Sharing-

I recently read an article on why a mom doesn’t make her child share.  Now, in some twisted way, I agree with the sentiment and I don’t always make my kids share. They have special things- a Thomas Train, a particular doll, or in the case of my 8 year old, a kindle fire- that they are never asked to share. But when it comes to other items toys in common areas, all courteous sharing rules apply. If it’s in your hand, no one can snatch it. If you leave it unattended, it becomes fair game. If you have exceeded five minutes on the trampoline, you swap out with someone waiting in line. Sharing -in all forms- is so important for a child’s development and I was very disappointed to read the article and the comments that followed it.

One of the “complaints” for lack of a better word, was that sharing taught children that they could demand and throw a fit and get what they want and this would carry into adulthood , with them thinking they are “owed” or able to demand whatever they see. I suppose if all you ever did as a parent was give your child what they screamed for, that might be a valid concern. But that is not what sharing is about. I am not at all suggesting you give in to the demands of tiny screaming people. We don’t in our home! In our home a sure way to get nowhere is to scream, yell, cry or demand.  But for littler kids, who have a harder time vocalizing, it’s OK to get down to their level and talk to them. Explain to them how screaming isn’t the right thing to do and if they want to talk about it, your ears are always ready to listen.

In some ways the author was right, sharing does carry into adulthood. But I think the picture she painted of demanding, selfish people was inaccurately presumed to be the result of sharing. Don’t get me wrong, raising a generation of uncompromising, selfish people is a very real possibility if all parents decide to stop teaching their children to share. When you teach your kid that it is ok to be ignore the feelings of their friends, and it’s ok to hoard their belongings, you are teaching your children objects are more important than people. You are telling them that how they feel is more important than the rest of the world. Just as importantly, you aren’t teaching them the valuable lessons that come with sharing.

When you don’t talk with your child about sharing, you are doing them and their friends a disservice. Sharing is a gateway to more important aspects of working in group dynamics. It opens the door for negotiations, communication, and problem solving, all very important aspects of a successful adult life. And it starts simple and small, with a pile of blocks, a blue airplane or a Barbie doll.

I am not saying that sharing is always the answer. Sometimes it’s just not the answer and that is fine. We have moments like that around our house too. The important things here are identifying their feelings, verbalizing them coherently and learning to play with others. This helps open the door for greater small group interactions later in life. They can’t begin to do this without parent involvement.

And that is possibly what galls me the most about the article. She recounts horror stories of screaming children and children who have the right to say no and implies the parents trying to appease their screaming preschooler are doing their kids a disservice when in reality, both sets of parents are doing their children a disservice. Both parents blame the other parent’s bad parenting.

Kids can’t learn if no one helps them! That means being involved with your child and helping them learn how to interact and socialize with other kids. Neither parent, in the scenarios outlined, taught their children valuable lessons. In fact, in both scenarios, it seems to me the children are not really taught anything useful  because at no point does the parent get down and explain or work with the kids. The children’s feelings are not identified and they are not given opportunities to work through their feelings. Instead, one child learns that life is unfair and the other learns that being selfish is the answer. I see no win in this, for the children, the parents, or society in the long run.

I get it-It’s a lot of work to stop what you are doing and help your child identify feelings and teach them how to express themselves to their friends. But that is parenting! Sharing is an essential foundation for greater lessons in life. It teaches children to think outside of themselves and look at other people as people. It teaches them that sometimes the most important thing isn’t being right, following the rules or the toy; the most important thing is friendship. And I can’t think of a better gift to give my children.

Still don’t think sharing is a good lesson?

I spent a good deal of my morning thinking about this- since I am a mom first- and came up with some of  sharing scenarios and how we typically handle them:

If my son is happily playing airplane with one airplane in a corner by himself and your kid is screaming he wants the plane, ignoring the very similar toys piled to the side I am not about to get involved; he can play with a different plane. I am not forcing my kid to switch planes just because another kid wants the blue one. Playing with a red plane will not hurt him at all. This is what I think of as a group play lesson- sometimes you aren’t first, you don’t get the blue plane and you have to settle for something else.  This is a perfectly acceptable lesson and chances are I wouldn’t make my kid share. I would explain to the other kid how they can pick up the red plane and join the fun.

