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!

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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 – Orange

Artists Inspired Blog Circle – Orange

Orange

November is here and we are already halfway through this month! How can that be? One more month until Christmas and not too far after that, a whole New Year will be knocking at our door.

I was a little stumped this month with our Artists Inspired Blog Circle theme of “Orange.” I considered quite a few regular “events” or ways to capture orange. But it all seemed too forced. I’m not an “every day shooter” — I pick up my camera for sessions, when something strikes me (like the November 2016 Supermoon), or when I want to capture a family memory. Rarely do I get the chance to go out and shoot for “me” or “just for fun.”

Below are some of the “orange” things I considered…

Most of the orange leaves have turned, and to be honest, don’t look as pretty as I’d want to photograph. I didn’t go hunting for anything special — just saw what was around my neighborhood, but nothing jumped out at me.

Then of course, I have tons of orange decor around my house, but nothing felt inspired to me.

I considered sunrises and sunsets…those have all of those golden yellow, orange, vibrant tones, but that seemed too pushed as well.

Two nights ago, my littles went to an Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball game, and were invited out on the court baseline to be there when the players were introduced — HOW COOL! But, though pretty awesome, I think I’ll save that post for another day.

You know what was totally natural? My children, who are my muses, doing their normal thing for Halloween, and me capturing and blogging. No, these images aren’t technically beautiful or super “wow” images…but they are us. In fact, I don’t think any of these were really thought out before I pulled the camera…I just snapped a few, and these will be our memories this year. And, I’m okay with that. Daddy had to leave the day of Halloween, unfortunately, so the kids and I did what we could with him before he left, and then of course, we were left Trick-or-Treating without him. We are so, so thankful for amazing friends to come over that night and enjoy our Halloween celebration with us.

My little Pikachu and my little Charmander, all dressed up for Halloween, doing their thing. These were taken after a family session…my babies were with me, and though very dark, we found some light and I went for it anyways. I’m glad I did…

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To be 100% honest, I don’t think the ones below are actually edited. At least, not all of them. We are ALWAYS late pumpkin carvers, and this year was no exception. We did this the day before Halloween, before Daddy left. I have HORRIBLE house lighting (and am always so jealous when I see great house light!) so really, I needed to edit these. But, it’s the memory that’s important…and these are tradition!

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Check out this LIGHT!!!

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This one has become one of my favorites! I LOVE how this turned out, regardless of how many times people picked on me for the 11×14 frame STILL being empty in the background! 
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Before our guests arrived…I needed to keep my lil’ Pokemon from eating all of the Halloween treats! We started a tradition several years ago of making Halloween Party Food (even just for our family) and the kids love it and look forward to the surprises each year. This year, they were able to help me get ready for the party, which was awesome!

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We had Pumpkin Poo, Witches Brooms, Witch Fingers, Ghost Poo, Bloody Fingers, Halloween Punch, Jack-O-Lantern Quesadillas, Werewolf Scabs, Mini Mummies, and Chili…for the grown ups. 
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I was SO ant-“Halloween” decorations. Fall decorations…all day long. But Halloween?? Eh,not sure what message that sends the kids. However, when DADDY makes a deal with Big Sister about good grades and graveyard decorations…he sticks to his word.

And deals with the wrath of Mommy.
So, they go out a few days before, and they are put up within a day or two.

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I’ve decided I need to take more pictures of my beautiful new home! The kiddos are standing in front of it, so it’s in the background. It’s been an adjustment, but we’ve started to enjoy being here quite a bit, especially because of our friends. And we are very thankful for the house and the neighborhood that Jason picked out for us to live in.

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Along with taking more pictures of our home…we have a super cool looking entryway! I decided that it looked pretty cool with the pumping lit up in front of it, so I captured a couple angles!
We have one Pikachu Pumpkin, and one sort of scary face pumping, completely carved by Sweet Caroline!
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Finishing out the blog by sharing our Pikachu Pumpkin!
My little guy wanted this one SO BADLY, and Daddy did a pretty great job!

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I hope you enjoyed my take on {Orange}!
So thankful you all took the time to come by my blog!

Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Elizabeth Willson of It’s Still Life by Elizabeth Willson. Click here to see her 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 – Pink

Pink

In stark contrast to last month’s epiphany from Facebook (you can see my “Gold” Artists Inspired Blog post here to read up on this!), this month, surprisingly it came pretty quick to me what I would make this post about. First, a few ironies to share with you!

