Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Super Heroes Unite

I have noticed a few inspiring and inquiring like minded "photog" folks stopping by on occasion,
so I thought I would share some of my favorite resources for learning this thing we love so much.

There are many folks who have been in the trenches
and down the road some of us are curious to know more about.

Starting our own photography business.

First of all... I am NO expert!
I have owned a few businesses in my short lifetime.
I can tell you a thing or twelve about the business of child care.
I can give you advice on the business of housekeeping service.
But I can not tell you how to successfully start your own photography business.
However, I can direct you to some folks who have shared with me
 and countless others along the way.

I've only been shooting my Canon since December of 2010.
In fact, I just got my first SLR camera in December of 2010.
It was the best birthday present I've ever gotten.
Mr. Takamine loves me!!!

I have never shot in anything other than manual mode.
Why?
Because I read somewhere that the "great ones" shoot in manual.
Well, I wanted to be great too, so that's what I did.
I just started from there.

As soon as I got my camera,
 I ran out to the local book store and got me a few magazines and books on photography.
My favorite was Canon EOS Rebel T2i / 550D: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Jeff Revell.
I started taking pictures of my loved ones and posting them on my blog and on facebook
and suddenly started having people contact me to do photos for them and their families.
I was a little reluctant but very excited.

Let's talk about my reluctance, shall we.

One thing about it is, there are others out there, believe it or not,
 who don't like to see others succeed.

They are the naysayers, the negative voices,
the crabs in the bucket, pulling others down with them.
 I have found that sometimes it's hard to believe in myself.
There is on occasion that whisper in my ear saying,

 "You can't do this. Who do think you are?,
Look at the way you use to live.
You aren't going to make it in any business,
No one will like you.
You aren't good enough."

But then...I hear another voice deep down inside of me,
and I find the warrior in me,
and I just remember Who made me,
and Who placed those dreams in my heart.

And I remember His promises in
 Jeremiah 29:11.
 "For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the LORD,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."

The really important part, and hardest part for me sometimes
is the next part of the text, that, when quoted, often gets left out.

Verse 12 and 13 says,
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart."

This is one of my favorite scriptures ever.
The second part is just as important as the first.

When that nasty pessimistic voice speaks,
 I get the duct tape out and silence his pitifully losing self.
I am reminded of this funny little saying,
"Duct tape is silver but silence is golden".

Oh well, it makes me laugh!

Don't ever let someone else tell you that you can't.
And more importantly, don't tell that to yourself either.

My husband and I went out on a date Monday night.
We saw a movie at the IMAX theater in 3D.
 "Captain America: The First Avenger".
It was so awesomely good.
There are a dozen great moments and quotes in that movie.
But there was one in particular,
before Captain America (Chris Evans) really begins using, 
to it's fullest potential,
the gift he's been given, that I must share with you.

I love this moment in the movie...
The heroine in the movie looks at Captain America and says something like: 
"You think this is all you have to give to this war... NO...You were made for more than this!"
(Please forgive my quote, as it doesn't even begin to do the actual line decent justice.)
In regards to the fact that he was essentially
NOT, in life, where he could be best utilized...
He was meant for something greater than "putting on a show"!
I think I actually cried when she (Hayley Atwell) delivered that line.
It gave me chills and took my breath away.

Well, good grief, I've already gotten off course now.

Where was I?

Oh yes, there are the naysayers, BUT there are also those who do want others to succeed.
These are the truly successful ones!
 Here are a few resources that have really been a huge information source for me!

1. I talked about a book in my post It's All About Relationships.
The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business by
Vik Orenstein is a fantastic source for getting every major detail on the subject.

A blog post by Jasmine Starr.

 A blog post by Katelyn James.
This post is regarding the business of photography and
it comes from a professional view point.

Any and all advice that I have ever taken to heart is from these sources
and every other book, magazine, and blog I could find
about this subject that we have such a passion for.

But, more than anything else I have done,
I can tell you that finding someone who was willing to give me personal advice,
who knows me personally, who is uplifting and positive,
may be one of life's best blessings.

Sure Jasmine Star, Katelyn James, and Vik Orenstein have been a tremendous help to me,
 but they have never personally written me, called me,
or even answered a personal question for me before.
They probably don't even know I exist.

Well, actually, one time I found Vic on facebook and messaged her
about the blog post I wrote where I mentioned her book...
 just to make sure it was OK with her.
She said it was fine and appreciated the kind words.
I couldn't believe I even got a response.
 Fantastic!

