slide show

Thursday, April 24, 2014


This is beautiful Audra.
She's 18 months old.
And she's just B. U. Tiful!
I had the honor of shooting this little ginger recently in the middle of the desert in the wildflowers.  Okay it was really just off the side if a busy 6-lane street, but really who would of known that here!
Isn't she just stunning?  Audra.  Skin like cream, rosy cheeks, of course that hair and her personality was as cute as she was!  Her mama was a student of mine and says her personality matches her hair color.
The little hand dimples and feet killed me!

Thank you so so much to her mama for allowing me to shoot her and capture her sweetness and personality!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Photography 101 {Open Shade}

There're lots of different types of light in our days.  Sunset.  Lightbulbs.  Direct sunlight.  Shade.  Candle light.  That awful greenish fluorescent light in office buildings that makes everyone look a little sickly.  

Today I want to talk about a type of light called "open shade" and a fabulous but unexpected place to find it, in your garage!  

***insert a record scratch here***
Wha???  My GARAGE?  Certainly nothing pretty comes from my garage!  There's all that... garage stuff in there!  That certainly can't make for pretty pictures!

Well I beg to differ!  In addition to 13 bicycles, garbage bins, extra car seats, oil stains, hand-me-downs, sports equipments, skateboards, Christmas ornaments, tools, golf clubs, a 1 gallon jug of bubbles, the water softener, file cabinets, camping and fishing gear, dog food, a stack of outdated IEPs at least a foot high, and old carsets you will also find open shade in your garage!  And open shade makes for wonderful photographs!  So don't write off your garage just yet!   

Every year at this time, we do the annual cleaning of the garage.  It's very much like the annual running of the bulls. 
Minus the bulls.  
And the running.  
And the white outfits and red bandanas. 
And it happens in our garage.  
But other than that it's just like the running of the bulls.  

Because garages are demonic, slowly but surely, when you're not really noticing it until it's too late, the garage starts to encroach upon the cars.  Little by little, in the night when you're not there to see it, the overabundance of completely unnecessary stuff moves towards the center of the garage to fill up the open spaces.  If left unchecked, one wouldn't be able to open the car doors anymore, much less get the cars in!  It's a 3-car garage for crying out loud, and we only park 2 cars in it anyway!  So we've already sacrificed 1 bay to the relentless garage monster.  I'll be darned if I'm giving up the other two!  It's war I tell you!  
So every year in the spring, we clean the garage, right before the summer heat comes.  Because in the summer the garage is converted to a walk-in oven easily capable of baking an Easter ham.  But nobody ever bakes in the summer in the desert because that's just crazy. 
 We make everyone that is home help.  Notice how Livy is missing.  That's no accident as she spent the night at a friend's house.  17 years later she knows the trick to getting out of the annual cleaning of the garage.
Wait... back to open shade. 

Open shade is found in large shady areas that are created by big structures, like buildings, mountains, houses, and GARAGES.  But open shade is not dark.  It's right in between that dark shadowed part and the bright direct sun that you'll find open shade.  Open shade still has light coming in it from the natural light outside and thus still illuminates your subject.  Open shade is wonderful for photographers because you avoid the harsh shadows created by direct sunlight, but you still have plenty of light. 

See that line on the ground in the above pic where the shade starts?  That where the open shade starts.  But the light is still coming from lots of different directions.  So I'm going to move my subject to about 3' in the garage, facing outside.  That part is a beg deal here!

Next, I'm going to make sure that the subject faces the light so that light hits his face.  Not necessarily face the sun, but wherever direction the light is coming from.  In my garage the light is coming from the open garage door, so that's where I have my kiddos face when I take the photo.  It doesn't have to directly hit the face.  In fact if it's at a slight angle to the light, like it is on Jude's face below, it creates nice subtle shadows that add depth and texture to your subject, and that's kinda pretty!