But what if the blue plane belongs to the other kid; in that case, the owner of the toy can rescind their generosity at any time.  Yes, it feels unfair and is unpleasant, but the truth of the matter is if it’s not yours it can be taken from you at any time. This is what I think of as a property rights lesson and sometimes it is just “not fair”; that is ok, disappointment is a part of life and also an important part of growing up. Don’t worry- If this begins to occur often with one particular kid, then your child will eventually stop playing with this kid. No one wants to play with a selfish little monster who wont share his toys and invokes property rights every time your kid touches something. It gets old fast.

What if there is only one plane? Talk about it with the kids- let them know there is only one plane and explain to the toy holder how the other child feels, frustrated, left out and a little envious. Try to teach him/her empathy.  This is a great opportunity to teach kids how to share in a sneaky way- taking turns. Get a timer out, three minutes per kid until the kids lose interest or its time to clean up.  Most older kids get this without having to involve an adult- no one wants their friend feeling left out and unhappy.  Sometimes though, in a common play area some mom has decided not to teach her kid how to share and refuses to help negotiate a compromise. At this point, it’s a “hard life lesson” for the kid who doesn’t get the plane. Chances are, as your child grows up, they won’t want to play with that kid any more because that kid is selfish and unpleasant to play with.

Often times sharing evolves into a golden rule lesson;  your child learns how it feels when someone revokes their permission and the toy gets taken, your child – being human- doesn’t particularly enjoy this lesson and hopefully can learn how to empathize (with a little parental guidance) when kids are “sharing” his toys.  Maybe this lesson will help him not be the selfish kid no one wants to play with.

Now my kids are older and if my kid is the monster who isn’t sharing their one toy I follow the outline of discussion but leave ultimate power in their hands. If after discussing it, my child still wants the toy, I let him take it back or keep it. But I do let him know that it probably hurt his friend’s feelings and it wasn’t very nice of him or a good play experience for his friend. If the toy is that important to them, and they are uncompromising, then I let them choose not to share. I let them know I am dissapointed in their choice and I feel its unfair to their friend, but oftentimes at older ages, forcing them to share is not the right answer. Depending on the situation, I will suggest they put the toy away until their friend leaves. As they get older, its important to let them know that not sharing is allowed, but not nice. We try to teach them that rules aren’t always fair to everyone and we can follow the rules and get the toy but it might mean hurting a friend. Sometimes there is no great solution to the problem and that in and of itself is a lesson- for the kids and for me, The ultimate lesson behind sharing for us, is trying to teach my children to value their friendships more than their objects.

Free Homecoming or Pre Deployment Session!

Operation Love Reunited is a great organization that provides military families free professional photography sessions when a spouse is deployed, will be deploying or has just returned home. As a military spouse, I know how special these photos are to have when your loved one is away. A friend and great photographer (now located in Virginia at Langley AFB, http://www.inspiredimagesbytammy.com/) Inspired Images by Tammy, was kind enough to sneak in my own family before my husband deployed last year.

While I know just how much I enjoyed my photos at home I could not imagine how much it meant to my husband while away. I was surprised when he told me how important his pre deployment album had been and how often he looked at it and shared it with coworkers.  Men- especially those in uniform- don’t often seem sentimental or to care about photos. In general, they seem to “endure” photo taking. Or maybe that’s just my man.

In any case, I was slightly taken aback when he asked if I had thought of offering these sessions to clients, but the question did get my wheels turning. Having these photos- a photo session that as a single income jrnco family we could not have afforded at the time- was so wonderful. Yes, the snap shots and my own pictures were nice, but having someone else take the photos allowed me to be part of the deployment and not an observer. I am in these photos. I was present not as a photographer, but as a wife and mother. Having Tammy there allowed me to live that moment and allowed my husband to keep that little piece of me- of us- with him, even while deployed. I didn’t know then that it would be very important. But now, post deployment, I know that it meant the world to him.

