Happiness is!

Such a funny thing. When I started my photo journey, my son was in elementary school and I was shooting his sports. It grew into team photos, prom photos, etc and I was happy. The more I learned, the more diverse my world of photography grew. What my world was at the time was babies and kids. I have several kids (3 living, one has passed away)…I have three grandkids…I’ve had foster kids (and still think of them every single day) and almost ALL of my friends have kids. I even home schooled my kids. My world? WAS. KIDS.

I opened the studio knowing I’d be shooting newborns and babies and kids. This? I do. I’ve done so many littles and I still love seeing their families post on social media and I get to see those squishy newborns blossom into little people. I love it. (Not that they AREN’T people…not what I meant….don’t get all semanticsy with me now)…

However; now? I love shooting WOMEN. I really do. I love talking people through their shoots. I love seeing them feel BEAUTIFUL. I absolutely am beyond in love with showing a gorgeous woman who WE see when we look at her. It’s become my absolute love.

When I sit back and look at my business, it’s hilarious to me (in a good way) how a folio box that will contain memories of a gorgeous woman is as exciting to me now as a newborn prop was then.

Growing. I guess we all do it, huh?

So watch this. It’s a video that actually shows more what I do now, the hair, the makeup, the glamour…and includes the kids…and previews the babies. GAH. I love my job.

 

Watch a Behind the Scenes Video!

Goal Setting 101

It’s been an interesting time since opening my studio. I’ve gone through some goals, nailed some, altered some, need to refocus on some. I’ve gotten too busy, I’ve had slow times, you know how it goes… But there’s one thing that keeps happening to me time and time again. And I believe the universe tries to point you to different paths, if you listen.

Last month, I attended Imaging USA in San Antonio. This is a HUGE conference where I was one of 11,000 photographers who signed up to get a week’s worth of education in shooting, business, networking, you name it. I met some AMAZING people. Some were just like me, some were astounding, some were a series of “aha moments” as I listened to them. Some of the information came from speakers and teachers in classes and some of the information came from conversations with new friends and conversations over meals or drinks or merely sitting side by side waiting on our next adventure. I bonded with people quickly, as we all had a common thread of learning about our craft. I made friends that I know will STAY friends for a long, long time. It was such a beautiful week. I was inspired, I was excited and I was simply HAPPY.

I came home and immediately met a few new photographers. One? Spent their time telling me how much THEY knew. Smirking at me with a pity face when I’d speak and they’d interrupt with “well, I’m sure that’s fine for YOU, but….” and so I listened to them. I listened to the condescending way they spoke.

I met some that speak only of the negative. “This photographer does this…or that…” and they judged. Sometimes judging someone who’d shot a job they’d have LOVED to shoot. They complained about their business. They complained about their customers.

Then I had a few that I didn’t know, that reached out to me saying, “can I come to your studio? Can you show me HOW you do what you do?” “Please help me.” I loved it. I welcomed them. I told them all I knew, I learned what they knew. I listened to what they said as they left my studio and there was a common theme. Which, when wrapped up as a nice gift along with the other people I’d listened to, was very eye opening.

It actually showed me something and taught me something. Be kind. Listen. Every person wants to be heard. Every person wants to feel like you value them. This is true with whomever you are taking a photograph and every person from whom you are learning and every person with whom you are conversing. It’s actually one of the best business models.

As I listened to Sue Bryce and Lindsay Adler and Gary Box and Tony Corbell speak. This was a lesson as the “learner”. They all made you feel heard. As I listened to the people who spoke from insecurity and not compassion, and I didn’t feel heard, I didn’t like it. I took away nothing. They people that came to me WANTING to be heard, we got much more accomplished when we heard each other. When a client comes to me, I have to HEAR THEM, or I miss capturing them as they truly wanted. Sometimes, they don’t know. They simply want to feel amazing. I hear that.

When my daughter came to me wanting maternity photos, this was the case. She isn’t a photographer, she just wanted a great experience. She wanted to feel “beautiful” in a sliver of time where she doesn’t feel that way daily. It’s no different than the rest of us, really. As she had hair and makeup done, as she had her shoot, her little girl watched her beautiful mommy feel AMAZING for a day. She wanted that, too. A bit of powder in the hair and makeup room, letting her stand in while her mommy changed clothes, had that baby girl feeling heard and amazing, too. Her little brother? Well, he wanted in on the action, too. He wanted to look STRONG. So, it was incorporated.

My takeaway from the past month? We all have something to offer. From wanting to feel strong, to wanting to feel pretty, to wanting to feel helpful or even just wanting to have someone say, “I get ya. Me, too…” There is the desire. So when I put this all together, I see this: We must all keep listening. We must all keep learning. We need to empower each other, because, in the end. It’s our biggest gift. As an artist, it’s not always my photograph. It’s the experience of getting the photograph. It’s that person, seeing themselves in a positive way, of having a print that reflects THAT and also, a beautiful memory of the photographic experience. Listen. Learn. NEVER get so wrapped up in “yourself” that the other person isn’t heard, because, well, then you’ve missed it.

