Watch Out! Your Education Is Showing…

By Danni Gess

This is a Public Service Announcement for all new graduates.

We are a PC world and want everybody to “feel good” with their decisions but I am going to question your intentions in this industry.

(deep breath)

Everybody wants to be special. I get it. We want that instant gratification of having thousands of people pressing the “like” button and tons and tons of followers that write delicious compliments on our brilliance. We want our books filled for months on end with clients clamoring for a chance to be graced by our brilliance. Some of us have a natural gift, like an idiot savant, that requires no work, build up or education. Kinda like Edward Scissorhands.

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But let’s face it, these are incredibly far and few between, like one in a million….or kabillion. The rest of us need to go the old fashion route of learning our trade.

In the olden days (like centuries ago), there was usually a skilled or master tradesman that would take an apprentice under his/her wing to teach that person all the trade secrets, one on one, so that the skills can be passed down to the next generation. Oh, and for quite a few years, he/she would get to be a virtual slave to their every whim. Woohoo!

Nowadays I find most people in our trade want to skip the mentoring part. You know, the one where you are virtually a slave until you’ve become the master?

I mean, let’s face it. The pay typically sucks…. I’m running around, sweeping, holding hair pins, doing laundry, washing hair, fetching that freaking Starbuck’s Low fat Caramel Frappachino while placating YOUR client because YOU’RE running late. Do I have to get a different styling product for EVERY freaking client that sits in your chair or are you just trying to torture me?!?!? I haven’t had a lunch break in, like, 2 years!!! I mean what’s to learn from that CRAP?! Then I have to come in on MY day off and take a class and you’re NOT going to pay me? Your mad I didn’t show up?! WTF! I did my time in school… I’m ready, damnit! LET ME SHINNNNNNNE!!!!!!!

<ehem>

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Here’s the deal.

You can do this the hard way or the easy way.

The hard way is when you graduate from school and jump behind the chair and start making money. Yes. That’s the hard way. Why? Because I don’t know about you but I knew virtually nothing when I graduated beauty school. I didn’t realize entirely how much I didn’t know, which is dangerous. We get comfortable with our base knowledge, thinking we know so much but the benefits of apprenticeship or being an assistant can be OUTSTANDING. Here’s a few ways you can benefit from taking THE EASY WAY…

  1. As an assistant you have a unique opportunity to get in there and get to know hair without the stress of knowing what to do with it. When you shampoo and condition, are you taking the opportunity to properly identify the clients hair texture? The condition? The density? This is a great time to try different products to get to know what works better on some hair but not others. This goes for styling products as well. Observe what the stylists are using. If you are not sure,ask why they chose that product. What effect are they trying to accomplish.
  2. Blowouts, blowouts and more blowouts! Aside from, again, learning what different textures of hair react to different techniques, this is a FANTASTIC way of observing the construction of a good hair cut. How? Well, as you take controlled, clean sections of hair, and you are working the section, are there any disjointed pieces that are longer than the rest? Ask yourself if it belongs there? When the stylist cuts layers, how are they suppose to fall? Take note of it in the blowout. Are you looking at each subsection and mapping out where you want it to fall or are you winging it? Motivate yourself to ask yourself these questions as you work. Not only will it keep your job interesting but you may start looking forward to the challenge.
  3. Watch and Listen! I know you are running around but see if you can take the time to stand a good 10 feet away (don’t crowd your stylist) and watch how that person approaches their client. Everyone has their strengths so find the person who has a killer consultation. Who has the cleanest and varied cutting techniques? Who can balayage and color correct? Ask questions! If they are that good, they will not be afraid to share.
  4. Practice! Be THAT person who is experimenting techniques on friends and family. Be THAT person who asks to help the stylist blowout their clients hair so you can gain experience. Be THAT person who shows up to every educational opportunity, with a smile on and pen and paper.

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There’s a good amount of you that are saying to yourself, “Danni, what the hell?! I can’t find an apprenticeship!” I know. It took me 6 months to find an appropriate apprenticeship back in the day. I got offers from tons of places for stylists jobs though. Yup.  They’d train me for a few weeks but I seemed bright and eager and if I had a problem, I could ask for help…..no.

You are not a brilliant master with just 2 to 4 weeks training.

Okay. Bottom line. What do you want from your career? If it’s to be a brilliant master stylist then you need to actively seek opportunities to learn. Not just at the yearly hair show that rolls into town, but in the everyday moments. To this day, I go into work thinking “What am I going to learn today?”. I actively seek it, which inevitably leads me to it.

