Thursday, June 30, 2011

They're Engaged!!!!

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THEY'RE ENGAGED!! It's one of those times where you wonder which force will be the strongest - the Mother or the Photographer.  I must say, there was not battle - I was a woman with 2 personalities!  I could not imagine missing any of the moment with my camera right there... and I was right there.  When my son and his girlfriend of 3 1/2 years were going out to go swimming in the lake, he looked like he was carrying something wrapped in the towel he had a little extra carefully - so after they walked out the door I changed my lens to me 70-300mm and headed out to sit in the back yard.  Not within hearing distance (sadly!) but I could see with my lens on my camera.  Come on, you have to admit that looks better than me sitting out there with binoculars!  And who doesn't like the idea of having every moment of that SPECIAL moment in life recorded in photos?  

 So, as I'm kind of lurking in the background (come on, with a 70-300, I didn't need to be too close!) Tommy and Krystal were just floating around, and he said "I love you."  She responded "I love you, too." And his proposal was "Well, then marry me!"  I believe she kind of laughed a little, as I'm sure the discussion has come up several times in 3 1/2 years -- and then he put the ring in front of her.  At that point I heard the only part of the conversation as she said "REALLY!!??" and thus the rest of the photos!

 After all the oohing and ahhing, hugs and congratulations - oh, and close up picture of the ring.....
 we went to eat in one of the finest restaurants in Shelby, NC -- Red Bridges BBQ!!!  It's one of the places Tommy had been wanting to go before leaving to return to his Navy duty - so we had to visit!

 After we got home, we went for a ride in the pontoon on the lake... me, of course, with my camera (great photo time!)...

 So, add to my list of titles "mother-in-law-to-be" now! 

And to Krystal.... Welcome to our family.... we love you very much, and hope you and Tommy share a lifetime of happiness and blessings!  I would definitely love Grandchildren -- and hope and pray that they live somewhere close to me so I can see them very, very often!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sharing a little family....

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In honor of my oldest son visiting this week (he's in the Navy, so we don't get to see too much of him) I thought I'd share some photos from this evening.  His girlfriend is here with him, and all of the kids (I know, they are in their 20's, so they are technically adults - but I'm a mom, so they are kids!) were down at the lake fishing.  My parents also came in for a visit, so it was a nice houseful this evening!  I love it!

 My oldest son, Tommy -- his girlfriend, Krystal (in the top photo she has a fish!) -- and my youngest child (& daughter) Chelsea.... so sweet!

 My Mom and step-Daddy
Tyler (my middle child) - and my Mom....
One more picture of my oldest son, Tommy... he's actually in the paddle boat in this photo....

Don't you just love family photos?  I have been working on redoing a lot of my framed photos - updating frames, adding more (and some new) photos.  I find as I get older I want less "art" on my walls, and more "heart & history."  That is what these times with my family are all about -- heart and history.  

I hope you've had a great day!!  Sometime I would LOVE for you to share your family with me!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A note to everyone about tagging photos....

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Just a note about tagging....

When I upload photos of people, I LOVE it if they want to tag themselves (for themselves, their family, etc.) but I do ask that if you are looking at photos and you recognize someone you know - don't tag them.  I like to leave that option for the person who is in the photo.  My reasoning is that some people may not want everyone knowing their photo is there -- possibly they are going to give some of the photos as gifts or surprises for family, etc.  So YES -- PLEASE tag yourself if you would like.  I love, love, love that.... but make sure to let someone else make the decision about tagging their pictures.  

THANKS SO MUCH!!!  I appreciate you reading this -- and please keep visiting my page to see what's going on!  

Have a GREAT day!! 

Friday, June 24, 2011

A special maternity session with A.....

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Do you ever have those times where you just can't seem to catch up with all you do?  I don't mean that it's just busy - but that you just honestly feel like you are racing the clock all the time!  That's how it's been for me this week.  I've had photo sessions to get done, editing to work on... all the while trying to get my house in order (shopping, cleaning, etc.) for my oldest son who is on active duty with the Navy (5 years now!) to come home for a 10-day visit.  I haven't seen him since Christmas -- so I wanted to have as much done as possible when he got here so I could just enjoy the time with him.  But it's been crazy!  All of that to say - here it is at 1 am, and I am finally getting a chance to blog about this fantastic photo session I had Tuesday evening.  Ok... so more on that....

