Monday, July 28, 2008

Shhhh! Don't mention Santa!!!

So today was an interesting day.  Ian started Magic Camp.  I love camp.  Especially camps that run 9-3.  But Magic Camp.  How cool is that!  I just knew Ian was going to be so excited, and dying to show me his new tricks when I picked him up today.  Well.  Let's just say that there was a very large part of Magic Camp that I neglected to mention to him.  The camp counselor looked so worried when I walked in.  I asked how the day went, and he said, "There was a small problem."  

Uh oh.  

Apparently, when you tell a six year old they're going to learn magic at Magic Camp, you need to tell them that it's not *actual* magic.  He was really upset.  "It's just tricks!!" he shouted at me, as if I had just upset the universe.  The counselor said, "I felt awful, it's like I told him about Santa Claus!"  AAIIIIIEEEE!!!!   Nonononono!   The look on my face was enough to make HIS face drop immediately.  I very subtly (and very quickly) shook my head no.  "I mean, about how he gets such good deals on presents!" he said.  Danger averted.  Ian ignored the Santa slip.  Whew! 

It was bad enough at Easter.  We were driving home, and out of the blue he said, "I know there's no such thing as the Easter Bunny."  
What??  "Really?", I asked, almost squeaking.
"Yeah.  It's just a guy in a rabbit suit.  But don't tell anyone, because he'll get arrested."
Hahahaha.  "Um, okay."

Magic.  There's not enough of it in the world.  I want him to be able to hang on to it as long as possible.  I don't want him to know that Santa isn't real.  Not yet.  I want him to still have that belief that anything - ANYTHING - is possible.  

Well, almost anything.  I wish he'd stop asking for a baby brother.

Okay - photo stuff!

This week was the judging for the International Print Competition.  It's the biggie.  I entered State, did okay, entered Regionals, did not as well, and entered the International Comp, expecting to have wasted lots of money and time. 

And I was wrong!!  I got two merits!  You can enter 4 prints into the Photographic Open (there are other categories, too).   It's a thumbs up/down process - either it's good enough to hang and deserving of a merit, or it's not.  And that merit is NOT easy to get, believe me.  These are my first two.  It's very exciting for me.  Almost magical.  :)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Shoutout to Chontelle!

Who informed me earlier that she is one of my fifteen!  I was so excited to hear that someone besides my family and friends subscribed!  It's really quite flattering.  Because Chontelle is a photographer.  And she's  good.  And I wish I could steal her studio name, because it's about as cute as can be - Cotton Blossoms Photography.   And something I never told her, but she is personally responsible for me singing the same song about 2 THOUSAND times from here to Seattle and back.  

What song, you may ask?  Sometimes, by Francis England.  I LOVE this song. And so did my 2 year old, who was 16 months at the time.  And  hated flying.   [We now have several pairs of headphones donated from others on the plane who hoped that Josie would watch a video.  No such luck.  Sobbed the whole way home.  But would sob more quietly if I sang, "Sometimes".   So I did.  

(only time she was quiet.)

And I sang it in the hotel room to help her fall asleep.  And I sang it while we were walking around town, and she was done,  just DONE, with being in the stroller.  

And sometimes I still sing it.  Because it's a fun song.  But alas, she's since moved on to "One Was Johnny", sung by Carole King.

[When Ian was that age, I had to sing, "When I grow up" by Michelle Shocked.  And then he moved up to Jazz Bird (from My One And Only).  And now, his favorite song is Ironman.  Egads.  I blame his father for this.]  

I love that my kids are into such a variety of music.   I have some children's CDs.  Some of them I don't think my kids have ever even heard (Jack Johnson, you say you're for children, but please.  You're mine, all mine!)  And some, well, let's just acknowledge right now that just because you have a CD doesn't mean your music is any good.   Blech.

Music.  wait, how did I end up on music?  I wanted to talk about Chontelle.  And her website.  Because I saw her website before I ever met her.  And I use the term 'met' loosely, because we knew each other first on a photography forum, and it wasn't until we went to the PPA convention in Tampa that we met F2F, as they say in the World of Lazy Thumbs. (You texters who don't write in complete sentences, you know who you are.)

So Chontelle.  And her website.  A while back, before I really knew what I wanted my work to look like, I spent a lot of time looking at other people's work.   And I was jealous, because it seemed like so many of these photographers knew each other.  And I didn't know ANYONE.  Photography can be a really lonely business.  You work alone in the studio (well, except for your clients, of course), and alone while you're editing.  You have to figure out the 'how to make this a business' part all on your own because you don't even know who to ask.  It's pretty solitary.  (And it's improved - remember the darkroom?  We all worked with the radios on for company.  Remind me to tell you someday about when someone called the cops on me for that.)

