Tag Archives: photography

2016 In Review: Photography

I had all of these goals where photography was concerned for 2016, like making it a more legit part of my site, getting a logo to watermark my work, and switching over to photoshop for editing. I didn’t accomplish any of those things so we can just call this resolution a huge failure. Still, despite that, I don’t really feel like I failed at photography in 2016 because my camera and I certainly were insanely busy.

 

In 2016, I did seventeen standard shoots, shot five Birthday Parties, one Relay for Life Event for charity, and one 1st Communion and once again I had to turn people away during the busiest time of the year because there was no way I could take on more clients that late in the year and promise them edited pictures back in time to ship out Christmas cards while still working a full time job. Turning people away is the WORST feeling. I’ve gotta be proactive about this next year and advertise my availability further in advance so people don’t wait until it’s too late to ask if they actually are interested.

 

In addition to that, I do really need to work on the resolutions I set last year for photography. I think what happens is that I don’t technically start shooting much until Spring and it doesn’t last long and then I get unbelievably swamped again in the fall through the end of the year and I guess my goals are sort of out of sight/out of mind until I’m living and breathing photography like that and then I find myself regretting not having taken the time in between to handle these matters. I even had people ask me for gift cards this year, but there was no time in the heat of the season to work on it and once it slowed down, it’d completely slipped my mind. That’s business I’m losing because I’m not utilizing my downtime to prepare for the busy times better. I’ve definitely got to work on this in 2017.

 

I’d also really like to expand my portfolio a bit in 2017. I would love to get into stylized shoots, like with elaborate sets and costumes – perhaps with a cosplayer or something. I did a semi-stylized pregnancy shoot this year and I loved having free reign to ‘create’ in the wild like that. I’d also really love to do some more charity based shooting, specifically for special needs kids and/or rescue animals. And I’ve had several people interested in the idea of offering photoshoot parties, like for boudoir photography – a sort of mini session where ladies can sip wine and socialize while being glamourized for a shot or two.

 

Hopefully with better planning on my part, I can make my resolutions for this year and last more of a reality by the time 2018 is here.

 

As always, I’m incredibly grateful for my clients, new and old, who push me out of my comfort zone and trust me to capture their most important moments in life. To receive my work on a Christmas card or be tagged in someone’s new wall art arrangement featuring family pictures I took is the highest form of flattery a photographer can receive and because so many of them did this in 2016, I’ve felt more like a legit photographer in this past year than all the years before it!

 

I’ve posted all of these shoots individually here throughout the year, but if you haven’t checked them out, you can view a few of my personal favorites from each by clicking the image below.

 

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Mother Earth Pregnancy Shoot

Over the years I’ve grown pretty close to the girls at my bank, so when I found out one of them was pregnant and wanted to have  shoot done, I was super excited. And even more so because she let me have the creative reigns for the shoot! In my head I saw this earthy looking goddess standing in front of a waterfall, peacefully dreaming of her unborn baby. Cristy purposefully obtained the dress for this scene and I made the floral crowns and nature provided the rest. In the end, she was the perfect model for what I had envisioned, glowing and gorgeous like Mother Earth herself. And such a trooper for crossing a sketchy river and hiking at 36 weeks just to get the right backdrop. I can’t wait to meet baby Landon!

 

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Click the image above to see more from this shoot! :)

 

Wolverton Family Summer Shoot

Sometimes you make friends with your neighbors and even stay friends after they move away. Fortunate for me, that has been the case with this family and as they just recently grew from a family of 4 to 5, I was so glad they finally asked me to capture them!

 

To see more of my favorites from this shoot, click the image below!

 

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Luciano’s 3rd Birthday Shoot

I don’t know how I get so lucky, always shooting the cutest kids. Especially when they’re little lady-killers like Luciano before they’re even three. I’m extra smitten for him, though, because even though we don’t share the same blood, he calls me Aunt Sarah and I personally can’t have too many nephews. 😉

 

To see more of my favorites from this little model’s birthday shoot, click the picture below!

