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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Tuesday!

The past two weeks have been pretty blog heavy...I suppose that's what happens right after the holidays in the bitter cold...I'm stuck inside, not doing many shoots and in order to keep in touch with my business I tend to blog more.

So I decided to keep this weeks "toot" short 'n' sweet and totally unrelated to photography.

In no particular oder...

I love to take long car rides in the summer with the windows open and the radio on loud
I love date night with my hubby, even if it's just a movie on the couch after the kiddos have gone to bed.
I love pizza- any day of the week and coffee- any time of the day
I love red wine, summer and folk music
I love getting my nails done, jewelery and perfume though I'm not really a girlie girl
I love working out- I'm sorry I just do- running, weight training, the harder the workout, the more sore I get the better!
I love comments made on my blogs...hehe hint hint!!

I hate TV and even more I hate that I watch too much of it
I hate small talk - I don't do it
I hate clutter- and I hate cleaning...and laundry
On any given day you'll find me in a comfy pair of workout pants and a tank top- if I DO get dressed up, it's usually a comfy pair of jeans and a tank top!

I don't eat beef, or pork, or deer, or buffalo, or any other variety of "roni" as I call it
I don't have patience- when I want something I want it now
I went to school to be a health teacher, a nutritionist a realtor and a personal trainer...I've done all three professionally at one point in my life.

I could keep going, but I promised a short one....Have a GREAT Tuesday!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Teach Me Classes

Right after the holidays I got several emails from frustrated people who received brand new cameras as gifts and had no idea how to use them. Or from people who had "figured" out the basics of the camera, knew which "auto" setting to chose in specific situations and were taking decent photos but still weren't satisfied. They weren't getting the effects they sought out to achieve...occasionally they stumbled upon a great photo, but it was totally by chance, not by skill. 
These people realized that they could achieve these effects on purpose if only they knew how to use their camera properly, how to manipulate the settings in order to make the camera do what they wanted it to do. They wanted to take control!!

I decided to start holding "Teach Me" sessions to help those people acquire new skills, improve their photos and take control of their cameras. When I started out with photography, I had some great mentors who taught me the different functions of the camera, how to manipulate light, how to direct and pose people in a photo shoot and how to get the desired effects ON PURPOSE! I still to this day turn to those people for guidance and inspiration, but at this point I feel I have enough under my belt to pay it forward and do the same.

So far I have had much success with these meetings. I love it when I see the wheels turning in people's brains, I love it even more when I see light bulbs (or flash bulbs, hehe) go off in someone's eyes when they finally GOT IT!

I wanted to share with you a photo taken, not by me, at a recent Teach Me session. Not only did I see the light bulb go off, I also saw his face light up when he saw the photo he was about to take...let me repeat that...ABOUT to take. He took control- he knew what he was looking at, he knew what the photo was going to look like, and he took it. He grabbed it and ran with it.

This is what he saw, this is what he got. Good for you Kevin and thanks for sharing this photo with me! Good luck with your photography goals!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Grandma

 So I titled this blog, "My Grandma", which is obviously 100% true, but I can't keep her all to myself. Because after having 6 daughters of her own, she is also the Grandmother to my sister, Laura and my cousins, Mason, Midge, Bonnie, Jeffrey, Christi, Jenn, Jason, Travis, Meg, Jeremie, Melissa, Jaimie, Jess and Willie- 16 of us in all!! 

I know those folks are anxiously awaiting a glimpse of this lovely lady's photo shoot so without further adieu, allow my to introduce the Grand Matriarch of our family, Florence Mason. Just look at her face as she gazes at the family portrait we took a few years ago--All of us are here because of this lovely lady.

How about I begin by telling you a little bit about her. Anyone who knows her will be able to vouch for her own love of taking photos. I remember well, her talking about "fill flash" and "back lighting" while trying to capture photos of anyone and everyone. Guess I know where some of my love for photography came from!

She is also an avid crossword puzzler. I remember when I was about 6, the age when girls start imitating the adults and wanting to act "grown-up", I started clipping out crosswords from the newspaper and carrying them around in a dress up purse. I don't even think I could spell yet- but I was a puzzler- just like Grandma. Oh and by the way, I clipped coupons too and carried life savers in my purse just like the ones Grandpa would sneak to me during church.

How cute is she???!!

