Hello from a crap cell phone


It’s been a very long time since I’ve written anything here…and SO much has changed: residence has changed 3 times over, new grandchildren have come (and another on the way as I write this!), job changes….social media sites have been added and deleted, new friendships formed and long-time friendships temporarily put on “hold” due to transitions into the hereafter…in short: LIFE changes! I won’t bore you with the mundane details…

But I write this to promise MYSELF that I will write more often and with regularity here… even though most postings will be from a crappy, not-so-smart phone that takes crap cell-snaps.

Because I spend the majority of my time alone (main company being my pets and the feral-but-friendly kitties going about their lives on the stage that is my yard and decks), I wonder what merit there is to sharing “crap cell-snaps” of life here. Folks want to be stimulated, titilated and
entertained by GOOD photography and uplifting writing…not moved to glossy-eyed, mind-numbing stupor or reading about depressing stuff that is, lately, my life.

But there it is: I am writing for myself…and inviting others to follow along if they so-choose.

This is going to become more of a repository for all of the emotional, physical, spiritual and photographic comings-and-goings that are “my life”, and in doing so…will be exactly the kind of discipline-building habit I need right now. (Would you believe; I started a book about one particular time period in my life…THREE-plus YEARS ago…and never finished!?
I also began another book…more than a decade ago…about the five people I met on a train, and they were fascinating people, too! It was my first-ever train ride.
I never finished ANY of them…zero discipline. It’s embarrassing 🙂 )

To set the stage; I now live in a rented home affectionately referred to as: “Vintage Tin-Can”…a 1968 single-wide trailer, on a fairly rural plot of private ground in Sussex County, Delaware. It has been fairly well-kept, if not anywhere near my personal ” style” and the property is mostly wooded, with sizeable front and back yard spaces.

We’ve been here nearly two years, having had to start life completely over from scratch ( after the utter devastation that was the year 2010)…and I have been a hard-sell to warm up to the situation.

It’s not that I am a snob and have anything against living in old trailers or rented properties (Life has had me in much worse over the course of my lifetime!)…it’s that it has taken me a while to regain the trust in my husband necessary to put the pieces back together. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to try.

But, as life sometimes goes; we both needed each other and so, initially for convenience’ sake and later, because life together is better than life apart…
Here I am.

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Showing Mama Some Love

(This is a  feral kitty abandoned here by previous tenents, whom I call “Lil’ Bit”. Her little baby stopped playing long enough to show her some love, with a hug.)

I am alone most of the time, as his hours are long and “days off” are rare…but I am not lonely. There is much companionship and photographic folly (if even only from a distance) with the feral kitties, eagles, buzzards, songbirds, Great Blue Herons, groundhogs, otters, gray fox, deer and other wildlife which frequents the fields and woods around me.
And my own, indoor pet kitties are a great source of companionship as well.

My photography business has not been as successful as I hoped…but I won’t give up. The signal here is abysmal and sporadic, so photos taken with “the GOOD camera” will take a back seat to “crap-cell snaps” for a while, too….relegated to being shared only on those occasions which I think it worthy to pay for extra data.

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(These images are from a promo-shoot advertising this year’s charity mini-sessions to benefit a child born with a rare disease called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex and Mom-n-Me mini-sessions….which wound up being canceled. )

There is a LOT more to write about…but for now…a leftover piece of post-birthday strawberry shortcake is demanding my immediate attention!
(Remember what I said about “discipline” up there!?
I rest my case *grins*  )

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“Tough-way Terry”


“Tough-way Terry” was the nickname grown-ups gave me as a kid… and I hated it at the time. It’s not that I chose to do things the hard way. Most of the time, I just didn’t know there WAS an “easier” way and the grown-ups in my life were just sadistic enough not to point them out.

Even now, folks aren’t exactly in a hurry to tell me there is an easier way. I chalk that up to the competitive nature of the human existence. Maybe it’s a natural throwback to survival of the fittest. Maybe it’s because people aren’t inclined to help anyone else get ahead if things are difficult for themselves at present. Maybe (and I hesitate to even think this, but it IS a possibility) some folks just don’t like to see anyone else succeed. *shrugs* I don’t know why people do what they do… but I DO know… I was aptly nicknamed and it’s appropriate even today.