So after a good deal of thought, prayer and discussion, I have decided to begin the application process for Operation Love Reunited and in celebration would like to offer a free homecoming or pre deployment photo shoot.  I am not part of Operation Love Reunited yet, and would like to get in a few shoots to add to my portfolio before sending it to Op Love.

What that means to you: a free photo session, pre deployment, or homecoming with your spouse and family, a free 8×10 photo album with photos from our session, and a 30% discount on any order placed from that photo session.

I will only accept a limited number of Op-Love type photo sessions per month. If you know your spouse will be deploying in the near future, please reserve a time now. If your spouse is currently deployed and you know their return date, please reserve a time now.

Let me give you the gift of capturing your special homecoming. The photos are ones you will truly treasure forever; I know I treasure ours. My Heroe

The Family

The King of the Wild Things and the man of my heart.

That was then, this is now! Three kids, a military career and 4 states later....

That was then, this is now! Three kids, a military career and 4 states later….I met him when he still played with legos- er, well, ok, he still plays with legos, but when I met him, we were just entering middle school. We had a five year plan that included a picket fence, a forestry degree, a big white wedding and 2 kids in the forest.  God had a good laugh.

He is enlisted now and I have to share him with Uncle Sam; his service has taught me the amazing sacrifice that military families and members make. I love working with military families- I know just how precious photos can be when your loved one is away. As a military spouse, some of my most precious photos, personally, are from good byes and welcome homes.

One of my most precious homecoming photos, when the girls saw their daddy for the first time.

One of my most precious homecoming photos, when the girls saw their daddy for the first time.

Thing1 loves animals and horses are no exception- in fact, they could be her favorite!

Thing1 loves animals and horses are no exception- in fact, they could be her favorite!

The oldest of our Wild Things, Thing1. Back when there was only one Wild Thing, they didn’t seem so wild, or maybe thats just her. We toted this lil’ one all over- hikes, quads, ocean, boats- you name it, this kid probably did it before she was three.

Thing1 enjoys her time at the stables; Horses for Heroes has given her  a great  boost of confidence and something amazing to focus on while Daddy is deployed.

Thing1 enjoys her time at the stables; Horses for Heroes has given her a great boost of confidence and something amazing to focus on while Daddy is deployed.

Now, she is a generous, caring little girl, concerned with the environment  animals and homeless families. Her favorite thing to do is ride horses and play with friends outside. Her little soul is just so precious- except when she is being mischievous and teasing her siblings, but as the oldest, we couldn’t have been luckier. She is a wonderful sister… when she is’t being overly mischievous

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Thing2, posing for a shot in an outfit completely styled by her. It doesn’t get more original than this little gal!

Thing2 is a girl through and through. She believes in ribbons, bows, pearls and high heels, even though we wont let her wear them. She likes everything just so and is very precise. It can be a challenge to keep up with her: her brain, heart and mouth move fast.

Thing2, posing an impromptu "inspiration" shoot.

Thing2, posing an impromptu “inspiration” shoot.

She has an expectation and believes life will live up to her expectations- watch out life, for disappointing Thing2!  Possibly the most stubborn, if it hadn’t been for the arrival of….

Thing3, the man child. Boys are just different.

Thing3, the man child. Dont let his innocent look fool you- child can charm his way into anything his little self desires.

Thing3, the man child. Dont let his innocent look fool you- child can charm his way into anything his little self desires.

This particular one is rugged and a little rough on the edges. That is not to say he doesn’t have just as open and warm a heart as the girls. Its just that he shows his love…Differently. Occasionally there is a bruise leftover from a forehead that connected too solidly with a chin, but usually it is only a hollow thump of affection, head on chest or shoulder. Sometimes, its even a spectacular moment, like the one below, of him kissing me.Thing3 Beware his current small size! Affectionately called “cannonball”, he can take you out with one well placed behind the knees tackle. He believes in all things little boys should- Superman, Firefighters, Airmen, Rangers and going really really fast (like lightning!)- but his favorite thing in the entire world, is trains.

