Saturday, December 27, 2008

Digging the new Point-and-Shoot

Alright.. so, we just got back from out of town. And, in the mail was a rebate gift card I received by buying a bunch of memory cards for business. $160 rebate.. hmm.. awesome! I had been eyeing point-and-shoot digital cameras all the way home from IL. Off to Best Buy, just to check it out.

First, of all the stores I've been in this year, for both personal and business purchases, I've never had better service than from Kelsey at Inver Grove Heights Best Buy. She was the best customer serviceperson I've ever been in contact with - from answering all my questions (ISO rates, picture quality, the reviews the cameras received, you name it.. she either knew it, or found out immediately). I swear, she could run circles around typical retail employees.

She helped me choose the Sony Cybershot W170. It is stacked with interesting features (music slideshows done in camera, sorts pictures based on if they have people, smiling people, smiling kids, by date, heck, even if someone isn't smiling, it has a feature where you can force a smile on someone after the picture's been taken. Granted, it looked a little corny, but it can be done. I'm so impressed - can't wait to take pictures tomorrow for our MOA trip and the boys making treats in the Easy Bake Oven for the first time.

Here's the camera:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holy "I keep forgetting to blog" Batman!

Whoa... so my little sister got me involved in Facebook, and while I didn't expect to enjoy that so much (I'm a Scramble addict).. I ended up putting a bit of time in there instead of on the blog. It makes me wonder what I did 10 years ago, when none of this technology existed. I still filled the time, but with what? Heck, I remember college with a 2400 baud dial-up modem. I guess I just answered my own question: some of the time was spent waiting for an email to download.

I've been preparing for Christmas, too. I have finished shopping, started shoveling, all the winter joys. With winter weather, comes the need to curl up with a good book. Out at Sam's, I bought "The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck. What a great book.. emotional, heart-breaking, heart-warming.. definitely put me in the holiday spirit - not in the commercial spirit, but in the "let's spend time together with family" kind of spirit.

On to photography. I've had more time to mess with the new lights, and take them out on location. They're much heavier than the old system. But, wow! What a difference. Not even half powered up, they can light up anywhere dark I've tried, still at 100 ISO. Sweet!

Here's a few shots from a project I worked at Children's Hospital over the past month. It was so fun to play with and hold these kids. It's also fun to know I've not lost the touch (had one sleeping in my arms in less than 2 minutes of holding).

Love his hair almost as much as his name, Theodore.

Love the eyes..

He's a happy boy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

First run at project

I wanted to create a collage involving the many faces of my boys. Mitchie is so easy with this because he's such a ham. I'm making this a large print in my house...

And Sean.. the middle picture.. man does he look old (he's 5!).

His best friend...

I took this for a Christmas project that I'm creating. It's Mitchie and his pal, "Doggy."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Disney trip

I was going to write a huge blog on this, but really - pictures speak louder than words. In one word, it was a blast!

This first pic was from trick-or-treating at my sister's house, on the way to Disney. Me and the boys. Yes, I'm in a Wonder Woman costume... what I won't do for my kids.

The Magic Kingdom

Chip, Dale, and my peanut.
More to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Update soon...

I've been out of town on a road trip to Walt Disney World. I'll update with pictures once I get caught up with laundry, bills, and the other assorted items that accumulate when a family is out having fun!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Potpourri of thoughts...

I started a new advertising campaign with postcards to previous customers. The postcard stated that I am expanding my business and the services I provide. One of my repeat family customers asked if I would still be willing to come out to their home to take pictures of the family. While I am working diligently on purchasing and building my in-home studio, I will still go on location just about anywhere in the Twin Cities metro. I love the change of venues, and am happy to continue providing on-location service.

Beyond that, I've been super busy solving the little problems that creep up with creating an in-home studio. Today's mission was figuring out how to block incoming light and reflected light from a sliding glass door. It was like having a giant mirror in the room with how much light it would return - not good when I want moody, dark, dramatic portraits. But, I found the solution. Wal-mart had long light-blocking suede drapes. No light gets through at all! And, very little if any gets reflected. Good find! I could use a mannequin...

Because I'm not ready to post any new stuff from the studio quite yet (still working it all out), here's one of the boys I took recently at Minnehaha. The newspaper ended up being a delightful prop. I was really bummed on this shoot, though. We were in a hurry to make it out the door at meet my husband. I packed light.. just one camera, 2 lenses, 1 battery, 1 CF card (I usually am overloaded with stuff). My camera battery, which read as fully charged, completely died after 3 shots. Defective! I'm so fortunate that I grabbed Ron's compact point-and-shoot... else I would have missed it all. Never again will I leave with 1 battery, not even if it's just my own kids. I've wanted to do a reshoot with my SLRs, but the timing and weather, and moods haven't all aligned.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Neon Teen

In order to get our 16 year old into something more creative, he wanted to play with glowsticks and laser pens. Here's the image he liked best... titled "Ring of Fire"... he's been very roughly traced with the laser pen while twirling his glowstick.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faster than a 6th grader?

Way back in junior high, in the town I grew up, the choices for girls sports were limited. In 6th grade, it was basketball or cross country. While I love sports, I don't like running much. My mother encouraged me to do cross country with my brother. I made it through the whole season, improving from 10 minute miles to my fastest time of 7:52. It took a huge amount of effort.

