Treasures of Time

This past weekend I briefly took a step back in time.  I attended a reunion of friends from my youth.  As a young girl I attended a Baptist Church and became very active within the youth group.  We had a Pastor who loved the youth as well as his entire congregation and we had a youth leadership team who led us, and encouraged us to grow and to seek Jesus, we had a bond that was unshakable.  Yes, we would argue and fuss at each other, but we truly loved each other and knew how to say those two little words “I’m sorry”    Still today some of my greatest loves have come from this group; my life long best friends, respect for leadership who treated us like their own kids, and a love of the Lord that has grown stronger through time.

I was asked to document the weekend through photographs, which I did with portraits and candid moments, a book will be created from this collection and I look forward to working on that project.

The weekend began on Friday night with an informal gathering, skits, fun, and fellowship, reminiscent from days past. And of course it would not be a Baptist get-together without food, LOTS of food, an entire row of tables full of homemade fare.

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We told stories and shared memories and hugged each other, laughed and ate (did I mention we had lots of food?). One of the event organizers created a beautiful slideshow of those who were once a part of us, but have now graduated to heaven.  I never made it past the second slide before the tears started, even writing about it gets me choked up.

On Saturday evening, we met at a local restaurant in a private room.  Again with stories, laughter, hugs and lots of great food!  We gathered with some who could not attend on Friday and caught up with their life.  The evening ended with a group photograph and singing.  I’m sure the restaurant has never experienced anything like us before.

Sunday we gathered for worship as a group, and were surprised to see our very own Pastor Hammond in attendance.  I cannot say enough about this man. He is gracious and loves the Lord.   We could not wait to see him and talk to him, many of us  ran to greet him before he even sat down.  I was one of those, and he greeted me fondly by the nickname he had bestowed upon me years ago………’Trouble’,  yes, I cried just hearing him call me that. There is a story behind the nickname, someday I will share that story.

As I sat in the service, I really can’t recall what the current minister was speaking on.  My thoughts were encountering past memories, treasures of the mind; and for a time, we were teenagers, Pastor Hammond was up in the pulpit Randy Willett was sitting next to him, Tim Davis was at the Piano and Steve Wright was directing us youth in choir, and for a moment, time briefly stood still.  My heart is still full, and my eyes are still leaking with the thoughts of those I love.  We all experienced this weekend, those treasures in time.

Until we meet again……continue to let your light shine.  “You are the light of the world, like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

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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

 

Love, Strength & Beauty: Ophelia

 I was invited  this past weekend to photograph a local playwright’s work.  He is a fellow photographer who is gifted in many areas; film, music and words.  It was a happenstance meeting in the camera department at a local big box store. He had told me about this play he had written and I decided I wanted to see it.  I feel we need to support all local artists of every genre of art and this fit right into my beliefs.

The story of Ophelia takes place back in the slave trade era of our nation.  It is a story of love, strength and beauty in a world that sometimes was anything but beautiful.

I really didn’t get to “see” the play in the tradition form, because I was trying to see it through my camera.  I am never sure of what I capture until I get home and load the images.  I will allow the photos to speak the rest of the story.  (To view all the photos from this body of work please visit my facebook page at: Ophelia)

 

Ophelia: Written and produced by Judah Williams.

My Mission

I have been seriously at this photography thing for several years now, and decided I needed to come up with a mission statement of what I am about and what I want to provide to clients.  It took me several months to think about it and to actually put pen to paper and to develop it exactly how I feel; finally I wrote it out; so here it is:

“I aspire through my photography to empower my clients to look and feel incredible, to create beautiful images, and to build lasting relationships with those who step in front of my camera.”

I feel this statement really epitomizes who I am as a human and what I want to portray as a photographer.  I realize I will not get every client who inquires about my services and I’m ok with that, because it only means they were not the client for me.  My style is easy going, yet in control of my environment and can handle the most stressful of situations.  I know how to make people feel comfortable around me and in doing so I get the responses I’m looking for through my lens. My belief is you reap what you sow and if you are comfortable, your client(s) will be as well.

You have to genuinely love people and they have to feel this about you to be completely comfortable.  I see beauty in each of my clients (male & female) and I get so excited when I know I have taken beautiful images.

I’ve seen photographers take on projects they should have never jumped into, because either they have not developed enough skills or the right attitude or they simply are not aware of what it takes to provide great customer service to the client.  I have actually seen client bashing and that is unacceptable to me.  My clients are incredible and I love each and every one of them.  I treat them with respect and give them more than they expected.  I know what it takes to be in front of a camera, it’s not easy because you expose your entire self to the world.  The photographer’s job is to capture the beauty that is truly you.  Be it bride, groom, families, or individual portrait; male or female.

To those I have had the privilege of photographing, thank you and to those who have yet stepped before my camera, I look forward to meeting you and thank you for trusting me enough to show the world your beauty.

More Than Just a Day at the Beach

“Ride the wave baby”

Today was not just any day at the beach, it was a sort of celebration with friends.  One of those friends has been having the battle of her life; cancer.  But not today, today we are celebrating the fact that she is 100% cancer free. Her journey began last October when she wasn’t able to stay awake for very long at a time. Not a good thing when you are driving back and forth to work. She finally got to the point where she was having a difficult time waking up at all. A visit to the ER ended up being several weeks long as they immediately did surgery and found two small brain tumors which turned out to be a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She was given radiation and chemo and with the prayers from so many, now six plus months later she has been set free! So today we her friends gathered on the beach to simply enjoy the company of her in our life and rejoice in the fact that we are here WITH her.

I have written about her before and I guess this is a sort of catch up on that past article.

