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

 

M4H P52 : Week 3

M4H P52

3/52  [LIGHT]

While out at the Montgomery Zoo celebrating a sweet boy’s 1st birthday, I was able to capture an image of my son that is a bit different that my usual “style.” Actually, I captured a few of them, but I submitted one in particular to the M4H P52 Challenge for this week’s theme of LIGHT. I actually had intended to steer a different way with this post – I really wanted to incorporate John 8:12, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” I sort of thought my thinking was original, but with such a large and talented group of photographers, this image came up a couple times using the Bible, light, and the flower imagery that I imagined. I still wanted to challenge myself though, and this image of my sweet son, who is a surprising light in my life (he, being a boy that I’m beyond in love with is the surprise…I had only wanted girls, but alas, God knew exactly what I needed, and this little boy is the LIGHT of my life! I love him so much!), is a different way to see him – totally as he is, no posing or fake smiles in this one…just him enjoying a January day at the park zoo. There are some other photographic elements that I’m smitten with in this image as well…what do you think?!

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Life in Loud – 13th Guest Feature

Life in Loud – 13th Guest Feature

If you’ve been following along, you may remember that I was able to attend a retreat with the Founders of Life in Loud. I had a fantastic photography experience there – styled models and some lifestyle session practice – and of course, I was in sunny Watercolor, Florida! Even freezing cold, that place is gorgeous! I’m grateful that they chose me and the other attendees to join them in being the “13th Guest” on their weekly collaboration post. It was supposed to be featured next week, but thankfully a spot opened up during a very special week and I was able to include one of my favorite images of my Sweet Caroline; she’s clearly my muse if you haven’t figured that out from my personal blogging!

This image was actually taken last year, but it’s one of my favorites because it captures “her.” My sweet Caroline. She has ALWAYS been obsessed with stopping and smelling. We’re talking flowers, soaps, antibacterial hand washes, candles, laundry detergents…honestly, if it has any type of pleasant odor, my daughter spends the extra time to really notice the scent. For a while, you know, when she was a baby, it was cute. Then, the dreaded toddler and independent years came along…and her own hand washing in public places…yeah. Then it was less cute and more annoying. Mostly because she has a perfectly imperfect mother who is often in a rush. And I HATE public bathrooms and germs. Huge germophobe, if you didn’t know. But then there is Caroline. Smelling. The soap dispenser. The way she gingerly brings the soap into her hand and up to her nose to sniff…

Now, I look on this “skill” of hers with admiration. My daughter, despite her mother, notices things. Notices details. Notices the things otherwise overlooked by grown ups and those of us not stopping to appreciate ALL of the life and things to love around us. So this. This image. This is her. And my gut is, that she will continue to be this child who stops and smells…and notices. This is the same girl who asked for friends not to bring gifts to her party. Why? Because, according to her, she has, “more than enough – others have nothing, so the least [I] can do is ask for donations to St. Jude.” And so she did. She notices. Have I mentioned that LONG hair of hers? In a month, or whenever she TELLS me she is ready, she will, for the second time in her short life, donate to Locks of Love. This is a choice SHE made, and she made alone. Yes, I’m joining her in her journey, but if you only knew how much and often I’ve wanted to cut her hair so it wouldn’t be so shaggy…<sigh>. But she refused to let me, even growing her bangs out so whoever gets her hair has that much more. Oh, this is all after she was diagnosed with trichotillomania – she used to have a bald spot from ripping her hair out as a baby until she was 4 years old. She notices now that she has, and not everyone is so fortunate. This picture represents only a tiny, minuscule of the beautiful person that she is, both inside and out. But this is my chosen image to feature, flaws and all, taken with a Canon Rebel T2i and a kit 18-55 lens. And I adore it.

“Take time to notice the things that other people are overlooking.” – Jeff Goins

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M4H P52 : Week 1

Jump.

If you’ve been following along, you might remember that I’ve been told to “jump.” Jump in. Both feet…get them wet.

So, a couple of years ago, I heard of the very well-known Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography. I heard some time after that via other friends who are photographers of this thing called M4H P52. Had no idea what it was. And when I would see posts or images about it, of course I would compare what I knew at the time to what I was seeing. What was the resounding voice that I heard? “You aren’t good enough. Sharing your work will just be laughable, compared to [xxxxx’s] work.” Well after jumping in and joining the group, I’ve decided to jump in, both feet, and start participating in the M4H P52 project. So, what is it? And why join?

