Monthly Archives: June 2012

Colorado on fire – part two

Tuesday, June 26th, the day I wrote my last blog post, was a horrible day for Colorado Springs. Around 4:00 that afternoon the Waldo Canyon fire spread in a fury that no one could predict. The fire jumped two canyons and caught 65 mph winds at the top of the ridges. It barreled down the mountain side uncontrollably. I heard that the fire was moving at a pace of one mile every five minutes. I don’t know if that is true, but it moved very quickly. So far, 346 homes are confirmed destroyed. The most homes lost in the Colorado’s history. I have not heard of injuries but I did hear that few people may be missing.

Tuesday was heartbreaking. I drove to a few spots where I could get a few photos of the fire. Both of the places I went to were crowded. People were somber, talking in low whispers. I’m sure others were as thankful as I was that my home was not in the path of the fire. My heart goes out to the families that will be starting over. Posessions can be replaced. Life can not. Memories will live on and new ones will be made. Colorado Springs will recover.

My thanks go out to the over 1,100 brave men and women that are battling this fire.

The last two days we have had lighter winds and some cloud cover which helps keep the temperature down. They have made some headway against this fire. It is now 15% contained.

The photo below was taken from the Cottonwood Creek path just behind my house. I walked down a few houses. The lights on the left are at the softball fields at Cottonwood Creek Park. This was about 4:30 pm when the fire started down the mountain. The black smoke worsened, covered our house, and filled the north side of town. It was very eerie.

This photo was taken from the parking lot of a church at E. Woodmen and Lexington just before 10 pm. I believe this is the Mountain Shadows neighborhood on fire.

After the church parking lot I drove to the East Library on Union.

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Colorado on fire

The smell of smoke is overwhelming and my heart is heavy today. I thought about writing this while enjoying my morning coffee out on the deck but the smoke kept me inside. Often I raise my nose to the sky to smell the sweet aroma of Juniper trees, wildflowers, and sandbar willows. Colorado smells so good. Fresh. Sweet. Like a favorite perfume. Today that delightful scent has been extinguished.

The fire in Waldo Canyon near Colorado Springs started on Saturday. It is now the top priority in the nation. It has been so sad to watch the forest burn from my back deck. Last night we ate dinner on the deck and watched flames come over the ridge and start down the mountain and saw the glow of a fire that started in a new area. Later, as we crawled into our nice comfortable beds my thoughts were with the thousands of people that have been evacuated from their homes. Thankfully, as of this writing, only one small structure had been lost. (Unlike the fires near Fort Collins and Estes Park which have consumed hundreds of homes.) I found a report that a shed at a nearby summer camp had been lost. This so happens to be the camp where my nephew is supposed to spend the first week in July.

Our nephew and his family arrived for a hockey tournament the day the fire started. The plan was to stay for the tournament, play in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area, then drop him off at camp. Many of the tourist areas that we would love to show off to our visitors have been closed. So, we sit. And watch. And pray.

I had a dream last night that my husband, Mike, and I looked out our bedroom window to see a house on fire one street over and a mountain on fire in another direction. I was a mess. Thankfully it was just a dream. We are a safe distance from the fire. Not threatened by the flames. Our hearts go out to those who cannot return home. With just 5% containment, there is no saying when they will be able to return. And when they are able to return, will they have lost everything?

Over the last few days talk of arson has sprung up. Officials are asking residents if they were in the canyon and noticed anything suspicious on Saturday. It is hard to imagine someone starting a fire on purpose, though I know it is reality.

Pikes Peak is on the far left. The smoke you see on the left is the south side of the fire. It has burned all the way up that ridge and started on the next.

Smoky sunset.


Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized


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A little light reading

I’m not sure how many times I have been to the library looking for photography, portrait photography, and wedding photography books, but I am so thankful for this free resource! I have just a few books on my list to read.

While flipping through the pages of magazines for brides at Barnes & Noble, looking for inspiration, I was just waiting for someone to ask me when I was getting married. It didn’t happen. Which was okay because I’ve been married for almost 17 years! (I know, wow!) Although, I would love a wedding re-do knowing what I know now. So many things have changed. I’m excited to start this adventure in a new photography world. The dynamic has changed, the photos have changed, and the teaching philosophy in the photography world has changed (for some anyway). I am lucky to have found inspirational people to help me along and to have supportive people around me.

