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July 2017

Becoming Strong & Healthy as a Vegan

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By Leo Babauta

As a vegan for the last five years (and veg for a decade), I’ve learned a bit about being healthy and strong on plants.

For those who would like to learn about it, I’m offering this guide (as a non-expert fellow learner).

I had a reader write to me about becoming vegetarian, and say that he went back to the gym and feels very weak. They didn’t like the feeling they got after eating meat, so wanted a change, but they’re worried about feeling weak.

Some things to say about this:

  1. It’s not necessarily eating vegetarian that is causing you to feel weak — it could be a number of other things, like not eating enough calories, not getting enough sleep, not being in the gym for awhile, etc.
  2. If it is your diet, there are things you can do to address this. Getting enough iron, protein, calcium and other nutrients is a good idea.
  3. Lots of vegans are super strong — seriously, google it, there are pro football players, mixed martial artists, bodybuilders, Olympians, Crossfitters, and more who are vegan (male and female). This is strong evidence that you can be strong, fit and healthy as a vegan. If you try it and have trouble, it just might take some research and experimenting.

So it’s not only possible to be a strong and healthy vegan, I think it’s not that hard. Anyone who gets into fitness and health tends to do research and experiment to figure out what works, so it’s not any harder than that for vegans.

Here’s what I suggest, based on my research and personal experience:

  1. Protein. It’s actually fairly easy to get enough protein as a vegan, with minimal effort. The best protein, in my opinion, comes from beans & legumes: black, red, pinto, garbanzo, navy and white beans, for example, but also lentils (awesome), edamame (soy beans), tofu, tempeh (one of my favorites), peas and peanuts. Nuts and seeds are also awesome for protein, and whole grains have a decent amount as well. If you eat some kind of bean/legume as a main part of your meal for at least two meals, and add some nuts and seeds and whole grains into the mix, you’ll be good. There are also vegan meat substitutes, which tend to be built off of soy or wheat protein (seitan, for example). These aren’t bad for you, but I like whole foods instead, so I would not make them the biggest part of your diet. Vegans doing strength training can also add protein powder, just like any weightlifter. I personally use PlantFusion (if I use any protein powder at all), which has all the essential amino acids and is a good mix of different plant protein. All of this is to say, you can get some amazing high-quality protein from plants, easily. (Read more.)
  2. Greens. These are the powerhouse foods of nutrition. Kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, collard greens, romaine lettuce … basically anything green is full of nutrients. The best bang for your calorie. Mix greens into your tofu scramble for breakfast, into your salad for lunch (with beans and seeds and nuts of course), into your soups and chilis, into your stir-frys and lentil curries.
  3. Calcium. Vegans don’t drink milk, but calcium is still an important nutrient for bones and other good things. I get most of my calcium from fortified soymilk (which I have with Ezekiel cereal, nuts and and berries, or in my protein shake), but there is good calcium in green veggies, and you can take a calcium supplement if you prefer. For bones, it’s also important to get enough Vitamin D (sunshine, fortified foods or a vegan vitamin) and do some kind of strength or impact exercise like running. (Read more.)
  4. Iron. One of the mistakes that new vegans often make is not getting enough iron. It’s not that hard, but it can be easy to ignore. It’s pretty simple: beans, grains and greens are amazing for iron. Vitamin C (which you can find in citrus fruits, spinach and yellow and red peppers, for example) also helps with iron absorption. (Read more.)
  5. Vitamin B12. Vegans absolutely need Vitamin B12, as it isn’t found in abundance in plant foods. Luckily, you don’t need that much, and it’s easy to get it in fortified foods (again, soymilk, or fortified nutritional yeast). Or you can take a vitamin, which I also do just for insurance (this is what I use). I get myself tested every year or two, btw, and I easily have enough B12, iron, etc. (Read more.)
  6. Other important nutrients. There are other nutrients to pay attention to, like iodine, Vitamins A and K, and more. They are also not hard to get into your diet. I recommend for educating yourself.
  7. Healthy fats. Omega fats in general are incredible for your brain, heart and overall health … but Omega 3s are the best. It’s easy to get them in plant diets if you choose a few good foods: walnuts, ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, chia seeds. Or just take a vegan dha/epa pill (like a fish oil pill, but from plants) — I take this one daily. This is an important nutrient, so read up on it. In addition, I like to use olive oil and canola oil in my cooking.

This might seem like a lot, but it’s a newbie mistake to not do your research, so read up on this stuff. In fact, if you do, you’ll be more educated than most non-vegans as well, who are often lacking in important nutrients too.

Putting It All Together

OK, with all of that to digest (pun!), how can one manage all of this into a simple vegan diet? This is what I recommend (again, as a non-nutritionist — don’t just take my advice, research it):

  • Eat lots of beans/legumes, nuts and seeds. I recommend a good serving of these with both lunch and dinner. Maybe even add some nuts/seeds to your breakfast. Good examples for lunch/dinner: lentil soups or curries, black bean tacos, three-bean chili, tempeh stir-fry with veggies, black bean or white bean soup. There are countless examples.
  • Eat lots of green veggies, with other color veggies as well. A big salad every day with lots of greens, as well as red and yellow veggies, mushrooms, nuts, beans and seeds … and you’re getting a ton of nutrition into one meal. Add some bean soup that has some greens cooked into it, and it’s an amazing meal. If you cook stir-frys, chilis, soups, curries, tacos or any other kind of meal, just add greens and other colored veggies into them. Or have a big helping of steamed greens as a side dish.
  • Whole grains and fruits are good too. Brown rice, corn tortillas, quinoa, flourless whole-grain breads and cereal, black rice, and more can be added to any meal for taste and nutrition. Fruits with breakfast or as a snack or dessert are incredibly nutritious.
  • Soymilk and/or supplement. For things like B12, calcium, etc. that I listed above, you can get a lot of it in fortified soymilk (I drink about a glass or two daily, again with my Ezekiel cereal or protein shake). But if you don’t like that, you can supplement with B12, calcium, and/or a DHA/EPA supplement.

