Revive this blog, STAT!

OH MY!  Don’t look at how long it’s been since I blogged!!  I’m hoping to sneak a few posts in here quietly before people notice the Grand Canyon sized GAP in the dates!  EEK!  It’s not that I don’t have things to share…it’s that I have TOO MUCH to share and I just couldn’t keep up with it!  And my blog design needed an overhaul so badly that I just wanted people to stop looking at the old one.  But it’s winter up here in the greater Chicago area and I have myself some much needed downtime to catch up on things like organization, accounting, lesson planning…and BLOGGING!  Hopefully we’ll be hearing from Katye and Bridget here and there too.  And my goal is to go back and blog all the 2012 weddings and engagement sessions…it’ll be a fun trip down memory lane!

But FIRST, a sneak peek of a really amazing fashion shoot we just wrapped up this past weekend for Emblazon Salon in South Bend, IN.  The theme was Elemental and we did some really crazy cool stuff so I hope you come back to check that out around the middle of February when I will be able to share them.

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Newbies

Some people ask me…”What do you think of all the changes in the industry?” And what they typically mean by that is “What are you going to do about all these newbies?” I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do…

I’ve often shared my perspective on “newbies” with those who asked but I’ve never written a public blog post about it and I think it’s about time I did. Why? Because the definitive lines between the photography industry and the general public are becoming fewer and fuzzier. With every new DSLR that hits the top of the market, there’s a trickle down effect putting bigger and better equipment in the affordable price range of anyone striving to take “better pictures.” It used to be that everyone knew a photographer. Now everyone knows five or ten new “photographers.” Some of you on the outside may not realize what a hot topic these “newbies” are among those of us who make our living taking pictures. It’s HOT…believe me…sometimes reaching a boiling point. AND…I think it’s about time I blogged about it because even if you have no plans to enter the industry, chances are you know someone who does. Or will tomorrow.

So what’s the big controversy, you say? A lot of this spitting and sputtering simmers down to one thing, really: good old fashioned, downright stinky rotten pride. This industry never used to be this EASY to break into. It used to be more expensive, technical, difficult to learn, and those who owned the secrets were very careful to protect them. For those of us who have been taking pictures for a few years already, there’s a deep seated desire to feel that all that hard work is reverenced. But instead that hard work is publicly trampled on and our pride is wounded when Suzie Homemaker down the street picks up a cheap DSLR and naively says “Psh…this camera is so smart it works all by it SELF…I’m gonna take better pictures of my kids and not pay those expensive professionals anymore!” and then everyone begins telling her “Oh my GAWSH, you are the BEST photographer I’ve ever SEEN! Take MY kid’s pictures next time we’re at the park and I’ll give you $20!” You think this is an exaggeration? Not. One. Bit. I’ve witnessed it and yes, the over simplification of it all is sheer madness But what really angers a lot of professional photographers (especially the breadwinners) is that Suzie made only $20 and the people she photographed now incorrectly THINK that it only costs $20 to take digital pictures and that the entire difference between her prices and those of a more expensive professional is pure profit to be pocketed. These photographers anger is a little bit from wounded pride…with a little bit of starvation insanity to boot.

But what gives me a unique perspective of the whole situation is…I’ve been on both sides now. My first SLR was graciously loaned to me by a friend because I couldn’t afford to buy one. I took pictures for fun and people gave me over the top compliments that I didn’t deserve until I finally agreed to take some low paid jobs that I was ridiculously under qualified but indescribably grateful for. I read and practiced and took baby steps to get where I’m at today. So I know what it feels to be a bona fide newbie. Your little heart flutters when people appreciate your work but in the back of your mind you wonder “Can I actually reproduce that effect? I’m not sure I know how I did that! I don’t feel ready to take ANY money, but the more I learn the more expensive equipment I need to keep up! I should probably just take the $20 they offered…they can’t be upset if I ruin their pictures when they only paid $20!” It was a nerve-wracking place to be even back then when other professionals had no idea I existed!