Off to do more reading!

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Uncategorized


Father’s day 2012

What do you get the best Dad ever for Father’s Day? Well, from here on out, pictures of his kids, of course!

Father’s Day has come and gone but our gift to Mike will be memorable. At least for me. In an effort to practice my skills I dragged the kids out on a photo shoot. I’m not below bribing. It cost me a few bucks and some ice cream, but it was well worth it. I only had two conditions. 1. They had to let me help them pick out the clothes and 2. They had to pretend that I was someone else. I didn’t want to be “Mom taking pictures”. I wanted to practice taking portraits and I knew if “Mom” was taking the pictures it would be different than if it was a stranger. The kids humored me. For the most part.

We spent an hour or so at the park shooting in different locations. I felt like a fish out of water. I had no idea what I was doing. Even though I had been to this same park just a month or so before to help a friend while she shot some senior pictures. (Thanks again, Jennifer, for letting me tag along!) However, I was there at a different time of day so the sun was in spots where there had been shade. Duh. A few hours makes a big difference in the location of the sun. I knew this. But failed to think about it. It had also rained in recent days so the rock that I wanted them to sit on was under water. No problem. The other locations were good, but I had only seen them done with one senior, not three kids. That day at the park was my definition of “winging it.”

Fortunately, we had some laughs, steered clear of any tears, and got it done. I was happy with a few of the photos. Not too bad for a beginner, but I definitely need more practice. The hardest part was getting all three sets of eyes in focus. Yep. More practice. The kids are going to LOVE me. I mean my alter-ego photographer.

So, what did I learn from this photo shoot?

1. I still have a lot to learn. Including post processing.

2. I think clients that I don’t know as well may be easier to shoot than my own children.

3. I need a bigger diffuser for three people, or better shade.

4. Assistants can be a huge help. (Thanks, Sarah!)

5. I still have a lot to learn.

6. It’s hard to get the subject correctly exposed when they’re in the shade and not blow out the bright background.

7. I need A LOT more practice.


8. I still have a lot to learn.

“Remember, this is for Dad.”


Next cover of GQ. (Is that magazine even still around?)



Stephen striking a pose. Madalyn was almost always ready.

Don’t these kids look like they like eachother? All for ice cream Dad.


Madalyn’s friend Sarah came along that day. She held the diffuser to soften the bright sun when I needed her to. Not sure what I would have done without her that day! She wanted to take a picture to give to her dad, too. She was also rewarded with ice cream.


Sarah and Madalyn

At the end of the day we had what I wanted, practice and photos for Dad. I think he was happy with them. Now I just need to decorate some walls with and send some to the grandparents.

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Posted by on June 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Photography on my mind

Wow! I was overwhelmed by the support people showed on facebook about my new blog and career choice. It’s exciting, scary, and intimidating all at the same time. However, I know there are people that want to watch me succeed. That is huge. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.


So, what happens when I have photography on my mind while cooking? This…

Charred “crispies”

I was chopping cabbage, then stirring the sesame chicken. Then back to the cabbage. Oh, stir the chicken. A little more cabbage. Somewhere in there my daughter Madalyn said “Don’t forget about the oven”. Well, I had photography ideas swirling in my head. It was hard enough to keep focused on the mundane task of stirring and chopping. So, I forgot about the oven. Like I almost always do. (I said almost.)

No problem. We’ll just start over. Nope, no more ramen. Boo. Okay, I’ll try one. Maybe they’re not so bad. I popped an almond slice in my mouth and thought I took a bite out of a charcoal briquette! Eww. Terrible. While I like my share of “crispies” in Asian Coleslaw, I wasn’t about to ruin the entire salad with burnt crispies. I’ll just take out the black ones (or hundreds) and we’ll see what we can salvage.

After removing almost 3/4 cup of burnt crispies, I was satisfied. And, I have to say, it wasn’t too bad. Except for the occasional missed charred crispy.

Sesame Chicken over rice with Asian “not-so-charred” Coleslaw.