You are building a career. Make sure that foundation in solid.

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Confessions of a Hair Snob.

“Get an education. Learn as much as you can because no matter what happens in life, no one can take that away from you. Nobody.”  ~my Dad

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By Danni Gess

I am a Hair Snob.

I was going to use a more PC term but there it is; out there for you to judge.

The truth of the matter is, my snobbery began a week into beauty school. Completely out of my element and fearful of being mediocre in yet another aspect of my life, I had made the decision if I was going to do this, I was going to be the best at it.

I know. A little obnoxious but why shoot for the moon when you can reach for the stars?

I organized study groups in my classes. Made flash cards and associated myself with the most driven students in the school. I would drill myself for hours by working on my clean partings. Practicing the basics over and over until I could do them in my sleep. When I graduated, I immediately applied to some of the  most well known salons in Manhattan only to come to the quick realization that, with my commute, it was an eighty hour week. With small children, it was not a commitment I could make (it was a bitter pill to swallow but we all make our choices). So I applied to the most prestigious salons on Long Island and was accepted at an Intercoiffure salon with a minimum  2 year education program.

The first week I was there, they shut down the salon and had a three day Sassoon class. (I KNOW! Crazy.) I went to classes every week, attended every education seminar, balked when they would want a week off classes for holidays, and had my best friend drive me in for class when I broke my foot and on pain meds (my manikins had very creative haircuts those first two weeks).

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I received  daily examples of excellence from my boss, who at one point was the creative director for Intercoiffure USA, and from my coworkers and former instructors, who took the time to watch each other’s handiwork everyday and spoke of their craft with words like excellence, quality and  drive.

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They were deliciously and unabashedly snobby about their education. And I loved every one of them for it.

Why?

The knowledge that I needed to hold myself to a higher standard was empowering. Knowing that in between clients I could watch someone slice through hair like their shears were an extension of the hand was something to marvel at. Or witness a carefully crafted updo that defied the laws of gravity for a photo shoot. Every. Friggin. Day.

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On the flip side….

It was terrifying. I could not coast through, bluff it, nor slack off. There were expectations to learn techniques that were at times, intimidating. And everyone was aware of what you were doing. I mean…we were snobs. If you weren’t keeping up, it was noticed and recounted.

Prior to my salon life, the thought of being held to such possible ridicule was not only horrifying but my soft mushy heart would have broken. The experience of having to absorb so much information and perform was, at times, anxiety filled but it mostly toughened me. Made me stronger.

I remember when I left that salon and ultimately moved out of state, I made the conscious decision to go to a salon that did not have that level of elitism. I felt I needed a break from the high intensity and perhaps the high expectations that were always carried with me. My co-worker had warned me that I would regret not being in this environment even though I was getting weary of it. And you know what?

I miss it.

At first it was liberating. I began breaking “rules” that lead to experimentation. I exposed myself to things outside the carefully constructed elite bubble that I was existing in. Unfortunately, the high of “being on my own” slowly faded and I was left with Now what?.  I was booth renting. Education was not handed to me on a silver platter. I had to find the motivation to aggressively seek it, every day.

Trying to drum up motivation.

Sad face. Trying to drum up motivation.

If I cannot find a way to grow then what the hell am I doing in this business?

Part of this blog’s purpose, for me, is to capture that thirst for knowledge…. nurture it, and spread it around to as many people who will listen. I want encourage other stylists to raise the bar because greatness can be in one’s grasp if you are driven. I want YOU to be passionate about our craft and perfecting it.

Why?

Because I am a hair snob.

The Social Media Renaissance of Artisan Stylists

By Danni Gess

I don’t know about you, but since the mainstream acceptance of fashion colors, I’ve been seeing an incredible evolution in the hair industry. An artistic freedom has been unleashed that can only be described as a Renaissance.

Skilled in their craft, creative, and highly motivated, the Artisan Stylist is what I call the exciting new kind of beauty professional that was born from the likes of Instagram, Periscope, and YouTube.

By definition, an artisan is a person who has the creativity and trained skill to create an exceptional product. We, as beauty professionals, have always understood our value but the embracing of these social media artisans speaks volumes to the level of increasing respect for our industry’s artistry.

Though there are hundreds, if not, thousands of stylists that have showcased brilliant work worthy of mention, I decided to feature three whom I follow, that are predominately creative color.

