My Bessie Kate

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Have I talked about Kate recently?

She's my bessie from Utah, my inspiration, my laugh-partner, my mentor...

She has the honor of being featured on photographer Davina Fear's Women in Business series today, and I thought it was a perfect excuse to pop on and talk a bit about Kate.

Kate is the incredible photographer behind Kate Benson Photography. She was doing photography when I met her nine years ago (has it been NINE years, Katie??!) and she was generous enough with her talent and her tutoring to help me in my fledgling journey through the lens. We go back to the days of film-- of finding the perfect developers to get our photos printed the way we wanted them (black and white, but CREAMY. Remember?) We go back to the days of REAL cross-processing with REAL slide film. And Kate was my inspiration through it all. To this day, I see the things she is doing with her art and I just sit back and marvel at her exquisite eye and her gift for pure light and clean color. She is an artist, and I am deeply grateful to have her as a resource and an inspiration.

I love that girl. She took my maternity photos, my wedding photos... She let me take a few of her life here and there... and beyond the photography, she is one of my favorite people to call for random, funny, on-the-fly conversations between our mutually busy lives.

Oh, Katie.... I love thinking about ya and our friendship.

And I LOVE that photo above. Still makes me giggle.

And anyone who has a minute-- go read Kate's interview HERE and leave some comment love, then check out her portfolio and blog, then sit back and be amazed with me.

Someday, I hope to be as good as she is at her craft.

(P.S. Kate was clowning around in the intro photo. She is really quite NORMAL and cute. I promise. See here:)

Retro Post: Circa Early 1980's

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Did you know I am one of seven kids? There are four sisters all in a row, then one lone brother, then two more cute sisters tacked on the end. I am the second oldest and I LOVE being a part of such a crazy bundle of siblings...

And since I am VERY busy this week (five sessions, no husband, and a big road trip starting on Friday), I thought I'd entertain you with some flashback photos... Easily accessible, entertaining (to me), and helps keep this blog afloat until I can get some new photos ready to post. So.... Here ya go--

Emily's Childhood: Retro Style{Beckie, me, Juli, Elise-- reading time}

{Super Steven-love the serious face here!}

{Beckie, with the two youngest sisters, Kirsti and Sarah. am not sure about the Native American headgear.}

{Easter 1981--Me, Elise, Julina, and newborn Beckie}

{Christmas in our matching bathrobes...clockwise from back left, me, Julina, Beckie, Elise }

I love that we are all so close in age, and close in friendship, but very very different from each other... We all bring a really cool piece of the puzzle to the group, and when you get the whole clan together, it is pretty crazy. As in fun, loud, obnoxious... much witty banter and inside jokes and nerdy fact exchanging and game playing...
In fact, I challenge anyone to a game of Cranium, our family vs. theirs. We'd SO win. We're just that in-tune and dang smart and creative. C'mon... anyone up to the challenge?? :)


Friday, April 24, 2009

1. I need to be going to bed, but I can't seem to stop clicking through my usual online spots-- email/Facebook/ELW/Twitter/Google Reader/2Peas, then back again.

2. I cut out sugar this week-- but not salt. So for late night snacking, I had a BIG bowl of Cheez-it Party Mix. Not-so-healthy.

3. I have to make a hat for a photo prop by tomorrow night. Worried it won't get done.

4. I am horrifyingly behind on reading blogs. Google Reader streamlined my life, but also made it WORSE in some ways. If I read, I try to comment... but knowing this, I avoid reading until I have TIME to comment, and then it becomes a vortex of GUILT and non-reading. So if I have EVER commented on your blog before, I'M SORRY!!! I STILL WANT TO! But I am so behind. And SO busy. I need to just give myself permission to read, comment-free, and get caught up. The start over and try to be better.