I shared this same quote on that post about relationships.
And I want to share it again. Because I think it is of great importance.

I think we all come into this business thinking we are going to be shooting most of the time. In actuality we spend very, very little time shooting, and a whole lot of time taking care of business."

~Vic Orenstein

(The author of these books and blogs are in no way affiliated with this blog
or the writer of this blog (me) and are written about

and mentioned of purely because I found their information to be helpful on a personal level.

Also, there is and will not at any time be any monetary compensation for the mention of these folks within my blog.)

I do hope this has helped someone,
and I look forward to our next visit together.

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Have A Little Fun

 I recently ran into this really fun website.

I have lost many hours of sleep due to this incredibly entertaining place of creativity.

Animoto.com is my newest favorite place to go... it's testing my self control.

Why?

Because it's so much fun I can't stop using it!
This may not be your thing, but I love creating visuals.
Photos + Music = A perfect blend of happiness meets passion!

I'm seriously thinking of upgrading already.
Thirty seconds isn't quite long enough.

I stayed up all night creating a few videos from my recent sessions.

Here are a few of them.
Sarah and Brandon
Spring Memories
Ben & Jen

What a fantastic resource for marketing, getting online presence, and ideas for business.
Or, if you're like me, it's a great and fun place to just spend some time,
enjoying two great things in life... music and photography.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Vintage Love


This is an old photo I found of my Dad and Aunt when they were growing up.
I imagine it was taken sometime around the 1950's range.


I love everything about this photo.
From the boys carrying the old (probably Coleman) lanterns,
to the homemade super hero cape wrapped around Dads neck.
These were the days before "texting" and video games came along.
These bare footed kids have stolen my heart in this image
and I cherish  and love it so.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jumping In With Both Feet

I recently wrote a post about my 3 major inspirations, regarding the subject of photography.
And now I want to talk about some important things I've learned along the way so far.

The "butt kicking" learning began when I had my first "payed" photo session a few months back.
I lacked total confidence in myself at the time, and told the client I would do it for free, but she genuinely and lovingly insisted on paying me something. So I excitedly, yet reluctantly agreed.

The session was with three beautiful kids.
The shoot went very well and on that sweltering hot summer day.

I learned the most important lesson I would learn along the way
 thus far in my life on the subject of photography.

 I learned that I was indubitably in love with photography!

I loved doing the session.
I loved every hot, sticky, sweaty minute of it.
It was like a sweet joy to my soul to do the shoot on that day!
And then I got home and gently slipped the memory card
 into my laptop and opened the photos up into Adobe Lightroom.
The joy dissipated slowly as I struggled through using it.
I had NO IDEA how to use it.
I opened up my CS5, took one look and thought, "OH NO! WHAT NOW?"

Before the session I had only used a very simple "photoshop" program
 that I had received years ago with my very first digital camera, a Kodak Easyshare.

I stumbled through the process.
 I'm certain I did everything the hard way.
Because I tend to do that sometimes.

Work flow???
I had never even heard those two terms put together before,
And I certainly had no "flow".

But I made it through and completed the task... a week later!

I copied the images to CD and mailed them to the clients with fingers crossed and breath held.
When I got word from the client that she was happy,
I let out a sigh of relief and could breathe normally again.
But I knew I needed to learn a whole lot more.
(AND STILL DO!!!)

Excuse my random placement of memory...
I suddenly remembered my very first session ever.
This was prior to the one above.

I had to include this lesson because I think every photographer
 faces this at some point in their career.

It was a senior photo shoot.
It was for a family member, so I let this challenge slide.
Hey... It's my loving family.
But I did learn another very important lesson, nevertheless.
On one of the photos I had posted to facebook for a sneak peek.
The photo was copied and altered for, I have no idea what reason,
except that maybe this person thought it looked "cool".
But the copy that was altered was then placed on FB with my watermark still on it.
Urghhhh! Talk about frustration.
Only problem was, I would NEVER, EVER
approve of a picture with changes like that done to it.
And even worse, people probably connect my name to that photo to this day.
Many people don't realize that this kind of alteration is not only legally wrong,
but also disrespectful to the work of the photographer.
So, I now include a written/signed statement with each session saying that
 this sort of alteration and public display of images with out photographer credit is not allowed.

Sound mean and ruthless???

It's important if you care about your image as an artist.
And I do.
I may not be the best photographer in the world, but it's still my art.
And I care about it, worked hard on it, and want it to be it's best.
Making sure the watermark goes through or touches the head or chin
 of the subject is also a good way to make sure
the image isn't altered or copied for unlawful use.