If you find some recipes with these general guidelines — experiment to find a balance that works for you — you’ll find that a healthy vegan diet is not that difficult. It might take learning some new recipes, adjusting your taste buds a bit, trying some new foods, but it’s a lot of fun to learn to do all of this. And the benefits in health are incredible.

Exercise Ideas

Nutrition is just one part of fitness and health — a super important part, but not the only one. I’ve experimented with lots of kinds of exercise — from running marathons (and one ultramarathon) to Crossfit, the Goruck Challenge, weight training, sports, swimming, bicycling, yoga and more. I’m not an expert at any of them, just a learner.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Strength training is important. Lots of vegans overlook strength training, and they get weak, and people blame veganism. No, it’s just that if you don’t stress the muscle with some kind of resistance, it gets less strong. I personally like lifting barbells (squats, deadlifts, bench), but there are lots of different ways to do it. Bodyweight strength exercises like pushups, squats, lunges and chinups are amazing, and of course if your gym just has dumbbells and weight machines, that works too. If you want to get hard core, you can do Olympic barbell exercises and throw heavy stuff like logs and tires around, and drag sleds and stuff. All of it is fun, and will make you strong.
  2. Cardio is also important. You don’t have to spend a bunch of time on cardio machines (boring, imo), but getting your body moving is good for the heart and brain and muscles. A good brisk walk is a decent option, but I also like to go for short runs (2-4 miles), do sprint intervals, ride a bike, play some basketball. Swimming is also amazing. Whatever you find fun, do that, but just find a way to get moving regularly.
  3. Mixing in some yoga is amazing. I am not an experienced yogi by any means (you should see my flexibility, it’s laughable), but I find yoga to be such an incredible mix of flexibility, strength and mindfulness training that I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend it. A couple times a week would be the minimum to see any benefits, though more is of course better if you have the time and energy.

How would I mix all these together? Whatever works for your life is best, but here’s a sample schedule that I might follow:

  • Sunday: Run and yoga
  • Monday: Squat & bench press workout
  • Tuesday: Run and yoga
  • Wednesday: Sports and/or biking
  • Thursday: Deadlift and chinups
  • Friday: Run and yoga
  • Saturday: Rest day, maybe go for a walk

That would get you pretty strong and fit, I think. Of course, you should work your way up to this, starting with bodyweight strength training if you’ve never lifted weights, and getting a trainer to help you with form if you start lifting barbells. Go to an intro yoga class if you haven’t done that. Start with walking and then mix in some jogging with your walking if you don’t run. And of course, if you have any health risks, get checked out by a doctor, don’t just follow the advice of some guy on the Internet. :)

In the end, mixing up your exercise and easing into it is a good idea, as is eating lots of beans, nuts, seeds, greens, colored veggies, whole grains and fruits. With a plan like this, you’ll have a hard time not becoming strong and healthy as a vegan.

Questions & Answers

Some questions you might have:

Q: Why bother becoming vegan at all if you have to worry about these nutrients?

A: Vegans all have different reasons, but my reason is just to not participate in hurting and killing sentient beings if I can help it. I can be happy and healthy and enjoy delicious food without hurting animals (to the extent that I’m able), so why should I eat them?

Q: Isn’t supplementing unnatural?

A: Perhaps. I’m not as concerned about following the naturalistic fallacy — most of us do things that aren’t “natural” all the time, from using computers and cars to eating pizza and using deodorant. And the truth is, it’s a small inconvenience compared to what we do to animals.

Q: Isn’t soy bad for you?

A: Nope. I did an article on this myth years ago. I’ve been eating soy several times a week (sometimes daily) for a decade without any health problems. I prefer to eat less processed versions of soy, like tempeh (fermented soy beans) or edamame (green soy beans). But I have found no problem with tofu or soymilk on a regular basis (in moderation of course). I don’t recommend overdoing soy protein powder or soy meat substitutes, but here again, moderation is the key.

Q: What if I (or someone I know) got really unhealthy as a vegan?

A: It’s possible, especially if you didn’t eat good amounts of protein, calcium, iron, B12, and things like that. It’s also possible to get really unhealthy as a non-vegan. Lots of people eat diets that don’t have the right amount of nutrients, so educate yourself and do a bit of experimenting. One common problem is just eating raw plants, mostly raw vegetables, without getting all the nutrients you need. For taste, not getting enough fats or protein is a common problem, as is not getting enough umami flavor (the taste of grilled meat) — grilled mushrooms are a good way to get umami.

The Secret to Interpersonal Happiness

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By Leo Babauta

As much as we desire being connected to others — good friendships, a wonderful romantic relationship, close family members — this connection always comes at a cost.

We get frustrated by other people.

