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!

Ohhhhh, it’s been a while!

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And it’s been crazy!

However; I’m updating because I said that I was going to share the journey. I haven’t. I’ve been figuring out which road this journey would be best suited to use. It’s been fun and tricky and scary and exciting.

And now that I’ve shared all the adjectives of the journey. Let me say that those are the EXACT adjectives to describe how I feel right at this very moment. I’m getting a studio.

Tomorrow.

Yep. I pick up the keys tomorrow. It’s my last day with no studio. Let me back up and fill ya in. So…I’d been looking ALL OVER THE PLACE for a studio. I’d talked to builders, I’d talked to people an hour away from my home…I’d looked, I’d searched, I had people tell me crazy prices, I had one guy who wanted me to meet his parents, I had good prices but across the street from another photographer, I had sharing offers, I thought I’d seen it all. I’d looked East and West and South.

Not north. I live north. I live FAR north. I’m close to Dallas(ish) but far enough that people’s eyes widen when I tell them where I live. I get “ohhhhhh wowwww…….” so looking FURTHER north didn’t even seem reasonable. The only time *I* go further north is to go to Oklahoma (which is closer to me than Dallas) or to pick up my grandkids to take them to gymnastics….See where I’m going here?

Yep…every time it was gymnastics day, I’d pass this little town, one town north, and pass a great little spot….that was for rent. A couple of weeks ago, I got done a bit early from a shoot, so I drove by again to get the number. I pulled in, and called. The guy answered and said he was there so I could come look! I explained to him what I wanted. What I NEEDED. He kept shaking his head “no” as I looked in awe at what could be MY space. He finally said “Kid, this isn’t it. I’ve got a space you’ll like better…can you follow me and I’ll show you?” Sure.

So he takes me to Main street in this little town…to the City Hall and the Police Station. (I’m not kidding.) He says they’re moving out at the end of the month. Rent is cheap. It’d be all mine. We looked around (awkwardly. don’t ever try and look around a police station and city hall and think it’s going to be easy…it’s NOT).

Fast forward….I’ve signed a lease, I’ve gotten a business bank account, I’ve gotten a DBA…I’ve gotten so I can take credit cards, I have a certificate of occupancy and inspections scheduled and have paid deposits and fees and “stuff” that I didn’t even know I’d have to pay! LOL! All to lead up to tomorrow. My own place. MY STUDIO. A new town. New faces. New team colors. I feel like I’m jumping off a cliff and seeing what happens.

Yep…fun and tricky and scary and exciting. I’ll keep you posted. And I’ll keep posting. There will be no shortage of before and after photos. From law to art. This space has a whole personality change a comin’…..

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!!!!!

Why would I do that?

In my journey to own my studio, rock photography in general and achieve something great…I’ve discovered it’s the fun side roads that can make this journey more fun and more enjoyable and more diverse.

I’ve taken classes in digital photography, photoshop, lightroom, film photography, color theory, studio management, posing, lighting, portraiture, and now an entire class in alternative processes. Yep. I want to own a portrait studio and I am absolutely loving the idea of learning more processes. Will it help my portraits by learning these chemicals, by creating funky art and by spending weeks and weeks NOT shooting with a DSLR, but rather…a Holga? Why waste the time? Why not focus on only studio knowledge?

Well, I’ll tell you. YES. My personal belief is that it will make me a MUCH better portrait photographer. WHY? Because I live in a small town where I could throw a rock and probably hit 20 mom-tographers. Yep…the mom with a rebel that charges $20 for a CD of images. I swear, they’re born and bred here in my town. And ya know what? I started off as one also. (although I’ve said that and had people shocked that I’d claim that. They swear I never was…) No hating on them. I was that mom taking pictures of my kid on the baseball and football fields…taking “portraits” of friends’ kids for their senior photos, baby pictures. I thought I was AMAZING. I believed what people said. Then I decided to learn. First think that I learned was that I was NOT amazing. I couldn’t take the camera off “auto”. For real. I didn’t know how. So about a decade ago, armed with YEARS of “shooting” but not learning…I decided to own this gig.

I’ve done some alternative processes. I’ve shot with a Holga. I actually own several of them. I’ve done cyanotypes, vandykes, and gum prints…But to really focus in and make more art? To notice completely different aspects of prints and composition and light and shadow… to expand my mind in more creative ways? THIS. This is one of the things that will set me apart from the average person with a camera. THIS. I can play in chemicals and make art. I can shoot and edit and digitally enhance and develop film and do alternative processes and create art in all of these ways. I’m so excited about this. I cannot wait to get down and dirty in art. ha!

In 30 years I completely see myself as this little groovy woman…making art…maybe running naked in my personal forest somewhere and talking to the butterflies. Yep.