Category: Personal

The Epic Amazing Adventure Road Trip

It started as a simple road trip. Head from Houston to Portland, Oregon. Attend the World Domination Summit. Visit family in Seattle, then head to Denver to drop off my car, fly to Chicago to speak at BlogHer, back to Denver to help teach at the Team-X Fight Club, and then head home.

Then while on the road to Portland, I discovered that Crater Lake is in Oregon, and we were going to be there just in time for there to be no moon. PERFECT for night photography of the Milky Way. A long time item on my Life List.

I had to make it happen. We purchased camping gear in Portland. Before I knew it, everything changed. Including all of my plans.

I ended up being gone from Houston for over 4 months. I drove over 19,000 miles. I visited 15 states, plus 2 Canadian provinces. 12 National Parks. People ask me where all I went, and I joke that it might be easier to list off where all I didn’t go. I did not go to the Grand Canyon. Or the National Parks in Utah. Next time. Yes, there will be a next time.

Mike, my husband, was with me for portions of the journey. The first two & a half weeks up until Seattle. Again for a week in North Dakota, where my son & my parents were with us as well. A week in Calgary (the photo above is from our trip to Moraine Lake in Banff while we were there). Another week for my birthday at Grand Teton & Yellowstone.

I learned a lot about myself in the thousands of miles that I drove alone. Camping at the various National Parks. Visiting friends across the country. Photography sessions with many fantastic women. Most of all as my BFF Stephanie & I worked together while I was in Calgary and launched Vivid & Brave, a coaching program for creative women who want to rediscover their voice. Our first round of graduates from the group coaching program just wrapped up today, and it was nothing short of incredible. AMAZING.

I’ve chronicled some of the journey on my personal blog, Avenger of Sexiness, in case you are interested. I will be writing more as I make my way through the thousands and thousands of photos that I took.

I hit the ground running when I returned to Houston with a number of boudoir sessions. I can’t wait for Christmas to come and go so I can share some of the amazingness with you!

Now it is time to prepare for the new year ahead, and the new adventures that await. I’d like to invite you to join Stephanie & I as we share our Countdown to 2014 journal prompts to help you get ready for the year ahead. You can find the whole series on the Vivid & Brave blog. Be sure to enter to win our favorite journaling things as well!

You May Have Noticed Some Changes Here?

All day today, I’ve been thinking that I need to write a post here to explain why there have been so many changes to this site and the story behind them. But I put it off, doing other work. Things that needed to be done, orders that needed to be prepped, the house that needed to be clean. Wondering at the same time what it was I was going to say. Then the meandering trail of the internet lead me to this post (on a blog appropriately named “Creative Thursday”), and the video below, and I knew it was time to write.

The post has been brewing in my mind for awhile. How do you explain something so personal as a major shift in your dreams? A complete change within YOU that is bigger than something you can even put in to words?

I guess you start at the beginning.

Grab a drink & relax, this is going to be an incredibly long one!

In 2006, after years of taking photographs for myself, I decided I wanted to take photographs “for a living”. Forget the American dream, I wanted THAT. I didn’t know yet what that would even look like, I just knew more than anything I wanted to do it. So I did. I’m a jump in the water and learn how to swim type of person. On a phone call with Elaine, I told her I wanted to photograph weddings and I wanted her to photograph them with me. She laughed and replied that we didn’t even photograph people. I told her that was ok, we knew how to photograph them. She is the yin to my yang, and has been excellent at making me stop and question things. I still charged ahead. I had gone back to school in 2005 to finish that degree that I thought I HAD to have, but the fall semester of 2006 was the last semester I attended. I dropped my scholarship I had received for pursuing a medical field degree (pharmacy) and walked away. One of the many reasons I love my husband is how incredibly supportive he is – I told him (while on the phone long-distance to him in The Hague for work, having a nervous breakdown over Organic Chemistry, which I actually enjoy, and my horrific instructor that was hindering my learning) that “All I wanted to do was take pretty pictures!!!” and he said that I should go and do it. School would always be there if I wanted to go back. Go and follow the dream now. And I did.

Elaine & I photographed well over 100 weddings together since 2007, and some more on our own or assisting other photographers. Our first clients are all having their 5 year anniversaries this year. Many of them have families now. Some have several children. Others are pregnant as I type this with their first child. Only one couple that I know of is divorced. I’ve stayed in touch with many of them thanks to Facebook and Twitter. It has been an amazing journey.

I love being invited to be a part of such an intimate experience as a wedding day, of watching it all unfold and documenting it for them to relive.

In 2008, my friend Mitch called me and told me about a space for rent in the Heights – and it was the exact same building I had spotted as I pulled out of a parking lot 5 months earlier and thought “I want that to be my studio someday.” When I was meeting with the owner about renting it, I opted to add a second room to the “meeting room” I was going to rent. Again, spur of the moment. The light in that room was amazing. I had to have it. And I declared that day that I was going to start taking boudoir photographs.

My experience with boudoir up to that point had been the Polaroids I had taken for a friend to give to her boyfriend 10 or more years earlier.

Initially, boudoir seemed to be a natural extension of my wedding brand. I expected that couples would hire me to photograph their weddings, and the bride would add on boudoir photography as a gift for the groom, right? Wrong. It never did work out that way. Instead, I’ve photographed over 100 boudoir clients, many of them were brides who wanted a gift for their groom, but out of all of those, only four of them hired me to photograph their wedding plus their boudoir session. On the flip side, three of them hired me a year or two after their boudoir sessions to document their weddings – two of those weddings are coming up this year.

I discovered something in those early boudoir sessions — I discovered that I could be a champion for women. I can cheer them on. I can help them see their own beauty. I could help them peel back the layers of the years of society telling them that they aren’t “ENOUGH”. Whatever “ENOUGH” meant for them, our sessions were almost always caused a crack in that and helped them turn it around. They always ended their sessions saying how it was supposed to be a gift for someone else, but it ended up being the best thing for themselves.

But it wasn’t just them. Working with them helped ME heal too. But we’ll get to that in a minute. Keep on reading.

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