Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beautiful Light

At the end of fall I had the opportunity to meet with my cousin-in-law, Mallory at her family's stables for a little late afternoon photo shoot. I really think the best thing about late fall early winter is the amazing light. It's just looks so clean and crisp. The sky is so very blue and the shadows reach across the ground with such effort I can hardly stand it. 

On this day it seemed to be perfect as the light shone lazily through the yellowing tree leaves and their shadows stretched across the trails. We walked along quiet trails and chatted about Halloween costumes, taking a couple of shots here and there. It was fun, relaxing and so wonderful to be out there I had a hard time going home. 

Even in Southern California we have beautiful places like this where we can slow down and take some time to smell the... hay.

 How cute is this cowgirl with her pink hair?? Love it!

 This was my favorite shot of the day.

 Mal's eyes are such a crazy green, they are gorgeous!

 I'm loving her smile in this one. We had such a great time
and it really was effortless on every level

 You all know how much I loves me some flare! 
It was everywhere!

 Love the light in his tail.

 When we walked around a corner and I saw this spot
I could not believe the light. It took my breath away.I 
couldn't get there fast enough.

 My cousin, Matt was with us and I was so happy to 
take a minute to include him in the shoot. They're a
darling couple.


It was a great afternoon and I found a secret to a great shoot that day. When Mallory and I talked about what type of shoot we wanted to do I knew in my head what I wanted the images to look like. Over the next few weeks I searched 1970's photography because I knew I was seeing flare, yellow/orange and backlit highlights on hair. I gathered images and imagined what I wanted so when I arrived the canvas was already in my head. As they say, luck favors the prepared and that day I felt really lucky as the images fell into my camera.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Does Photography Cost So Much?

One of the things that causes me stress as a photographer is charging my clients for photography. I realize that sounds funny being that it is the only way I can pay my bills but for some reason it causes me stress. I have a feeling many self employed artists feel the same way whether you're an interior designer or home contractor. If you don't actually show up with a product or sell a tangible item people have a hard time understanding what they're paying for.

This stress is doubled when someone interested in hiring me calls or e-mails and starts the conversation with the phrase, "We don't really have a budget for photography." I actually would love to ask why they are contacting a photographer then. As a side note, let me just say the only thing you will keep from an event is the photography, it should be good. If you're getting married all you get to keep is the bride/groom, the rings and the photography. Those things should be really good.

I become even more perplexed when I see adds on Groupon type sites for photography specials. I just saw one yesterday for an on location shoot for $46.00. What? I don't even understand that, it said it was a $275.00 value(good price). How does one go from $275.00 to $46.00? If I charged $46.00 for a shoot I would have to sell my camera to pay my bills. It cost me $40.00 to get my camera cleaned. You can't even rent a camera for $46.00. I can't imagine why a photographer would devalue their work that way. Unless they are going to hold your images hostage after they've got you in the door and then charge you hundreds of dollars for prints or digital image files. One should think long and hard before entering into a deal that looks too good to be true.

So let me break it down for you. Here is what you are paying for when you hire me for an average one to two hour shoot, on location with your family or friends.
On every shoot you are paying me a wage to be there with you at the beach or in the park, or even at your house taking pictures. I am at work during that time just like the guy who goes to his office, he is getting paid to be there working. I am there working. 

At the end of the shoot I go home and load all the images I took of you into my $7,000.00 Mac computer because it is far superior in photo editing and art. I then pull each image, usually around 200 of them, into my Photoshop program that cost me $899.00 5 years ago and has an update of about $130 to $150.00 every year or so to keep it current.
During that time I am again, working. I'm looking at every image that brings out your personality, and shows who you are. I edit each one with the skill and knowledge I gained from going to college for four years. 

I've spent hours and hours in the dark room, computer lab, studio, and in the field learning how to see you in a different way than your uncle Bob who just bought a camera to shoot your wedding. I've spent hours moving lights, chasing light, and learning how to control light, whether from the sun, moon, flashlight, or studio light. 

I have purposefully framed each image I captured of you, planned how I was going to edit it as I took it. This is what makes the difference between a snapshot your friend took of you and an image a photographer has taken of you.