It seemed that this photo session with A (I'll just use the first letter of her name and her husband's name) would never get to happen - we had wanted a lot of outdoor shots in her garden area of her backyard, but this has definitely been a rough year for weather!  We have rescheduled and worked around a few dates - and finally it all worked out for Tuesday. I was very excited to finally get to her house, because I had not even had the opportunity to meet A face to face before that day!  We had talked, txted, emailed and fb'd plenty, though!  I have to say, I was amazed at how beautiful she is - not only on the outside, but just the sweetness of her personality.  She was such a joy to spend time with and work with.  I'm a Lifestyle photographer, so posing really isn't what I'm after when I'm doing my typical photo shoot... I really want to spend time with my subjects, talk, laugh - shooting photos throughout.  With this being a maternity photo shoot, A also wanted her husband B to be in a lot of the photos, which was really special.  This is their first baby, and it's such a special time for both of them.  It would be tough to tell you what a sweet couple these two make!  I can only imagine that they are going to be awesome parents when this little baby arrives (they don't know if this baby is a boy or girl!! What fun!)  We had such a fun time... spent about 2 hours inside and out... all around their house, even moving some furniture, and included the dog in a few photos!  I'm excited to share a few of them with you!

 As I've looked at these photos and worked on them in editing, I've found myself kind of sad that when I was having my own kids a maternity photo shoot was completely unheard of.  There are honestly a lot of changes that have come about in my lifetime that I believe are negative changes - but this is one that I love!  If you are a woman, and are either having children at this point of your life or it is in your future, I would encourage you to consider having a photo session like this done.  My kids are 24, 22 and 20, and I truly wish I had more than the one or two odd shots of me pregnant with them.  It was such a special time in my life, and my memories are always with me.... but I would love to be able to look at the photos from that time.  I think they would be about as special as the photos of each of my kids as newborns.  No matter how huge I felt, the fact is that I was carrying my baby - and there is nothing more beautiful in the world than that!!  So cherish it - and celebrate it.  Even if it is a private thing for you and you never want to share the photos with anyone else - don't let it pass by without being captured. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's the subject?

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Recently I went to a workshop/seminar led by an awesome nature photographer... and I was in the company of some great photographers who left me in awe with their talent.  It was a great day - and I took so much away from all that was talked about that day.   Apparently one of the greatest things I took away was the importance of identifying my subject with my photo.  As much as I love nature and landscape photography, and that will probably always remain my first love as a photographer, I certainly didn't start my photography business thinking that I could support a business with nature or landscape shots.  Lifestyle photography is where I find myself happy and hoping to pursue a long and thriving career.  In the time since this workshop I have thought about all that was talked about in reference to nature photography and how it still applies to me as a lifestyle photographer.  And the most important point is still identifying my subject.  I love the props - the cute hats, cocoons, blankets and such.... and I love the awesome locations - train tracks, farms, beach and so many others.... but what I want someone to see most when they look at a photo I've taken is the people - that's where the life is.  That's the story.  The look in their eyes, the smile I catch on their face...that is what will hold my viewer.  And that is what will have them come back wanting to see more of my photos. 

Today I am so excited to be shooting a maternity shoot for a couple who is expecting their first child in a short time.  With the weather being so rough this year, we have had to reschedule this outdoor shoot several times.  I'm confident that tonight is it.... we will make this happen.  And my subject is this beautiful time in a couples life... this special time in the life of a woman who is about to meet her first child in just a few weeks.  I remember all too well all of the thoughts and dreams that go on in a woman's mind during that time... the anxiety and excitement of the unknown journey you are about to embark upon.  And that is what I want to capture in the photos that I take at this precious time for this couple.  THAT is my subject. 

****I am so excited to share this with you!!  I was approached last week by a site called All The Photographers who has done features on their blog highlighting photographers from around the world.  They had stumbled upon my Photography by DonnaKay facebook page, and liked what they saw.  Yesterday I was beyond thrilled and excited to find they had highlighted me in their blog - and I would LOVE to share this with you!!  I hope you will like it - and best of all, that you will share it!  Here's the link:

Let me know what you think!!!! 

I hope you have a GREAT day!! And thanks so much for reading my blog!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Photographer's Prayer

Thank you to @Jennifer Ellen Photography for posting this...wish I could also thank the original author, but God knows who that is!  :-) 
Dear Lord, 

As I bring my subject into focus
and prepare to make each portrait,
never let me forget that I’m creating treasures for some family,
a keepsake for loved ones.
Make me sensitive to the qualities and virtues of others,
that I may draw out into the light the beautiful radiant belongings of their hearts.

Help me to be an artist,
collecting the beauty of every soul,
the glow of youth, the gentleness,
the laughter or tears of each life that is precious in Thy sight.
Deeper than a means of livelihood,
give me the perspective to see my photographer’s art as a service to others,
making life richer and more memorable.

And, dear Lord, between the lights and shadows,
the ups and downs and the rolling years,
keep me from getting out of focus or off center,
so that my life and work may be framed with dignity and colored with contentment …


..Author Unknown…

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Growing through critique...