There are, however, some big differences between my beginner days and the photographers entering the industry now. Along with the BENEFIT of mass information that is so readily available to those who want to enter the industry, there is also mass networking of all levels of professionals. This was not the case 15 years ago when I was just starting out. I started when digital was a dirty word and the only people who used the internet to meet people were the very brave…or the very creepy. I didn’t have an awareness of the other newbies in the industry. I didn’t even have much of an awareness of the true professionals and they CERTAINLY had no idea I existed. I had no one else to compare my rate of improvement to and no one to judge or berate me…I just improved at my own pace and was content to grow slowly without going into debt for it. Now? Everyone is all up in everyone else’s business. Everybody knows when someone else gets new equipment or raises their prices or changes the colors of their website. It’s better for some and worse for others but this connecting and sharing has definitely motivated the industry to accelerate exponentially and photographers are becoming successful much quicker and with much less effort than before. It’s easy to see why there’s conflict and tension. But if I could just convince both sides to consider these THREE things:

1) No matter how new or how experienced we are as artists, no matter how successful or unsuccessful we appear to others, we’re all JUST PEOPLE. We all have a point of view that developed from our own personal experiences. We’re all a little bit insecure at times and want the approval of others. We all started out somewhere lower than we are now and there is always someone better…and worse…at what we do than we are. To someone out there, I’m a newbie. To someone out there YOU’RE a newbie. Treat your newbies the way you would want to be treated. It would benefit all of us to take a step back, put ourselves in each other’s shoes and come to understand why the debate is so personal on both sides.

2) There’s a REAL, calculable magic number for every business person. It’s not about who’s better and whether they’re charging too much for their skill level. Everyone uses different amounts of time to craft their images, has different equipment, different goals for their business, training costs, overhead, and expenses. There’s a REAL price each person should be charging to cover these variables and meet their goals. The only problem I have with newbies is that most of them choose this number by playing the comparison game and can’t back it up with hard numbers. This makes them highly insecure with their pricing and other photographers perceive their pricing as either a compliment or insult to the others in the industry. You might hear “I can’t believe she’s charging so much when she’s not HALF as good as so-and-so who’s charging $50 less!” My advice to newbies is this: Just punch the numbers. Find out how much you need to charge to run a real business and if you don’t feel worthy of that amount, work on your skills before you make yourself available for business. But don’t just slap a price on your work based on someone else’s price list. And don’t judge others for what they charge. Half the population will tell someone they charge too much, the other half will tell them they don’t charge enough. No one can possibly please everyone and they shouldn’t try. Everyone needs to charge what their business requires to function and all you need to know is if they can make it work with what they’re charging, then they deserve to be here doing what they’re doing. If they are charging too much or too little, then they will fizzle out and no longer be a threat. Let it be.

3) The real secret is found in being DIFFERENT. Pricing can only be compared when the artwork is comparable. So to really make pricing a non issue, it’s easy…be. different. You are the only one who can be YOU. The emotion and expression you evoke in the people you photograph, the way you see the world in front of you, the way you use light, the way you present your work in it’s final form…that’s all YOU. Someone can follow your work like a stalker and attempt to knock off every single image you produce, but they can’t be YOU no matter how much they try. So build your business on the foundation of being different and you will not threaten others and they won’t threaten you and we can all just do our thang. Yep, I jus said THANG. Uh huh.

So…people wonder…”What are you going to do about all these newbies?”

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to help them. I’m offering to do a FREE half hour phone consultation with the first three newbies that share this post on facebook. I will walk you through my formula for pricing and give you an honest critique of 3 images of your choice. On one condition…just be genuinely kind to others and pay it forward!