After I spend an average of four hours going through your images I burn them onto a DvD that I bought and put it into a plastic case that I bought, or print images for you on paper that I bought (all things I will be paying taxes on.)using my $1,500.00 Epson Printer that holds nine ink cartridges at $55.00 a piece to replace. It holds nine because it is specialized in black and white printing, unlike your sisters HP you hope to print on when you get your DvD from me.

As a consumer portrait photographer I will show up to your shoot with an average of $10,000.00 plus of equipment, including, cameras, lenses, lights and other stuff like bounce boards and Memory cards. I have to pay to maintain all those pieces of equipment, including that computer and printer. I also keep my training current, paying an average of $100.00 a training class. Photoshop World this year cost me $500.00 to attend. Every time I meet you somewhere I drive my own car paying for my own gas. I also give you the freedom of doing what you want with your images without ever charging usage fees. You may have found me on my website that I pay to maintain every month. 

When you are paying your photographer it's mostly an hourly fee and experience, and you are rarely paying for all that overhead. Working for you is actually an expense for me.

The crazy thing is I still feel bad charging for a sitting. I second guess myself every time I quote someone a fee and they don't call back. I want to say ok, I'll do it cheaper! I think that way because I really love my job. The bottom line is I love taking pictures and editing and printing. I love it so so much and it rarely ever feels like work. When I'm out taking pictures I'm never thinking about what it's costing me. I'm just thinking about you. I'm looking at you watching you smile and love on your family. I'm seeing the precious little gift that your child is or seeing that look in your mother's eyes as you walk down the aisle. I'm engulfed in the beauty of the light on your hair, or dancing across your face. I'm there having what I think should be an awesome experience with you. It should be fun and relaxed, and not about money. However, I can't be the one providing that service and paying for it too.

I described for you what I do in six hours of work if I charge you $46.00 for a photo shoot I will be making $7.60 an hour to pay all my bills and overhead. I would have to ask myself why I went to four years of school and spent thousands of dollars on equipment to make less than minimum wage. The product I'm selling last forever, it has the ability to stop time. It can be sent around the world, make people laugh and cry. It can change the minds and hearts of people and I just think that should be worth more than $7.60. 

Thank you for joining me on my soapbox!
I got this picture here 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Halloween has come and gone. I think the best thing about it is it marks the entry of the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas! I had to pull out all my Christmas cookbooks and craft books to decide what I would be making this year to decorate with! I can't wait to make cookies and crafts and presents!! It's the best time ever and the cold in the air is making it just that much better!!

Hello Halloween! Thank you for bringing in the wonderful holidays full of family and love!!

What are your favorite things about the holidays?? 

 Enjoy Emma's Lala Loopsy costume! We made it the day of Halloween, just like I did as a kid. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heart's Desire (A Repost Because I Needed the Reminder)

This is something I posted in the beginning of my journey of being an artist. I thought I would repost it, mostly to remind myself of these blessings. Enjoy.

Art, wonderful art, you call to me in the morning and sing your song to me in the evening. I have heard your calling all my life yet pushed you aside for the sake of money and security. My heart craved for you in the desert of my life. My insecurities strangled your quest for my heart.

Yet you called after me day after day, year after year and decade after decade. This gift God planted in my heart burned with a lifetime desire. I was taught that art would never provide for me or my family. I was told to leave the art to someone else, so I did.

Oh my beautiful art you squeezed through the cracks of my life for 40 years, showing your fantastical light in the dark corners of my heart. You made promises to me and whispered your desire to occupy my life.

Still, like a soldier, I carried on in a world of green wool and concrete. Hate and discontent engulfed my hours of work but in my home art began to seep through the walls and swoop down from the ceiling. Until that day, that wonderful when heaven was disguised as hell and God closed the door that separated me from my entire life. While I was alone in that empty room He took my heart in his hands and then He took my hands into His heart.

God changed my hands from a fighting, struggling, and strong woman into the hands of a servant, humbled and broken. It was in that weakness that I was given the gift I yearned for all my life. God created me to be an artist and now He could bless me with purpose. I began to walk in the shoes created for me when I was a child who saw the dew on a flower and the sparkle of water on a blade of grass. I again see who I am.

