Monday, 8 January 2018

WHY I BLOG

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After spending hours on yet another blog post that got lost in the abyss of the internet, I asked myself: why do I bother with blogging? My posts don't get many views, and since I stopped going on commenting sprees, I don't get any comments. If no one's reading, shouldn't I just shut up and log off? Well, as I'm sure you can guess since you're seeing this on said blog, I don't think ditching Technicolour Dreamer is the answer...

Today, I thought I'd share why I spend so much time sprucing up my own little corner of the internet. And if you're having blogging doubts, I hope this will reassure you to keep on keeping on!

Page Divider Claire Petersen outside a Brooklyn Townhouse

Photos by Kaye of Fordtography

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It's well known amongst the blogging community that running a blog is hard work, practically a second full-time job if you're on the daily blogging buzz. If you're bored of your blog design, there's no web department to turn to, you've got to figure out the HTML and CSS for yourself. And every small blogger knows the struggle of getting people to actually notice your blog - that's why it's essential to be social media savvy. You're your own PR person, graphic designer, marketer, not to mention the writer and photographer. Although it sounds like a struggle, in my experience this is the appeal of blogging.

The fact that my blog gives me a chance to try my hand at a bit of everything means I gain skills in writing content, photography, editing, web design, marketing, and PR. I've relied on these skills in past jobs, and I've no doubt that this experience will help me secure my next role. Plus, the fact that it's all online for the world to see, means that I can use it as a sort of portfolio. Whenever I apply for a job I am sure to mention this website, so prospective employers can see my skills being put to use.

Page Divider Mid shot of Claire PetersenClaire Petersen sitting outside a Brooklyn Townhouse

Top: River Island | Skirt: Topshop | Shoes: H&M

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That's why I don't fret if no one actually reads my blog, though I know there are a few followers out there! That's why I won't fret even if no one ever reads my blog again! Though, I do hope that's not the case! I will continue to promote my blog, and of course I hope it grows, but it's important for me to realise the real reason I put so much effort into this ridiculously time-consuming hobby. By sharing my life online, I'm learning so much.

If you're a small blogger, I'm sure you also have reasons that go beyond readership. Let me know what those reasons are in the comments. I'm carving more time out in my schedule to interact with other blogs, so I promise I'll return the favour!

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

HOW NEW YORK WILL CHANGE YOU

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You've changed is usually considered an insult, right? But let's be real, if the aim is to morph into our best self, change is essential. Living in New York for a year did change me. Here's how I'm different post-NYC, and how you could be to...

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Photos by Kaye of Fordtography

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1. You'll develop thicker skin

There's no way you can live in New York for more than a few months and not develop thicker skin. When the going gets tough there - and boy does it - every day becomes a test of your mental strength. That sounds extreme, but New York is an extreme kind of place.

Whenever someone asks me about life in New York, I always stress that there's good days and bad days. It sounds redundant, but hear me out. The good days are no short of f*cking fantastic. You're taking on the Capital of the World, and killing it. On the flipside, there's the bad days. Now you'll find that everything is a struggle and you miss home and you just want to stay in bed but you can't because you have to survive NYC which means hustling every day which means always being busy and and and... you get me.

It may be mostly concrete and buildings, but there are no shades of grey in this city: it's the best time of your life or the worst, it's black and white. As you survive the down days - the rejection, the ghosting, the days when you want to take a break but can't afford to - you'll naturally build thicker skin. Eventually, job rejections won't sting as much. In fact, you'll be grateful that they bothered to reply at all (more about NYC ghosting)! And even when external events do affect your mental state, you'll find that you've developed an ability to self-sooth. The city may wear you down, but it can't break you!

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Jumper: Topshop | Leggings: Primark/Penneys | Jacket: Vintage

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2. You'll become more cynical

This, along with all my points, is relative. I was not an overly cynical person before, and I don't think I am today. However, there's no doubt that I just... trust people a little less since New York. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of people I met in New York were friendly and supportive, especially my employers at Hebe Rose and Isabel Scharenberg Creative Management. But after being ghosted by so many, and after one particularly bad experience, it's probably sensible to be slightly more weary. I've heard enough New York horror stories to assure me that there are a lot of untrustworthy people at play, so live there long enough and you'll likely encounter a few.

There are a number of reasons why I've never shared my own story here before - even though I desperately wanted to mention said "employer" in this post. But now that I've moved home, I'm in a position to divulge some more information, so here we go. I worked for this person for over a month, in person for a couple of hours a week, and from home too. The entrepreneur seemed okay and the business seemed legitimate, so I wasn't really concerned about getting my paycheck at the end of it all, it seemed like a given. However, warning flags started flying when they constantly belittled the work I did, saying they couldn't use any of it. At one point they said they wouldn't pay me for what they couldn't use. Finally, it transpired that they had no plans to pay me at all.

