Sunday, November 7, 2010


Fear is such a powerful thing sometimes.  It can paralyze you.  I don't mean in a physical sense...tho one only has to see me in the presence of a snake to know that is possible. No I keeps you from moving forward. Keeps you from things that might otherwise enrich your life.  I know this because for a few years now I have been struggling with a deep fear that has kept me from going where I know God is leading me. And the thing is...I know that this thing God is leading me towards can be very rewarding if I can just get over that fear.

A few years ago, in my line of work, I came across an article about a photographer.  Being that I am interested in photography, I read it. I am always interested in how people became interested in photography, what they shoot, what they shoot with, those little things that only seem to matter to people like me with an interest.  Well, in this article about this photographer, she mentioned that she worked with an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.   In a nutshell, people who belong to NILMSTS go out on call whenever a baby is stillborn or not expected to survive long...and they do portraits for the parents at no charge.  WOW. I thought that was just an incredible thing that people could do. What a gift to give to these parents.  And at that time, it never went beyond that thought, that moment.  A few months later, I seen mention of the organization again in a magazine. And then again, and again.  This is not something many people know about. It's not something commonly published for many reasons. But there it was, tapping my shoulder. Again and again.  About a year ago, I came across a blog through another blog that I follow. This blog was about the passing of two little girls who had been born conjoined. I can't even recall now whether these babies were born alive or not but there in the blog were the most amazing portraits of these little angels.  And there in print were the parents words of what those images meant to them.   I cried. I mean literally bawled.  I know deep in my heart that God is calling me to do something like this.  That I was given a gift for a reason. And what a way to use that gift. To give someone such a treasure. That would mean more to me than any amount I could ever charge for a portrait of a happy healthy child.

So why the hesitation. Why the fear?  Grief. I don't handle grief well. My own a little better than others though.  I am so afraid of what seeing that kind of grief would do to me mentally. I can't even state enough how crippling it is to me to see other people in that kind of emotional pain.. I internalize way too much.  I guess you could say that I got an over abundance of the empathy gene.  I want to do this. I really do. So how do I move past this fear?
I had a dream last night. God once again tapping the shoulder of my sub-conscience and telling me He is not through with this yet.  In my dream, I was at a hospital, doing portraits of children who were sick. Some had the tell tale bald heads of cancer, others had disfiguring burns.  In the dream, I was surrounded by these children and I was just so incredibly happy. There was no sadness or grief.  I know what God was telling me. I know now how to at least get the ball moving on this. I'm still afraid though.  But I keep thinking about that last line in Hope Floats about beginnings being scary and giving hope a chance.   I'm trying Lord. I'm trying.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More practice....

Some portraits I did for a friend. 

Practice Makes Perfect

I've been working some more with those textures. I found a wonderful site, Shadow House Creations , that has a plethora of amazing textures.  I just have to show the latest portrait I've done using an oil cloth texture that I dl'd from the site.

I did a mild gaussian blur on the texture to simulate the slight bokeh that was going on with Dalton's shoulder arm area.  I then combined the layers and added a vintage pink layer from a palette also downloaded from ShadowHouse Creations.  I set the blend mode of that to overlay and reduced the opacity to 30% to give Mr. Dalton a nice baby pink glow.  This kid is seriously white otherwise ;) It also helped to reduce some of the dry baby newborn skin he had going on.  I am rather loving this portrait of him.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I've been playing around using textures to add a portrait backdrop feel to my photos. I just wanted to give you a quick glimpse however of what a texture can do to liven up a photo.

This is the image SOOTC (straight out of the camera). A bright day and a high shutter speed do not make for deep colors. One does what one can with an active 6 year old however.

add a layer of a bright, multicolored texture found at

blend the layer. I used multiply for this one I believe. The color in the texture layer add depth and warmth to the greenery in the photo.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Little Bit of Heaven

Things have been crazy around here. What else is new, right? A week after Little J passed...Tuffy began walking with a limp. I thought it was his arthritis and started giving him some glucosimine.  The limp got noticeably worse. He began dragging his foot. I made an appointment with the vet. Tuffy had not been to the vet since November of 2007.  His previous illness and experiences left, shall we say...a very negative vibe about the vet's office.  As much as it stressed him out, I took him in. He has a dropped hock.  The only way I can explain that is to say that cats and dogs walk on only part of their foot. The padding.  Tuffy's foot is completely down.  The muscle has dropped.  That can happen with diabetes or if there is a blood clot/stroke in the spinal column.  Both of those scenarios would have left him with dropped hocks on both sides. It is almost never (never say never) single sided.  We ran tests anyway. No diabetes. His levels were completely normal. No sign of stroke.  There is a chance it could have been caused by trauma, as in a misplaced jump. However, at no time during the exam did he react as if he were in pain.  So not sure what is going on with the little guy.  Praying that it is indeed just an injury that needs time to heal.   Other than that, trying to stay busy and find a new normal. I'm doing a few portrait shoots, working on teaching myself new ways to edit. Loving that.  I'm working a lot with adding textures.  I had this picture of my nephew Dalton taken when he was 3 weeks old. He was sitting on a green couch. I cloned the crease lines of the couch cushions out and then added a blue tye dye texture and boosted the saturation. Then I did a simple lighten action on it to blend the look together.  It looks like it was definitely taken on a backdrop. he not the most adorable little bug ya ever seen.  He's almost 3 months old now. I'll be doing his portraits again this week =)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