Ash Fortis, aka xostylistxo, is an Instagram sensation with 57k followers and a ton of recognition from major publications such as Modern Salon, Beauty Launchpad and The Colorist Mag. The first time I saw her work was when a co-worker showed me some pictures from Instagram. The juxtaposition of modern edginess and sweet feminity of her color choices had me eyeballing my tubes of fashion colors with unbridled glee.

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this part of her collection she named Moonstone.

She shared with me some of the  current looks she is working on and what direction she see the trends are going.

“Hologramic hair is with a silverized base. I choose colors that would help give the look a three dimensional effect. I also place blocks of colors through the hair…I predict that silver and metallic colors will be very popular…Dusky Metallic. I think more hair stamping, like what I am doing with the digital hair feathers and pixels”

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I’m not going to lie, I’m a sucker for the digital feathers. It’s a brilliant, modern take on that popular feather trend. I’ve heard more than stylist say they missed that trend. Come on!… Admit it! You want it back. Ha! Well, the feather trend has sailed on BUT, I can see this catching on.

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My inner geek completely fell in love with the Pixel Project spearheaded by Philip Ring, aka Philipdoeshair. Shockingly bold and modern, Philip shared that his inspiration came from an old Vidal Sassoon Bauhaus book that featured  Annie Humfrey and Mark Hayes creation in the 1980s. A Sassoon devotee, that drive for excellence shows in every delicious detail in his creations. The concept of taking a flat graphic and somehow create a fluid design is, to me, ground breaking.

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I remember when Philip was working on his pixel technique because I was trying to figure it out at the same time. My first attempt was, shall we say, uh…unimpressive, so I was green with envy when I saw he cracked the code.

S’all good, my friend. I bow to your brilliance. <grin>

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Jordan Glyndmeyer, aka PinupJordan, came to my attention in an education forum over a year ago. I feel like I’ve watched her artistic “voice” develop to the point that I can spot a PinupJordan creation in a lineup. A prolific Instagramer, Jordan has quickly accumulated nearly 20k “Mermaid” followers that embrace a bold color story with a classic pin up bent.

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My favorite thing about following Jordan’s feed (aside from the obvious)? I love a good success story. From a small town hairstylist to a booming entrepreneur, she is always looking at new ways to expand her knowledge; how can you NOT be inspired to push yourself?

Much like the difference between a Monet and a Rembrandt, each of these professionals have a unique artistic voice that have striking differences and yet they all have legions of fans that await their newest creation. Social media has created a platform for gifted professionals to share their work independently without having to partner with a corporate name. It’s  a brave new world!

How long the fashion color trend will last is uncertain but one thing is for sure; It has unleashed a movement that, I believe, is here to stay.

Are you an Artisan Stylist showcasing your work on social media? Comment below and tell us your experience!


The Guy Tang Effect: The Newest Balayage Tools From Pravana…Should You Get It?

“Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist” ~ Picasso

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By Danni Gess

 

Ahhhh Guy Tang…..

Be still my beating heart.

Nothing gets to the heart of a Hair Junkie more than a person that pushes boundaries and encourages professionals to try something new.

Uh, yeah, I may be fan-girling it a little.

But, with that being said, when Pravana teamed up with Guy Tang to create the Pure Enlightenment Balayage Kit and ChromaSilk 5 Minute Toners I did not jump.

Nope. Kept my feet on the ground….well, okay, I picked up the toners. <grin> which I will elaborate on a another post BUT I was wary of jumping on the newest trend 100%.

This Balayage kit, which has been touted as a “Game changer in balayage” by Guy Tang, is marketed as a freedom from foils and a sanctuary to blondes. I know everybody has their favorite service to do, but foils is not one of them for me. I’m a very visual artistic girl, I like to paint…watch the hair transform; interact with the process. A “game changer” would be a welcomed addition in my life however, as always, I wanted to see some feedback from some of the Hair Artist that I respected before I make the investment.

Jason McDonald, owner and highly sought after stylist of Head Strong Creative Design in Pensacola, Florida, has experimented with quite a few different clay based lighteners. I’ve followed his work (as have many stylist) for some time and knew he could give me a good comparison. He found the Pure Enlightenment not only mixes easily but goes on smoother than comparable products. He also felt it has better lifting power than most. With common complaints that clay-based lighteners tend to not lift as high and doesn’t spread easily, this one-two punch may very well, make it the Holy Grail of clay based lighteners.

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He added, “Pravana’s kit also comes with enough accessories to help even the novice freehand artist become proficient…” The kit includes a DVD, manual, paddle, application brushes, 16 meche sheets, lightener and pre-dedicated developers.

