Welcome to the Let’s be Inspired series, where we get to know our fellow bloggers on WordPress.com. Where we learning their blogging journey, book writing journey, their passion for photography, and more. The purpose is to be ‘inspired’ by their journey and learn from them. To be encouraged by their dedication, motivations, routines and how they make it happen. So that the fire within us to write, blog, or to take better photos etc., is ignited.
Today, we speak to Xenia Tran, the forth blogger, of this series. I hope you enjoy this two-part interview with Xenia.
Where does the inspiration to write come from? Featuring Xenia Tran – Part 1
Xenia and I started blogging at the same time – that is- March 2016. We have become friends over that time. What drew me to Xenia’s blog – Whippets Wisdom, was the photos of her Whippets and her poetry. I personally have no pets. However, the photos that Xenia takes of her two adopted whippets are stunning and heart-warming. You really see the personality of the whippets, who are called Eivor and Pearl. Xenia has since created a second blog called Tranature – quiet moments in nature, which I must admit I wasn’t aware of until I had we had this interview.
Xenia is an accomplished writer who specialises in Japanese poetry. I have to admit it is only recently that I understand the Haiku and Tanka poetry forms and what they are.
Xenia was featured in the World Haiku Series in September 2020 with ten haiku; these were kindly translated into Japanese by Mr Hidenori Hiruta of the Akita International Haiku Network.
Xenia has published two books of which a percentage of the profits go towards nominated charities.
Her first book, Sharing Our Horizon, was published in 2018 in aid of animal rehoming charities. The poems and photographs reflect the rhythm of the seasons and the fluctuations of the weather within those seasons.
Her second collection, Between Heather and Grass, was published in 2019 in aid of Children with Cancer UK and Dogs Trust.
She is currently working on my third collection of poems and photographs, the proceeds of which will be used to continue the support of charities close to my heart.
Xenia was born in The Netherlands and now lives in the Scottish Highlands with her husband and two adopted whippets. Which is another reason why her photos are stunning. The Highlands are so picturesque (though I have never been there personally, I get to see them through Xenia’s beautiful photographs). To read more about Xenia, visit her About page.
This will be a two-part series and will focus on her blogs, photography, poetry, and two books.
Today we are going to focus on Xenia’s blogging and photography journey. And I hope you will draw inspiration and motivation from this interview with Xenia. I hope you enjoy this two-part interview with Xenia.
How and when did you start blogging?
Hi Bella, thank you for inviting me here! My first blog, Whippet Wisdom, was born in March 2016. It was created as a home for my short stories and poems that were inspired by the animals we had adopted and my experience as a volunteer at a local animal rehoming shelter. The idea was to continue to help raise awareness and encourage more people to adopt.
It soon became so much more when I got to know some lovely fellow bloggers and started to take part in daily prompts and weekly photo challenges. Poetry had always been my first love and by engaging in some of the poetry prompts on offer, the emphasis gradually shifted back there.
My second blog, Tranature, was born two years later. It reflects my love of nature and wildlife, my macro-photography and a more personal focus in the poems. Through this blog I got to know some lovely nature photographers and a different set of poets.
Do you write and take photos every day?
Before the pandemic I would only take photographs a few times a month whenever we went on a long hike and alternate that with taking pictures on our local beaches. Since the lockdowns and travel restrictions came into force I photograph more often as I have more time to process and edit the images.
I write every day. The day consists of so many moments that are worth capturing and poems keep tapping me on the shoulder. Poems find me when I’m walking, meditating, peeling potatoes, gardening, listening to music or doing something else that I enjoy. The first draft is always spontaneous and after writing it down I leave the poem to settle for a while. When I revisit it a few hours or a day later I look more closely and see if it can be improved.
I’m eternally curious, just the way our whippets are, and they give me a lot of energy.
When did your love of photography start?
My grandparents had a photo shop and for the first five years of my life I lived in the flat above the shop with my parents, grandparents and uncles. I loved spending time downstairs looking at all the cameras, colourful cartons with film rolls and flash cubes. My grandfather’s studio was at the back of the shop with large silver umbrellas, all manner of spotlights and colourful rolls of backdrop paper suspended from the ceiling. He was a wedding photographer and would also do family portraits and individual portraits in the studio. I loved watching him at work and I when I saw the images appear on paper in the darkroom whilst he was developing them, I thought it was pure magic.
After completing his military service my father set up his own freelance studio for fashion and commercial photography. As a child I was sometimes asked to model children’s shoes or clothes for catalogues or adverts and again, I was interested to see how the pictures turned out. I learned a lot about composition and lighting just by observing and was thrilled when I got my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic, when I was about seven years old.
I took photographs of my family, friends, the ducks and swans in the canals, flowers, horses and scenery when we were out walking or on holiday. I took pictures of what caught my eye and some of these images I took as a child are still among my favourites.
Although I never had any formal training, I learned a lot from observing others, experimenting with aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings and by looking at a wide range of photographs taken by professional photographers. I follow several nature and wildlife photographers on social media and enjoy their videos too.
Do you have any advice for us on how to take better photographs.
Photography for me is very instinctive and personal and I’d encourage you to give yourself plenty of freedom to pursue it in a way that feels natural to you. If you’re the kind of photographer who needs structure and theory, by all means, pursue it. You can approach photography from many different angles and get amazing results. The key is to work in harmony with your personality and not to try and go against it.
How do you watermark your photos?
I use Adobe Lightroom for organising all my photographs, editing and watermarking and I use Adobe Photoshop to create haiga and taiga (haiku or tanka with an image) and designs for my Red Bubble store.
How much time do you spend writing your blog, books etc a day?
I dedicate two hours a day to writing and when I’m editing pieces for submissions or a book I will add an extra hour a day. Three hours a day is the maximum for me as I like to keep everything fresh.
I blog three times a week on Whippet Wisdom and twice a week on Tranature and have recently been commissioned to produce content for another site as well. I am most active with reading and commenting on other blogs on the days that I’m active on my own blogs and make time to visit fellow bloggers on the days that I am not. I have one day a week where I stay off-line all day if I can. This is my special day for meditation, reading, writing or going on a very long hike.
Any tips for budding photographer blogger/writers?
Write from the heart and photograph from the heart. Be patient. Allow a poem to settle and revisit it with fresh eyes to see if it can be improved.
Be patient and respectful when photographing birds and other wildlife. Sit or lie low in the grass and allow the birds to get used to your presence before you use your camera.
Creativity can flow naturally when we are open to receive and for me this works best when I’m relaxed and listening. Other people may work better with a set structure, so go out there and experiment and see what works best for you.
The Interview continues…
Are you inspired, motivated?
Do Come back for part two of Xenia’s interview. And do visit again to read the stories of other bloggers interviews I have lined up, and maybe more as 2021 progresses.
If you missed the first blogger Robbie Cheadle in the series you can read her interview here. Kamal Roohani was the second blogger interviewed – click here to read. And Ellen Hawley was the third blogger in the series, click here to read.
Images : Xenia kindly supplied me with three images used on this blog post. The feature graphic has been created by myself on http://www.canva.com
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