Here's Jude taking a break from cleaning with something pink on his finger.   Because you should always stick your finger in things... no matter what they are.  Again, he's about 2-3' behind the open garage door, facing the outside.  See how the light is hitting him?  And see how the background is considerably darker?  There's not nearly as much light in the back of the garage as compared to just 3' inside of it. 
And there're even some great catch lights being reflected in his eyes!  You can kinda make out my standing reflection as I took his pic in his eyes is you look carefully. 
Ya, Boo was pretty sure he looked like a much cooler kid once he donned a big chain around his neck.  This is the epitome of coolness me thinks.  Neck chains.  It's surely the next new big trend for 11 year olds.  Livy says neck chains are swag.  #Ihavea17yearoldtohelpmekeepuponthelingo

One more BIG GINORMOUS thing...
Maybe you're asking about all that clutter in your garage and how we're gonna fix that problem.  'Cause who want to see all that stuff in the background of your photos.  Well I definitely have a solution for it.  See how my subject is in focus, but the background is out of focus?  All that background blur makes it so we really don't see the over-abundance of stuff in the garage, and all the attention is on my swag 11-year-old. 

Here's the thing... you really need to be shooting in Manual mode to get that blurry background and make all that stupid clutter that we really should just throw away, but I have no idea why we're keeping it all!  We have hoarding tendencies I tell you!!! stuff blur into the background.  
If you're already shooting in Manual mode you likely already know about bokeh and how to create it.  Keep your aperture values low.  If you're not shooting in Manual mode yet, but would like to learn, my next Manual class will likely be this summer.  Give me a holler with your email address if you're interested and would like me to put you on the interest list.  No commitment.  (And don't worry cause I won't publish the comment with your email address.  Like garage monsters, we gotta keep spam at bay!)

Okay, so open up your garage and take some pics using yummy open shade.  You might just be surprised what ordinary miracles you capture! 

ps-hash tags are the new license plates

pps-lots of photography 101 posts and free tutorials here

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rock Rolling Day

Happy blessed Easter to you and your family from all of our crazy crew over here in the desert!
We're soaking in His unconditional love for us and savoring our family.  

I'm leaving you with the annual egg dye at our house.  Nothing fancy.  As you can see at 15 Patch has decided he's too old to dye eggs. And at 17 Liv has decided it's fun again. At 11 Boo thinks anything is an opportunity to make a silly face.  And at 6, 6, and 4 the littles think the whole process is still pretty magical. 
Happy Rock Rolling Day!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Family Faves {The World's Best Deviled Eggs}

... or at least we think so!
With Easter right around the corner, I have been dreaming of these deviled eggs!  Isn't that one of the best part of holidays, all the foods that go with that holiday.  We make these deviled eggs year round though, and I like to make them for after-school snacks because they're that easy and simple, especially if I have some bacon left over from another recipe or meal.  (Ya, that happens all the time.  Extra bacon laying around that you don't know what to do with!  But go with me on this one!)  But they are a certainty for Easter.  This year I had been obsessing about them and could wait till Easter came so I made them early.

I like the regular ol' deviled eggs all right.  You know the creamy ones with vinegar and mustard.  I mean they're okay.  But if bacon makes ice cream better, can you image what it does to hard-boil eggs?!  I tried a recipe similar to this a long while back and loved it, but...  I can't leave well enough alone (It's a character fault of mine.  But I'm owning it, and that the first step they tell me.) so I fiddled just a tiny bit with the original recipe, eliminating the mustard and added more cheddar and salt.  Now it's the only deviled egg recipe we make here in the Crazy house.
The World's Best Deviled Eggs

12 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 c + 1 T mayonnaise
1/4 c grated cheddar cheese
salt to taste
6 slices bacon - cooked and crumbled
chives, finely chopped - optional for garnish

Peel hard-boiled eggs, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks and place in a bowl.  

Add mayonnaise, crumbled bacon and cheese and mix will it's well blended. (Save 24 pieces of bacon crumbles to garnish the top of fished eggs.) Add a couple dashes of salt to taste.  

