North Carolina Bound

I have not taken a vacation, a real vacation in more than a dozen years.  I carry a pretty heavy schedule majority of the time due to working a full time job and photographing events and concerts thought out the year.  But this year I decided I needed a break, a long two week break in the mountains of North Carolina.  My best friend of almost fifty years lives in a little town called Concord.  So on October 15 I boarded flight 818 and headed north. IMG_1422

It was a very short flight; less than an hour and a half and was uneventful.  We landed on and I made my way across the tarmac to my waiting friend.  I should mention that she too is a Debbie.  When I got off the plane the temperature was cooler, but still warm, however I was in for a surprise.

On Tuesday we took off on a road trip up through the Pisgah National Forest and up through the mountains searching for some color and some waterfalls.  The color was missing from this scenario as North Carolina had longer than normal summer temperatures which was keeping the leaves from changing.  Not to mention two hurricane’s had passed through the area.

Our first stop was a little diner where I enjoyed a nice plate of NC style BBQ, one word; Yum!  Our adventure continued as we drove through the mountains of the Pisgah National Forest and the weather took a turn and it started to rain.  This did not stop our trekking the beaten path to find a waterfall; not only did I find one, but a covered bridge too!  Giant score for me photographically speaking.  The rain was coming down pretty steady but my excitement built as I heard the sound of rushing water and once we arrived the sound became deafening, but in such a wonderful restorative way.IMG_1373North Carolina-3

This next week we stayed close to home and I was able to photograph some local birds and experience a change in temperature.  Then on Saturday our other best friend flew in so we made another road trip into Charlotte to pick her up. Did I mention she too is a Debbie? (North Carolina will never be the same).

 

That weekend we invited a few friends who live in the area over for a gathering, it was great to see them and to meet their families.  So much love in one place……incredible.

On Monday October 22 we three Debbie’s took off on a road trip once again.  We drove up through the Blue Ridge Parkway and I was able to find more color, the temperature had dropped from the upper 70’s to the mid 30’s and settled around 45 degrees.  For this Florida girl it was cold, but the crisp air, sharing time with my best friends and just enjoying the ride and the color seeping through the trees was something I can’t explain in words, only heart can.  We drove up to about 5000 feet, found a lovely little restaunt to have lunch  and then off to find Linville Falls.  We didn’t hike to the top, but I was happy with what we found.  Continuing our drive we found icicles popping out of the side of a mountain.  So we pulled in to a parking area and I hiked back to the area where water was seeping out of the rocks.  My lungs were screaming with the thinner and colder 37 degree air, but it was so beautiful.

I needed this time away, I needed to do some life reflection and to be with my girls who know me so well.  I have not laughed or loved like this in a very long time.  They are amazing; we are amazing to have had this friendship of 50 years that is so deep and unshakeable. The T-shirts Debbie brought us says it all the back has the three D’s and it says “True Friendship Grows Forever”.

I love these girls so much and I was sad to depart.  I will be back…..again.

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Another Year……Memories

Most of the time I enjoy looking back on my year.  However, this year I slacked, a lot, and I have to make some changes.  I just didn’t get out as much as I normally do.  Even during camping season it seemed it was always interrupted with something I “had” to do.  I wasn’t as intentional as I had been the past few years.  I didn’t create good content for my Facebook page and actually neglected it.  I had something happen that set me off into the “not good enough” thought process, which in turn caused me to  purge a lot of unneeded stress in my social media life. But I would go out and take photos and think, “these are not good, what am I doing trying to create good photos when I can’t do it?”  I really had to shake that mindset; I am my own worst critic.

Life was  disrupted with a move in the middle part of the year and it was during a very stressful time.  I’m still trying to adjust. Then, in September we were hit by one of the largest hurricane’s in recent history. Irma totally upset my world, but I came out a whole lot better than many of my friends did and I can tell you I am most grateful for that blessing.  Yet, the stress was still there and even guilt that so many lost so much and I didn’t.  I can’t explain why it was that way, but it was; again I am so grateful to not have had any damage.

Sometimes life gives you those old lemons and it’s not always easy to make the lemonade.  In fact, I have thrown a lot of lemons away because I just could not bring myself to make them work.  Ever feel like that?

I’m looking forward to a clean start with 2018, I won’t make promises I can’t keep, but I will put a lot more effort into making it an incredible year personally and professionally.

Here’s a look back on what I did accomplish photographically:

 

 

Mentor/Mentee

I belong to a local Meetup group called the South West Florida Shutterbugs and in two weeks we will be six months old as a group.  In that six months we have offered learning opportunities, trips both local and out of area and have met some really cool people.  Recently, we have initiated a mentor/mentee program and I have decided it’s time to take my skills to another level by working with an incredible portrait photographer.  This will stretch my knowledge and also take me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve already worked with him on a few shoots and he makes what he does look so effortless.  I know this will make me better, especially when it comes to using off camera flash.

Now, for the next part, I will be mentoring a more beginner photographer.  I really appreciate what has been taught to me and I want to give back.  When I started shooting I had no one to guide me and I learned on my own.  I learned that concerts and events were sometimes a crap shoot depending on the lighting, but now I go into them full of confidence in my own skills.  This mentoring will hopefully allow another beginner to feel more confident with their camera without having to learn it all on their own.

If you are in the South West Florida area and want to join a top-notch photography group, feel free to check out Meetup.com.  Happy shooting.

