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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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!

Inspiration is a funny thing…

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about inspiration. Knowing that I am on the threshold of a lot of changes, I examine things…a lot. I read everything I can get my hands on from actual literature, to biographies, to marketing material to business books. I read magazines, blogs, books…anything. I’m at a strange point in my life where I am more a sponge than when I was two years old.

My youngest kiddo is going to be a senior in high school. I have one more year to home school him. My grandkids (that I keep during the day) are growing quickly also. The oldest heads off to kindergarten this year. I won’t have her all day. The youngest? I’ll have him, unless he goes to an actual preschool this year. To every thing, there is a season.

I’m at a time in my life now where my inspiration can’t only come from my children. Oh, they still inspire me. I have one that tours with a rock band and lives his life on his own terms. THAT is inspiring. I have one that loves the corporate world and is diving head first into being an amazing business woman while raising her two adorable babies. THAT is inspiring. I have the teen who boldly walks from being my baby to being independent. He saved and just bought his first car. He teaches drum lessons to kids and almost daily makes a comment or discovery about “his kids.” His passion for music and drumming. His goals that he’s set, yet he’s a bit in the dark about what his future holds since he’s never walked a journey like that quite yet… THAT is inspiring.

I find myself looking forward to Sundays. It’s quiet in the mornings. I turn on “Super Soul Sunday” on the Oprah Network each week. I have found that listening to her interviews of just flat INSPIRING people, well, it inspires me. From the spiritual to the curious to the motivating. I am at my most creative when having their interviews start my day. My husband laughs at me. My kids make fun of my Sunday routine. I laugh, too. I know it sounds funny! I watch them all work towards their goals and can’t really get where they get their guts and inspiration. For some, it comes from within. It’s a natural desire. Sometimes I think it’s to prove some people wrong. Meh, we probably all have a bit of this, yes? But externally? What inspires YOU?

I really want to hear this…since mine seems to be all over the board. I’m inspired by art, photography, success, skepticism…I want to be THE BEST. I take classes. I attend workshops. I want to learn something DAILY that adds to my bliss…which means, I surround myself with inspiration. I’m never the “smartest person in the room” so I can learn. Sometimes, I pride myself on this. Sometimes, I think I should give myself a break. Sometimes I do take a break…and then that uneasy feeling of desire creeps back in. I want to learn. I want to excel. I want to be THE BEST.

It’s odd. I don’t remember this desire from my youth…. so I wonder… Is it who I have decided to surround myself with now? Is it the fact that I’m finally old enough to really focus on myself? Is it that I’ve finally found my bliss and this desire goes hand in hand with that?

So I’m curious. How do YOU gain inspiration? I’m really interested… Let me know!RobinThompson_Crichton

Ahhhhh….the drama of the STUDIO….

The young ones all over the kitchen...

The young ones all over the kitchen…

So, I’ve explained that I’m on a journey here. I’m on a heck of a journey. The universe sort of burped, snuffled and laughed once I made my intentions clear. I decided to OWN this photography thing. I mean, OWN it. I would school and workshop and dive into every aspect of all of it and know everything I can know. I decided this about 7 years ago.

I went to school. I took digital and film and attended workshops. I got pregnant after my (then) youngest was 12. Shock. OK, I can still own this career and home school and have a baby. GO! Well, sadly, my sweet surprise baby was stillborn. Fortunately, we had a birth photographer there. (my first clue into how priceless a photo can be). Take a year off to grieve, recuperate, etc. Then, back to it. After that, my husband went into kidney failure. Hospitals, dialysis three days a week and now on a transplant list. ONE MONTH after his kidneys failed… we got two foster babies. They were 6 months and a year and a half. We had them for a year and BOY did I learn some time management through that year. Husband gone most of the time, keeping my grand-babies who were almost 2 and 4, the foster babies who were 6 mo and almost two (ended up with a 1 1/2 yr old, two 2 year olds and a 5 year old) so four kids 4 and under, and a home schooled 16 year old. WHEW. I’d get up at 4:30am to edit my shoots just so I could still cling to MY thing.

Now? Well, I’m down to three kids during the day. They’re getting older and easier. The teen drives and has his own car, husband is still waiting on a kidney..things are calming for me bit by bit. Now it’s time for a studio. I’ve gone through at least five different options. One I held on to for MONTHS while the landlord gave me the runaround. I was heart broken when it wasn’t happening as I’d envisioned it. I couldn’t figure why the universe wasn’t working WITH me.