But it can be pretty lonely until you meet some folks.  You really don't even know what to ask, or who to ask to find out.  And this is where I'm going with this post. (Hah!  You thought it was going to be about my kids again, didn't you?!)   I remember when I was setting up my business, getting registered, figuring out how to pay taxes, looking for insurance... I remember thinking that there was SO much more to having a photography business than taking pictures.  Taking the pictures is the smallest part of it all.  And I wondered if it was what I really wanted to do.  I loved creating the images.  But the business part... it was so much work just figuring out HOW.  I wished I had someone to ask.

And I kept running into this guy Jeff, who kept trying to get me to go to a VPPA meeting.   VPPA is the Virginia Professional Photographer's Association.  But... I don't know.  It was a little intimidating - I didn't know anyone.  I didn't know if I even knew anyTHING.   I didn't want to make a fool of myself.  Eventually, though, my resolve weakened and I went to a meeting.  And I met some amazing people.  And they were all willing to answer just about any question I had, no matter how basic.  And then I found PPA, which is (come on, I'm sure you can guess!)  The Professional Photographers of America.  Again - amazing people, willing to answer anything.  I can't begin to tell you how important both of these organizations have been to me, and how much my growth has been directly related to my membership with them.  

Now I know that at least one of my 15 is a client, and by now has probably fallen asleep.  But I'm hoping that maybe one of you is a new photographer.  Someone who is doing what I did - looking at everyone's sites and blogs (which weren't even around when I was starting).  And I'm hoping you've made it this far.  There's only a little bit more to go, I promise.  There really is a payoff.

So back to the PPA/VPPA/SEPPA (Southeast).  They've given me more than I can ever quantify.   And one of the things that everyone should do, when given the opportunity, is to give back.  PPA has a way for you to do that.  It's called Super Monday.  Twice a year, spring and fall, PPA sponsors peer education.  If you know something, chances are, there's someone out there who wants to learn it.  And now that I've been at this gig for a while, I feel like I might know a thing or two.  So in November, I'm going to be teaching a Super Monday class.  The class is The Business of the Art.  And it's about all those things you need to do to make this photography thang an actual business.  (Trust me, there's a lot.)  So if you're new to this, and you don't know who to ask what, this would be a great class for you.  And I'd love to meet you.  

So to summarize, Chontelle's was one of the sites I looked at when I was green and learning and didn't know anyone except my children who cry on airplanes except when being sung a song that I first heard on Chontelle's website that I looked at when I was green and learning and didn't know anyone until I joined VPPA which led me to PPA which led me to a forum where I met Chontelle.

Ya got that?  :)

A moment of silence, please

We barely made it through unscathed.  The list came out, and we were untouched. 

You know what I'm referring to...  Starbucks.  The list of store closures.  None of mine have been closed.  (whew!)

But then, I was informed this morning (at the Starbucks drive-through,  natch) that there will soon be another loss.  

They are getting rid of the Skinny Mocha.

I know, I know.  Why would they ever want to get rid of something so perfect?  

Well, apparently, it was only perfect to me.   (And a few others, I'm sure.)

Skinny Mocha Triple Shot, we hardly knew ye.
(and yes, this is a  snap of the one sitting right in front of me as I type.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today was a good day!

I spent the entire day in the studio, hung out with my kids a bit, and then we all went out to dinner with friends.   Of course, now I'm supposed to be cleaning and organizing and doing all that stuff you need to do on Sunday nights to get ready for the next day.  And I'll do that.  But it's only midnight.  The evening is just getting started.  Remember when we were young, and we'd start getting ready to go out around 9 or 10?  My life is still so much like that!  But the middle-aged self-employed with kids version.  

Age 24:  shower at 9 pm
Age 40:  kids bath at 9pm

Age 24:  9:30 pm telling stories to the cute guy next to you
Age 40:  9:30 pm telling stories to the cute kid next to you

Age 24:  having a drink at 11
Age 40: six year old wakes up and needs a drink at 11

Age 24:  Midnight, just figuring out what to do next - The Tombs or Mr. Days
Age 40: Midnight, figuring out what do to next - file some paperwork or fold laundry

Age 24:  2 am - woozy, need to go to bed
Age 40: 2 am - woozy, need to go to bed

Age 24:  7 am - hitting the snooze alarm 20 times before getting up for work, swearing you'll go to bed earlier that night.
Age 40:  7 am - hitting the snooze alarm 20 times before getting up to get the kids to school, swearing you'll go to bed earlier that night.

My life hasn't changed all that much.

Well, except that the job I had at 24 was NOT the one I wanted.  It was the one I did while I did all the stuff to get the job I wanted (did you follow that?  Job at 24: blech.  Job at 40: sweet!)

So, about that job... want to see what I did at work today?  Because I want to show you.

