The Art of Improvement

As a new year begins, everyone seems to be seeking improvement. Better health, better finances, better organization, better.... everything! As one who accepts the beginning of each January as a blank slate, I am certainly guilty of jumping on this bandwagon.

With a few days of 2016 already behind us, let's talk about improving creatively. 

I'm finally shooting somewhat regularly after a dry spell and now I just feel like what I create doesn't always meet my expectations. I have wonderful mentors, an endless pool of inspiration, a college education and a bag full of almost all the gear I need. However, something is standing between me and my best. I'm not fishing for compliments or even meaning to express negativity; I'm simply attempting to produce work that I'm really, really proud of. Aren't we all?

With that, fellow creatives, what practical exercises help you improve? Whether its consistency, networking or upgraded gear, I'd love to hear what helps you push past mediocracy.

I look forward to learning from you,


Editorial Feature | Diablo Magazine

As a lover of coffee and local businesses, saying yes to this assignment was a no-brainer. 

I had the privilege of photographing drinks and drink-makers at Coffee Shop, a new (you guessed it!) coffee shop in Walnut Creek for the September issue of Diablo Magazine. In case it isn't already implied, yes... I did try their coffee and have been twice since the shoot. It's evident why Diablo decided to give them some well-deserved recognition. 

These were a few of my personal favorites...

Coffee Shop by Cali Godley

Process | What's in My Bag

Process is one of the things I find most interesting and motivating about creative work. 

Whether it's shooting, editing, designing... anything, it seems like every creative individual has a hundred different ways to do the same thing and a hundred different tools to achieve similar aesthetics. I can't tell you how many times I've adopted a new favorite keyboard-shortcut or lens option from observing a friend. 

This is why I invite you to peek over my shoulder for one of the most simple parts of my own process. What's in my bag.

Over the past six years of shooting professionally, I've acquired the equipment that works best for me (...that I can afford). I think it's important to gear-up based on what you shoot regularly, selecting cameras and lenses that work best for faces vs. spaces, studio vs. sunshine, etc.

My bag, a Speed Freak V20 by Think Tank, sits at my hip and is filled with the following:
• Canon 5D Mark II
I am so grateful that I invested in this body. The full-frame sensor has never let me down and pairs wonderfully with my lenses.
• Canon 50mm f 1.4
This was the first prime (fixed focus) lens I ever used and I've been sold ever since. This focal length in particular is great for portraits! 
• Canon 85mm f 1.8
LOVE LOVE LOVE this lens. So fast and so sharp. 
• Canon 17-40mm f 4
This one is fun for spaces. It's unlike anything else I own but great to have on hand when I need to mix things up or simply get the best shot in a tight corner.
• Canon Speedlite 430EX II
I prefer natural light when I'm shooting outside of the studio, but this is a fast, easy life-saver to have on hand when a location is just too dark.
• X- Rite Color Checker
Mixed light temperatures? Using that handy speedlite? Man, does this save some time doing color-correction later...
• ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (I love the names they have for their products!) 
This CF-card holder RULES. It's has more compartments than I have cards and offers protection from the elements.

These are what I have found to be my essentials, but that doesn't mean I'm not saving up for more...
I rent frequently and have my eyes on the treasure listed below:
• Canon 35mm f 1.4
I used this lens CONSTANTLY at my previous workplace... but sadly no longer have access to that gear closet. I like to think of it as the closest focal length to our own eyes. 
• A tilt-shift (any length will do!) 
As a photo-school grad, I'm a sucker for plumb architectural lines --  but also for breaking the rules with whacking one side completely out of focus. 
•  A comfortable substitute to a regular camera strap, something leather would be lovely! 

Thanks to Amber Wyatt for inspiring me to share this bit of behind-the-scenes. I loved reading about your "secret sauce." 

Questions? Suggestions for any other gear I should keep in mind? Please comment below!