RENEWED

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU all for being SO supportive and patient as I took some time off from the business to focus on my family. It was an incredible year that flew by at the speed of life (which is even FASTER than the speed of LIGHT in case you’re wondering). I was able to sleep in every morning and snuggle with my baby girl, take walks in the park, catch up with long lost friends, make new friends, read books (best of all GOD’S Book), craft, bake, uncook, garden, and take pictures just for fun any old time. It was a GREAT year and even though it feels like one of the shortest years of my life, it was one of the BEST.
The only hard part was turning down the many requests and not being involved in the picture taking part of so many lives I care deeply about. Picture taking isn’t just shutter clicking to me…it’s an emotional investment, the communication of a compliment from my heart to yours, my way of saying how much I admire you. It is HARD to have the desire to give that away freely, but to have it tied to a business and counter balanced by the responsibility of a family. And that aspect of life won’t get any easier because even though I’ve decided to come back to work, I’ve tasted the balanced life and I’m not letting it go!! This year’s limited schedule was booked up before the year even began. BUT, at least this year I can say I would be happy to give you one of my limited appointments for NEXT year! That’s far better than just “no, no, no” all year!
Since my time is limited, I know I have to be intentional with it. I can’t just throw minutes around like wedding rice! This blog needs to have a purpose besides just another place to post the same pictures you’re already seeing on facebook. There needs an extra spin on the information…some behind the scenes, some how-to’s, some before and afters, some stories, and some give aways. Not every single favorite picture will be posted here…it’s not the best format for that kind of sharing. But feel free to email me with special requests if you’d like to see a specific image explained or featured.
I can’t sign off without sharing a picture with you! How about one of my favorite shots from Jon and Katye’s wedding in Hawaii? There are so many, they’re not all going to fit in one or two (or ten!) blog posts anyways 😉 More coming soon…
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A Fond Farewell…

It is with seriously mixed emotions that I formally close this chapter of my life. It has been such a whirlwind to this point that it feels kind of sudden. But with so much to look forward to and so many blessings to look back on, I can’t find any greater emotion than gratitude to express at this time. I feel so cliche saying the same types of things I hear so often from others in this business…things like, “I have the best, most beautiful clients in the world!” and “I couldn’t have done it without you!” But the truth is, I truly feel these things to my very core. As I think through each person I’ve met or each relationship that has grown through photography, I feel exceptionally blessed. I couldn’t feel more lucky if I had met a thousand Rock Stars! Each person I’ve photographed has inspired me so much! And trusted me so much. It’s not always easy to let go and see yourself through someone else’s eyes, and relax in the process. I feel as if each person who trusts me this much is giving me the greatest compliment I could ever recieve. So many of my clients are now friends…some of which I’m looking forward to spending more time with next year! I can’t recall EVER having a “bad” client…we’ve worked through some tough circumstances, but the people I’ve been blessed to meet have been INCREDIBLE. This year in particular my jaw has dropped and my heart has swelled because of my clients, students, and colleagues…some have sent me baby gifts, many have gone out of their way to accomodate my pregnancy and closing business, students have been VERY patient with me while I worked through excessive delays, and EVERYONE has made very sure that I know that my presence in the industry will be missed. I feel as if the love I have for all of you is returning to me tenfold. So thank you!!

I want to take a moment to thank a few people who I’ve never publicly acknowledged in one place before. As I think back to how my interest in photography started and developed, there are people along the way who have marked a distinct change in me. I almost used the analogy of rungs on a ladder, but I don’t want to give the impression that I stepped on them or left them behind as I went. 🙂 I feel more like they were each a helium balloon and as I met each one, my journey became lighter and easier.

My parents — for buying me my first camera and for keeping their promise to develop all the film I could buy, even when it went a bit farther than they expected!

Melita Quance — for being my willing subject so many times and for making me jealous by taking photography classes in high school! 🙂

Jennifer Feeney — for becoming my muse and inspiration in high school and for telling me for the first time that I remember, “You should do this professionally.”

Mom and Dad Sturm and Mrs. Ager — for taking my senior pictures and completely changing my perspective on photography.

Andy and Mickey Sommers — for loaning me my very first SLR and enthusiastically being some of the first people in my portfolio.

My church family at FBC– for being my first clients, my biggest fans, and my friends.

Erin Prichard — for being one of my first photography friends, for 2nd shooting, for equipment sharing, information sharing, and learning together.

Eileen Dimino — for being the first professional to tell me my work was really GOOD and giving me the confidence to forge ahead. And for introducing me to Josef Samuel.

Jasmine Star — for teaching about branding in a way that allowed me to move past the confusion and proceed with confidence.

