Its been an interesting few weeks for me.  A few Sundays ago, after lunch at Spring Creek BBQ and a baby shower, I developed a gradually increasing pain in my abdomen that would not stop.  Fast forward several hours and more unpleasant symptoms and I found myself in the emergency room.  Several more hours and several diagnostic tests later, as well as a sleepless night, and we got confirmation that surgery to remove my gall bladder was the solution.  

Now, three weeks and two days later, I had my post op visit today and got a good report from my surgeon releasing me to full activity!  That also means that I had to go back to my day job, a regular schedule, and getting up early, just when I was really starting to enjoy being home and having the opportunity to get some things done at home that I rarely have a chance to get to!   During my post op recovery time, I did manage to get in a full week of photography school that was already scheduled and paid for.   I really learned a lot of valuable information and spent too much money at the trade show.  I also managed to get in a couple of photography sessions over the last couple of weeks as well - didn't want to get rusty!  

I am truly thankful for the physicians and nurses at Clements University Hospital in Dallas, where I received exceptional care and really appreciate my boss, Dr. Jessen, for coming to the ER at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night to check on me and keep an eye on things from a distance.  And very thankful for my sweet caring husband who spent a couple of nights on the sofa/bed in my hospital room, as well as many of our church family who brought food to us in my first few days after going home.  

Closing the chapter on my gall bladder and ready to get back to fun things, like photography! 

Graduation season is here!

What a wonderful time of the year for the seniors who are completing a major accomplishment and stepping stone in their lives.  They've worked really hard for 12 long years and they are finally getting closure on that chapter and looking forward with anticipation at the many opportunities that lay before them.  They likely even have some fears at the uncertainty of the future, but I am confident they will rise to the test!  

I recently had the privilege of photographing Alex, a senior at South Grand Prairie High School. 

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Value of a Portrait

You never really know the value of a portrait until it’s all you have left.  Michele Celentano

Did you catch that?  How easy it is to take it for granted that we will have our loved ones with us forever.  How about you?  Do you think you will live forever? Tomorrow is promised to no one, and no matter our age, life passes by all too quickly.  Before you know it, your children will be grown and moving out of the house.  When I recently hung this family portrait in Sally's home, she commented on how quickly her boys are growing and she was so glad they had this family portrait.  How wonderful that her boys will have this in their home - it is a visual reminder of their family connection!  

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Not to sound morbid, but what memories will your children have of you when you have left this Earth?  Will they have treasured photos of you?  Will those photos include you with them in a photo?  I know so many women who literally hate to have their photo taken – me included!  I have to make myself get in the pictures, not because I don’t want to be photographed with my children or my husband, it’s just easier for me to take the photo and then I don’t have to see myself in it!  

At the recent photography conference I attended, one of my favorite photography speakers, Michele Celentano made the statement above about the value of a portrait.  I had heard her say this previously but hearing it again in person just reemphasized the truth of the statement.  Another speaker at the same conference commented about how much a nice sofa costs these days - $2000 to $3000 and more.  Then he asked, “If your house were to catch fire, would you try to carry that sofa outside with you?” Highly unlikely!  But you very likely might scoop up photo albums or carry that heirloom portrait of your family out with you.  My sister-in-law did that very thing one evening when there were grass fires near their home in the country and we were encouraged to get out of the house.  All she could think of (aside from everyone’s physical safety) was grabbing whatever photographs she could gather and carry out. 

How about you?  Do you have portraits of you and your family?  Do you know the value they will bring to your family members in the future?   Remember Michele’s saying - You never really know the value of a portrait until it’s all you have left.  Make sure you leave something valuable behind for your family!

Count down to career change -

Approximately one year from now, the plan is for me to leave my current full time job in academic medicine and transition to my photography business full time.  I suspect that I will miss my current job more than I can appreciate at this time, and I know I will miss the daily interaction with our doctors and clinicians and being a part of helping behind the scenes as they provide such excellent care to our patients.  

Anticipating the change is a little fear inducing and a lot of excitement generating! 

