Stumbling into New Friendships + an Amazing Photographer

Last week Nick Hwang mentioned that he wanted to send out a Christmas card to our friends and family with a photo of us in it. Adorable, right? Trouble was that we were less than 20 days away from Christmas. How in the world would we find a photographer  with availability that we could afford who could get us images in time to have cards printed and mailed?

I sent a few photographer friends messages to see if they had any immediate availability. There are so many talented people in Baton Rouge and I’m lucky to know many of them. On a whim, I also sent a message to a photographer who is dating a former coworker and friend of mine. I’d been stalking her photos on Instagram and Facebook for months. Natalie Mancuso captures stunning images that are more than pretty pictures, they tell a story.

Fate must have aligned in our favor that day, Natalie emailed me back quickly and said she had a cancelation for the coming weekend. We picked a time and met up in an empty field off of Highland Road on Saturday.

Maybe it was all that Instagram stalking, but I felt totally comfortable with her as soon as the shoot began. She was kind, easy going and so energetic. I LOVE the first few images she shared with us on Facebook and can’t wait to see the rest.

Walking with Nick

The most incredible part of the day was how much we synced instantly. After the shoot, Natalie, Nick and I sat down for coffee and talked about everything from photography to fracking  in West Virginia. Needless to say, I’m new-friend smitten.

Talking with Natalie also reminded me how difficult it was to find folks that I felt I could be myself with in Baton Rouge. This city is wonderful for its hospitality and sense of community, but that sense of community can also make it difficult to be an outsider. It can also be tricky to find your niche in a city that is dominated by higher ed, oil and gas, and government jobs. Being a writer, artist or photographer can be tricky. There are networks of creative types here, but they can be tough to find and infiltrate.

That being said, I’m so glad to have made a new friend in Natalie and I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of the photos she took for us this weekend. If you’re looking for a photographer in the Baton Rouge area, I highly recommend checking out her work.

When music gets social – 225 Magazine

One epically slow Friday afternoon at my day job, I sat typing a horrendously long report—the kind that requires its own table of contents. Fridays are quiet around my office building. Rather than fall asleep at my desk, I broke through the silence with a song from Ingrid Michaelson. Then another and another. I listened to just about every song she’s ever released. Her music kept my toes tapping under my desk and my head from nodding forward in a lunch-induced coma. “If you are chilly, here, take my sweater,” she sang to me.

I don’t have Ingrid Michaelson’s entire library on my computer, but I do have Spotify, and this little desktop app lets me stream music straight to my computer. Calling itself the “lean, green music machine,” Spotify certainly has a lot going for it.

Released in 2008 in Sweden, Spotify has grown massively in just a few years. By the time it was released in the United States last summer, it was already available in seven other countries. With 1.6 million subscribers to paid “unlimited” or “premium” versions, Spotify makes music legally accessible online and on-demand for $4.99 for computer access or $9.99 for mobile capability and syncing with your home computer. The promise is that you have all of your music and all of Spotify’s wherever you go and whenever you want.

“It just made sense,” audiophile Micah Nickens told me recently in his cozy studio. Spotify was playing music in the background, and I immediately started asking about the artists, making mental notes to try to find Nickens, who’s also the owner of the Garden District salon Gaudet Brothers, on Spotify when I got home. “I signed up for the free version for three days—but I did the premium right after that,” he said.

What he wasn’t expecting was the full social integration with Facebook that would happen weeks later. Nickens signed up using his personal email address rather than his Facebook account, but this fall, Spotify made it mandatory for new users to sign up through the social networking giant.

Read the rest of the story here.