Today? I met with a builder. No more land lords to-be, runaround, hoping, stressing over space, driving around looking…nope. I’m building. I hope. Today was the first day where I laid it out and said what I needed/wanted/hoped for. The builder is getting the quote together. I’m crossing my fingers and eyes and toes and everything else. I actually could have my own studio. I actually could have it SOON.

My own space to shoot the images for my CPP image submission… to do my newborn shoots… to never have to cancel due to weather because I don’t have a REAL studio. I can see so clearly the shoots, the clients coming in to view their images, the classes I’ll hold… I have big plans for this space. When I say big plans… I have a diverse set of plans. I want to make art. Do alternative processes. Do amazing shoots. Learn more about lighting than I can imagine. OMG. I’m going to have MY OWN STUDIO SPACE!!!!!!!! So please, blogville…everyone in blogville, start crossing things for luck. For lots of luck. I’ve done babies in every form and even fought sickness and kidneys alongside my husband…I’m still here. Kids are getting big. I feel positive that a kidney’s gonna come….and art is about to happen. IN. MY. STUDIO.

SQUEEEEEEEAL!!!!!

Hello, World!

So…I hear…that I need a blog. I need to keep everyone “updated” through writings. I’m not a writer. I’m a photographer. I don’t even keep a journal. I barely write letters. I only check email because I have to do so. I’m great at facebook because a sentence is all I need. I can read what OTHER people write. I look at other people’s art. I read news and opinions and stay inspired through the diversity on that little page. Here? Looks like the river of inspiration will flow the other direction. I will simply “output” here and see if anyone watches?

I created this site a week ago. It took me a week to figure out what to say or to show. I know my goals. I know what I’m good at, what I need to work on, what I aspire to achieve. I don’t really share it. My final decision on this blog is to document my journey from ignorance to greatness. It will happen. I’m lucky enough to be able to start writing about it now. Far enough into the journey that I know more details on the whole career that I’m planning…but not so far that I’m stuck in a rut.

I will start this with how photography started for ME. I wasn’t raised with artsy parents. I wasn’t raised around art, painting, photography, none of it. I was raised in Lubbock, TX. Music? yes. Art? no.

Fast forward to being 21. I had a baby. My father passed away. My father was an interesting character and his dying meant that getting the Nikon F2 SLR camera that he’d hocked at a pawn shop was my new inheritance. I got that camera and 11 cents. Yep. I didn’t know the first thing about the settings on that camera. I took photos of my baby CONSTANTLY and for whatever reason…they turned out great.

Fast forward again. about a decade later, I have another child. This one is a sporty boy. This football/baseball stuff is scary for a hippie mama. I discover that taking photos of it puts me just enough out of that world that it isn’t so scary. I stand on the sidelines. I shoot the baseball games and football games and become a standard fixture on the fields. People loved my photos. Parents would BUY them. I started getting HIRED to take prom photos, portraits, team photos, etc. I realized that this was my bliss. I was GOOD at it. I kind of EXCELLED at it. I decided to get a DEGREE in commercial photography…I mean, why not? I was a home school mom who had this GIFT! I should get educated, because I was so GOOD!!!!

I enrolled in my first photography class. This is when all of my naive confidence came crashing. I wasn’t good. I was DAMNED LUCKY. I was shooting sports. During the day. With a great lens. Standing on the sidelines. I had good timing, yes…but never once had I taken the camera off AUTO. Yep. Where I believed that I was amazing? haha not so much.

Fast forward another decade or so. I’m still home schooling. My son is about to be a senior in high school. I’ve been in photography classes since the last paragraph. I’ve taken film, portraiture, management, color theory, lighting, alternative process. I now own TWO Nikon film cameras, three Holgas, two Nikon dSLRs, I’ve taught photography to the homeschooled teens we know. We made pinhole cameras, we’ve developed paper, we’ve done gum prints, cyanotypes, hand colored with marshall oils….done it all.

Now you’re basically caught up. I’ve learned and workshopped and shot and shot some more and now? I want to be GREAT. I’m in the process of getting my CPP now, which is a certified professional photographer. It’s tough and rigorous. I’ve passed the exam and am on to the image submission part. I’m looking to have my own studio. I want to own my own. I’m there. So this is where we will begin. Each week….on my road to greatness. I can’t say success because, to me, I’m already successful. The road and the fact that I’m on it is success. I’m not the auto mom shooter I was, so I’m successful. I stuck it out, I learned, I humbled up and grew. I’m proud of that. I’m happy where I am. I’m ECSTATIC about where I’m going. So welcome to my world… it’s nice to have ya here!