it okay for someone to judge me for feeling confident with myself?

Oh wait. Since weight was something that became a defining factor in attraction regardless of which side of the scale. Since judge-itis became popular on a global scale.

Truth Is, I’m 100 lbs, 4’11, at 22 and Sometimes You Can See My Bones.

I work out to stay toned but trust and believe that when the time comes, I can eat an entire Thanksgiving Dinner in one sitting and not gain a pound. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I’m sick of being called unhealthy because it’s just as BAD AND WRONG as being called fat. It hurts!

One of my best friends is the most gorgeous and snuggly plus sized models I’ve ever seen. She’s drop dead gorgeous and “fat” has never been an adjective that came to mind when I look at her. Individually, we receive a lot of weight bashing. She’s too big and I’m too small but together we are perfect in our own accord because we carry ourselves confidently as any woman should! ANY WOMAN. 

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Lighten Up, Because I’m Not Just Saying Don’t Wash Bash Skinny People, I’m Saying Don’t Weight Bash all People.

Regardless of what side of the scale you’re on, judge-itis can kill. There are just as many gorgeous girls killing themselves for being talked about because of how skinny they are than there are starving themselves because they’re being called fat. Plainly put, there shouldn’t be a single woman anywhere ashamed of the skin she’s in.

When will the world wake up and learn that we were all created in the likeness of beauty regardless of religious belief? Stop being the person responsible for stealing a woman’s joy. (I don’t care how much or little she may weigh.)

Maybe one day a naked back won’t be so easily judged because people will be comfortable enough in their own skin to stop trying to get under someone else’s. Remember that the change begins with you.

Inspiration Vs. Imitation

April 22, 2014 5 min read No Comments

Today’s blog is a “Break All Rules” blog that is posted on a Tuesday despite today being “Twisted Tuesday”. We’ve all had an incident where someone we’re close to has done something similar to something we’ve done. Sometimes, it’s eerily similar to the point of having troublesome feelings about that person. It’s hard to approach the issue, because many people derive their personal inspiration from others (We often call that role models.) So I’m going to attack the issue in the best way I know how. Hence today’s “Break All Rules Blog” (I get a freebie right?) entitled “Inspiration Vs. Imitation.

First, Let’s Break Down the Dictionary Difference.

This is the part where you call me bad names because my “Beyonce” diva attitude comes out. Yet, often times we are told “imitation is the best form of flattery” when that is indeed a false accusation. Inspiration is a phenomenal form of flattery. It means that someone saw your work and it touched their hearts, minds, soul, something! But imitation is walking into school tomorrow and seeing someone wearing the same outfit as you and now you feel unpretty.

So let’s whip out the Webster, shall we?

Let’s Start With Imitation

Imitation: (Noun) a thing intended to simulate or copy something else. Copy: a thing made to be similar or identical to another.

So, we get it. It means someone bases their entire foundation off of the premise of another person’s work. In the art world as well as the business world, that is frowned upon. It is seen as competition and immediately backfires. In the business world, it’s a brand. When you copy a brand, you’re basically pirating another corporation’s identity. Remember those commercials you watched as a kid that told you stealing a movie is like stealing a woman’s purse? Pirating. In the artistic world, it’s a style. Each artist has their own style which is their form of expression. When you copy a style, you are stealing. (I don’t know of too many exceptions to said rule.)

Let’s Move On To Inspiration.

Inspiration: (noun) the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Creative: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Note the word original in the definition. In order not to to crowd you with more definitions, “Original” implies that it is genuine. You reached somewhere deep down in your imagination and concocted said idea. Yet, with inspiration, you didn’t exactly reach all the way down. You saw something on Pinterest, maybe a rad deck decor for a skateboard, and it made you think “What if…”

Jazz, I don’t see the difference.  Well dear reader, you’re in luck. This photographer had an brain blast!

This is Renee Jordan.

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Let me tell you that when I got home from this shoot with Renee, I was feeling inspired. She reminded me of what I loved most about fashion. The ability to look fierce but also to have fun. Suddenly, I wanted to start taking fashion portraits again. Maybe not on the same calibur but I just couldn’t get my mind off of it. Everyday proceeding this shoot, I kept an eye on my clothes. I kept waiting for something awesome that I could wear that could convey to Renee the inspiration that radiated from her and passed on to me. She sparked a creative flow in me.

Finally, this morning it happened. I remembered Renee and I talking about deals that we get on our clothes, and I sprung to some of the places I knew would have a deal on the image I saw in my head.

Let me tell you exactly what inspired me.

  • Renee puts her outfits together by herself in bulks which I think is awesome. She can spot a good deal from miles away. I could tell that just by our preshoot conversation.
  • Her poses screamed confidence in her clothes combinations all throughout the shoot. It wasn’t someone who had thrown things together, it was carefully created.
  • Lastly, each set of photos were all a different style of clothing but somehow still Renee’s style.

