The Refined Man

The Refined Man Is…Wild at Heart

11.09.14

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“Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” —George Eliot

Frederick Castleberry is a Refined Man.

He is an editorial photographer, designer, and curator of the acclaimed blog Unabashedly Prep.  His impeccable style and attention to detail in his work sets him apart from his cohorts.

Much to my surprise when I moved to Brooklyn we ended up being neighbors, and let me tell you one thing about this guy:  I have never seen him quite come alive the way he does when he is about to take a risk, an adventure, or journey into the unknown.

Fred has become a dear friend and mentor, and I am so excited to have him contribute to The Refined Man.

XO,

Kat

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Boys are wild.

Dangerous.

Free.

Dreamers.

Explorers.

Fighters.

More creature than child, boys are untamed.

Every man was once a boy. To carry this adventurous spirit into manhood is of utmost importance. Sadly, today, that insatiable longing to explore is largely but a relic of childhood for many men. The adventurer is the child who survived. He is unapologetically wild at heart. He seeks adventure. Takes risks. Embraces spontaneity. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge shrewdly notes, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

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How a man seeks his adventure is how he lives his purpose.

How he lives his purpose is how he pursues his woman

How he pursues his woman is how he loves his children.

How he loves his children is how he loves his neighbor.

How he loves his neighbor is how he loves his God.

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There are two types of men in this world: those who love what they do and those who don’t.  Those who have found something to fight for and those who haven’t. The former are men who go on to great achievements, lead extraordinary lives, and love deeply. They have explored the depths of their hearts, discovered their (present) purpose in this world, and pursue it with reckless abandon.

The latter are confused, timid, drifting aimlessly. They are lost boys—succumbing to a culture that would prefer we be docile, well behaved…good boys. How do we as men reconnect with that wildness? We must look within. What did you love to do as a child? What would you do right now even if you weren’t paid? What turns you on inside? Fight for that.

The refined man not only needs adventure, he seeks it. When was the last time you climbed a frozen waterfall? Slept under the stars? Or crossed an ocean? The passion for adventure is at the core of a man’s spirit. That feeling you get after watching Gladiator (probably my favorite movie of all time)—that’s your wild heart yearning for danger, risk, adventure. Get out there. There is no more dire place in our society today to parade this wild heart than in the pursuit of a woman. Women are designed to be pursued, wooed, to be caught up. No woman wakes up saying, “God, I hope I don’t get swept off my feet today!” They long to be swept up into an adventure. And you get one chance to make a first impression—and I’ve witnessed it squandered so often over a cup of coffee…or a drink.

Plan something outrageous and memorable, or fun, or active. Anything but a meeting that resembles a job interview. I like to know right out of the gate if I can laugh with a woman. Remember, if this girl is as amazing as you hope she is, she’s been on more first dates than Drew Barrymore—make this memorable for her (hint: women love surprises). Lead with a gripping opening to your story with her!

The refined woman creates the space for the wild at heart…spontaneity…and the unknown to invade. It is incredible what transpires within relationships when a man is given the freedom to be a man. To be unapologetically wild. What results is a beautiful encounter between the masculine and feminine.

Every man is an adventurer inside. But the choice to live one is his own.

Frederick Castleberry

Photos by me:  Kat Harris

Beauty Is ...

Beauty Is…Multidimensional

11.08.14

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“Hi, my name is Jenna and I am a fine art wedding photographer.”

Often times when meeting someone new, the first thing we ask them is “what they do.”  This conversation leads to work talk over life talk and they usually walk away only knowing one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes you, you. But I am here to proclaim that who we are is not what we do.

When I lead with that you only get to know that one tiny aspect of my life and the conversation is so focused on what we do that we never get to the part where we talk about who we are at the core of our being.

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Sure, I shoot photographs for a living but that doesn’t touch on the fact that I am a loving wife, a puppy mom, a Christ follower, a watercolor artist, a lover of sour gummy worms, and an advocate for yoga pants. I allow people to form their opinion of me based on what I do to make a living and in turn they fails to see the rest of the beauty in my life. I am truly convinced that beauty is multifaceted and cannot be defined by what we do but by who we are (on the inside and out.)

