Blogger-like look.

I might have a slight obsession with creating presets. I’d take anything that would streamline my post-processing and this definitely does that. 

I had a busy day yesterday…my kind of busy, where I do things I actually enjoy. Wifey and I spent most of the day together, hitting the malls early and running some Christmas errands. We stopped over at Vovo Telo for breakfast. The place is set up in a homey fashion, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere. 

We sat outside and enjoyed the smell of the lavender garden, but not that bees that were roaming around it. Anyway… this is not a food post, because I’m kinda hungry as I’m typing this and might just go into a downward spiral if I continue in that direction.

Having planned to vlog a little, I took my camera with me. I took a few photos and decided to edit them a bit differently in post. First of all… PE was extremely cloudy on the day and the soft light was so flattering. I mean, the clouds were basically big, natural light diffusers. WIN!

The look I had in mind was “blogger like” (whatever that means…because bloggers are so versatile with their images). I think bright and soft would be a fair description, as opposed to the punchy images I put out on the regular. 
So, I created another preset in the process. Here are the results. Let me know what you think. Would you use this?

Saraye – Dancer shoot

I met Saraye in the church circles and have come to know her as a sweet spirited, kind person. We’ve been planning to work together for almost a year but never got around to it until sometime in November.

Her style leans heavily toward hip-hop but she’s a very versatile dancer who can interpret any song given to her in a way that I still struggle to explain, but that makes you wanna get up and join in…even though you know for a fact that you cannot even 2-step to save your life. I’m always amazed at how some of the best artists make it look easy. 

We didn’t want to over-analyze what we’re gonna do but we did plan to show off some moves in a tom-boyish dance outfit and incorporate the old buildings found in Central, PE. I used different styles of editing in the images and the new “Muted Saraye” preset was born out of it. You can download it here for free.

November was such a crazy month that I only got around to finishing some of the edits this week. You can check out the uploads on my Instagram, but here’s a few of my favourites below. 

As always, all comments are welcome. Thank you for reading! 🙂

We (creators) should talk about this more…

Last week I asked a question in an attempt to gain some advice from other creators. I wanted to know how, as part-time creators, they balance their creative life with the corporate world. I honestly struggle with this from time to time (less now than I did before) and out of all the people who saw the post…only one attempted to answer it.

I manage to push out content and update my social media pages as regularly as I can and even though it’s not as frequently as I’d hope to, it’s far from dormant. 

I found something that works for me and that I can advocate for…that is GETTING UP EARLIER. 
Yes. This simple adjustment helped me up my productivity in a normal day. Who would’ve thought, right?

Dis you right now?

You see, once I clock off from work, it is all uphill from there when it comes to creative work. I’m in such a slump that I just want to eat and sleep. 
In the morning, however, I feel fresh and ready to take on a new day. I capitalize on this by ticking some creative tasks off my to-do list. Whether it be editing a few images, continuing with a blog post, sending out emails, reading or WHY.

This creates a spark that seems to flow over into my mundane, 8-5 work responsibilities. In the back of my mind, I just feel much better knowing that I did something meaningful before having to sit down behind a desk for most of my day.

That being said, this works FOR ME. You may have better productivity during the evening if it suits your lifestyle. In fact, I ran an Instagram poll and these were the results :

I ran this Instagram Poll to determine people’s most productive time of day. 

The thing that I had to realise was that we all have the same amount of time in a day and you just HAVE TO learn to prioritize your time. You cannot do everything… but you can do something meaningful. You just have to choose what that meaningful something is to you. 

Out of frustration, I ranted about the predicament of time earlier this year but that left me right there, flat on my bum, feeling kind of helpless. I would’ve stayed there for the rest of 2018 if I didn’t learn to make this one adjustment. 

So, try it out… who knows, you might just finish that creative project you’ve been postponing since JZ was still serving his first term. 

The real JZ!

How to import a custom Lightroom preset + FREE PRESET!



If you’ve checked out my YouTube video about how to best apply this preset, just skip right to the bottom where you can download it. If, however, you want to know how to import this and any other custom preset into Adobe Lightroom, continue reading. 


So presets are basically a set of adjustments that you can apply to your images in Lightroom with one click. They are convenient for batch editing or just to keep a consistent look through that Instagram feed. Lightroom has some native presets but you can download custom ones or save your own.


Once you’ve downloaded and saved a custom preset, you need to import it into Lightroom in order to start using it. This can be done in a few simple steps. Here’s how.