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Connections in our lives

I had somewhat of an epiphany recently about the word "connections."  If you've read my "Why" section, you'll know that I feel strongly about our connections to our loved ones and how these connections are essential to our well-being, to who we are, who we are a part of,  and where we belong in this life.  What I realized is that there is one important fact that I did not include in my Why section and that is WHY connections are so important to ME!  

Those of you who know me well already know that I was adopted as a baby.  I was raised by two loving parents who were unable to but who desperately wanted to have children. 

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Back to Reality

Well, Randy and I made it back from Nashville and thus back to reality!  It was a great opportunity to attend Imaging USA in Nashville.  This was our 2nd time to attend this annual photography conference.  It was 3 full days of classes and trade show.  The classes are top notch and are led by some of the most accomplished professional photographers in the business today.  I took lots of notes, and for several classes where classes I was interested in overlapped, I sent Randy to one and I went to the other.  On returning home, I made myself type up our notes - an old habit from college that helps to imprint the information in my brain - which served as a good review of all the great information that was presented.  The 3 days of the trade show provided opportunities to meet vendors, learn more about their products,  figure out what works best for me in my studio and then decide what I can afford!   

We did go a couple of days early to check out some of the Nashville sound. 

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Happy 2018!

As regular as clock-work, 2018 has arrived!  Are you looking forward to a great year!  I definitely am and hopefully you are as well.  

To get a good start to making it a great year, here are 3 suggestions to improve your odds of that occuring! 

Number 1 -  Do one thing at a time. 
 I don't know about you, but in my job, things are flying at me all the time and I am constantly bombarded with emails and interruptions and get pulled back and forth between tasks.  I get to the end of the day and realize how much I've started but not finished.  I think I'm a good multi-tasker but in the end, if things are left undone, I must not be accomplishing as much as want to I think.  Studies show that we are more effective when we focus on one thing at a time and I find that is true for me.  While we can't always control the emails and interruptions, we can control (most of the time) how we prioritize handling these and if we don't take charge, then the tasks will and then we are overwhelmed, frustrated, and less effective.  

Number 2 - Accomplish something that you have been meaning to do but keep putting it off.
You'll feel so much better.  It is surprising how things hanging over our heads weigh us down.  Sometimes we don't even realize what is keeping us from moving forward.  Go ahead, just jump in, get it over with, and done! You'll be surprised at how good it will feel to have it done and then it will free you up to start on something more exciting! 

Number 3 - Invest in yourself - Learn something new! 
No matter how accomplished we may be or how much education we've completed, there is always something new that can be learned.  Learn a new skill, increase your vocabulary, a new language.  Read a book.  Go to a museum and really study about the artists.  View your city as though you are a visitor and go sightseeing in your city or one nearby.  Go ahead - it will make you a more interesting person as well as it being fun!

Here's to our improved selves in 2018! 

A Time for Reflection

I can’t believe this year is quickly coming to an end!  As usual, it seems like it has gone way too quickly and yet I also often feel like I am living for the weekends and counting time by the weeks rather than looking for opportunities each day to make a difference somewhere. 

As is typical when something comes to a close, we often take time to reflect back to think on what was good and not so good, what we learned and what opportunities we may have missed and what we could have improved.   To further drive this thought process for me is the fact that we have had 3 men in our church pass away this year, with the most recent one occurring just before Christmas.  This most recent gentleman (and his wife) was someone we socialized with fairly regularly, so we felt his passing on a very personal level.   And then, the father of my very good friend also passed away just before Christmas, so we had 2 funerals in 3 days.   It is these circumstances that cause me to pause and think about my life and at the point that my time on Earth is done, wonder how will my life be remembered?  Will I have made someone’s life better through my interactions and involvement?  Will I have been a good witness for my faith in God? 

Let me start my reflection by listing the things that I am thankful for – something I realize I do not do often enough! (Our friend Rusty had a list of things he was thankful for and how blessed Randy and I were to find out he had included us on his list!)

1)      My faith in God above all else because this is what gives true meaning to my existence and provides the firm foundation of my life.

2)      My husband – Randy – who I know loves me faithfully and unconditionally.

3)      My children – Lisa and Greg – who are grown, independent, smart, self-sufficient, successful, but most of all loving and caring.

4)      My friends, co-workers and extended family who enrich our lives and keep us grounded by having a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves.