The first session was a 4 month session of the cutest little guy.    They came in for his newborn session and I LOVED them.  And I swear, it's not because they went to Starbucks on the way. (That does help, by the way.)  And today was just as good.  Great family - so much fun to work with.  We only stopped because their  wee beastie was done with me.  I borrowed the giant teacup from a friend, and I'm really hoping she forgot she lent it to me, because it was pretty fun.  (And no, this is not the size of the coffee I require to get started in the morning, har har.)  The family pic is my new favorite family shot.  And it wasn't even my idea!  The mom came up with the whole thing.  It was fantastic!  :)

My second client of the day was a maternity session.  And again, they were SO much fun!  I don't know how I've managed to do this, but it seems like every person who has walked through my door this year has been someone I would want to hang out with all day long.   And in this case, 'all day' was three hours plus... and I still didn't want them to leave.  Half the time, I keep shooting just because we're having fun and I don't want it to end. 

I love how she looks in these.  I hope they do, too.  

Friday, July 18, 2008

I know just how you feel.

Everyone has bad days.  Sometimes, all you want to do is have a good cry and curl up in a quiet place.    And when you're two, well, sometimes there's just not much you can do about it.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is call it quits and start over another day.   I had a shoot a week or two ago, where this was the situation.  She was as cute as a bug, but she just DID NOT want to be photographed.  She would be fine, until I picked up the camera.  And then, well, you can see for yourself.  She was so happy when she was walking out the door.  We'll try again soon.  :)

Friday, July 11, 2008


How on earth did I forget to post these pictures?!  I loved them!  I loved the clients!  I loved that they brought me coffee! (Quickest way to my heart is through my caffeine addiction.)  I even love the clients who referred them. (It's a veritable love-fest at the moment.  I'm in a very good mood today.)

So seriously - had SUCH a fun time with them.  They are wicked cool.  I can't wait to see them again. 


Thursday, July 10, 2008

I wish I wish I wish

I wish I could get up early and work before the kids get up.  I try, almost every day.  But I hit that snooze alarm at least 10 times.  I used to outsmart myself, by putting my alarm clock in the drawer across the room, with the idea being that if I made it that far, I could just keep going on into the shower.  Of course, I also discovered that I could go from the shower, right back to bed.  It wasn't a perfect system.

So last night, I went to be early.  EARLY.  Like... 10 pm.  Which for me, is practically the afternoon.  I am a total night owl.  I do my best work at 1 am.  But I''m trying something new - instead of going to bed at 3 and dragging myself out of bed at 8, I thought I'd go to bed at 10 and drag myself out of bed at 4.  Or 5.  or 6.   6 worked.  But it wasn't easy.  It was 7:30 before I felt awake (and I'm still feeling a little fuzzy, thank you very much, at 8:15).  I've gotten no work done. So in essence, I basically lost a night of productive work instead of gaining it.  

How do you morning people do it?  Do you mainline coffee first thing?  Do you hit the ground running and go for a jog or something equally painful?   Is anyone creative at 7 am (STARTING at 7 am, not coming around from the night before).  I just don't get how that works.  You people are a strange and exotic species to me.  

So... I *was* going to talk about photography and this really cool new client who came in.  And had I been writing this at 1 am, I would have been witty and brilliant and talked all about how much fun she was (and how nice she was when I kept renaming her husband, who STILL reminds me of a guy named Chip).  But it's early.  And I'm not really functioning yet.  And it's all the fault of you morning people who make this getting-up-early thing look easy.   So instead, you just get to see how pretty she is.  (I think that's a fair trade-off, don't you?)


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Say yes

Hi people!  All 14 of you!  Today we're going to talk about good things.  And, no, I don't mean Martha Stewart.  (An aside - have you noticed her magazine is starting to run out of ideas?  I swear, I keep expecting to see "21 Things To Make Out Of A Potato". )  No, I mean doing good things.  Which basically means doing things for someone else, when  there's nothing in it for you.  I don't think I do this enough.  It's so easy to get caught up in your own world, to expect everyone to live on  your timetable, to think the world revolves around you. (Because it does, right? Right!) But sometimes it doesn't.  And every once in a while, you're reminded that there's a big world out there, and if everyone helped just a little bit more, then that world would be a better place.  And isn't that what we all want, really?  (That and Colt's Chocolate Covered Marshmallows?)  It's what I want.  I want, at the end of the day (that day being about 50 years from now, please), to know that my children always felt loved, that I never betrayed anyone, and that, when given the opportunity to do something good, I took it.  I want to know that the world was generally a better place because I passed through it.   

So, philosophy aside... how does one do that?  By giving back.  By doing good things.  By saying yes.   Here are some folks we've said yes to lately.

CARE and Doctors Without Borders.  When they come asking for money, say yes.  These two organizations give more to help the world than anything else I know. 

Arlingtonians Meeting Emergency Needs.  A small local nonprofit that works with the County to help people stay healthy, employed, and in their homes.  

Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia.  I had a great time doing some portraits for their upcoming calendar.   Here are a few of my favorites:

Say yes.