A Lovely Bride

November 23rd, 2014

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to the wedding of this exceptional young lady.  I first met Erin when she was 2 years old.  My husband and I who lived in Madison, WI at the time came to visit the family practice residency in Mason City.  Al was coming to the end of his time in medical school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and we were “shopping” for where he would begin the next phase in his training to be a family practitioner.   There was a gathering for the spouses of the residents at the home of Robin, who has now been my friend for many years since.  Erin was this little girl who always donned a huge smile.  I have had the pleasure of watching her grown up.  I took her high school senior pictures. And now, I witnessed her get married – what a beautiful bride!  Congratulations, Erin & Kyle!  It was an honor to witness your special day!

Bad Blogger…

October 31st, 2014

Where does the time go?  Honestly, I have the intention of getting my blog out on a semi-regular basis.  The last months have left me in a whirlwind of activity.  So, just to share a little about what I have been up to lately.

 

We began the new school year and I realized that this is the beginning of ending a chapter in our lives.  Our oldest, our son, is a high school senior.  He has been investigating colleges, taking his ACT test, receiving mail from schools on a daily basis.

 

Our daughter is now a freshman, which means the downward slide is officially in process for her, too.

 

Our fall has consisted of cross country meets, my photography sessions, and endless activities.  Both of our children participated in cross country.  Our son is an accomplished runner, but found himself in a health situation that we never could have predicted would or could happen.  We found out that he was  suffering from ulcers.  One was bleeding and left him anemic and unable to perform as he was accustomed to this season.  He is on the mend and our team is running in the Cross Country State Championship in Fort Dodge this Saturday, November 1st.  We are hoping for the very best!

 

This Saturday night is also our 12th annual Legacy Ball, a fundraiser for the hospital.  I have been on the decorating committee since its inception.  We are in the process today and tomorrow of creating a beautiful atmosphere at our K.C. Hall.  This year’s theme?  Greece!  After we watch our boys run this Saturday, we will race home to get ready for the big event!

 

Last month found Al and I at our 25th college reunion from our school, Luther College.  We had a fun time reconnecting with friends.  Our flying trip up and back left us exhausted for several days following.

 

Al is in the process of re-branding the Rejuvenation Clinic at the hospital.  Together, we came up with a new name, had a new logo designed, and have been in the process of redecorating the space.  We are SO excited for Kossuth Regional Health Center to opening the Ageless Solutions Aesthetic Clinic in January!  A lot of my personal time has been invested into this project and we are so thrilled to share more information with everyone soon regarding new services, equipment, new products, new staff…  It is going to be a fabulous experience for all!

 

Add to all of the this time spent trying to be the best mom, wife, and home maker that I can be, it has been challenging at times to feel like I am not going to pull my hair out and go crazy.  With the occasional reminder to breathe and appreciate each moment, I am moving forward.

 

I am going to make a conscious decision to try to not be such a “bad blogger” and share more in the upcoming days and months!

 

Another Sport, Another Book

July 13th, 2014

 

I wanted to share with you a project, or should I say several projects, that keep me busy when I am not working on client pictures, picking up the house, doing laundry, getting groceries….  and all of the other domestic duties that come with being Mom.  I love to create memories for my children – keepsakes that I know that they will enjoy for the rest of their lives.  I create everything from fine art gallery wraps and framed sports collages I display in their rooms, to a few scrapbooks, and also, I have created a book for each of my children for each sport that they participate in –  and they are in a lot of sports.  My son is a 3-sport person and my daughter is in 4 sports.  I love taking pictures of these activities!  Sometimes I find myself taking so many, that I need to create 1, 2, or even 3 books for a single season of one sport.  Tonight I just finished my daughter’s softball book for the 2014 season and got it ordered for her.  I can’t wait for it to arrive and present it to her!

Balance

July 9th, 2014

Okay, so it’s not the end of summer by any means, but once it’s after the 4th it seems to fly even faster.  Today was my daughter’s last day of softball for this season.  I spent the day in Mason City at the Newman High School softball field.  After a whirlwind month, I am getting back into the swing with high school senior pictures.

