I Started Singing Again by Brea Persing

Professional Choir in Verona, Italy — 2012. Photographer unknown.

Professional Choir in Verona, Italy — 2012. Photographer unknown.

Do you ever notice that when you are really stressed, or depressed, that you stop doing something that you love? You don’t really notice it at first, but then eventually you realize it?

I have been singing since I came out of the womb. I LOVE it! I sang in all the choirs I could with church, school, college and even a professional choir overseas. I even got to perform, with my college choir, at Carnegie Hall and the Washington National Cathedral in 2004. Talk about an experience! I sing in my car, bedroom, while I’m cooking, you name it. Funny enough, I used to have stage fright when singing in front of people, which I still struggle with a bit (I’m pretty sure that’s because of insecurity), and I don’t sing as much when I’m living, or staying, with other people I as much so I don’t disturb them.

Haha, I even remember when I lived in Italy and I told my neighbor I would be leaving and she said that she would miss hearing me sing through the walls and smelling my cooking. It put a smile on my face. And it me more aware that the walls were thinner than I thought! 

But it was during that time that I noticed that when I was super stressed or depressed that I stopped singing. At first I didn’t realize it, but I distinctly remember a few times that I just could not sing, all I could do was listen to the music. It got so bad at one point that I couldn’t even handle listening to music. That was a super low point for me. 

The past few years have been really stressful for me with a lot of transition, mounted health issues, culture shock, trauma and some toxic relationships. Since moving back to the US my health has improved, I have taken time to work through trauma and get it out of my body, I said goodbye to toxic relationships and my stress is decreasing…in some ways at least. I noticed after these things started happening that I started singing more. 

Sometimes you don’t notice you’ve stopped doing something until you start doing it again. I used to listen to music in the car, but I’ve switched over to listening to audio books while driving. That happened when I was seeing 5-10 specialists a week for a solid 6 or so months and I was in the car driving about 8-10 hours a week. Music got a bit boring. I know…I can’t believe I just said that. Now, I listen to music when I’m getting ready in the morning, while working out, cooking, cleaning, working on photo editing or design projects, and when I’m getting ready for bed. For a while I was in a state that all I could do was listen, but as I began to destress, work through issues and be happier with who God made me to be, I started singing a long more! I also notice I sing more after I watch a show like The Voice or American Idol. :) 

That means a great deal! Even though I’m not in a house by myself, it means that I am less stressed, less depressed, and am happier! It means that I am on they way up the hill from the valley I was in for a bit. I learned a lot from the valley, but it’s refreshing and encouraging to be coming out of it. I mean, I already knew I was coming out of it because I was physically feeling better, my soul was doing better and I was smiling more…but singing was icing on the cake for confirmation.

What is it that you have noticed you’ve stopped doing? What are you doing to work through it to get to the other side?

My First Love—Photography by Brea Persing

I started taking photos when I was a little girl. I can’t tell you how many disposable cameras I went through when I was younger…on vacation, a trip with church, school, camp, and so many more. When I was a bit older my parents entrusted me with their small point and shoot, though still a film camera, it was fun. At the time, I was still only focused on taking landscape pictures, some sunsets, and pictures of family and friends.

Then, around the time of middle and high school, my parents bought a nicer film camera, a Minolta Maxxum 650si. I was excited. I think I may have been more excited than them! I took a few photos with it, but as I went back through some albums, I noticed it was in 2001 that I started to do more artistic photography. I started focusing more on what I wanted to capture and what I was seeing in nature and with people.

In March I did a week long series on Instagram of my start and showing some of my “first” photos. I put first in quotations because they’re not really my first photos ever…I’d have to do some serious digging to find those. But they are the photos where I started to pay more attention and really try to get a good shot and be artistic. The photos have shown my progression from where I started to where I am now, but amazing to go back and see that I still love taking the same kind of photos that I do now—macros (closeups), nature, sunsets, all things rustic, landscapes, puppies and candids of people! Most of the photos below, unless otherwise specified, are from 2001. I also did not alter them in any way after scanning them in, except cropping them to the correct size.

I started it off with photos I took in 1999 from my first trip overseas. It was a family mission trip to Honduras to build houses for those still without from the major flooding that had happened. It was my first time overseas, being upgraded to first class, not being able to communicate what I wanted to say, mixing cement by hand and shovel, and seeing beautiful fish while snorkeling.

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From landscape I went to candid shots of people. In 2003 I had volunteered, with many others in the community, to build a new playground for a park in my hometown of Nappanee, Indiana in one week! It was quite the task. I helped build and I took photos of the build. The ones I’m showing are ones that I took of a family friend, Brandi, while she was painting.