You know it’s true. You might be really good friends with someone, but then they get angry at you for some reason, or they behave without consideration, and all of a sudden, your mood is much darker. You’re not happy with them, maybe they’re not happy with you. Things can go sour very quickly.

This is such a difficult problem that you could devote entire books to ways of working out these kinds of conflicts and frustrations. But I have one technique that, if applied consistently, will lead to a lot more happiness.

The secret: always take the good-hearted view of other people.

That takes some explaining, so let’s take a look at two ways of looking at other people:

  1. The ill-intentioned view. When someone does something rude, you think, “Why do they have to be so inconsiderate?” or “Who does that?” Basically, you see their actions in the worst possible light, without putting yourself in their shoes. Most of us do this regularly without realizing it. Anytime you’re mad or frustrated with someone, this is what you’re doing.
  2. The good-hearted view. When someone does something inconsiderate — and I’m not saying their actions are justified — you can try to think of those actions in a good-hearted way. For example, maybe they’re having a bad day and are grump — that doesn’t excuse their actions, but you can understand the feeling of being grumpy. Or maybe they were hurt by something you did (which you might not realize) and they are lashing out because of that hurt. That’s not a nice way to react, of course, but we can all relate to feeling hurt and lashing out. So the good-hearted view is that this is someone you care about who is hurting. Forget the personal offense, think about their pain, and be compassionate towards that pain.

Let’s take a brief look at the ill-intentioned way of seeing things, then go into what I believe will transform most people’s interpersonal happiness — the good-hearted view.

Why the Ill-Intentioned View is a Problem

It’s easy to see the rudeness, inconsideration and plain wrongness of other people. That’s because we’re looking at it from our own point of view, and thinking they should see things the same way as you do.

For example:

  • They left dirty dishes or a big mess in the kitchen. Why didn’t they just clean up instead of being inconsiderate? You feel they’re not acting as they should.
  • They said something kind of mean to you. You have no idea why they would be mean, you’re a good person who doesn’t deserve that.
  • They are mad at you for some reason. You don’t deserve that! What’s their problem?

Of course, there are much worse things, but these are some typical interpersonal problems, and common reactions.

These are natural reactions, but looking at things this way causes you to feel bad about the other person. You are frustrated, angry, offended or hurt. You build up resentment.

You might also react badly to the other person — say something hurtful or angry, lash out, ignore them, whatever your habitual way of responding to these things might be. This obviously will make them react badly to you, and now your relationship is hurt. You’re not happy, and neither are they. This isn’t a good situation.

The problem with the ill-intentioned view is that it doesn’t help anybody, and hurt the relationship. Worse yet, it’s self-centered (you’re seeing things from your own point of view) rather than thinking about the other person (whom you care about), both of you, or your relationship together.

The Solution: The Good-Hearted View

OK, so the self-centered view of seeing the ill-intentions of the other person isn’t ideal (not that any of us are ideal!). So what about the good-hearted view?

Well, this approach tries to use empathy, to see the good heart of the other person, to assume that they are good people with decent intentions who make mistakes and are having trouble of some kind.

For example, some reasons someone might act badly:

  • They genuinely didn’t realize how you would take their actions — from their perspective, there was nothing wrong with what they did. Your interpretation might be that they are wrong, but that’s only one way of seeing it.
  • They were caught up in their world, and weren’t thinking of how their words or actions might affect other people. This, of course, is self-centered, but we all do this, probably every day.
  • They are having a bad day, are in a bad mood, or are in the middle of a tough problem in their life. This causes them to react badly to you. This is not an excuse for bad behavior, but you can understand this, as we all go through it.
  • They have a bad habit of reacting to people in certain harmful ways. This doesn’t mean they have a bad heart, but instead, they developed bad patterns when they were young. At one point, these patterns were meant to protect them from harm, but now they just harm others.
  • They were abused by someone, or hurt in the past, and now they are worried that you are going to harm them. So they protect themselves. Not an excuse, but more of a way to understand people’s behavior.
  • You did something that they took offense to, and so they’re reacting badly to something you did. Maybe you didn’t realize you did this, but that’s the world they’re in.
  • They genuinely were trying to do something to help you, but you took it the wrong way.

None of the above excuses bad behavior. It’s wrong to be rude, to yell, to be violent. But to act badly is human, and to judge everyone for their bad behavior means we won’t be friends with anyone. Ourselves included, because if we’re honest, we have to admit that we act badly sometimes too.

We’re not looking for excuses, but instead to see the good heart in the other person. Yes, they acted badly, but it’s with a good heart. If we can see this, perhaps we can see the other person in a more kind light, and react to them in a more helpful way.

Some ways we can react, now that we see them in a good-hearted light:

  1. We can try to understand them, maybe even talk to them about what’s going on. People often like to be heard and understood. Make them feel like what they’re doing is understandable.
  2. From this place, we might also share how their actions affected us, without blaming, accusing or guilt-tripping. Instead, it’s from a place of wanting to resolve the conflict.
  3. We might give them compassion for the difficulty they’re going through. Maybe a hug, or the appropriate equivalent — just a “hug attitude,” where we’re trying to commiserate with them and make them feel better somehow.
  4. Or we might just feel the compassion inside, and not let ourselves get caught up in resentful or frustrated emotions, and instead, just leave the other person alone until they feel better, if that’s more appropriate.
  5. If the other person is genuinely harmful, you might need to get away from them (for your own protection), but with compassion you might not be so angry at them.