Fill egg halves with the yolk mixture.  
Put 1 piece of bacon crumble on the top of each egg half and sprinkle with chopped chives.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Date night with our son

I'm gonna toot my own horn here a wee bit.
We have a lot of kiddos.
And one thing that we very intentionally do because we have a lot of kiddos is to spend special one-on-one time with them.  Of course this is something that we'd do even if we didn't have a lot of kiddos.  But since we do, it's something that we need to be especially intentional about, or it can be forgotten and slip away.  Does anyone remember that old saying Quality not quantity time is what counts. I agree that quality time is with our children is good, but honestly quantity time is really stinkin' important too.

Usually date night with the kiddos isn't extravagant. Each child has certain things that they like to do.  And we make sure that they get to do them with us.  Sometimes just one parent.  Sometimes both.  But just one kiddo and mom and/or dad and some time to connect and be together.
Sunny and I used to cook together and do crafting projects when she was still here.  ***sigh***
Liv loves to get pedicures and lunch dates.
Patch is athletic and dinners after his track meets are a fave right now as is hiking and camping.
Boo is my movie buddy.  I just saw the new Captain America movie with him!
Tess is happy doing just about anything one-on-one but going to the dollar store and picking out something... anything... is her heaven.
Mimi... well she's the one that's still not in school so one-on-one time abounds for her. Books, reading time, crafts, cooking, coloring... golly if that child is helping in anyway she's beaming from ear to ear.
This weekend we surprised Jude with a date night.   Tess went to spend the weekend at her grandparents and Jude was feeling especially down.   Not that we need to spend money to cheer him up, but we wanted to do something special, and for Jude baseball is really really special!
We bought Jude his first D-back t-shirt and we had peanuts.  We listened for the crack of the bat, and we talked about the plays.  We cuddled as he got tired in the 8th inning.
And even though it was an awful game, the D-Backs lost badly, it was a fabulous night with our son!

What are your favorite "dates" with your kiddos?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mimi's spring

Forgive the overload of Mimi photos.  I can not get enough of her lately.  Lately, like for the last 2 years when she first came into my arms.  Now she is my daughter and my muse. 
These were her 4th birthday pics.  I didn't want to get too far behind before I posted them.  
Those big kissable cheeks, the little toenails with 3 layers of chipped polish, the gentleness of her fingers and the eyes I could dive into...

my Mimi. 
Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My dirty little secret: I listen to Eminem

I’m just gonna say it…

Please don't judge me too harshly.

My children listen to secular music.
I think Eminem is an artist.
There I said it!  

When I grew up, there wasn't children’s music, and no kid’s station on the radio.  I listened to whatever my Papa put on the turntable.  ("turntable"  You youngins are just gonna have to look that one up.)  Often we'd sit on the back porch as my papa and my uncle played the guitar, and we'd all belt out, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”  Yes, I now know the connotations.  I didn't then.  These memories of a family together wrapped in music are among my favorites.   Later I would come to appreciate these musicians as incredible artists and wonderful lyricists that were more storytellers to me when I was young.
Loggins and Messina.  
Cat Stevens.  
Joni Mitchell.  
Simon and Garfunkel.  
Peter, Paul and Mary.  
The Who.
John Stewart.
And so many more.  
And I came to realize that these artists had a lot to say about the times they lived in.  Some things were fun and some things they said were difficult to hear.  But the music told about our society, and character, and our lives and the times we lived in.   These were often the first tunes that my littles heard in my home.  Leaping and huffing on a moon shadow, moon shadow, moon shadow.  Sing along if you know this one!  It's still one of Livy's favorites.  At the age of 2, Sunny sang, Oh Cecelia! You're breaking my heart.  You're shaking my coffee up, Baby.  It's the only way we sing it now.