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Then from candid shots of Brandi while volunteering, I went into another candid shot of my cousin. This is the same cousin who’s wedding I photographed in February of this year, 2019. This particular photo had three things in it that I loved…macros, puppies and candids of people! This had been a fun day with cousins who were in the US for the summer from being overseas. We were at my aunt’s house swimming and playing with their puppies. It was a great day. The next photo is not a candid of her, but one of my favorite photos I took at her and her husband on her wedding day in mid-February.

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From photos of my cousin, the then and now, I moved over to my love for nature. I love being out in nature and I love capturing it. Not just landscapes, which I do like, but macros—flowers, the wind swaying through a field of grass, insects, spider webs, and so much more.

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Then I went into the cutest of them all, puppies! Who doesn’t like puppies! They’re so cute. These are my aunt’s puppies, and taken the same day as the photo above with my cousin. I also grew up with beagles around, so I have TONS of photos of cute little beagle puppies.

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Then I finished out the week with sunsets and all things rustic. With sunsets, no two are the same. They are beautiful, they bring peace to the soul, and are a great ending to each day. I also love sunrises, but I’m not always up in time to see them. There’s nothing like an Indiana sunrise though! And I really like rust. Rust is an interesting creature and gives great texture. Except on my car, I do not like rust on my car. :) Even barns though, I love the look of old barns, abandoned houses and such. I see one and I want to take a photo of it and turn it into black and white so you can see the depth, the texture and the uniqueness of it.

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That is it—that is the beginning of my photography journey. If you have seen my albums and followed me on Instagram for a while, you would know that I still take the same type of photos, though I have better equipment now, and using digital instead of film (the above photos were film!), and my technique has improved a lot. 

It’s always good to go back to the beginning though, to remember where you started and how far you have come, and to remember what your first loves were. I have come a long way, but I haven’t swayed too far from what my first loves in photography were, which is refreshing and encouraging.

Camera Protection by Brea Persing

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You’ve invested a lot of money into your camera equipment…regardless if it’s a smaller, starter camera or a full frame DSLR. The last thing you want to happen to any of your gear is breakage because of the elements.

A lot of cameras these days are water resistant, which is helpful. But if you have changeable lenses, there is still the possibility of getting water inside while you’re changing the lens or where it screws/clips in. I would always suggest changing lenses in a dry environment, or under a large umbrella so you lessen the chance of water getting in. Make sure to double check with your manufacturer to see if you camera is water resistant or not. Here’s the thing, if you drop it in a pool or a puddle of water, the water is going to get inside and the camera and is going to stop working. In some cases, you can let it fully air dry, with everything taken apart and it will work again. But not always. Even in those cases, I would suggest sending it off to be professionally cleaned.

If you’re taking your camera on a trip with you, say you’re a hiker, and want to save it from the dust and dirt, sand, possible rain, etc., I would suggest getting a Peak Design Camera Shell [https://www.peakdesign.com/collections/all/products/shell]. They come in all sizes to fit different sizes of cameras and lenses. This will protect your gear from the elements. It may keep your gear a litter warmer, but if you’re in subzero temperatures for a while, I would still do what I suggest next.

But what do you do if it’s really cold outside? Just like a soda can when you take it from a cold environment and put it into a warmer one, condensation happens. This could happen inside your camera if you’re not careful! So the best thing to do when it’s really cold outside and going inside is while you’re STILL OUTSIDE, take your memory card and battery out and place your camera and lenses in a sealed plastic bag. Personally, I use a 2 gallon Ziploc Freezer Bag. By doing this while you’re still outside, it makes it harder for the moisture in the inside air to get inside the bag, eliminating condensation. It will still take a while for you camera to warm up though, so give it time.

Now, if you’re only outside for a few minutes, you camera hasn’t cooled down enough to warrant this. However if you’re spending a few hours outside shooting in the cold, or just straight up really really cold weather, you should consider doing this.

However, I’ve had a situation before where it was really cold and raining outside. I protected my camera as much as I could, but not wanting the water on the camera to be trapped inside the bag as it was coming back to regular temperature, I went inside, took the camera apart (batteries out, lenses off, etc.), wiped everything down and let it warm up naturally. I then checked everything to make sure it was all dry before putting it back together and tested with a photo to make sure I didn’t need to do any extra cleaning.

*This post is NOT sponsored by Peak Design, I’m just an avid lover of their products and use a lot of them!