Josef Samuel — for approaching me with the idea for The X/Stop Project, encouraging me to network more, and for providing a constant source of inspiration and friendly competition. 🙂

Jerry Ghionis — for truly transforming the way I see light and the world around me and for teaching me the true keys to success.

Pamela Speck — for being an oasis in a desert, a moment of clarity, and showing me that God is still working in my life.

Rebecca Lily — for being my friend the longest, and my fastest learning student EVER, and for being a focused and upbeat 2nd shooter this past year in spite of having so many more important things on her mind.

Jennifer Budzinski — for being an inspiration in business ownership and management, and for giving me a place to stretch my creativity and display it. For helping me LOOK like the artist I felt like.

Tim Cocanower — for being truly reliable in an age when reliability is hard to come by. For driving in Chicago. 🙂 For somehow always being one step ahead of me and never once complaining when things went wrong. (and thank you Stephanie for all the time you spent without him after work hours so he could help!!)

Bridget Dix — for being my right arm, and sometimes my left. For sharing my excitement, for being my favorite model, for saving me from myself sometimes, for putting up with my oddities. For synchronizing your vision with mine and loving it almost as much as I have. You are fantastic and I am going to miss you SO much.

My husband, James Nelson — for being my hottest model EVER, for always believing I could do anything I set my mind to, for sacrificing so much of yourself on behalf of my dreams, for working SO hard to support me in both my decision to start AND to stop shooting, for always being a reliable and patient father to our children even when you should have been too exhausted to do so, and for loving me in spite of all my craziness.

There are many others to thank, I could go on all day. It’s always scary to thank some specifically for fear that I’ve overlooked someone very important unintentionally. But I think it would be even worse if I let the fear keep me from thanking these people who have influenced me so much. It is because of the generosity of these people that I have been inspired to help others, so if you have been influenced or helped by me in any way, I hope you’ll thank these people as well.

Many have expressed concern at how permanent my decision sounds sometimes…am I coming back? When? I have to say, I honestly don’t know the answer to either of those. I DO know two things. 1) I need to feel complete freedom from timeframe and obligation. I need a break with no expectations so that I can sort some things out in God’s time, under no pressure. 2) If and when I do come back, I want to have the ability to move the business out of our home, for many reasons, one of which is that our family has filled it! There are many factors that will determine if and when this can happen. I have no idea what the personality of our third child will be, how our familiy dynamic will change, if home schooling will be the best option for my children long term. All of these factors can only be determined by time, so there is really no way I can predict a return date right now.

For those of you (some I have already spoken with) who are hoping and praying that I will return in time to shoot your 2012 wedding, I will decide sometime around June of 2011. Until then I will hold your date on my calendar, but I won’t sign any contracts as I take my comittment to your wedding VERY seriously. Those interested may continue to inquire about availability as long as you understand that nothing is set in stone or guaranteed without a signed contract and downpayment!

I wish you the very best year (or more!) in my absence…take care and God bless!

Q&A

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of questions from the audience and I do try to answer each one of them individually, but they’re starting to get past me because it’s wedding season and I’m busy and, well, there are just too many of them. So I thought I’d start doing occasional Q&A posts so everyone can find the answers to their questions easily.

The #1 question I hear is (in a nutshell): “I’m just getting started in photography. What equipment do you recommend. I’m on a budget.”

A: This is such a hard question to answer. As they say, you get what you pay for. But I think the one thing that people don’t realize when they’re first starting out (I didn’t realize!) is that you can pay $600-$1000 and still not be happy with the quality of your images. It is EXPENSIVE to take good quality images! One would think that several hundred dollars should be enough to take some really great pictures, but alas, it is a drop in the bucket. The second thing people don’t realize is the importance of the lenses. I would recommend that you purchase a camera body only and hand-pick your lenses individually. Start with the 50mm f/1.4. The wider aperture is going to allow you to take better indoor pictures and produce that lovely blurred background everyone wants. Then save up money for some lenses that will survive the transition to your next camera body.

Q. What equipment do you use?

A. 5D MkII, 7D (backup), 50mm 1.4, 24-70 2.8, 70-200 2.8, 16-35 2.8, 15mm fisheye.

Q. What software do you use to post process?

A. Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

Q. What actions/presets do you use?

A. Totally Rad Actions, Kevin Kubota Actions, Rebecca Lily Presets, and Rawsii original presets (not yet available for purchase).

