Blogging Again? …. Maybe

Blogging Again?  …. Maybe

Hi! 

I get it. It’s been a while. In fact, unbeknownst to me until this very moment, it’s been a YEAR since I’ve last posted! Where has the time gone? 

Well, here’s a bit of an update. And possibly why it should matter.

Last April, 2018, my husband was deployed and was gone for 374 days! Crazy, right? Well, in that time, I was taking care of our two kiddos, ensuring that we attended all of our end of school events, enjoying our summer vacation…and then the craziness of our school schedule returned! Seriously, I have two kids, but the amount of extracurricular activities they enjoy is insane. Karate (x2, two days a week, and one was on the tournament team last year), piano (x2), gymnastics (competition team, 2 times a week, and then meets), band, archery, golf, academic team…and I’m confident I’m missing something! And, I love it. I love watching my children grow in their chosen activities, whether they are “good” at them or not! That said, I was left with little time for “me” (my undeniably bad health issues) and my photography growth. 

Fast forward through his return in May of 2019, and my husband came home, we went to Europe on a Disney Cruise (AMAZING! I’ll post pictures one day…and maybe even do a blog post!), and….then he moved to Washington DC. He was home 1.5 months total between his return and his departure. Have I mentioned lately how much I <<LOVE>> the Air Force? Note the sarcasm. And, although *some* time away is nice – because, let’s be honest, the running joke with our friends is that the pain in my neck is actually a long-term chronic illness called “being married” – working on a second year without a partner in the home to help me raise our kids, to help with things like home maintenance and bills, and to just be there for each other and to enjoy each other has been difficult. Manageable, thanks to an amazing tribe of friends, but nonetheless, difficult. I actually really love and adore my husband, and he’s my other half. It’s pretty tedious going through life without half of yourself. I miss him. But right now, this is our calling – him to be there for the Air Force and his country, and for me to be here for our children. 

I’m pretty verbose, and condensing anything is rather tedious for me! So, to sum up, it’s been a long year and a half or so, and thank goodness I’ve received a swift kick in the caboose from some AMAZING friends! MY TRIBE! I’ll discuss my tribe more later and the significance of me being able to say that, so be prepared for that upcoming post. So, even though I’ve not done nearly as many sessions as I’d like over the last year (still grateful for each and every client who enjoys working with me for my style and vision), and even though I’ve lost some confidence in myself because of this, they won’t let me continue the negative self-talk. In fact, I have at least four friends literally on a mission to help me in any way they can (life, health, kids…all the things) but for this post’s purpose, they’ve been steering me back on course with my photography goals. And although I’m afraid of failure, they have faith in me. And with that…here I am. Blogging for the first time in a year. 

What’s in store for my clients? New sessions, in studio! Up next…Fall Sessions, Halloween themed sessions, and …Christmas! 

What could be better than all that? Christmas WITH Santa! It’s totally happening! 

Want a sneak peek?  

I thought so! Check it out! 

 

 

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Green

Green

Yay!!! It’s March! I absolutely LOVE the month of March for a couple reasons. First, my handsome little man’s birthday is this month…three days before his Mommy’s birthday! That was an awesome 30th Birthday present seven years ago! But also, we have a few awesome traditions. The first we started when my daughter was itty bitty — we always wear our green and head to the zoo on St. Patrick’s Day! Last year, we made a valiant attempt, but unfortunately it was the first year that it didn’t work out. Daddy got off work later than we anticipated and the zoo closed earlier than we thought (it was only right before 4 pm!). But because it was slow…they weren’t allowing people in. So, we took pictures outside the zoo for our tradition, and I’m sure we treated the kids after that! This year, we’ll be heading home from our AMAZING Spring Break vacation on St. Patrick’s Day (details likely in an upcoming blog 🙂 ). The second tradition we started a few years ago with all the fun that comes with elementary school and learning about Dr. Seuss’s birthday! Now we make our green eggs and ham and yummy treats for the classes…and this is what I’m blogging today! We’ll be headed on our vacation tomorrow, so I’m posting early and sadly, this is the only green I got a picture of. I’m still happy as it still captures this stage in my son’s life.

