Winter Convention

February 21st, 2014

Earlier this month, I was at PPI winter convention in Des Moines.  I have so much fun seeing my good photographer friends at this event!  A personal challenge that I have taken on is working towards my Masters Degree with the Professional Photographers of America.  This involves accumulating a certain number of educational merits and print competition merits.  I already have plenty of educational merits – not too hard to do when you love learning more about a career you are passionate about!  I am just over half-way to my goal of 13 print merits.  This is not an easy process.  It involves being far more picky about details than you would ever dream of “fixing” in an average portrait.  I have participated in competition for several years now, primarily because it is making me a better photographer.  But, now that I have my eye on the “prize” of achieving my Master’s, I am learning how to pay even more attention to certain details.  This year I received a second place award for the “portrait of a man” category and I was a top 10 award winner for my print case entries.  Now these images will go on to the regional and national competitions.  The process is challenging &  frustrating at times, but always exciting!

Priorites – Changes in 2014

February 1st, 2014

It started with my spice cabinet.  I recently watched a t.v. show where they said spices were good for like a year or so.  I knew that I had spices that were more than 17  years old.  Many of them moved over here with us from our home in Mason City.  In June, we will have lived here 18 years.

 

This cupboard bothered me every time I opened it.  It was overflowing with bags, expired containers, and of course all of those old spices.  So out came every container.  I washed each one, scrubbed down the shelves, dumped all of the old spices…  And with each little improvement in my cupboard, I felt a bit lighter.

 

Next, I moved on to the cabinets in our bathroom.  I pulled out every item, as I had done in the kitchen cupboard.  Our son walked in to talk to me while I was in the midst of my mess.

 

“What are you doing?”

My response:  “I’m cleaning out my life.”

“Your LIFE!?”

“Yes, my life.”

 

I have spent a lot of time reflecting with the beginning of the new year.

 

I have worked very hard to build this business, which I love, and I truly feel it is a calling for me.

 

As a woman, can we really have it all?  We can indeed have anything, but everything?  I don’t think it is possible to have everything, at least not all at the same time.  The times I am feeling really good about getting everything done at the top of my game in my photography, I feel I fail a little bit as a mom.  Whenever I am getting lots accomplished on the home front, I feel like I am failing a little in my business.

 

I have made it always a priority in my life to go to as many of my children’s events as possible.  I have also made it a priority to eat as a family for dinner and to be available any time anybody in my family needs me.  But many times, with the photographic work that I have taken on, I feel very stressed trying to balance these 2 areas in my life.

 

It’s 2014 and my son graduates in 2015.    In 2018, a mere 4 1/2 years, our daughter will graduate.  We don’t get that time back.  With Bo & Emma being involved in the amount of activities that they are, I want to really enjoy every moment of these upcoming years.  I don’t want to feel guilty that I am falling short in any area, in family matters or in business.

 

So, I will be taking on less clients in the upcoming months and years.  I don’t know how & I don’t want to make any shortcuts in my business because it would affect the quality of my work.  I refuse to make images that are any less than the very best I can create.

 

This means I will have to say “no” more often.  I do not want to turn down anyone that truly wants my work for their walls.  Therefore, if you already know that you will be wanting wall art of your family in the future, I ask that you please tell me what month you would like as soon as you possibly can.  After I have taken my maximum number for each month, I will have to decline any other clients during that time period.  I found myself having to say “no” three times this last December.  I felt terrible about it.  But, really had no choice if I wanted to maintain the life I want to live with my family.

 

I desire to also fill my life with other wants I have had in the past years.  I want to be able to cook more, to read a book (not just parts), to learn even more about the artistic aspect of photography, and  to have time practicing the concepts I learn.  I want to literally keep cleaning out the areas of my home which are in disarray and cause me inner turmoil, and clean negativity and regret from my soul.

 

2014 is going to be a great year filled with many exciting adventures in my life – with no regrets!

 

Thank you for your understanding, and if you are wanting to schedule an appointment for this year, I look forward to visiting with you soon!

 

Michelle

 

 

Grandma

December 31st, 2013

My first grandma to pass away was when I was 4 years old.  My dad’s mom died of brain cancer and my memories of her are few.  As I was holiday shopping this season, I came across this candy, filling me with memories of my other Grandma, my mom’s mom.  My Grandma Daisy was a woman ahead of her time – college-educated, the bread earner of the family…  she had a wonderful laugh and a warm embrace.  I still miss her today.  She passed away suddenly in March of my senior year of high school.  It’s funny how little things evoke a memory.  When I saw this candy in K-Mart, I had to buy it.  Truly, it’s some of the worst candy ever.  The only good pieces are the filled raspberries, and there are about 4 in the whole container.   But my grandma always had metal canisters with the same image on them in her closet every Christmas.  Her tiny closet held children’s books we read over and over, her old manual typewriter, a coffee grinder, some clothes, and many other odds and ends and it  smelled of my grandpa’s smoke and mothballs.  Now, I realize this may not sound pleasant to the average person, however, these memories make me smile.