I’m not a huge pink fan. I don’t think I look particularly nice in pink.
It was a always a little too girly for me. And I still consider myself fairly “girly”…but not “pink girly.”

And then…I got pregnant 11 years ago with my first born child. My total surprise baby.
A GIRL.

At this point, PINK began to rule my life. I had pink on the brain. Pink dresses, pink shoes, pink room, pink stuffed animals.

Here’s a snapshot of this phase.
Whoa. My face put on a little weight in these…I didn’t realize that until many years later, thankfully. Just as a heads up, this was 7.5 months and 8-ish months pregnant.

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Anyways, I came home from work one evening, and my sweet husband, Jason, had painted her (Baby Girl White) room pink. Like, it was really PINK. I was (and am still to this day) VERY indecisive. I had no idea what color to paint it. The choices seemed endless, but thankfully, my husband knows this about me, and just goes with it. He makes decisions when he knows I’m overwhelmed. A surprise pregnancy can do that to someone, especially while working until the day before delivery.

Clearly, we didn’t have a professional photographer…or even a good camera with us. But, at least I still have this. And no comments on how awful I looked, or that I wasn’t actually clothed. I thought pregnancy was rough with her (throwing up morning, noon and night for six full months)…but delivery nearly killed me. No, really, it did. A couple blood transfusions and a couple extra days in the hospital helped but it was a while before I was “me” again.

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You might not be able to see it all…but that whole room is like Pepto Bismol Pink. My husband and I used to joke around that it “glowed” in the hallway…and, it did. 100_03842    100_05872

***By the way, don’t judge all of these images like they are “professionally” taken…some will just be old memories, thrown in there for your amusement.***

And then, as the years passed by…guess what?!! I became quite a bit more decisive, and she wore girly pink outfits from Gymboree. A lot.

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These were actually at Gymboree Play and Music.
We essentially lived there, which was great since we made awesome friends!

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Seriously, isn’t she the cutest?! No bias. AT ALL.

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Fast forward about two years…my classic thumb sucking babe.

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And then…this happened, and thankfully, I was still able to dress her. In pink.
This is First Grade…

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As a few more years passed by, aside from the fact I seemed to be aging at the speed of light with a now 10 year old daughter, I had a huge revelation. Actually, I have them almost daily.

My daughter HATES PINK. She detests being “girly.” She’s not a fan of princesses and cares more about comfort than style. And, let’s not get started on how I have to beg for her to wear dresses or jeans (mostly jeans).

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This is my little daydreamer. And, thankfully, she DID cooperate for a pink outfit for our Disney trip in 2015; however, she nearly bit my head off and ask how I could insult her by asking which princess was her favorite. Yep. My kid.

And do you know what? Although I have to remind myself sometimes that my vision for her was a *touch* different…she’s PERFECT.
ABSOLUTELY PERFECT IN HER NON-PINK, NON-GIRLY, NON-PRINCESS-Y ATTIRE.

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She’s a Daddy’s Girl through and through. She loves Spartan Races (like mud runs with obstacles), she enjoys running and working out with Daddy. She hates doing dance, cheer and gymnastics.

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My kid. She’s the GIRL in the white shirt, up against all those other kids. Her teammates (boys) weren’t even close to helping her out. She ROCKS.

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Head to head with another…trying to run the ball!

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And here she is…charging full speed. She has also learned how to head butt (??) the soccer ball on her own, and use her body to stop the ball too. SO CRAZY.
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But you know what? She is her very own person. She’s not a mini-me or mini-person to mold in to how I want her.

At the OKC State Fair in September of this year. Isn’t she gorgeous?
My little dreamer.
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Doesn’t everyone take a picture in the doctor’s office when then have a check up? When my kid looks like this, I sure do!
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God designed her perfectly as she is — a true miracle — and a huge blessing with one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.

Her baby brother ADORES her. Pretty easy to see that, even if you’ve never met them before!
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She’s always been a Daddy’s Girl. He’s loved her for EXACTLY who she is. He’s always known she’d be amazing, regardless of life’s crazy demands (and Mommy’s crazy expectations).
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Could she be any more amazing?
(aside from those pre-teen moments, of course 😉 )
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I mean really, how many 10 year olds can do this?!
Yes, she took this amazing picture!