 

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Niekrash Family Shoot || Spring 2016

I met Jessa at a Maggie Stiefvater event two years ago and was so flattered when she asked me to capture her family for the last time before they became a family of four! Jessa was seriously one of the prettiest pregnant ladies I’ve ever shot and her daughter Ellie is chock-full of personality; I just know she’s loving being a big sister to baby Jack now!

 

Click the picture below to see my favorites from the shoot on Flickr!

 

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2016 Resolutions

You wouldn’t believe how long ago I started this post. What’s that thing they say, about starting things right away when they hit you instead of setting start dates in the near future? Yeah, well, I just knew I wouldn’t have time for some of these things, but I didn’t want to forget the desire either. And I figured if I wrote it down six months ago and it still felt like something I wanted to work toward by the New Year, it was meant to be on the list.

 

What am I hoping to achieve this year? More than last year, I’ll start with that. While I know 2015 wasn’t a total wash (I mean I did get married after all) productivity didn’t seem to be my strong suit last year. There were some legit reasons for that in 2015; death in the family, wedding planning, and an unexpected burst in the photography business, but I think another problem might be the looseness of the goals I set last year. I tend to do best with structure and detail and so by casually saying, “Oh, I’d like to write. Doesn’t matter how much,” I really just set myself up for failure because “writing” can mean a lot of things and while I did “write” things, like plenty more blogs than usual, none of them were the type of writing I really wanted to be doing, which was the storytelling kind. So, here are some specific things I’d like to achieve in 2016…

 
Study for and take CST1 & CST2 tests. In losing my old boss at the end of 2014 and gaining a new one ¼ of the way into 2015, I hit my 10 anniversary of working for the surveying world and finally found the strength to make sure my value (or lack thereof) was noted by the owners. While it saddened me to discover they were oblivious to all the hard work I’d been doing all this time, it made me realize I need to demand their acknowledgement more often if I ever expect to climb a latter of success and income in this business. Being a female surveyor in a world full of men is already against me, but apparently there are ways to make my intelligence and experience known other than by just performance and dedication alone in hopes that someone’s paying attention. My new boss (who’s not so new anymore) said there are several certifications he feels confident I would pass with ease because he sees the level of skill in me and knows that having those certifications only makes me a bigger asset to the company and my future in this field. I don’t think I could take them all in one year, especially since they cost $200 each, but I could probably manage the first two and I really want to make it happen. Not just for the job security it will help me have, or the bargaining tool I’ll have when it’s raise time again, but also just for the pride in an actual organization acknowledging what I already know about myself and my ability to survey.

 

(CST1 & 2=Certified Survey Technician, Level 1 and 2)

 
Read ½ a book a week. Maybe that sounds like a weird goal, but in years past I always said, read X amount of books and that’s become increasingly harder to achieve. And it doesn’t feel good. ½ a book a week should be doable. I should be able to find pockets of time throughout a week to squeeze in at least a half a book. And if I read more than that, great, but I need that half at least. I think part of the reason I struggled to write this year was because my creative well was bone dry. You need to read to write and I just didn’t read enough this year. If I only read ½ a book a week, my overall count of books read still won’t be that great at the end of the year, but the consistency of reading every week should help keep my creative well wet all year long.

 

Write 500 words a week. I missing writing like you can’t imagine. It’s been so long since new words poured from my fingers that I’m not even sure I remember how to write. There were a few moments last year when I felt compelled to write, inspired by music or books I did have time for, but for the most part my creative brain has been a desolate place, completely abandoned by all of my characters. I want to encourage them to come back, to be so loud I can’t possibly ignore them anymore. I want to still believe being a published author one day is an attainable dream I should still be having. 500 words a week sounds like so little. Heck, there used to be a time when I could put out a few thousand in a day. But it’s a starting place to get myself back into the habit of writing and it’s a small enough number that I should be able to find at least a handful of minutes a week to make it happen. Maybe I could try to get back into writing short stories first and then dive back into my novels. I don’t know, I just know I need to make it a priority again, even when photography threatens to steal all my free time.