  1. Open Lightroom


2. Click on any image in the “Develop” module



3. Right-click on User Presets and choose “Import”


4. Open the downloaded preset’s destination folder and double-click on the preset



And that’s it!


Your preset should now show up in the folder you chose to import it to. Enjoy my free Muted Saraye preset and remember to tag @lifeafter8_5 and #lifeafter8_5 on Instagram so that I can see those images. 

Less is more

And the award for “cliché of the year” goes to….
Lol. No… I mean this. Let me explain.
I have this desire to yet again… change the way I edit. See, I used to (and still do) like the dark and moody feel. It’s fantasy-like and really eye-catching on that Instagram explore page. If you want someone to have a second look, this is almost a sure way to get that. 
However, these days, I’ve been leaning more and more toward the clean, natural tones in my post processing. Why can’t I have both, right? I’m not married to these things mos.  
I want to adopt the “less is more” attitude when it comes to my work. It will however require many baby steps for me to get to where guys who inspire me are. Togs that inspire me with the way they’re loyal to true tones and colors are Jessica Kobeissi, Craig Anderson and Gigi Umbrasaite. If you want to have an idea of what I’m talking about, check out their amazing work. Like them, I want to subdue the craziness in Lightroom a bit and focus more on true tones, while still maintaining a healthy bit of creativity in editing.
So, out of pure inspiration, I started editing a shoot I did recently with my friend, Devonia, having this natural looking tones in mind. I added my own spin of course, by still lifting those shadows and taking that contrast up a notch. I also brought the hue of the greens waaaay down to lean more toward brown. 
I added more orange in the skin tones and brought the saturation on the yellow slider lower by a tiny bit and also underexposed the image in post. A few more tweaks here and there and I found myself with a new preset. 
To test the versatility of it, I applied it to older photos and liked what I ended up with. Here’s a few before & after examples :

Casey Side by Side

Picture 1 of 5


I noticed you get different results with different skin tones and I kinda like that. Let me know what you think of this one. If you like it, consider subscribing to my YouTube page where I’ll be giving it away.
Until then… let me know what you think of this one in the comments below. 🙂

Shooting the runway at Mandela Bay Fashion Week!

Last week, my wife got invited to the Mandela Bay Fashion Week to do some media coverage in her capacity as a blogger. It was a 3-day event and she got to take a +1 with her on each of those nights.

I tagged along at the final day of the event and took along my trusty D5300. My plan of action was to pop my on-camera flash on there and boom…I should get decently lit images. But alas, the ceiling of the Tramways Building was too high for me to bounce the light off of.

My only other option was to crank up that ISO. I set my camera to Aperture priority mode instead of Manual because of my moving subjects in an already low light situation. The last thing I wanna do in those conditions is fiddle around with settings with most of my shots.

I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised with the outcome. I know for a fact that if you push the ISO pass 1600, I may have had very visible grain in my images. I kept it right under that mark and hit kind of a sweet spot at F/2.2-2.8 and a shutter speed upwards of 1/250

Although my lens can open up wider (to F/1.8), I didn’t want to risk missing focus when the models were moving towards/away from me. That focal plane is way to shallow for my baby DSLR to keep up with in those circumstances. With the exception of missing 2 shots, these settings worked out great.

Here’s some shots I managed to grab and edit for this post. Check out my Facebook Page to see the featured models or head directly over to the Mandela Bay Fashion Week‘s account for more information on the designers as well.

Let me know what you think. This was a vibe…. a dope one!

Important realization!

You’re a Creative. Yes, you!
A creative isn’t only synonymous with nor limited to artists. Even business-oriented, academically-minded people are creative. If you have the ability to make known what is unknown; to reveal what is hidden; to give life to ideas… if you can CREATE… then you’re creative.

Sometimes we fall victim to opposing opinions, causing our thoughts about ourselves to be subpar. Many times the way we see ourselves doesn’t add up to our intrinsic value. It all starts here and if you don’t start right, then every other effort contributes to a tiresome losing battle.
Hey! That thing that only you can see… That seed… you better plant that. For you AND for posterity.
This isn’t exactly a clean cut articulation of my thoughts surrounding this but I think it’s fitting, really. A case in point, if you will. Proof that it doesn’t HAVE to be perfect. Just use that creativity, get it out and give it a chance to grow and inspire others.

