In July, we spent a rainy weekend camping near this lovely ghost town. The weather was wet but we managed to stay dry, even without a campfire.
My sister would be so proud. I was able to make dinner last night without a trip to the grocery store! (Wow, I haven’t thought about this for years.)
As a teenager, my sister used to tease me because it seemed I could never make a recipe without going to the grocery store first. (Not a lot has changed, although, I am better.) Every once in a while, I have to put ingredients away when I realize I don’t have everything and figure something else out (or not make the cookies. Boo.) However, now I don’t necessarily head out to the store unless I’ve already started cooking the meal. Or, my husband is gracious enough to go for me.
Well, with a little improvising, last night’s dinner was a success! As I thought about dinner – and how badly I’d love to find a great local Thai restaurant – I pulled out a cookbook and the first page I turned to was a recipe that I knew was very simple. A Pampered Chef recipe called Satay Chicken Pasta Salad – perfect for a weeknight. While we didn’t have the exact ingredients that the recipe called for, it was close enough. Over the years I have learned to improvise with some ingredients. (My husband is even better at improvising – he rarely uses a recipe! And, he’s a great cook.) Sometimes my improvising works, sometimes it doesn’t. Last night, I was lucky. I used different noodles and dressing for the sauce, but it still tasted great. Not as good as the original recipe but we were still able to enjoy a Thai-influenced meal without heading to the store (even though we could have used some lettuce).
Hmm, I wonder what we’ll be having tomorrow. At least I know we need lettuce.
It took us a long time to find our home when we moved to Colorado. We looked at tons of houses. There were a few that we could have settle for, but none that we were excited about. Until we found this house. It is nestled on the edge of the neighborhood, with a creek and a walking path that leads to a large park in the back. (It was important to us to find a house with no neighbors directly behind us!) The best amenity of all is our deck with a beautiful view of Pikes Peak.
We have lived in Colorado for just over a year and we still can’t believe it’s real. Although, for me, I think it is finally sinking in.
This morning I decided to sit on the deck to enjoy my coffee and write a blog post. Our deck is our little slice of heaven in this world. The mornings are shaded and cool and smell of sweet Colorado. It is a great place to take advantage of the quiet before the noise of the day begins. I love my quiet mornings.
However, I had no idea how distracting nature can be! (Almost as distracting as three children!) Young and old birds are singing, flying over, and visiting the bird feeder. Rabbits are chasing each other playfully in the rocks. Hummingbirds are buzzing and drinking up the sugar water. All, of course, faster than I can capture them with my camera! I’m sure speed will come with getting to know my camera. Just keep shooting I tell myself. Practice makes better. Speed will come. Confidence will come. And, beautiful captures that I will want to show the world will follow.
Today I missed two grosbeaks at the bird feeder. Twice. The older and younger birds flew in separately and when I moved for my camera they flew away. Technically, I missed four shots. So, tomorrow I think I’ll just sit with my coffee and my camera and see if I can catch them.
I think I hear the morning squeal from my six year old. Let the noise begin.
I recently joined a local photography meetup group in order to rub elbows and learn from other photographers. It was easy to join the online group. Much more nerve racking to actually go out on a meetup. But, I did it! In the words of direct sales guru, Julie Ann Jones, I put on my big girl panties and did what I needed to do. In the end, it was very rewarding!
Saturday I joined a group of photographers on a trip to Mount Evans, west of Denver in the Arapaho National Forest, to photograph flora and fauna. I was a mess. A nervous wreck. It started when I woke up at 5:36 AM and I was supposed to meet the group at 6:00! I think my subconscience kept me from waking up after reading an email right before bed that the group would wait for stragglers until 6:20. Or, it could have been the few drinks and late night at a friend’s house. Plausible. Anyway, I was running late. Thankfully we were meeting at Starbucks. Coffee could wait.
I left the house just before 6:00 only to go to the wrong place. Where is this Starbucks? I was confused. It’s supposed to be right here! Uggg, I have the wrong street! It’s on Briargate Parkway, not Briargate Boulevard. DOH! Luckily, I was only a few miles away with ten minutes to go! I sped to the correct location, quickly introduced myself to a few fellow photographers, and with two minutes to spare I bolted into Starbucks to get my caffeine jolt. Whew, I made it. It took a while for my nerves to subside but I made it. I could relax now.
I drove and another photographer rode with me. It was great to have someone to chat with and get to know. She is also a relatively new photographer so we talked about what we need to work on and some of our favorite captures thus far. We were having a great trip until the butt kicking. Before reaching Denver I realized that I forgot to take my allergy meds! Well, my eyes reminded me. For most of my first pictures I could barely see. My eyes were watering so much that I’m sure people thought I was crying. Taking my sun glasses off to take a photo was torture. My eyes would be raw and bloodshot for the next 48 hours. It was worth the pain. Needless to say there is now a stock of Zyrtec in my purse. Check. Lesson learned.
We drove within a few hundred feet of the summit to a parking lot which was at 14,130 feet. I then “climbed” the rest of the way to the summit. It was like the Wal-Mart of fourteeners. So many people!