From Death Comes Life

QuotesThis past couple of weeks I’ve come to the realization once again that loss is a part of life.  As I was doing my thing with taking concert photos a long time friend was coming to terms with the passing of her husband.  I’ve known this couple since the early to mid 70s, they were beautiful together, and a huge part of my teen/early adult life.  Unfortunately his life was taken by the evil affliction of cancer.  I’ve not seen them in years, but I was praying for him daily during his extensive battle, he has now received complete healing of his body; for that we are thankful, but my heart aches for his beautiful wife, children, family and friends who were closest to him; I know he will be missed.  Along with death there is always life, and sometimes something incredibly beautiful, unplanned and definitely unexpected happens.  It’s taken me this entire week to wrap my mind around the circumstances and express in words what I have been experiencing, but because of this friends passing, a lovely friendship which started over forty years ago was rekindled.  I can’t begin to express what I feel about this, except it’s an extraordinary event; what a true  blessing.  Rest in the arms of Jesus Jimmy Steen, and thank you.Quotes-3

 

An Unveiling

Recently I reconnected with an old friend through Facebook.  We had been friends back in our late Junior High early High School days.  He moved away and we kept in touch for a short time after; well before Facebook when letter writing was envogue.  He had moved back to the same area as an adult and joined the local Sheriff’s Department as a K9 handler.  He is currently retired and breeds/trains Malinois & German Shepherds.  He contacted me about photographing his dogs working so I took a trip up mid June to a training facility.  It was a huge field set up with obstacles and many different working dog owners.  I was allowed to be on the field with the dogs working and even though the field was full of water and mud it was a great time.  I met some incredible people and took some awesome photos.  Out of the photos I took THIS is why I was there!

How I will Move Out!

cropped-logo-2.jpg I made a decision over two years ago to work toward becoming a full time photographer. Life events changed and I needed to see if it was something I could do on my own. I set some small goals and took a year to see if I really could make it in this world of younger, more beautiful work.  Of course that notion is one self-perceived and I have found my work speaks for itself. I went into 2015 with some specific goals in mind and then I was approached about the possibility of opening a studio. That’s a bit scary because I am not sure how I would actually fund that venture, so instead I am scaling back and reassessing my goals. I belong to a women’s group called National Association of Christian Women Leaders, Inc. (NACWL) and the past few months we have been talking about a vision of moving on, moving up, and moving out. I have taken the first step in all this with the moving on. I actually moved on very quickly because I had already made that decision months prior to actually doing it.  As difficult as it was I felt it was something I was being led to do.  That’s when I decided on the year of rebuilding and finding my footing again.  I am now in the process of moving up.  I re-evaluated the goals I had set in a five year plan (which has been accelerated) and I’m collecting the information I need to become a business owner, by doing research, talking with other photographers and relying on my mentor and friend who is an extremely successful small business owner and one who gave me stellar advice which I am implementing and I trust him explicitly, he sugar coats nothing and I adore him for that. He’s only a phone call away and if I need to talk something out, he’s there to listen and to help me see things a bit differently and to give me a reality check. I’m currently in phase one of creating an intimate in house studio in a small room in my small odd shaped apartment.  During phase two I will be helped by a friend who is incredibly talented when it comes to ideas and construction (so glad I don’t have to rely on my own strengths for this).  I know I can rely on him to help me decide the best method for rigging my drops and creating movable V-flats; another gem of a friend who has championed me through some decisions by helping me to look at things differently. I believe I will be in the moving up portion for a longer period of time than I was with the moving on portion. I know God has a hand in my life by the way things are moving, because there is no way I could be doing any of this without his guiding hand.  I know that he has placed some incredibly positive people in my life to encourage me and love on me and to help me, and  he’s brought me to a group of women leaders of whom I can learn and glean incredible knowledge from and gain a huge network of support.  And to think this all came about with a ride on the back of a horse and some tough questions I needed to answer.

Giving up?

You know, I write so often about what I have done and where I’m going and sometimes I have to take a step back and breathe, because there are days or weeks that I feel as if I have no time as I am going from show to show or portrait to portrait.    This past week was one of those weeks.  I really try to balance out my life with work, photography, friends and family then add to that learning opportunities.  For the ordinary person I’m sure my schedule seems to be overwhelming, but for me it’s my life.  As a creative I also need to take time to renew myself and spend time alone with the natural world.  I also need to spend time with people I care about. I prefer that one on one time as it gives me opportunity to open up (something that only happens with a choice few) and it allows me to get some much needed feedback.  These are things I need because living alone I don’t have anyone to come home to where I can bounce off my day/evening so I have to rely on myself, and I am my own worst critic. The other night after a huge concert I came home totally upset with the way I felt the shots turned out and I wasn’t sure I would be able to use any of the images as the lighting was a complete nightmare, I wanted to cry. As I was reminded this weekend I am a painter of light, so surely there was something I could use.  Turns out I had a few shots that many would call the “money shot”.

I love concerts; I love the challenge of the lights and the thought process that goes into it, but it’s stressful especially when you know someone is relying on you to do you best work.  I really felt it this week and when I looked at the images, I wondered if this is really what I should be doing.  However, that thought was fleeting as I brought up the images and I know there is nothing I want more (ok there is, but I’m being patient).  I love this and I know I am doing exactly what I should be doing as opportunities are opening up for a future I only dreamt about.  Spending time with a few friends this weekend and time out in nature has refreshed me for another busy couple of weeks. So I take a breath and keep going because my passion is being a photographer.

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