We need to make sure we love on those that are close to us because life can change in a heartbeat literally. For me personally I love hard & deep, but sometimes it’s difficult to let those important folks in my life know how much I do care. I’m trying to be better, I’m working on being more open and authentic with how I feel, it’s especially difficult in new relationships because not truly knowing the person makes it difficult to open up……again an area I’m working on.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with photography, well of course I am going to post photos of our outing, but it’s more than that. I did take photos of my friend after she lost her hair, but they were for her eyes only, because I felt she needed to document this blip in her life. I wanted her to have not just the memory, but the fact that she can look back on this and KNOW she beat something that could have taken her life and to give her strength whenever she needs to have a dose of it.

This experience has changed how I think and how I view life. I’ve learned so much from her, how to be strong in the face of life’s greatest adversities, how to share love with the people I care about and most of all to embrace the passions in life and to not put off my “bucket list” items. We are not guaranteed tomorrow, so we must live today as if it’s our last, and we must love like there won’t be a tomorrow.

I also see a difference in how I take photos as minor as that may be. I am becoming less technical and more intuitive, allowing my heart and my eyes direct what I shoot, I feel it’s making me a much better photographer.

A Final Farewell

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I really had not planned on writing tonight, but I’m home instead of being out celebrating and I didn’t know I would be as emotional about this whole New Year thing, but here I am at the computer typing my thoughts for the world to read.  So here goes….

This time last year on December 31, 2013 I was also alone, but I went out and enjoyed an evening at a local establishment (which sadly is no longer open), listened to a band who was losing their lead singer to cancer, it was to be his final performance, he passed a month later. When I first arrived at my table, I was a bit upset, they didn’t seat me with anyone……I was in a huge outdoor seating area, sitting alone at a table for four and I felt really awkward and thought maybe I shouldn’t be there.  You see I had just ended a four-year relationship and was determined that my life was going to be better alone than what I was enduring the last couple of years in that relationship.  As I sat at my table being served a wonderful surf & turf dinner by the best waitress ever, I kept thinking “2014 will be my year”.  It was quite chilly and I wasn’t really dressed for the coolness, but I endured to midnight, had a glass of champagne and toasted what was to come.  A young girl came over to me and gave me a huge hug and invited me to her table, I declined,  You see I was holding back tears, because I wanted her to know I was fine and really wasn’t staying much longer.  I finished my glass, and took the rest of the bottle to their larger table and wished them all a Happy New Year and left.  Driving home I was almost smiling at the thought that I got through the evening and I was going to be just fine.

Life simply got better, I was surrounded by friends who rallied around me and kept me encouraged in the midst of those sad few trying to discredit me and my work.  I threw myself into my photography and began to pick up more and more work.  I realized I was much more successful on my own and was regaining my self-confidence and finding my lost identity once again.  I have talent and my photography is good and even though the gossip mongers were trying to tear me down I was surpassing my own expectations!  I also picked up a new partner in my photography; my son Tommy who is incredible and he knows how to use his camera, he’s so amazingly talented and creative. We are my father’s prodigies, he would be proud of us.

Tommy allowed  me to photograph him and in return I succumbed to the front of his lens as well, not an easy task for a photographer.  It felt awkward and unnatural, but after a few minutes I began to enjoy the experience and really loved the images he produced of me.

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As the year progressed I was able to add an incredible amount of images to my portfolio and actually had the privilege of photographing my all time favorite former Beatle Ringo Starr (bucket list).

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Ringo Starr

I have had a set back or two, but I never allowed them to get the best of me, because I know I’m right where I need to be.  God is in control of my life and what I am doing.  My faith is unwavering.  The end of the year has been trying with finding out a close friend was diagnosed with cancer, thankfully she is a fighter and it didn’t win, she did! I’ve added friends to my very small circle and I love each one of them.  I also just sent a text my to my son and his response brought on the emotions.  I have two incredible boys and my youngest is a lot like me in more ways than with a camera.

So here I am ending my year in a puddle of tears, yet I know 2015 is going to be even better than 2014.  I will find love again this year because I’m ready and I know God is preparing someone for me, and I will be one step closer to realizing my dream of being a full-time working photographer.  I am beginning the new year documenting the journey back to health of a woman in the fight for her life and hope to highlight her here in the very near future.  So to all of my followers, stay tuned, it’s only going to get better.  God Bless each of you, treat each moment as if it could be your last….Love, laugh, dance and sing…… 2015 is going to ROCK!  Happy New Year!

Shortness of Life

Christmas-3 (Medium)Christmas is a great time to love on your family and to enjoy each other and to laugh.  I know as I grow older, family and friends become so very important.  When you are a child, you think time passes so very slowly……you can’t wait for Christmas break.  As you get older those holiday breaks come even faster and disappear just as fast.  This holiday was spent with friends and family and it could not have been any better.   I used to love decorating and getting the house ready for the boys and the visit from Santa, but lately I have not felt that inspiration to decorate.  For several years I didn’t even want to celebrate.  The last couple of years have been truly amazing and I have had so much fun with my family.  I love watching the little ones open their gifts, I have missed that excitement.

After hearing some not so good news today, I once again realize how short life can be.  We never know when our last breath will be, and we need to take each day and make it the best we can.  Dance as if no one is watching, sing in the shower as if no one is listening, love like it will be your last, and be with those that make you happy.  Let your loved ones know how you feel otherwise you may never get the chance.  We are only given so many beats of our heart, use those beats with passion.  Don’t wait, because you think you may have the time; death is not considerate of age, it can come at any time.  So for this Christmas season, I spent it with the exact people I was supposed to spend it with and will continue to let those I care about know how I feel throughout this coming New Year.