I entered my life again and this time I brought with me a sort of "Pandora's Box" filled with the beauty in this world called art. It's a world filled with love and hope and destiny. It is saturated with acceptance and freedom. I walked into my home and placed the box in my kitchen. When I opened the box my beautiful children embraced everything in it as though it was a box of dress-up clothes. They pulled the art out and wrapped themselves in it and they threw it around like confetti and glitter and each one of them painted their bedroom walls with it. My heart soared because I knew they were in love and I knew they would never have to suffocate art from their lives. My passion has taken roots in my home and my life and it grows like ivy through my motherhood, "daughterhood", sisterhood, and friendships.

Art my wonderful art, you call to me in the morning and sing your song to me in the evening.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eyes, The WIndows to the Soul

Last month I spent 3 days at Photoshop World in Las Vegas. I learned so much over the three days I thought I would never stop working, as soon as I got home! Well, in true procrastinator fashion I allowed my life to get in the way of trying out all my new tricks.

Today I decided to try out something I learned from Fay Sirkis. She is an amazing artist and has a beautiful heart. She taught a class called The Eyes are the Windows to the Soul. In this class we learned to edit the eyes in an image to bring life and soul to them. I loved seeing what she had to teach and her technique brought about fantastic results.

One of the subjects that came up in her class was the need for a tablet during this type of editing. Well, I just don't have one. Ok, I take that back, I do have one but it's a baby and well out of date. When Fay was asked if we really needed to have a tablet, she answered by saying, "Yes, you need a tablet because you are painting and you wouldn't paint with a bar of soap, would you?" Well, today I tried out her technique and yes, using my mouse to do it was very much like painting with a bar of soap.

So here are my first attempts at Fay's editing technique for eyes, remembering I will never excel at anything if I never start trying. 

Original image:
Amanda has beautiful eyes and it's never very hard for me to 
get a great image of them. They have nice specular highlights
in them and good detail.

First Attempt and "painting" a beautiful eye:

I definitely feel this look is much more dramatic/clean 
and has a much more commercial look. 

Second attempt: Went a bit lighter this time, with my bar of soap.

 Amanda is going to like this one since I decided to try out my 
Scott Kelby Eyelash Brush! I have to say I'm in love with
this easy to use, lovely brush that actually adds a set of 
 eyelashes in such a natural and elegant way! Beautiful!
Right eye: Drama
Left eye: Less Drama

The number of new tools I came home with from PSW Las Vegas is ridiculous and I hope to get to share more of them with you. Tell me what you think of these eyes. Are they too done, not done enough? Do you love the lashes? Are you happier with a more lifestyle/natural eye? 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Photo of the Day 10.11.11

At my house we don't always follow the Photography rules. We don't always take great pictures, but we ARE always taking pictures. This one is taken through the ring of a ring flash, you can see it around the edges. That's just WRONG but, I likie. I also like that It is  common for me to take a picture of my child wearing a sundress and earmuffs. Perfect sense if just boring! I also love that brown spot in her eye, it's a piece of her Dad. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photo of the Day 9.29.11

I had the opportunity last week to head out to the Orange County Sheriff's academy for  inspection. This day is commonly referred to as Black Monday at the academy. It is a class's first official inspection with the full time Tactical Staff.  I went through this program eleven years ago and I tend to be a huge supporter of it. When I see the nervous recruits fall into formation as the Staff rolls outs looking sharper than ever I get giddy inside. I love what these men and women do to prepare the recruits to survive in real world situations involving life and death. We should all appreciate the Staff and the commitment they have to make to do this job. They're the foundation, the voices that may later keep the street officer alive.

As I looked over all the images I captured during inspection It wasn't hard for me to choose my favorites. This image was one that was shot from pretty far away but I just can't stand how great the interaction is. Pardon the grain of the "pixel push" but I had to bring it way in to share it with you. In a single image we can imagine so much. 