The session that caused me the most grief was a family session
that I had had scheduled for a beautiful summer day.
It was a Saturday.
At a location I had used before.
I can't even bare to retell the story.
You can read about it here.

It was after this incident, that I realized I really needed a backup camera.
I went through an ordeal with the company that
 I had purchased the additional accidental warranty through.
And though it was a messy and confusing ordeal, they did get me that refund.

Once I received that refund,
 I purchased the same camera, buying the same additional warranty.
Why???
Because it was worth it to me!
(And because I tend to be accidental.. oops.)
During my time with out a camera I had clients asking for sessions,
 so I had to rent a camera.
Luckily, I found a great company to do that through!
I had a fantastic experience with them and would use them again in a heart beat!

During my rental period, I did my first wedding session.
I enjoyed every minute of it.
But oh the things I learned from this session.
I can't even begin to tell you all the important things that I learned.

The first thing is, as an artist, take on boldness and belief in yourself
 to do the thing you know is probably going to be best for each image.
I am talking about, gut instinct here.
What perspective will be best for each photo.

 Being uninhibited!

Where is the best location for me to be,
as the photographer, to get the best image possible.

I was told that day, by the notary public,
who was extremely nice, to stand in a certain location.
The location and layout of everything was totally new to me.
But, as the ceremony began to unfold,
I realized I was definitely not in the best place as the photographer.

By this time it was too late to move, because the ceremony was on a bridge.
 And the only way to get to the other side was to either cross the bridge,
 which the wedding party was now blocking and standing on,
or to get there by crossing the river.
 Which was out of the question in those heels I was wearing!
 Not to mention my last experience with Bridges and Water...
not good my friend, not good.

Another great lesson I learned during the wedding shoot was,
to make sure I find out from the client just exactly how the ceremony will unfold.
A very important thing to know!
I needed details that I failed to get.
And I can blame no one but my self for not eliciting all the details from the client.
But I was pleased with the overall results of the images when it was all said and done.

Another thing I am enjoying learning so far
 is eliciting the best emotion possible for each image.

This is not always an easy thing to do.

One of the reasons I love to photograph children so well is that
they have no pretenses in the way of who they are.
They just are who they are, and they don't worry so much
 about how they look or if their hair is perfect or if they look fat or skinny...
blah, blah, blah.

All those little details that don't really matter in the end.
At least not to me.
Because my goal is to capture an emotion.
Not a fake shot of what someone wishes they looked like,
 but an image of who they really are.

The heart and soul of the subject.

Unless, of course, it's a picture of myself.
Then I'm just really picky!

Everyone wants to look beautiful! Yes???

Now here's what I learned during my first newborn session:

Take risks.
 And don't be afraid to take chances with the unknown.

I don't like to be the person who wishes she had done things differently
 but I'm afraid in this case, I am that person.
I admire baby photographers so much for their patience and braveness.

Baby photography is very special because this moment is quickly fleeting.
 A baby only has an umbilical cord for so long,
and all those sweet newborn features a baby has only lasts for a very short period of time.
And if you don't capture those moments right then,
you probably never will have the opportunity to again.
It's a sad thought indeed to know that I thought about doing something, but didn't because of fear.
With my own babies I had no fears, but with someone else's, well, that's a different story.
I learned a ton of valuable things from that session.
I am haunted by them still.

I am sharing these things with you because,
I hope when I look back on this entry someday and I can laugh and smile,
knowing that I've grown by leaps and bounds.

Maybe you are thinking, "Geez, get a load of this girl... What a dummy!"

If so, you are probably right, I was a dummy.
But "I ain't no dummy no more"!

Learning from others mistakes are often the very best way to learn.

Others have paved the path before us for good reason.
My heart is filled with overflowing joy if God can use me
 to help someone else along the way.

Learn from the mistakes of others.
You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.

 ~Eleanor Roosevelt

A Benefit of "Dolomite Lime"

 While traveling through the "tri-cities",
I found these beautiful hydrangeas and had to get a few shots of them.
I take my camera out and capture images of these little beauties every time I visit this spot.
They get more magnificent every year.
The bright blues and greens are amazing!
My two favorite colors.
The color a hydrangea will be is determined by the type of soil they are planted in.
Interesting huh?
The owner of this shrub said they "were a horrid bright pink" color,
before she altered the soil by lowering the pH to create exactly what she wanted!
I thought it was so cool that she was able to do that
so I thought I would share a link that had some interesting facts
about this wonderful blooming exquisiteness!