So. Oddly, I have a pretty unique style. At least, I’d like to think so. So, when it came down to it, I wanted something like Renee’s second shoot. It was natural, it was hers, it was business friendly, but it also was daring. (I mean a leather skirt, get out. who would’ve thought?”

This is what became born of it:

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Notice how the styles are different. The poses change, the setting is different, the outfits are different. Yet, if you look closely, you can tell where the inspiration is from. I’ve developed a pose that I would like to assume defines my fashion persona. Much like Renee’s it’s confident, it’s flexible. It’s not the same pose but it does to give a similar vibe.

Coincidentally, Renee and I both have a thing for heels. Mine moreso fit my specific style but they can easily be noted as well. By the offchance, this part is just coincidence but notice how I’m also wearing stockings. I hate my legs and though I think Renee is amazing for having the confidence to strut her bare legs, I much prefer my spiderweb sheer.

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Now do you See what I mean?

I was Inspired by Renee without actually stealing her entire shoot and calling it my own! All I’m saying is that if you want to be established in the world as your own business, your own artist, your own style… You need to do the research and a lot of it. I’m pretty sure Renee has worked for years to develop her identity as a fashion designer. I mean, simply put.. If you’re looking for someone who’s going to steal a person’s entire artistic style for their own, it ain’t me babe. I’m no fashion designer, but I did have a little fun in my closet and I hope Renee can tell when she sees the photos.

I can vouch for anyone when I say that it isn’t easy to become who you are but it’s a blessing once you do. You feel like you earned it instead of taking the easy way out. It’s okay to be inspired but know the line. There is one, and it’s no longer flattering when someone looks at your work and sees a mirror of themselves completely. It feels more like stealing. Then it becomes competitive, then you lose your inspiration forever due to your own carelessness.

Think about it.

PS: Sorry for interrupting your Twisted Tuesday, we will resume regularly scheduled programming come next Tuesday! Thank you all for reading.

for now, this fashionista is hasta la vista!
*high pitched voice* Dueeeeeces.

Jasemine-Denise

Twisted Tuesday: Writers And Structure

April 15, 2014 4 min read No Comments

Structure

I had a lovely lady request we meet up because she wanted to discuss my writing process. All week, I wandered around and was baffled. What would I say? I didn’t want her to be underwhelmed when she found out that my progress was merely putting my pen to my paper. Yet when it finally became time for the meetup, both she and I learned a lesson on how important it is as a writer to have structure. So this Twisted Tuesday suggests to you the beauty of structure.

Expectations Vs. Reality: How Structure Came About.

When I walked into my meeting, I was nervous. Talking to people is scary. I say the “F” word a lot. I’m loud. I’ll ramble forever if you let me. Yet, I had a system. Hug, smile, get coffee, and then engage. This particular meeting was with this awesome young woman.  She was just like me in a sense that she did a lot. She mentioned that she was a writer, a massage therapist, she did theater, she had a daughter, she had a business degree and so much more. She could have been a model too. Seriously, she was gorgeous.  “Finally!” I thought. I’ve finally found someone who understands what it’s like to be both an artist and a human.

Then. She asked the question and it made the entire “Writing process” make perfect sense.  She asked me “How do you juggle it all?”

My Answer.

Fun Fact: I have a Type A Personality. I’m always urgent about projects and I’m also never satisfied with them. I melt down when it comes to problems and it always tends to be horribly stressful. Structuring my life was the best thing that ever happened to me. I liked making plans and goals. My anxiety attacks decreased so much since I started effectively building my structure. More importantly, my writing increased as well as improved.

Writer to writer, artist to artist, person to person.. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone gets overwhelmed and if you’re a person like me who wants to do a lot at once, it gets scary. I can’t count how many times I’ve missed my writing for weeks or had to cancel meetings because of stress, conflict, problems or just plain being exhausted.

What’s my solution? It’s simple. Structure. 

Remember When You were In School?

Wait, wait! Stay with me!

Remember when you were in school? Did you know that school provided you with structure? It gave you deadlines and allotted times due to the way a teacher’s lesson plan had each subject scheduled at a certain time of day. It was professionally designed for you to succeed provided you maintained discipline. It sounds silly but school instilled structure upon you. Some people were extremely responsive and carried it over to adulthood. Yet most of us, especially artists, have neglected the tradition. (I don’t know about you guys but I’ve missed meals to finish projects! NO REGRETS) So, why not try making a schedule? It doesn’t have to be completely set up like school either. It can be anything from just setting a reminder on your phone about eating to building a full-on time table.