 

Well there you have it! The Wild Things one and all. In case you are wondering, I call them that for a few reasons. The first is that they really truly are wild, all in their own special ways. The second is that it brings to mind the Maurice Sandak book “Where the Wild Things are”, a book about imagination and the power of childhood. I like to keep that in mind when handling my kiddos- they can be trying at times, but they are so precious and are only children still! The third, and final reason, is that I prefer their names not be widely discussed on the internet or known by strangers. I choose to make bits and pieces of my life and my art vulnerable by posting photos and text online, but I would like to protect my family as much as possible. It can be quite a struggle to share my life with readers but protect my families privacy! But Its just safer and better that way. Thanks to everyone for understanding and respecting their somewhat limited but no less valued privacy. I appreciate it greatly.

Aim, Frame and Shoot

I know I mentioned what an amazingly tolerant husband I have, but if further proof was needed, this past weekend would be it. After being cooped in the house with two cats, a dog and three Wild Things for three days straight, I was going a little batty, but with three kids and newly arriving to this base, I didn’t believe I would see a date night for at least a few months. I am ashamed to say that I completely underestimated my husband. The DH worked some magic with an amazing coworker of his and voila! We had a date.

The DH had far better aim than me.

The DH had far better aim than me.

Like a true gentleman, he opened my car door for me and then, during the course of our date, taught me how to load a semiautomatic handgun! Now that’s a real Southern gentleman. Well, technically a Californian gentleman whose mamma raised him right.

I had so much fun at the shooting range and was able to test the feel of a variety of arms. As the day went on, I even managed to hit the black part of the target. Granted, I never managed to hit the bullseye like the DH, but that’s why he is the teacher and I am the student.

It’s not that I am unaccustomed to shooting things- hi, photographer here! I aim, frame and shoot all day long! It’s just my choice weapon is typically a Nikon, not a Beretta and my target shooting reflected that quite clearly.

Me, target shooting. I was fortunate when I hit the black target. Seriously. I never imagined that shooting a moving target (clay pigeons) would be easier than paper. But it is for me! Maybe its all that time photographing small children who move extra fast.

Me, target shooting. I was fortunate when I hit the black target. Seriously. I never imagined that shooting a moving target (clay pigeons) would be easier than paper. But it is for me! Maybe its all that time photographing small children who move extra fast.

My skill with a lens wasn’t completely useless- One of the Range managers asked for my professional services for some publicity photos. Alas, these won’t be lightly spiced up, but I was more than happy to donate some time for the photos. I know we will be back often at the Range and I just had so much fun that a few moments of my professional time seemed a small concession for the awesomeness of our experience. I was fortunate enough to capture some spectacular marksmen in action and truly flattered to have been solicited in the first place, even if it was a spur of the moment un-planned and unpaid experience.

Some of the shooters present were amazing marksmen with true skill.

Some of the shooters present were amazing marksmen with true skill with fire arms. I was not one of them.

I came home from our date feeling empowered and revived. Taking a few hours to just spend time with someone you love one on one is such an amazing gift! And having my professional talent sought was an unexpected bonus to an already lovely day.  My only regret is that I didn’t ask one of the range managers to take a photo of the two of us together. All in all it was a great date activity for us. It’s not often we get time to spend, just the two of us so this was extra special.

*The Arkansas Armory is the range we went to. They allow you to rent a variety of different fire arms, which I enjoyed immensely, because it allowed me to try out different guns without committing to any of them. Now I have learned how to load and shoot and work different fire arms. Knowledge is power and knowing how to handle a fire arm is very important, even if I never plan on using one.  

Spring Showers

I spent some time working a new shower curtain for the girls. I know it’s not directly linked to my photography, but given the oh- so-dreary and oh-so-freezing weather we had, I needed an indoor project to keep my hands busy and my mind calm (being cooped indoors all day with Wild Things can do strange things to the inner workings of a mommy mind!)