Happy Weekend!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Canvas Print Contest!

I just entered to win a free canvas print from Easy Canvas Prints on Mrs. 4444's blog.
Hope I win!
If I do I will get one of the following photos put on canvas for our school room.
I catch my girls reading often.
Got some shots at the park a few days ago while the girls were "resting" during play!
Which one do you like best?

1.

 2.

 3.

I may go ahead and get all three.
 Since when is one picture ever enough for one wall?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On Dream Chasing...

Just finished reading this post by Jasmine Star.
Someone I admire, for many different reasons.
 I just wanted to share this quote by her from one of her blog entries.

Whatever dreams, hopes, and wishes you have for your life,
 I thought this was pretty good advice.

It brought me to tears.
 Maybe it's because I'm a little emotional today.
Maybe it's because I have a crazy infatuation with positive and uplifting quotes.
Or maybe it's because I can relate.

It inspires every aspect of my life.

My parenting,
my role as a homeschooling mom,
my work as an aspiring photographer,
and my dreams of entrepreneurship.

 Hope it inspires someone else besides me...

"When I think back to when I first started,
I can't help but feel sorry for that girl.
The girl who didn't trust herself
enough to take bigger risks.
Who didn't dream big enough.
Who limited herself by her own
experience and other people's estimations
 of what was possible.
If I could go back and tell
the Jasmine Star of 2007 something,
 I'd whisper in her ear:
Believe in what you know you can do.
Trust your gut. Ignore the naysayers.
 Dream big, but hope for more.
However, knowing myself back then,
I would ignore the whisper...
so then I'd grab me by the shoulders,
give me a good shake,
then holler straight in my face,
SPRINT TOWARD WHAT YOU WANT AND DON'T EVER LOOK BACK. Ever."

~Jasmine Star





You can click the links above to read the whole post by Jasmine.

Which leads me to another quote:

Learn from the mistakes of others.

You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.



Tom Petty once co-wrote a song called "Runnin' Down A Dream".

"There's something good waiting down this road"...
"Put the pedal down", and go run it down!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Our Light Shines Brighter With Sonlight

As a mom who wants to know my children enjoy the process of learning...
I turned to a curriculum that boasted the saying,

And it didn't disappoint!

I give all the credit for my sweet girls
and all that they will become to God .
All the great things they will accomplish
will be because of Him!
But as a home educator,
I feel proud of what we have accomplished
as we finish up our kindergarten year
 and move into our second year of homeschooling!

This image is of our three beautiful girls.
We spent the day at the park mostly playing on the playground,
but I also brought a few books from our Sonlight 5K Core Package.
 Hannah (6 years old) is reading "The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose"
to her two younger sisters (Laural 4yrs and Rachel 3 yrs).
 There is joy in knowing that I've taught my child to read, the most unassuming of all skills.
 There is love when my children share this gift together,
and there is peace in knowing that we have used the best resources to do it with.

Sonlight has given us a new adventure every day.
A journey where learning and loving go hand in hand.

 Every day brought new challenges, some were easier to conquer than others.

The big blue binder filled with the instructors guide and schedules
was very intimidating at first glance.
 But it didn't take long until that blue binder became my best friend.
And I could never have put together something so comprehensive on my own time.
We've just finished our first year and it's been an experience I want to have again and again!


Thank You Sonlight!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Inspiring Others In Everyday Life

“Only as high as I reach can I grow,
 only as far as I seek can I go,
only as deep as I look can I see,
only as much as I dream can I be.”
~ Karen Ravn


These past few months, I've been swamped with photography sessions.
Many have been family, some friends, and others complete strangers who have become friends.
I have learned very little about actual photography in these passing weeks,
however, I have learned a multitude about business.
Sometimes the most important aspect of the process.

The truth is,
 I love the people.
 I love to shoot.
To get with others and go through the motions of getting those moments to happen.
And capturing in a certain frame the emotion of that very moment.
But I am not a huge fan of learning all the technical aspects of the "photography" itself.
I know the technical stuff is important
 (and plan to study this more, when I can find the time)
but for me the fun part of it all is the business, the relationships, and the people.
I LOVE people!!!
I love meeting new people, getting to know others,
and finding out what moves them to emotion!
And then, if I can capture that emotion in one single frame... it's JOY to my soul!!!

