Thursday, February 26, 2015

a study on vision, part two


Time for another photographic analysis! I started with “the most precious pictures taken of me and why.” In the next few posts, I want to add the following: the professional photos taken by others that have impacted me the most personally, the most precious candid pictures I’ve ever taken of someone else, and the most precious professional pictures I’ve ever taken of someone else. Along with a summary of my findings at the end. :)

I browsed through my Pinterest boards late last night, looking for the photos—captured by other photographers—that impact me the most. I could visualize them from memory because they had such an effect on me from the very first time I saw them (it was just a matter of surfing through 1,000 other pins to find them!). Here they are, in random order (with credit given where possible), and why I love them.

favorite professional images by others

1. The kiss78b9ecf3adf8aa1b34e91f3a5a3ccc48

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These two pictures just leave me speechless. I pinned them probably more than two years ago, but they still stand out in my memory as some of the most stunning wedding pictures I’ve ever seen. I love the intimacy of them… the way they make you feel privy to a moment not your own. I also love that you can’t see their faces in either picture—the message is conveyed so well that I don’t need to know who these people are to be impacted by a glimpse of their story.

2. In the woods



The first time I saw this picture I literally couldn’t stop looking at it. I was enthralled. Something about the softly lit setting and the simplicity of the pose is just so beautiful. From their outfits down to their hairstyles and profiles, there’s nothing trendy, nothing cheap or overdone—it’s just that classically gorgeous, demure kind of love story that makes me sigh a little and dream.

3. The football player



I might go so far as to call this the best male senior photo I have ever seen. I personally find guy pictures incredibly hard to take and most of the ones I see online are kind of boring or cheesy. This image inspired me to think more about how light impacts an image. The way there is equal light coming from both sides, highlighting the lines of his face and the size of his protective shoulder gear, grabs and holds my interest. The way he’s lit combined with a gritty high contrast black-and-white and of course his uniform all give me clues about the kind of person he is, which makes this picture a lot more engaging than if he’d been standing against a brick wall somewhere faking a smile!

4. A boy and his dog



If you’ve never seen the series of farm photographs by Russian photographer Elena Shumilova that went viral awhile back, do yourself a favor and look at them immediately here and here. Every single one makes me want to cry, it’s so pretty.

Anyway. I hard a hard time choosing just one image from her collection but I picked this one because besides being adorable, I just love the feel of it. It’s cool and dark and chilly and remote, while at the same time feeling warm and friendly somehow. The relative size of the boy compared to the dog is hilarious, and the look of complete patience on the dog’s face while his little master messes around with him tells me he’s a dependable and friendly old chap. There’s just a connection between the two of them that I can’t put into words… I just know it’s there.

5. A girl and her horse



I’ve been following this amazing children’s photographer for a long time and am always inspired by her creamy backgrounds and beautiful editing. This picture was one of those that made me stop scrolling down my feed and just stare. I tell you, if I had a picture like this of me as a little girl with a horse… or if I had a daughter who could be in a picture like this with a horse… I would probably blow it up into a 40x60-inch canvas (at least), hang it on my wall, and just stare at it. I get lost in that overpowering entrancement that just about every girl in the world had with horses at some point (and some, like myself, never lose). And kind of like the boy and his dog, the size discrepancy and yet apparent gentleness of this huge creature, along with the indescribable bond they seem to share, makes it magical.


What are your thoughts? Are there any images that you’ll never forget because of the impact they had on you?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

a study on vision, part one


As I work on creating a photography business and structuring a “brand,” vision has been on my mind. I know that I love photography—pictures are one of my love languages; I give them liberally to those I love because I don’t know what gift is more precious than an aptly-chosen moment, held captive. I also love to receive them—captures of bits of my life—although I’m kind of the designated photographer wherever I go, so that’s unfortunately a little unusual.