5. I get nervous before every single photo shoot.

6. I'm a closet introvert trapped in an extrovert's personality.

7. I think about sugar A LOT. Especially now that I'm not allowing any.

8. I get jealous of her. And her. And her. And her. And her. But for healthy reasons. And 3 out of five of them I consider friends (the other two I just admire from a distance). It's just the selfish, jealous artist in me. If you are an artist, I am likely jealous of you, too. But I am VERY good at keeping it tamed, and tucked away. And I let it fuel my passion and desire to grow.

9. I'm not as cute as I used to be.

10. I'm falling behind in my work. I have three keepsake albums to do, five sessions to edit (creating MORE keepsake album work!), posters/cards to make, a mock-up to create...A handful of emails.... I am getting a bit of a knot in my tummy with it all.

11. I almost didn't call my sister on time to wish her a Happy Birthday... But I made it!!! (sorry so late, sis!)

12. I want too many things sometimes...


Have confessions of your own? YOUR TURN. And tell me you blogged some in the comments, if you dare....

Ahhh. I feel better. Off to bed.

The Lovely, Stylish Danielle | St. Louis Senior Portraits|

I met Danielle on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on the Loop for our portrait session. It was sunny, the birds were singing, and the wind was gently blowing.

Wait. Did I say gently? I meant TORNADICALLY. Goodness! The wind almost did us in, with Danielle's long, gorgeous hair!! But we persevered, got silly/sassy/spunky, and got some gorgeous shots in the process.

My favorite part? Danielle brought BUBBLES. C'mon. What an AWESOME girl!!!

Fun session, fun girl... Thanks, Danielle! Enjoy!

(Juniors--- I'm getting ready to unveil a contest! Stay tuned and be ready with a date you want to do your session.
You might win big!)

Tutorial: How to Get Bigger Photos in Blogger

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doesn't my kid look so great? Big, bright, colorful.... CUTE?
Have you noticed that I like my pictures a bit on the bigger side?
Did you know that if I just uploaded this pic from my computer into my post, the biggest it could get is THIS?

Boo. BORING. I mean, if you've got GOOD photos, they deserve some room to FLY!
(Contrarily, if you are know for your BAD photos [thumbs in the viewscreen, heads chopped off, etc.], or are not featuring your photography on your blog and are more of a wordsmith, you don't really need this tutorial. So move along.)

But if you have been coveting my big photos, covet no longer. Come, and learn.
But first, I must give credit where credit is due. My own eyes were first opened to the magic of GETTING BIGGER BLOG PHOTOS from a darling, charming photographer I admire, Megan Cristello, who had a great tutorial of her own a couple of years ago. (I'd link it, but Blogger has changed its ways since then, so some of her info is not applicable anymore.)

Okay. Here it is, with visuals.

#1. You are going to need an online photo storage/HTML code generating site. This adds in a couple of extra steps in your blogging, but for the big pics, it is worth it.
Get a Photobucket account. It's free. Or any other photo upload site that provides HTML code. Here is what mine looks like.
See each photo? Underneath is a set of different codes that can be used on blogs, email, message boards, facebook, etc.
Also notice (click the pic to see it bigger) that above each picture is a list of options (edit/move/share/delete). This comes in handy for step #2.

#2. Resize your image in Photobucket. Click the "edit" button to get to this screen:Once in the edit screen, go to the "new size" boxes above the photo (mine says 500 x 675).
You'll resize your image to fit your blog. A good standard width is 400. My particular blog template (Minima Stretch) allows for even wider photos, so I will sometimes even go up to 650 or 700 wide.

*a note-- because Blogger is a vertical friendly layout, your horizontal images will necessarily be smaller than your vertical ones. The photo I posted at the beginning of this post of Noah is HUGE. It is 650 wide by 878 high. If it were horizontal, it would still be 650 wide, but only 445 high. Make sense?

#3. Once you have the size you want, you can either click "save a copy", keeping the original sized one intact, or click "replace original". I usually just replace the original, because I typically don't have use for a HUGE file of the same pic online.

