Blog : Fun Stuff!

The New 5D mkIII – a Love Affair!

I’ve been a huge fan of my Canon for years – starting with the Canon EOS 20D, then the 30D, and then the original 5D. In 2009 the 5D mkII came out, and I bought it shortly afterwards. Like so many others, the 5D mkII and I had a rocky relationship. There were only 9 focus points, and only one that really worked. But like all gear, you learn to use it to the best of your ability. For me, that meant taking a lot of photos to make sure that I had one with that tack-sharp focus that I so love. I worked with it, even when it frustrated me. To be honest, I even threatened to switch to Nikon – jealous of their ability to not have to battle with this focusing issue. The only problem? I have a lot of Canon lenses that I really love!

So like many others, I waited. When the new 5D mkIII was announced, I have to admit to being giddy with anticipation when I saw the specs of the new body! Canon finally heard our pleas for a better focusing system, and they came through with a total winner!

I was going to wait until this summer to get a new camera body, but when a friend of mine posted that he had ordered two and decided he only wanted to keep one of them, I decided to go for it – and I’m so happy I did! I picked it up on Wednesday, but had to wait until yesterday to go outside and play with it thanks to the rain. Fortunately, my cat Graham was willing to model while the rain was still coming down.

Indoors. No flash. Minimal color adjustment in Lightroom before posting it here – that is essentially straight out of the camera. (SOOC) – so amazing! Once the rain let up, I headed outside. The flowers were even more willing to model for me than the cat was!

This photo is zoomed in and cropped at 100% – as close as you can get – of the flower below on the left. *swoon* It makes my geeky gear heart so happy to have this camera!

And another 100% zoomed in view of that exact same photograph as above on the right. This crop is my favorite! Just look at that detail – and this wasn’t taken with my macro lens!

All photographs taken with the Canon 5D mkIII and the Canon 50mm f/1.2L lens.

Oh Canon, once again you make my heart sing. I feel as full of joy about this camera body as I did when I bought my very first Canon 20D years ago. It is finally a camera body worthy of the wonderful L series lenses that you make. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t wait to use it at the wedding I’m photographing tonight at Rice!

Not About A Wedding – but a Life Update!

8 years ago this month, my then soon-to-be-husband Mike & I put an offer on our first house. It was in Lakewood Forest, a neighborhood we chose for the older trees, close proximity to where I used to live to be least disruptive to my son’s life as we got married, and close to my parents.

We loved that house. It was good to us. A nice quiet, peaceful neighborhood. Good schools. We had always wanted to live in the Heights; it just didn’t make sense at the time.

7 years later, we bought our house in the Heights after more years of dreaming about it (yay!) and put our first house on the market. Earlier this month, we got an offer and in a week, the house will become theirs instead of ours.

So the past two weeks have been busy, busy, busy! On top of going to New Orleans for Imaging USA, Salt Lake City for ALT Design Summit, we have now been packing up and clearing out everything that we didn’t move right away when we moved to the Heights last summer. We had a huge garage sale over the weekend and sold all the furniture we had left to stage the house. Now it is time to move or donate what remains.

The best of 2011 will continue soon! I can’t wait to share the rest of my favorites – but first, to sell the old house and have just one mortgage payment again!

I’ll be sharing more over on my personal blog, BigPinkCookie. For those of you that have been cheering us on and so encouraging through this time – THANK YOU!!! We couldn’t have done it without your support!

Southern Weddings Magazine!

Southern Weddings Magazine!

Right before we left for our destination wedding near Huatulco, Mexico, I got an email I’ve been waiting for anxiously for months – I’m so excited that I can share it with you now! I love Southern Weddings Magazine, their daily blog, and the ladies behind the magazine, so I’m SO excited to be a part of V3! I may be a bit biased, but I think this is the best issue yet!

It was so hard to pick the perfect image for the ad, but I just knew that this one from Kat & Ryan’s Mr & Mrs session in April was perfect for it. How appropriate that the preview landed in my inbox on their 1 year anniversary, October 3rd! (Check out their wedding day photos at La Tranquila Ranch here and here.)

If you see a copy in the store, be sure to take one home! You can also order them online through their website. Of course, if you’re planning your wedding and you meet with me, I’ll get you one! Planning your destination wedding or want us to come to you to shoot your wedding? Contact me and we’ll get it all set up!