Enjoy our “Green Eggs & Ham” treat via pictures and maybe think of us as you start up traditions for Dr. Seuss and St. Patrick’s Day next year!

Our version of “Green Eggs & Ham” as treats for his classmates.
Delish, too!!
Square pretzels, white candy wafer, green M&M.
And the littles love to help out!

I think he was proud of his accomplishment.

He is a super generous child, he loves giving.
And, I’m not sure where that light soft halo is coming from, buuuut, it’s pretty cool. I think.
Just very unexpected.

And ready to put them in little baggies!

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith photographer/storyteller (Facebook page).
Click here to see Nikki’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!

The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

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Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Grey

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Grey

Grey. Not black, not white…just…grey. It’s certainly not the most inspirational of colors, at least for me. I love a timeless black and white image, but I was hoping for an awesome foggy morning (one that lasted until the afternoon hours because, well, I enjoy my sleep) or something specific that provided that moment of epiphany for this theme. Black and white images I knew I could do, but I wanted something…more. After some thought, I knew I didn’t want to do all black and white images, but that including some might be nice. And then, one day, it snowed here in Oklahoma! Over the years (my family and I lived here about 6 years ago, for 6 years – love military life!), our Oklahoma winters have often consisted of “ice” storms (anyone out there remember…”ICE STORM, 2007!”?). Not snow, not blizzards, not rain…something in between. Something miserable, but beautiful (it’s actually stunning to look at, but  just not to drive or get stuck in), but something that will paralyze the whole state. So naturally, I wasn’t prepared for real “snow” but I am so thankful it came. It was in looking back on these a couple days ago that inspiration hit me, and although you might have to stretch your imagination some, I hope that these images will suffice for my “grey” take this month! The darker, sunless, and gloomier grey days that the atmosphere provided brought us so much joy…and that’s my “grey.”

In these first two captures, my littles were able to enjoy just a tiny, teasing glimpse of what we were accustomed to when we were living in Utah for two years. Goodness, they miss SNOW! Alabama really didn’t provide us with that beautiful white season filled with snow as the previous couple of years from Utah. Some of you may recall from Facebook that a few days before these were taken, my little guy had asked Santa for a few things. All of these items were Pokemon related. As Santa was finishing up and making sure he had understood the “all Pokemon” request, he asked if there was anything else. I’m sure he imagined my little guy would say something like, “a bike!” or maybe, “Twister!” or possibly even, “Batman!” But no, not my little guy. He exclaimed, with excitement filling his eyes, “an…IPOD!!…..AND SNOW!” Santa looked over at us with that “oh, I’m so sorry” look, and did the best he could with offering our son words of expectation management.

A few days later, on December 17th however, Santa delivered, and Tyler was beyond thrilled that Santa had come through, Christmas day or not. And, I feel the need to state that he dressed himself in his pajamas and Santa hat and no jacket. I swear! He actually asked to wear that so he could look like an elf…I happily obliged his request…with this picture in mind!

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I was only outside for a few moments, but I was thankful to be able to capture these before they blew away! It was so windy that night. I don’t have a macro, so I am VERY pleased with how these turned out. They are truly spectacular.
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And then, last weekend happened! Our kids came home so excited after school (Thursday January 5th)…my daughter’s teacher had asked them to pray for snow (and a snow day)…and we were more than happy to do this homework! On Friday morning, we received the call, and within about two hours, they were beyond ready to go outside and play in it! We actually had SNOW!! Not ice…but snow!!

This image captures them, waiting for Mommy to be ready to go outside for some pictures. I loved sitting back and watching their interaction…and, that light. And framing.

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We’ll just call these images, “Grey Day Fun”…because it was such a gloomy day, but I don’t think you’d know it by how happy and lively these two were!

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The image below is actually THE image that inspired me to write this post on our Snow Days! I love it. I love the memory of big sister pulling her baby brother, and moreover that they were headed to our dear friends house to play for the afternoon! They LOVE being so close to some of our best friends!

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I think this capture says it all. She loves it!

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These two were taken on that Saturday — so it was still snowy around us, but it was melting fast, and the sun was back to shining bright for us!