My most efficient technique is probably my blog planner. I bought a 5 subject notebook and sectioned it  off so that I had a different subject for each section on my blog. Each blog has a scheduled day, and I programmed reminders in my phone the morning of to remind me that a blog needs to be posted today. It made such a big difference. Soon after, I found a blog calender online for my website which allowed me to see my blogs posted in calender view. I often look at the times because then I could tell which times I struggled to get the blog up, how long it took, what time is easiest for me to focus, etc. I found it was most efficient when I had already had a draft of my blogs written because then I could flow freely with my already organized thoughts. Therefore, my most efficient technique was the planner notebook. $3.  Years of sanity and organization.

So upon discussing My Writing Process, I Taught Both Myself And Her Something..

As I gave my structure speech to my new writer friend. I realized that my life as well as my writing career have changed immensely since I found my structure. Little things turned into something big. I was actually proud when she said that I should teach a class.

So this Tuesday, I just had to share little tidbit with my fellow artists, especially the ones like myself who wear quite a few hats at once. It gets scary, I know. Keep calm and make a plan or a schedule and stick to it.

It helps, I promise. Now it’s your turn. How do you balance your life and art?

Note: I have to give the biggest thanks to Sarah Syhakhoun. She doesn’t know it but she was the start of my structure and accepting how much I relied on it. She made me feel okay with it. Her blog shares personal stories of how she stays organized in both her business and her marriage. It was inspiring.I remember gushing about how phenomenal her binder tips are and now, a half a year later, I am writing in my blog planner how to share her wisdom with others who crave structure much like mine. She’s also a photographer and you guys should check her out.

But for now, this naturalista, is hasta lavista. 😉

Jasemine-Denise

Lighten Up: Spring.

April 10, 2014 3 min read No Comments

It’s finally spring and let me tell you Chicago, I am rejoicing for this weather. I’ve grown so used to cold nights and even colder mornings that I forgot that spring was even a season. Even better, spring is the season of awakening. It’s when all the flowers start to bloom and people start bringing out their sweat season smiles! This Lighten Up Thursday is a Spring Appreciation Post! It also goes hand in hand with today’s Project 365.

What did I Do On My First Witnessing of The Spring Season?

It’s been a rough winter. A lot of it was spent working, the other half stressing. When I looked back, the same could be said for my spring of 2013. This year was supposed to be about change. Good change. So, I went out and bought some clothes. They were brighter than my usual style and when I checked them out and put them on, I was impressed. Something different that still made me feel good. I also got a few denim jackets on clearance and all was good.

I don’t know about you, but I love feeling good. When I got home, I realized how this spring would be different. This spring, I wouldn’t let anything stop me from feeling good. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I quit my job. It didn’t make me feel good. 

So, I made A Jar.

No, not a jar of dirt (Although that’s good too) I made a jar of love letters to myself. This jar was for the days that I felt like winter from the days where I feel like spring. What better way to feel better than to be reminded that you are loved? Who better to love you than yourself? So many people are so hellbent on society’s views of us that we stifle the most beautiful parts of ourselves. Not anymore. 

For me, anxiety was one of the many reasons I didn’t feel good. People would say negative things about me that sat with me until I couldn’t take it anymore. I had a vision board with all my goals that I started in January of the new year, and I destroyed it. The fear and apprehension combined with the negative energy made me feel as though I wasn’t good enough to achieve any greatness at all. At first, quitting my job made me feel the same way, but then I started to feel good about myself. I took a stand for my emotional well-being. How many people do that? How many people are more upset after they do that then when they were experiencing it?

My first letter to myself was “Dear self, remember your vision.” Although I tore apart a huge map to my year, I didn’t lose my destination. I still have all my pit stops in my head. Nothing stops you on the road to success. There was so much I wanted to have done when Spring started, and now I’m finally remembering. My vision is coming to life before my eyes. It’s crazy.

My second was a bit more complex, but a lot more universal. Lately, I’ve been feeling down about photography. All of my friends are getting fancy new cameras and learning to do the things that I’ve been doing for years, and that’s scary. Yet, I felt great taking pictures this week. I always feel good. It’s something that brings out the joy in me. So, the joyous me who took pictures wrote a letter to the me that gets down on herself and doesn’t take pictures. It was a reminder that no matter how many photographers come into this world, that every single one has a unique thing to share.

I am Confident Catipillar

So Lighten Up!

Spring is about awakening and renewal. Why do you think we do spring cleaning? As the weather changes and it starts to feel good outside, you have the chance to feel good inside. When you’re feeling good, you take in the fresh smell of the flowers, the dirt, the love… This spring you should cleanse your winter blues and love yourself. Get out there! Try something new, try on a “funky” color, write love letters to yourself… DO whatever it takes.

Take time out to love yourself. This spring could be the season that changes your life.

Lighten Up. For your sake.

Namaste,
Jasemine-Denise

About Me

Jasemine Denise

I travel as a photographer, I write novels , and I fan girl a lot. I have an unnecessary attachment to all things 80s punk, 90s hip hop, and girl power. You'll find some Fashion, photography and many more on this blog. Read more about me. Read More

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