So my children listen to secular music on the radio too.  As much as I'd sometimes I'd LOVE to, I don’t ever really want to take them out of a secular world, (even though I have the deepest admiration for families that have chose to live counter-culture lives in accordance to His plan.)  We try to train our children to stand apart in our world.  To look different in action and spirit.  To be a magnet to others that may not know the unconditional love that He offers.  Papa and I have made a very conscience decision to raise our family in the middle of a secular world.  And it is our greatest desire that when someone meets us, they’ll go away thinking, That crazy family is different for some reason.  I wanna learn more about them and see why it seems to work for them.  We want to live within it and stand apart in it all at the same time.

I think music is an integral part of our world.

So a couple years ago I learned what a G-6 is although I'm pretty sure I called it a “cheese stick” for a very long while before an older child corrected me.  I'd like to think that they like having a mom who is actually a dork.   I've come to appreciate much about what Eminem writes about and have used it as a jumping off point for many discussions about relationships and what God intends for us to look like.   And sometimes I turn the station and that’s ok too.  I want my children to grow with the understanding that in this secular world, they too can make the decision to change the station, or take a stand in the midst of it.

If you could, would you choose to live in a community where everyone thought like you?  Where everyone listened to the same music and had the same beliefs?  Is that even possible?  Despite the fact the we want to protect our children from everything out there that's less then desirable at best and horrific at worst, do we need to let our children see it and feel it and be a part of it?  It's a delicate parental balancing act I know.  How do you find the balance in your family? 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

"Her skirt matches his hair...

... Did you plan that?"
That's what Liv asked me when she saw these pics.
Ummmm, no.  But it certainly does match doesn't it!
My friend, Kate and I are still getting together regularly and scouring the city for new-to-us photography locations.
This is where we stumbled last.  Downtown.  Urban city.  It was bright and colorful and gritty and lots of fun all the way around!
I love the dirt on his face!

PS - before I forget, I'm looking for some kiddos to shoot in this specific location.  I'd love to find a family with 2-3 kiddos, and I'm cutting my rate by more than half for one family to shoot here.  Are you interested?  Please "share" this post via Facebook or pass this on if you know a family that might be interested in a very discounted shoot in this urban location.
In the course of the friendship I've forged with Kate, another friendship has formed between our two littles.
Mimi and Riley.
Riley is a year younger than Mimi, but several inches taller.  And he calls her My Mimi. She gets excited to see him too!  Kate and I have been thinking it's our little version of Ebony and Ivory, with our own personal twist.
And just in case you're wondering if our petite little gal can hold her own in a world that's going to be larger than herself..
here she is letting Riley know who's the boss in this new relationship.  See I told you, they're friends... in every way!
That pic just cracks me up!  Ya, I laugh at myself.  And my children.  That's how I roll.
Ya we're total dorks because we even took turn taking pics of each other too!  Kate, thank you for capturing these pics of me!  I think they will be my favorite pics of myself of all time!
For every occasion I confirm that I am not a city girl, and that happens a LOT, I turn around and discover a new reason that I love this big ol' city!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Now that March is officially over...

...I thought what better time to finally post St. Patrick's Day photos!

I mean that holiday is long forgotten by now. Folks have moved on to Easter at this point, and all the shamrocks and pinching is a forgotten memory by now!  So what I great time to post my now completely irrelevant St. Patty's day photos!
I never let a little thing like completely inappropriate timing stop me!
So here they are.

I come from a very small extended family, and we're very lucky that that family all lives within the state.  Our home is centrally located and is a great meeting place for holidays.  We don't "do" all the holidays.  Only the important ones... like St. Patrick's Day of course.  It's a big deal for us!  Corned beef, cabbage, soda bread, lots of green... and a pinata of course.  'Cause what's an Anglo Saxon holiday completely American born holiday without a Mexican tradition thrown in?!
The irony of the "Kiss me I'm Irish" shirts is not lost on me.  I couldn't resist.
It's a warped sense of humor.

Coming soon, Easter pics in July.

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