Thursday, June 28, 2012

Finding Your Niche

As artists, we are always trying to find something that will make us different from the rest. Once we claim that Jesus is our God, His Blood makes us holy and clean again. Holy means to be set apart; which means we are already different from the rest. All we really need to do is follow the passion God has already placed in us and we will create that niche. 

In the meantime, below are a few ideas to get the creative juice flowing. When I plan on painting, making a collage, creating a monoprint or preparing for a photo shoot, I do the following:
  1.  I pray and ask God to guide me, guide my hands and my eyes. I want to see what He sees.
  2.  I study other people’s work for the technical side of it. Why does this piece appeal to me? What is     different about it compared to the others? If I don’t know, I ask God to help me understand.
  3. I visit sites like Pinterest, ShutterStock, istockphoto to see what people like and what is considered good.  There are a lot out there; you just need to see which site suits your style best.
  4. On days I don’t have a photo shoot scheduled; I take my camera with me and force myself to stick with a theme. The theme can be anything: taking photos of walls, doors or windows.  I love shadows, so I had a day where I only took photos of shadows.  I shoot what I love; it is more fun and less stressful that way. And I don’t worry about messing up; it’s part of the learning process.
  5.        I shoot with my heart, eyes and ears open to/for anything.
      Written to bless you by Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ways of a Secure Woman

With this new business, I got a little insecure and worried that people won’t like my work. So, I got a book by Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity”. 

 Below is what I learned. I hope this blesses you.

The Grace of God forms us completely so there shouldn’t be any insecurity in us. God won’t force security on us. It’s up to us and God to be set free of insecurity. Insecurity does not improve or help us with anything. Insecurity is unbelief. We don’t believe God is who He says He is and that we are not who He says we are. In Ephesians 4:1, Paul urges us to live a life worthy of all calling. We have a calling on our lives! We are supposed to be set aside from the others. We are meant to be free and secured. Grace is to form us completely new.

Victory or Defeat resides in the mind. (Isaiah 43:18-19) We need to memorize scriptures so we can be free. (Ephesians 4:22)

There are five statements that describe a secure woman. To be secure:
  1. We are saved from ourselves. Insecurity is narcissistic. The word insecurity itself means = A human being curved in upon self. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, It’ll go up and out instead of curving back to ourselves. Insecurity is a form of pride. And God hates a prideful person. We are loved and valued by god. Security will make us think less often of ourselves and more about how we can reach out and help others.
  2. We get to know Truth and walk out Truth. Truth is Jesus. The more we live withdrawn from God, our hearts become darker and we come addicted to things (i.e. alcohol, gambling, bad relationships) many try to manage strong hold instead of just being free. We desire bad things because we believe in the lie (If I can have this, be this, obtain this, then I will be… ) This is a lie. The truth is that when we are in Christ, we are set free of all this. We are able to walk knowing that we are already valued. Jesus values us with a value we can’t even fathom. The One who thinks we are valuable is not only the most powerful, but is also the most generous in the Universe. With God, nothing is impossible. We have nothing to fear, and we should not be insecure.
  3. We are clothed with intention. Proverbs 31:25, clothed with dignity and strength. Every day of our lives, we are baptized in the Holy Spirit. We are made new every day. We have to be intentional that we will walk as a new person in Christ every morning. When we are filled with God’s Presence, insecurity has no room to stay. Once we have a strong focused mind, we will be dangerous for God. Christ is the greatest adventure of life. Once we give our life completely to God, we will have the greatest outcome. We will have a security we can’t even imagine. There is no high like the Most High.
  4. We are rebound by Love (Ephesians 4:32 - Eph. 5:2). Living a life of love as the dear beloved child of God. We need to be imitators of God, then we will be able to love others even when they don’t love us back. Luke tells us to “love even our enemies”. Everything we do always come back to love.
  5. We are exceptional in life because we are created by God. We matter and we are significant, because we belong to God. As His daughters, when the secular world looks at us, they need to say, “Wow! No one can handle that, except you, [put your name here] ! Every woman is threaten by others, except you, [put your name here]. No woman was nice to me, except you, [put your name here] . No woman handle aging well, expect you, [put your name here].” Now that’s what it means to be exceptional!
Go memorize Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Every time I feel insecure about my work, I read the 5 statements above, then I pray for God to fill me up and use me as His vessel. We do our best work when we are free to be us and to show the love and truth that God has given us.

Written to bless you by Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

The Last Time I Saw Your Face

I believe I have always been spiritual. Most Asians are. Spirits and superstitions were engrained in my DNA since the day I was born.

On the morning I arrived to earth, my grandmother spat in my face, “Pah, a girl. She is so ugly! Look at that pale skin, not even a mother could love that. Who will want to take her off our hands?” Grandmother asked the servants in the room with a fa├žade of disbelief.

