Video Blogging

Here’s a little known fact about me: I like talking.

I’d like to think that what I say is of substance, but that’s for you to decide. That being said, I have officially decided to start a YouTube vlog of conversations with friends, family, and classmates.

My introductory video is one with my friend Amy Lakin who has her own channel that you can subscribe to.

I’d really like to get some feedback and hear a few suggestions as to what you’d like me to vlog about!

In case you want to preemptively subscribe to our channels here are the links:

It’s Amy Lakin:

Stephanie Lifshutz:

Hope you enjoy!

Gourmet Popcorn in Madison, WI

I have previously mentioned a few things I find strange about living in Wisconsin (see “Living in Wisconsin” post) but the only think I actually enjoy participating in (no matter how strange it may seem) is the gourmet popcorn craze.  I have only lived here a few months, so it’s hard for me to say whether this is a new fad in Wisconsin, but based on the number of established gourmet popcorn shops I feel confident in believing otherwise.

A friend from college recently visited and I mentioned the Madison popcorn love; she couldn’t wait to her hands on some popped goodness.  We went into Clary’s Gourmet Popcorn and they did not disappoint.  My friend got Caramel Cheese and I got a standard Caramel Trail Mix and both were outstanding.  The Caramel Cheese is actually just cheddar popcorn with caramel on top, a surprisingly delicious twist on some classics.  

The shop offers a nice variety of popcorn flavors, including lightly salted and “healthy” and the staff is knowledgable and very friendly-I definitely recommend checking it out.

Pop Culture and Social Media

I used “Thanksgivukkah” quite a bit this year and “binge-watched” all of House of Cards because it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Check out this cool article about new words from 2013:

I used “Thanksgivukkah” quite a bit this year and “binge-watched” all of House of Cards because it’s one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Check out this cool article about new words from 2013:

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Intro to Graduate Studies

This post is to mark the official end of my first semester of graduate school.  During the first meeting of the Intro to Graduate Studies seminar we were told to create a wordpress blog to answer prompts from our professor and to write anything we want.  I think what confused me the most was the part about free writing.  Why should we do it?  Why would the professor care if we weren’t getting graded on what we were writing?  Although it seemed fairly pointless, I’m happy to report that I’ve actually enjoyed having a blog and reading my classmates’ posts (to prove this, I have only responded to one prompt all semester).

It seems like our professor didn’t seem to care all that much because I surprisingly still got an A, but this potentially tedious assignment (hence the title, “On Assignment”) made me appreciate everything writing can lead to.  It’s a good way to vent frustrations without taking it out on those you love by forcing them to listen to every complaint you can think of.  It’s a good way to get your work out there by reaching people you may not normally connect with.

We were also required to create an Instagram account.  This is something I vehemently opposed as a photographer who actually uses the cameras and developing processes that the Instagram filters are made of.  I promised myself that I would not use filters on any of my photos and went ahead with the account and posts.  It was another way to connect on a personal and professional level with classmates, friends, and strangers.  You can follow my semester long journey at

Thanks for reading, hope to see you back soon!

Living in Wisconsin

I’ve been living in Wisconsin for a few months now, and I have to say, this is one of the strangest moves of my life (and I’ve lived in the Middle East for 7 months).

A few questions:

What’s the deal with gourmet popcorn? Multiple stores on State St. and every oasis on the highway?

Oasis? I guess that actually makes sense, but why?

Football. Football. Drunken football. Grown adults showing that it’s acceptable to become irresponsible drunken assholes in honor of a game. Shame on you (a long post on this subject is sure to follow).

Bad drivers (especially game day drivers). Using a blinker-otherwise known as a turn signal-is not meant to be an optional afterthought. You are not doing the world a favor by following the law and ensuring drivers’ safety. A full post on WI drivers is sure to follow.

These are just a few thoughts for now.

The Gym Scare

I do not like going to the gym.

I don’t mind exercise, I have a great jumprope and enjoy jumping jacks that can be done on the sidewalk with no gym required.  But occasionally, especially in this Wisconsin cold, exercising indoors is a pleasant luxury.

So yesterday I took my jumprope to the gym in my apartment complex and hoped to get some exercise done, but I couldn’t.  Not because the gym was crowded – just the opposite – only one other man was there.  It was because only one other man was there.  A young man, who was already soaked in sweat and limping around the place, drinking water – appearing to have just completed a workout – and uncomfortably sneaking looks at me as I put my things in a locker.