FB is censoring us now

My cousin posted something about her husband and how people think he is a blithering idiot until they meet him and see how smart he is. I tried to post a reply

"It's the american think that someone different than you is an idiot ;)"

And FB deemed it blocked content. Will not let me post it in my own status, in a note, in a message.  CENSORSHIP!

Love, Life and Letting Go

I haven't blogged in awhile. I was hoping to be in a better place before I posted this.  That better place seems to be eluding me though. On Sept. beloved Little J suffered a stroke. All indications at that time were that it was a minor episode and that he would recover within a matter of days. On the morning of Sept.3, I realized that the stroke had blinded Little J.  He was still strong and eating and using his litter box when led to it, and most of the websites I found on feline strokes said that the blindness was temporary.   From the time of his stroke, Little J began to do what I call wandering. He walked circles around the house. He walked until he became trapped someplace and when rescued...he would begin to walk again.  He would not or could not lay down or still himself.  By the morning of the 4th, he had regained his voice. He was on a path to wellness I thought. But the constant wandering was still there. I bought a pack 'n' play for him to keep him safe when I couldn't watch over him. He would wander around it and cry. I got very little sleep. All day that day and the day after. He was wearing himself out.  By Monday the 6th, he was completely exhausted, and when I laid him down on his pillow for what I thought would be a 15-20 minute nap, he didn't struggle.  I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. When I opened them was an hour later and Little J was still asleep. Finally, I thought and closed my eyes again. I woke back up a half hour later. Little J was still on the pillow. I went to check on him, pulled his blanket back and it looked like he was having some kind of seizure. Like he was running  in his sleep.  I couldn't get him to wake up. My heart sank. I knew that was it. He was not going to get better.  I took him into the emergency vet to have him euthanized.  He did not wake out the entire trip.  He only woke up when they stuck the iv into his paw.  His breathing was rapid. He was hyperventilating. They gave him to me to hold and calm down. Once he was calmed they gave him the shot.  It was over in a matter of a minute. He arched his head up to my neck and took his last breath.  All I could think of, was the day he was born. How he crawled up to my neck for warmth and comfort. I don't know how long I held him after that. Not nearly long enough.  It would never be long enough.  He was my buddy, my baby, my life....for 17 years and even now...almost 2 weeks doesn't seem real or possible that he is no longer here. Every day...I go through the motions of life..waiting for that moment when I stop wondering, stop worrying, stop obsessing. I don't think you ever get to that point. It doesn't feel like it yet anyway.  Now I deal with Tuffy. Who doesn't understand where his best friend, his bubby has gone.  I try to create a new normal so Tuffy can let go and heal too. We're getting there..a little bit more each day. Baby steps.  I miss him still. I miss him so much. I feel broken. Like a piece of my soul has broken off and can never be returned.  I hope it gets easier. God it has to get easier. I love you Little J.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dalton And The Bean Bag.

No, this isn't the story of an incredibly cute little boy (although you have to admit I am) and some magic beans. It's the completely true and zany Adventures In Babysitting At Aunt Yaya's house. (That would be Aunt Sarah for you Urban Expression neophytes). tree fell at my Uncle Bob's house (and no I don't know if it made a sound or not) and my Dad had to go and help him clean it up.  I really wanted to go along and know how us guys are with power tools.  I'd grunt but they always change my diaper when I do that. sister and I went over to Aunt Yaya's house for a bit because our dear sainted Mother was helping down at the church Thrift Shop.  Aunt Yaya's house is kinda cool. All sorts of metal things and lights going off all the time.  I think she calls them portraits. Not sure. I'll have to ask her someday.  This time though, Savanna didn't want to sit in the portrait and hold me.  So Aunt Yaya got this thing out called a bean bag. It was awesome. I seriously need to get one of these for my crib.  I almost hated for the lights to stop flashing it was so comfortable.  Aunt Yaya..being the cool Aunt that she is, decided that as long as I liked that bean bag...I could sit in it.  How cool is that? She put it near the window so I could look out and see the birds.  Well...look out as much as a 2 foot tall incredibly cute kid can while sitting in a bean bag. 