Also visit my Beyond the Photography by DonnaKay blogspot @ ... a little better way to get to know more about me personally...

 Doesn't everyone hate to be critiqued?  It just doesn't seem to make a difference whether it is constructive for their work or their personal life in some way.  Being critiqued makes almost everyone a little uncomfortable, and many people can't handle it no matter how it is delivered.  Yet the truth of the matter is that through constructive critiquing we can actually improve, grow and become stronger.  It is an opportunity to move up to the next level.  But to effectively be critiqued we must put on our big-girl (or big-boy) hats and learn to accept what is pointed out by the person doing the critiquing.  And it is best to trust someone who actually knows what they are talking about if they are giving you any kind of constructive criticism.  Now obviously I'm blogging on my Photography by DonnaKay blog - so somehow this must relate to photography somehow.

Yesterday I went to an all-day photography seminar in Huntersville, NC.  It was a small group, and I can't begin to tell you how honored I was to have been asked to be part of this group.  Truth is, when I was first asked if I was interested, I jumped at the opportunity.  Then as I learned it was a very small group, chosen selectively, and the other photographers had been part of the professional photography world for a very long time, I began to panic just a little (well, okay - maybe a lot!).  After all, I'm a bit more of a newbie to the world of "professional photography."  The last thing anyone wants to do is walk into any room and look stupid!  And anyone who knows me knows that I'm more of an introvert than anything - definitely not someone wanting to be in any center of attention.  But as I would feel the impending panic attack coming on, I would remind myself "this is my dream - I'm going after it, and this is part of it!"  So, I buckled myself in tight for the ride, and ventured into this new opportunity (albeit, a little bit nervous!) 

Meeting everyone else at the seminar was the easy part... I can get along with anyone, and I am a pretty pleasant person to be around most of the time.  And the Photographer doing the seminar was incredible.  I have no doubt I learned more than if I had taken a 6-week class, and I took in every word spoken and every point of advice offered.  But I would be lying if I didn't say that all morning I was quietly dreading the afternoon critique that was coming.  I was battling with the voices in my head (the same one the giver of the seminar was talking about - only with different reference) telling me that I was not meant to be in that room!  I kept forgetting that I was there to learn - I was there to grow and become stronger in my skills as a photographer.  And mostly, I kept forgetting that everyone else who was in that room had also sat in my chair at some point in their journey to become who they were as a photographer. 

Obviously I lived until the day after the seminar.  It didn't kill me, by far!  And I am excited about how much I feel I have grown, how much I know I learned, and how validated I felt in my skill and talent levels when I left at the end of the day.  As for the actual words said through the critiquing - they are actually not the important thing in this blog.  But I can say that I came out smiling, with more confidence, and ready to face the title of Professional Photographer with a new level of excitement, drive and passion.  My vision is clearer, my strengths stronger, and my weaknesses hopefully a little less weak. And I embrace the experience as something that will be looked back upon as a stepping stone in my photographer's journey.  It was certainly a day that I felt I grew up a little bit more in who I am as a photographer. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

I can DO anything, but I'm not BEST at everything...

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When I first started this journey into my photography business I had an overwhelming feeling that I had to be able to offer everything to everyone.  "Yes, I can do that!" was a phrase I would practice with myself often whenever I was alone.  But as time has gone by and I've done more and more photo shoots, I've recognized more of my strengths and weaknesses -- but more so, I've found more of my niche.  And to me, I feel that is very important to being able to offer someone the difference in good photography and great photography.  My first love with photography (not counting taking photos of my children) has always been nature and landscapes.  Wanting to capture what I'm seeing with my eyes to be permanently recorded in a photo.  And that love remains.  Now as I've done more and more portrait-style photo shoots, though, I have found out how much I love some more than others. A baby photo shoot always takes my breath away!  Maybe because I am such a maternal person anyway (anyone who is around me has to put up with my mothering) but it also is where I am most comfortable, in control and relaxed with my camera.  And that same feeling is there when I'm shooting other lifestyle-type photos: children, families, get the idea.  But the whole thing with finding what is my niche, is also recognizing what is not.

I have been approached about photographing weddings, and right off that pressure was there that I should never say NO to any job - always offer everything to everyone.  But the simple truth is that I want to offer only the best of myself to any client for whom I do a job.  And my heart is not in wedding photography at this point in time.  In my opinion, it is always best to be honest and know when to stay within your own limits.  One of my greatest nightmares when it comes to photography is not getting the job done the best it can possibly be done.  It's not that I feel I'm not capable of doing the job - and doing it well (enough.)  It's more that for me, well (enough) is not enough!  I want it to be awesome!  As I grow in my talent and skills, I have no doubt that I will find other areas of photography that I simply love - and others that I know are just not going to be my expertise. I hope I am always someone who will recognize the difference, and that I will remain honest in what I offer to someone else professionally. 