#4. Now you are going to upload you Photobucket photos to your blog post. When you go to your Blogger screen, you'll click the photo icon as usual. But instead of clicking "browse" to get images from your hard drive, you will look to the right and instead be entering the URL of your Photobucket image in the box on the right.
Where do you get the URL? Well, remember the codes under each Photobucket image? Go copy the one that says "direct link" and paste it here. You can do up to five at a time by clicking the "add another image" link. When you have your codes put in, hit "upload". And stand back and be amazed at how much faster your photos load to your blog. Man, HTML is awesome.

#5. Now. Ideally, you now have a gorgeous, HUGE photo on your blog. Ta-da! But one more thing. Sometimes you have misjudged in Photobucket just how big you wanted your photos. Maybe they are TOO big. Or frankly, maybe you were too lazy in Photobucket to actually RESIZE them. Lucky you-- Blogger has a useful trick.
See the numbers in the upper right corner of the photo put in the blog? You can click and hold the upper right corner of your photo and those will appear. That is the size of your picture. You can drag the photo down and it will get SMALLER. AMAZING!
But BEWARE: If you want to make your photo BIGGER, dragging it bigger will not work-- the photo will appear blurry and pixelated. Also, if you have dragged it down too far and it is now TOO small, you cannot go BACK to the original size without some loss of quality in the photo. So use this trick judiciously.

In theory, then, you could just upload full photos to Photobucket, NOT bother to edit them there, and just resize them all in Blogger. The reason I don't? It is more tedious to get that stupid dragged corner to the EXACT numbers I want, and is therefore worth it to me to do the extra step in Photobucket.

And okay, I just lied. Most of the time, I actually do my resizing in PHOTOSHOP before I ever go to Photobucket (making sure to save the smaller photo with a different file name so the original, lovely large file is preserved for printing potential.) I'm sorry I lied. It's just.... well, I want to keep this streamlined for you. Ya know?

Okay. To Summarize:
1. You want BIG photos.
2. You'll need an external photo website that provides code.
3. You'll upload your images there first, then from there to Blogger.
4. You'll resize them to your satisfaction either in the photo program or in Blogger.
5. Your friends will OOH and AAH over your blog's new look-- bigger, fresher, more inviting... And Great Aunt Bethyl can SEE the photos, finally.
6. You'll either keep this new secret to yourselves, or you'll link back here and give praise and glory to me, your helpful teacher. Who in turn gives credit back to Megan Cristello, who taught HER.

Got it? Now, let's enjoy some more BIG photos to end this session, just for fun, and just because I can. Neener neener.

{Noah, when he was less than 36 hours old}
{Venice, 2006. DANG I wanna go back.}
{Cupcakes by me: Circa Feb. 2008. Yum.}

{My beloved and me, October 2007, preggy with Noah}

(oh, and one more fun thing about having a Photobucket account-- all these archived photos from blog posts past... right at my Photobucket fingertips. :) Can I say "Photobucket" any more times? You think the GoogleBots will find me and tell Photobucket and Photobucket will send me a big fat check? Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket???? LOL!)

dear upcoming week:

Sunday, April 19, 2009

* what's on YOUR list?
* thanks to Michelle (was it you?) who tipped my off to the font site where I made a font out of my own handwriting. I am a little TOO excited about it! Hee!
* will post a more interesting post sometime tomorrow. I promise!

Our Easter Photo Experience:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

First, let's enjoy my cute little guy in his Easter finest. Noah is hanging out with my baby sister's tame old bunny Coco:

And these too-cute-for-words photos:

But now, let's get real. To get the scant handful of "keepers" above, take a look at what REALLY went down at the Easter Photo Session.

A WHOLE lotta this:

Oh yes, and THIS:And..... yeah. About 6 winners out of, oh...... ninety-five total shots.

I mean, what kind of person would I be if I pretended it WASN'T super tricky/hard/downright frustrating to get the photo I'm dreaming of when my subject is a precocious, independent 18-month old?