Another one of my Grandmother's claims to fame is her handwriting. Perfect, beautiful, lacy script- it makes even her grocery list look fancy and important.

For anyone who missed me talking about it a few weeks ago, this photo shoot was a gift to my Grandmother, from my parents. My mom knew she, and the rest of the family, would love to have a few nice photos of herself, so she gave her a gift certificate as a Christmas gift. What a fantastic idea!!

And while I knew it was easy enough to hop on over to her house and take a killer portrait (like this one)

(or this one)

I also knew that if I didn't have something for her to "do", she would have quite enough after only a few clicks of the shutter. I was right! The "Oh I think that's enough pictures, don't you?!" and "You take so many pictures, how many are you going to take?" started in after only a few minutes of shooting.

So to distract her a bit, and because I knew it would just be fun and beautiful, I dragged out some old photos for her to look at and talk about....did I mention she's a "talker" :)

So I then agreed, we had taken enough. "That's a wrap!" The model did a terrific job and while she didn't admit it, I think she really enjoyed having her picture taken, and I loved doing it!

So after the photo shoot was done, in true Grandma fashion, she suggested an afternoon "happy hour" ...if the mutual love for photography wasn't enough- this is proof I'm not adopted!! 

Cheers!! And yes, you MUST clink glasses!

As side note to my family: I will add extra photos that didn't make it into this blog to my facebook album. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesdays Toot

Since last Tuesday the biggest event in my life had to have been Sydney's second birthday. I wrote about it on her actual birthday, Friday, but I guess this is part two!

She is only two, however she was entitled to an entire weekend of birthday festivities...just like anyone else is, as far as I'm concerned!

So for her actual birthday, we started out the day with her opening some presents!! She didn't quite understand the difference between her birthday presents and Christmas presents and was convinced Santa had something to do with it...we'll have to work on that one.

 "This is howling" as Dug the Dog would say...

The after presents we went out to eat for breakfast at a very laid back, lazy kind of place just a few miles from our home. The kind of place you see in movies with the tall stacks of pancakes and plates of sausage. The coffees good, there are free newspapers that you fold back up and leave for the next person, the table may be a little sticky but somehow that's OK and there's a row of "mature" men sitting on bar stools, shootin' the shit and flirting with the young waitresses. Yea- a nice kinda place.

BUT....Sydney was off the wall!! I really felt bad for our waitress and the other diner guests. But at least they didn't ask us to leave!
Can she read??? Sure looks like it...

Ryley a bit upset she got pureed peas and not Huevos Rancheros-

 2.7 seconds after the milk arrived....

And of course, as mentioned before...mature man sitting on a bar stool reading the paper, sipping coffee...

Then the BIG EVENT was Sunday! Her PARTY!! She was, of course, excited about presents- again thinking Santa was dropping by. And she loves sweets so the idea of cake was enough to get her bouncing like a 3 day sugar binge! Especially an amazing cake like this one, created by my talented cousin Jaimie. Inspired by Sydney's favorite movie, "Up"!

After a few games of Kinect Bowling

(apparently we all got the "wear black and white" MEMO)

And a mother/son boxing match

It was time to say good night....or rather go pass out in mommy and daddy's bed half way through the party.

Sydney is what I'd call "a handful", 

but she's two, she's cute and she's mine...I'll keep her :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Syd-bee is TWO

Or as she will tell you- she's FOUR! Yes, my first born angel babe is two years old today.
Sydney Beatrice (Syd-bee) is probably one of the most photographed children ever. And she LOVES it (sarcasm- 100%). She is a typical two year old when it comes to the camera..refuses to look, makes silly faces, wants to touch the lens...totally uncooperative. It's unfortunate though, because that little face of hers is perfect!

Now, take a look at my logo...notice the bee!?? Yup that's my little "shout out" to my Miss Sydney. When she was first born my husband was in the police academy- that meant away from home Sunday evening until Friday evening...all day, all night, every day. I was home, a first time mom with a little bundle of baby. What did I do to pass the time. Take photos of her- LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of photos. Mainly to document everything that her daddy was missing so he could catch up on the weekends. But also because I was bored and like I said, she had a perfectly cute face that just NEEDED to be photographed!