Hmmmm….I’m intrigued so I pressed on.

Educator and Creative Director of Salon Embellish in Phoenix, Arizona, Philip Ringhas been making waves in the industry with his Pixelated Color creations but when it came to Balayage, he hadn’t found a product that he felt he could get the desired results. On his first attempt with the Pure Enlightenment he knew it was a winner. “It was creamier!” which can totally effect the control of the application. He expressed it was the first time he felt “100% proud of my Balayage”.

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I relate to this so much! I want to feel that way about all the work I do but when working with certain tools, you just know you are being held back from achieving a certain standard. When you find something that works it’s like the hair gods have gifted you with superpowers!!!

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I had one more person that I KNEW would be playing with this product in creative ways.

Shannon Keel, aka The Hair Doo Chick, is an educator and salon owner in Lee, Florida. I swear I’m not a stalker but I regularly go through her facebook and instagram feed and geek out over her hair painting and color melt techniques. Am I the only one that thinks a Herringbone pattern made with lightener is just beeeeaaaautifuuuul….?

Ehem, uh…so, it seemed obvious to ask her opinion on the product.

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“I loved Guy Tangs lightener … It has a smooth texture and the consistency stayed the same throughout my painting. I also had wonderful lift”.

As for the quality of her clients hair after using it? “It felt lovely”!

Yup. Three times a charm.

So it looks like I’ll be investing in the Pure Enlightenment Balayage Kit. I’m sure it will pair beautifully with the 5 minute toners that I’m obsessing over (again, I’ll be sharing that on a future post so stay tuned!)

So what was YOUR experience? Will you be investing in this product?

Foodie Friday: Italian Sausage & Tortellini “Stoup”

Even though we’re based in Florida,  I am obsessed with making heavy, comforting, savory meals. Though it is technically a soup, the sausage, cabbage and tortellini makes it heavy enough to ALMOST feel like a stew. Perhaps it’s the start of the new school year and my inner child is yearning for the cooler temperatures (not really…well, maybe a wee bit) but I always start to make this dish in September.

I experimented a lot with this dish because typically I’m not a fan of cabbage but when I omitted it, it lost much of it’s depth. I use sweet Italian sausages because 2 out of three children do not like anything spicy so if you like some heat, bring on the spicy sausage! When I went shopping, I normally look for a very small head of cabbage because I’ll use 1/2 to 3/4 and eliminate the rest. I hate wasting food, but again, I hate cabbage. When I went to the store the other day they only had freakishly large heads…like, 3 1/2 pounds! I couldn’t justify wasting so much food. So I went to the bagged salad area and got a bag of slaw which was the perfect amount. Not gonna lie, I didn’t like the consistency. I want my cabbage to be more coarsely chopped, less fine. It tasted fine. Just wasn’t the same.

Lastly, this goes great with some crusty bread and if you want, some Italian style croutons and/or Parmesan is GREAT on top of it.

This fed a family of 5 with some leftovers.

olive oil

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2 box cartons of Beef broth

b4RKiuSwansonBeefBrothLowSodium32oz

 

3 spoonfuls of tomato paste

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1 onion diced

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2 cloves garlic chopped

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1 very small head of cabbage or half of medium. chopped

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1 package of Italian sausage

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1 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

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Salt to taste

croutons, Parmesan and crusty bread (optional)

Brown the sausages in a frying pan with a splash of olive oil on medium heat. Take your time browning all sides so that it partially cooks inside. Take of the pan and reserve to the side.

Next add a splash more olive oil (if needed) and brown your onions and garlic. While this is happening, start cutting your sausages into bite size disks. Add to the pan.

Next empty both cartons of broth and 3 spoonfuls of tomato paste into a large pot. Bring to a light boil. Add cabbage and onion/garlic/sausage mixture. Reduce heat to medium high. Cook for 5 minutes. Add frozen tortellini and turn off heat. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

I find that when I cook the tortellini over heat on this dish, it gets mushy quickly and I want it to be firm.

Season to taste.

 

Foodie Friday: Simple 4 Ingredient Broccoli Aioli Pasta

There was a point in my life that I was a dedicated vegan. It lasted a good four years and I was probably the healthiest I ever was but I was in a part time job and was able to commit the time to making fresh, tasty, nutrient dense foods.
As I fell into the fast paced world of full time jobs, school aged kids and messy houses, my commitment waned and I had resorted to quick meals.