These are just a few options, but you can see that these actions are much more helpful for the relationship, for the other person, and for our own happiness.

You might say, “Well, isn’t this just rewarding or excusing their bad behavior?” That’s one way to see it, but I believe it’s more about not getting caught up in our own self-centered view, and not engaging in unhelpful and harmful patterns of thought. With the good-hearted view, we are more understanding, more compassionate, more likely to be happy and have good relationships.

The next time you feel difficulty with someone, try the good-hearted view. You just might find some happiness in a difficult situation.

Headshots and what the famous actors say..

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Actors. All, even the famous ones, started somewhere and still, or once upon a time needed a headshot. And they also have opinions on them. Hereby some funny, interesting, heartfelt quotes to start your Friday off right. Hope you have a great weekend!

Every artist is a walking business. Your marketing tools are your headshots and your reel. That’s what people see that’s what you’re out there pushing trying to get a rep and that isn’t easy. – Jay Ellis. 

I didn’t have an agent, I didn’t have a headshot. I didn’t even know if anyone would know where to find me. I just went back to high school and started playing with my band. – Jason Schwartzman

I have a bunch of headshots that I like to throw at people – with some backups. I give them like three copies just so they don’t forget me. – Ken Jeong

I think what makes so many other actors miserable is focusing completely on making other plans. They’re obsessed with their haircut and their headshot and their agent, their IMDB profile or whatever. – Nick Offerman

More quotes

For one year, i was Keith Mitchell Coogan on my headshots. The next year, I was just Keith Coogan. And I have gone by that ever since, maybe 1984 or 1985. That is my mothers maiden name, and it was out of reverence for my grandfather. – Keith Coogan

Many casting directors won’t hire aspiring actors because you might be burning some chick’s headshot under the table so she doesn’t get the part. – Olivia Wilde

I feel more comfortable when I’m somber else, I think. When I’m taking a picture as myself, the whole idea of taking a headshot, to me, feels very false. – Miss Pyle

My headshot is a scratch and a sniff, it smells like failure and onions. – Zach Galifianakis

Ready to get your career started? Book your session now! 

Corporate headshots

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Corporate headshots. Zen Studios LA has premium packages for business professionals for corporate headshots. We can shoot companies of any size as well as individuals. Either in our studio or on location. Call us to book your session 310.684.3596. We have experience shooting business, corporate, executive headshots and Linked-in photos. 

Having professional corporate headshots is extremely important. Most of the time it is the first impression you make on your potential customer. Or on your future employer. That is why you can’t get away with a vacation snapshot on your Linked-in profile. Having a professional photo for you business makes your business stand out. 

Corporate headshots

At Zen Studios L.A. we have lots of experience shooting business headshots for all sorts of companies. Whether you are in a more formal or the creative industry we can accommodate you at your office or receive you at our studio. When shooting with Zen Studios you can relax, we know how to guide you to the right pose and make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. We only use high quality equipment and processing techniques and we’ll bring several choices of backgrounds. For companies we offer different packages, so please contact us to ask for a quote for your business. 

The studio is conveniently located in the heart of Koreatown. Call 310.684.3596 for a quote. 




The 4 Keys to Learning Anything

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By Leo Babauta

I’ve been studying how to learn, as I try to teach myself new skills … and absolutely love learning new things. But I keep running up against a few key problems:

  1. Becoming overwhelmed. The more you learn, the more you see there is to learn. The beginner doesn’t know how much there is to study, but as you start to explore, you find new caverns, and they are immense. Then as you explore those caverns, you find even bigger ones. It can become overwhelming, and lots of people eventually give up because of this feeling.
  2. Failure feels bad. If you want to learn to play chess, you’ll lose a lot at first. Then you get better, and lose a lot. In fact, no matter how good you get, you’ll probably lose a bunch of times. This happens not just with games, but with learning languages, physical skills, academic subjects — you’ll fail a lot. There are ways to set it up so that you rarely fail, but then you’re not really learning much.
  3. It can feel like you’re just treading water. In a fantasy world, you’d learn at a breakneck pace, downloading new skills and knowledge into your brain like they do in the Matrix. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You read and read, or practice and practice, and a lot of the time you barely get better. Other people seem to be learning at twice your speed! Sometimes it seems like you’re not learning anything. This can be really discouraging.
  4. There’s always a strong feeling of uncertainty. Humans don’t like the feeling of uncertainty, for the most part. We avoid it, become afraid of it, get angry or frustrated. But when you try to learn a new skill, it’s almost all uncertainty. You constantly forget things, you don’t understand anything, or when you think you do understand, you try it and it turns out you didn’t understand at all. This feeling of uncertainty causes a lot of people to give up.

OK, so we all want to learn skills — new languages, programming skills, physical skills, history, math, writing, games, so much more. But these four problems stand in our way.

Let’s take them on. We’re going to discover four keys to overcoming these four problems, so that we can tackle anything we want to learn.

First Key: Small Focuses

Yes, it’s true: there’s a vast amount of things to learn, and it can be overwhelming. But that’s true of life itself — there’s so much to see and do, and no one can ever do it all. All we can do is one step at a time.

So we have to not focus on all the innumerable huge caverns that have yet to be explored … but the ground right in front of us.

What small area can we study right now?

What small focus can we conquer? What little area can we explore?

Ignore all the vast uncharted territories for now, shut the rest of the world out, and just be in this one place. Just study this one thing. One small step at a time, a few small steps each day, and we can explore a lot over time.