Tonight, I had to re-test for boot camp. We started out with the mile. Six weeks ago, I ran it in 8:07.. which was easily 30 seconds faster than I had been running it all summer. Tonight, 7:52. I'm as fast as a 6th grade me ever was. Woo! It's probably only the second time in my life I broke an 8 minute mile. Now, if I could just stop replacing those calories I'm burning so quickly....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dave, Carrie, Nate, Landan, and Valerie

I've known Dave, Carrie and the little ones, Landan and Valerie for over a year. Our boys went to preschool together last year, and we've had family playdates when our schedules work out. And, Dave really helped me out with car trouble a few months ago! Today was the first time I've met Nate, the oldest brother and a college student at Stout. Valerie looks a lot like her mom, but she made us earn her smiles. Landan's a tough little guy - strong enough to do the monkey bars already.

The weather was all over the place today. It started out rainy and questionable. Then, it was calm enough to squeeze in the session. It worked out fine. The colors were vivid, and the family was in a great mood. You can tell how much these kids adore their big brother!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Investing in myself...

I've been doing some soul-searching... or in my case, stressing myself out worrying about the future. The photography business has been a blast, but at this point, it's basically enough to cover my increasing equipment desires. In 2 years, my boys will both be in school.

What would I do with myself to contribute to the family budget and retirement? I definitely need to keep busy - I know this about myself. So the obvious options are to go back to teaching high school, or to dive into photography full force. After lots of thinking and talking to my support network, I've decided to go full force for photography. I'll increase my advertising and workload over the next 2 years since I'm still home with the boys. I'll also take the next few years building up my studio (props, backdrops, you could literally spend a fortune on this stuff) and then really hit it hard in 2 years. I'm so excited now that I've made a decision.

Now that there's been a decision, I didn't mind investing more in studio equipment. I've bought some new studio monolights after researching on my own and talking to Kyle at West Photo. Photogenic monolights are on the way. I'll be ordering reflectors and other small necessities soon. I'm looking forward to making better use of the equipment I had before and these new additions. Woohoo! If nothing else, I'm doing my part to stimulate the economy :-)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

My Peanut is 5

Sean turned 5 today. Time flies! My boy wanted a very specific meal: Caribbean ham (aka the meat with the goodies - basically ham with oranges, mango, pineapple, and rum), and a yellow cake with chocolate filling, white frosting, and Lightning McQueen. The ham is easy, but the cake was a challenge. I didn't want to spend money on a McQueen shaped cake pan that we'd use once. So I freehanded it using one of his McQueen toys as a model. I made good use of a mechanical pastry tool from Williams-Sonoma to make the car. A labor of love, and I'm happy with the results. Aside from the meal, Sean received lots of Legos and a projector toy (teaches him drawing).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cate, Chris, and the girls

I had a fun evening hanging out with this family at the Rose Garden. The place was packed with Homecoming kids, but we made the best of it. The girls were simply adorable - loaded with personality, curiosity and energy. The girls are a lot like my boys in terms of the sibling rivalry and competition. The difference is that as soon as they're done, they are so affectionate towards each other (my boys aren't, they just go about their own way). All 3 kids warmed up to me right away, and that always makes things easier.

I'm the middle child of 3, as is Rowan - I was really amused with the flower eating picture because it reminded me of myself - using humor for attention.
I love the intensity of Aidan's eyes here.

B. is just sooo cute! I love the innocence of childhood.

Rob, Amy, Leo, and Julia

I had the opportunity to photograph one of my favorite families, and one of my first customers when I got started. How fun to watch the kids grow! Leo's just turned 4, so cooperation for pictures was on his terms. And Julia - I couldn't miss with. She's so full of personality; simply delightful. Rob and Amy have been married for 8 years, and still act like newlyweds. It's so cute to watch them both with each other, and with their kids.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pumpkin Shirts

I mentioned to a parenting group about this cute Halloween kid craft that I'm doing with the boys today. The link is from Family Fun Magazine, and it's straightforward and fun. As soon as our shirts are complete, I'll post pictures.

Pumpkin Shirt Craft

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Card Design

I am proud to now offer wedding "save the date" and thank you cards. Your image or mine! Contact me for details.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bri's Senior Photos

Bri is a senior at South St. Paul High School. The middle child in a family of 3 girls, Bri loves sketching, learning languages, and being spontaneous. She spent part of her high school time overseas on foreign exchange in Japan. Her family has hosted exchange students, too. After she graduates, Bri hopes to study foreign languages, to take art classes, and to serve our country.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sarah and Jeremy

Today was officially the biggest bridal party I've ever had. There were 7 bridesmaids, 7 groomsmen, a couple of ushers, 1 honorary bridesmaids, 2 junior groomsmen, a ring bearer, a flower girl, and of course, the bride and groom. I'm really grateful I bought a new lens this week. It was harder fitting everyone on the altar than it was fitting everyone in the view of the lens. The super wide 10-22mm got plenty of use, no doubt. It was a perfect day for a wedding (no rain, no wind, moderate temperature). There are tons of pictures, and I've just scratched the surface. I wanted to get some previews out there before Sarah and Jeremy take off for their honeymoon. Enjoy!