In my defense: I’m a stickler for detail and “getting things right” the first time. I’ll go over and over a concept in my head many times, give it a trial “go” a few times… tweak this … change that… completely discard something else… before, eventually…. I give whatever-it-is-I’m-working-on my seal of approval.

But it’s tentative. The creative spirit never fails to remind me that there’s always a possibility that a better/faster/more efficient/more fun/less tedious/brighter/shinier/more-sparkly way will present itself and I’ll be behind the eight ball. Yanno!?

That’s when the brain steps in and says: “There are a million different ways to arrive at the same destination or result. There’s no ONE CORRECT way … there’s only the way that works best for you… or … for ME. ”  And for the most part, the brain is successful in reigning in the creative spirit, getting it to agree with the brain, but not always.

logoBut, when they don’t agree… all chaos erupts in the Gemini personality let-me-tell-you.

For example: Over the past month; I’ve been working on a new direction for my photography business, fine-tuning things like: narrowing down my specialty, website design, editing software, workflow systems, systems for running my business etc. and it’s been a whirlwind of chaos. At the same time, as a brand-new-trying-to-do-it-all-by-myself business owner, there’s also the little matter of actually planning/scheduling/marketing/preparing advertising materials/keeping up with social media and oh… actually holding SESSIONS. I’m managing to hold it together pretty well so far, but it’s dare-I-say-it: “tough”.

There are a few people in my life who do everything they can to make things “easier” for “tough-way terry” though, namely friends and family but also online communities like Creative Live , which by their very existence, offer a myriad of ways to make my tough-way, easier.

Creative Live offers multiple channels of free “Live” training and continuing education on all aspects of business for creatives…including photographers… and presented by a whole host of expert, “real” instructors who know their stuff from experience and who aren’t the least bit stingy about sharing their knowledge. I often feel guilty because I can’t afford to purchase the courses and course materials yet. Some of these instructors learned the hard way and put their ALL into the classes they teach… many of which are worth their weight in GOLD for newbies like me. I’ll be forever indebted to ladies like Rachel Stevens , Susan Stripling and oh-my-gosh…. Sue Bryce.

Each one of these amazing presenters have a very different way to get where their vision wants them to go. Each one has a distinctive style, specific workflow, business systems… way-of-doing-things-that-works-for-them, and I’ve learned a TON from each and every lady listed including: posing for every shape and size, lighting options, how to deal with clients of every persuasion (difficult personalities, serial “deal-n-discount seekers”, control freaks etc.) technical stuff and creative stuff alike.

After an immense amount of inspiration, followed by trying a number of “free trials” (accounting systems, ordering systems, software designed to streamline my workflow or batch edit large groups of photos at once… etc.), and bogging my poor laptop down with “shiny-new-things-to-try”… I’ve learned something.

“Tough-way Terry’s” way MAY not be the easiest way, or quickest way or best way…

But it’s my way.

It works for me.

I understand how it works and I’m stickin’ to it.  🙂

(In an effort to pay-it-forward and be kinder to my fellow photog-business friends than the grown-ups were to me as a kid nicknamed “toughway terry”…. I WILL say this:

It was through a Creative Live series that I first heard of Millers Labs. In an effort to support local businesses; I used to use my local professional lab to process my prints, but they went out of business about a year ago. Since then I’ve been floating from  one lab to another, not totally thrilled with any one of them… until Millers.

THRILLED.

Yeah that’s the word.

Not ONLY are they head and shoulders above the others in terms of quality, product line AND customer service… but they’ve got some freebies built in which make my business life SO much smoother.

Namely, I’m talking about the automatic scheduler service, “BookM”.  NOW anyone ready to book a session with me, can go to my website, find “Book Me!”  find open dates for specific sessions and reserve their preference. The system allows me to customize everything about the service… the EASY way… and my clients can book their session, pay session fees and even get customized reminders, too.

Color me…THRILLED. )

Love-N-Life Studio|Delaware Portrait Photographer

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Going S……L……O…..W


“My name is Theresa A Johnson and it’s been months since my last blog entry.”