 

So, here’s to my Grandma!  I love you and miss you and can’t wait to see you again someday!

 

And here’s wishing that you also find, in this New Year, many past reminders that make you smile!  Happy 2014!

The Right Studio?

December 17th, 2013

 

Pictures.  Aren’t we all to some degree fascinated by them?

 

My interest in photography runs deep.  When I was little, I remember pouring over my mom’s photo albums, studying each image.  Really, I pretty much had all of them memorized, even as I looked at them again and again.  When I began school, I carefully saved each picture I was given by classmates, displaying them on a modest cork board that hung on the wall in my room.  Then, I don’t remember at exactly what age, I’m guessing about 6th grade, I got my first photo album, along with my first camera.  My photo album was 3-ring with the sticky pages that pulled back – not archival, of course – and it was burgundy with a gold accent line around the front cover.  I put all of my pictures in, one at a time with extreme care.  And I would look at my album nearly every day.  I would take it downstairs in front of our  console t.v. and pour over the beauty of each picture.

 

That album was the first of what I have today.  For this post, I took the time to count the number of albums I have in my possession.  I didn’t even know how many I had, I just knew that it was a LOT!  I have eighty albums and books that have created over my lifetime.  This doesn’t count scrapbooks I am creating (I don’t do the traditional scrap booking, I use the Hallmark instant scrapbooks, which I highly recommend) for my kids, their baby albums, and other books that I have created for them, that are now at home in my children’s rooms.  I no longer have that first burgundy album.  I started many years ago, trying to transfer my precious images into archival albums and did not get very far.  Now, I keep up pretty well with my current pictures in albums and there will be a day when I sort through all of those old pictures and transfer them in albums that will not damage them.

 

How much do you value your images?

 

Some of you will not really care about pictures.  And that is totally okay.  We all have our own interests and priorities and that is what makes every individual special and unique.  Are family pictures just something that you feel like you need to get done,  just because?  Perhaps grandma would really like a picture for a particular occasion and you just need something to capture the moment.  Your son or daughter is a senior and you just need something for the yearbook and you really have no intention of putting anything on your wall.  Because you are reading this on my website right now, these statements may not apply to you.  If these remarks ring true in your ears, I am probably not the right studio for you.

 

Did she just say that?

 

And if I am not the right studio for you, again, that’s fine.  Every photographer will attract different clients for different reasons – style, customer service, costs, location, personality, product offerings, …  I never really think of the photographers in my area as competition.  Because if I am the right studio for them, they will know it.

 

The care that I put into my pictures as a child, is the same kind of care I put into every single one of my images now.  The goal of my business is to create Timeless Works of Photographic Art for each and every client.  This involves meeting with my clients ahead of time, so that I can get to know your personality, your personal thoughts and ideas, discuss clothing selection to work with the interior design of your home in both style and color.  If that means coming to your home, it’s no big deal.  I would rather take the time to create the perfect custom art for your wall, than not.

 

I truly don’t know anyone pickier than me.  I notice details.  This can drive my family a little crazy on occasion.  I put more work than anyone I personally know in each little detail of an image – a shadow, lint on a sweater, specks on the floor, the smallest of blemishes…  I put the same meticulous care into every art piece I create, as if it is going to be hung on my own wall.  If something does not pass my thoughtful inspection, I won’t sell it.  I will redo it before the client even sees it.  If something goes out that I missed (I try my very best, but I’m only human), I make it right without question, at no charge to my customer.  I want every person to not just like their images, they must LOVE them!

 

This means only the best archival papers and mounting options, large portraits printed on canvas and personally signed by me.  What if the pen makes a goof on my signature as I am signing my artwork?  I reorder the whole product and sign it again.

 

When my clients come to view their images, they are presented with a slide show with music.  They get to see what some of them will look like fully retouched, I have already taken the time to create images with special effects or b&w, if I feel that the image calls for these special touches.  I do not overwhelm by showing every single image.  My job is to narrow these images down to the best ones for my client.  They deserve better than to have their time wasted.  I also create custom collages, such as this one, for clients desiring a very personal piece of art that they will always treasure.  I also project these images on my projection screen, actual size.  When the client emails me a picture of their wall ahead of time, by the wonder of technology I can project their image to what it would look like on their wall in each size, assuring that their image is not too large and not too small, in the words of Goldilocks, “It’s just right” – absolutely perfect to be exact.  I guide each client in the ordering process to make sure that they get exactly what they want.

 

I view my job as a photographer a calling.

 

My personal mission as I am creating my art, is to capture not just an image, but the soul of my subject.  And I also want every person who comes to have the best possible experience out of a studio.  This means that backgrounds are ready when the client arrives, the studio is clean and tidy, and beverages and treats are always at hand.  Every high school senior is so valued in this environment.  If that senior did not know what was special about them when they walked into this door, I want to make sure that they know when they leave here.