The very dreary weather that hovered and fell over us during our "ice storm".

The very dreary weather that hovered and fell over us during our “ice storm”.

For our new bathroom, we (we being the little wild women and I) knew that something cheerful and fun was called for. Not to mention, something a little more “big girl” than the rubber duckies. Nothing I found at Target or Walmart was really doing it for me, and despite the girls best efforts, I wasn’t having a hello kitty or dora bathroom. After all, it might be their bathroom, but I have to spend time in there too! Plus, I really didn’t want to buy new towels, so we were hoping to make the aqua work with our new theme.

I found some fabric and decided to just do it myself! Afterall, it couldn’t be that hard right?

The cheerful, fun fabric we chose to help liven up the bathroom.

The cheerful, fun fabric we chose to help liven up the bathroom.

Actually, it wasn’t really that hard. It was just time consuming and a wee bit boring, since long straight hems are not my forte when it comes to sewing.

Sewing ribbons on the back of the curtain so we could "hook" it to the curtain rod if we chose to.

Sewing ribbons on the back of the curtain so we could “hook” it to the curtain rod if we chose to.

So I rewarded myself between long hems with breaks of fun things; I took some time out to watch the rain with my little man, and enjoy the sound as it bumped the roof.

Showing off his joy at the storm. After all the dust and heat of Nevada, rain is one of his favorite things about Arkansas.

Showing off his joy at the storm. After all the dust and heat of Nevada, rain is one of his favorite things about Arkansas.

Thing3 and I spend some time just watching the rain drop into the puddles. My little Nevada man is enamoured with the rain and spent nearly 45 full minutes just enjoying the show Mother Nature put on for us.

Thing3 , my little Nevada man is enamored with the rain and spent nearly 45 full minutes just enjoying the show Mother Nature put on for us.

Also, I took a moment to step outside and see the icicles that were forming on the rocket box. Curiosity didn’t kill this cat, but it nearly got her wet!

Icicles on the rocket box after only three hours of the storm! Next on my at home list is curtains, because the drafts slipping through the house gave us goosebumps.

Icicles on the rocket box after only three hours of the storm! This photo was taken from the safety of the our front porch. Wow. That was only 3 hours into our “storm”.  When they say “ice storm” they do mean “ice storm”. I have it on good authority that this was just an itty bitty teaser of a storm and nothing like the hard freezes they get in the dead of winter.

Yipes! I hope I have enough indoor projects to keep busy; after  Nevada, I am not terribly accustomed to my photography being limited by Mother Nature and her whims. The weather was almost always pleasant enough for an outdoor shoot, unless the winds were kicking up some serious dust storms, so this whole “rainy day” or “ice storm day” for that matter, was a new concept for me! Now I understand why so many outdoor, location photographers only shoot during the summer- Winter schedules are risky business when you are at the whim of Mother Nature.

As for this little sampling from Mother Nature, I will call the downtime a success.

The fun, bright blossoms are just what the girls needed to brighten up their bathroom and the blue goes great with the towels.

The fun, bright blossoms are just what the girls needed to brighten up their bathroom and the blue goes great with the towels


The girls enjoy their new shower curtain and it helped keep away the cabin fever. I may have had to endure three days inside during these Spring Showers, but our indoor shower is just blooming.  I can pat myself on the back with a “job well done mommy” and begin hunting for other fun things to do during the downtime Mother Nature provides when there is a down pouring of ice, hail and sleet. Maybe those indoor, homey projects will help make our new house our new home. 

I’ve been framed!

Its true- I have been framed, but not nearly as often as I have framed the Wild Things. The way I want to frame the wild things is at an art store custom framing counter, but more often than not, our budget, and wall space wont allow me to really spend the money getting our portraits professionally framed. In fact, the tiny handful I have had professionally matted and framed look extra fabulous, but there are – gulp- less than five in my entire household. And I am the photographer mom, with a photographer mother-in-law. Let me assure you, lack of photos is NOT the issue here! It’s lack of money.