Why is it that the prospect of writing a new blog entry makes me feel like I’m in confession or a drug/alcohol rehab. meeting…(despite the fact that I am not Catholic, nor ever, a member of any rehab groups)? Perhaps it’s an accountability-thing even though I really don’t have anyone to be “accountable” to!

It’s not that I have been lazing around doing nothing, photographing nothing, trying nothing new or anything. Quite the contrary actually. It’s more that the things I’ve tried, the images I’ve made, the goals I’ve set to date in this very young new year… have all failed.

I’m still stuck in the same dumpy motel suite, still have the same antiquated equipment, surrounded by the same circumstances that limit me severely. In short, nothing has really changed in my direct circumstances/situation. It feels like a perpetual “holding pattern” …an energy sapping, spirit-draining, depressing “holding pattern” the likes of which are as UN-inspiring and UN-motivating as a piece of soggy cardboard lying in a parking lot puddle. (Wait, actually that would be photographically kinda cool!)

The New Year has been as inspiring as this rusty bolt I photographed the other day, for the helluvait.

I started the year with the customary optimistic outlook:

“New Year, NewOpportunities”

…and all that jazz.

Having read and absorbed the wisdom of countless B-2-B newsletters, blogs and websites on the topics of photography business, technical tid-bits and personal motivation… I was READY for a change, yanno?

Toward that end; I gathered the necessary calendar, notebook, pens, phonebook,  etc. (I’m not a fan of ALL-things electronic and/or digital… don’t judge lol) and set about “planning” out the business year from four months out and working backwards as many successful photography business owners have described.

The bank account dictates the first promotion to be slated in late January, “just in time for Valentine’s Day”  *gag*…so I also set about designing and purchasing the necessary promotional materials to be distributed around the local area for that “extra layer of exposure”.  I promoted in the various online media areas (aka: Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and dedicated website page), pointed each to the other and scheduled updates to hit those sites on the days most suggested by the analytics and other successful photography business advisers.

(Did you KNOW that your posts to facebook are seen more and are more successful on some days over others… and times of day as well!?? There’s a LOT more to it than I ever imagined!).

And I found my models for the promotion materials and did the shoot(s) to be used in the advertising.

I thought I had all my ducks-in-a-row and “launched” my promo (having already put in the face and networking time and energy with the venue managers where this promotion is to take place!).

(Insert sound of crickets chirping here even though here in Delaware, they’re hibernating now)

*Chirp!

*Chirp.

(even the crickets are decidedly un-enthusiastic)

I was SO caught up in the prospect and excitement of “offering” my services to the women around here… SO caught up in what it was going to do for me and my business (“This is gonna be GREAT and it’s gonna put me on the map around here!” NOBODY else is doing this and for such an accessible price-point… this is gonna explode!” etc.)… that it never occurred to me that there might be a reason for that.

This promo is a flop. It’s a money-waster (when I didn’t have the money to waste on a pizza, let alone a business-defining, world-rocking, ego-boosting, “pamper-you” boudoir/intimate portrait mini-session promotion).

There is no public interest whatsoever.

In my excitement, I’d forgotten that people have to want my “product” in the first place. In my eagerness to accomplish MANY things at once: I needed to create the interest AND ” inspire the desire” for this kind of portraiture, too. A couple of weeks is NOT enough time for such a thing and I should know better than to think “anyone can do this for a LOT less investment of time and money”, too.

So… my first promo of the year: failed. I have many more in que for the rest of the year… various themes/areas of focus and sprinkled through the most advantageous months (according to “research”) but my ego’s bruised.

My vanity is showing and all I really wanna do is go hide somewhere.

I want to “give up”.

I feel “washed up” before I even started.

That’s the humanity of it all.

But I’m not going to give up entirely. I’m CONVINCED that I can make this work for myself AND my “target market” (ugh! Don’t you just hate that term? Talk about reducing people to intangible concepts!).

I just need to go S…..L…..O….W.

In the meantime, I’m experimenting with new concepts, new styles and a new focus for my photography. I’m having fun “playing” with ideas. Here are some recent images from a few sessions with model: Rachel. They are not offered for technical critique. I’m just sharin’   🙂

OH! And before I forget to mention it… with a new year, comes re-NEW-al of business license(s) and website/domains.

