Brushing off the Dust...

It has literally been years. I know.
Like as in - since 2013 - years.

I've been busy.

Until I happened to get an old blog post reminder on Facebook, which led me back to my abandoned and dilapidated blog (if it were an actual building it would probably be filled with webs and critters and ooze with a smell of musty dampness... Luckily, that's not the case). No, it's just been parked in blogosphere purgatory waiting patiently for my impending return.

And then it happened. I returned. I took a look around, riffled through posts, read a few things here and there, checked in on other blogs, cleaned up some broken links; and, like that, before I even fully blew off the dust and whipped open the virtual curtains to let the fresh air in,  I published an old draft post. No, not this one.

And this post?
Well it was also a draft I had started more than a couple years ago with a name and one sentence, I'm sure there were some additional thoughts in mind. albeit long since gone. As all it said was:

"I have a slue of blog drafts" 
And it's true. I do.

Most of which are empty pages, started with intent but never fully formed to fruition. It's time to go in and clean those up, delete them. Make room for something new.  Lucky for me, my list of blog posts don't look near as stuffed as my filing cabinet, so it's easy to clean up and "make room'.

However, for me, I think it's about making room in my head more than anything...  Returning here to where I documented the process of birthing my creative soul 10 years ago which eventually morphed into a business, something I had never imagined for myself - ever. .

Starting a business has been rewarding and stressful, there have been life changes, growth and deep  self dicoveries; and through all of it, over time...a waning of creative spirit. 
Burn Out.

So what does one do?

That is as best one can in the middle of a swift, ever-changing, perpetually moving tide.

I'm hitting the resest button.
This is my call to action for myself. The setting of my intention.
To write once again, to release, to reconnect, to create...
To once again marry words and pictures. 

So here's to dusting off the blog and seeing what comes of it.

Game On! 

Step Away From the Wall…

{One from the Drafts archive...}

Now days it’s only a matter of time before someone needs a picture or head shot of themselves. Especially in this age of social media. Yet I can’t help but wonder why people insist on taking mug shots of themselves?

Until recently A few years ago, I was responsible for the layout of a monthly newsletter for a local  non-profit organization. I can’t tell you how often I requested a digital head shot for an article only to be sent sent a picture of the person posing with other people for some special occasion – and often in some awkward angle, squeezed together with friends against a darkened background due to the little built-in-flash that was used on the camera or phone.  Not to mention a few free drinks into the whole affair.
Just crop me out” they say enthusiastically.

Yes, It’s a wonderful picture - for memories of that event - not so much for a head shot. Eight times out of ten I have to request another photo. “Please, do you have anything else we can use?…”
 And then I get it…
The mug shot photo.
Taken with a cellphone, a photo of the person standing, straight on, heals firmly planted against a plain wall in a dark room… or blinding sun. Sigh.

I took this mug shot using an old Casio EX point & shoot camera, having him stand against the wall for a “quick” picture.
TM Banners-1

So just a few pointers for those who don’t like their picture taken - but on occasion must provide a headshot.

1) Relax and have a glass of wine  (okay I’m not condoning drinking, but a glass of wine could be nice…)
Seriously now,  first off don’t stand heals up against a wall – unless you’re in a police station really having your mug shot taken, and if that’s the case you’re most likely not reading this blog post anyway as you have a lot bigger problems than a bad picture.  But I digress. 

Usually, standing against a wall causes most people to instinctively lean their head back to the wall, losing all definition between their necks and chins.
Rather, stand a few feet out from the wall and at a slight 45 angle to the camera (this is really nice for women, men can more often get away being more square to the camera).  Also, with nicer DSLR cameras the wall can be thrown out of focus, leaving you as the focal point.

Next, give your hands something to do, it will anchor you and you will feel more relaxed.  Hook your thumbs in your pants pockets, put them on your waist (but don’t pull a Peter Pan), put one in the pocket and one on the waist, or cross your arms (this is great for men, women can lightly cup their elbows for a softer effect but I often still crop in tight not including the arms). 