Just a tiny sample of our unframed portraits!

Just a tiny sample of our unframed portraits!

Its a fairly common issue across the board- here we have some amazing, gorgeous portraits that deserve to be honored and hung gallery style for us, our friends and our family to enjoy, but we just don’t have the budget for giving our portraits custom frame jobs we envision them in.

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Thing3 and his banana covered hands. What am I going to do with this child?

The other day I ordered new portraits – call it an investment for costumers to view, a birthday present or just a mother’s whim- and today, as I waited for them to arrive, I went hunting for more frames around the house. I even found a few here. Unfortunately, I also found the boxes of photos still waiting to be framed and placed. Why, I thought to myself, did I not frame these with those frames I just found? As I perused the photos- and tried to keep them from Thing3’s banana covered hands- I would pick up a picture and think Oh, this is the one I thought should be matted, or This one needed something more than white matte board, something to really make the colors pop. Pretty soon, I realized that I was re-convincing myself that none of these photos could be framed today.


About halfway through repacking the box I realized how ridiculous that was. Photos are meant to be seen! I take portraits and I tell clients all the time how much they will love seeing their prints. I tell clients to use their portraits to make a statement, to tell the very personal story of their lives. I tell them about how loved their children will feel looking at them in twenty years, or how great it will be to share photos with the grandchildren. And here I was, closing all my own family photos back into a box! My my my, wasn’t that hypocritical of me.

So I chose five portraits from the box. And I ran to Walmart  Because even though it isn’t Aaron Brothers, or Micheal’s  or the cute little mom and pop frame shop, it had what I needed for right now, to help me make our new house our new home.

So for a 6 dollar special, it's not so bad. And the best part is, no one really cares about the frame but me- everyone else just sees the Wild Things.

So for a 6 dollar special, it’s not so bad. And the best part is, no one really cares about the frame but me- everyone else just sees the Wild Things.

I encourage- even challenge- all of you to take a moment, and pick just one photo of your own. Frame it, hang it, stand back and smile at the memory it evokes and the knowledge that for as long as its hanging there, you’ll remember that moment.

Sometimes, it’s OK if it’s not perfect. Because displayed is better than in a box, even if it’s not as great as custom framed. Yes, some of these portraits are great enough to be gallery framed and matted, but right now, at this time, our house is a home and in our home, sometimes things are just OK.

And that’s OK by me.

*All Wild Thing participation was either voluntary or coerced through a standard parental mix of bribery and blackmail, not to exclude the mention of possible deactivation of all electronic devices in the house.
** No Wild Things were harmed during the process of shooting and framing for this post.   

It all started

I was eleven when I first wanted to be a photographer. I asked my parents for a SLR camera, with at least two ways to zoom. My parents lovingly presented me with the one of the first digital cameras- a cannon, with 6x optical zoom and a whopping 2.4 megapixels. This was better you see, because it was digital and did not require the developing of film. I politely thanked them and somewhat suspiciously took my unexpected gift out to test. I came in deflated. Somehow, the photos I took with my digital point and shoot and with the $10.00 toss away film cameras just didn’t look the same as the picture did in my minds eye. They were dull, lackluster, sometimes blurry or just lifeless.

Fast forward through my early teen years (Oh yes! Lets please do fast forward through those!) and I began to work at Red Tail Publishing with the amazing woman who would become my mother-in-law. She had a DSLR. On an exceptionally good day, I was even privileged enough to use it for whatever miscellaneous task came up. But most importantly, she taught me. I can not begin to express the awesome benefits that come with learning photography from a woman who developed her own film, in her own darkroom- she really gets it. Soon our lessons went from professional needs to creative whims- and even in her personal time, she found the moments to help me grow (of course, maybe that’s because I would soon marry her son… And I was always in her personal time anyway!).