It was the beginning of my time in New York, I was inexperienced at freelance life. I had not asked the entrepreneur to sign a contract, it didn't even occur to me that this was a done thing. Because there was no contract, because the person completely ghosted me, and because of other details that I won't get into, there wasn't much I could do to rectify the situation, and it was all my fault. I blindly trusted someone, but it's a mistake I'll never make again. So thank you New York, for that horrible experience. I've learnt from it.

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Image of Claire Petersen in DUMBO

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1. You'll become more ambitious

People from around the world come to New York to make it. Even if you're not sure what "making it" is to you, it's easy to picture this vague success in a buzzing city like New York. Entrepreneurs, creatives, executives... they all flock to the city because they're either already on top or have plans to get there. Why else would you decide to live in such an expensive and busy city?

I've always been somewhat ambitious, but spending my formative years in rural Ireland forces a cap on that ambition. Moving to New York blows that right off. People all around you are achieving their dreams here. Admittedly, there are plenty of people failing too, but they are so motivated and aiming so high that you know - or at least hope - they are going to bounce back.

Spend some time in New York, and you just may find yourself ditching your goal to open a coffee shop, and replacing it with an ambition to build the next Starbucks. Every thing's bigger in the Big Apple, and that includes your dreams.

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Claire Petersen in DUMBO, Brooklyn, New YorkClaire Petersen in DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York Page Divider

For better or for worse, New York changed me. If you've ever lived to New York I'd love to hear your thoughts! Or perhaps you're planning on moving there. Let me know and we can have a chat in the comments!

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Tuesday, 2 January 2018

HAPPY 2018, LET'S MAKE IT A GOOD ONE

I feel like I'm in the minority when I say that I enjoy New Year's Eve. For me, it's a time to celebrate successes of the year, and start the next one on a high. As long as you opt for a house party - ideally one with a couch to crash on - and avoid the city centre at all costs, you've the makings of a good night.

And so, with a party to attend, I got glammed up to ring in 2018. I opted for a crop top and a sheer orange shirt - a pretty decent charity shop find, it's a River Island Rihanna top! Pretty much all the buttons have fallen off, but that's okay I usually wear it open anyway, plus it only cost me a couple of euros to begin with, so I can't complain. And for the bottom-half I wore my white Topshop stripped. Oh, and old heels that I've owned for years. The cost-per-wear on those bad boys must be down to cents!



Crop top: Forever 21 | Shirt: River Island | Trousers: Topshop | Shoes: Primark/Penneys

So, that's all for now, just wanted to drop a quick little post to mark the start of a new year. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018, let's make it one to remember!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

WHO KNEW TEXAS WAS THIS COOL? EXPLORING DALLAS

If you saw my last blog post you know that I've moved home from New York. But how could I leave the US before doing a bit of exploring? Balitmore, Philedelphia and Miami were all to come, but not before a visit to the Deep South to meet my online friend, Nomi.

Nomi is a true creative, and we both love getting stuck into a project, so we decided to work on a video while we were together. And of course, I had to get some cool portrait shots as I explored this urban jungle. So everywhere we went, the camera came too. We're still working on the video, so until that drops in 2018 check out my portraiture.

Dallas surprised me. Nomi had mentioned that it was fairly young and creative, but I didn't realise just how artsy and goddamn cool it would be. Deep Ellum is where its creative side is on most on show. Art is found on every wall, and there are plenty of quirky bars and shops to keep you entertained. Though for Nomi and I, it was all about finding the most aesthetically pleasing walls to take portrait photos. Hey, that's just how we roll, even on a holiday.

It might not sound like it, but I did get do some touristy stuff! I'm saving all that up for another post, where I'll be sharing my recommendations for what to do with 24 hours in Dallas. For now, I hope you got a little taste of Dallas from these photos. Watch my vlog below to see what I got up to on the first two days of my stay.



Monday, 11 December 2017

WHAT TO DO WITH 1 DAY IN BOSTON

Determined to make the most of the East Coast when I was living in NYC, I set off for a 24-hour visit to Boston over the summer. I was there for just one day and night, but in that time I managed to see a lot of the city's highlights.

It all started with my trip to Acorn Street, where I shot with my friend @LouiseSweeney1, so check that out if you're a fan of pretty streets. Once you've snapped your photo on the most photographed street in North America, it's on to...

Pretend you're a student at Harvard

First up, Harvard. I knew that Louise lived by the iconic university but I didn't realise I'd be walking straight through it to get to hers. It was utterly surreal - and somewhat creepy - to wander through Harvard in the dead of night. Even in the low light, though, I could tell how beautiful it was, and by the time I'd arrived at Louise's I'd already decided I'd be back the next day for photos!

Of course, you'll have to visit the John Harvard statue and rub his left toe for luck. Then again, I've since found out that Harvard students actually pee on the foot for luck, so I'd come equip hand sanitiser!