 Clearly this recruit did a little something to express he'd 
like some extra time with the Staff. They're so giving.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Photo of the Day 9.26.11

This photo was taken three years ago. I was shooting a documentary piece on my daughter as a thirteen year old girl. We had a good time going out together and shooting. Amanda is a perfect model. One day she came up with the idea of a photo shoot with balloons. Amazing things happened with the balloons and light. We were intentional about getting balloons we could see through. They cast colored light in her shadow and just came alive when the light shone through them. They were so beautiful to work with.

I would encourage you to go out and try things you haven't. Just do it, if it works great, if not, then you may discover something else you never would have expected. In this photo I love the feel of the 1970's sunny out door pictures I remember seeing in catalogues. When I was thirteen, I read a magazine called TEEN and I remember the photos of teenage girls out in the sun at school, at the beach or at the fair. Back lighting was big back then. This image brings me back to the feel of those days, those pictures, and those carefree teenage girls.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Today is August 11th and it just so happens to be my big sister's Birthday. I really like the fact that no matter how many years this happens, she will always be older than me. It's as though she has gone ahead of me our whole lives to scout out what's to come and returns with all the warnings. My sister has watched out for me my whole life. She babysat me and then my little sister, my little brother, then my oldest, to youngest daughters. It seems she has watched over and looked out for all of us over the years but I guess that's what the oldest child does. 

I could go on and on about who she is to all of us and all the people she has been over the years, from Police officer to teacher to an educator of teachers. I could talk about her BS, MS, and her PHD. I could tell you about her husband, her friends and all the childrens' lives she's touched over her years of teaching but not today. I realized when I was texting her this morning that I'm the one who has benefitted the most by my sister being born.

She has been so many things to so many people but she has been my sister, best-friend, enemy, twin, mother, counselor and shoulder to cry on, drill sergeant, my motivator, entertainer, and my inspiration. Cathy has been my leader in delinquency, my spiritual leader, and my truth meter. My truth meter, she has been the one person in my life that keeps the truth of who I am, who I was and who I can be. She validates my history because she was next to me and she knows where I came from. She pushes me to be who she knows I can be because she believes in me probably more than any person I have in my life. 

When I'm down on my self and want to wallow there for a bit she is not the person to call. She has never allowed me to stay in the dark. She pulls me into the light and reality of who I am and reminds me of the strength I posses in my relationship with Christ. My sister has continually reminded me of my worth for over 45 years.

Here we are as tiny girls in our backyard. I
was totally jealous of her hairpiece. PS she 
was also way better at posing. 

 Mom made these dresses for us, always twinsies 

The next pics are from my mom's "old-time
picture" phase. I was so mad I had to wear
the same dress every time!

Mom joined us for this one and it actually made 
it onto the Christmas card.

See, the thing is I always thought everything Cathy did was cool and she was always the smart one that did everything right. Our mom was single by the time I was four and Cathy was six. Later on Cathy began to fill the role of babysitter and made sure I was cared for and kept in line. She had the responsibility to watch me everyday and make sure I did my chores. This was not an easy task but she took it on and made sure I was safe. Of course we fought and almost killed each other a couple of times. We had amazing times of fun and laughter and times of crazy violence against each other. We kept each other's secrets and risked our lives together by the things we did, like hitch-hicking to the beach and making homemade candles.

One year we wanted to make a present for our mom for Mother's Day or Valentine's Day and we melted old candles in hopes of molding them into a new candle in the shape of the word MOM. However, the wax caught on fire and I was instructed to throw water on it. The explosion sent me running out the front door screaming! When I returned I found the kitchen dripping in wax. It was everywhere from the ceiling to the floor. This sort of thing was a regular occurrence at our house and it was the two of us against the world.

These were taken at Magic Mountain in the 70's. It was always great having a partner to ride on roller coasters everywhere (There's symbolism for you). We always had a partner wherever we went.

This is Gypsie, our cat of 16 years. We fought over her and were always ripping her out of the other's arms.

"Run Gypsie, run!"

No Christmas went by without a fabulous performance put on by the two of us. Each show came included with a fight between us, it was just part of the show dynamics.

Each Christmas was divided between our parents but It was always good knowing we'd 
spend the entirety of every holiday together.

No story about our childhood is complete without mentioning our Halloween parties and haunted houses. We were famous in our neighborhood for our haunted houses during trick or treating. Our Mom was a make up artist on those nights and the kids loved having to walk through our house of horrors! 