Now that I have my first meetup under my belt, I can’t wait for the next one! I am signed up for a lighting workshop, one to learn where the picturesque fall foliage will be, and several others that I am interested in. Oh, what fun learning can be!
Although I didn’t expect much from this meetup other than some great pictures and meeting some new people, this trip turned into more. A lesson in Katy. I became more comfortable crouching down to get a shot while others were walking by. I usually get nervous, blush, and maybe even give up because of my shyness and move on. However, with so many people roaming around if I wanted to take any pictures, I would need to be uncomfortable.
While taking the shot above I was crouching down just inches from the plant when a group walked by. I sat up and a girl said “Oh, what a cool picture.” As they continued walking I heard another person say “I was wondering if she was okay?” I responded “Okay, yes, I’m just a little crazy,” and they chuckled. How wonderful it was to continue with the fly’s photo shoot instead of blushing and moving on. And, to make someone laugh. My favorite.
Seventeen years is a long time to hold a grudge. I think I need to get over it. Maybe getting it off my chest one last time will help. Yes, I think it will.
A few days ago, my husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary so I have been thinking about our wedding day a lot lately. You know what they say, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” We are still deeply in love and look forward to many more years of happiness.
When I think of my wedding, I think about the things I would have done differently. The list is long so we won’t go there. The biggest disappointment of the day was our photographer. I wish I could look at my “professional” photos from that day and smile. However, warm fuzzies elude me when I think about our photographer, Cora. She was far from professional (lesson #1).
Things started off fine. The in-studio engagement session went well. The photographer was friendly and I felt like she would be a great photographer to document our wedding day. That all changed when we ordered the “economy” package. I should have known by her reaction to our order that it was not going to be pleasant. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be until my wedding day that the huge mistake I had made would be revealed.
The wedding ceremony turned out to be an hour-long mass. In a church with no air conditioning. In July. Turns out, not realizing the timeline myself, a long ceremony makes for an unhappy photographer (lesson #2). That’s when everything went downhill. However, it wasn’t until after the ceremony when I asked for a certain photo that I became annoyed with the woman that was supposed to be documenting “my” day. My dress had beautiful lace panels down the front sides of my train (at least I thought so). I asked for a photo of the front of my dress. “It won’t be a good picture, “she snarled. Wow, okay. Evidently the customer isn’t always right. She didn’t want to take the picture, but she did. It may not have turned out to be an award winning photo, but it was one that I wanted.
Later, at the reception, she wanted us to cut the cake and do our toast before we had even eaten. Since the ceremony was longer than she expected, she was antsy to leave. We said we would not cut the cake but we would fake the cake cutting and toast for pictures so she could be on her way. We finished the pictures. Ten minutes later she was sitting at a table eating. I guess her hunger beat out her desire to leave.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I received my wedding album (having ordered her least expensive package). Needless to say, I was disappointed. I didn’t get to proof the photos and I definitely didn’t get to choose the photos for the album. All eight pictures (yes, just 8 pictures) were put into a cheap wedding album (lessons #3 and #4). Utterly disappointed. My favorite photos from my wedding are from the chintzy disposable cameras that we put on the tables at the reception. Some may be overexposed, blurry, red eyed, or heads cut off, but I have some fantastic candid photos that I cherish.
A few years later, some friends were getting married and I tried to steer Laura, the bride, away from having the same story. I told her about my unpleasant experience only to find out she had already given the same photographer a deposit! Ug. Laura would have to write her own blog post to tell her experience, but I know she was not impressed with the photographer either. In fact, when I told Laura about this blog post she called Cora a “horrid” woman and asked me to mention her 15 year grudge, as well. I’m not sure about Laura’s experience with the photographer, but I knew when I saw the photographer knock over the unity candle, pick it up, and sweep the bits and pieces into the flowers, that Laura would not be happy. Sure enough, Laura was also disappointed.
So, what lessons have I learned from this experience? Here are a few things I learned that will help me when I shoot my first wedding:
1. Be professional. If I want to be a professional photographer, I need to act like one. I have no desire to have horrible reviews written about me.
2. Ask for a timeline from the bride so I’ll know what to expect. Help tweak the timeline, if necessary, so there’s plenty of time to take the photos. A timeline would have helped me when I was a bride, tooI.
3. Be clear on what the bride can expect from me. No surprises.
4. I’m kicking myself for not getting the negatives from my photographer (way back when, in the pre-digital era). Who knows how many photos she actually took? I could have had many more pictures. My brides will have the option to get a disc of the images. Many more than eight.
5. Put the bride and groom first. They’re the reason I’ll be there in the first place. Be thankful that they chose me to document their special day. I’m thankful already and I haven’t even booked my first wedding! I just know that it is a stressful time, why make it harder for them? Make it enjoyable and capture moments that they didn’t even know happened. Take photos that they still love to look at 17 years later, instead of photos that they can’t believe they had to pay for.
6. Don’t be in a hurry. Stay, mingle, and shoot lots of candids. Enjoy the day as much as possible. After all, it is a very special day. Capture it.
I’m sure there are more lessons, but this post is already a mile long. Thanks for sticking with me on my rant. All done now!
Here are some of my favorite candid shots. Straight out of the memory album!