5)      My day job managing a clinical academic department at a major medical center – although sometimes I may grumble about it, it has been a wonderful provision for us and has allowed me to grow in knowledge, skills, and experience as well as being part of a group of very dedicated surgeons  and care givers who save lives and make a positive difference in the lives of their patients every day!

6)      My photography business – how blessed I am to be able to learn a craft that started out as a hobby and developed into a business that gives me the opportunity to continually learn and grow both in the technical and business aspects. The photography community is amazing and so very helpful and not afraid to share their knowledge.  But most importantly, my photography business is allowing me to grow as an individual and provides me with the opportunity to hopefully enhance the lives of those who I serve.   

This is a good start but definitely not an exhaustive list! 

Now it’s time to set some goals for the new year! 

Arboretum Family Picnic

Event photography can be physically demanding at times, but its also really fun!  Usually the crowd is there for an event that they have happily chosen to attend and in most instances, they are having a good time.  Such was the case at a recent picnic event at the Dallas Arboretum.  And if you haven't been to the Arboretum in the fall when they have it decorated with thousands of pumpkins and other fall decor, well, you have missed a real treat.  

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Texas Ballet Theater Headshots

I was so in awe of the opportunity on Monday to take professional headshots for the staff of Texas Ballet Theater based in Fort Worth.  They have a staff of about 30that includes front desk staff, finance/accounting, marketing and box office sales, a seamstress, education staff, fund raisers, creative directors, and executives.  And of course the company of dancers!  It was a rare opportunity to see this type of organization from the inside, and I only had a glimpse.  What I learned is that this is a passionate group of individuals who consistently go above their normal job expectations to ensure this wonderful organization is able to deliver outstanding performances to bring culture and entertainment to the rest of us.  

Here are just a few of the many faces at Texas Ballet Theater.  The most tenured individual there is Masako, who has been there I believe she said since the 1980's.  She is responsible for ensuring all the costumes are tailor-fit to each dancer. 

Be sure to get some culture and attend one (or more) of their performances - they are top notch! 

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The Holidays are coming!

Despite the 95 degree temperatures we continue to experience daily here in the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex, the date on the calendar says it is now fall and we are seriously only 3 months until Christmas.  Don't you know the time will fly by!  

Have you started thinking about gifts yet?  It can definitely be overwhelming!  

I want to help with that and I have a great suggestion for you!  Give a gift that will be cherished for a lifetime.  A photograph of you, you and your family, and/or your children!   Beyond the regular photo prints, there are so many great options available today that you can definitely find just the right way to show off your photo(s) with all the people on your gift list.  

And, because I know you are busy, I'm offering both Mini Sessions and Regular Sessions and these can be scheduled at a mutually agreeable date and time.  Don't put this off any longer! 
Give me a call today - 214-697-5898.  

Here is more information on the difference between the mini sessions and regular sessions.  Can't wait to hear from you!

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Mountain get away

Vacation Get Away - I am writing this at an elevation of about 8500 ft. and enjoying the cool temperatures, majestic mountains, and tons of trees that I don't see in Texas.  We have also seen a number of critters, large and small, that include deer, elk, wild turkeys, chipmunks, prairie dogs, rabbits, lots of birds, cows (yes up on the mountain), and thankfully no bears, although they are known to live up here.  And we experienced a hail storm one evening that left ice on the deck and some remained in shady places for a couple of days and then another hail storm a few days later! 

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Day 1 we spent the afternoon and early evening in Taos enjoying some of the art galleries, talking with another photographer who had some beautiful images for sale, and then we listened to a musician group from Texas at the Taos Inn.  They are in Taos for a music festival that culminated Saturday night in a big barn dance.  It was an unexpected and unplanned adventure, but one we truly enjoyed. 

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Day 2 we drove up to the top of one of the mountains in an off road vehicle and ate a picnic lunch while enjoying the scenery and the atmosphere.     Day 3 we took a long walk further up the mountain than anticipated. Had to call Randy to come pick us up before we made it back to the house.  Definitely not in shape for this altitude!  Evening of Day 2 or 3 - we sat on the deck marveling at the millions of stars in the sky, including the Milky Way, and appreciating the majesty of God's creation.  I tried my skills at capturing the night sky - definitely a challenge I will have to work at a bit more!    

