Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Magic Happens

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…"

― Theodore Roosevelt 


I love it when things just come together. Lately I've been giving a lot of thought about my photography and where I want it to go. Last year I felt like a machine. I cranked out over 200 sessions and lost complete control of my world. I haven't been a good wife or mother or daughter or sister or friend. I wasn't able to focus on what truly matters most in my life. After much thought and prayer I decided to talk to a couple pros about what to do next to regain balance and joy. It was truly a blessing to work with so many wonderful families and I do feel that I learned volumes about lighting and composition but then I seemed to plateau... Everything went stale and I just worked like a machine to keep up with demand. I want to grow as a photographer and learn as much as I can about lighting and composition and creativity and yes even weddings... I do love weddings and just as I said NEVER again... God has opened my eyes to see that I am gifted to work with brides... I just needed to step back and look at my world from a higher elevation. I took a risk and re-worked my schedule and pricing for 2014... I know I have lost some business due to the changes... and that's okay. I know in my heart I had to do it. My calendar stayed jammed, not because I'm the best, but because I was the cheapest in town.. Wise words from my mother... "Shelly, you don't want to be the cheapest gig in town." It felt harsh, but it was true. Another wise woman spoke truth into my life... Denise said, that we should truly enjoy the art of what we do and when we're spinning on a wheel, we lose that joy (or something like that). There is great talent in the area I live in and the photography biz is competitive. But I want to be known for my work and work ethic/customer service, not price or lack there of..
I'm excited to continue to grow and learn more about this art that I love. I have several workshops scheduled and plan to focus most on portrait photography and yes a few weddings... With that said I feel it's important to have a studio to work from. Weather plays a huge factor in natural light photography and it would be awesome to have shelter when this crazy South Texas weather rears it's head... I would love to be able to choose from modern to traditional backdrops and have a permanent place to shoot newborn sessions. I have this AMAZING...HUGE beautifully lit front formal room that isn't utilized nearly as much as it could be... do you see where I'm headed? Hoot practices piano in this room daily and we often do homework there and we always put our Christmas tree up in the is room but other than that... it's not being used like it could (Lambert this is for you). Today I bribed my children into letting me take a few quick snaps at 4:00 when the lighting was just beautiful and magic truly happened in this room. God has blessed us with this home and I'm sure I can make better use of it :) So changes are a coming... I hope that if we build it... children and families will come... we shall see.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Relationships Bare Brittle Limbs and Winter

“I am good at walking away. Rejection teaches you how to reject.”
― Jeanette Winterson


I haven't been able to blog stalk for weeks maybe months. If I'm at my computer I'm working. Most days I don't make it out of my jammies until its time to pick up the kiddos. If the doorbell rings I freeze until they go away. My poor yoga pants have needed to retire since about Thanksgiving. My work load is finally calming down from the Christmas frenzy and I've been able to return calls to friends and catch up on laundry/ironing. Thankfully I have help once a week or who knows what my toilets would look like. When I need inspiration and a good measure of wisdom I always know I can count on Flower Patch Farmgirl I grab a cup of coffee and can lose a good hour pouring over her posts. I have dealt with my fair share of rejection as I'm sure most of us have. I used to think it was just me but the more I talk about it the more I learn that many of my friends are dealing with or have dealt with the pain of rejection and or loneliness. I know that God led me to read this post in His time. I've sat on it for a day and decided to pass Shannan's wisdom on to those who still read my pitiful blog.

These words stuck but the whole message is wonderful. If you haven't visited her, do so and you'll be glad you did. I believe God speaks directly through her quirky writings. She has a way!

"Aren't we promised that following Christ means some of our relationships will be chipped up, or even fractured? Are we not signing up for a measure of rejection? Doesn't this count as suffering?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in The Cost of Discipleship, "It is Christ's will that [man] should be thus isolated, and that he should fix his eyes solely on Him."

That is where my pitiful humanity wrecks this gift of loneliness. Over and over, rather than fixing my eyes on the One who loves me best, I frantically scan the horizon-line for a jeans-and-sneaks person to save me. I run to my husband, or my mom. Affirmation is only a text message away. From the security of the school pick up line, from the comfort of my kitchen, I can yell for help and someone will throw me a float." Shanna

I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. (Hosea 14:8)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weddings: It's A Love~Hate Relationship

“The older I get, the less time I want to spend with the part of the human race that didn’t marry me.” Fawn Weaver

