31 Days of Happiness Countdown: 'Ugly Spots, Pretty Shots.' (Day 3)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 3 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

The holiday season is all about adding a little bit of cheer to our otherwise routine lives — something that's easy to do when you're surrounded by sparkling lights and a blanket of snow.


Once we all return to our regular, holiday-free slog, however, finding joy in the unexpected becomes more of a challenge.

It's a challenge that photographer Jenna Martin has decided to tackle head on, through her awesome portrait series "Ugly Spots, Pretty Shots."

All photos by Jenna Martin, used with permission.

The photo series showcases just what kind of magic can happen when you look at an otherwise unremarkable place with a more creative attitude.

Martin and her model friend Rachelle Kathleen picked out "ugly" places — like hardware stores and tire shops — and found ways to create amazing photos from these otherwise uninteresting backdrops.

Next thing you know, this lighting section:

...becomes this crystal wonderland!

Martin has a few rules the pair follow when they do these unconventional shoots. "We have to work with what is there," she explains on her blog. "No props or extra lighting." So what you see is what was there — no behind-the-scenes tricks to make the photos look fancier.

They also don't change the scene in any major way (though they do stay out of the way of customers and employees) and they always try to do the whole shoot within an hour.

Though Martin is a professional photographer, she doesn't do these shoots with clients. It's just a fun opportunity for two creative friends to force themselves to see beauty where, normally, people see the exact opposite.

You can click through to the original posts (there are two so far) to see more of Martin's shots, plus snaps she took with her phone to demonstrate exactly what each backdrop looked like to the naked eye.

It's proof that, with a little creativity and some resolve, we can find joy anywhere — and not just at the holidays!

More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / [DAY 3] / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17/ DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31

Courtesy of Movemeant Foundation

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Have you ever woken up one day and wondered if you were destined to do more in your life? Or worried you didn't take that shot at your dream?

FOX's new show "The Big Leap." is here to show you that all you need to take that second chance is the confidence to do so.

Watch as a group of diverse underdogs from all different walks of life try to change their lives by auditioning for a reality TV dance show, finding themselves on an emotional journey when suddenly thrust into the spotlight. And they're not letting the fact that they don't have the traditional dancer body type, age, or background hold them back.

Unfortunately, far too many people lack this kind of confidence. That's why FOX is partnering with the Movemeant Foundation, an organization whose whole mission is to teach women and girls that fitness and physical movement is essential to helping them develop self-confidence, resilience, and commitment with communities of like-minded girls.

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This article originally appeared on 03.31.15

Kids can innovate, create, and imagine in ways that are fresh and inspiring — when we "allow" them to do so, anyway. Despite the tendency for parents to freak out because their kids are spending more and more time with technology in schools, and the tendency for schools themselves to set extremely restrictive limits on the usage of such technology, there's a solid argument for letting them be free to imagine and then make it happen.

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