And to really illustrate the ebbs and flows of this fun (and I promise, it WAS fun!!) session, here is my first "movie"-- the video of the whole thing. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes. Maybe you can just sit back and laugh at the impossibility of the whole thing. Maybe you'll want to turn it off after one too many of my annoying, high-pitched "baby speak". (Wowza, I am ANNOYING. Why doesn't someone SLAP me when I talk like this??) But here is the truth of the photos, in living color. Enjoy!

And......There ya go. The entire Easter Photo Experience. The good, the bad, and the SQUEAL-y. (Seriously. I SQUEAL. I'm so embarassed.)

I love my life. I do.... cute kid, nice camera, AMAZING family.... And the ability to look back and laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Here's to life and family and joy... :)

A Few More of Katy's Senior Session

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

So, a couple of posts down, I blogged some of my favorite photos from Katy R.'s senior session. But I didn't post my VERY favorite photos-- they deserved a post of their own. Katy's BFF (and my former student) Amanda came along for comic relief during Katy's session. She was incredibly effective in getting Katy to smile, laugh, goof off-- whatever I needed. In fact, she was so effective, sometimes I had to put the camera down because *I* was laughing so hard. Love that girl! Of course, with a friendship like this, it needs to be caught on film, so here, as promised,
the Katy n' Amanda Show:

My FAVORITE. LOVE that laugh, Amanda!!

And one more.... the soon-to-be-famous Eye Wall... And the girls who found it:

Oh man, LOVED these. Love the whole session. Thanks, girls!

Riddle Me This:

Monday, April 13, 2009

What do you get when you put an 18-month old, a live bunny, and a photographer mom together in one setting?


A WHOLE lotta this:

Ha ha!!

But.... I got a few keepers. They're coming soon, I promise.

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter Sunday!

just a little photo...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Journaling Exercise: "I Want"--

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A long time ago, in the era of my life where I was journeying within to figure myself out, I read several books by SARK, a gypsy free-spirit artist who writes books that affirm and empower women. To this day, I credit her writing for much of my foundational creative philosophy.

One of the journaling exercises she spoke of that captured my imagination and became a recurring event in MY journal was the game called "I Want". She says, "I write the things 'I want' and then let wild imaginings make things up." In her sample list, the third thing she listed was "red rubber rain boots". And the moment I read those words, I wanted them too. Years later, I STILL yearn for a pair of red rubber rain boots. And over the years, as I write my "I Want" Lists, this item usually makes it on there, somewhere.

As I have created these lists over the years, I have found interesting things out-- first, if the list is long enough, by the end you are really writing some authentic things. And often, by the end of the list, you realize you don't just want material things. It is an eye-opening exercise.
Th other interesting thing I've come to realize is that these lists don't create an emptiness as I focus on all the things I don't have but want--- but rather, it feels good to be honest, to tell myself the truth about my desires... and in the end, I usually find at least one thing on that list I can go out and GET or achieve, and suddenly, the rest of the wants are okay for a bit longer.

Anyway.... My friend Gen recently wrote an "I Want" list of her own, and it made me smile and I knew it was time for a new list of my own here. I have not thought about this in advance... I'm just gonna free-style it, which is they way you SHOULD do it. If this exercise inspires you, I would love to read any lists you guys create and blog about. Just let me know in the comments where to find you!

I Want:
more time to sew, now that I am getting better at it
a summer house in Italy
all my dear friends to live on the same block so we can hang out easily but still maintain our everyday lives
to meet Pioneer Woman
to never make typos ever again
a small storefront to run my small business out of
turquoise walls
a fastenator
to be 25 pounds lighter. Or more.
to run a cupcake shop with Melanie
to remember how to ski
my farmhouse with the bunkhouse and refurbed barn and a creek and rolling hills
to live in the LOTR movies. Probably Hobbiton.
to be couples friends with Ben and Jennifer Affleck
a nose piercing
pink streaks again
to skinnny dip sometime in my life
more space for my stuff, especially art supplies
a Canon 5D Mark II
to learn how to do Carrie Sandoval's b&w conversion
to go back to Italy with just Joe, for more than one week
to be caught up on photo albums/books
Macaroni Grill salmon
Mary and Beckie back in St. Louis
to scrapbook again, just a little
to go to an art festival or flea market
perfect jeans
heels not to hurt when you wear them too long
to go to a matinee movie today
a great dane
built-in bookshelves
a fairy tea party (I miss that Maggie from long ago)
to be in a musical
to sing in a bluegrass band
my own workshop