So Miss Sydney Beatrice helped launch my photography business and I had to give credit where credit was due. The little bumble bee in my logo will remain, even though I now also have my new little baby who we call buggy- maybe I'll have to expand on the design.... ;)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Universe Spoke To me- I HEART FACES ENTRY


I have entered photos into the I HEART FACES weekly contests in the past. I LOVE looking at the other entries- there are so many talented photographers out there! But as a busy mama with a new business, I don't always have the time to enter these contests, so I only do it if one really speaks to me!! 

Well this week I HAD to enter. Why?? Well the universe is speaking to seriously- I'm not kidding. If I got an email this morning, directly from the universe, it wouldn't have been more obvious than the "message" I got!!

Literally, three days ago I discovered Jasmine Star - she is an incredible photographer (those words do not do her justice) and I feel like I've been unjustly slighted since I've gone this long in my life without knowing her and her work. I have done little other in the past few days but devour her blog, study her photos and watch her interviews. She is ridiculous- in a good way- amazing- I don't have the words (enter image of babbling idiot making an ass of herself). 

Well this week's contest is coincidentally being guest judged by...guess got it...JASMINE STAR! Unbelievable right!!? If she was judging last weeks challenge I wouldn't have even known who she was and would have passed it right by!!

(read the following with a slight tone of humor)   ;-) ...I take universal signs very seriously- this was a very clear, very direct, very obvious sign from above. What it is telling me? To enter the contest? Maybe. That I'm on the right track with my photography and my business? I certainly hope so! But in any event- I got chills when I saw she was judging the contest and started searching for the perfect entry photo. 

So this week- SMILE. Man oh man, a photographer looking through her work to find a photo of someone smiling...yea that's easy- enter sarcasm here. But it didn't really take long for me to think of the perfect photo to use for this weeks SMILE challenge. I mean have you EVER seen a sweeter face!!????

It's far from a technically perfect photo. A smile is an extension of an emotion so that's what I was looking for- a smile that showed emotion in the subject- that CAUSES emotion in the viewer- even if the photo was less than tack sharp and perfectly balanced. But it's my little buggy on her very first Christmas. She has the face of a little cherub and a smile so warm it can melt an iceburg.

Who Gives a Toot Tuesday

Yesterday I announced I would be starting a new aspect of my blog. A little less photo a little more life. I really want people to know the story behind ME, and to watch me grow as a photographer, an artist and as a person. I want to document my journey and the growth of my business. If no one reads it, so be it, I will still have this blog as a way to remember the steps I took along the way, how my interests and focuses changed over time. And since I am a super busy- multitasking mother of two, I need all the help in the memory department that I can get!

So let's get "first things first" out of the way...the name of this weekly Tuesday installment. Before I start getting nasty emails about how awful the name is, let me clarify. First of all, I'm cheesy- bottom line. I'm a dork, a goober, a goof ball, a cheesy, corny nerd. So there- it's out there. Secondly, my other title choice, "Who gives a f*&% Friday's" was quickly stricken from the top choices list when my better judgement kicked in.

So there's that- out of the way - done. If you don't like it...well, Who gives a F*&%??!!  :) Just kidding.

Today I'm going to start off a little light. I don't want to freak anyone out right off the bat :). So I'm going to answer a question I get a lot. "What kind of camera is that?" Yes, that's right- my equipment list!! So this post may not be for everyone. But I want to be open and share from the very beginning. Some photographers are very guarded and won't share too much information. As if sharing will help someone else become a great photographer and turn into competition. My thoughts are, if you can go out and buy all this equipment, you may become competition- what's wrong with that? Competition will push me to be a better photographer- sounds good to me!!! But in all honesty, equipment doesn't make a great photographer. Photography is art and you can't fake that- no matter how much gear you've got!

Now I know what you're thinking- "This is totally photo related!! I thought this was going to be a personal entry?" Well, it's both. My equipment is like my third child. I LOVE researching, comparing, testing, practicing and using my gear. AND I'm a shopper- duh...I'm a woman! So getting new "stuff" is exciting to me! I love shopping for most anything..I like shopping for wine, though not as much as I like drinking it. I love shopping for groceries, though not as much as I like to eat. I like shopping for shoes, clothes, books, art...I have a self diagnosed obsession with shopping for new furniture, which my husband will vouch for 100%. Now that I have kids I love shopping for little girlie clothes, toys and gadgets to make my life easier when it comes to being a stay at home mom and running the house.