I am not one of those people who claim every guy who hits on you is a creep or any other generalization like that.  I do, however, believe that it is still rude to blatantly stare at someone like a piece of meat, especially in the gym setting.  I’m not a skinny girl, but not overly fat either.  Leggings and a basic t-shirt are considered appropriate gym wear and they clearly outline my chubby legs, but I don’t consider that an invitation to stare, nor do I have to make excuses for my clothes.

I wasn’t about to start jumping rope and offer another reason to stare.  Even with my very good sports bra under my t-shirt, chest bounce is unavoidable, so instead I started speed-walking on one of the treadmills on the opposite side of the room as the young man.  Now here’s some advice to anyone who wants to make someone really uncomfortable in a public place: don’t do it in a room with a full wall mirror.  Other people can see you and you’ve lost your subtlety.  And if you are going to continually stare, take some initiative and talk to the girl or smile or interact in some other way so it isn’t a one-sided staring contest.

The young man proceeded to sit on some workout equipment directly behind me…not use it, just sit and stare (I know because of the  entire wall of mirrors). It made me so uncomfortable I only did one lap on the treadmill, grabbed my stuff and finished (or properly started) my workout on the tennis court outside.  Outside in the freezing cold.  Just because of some guy not even actively bothering me. 

Why do I have to feel like this?  Why couldn’t I tell the guy to stop staring? Why did I have to be the one to leave and exercise in the cold? I’m paying to use the gym just as much as he is.

This isn’t a feminist rant.  This isn’t a sexist rant.  Anyone can be made uncomfortable in the gym, it’s already an awkward experience for most people who aren’t perfectly buff fitness models. Can’t we respect how uncomfortable everyone is and make it a better experience for everyone?

Film Photography

Working at The Camera Company ( in downtown Madison, I have had the opportunity to discuss cameras and photography more than I ever thought possible, and it has all led me to one conclusion: I don’t like digital cameras.

Allow me to explain, I love cameras and I love photography.  I have sat at the camera store playing with every digital camera the company stocks, getting to know each one inside and out and deciding what kind of customer would benefit most from it.  I have experimented with all the lenses we offer (my favorite being Tamron for the exceptional quality at an affordable price) and have wondered at the many advances in technology.  It seems as though every week the store brings in a new compact camera that allows for manual controls, DSLR quality, and also shoots in RAW!  But there is one thing that always stays in the back of my mind, repeating constantly – that the perfection the digital camera strives to achieve is the quality of film photography, something we’d like to leave in the past, or at least only associate with the past.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and this morning happened to read an article in line with my thoughts.  The piece, “Gorgeous Nude Portrait Project Aims To Resurrect Rare Polaroid Film” posted on November 1, 2013 to HuffPost Arts & Culture is a short article about the photographer, Jeff Enlow, who is raising money to photograph multiple exposures of nudes onto 20 x 24 Polaroid film, a type of film I dream of using one day.  The article states, “It might seem like eons ago, but there was a time when instant film reigned supreme in the world of photography, bringing a sense of physical and unpredictable wonder to image creation. Enlow has reason to wax nostalgic about the days of yore, particularly when the medium of one-of-a-kind imagery is so crucial to his work.” 

The point of using Polaroid film, or any film, is not completely tied to the aesthetic of the final image, though that is always a factor.  It is also about creating an image for the sake of the image – not to immediately have it multiplied and copied and easily accessible.  True, I can – and will – copy and paste a few of the digital files of his prints onto my blog, but those will only ever be representations of the real pieces.

The article has received many critical comments on the Huffington Post website, but I don’t know if they deserve to be acknowledged or just dismissed.  Because I have such mixed feelings at this time, I will acknowledge the comments in bulk but you may read them freely.  I don’t think it’s fair to photographers to have to justify their use of film when it is a superior method of capturing an image, offering an incredible variety of aesthetic choices when used with a specific camera, instead of (yes!) cheating by taking a digital image and layering on filters to achieve the same look.  I am clearly not attacking digital art, only those attempting to recreate the effect of film photography and passing it off as a photo shot “as is.”  For that reason alone I refuse to apply an digital filters to my Instagram photos required for this class.

Yes, film is expensive.  We have the digital industry to partially thank for that.  As an artist I do not appreciate reading about how this photographer uses more expensive materials just to make “artsy fartsy statements to get people to pay him money for mediocre product.”  While I admit that these images on their own don’t make me want to worship Jeff Enlow as “the next great photographer” and he should work on his composition before resorting to the most expensive film in existence, I appreciate the resurgence in the use of film and film cameras.

Watching the sales of rolls of film at the store grow makes me a little happier every day.  Maybe we will eventually reach a point where the quality of digital cameras reaches film, and the two could exist side by side.