Second Key: Flip Failure on Its Head

Did you all see the video of Deepmind’s AI after it taught itself to walk? The amazing thing about this is that it did all of that through trial and error. Every single mistake was a lesson.

In fact, that’s similar to how we learn. We don’t know that our knowledge is wrong until we test it out and see whether it works. We can’t truly learn something new until we try and fail a bunch of times.

We all learned to walk that way … wobbly, falling down, until we got the hang of it. That’s also how we learned to talk, to feed ourselves with a spoon, etc. Sure, we had the benefit of being able to see examples of doing it right, but we had to try and fail a whole lot of times before we got it.

Unfortunately, at some point we start to fear failure, but that fear is just holding us back. Failure is really the learning process. Every loss at chess, every falling down when we’re learning a backflip … those are lessons.

So instead of looking at failure as “bad,” we have to flip it on its head. Failure is a lesson, an opportunity to get better, a wise old teacher telling us where we need to focus our learning efforts.

When you fail, smile and say thank you for the lesson.

Third Key: Find Enjoyment in the Process

It’s a tough thing when we feel we’re not making progress, that things are moving too slowly. We want to get to expert level (or at least “advanced beginner”) as quickly as we can, and when it takes five times as long, we can get frustrated.

The answer is to forget about the pace of our progress, but just focus on enjoying the process of learning.

It’s like when you go on a hike, and you’re fixed on getting to your beautiful destination … but it’s a long journey, and you get frustrated by how long it’s taking. Instead, focusing on the journey itself is a better way of traveling. Enjoy the scenery, the exertion, the beauty of each step.

When we’re learning, instead of focusing on where we want to be, we can enjoy the particular focus we’re studying right now. We can be grateful for where we are, for having the opportunity to learn at all. We can enjoy the falling down, and any progress we’ve made so far.

Whenever we find ourselves wishing things were moving faster, that’s a good sign to change focus to where we are.

Fourth Key: Learn to Relish Uncertainty

I think the uncertainty of learning something new, of being in such a foreign place, is probably the most difficult thing. We don’t like that uncertainty, and we usually shy away from it.

With conscious practice, we can change our feeling about uncertainty. We can start to find the joy in this place of not knowing, of not being in complete control, of not having solid ground under our feet. That might sound weird, but it’s possible.

Let’s take a few examples:

  • You’re learning to play Go, and you are playing your first few games. You keep losing, you don’t have any idea where you should play, you worry that every stone you place is a big mistake. This is a place of uncertainty. Can you enjoy this process of trying something and not knowing how it will turn out? Be curious about what might happen when you play your moves? See it as an exciting opportunity to experiment, to explore, to play and have fun!
  • When you’re learning a language, you might be deeply afraid of speaking, because you don’t know what you’re doing (uncertainty). But if you don’t speak, you’ll never learn. So instead of fearing this uncertainty, you dive in and make a complete fool of yourself. Better to be a fool who’s learning than the chicken who doesn’t learn anything new. It’s like dancing wildly with random moves in the middle of a crowd … just have fun being silly! You can do the same thing with speaking a new language — try it, look foolish, enjoy this place of wild abandon.
  • When you’re learning to play music, you can get stuck on the certainty of learning songs from sheet music, because it’s easy to just follow pre-written instructions. But you don’t really learn until you put the sheet music away and try to play the song on your own. And you really learn when you try to play without following someone else’s pre-written music — just playing your own song, riffing and making it up as you play. Of course it’s much more uncertain, and will probably suck. But so what? Just have fun and make stuff up. Relish this place of creation and uncertainty.

So uncertainty can be enjoyed if we think of it as play. If we think of it as creation, learning, exploration, curiosity, finding out, experimenting, openness and newness. It’s courage.

Be courageous today, and put yourself in a place of uncertainty. And then let your heart fill up with the freedom of not knowing and flying without a plan.


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Questions, we them a lot at Zen Studios L.A. So we made a list with the most frequent asked questions hoping to answer any questions you have before coming into the shoot, during or after! If after reading you still have a different questions; please write us. We’ll gladly answer them and add them to the list so it can help someone else out! 

Where to crop headshots for actors?

Close to the face. Sometimes they chop off a bit of the actor’s hairline, CD/Agent knows that its there. It is important that a headshot convey’s a feeling, the cropping of the headshot can help with this. Placing the eyes a bit higher in the photo can help to draw more attention to it, as the eyes are always drawn towards the upper portion of a picture first plus it gives them strength. Showing neck and shoulders will give the viewer an idea of what type of body you have. The clothing that you wear in a headshot will enforce your look along with your expression.

Where to crop headshots for business?

Crop above the chest, right above where the tie meets the jacket and make sure the whole face is in the picture. So do not chop off the hair. Keep the face in the top third of the image. If you crop tight, keep the face centered same goes for when you are standing on an angle. You can use a grid and align the eye line with the top line of the grid.

Where to print headshots in Los Angeles?

At Zen Studios we work with Digital Color House ( and give you 15% off after shooting with us on printing your headshots.

Industry size for headshots is 8×10. Industry standard is Luster/Matte prints. The advantage of Luster prints is that they do not show fingerprints like glossy prints do, which is why agents and casting directors prefer that print.

Print your resume in black and white print on 8×10 and staple it to the back of your headshot. Industry standard is to attach resume to the headshots and not to print directly on the back of headshots (which is great so you can keep your resume up to date without having to reprint also the headshot; save some money)

Where to send headshots?