So as a photographer, I will run my business this way: if I am approached about a job that I feel is out of my realm of ability, and within my niche -- I will be very appreciative and humbled at the request, but will kindly decline and refer someone whom I feel is much more able to provide the kind of work I would consider "best" for the situation.  I've always believed that if you're going to do something, do it with all of your heart and do your very best.  But I also believe it's smart for anyone to recognize what they are good at, but also what they really are not so great at -- and to stick to what they do best.  And if that's not how everyone else does business, then that is simply ok.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A picture tells a story...

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As a Mom with three grown children it is not unusual to find me looking through the stacks and stacks of old pictures from when my kids were younger.  In fact, I often look back even further in the photos at pictures of when I was growing up -- photos of family, friends, old flames, past pets....  And while this can be a bit of nostalgia, for me it's often more.  So many of those pictures hold a story for me.  I can look back at that picture of my best friend and me with our prom dates and remember that huge deodorant that rolled out of her purse and across the floor at that nice restaurant.  It makes me laugh, and in some ways it is as if I've revisited that night in some way.  (By the way, she is still a best friend of mine even today, and it would not surprise me in the least for the same thing to happen with her now!)  As a Mom, there's no surprise that I can look at some of the photos of my kids, especially as babies, and I am right back in that moment - almost able to smell that baby scent. 

In my Mom's house the walls of the stairwell that leads up to the 2nd floor is covered on both sides with family photos...each of them holding a special moment.  My kids are there, as are my brothers two girls.  But there are also pictures of my brother and I growing up, of my grandparents, aunts uncles....even pictures of my Nanny as a little girl.  So much history is covered in the pictures on this stairwell... and so many stories are told through them.  For close to 18 years I've passed by these pictures when I am at my Mom's house, and I would have to guess that almost every time I go up or down those stairs I pause to look and reminisce. I never tire of looking at those same photos. 

A picture always tells a story.  It most often will be a story about the moment that photo was taken, but there are times that the story will reflect more on who was taking the picture.  As a photographer, when I am doing a photo shoot for someone I always consider that they are entrusting me to capture some important momories for them to hold onto and share...hopefully for a very long time.  Maybe that is why I describe myself as a lifestyle photographer.  As I venture more and more through the photography world, I find that I love all aspects of photography, but some more than others.  But even when I'm in more of a studio setting, I really want the personalities of the people I am photographing to come through.  Hopefully if my photos reflect on me as the photographer, it will be because whoever is looking at them sees all the heart and love that was put into capturing the moment. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Much more than a hobby...

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This past weekend was a trip to the beach... it was vacation, but also had some photo shoots worked into the time there.  For me, there is nothing more relaxing than being behind my lens anyway... hopefully taking photos that will make someone smile, cry or something - but capture some special moments nonetheless.  It is always such an honor to get to do photos of a new baby...each day they are changing so much, and to have the chance to be there in those early days and weeks when everything is so new is so precious.  My entire being goes into capturing each shot - knowing in my mind what it is I'm after, and doing whatever I can to get it!  And the satisfaction when I sit down in front of my computer and begin editing, and it's there

Often someone will comment "this is such a great hobby," and while I don't take great offense to the remark, I do want to say "This is SO much more than a hobby!"  Years have been put into taking photos to develop more skill...time and money (lots of both) have been put into learning, developing, equipment, practice, etc.  It was a hobby years ago when I would pull out my camera, shoot on jpeg/auto, and that was the extent of it - often hearing that I took great pictures.  But then there was that line-crossing -- throwing everything into it and going for something more. 

There are so many photographers out there... I can get lost on facebook looking at all of the photography pages (and often do!)  And I love to see a photographer's true style by looking at their work - some are so true to their own style that you would almost KNOW that it was their work if you saw one of the photos they shot somewhere.  And then there are those who haven't found their style yet - or aren't comfortable enough with it to make it the best it can be.  My style is definitely lifestyle... I love capturing those moments that just happen right there before my eyes.  One of the photo shoots I had this weekend was a new family...I had done the new baby a few days earlier, and now was doing family photos on the beach.  My favorite photos of the shoot are the ones that almost feel too intimate to look at for too long... they are so sweet.  The husband is looking at his wife... she is so beautiful, and has given him the sweetest gift in the world - this baby!  Sometimes I feel like I need to look away - like I'm in the middle of their moment.  But THOSE are the moments I want to capture... the photos I want them to look back at in 20 years and be able to remember that feeling as if they were taken back in time.  It simply overwhelms me sometimes that what I am offering to someone is a moment captured - that will live forever.  That is so much more than a hobby....