The sound of the garage door opening and my husband pulling into the driveway was sweet, sweet music to my frazzled ears. Finally! A break from these kids! The whining, the tantrums, the piles of toys and clothing strewn across my once meticulously tidy home… If I had to listen to one more, “But, Mom!” again I think I might have snapped and gone completely in sane.
The out-of-control behavior of my two and five-year-old children, coupled with a needy newborn, was becoming more than I could take. I had tried every discipline method under the sun including time outs, loss of privileges, and to my utter shame—spanking. None of them were effective in motivating my kids to behave in an acceptable manner or to contribute to simple household chores like making their beds and cleaning up toys and their own dirty clothes, which they would leave on the floor in random places all over the house (seriously, dirty socks on the kitchen counter? Dirty underwear in the entry way? Shoes on my bed? Enough already!)
Thankfully I discovered the DoDots Family System, an all-in-one chore and behavioral chart. I was absolutely thrilled when the owners of the company approached me about capturing some lifestyle commercial photos of their product. We received one of the DoDots magnetic boards and got a chance to try it out before the shoot. My kids were really excited about it (and still are, months later).
The DoDots Family system has really helped motivate my kids (and myself) to get our “work” done before any privileges are allowed. After basic chores are done, then rewards can be earned. There’s also space for setting goals, serving others and assignments for family night. The best thing about this system is that it can be customized for any family and for children, teens and adults. I’m pretty sure we’ll be using this system forever.
One result I didn’t expect from the system is elevated self esteem, especially in my five-year-old. He’s so proud when he accomplishes his goals on the chart and asks for extra jobs so he can earn tickets to spend in our family store. This is just a brilliant system and I was so happy to have the opportunity to illustrate how the whole thing works through photographs.
I wish to give a special thanks to my kids and the Jeppson family for being my models. They perfectly matched the age and personality descriptions requested by the client. They were very happy with the outcome and will be using many of the images on their website and other marketing materials.
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“Where’s Cyrus? Wherrrre’s Cyrus?…. Peek-a-boo!”
Squeals of laughter, smiles and a pool of drool gushed from my 6-month-old son’s brightly animated face. Finally, the golden age of babyhood has arrived. The sting of all the sleepless nights, blow-out diapers and jealous sibling outbursts begins to be diminished when that toothless grin greets me each day.
Having the ability to photograph my own babies has been one of the greatest rewards for all the time and money I’ve invested in photography. Capturing them at home has been a blessing. They are comfortable, we don’t have the added stress of packing everything up and driving to a studio, and if we need to take a nap or feeding break it’s no big deal.
Offering the convenience of photography to clients in their own homes is something I’m really proud of. I used to think not having a studio space was a disadvantage, but I’m hearing more and more how much families and professionals appreciate the opportunity to have their portraits taken at home or in their office. Here’s a little behind the scenes look at my set up in the master bedroom for Cyrus’ 6 month portraits.
Perhaps I’m biased, but that is one cute baby! Which is your favorite? Would you want to have your portraits taken at home or prefer a studio space?
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I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t had a chance to find Calvin’s camera (we often lose it amongst the toys, in a backpack, in the mini-van…who knows where it is?) and sort through all the photos he took over the late summer months. Luckily, I let him snap a few pics with my phone the other day.
I had just finished a photo session with the most adorable kids in Hayden, Idaho and the mom, who had won the session in a raffle at a fundraiser for Babywearing International of the Inland Northwest at Mother’s Haven in Coeur D’Alene, had offered me a little refresher on how to wear my baby in my Storchenwiege Wrap.
I’m totally pro babywearing, but have never felt very comfortable wearing the babies until they are about the age that Cyrus is now. He can hold up his head and he’s not spitting up as much as he used to. Plus, he’s too big and heavy to lug around in his infant carrier, so wearing him in a wrap is awesome. The trick is learning how to use it properly and being able to tie the wrap in a timely manner. I swear it takes me 10 minutes to get the baby in that thing. I need to practice more…
Anyway, can you guess where we were when Calvin took these pictures?
Also, October was Dwarfism Awareness month and I meant to post a really inspiring, educational article about everything you should know about Dwarfism, but the month got away from me. Calvin had his yearly check up last month and he looks great! No surgeries needed thus far. For the most part he is a normal boy, and that’s how we try to treat him. If you have any questions about Calvin or Dwarfism in general, please ask me!
Calvin Up Close features photos taken by a five-year-old American Boy. What do they tell you about his world? To see more images from my Calvin Up Close series, click here.
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Halloween has always been a favorite holiday for my family. Growing up my mom went all out for Halloween. She decorated the house with cob webs, a life-sized paper-plate skeleton and a ghost hanging from the ceiling fan in the entry way. We grew our own pumpkins every year and carved them together while we planned out what we would wear for our costumes. She had a hand made witch costume that looked almost exactly like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she painted her entire face green, complete with fake nose and long plastic warty fingers.