 

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Learn Photoshop & Other Photography Related Goals. That sounds laughable, right? Even photoshop pros are always learning something new, considering the massive capabilities of Photoshop. What I mean is, learn to use it enough to ditch PaintshopPro and do at least the editing techniques I know how to do there in Photoshop instead. PaintshopPro has been good to me, it really is a decent program for the price, but as my photography wings continue to spread, I know that the edits I could make in Photoshop will be far superior to PaintshopPro and more in line with the level of quality in the pictures I’m already producing. It’s time to make the shift. To help me, I got a giant bible of a book on using Photoshop for photography and even though its size is intimidating, I’m hopeful it will guide me in the right direction so I’m not wasting too much time trying to figure out how to do relatively simple edits while I make the switch in programs.

 

In addition to learning Photoshop, I want to do a few other things this year where photography is concerned. For instance, take advantage of a magazine subscription for Popular Photography I’ve been getting for a year now, but have never read. There might not be actual education in them all the time, but it would serve me well to read about how other photographers do what they do, just so I’m exposed to other techniques I might not have discovered on my own. So, as a goal, I’d like to actually read this magazine every month.

 

I’d also like to test out other lenses and apparently you can rent them from places online to do just that. Last year I took a chance on a portrait lens for 100 bucks and I swear, it changed the way I shot and to this day is probably the best 100 bucks I’ve put into my business. It is easily my go-to lens now, but I know there must be others out there that will wow me; they’re just all too expensive to take the same chance on. I’m glad there’s an option like renting them for this reason and maybe by the end of the year I’ll have discovered a new “go-to” lens that is actually worth a real investment.

 

And lastly, I want to actually make this business more official, with standard rates and logo watermarking. Last year I was often under paid for the effort because I was too afraid to ask for what the work is actually worth and/or people were very quick to take advantage of my unprofessional or amateur outlook on the whole thing, like if I just call this a hobby, then why should they have to pay me for something I enjoy doing? Well, because it meant basically working 2 full time jobs for me and that can break a person. If I’m going to be exhausting every minute of my free time for this, it should at least pay the bills. And while I don’t really want to watermark my pictures, I think it’s a must after I found a few of my photos being used online without any link back or credit to the photographer. Perhaps people would stop looking at them as just pictures and more for the art they are if they’re stamped professionally. Plus, hello easy advertising. I’m still hesitant to do all of this because I’m not sure I can handle a workload much bigger than the one I had last year, but I do think it’s time I take this a little more seriously if I want to keep taking on the work.

 

Master T25 & Other Health Related Matters. To date, there are 3 series of T25 workouts: Alpha, Beta, and Omega, each of which lasts for 5 weeks. I currently have the first two in my possession and while I think it will take at least 2-5 week rounds of each to actually “nail it” I want to get through those first two series and have to buy the third one because my body will be demanding a new challenge by then. I’ve already said how empowering T25 was for me the first time I gave it a shot and I’m positive that will remain true with the other series as they’re designed to be increasingly more challenging and overcoming them will feel like such a huge success. I’m excited to see what kind of weight and inches I can keep losing with this regimen and how it impacts my sleep schedule and overall mental stability. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’ve successfully made it through all 3 series, but I hope by then to be in such a conditioned state that working out is just a part of my every day routine. Now that I’m married, and we’re hoping to be buying a house, making babies is something I have to get real serious about ASAP (since my age will start mattering whether or not having a baby is even possible soon). I want to be one of those women that already works out enough to keep working out throughout the pregnancy. Being older makes everything harder, especially losing weight. I don’t want to work so hard to get to a happy place only to put it all back on with a baby and then struggle to lose it again. If I just stay fit and active, the repercussions of being pregnant shouldn’t be as bad.