Yeah, THAT didn’t go the way I’d planned either. If you’re following me or my work via the website, you may have noticed that the link you have already takes you nowhere. *sigh*

Please visit my new website/domain at http://www.love-n-life-studio.com

(and of course… all the wonderful, search-engine-rank-enhancing Facebook “Likes” from the homepage have reset to “0” in the transition…. so if you are inclined to help me get found and listed in local searches again… hit that “Like” button at the bottom of the page, won’t you? )

concept shoot

concept shoot

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Another conceptual session

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And so, it ends

This gallery contains 10 photos.


Summer 2013 came… and promptly went. Mine was highlighted by a move to a new, small town which subsequently led to:  two major street photo-ops in the form of small town celebrations(Heritage Day and National Night Out), …A great opportunity … Continue reading

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“About Town(s)” | A Photographic Project


If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a host of great travel and photography bloggers in your “must read” list. They go to grand locales, write about iconic places and seem to live “the good life” traveling and being paid for the privilege!

And, (if you’re anything like me)… you read them… “ooo!-and-ahhhh!” them… leave your kudos in the comments section and move on, feeling as if you’ve actually “been there and done that” .

Yes, indeed! The bloggers I follow are THAT good!

But my life is not like that. I don’t have the opportunity to travel to the locales of my dreams, photograph the iconic sites that so many of my contemporaries are able to so expertly capture. What’s a girl to do? Sit and feel sorry for myself?

(Well, yeah… maybe for a few minutes. I’m human, after all!)

But, no.

You see, there is a “naturally curious” side to my personality.

(Some call it nosiness, but I digress 🙂  )

In addition to that; I love people. I have always loved to sit with someone and hear “their story” and to learn the history behind a particularly interesting site.

I believe in growing where you are planted and making the most of every experience, no matter how seemingly innocuous or small it seems.

Toward that end, I’ve begun a personal odyssey of sorts… a photographic project… and I’m calling it “About Town(s)”. It’s a new feature segment on my Love-N-Life Studios website.

When Life has me moving from town-to-town, I’m going to start sharing my experience and knowledge of it with my friends here in the cyber-world. (Because I CAN’T be the ONLY one who is curious about these little places!? Can I?)

Regretfully, this project opportunity didn’t fully present itself to me when I was in possession of a decent DSLR. Some of the photos from the first “Feature Town” (Delmar, Delaware), will not be all that great, but I don’t want that to deter you from reading more and I don’t want it to detract from the unique specialty of the town itself.

Onward we go: Delmar, Delaware… ”

“The Little Town Too Big for One State”

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Highball Signal is a historic railroad signal located at Delmar, Sussex County, Delaware. It is a white sphere mounted on a pole and located next to the railroad tracks to signal permission for a train to proceed at full speed, if the ball was at the top of the pole.
 It was originally in service at New Castle, Delaware, and then at Hurlock, Maryland. The highball signal was moved to Delmar, Delaware for display during the town’s centennial in 1959, and is no longer used to direct railroad traffic, but is maintained as a public exhibition in a park near the railroad.

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Aside from the great reflection in this shot… it is a favorite in my collection of “About Town” shots of Delmar, Delaware.
Again, the Victorian architectural details are fascinating…but the thrift shop selection is pretty nice, too. You never know what you’re gonna find…

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While I have no idea what this, now decrepit, building USED to be… I love it “as-is”. I’ve featured it twice in two different photo-walks. It sits on the corner of the tiny little center of town area…and Nature has reclaimed most of it.
(I’ll hunt through my archives for more of this building and post later…)
Before I left the town a few months ago, someone had begun restoring parts of it….but I always imagined buying it and making it one HECK of a studio and living space!

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Generally speaking, “Lens Flare” is an unsavory element in photography…but I kept it in this shot deliberately… and even enhanced it a bit!
I love Churches (and their accompanying graveyards…and their steeples, especially…but I digress!) and have taken many photo-walks of various towns with the sole purpose of documenting the churches alone.
The sun was “just so” on this occasion, and from my vantage point… I felt small but protected…and definitely not alone.