Lean into the camera slightly, not far - if you fall forward, you’re leaning too much and your friend taking the picture will wonder why you are extending your neck out like a giraffe.  However,  you will be amazed at what leaning in can do, good-bye neck wrinkles and hello jaw line!

 TM Banners-2
This was taken with an old Casio EX again, not a great camera, I moved him away from the wall (but not too much to keep him in the open shade instead of the full sun) angled him and had him bring his chin forward slightly (instead of leaning into the camera) not perfect, but much better than a mug shot.

And most important, whether you stand near a wall, a tree or in the middle of a street, remind the person behind the camera to make sure that your head is in a clean spot.  I’ve also seen a lot of pictures of people with plants growing out of their heads.
And NO ONE looks good with a tree growing out of their head!

...Unless you're Groot.

Heck, you just may end up with a Smokin’ profile picture for Facebook!
Actor Headshot
Thanks to the Guy-I-Dig for being my model.

When Past and Present Collide | Photo Story Friday

When I was 10 years old my mother sent me, on my own, from South Dakota to California to visit my paternal grandmother for a month.  I often joke about my experiences during that time, comparing them to the Griswold’s adventures from National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation.  We visited several Southern California landmarks without ever going IN them – including Knott’s Berry Farm. 

However, there were several places we did visit , some of which no longer exist, like Lion Country Safari and Marineland of the Pacific. One of our excursions that held a fond place in my memories over the years is the Los Angeles Arboretum. I never forgot the gorgeous house that I wanted to go inside of or the placards along different paths depicting where the first Tarzan movie was made as well as other classic movies, I was fascinated with the history of it all.

Within a year after visiting the Aboretum a new TV show aired featuring the Queen Anne house in it’s opening sequence – the show was Fantasy Island.  I loved that show, and more so, I was THRILLED that I had been to that very house!

Yup, that’s me, the skinny kid in the lime-green shirt and pigtails.   Queen Anne House077And the little tiny thing I’m looking down at in the picture? {who was quite cute}… the bane of my existence for four weeks.  She was five years old and got into all kinds of mischief, I was 10 years old and was constantly being blamed for said mischief.

Crazy, to this day I clearly remember getting in trouble for squashing berry-type pods that had fallen from the trees and lay on the path where we walked. She stomped on them over and over and somehow I took the fall for it.  I was impassioned with the injustice of it all, “she’s only five - she isn’t stomping on all those berries, let alone on purpose”. WHAT!?!      Oh, she was good…

And so. 37 years after my first visit, 26 years of living in Los Angeles, I finally returned – with The Boy willingly in tow.  All I kept asking myself was, “Why did I wait so long to return?”  It is truly a beautiful, peaceful place to wander through; and although place-markers denoting where various classic movie moments were filmed are all but gone now, it still felt like stepping back in time - for me – if only briefly. 


As we walked through the welcome building and into the gardens, I felt that little girl in me twitch as a wave a familiarity washed over me, a taste of the past welled up in my mouth. Like a tide that suddenly rushes in, then receding as fast as it had appeared; 1976 and 2013 intertwined. 


I am always amazed when my past memories bubble to the surface and collide with my present, I can feel it – like a Sci-fi movie, all I have to do is take a step to the left and I would find myself staring the 10-year-old me in the face, surrounded by family members long since gone. 


However, that wave passes quickly and I am here standing with my eight-year-old boy who taking in the whole experience with a calm joy. He comments, “It’s so quiet and peaceful here, I’m jealous of the people who live here!” As we listened to the birds singing and crickets chirping; the two of us were in heaven.


Toward the end of our stay, as Harrison ran ahead of me on the paved path, I briefly glanced down and noticed a couple berry-type pods laying on the road; I smiled… and STOMPED on them!

On Purpose!

Life is good.


Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | The Value of the Printed Image

pictures - web

I have a storage bin of old family albums and pictures. Sound familiar? That's not including the miscellaneous albums from my teens, young adult life and right up into my early years of marriage.

And then the digital age hit. Now I have external hard drives with tons of personal pictures living on them. They may not get dusty but no one can enjoy them if I don't take the time to post them on social media or through blogging (which doesn't always happen).