“A girl; is it worth sending words to my husband? Should we call him from the war so he can come look at her? It’s not a boy. I don’t want to waste his time.” My mother said in her weak nineteen-year-old voice.

My father, a soldier on the American side, was fighting his own people for freedom in Vietnam. 

Four days after my birth, my father snuck back from the shooting and blown bodies to hold a new life in his arms. Through the night, he held me as he stared at my face until it was twilight. To increase his chance of survival, he left when the sky was pitch black, when it was hard to see the silhouette of a person walking into the jungle. 

That was the last time he held me, the last time he saw my face, the last time he called my name.

Written by Linh Dang

Thursday, June 21, 2012

FREE Organizing Template for the Business Woman

I created an organizing template for women who have a job, but also want to start their own business.  If you want the pdf version, please write to and I will send it to you.

I hope this blesses you.

Created by Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Passion is Beauty

'The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy’ by Yves Saint Laurent.  I couldn’t agree more. Jesus wants us to be passionate for life and for the things we do. Either be hot or cold, but don’t be lukewarm. When you come up with an idea, make that decision to give it your all.

Besides, loving Jesus, part of my passion is photography.  I give my photography business a good chunk of my time. It is still at the beginning stage, but I need to make it a success and the only way to do that, I have to be passionate about what I do. Part of that means taking workshop from the photographers I admire. 

Recently, I took a workshop on producing magazine quality photos with striking poses and Photoshop. Then, I took another workshop on special effects to make the photos look extremely interesting.

Yesterday, I met with one of the models and she told me a modeling agency likes my work. They want to print the photos I took of her and asked if I would consider working with their models. I am really excited! 

Today, I want to share what not to wear in a photo shoot:

  • Busy patterns. It can make you look like you weigh more and it’s distracting to the eyes.
  • No pure white: This causes glare and can make you look washed out.
  • Avoid BIG logos, shirts with wordings, BIG numbers: These are all distracting. Modeling agencies want to notice you, so you shouldn’t compete with your shirt for their attention.
  • In group photos, make sure everyone color coordinates, so the focus is on the family instead of the one person who has the odd color out of the whole group.
  • Bring props, your favorite hat, jewelry, shoes, umbrella, etc.  It makes the photo interesting and fun.

Okay, leave a comment if you have anything to add or if you just wanted to say hi!

Written by Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Big WHY

Most business students know what I am about to share already, but since I was an art student, I did not know.  When you design your business, you want to keep the end result in mind. You want to know what you want from the business before you start anything. Your business needs to give you freedom to have more time and more money.  

As children of God, He wants us to use our brain and talents to be a blessing to others.  Part of that is creating a business that will do the following:

  •         You need a business that needs less of your involvement, not more. You need a business that can run on its own, so you can have more time to do ministry, spend it with friends/family, preach the gospel.

  •           You need a business that will benefit everyone who comes into contact with your business, so people would want you to be a success. Say you own a coffee shop; when your business is in high demand, you will need to buy more coffee, use more electricity, etc. This will help the economy growing. If you provide other people business, they will continue to cheer you on. Simple as that.
How do you do that?

You need to be completely clear on why you got into the business in the first place. Who is going to benefit from you having this business? If you are the only person benefiting from it, then I wouldn’t recommend you start it.

God wants us to be a blessing and having a business will help bless others by creating more jobs or help the economy to keep flowing. Maybe you have a great passion for coffee and this is your way of helping others express their passion as well. Whatever the reason, make sure that your number one reason isn’t to make money. If that is your only reason, forget it. You are setting yourself up to fail. Your motivation has to have a better purpose than that in order for others to want to support you and for you to want to continue during those days that seem to never end.

Okay, so your homework is to figure out your “why”. Why do you want to start that business? 

The “why” for my photography is because I want to help capture the true beauty in you, the beauty that Jesus sees.

Written to bless you by Linh Dang  {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Monday, June 11, 2012

More Fun with Less Money

This last weekend, I felt I spent a lot more than I should have on entertainment. I have learned that the more you make, the more you spend.  As a Christian, we need to be good steward of our money. But on the other hand, God doesn’t want a boring person. He doesn’t want us to live a life of all work and no play. In order for me to spend less and still be able to enjoy life, and be able to keep extra cash for the more important things, like ministry or blessing a family in need. Here are a few things I have learned.

