Creative Process with Bethany

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📷: @b.ethanygrace 

We are always blown away by Bethany's flat lay images, and because of that, we wanted to get as many details about her creative process as possible. We were able to chat with her about life in Canada and the story behind her iconic letter board images. 


Followers of our IG are no stranger to your photos. But tell us a little bit about you!

A little about me?? Weeeell, I am a 27-year-old dreamer from just outside Edmonton, AB, Canada, and currently make a living doing photography and calligraphy. I used to be a grade 1 teacher, but left the profession last year to pursue my creative endeavours, as I believe life is too short not to at least TRY! Though completely and utterly exciting, the transition was scary and unknown, and thus I am so thankful for my big family (8 kids) and wonderful community of friends who have supported me throughout the whole thing.

Speaking of friends and family, Jesse and I love spending time with just each other, but we are social butterflies! Our friends and family are extremely important to us and we spend a lot of time with them. And who is Jesse? He is my amazing boyfriend of over 7 years now (can you imagine the letter board I make to announce THAT engagement?!), and we love to do everything from hiking and camping in the mountains in our campervan, Bertha, to binge watching dat sweet, sweet Netflix on our ritual Pizza Sundays with our adorable cat, Douglas Fur. Overall, I like to believe in the goodness of people and leading a life fuelled by love and kindness, while knowing that having perspective, a grateful heart, and my beautiful mom, are all reasons as to why I am able to have the outlook on life that I do.

What’s the process behind taking your colorful, creative letter board photos?
Hmm, I think my process starts from the quotes I use. If it's funny, I can go more full of a picture, with all of me in it. Where as if it's something that's more heartfelt and purposeful, beautiful comes to mind. Then from there, I will look at my feed and see if I need more of a certain colour, heading to look for flowers/objects/items in that colour, but that match the subject of the quote, too, taking inspiration and ideas from what I see. For instance, I knew I wanted something to do with Valentine's for my Valentine's letter board photo I took, but I didn't specifically know what until I went to the grocery store and saw those white-chocolate-covered pretzel hearts, which were PERFECT to play around with, and I just love how it turned out. On the other hand, though, sometimes inspiration comes from objects -- donuts, leaves, holiday decor -- at which point I use the same process, but backward, having the items first and choosing a quote that matches or speaks to me.
With all the props you use, how long does a typical photo take to set up and what’s your process?
Length of time depends on what I'm decorating with! Oftentimes, the placement of the words on the board takes me just as long, IF NOT LONGER, than putting the props down does, haha. I love when the spacing and symmetry of the quotes is bang on! That being said, the props can take a while. Generally, the bigger the props, the less time it takes. The smaller, the more finicky and picky I become in how they fill they space of the picture. For instance, donuts and peonies and Christmas bulbs are pretty large objects, so those ones might take me anywhere from 5-15 minutes to get those ones laid out, taken and edited. But the ones with smaller details, like the candy-covered board, or any colour gradient of flowers, can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour; and it can take that long because of how choosy I am! I lay them out, take a picture, study it, move things, take another, and over and over until my heart SINGS with the creation of something that was born in my mind, now laying in front of me in real life. I love every second of the process. It's incredibly meditative and fun for me.
Which photo are you most proud of? (Humble brags are allowed here.)
I am probably the most proud of my leaf gradient photo and my Irish blessing photo, simply because to date, they are the ones that have taken me the longest to make, and I am just beyond in love with how they turned out. 
It looks like you’re always on an adventure! What’s your favorite place you’ve been to recently?
Oh wow! Yes! I love, love, LOVE travelling and being outside, seeing new places and trying new things! Most recently, I found myself back in the mountains of Jasper (I live 3 hours from there, and 4 from Banff) and was taken to a place I thought I knew (Old Fort Point Lookout), only to discover back trails and views that completely took my breath away. I love travelling outside of Canada -- it's a big world to explore -- but I am also a huge believer in exploring the goodness that your own country has to offer! 
If you had one tip for an aspiring flat-lay artist, what would it be?
Editing. I think that it's easy enough to look at the literal millions of flat lay photos on instagram and learn how to do them by mimicking another picture's look and placement of props, hopefully eventually finding your own style, BUT...good light and a well-cropped photo, topped with a filter that flatters the photo and makes it crisp or moody, is what takes it from average to excellent, in my opinion. Aaaand also (I'm cheating, you said one, but I want to give two.) spacing/placement of your letters and objects. Having it look symmetrical or at least moving things around until it looks "right" (not necessarily equal, but balanced) is what I think makes a photo nice to look at and super important to me when it comes to creating them. 
And finally, what’s currently on your letter board?

I currently have 3 quotes on 3 of my boards: on my white one is the last one that I took a picture of: "Comparison is the Thief of All Joy." 

If you or someone you know have a story you would like to be featured, send us an email at hey@letterfolk.com. 

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