On this note, I will share with you the experience of doing my daughter’s maternity session. Our experience, our laughter, our beautiful day that offered more memories from the day than merely just the photograph.

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WHAT!?!? Too busy to write???

Okay, yeah. It’s been busy. It’s been GREAT! I said I was going to share my studio journey on here and I just keep dropping the ball. WHY? Well, because I’m busy. I’m busy shooting, marketing, decorating, selling, creating…all those things that come with being artsy, creative, and in business. It’s been an amazing year. Not going to lie.

I’ve learned a lot. I mean, A LOT. I’ve learned that I have people driving a LONG way to have me do their portraits. I’ve learned that not everyone within a 10 mile vicinity will clamor to me. I don’t necessarily “get it” but it’s very humbling when a new mom will drive over an hour and a half to bring her newborn to you so YOU can create those memories. It’s cool.

I also had a tragedy happen recently. My cousin was killed in a head on collision with a wrong-way-driving drunk driver. She was 25. She was amazing. She’d recently gotten her Masters degree and was an athletic trainer at a high school where she lived. She lived life to the fullest in her 25 years. Listening to what people had to say about her really struck me. She was a light. She was funny. She was kind. She gave back… she was all those things that we all hope to be. She grabbed life fully and kissed it on the lips.

I love that. I want to be more like that.

Driving home from her funeral…a five hour drive…As I sat in the back seat while my husband and teenage son discussed politics and history and music, I mused on all I’d experienced in the last week. The shock, the hurt, the worry for her parents, the joy at seeing 1600 people show up for her, all of it.

I looked out the window. There was the giant amazing supermoon. I hadn’t brought the correct lens. I hadn’t brought a tripod. Bummer. I’d be the token photographer NOT to get a wonderful photo of the moon. sigh.

No. GRAB LIFE FULLY AND KISS IT ON THE LIPS.

“PULL OVER!” I yelled from the back seat. The boys looked at each other and rolled their eyes. We’d already gone through me running across a street to get a shot of a dilapidated house while the husband filled up with gas. They knew I’d seen something. So as my husband pulled over, I got ready to run out into a highway to get a shot of a moon that was super. One that I was unprepared to shoot. I knew I couldn’t get that big, full, gorgeous shot that so many were getting. I had the wrong lens. I was going to be holding my breath, making a tripod out of my elbows and torso and hoping for the best. But, to begin to live life fully means to begin shedding the excuses. Right? So I did it. I shot an old building and a super moon…in the middle of a highway in some random town I can’t even name. And this marks the beginning of shedding excuses. Live it fully. Create, smile, laugh, and dance it out when it gets tough. 2017 is gonna rock and I know that because I’m starting it now.

SO…. let’s kiss… or, let’s dance. Either way, we end up smiling! LET’S GO!

You are beautiful.

It’s been interesting for me here recently. I normally shoot kids and babies, families and high school kids..but I’ve had a run of just women, recently. Women. Ladies. Females are interesting. I’m sure I’ve been bringing this female energy to me. I’ve been learning everything I can from Sue Bryce, who I admire greatly. She’s a photographer that mostly shoots, well, women. I’ve been studying posing and lighting and all that stuff we keep trying to perfect as photographers…

But. It’s interesting. I’ll book a session for a gorgeous lady…and immediately, I hear, “I don’t photograph well. I’ve never taken a good photo.” Interestingly enough, I’ll ask them, “What is it that you don’t like?” A woman can pinpoint it every time. My nose. My chin. My neck. My arms. My smile. My eyes. Whatever it is, they KNOW it. Now, me? Looking at them? I’m always baffled. Whatever the insecurity is, actually, usually isn’t there! I find that I do the exact same thing to myself. WHY DO WE DO THIS!? I don’t know. I do know, that watching them, I’ve become more compassionate with myself. Hey, I’m 46! Of course my face doesn’t look 22 anymore! I’m not a big girl at all. I’m 5’4…I weigh 125 pounds. I hear a lot “ohhh…if I was skinny like you…” and it’s funny to me because TO ME, well, I’m built like a 12 year old Sponge Bob Square Pants. I don’t have gorgeous curves and a rockin’ booty. So, I look at them. I blink. I got nothin’. Funny. We want what we don’t have…what we used to have…what someone else has. This is insanity! Confidence. That’s beautiful. I found a video that says it perfectly. Embrace yourself. Love yourself. You can’t have everything you want…and there’s someone on the other side wanting what YOU have. Embrace it. Love yourself. Be gentle with yourself. Get those photos taken. FEEEEEEL beautiful. I’ve loved the past couple of weeks. Shooting these women, finding their little targets of insecurity, showing them their photos, and watching them light up. Why do they light up? Because they finally SEE…they’re beautiful. Exist in photos. Really… and smile… Because, well, YOU…YOU are BEAUTIFUL!

It’s my birthday!!!