 

This year has been eventful.  I have had to make some decisions in my personal life and in my business.  I am continuing to spend as much time as possible at my kids’ activities, and being the best mom that I can be is my top priority, as I mentioned in February.  This has meant cutting down on the number of sessions that I am shooting this year.    Unfortunately, this means I have had to turn down some jobs.  I wish that each session was as simple as just the photo shoot…  For me to do my job as I have been doing it (and the way I wish to continue it), there are several steps to each photographic session before we arrive at the final prints.  First, I meet with each client ahead of time to decide what they would like from their session.  We discuss clothing selections, tips for good images, and just get to know each other a little before the shoot.  Next, is the actual session.  After the session, I edit the images to the best ones.  Of these, I retouch some, add special effects, make some black and white…  This, by the way, takes a while when I am working on h.s. senior images.  Then we meet and my client watches a slideshow and we decide what images they like and figure out the best products for them.  Next, I retouch the client’s favorite images, crop them to desired sizes and order them.  Once the portraits arrive, I carefully go through each item, make sure everything looks perfect, and then I beautifully package the images.  Anything that is 16×20 or larger is also hand-signed by me.  Once everything is ready to go, I call my client and let them know that their order is here and we arrange a pick-up time.  All together, that is 7 steps for one photo shoot.  I have a wonderful assistant that comes and helps me during my sessions.  She helps with the lights, steams backgrounds, and is fabulous with the little details.  Everything else I do on my own.  This set-up is the best one for me and my family.  I got to the point in my business where I either needed to get bigger and delegate some responsibilities,  or become somewhat smaller in order to try to achieve that “balance” that I think all working moms are trying to achieve.  I am very grateful for my clients.  I am very grateful for my family.  I will continue to strive to do my very best for both of these areas in my life.

Career Day

April 25th, 2014

Yesterday, I had the pleasure and opportunity to talk to the 3rd and 4th graders at Lucia Wallace Elementary School in Algona for career day.  I had 3 groups of eager little listeners learn about my job in photography.  The fact that so many had an interest in my career warmed my heart.  I shared everything about my business from the hours that I worked to the responsibilities and skills needed for this job.  I love the fact that anybody can enjoy photography in their life, even along-side another career, or have as a hobby.

 

When I was young, I had no idea I would ever have a job in this field.  It took me until I was nearly 40 years old, before I pursued my life-long interest by taking many classes and seminars.  More than anything, I really wanted each student to realize that they may have many different careers in their lifetime.

 

I went to school pursuing one career, and then realized half-way through my senior year in college that I did not want to teach music, my selected major.   I taught elementary music, in spite of my reluctant feelings, for a year.  We married two weeks before my husband started medical school and I began teaching.  I had a lot of pressure from both sides of our families – “What are you going to do?!  You HAVE to have a job!”   I subsequently had one of the worst years of my life following and became very depressed.  The one thing that was solid was my marriage, but it felt as though just about everything else was crumbling around me.  After that year I found other jobs and we made it through my husband’s 4 years of medical school in Madison, WI.  I felt really bad about myself for many years after I got out of music.  I felt like a huge failure for not staying in my chosen field of study.

 

I did not share the details of my teaching job with the students yesterday, but I really wanted them to realize that if you find yourself doing many different things throughout your life, you grow and learn from each of your experiences.  And no matter what you end of doing, make sure that you are the absolute best you can be at whatever that job is.  “Be the best________ you can be.”  Whether you fill that blank with “farmer” or “electrician” or “teacher” or “parent” or “convenience store employee”  or “photographer,” it really doesn’t matter.  Be your best and enjoy all of your life experiences &  learn from them.  I hope that each of these youngsters also continue to pursue their interests, in whatever capacity that might be, in photography, too.

Time Flies!

April 19th, 2014

Where has the time gone?  I knew that it had been a little while since I last blogged, however, I had not realized it had been a couple of months.  Days are flying by turning into weeks, months, and years.  And I wish it would slow down just a bit, just long enough for me to appreciate all of the good things going on around me.  I thought this photograph well-represented how time feels right now.  The heart of track season is underway!

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!

      107 E. Overmeyer Drive - Algona - IA - 50511      515-295-6128