The value of those hundreds of images in that storage bin are truly priceless to me because for the most part, they are the tangible memories of the people no longer physically here with me in my life. I pull out pictures from my past on a regular basis. I've put them in frames on my walls, scanned them, posted them on Facebook and in blogs.

In the face of a disaster, I would go for that bin.

So why am I telling you this? I realize that I am not alone in my dislike for being in front of the camera. As a photographer, I have conversations regularly with moms  about how they view themselves in pictures; they feel they look fat, they hate their arms, their nose, their sagging eyelids, their crooked teeth, the list goes on and on. I hate pictures of myself for the so many of those reasons, too.

But my son doesn't.

Let me repeat that again, my son doesn’t hate how I look in pictures.

When I was putting together my wedding and wanting to honor my mother and grandmother, who had each passed away in the years and months before the ceremony, I realized that I had very few pictures of the two of them together and even fewer of the three of us and I only had one portrait of me and my mom together.


circa 1979And it was one of those horrible 1980's studio portraits taken during my "awkward" years when the Farrah Fawcett flip was all the rage.          



But I will NEVER get rid of it.


Then I had an epiphany one day recently. I haven't had a decent family portrait done since before my son was born! And I'm a photographer! Plus, the last {non-snapshot} picture of him and I together was over four years ago when he was still technically a toddler. He's in second grade now.


Guess what? My son doesn't care what I look like in pictures, he just wants pictures of us together because simply loves me.

In truth, the pictures we take with our children and families right now really are not for ourselves, they are for our children, their children and their children's children.

I'm not going to wait until I lose more weight or have a the perfect haircut before I get into pictures with my child, I'm going to take advantage of every time I can be in front of the camera with him and then I'm going to make sure they are printed in some format, because some day I'll be gone and I want him to have those images, see the happy moments we captured together, smile with joyful memories.

{This is our “group hug” we took this shortly after I wrote this post – a special family moment I didn't want to miss documenting.}

I'm starting to move digital images from the past four years into printed photo books. I have enough images to make an album per year. It's probably going to take some time as I work on it in my free time, but well worth it.

I believe making pictures has always been about printing, displaying and cherishing tangible art as well as capturing our lives to remember.

Posting images on social media is a bonus in today's age - but should not become the end all. Images are meant to be shared, on walls, in albums, through cards... What ever it is, make the pictures you have taken and stored on hard drives, CD's or flash drives concrete beyond the confines of the monitor, cell or tablet.

Our pictures tell our story.

Share your story, give your future generations something palpable, something they can hold, touch, consider and imagine what you were like during this time in your lives.

So forget about the extra 20 pounds or thinning hairline, get into the pictures with your children and then display those pictures on walls, tabletop frames or coffee table books. Just do it.

IMG_8118 b&w
{A family “self portrait” set up and taken by Harrison with the self timer – do I love how I look? Heck no! does the Boy love this picture? Oh yes! }


You will never regret it and neither will your children.

Redondo Beach Child Photographer | Seeing Red {or “how I won’t get the Best Mom Ever award for 2013”}