I love a good wedding... I love being a guest at a wedding and I could totally be a wedding crasher. There are so many wonderful details that make a good wedding. I love beautiful fonts, and flowers and delicate jewelry and bridesmaids. I love the funny groomsmen and children. I love old people at weddings and that odd couple... that do not look like they belong... that's what people probably think about me at weddings HA! I have shot several weddings now but still consider myself a total novice. I run on pure adrenaline at the actual event. It usually involves rising early (really early), driving hours away to the venue (I'm not sure why but most of the weddings I've shot have been out of town), stopping at Buccees for a snack, pulling over and throwing up just before arrival and then it's show time. I get sick every time I shoot a wedding. It's the pressure... Will I get the kiss, will I split my pants while I'm shooting the bride and groom in front of the guests, will my camera give out, did I pack a back up card and batteries, am I at the right place on the right date (that has happened to me) the list goes on and on and on. I hop out of my Odyssey, assess the grounds and start shooting details. I meet up with the bride and all her gals to shoot a few pre-wedding preparation shots, then head over to the grooms den... this is always interesting. They never know how to dress themselves... it's quite funny. I try to get everyone ready early so we can do a few pre-ceremony shots, shoot the wedding PRAY I get the kiss (sometimes it happens really fast!)and then it's the family... Oh My!! Everyone thinks I somehow magically know who is supposed to be in which shot and that Aunt Betty doesn't like to stand next to cousin Sue because she hates her and that step parents/ x-spouses are in some photos but not others... It's pure chaos but for some reason I totally enjoy it...

After the ceremony,the family shots, and bridal party I can relax a little and have fun with candids. I stay out of sight while folks are eating as no one likes me when they have a mouth full of food and a plate piled high in front of them. I resurface when coffee is served and start shooting the guests. By this time the old people wander out to the dance floor and the bar is usually open. People start feeling a little loose and the DJ breaks out the line dance songs and before you know it the dance floor is hopping with youngsters and the old people are waiting for the cake to be cut so they can duck out. I wait a bit for everyone to get a little looser before I start shooting the dance floor. It makes people self conciseness if I start too soon. I mingle and talk to strangers like were old friends. By this time it's cake/toast time. There isn't much to these pics but everyone wants them. Then it's back to the dance floor. My back and feet and hands and fingers and toes and arms and head are usually killing me by now. I'll pop some Advil and pray that it kicks in soon. I'm usually ready to go home by 10 but it's usually just cranking up by 10. The DJ has played all the line dances, folks are on their way to the dreadful wedding hang over and just when I think it's time to wind down... I hear, "Hey Big Girl back it up"... No they aren't talking to me... It's the Wobble song and everyone is on the dance floor. This is usually followed by The Dougie dance and if they are really crazy the play list keeps on and on... And you know... no wedding is complete without AC/DC Rock Me All Night Long... That's when I know its going to be a very late night for this tired mamma. Some how through it all I find things very amusing and fun. I'll catch myself laughing out loud. And for some strange reason, maybe because I sing along and usually solo dance with my camera in hand, some drunk single man will think it is his duty to ask me to dance... I almost always decline because I am most emphatically not a guest but a paid worker... but sometimes I break out and just go with it... I LOVE TO DANCE.. camera in hand praying no one bumps me and there goes my lively hood... I would have some "splaining" to do to Ricky when I got home~ The evening comes to end when they break out the bubbles/rice/sparklers/ribbons/bells you name it and the bride and groom escape to their honey moon... I pack it up as quickly as I can, hop back in the Oddessy and tell myself that is the last wedding I will ever do...

I drive hours home, fall in to bed with my wonderful husband and feel like I've been hit by a freight train the next morning. (not because I indulged in the alcohol I may dance but I don't partake in the spirits) I spend the next 4-6 weeks editing images and editing and editing and editing until I can no longer look at the same people any more. Once I have completed whitening and straightening and thinning and sculpting and coloring and shrinking and cloning... I find a stopping point. I wait a few days and then go back to review and touch up any last minute details. I contact the bride to tell her that her images are ready to be delivered. Once the images are out of my hands... I wait. I wait for the call to tell me how wonderful they are or that they hate their images and want their money back... The latter is what I am certain I will hear every time I deliver. (I have not heard this yet) but in my mind it is played over and over like a recording. "These are the worst images I have ever seen!" " I demand my money back!" "I thought you were a photographer, you misrepresented yourself, you are a fraud!"Okay I've been transparent enough. I've also watched a few court TV shows where photographers ruin the wedding images and are being sued by the bride. Now you know all my lame insecurities. Enjoy the beautiful Tiffany... I have one more wedding to edit and one more to shoot and edit and I am no longer in the wedding photography business. I'll stick to portrait and story telling photography thank you very much!!



This tub full of bubbly set off the fire alarms for over an hour and the fire truck showed up... good thing Tiffany is an electrician. She handled it all the while in her wedding robe and heels... it wasn't funny then, but it is now!