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And, well, this image – it represents the “Ice Day” that we are legitimately having tomorrow and the excitement that they have over it! My kids are once again thrilled that they miss another day of school…and so am I! After all, it’s a four-day weekend now! I’m sure it’ll be a blistery cold day and weekend (and, possibly even gloomier because Daddy is supposed to fly in Saturday, but we aren’t sure how that will work out now) and we’ll be wrapped up and sitting by the fire for much of it, but we always know that at the end of our {grey} days, the sun will find its way (along with its warmth) back to us!

Grey SLP-2

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith photographer/storyteller (Facebook page). Click here to see Nikki’s take on this month’s theme – I assure you that you’ll love it…she’s one of my favorites to follow!

The Artists Inspired Blog Circle is made up of an exceptionally talented group of photographers from all walks of life, from all over the world. They are wives, mothers, friends, daughters and visual storytellers who draw from their own experiences to create art that is inspiring, unique, beautiful and thought-provoking.

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Lightroom or Photoshop…or, Both

Y’all! I am so, so excited!

For a while now, I’ve been using Lightroom as my primary editing software. I’ll probably still use it more frequently than PS, but I decided to try a couple things to help me use BOTH editing software tools more effectively and more efficiently. I am so eager to try them both out. Actually, I’m a little terrified to try the Photoshop part, but we all start somewhere.

For anyone wondering where I decided to get my photo editing software, look no further than Amazon.com! Through Amazon, I purchased the $9.99 Adobe Creative Cloud monthly plan (that I think comes to $10.79 with tax) and have been very satisfied with it. Thanks to an awesome photographer friend in Utah, I was introduced initially to Lightroom 2…then I got Lightroom 4 and then Lightroom 5. Needless to say, I think just getting the automatically updating Creative Cloud plan was probably a better way to go! And to be honest, my husband was the one who finally gave me that push I needed and started purchasing the LRs for me…each time they came out with a new version! Silly man, but I love him!

Why did I choose Lightroom? Well, I had Photoshop Elements 8 for years. I could not figure it out! It just wasn’t intuitive for me…I still don’t understand masking and layers! But Lightroom…ahhhh…the ease. I played with Lightroom for less than 10 minutes and was sold on how easy it was to use. Of course, I’ve come a LONG way since then, and understand it so much more than before. But everything was just intuitive with it.

Now, for my new Lightroom toy…although I’m fairly handy with using the screen and mouse, I’m not as good with the shortcut commands. Well, I’ve decided it’s time to change that. What better way to learn quickly than with this awesome Adobe Lightroom Shortcuts Keyboard Skin?!  I’ll let you know how it goes as I’m pretty set in my ways! But just looking it over, I think it will help me reorganize my images and help smooth over my workflow. We shall see…but, here’s a quick visual in case you are interested as well!

 

Now. Photoshop! I think it’ll be a lot easier to use the Photoshop version since I’m not already proficient with it, so the shortcuts will hopefully be easier to learn this way.
PS Silicone Keyboard Cover Keyboard Skin Protection

I’m hoping these will give me some incentive to try new editing techniques, especially with Photoshop.

Do you have any specific editing tools that you love? Or something that helps ease your workflow?

Halloween – SLP Style

So, yes, it’s 6 months late…but, this was us on Halloween.

And, the woes of being photographer…I’m FINALLY getting around to doing something with my family’s images!

My friend Becky McCandless of Capturing Life Photography was kind enough to come out (before a hot date!) and capture some of these fun moments for my family! So, so thankful she did…we had a blast! And…if I HAD to let my husband get a motorcycle, I had to make him put it to good use as a prop!

 

October 2015 - Top Gun Family Shoot-21

Jellyfish – McWane Science Center 2016

I have some pretty weird photography obsessions, and jellyfish and all aquarium pictures really rank high up there!

Recently, my sweet son and I were in Birmingham after some pumonolgy testing that we had done for him. Thankfully, his test turned out well, though we’ll keep monitoring his asthma. Anyways, we decided to make a Mommy & Son date out of it, and we went to the McWane Science Center. There are plenty of wonderful pictures of him that I took as well, but I thought these jellyfish deserved a place of their own!

