Cowboys, zombies and a dog named Janice

The seasons seem to change so quickly sometimes that I feel like I almost missed Fall entirely.  I always have the best intentions of taking a leisurely drive to take in the abundance of beauty that an Iowa fall provides, but it rarely turns out that way.  So when my friend, Brian, invited me to ride along to McGregor, Iowa, I jumped at the opportunity.  Brian is one of the players in the Hole in the Sock Gang acting troupe that provides entertainment in this super cute town located on the Mississippi River across from Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Pike’s Peak State Park is located just south of the city.  

One of my favorite members of the Hole in the Sock Gang was their Public Relations Officer, Janice… the cutest little black dog ever.  Of course she wasn’t just little, she was also fast… too fast to get a good photo.  But she was a dear little thing and gave of her puppy love freely, with lots of tail wags and licks to whoever looked in her direction.

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This was the Gang’s last show of their performing season, as well as being their Halloween show, so they included a little Halloween cheekiness in the skits, including Ghost Riders (you can’t kill a ghost, but you also can’t be killed by a ghost bullet, so everybody lived – yay!).  There was also a snake oil salesman who hypnotized all the townspeople and they became zombies.

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I also managed to sneak in a bit of knitting on a sunny park bench and soak up some much needed vitamin D as we head into the gray season. I also took the opportunity to finally follow through on my intention to capture colorful gifts of fall.  I promise to remember to slow down and notice these little gifts more often.  Thanks, Brian.

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~ Dancing Souls ~

Author Jarod Kintz once said, “laughter is the sound of the soul dancing.”  I never fully understood that statement until this week.

I’ve been attending Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, being taught at Vinton’s First Baptist Church Sunday evenings, along with several families who have young children.

The sounds of these children being children have become the sountrack to our classes — running, clomping, laughing, shouting.    These are joyous sounds, and as I look around the class, I know I’m not the only who hears them.  I watch the amused smiles begin to curl up at the corners of the mouths of other adults in the class as we try to master grown-up lessons, while we are all secretly wishing we were playing outdoors, too.

When class ended this week and we all headed for the door, we were met with a chorus of unbridled girly giggles.  On the front lawn were half a dozen little girls twirling around and around, feet bare, arms outstretched and heads thrown back — laughing at each other, at themselves, at the earth spinning before their eyes when they became dizzy and fell on their backs in the grass, only to get up and begin twirling again.  And we, the grownups, upon seeing the sheer elation, could not help but catch the giggles, too!  All those little souls dancing!

I wanted to stay and watch.  I wanted to join in and twirl around and around, too, until I felt dizzy and fell giggling to the ground.  I wish now I had done so, instead of letting my grown-up self drag me away from the sound of souls dancing.

There are very few photos of me, and hardly any of those photos show me laughing, but I did find one to share.  Here, dear friends, is a glimpse of my soul dancing.

Atlanta Subway 2007Let’s do this more often, shall we?
Meet me in the sweet, soft, green grass this summer and we’ll twirl until our souls dance!

Bringing {Beloved} home.

Many of you have heard me speak often lately about the Beloved concept, and some of have even experienced how this concept has shaped my Soul Sessions.  My excitement just continues to build every single day about these sessions.  I believe it is one of the best gifts that you and your spouse or partner can experience together, and one of the best gifts you can give yourself.

{Beloved} is an emerging photographic genre centered on the creation of meaning-rich portraits that express the individual, beautiful personality each person is born with, creating an opportunity to celebrate the relationships that fill our lives with joy and purpose.

The Photogenic Technique gives photographers a clear and simple way to move past the “camera smile”‘ to easily capture the authentic, photogenic expressions and the naturally beautiful sides of our personality we share with our loved ones.

The Beloved Collective serves and supports the amazing community of photographers who are integrating Photogenic Technique into their portrait sessions through products, online training courses and an annual conference.

One Photo | Iowa Beloved Photographer

In the digital age, we can take hundreds upon thousands of images in a single day if we choose.  Sometimes I think it makes me a very lazy photographer, because I can just click away and then decide later if I have created anything worthwhile.  But what if you were given a disposable film camera and instructed to take only one photo before passing it on to someone else, where would you point your lens?  That’s exactly what two sisters, one living on the east coast and the other on the west coast of the U.S., wanted to find out.  Check out their unique project here:

http://onephotoproject.com/

Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear what you think!

{Inspire, Create, Believe} | Iowa Beloved Photographer

One of the ways I am turning things around for me and my photography, is that I’m not making any New Year’s Resolutions.  Making resolutions always seems to focus on flaws and shortcomings, and the resolutions are often too vague or unrealistic, thus sure to fail.  I want to start out the year being successful, and using my newly formed idea of what that word “success” really means to me.  I’ve been encouraged by a friend to instead choose a theme for the year – one word that will set the tone for everything I do in my business and in life, thus keeping me mindful of where I want to be nd making sure I do everything with purpose and intention.

