five minutes with _csma

Crazy how small this world is… A co-worker of mine introduced me to @_csma’s instagram profile because he really liked her photos. I started following her and became a fan of her work. Just from her Instagram, I could tell that we had a lot in common. She posted a lot of photos of food, interior design, chairs, and landscape - all the things that I love! She chose restaurant and places that I’ve been to or have been dying to try. She was definitely someone I wanted to meet. So I decided to message her and see if she wanted to get brunch! Of course we later found out how many mutual friends of friends we had, and that we ALMOST went to the same birthday party a week ago. 

I wanted to share some of her amazing photos with you guys, so here's five minutes with Christie aka _csma! 
My name is Christie, I’m born and raised in Orange County and I’m currently an Ophthalmic Technician. I work for an ophthalmologist, who is an eye doctor and surgeon. Most of my job consists of scheduling, checking patients in, vision checks, images of the back of the eye, and assist with surgeries. Probably the weirdest thing I do is putting drops into people’s eyes, especially if they’re really squeamish about it. You learn a few tricks – like I would say “OK all done!” and the minute they open their eyes, I squeeze it! I actually studied business accounting in college, which has nothing to do with what I do now. My friend actually got this job for me and I knew nothing about it.

What do you like doing outside of work?
My favorite hobby is reading. I will read anything and everything, but I particularly love dystopian novels. I also love travelling but mostly it’s local. I was really lucky that my parents thought it was really important to take us travelling at an early age. They thought that if we travelled more, we’d see more, learn more and be more receptive to other ways of doing things. They really wanted us to see that not everyone lives the same. The next trip we’re trying to plan right now is to China and Hong Kong. 

In terms of local spots, I really love Abbot Kinney. My friends are all sick of me asking them to go there ha-ha. I love the shops and food out there. I love Victoria beach near Laguna, Thousands Steps Beach, have you been? If there’s a low tide, there’s a big cave that we can walk into.
You  were an Instagram suggested user! What was that like?
I got home from work and was checking Instagram as usual and saw there was a direct message from Instagram. I thought that it was just a mass message that was informative. When I opened it and it said congratulations you’re a suggested user, I thought someone was pranking me. But after awhile, when a lot of people started following me,  and liking all my photos, I was like.. Oh!! I AM a suggested user! It was pretty interesting seeing it blow up like that. My immediate feeling was panic because now it matters what I post. You get the pressure to post better photos but it pushed me to care a little bit more and taking more time to edit the photos.

How big was the jump?
It went from around 4000 followers to 34,000 from just two weeks. They sent me a book for being a suggested user and it was really cool! It’s a book that my friend was actually featured on. It has the history of Instagram, where the common tags came from and who started it. #puddlegram, #throughthefence.. a couple that I haven’t heard of.
Do you have a background in photography?
I’ve taken some classes. I took a film photography class once which was really fun. What was more fun for me was the actual developing of the photos. Being in a dark room, projecting that image, testing light strips and adding filters to add more contrast. Trial and error and manual editing if you will. It’s a lot of fun going through the whole process. I want to get back into it but it’s hard to find a dark room. I don’t want to bring it to CVS and develop it, I want to do it myself. The iPhone camera got so good, I don’t use other SLRs anymore. Back when I had a blog, I used my Sony NEX a lot more. I’m thinking to start blogging again so I can use the camera more!
How do you choose your locations to shoot for your Instagram?
I like to follow a lot of local instagrammers, which is probably the fastest way I come across new places. If it’s a cute shop, the architecture looks interesting, the food looks good, I’ll grab my friends to go check these places out. A lot of times is my friend who wants to check out new places. My other friend likes to go hiking so we’ll go with her. If my instagram is too dark, I’ll go choose places are more light and airy to balance it out. I tend to like white and lighter photos.
What iPhone photo app(s) do you use and would you recommend it?
The first one I use is VSCOcam which everyone uses. I love VSCOCam – all my photos are processed through there. I also use Snapseed. You have greater control over your images or areas that you want to change or edit.
What are some tips you’d give to people who want to take awesome Insta photos?
Lots of natural light. Make sure your lines are parallel or perpendicular. In photography, you learn the rule of three, so if you drew a tic tac toe grid, and put the subject where the points intercept, it makes a better photo. It’s not always the case but it does help. My biggest trick is caring about how the entire instagram looks when someone clicks into it. The easiest way is to map that out is reflecting my VSCOgrid to look like my instagram so I can see what it’ll look like before I post it.
Follow her adventures here!!