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Here’s to my non-PINK child — one that I won’t try to mold or picture any other way than the perfection that she is and that she is meant to be.

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You know what’s even more amazing? She loves me and accepts me for exactly who I am — her very flawed, very imperfect mother.

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So thankful that God blessed me with the most amazing little girl.
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“Every good and perfect gift is from above…”
James 1:17

I hope you enjoyed my take on {Pink}! Next up in our Artists Inspired Blog Circle is the talented Elizabeth Willson of It’s Still Life by Elizabeth Willson. Click here to see her 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 – Blue

    Our Summer in “Blue”
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The connotation of the word “blue” conjures up so many images and interpretations in my mind!
There isn’t one particular item or subject that I want to shoot or even write about. Whether talking about the color and all of the beauty that exists with various shades of “blue” or whether talking about feelings and the emotions of being “blue,” it can be found everywhere. And, I’d be totally amiss in who I am and in this blog if I didn’t add the beauty and splendor found in my very own Tarheels, and Carolina Blue!

To the point, and when reminiscing about our fast-paced and adventuresome summer, I can picture so much “blue.”

I can feel my “blue” and my children’s “blue” — my little girl will be starting her 4th Elementary School in 6 short years, and my son is now on his 2nd in two years. They loved their school, their teachers, their friends. “Blue” would be a mild understatement to how we feel about leaving this school…

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I can picture the last day that we attended church at Vaughn Forest, saddened as the last lunch with our closest Montgomery friends passed — our times with these friends were amazing, and for their love and friendship, we’ll be forever grateful (and thankful they too are military – albeit, Army 😉 – and know the woes of the military lifestyle…and they’re only a few hours away in Texas).

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I can picture the sky behind our Montgomery home, as we loaded our car to move, the gorgeous sun setting, while I grabbed for my phone, since it’s all that I had to capture its beauty.

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I can picture our last day at our neighborhood pool, knowing we wouldn’t have one down the road to go to whenever we wanted…so we made the most of it.
And of course, the memories of my son losing his top tooth…naturally, at the pool this day!

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I can see my kids faces as we packed our boxes, while Mommy was trying to make the most of a move that we truly didn’t want to make. While playing with a new lens, and bribing him for a picture…he gave me this, so I took it! And, Lensbabys are not my specialty – AT ALL – but this one seems to work for this capture…

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I can see our children at our friend’s Alabama lake house, grateful for one more weekend with amazing friends.

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I can see the moods of my children in the hotel, and my (thankfully successful) attempts to cheer them up, while living there for two weeks.

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And, I feel the blue that I felt when I knew I’d have to leave my well-established photography business and start over again in a new city.

I am grateful for ALL the “blue” memories – they reinforce how God’s plan was bigger than my own.
The blue that we saw and felt our last days in Montgomery have nothing on the goodness that has come from those moments!
Why can I not remember this Proverbs passage and in my heart KNOW that I don’t have to worry?! <sigh>
I hope He just likes sending me reminders. Daily!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

Proverbs 3:5-6

The “blue” in our life now consists of time with friends – roaming the neighborhood(s) or OU in search of Pokemon under the blue skies.

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Friends who we can visit anytime we want, just five houses down, and enjoy spending time with them during holidays and get togethers…and anytime in between.
And, they get to go to the same school!

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Friends that are near, who we can now go to church and eat lunch with, and the memory of feeling “blue” when we moved six years ago, not knowing all that would be in store for our family, or that we would get to come back to our church home.

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Friends that are far, that we wouldn’t have been able to see if it wasn’t for our move back to Oklahoma City. Do you know we’ve already had visitors from both Texas and Utah and Las Vegas? That definitely wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t moved back! The blues of losing friends – replaced – we didn’t lose anyone.

We gained lifelong friendships that will hold through time and distance.

And, photography. I’m seeing blue all over the place, but it has nothing to do with feeling “blue!”
God’s plan was so much bigger and better than my own (as He continuously shows me, in spite of myself!)!!