First of all, it’s an inspiring group of both newbie and seasoned photographers that are choosing to challenge themselves to take and submit an image a week, every week, for 52 weeks, guided by a suggested theme. That’s what I’ve gotten from it, but I will post the link to Sarah’s M4H P52 group here so you can read all about it. From what I gather, Sarah Cornish is truly an inspiring artist and motivator. She’s not someone who is keeping her secrets and talents all to herself, but rather a photographer who knows she has a gift to share which will ultimately help others grow in this photography field as well. Believe it or not, a lot of photographers are not open with sharing their talent [as far as teaching or guiding] but thankfully, this group seems to be a great source of inspiration and guidance. A truly great find.

http://myfourhensphotography.com/2014/12/30/2015-project-52-is-happening-again-and-a-365-for-you-instagram-lovers-join-us/ 

So, why jump? If you are an aspiring photographer, be it hobby, amateur, pro, or like me, a work in progress, go check this group out. Seriously. You’ll find inspiration. You’ll find that people do want to support you and your goals with photography. And moreover, you are challenging yourself to commit to a photography project that will likely better your skills. And, although I am personally taking this commitment seriously and hope to do it every week, life does happen. If you forget a week or something comes up, it’s not something you need to worry about. Catch up on your time. Or just jump in wherever the group is. And if you don’t think you can capture something that fit’s the theme, create your own theme! The point is to jump in and DO IT!

Get used to these posts. Fifty-one more to go in 2015! And, that *might* keep me honest with my blogging!

Here it is, my post and image:

M4H P52, Week 1.

Theme: Fresh.

Post:

“Good morning, everyone! So excited about this project…it’s my first post for something like this but it’ s a year with all new challenges for me!

Below is an image representing a fresh start to 2015 on a day that I hope will change me forever! Starting the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge today in hopes that I get my life back from fibromyalgia. I’ve been in so much pain and living with so much fatigue for over a decade, and I’m ready for a fresh start to my diet with good nutrition, my lifestyle, and my photography. After being introduced to this diet/lifestyle challenge, I decided to step out of my own way – my children and my husband are worth it. They can’t continue to see me living in pain and in bed any longer, if there’s even a remote chance that changing a few things can help. Challenging myself with a fresh start to not have anxiety over sharing who I truly am, both in life and photography.”

Personal caveat:  “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46

I know God is here with me, watching me on this daily journey, and when the loud comes in, I need to be still and listen to what He is guiding me to do.

M4H P52-1

Challenges for 2015

Challenges for 2015

As another year has come and gone, I’m thinking of the previous two years that I’ve had my Shelby Leigh Photography “creative outlet” Facebook page turned business page. My initial intentions with a creative outlet page was simply to take pictures and share them, and as a friend suggested, to keep them off my private page constantly, since my friends were beginning to see more landscapes and other families and events than my own family and family’s events! I took all of 2013 as a year for me…a year to learn, to grow, and essentially learn the back end of photography. You know, or maybe you don’t, but all the things that clients don’t realize photographers do! Who knew there were SO MANY PHOTOGRAPHY groups and challenges?! I surely didn’t. But now, I do. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time being nervous or too intimidated to share my work, and so publicly on Facebook!

Alas, those days are OVER! I’m a caterpillar coming out of her shell, and I’m going to fly wherever this photography talent lands me! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve shared plenty of photos for various challenges, but trust me, not nearly as many as those who get “recognized” by the popularized photography groups. In these groups you will find everything from perfect portraiture, to only newbie togs, mom togs, distorted and flawed image togs, lifestyle and so much more! Now, as I’ve gone through, I know that some styles are just not what I normally produce…they are amazing images, but not particularly what I choose to capture. But I LOVE the inspiration that one can get from these groups. Beyond that, challenging myself in different areas helps the general creative process; it can help my eye find a different angle or a different take on how I want something to be captured. It’s also nice when one [i] occasionally gets the “like” or new fan from a photographer[s] that I admire!

Now, this may seem a little silly, but back in 2013, I submitted my second photo in a “Summer” themed photography challenge. I knew it’d be a long shot…after all, the image that I chose with the best face had me speeding on a boat through a lake while my gorgeous subject was tubing. But her face…it is perfect. GUESS WHAT?!!! I placed Top 10, which is pretty fantastic with all of the amazing summer photos and the sheer volume of entries…and I was a total newbie to anything Photo Challenge related! As I’m looking ahead to this year and some goals that I have, I’m realizing something…I didn’t have a blog way back when! I had no idea how to do it before, so I’m going to do it now. I’m grabbing a button from #iheartfaces (honestly, I have no clue if I did it right!)! I earned it 🙂 Seriously, though, if you are a hobbyist photographer or an upcoming business photographer or if you just enjoy capturing a themed image…check out www.iheartfaces.com. It’s a fantastic community and a wonderful place to find some inspiration.