Is it a weird obsession? Or, can you see the beauty and desire in shooting them as I do?

I think an upcoming project of mine will be to share how to achieve great aquarium captures like these…

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My By He{art} Family

My By He{art} Family

Have you ever just felt so moved by something, you had to just push all doubts and fears aside (at least in the moment you hit “enter”) and just jump in? Well…that’s sort of what has lead me where I am now. First, I’m thankful for all the jumping I did last year!! I am so humbled by the various features in numerous photography communities and even more so humbled by all of the sessions I’ve been able to capture this past year!

A few weeks ago, however, I jumped a bit differently. Probably a little awkward, and I stumbled a bit. And thankfully, I had a friend with me for the free fall! Recently, there has been a surge of photography communities start up, and though I appreciate being a part of those communities, none have made me feel more sure about about the group’s vision than By He{art}. Founded by the AH-MAZING artists, Jennifer Franzin and Holly Awwad, they have a vision to offer tips, competitions, advice & critique for aspiring photographers. Do you know how amazing that is? In an industry filled with competitors, these two lovely ladies want to help. They want to support and encourage other artists find their own style, learn new techniques, and create a place where artists feel welcome to share. As a member of this community, even before becoming a contributor, I was welcomed with open arms and didn’t feel continually overlooked. That’s not an easy feat with so many talented artists out there!

A bit about my new family…Jennifer Franzin is also the artist behind Pretty Pixels Photography. I’ve been admiring her work from afar (literally…she’s in Canada!)…each time an image of hers pops up, especially her gorgeous landscapes and nature scenes, I am envious of how she captures just the right light and gorgeous composition. And, it’s not often I can say this, but her images make me wish I was living up in Canada with all that beauty and snow! But chatting with her has been so wonderful. She is just as kind as she is talented, and watching her desire to help others grow is so inspiring.

Sweet Holly Awwad. Do you know how many times I’ve seen her images in my newsfeed, and my jaw just dropped?!! I can picture at least a dozen images (any more and she might think I’m insane), clear as day, that I am in love with of Holly’s! Sunlight, shadows, nature, children, composites…she conquers all. And so, so beautifully. She owns her style and you can feel the emotion in her captures. I may or may not have been a secret stalker before finally…finally pushing the send button to actually chat with her. Ummm…as if that wasn’t hard (and intimidating enough) she’s ridiculously kind and generous. She lifted me up when my spirits were really, really low about my work. I am still a bit in awe of how we can just chat now…though her images are gorgeous (really, go check!) her heart is somehow even more beautiful. She didn’t have to be that kind to me…really, she could’ve blown me off or told me “better luck next time”…but, she didn’t. She WANTED to go above and beyond to help me. That probably sold it for me…I had to ask.

Back to free-falling with my friend. So, last year, maybe around April?, I connected with an amazing photographer, and how it happened, I’m not totally sure, but I know a good part of it was her sweetness. She took the time to message me, (she didn’t have to!) and then…a friendship formed. It was actually through another photography community – one that I likely would have been too intimidated to post to without this type of real kindness! And now, she can’t get rid of me!! Ha! If you don’t know who I’m talking about, it’s the generous and seriously over-talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith Photography. The creativity in how she knows she can capture an image blows me away!! She can make ANYTHING look amazing. A simple light bulb becomes dazzling with her. A candy coated hand is a work of art. Give her the challenge to take a picture of toys or books…you’ll get so much more! No snow in Jacksonville…no problem for Nikki…she’ll just create it. I could go on and on…oh and I will. Beach scenes. Mesmerizing.

Back to By He{art}…a connection was made, I jumped in heart in hand, hit enter, and somehow, Nikki and I are By He{art} Family Members…and we are so, so blessed! Jenn & Holly are so uplifting, and spared no detail in rolling us out to the community in style! We are so excited! Here are a few images from our official rollout teasers!!

It was a 6 day teaser stretch, and I loved it!

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And this was our Big Reveal…January 13th…I had to screen shoot it so I got the sweet words too!! I LOVE how our images look together!! I’m so, so thankful and blessed to be a part of this amazing photography community, and even more so blessed by these friendships!