Trick-or-treating and festivals involving bobbing for apples (gross!), a haunted house, cake walk, etc. were all part of the yearly fun. I’ve been missing all that lately, as our local community doesn’t seem to do any of that like we did when we were kids. But, dressing up is still a big deal. And luckily, my husband is a good sport. His mom and siblings also loved Halloween, as evidenced by the yearly polaroid in the scrapbook his mother meticulously kept for him. Like my family, they had homemade costumes and everyone lined up for the picture before heading out the door for the night’s festivities.
I recently learned how to make an in-camera double exposure on my
On top of the fog being gone and the sun out in full force, there were about 100 kids running around the playground area at the County Park, which I assumed we would have to ourselves on a Monday morning. Apparently private schools bring their kids down to the lake to play on random days??? Oh, well, we made the best of it and I came away with a few good images. Calvin and Cyrus didn’t make the cut on this one. I’m hoping to get some good shots of them on Halloween day. If you want to read about how I made the double exposure image (at the top of this post) and see more from my experiment, check it out in my article at SLR Lounge.
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If you missed part 1 and 2 of my commercial shoot for Vintage Fusion Jewels, you can check them out here. Part three features the lovely Desiree. She’s a photographer herself and is branching out into modeling. I have secretly thought of doing some modeling myself (I guess it’s not a secret anymore) but have never had the guts to put myself out there. I admire Desiree for doing so. She has such lovely porcelain skin and I love her asymmetrical hair cut. So cool. Which piece here is your favorite?
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Once upon a time, before I became a mother, I belonged to a book club. The ladies in my group were all young married women. I lived for those monthly gatherings. And yes, we actually did discuss the book. Most everyone in that group moved away to a different part of town or even to other states. We all have children now and have moved on to a new stage in life, but I sometimes really miss that group of girls!
About a year ago I was invited to join a new book club and due to pregnancy, my husband’s work schedule and other factors, I was never able to make it to meetings. Finally the stars aligned last month and I actually got there, having finished 3/4 of the book. This group is different because it includes women of all ages and stages of life, which I love. They tend to choose really thought provoking books, which are my favorite.
A recent book we discussed was The Rent Collector, by Camron Wright.
Summary from Amazon.com
Survival for Ki Lim and Sang Ly is a daily battle at Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in all of Cambodia. They make their living scavenging recyclables from the trash. Life would be hard enough without the worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of medicines that are not working.
“Just when things seem worst, Sang Ly learns a secret about the ill-tempered rent collector who comes demanding money—a secret that sets in motion a tide that will change the life of everyone it sweeps past. The Rent Collector is a story of hope, of one woman’s journey to save her son and another woman’s chance at redemption. It demonstrates that even in a dump in Cambodia—perhaps especially in a dump in Cambodia—everyone deserves a second chance.”
My Thoughts on the Book
The first half of the book was a little slow, but still captivated my attention. The realities of living in the dump were just so horrifying to me that I couldn’t stop reading. I was reminded of a trip to Mexico City my sister and I took in high school with the Spanish Club. One day we took a tour bus outside the city to see the ruins and passed a dump that seemed like an endless sea of garbage. I was shocked and appalled to see that little huts made of cardboard and tarps lined the edge of the dump for miles. Throngs of dirty children sat in the filth looking up at us in our air conditioned bus and my heart broke into a million pieces.
The fact that this book is based on real people and events further intrigued me. I was emotionally moved by the way the book ended, especially since I learned about a period of history in Cambodia that I knew nothing about previously (that actually took place during my lifetime). Even though my life circumstances are (fortunately) not the same as the young family who live in the dump, I related with the characters because, on the most basic level, this is a book about the human condition.
Two things bothered me about the book. First of all, the voice of the main character, who is a totally illiterate woman who lives in garbage in Cambodia, sounded too “white middle-aged American male” to me. I think perhaps he should have written it in third person or attempted to make her voice more authentic. Second, parts of the book seemed like literary lectures, which make sense by the time you get to the end of the book, but they did seem to make the first half of the book drag on and felt like a hidden agenda.
In spite of it’s flaws, I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a captivating and emotional read. What have you been reading lately? I need some suggestions…
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Last month I did a commercial shoot for Vintage Fusion Jewels. If you missed my first post about it, check it out here. I got to work with three great models. Featured here is Jessica Potuzak. Jessica works full time as a florist in Spokane. She told me she’s lucky to have a boss and mentor at the florist shop who encourages her to pursue her modeling career . I could seriously photograph this girl all day. She was really good at posing.
Stay tuned for two more blog posts about this shoot, coming up soon!