To send your headshots to agencies get a 11×14 inch envelope, address it to the specific department you are submitting to. Staple your resume to the back of your headshot and write a short cover letter in which you explain what kind of representation you are looking for. Make sure you include if you were referred by someone, and your experience that might not reflect from your resume.

Who to send headshots to?

When you are looking for an agent or manager you will submit your headshot to their office. When going in for an audition make sure you bring your headshot with your resume attached to the back of it.

Who needs headshots?

For actors headshots are their most important marketing tool. It is the first thing agents and Casting Directors see.
Professional headshots are recognized as more and more important as your LinkedIn profile is your online business card.
And with online dating, headshots for dating profile are now becoming a thing.

Are headshots black and white?

No, in the U.S. the industry standard is color for headshots.

Are headshots matte or glossy?

Headshots are matte, so they don’t show fingerprints.

Are headshots important?

Yes, headshots are an actors single most important marketing tool. It is the fist thing a casting director and agent see.

How much headshots cost?

Price of headshots depend on where you take them. In cities as L.A. and N.Y. you can expect the price to be higher. For a business headshot, you’ll generally pay somewhere between $100 and $250. For a modeling or acting headshot prices will range between $200 to $400.

What size headshots do I need?

Headshots are supposed to be cropped 8×10

What is headshots only?

Headshots only means that the stylist and Make Up artist are not included in the session and you will have to book those separate or do it yourself.

Who does headshots?

To get your headshot taken you should search for a professional headshot photographer.

Where to take headshots?

You can choose to take headshots outside or indoors in a studio. When outside you are more dependent on weather and light which all of that can be controlled in a studio.

What do headshots cost?

Price of headshots depend on where you take them. In cities as L.A. and N.Y. you can expect the price to be higher. For a business headshot, you’ll generally pay somewhere between $100 and $250. For a modeling or acting headshot prices will range between $200 to $400.

What are headshots printed on?

Headshots are printed on matte paper.

Are headshots tax deductions?

Yes, you can write off the costs of your headshots,, duplications, classes, coaches, and resumes and also the editing of your reel and voiceover tape and other promotional efforts.

Just make sure you have receipts and expense records to back them up.

Why are professional headshots important?

Yes, headshots are an actors single most important marketing tool. It is the fist thing a casting director and agent see. As this is a very competitive business, taking a headshot with your phone will make you look amateur.

What is a headshot photographer?

A headshot photographer is specialized in taking pictures of a person’s head and shoulder with an emphasis on a person’s face.

Headshots what size?

The industry standard for actor headshots is 8×10.

Where to get headshots for LinkedIn?

When choosing a photographer for your professional headshot check their work to see if they have experience taking business portraits.

Where to get headshots in Los Angeles?

As Los Angeles is the entertainment capitol there are plenty of headshot photographers to choose from. When doing your research make sure you choose a photographer you are comfortable with and whose work reflects the kind of headshots that you want.

Who prints headshots?

There are many different printing agencies for headshots that print good quality but you can even get them printed at Staples.

What are headshots for acting?

A headshot is a photograph of a person’s head and shoulders, emphasizing on the face.

Professional headshots what to wear?

Of course it depends on the type of business that you are in, in the creative industry you are less likely to have a suit and tie image whereas in the corporate industry, that is the standard. So try to keep that in mind and wear clothes that are comfortable but have a great fit. Layers look good on camera, so a jacket works well. Make sure you bring a variety of necklines as these influence how your face will look. Make sure your clothes are pressed and that they look new or like new. The color of your shirt can help emphasize the color of your eyes.

Avoid wearing white, busy patterns, large lines/stripes/big logo’s and turtlenecks. Don’t overdress.

Make sure you wear something that makes you feel good and comfortable.

Headshots what colors to wear?

Plain colors. Patterns and prints will distract from your face. Blue, green, wine and purple are good colors to wear. Avoid wearing pastels, beige, cream, peach or yellow because they will blend in too much with your face. Make sure you bring different options to the photo session.

What are headshots supposed to look like?

A headshot is supposed to look like you on your best day.

Headshots what to know?

Know your type and age range and what shows you are auditioning for. The clearer you have in mind and examples on paper what your headshot should look like, the bigger the chance on a great headshot.

Headshots how to photograph?

Make sure you focus on the eyes. Try and find the best angle, a lot of times actors are not used to looking straight into the camera so make sure you guide them through this and help them.

Headshots how to pose?

Make sure you rehearse your facial expressions at home in front of the mirror so you can be comfortable when looking down the lens of the camera. Communicate with your eyes and make sure you keep your back straight.

Headshots what lens?

The lens that you use for headshots can vary depending on what result you are looking for.

Are headshots expensive?

Price of headshots depend on where you take them. In cities as L.A. and N.Y. you can expect the price to be higher. For a business headshot, you’ll generally pay somewhere between $100 and $250. For a modeling or acting headshot prices will range between $200 to $400.

How to choose headshot photographer?

Do your research online. Ask your friends and colleagues for references. Make sure the photographer has experience working with your type.

What is a headshot photographer?

A headshot photographer specializes in headshot photography which, according to wikipedia is: ‘A headshot is a photographic technique where the focus of the photograph is a person’s face.’

Questions to ask a headshot photographer?