Q. How do you get your images so sharp? What resolution do you post on facebook to make them look so clear?

A. I use one of several sharpening actions. One I made myself, the others I find in the Kubota and TRA action sets. For facebook, I have an action that creates 1200×800 300dpi images, sharpens using unsharp mask, and adds my watermark on them. When I load them to facebook, however, it resizes them to 72dpi so my final images are 720×522 72dpi.

Q. Since you’re not teaching for another 18 months, do you have another class you can recommend?

A. They’re very few and far between, but I’ve found another class that offers approximately the same things that I do. Because of the rare find, it appears she is also very busy and has a waiting list. But you can check it out here:

Q. How in the world do I get one of those awesome Rawk Hard t-shirts?!?!?

A. 🙂 DON’T buy them directly from the supplier! You have to order at least 6 and they cost more! Just let us know what size you want and we’ll hook you up for only $29!

I can’t do a post without a picture! I know I have a lot of blogging to catch up on, but here’s a picture from Jesse and Jamie’s engagement session. I get to do their wedding this weekend and I’m REALLY excited!!

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The Rawk Hard Workshop

On Friday, June 6th, I held my VERY FIRST workshop. I can’t even begin to describe how nervous I was!!! Months of planning and effort had gone into this one single day…I am SO relieved to say that I survived and that it went off quite well!

Our fabulous catering was provided by Thyme of Grace in Mishawaka. I was disappointed I didn’t get a picture of breakfast because it was a work of art as well!

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To each attendee, we gave a gift box filled with homemade cakeballs…Bridget’s special recipe. I was pretty proud of the whole design because each branded box was hand crafted and wrapped with care. 🙂

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We had two outdoor photo shoots. For the first one we focused on basic lighting principles with one model. Our lovely model, Carrie, did a fantastic job and now I can’t wait for another upcoming session I have with her this summer!

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Between photo shoots we talked about branding, personalization, pricing, and post processing.

For our second shoot, we had the gorgeous Michelle and Mike model for us so we could work on posing, personalization, and properly lighting two people. I absolutely adored this session and could have photographed them ALL. DAY. I could have listened to Mike play his guitar all day!!!! I think I’m going to have to bring live guitar music to every photo shoot now…it certainly makes for a serene and romantic mood!

Michelle’s hair and makekup was done by the talented artisans at Emblazon Salon.

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To top off the fabulous lineup, our sponsors provided some amazing door prizes! Showit gave away one free year of Showit Sites and a discount on Showit Web. WHCC gave away a free hard bound album and a free custom image box as well as 3 free months of PicPick proofing. Rebecca Lily gave away a complete set of her artistic presets. And B&H Photo provided Lighting Guides and 2 free copies of OnOne PhotoTools!

We wrapped up the day with dinner at Villa Macri’s. Saying goodbye to new friends was bittersweet. But what a wonderful day. Thanks to everyone who made the day a success!

Featured: The Maternal Lens

A couple of months ago I discovered The Maternal Lens and I have been positively ADDICTED ever since. These girls have SERIOUSLY great taste and every post they make has me excited to see what they’ll uncover next!

And I honestly don’t think this SIMPLY because they featured ME…lol. I truly love this blog and find it refreshing, reliable, and inspiring! If you’d like to read my article, head on over and check it out here. After that, peruse! You’ll find a nice collection of very talented photographers and fun features.

Thanks to Shannon of Thousand Words Photography for the low down throw down!

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The Raw Talent Class

The Raw Talent Class has now ushered 50 students through to the world of better picture taking this year!!!! Here’s just a sampling of the feedback we’re getting:

“I just wanted to let you know I LOVED your class…and I really really want you to do a part 2!! I’ll be there! Thanks again – I can’t say enough great things about this course – it (and you!) was fabulous!” ~P.N.