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Here’s the link to my 6th place photo: http://www.iheartfaces.com/2013/07/summer-fun-winning-photos/

Okay, realistically, it’s not just mine that you’ll see…it’s the whole collage of winners…but the images are so fun and just scream “summer!”

Below is my actual 6th place image…so.much.fun!

Check out my beautiful subject’s face? Could it be more perfect for a “Summer” themed challenge that has to show a face?! I think not…

Brianna Summer-1

 

Anyways, all this to say…2015, look out. I might not win – in fact, the odds are SERIOUSLY against it. Do you know how much talent is out there in the world of photography? But if I don’t try, I’ll never know. And regardless, maybe my images will serve as inspiration for other newbie, or even seasoned professional photographers! Just a chance at getting featured in the photography world would be awesome! Hugs, and thank you for your continued support of my work!

Welcoming 2015 : Goals for Shelby Leigh Photography

On this dreary January 2nd day of 2015, by 4:00 pm, I feel rather accomplished! First, I’m blogging! Yes!

Second, and more importantly, I have closed out 2014 by filing my Alabama taxes and renewing my business licenses. This might sound silly to other small business owners, but it’s a lot of work learning the legitimate business side of things! Twenty-fourteen was a year of learning as I go, if you will. And, there were mistakes made – though thankfully the Department of Revenue was very helpful in helping me clear that up, and I only owed one relatively small fine. Trust me, 3 tax offices, 2 different ways of filing (online and via snail mail) and varying start dates to the “license” year? Seriously. It’s a lot to absorb. I’m really praying we can stay in Alabama as long as possible, if only to avoid learning another state’s small business procedures! Ha! But today I closed all that out and look ahead to how to improve upon what I know now for 2015! The biggest feat for me will be organization. Not that I’m not organized, but more that I can definitely make improvements to make things more efficient. That’s all stuff you probably don’t care to know about though…but I will close this thought out by offering that just in one day, I’ve “worked” for a few hours, without doing any “photography”…no session, no editing, no marketing or putting orders in. Today was simply the business side, so that Shelby Leigh Photography is a legitimate business, and I’ve already spent quite a bit of time and money to make it so. When one is out shopping for an “affordable” photographer, remember that many of us (not all, but that’s for a different post) are doing a lot more than people think about or than they can see (or want to acknowledge). It’s more than simply “going out, snapping pictures, and popping them on a CD.” If you care where your money is being invested, find out if your photographer is investing in him/herself as well. My photography is a passion – a calling to offer the best of myself and my talents to others in a way that is helpful to my client, my family, and in helping foster my own talent. I’ve cared enough to invest in myself so you can trust that your investment in me and my services is well worth the commitment.

Oh! Also giving myself a little pat on the back…okay, patting my sweet husband on the back to…he’s currently mailing a rebate offer that was given by B&H Photo and Canon! As I just purchased a new camera (Canon EOS 70D) last year, which I highly recommend if you are a photography enthusiast, I had honestly not planned on buying a full frame (okay, not just “a” full frame, the highly praised and sought after Canon 5D Markiii) until next year. However, with the amazing (A-HMAZING!) sale and rebate offer that Canon (LOVE CANON!) was giving, I couldn’t pass it up. So, I will be patiently awaiting my $650 rebate American Express card for a few weeks, but let me just say I am sooooo excited to try my new baby. Which, no, I haven’t done yet. I’ve honestly been trying to get other things lined up and organized both in business and family, but I will. OH I WILL PLAY! I’m so excited! And I have to give a shout out to my friend Becky…her fabulous creative talent was imparted on my new baby, and she made (hand sewed!!) a new camera strap for me! I LOVE IT! My baby was just waiting for something to make her stand out, and Becky helped make that happen! Love having a friend to share my passion of photography with too…the hand sewing and French press coffees are just a nice bonus!!

Ah. Goals and Goal Setting.

It’s no secret…I’m trying to be a “business.” Part time, of course. My priorities have always been and will be what God is calling me to do and my family. That being said, remember that my schedule will always be based on what is doable for my family, so being somewhat flexible is a near requirement in working with me! So far, no complaints!

