Monday, March 30, 2015

dear artist



Dear Artist,

You are not crazy. You aren't a drama queen. You aren't an attention whore. You are intuitive, you feel things other people don't, and more deeply than other people can. You worry while other people are blissfully unaware. You judge yourself so harshly that you can't possibly measure up, and you punish yourself for disappointing others, even when they don't seem to notice. You second guess every damn thing you do and you make yourself miserable. But all of those qualities give you insight into people, insight that you use to communicate and to make other people feel important. You probably give away too much of yourself while you worry that you are perceived as self-absorbed and high maintenance. You are neither of those things. You are simply different, and thank God for those of us who are different. We reveal the beauty of the moments in between. If we don't, nobody will.


Something I really needed to hear this morning, shared from CJ Nicolai’s Photography.

Friday, March 27, 2015

of springtime and comfort zones



The tulips are blooming in my yard. The crocuses are long gone, the daffodils are waning and now it’s hyacinths and hundreds of flowering trees. The air is heavy with sweet floral springtime. I’ve migrated to the backyard for my workouts, soaking up the sun after a mild but gray winter.


Years ago, I made a pact with myself that I would do my best to never pass up an opportunity to do something different. To me, something new = something to learn, and though I may be lacking a degree to show for it, I  love learning more than many things in life. Even if it looks like a lot of work, or even if I’m not sure I can do it, or even if I’m terrified, I have tried not to let myself take the safe, changeless, apathetic path if I can possibly help it. I am timid and quiet and introverted and perfectionist, and these are the things most people notice about me immediately; however, at the same time I’m bold and daring and persistent and determined.

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So I have striven to let the latter traits trump the former in as many cases as I wisely can. Though I haven’t gone as far or wide as a lot of people, I’ve traveled at every chance and seen huge portions of Washington and Oregon, visited Canada and Montana, lived in Florida and Pennsylvania, and spent two weeks in Israel. Though I was only eighteen and had never lived away from home, I went to Bible school in Florida. Though I didn’t follow the beaten path and go to college for a four-year degree, I did embark on the grand adventure of marriage at a relatively young age. I am writing a book despite long-standing insecurity about exposing my musings to others; I am running a photography business despite the overwhelming task of finding a niche in a saturated market; I am teaching gymnastics and ballet despite having no personal experience with either one. It is one of my primary goals to push the boundaries of my comfort zone ever wider, even though it can be a bit uncomfortable.

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Two weeks ago I made the decision to stretch them yet again by signing up as a Jamberry nails consultant. One of my dearest friends recently became a consultant with Arbonne, and she inspired me to consider doing something I never, ever, ever in my life would have pictured myself doing. Sales? Presentations? Parties? The possibility of failure and the inevitability of rejection? If you know me at all, you know that none of these things come naturally to me! But what better reason to give it a try?! I have no idea whether I’ll do well at this, but I do know without doubt that I will learn something—probably many things. So it’s well worth it. ;) (It does help that I get to sell a product that I love without reservation!)


And before I end this post, I want to leave you with a word about the man who inspires me every single day not to give up, not to stop reaching for even the things that look most difficult. This is my husband, Sam, and last night I pinned his Olympia Fire badge to his uniform at his fire academy graduation. He has persevered through weeks of unbelievable stress, pain, sleeplessness, and studying in order to realize his ultimate goal of becoming a firefighter with Olympia—and he still had energy left over to spur me on in my goals, to remind me to give them all I have and not let fear hold me captive. I love him. A lot.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

happy birthday


Yesterday was a very important day.

Yesterday, in one of western Pennsylvania’s very small towns, a beautiful young woman named Hannahstasia (well actually named Hannah, but Hannahstasia is more fun to say) turned twenty-one. This Hannahstasia is my best friend and I’d like to take a moment to tell you why…


1. Because she survived ten whole months of sharing a room with me.

And she did it without complaining. Well, most of the time.


2. Because she believed me (and believed IN me) when pretty much no one else did.

Cliche, perhaps, but the honest-to-goodness truth.

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3. Because she has cheerfully endured not one, not two, but THREE photo shoots as a model for me.

And she’s a darn good one!


4. Because she was the one and only person who faithfully spent hours of every day picking nits out of my hair when I had head lice.

And endured all the sleepless nights and meltdowns we both had as a result.

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5. Because she put up with me sleeping on the floor in our room and being a complete cripple for six weeks with a sprained ankle.

Maybe not always cheerfully, but God bless her for trying.


6. Because she knows what it means to live life in the wake of GCBI.

It’s something that not a lot of people in this world can relate to.

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7. Because she can be so completely, hilariously, and obnoxiously silly.

And that’s just refreshing sometimes.


8. Because somehow, even after living with me for a year, she still invited me to spend the summer with her in PA.

Ritchey’s Dairy, Fox’s Pizza, mountain pies, and lightning bugs… all of these I owe to Hannahstasia.


9. Because she makes a great partner in solving the world’s problems.

Ideal time to do it: on 20+ hour roadtrips north from Florida.


10. Because she was one of a very few friends from the other coast who flew all the way to Washington for my wedding.

Having made the trek myself seven different times, I totally understand why there were few takers. But I’m glad she was one of them.


11. Because, well, she’s Hannah, and she’s my BFF!

And I don’t know how else to put that into words.


Happy birthday dear!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

a study on vision, part four


Part one.
Part two.
Part three.

So I’ve covered a lot in this series and I’m really really excited for the summary post, where I’m hoping to make some discoveries about what really speaks to me in photographic art. But first, one more thing to look into: the professional photos I’ve taken for others thus far that impact me most.