 

When you are looking for a studio for your next photographic project, please consider what is important to you and what kind of investment you want to make.  To me personally, nothing is more important than displaying fine art of those I love the most, my family, around my home.  If my studio is the right choice for you, I look forward to visiting with you soon!

Whirlwind

November 10th, 2013

Where does the time go?  Do you ever feel like you are just rushing from one event to the next event it your life?  I am purposely  trying to take a moment to look around each day and say to myself, “Appreciate this moment, soon it will be gone.”  This is  SO hard to do sometimes, in the midst of working, and laundry, and our kids’ activities…. I remember taking moments like this when my children were young.  I remember rocking our son to sleep when he was a newborn and thinking to myself, “Treasure this moment.”  I am so glad that I took the time to try to burn that memory in my brain.  Now I can recall that particular moment with ease at any given time, even though it is 17 years since that time.  I have practiced this conscious practice throughout the years and finding myself continue this now more than ever.  Our son is a high school junior and in a mere year, he will be gone and pursuing his own dreams.  Our daughter is in eighth grade.  Five years will fly by so fast and then she will take off on her own, just like her brother.  ” Treasure this moment”  will continue to be my mantra in the upcoming days, weeks, and years.  And as the years continue to pass, I can look back and know that I have in fact taken the time to remember that smile, feel that joy, and surround myself in feelings of love.

We’re Off and Running!

October 2nd, 2013

My kids have been running and my husband and I have been running to see them at cross country this fall.  I have to say, it has been a joy to watch them participate and excel in this sport!  It is so much fun to be outdoors, enjoying the fresh air, and seeing the change of seasons in the surroundings that have been running throughout.  Between these meets and my current senior and family sessions, there hasn’t been a lot of time to blog as I would like.  But these moments are going so fast and they will be gone in a blink of an eye.  I am enjoying every second!

Mixed Emotions

August 31st, 2013

My little boy…  now a high school  junior….still my little boy.  This will be the first year our son has participated in cross country.  He has had much success with his track career and really was born to run.  Cross country makes sense for a young man who desires to run in college.  We are very excited to see what his future holds in this new area and look forward to watching this strong team this fall.  But for a short moment, I would like to acknowledge everything that football has brought to my child’s life.  Our son has been a football fan since birth with strong brainwashing from Dad when it came to especially the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers.   🙂   He loves football and everything about it.  He told me not long ago that some of his best friends today came to be after one day in 3rd grade when my quiet child went up to a group of boys at recess and asked, “Can I play football with you?”  Once, I drove past his school when he was at recess.  I saw him playing football with his friends.  He caught eye of me and peered around a tree and waved and ran back to his game.  During the following years, he continued to develop confidence, he made friends, and he learned the value of teamwork and respect.  He loved being the quarterback and he performed well in his position.  I celebrate the memories that we have of him playing this sport and we look forward to watching him develop new memories as he continues to run.

The Self-Portrait

August 8th, 2013

The obsession with the self-portrait….  I’ve noticed it  especially among kids who are the same age as my children, but occasionally adults, too.  So, for the heck of it, I decided to try this experiment.  I have taken self-portraits before, but honestly these were for business purposes, taken with my professional equipment.  So, in my office one afternoon, on a fair “hair day” I pulled out my small point and shoot camera and starting shooting away.  What I found was that I became increasingly critical of my appearance in every picture – I don’t like my eye in this one, my smile is crooked, my neck looks funny here, etc.  The more I took, the less satisfied I was.  I finally settled on this picture, which I didn’t think was too bad.  I finally wondered, perhaps this obsession with pictures is the ongoing quest for the “perfect picture.”  One with the perfect smile, the perfect make-up, the perfect hair, the perfect clothing….  all in an imperfect world.  Therefore, the quest will continue and most likely we continue to “settle” until the next photo op.  Maybe the next picture will be perfect.

Sisters

July 8th, 2013

A glimpse at my day today!  I have known these sisters for many, many years – they were so little not long ago and now look at the beautiful young women they have become before our eyes!    I can’t wait to see what the the future brings for these two amazing souls!   Enjoy your senior year, Dasha & Ana!    I loved taking your pictures today!

Samantha

July 7th, 2013

I truly do not know where the time has gone!  I have known this young lady her whole life.  She is my beautiful niece, Samantha!  My sister and I were expecting babies at the same time some 16 1/2 years ago.  Samantha was born towards the beginning of May and my son, who was due in July of the same year, came 6 weeks early.  So, Sam and Bo were born three weeks apart and were always such good buds growing up.  Now she is beginning her senior year!  I am thankful we kept Bo home for another year for many reasons, and cannot believe I will be taking his senior pictures next year.  Yikes!  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this special girl!  I love you dearly, Samantha!

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