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Now, have you been to By He{art} yet?!! If not, here’s a link. Go, like, share…and enjoy this amazing community of encouraging and inspirational artists!
By He{Art}

And if you aren’t on Facebook, no worries, you aren’t missing too much (well…maybe) — but we still have a link for you!
https://byheartphotographyblog.wordpress.com

The Promise of 2016 & Goodbye 2015

I don’t know about y’all, but 2015 FLEW BY! I cannot believe how much has changed in only one year, 52 weeks, 365 days. Seriously.

My first order of business in this post is to welcome in this brand New Year, 2016!! No pictures for this part of my post, but a few reflections from last year that will hopefully continue to guide me well into this promising New Year. Stick with me to see the farewell photos of 2015 though!

I recently reviewed a post I wrote last year, ( http://shelbyleigh-photography.com/new-years-eve-post-reflecting-on-2014 ), and I became really excited about the words that I wrote. I feel…accomplished! Because, although 2014 brought in the technical aspects of being a photographer and licensed business owner, 2015 went a step beyond that and gave me the creative boost and encouragement that I needed. I started last year off by listing some goals, and I’m pumped that these were met – some differently than I anticipated, but met nonetheless, and surpassed in the way I look at my expectations for fulfilling them.

Although I didn’t officially “teach” (and receive payment for) photography, I was able to befriend a few new budding photographers and although not all want to be “professional” they are learning their equipment, and that’s huge! Why own a $300-$600 piece of equipment that you don’t understand?! I still desperately want to help teach others, and begin mentoring other photographers with not only photography and editing, but also with the business side. I started this a bit before my busy season last year, but hope to pick it up a bit more with a few people that I know have shown interest in this. I would also love to teach a Basic Photography Course for Moms – nothing too crazy or technical, but again, why own the equipment (which I know MANY, MANY of you do…you’ve all told me!) and not know how to capture these memories? So, that’s in the works. To be honest, I had hoped to offer one in January, since it’s my slow season; with that said, we had a few health issues come up in January, so I’m playing a massive game of catch up with life! But, soon.

I’ve also become great friends with another photographer in the area, and it’s been great for both of us! Not only are we able to bounce ideas off of, drink coffee together, and just enjoy our passion with one another, we can also feel comfortable asking for critiques and business advice. This is so, so important! I truly believe no one can go at this alone, and I’m thankful I have someone local to chat with.

Beyond that, I’ve found a WONDERFUL community of photographers online that have become…well, like family. Sure, we don’t exactly get together for dinners and such (though…I’m sure we can figure something out one day!), but catch us on the right day, and we’ll talk your ears off on videos, I’ll chat with a couple online for hours, and beyond that, we support one another! HOLY COW…non-competitve love and encouragement from like-minded artists who are willing to help each other? This is like some parallel universe! But, it’s a wonderful one, and one that I’m blessed to be a part of! Through this group, I’ve also developed a full blown friendship with my friend Nikki, of Nikki Smith Photography (https://www.facebook.com/NikSmithPhotography ). I have NO IDEA what I did before this amazing lady became my friend. Even before we were “friends,” she lifted my spirits and encouraged me through another community. God truly does things for a reason, and one day, I hope to hug this lovely lady (on my tip toes 😉 ) AND have her photograph my family. What an honor that will be! One day!

I’ve also found my target clientele and pricing. I found what has worked for ME, AND my clients. This is SUPER important to me! I’ve LOVED every family that I’ve been honored to capture memories for! I’m not even kidding! Everyone has been so gracious, patient, encouraging…and honestly, I feel that they’re thankful for their images, which is huge. And with pricing, I decided long ago that I do not want to be a photographer that will make my clients break the bank. I know groups who get giddy (like, really, giddy) over charging essentially as much as they can get away with, regardless of their professionalism, experience, equipment and knowledge. I don’t agree with this model…and I’m not sorry for that. It works for many photographers; it just won’t for me. I charge what I feel I would be comfortable paying, and thankfully this model has worked very well this year. I’ve made a few changes and added a package to my pricing, but I’ll stick pretty close to this range, and I feel that it offers a little something for everyone. If prospects come my way who love my work and want ME as their photographer, I’m fairly confident my pricing is doable, without going broke, but while keeping cherished memories close to your heart! That being said, I also value myself and my worth more than a typical “shoot and burn” photographer – if you know me and/or have had a session with me, you know that I will put time in before, during and after your session. It’s not an hour with you, come home, burn your CD and charge you $50. My experience and knowledge is vastly more valuable than that, and thankfully my clients know it, for which I am truly grateful! Memories that you can pass down  from generation to generation are priceless, but thankfully, I can both value myself and time away from my family, and have my clients afford these quality memories to cherish!

