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Faith in Action

I haven't given her a lot of internet time, but Faith has definitely put in tons of time with photography this school year overall. From our backyard shoot, to being my Upwards Assistant, Faith has carried a camera in her hand on all trips, family events and outings with friends. As if the camera has become an additional appendage to her body, she's learning a lot and not about to let go of it. Despite the D50 getting stolen and returned within a week, to the stock lens no longer working, and now to owning her very own nifty 50mm...she's working hard and I couldn't be prouder of her.

So, when she asked me to help out on a shoot for a friend's senior photos, how could I not say "no"? Especially, when it's a girl named Jazmin.

I got to meet this sweetheart of a lady on our youth group's mission trip and she stole my heart before I ever had a conversation with her. Her quiet service without being asked. Her enthusiasm for the Mission of the trip. Her kindness to the girls around her. She embodies compassion amidst chaos and stormy weather the day of her session wasn't going to keep us from doing her senior photos.

I didn't have to help Faith much once we got settings set. I gave Jaz her pose and Faith would do her 'thang, getting different angles, while I got some shots of my own.

Here are some of my favorites from my camera:

Post shoot, Faith and I sat down with my computer and culled the images, imported them to Lightroom and after watching me edit mine, Faith took over to edit her's. In that time, my feathers puffed up as a proud Mother Hen watched her Baby Chick make artistic decisions and back them up with reasons why.

Way to go Faith!

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A Lesson in Language

There's French, Spanish, German....But, do you speak Three-Year-Old? I'm not very fluent in it either, but I have my moments of clarity where my brain can switch from the language of Middle Schooler to Little People and something magical happens.

It may not seem like a big deal to others, but to me it was a HUGE lesson in breaking down a pose to help a little one relax her smile and get a good shot.

[Enter sweet Ms. Violet]

Throughout our session together, Violet's smile seemed a little forced or slightly stiff to me:

While totally cute and hilarious, "How do I get her to relax her cheeks and smile?" I kept frantically searching my mental tool belt and here is a step by step of what I had Violet do:

1. "Violet! Hold up your hands like me." (holding up hand with all fingers extended as if to give a high five)

2. I took each hand and placed them on the back of the chair she was sitting on for placement. This also gave her something to hold on to for my next direction.

3. "Violet! Can you close your eyes for me sweetie?"
Any time I had asked her to do something for me earlier in the session, she was all helping hands! I was sure she'd help me with this task and do something "for" me. Notice in the photo that she lowered her chin too as if she had nodded off to sleep or was ready to pray?

4. "Ok Violet, open your eyes to look at me please."
Politely asking never hurt anyone!

5. "Violet, do you love your new little sister, Tess?"
Mom had told me earlier that the girls adored the new addition. So, I already knew the answer and hoped for a more naturally occuring smile...

She looked over at her baby sister getting some lovin' from Mom and gave me a sweet hint of a smile, not just on her lips but in her eyes too. :)

Mission accomplished. [insert huge sigh of relief here]


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Waiting to (Jointly) Exhale

The week following Solo/Ensemble contest at the beginning of March, I found myself inhaling deeply and sighing to exhale slowly. My shoulders felt lighter, less burdened and I woke up with a glimmer of a smile. The only thing keeping me from fully smiling was the waiting. Waiting for Gerard to join me.

Now, now he finally has.

As we sit together on the couch, watching 'The Voice' (it's music reconnaissance for us, what can I say?!), we can both inhale until our lungs might burst and exhale for dozens of seconds. Show Choir season has finished. 

I can't say that we're together and alone. His allergies are like an interrupting child pulling on his pant leg for face time. As he tells me, "God must really care about my professional life because I don't sneeze while teaching or judging. It all starts immediately after each event." But, all that to say, we can both breathe deeply now.

I through my nose and he through his mouth, of course. :)

Don't get me wrong, we both LOVE our jobs and firmly believe that we are in the right vocation, but getting out of the "pressure-cooker" phase of the school year feels good. I was asked in the hallways of school today if I'd recovered from this past weekend (final show choir performance and banquet) and I didn't hesitate when I said, "Nope!" We haven't even had time to mow our lawn yet and it looks like we'll be bale-ing hay. Can't you just picture Ella romping through the mounds of cut grass?

Which leads me to a fresh round of Sharps n' Flats.