My photography journey is continuing in such a beautiful way, and the friendships I’ve made in this industry and locally, are blowing me away!
Beyond thankful for the love and support of one photographer in particular – Emiley Kuehn of Studio802! She befriended me even before I arrived, and has been a light in what could have been a very dark place in my photography journey. She’s embraced me as a friend, as someone whom she can teach and guide, and as a Sister in Christ. Friends with this type of heart are often hard to find locally, but I am so thankful for her every day! With her support, I’ve also been able to embrace her vision for Law Enforcement Officers and helping to #backtheblue. I’ve already made photography contacts because of her kindness, and moreover, I’ve made friends!

(she has no idea this is in here…but this is a behind the scenes shot of Emiley posing this sweet newborn so myself and another photographer could learn how to achieve the “Froggy” pose)

(this image has no blue at all, but this woman is keeping me from feeling the “blue” emotion, and I am forever grateful!

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My most heartwarming “blue” moment came from one of these LEO Mini Sessions, where I was left speechless. One of my clients gave me (ME!…like, she gave ME!) something at the end of our session. I’d love to say it was one of my best sessions and I got a ton of amazing shots and showed them to her right then and there…but, as I tend to be, I told her I really hoped we got some good shots (not even great…just was hoping for the best!). Chasing a tiny toddler and trying to get a 4 month old to cooperate in 100* heat is not for the faint of heart, friends! And, I’m honest to a fault. But, through my honesty, she STILL gave me something that I’ll cherish forever. She handed me a beautiful light blue (almost Carolina colored, so I knew it’d be good!) bag, and enclosed was a Rustic Cuff bracelet! Oh my word, I was nearly in tears, and I was in fact speechless. She shared an act of kindness with me that I’ll never forget, and in that moment, any concerns I may have had about feeling “blue” in business, life, friendships…gone. You can visit one of these sessions here, and I’ve finally just finished this session, so you can check out the {E} Family Session as well!

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I am so happy to have had you on this journey with me!
This blog entry is part of a series from The Artists Inspired Blog Circle.
The next artist in our series is the talented Nikki Smith of Nikki Smith Photography.
To see her entry, as well as continue through the circle to see how all of our Artists have interpreted this month’s “Blue” theme, click here.

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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By He{Art} – Inspirational Artist of the Week

By He{Art} – Inspirational Artist of the Week

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope everyone is enjoying this likely {cold & snowy??} weekend! We wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who joined By He{art} yesterday for our Fun Friday Inspiration post! Not only did we find some inspirational artists that had not been introduced to By He{art} yet, but we also decided we HAVE to recognize an amazing, talented, and inspirational artist who not only participated and named artists, but was also chosen by so many!!

Here are just a * few* words about Lindsey:

“You are THE ray of sunshine in this photography community!!!” – Nikki Smith

“Not only are her photos beautiful, her memories perfectly captured…but she is one of the KINDEST, SWEETEST people in the whole world. There aren’t enough “Lindsey’s” out there these days.” –Tammy Scirrotto

“She’s so kind. She has the warmest heart and is beautiful inside and out. She is quick to help others and encourage.” – Jennye Austin

If you haven’t started following Lindsey Bramlett of Lindsey Bramlett Photography, please, please head over there….right now! You will see that her images show a passion for light, use of shadows, special and every day moments…and her daughter. Her beautiful daughter is her heart, and you can see so much love in each frame. Coupled with gorgeous beach landscapes, it makes you wonder if there isn’t anything Lindsey doesn’t do wonderfully!

You’ll gain inspiration not only from Lindsey’s gorgeous images but also from her sweet heart. Always an inspiration to all of us in the photography community (and certainly everyone she comes into contact with!) her kindness shines, and she’ll encourage and uplift you daily. These are the tributes of a By He{artist}!! We are so thankful that this community is growing, and that y’all are helping to inspire and encourage others in the photography community….now head over to Lindsey’s page, send her lots of love, and this coming week…aspire to be a “Lindsey” and show love and kindness in all you do!

Oh, and since I started this post two weeks ago, I think, I also wanted to share that Lindsey has started a couple Facebook pages which definitely need a wider audience! The first is Focus on the Good, in which Lindsey shares articles, posts, images she and other photographers have taken…all to show the positive in the world, which, let’s be honest, we all need more focus on! The second, and her newest is Ray of Sunshine! Both are so, so perfect for representing what Lindsey is about! Ray of Sunshine is to help inspire and encourage photographers, without the fear of being put down or criticized. Photographers of all levels are encouraged to come and share – not for challenges or themes, but rather to help be a Ray of Sunshine to others!