Value your ideas

This was one of those lessons I’ve had to learn over time and to be honest, it’s sometimes the thing I have to keep reminding myself of. 
When I used to drum more often than I do now, I’d put my gift out there every now and then. I unknowingly stepped into a world filled with second-guessing. I’ve never experienced this with anything else, especially not anything that came easy. Drumming, however, meant so much to me that this kind of thinking was crippling.
Whenever I’m alone, playing to myself, it would be fine. But as soon as I have some sort of audience that’ll hear me go, comparison kicks in. 
Only after maturing in understanding, have I begun to care less and less about what other people say or think or play for that matter. I began to play because I loved it. 
When I started taking photography a bit more seriously, I noticed this toxic mindset trying to creep in again. Luckily, I was prepared for it this time.
Instagram, one of the main platforms I use to post my work, is oversaturated with photographers. Really, really good ones. Needless to say, comparison stares you in the face quite often but surprisingly, that wasn’t the challenge for me this time around, but standing out in some way was. 
I took a practical approach to this. Considering that the images are really made yours in editing, I changed the way I edited. I went from bright images to desaturated to vibrant and moody. That’s where I am today. This is the way I see my images even before post-processing them and I shoot with this idea (look and feel) in mind.
The truth is, not many people like it… and this is where what you value more comes into play.
Do you value the trend or your idea? Can you be courageous enough to post your ideas even if it goes against the grain? Even if it’s not what’s trending today?
“It takes courage to be honest”…
Creatives who put their work out there in the public sphere are courageous. It’s no longer this internal thing that cannot be judged, but it’s out there and sometimes… MOST OF THE TIME… that’s scary. Today, I’m at a place where even ideas unrelated to what I naturally lean towards (whether it be photography, drumming or other hobbies I love) gets taken down and given a chance to grow and that’s the important part. 
What’s your thinking concerning this one?

About these algorithms…

Just the other day, I realized that I didn’t post for two weeks. TWO WHOLE WEEKS. That’s brand suicide when it comes to the algorithms that govern the success of social media accounts these days. 
When I started @lifeafter8_5, I had one goal – to share my creativity, particularly through photography and then some. I even put it on my “about me” page and it has not changed since. It was a simple, achievable goal. However, soon after creating profiles on different platforms, I started learning about having an audience.
(Collabs are best when it’s mutually beneficial. On the influencer’s end, it’s all about the reach… The bigger your audience, the more likely you are to land that brand deal/collab. It just makes sense.)???
For an influencer, in many instances, it’s all about the reach. The bigger your audience, the more likely you are to land that brand deal/collab. It just makes sense. In order to grow an audience though, you have to play into the algorithm of the platform you’re using. Here, it’s a matter of different strokes for different folks, meaning that it varies based on the platform you’re using. Seeing that I’m more active on Instagram than any other, let’s talk about that. 
Now, the internet is flooded with information about how the algorithm works. I’m not here to talk about that part but to have a basis to work from, I’ll summarize how you can get the most out of it today.
Consistency – Post regularly, as in …. every day. It doesn’t have to be a normal upload. You can use your stories too. The point is, to be in the favour of the algorithm, you have to have your nose in your phone EVERY DAY and upload something.
Hashtags – This is a whole topic on its own but without jumping into too much detail, hashtags are a great way for individuals and brands to increase their posts visibility and engagement. If your upload is a hand, hashtags are the fingers on that hand. You get to have 30 fingers here… use them all correctly and you’ll be on the Instagram explore page and reach your intended audience.
Engagement – If you wanna win here, you’ll have to engage before and after you upload. Yes… before too!
Prime the platform by commenting on others’ work or replying to some uploads on your own feed, getting it nice and hot for that smashing portrait, selfie or WHY. Oh, and comments only count when they consist of more than 4 words. Yes, that’s right. A “thank you” doesn’t cut it anymore. Add “…so much” to that and you’re winning. LOL! It’s kinda funny but it’s true. 
Without hating on IG or any other platform and their governing algorithms, I’m afraid that it’s easy to lose sight of why you share in the first place. If your goal is to buy into it and up your followers, then by all means…. nail that algorithm. But, mine isn’t… I don’t find it fun to post with that being the goal AT ALL. It just ends up being laborious. 
I think this largely contributes to my love/hate relationship with social media. I’d have a good week and 2 quiet ones where I prioritize something of greater importance. At this point, you’d understand the negative impact that can have on your page. 
Do you have the algorithm in mind at all when using social media or do you just wing it?
Thanks for reading.