And…it’s how I begin my new year. I know, I know…everyone else does it on January 1. I don’t. I go by my own years. My own timeline. My own little way.

This year, it worked out really well. An incredibly “trying” January loomed over my family. One full of challenges, stress, unknown…you name it, it was there. Funny how the universe works, it seemed to all pack into one week in the month. Six days. So from the middle of December, there was worry and stress over things we couldn’t control. Things that were simply gonna “happen.” We made it through. Some things didn’t end up happening at all. Some were postponed. Some, well, we were victorious over them, so the worry wasn’t even worth it. Isn’t that how it usually is?

What did I learn…that is the important thing here. You can’t control everything. You simply cannot. That, I learned. I also learned, well, the worry and over-thinking doesn’t help it. Action helps. Somethings, you just have to meditate through. Stay centered, even when it’s hard to find your center. I learned that worrying over things you cannot control takes time and action away from the things you CAN control. I made that mistake. I invested my energy into worrying, thinking, stressing…and the uncontrollable things, they worked out. None of my stress helped it.

Had I centered, breathed, and trusted…it would have been the same. Had I simply put that energy into the POSITIVE things, I’d be ahead.

My new year? I’m breathing through the things I cannot control. We still have a transplant looming over us. This? This is positive. It will bring health to my husband. THAT is beautiful. I can’t control any part of it. He can’t control any part of it. What we CAN control? Attitude. Positivity. So we shall. My studio? My business? I can control learning, getting better, focusing, marketing, educating. That’s me. So my new year is my year of YES, as Shonda Rhimes has said (and quite eloquently written about). I will say yes to the ACTION. Yes to the moving forward. Yes to the attitude and positivity. This is my year. I actually FEEL it. I know there will be hurdles. I will breathe through them and act on what I can act on. YES.

THIS. This is my year of YES. (Thank you, Shonda…) And it spirals up from here…

As a little reminder of “it’s all how you look at it…” is this photo. This is me in Bangkok. We were at a Temple where you got a little bird in a little cage. You released your little bird who flew around the GIANT Buddha…and he brought you good luck. My bird? Wouldn’t leave me. I’d release him, he’d come back to me. He stayed with me as I walked around. He stayed with me through a tuk-tuk ride to another Temple. He stayed with me throughout. The ladies at the Temple were completely STRESSED. They wanted to take my bird and give me another to release so I’d have good luck. I saw my little friend as the BEST luck! It’s how you view it… And on that note… I will go ACT…on my wonderful new year! Peace, love and positive vibes to you all…Thailandbird

First months with a studio!

Ha…haven’t written in months. WOW did getting a studio take over my life! LOL!

So, Oct. 1, 2015 I picked up the keys. The landlord met me with keys and a solemn, “um, they left a few things…” I was bouncing. I was buzzing with excitement. I exclaimed, “I don’t care! I’ll get it!!!!” as I charged into the completely empty space that was to be my blank slate that would house my creativity!

Yeah. That was the dream, wasn’t it? Did I mention that my space was once a police station and a city hall? There wasn’t a creative vibe to be had. I opened my front door and saw cubicles. Yep. A big “shooting space” full of cubicles. They’d left them for me. I saw trash. Everywhere. Not bagged up trash, but trash simply thrown on the floor. Finished with that water bottle? Throw it down.

THAT’S OKAY! IT’S MY SPACE!!!! Yep, that was my attitude! I started gathering trash. I made a 4 foot square pile of trash to be taken out. I started washing walls with mint oil to rid the space of weird energy and a general “Barney Fife’s office” vibe. I vacuumed toenail clippings in one office. clickety clickety…ever heard toenail clippings through a vacuum cleaner? Yeah, I hadn’t either. I found a bullet…bigger than my hand…I found rolling papers and meth testing kits and general trash. It took EIGHTEEN DAYS to get things clean enough to be able to have the carpets cleaned.

My teenage son came to see it and his response? “It looks like it should smell like a cigarette.” His girlfriend’s response was similar. She said it had “bad energy”. I immediately ordered sage. I washed the walls again. I got to painting. I painted away the dark paneling and made it feel like MY SPACE…

Funny part? I got the keys on Oct 1st. On Oct 4, my phone rang…and it was someone needing an album cover shoot. His album was to be released 6 days later. I had to decline. There was no way in the midst of this mess, I could shoot that! The artist said, “oh. Well, then, I’ll push back the date. You have to be the photographer!” WOW…. So, days later… in all the weird energy and barney fifedome….we shot an album cover. It turned out beautifully. What a way to start the studio off with fun and creativity!!! Since then, there’s been Save the Date cards remaking the “This is 40” movie poster…so yes, I’ve even shot the studio toilet…ha… there’s been families, babies, newborns, children high school seniors, football players…the energy is so beautiful and creative…it’s clean. It’s all going to be perfect. I feel it now! I’m going to share the “before” photos of the studio…mostly to make you laugh…I will share more “after” shots throughout the journey!