“Thanks so much for teaching the class and being so patient with all of us! I have learned a TON! By far the best class I have taken! You have opened up the world of manual picture taking for me.” ~Kim

“I wanted to say thank you! This class has been fun and certainly educational, ha! I have learned so much and am super excited about where I am at right now and I know that in the months to come my photos will look better and better. You have an incredible eye and it’s been fun to learn as you critiqued photos along the way – completely rearranged my ideas of great photos.” ~H.S.

What’s all the buzz about? The Raw Talent Class is an online photography class taught by the artist behind Rawsii wedding photography: Christi Nelson. It’s designed to take novice and beginning DSLR users from the very frustrating feeling of “WHY IS MY CAMERA DOING THIS????” to a comfortable level ready for practice and marked improvement. For four weeks we cover the aspects of getting a correct exposure. The weekly assignments will help you understand what your camera is doing and why. Each assignment is reviewed so you know how you did and what you need to work on. At the end of four weeks, you get a one-on-one phone call from Christi to go over anything that might still be confusing you about exposure. Weeks 5-7 cover artistic aspects of photography and the 8th week covers post processing techniques in Lightroom and Photoshop. The cost of the eight week class is $250 which includes a disk of Lightroom and Photoshop tutorials and Christi’s own special sharpening action that makes her images look so crisp and sharp.

Right now we’re working our way through the waiting list, so if you’re on it, you might be getting an email soon! If we have 15 people on the list who are ready to take it in February, then the class will be full. If we make it through the list and still have some spots open, we’ll be opening it up on facebook for last minute takers. If you’d like to get a head start, put your name on the waiting list now! Email bridget@rawsii.com right away!

And here’s a sneak peek!…

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The voice in my head picked up an accent.

About one year ago I attended an all day photography seminar in Detroit. It was scheduled to run from, I think, 9am to 9pm. The speaker was Australian photographer Jerry Ghionis, one of the top 10 photographers in the world. The day was jam packed with practical information and I couldn’t believe that this amazing world-famous photographer was not only giving away just about every secret we’d ever wanted to hear, but he was ENTERTAINING! I had never learned so much in just one day. At 9pm when it was time to wrap things up, Jerry (who had been talking to people during his breaks and had only had one meal all day) said he had more information to give us and “Should I keep going??” We all cheered and he continued on till amost 11pm! That single day changed my entire year.

But the week I spent studying with Jerry in Dallas this month changed my entire life.

From the moment we arrived till time to say goodbye, we felt like Jerry was there to give us every ounce of his attention, every answer to every question, and most of all, his friendship. He’s such a personable guy, we all felt completely comfortable with him. Of the five days, we spent two of them shooting with Jerry, watching him dissect a scene and dream up photo concepts. He personally reviewed our work, our businesses, and met with us one-on-one to answer questions. He started class earlier than planned and extended it later. After eating dinner together, we all wandered around and shot some more. It seemed the only limit to what he would give us was our need to sleep. Ours, not his!

I can’t begin to reiterate everything I learned…it’s overwhelming and so very very detailed! But that’s ok because I came home with a little voice in my head that says “Mum” instead of “Mom” and “fringe” instead of “bangs.” And somehow makes “staircase” sound like “steakhouse.”

After an overdose of instruction, we were set loose with our models to put it into practice. No pressure…the timer was set to 10 minutes and the SOTC photos would be reviewed in class the next day. Hmmm…no pressure at all. This was the shot I submitted. I was very happy with it and Jerry gave it a good review. Our lovely models did a fantastic job…Ben and Amy are actually photographers themselves and I really liked them a lot.

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Here are the other two shots that I took in my 10 minutes and I considered them but they didn’t make the cut. I love them BUT…I could only use one!

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When I came back from my 10 minute shoot, I shot over Jerry’s shoulder and caught these shots. These are all SOTC and some may be imperfect or cropped badly but I left them as is because they’re purely documentary anyways. We were all crammed in a small space and usually couldn’t choose our angles…I shot to help me remember what Jerry was saying while he was shooting on each of these sets.

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This is my own shot from day 2. Jerry gave it a rave review which put me on, oh, cloud 9.5.

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More shooting. The set…

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The shot…

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There are so many more pictures, but this is getting long already…I’ll move on.