Not everyone is lucky enough to get such a great start, but then I have always been blessed with the women in my life. Take my own mom for example. As I was composing this little post- a brief history of where I started my journey as a photographer- my mom wrote a Facebook post, thanking my mother-in-law for taking time to help me get started, teaching me the basics, because now the entire family could reap the benefits of my portraits.

The turning point for me- when I went from occasionally using my Mother-in-laws camera to  take shots for work, to actively pursuing a career of art in photography, was my very own wedding. We were on a tight budget and couldn’t afford a $1500.00 wedding package, so we went with a friend of a friend, who had recently had a baby but was getting back into the swing of her photography… Or so we were told.

The day she dropped off a CD filled with my low resolution jpg.s, I plugged it into my laptop and proceeded to cry. Every photo was haunted by giant shadows, barely illuminated by an under powered flash and shot at such an angle, that even my step mom- a tiny wisp of a woman- looked like she had shoulder pads and a linebackers build. Here, the photos from what was supposed to be the most important day of my life, were a wreck. Worse than the washed out, dull, lifeless photos I had clumsily captured as a child, these were horrendous! It was a beautiful moment in our life and the person we had paid to commemorate our wedding in photos left me so low I couldn’t even look at the pictures anymore.

I decided then that I could do better. That I could make a difference and create something amazing in place of what I received. Sometimes, when I am framing a shot, or the light filters through the windows and catch-lights spring up, I think about those pictures and I swear to myself that I will never feel the bitter disappointment of a moment passed and a photo missed again. With every photo, I try to capture the light; the beauty of the moment and pass it on to portraits, so people can look at the image and just know that the world- the person, the moment, the day, the feeling- was great.

Granted, my photos didn’t always look like they do now. At the beginning of my journey, the slope was steep and I scrabbled painfully up the first bit, slowly learning the technical aspects of the art I was to eventually create. Technical aspects are not fun and mastering them was a chore. But I am so very glad I did, because taking the time to learn from my mentor, read the books and attend a few classes, gave me the skills necessary to build my foundation.

Its so fun- and sometimes scary- to look back at how much I have learned and grown. Take this photo, from my first ever solo shoot, where I was in command of everything. I had the lights, the camera and the subject. And my brain just clicked off. I had no inspiration and a stomach full of jittery butterflies. This is a photo from that first shoot.
First Solo Photo Shoot
For SOOC photos, my first shoot really isn’t all that bad, if I take a moment to not criticize myself. It lacked inspiration, it was flat and a little boring- but then, there isn’t room for inspiration when you are so full of nerves. At the time, I thought it just wasn’t speaking to me. I even doubted myself: Maybe I wasn’t cut out to shoot portraits.  While I was worrying myself into knots, I felt a driving need to produce something better. I took a day to step back, reflect and then to just “play”  photo shoot with my own kids. One session with them proved that it wasn’t portraiture that hadn’t been speaking to me. It had been me, so full of self doubt I wasn’t listening. I was too busy asking myself What do I need to take these photos and make them art? I just knew I could do better, but I wouldn’t quiet my brain and my nerves long enough to hear the answer. Thankfully, I dont feel like that anymore. Now I know how to listen to the portrait and see it for what it really is: Art.  

I got better. I did more shoots, I practiced with friends, and my friends kids and the neighborhood kids and I started taking my camera everywhere with me. My camera hikes when we do; Its been to the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Austin and Little Rock. Its captured the view from Angels Landing, Zion National Park and it has (unfortunately) felt the salty spray of the Pacific ocean. And the more it traveled the country, the more I have learned.

I learned- through trial and error and hours in front of the computer screen- how to edit for just the right amount of spice to bring a photo over the line of “picture’ into the broad, dazzling spectrum of “art”. It wasn’t without its disasters, and in many ways, I am still growing. After alI, my journey isn’t over! Its just taking a three year layover in Arkansas. In the meantime, my camera rides ’round my neck, ready for the next amazing moment it might be able to capture, like this one, of Thing2 playing fairy princess in the woodsy area that is our front yard.Recent Solo Photo Shoot