But I am searching for what it is, specifically, that I love to see in pictures, because I think it will help me define and shape what I seek to preserve professionally for others. So I’m going to brave the  depths of ten years’ worth of images (an approximate 155,000 digital files, all stored on my hard drive and backed up religiously) and attempt to narrow those 155,000 to the most precious images I possess. The ones I would cry if I lost. (Well, loving pictures as I do, I would probably cry if almost any were lost… I have been in the unfortunate position of hitting “format memory card” without knowing the repercussions and such trauma is hard to overcome… but I’ll try really hard to keep it to only the most, most, MOST precious.) And I’m going to put them in a series of blog posts: most precious pictures someone else has taken of me and why, most precious pictures I have taken of someone else (candid) and why, and most precious pictures I have taken of someone else (professionally) and why.

So, deep breath—here we go.

favorite pictures of me

In random order—bear in mind that these are all post-film-age and there are a ton of pictures from when I was a lot younger, taken with Mom’s film camera, that are also really important!

1. “What does a cow say?”

June 2006 (34)

This was taken in June of 2006; I was twelve and my youngest sister, Amy, had just turned one. She loved to make this face when we asked her what a cow said.

This photo is precious to me because it was taken the first year I owned a digital camera, and honestly compared to the quantity of pictures I take now, my family and I were very conservative with using it. It was almost as if the film mentality of not wasting a single negative was still holding strong. (Didn’t help that computer hard drives were MUCH smaller then either!) Add to that the fact that I was usually wielding the camera, not in front of it, and there are comparatively few pictures of me and my littlest sister when she was a baby. There were a couple of others I could have chosen, but this one tells a story that makes me smile, and the outdoor setting reminds me of summer days under the poplar tree at home. Photo credit: my sister Hannah.

2. Inga and Elsa

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Okay I lied—these are still Film Age pictures taken in 2004, when I was ten and my sister Hannah was around eight, with the first pair of breeding ewes we ever raised. We brought up Inga and Elsa from the time they were on the bottle and then bred our own 4-H lambs with them the next year. Gosh, what fun we used to have naming them and raising them and training them for the fair together. We’d take them for walks up and down the road by our house. These pictures remind me of what 4-H was like before life got busy and school got hard… what it was like when raising sheep was pretty much our whole life other than a few hours of homeschooling every day. What it was like when Hannah and I did pretty much everything together. Life doesn’t stay that way, and I kind of hate it. Photo credit: my mom.

3. On the farm


This was one of my senior pictures, taken June 2011 when I was seventeen. I love it because it is a picture of me with one of my best friends, Drem, in one of my favorite places. You can see the farmhouse in the background, and the field we’re standing in is one that I spent every summer morning moving irrigation pipe on between hay cuttings with my sister. Photo credit: Hannah once again.

4. Lenny

Wedding82From Amanda's Cam 143 This is Lenny, my very first fluffy orange kitty. If you have followed my blog for the last several years you know how much I loved this kitty. The first picture was taken when he was just a young little kitty putting up with my childish little ways. And I love the second picture because it is so like him: any time I lay down in the yard or anywhere else, he had to be sitting right there on my lap. It was like he enjoyed it when I came down to ground level with him. He was the sweetest little friend and the fiercest little hunter; I can still hear his meows of triumph outside in the middle of the night, telling the world he had caught yet another mouse (some days he would catch at least three or four, and he had full-grown quail and pheasants in his record too!). Just two months after the second picture was taken, in August 2010, he died suddenly, and I was heartbroken. I have a hard time even writing this without tears in my eyes. Photo credit for #1: my mom (Film Age again), and #2: my friend Amanda.