One of the BEST parts of the week was my awesome roommate, Pam. We really connected and enjoyed many late night conversations. I know that God sent me to Dallas as much to meet Pam as He did to meet Jerry. I came home encouraged in my home life and my career…it was a fantastically balanced week. God also allowed me to make another wonderful friend on my flight home…again, I was so thankful for every single person I encountered.

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Here’s a shot of me taken by Mariae of Pink Posh Photography.

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And a shot of me and Mariae together. She is a VERY talented photog from Austin. I wish I had gotten pix with more people but we all had flights to catch and ran out of time. So many GREAT people, new friends, and fabulous talent!

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We went out on Thursday night to Jerry’s favorite kind of venue…a karaoke bar! He totally ROCKS…if he hadn’t been a wedding photographer, he’d have been a wedding singer! lol. But since the rest of us were less vocally inclined, he sat down for a couple rounds of Jenga between numbers. And that’s when we found out he does have a weakness…he flat out sucks at Jenga! HA! I guess you can’t win ’em all, right?

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Jerry’s groupies!

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Baby got Back…starring Pam, Mariae, Leslie, and Kelly

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Look at how happy Jerry was to see me! (vs. last time) 🙂 I didn’t have to photoshop it at all!

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I can’t say enough good things about Jerry’s assistant, Sally! She is SO sweet and hospitable, intuitively helpful, organized, and amazing. We all just fell in love with her and still enjoy keeping in touch every so often.

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Prairie House Massage

Every winter in Indiana is cold and let’s face it, a little depressing. We’re all scrambling for pick-me-ups to get us through to warmer weather. This winter it was providential that I stumbled across a little piece of indoor sunshine in the way of a super cool guy named Jeff. Jeff and I met at Art Beat. I was manning my booth and I turned around to see this tall intellectual looking guy peering at one of my pieces thoughtfully, arms crossed, one hand on his chin. I didn’t want to break his concentration so I left him alone for a bit, but after awhile I just had to know what he found SO intriguing about this particular picture! Turns out Jeff is the President of Bike Michiana Coalition and he was drawn to one of my all-time favorite images, a picture I took of a man and his son on a bike while in Romania last summer. The picture kind of subtly represents Jeff’s world…Jeff is a former Minister so the fact that the image was taken on a missions trip is appropriate. He’s promotes everyday bicycling and that’s clearly represented. The image has a strong artistic pull for the viewer because there’s a lot of unknowns and the hands in the image slightly resemble Michelangelo’s “God and Adam.” Lastly, Jeff is a highly trained and very talented Massage Therapist and I think it’s only appropriate that the man in the picture is bare-backed and ready for his 2pm massage! Ok, maybe I’m grasping at straws on that one, but hey! After studying the image for awhile longer, Jeff asked for my business card…and the rest is history. A large print of the image now proudly hangs in his office at Prairie House Massage in South Bend, giving his clients a deep and profound look at Jeff’s multi-faceted world and artistic taste.

When I went in to pay Jeff a visit and see my artwork on the wall, it just so happened to be one of the WORST weather days this winter. I could hardly see the car in front of me, the drifts were measured in feet not inches, and the wind was trying to blow my van off the road. I stumbled through the front door and up the steps, thawing and dripping as I went. But when I walked through the door of Prairie House Massage, it was as if rays of sunshine landed on my face and warmth enveloped me instantly! It was so warm and welcoming! It was “sit on the front porch with a cup o’ tea and chat in the sunshine” warm. In the midst of a very cold winter, it was especially welcoming and I knew that this place would be FUN to take pictures of! It has such a soul because of how much Jeff puts himself into everything he does.

You can bet that on really cold Winter days, and after shooting a long Summer wedding, and amidst stressful Fall deadlines, and probably just during Spring fever, you’ll find me filling up on R&R at Prairie House…it’s one of my new favorite places!

(for more information, visit www.prairiehousemassage.com)

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Jeff has expertise in medical massage including Oncology and Sports, among others.

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A new spin on a couple’s massage…Jeff will teach you how to give a better massage so you can take some knowledge home with you! I thought this was brilliant!

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