At Home and Open for Business.

by | May 11, 2020 | 0 comments

Letter From the Editor

Don’t Crop The Craft

I did it.  I caved. I’m now teaching photography lessons via zoom, and instagram, and facebook, and everything else underneath the sun, and I have mixed feelings on it all. For the past 2 months I’ve been taking text questions and phone calls on how to do this or that better, which has led to some wonderful teaching moments and art making with my students.

I think if Covid has taught me and my students anything, is that there’s a whole lot more to pushing a button. For me, the camera is my moment of Zen each day. Breathe in, Breathe out. I escape into each moment, in search of that perfect capture. There’s a world beyond the viewfinder but you can’t force it to materialize. What frustrates me is my young pupils haven’t had that first taste of escapism and suspension of time. Zoom lessons often consist of… how do I do this better or take this example of photograph. Photography just doesn’t work that way. The idea of me telling you how to take a photograph borders on banality. 

It’s a craft. I’ll give you everything and beyond when it comes to developing your craft. But don’t call me for the run of the mill photograph. For that, Youtube is a wonderful thing. Call me because your heart hurts and brain itches. Because you need to express yourself or say something from your mind’s eye. Technique is easy, Vision is hard. 

Get it right in camera. Photographed here is my prized Nikon F Photomic, passed on from my Father. This camera essentially changed photography forever and is considered the Father of modern day SLR cameras. The 105mm lens seen here changed my life. While the 50mm and 35mm lenses are standard issue, I grew up learning to view life as a portrait. It was love at first look through. I still use it today. The happiness and pure joy of using this lens goes far beyond any photograph I’ve produced as a result. It’s traveled the world with me, seen harsh conditions, and some of the most gorgeous light known to man. The feelings felt when I hold this rig are ineffable and to try to describe that would be cropping my experience of photography altogether.

Crop your photos, but don’t crop the craft. Find your love and passion through the camera lens. Feel the weight, the smoothness of adjusting your focus. Explore the space and go beyond what you “think” a photograph should look like and try something different. You might be surprised at what you create. Find passion in each photograph and call me to guide you along.

Get Closer, Get Creative, Get Karjaka.

At Home with Monika Rais

Carlson Family Farm
Urban Standard
Centre Studio
TrainStation NYC

Stepping onto the battered scene of Manhattan real estate in 2009 was a decision only a small amount of friends called brave. The wide network of my sphere used words like ‘insane’ or ‘professional suicide’, but I was determined to close my concierge business that made me work out of my apartment and get out of the house and my comfort zone. 

I was lucky. I landed at a brokerage firm with solid marketing support and within weeks I was running around Manhattan, showing apartments and enjoying the new experience. Real estate in New York City is unique. There is no other market similar to it in the world. This is where you can show a fifth-floor walk-up on Avenue A to a newly minted fashion editor of an online start-up magazine at 10am, go for a 12pm listing presentation for a ‘diamond in the rough’ loft on Green Street owned by a still stunning retired movie star and finish your day by taking in that one of a kind Central Park view from a terrace of a gorgeous Fifth Avenue penthouse, while sipping an extra dry gin martini at a broker’s open house party, hosted by one of the top agents in Manhattan. I fell thoroughly in love with the industry despite its bad reputation and cut-throat competition. 

My very first listing was a lovingly renovated spacious alcove studio in a classic white-glove Upper East Side building, with a stately lobby and myriad of staff. I was in heaven. I arranged for photography immediately and anxiously waited for the promised 4 photos. When I opened the files, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The oversized windows that let all the beautiful sunshine in were dark. The gleaming hardwood floor looked dull and old. The updated state of the art kitchen had the size of a closet. How could I possibly list this beautiful jewelry box of a home with photos like that? I was on the verge of crying when a veteran agent came into the office from a showing and saw my face. He immediately put me in touch with a trusted photographer who agreed to shuffle around his schedule as a favor for my friend and take photos the next morning. And that is where the drama ended and I learned a very important lesson.