5. Arad, Israel and “It’s gonna bite me in the butt!”


Spending two weeks in Israel at the end of Bible school was by far one of the most impactful and exciting experiences in my history to date, so I couldn’t possibly leave it out—and I think this picture is perhaps my very favorite from the trip. First of all, it’s taken in the Israeli desert, which was a place that I loved even though it was about 5,000 degrees; secondly, I’m sitting on the back of a white camel (highly important to me for reasons that would cause you to roll your eyes) with my best friend in the whole wide world, my GCBI roommate, Miss Hannahstasia. Who was terribly hilarious throughout the whole experience, I must say. Photo credit: one of my fellow classmates, I think.

6. My wedding day (duh)

Wedding13IMG_0656-2 Wedding116Wedding139

Of course there are a gazillion pictures from my wedding day that I could have chosen, and I am kind of cheating by using four… but these are a few of the most precious memories I have from the day.

#1 - First, getting ready with my bridesmaids and my mom—I love how they are all in this picture, all helping me with the immensely complicated work of getting this big poofy dress on, just like they helped me with SO many other things leading up to this day. I also love that it was completely candid. Photo credit: George Street Photo & Video.

#2 - Then the wedding party prayer in the getting-ready room… my brother prayed for Sam and I and the life we were beginning, and I’ll never forget that. And all of my other siblings were in that circle with me too. Photo credit: my friend Amanda.

#3 - Next, me and my dad before we walked out—if you can’t tell, I’m trying really hard not to cry in that picture. Dad was so calm and strong and made me feel better, and he’s just incredibly handsome don’t you think? :) Photo credit: George Street Photo & Video.

#4 - Finally, a picture of Sam and I right after he first saw me. We have a lot of great posed pictures together, but I love this one because it’s completely unposed and taken from a distance, so you know our excitement and delight is authentic. (And yes, all my wedding party pictures were taken in a cemetery. I personally really like cemeteries and I think it’s a pretty place.) Photo credit: George Street Photo & Video.

7. My baptism


Or maybe this one is my favorite from the Israel trip, I don’t know. But it is precious to me because I was baptized by my dear Bible teacher, Pastor Randy, with an accountability audience of all my GCBI classmates there. This was like the culmination of a year of realizing who God really is according to His Word—I followed Him from Creation to Redemption, and in response it seemed only right to be baptized in His name. Especially at the very place He did so much of His ministry: the Sea of Galilee. Photo credit: one of my dear classmates I believe? Shocking that I’m so forgetful.


Well, seven is the perfect number, right? I’m sure I missed so many, but these are just a few of the pictures that I never want to lose. It’s funny, because I used to hate being in pictures and thought they all looked terrible… but it seems I have stepped beyond that adolescent immaturity. I can see that no matter what, it is time we cannot get back. Maybe I thought I looked stupid or fat or ugly at the time, but what could matter less in the scheme of things? I’d rather have a rich tapestry of flawed photographs to mark every sweet memory in my life than let them fade away because of my own vanity. Looking back, all I can see is the sweetness and the joy; the imperfections just don’t matter anymore.

At the end of this series I plan to do a summary post on my findings. I want to know what it is about pictures that makes them such a big part of my life and passion and I think this might help me find out. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

happy anniversary


Today is the kind of day you just never imagine will actually happen to you.

It’s not the kind of day people plan for or dream of—I don’t think most little girls playing princess imagine themselves here where I am at this moment. Romance movies and novels tend to be cut off well before now, with our hero and heroine riding off into the sunset toward their wedding ceremony and that nebulous term “happily ever after” that always seems to happen off-screen. Subconsciously, we too tend to stop imagining right there—right after that delightful mental image of ourselves in a flowing white dress, dewy-eyed brides standing at the altar with our Knight in Shining Armor.

Maybe some of us spare a thought for our honeymoon, or for the kind of family we might raise. But I, for one, never thought about this day—my first anniversary.

Wedding136-4 (high res)

Yes, it’s already been one whole year since the day that a lot of girls spend the entirety of their youths dreaming of. And it is with delight, with joy, with such gratefulness to the grace of God that I can say: the happily ever after is better than the courtship. Better than the wedding. Better than the honeymoon.