Below are just a *few* images that Lindsey has inspired me personally with! Amazing talent in heart in this young lady!

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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!

12471332_1021032757955362_2294042441357937434_o   12512592_1021207331271238_5125171571136322524_n

12507145_1021207834604521_2377839817563245070_n   1493220_1021208001271171_4682118471971877041_n

 

12400732_1021208311271140_7590470439221772417_n   10413373_1021208711271100_4157205935439728771_n

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!

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 5.31.07 PM

 

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 13

M4H P52 [MUSE] 

Capturing God’s creation and my littles…they are my driving forces in all I do, and I couldn’t do any of it without Jesus!! 

I hadn’t actually “planned” a session with these two, but the opportunity presented itself while I was out doing a friend’s session at a gorgeous plantation-type home in Alabama. Having done a session there before, and talked about how gracious and lovely the owners are, my children wanted to tag along and come to the session, and it just so happened that they were given a day off of school. They were SO good during my session, and then they were thrilled to meet the owner and get a grand tour of the home! They were so excited and I’m glad that they finally had a chance to come! Before leaving the home, I had a few spare minutes to get a couple images of my little muses together, and the image with the cross…it wasn’t posed. I asked them to walk towards it, but they gave me so much more. I love the feeling I get from it!

Ilove the soft black and white images, but I also enjoyed creating the matte-style images…I could play all day with editing!

This diptych is the image that I submitted…the ones below it are the ones I considered submitting. Love these kiddos more than anything!

Muse Collage -1 Muse Collage 2 Muse-1 Muse-2 Muse-3 Muse-4

“Green” – Art of Whimsy Top 3

“Green” – Art of Whimsy Top 3

 

 

 I enter a lot of challenges…we’ve had this discussion. I don’t ever, or rather, rarely ever expect to “win” or even be featured with as many photographers who are out there with so much talent!! And truth be told, I pretty much stop expecting or even going back to the links to check, just because the odds aren’t exactly in my favor.

But sometimes…I have a feeling. And some images truly speak to me, and when I found out a couple weeks ago that I was chosen over at The Art of Whimsy for Top 3 for their “Green” theme…I was thrilled, since this was one of those such images! The moment I snapped this one and then looked at the back of my camera for confirmation…it was in my mind that this, this one was truly special!!

Here’s the link for my chosen image from The Art of Whimsy! The other images are amazing too, so I am thrilled I was featured among this talent!

http://theartofwhimsy.net/2015/03/19/top-3-green-images-march-12th-18th-2015-the-art-of-whimsy/

M4H P52 : Week 10

I might have had a little more fun with this week’s theme than I had originally intended!! But seriously, when you freelens ANTS…fast, quickly moving ANTS…and they turn out well…you have to be happy about that! Plus, nature and God’s creation was a huge catalytic factor in pursuing photography! Love it! (though in 100% truth, I never thought I’d find ants THIS fascinating…)

M4H P52 [NATURE]

“We stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant.”

This morning I went out on a brief nature walk, and shot some freelensed reverse macro images of flowers and normal “nature” images, that I am in love with. On the way back from my nature walk, however, I stumbled across an ant hill. And then I decided to try my luck at capturing the nature of ants in their colony, and how vast nature really is. Not successful with a lot of ants scrambling around, but super excited that I captured some really crisp individual ants! Those little guys are FAST!!

Here are quite a few “ant” images…but the last one is the one I submitted.

Ant -1 Ant -2

I LOVE this one below…it’s so crisp I can see my reflection!

Ant -3

This one below is holding food!!

Ant -4 Ant -5 Ant -6

The official submission is below…it just looks so surreal to me! Love it!

Ant 1-1

M4H P52 [NATURE] : Submission 2

Now, this is what I went on my nature walk for, before the ants! These are what my sweet son always picks for me, individually of course, and he is always so happy with himself – I get “flowers” on a daily basis from his sweet little hands…a bit of his nature shining through in each and every gift. That boy loves his Mommy…
The colored flower is the official second submission…

Flower-1

But I had to play with it in Black & White too!

Flower-2