So I spent the afternoon chilling on the bean bag, looking out the window....
Playing the make faces game with Aunt Yaya......

having a long talk......

about some serious stuff.......

serious, serious really make you think kind of stuff....
the kind of stuff that will cross your eyes and make you tired kind of stuff....

until I had no choice and had to pretend to sleep to end the conversation.

Seriously Yaya...I love you but I have no idea what the heck a New York Yankee is so how do I know if I want to play with them or not.  You should talk to Daddy. He keeps yammering on about me playing with something called a 49er.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Are You Listening?

This little one graduated from Kindergarten last May. I thought it would be cute to photograph her wearing her older sister's graduation cap.  
 As I watch my nieces and nephews grow and experience the world around them, I'm reminded from time to time of that book, All I Really Needed To Know I learned In Kindergarten. How often do I see now that the rules we learn in Kindergarten do apply to our lives forever. I think one of the first and foremost rules that they teach is to listen. Listen to the teacher. Listen. But as we we really know how to listen? I came across an article today and in it, the writer quotes from a book by Dave Roper called Teach Us To Number Our Days.  It had a nice little piece about listening. Or more to know when you are not listening.  I find I am  guilty of a few of these from time to time myself. 


I am thinking about an answer while others are talking.
I give unsolicited advice.
I suggest they shouldn't feel that way. 
I apply a quick fix to their problem.
I fail to acknowledge their feelings.
I fidget, glance at my watch or appear to be rushed. 
I fail to maintain eye contact. 
I don't ask follow up questions. 
I top their story with a bigger story. 
They share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own.

WOW!. How many of us are guilty of not being good listeners.  I want to believe I am a good friend and that I am there for my friends when they have problems, but sometimes I am guilt of trying to apply a quick fix or failing to acknowledge their feelings.  I most certainly have tried to convince them they shouldn't feel a certain way. For me personally....I don't think its as much not it is trying to make the person feel better. I guess sometimes...I have to learn that just letting a person talk, and listening, might be all that is needed to help.  That is going to be a hard thing for me to step back and do...but I'm going to try my best. Because, I want to be a good friend, a good listener. Thanks for listening. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Marshmallo Action

This Marshmallow action that I downloaded at is every bit as sweet as it sounds. And what better photo to try it out on than one of my sweet little niece during a very sweet time of year.

Applying the action sure toned down the reds from the overhead light and the shadows on her face.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

PSE Actions

I love to play around with photos in PhotoShop.  So imagine my happiness when I discovered the fine art of Actions.  I've been going crazy with the searches for actions, downloading, installing, applying.  Some times they make subtle changes to a photo, sometimes startling.  I love making colors pop, sharpening eyes, etc. Seems tho that a lot of people are into the faded, muted colors. I'm going to start posting some of the portraits I do that I use actions on...and you tell me what ones you like and don't I can get a feel for what is popular.  Today's photo...outdoor shot of Little Miss S. taken a few weeks ago.  I used an Action called Honey and Lime. It really popped out the greenery. I sharpened her eyes some and boosted the saturation.

Click on the photo to enlarge and see the detail. What do yo think? Like or dislike?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dalton@4 weeks

Hard to believe he's a month old already.  He wasn't feeling the portrait session today. Still got a few good ones though.

Sleeping Angel

Is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby? Little D. is such a sweetie. I took these last week after I spent a little time cuddling the little cutie. How fortunate am I to be his Aunt. He is such a snuggler.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dalton @ 3 weeks

Spent some time today with this little cutie.  Hard to believe he's 3 weeks old already. He's such a good baby. When the photos were done, we put his jammies on, swaddled him and he went right to sleep. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sun Kissed

Working on my last set of portraits from Project Kick Cancer. I got a little behind due to a certain adorable baby being born. The girls from this session were an absolute delight to spend time with.  The lovely Mrs. R has just graduated from nursing school and took me up on my offer for portraits in exchange for donations.  I've known her husband since he was a little boy. It sure doesn't seem like he's old enough to be married. How time flies.

Little Miss S.