I couldn’t settle on just one word, however, so I have 3:  Inspire, Create, Believe.  From this point forward, everything I do, everything I dream, everything I experience should somehow reflect one or all of these theme words.  If I can help inspire others and surround myself with people who inspire me, and encourage all of us  to be actively creating art on a regular basis, then I believe I am making a positive impact, which has always been my goal in life and in business.

So let this blog post INSPIRE you to CREATE your own theme for 2012, setting the tone for your year, and together I BELIEVE we can do astounding things!

So… what is YOUR theme for 2012?

Measuring Success

“Don’t wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”  ~Mark Victor Hansen

I spent the last week of 2011 in my hometown with my parents and my older sister – something I don’t often get to do.  While I was there, my sister helped me plan a “hometown photo day” at the local community building, offering mini portrait sessions at a very minimal cost.  It was a great idea that I plan on repeating in the spring.  Our timing for this one was slightly off, and the turnout was extremely low. 

Other than my mom, I had only one other couple who took advantage of the offer.  So I had a lot of time to think about how I measure my success.  Since I started my photography career nearly 6 years ago, I have been on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs – the Ups being opportunities that I never imagined, like meeting and photographing the Dalai Lama, First Lady Michelle Obama, traveling with the University of Northern Iowa men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 – and many other amazing people not necessarily as famous, but no less inspiring through my lens.  The Downs of this business have been mostly related to money or travel – and the glaring lack of both.  I also have spent a great deal of time comparing myself, my work, and my journey to some of my seemingly more successful peers.

Remember that couple who took advantage of my hometown photo offer?  Turns out they were there because they had never had a professional portrait together, even though they had been together for a while.  It was my great honor to be the photographer they chose to make their first portrait together.  That, to me, is a tremendous success.

So, I have decided to change how I measure success, not only in my business but in life as well.  My wish for us all is that 2012 be filled with moments like the one I experienced back home, for those moments are the true measure of success.

~Beloved~ Memories

Do you have an all-time favorite family photo?  Perhaps it’s one you took on a recent family vacation, or snapshots from an amazing night out with friends.  Your first toothless school photo, your first date, your first car.  Maybe you have photos that you treasure from decades ago…your baby photos… or your parents’ or grandparents’ baby photos.

My Mama has a trunk full of albums just bursting with photos, and any time my sister, Cathy, and I are together at Mama’s house, our favorite thing to do it open up that trunk, gather up as many albums as we can fit in our laps, and go through every photo on every page, pointing to some and saying, ‘remember when…’ and laughing about something that happened before or after that photo was taken.  There are about a dozen albums of just my Mama’s life experiences as an artist – art shows where she displayed her paintings, newspaper and magazine clippings about her work, or about the woman behind the art.  Our family has always documented life in photos, and my Mama has lovingly placed them in these albums and cared for them so that Cathy and I would have them ‘some day’.   But we have never wanted to stash these treasures away until that vague future  ‘someday’ arrived.  We always feel like ‘someday’ is now.

Where is your trunk full of ‘someday’ memories?  Is it stashed away in albums packed in boxes?  Is it on a disc on your desk, or tucked away in a folder inside your computer?  Believe me, I have thousands of photos on discs and in hard drives.  Some of these photos are just as memorable and precious to me as the ones in my Mama’s trunk.  But I never find myself sitting next to my sister in front my computer clicking through thumbnails and saying, ‘remember when…

Don’t get me wrong…the digital age has brought much convenience and success to us as photographers.  But I wouldn’t trade those photo album treasure hunts with my sister for anything.

~Making Room~

Stuff. 

I love stuff. 

Holy buckets…I have SO. MUCH. STUFF. 

GAH!  I really hate all this Stuff!  So I’ve been in the process of clearing out, donating, downsizing, and editing…everything.  The Leaning Tower of Storage that once consumed an entire wall of my bedroom has now been cleared away, consolidated down to 4 small boxes of Really Good Stuff that fits in the top shelf of my closet.  That bedroom wall is now home to the most beautiful antique dresser… a gift from a Beloved Friend.  It changed the whole atmosphere of my bedroom from stressful to peaceful. 

That’s the Beloved Life that I want to create for myself, my friends, my family, my clients.  Changing stressful to peaceful.    In order to do that, you have to clear away some not so great stuff and make room for the Really Good Stuff. 

Clear away Distractions…make room for Connections.

Clear away Stress, Worry and Separation… make room for Calm, Peace and Togetherness.

Make room for the Good Stuff, my Beloveds…and it WILL come.