My mom always advised me and my sisters growing up to marry our best friend, like she did thirty years ago. I followed her example because I saw that it worked—only now I’m beginning to understand why: because no matter how passionately in love you are, no matter what kind of butterflies you get being around him, ninety-nine percent of your married life will be spent in the small but sweet interactions characteristic of two dear friends. You will hang out together, you will work on projects together, you will eat meals together, you will talk together about anything and everything. You will even spend a lot of time apart, yet your every action—even menial ones like cleaning the toilet or making dinner—will still be influenced by your relationship to the other person. There is still room for the passion and the romance, and the part that they play is vital, but measured by time it is comparatively small.

Sam is my best friend. He had been for a long while before we ever said “I do.” He was always the person I wanted to talk to when I was lonely. He was the person who stuck by me through a hard year of Bible school in Florida. He was the person who braved more pre-nuptial meltdowns than anyone else even knew about. Now, he is the person who walks hand-in-hand with me while we both follow Jesus; he is the person who shows me bottomless Christlike grace when I am miserably selfish and sinful. He is my supporter in my business, my work, and my writing. He is my best friend, my first and only love.

I love you, Sam. Happy first anniversary. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

laura & sam


I’m just going to preface this post by saying I. Love. These. Pictures. Is it weird that I wouldn’t mind having a gallery wall of someone else’s engagement pictures?

Probably… but I can’t help it.

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

happy things


 Yard3 Yard4 Yard5Yard2

  • The first crocuses of spring are up and reaching toward this stranger, the sun. They are tantalizing purple droplets of the coming spring and I love them.
  • I did an engagement shoot on Friday for my sister-in-law which I’ll be posting soon… and oh my, they are beautiful people with a beautiful love story that shines out of every image. :)
  • I have found that food is my friend. You might remember that I used to have a really hard time eating enough every day, and while it still sometimes slips my mind to eat lunch just because I get really busy, I am learning not only to eat but what to eat. I’ve been replacing as many of the white sugars and flours in my food with whole or raw varieties as I can and have already noticed that I feel healthier and happier and more energetic. Along with the increase of sunshine I’ve been getting and a couple new supplements I’m taking, I’m excited to keep fueling my body well!
  • Another new friend I’ve made is weight lifting. For about a year and a half I’ve been a dedicated HIIT/Jillian trainee, but now that my muscular and cardiovascular endurance are good I think it’s high time I built my strength. And oddly, where Jillian would wear me out for the rest of the day, weight lifting seems to energize me (or maybe the combination of lifting and eating better!).
  • This afternoon I was feeling a little dull so I stepped out into the yard to breathe in the fresh air and sunshine. I practiced my cartwheels in the yard and then mastered some real, actual handstands! Yes! Moral of the story: when you feel achy or dull or groggy or grouchy, go outside and move around. Way more effective than emotional eating!
  • Every time I open my Bible, fellowship with other Christians, or go to church, I find new truths to weave into the outline of the book I’m writing. This can be frustrating when I’m trying to weave them into material I’ve already written—but my outline is already 6 pages long and I haven’t even finished it yet. Praise God for making Truth so relevant at all times, and so accessible to us as Americans… may it never be that it is we who appreciate it least.
  • February 22 will be my first wedding anniversary (what?! Time flies!). March 1 will be the fifth anniversary of this blog, and on March 11, I will have been journaling daily for exactly ten years. Ten years. That’s like 3,650 days of my life recorded in ink… almost 50% of my existence… yikes.

Anyway, enough about me. What are you excited about in life?? And here’s a quick sneak peek of that beautiful engagement session to hold you over…


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

a self portrait and success



A question was posed in my church home group last night: “What is success?”

My mind went immediately to John 17:4, a few words from Jesus’ prayer for His disciples before He went to Gethsemane:

I glorified You on earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.”

This wasn’t quoted, but in some form or another, it was the same answer that we settled upon: success is using our short lives to glorify God in whatever way we have been given.