Get a breath of fresh air at the Public Garden


If you're the type of person who simply likes to wander when visiting somewhere new, the Boston Public Gardens are the place for you. You can't help but stumble on little moments of wonder there. We saw a newly-wed couple getting their wedding pics, entertainers blowing up balloon animals, and buskers merrily strumming. A joyful place to explore, and a beautiful park by any city's standards.



Embrace your inner bookworm at the Public Library

I could have spent hours at this library, browsing the books and just enjoying the quiet. Be sure to check out the grand study room with the green lamps that only seem to exist in libraries - why is that?

Wasn't a fan of the overly dramatic security guard who hurried us out of the gorgeous courtyard. Apparently a wedding party was about to descend on the premise, and unfortunately we weren't dressed in our wedding-crashing attire.

Get your (vegan!) ice-cream fix


Around the corner of the Public Library is FoMu - a cute dessert spot specialising in ice-"cream" made from coconut milk. Vegan or not, you should try out these treats if only for their untraditional flavours. Sweet Lavender? It looks pretty and tastes pretty. Avocado? I couldn't claim to be a millennial if I refused!

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One day in Boston is time enough to get a feel for the city... But that said, I'd love to spend longer there! Hopefully next time! For more of my adventures, follow me on Instagram.

Monday, 4 December 2017

THE BIG MOVE HOME: WHY I LEFT NYC + WHAT'S NEXT

Well, well, well. After all that hustle and slog and slow progress in New York, I am back in Donegal, where I started. Why on earth did I leave and what the hell is next?

Photos by Kaye Fordtography

While I did move to NYC on a temporary working visa - the J1 Graduate Visa - I was open to the idea of staying if I found an employer to sponsor me. It wasn't my biggest priority, though, and ultimately I ended up working for the startup fashion company Hebe Rose, which did not have the resources to help me get a new visa.

No regrets! Working for Hebe Rose was fantastic: I believe in their vision, their products, and the co-founders. Ah, the incredible co-founders April and Barbara: they're going to make waves in ethical fashion and beyond. Who knows, maybe I'll be back working with them in the future!

With no means of securing a new visa, the sensible step was to come home. I wasn't about to overstay my welcome in the USA - I wouldn't want to ruin my chances of a return. But the sensible way isn't always easy, and I had mixed emotions in the weeks leading up to my departure. Over the last few weeks I tearily said my goodbyes and thank yous. By Thanksgiving, the day of my flight home, I was distraught. I couldn't stop blubbing on the bus to the airport. I wasn't even sure what I was sad about exactly... Endings I guess.

Back home at last, I took my usual spot on the couch and have settled back into family home life pretty easily. Each weekday I come into town with my Mum job hunt from a coffee shop - if I stay at home I end up sleeping in far too late. And what job am I hunting for exactly? Now that's the question.

It may make me sound wishy-washy, but there are a number of routes I can see myself going down. Of course, with my degree and experience in digital marketing, a job in social media is a no-brainer. But then again, there's my passion for photography, and I had the chance to work on some incredible photoshoots as a producer too, so I could look into working at photography studio.

Whichever path I take, I know that I'll be able to handle it. If there's one thing New York makes you it's resilient. If you're ever thinking of moving there, be it for a summer, a year, or more, I would recommend it. It's not just about the work experience, it's the life experience. You'll come out of it stronger than ever.

So what's next for me? Time will tell, but I'm confident that there's bigger and better things in store. After all, taking on New York is the first step to world domination!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

FAVOURITE WEEK + LOOK IN NYC SO FAR

I've slowly started to develop an obsession with patterned trousers. They're just so easy to make into a look. Simply add a simple t-shirt and jewellery voilà, you're put-together. That's how I usually wear these Urban Outfitters trousers... But on this occasion I went for something a little more daring: a mesh top and bra combo - in broad daylight - sacré bleu! It was New York Fashion Week though, so no one battered an eye. This was nothing compared to the true style icons strutting down Manhattan.

Top + trousers: Urban Outfitters | Bag: Hebe Rose New York

NYFW is old news at this stage, but I had to mention it since it turned out to be one of my favourite weeks in New York so far. I was busy shooting bloggers, running from one event to the next, and loving every second. All while wearing these stripy trousers to death - it's a good thing they're so comfy!

Photos by @shotbyjessica

Oh, and an insane thing happened that week! NASDAQ were asking people to tag photos from 29 Rooms - an interactive, pop-up art gallery - for a chance to be on the billboard. I snapped and tagged and boom! Next thing I know my friend Michelle is smiling away on the NASDAQ billboard in Times Square - in two photos that I took. That's one for the photographer's bucket list right there!

I can barely comprehend my NYFW. Glad I documented it on video because I don't think I'd believe it all happened... NYFW you were bizarre, busy, and just brilliant. Here's to many more!

Follow along with my NYC adventure over on Instagram.