So back to my gear- he's a quick shot of my equipment TODAY (it changes by the day...well maybe by the week). What you can't see in this picture are; three three light stands- two with umbrellas, one with a reflector (though you can see the reflector there in the upper left hand corner), my back drop frame (which I never use since I really don't like shooting "studio-style") or my newest camera bag (since I just ordered it yesterday and it's still to be shipped).

So for the photo geeks out there and those wanting specifics....
I shoot with a Nikon D700 professional SLR. I also have a Nikon D60, which will be replaced within the next month with a second HAVE to have a backup and the D60 just 'ain't cutting the mustard'! I prefer the hand strap on the side of the camera to the around the neck strap--personal preference.

Currently I carry my equipment in a samsonite carry on suitcase. Not the best choice, but the best option I can find until I find the "perfect" bag. During photoshoots I wear the orange Tamarac backpack. I hold extra lenses, batteries, memory cards, business cards, lens cloths, my keys and my phone while I shoot. I will soon retire that backpack for a new bag...perhaps another blog post introducing my new bag...?

I use 2 Nikon SB900 Speedlights and own an SB400 (which will also be out the door when I rid myself of the D60). The Gary Fong collapsible Lightsphere is not shown since it's on the flash I have on the camera that I used to take that photo.

The lens I use most predominately is the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 with a reputation of being the "world's sharpest midrange zoom" by Ken Rockwell, photographer and equipment reviewer. ( take him or leave him....

I also use a AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 which is fantastic...especially when my arm is about to fall off from carrying around the D700, with the 24-70, and the SB900, and the extra battery pack...weighs about 10pounds- no lie!!

The third lens I use often is the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR Telezoom lens.

There are a few other lenses in there that are used on the D60 body only, but won't be using for much longer so I won't go well as a specialty fisheye/macro lens combo. There are also a few on the list to acquire- someday.

Let's see what else...other than a variety of lens hoods, tripods, battery chargers, compact flash memory cards, filters, bags, backpacks, battery packs, grips... that's about it. 

On my "Wish List" or should I say, "I'm going to buy in the next few weeks List"; 
Radio poppers and pocket wizards
Back up D700
5 in 1 42" reflector
And that's not even touching my computer equipment....

NOW when people ask..."how come photographers are so dang expensive??!!" Well..... do YOU own that gear? Didn't think so....

So let the shopping continue

And to let you in to my world even a bit more - my beloved office. Still a total work in progress but it's gettin' there!! I feel like once I commit and put somethings on the walls it will feel more "homey" but I have a big problem with putting holes in pretty perfect walls. I mean seriously- I have lived in my home for more than 7 years and JUST put art on the walls this past week! 

So thanks for tuning in for this first installment of "Who gives a TOOT Tuesdays"! I promise to shake things up each week so there will be stuff to interest everyone at one time or another.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Introducing Something New

So this is a photo blog right? people follow my blog to see the photos I take, the story behind the photo shoot and other photo realted information ...right?

Honestly, I wouldn't! That's pretty boring if you ask me...

How many times does someone want to read, "Oh I shot a FABULOUS wedding this weekend, here's the gorgeous dress, the quirky bridal party, and how much do you LOVE those shoes!!?" Yea- boooring! Not for the people in the photos of course, and not for me as the photographer, but for you, as the random stranger reading this blog. You won't return over and over again unless I turn it up a notch and dig a little deeper. Even if the dress really IS gorgeous and the shoes are to die for!

I'll still post my work, tell the stories of the photoshoots and share the news of my business but I feel the need to spice things up a bit. So my plan is to open up, put myself out there, talk about non photo related stuff and try to be interesting. I guess maybe it will tell a bit about what makes me tick, where I gather inspiration and why I do the things the way I do them.

Will it work? Who knows! You'll know in a few months if I stop blogging about non photo related things, if I only post summaries of my shoots and I become less outrageous.

So tomorrow I'll be introducing "Who Gives a TOOT Tuesdays"! If you like what you're reading sign up for my blog, follow it, leave comments, email me questions, topics, discussion points...ANYTHING you want to hear about, give me challenges, make me REACH!

If I get no response then no harm done...I'll go back to the basics. But I hope to never be basic and NEVER LOOK BACK!!!    :)