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I had felt for some time that my photography needed to go to a different level. Quite accidentally, I found myself writing for the “local” newspaper, the lifestyle magazine insert called Vamanos, and for no money, which is a whole other story. I had always enjoyed writing, but until now, was never very committed to it and other things seemed to always take precedence.

The longer I did this newspaper stint, to more I found my photography evolving as I grew into a writer and interviewer. I found that I really enjoyed finding a story and then coming up with a photo shoot to match or support the story. The Vamanos editor, Lucina, always allowed me creative license, was supportive and always made sure that my photos were well-placed with appropriate attribution, which should be important to any writer, artist or photographer. Bright and creative, she had turned a crappy newspaper insert into a work of art, which is not easy when you have to work around advertisements.

Five weeks ago, the “powers that be” at this newspaper which is owned by a corporation and no longer really “local”, decided to amend Lucina’s “contract” to which they had previously agreed and made it impossible for her to function let alone do her job. She walked out because to not do so, would have cost her integrity, health and sanity. There’s a reason that working for a newspaper is the worst job in the world . . . and that’s according to a national survey/poll. I knew her “supervisors” and the lack of quality in their work as well as their lack of respect for somebody else’s intellectual property, so there was no way I wanted to submit anything to them.

Dang, I thought. I was having so much fun. And like a dear friend said to me once, the most dangerous words in the English language are, “Watch me.”

I already had the story and photos for that week’s feature –had just done a photo shoot of the woman who was supposed to be on the cover –and there’s an interesting offshoot to this that I’ll save for later. I had enough online skills, had five website/blogs going and between twitter, facebook, and google+, a following of 9500 and rising. Why not. The biggest cost is printing. So if we kept it strictly online with a print-on-demand option via pdf download, we at least wouldn’t go bankrupt. I could see nothing but benefits. For me, my photography would have more purpose and meaning, for Lucina, it would keep her in a craft that she loves and prevent her from dwelling on the badgering she had just gone through from the corporate honchos , for her and her husband’s graphic design business, it would be a way to get more contacts, and for the community, it would be a way to learn about new people and ideas, because it certainly wasn’t coming from the newspaper.

The first person I talked to about this was our very own Caroline Photo Guy, Pete. Most of you may have figured out that we’re pretty good and close friends. He and I joined Nikonites about one minute apart and he was the first who welcomed me. He has been and continues to be a source of comfort, common sense and inspiration. Pete always has great stories when we talk, and ALWAYS says it the way he sees it. He asked me once, if I knew the definition of a good friend . . . it’s not the one who bails you out of jail . . . it’s the one sitting next to you in jail and saying, “that was a helluva party.” That’s Pete. He didn’t even flinch when I asked him to write a column after I told him my plans, and he’s never missed a deadline – as a matter of fact, he’s a week ahead, and he’s developed quite a syle and flow in his writing. Here’s a link to his column on the website . . . his is the only one whose column is posted in full: Pete’s Perspective

So, to make a long story short, in four days, I learned how to build a magazine with InDesign, built another website to direct traffic to the magazine, set up a facebook page, etc. etc, out of sheer determination, and launched the first issue, which can be found here: Vivacini Premier. We’re talking about 3 nights of 4 hours or less sleep. It was important for me to show the newspaper that we weren’t going to miss a beat. And we didn’t.

So that’s where I’ve been and why I haven’t been here at Nikonites . . . just ran out of time and steam.
We’re now getting a little more ahead with the columns so that we’re not so pressed for time on Thursdays. We have a solid readership of 500 that is growing daily. We no longer lose subscriptions, and 3-4 are opting-in per day. Unique visitors to the website is now at 3000 –not too bad for a 5th issue. By most standards, the growth may be slow, but it’s solid and steady. And our content is excellent and gets more varied with each issue.

And that’s the rest of the story, my friends. You can find all the features and info about the magazine on this website, . You can subscribe to the list or to the blog or both. If you follow this link, you can see all five issues on one “shelf”: Vivacini It’s a nice way to see the progress. I feature a photo of the week on the back page for photographers who need or would like a “plug”, and I invite any of you to submit a photo.

So, with this blog post, I officially return to Nikonites. I have missed you all and I thank everybody who messaged me and asked about me. It’s a nice feeling to know that if you fall off the face of the earth, somebody will miss you. I value the friends I’ve found here and you make me feel very cared about.

So here’s to friends who sit beside you through misadventures and wacko ideas, and let themselves be talked into things because they love you! Life is not much if it isn’t an adventure, and adventures are always more fun when shared.
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  1. Carolina Photo Guy's Avatar
    Damn Girl! You sure do write purdy!

    I am very proud to be a part of what you are building.

    I hope that everyone here will visit, read and comment honestly on everything in the e-zine.

    If you like it, tell EVERYONE! If you don't like it, tell me. I'll tell everyone else.
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    Thanks/Like jcottone45 Thanks/liked this post
  2. Rick M's Avatar
    Welcome Back Helene!
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  3. SamSpade1941's Avatar
    Welcome back and nice to meet you!! I loved your blog post.
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  4. jdeg's Avatar
    Thanks for the update Helene! The site looks great, and I'll be reading more of it as soon as I finish unpacking and reading my e-mail
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  5. jcottone45's Avatar
    I read Pete's article, loved it I agree 100% I can't wait to read the other articles & get back to you.
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