And yes....the S stands for Sassy. She sure looks sweet but let me tell you...the kid has an attitude and I wouldn't have it any other way. She's not shy or reserved. She storms through life, taking in everything she can.  Our time at Klehm Arboretum on Saturday was wonderful. She is very much a hands on learner so to watch her take an interest in nature was amazing. She has a very good eye for birding and she was extremely interested in plants and butterflies. "What kind is this one?" "What does this sign say?" "How can that one be a Hosta too if it doesn't even look like the other ones?"   When I tell people it takes a lot of energy just to be around her, they have no idea what I mean. I hope she always stays that way.
Still trying to get a style going to keep a consistency with the blog. Do you think the portraits display better with or without a frame?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blessings In Disguise

I know I have raved about Lightroom 3.0. I think for portrait editing it's unbeatable. But it was very limited in what it could do creative wise.  I hated to have to use 2 programs. And let's face it...$300 was a little out of my price range for an editing program. So here's the thing, PhotoShop Elements 8.0 is not that bad.  It has a lot of features that make portrait editing easier and less time consuming, and it allows me to be creative when I want to be.  And for $90 it fit the budget easily. It was and even more pleasant surprise when after 15 minutes of use, I figures out how to install actions that would make portrait editing even less time consuming. I found quite a few actions that look promising at coffeeteaphotography.  After dling a few of them and playing around...I was able to create these in just minutes.

This photo was straight out of the camera....


With the Perfect Photo action....

_MG_1788 copy

And with the SunKissed action applied....

_MG_1788 sunkissed

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mr. Eyelashes

Why do baby boys always get the most amazing eyelashes? Mr. W here not only has those lashes but the most gorgeous eyes and sweetest most pouty lips ever. cute is he?

It's always a joy to photograph Little Mr. W.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Playing In The Lightroom

I've been using PSE 2.0 for so long and have been so hesitant to spend the big bucks to buy Lightroom. But I downloaded a free 30 day trial and have to say...I am loving it. Not sure if I will purchase Lightroom or not but I am definitely going to upgrade to something more pro. I love the look it gives photos. PSE 2.0 is pretty limited but it's very easy to use. So..not sure what one I am going to go with...but new software soon.

I shot this photo at high noon because it was an on location shoot hours from my home and was the only available time of day. It was full sun and so colors were washed out...shadows were many. But Lightroom was able to save it. Love the color now.
I did this picture of Baby A a few weeks ago but didn't like the cold tones and sharpness of the original. No matter what I did in PSE 2...I could not get the tone right. I love how it looks now. Hope her Grandma does too.

and one more.....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Did my first Puppy Portrait today for the American Cancer Society project I am doing.  This is Oliver.  He is so cute and cuddly. He looks like a teddy bear. And just as sweet as can be.  It was a lot harder to photograph a dog than I thought though. Any tips for future canine portraits are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Half A Lifetime Ago

I was going through some old photos on the external hard drive to see if there were any "throw aways" I could apply some new techniques to. Didn't find many but I sure found a lot of memories.  For example...

She was 3 here. Seems like way more than 3 years ago and a  just yesterday all at once. For a little person, she sure has such a big personality.  People are always surprised to meet her in person and see that she is so petite. That personality sure makes her seem a lot bigger. This was taken back when I thought the studio set up was the way to go.  It was sure a lot of work setting things up and cost a lot of money.  Outdoor natural much easier. I do still have some studio stuff that I will be setting up again soon for portraits. Can't wait to share them.  

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fountain Of Youth

Rockford this year is hosting a City Market every friday afternoon along Water St. by the river.  It is a city sponsored farmers market/artisan fair.  Today was opening day. The weather was hot and humid. What a perfect day to open. The market is set up a block from my work and I love that I can walk down on a friday after work and pick up fresh produce, or some cheese or bread.   I wandered around today and just bought a few root vegetables as not much is in season yet. Down toward the end of the market and behind the fountains are located. They had them turned on today. How wonderful. I love the little kids running through. Hearing them laugh and scream makes me feel like a kid again. I had my camera and got one shot of a little girl who would run up to the spray and stand for a minute and then run squealing away. She was absolutely the sweetest thing. Well...see for yourself....

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Playing Around

I've been spending a lot time in Photo Shop lately.  Learning new tips and tricks for making photos pop and rescuing photos that might otherwise have been throw aways. Over exposure? Not a problem. I learned that if you make a new layer and paint fill it with a dark gray and then make that layer an overlay or soft light, you can bring out some detail that might otherwise have been lost.  Of course that won't work if your image is to far over exposed.
    The following photo was one that was under exposed though and boosting the contrast washed out the background to much. By adding a white overlay with black grunge edges I was able to lighten her face without losing the detail in the background.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Prom 2010

Some of the bloggers that I follow use story boards to showcase their photography. I really like that concept so I made a story board of my niece's prom photos.  I think I might do one of her graduation photos to and print them out 12x12 and frame them for her.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Relay For Life

This year I am not walking the Relay but I think that it is a valuable tool in raising funds and educating the public about cancer so I am still doing fundraising for the Relay in my hometown.  Instead of the same routine of me begging and pleading with people to donate, this year I decided I would offer something of value in return. Portraits. For 2 months I am doing portraits for donations. I have to say....this almost feels like a self serving thing. I am enjoying it far to much. How could I not with adorable little models like this.....