 

I also want to focus extra hard on my diet this year, for bigger reasons than just losing weight. About 6 months ago I started to make the transition to a gluten free lifestyle after coming to the realization that gluten had an obvious connection to my IBS and other gastrointestinal issues. During this transition I’ve noticed a huge improvement and comfort level with my stomach problems and just as a whole for my body too. But in cutting it out of my diet so much, it literally feels like I’m under attack if/when I ever give gluten a shot again, say in the form of bread and pasta. My stomach will literally swell to a pregnant looking state and the hours of discomfort that follow are not worth the taste of those once go-to foods. While GF foods are becoming more readily available, they’re not all suitable replacements for things I used to love and some of those things I love just don’t exist at all in the GF world. Those will be the hardest parts of completely cutting gluten out of my diet, but I want to work toward it. The more I read about gluten and our bodies, the more I know it’s just not for me. Outside of it being such a problem for my stomach, it also has a huge impact on people with thyroid conditions, which I also have. I hope by the end of 2016 I’ve successfully made the switch and I’m no longer missing the food of my old life, when I was slowly torturing my body without even realizing it.

 

Go Out & Live Life. I took some pretty significant hiatus’s from the internet this year, some by choice and others because of lack of time, but I learned something in those “vacations” from the internet and it’s that I miss out on a lot of life by devoting so much time to the internet. I spend more time admiring the way other people live their lives than I do living my own and there’s something very wrong with that. In 2015 Heath and I starting bowling once a month, which forced us out of the house and ended with eating out and toy hunting in the wild after. We actually went on vacation with my family to the beach for the first time, despite being offered the trip several times in the past decade. We finally took a bus trip to New York for the day, which is something I’ve wanted to do at Christmastime for as long as I can remember. And the best trip of the whole year was going to Disney World for our honeymoon (which I hope to finally write about soon). As someone who hasn’t traveled much simply because they were afraid to fly, I sure am happy I got over myself finally because traveling anywhere I want seems like a real possibility now. And in doing all these things, in getting out and living life, Heath and I seem closer now than we did even the year before, despite having been together for 11 years now. Clearly date night is an actual beneficial thing and I want to practice it more in 2016. I don’t know that we’ll have the kind of money to take vacations on the scale of Disney again anytime soon, what with trying to buy a house and all, but I want to make it a habit to get out at least once a month to do something with each other outside of our office. And I want to get away on occasion, even if it’s just over a long weekend, so we can escape the pull those computers in our office have on us. I encourage you all to do the same. :)

 
I feel like I’m forgetting a resolution, but this thing is super long as it is and working on these 6 specific things should keep me plenty busy this year so I should probably wrap this up. What are you hoping to achieve in 2016?

 

 

2015 In Review: Photography

Somehow, between 2014 & 2015 I became a legit photographer. I’m not saying that like I consider myself some great professional photographer or anything, no I’m still amateur in my eyes, but other people have started to see me as something else. Lots of other people. It’s been both weird and amazing and something I’m still trying to adjust to, to be honest. I remember when it used to feel impressive to have 5 shoots a year, and now that numbers doubles itself consistently from year to year.

 

In 2015, I did 23 shoots and that number would have been even higher if I hadn’t gotten married at the height of photography’s busy season because I actually had to turn people away. Words can’t express how grateful I am for the people who like my work enough to pay me for this, who discourage my negativity about my ability, who do all of my advertising for me (because I literally do NONE). No matter how strange this still feels, I hope 2016 brings me more new faces, a braver attitude about it all, and a few new skills to put to use, too.

 

Below you can scroll through a few of my favorites from all the photoshoots I did in 2015. Huge thanks to all my clients, new and old, for helping me grow as a photographer and keeping me so busy! Can’t wait to see what I have to share with you guys at the end of 2016!

 

 

Best Of 2015 Photography
 

 

Dylan’s 1st Birthday Shoot

Such a happy cutie! For more pictures, click the image below!

 

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Luciano Turns 2!

“Birthday Suit” + Confetti + Cake = Birthday Shoot Success!

 

(Click the image below to see the whole set on Flickr!)

 

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Internet Hiatus

At the end of May I found myself needing a break from this place. Sometimes it’s just too much, you know? Plus, I’d been obsessive over it, spending all my free time on social media instead of doing productive things that actually leave me feeling happy with myself.

 

I told myself I’d just get away from it for June and spend some time reading, which is something I’ve failed at majorly this year. And maybe be able to finally write something after giving myself a much needed dip in the creative well. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up reading all that much, or writing a single word for that matter, and as you can see by the date of this post, it’s August and I’m just now returning. Sort of. But my time away wasn’t a waste. In fact, I was super busy. And not just busy doing things that are or feel like work, though there was some of that too.