Don’t you love those days when everything works out perfectly, when the stars perfectly align in the sky and all is well in the world. 
Valentine Card Diptych
That wasn’t yesterday - or the day before for that matter.  It was one of those “pouring orange juice on the cereal” kind of days. I tried to pull out of it but I was a hot mess and the stars were just, plain out of alignment – or so it felt). 
…and then I realized we don’t have the Valentine cards for school – I needed 30 Valentine cards – STAT!
Valentine Diptych
Last year I started early and was even able to accommodate for a change.  Unfortunately, Harrison got sick and missed Valentines day at school. 
This year – I completely dropped the ball… and I was Seeing Red (you know. When you’re grumpy, agitated, cranky, in a bad mood for no good reason).  A deadly combination. When he got home from school, I reminded Harrison that we still needed to take pictures to make cards. I was greeted with the all-too-common-lately Moans and Groans – the seven-year-old version of weeping and gnashing of teeth – and I Am Seeing Red {not conducive for “Best Mom Ever” awards}.  I walk away.
The G.I.D. stepped up and took Harrison to the store to get basic, boring cookie-cutter V-cards. 
Slam-Dunk Done – Fine. 20 minutes later he calls, “We’ve struck out at three different places, all that’s left is Bob The Builder.” 
Back to square one.  More battles, more Red, more Gnashing of Teeth – all around. 
Fast forward to 4:40 pm, the day before they are due.  We get to the park, camera and prop in hand, it’s cold, the sun is quickly moving lower in the sky. We walk over to the entrance – and it’s closed. 
Seriously? Closed?
Okay. No problem.
Valentine Triptych
We’ll roll with the punches, the parking lot will do. We are on mission! After all, there will be NO pre-fab Valentine cards, not after last year’s offering.  It just didn’t feel right in my bones. However, we’re in a hurry, it’s getting colder, he’s making more goofy faces then nice smiles and my vision is just not panning out.  Deep breath. Move on.
I get home, upload and view my images, smash my forehead into my palm, … Now it’s 5:30pm. The hubby gets pizza, I eat, go choose favorites, edit a photo and create a Valentine. 6:00pm – the computer freezes up and I have to restart.  6:30 – hubby takes Harrison to his Awana’s group, I upload to Costco to print and pick up in an hour before picking up H. 8pm – before I hit “send” I see that Costco’s local photo center is down.  7pm, more research, everything is closing (and time is closing in on me). 7:10 - I upload to the local Walmart photo center out of shear desperation.  7:40 I get the message that the pictures were ready at 7:25.  I pick up H at 8pm, we run over to Walmart, no one is in the photo department.  I find someone, they can’t find my order… or the order of the person now standing next to me, or the person who approached after that. Great, I am officially in Valentine making hell. 40 minutes and three people later, a manager picks up a pile of prints off the machine and asks another guy, “what are these?”  “Those are Mine!” I say, seeing red and green.  “Oh, I didn’t think they were it because they didn’t have anything attached”  YA COULD HAVE ASKED ME! 8:50 – we are heading home. PHEW!
9:30 – Harrison has signed all Valentines and is in bed by 9:35pm.
He looks at me and says, “That was fun!” 
Finished Valentine Card
We filled bags with chocolates (no guilt this year!), folded the 4x6’s in half and stapled them closed. 
Done – just in the knick of time!
Okay, I may not get the Best Mom Ever award but at least stars are back in alignment – just in time for Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day!

Where Have all His Ghoul Friends Gone?

Did you ever meet Harrison’s Ghoulish Friend?  If not, you can meet him here it’s worth it. 

Well, had we ever wondered  what became of him after the Blue Light Special was over we now have our answer.

I stumbled upon him at the Rose Bowl Flea Market- literally.


I had a Mom’s day out at the Rose Bowl Flea Market a few months back. {I love going up there whenever I can; which is only about once a year}  As I was rounding a corner in the far end of the farthest end of the flea market, there he was! 
Of course, I had to snap a picture for Harrison.

Headless Harry sat on the ground still holding his head as if nursing a permanent headache.
I can’t say that I blame him based on his current condition.


Poor Headless Harry. 

Now he’s body-less too.

Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | All Grown Up

If I dug deep enough I know I could find some images of her five-year-old self; one of the last few times I saw her.

I got married and moved away; soon after, her family moved away. 
And then time ticks by in leaps and bounds.

However, with today’s technology, her mom and I are only a Facebook update away from each other now days and when my dear friend asked me if I would take her daughter’s Senior portraits I was THRILLED to accommodate – even drive out to Temecula for the honor.
I had NO idea that there were so many vineyards in that area.  We drove around on a Sunday afternoon to find just the right vineyard to shoot at; being a gorgeous late-Spring day, the vineyards were bursting with people out for a day of music and wine-tasting. Lucky for us we found a little piece of heaven hidden off the road.


It’s hard to believe I was a Bride’s Maid in her mom’s wedding, it doesn’t seem like that long ago and now she has a high school graduate. And what a beautiful mother and daughter they are.
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