I think this is the hardest category so far. I get really excited about the pictures I take for people, and there are so many that I love—for totally different reasons. Some I love because I feel that I nailed the technical aspects, like lighting and depth of field; others I love because of how they make me feel connected to the story. I’m going to try to narrow it down to some I love for both reasons. :)

Note that not all of these were from “paid” shoots. I’ve spent a huge amount of time building my portfolio with non-paid pictures, but I go into every organized (or semi-organized) photo shoot with the mentality that I am a paid professional and give it my all!

favorite professional images (mine)

1. “Snow White”

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This picture was surrounded by a ton of laughing and protests of “This pose feels so awkward!” but the way it turned out is just so breathtaking. Maybe part of the reason I love it so much is because this is my sister and I think she’s just stunning, but I also love it because it was one of the few pictures I’ve taken of her where she actually said, “That picture makes me feel pretty.” (Or something along those lines.) I call it Snow White because of the bright blue and dark red with her black hair. :)

2. In love


You KNEW one of these had to be in here, right? The moment I clicked the shutter to take this picture, I knew it was going to be one of my favorites in the whole world. There is nothing sweeter than catching those little excerpts of a love story. It doesn’t even matter that this started out “posed.” The connection is genuine.

3. In love (again)


This one. It stays nestled back in my April 2014 folder with the rest of Larissa and Aaron’s wedding… but every time I see it I’m like, “Wow, I took that?!” I love the softness, the colors, the detail in the bouquet. And this one was barely posed at all—I basically said, “Go stand over there and face each other.” The excitement and passion and romance of a wedding day usually takes care of the rest. ;)

4. Amy and Drem


I took this picture the first time I rented a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, in September 2013. I think it might be the best portrayal I have of my little sister’s bond with my horse, Drem—and I love the backlight and the delicious golden fields of home.

5. Hannahstasia


I think I love this picture because (besides the fact that this is my very best friend) it is literally my vision come to life. I saw this photo in my head well before I even stepped out into the snowy Pennsylvania backdrop, and it thrills me to death that I made it happen!

6. Hannah and Splash


Just one more horse one… this is my sister and her horse, Splash. I love the connection here and the fact that my sister is laughing her head off so the whole thing feels completely joyful and genuine. This is another example of my vision coming to life… I saw this field, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I love the “wild prairie” feeling, the robust Goldendale wind, and the bold September sky.


I’m sure I could have picked more, but I’m overwhelmed just going through my portfolio… the reason every image is even in my portfolio is because I love it and am proud to have taken it, so narrowing it down to these few was hard. Also, I apologize for the weird grayish color cast on a few of these images—sometimes Blogger really messes with my files and I still haven’t figured out how to fix that. You can find higher-quality versions on my website.

Do you have a favorite?

Monday, March 2, 2015

a study on vision, part three


Part one is here, part two is here.

And now we dive into pictures that I have actually taken. Thus far I’ve been focusing on what I like about other people’s images, but now I’m going to look at my own, starting with candid pictures of everyday life (of which I take many).

favorite candids (mine)

1. Dad

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I must have taken this at least four or five years ago, but when I was combing my memory for my favorite candid pictures it was the first to pop into my head. This picture evokes exactly the image I see in my mind when I think of my dad: irrigation boots, a hickory shirt, and suspenders, hard at work every hour of daylight and some beyond. And yet at the same time I love this because it’s a rare instant, an unusual sight when working with my dad; he works quickly, efficiently, and nonstop, so this moment of rest and reflection was particularly special. I like the way I took it at a tight crop with my 200mm lens to make it feel more remote and undisturbed.

2. Damascus Gate, Jerusalem


This is by far my favorite picture from the day I spent doing street photography in the Old City. There are some flaws and technical errors I would change if it had been anything but a fast-moving candid shot, but for the few seconds in which these Israeli Defense Force soldiers were moving through the Moslem Quarter I am very happy with it. It brings back my favorite memories from Israel in my favorite place—the ever-bustling Old City—and the total diversity of characters I saw there. It was a tangle of mixed languages, from German to English to Arabic to Hebrew, as well as a tangle of backgrounds, creeds, lifestyles, and purposes. Some were tourists, some were Muslim shopkeepers, some were orthodox Jews... And in the midst of it, soldiers. A lot of soldiers.

3. West Kensington, Philadelphia

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I spent only a  few hours in this very rough neighborhood of Philadelphia, but I managed to grab one of my very favorite candid pictures while I was there. The way the people live in West Kensington blew me away… I can’t imagine living in such small and close quarters, and in such hot and miserable summers (I was there in the dead of July). But in the afternoon every other small street or so was blocked off, and they opened up the hydrants a little bit and let the children play in the water. Unlike the other candids I’ve posted so far, I chose a wide angle for this one, and I like it that way—I like to have the sense of place.

4. Fishing


Dad stars twice today! I took this picture of him and my little sister last spring when I was home for a visit, and I think I love it mostly because it’s like a brief step back in time to when I was little and used to go fishing in the creek with Dad… trudging through knee-high pasture grass and stopping to quietly cast into various holes along the way and sometimes seeing beavers, herons, or swarms of ticks. :)

5. Hannah and Larissa in Melbourne, Florida

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I just love this picture. I can’t look at it without smiling. We were at a beach in Melbourne at the very beginning of GCBI—just getting to know each other. If I remember correctly, Larissa, a former cheerleader, was trying to teach Hannah to do a cartwheel, and the results were rather hilarious. (Maybe I think they’re even more hilarious now that I teach cartwheels for a living.) Their laughing faces are so priceless, and somehow I see a hint of vintage in the whole image—maybe it’s their swimsuits or just the fun feel, I don’t know. But I love it.


So which one’s your favorite?


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