 

So what have I been up to? Well, let’s see….

 

I did read a little, but more comics than books. That’s basically been the story of this year. I don’t know what’s gotten me so much more into comics this year than previous years (probably, it’s partly Heather’s fault. 😉 ) but my comic reads and purchases are leading by a landslide. A few of the more notable reads during the hiatus include: Jem & the Hologram Comics, Morning Glories Graphic Novels, and The Haunting of Sunshine Girl Novel.

 

Photography’s been keeping me the busiest outside of my day job, between actual photoshoots and hours of editing. I shot a wedding, a superhero birthday party, a pregnant lady, and a little diva! It’s both weird and awesome how much paid work I’ve gotten photography wise, considering how little I broadcast the business. God’s been good to me this way. As I look toward fall, which is notoriously my “busy” season when it comes to pictures, I’m a little nervous about how I’ll juggle it all alongside wedding prep, but I think I might be able to make it happen with designated weekends for taking ALL the pictures. Sort of like Fall Minis or whatever that trend is… I’ll have more on that later if anyone’s interested.

 

VBS CollageI had two opportunities to work on one of my resolutions during the hiatus. First, I shot most of Vacation Bible School at my church. Not only was it fun capturing all the kids being kids, it was awesome to see how excited they got about Jesus. And just how many of them showed up night after night. My small church saw a record breaking number of 106 attendees! That doesn’t even include all the adults who worked or attended the adult class either. At the end of the week there was a slideshow presented with a bunch of my pictures mixed in. My cheeks were sore from all the smiling I did watching the recap of a great week. I hope I get to do even more next year.

 

 

 

Sharing Table CollageI also finally got to volunteer for the Sharing Tables (aka Soup Kitchen) during the hiatus too. I didn’t take my big camera to capture that, just a few camera phone shots, but it is definitely something I want to commit to every time my church participates. We served the 70-some people that showed up lunch and dessert and then, thanks to the goodness of local grocery stores and everyday people donating their goods, every person gets to leave with a bag of food and necessities to get them through the week. These Sharing Tables are open to them every Saturday and while it was really sad to see how many people have to rely on this to eat and live in general, I am so glad such a thing exists for them. It’s disheartening to see just how many people right around me go without; the veterans, the disabled, families with an abundance of children. Their struggle tugged at my heart in a serious way and I left there feeling both humbled and blessed and really happy I got to serve God this way.

 

My toy collection grew somewhat substantially during the hiatus, but that’s probably no surprise. I was extra excited about all the toys I got in June & July though because for the most part I’d pre-ordered them all months ago and even though they weren’t necessarily slated to release all at the same time, they basically did, leaving me with what seemed like days and days’ worth of toy hauls. Toys received include: Inside Out Funko Pops!, Mystery Minis, and Disney Tsum Tsums, Winnie the Pooh Tsum Tsums, The Breakfast Club Funko Pops!, a full case of Garbage Pail Kids Funko Really Big Mystery Minis, Funko 10” GPK Adam Bomb Vinyl Figure, the 17” Monster High Freak Du Chic doll Gooliope Jellington, and Tokidoki’s Unicorno Series 4! You can see pictures of all them HERE!

 

Some random things I did during the hiatus that are worth noting include: Starting two new subscriptions services in addition to my Loot Crate. One was Nerd Block’s latest venture, Comic Block. I’m still not entirely sure how much I’ll love this in the long term, but I think I’ll probably keep it around until I switch back to Horror Block for Halloween. And I also subscribed to a treat service called Universal Yum, which sends you snacks and treats from different places around the world every month. So far I’ve gotten goodies from Mexico & Japan. It’s been really fun tasting places I’ll probably never get to travel to.

 

My tattoos have changed since the last time I was online. I’ve had two sessions to add color behind the leaves and snowflakes and they finally feel complete! I’m hoping to squeeze one more tattoo in before the wedding, so long as schedules and funds work in my favor. If not, I suppose I’ll have to be patient till next year.