But with Shelby Leigh Photography, I want to be able to offer my services in such a way that my clients want to use me over and over again. I want them to see something in me that they want to come back to. This is a challenge in a military community, especially where many of us are only here for one to three years at a time. That being said, word of mouth and marketing are important, so if you have used my services and enjoyed your time with me, please refer me to friends and family in the area. You never know who might have a special event on the horizon that they want captured to share and remember.

I would love to do more studio and newborn work!! My studio so far has only been used for Christmas, and I am on the look out for newborn babies. I have props and visions, but of course am open to your thoughts and ideas on how you want your special bundle captured.

I am hoping to change up my session pricing in the coming months. For the past six or so months, I have been very happy with the gallery setup that I chose for my clients. Now I just need to figure out print and package pricing and stick with it! I will still offer digital images as well, but for numerous reasons, I would like to start print pricing as well.

I would also LOVE to teach others the basics of using their DSLRs off Auto!! Seriously, let’s be honest, many people have these “fancy” Canons or Nikons. But who “knows” their cameras?! I want to change that!

I’m also considering doing a 52 week photo project in a group…eek! Yes, just considering. It’s January 2nd. I should figure this out by now…

I’m quite certain there are other goals, but I’m being paged by my daughter for a crocheting project. And no, I don’t crochet. So this will be interesting! But I only have a couple more days with her without school interfering so I’m off for now.

If you are a photographer…do you have goals set? And by “photographer”…I don’t necessarily mean “professional.” Like I’ve said in previous posts, I do not consider myself “professional” in that way. But if you take pictures, and if you enjoy taking pictures, do you have some goals to learn more? Have you joined groups for photo walks or even newbie photographer groups on Facebook or other platforms, like Flickr? Do you have a goal to shoot (photograph…not literally shoot) your family more? Or if you’re a photographer that only shoots your family, maybe you want to venture out to shoot landscapes?

Take some time to think about what you would like to do with your camera and your abilities! Contact me if you would like some help, suggestions on cameras, video tutorials that might be helpful…or groups to join.

Happy, happy New Year, 2015. May you bring us happiness and lots of captured memories!

 

 

 

A Love that Lasts : Spence Couple Session

What a blessing it was  to capture these images of my MOPS mentor mom and her sweet husband together! I honestly couldn’t keep myself from telling them how sweet and inspirational they are (every couple of seconds!)…I was taking these images to help them capture this milestone year in their marriage – 45 years together!! Having been married only 12 years myself, I’m guessing that based on these two, the secrets to a healthy, happy marriage include lots of laughter and keeping God in the center of it! I brought my husband over to look at the images as I was having a difficult time choosing the images for their CD…and he kept going through them and raving over how much he loves this whole session. You can truly see their happiness radiating, and in this day of divorce and honestly not being happy for successful marriages, it was so captivating being around them to learn the secrets!

Happy 45th Anniversary, Dave and Juli!

You are truly a blessing to those around you.

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I just couldn’t help myself…they were so happy and smiley the whole time I had to try something to get them “not smile.”

They tried, but ultimately it didn’t work…they’re too sweet!

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My Photography Journey : A Testimonial Share

I have to share something special with you all, and well, it’s not an image. It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling of worth in a world that sometimes wants to tear you down. God definitely moves people to do things and take action on His time, when only He knows when that action will be fully used and appreciated. I came home after my weekend photography retreat to a couple of AMAZING messages and this beautiful review, below. Without knowing it, I NEEDED to hear these things. And, I needed to have God move me to take action to make more connections with Godly people, professionals, and encouragers – those that want to help, both in photography and in life. For those that have been with me, cheering me on during this journey of capturing God’s beauty and special moments, thank you. Your love and encouragement is cherished more than you will ever know 

“I love Shelby’s photography- she has great taste, an awesome style & is one of the sweetest people you can work with for your special event. She captured some wonderful, irreplaceable memories for my hubby & I that I couldn’t be more happy with & still count as some of our favorite photos together, even years later. I would recommend her to everyone – she has a very easy manner & is great with both kids & adults.”

– From a sweet friend, whose event I captured was with a kit lens, a non-professional grade camera, and no real editing software. I put my heart, love, and eye for photography and composition in every image, and that she still cherishes those (and still loves them after seeing how I’ve improved over the last couple of years!!) moved me to tears yesterday. THIS is why I will continue on this journey. This is the reminder I needed that people do love and are inspired by my work.