But I wonder sometimes if this neat textbook answer is something I say and not something I actually believe.

When I get the dreaded “What do you do?” question, I answer with the socially acceptable and, ouch, self-glorifying list of what I actually get paid to do (however short it may be). “I’m a gymnastics coach and a ballet teacher,” I say, despite the truth that I have no background in gymnastics or ballet and am only minimally trained in the beginner skills that I teach my 3-10 year old students. I get paid to teach basic gymnastics and ballet for a few hours a week, but that is not what I am and it is not primarily what I do.

If pressed, my second response will be, “And the rest of the time I’m a stay-at-home wife.” This is less socially acceptable and thus it feels self-defeating. Whether or not they really do, I feel people look down on me… because I have allowed myself to believe this is a lesser occupation than something one goes to school for, dresses up every day for, and gets paid for.

And it will never enter my mind to say, “I’m a photographer and a writer,” because somewhere in my life I came to the conclusion that to acknowledge my actual talents and gifts was vain and conceited and sinful, and thus I have never given myself the right to self-identify with them. But is it really “glorifying Him on earth” to pretend the way He made us doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist? Is it better to define myself by what gains me a few dollars than by what God formed me to do?

Anyway, all this rambling to say… I think I’m wrong to believe that paid work is most important no matter what it is, that the role God has given me in life is lesser than a professional occupation, and that it’s un-Christian to believe that He really did give me unique talents and gifts and abilities to use for His glory. Not that it’s wrong to get paid for what He made us to do—of people who are that lucky I’d say “More power to you!”

I am a wife—I get the privilege of caring for a little universe under God and the husband He gave me. I am a photographer—I get to help people see themselves and their lives through the eyes of someone who knows they are beautiful. I am a writer—I get to take the Word of God and search it for wisdom we can apply to our lives daily. Gymnastics and ballet I do on the side. But I hope I could say that I’m truly successful in all of it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

goals, updated


Olympia9 Olympia14Olympia12Olympia10 Olympia11Olympia13Olympia15Olympia16Olympia17 Olympia18 Olympia19 Olympia20 Olympia21 Olympia22 I spent a very rainy Saturday morning this weekend with Sam and some of his academy classmates as they practiced ladder and hydrant training. It was pretty cool. :)

I wrote out some goals while ago for how I wanted to wrap up 2014, and updated them in October. Now that 2015 has come around, I figure it’s time for a little revision and reworking of what I want to accomplish in the coming months. I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but I am a little bit crazy about goals and lists, so without further ado here’s a look at what I’m hoping the rest of 2015 will look like for me:

  • Finish the semifinal draft of my current writing project. (By semifinal I guess I mean a draft that still requires, at most, line editing, instead of the whole chunks of revision I’m doing currently.) Thus far it has been such an exciting but utterly overwhelming process… one moment I can’t be pulled away from it and the next I want to throw it all out the window. But mood swings seem to typify writers, from what I’ve heard.
  • Create a monthly marketing/events calendar for my business and book a dozen new photography clients from my target market before the year is out. The number seems small but the process seems insurmountable at the same time. I’ve never been good at selling myself… but no excuses!
  • Compile a solid foundation of whole food/clean eating dinner recipes. It has occurred to me that I hold full control of the way Sam and I eat, because I’m the one who shops and I’m the one who cooks. I should be stewarding that responsibility well. I don’t necessarily want to go “crazy” with it—all things in moderation—but an increase in healthy meats and vegetables and nuts and grains is not so hard, and I think it would do us good.
  • Invest more into my relationships with my husband, family, church family, and friends. There are several letters in my nightstand that sit unanswered because I haven’t prioritized them… several people I should be calling or visiting more often… several apologies and “I love you’s” I still haven’t said. The people I have been given are priceless and I need to do a better job of treating them that way.

What’s a goal that you want to prioritize this year?


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