More than 90% of people start searching for a home online. They scroll through photo after photo until they find the apartment they like. Does this mean they did not like the other properties or those listings simply did not have the quality photography that stops those scrolling fingers? The recent data is eye opening. Listings with professional photos sold more than 35% faster than other homes. The average time on market for those homes was also 20 days less compared to the days of other listings. 

Are all real estate photographers the same? As my experience suggests, not all images are created equal. Second only to price, quality real estate photography is the most important part of selling a home. Listings with nicer photos receive an average of 61% more views than their peers across all price tiers and have 47% higher asking price per square foot.

Professional photographers understand the essential elements that create stunning, quality images. Great real estate photos need the right light, angles, and composition to create an ideal showcase for the home. Truly talented real estate photographers are able to capture a grand multi-level townhouse with the same ease as a tiny studio. 

Observational Eating

Katie Mack Fitness

How to keep your Eating & Nutrition Habits in alignment while you’re stuck at Home with Katie Mack.

AK: If you’re like me you’ve gotten a bit lost in the daily home routine, and have been munching non-stop for the past eight weeks. For some of us, creative cooking has become the highlight of Covid and along with that… an expanding waistline. In an effort to calm our carb chaotic lifestyles, I reached out to Katie Mack of Katie Mack Fitness for some eating and nutrition tips before we run to our trainers at the gym, hopefully in the near future. 

Before any meal or snack, try your best to relax and take 10 deep breathes from your rib cage down into your pelvis. Your rib cage is where your lungs are located, and attached to the bottom of your ribs is your diaphragm – also known as your “breathing muscle” that looks like a parachute. When you inhale, think of your rib cage filling up like a balloon and your diaphragm as a jellyfish sinking down into your pelvic floor. As you fully exhale, your rib cage “deflates” and your diaphragm floats back up. Pause for 2-4 seconds at the end of the exhale and repeat 

  • After you take a bite of food, put down your food/fork/spoon and finish chewing what’s in your mouth. THIS MAY BE WAY HARDER THAN IT SEEMS! Chewing your food completely will set you up for better digestion and force you to slow down.
  • Sip – don’t gulp – your drinks. Try to get in 2-3 liters of water a day.

Enjoy and appreciate your food and drinks. Taste the tastes, smell the scents, feel the textures. Being mindful this way can bring you into the present moment and allow for a calmer experience with better digestion.


Make sure your diet includes all three macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fat. Unless you have dietary restrictions or health issues, it’s important to know that each macro(nutrient) has beneficial effects on your overall health. Limiting one macro long-term may lead to nutritional deficiencies.

  • Try to have some sort of protein with every meal/snack. Protein is usually the macronutrient that I see most lacking in client diets, and protein has so many benefits that our body will thank us for.
  • Don’t forget your fruits and vegetables. While some people have issues digesting certain veggies, most people can benefit from eating a wide variety each day. Shoot for a RAINBOW of colors!
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Most foods in the aisles are processed and unnatural. The more real food you can eat the better!

“Messing up”

When you’re stuck in a loop of guilt, shame or punishment for eating “bad”, you are not in a place of love and cannot move on. Forgive yourself if your head is in a negative loop, and make a better decision next. The more you beat yourself up the more self-sabotage and harm you will do.

Katie Mack is a NYC-based personal trainer who uses strength training and fitness in a way that focuses on improving both physical and emotional/mental wellbeing.  Trauma of any sort impacts our mind AND body – through measures and aspects such as blood pressure, heart rate, posture, senses, and self-image. With this in mind, we can use the body as a tool to help restore or improve these factors. Strength training, mindful movement and fitness are ways in which we may improve heart health, get more grounded and energetic, and create feelings of power, strength, stability and resilience. Contact Katie for a complimentary 20 minute Zoom Call today!

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