Some questions you could ask your headshot photographer are:

What does the price include? Hair and make-up? Proof prints or CD? Final prints? Retouching?
How much time do I have for the session?
About how many shots will I have to choose from?
Do you use a studio or location? Can I choose?
Do you help with wardrobe?
Can you help me book a make up artist?
What is your payment policy?
How many ‘looks’ are included in the session?

Do you tip a headshot photographer?

You can, if you want to;)

A nice gesture as a thank you note or gift card is always appreciated but not mandatory.

The Mindfulness of Pure Experience

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By Leo Babauta

Dropping any story or narrative in your head about what’s happening right now … what are the sensations you’re feeling at this moment?

What are you smelling, tasting, feeling, hearing, seeing? What colors, textures, qualities of light can you perceive? What does it feel like where your body makes contact with your clothing, with your chair, with the earth?

This is your pure sensory experience, and it is rare that most of us let ourselves just stay in this place.

Usually, we’re caught up in a narrative about ourselves, our lives, our current situation, other people. We might notice the pure experience, but almost immediately we start judging it, wishing it were different, getting upset at it, or wishing it didn’t have to change.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with having thoughts about our experience — it’s natural. But it can be the cause of anxiety, fear, unhappiness, frustration.

Dropping into the mindfulness of pure experience is a way we can deal with those problems, in any moment.

Actually this is what meditation is, for the most part — dropping into pure experience. Many people misunderstand, and think, “I shouldn’t be thinking! I’m screwing this up, because I keep having thoughts.” This is not a problem. When you meditate, thoughts will come up. You will get lost in a train of thought.

What you want to do, in meditation, is get better at noticing when you’re lost in a train of thought. Then, after noticing, simply return the the immediate sensations of your breath and the rest of your current experience. It’s like waking up from a dream. Meditation is training to wake up more often, and stay awake longer.

Let’s talk about dropping out of thought and into pure experience.

What Pure Experience Is

So what do I mean by “pure experience”? Isn’t everything part of our experience, including thoughts? Yes, that’s technically correct (the best kind of correct), but it’s useful to distinguish between our train of thoughts (what I like to call our “story” or “narrative” about our experience) and the actual sensations of what’s happening right now.

A couple examples of the difference between the two:

  • You feel coldness on your skin (sensation). You immediately think, “This sucks, I don’t like the cold, I need to get warmer.” This is your narrative about the situation, your interpretation, your judgment. It makes you unhappy. The pure experience of cold, without judgment or narrative, is just a sensation.
  • You’re in an airport, and there are noises from people talking all around you, smells from the pretzel shop, light and colors and shapes and visual textures, and more. These are your sensory experience. Your story about how irritating the people are, or how you need to get a cinnamon pretzel in your belly right now, are your thoughts, judgments, narrative. The story can cause you to be unhappy with the situation, but the sensations are just sensations.

So right now, you can notice your sensory experience:

  1. What can you hear? Take a moment to pay attention to all auditory sensations you are receiving.
  2. What light can you see? What is its quality?
  3. What colors and shapes can you see? Soak in the visual sensory information you’re receiving.
  4. What touch sensations can you notice in your body right now? Can you feel your feet, your butt on a chair, your jaw, your chest?

What do you notice? Can you be curious about these sensations, and stay with them?

Noticing Thoughts, and Returning to Pure Experience

What happens when you (inevitably) start thinking about the sensations instead of staying with them?

Well, this can lead to an extended daydream as you get lost in the narrative about your experience. Now you’re not actually experiencing the moment, but caught in your story and judgments.

These judgments usually aren’t helpful — they say some version of, “I don’t like this situation (or other person, or something about myself) and I want it to be different.” Or, “I love this so much and I never want it to end, but it will, oh why does it have to end?” Either way, we can be unhappy, frustrated, clinging to what we don’t want to lose or rejecting what we don’t want to experience.

Instead, we can let go of the story, let go of the judgment, and return to the sensations.

We can practice getting better at noticing whether we’re “in our head” or “in our body.” That means noticing whether you’re lost in thoughts, or present with your experience.

Once we notice being lost in thoughts, we don’t have to judge that. We can just notice, non-judgmentally, and then make it a habit to return to sensation. What sensations can you notice right now?

Don’t judge the sensations, just pay attention to them. Don’t push them away and wish they were different, just be curious about them. Don’t cling to them if you like them, but notice with gratitude and let them flow past you lightly.

This is returning to pure experience, with mindfulness and gratitude.

This is the joyful mindfulness of the present moment. Practice now!

Headshots Los Angeles wardrobe

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It’s old news that your wardrobe tells a lot about you. That is why your headshots wardrobe is very important. 

Your clothing reveals a lot about you, how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you. What you wear informs others of your type of employment, your ambitions, emotions and spending habits. That is why in the entertainment industry, where you only get little time to show who you are and what you can do you have to be very aware which message you want to bring across. As a headshot is the first thing a CD will see, and judge you on, make sure you are dressed to impress.


Wearing the right thing for a headshot session is simple but not easy. It has to bring out your personality. So hereby a blog post dedicated to some do’s and don’ts concerning wardrobe. The most important thing is that you bring clothes that you feel comfortable and confident in. 

Do’s and don’ts

Do bring clothes that are new or look like new. Take the time to get them dry-cleaned and steamed. No wrinkly, old or washed out tops.
You can bring accessories that show your personality, this could be a scarf, glasses, jewelry or even a hat. Try to avoid logos and lots of writing on T-shirts. This is very distractive and most likely you will only see a small part of it. Don’t wear white, pastels or black, unless it’s a white T-shirt under a jacket, a black leather jacket or a suit. On the other hand, bright, primary colors are great for headshots!