Fast Track Group Anniversary PARTY and Fast Track Roadshow v2.0!

I had the MOST amazing year last year. Thanks to the Fast Track Photographer movement, I got to witness professional photographers coming together and being for each other time and time again. In Houston, Las Vegas, Austin, and online. I think it is so critical when you are self-employed to find like minded people who can support you and be there for you when you need it. Fast Track provided all of us with that opportunity.

Back in May 2009, I hosted the very first Fast Track Photographer Roadshow at my studio. At the end of the two days, as we were talking about commitments and things we were going to do, I said that I wanted to see a group of photographers come together once a month. A meetup where we talked about business tips and other photography related topics, new & old photographers alike. Dane asked me what that would look like. Then he asked me when I was having the first meeting, and being true to who he is he forced me to pick a date right then and there for the first one. (Really, that is how Dane rolls. I’m glad he is that way because it forces me to act.) I said that we were going to do them on the First Thursday of the month at 7pm. Every month. We met up in June, and then skipped July because of the 4th. The first BIG meetup, open to everyone, was August 2009.

Tomorrow night, we are throwing a BIG PARTY!!! 12 months later, we have met every month. People have met each other. We’ve openly shared what we know. The motto is that we are For Each Other, and the people exemplify it every month. I am SO proud of the people that have been participating over the past year, whether they came once or have been there monthly. I’ve witnessed, first hand, so many amazing things. I know that I would not be where I am without all of you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the photographers that have participated this past year!

If you’re a professional photographer in Houston and you want to join us, we would love to see you there! First Thursday, every month, doors open at 7pm and our presentation starts at 7:30pm. If I’m ever not there, someone else will be, so don’t worry about that. Just come out and join us! The only thing we ask is that you come prepared to be supportive of one another!

I’m also SO EXCITED to announce that Dane will be returning to Houston in March 2011 for Fast Track Roadshow 2.0. I can’t wait! The first Roadshow 2.0 just took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota a week ago, and there are several others coming up before it makes its way to Houston – so look to see if there is one near you! I could keep gushing about how awesome it is, but I’ll let you go read the site yourself.

I love this video that the Fast Track Calgary group created for the Fast Track Minneapolis workshop attendees. So very, very awesome!

Lean In from Brad Van Gyzen on Vimeo.

Not in Houston? Find your Fast Track Group here!

OneLight Workshop – Photos

OneLight Workshop – Photos

Last October, I hosted the OneLight Workshop by Zack Arias at my studio. It was incredible! Even though I had attended one back in 2007, I learned so much more this time around. I truly had one of those lightbulb moments where I finally *got* it. It was a great thing!

The day after the workshop I drove Zack to Austin so he could do a workshop there, and then I came home and wrapped up a busy fall wedding season here, and somehow I managed to never really edit my photos from the workshop. Other things took priority, and before you know it — well, here we are. Last week as I was looking through my backup drive for something else, I came across my photos from the day, and I decided it was time to share a few of my favorites with you!

Thank you again to Tracy and Marc for being our models for the shooting portion of the day. It was nice to see both of you in front of the camera for a change!

Zack Arias working some of his Zack magic. He is one of the best teachers in the industry and if you are a pro photographer and want to learn more about off camera lighting and you ever have a chance to learn from him, do it.

TEDx Houston 2010 & My Own Expanded Perceptions

TEDx Houston 2010 & My Own Expanded Perceptions

I had the honor of being asked to sponsor & photograph TEDx Houston this year. This was a very BIG DEAL because TEDx is a curated event. Not everyone gets to attend. You have to apply. The speakers are not paid to be there, and a curated audience insures that everyone is invested in hearing what they have to say.

The other reason it was a BIG DEAL is because people weren’t allowed to take photographs. I don’t think they went around and slapped people’s hands down if they tried to take pictures, but they were asked not to do it. They were also asked not to live-tweet or live-blog the event, instead focusing on what was being said.

Two Star Symphony explained about their music and then performed. I was blown away. Wonderful, and cool to hear how they collaborate together to create their work. They are behind the screen performing a score for silent movie in the second photo.

The theme of the event was Expanded Perceptions, and I won’t deny it – my own perceptions were expanded. I had already made plans to start meeting with a business coach this week (Christy Lewis of B.E.E. Ventures – can’t wait!) and yesterday gave me some whole new things to think about. Things I’ve already been kicking about about pricing – which is why the 3rd quarter 2010 pricelist hasn’t been launched yet – and things about me.