A few more apple slices and she might have walked on over to us. 

A few more apple slices and she might have walked on over to us. 

Day 3 maybe 4 (starting to lose track of the days - that's a good sign)  relaxing and hanging out at the house.  Day 5 we listened to a church service online and then drove to Red River for lunch and a little strolling and shopping - Randy sat on a bench while Dana and I shopped.  In the evening we grilled chicken and veggie kabobs while Randy watched the Cowboys.  Sure glad they won, he would have been very unhappy!  And the meal was excellent! 

In another couple of weeks, these aspens will be golden and spectacular!

In another couple of weeks, these aspens will be golden and spectacular!

 Day 6 - last day - took another long walk, this time down to the meadow where we saw more cows.  Notice I said DOWN to the meadow - which means we had to walk back UP to the house.  At about 2.25 miles, we called Randy to come get us, but after several calls and texts with no response, we pressed on and made it home, albeit a bit worn out and before the afternoon rain storm accompanied by hail again began.  And Randy's phone was on SILENT!!

Two moms and three babies showed up one late afternoon in the front yard. 

Two moms and three babies showed up one late afternoon in the front yard. 

We,  Randy and I, have been enjoying the company and generosity of a very sweet and long-time friend Dana.  It is so refreshing to get away from the daily schedule and let our minds clear a bit.  I did bring my laptop and my camera, so have not totally disconnected, but have been able to get some things accomplished that I don't always have time to do.  

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Pretty spectacular scenery that can't really be captured by a camera.  You have to be there to take in the fresh, cool air, the smell of the pines and spruces, and the ever changing skies.            Til next time! 

Red River, New Mexico

Red River, New Mexico

The Wow of wall portraits

Have you ever walked through a room or an open space and a wall painting just caught your attention?  Maybe it was the colors, the composition, how real it looked, how it made you just want to go up and take a closer look?  How about a compelling wall portrait?   Maybe in a museum, a government building, an office, or even in someone's home?  How real the person looked, like they were just right there! Have you ever thought about having a wall portrait of your family, your children, you and your spouse?  Although we have always had a fair share of framed pictures of our family around our home, for the most part our "portraits" have been limited to tabletop sized prints - 8x10s and 5x7s.  

Becoming a professional photographer and utilizing the services of a professional photography lab has truly opened my eyes to the myriad possibilities of ways to display images.  Two of my favorites have become the framed gallery wrap and the framed fine art print.   The fine art print can be framed with no glass and while this picture doesn't do it justice, Randy and I were literally blown away when this arrived from the lab.  It is truly 3-dimensional and very realistic.  The size is 16"x 16" square.  Not too big, but big enough to catch your attention. 

I was also really excited when I ordered and received my first gallery wraps in floating frames.  Gallery wraps are great but mounting inside a floating frame really finishes them.   Here are a couple of samples.  Mackenzie is in a 20"x 24" black frame printed on metallic paper - really makes the colors pop!  

I'm really proud of the picture of Randy.  He is a patient model for me and I was so happy to be able to have a great picture of him to display in a framed gallery wrap.  His frame is a 11"x 14" chestnut gold brushed finish .  

So the moral of this story is think outside the 8"x 10" box and envision what your images will look like as a piece of art in your home! 

Missing Mom

Today marks the anniversary of my mom's passing - its been over 30 years and I still miss her. She made so many sacrifices for me to give me a good life starting with adopting me.  She taught me the value of hard work, to enjoy family, and the meaning of unconditional love.  What a blessing!  I wish my children could have had more years with her.  One of the things I miss about her is how she was able to make me feel special and loved.  Here are a few pictures of her.  Sadly, I had difficulty finding pictures of her and I couldn't find any good ones of me and her together.  The first one is yes, you guessed it, an old Polaroid and the 2nd one is me looking rather goofy, with my daughter and mom.  

This Sunday is Mother's Day, so while I usually hide behind the camera, I'll put my camera on my tripod, line it up and focus it, and let Randy press the shutter button so I make sure I have photos of me and LIsa and Greg - for me and for them!   I hope you do the same! 


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