They say that time is money, but to me, time is life.

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What we spend our days doing are what we spend our life doing and I want to fill each day with as much beauty as I can possibly muster.

Beauty is multifaceted. What do I mean by this? I mean that we can’t define it with one word or characteristic. It exudes from within and is something that each and every person has, whether or not they choose to recognize it.

It starts on the inside and works it way into every aspect of our lives – should we allow it to. Defining beauty with one word is cutting the true meaning of it short, just like defining a human by what they do to make a living isn’t an accurate way to learn who they truly are.

One question I ask every client is “What in life are you most passionate about?” I don’t care if they are a barista or a nurse, a mechanic or an engineer. I want to know what makes your heart beat fast, what fires you up about life, what makes your soul shine – because when people talk about their passions, they glow and the world is filled with more beauty.

Beauty is multi dimensional. 

It isn’t described through one adjective, and it encompasses who we are deep down into our soul. It is finding your passion and chasing it with reckless abandon so that the world is filled with people who have come fully alive with joy. Beauty is being proud that we are more than the title of our job, and beauty is sharing that truth with others. When we talk about what we love and when we do the things that make us happy, we are proving that there is more beauty out there when it is unconfined.

Let your joy be unconfined, re-define beauty by not jumping to conclusions, judging from appearances, or allowing yourself to be confined by one sentence that tells people absolutely nothing about your soul.

You are multifaceted and brilliant and beautiful – share that with the world. 

XO,

Jenna

Photos by:  Life Tree Photography

Print by:  Jenna Kutcher

Beauty Is ... / Inspiration

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Play

10.19.14

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My old tennis coach used to say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, but perfect practice makes perfect play”.

As a 14 year old it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to hear, but hindsight is always 20/20 right?  I can go out and take a thousand photos, yet if they are not grounded in excellence, vision, well-crafted composition, beautiful lighting, etc. then I’ll either stay the same or actually get worse.  (Ummm…no thank you).

One of the best ways I have come to grow as an artist is to copy some of my favorite photographers.  They say (whoever they may be) that copying is the ultimate form of flattery, and I truly believe that.

A while back a few of my photographer friends, Fred and Sara, and I rented some lighting and were intent on recreating Yu Tsai’s famous 16 expression series.  At a first glance these images just look like shots taken at a photo booth, anyone can take those right?  No…wrong.  Each image is precise, with specific emotion, and takes time to capture.

So what did we do?  Well, we set up the lighting against a white wall in Sara’s apartment, and studied the heck out of Yu Tsai’s images.  What were we looking for:

  • Where the light source was coming from
  • What was the exposure
  • The amount of different poses
  • The composition (how much head space, do we cut off the elbows)…
  • Where were the shadows in the shot
  • How was he evoking his subject to give him what he wanted?

Then we blasted Taylor Swift + Beyonce (because ummm…that’s what you do when you are with your friends), and danced, and sang, and shot for about 4 hours each taking turns until we felt we had the lighting set-up down, and got shots of each other that we were happy with.

The cool thing about replication is that once you learn how to replicate you can learn how to make it your own.  Don’t merely stop once you’ve gotten the copied shot, figure out ways that you can make it Y-O-U.  The best thing any of us have going for us is that no one else can be Kat Harris.  I offer something that no one else in the universe can offer, and so do you.  Your eye, your style, your attention to detail, while it may be similar to others, is altogether separately yours.  Own that, and have fun with it!

I’m grateful to be surrounded by some amazing artists who want to challenge and evoke me to become the best I can be, and also that just want to rent a bunch of lights, blast Beyonce, and take a whole bunch of pictures.

Here are some of my favorites that I shot, and I have Fred + Sara to thank for capturing these of me!

Moral of the story: don’t just practice just to practice.  Surround yourself with excellence.  Fill your vision and creativity with excellence, with art that inspires you, allow yourself to be molded by impeccable work, train your eye to see beautiful composition.

Be purposeful, intentional, precise, and have LOTS of fun while doing so!

XO,
Kat

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Photos by:  F.E. Castleberry + Tutti del Monte Photography