Flats (generally iffy things)
-The critical timing of Gerard's sneeze attacks-usually when we're together (and don't say he's allergic to me!)
-Bale-ing hay and combing strands of grass out of Ella's fur

Sharps (generally positive things)
+Out of the pressure-cooker!
+The critical timing of Gerard's sneeze attacks-outside of professional time
+Watching The Voice. Together. And not a replay on
+The hot weather and all my bulbs springing up!
+Ella's excitement that Mommy & Daddy are at home at the same time more often.
+Photographing adorable families like this one:
If this photo doesn't shout SPRING at you, I don't know what will...

Happy Spring!

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Suckers + Mascots

I've noticed that when I post something on Facebook about Gerard, I get more comments than any other topic. So, I'm a sucker. A sucker for people to comment on my Facebook status, for example. But I'm also a big sucker for my husband. And when I have to opportunity to combine the two, I'll take it!

A few weekends ago, Gerard and I took a spontaneous mini-road-trip to the famous bridges of Madison County. They're really just 30 minutes away from us or less, so we ventured out in the cold and snow (really, the only snow Iowa has gotten all season) for a mini-photo-shoot.

Two things really prompted this: 1) Gerard has been asked to conduct several honor choirs in recent years and/or judge show choir contests. Sometimes those events request a bio and even a photo for the program. His desperately needed an update. and 2) I needed to take a break and get outside after staring at my computer screen all day watching a CreativeLive course on baby/toddler photography. As much as I LOVED the course, I needed some fresh air too.

Here's what could be considered a bio photo-at least, it was his bio photo for a musical he was in before I met him:
Not exactly appropriate for a professional-educator-holding-master's-graduate now is it?
That's better. :)
I'm so lucky to get to sit across from these eyes for the rest of our days.
Maybe Gerard should become Pitch Perfect Picture's mascot...maybe he's just my biggest cheerleader. Or comment generator. I think I like the description of husband best, though.



The Power of The Volunteer + Antics

When I mentioned the many volunteers I've interacted with the past two weekends, I thought I could be more specific and provide some laughter along the way. Two weekends ago, I photographed a lot of kiddos for our church's Upwards Sports League. Right now, it's basketball and cheerleading season and the league has, thankfully, grown to a point where we need two locations to pull off all the team photos in one weekend. Justin had the DownTown Church as his assignment and I was stationed at "The Heights", or our church's main building.

One of my goals for this year was to grow more comfortable with in-studio lighting. Be it for receptions or wedding family photos that needed to be held indoors. This was my opportunity, though it was for neither of those reasons! Justin gave me the run-down two days before The Big Day and I just kept praying that things would run smoothly.
This was one of our test shots:
For some humor, I thought I'd share some of my volunteers helping me test my lighting and rid the area of shadows...While I was working with Cindy & Gerard (among many other wonderful helpers!):
Gerard was channeling his inner "tough guy" a la high school soccer shots...

Justin was working with Shaly, Kyle, and Adam (and I'm sure many more wonderful helpers!):
At a certain point in any given day, your brain checks out. Quite literally, nothing is comprehensible and you can barely create a cohesive sentence. This is where my volunteers had more power than perhaps they realized. I have to describe the many I had helping me and their duties because then you will see just how brain dead I was by the end of 14+ hours of photographing these Little Ones.
Here, Gerard & Faith are mimicking what my brain is feeling:
1. The "Ready-er"- answered parental questions in The Staging Room, ensured forms were filled out correctly and helped the teams decide which color jersey they would wear.

2. The Line(Wo)Man-lined the kiddos up when the whole team was ready for their photos at their scheduled time and handed the order forms to my next volunteers....

3. Money (Wo)Man-took order forms and made sure payment was correct.

4. The Poser-lined the athletes up and directed them to their groupings for the team shot. For individual photos, they handed the child their bball or helped arrange their pom-poms appropriately. (Faith & Gerard alternated this job because they needed to elongate their brain power (& patience) to stretch the entire day.)

5. My CallGirl-the other person at the table with Money (Wo)Man whom I told the image number for each child so that we can collate the orders with the correct image.

Do you see that all I really needed to do was zoom in appropriately and push the trigger? I will say I made it into a squatting exercise and my hamstrings greatly appreciated the workout throughout the day. AND I got to practice with the tri-pod lighting equipment::GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL! *oops, wrong season, I mean SCCCOOOOORRRRRRE!

I think this is the beginning of a great partnership with our church and I'm excited for the coming sports seasons as an opportunity to serve them in this way while also getting my name out to roughly 200-300 families in the DSM Metro Area. This also satisfied another goal of dropping business cards like they're H.O.T. Done.