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I’ve been studying photography for 20 years now, since high school. The fact that I’ve been doing anything for 20 years kind of freaks me out, but anyway, back in those days I shot on black and white film on a borrowed SLR camera from the school. It was a simple camera, no automated winding of the film or auto focus lenses or image stabilization or 300 menu items to wade through. I kind of miss the tactile experience of winding the film into canisters from a bulk can, loading the film into the camera, manually cranking it to the next frame after each shot.
When I got my first DSLR, about 7 years ago, I considered selling my film SLR camera. But I just couldn’t part with it. It had been a gift from my parents when I graduated from high school and I cherished it. They could not have chosen a more appropriate gift for me. I’m really glad I didn’t get rid of it, because I recently decided to get it out and shoot a roll of film.
I have to admit, even though I had taken a few photography classes in college, I didn’t really understand exposure when I was shooting on film. I was just using the “auto” setting on my camera and letting it decide for me the settings for proper exposure.
It wasn’t until I transitioned to digital that I began to learn about things like depth of field, different focal lengths and other factors that affect the outcome of a photo. So, picking up a film camera after 7 years of no use and 7 years of a lot more knowledge and practice was a lot of fun. Not to mention the fact that I own a lot more lenses and I purchased some pro film, something I had never used before.
I took my little daughter over to a local park to finish off a roll of filmand just love these shots I got of her. The light was really great in this spot and my little model was excited to be out in the fresh air on one of the last days of summer.
I learned a few things about myself while diving back into film. I tend to look at the LCD screen after every shot and that’s so annoying. I watch other photographers do it all the time and didn’t realize I was doing it until I was shooting with the film camera and looking down at it after every click. Duh!
I also noticed I slowed down a lot while shooting with the film. I more carefully considered my composition, the background, etc. because I only had a few frames and after that we would be done. The only problem with this, especially when shooting kids, is that it sometimes takes me 10 shots to get the right expression or to even get the kids to look at me. Also, some of the final pictures were not in focus and that’s something I would have caught on my LCD and re-shot.
I certainly won’t be switching over to film exclusively but I think I’ll pull it out every once in awhile for some fun and practice. This particular image was shot on a Canon film SLR camera with a Canon 85mm f/1.8 Lens
When was the last time you shot on film? Or do you still use it?
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The last several years of my freelance design career have been spent working in the fashion industry. Sometimes I got to work with incredible photography and always wished I could be a part of those photo shoots. Had I lived in L.A. (where my client was located) I most certainly would have been on set for shoots as often as possible.
While my suburban mom lifestyle has me pretty far removed from the fashion world these days, I sometimes get a chance to dabble. When Kristy from Vintage Fusion Jewels approached me about photographing her lines of jewelry I immediately jumped on board. I was very intrigued by her hand crafted jewelry, made from reclaimed items like watches, clocks, old chains and wire.
While Gothic/Steampunk doesn’t necessarily fit my personal style, I think her incredibly unique, imaginative pieces could be worn by anyone. I’m especially drawn to the necklaces which feature old keys and pocket watches. They are very reminiscent of the Victorian era, which I adore. Plus, you all know I’m a huge fan of up-cycling old stuff (in case you haven’t already, check out the ReCraft section of my blog for awesome up-cycling ideas).
Several of Kristy’s pieces are way over the top theatrical and I can picture them being used on the set of a movie someday. Any costumers out there want to work with her? When asked how she comes up with ideas for her jewelry pieces, Kristy says she just spreads out her new finds in front of her and waits for them to “speak” to her. The materials dictate the design. That might sound crazy to some, but as a fellow creative, I totally get it.
This shoot also allowed me the opportunity to work with some wonderful models. These women are beautiful inside and out and it was hard to focus on the jewelry because I wanted so much to photograph their faces and tell their personal stories instead! That’s the portrait photographer/reporter coming out in me, I guess.
I got so many wonderful shots that I’m posting these in four separate installments, so stay tuned! First up, model Amanda Sue Ewan. She’s a mom of one little girl and does a lot of runway modeling here in Spokane. It was a pleasure to work with her.
Which is your favorite piece here? I really love this silver leaf necklace. I love them all, really.
Check back next week for more from this shoot.
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My very first portrait sessions ever were high school senior pictures for my youngest sister Tessa and my cousin Amanda over seven years ago. While I had a knack for taking pictures, I didn’t really know much about photographing people at that point and, although they turned out surprisingly well, I’ve come a long way since then.
I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take Brandon’s senior pictures a couple weeks ago. Brandon’s schedule with school, work and band is so busy that the only time we could get together left us with about an hour of sunlight, so this ended up being more of a mini senior portrait session.
Brandon and his mom wanted an urban industrial feel for his portraits and they had gone out scouting around for a location prior to the shoot. I’m always open to location ideas if clients have them. We had a great time driving up and down Trent Ave. looking for interesting backdrops. Here are a few of my favorites from the session. Which one do you think he should use in the yearbook?