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This particular recipe had survived the “change of life” due to its simplicity, flavor and my children’s desire to eat it. By cooking the broccoli with the pasta the flavors all get infused, the shell pasta becomes little cup holders of deliciousness and the broccoli medallions gives an added texture that is surprisingly delightful.

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Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

1 bunch of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small to median cloves of garlic
Shell pasta or Barilla Collezione shell pasta.
Salt to taste

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Start a large pot of water to boil.
Cut of the heads off the broccoli and peel the tough outer skin of the stems (with either a peeler or a knife) cut the stems to create disks/medallions and throw in the pot.
Next, chop the broccoli heads into small bite size pieces and throw in pot with the stems.
When the water begins to boil and the broccoli has taken on a slightly brighter hue, add the pasta in to the pot as well, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks.
Follow manufacturers directions for time cooked (personally, I like al dente)
While its cooking, take two to three garlic cloves, peel off outer layer and smash with the flat of your chopping knife the chop into tiny pieces.
As pasta finishes cooking, get a large measuring cup and reserve about one cup of the water that the pasta/broccoli mixture cooked in. Set aside. Then drain pasta and return to pot.
Heat olive oil in pan and add garlic. When the garlic just starts to really sizzle, turn off heat. Cooking too long can create a slightly bitter taste.
Pour over pasta and add the reserved cup of water. Season with salt and Stir well.
Serve with some shredded Parmesan.

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Tell us what you think!

Top 5 Tuesday – Our Top 5 Favorite Photo Apps

One of our favorite things is to take beautiful pictures that captures our favorite moments. Luckily, Misti Blu is an accomplished photographer but let’s face it, having the equipment to take all these pictures on the fly is just not an option. That’s where our handy dandy phones come to the rescue, but what do you do when you’ve captured a beautiful shot but it looks flat and uninspired?

Photo Apps to the rescue!

Many of the best photo Apps have a wide variety of options from preset adjustments to full autonomy where you can choose what the picture needs to adjust. I’ve also been known to use multiple apps on the same picture if I’m looking for a certain effect. Here are the ones we are playing with now but tell us your favorites!

1) Autodesk Pixlr 

This is a free app that gives tons of options for presets and is one of my favorites for selfies. Why? Because it has a lovely button to create a smooth glow to the picture. I also love their text options, borders and overlays that can add anything from laser beams to pretty morning light flecks that add a touch of magic.

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What I don’t like is their stickers. Though I’m not one to use them on the regular to begin with, I personally find their options cheesy.

*Bonus Feature: If you have a blemish there’s a “heal” button that will eliminate it. Sigh…if only there was one in real life.

2) VSCO

My son turned me on to this free app about a month ago. Though their options for presets are limited in the free version, I do love the many easy to use options to adjust the picture by hand. I find this app particularly helpful when I take a picture that is too dark. Sometimes just changing the lighting and contrast won’t cut it. The color and sharpness may get lost in the process which is where this app really shines. From tint colors, saturation, sharpness….I’ve taken pictures that were unrecognizable to wow in moments.

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*What I don’t like? There’s no add ons, like writing text or overlays but as a straight up photo editor, it kicks ass.

3) TextsPhoto

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Admittedly I’m just starting to play around with this one. I’ve tried several apps that add texts along with the option of banners and stickers for my advertising. Though you have to pay .99 cents to get all the font options, they still give you enough for free to feel like you can mix it up a bit. I love their banners, seals and scrolling that you can add to the picture however I’m still figuring out how to adequately shrink the text with out tilting it. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so to see a line of text ever so slightly askew and I keep overshooting to make it straight again, I get frustrated and trash the whole project.

Again, this one has been superior than some of the other “just add text” apps but still has its quirks. I still use Pixlr Express because its a little more user friendly but it definitely does not have all the options that this app has.

4) Afterglow


  
Afterglow is Misti’s go to app. You can resize images into squares for Instagram, play with filters, add light leaks or film scratches, record actions and save them for easier and faster use. I love how artsy you can make an image. If I could change one thing about it, it would be that there was a text option.




5) Diptic



Diptic is a collage app that also lets you adjust filters, borders, color, text, etc. I especially love that it does not add it’s logo to your collage when done, like the other collage apps I have tried. It is great for personal as well as professional. I use it a lot for before and after shots and for marketing. Super simple and saves your favorite templates.

Shoutouts:
ABM: Cute and quirky fun photo app with filters and stickers and texts to dress up and photo on the fly.
 

Hipstamatic: Artsy film style camera that let’s you collect and use different lenses, film, flashes, etc. Great for the film nerd who misses their old camera.