I have to admit, if I am unable to capture the heart and soul of a subject, I disappoint myself.
I feel and know, that I could have done better.
That I could have been more artistic or that I could have pushed myself a bit further.

There are three majorly fantastic
 and awesome photographers that inspire me.
All for different reasons.

My first inspiration is Tracie Birch of Life Prints by Tracie.
She is a fantastic photographer and just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
And let me tell you, she is gorgeous!
Tracie specializes in maternity, newborn, and child photography.
She is the best!

When I first met Tracie, I was sitting in church, I think my third child had just been born
(probably cuddled up in my arms) and Tracie was sitting there behind me.
She tapped me on the shoulder and said something totally sweet and sincere
(because, I don't think I've ever met anyone more genuine)
about my baby and my family and handed me a business card.
She doesn't know this, but I went home and looked her website up online
and fell in love with her work.
I then put her business card on our refrigerator
(because that is something we've always done with our goals)
and decided right then and there
 that I would invest in the captured moments for the memories of our family.
It took me a while, but I was able to save the money
and have that photo session done by Tracie,
and to this very day those images are a joy to myself and my family.
The emotions I have when I look at those images melts my heart and brings me pure JOY!
It has been one of the best investments I've ever made.

My second inspiration is Katelyn James.
I simply ran across her facebook page one day about a year or so ago
and I LOVED her work.
She is a wedding photographer out of Richmond, VA.
My favorite thing about her work is her style and the vivid and bright colors in her photography.
It's exactly what I wish the photos from my wedding would have looked like.
I have been following her for a long time and just think her work in super great.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this girls stuff!

My third inspiration is Jasmine Star Photography.
She is a fabulous wedding photographer for fabulous people.
I actually heard about Jasmine through a blog post by Katelyn James.
Yes, there is power in social networking, that is for sure.
Never underestimate it!!
I have never seen a photographer with the gift of bringing out
and capturing pure emotion in their work like that of Jasmine Stars.
Her gift for this is untouchable.
 I study her every blog post to see just how she does this.
This aspect of her photography is amazing
and is what draws me into her blog and into her work.

Everyone has someone who moves
and inspires them to push forward into excellence.

Isn't that what it's all about any way?

Helping others.

Truly successful people understand
 that helping others makes one successful.

The world is full of inspiring people.

People of talent, genius, and flair.

What people aspire
 you to be better
and inspire
you to create?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Newborn Session

I am a lover of photography... ALL photography!
I don't exactly have a niche yet, or a favorite kind of photography,
but I definitely have a love for children.
This was my first newborn session ever. 
I loved this baby from moment I met him.
He is my nephew.

Thank you Lord for blessing my family with this sweet little boy!















I learn something from every single shoot that I do.
 Something new and different than I do from all the others.
There is always something I wish I had done differently when it's all said and done. 
On this session, I wish I had taken off baby boys clothes.
I actually said, during the session,
"I would love to take his clothes off and get some bare skin shots".
But I didn't do it... gosh darn it that would have been cute!

I was so glad to meet sweet Carson.
He is adorable and precious in every way.
I am looking forward to getting to know him better.

Sisters Session

The location of this session was my husbands idea.
It was a perfect choice.
I have many fond memories of this park, running cross country with my high school team.
(Or rather, attempting to run with the team... I was never very good at it!)
I loved this day, and had so much fun with my family!






"You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people
 than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you”
~Dale Carnegie


I barely bumped up the saturation on these...
The grass and trees were actually this very beautiful green!
I love and miss all these gorgeous locations from my hometown.



I had the privilege of photographing these beautiful girls
 over the weekend while traveling to Tennessee.
They are my nieces.
I love them so much!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Brandon and Sarah ~ Always and Forever

Love is a symbol of eternity. 
It wipes out all sense of time,
destroying all memory of a beginning
 and all fear of an end. 
 ~Author Unknown


Before the ceremony on the bridge.
Always and Forever!



Green... My favorite color!

Such a gorgeous place!

The beginning of a new journey together.



The Bride and Groom.

I just love daddy daughter moments.

Mother and Daughter.


 
This group of gals were so much fun.
 I think if I had known them back when I was is nursing school, we would have been great friends.

The Boys.



The girls.... They are all so beautiful!

Party preparation!



A really fun group of friends. This one is my favorite picture of the day!
Wedding days are the happiest and most blessed days there are!
Surrounded by friends and family, and loved ones... You can't help but feel happy!

Love Always!