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The Town of Delmar was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1892 and again in 1901. The first fire destroyed everything in its path over a ten-acre area and the second major fire was almost as destructive. In each instance, the Town of Delmar was rebuilt and continued as a flourishing town.
There are many of these little stars attached to some of the older buildings throughout Delmar.
This one has shifted, revealing tell-tale hints that, perhaps, it is a survivor of the fires.

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At first, it was the colorful door trim that caught my eye on this building (which apparently used to be a little store of some sort, but now seems to be used mostly for storage…and target practice for area kids with nothing better to do!)

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…but then I HAVE to get a closer look at the tattered window coverings inside.
I have no idea what they’re made of. Sometimes it looks like dirty old cotton.. maybe coated with tobacco from lots of patrons smoking inside over the years…
and sometimes, it looks like it could be hide!

Delmar, Delaware has attracted a lot of national chains to its border with U.S. Route 13, but travelers will find some interesting sites by taking a small, 2 mile jaunt west.

(not to mention some delicious Pizza and a fantastic “all-you-can-eat” seafood supper… family-style!)

Watch the blog for updates to this focus town… coming soon … and for more towns, too!

And if you happen to LIVE in any of these little towns I’ll be featuring, why not share some of your “story” or experience with it, in the comment section below!?

Be on the look-out… you never know when you might spot me… spotlighting YOU! 😉

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Having a little fun with Emily


So, the other day, I asked for a volunteer to do a practice (translated: “freebie”) boudoir session, the images from which, I was going to use in an upcoming “Inti-Mini” Promotion.

It turned out to be quite a “learning experience” and a great deal of fun… but my personal  favorite shots of the day came later when she was waiting for her ride to pick her up.

Emily has a wonderfully, uninhibited smile… but I don’t think every photo needs to be of a smiling person to be successful. These two shots were heavily edited for effect. I think they look like they came from an avantguarde’ publication or something… but I like them!

The trends in photography seem to be reverting back to “yesteryear” type effects.  I’ve seen this in Wedding Photography, especially. Even commercials on tv (especially in the Summer season) seem to be filmed with this treatment in mind. The over-exposed, golden-light (and even creative lens-flare)  leads to an emotional, nostalgic feeling…retro-70’s maybe?

I don’t know about you, but for me… growing up in the 70’s… wasn’t a great experience so maybe that’s why this is not my personal favorite in terms of photography effects. But: I DO love to experiment!

Delaware FUN portrait photographer

Having a little creative effects fun with her outdoor shots

Love-N-Life Studios

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“Side-Tracked”


I recently re-discovered this photo in my stash of “pics without much promise or merit”. I have a lot of those; photos which moved me at the time to TAKE them but for which I could see no other purpose than personal satisfaction.

For some reason… they just speak to my spirit.

Although this was taken a little over a year ago, it’s illustrative of my situation currently in both personal and business considerations.

“Detours” in life are often seen as a negative thing. Sometimes, the detours offer enticing possibilities that “lead us astray” and which, ultimately prove to be false mis-directions that serve no purpose other than to keep us from fulfilling our proverbial “destiny”.

But I don’t believe in “destiny”. I don’t believe there is only one purpose or direction for our spirit to navigate. I don’t see Life as being so limiting or … well… stifling.
I believe there are MANY ways to reach the same destination and all are valid by experience alone.

For me… this photo is inspiring!
There it is: a “detour”… a deviation from the main track.

But where does it go!?

It runs parallel to the main track… and goes in the same direction… and ultimately… winds up in the very same place.

Side-tracks such as these, also serve to avoid catastrophe, such as when two trains erroneously occupy the same track!

I’m glad I didn’t toss this shot, now. I’m in a very challenging spot in regards to personal and business circumstances and I’m here because I’ve been “side-tracked” in a big way.
I was feeling depressed and really considered just giving up… everything.

Serendipity is sweet!

My “side-tracked” state of being is giving me a chance to re-evaluate and re-adjust my current direction. It’s likely going to lead me to the same success and “happy ending” I am searching for… and it just MAY save me from a looming catastrophe I never saw coming.

Bottom line, I don’t fear detours in life anymore.
Do you?