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Uncategorized


Okay, I’m gonna do it. I’m really gonna do it. I’m going to divulge to the world what I want to be when I grow up. Ready? Ok, here it goes. I want to be a wedding photographer! However, not a ho-hum, run of the mill, “my-6-year-old-could-have-taken-that-picture, photographer. I’m going to be a kick-ass (excuse my language, I’m a little excited!), photojournalistic, editorialish, wedding photographer. The photographer that places the bride and groom in a story, not just a stiff pose. The photographer that captures fleeting moments that others didn’t even realized happened. Yep, that’s going to be me.

I just need to learn the kick-ass and photography part. No biggie.

It has been a long road to get to this point. In August, 2010, my youngest child was finally in school so I went back to school. After two semesters, we moved from Oklahoma to Colorado Springs, CO. I signed up at the local community college right away to try to finish my associate’s degree. (Only 2 semesters to go!) Moving in the middle didn’t help the process because some classes didn’t transfer. Transferring schools has been a headache. Not knowing what I wanted to be when I finished school… a bigger headache.

When people asked me what I was going to school for, I would tell them “Art. Possibly graphic design, but I’m not 100% sure on that.” Recently I even thought about teaching. I love the hours! With three school age children it could be a perfect fit. Honestly, the hours were more attractive than teaching. That’s just not fair to the kids.

Enter the Photography 101 course. I took the class just for fun and to learn the camera my husband gave to me for Christmas a year and a half earlier. I really wanted to get of “auto” mode.

I really enjoyed the class, and I learned so much (and made two GREAT friends). I also realized that I wasn’t half bad! I even felt creative. My instructor even described some of my photos as “stunning”. I knew it was a great fit. However, it was just for fun. After all, a photographer I met at my daughter’s track meet laughed, “no one makes a living at photography.” Well, in that case, when someone with two cameras attached to enormous lenses hanging from her neck puts it that way, why would I even consider photography as a career?

I have the luxury to stay home with my three kiddos. I was a Pampered Chef consultant for 11 years which helped our budget and was a way for me to have some adult conversations. It started as something “for fun” and for a little extra cash, but I gained so much from the experience. I used to be a shy wallflower, but because of The Pampered Chef, I’m still a wallflower, only now, a much brighter one.

After we moved I decided that I needed to let The Pampered Chef go. It was a tough decision and a very emotional one. Pampered Chef was what I knew. It was all I could imagine. I couldn’t see past it. However, I knew that my heart hadn’t been in it for a long time. Deep in my heart I knew I needed to move on. I told people that I needed to find what my heart was yearning for. I needed to find what I was meant to do. I needed to finish school and find what was next. I finally let go. April 2012 was my last official month as a consultant. That’s when things started to change. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time.

Fast-forward to Memorial Day weekend. We traveled to Denver for a wedding of some friends. I watched the photographer shoot the ceremony with what seemed to be a simple camera. At the outdoor reception I took a few photos of the wedding cake, guests, and kids. Simply for practice and my own enjoyment. As the sun started to set I decided to check my nerves at the door and ask the bride and groom if I could take a few photos of them in the beautiful evening light. After all, the photographer was long gone. I had an idea that I couldn’t get out of my head. They graciously agreed. After I snapped the photos I envisioned the father of the groom (a good friend) requested a few different angles and ideas. Then, the bride asked for a photo of their shoes because the photographer hadn’t taken them. I was on a roll! She also said she couldn’t wait to see some of the photos I took after the photographer left. Although, still very nervous. I took several shots and I was happy with them. Then, I didn’t think much of it.

A few weeks later I somehow stumbled on the website of an “international wedding photographer based in Orange County” by the name of Jasmine Star. Oh my. I was hooked. I couldn’t pull myself away from her website or her YouTube videos. I was intrigued with her, her photography skills, and her transparency. Come to find out, she said she wanted to become a wedding photographer before she had even held a digital camera. Woo hoo, I’m one up! I took a class! I watched every free video I could find. Then, one day it happened. While contemplating teaching vs. graphic design, and having no emotional connection to either of them, I came across this video. I found myself a blubbering mess. That was at that moment I knew I wanted to become a wedding photographer.

I think I’ll choose to follow Jasmine Star’s advice instead of the track meet photographer. She’s making a living at photography. A good one.

Hmmm… Does this mean I have to grow up now?


Meet Mr. and Mrs. Derrick

Shall we wine?

Silhouetted kiss

Puttin’ it out there

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Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Uncategorized