....Oh I could go on and on.... But you know what? I am OKAY. I have so much, and I love my little life just as it is. I don't need or want designer clothes or a new car or fame or anything else... I have my little attic apartment, I have my beautiful son, I have my incredible husband..... And I get to be creative. And active. And social. And I try to learn and grow all the time. So.... Anything from the above list would be icing. Just icing. But I already have the whole cake.

Oh, and I did forget to add the last thing:

I Want:

red rubber rain boots.

(Love these lists.)

|Sassy Katy: High School Senior |

Monday, April 6, 2009

Another incredible senior, another fun day! Have I said recently how much I love photographing these kids!? Such a fun time trying out new locations, getting them to open up and be themselves, finding the angles that make them look the best they've ever looked... Laughing. Joking around. Getting downright silly.


(C'mon, juniors--- time to email me and start asking about available spots this summer and fall!! I fill up QUICKLY!)

So Katy, THANK you for such a fun afternoon! I have some of my favorites of you and Amanda I'll post about tomorrow...

the rest of you don't wanna miss those. They are PRICELESS.

Happy Monday!

Frosting = Joy

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Noah's first "lick the beater" session... Fills me with a sense of coming full circle from the days my mom would bake a cake or make some cookies and we'd all clamor to get a beater. For some, this kind of event might seem mundane and unimportant, but for me, it triggers a poignant recollective experience, and fills me with deep satisfaction at where I am at in my own life.

In a million years, I could have never expected frosting to have this kind of effect.

There is just something about carefully, systematically, naturally doing the things my mother always did-- baking a cake. Mixing frosting. Sewing an apron. Taking a photograph. Something about sustaining the comforting, life-enriching rituals she always did-- the ones we took for granted.... until faced with being the one to do them. Now that *I* am the mother (oh heaven help me, when did THAT happen??), this is MY role-- to provide comfort. To provide moments of sugar-joy. To provide ritual and habit and security and handmade things. And my children will take it for granted also.... until perhaps, if I've raised them right, they'll have their own epiphanies in their adult years-- looking at their childhood through newly-opened eyes, seeing things in their father and me that even WE never saw in ourselves. I find that to be true with my own parents--- that through the lens of time and experience and wisdom, I understand them more. I see what a miracle their stewardship of us really was. How incredibly hard their task was (seven children!) and yet, how incredibly they rose to the challenge.

Ah... it's just a couple of metal beaters. It's just a batch of homemade buttercream frosting (the worn, yellowed, Crisco-stained recipe card in my mother's handwriting that I love). But somehow, the moment I handed my son his first frosting-painted beater, all of this flooded in.

And of course, I needed to take a picture.

Maybe my own sentimentality, my own tender nature makes me do this-- see, feel, then *CLICK*... Or maybe we all have those moments where the past, present, and future align in a perfect moment, and the camera is near enough, and the result is JOY.


Anyway... to get back to a lighter tone, here, in all their glory, are the recipients of that batch of frosting... Two cute cupcakes I decorated as a demonstration for a group of fun girls who came over the other night to get a little "resident expert" lesson from me... (who is NO expert-- just obsessive in her hobbies!). The first, a sunflower design that originated from the marvelous book Hello Cupcake, which every cupcake lover or mom should own:

(oh my, how I love to photograph cupcakes. Can you tell??)The second design was just a colorful way to use up the rest of the supplies I had on hand:

And there you have it.... Frosting= Joy. Truly. Always.
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