The name says it already, a headshot, so you don’t have to bother bringing pants (besides the ones you’re wearing, of course), skirts or shoes. We won’t be shooting that part. Unless we are shooting for fitness which has become much more popular in the recent years. Then you should bring work out shoes and yoga pants! Stick to solid colors and avoid clothes with wild patterns on them, this can work for kids but not so much for adults.

Headshots Los Angeles

Make sure you do your homework and you know how to market yourself. How do other people see you? What type of characters are in your range? So, what you wear tells a lot about you and gives the CD an idea what kind of character you can portray. Bring color that bring out your best features. If you have blue eyes, a blue or green color usually looks good on you and really bring out your eyes. A few days before the shoot think about what you’re going to wear. Try it on at home and make sure the fit of the top is still right and that you get it cleaned and steamed before brining it in. Here you can download our guide with more do’s and don’ts to check before coming to a headshot session, so you have your headshots wardrobe ready on the day of the shoot!

Don’t hesitate to call us and ask any questions you have regarding wardrobe! 

5 Ways to Simplify Today

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By Leo Babauta

Living a life of simplicity can be a beautiful thing. But simplifying itself can seem like an overwhelming process.

So I recommend simplicity in your simplifying.

Instead of trying to simplify your whole life, tossing out all your clutter and paring your schedule to just meditation and writing your novel … how about just simplifying one thing?

Simplifying one thing is doable. You don’t have to simplify everything today — you’ve got ages to do all of that.

Simplicity is the path.

You can pick one of the ideas below and implement it today. If it works well, continue it tomorrow. Or try one of the other ideas. And do it with a smile!

  1. Single-task. The next thing you choose to do … do only that. Close everything else, put your phone away, and just focus on that one task. If you’re reading this article, stay with it and do nothing else until you’re done reading. When you decide to check social media, check one at a time and do it fully and with mindfulness. When you go for a walk, have nothing to listen to or look at, other than the nature all around you. One thing at a time: wash one dish, just write, just eat. This is such a simple idea, and it’s doable right now.
  2. Use in-between spaces as mini-meditations. When you’re done with one thing, instead of rushing to the next, pause. Enjoy this in-between space. Notice how you’re feeling, what’s around you, what you just did, what your intention is for what you’re about to do. When you’re going somewhere else, whether it’s just another part of the office or another part of your city … just enjoy this time fully, as if it’s just as important as anything else you do, and don’t rush past it.
  3. Let go of one commitment. Our lives are so full because we say yes to so much, and our commitments pile up over time. You can greatly simplify your life by letting go of one commitment. What isn’t fulfilling you? What can you get out of today by telling them you just don’t have space for it? Practice saying no with confidence and love.
  4. Be fully present with someone. Pick someone today to be with fully. Put away your phone, let go of anything else you’re thinking about, and just be with them. Listen to them. Try to fully see them. Open your heart to them. Send them your love. If you do this with one person a day, which is such a simple thing to do, your life will become better through better relationships and connection.
  5. Clear one space. Find one little area in your work space or home, and declutter it. Just the amount of space that you can hug. For example, just a little space on your desk or kitchen counter. Let this be the blissful oasis of peace and simplicity that will ripple outward to the rest of your life!

These are five little things you can do no matter what you have going on today — don’t do all five things, but just pick one.

And enjoy the simplicity that comes with the doing.

My New Course: Living the Simple Life

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By Leo Babauta

I started simplifying my life in 2005, about 12 years ago, and since then I’ve not only learned a lot about it, but have written books on simplicity as well. It’s been one of the best changes I’ve made in my life.

Simplicity has brought less stress, more peace, better finances, more focus, and most importantly … space in my life for what’s most important to me.

Some of the key things I’ve been able to do because of simplicity:

  • Get my finances in order and (eventually) get out of debt
  • Have quiet time in the morning to meditate, read and do my most important work
  • Make time for exercise, which helped me get in much better shape
  • Make time for my wife and kids, where I didn’t have time before
  • Create a business that I love
  • Enjoy the spaces between all of the above

It might sound like I’m exaggerating the benefits of simplicity, but I really believe that it helped me with all those areas and more. Not magically overnight, but slowly and with effort, of course. But it happened, when I struggled with it all before.

So I’m doing a video course in my Sea Change Program this month called “Living the Simple Life.”

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every week this month I’ll publish two video lessons
  2. There’s a challenge to spend 5-10 minutes each day to simplify part of your life
  3. There are weekly check-in threads in the forum and discussion threads for each lesson
  4. I’ll hold a live video webinar on Simplifying & Letting Go on July 15
  5. I’ll also try to answer questions submitted on the forum

And here are the lessons in the Living the Simple Life course:

  1. Why Simplify, & What a Simple Life Looks Like
  2. Simplifying Possessions, a Little at a Time
  3. Simplifying Your Day
  4. Simplifying Finances
  5. Simplifying in a Simple Way
  6. Obstacles to Simplicity
  7. Simple Productivity
  8. 3 Keys to Living Life Simply

This is all included in my Sea Change Program, which you can sign up for today. You also get access to a huge library of other courses and content for changing your life, one step at a time. I hope you’ll join me, I’m really excited!