My sister and I are both summer babies and our Birthdays are only three weeks apart. We spent the many years of our childhood celebrating our birthdays together. This one was from four years ago and Im pretty sure celebrating together now is way better than it was when we were kids.

Here is Cath and Emma. Emma was so little in this picture but it reminds me of the way my sister has been such an incredible role model to my daughters. She and my sister Michelle have been amazing examples of women and how to love their sisters. I know my daughters hope to have the kind of relationships with each other the way I have with my sisters.

I love my sister and I love her thoughtfulness. I love the way she dreams and dissects life.
Sometimes I want to tell her to stop and let things happen but I've learned that it's just who she is, and it keeps her strong. She's the person who knows to call because she "feels" 
trouble in my life and just knows somethings going on.

Cathy has a nickname in our family that was given to her by our brother-in-law, Anthony. She is the "cat-whisperer". This is because she has the ability to talk to cats. They love her they crave being next to her. She understands them and she loves them so much. Sure this  is not about who she is in my life but they're such a part of who she is and her capacity to love that I had to take this tangent.

Meet her children

Kinko: Saved from a life of sadness and health
issues. Loved by his mom. I like to call him her
stalker because he spends most of his time 
standing on her, loving her or just staring at her.

Stella: She was a feral kitty who was moving 
her kittens from backyard to backyard. My sister
found her and won her over to the point she 
could move in and she taught that kitty how to 
be loved and how to trust people.

Baby Girl: A tough cookie who has to 
live separated from the other kids.
My sister spends time with her every
day, brushing her and cleaning up
after her and making a place
for her everyday.

Maxine: Little timid girl who has her place
on the bathroom sink where she gets love every
day. She finds safety and security in her little
place next to her "mom" every night.

My sister has been there for me during some really hard times. She has pushed me on when I have wanted to give up. She's told me the truth about my heart and when I haven't liked it she still stuck by me and loved me through my nastiness. She's reminded me God put me places for a reason, and put people in my life intentionally and she has always encouraged me to move forward.
My maid of honor, every time...

She encourages me to be healthy and she hooks me into cool things like half-marathons
and 5k's. (sarcasm...) She's leads me in this by example.

Cath loves nature and draws me into it with her love for it. This summer we spent time out and around Mt. Hood. Here are a few of our pics.

This picture is so perfect! Here she is driving me around like she has so many times. It reminded me of going on ride-alongs when she was a cop. We had so much fun! We laughed so hard in her police unit she couldn't use the radio because the only thing that would go out over the air was us laughing. It also reminded me of how she drove me around when we were kids. She was out driving us around at the age of fourteen! It sure was fun at the time...
So many car rides, so many adventures!

PS Cathy is always up for fun and is not concerned about looking silly. If it's fun or funny, she's down for it, unless it's a tattoo. Ha ha ha!

"Knock knock!"


I like to say we are the same girl but a different

I wrote earlier this month that I was able to spend a week in June alone with my sister. It was such a great time of fun, and laughing, and crying and bonding. We had so many photo ops! I shot these pics when we were out just sightseeing some stuff. We came upon an historical garden that was perfect for some photos.

I was totally trying to get into this

So, today I remember past birthday celebrations. I remember being a kid with a crazy big sister that I loved and wanted to be like. I think about all the fun we've had and all the tears we've shed. I remember the talks that lasted late into the night and that got us into trouble with Dad because our laughing woke him up. All the phone conversations, the secrets, and stories, the weddings and funerals and how we started laughing at several, to our demise. I remember my State Board Cosmetology test that we got dirty looks at because we were laughing too much. I am thinking about all the long car rides and all the talks we had on them. I'm so thankful for all I have had with my sister. If she was removed from my life the hole would be huge and couldn't be replaced my any one person in my life because she has taken up so much space in my heart for longer than anyone. 

Thank you my sweet sister for being my leader, my follower, my mother, my friend, my inspiration and encourager. There will never be another you in my life and I'm so thankful
through everything I've been given in my life that God gave me you.

Happy Birthday, Baby!