 

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Heath and I went to see Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. I’ve always wanted to see a Cirque Du Soleil show, but I guess I was ignorant to the fact that they’re entirely in French. Despite having taken 4 years of honor French in high school, I had no freaking idea what was going on. But it sure was pretty and they’re some crazy talented performers. I think before I make too much of a confused judgment on Cirque Du Soleil as a whole, I should probably see another show first and see if I can follow that story a little better.

 

I actually went to the movies. Twice! As someone who loves film as much as I do, you think I’d go more often, but I just can’t justify the cost and am strangely patient in most cases when it comes to waiting for movies to come out on DVD (probably because it happens so fast these days). That being said, I miss the theater. I used to go A LOT and even though it’s crazy how much it costs nowadays, there’s something about seeing it on that big screen that you start to miss. So, Groupon had a deal and Heath and I just picked whatever looked the funniest, which happened to be Amy Schumer’s TRAINWRECK (and it was perfectly hilarious, btw) and we found ourselves at the movies randomly one day after work. I think it’d been a year since I’d been to the movies so it was odd that I’d find myself there again, for a second time, in the same week. But that following weekend my sister called and said, “We asked Gideon who he wanted to go see Minions (his first theater movie) with, Mommy or Daddy? And he said, “Aunt Sarah,” so I don’t know if you wanted to take him or not, but…” And of course my heart was melting and I was all, “I’ll be right there!” God, I love that kid. He was scared initially, of the bigness of the theater, of the darkness (he’s scared of everything new these days, it’s a phase), but once that screen lit up he was so captivated he forgot all about those fears, he even forgot he had an ice cream sandwich in his hand (and no one ever forgets about ice cream). When it was over he was so excited to see it again on that “Big TV.” And I’m excited about the idea of getting to see kids movies in the theater now, because Aunt Sarah will always be willing to take him. 😉

 

I’ve finally started to panic about the wedding and the lack of planning I’ve done for it thus far. It’s 3 months away now and I’ve only just now locked down a photographer and sort of locked down a caterer, but haven’t decided on a menu yet. There’s still so much to do that even thinking about making a to-do list for it all overwhelms me. I’m sorely regretting not taking this more seriously earlier on in the year. It’s still just going to be a laid back, sort of non-traditional wedding (I keep referring to it as a glorified cookout, but it’s definitely more than that), but that still requires serious effort considering I’m making so much of the decorations and whatnot by myself. I’ve really got to get busy.

 

Ocean City CollageThe most exciting thing I did during the hiatus was taking a real vacation for the first time in ages, to the beach for the first time in over a decade. It was only a 3 day getaway, but it was much needed and oh so fulfilling. My parents had rented a giant beach house and my sister’s family and neighbors came down too. Being at the beach again with my entire family had me nostalgic for my youth and all the vacations we took there when I was a kid. Heck, just being on the boardwalk after so long away from it had all the feels buzzing happily inside me. We did all the necessary, OceanCity things; Candy Kitchen’s Fudge, Fisher’s Popcorn, Thrasher’s Fries, Skee-Ball, and Old Time Black & White Photo booth pictures. We walked a ton and ate a really good seafood restaurant called Hooked, and even got to take home some really pretty blown glass ornaments from the Christmas Village my parents have always gotten their own ornaments from. The waves kicked my butt and Heath and I were both so sunburnt we looked like lobsters, but it was incredibly fun and relaxing. Just the long overdue escape from life we needed. I hope my parents get that place again next year. My camera performed like a champ while we were there, and if you’re interested in seeing pictures from the trip, click HERE!

 

This hiatus was good for me, mentally and physically, and while I did miss the internet a little (Okay, that’s kind of a lie. I mostly only missed Twitter – lol.), I think I need to practice staying away from it a little more often. It’s a bad habit I don’t want to let takeover me again. Because even if I didn’t get all the things I thought I would do done in my absence, I still did a heck of a lot more than I would have had I still been wasting all my free time with it. Stuff that was way more fulfilling than the internet’s ever made me feel. Everyone should take a break from time-to-time. It’s good for you to actually live life, you know? Not just watch how other people are living theirs. 😉

 

What have you been up to while I was gone?