1.  Start now. Start today. Go into your phone calendar and have it remind you every morning to: “Cut Costs, Earn More, Optimize Spending.” I got this from Ramit Sethi, this 20 something genius who wrote “I Will Teach You How to Be Rich”.
2.  Direct Deposit. With every paycheck, I have automatic deposits for the following accounts:       
      a)  God gets the first chuck out of the paycheck, 10% = Tithes
b)  My 401K gets 10% (Since my company gives me 9%, my total is 19%). I would give more, but at this time, I don’t trust the Stock Market, nor do I trust our government.
c)  For Life, such as rent, food, gas, car payment = 60%.
d)  Most people don’t do this, but if you want to advance in your business, you need to keep your education up, so 5% for Education
e)  You deserve to Reward Yourself for the hard work you do, 5-10% for vacation, clothes, whatever.
f)   The rest, you should use it on Others; either you give it to someone in need, or take someone out for coffee to build a relationship/network.  God is all about relationships – why else do you think He didn’t wipe us all out even though He knew were would sin. Even though we hurt Him, He loves us so much that He would rather experience the hurt and have us around than be without us and have just Him and His Angels in 3rd Heaven.
 3.  Don’t pay full price when you don’t have to. I love coupons. Some people are embarrassed to use them, but why should you pay more than the next person? Subscribe to online discount companies like: Groupon, Google Deals, Living Social, Coupon Cabin, Coupon Sherpa and and/or RetailMeNot. There are so many of them out there. There is Zozi if you want to learn something at half the price.

I love to share what I have learned, so stay tune for more life lessons! Be blessed and prosperous!

Written by Linh Dang   {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Friday, June 8, 2012

Focus, Focus, Focus

Today, I am writing about how to stay focused on your goals. When you come up with a great idea, the excitement is there and you want to get everything done in an instant. Life does not work that way, and time does not fall from the sky. If you are anything like me, I lose momentum and get discourage when I do not see progress as fast as I expected. Then my habitual resolute surrender; it is so much easier to sit back and watch a mindless movie or TV show. Not anymore! Besides God's love for you, His greatest gift is the time you have on earth. Take your passion, your idea and do something with it.

I have found 5 steps to stay focused:

1.     Schedule work time in your calendar  – my phone pings me when it’s time to create.
2.     Keep your thoughts positive. Every time negativity creeps up, switch that script to something good and productive. For example, if your subconscious tells you that you are uncreative, switch that script to “I am very creative and talented.”
3.     Make a list of topics to write. This way, you won’t have to waste time and energy later.
4.     Remember when Paul wrote, "Pray without ceasing"? Well, write without ceasing. Never edit as you write, this causes you to slow down, get sidetracked and lose the creativity. Edit at the end.
5.     Be the faucet and let God be the Water. In other words, show up and allow yourself to be used by God so the ideas can flow through.

Discipline yourself, follow the steps and make it happen. 

28 Days makes a habit. Try the steps and let me know how it goes.

Written by Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
Founder of FreedomCollage

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Say it, Show it, Do it

I recently moved back to Menlo Park and the rent here seemed ridiculously expensive compared to San Jose. In order to make ends meet, I decided on a side job for the extra cash. As I was trying to figure out what I should do and the kind of things people would pay to receive, I came up with photography, art, writing and creating collages for inner healing.

Now, in order to keep the momentum going, I am sharing what I have learned to help you get motivated and help your ideas come into fruition. 

For those who know me, you understand my relationship with my mother. Under her orders and control, I was the daughter who matters not, was used well and spat on.  Growing up, I had little self-esteem and was constantly striving to win her affection by showing her I was more capable than she thought.

Today, I am still trying to prove myself to her. My mother only sees value when there is a dollar sign in front of it.  I will not be of value to her until she sees me with lots of money. Until that happens, I will focus on my own passion and make money doing the things I enjoy in life. My number one passion is God, and all things beautiful are from God. Your creativity is from God and the desire to produce is from God.

This month, I am focusing on photography and getting my children stories published. (I have a few other top secret projects, but will announce those later.)  

The only way to make people take you seriously is by taking yourself seriously. Success has its own rules, you just do it. 

I have learned that there are three steps in making your dreams visible:
  1. Say it: Every time you meet someone new, introduce yourself as the person you want to be. For example, “I am a photographer, I am a writer, I am an artist.” Don’t say, “Well, I want to be a photographer and I work at Safeway while I try to build a name for myself.”  
  2. Show it: Put your tag in your emails, business cards.  I currently have my tag at the end of every email as: Linh Dang {Photographer, Artist, Writer}
  3.  Do it: Schedule the time in your calendar every day like it’s a date with a friend. If you want to be a writer, make the time to write, join a group of writers or start your own writing group. If it’s not in your calendar, then it’s not real. Get your business cards made and go network. Tell people about your business and who you are. You can get quality business cards for less than two cups of coffee. I use - 250 cards for $10.
Try this for one month. I can guarantee that you will walk, talk and think like the dream person you want to be.

"Hi, my name is Linh Dang. I am a photographer and soon to be a published author."  ::wink::

Written by Linh Dang
Photographer, Artist, Writer
Founder of FreedomCollage