That's all folks...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Crud

This wishy washy weather has my baby boy under the weather. I'm thankful it's not the Flu but it still stinks. Made a trip to the doctor today... Bronchitis :( We're stocked up on over the counter meds and vitamins and we picked up a Zpac today. I've loaded him up with vitamin C and even made him fresh squeezed orange slushy to soothe his throat. He went through a box of tissue a roll of paper towels and resorted to his very own personal roll of toilet paper before the day was over. He filled a Target shopping bag almost full with his business. This was the first day of school Hoot has missed all year. I picked up his school work today when I picked up Miss Wawa... She had her first day of tutoring and thinks the term "tootering" is very very funny. If I ever EVER EVER mention I'm thinking of home schooling.... PLEASE someone remind me of this day. I am certain it's not safe for either my children to be educated by their mother. I tried to teach Hoot Inverse Operations this afternoon.... It did not go well and we were both in tears... Now I'm sure he was not at the top of his math game (he is sick) but.... lets just say his teacher will have to cover this lesson when he returns to school. I almost threw the book through the window... (please remind me of this day if ever). I tried to get Lambert to help me and he couldn't remember learning Inverse Operations... Come on.... I can NOT be the math homework helper past third grade... and I don't remember learning this material in third grade... I'm pretty sure that topic didn't come until at least sixth grade... But at least I remember learning it (Lambert).



Hoot looks JUST like my dad in this pic...



Libbie had to show me her mad math skills after her first "tootering" session

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Polar Vortex

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

― Edith Sitwell

While we haven't experienced quite the cold that our peeps in the north and midwest have... it's cold here in Houston! I'm not sure how I would handle single digits! I'm a big BABY when it comes to cold. With that said we have been hunkering down at the casa these days. I picked the kiddos up from school yesterday and raced home as quickly as possible. Much praise for heated seats. I'm not sure I could make it out of the house without them!

We baked cookies and made possibly the best hot chocolate I've ever consumed yesterday after school. Jenny Steffens Hobick shared the recipe and we enjoyed it so much! I love her photography as well so I re-created with my kiddos. They were both a sticky mess after slurping up every last drop. They didn't mind the hot bath at all! Recipe below





1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
6 cups of hot water (or milk)
Mini Marshmallows

In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Top with marshmallows.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Faith in 2014


I hem-hawed around for most of October going back and forth over weather or not I should attend this workshop... It's a BIG step for me. I don't like doing most anything (new/social) alone... I like to have a buffer friend (preferably Lambert) with me for backup conversation. He is most definitely my security blanket. I can give him the look and he knows to step in. He is a great conversationalist and can talk about most anything. I get nervous at the slightest of awkward silences...I don't like small talk or chit chat. I'm a huge nervous talker... like I forget how old I am or what year I was born or when I graduated or how long I've been married... when I meet strangers. Now I love to shop alone, antique alone, and even dine alone on a good day. But walking into a room full of strangers (women) solo scares me to death. I go back to junior high and relive the mean girls in the locker room. (cringe) I have never been the social girl. I have girlfriends and I enjoy spending time with friends and entertaining but I would not consider myself a social southern belle.

I know I'm at a place that I need to step up my photography game if I am going to truly purse anything professionally. So I started thinking about continuing education. I need help with composition and techniques that I can't seem to master solo. I want to improve my newborn skills and learn more about lighting and lenses. I've taken several online courses from this amazingly talented photographer/teacher and I I know I will benefit immensely from her workshop.I love her style and personality so it seems like a good fit. So I finally did it. I hit the "Add to Cart" button... and then immediately had buyers remorse. I didn't even speak of it (even to Lambert) until December... I could still back out but now I'm at the scheduling travel arrangements stage. after this step... it would be crazy to back out.

I'm excited and nervous all in the same breath. I know I will be fine and once I'm there I will have a ball... I'm committed to stepping out in faith in 2014.

If you are interested in learning ANYTHING about photography or your camera, I highly recommend Lisa's courses. You will be impressed I'm certain. Check her out here: Lisa

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Thats A Wrap

Lord, help me keep a Christmas heart-

A heart that holds the season dear

And celebrates, not just one day,

But every moment of the year.

Mary Beth Magee

We've been on a little vacation since December 26th. Finally made it home yesterday. My bed was calling me! Things are winding down today as we pack up Christmas 2013 and look ahead to 2014. It was a good year and 2014 looks bright as well! I'll be back to editing this evening and will shoot a wedding in Austin in two weeks. YIKES!!!

Our Christmas day was a quiet one with just our immediate family. We enjoyed the morning and then headed over to a friend's house to celebrate with several couples who were also spending Christmas at home this year. The kids and I packed up that evening and headed to Nana's the next day. It was a restful week of lounging, shopping and hot tubbing... (as usual) in Dallas. We visited the Ross Perot museum which was awesome and rode the train into the city which was fun too. I decided to watch the first episode of Downton Abbey and just like everyone said I would be... I am... HOOKED. I watched a marathon first season. I think I'm on episode 2 of the second season and hoping Lambert will pick up Season 2 & 3 for me this week so I'll be ready for 4... which I think actually starts Sunday!!! (i won't watch ahead as i'm sure it will be a spoiler for me). I'm not a TV watcher at all... but I love love this PBS series. I'm rested and ready for 2014!






A little excited



I'm ready to whip up a batch of Squirrel stew that will do Mrs. Kay proud! On a serious note... the devotional is great! I loved reading their bios

Hours and hours of this...


And I'll continue to do this in 2014~