So, THANK YOU to 2015…you’ve been wonderful to me, and I am truly blessed!! Now, I am super excited about 2016 and what it has in store for Shelby Leigh Photography! I won’t list every goal in this post (it’s long enough; I know, I’m verbose and always have been and always will be), but the biggest goal is to continue on the path that I’m on…learning, growing, inspiring others, teaching others, and having faith in myself to continue posting, entering challenges and contests and getting Shelby Leigh Photography “out there” in the vast world of photography, and for my clients. I want everyone who comes to me to know they will be taken care of and that I will do my best to make their photography experience a wonderful one! Getting my name “out there” won’t happen in a blink, but with hard work and determination, I will continue, thanks to so much encouragement!

Oh, and #goalfail. Sort of. Although I did manage to do *most* of my M4H P52, I did not, however blog each week! I think I wound up falling off the blogging wagon around 20 weeks, and then it was hit or miss! Ha! BUT…vast improvement in both blogging and consistent theme shooting from years past, where I never did either! Fail or success? To be determined! Brings me to another 2016 goal…better workflow consistency!! I’m going to play catch up with my family session blogging this first two weeks of January, then head into 2016 with a clean slate! And, the only reason I didn’t stick with the last few weeks of P52…my busy season hit, during my kids’ school stuff busy season, and well…life happened. I won’t regret getting my clients’ images and orders to them in a timely manner…and I’ll always be thankful for SO MUCH business in 2015! I’m still SUPER pleased with myself for sticking with the 52 week project that long (I think through October), and it truly filled the creative void I had when I didn’t have clients during the off season! I still highly recommend 52 week challenges. I know 365 would be too much for me, but I loved my experience with 52 weeks!

I’m off to spend the remaining hours of this First Day of January 2016 with my family…to share and talk about many of the memories that you’ll find in this collage:

2015 Personal Collage Wide

And, thank you to each and every client that has given me the honor of capturing your precious families!

2015 Client Collage

 

 

 

M4H P52 : Week 19

Shelby Leigh Photography | Montgomery, AL | Natural Light & Studio Photographer

M4H 19/52 [HOME SWEET HOME ♥]

He’s used to TDY’s, long deployments, and 15-18 hour days and nights without seeing his kids. No matter where the Air Force sends us, home is where and when we are all together. There’s no better feeling to him than when the kids…furbabies and all, get to run up to him the moment he opens the door…and thankfully at our current base, this is a daily sight, unlike the previous 11 years of his career before moving here.

Home Sweet Home-1

M4H P52 : Week 16

M4H P52 : Week 16

Montgomery | Alabama | Family Photographer

M4H P52 : Week 16 [RED]

Hehehe…one of my favorites!! Anything having to do with this handsome little guy…that I’m just a little biased about…is wonderful!! He’s my little guy, so pure of heart and just wonderful! I was so nervous about having “boys”…I had heard all of the Mommy loving and sweetness that they give us, but I didn’t know how good it really was! He’s my Super Hero for sure. This is one of his favorite things to do right now (and for the last couple of years) – EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we pass by flowers, I’m sure to get one!!

The superhero always wins the girl’s heart…especially with gorgeous red roses and that super hero smile! 

The first image is my actual submission…the others are just ones I had to play with!

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For this image, I decided to try to make the entire background white…I am please! Learning new stuff each and every day!

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I also submitted a second [RED] choice, but it doesn’t nearly compare to my handsome hero! No special blurb…it pretty much speaks for itself, but check out that rainbow flare!! I think that’s a first form me. I use reverse free lens macro for this…so we got some cool light let in!

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