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From the Sidelines


I get the most happiness from doing children’s candid shots, I think.  A child’s happiness is positively infectious….

This little girl was cheering on her sibling who is out of frame on a swing. From this reaction, one would think they just won a gold medal at the Olympics!  🙂

 

Tiny Cheerleader

Tiny Cheerleader II

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Into Every Life, A Little Color Must Fall


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I was excited last week, when I heard that Pantone has declared “Green” to be the color of the year!

Yep.

Excited, as it’s always been my favorite color!

I’m one of those people who change the decor of my home according to the season… right down to rotating four seasonal dinnerware prints, moving furniture and changing out wall art to suit (much to the irritation of family and friends). It could be an element of the Gemini personality (easily bored!) or it could be in response to the prevailing energies that the seasons bring to life… but I’ve been this way since a teenager and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Since diving into photography for a profession (as opposed to  a simple personal pastime); I’ve explored the talents of countless artists whose work I admire greatly. We all have a unique style that shines through our work, regardless of our genre or medium. Many of the works which stand out in my mind most, surprisingly enough, are black and white or “monochrome”.  I love the simplicity of the compositions and the fact that the eye can rest a bit and focus on the finer details of the imagery.

However, there comes a time when a little color is the order of the day. Bright, colorful pops of color can completely change the vibe of your surroundings… elevating mood and infusing a renewed sense of life to the other elements in the room.

I find myself in a difficult transition period and have been taking up temporary residence in a small motel in a small Delaware town.

My room has two pieces of art in cheap frames… surprisingly… photography! One is an architectural element and the other is a rather nice abstract shadow of an interesting trellis.

However, the room itself is done in dull, neutral colors (and hideous 80’s patterns but that’s a post for a different day!) and the photos seem very out-of-place. Its a pity really… because color can inspire people to behave differently!

The owner could use this opportunity to inspire visitors to pay a little more and stay a little longer… or at the very least… treat the room with a little more respect.

Color is power!

There are examples of Nature’s power all over the place… and color plays a huge part in that. In nature, color signals danger, attracts mates , encourages fertility and so much more…

When it comes to colorful photography, art, or decor… one can often find opportunities just by looking around in the natural, green places in your neighborhood.

A discarded Goldfinch feather stands out against  the dusty pathway

A discarded Goldfinch feather stands out against the dusty pathway

Bright yellow against deep green is both soothing and inspiring

Bright yellow against deep green is both soothing and inspiring

If you’re considering making a colorful change to your decor or personal style, don’t be afraid to fully commit to it. This doesn’t mean you need to suddenly plaster every surface with color… remember to give the eye a place to rest in the grand scheme of the room! But avoid washed out or diluted colors. Make sure that the background of your colorful subject is simple and clean, in order to get the full benefit.

Be BOLD.

Shades of orange provide an energetic pop of color in any size or medium.

Shades of orange provide an energetic pop of color in any size or medium.

Be CREATIVE!

It doesn't have to be something BIG.. positive change often comes in baby steps!

It doesn’t have to be something BIG.. positive change often comes in baby steps!

Simple, everyday items can become colorful wall art

Simple, everyday items can become colorful wall art

For in doing so, you’ll be inspired to spread your wings in other areas of life… and you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Available for purchase in a variety of sizes and mediums..click the photo to browse

Available for purchase in a variety of sizes and mediums..click the photo to browse

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Happy Accident Number 442 1/2


Happy Accident  Number 442 1/2

I just love happy accidents… especially when it comes to photography!

In this shot, Taylor paused to tell me what she was using for “ingredients” in her imaginary “soup”… and I couldn’t resist the shot. She looked so … angelic…and that smile!

Of course; while editing, the urge to “correct” the portrait was overwhelming… and for some in the series… I did exactly that. But in comparison, they left me feeling a bit deflated. Unless you know the story behind the photo; they are “predictable”… standard… quite frankly… kinda boring even.

(click on the image to go to my site… the others in the series are on the “Latest News” page…tell me what you think!)

My normal “style” is rather colorful and contrast-y…but this washed out, over-exposed, “happy accident” really makes me happy.

It really is the “simple things in life” that are the most memorable. This was so simple that I almost missed it….

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