Dominic Walsh talked about his process, and then shared a taste of a rehearsal of his delicate ballet, For the Two of You.

One of the biggest realizations though came afterwards at the after-party event. I was talking with David Brown, who also photographed the event. He was talking about his art photography, and I was, I’ll admit it, a bit jealous. Photographers, we do this. We often want to be doing what we’re not. That is a good thing, as it gives us something to reach for. But as David talked about how the four of us standing there were all together, yet all experiencing a very different reality internally, flavored by our own life experiences, I realized at that moment WHY it is is that I LOVE what I do.

I’m one of those people that remembers things down to very finite details. I notice little things. I have memories from 20 years ago that I can tell you almost verbatim what someone said or what they were wearing at that event. Recently, I got to see a friend who I first met when I was 4 years old – our mothers were best friends, so we spent a lot of time together growing up. Then when we were 20, and I was living in Germany, she & two friends from University of Illinois came to Europe to Eurorail around the continent before going to their study abroad program, and I joined them. I introduced her to the man she would later marry. In other words, we spent a lot of time together.

When we got together with my parents, we were talking about a trip we took to Six Flags in St. Louis over 30 years ago. She doesn’t remember it at all. I remember the ride there in the station wagon, driving from Kankakee to Champaign to pick her up, the fact that it was a “family pack” of tickets so my Dad joked that if anyone asked we were sisters, the t-shirts we got that were made in front of us at one of those shops where you picked out the design and they pressed it on for you. My memories are vivid. Hers? None. She sort of remembered the t-shirt she got. That was it. It made me sad for her. I love my memories.

Dr. David Eagleman talks about how it is simply impossible to know all that there is to know about the world around us, and when it comes to religion he’s a possibilian.

So as David talked, and I was having a different conversation in my head wishing that I was a true fine art photographer, showing at FotoFest and things like that, I suddenly realized I didn’t want that at all. I’m so happy where I am.

I preserve memories for people. I get emails from my clients telling me how every time they look at their wedding photos they cry because they remember it all so vividly thanks to me. Clients that tell me how their husbands love their boudoir books that they gave them. From women that tell me that they see, some for the first time, why people are always telling them they are beautiful. Now with the SLGT Photo Project, people just happy to have photographs to use for their businesses. With my expanding newborn, infant & maternity lifestyle photography, which I am so excited about because I want to keep telling the stories of the couples I’ve worked with at their weddings, parents have shared with me how precious & special it is to have those fleeting moments stopped for just a little while. They go so fast.

I get to capture the now for them. The memories that will always live within me are something I can hand to people in a very real form. They can go through their wedding or portrait albums with their family, and always remember that day.

I save stories. I preserve them for their future memories. I am a historian.

I am blessed. And I am doing exactly what I want to do. My own perceptions have been expanded, and I’m writing it all down here so that whenever I have a doubt, I can remember again how this moment feels.

Thank you, TEDx Houston, all the volunteers & attendees. Thank you to to the team at Culture Pilot for reaching out and asking me to be a part of it. I’m honored.

If you’d like a far more detailed summary about TEDx Houston, check out the posts at Startup Houston, Karen’s site Chookooloonks, and at Culture Map. Good stuff, good stuff.

(Oh, and in case you can’t quite figure it out, they are spelling out TED for me at the After-party. They crack me up!)

Summertime, Summertime!

Summertime, Summertime!

Ahhhh… summertime. Good ol’ summertime. I don’t know about you, but summertime in a way always marks a passage of such significant things to me. This year probably more than most, as my son graduated from high school last week. High school! I can hardly believe it. It seems like only yesterday he was starting kindergarten. It all goes by so fast! So the end of May was a flurry of finals and then preparing for graduation. In the middle of all of that, Brittany, Kelly & I went to Angel Fire & Taos, New Mexico for a work retreat. Many changes ahead, and I can’t wait! We have some great ideas that I’m so excited to start sharing with our clients!

When I got back from our trip and graduation was over, I did a redesign and a relaunch at Wholly Matrimony, a blog about real destination weddings and destination wedding planning tips. I’ve had some great contributions so far, and more in the works. I can’t wait to share them! I’m excited to see what the future holds for the site, which has been online since 1998. It is ancient in internet years!

I started a personal photography project back in May. A bit ambitious, but over the span of a year I’m photographing 365 businesses, artists, non-profits and creatives. I do all of my sessions for a week on one day, and then I blog about each shoot daily. It has been such an incredible experience! I was inspired by the Support Local, Grow Together movement, so it is the SLGT Photo Project. I do a 30-45 minute shoot and then blog about them, and they receive 5 digital files to use. Know someone who might need photographs? Buy a Day!

With everything else, I have been craving a change to this blog as well. So tonight I made one while I watched “Dear John”. I wanted it to be more light and bright. It was hard to see as I cried through the ending of “Dear John”, but I made it in the end! If you haven’t seen it yet, and you’re a sap like me, be sure to have the Kleenex handy! Meanwhile, what do you think of the new look around here? I hope you love it too!

I told Mike the other day that my second job for the next few weeks is as a blogger. Photography, of course, is first! Things are settling into a nice routine, and I’m looking forward to the summer. Having a fresh look here is so inspiring, I see lots of new posts coming soon! I have several drafts almost ready to go live – next week is going to be fabulous!

Shhhhh… you can tell everyone, there is a new Boudoir special coming on Monday too!

We all know that no post is complete without a photo, so here is a taste of what is coming soon – Naurin & Michael’s wedding at Agave Road in Katy, Texas!

Chevy Malibu Girlfriend Getaway Houston!

Chevy Malibu Girlfriend Getaway Houston!

While I was at WPPI earlier this month, I got a very early morning phone call to let me know that I was selected to be one of the five Houston area Chevy Malibu Girls on the Go! *squee!* I had seen commercials earlier this year asking people to apply for the chance to drive a Chevy Malibu for a month, and out of over 300 applicants, I was so excited to have been chosen – along with two other girlfriends of mine, Imelda and Sarah – and two new girlfriends, Greis and Karla! You can follow along with all of our adventures with the Chevy Malibu at Girlfriend Getaway Houston, and VOTE for me *and* register to win a two-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio for yourself and three of your girlfriends, plus $400.00 in resort gift certificates. (PS – you can vote and enter the sweepstakes *daily*!)

On St. Patrick’s Day I headed down to the CBS Radio Station to pick up the new 2010 Chevy Malibu! Thanks to Kelly for going down there with me and capturing some of these photos for me!

I love a car with GREAT safety features, and this one has them! The controls for the radio are right on the steering wheel, along with the cruise control on the other side. It has OnStar for roadside assistance and turn-by-turn directions. And my favorite feature at all? Hooking up the iPhone to the bluetooth so that I can use the phone hands free!

A *HUGE* thank you goes out to Parkway Chevrolet for providing my car. Sharilyn Durdin, the vice president of Parkway, came out to give me the keys. She is the BEST – I just adore her! I had just as much fun getting to know her as I did learning about the vehicle, and her staff at the dealership is excellent.

Ok, this may sound like a silly thing to be excited about, but I *love* this trunk! Kelly & I were joking when I opened it that it is so big, you could probably fit 4-5 bodies in there! (I kid! I kid!) I learned on Tuesday that it is big enough to hold all of my newborn photography baby props – the big beanbag, all the bags of fabric, plus all of my camera gear! It is like the Mary Poppins bag of trunks – it just never ends.

One of the members of the camera crew from Great Day Houston was there filming us picking up our cars, and he filmed the trunk as well!

They were filming us because yesterday we were on Great Day Houston talking about all the fun we’ve been having with the ‘Bu! (I learned from David at Parkway that that is what all the cool people call it. Cracks me up every time I say it, especially if I add the soccer mom gangsta accent!)

Thank you again to Parkway Chevrolet and all of the Houston Chevy dealers for the opportunity to enjoy the Chevy Malibu and be a part of the Girlfriend Getaway Houston! It is such a smooth, sweet ride – I love it! If you’re in Houston, be sure to go by for a test drive of the new 2010 Chevy Malibu and you will get a *free* 1-hour massage at an area Massage Envy location! Plus don’t forget to register in the sweepstakes and vote for me so we can all go to the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa!

Full Disclosure: Girlfriend Getaway Houston is sponsored by Chevy Dealers of Houston. I get to drive the car for a month but I don’t get to keep it, and they are providing me with some gas money, gift cards, and a Flip video camera to help out with some of my missions. If I get the most votes in the Girlfriend Getaway Houston contest, I’ll win a trip to the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas.