19 January 2015

Find Joy in the Ordinary

I'm trying to get back into blogging this year, especially since I slacked on it MAJORLY last year. We will see how that goes. One thing I hate? Coming up with eye-catching blog titles. Ugh. That's probably the one that I hate the most. Writing a post is no problem, but tying it together with a great title always stumps me. I don't think that will ever get any easier. It hasn't in all the six years "Everything Happens for a Reason" has been in existence and even the other eight years before that; back in 2001. It's always been something that I had to think and think about before clicking "publish."

Moving along... Let's see what has happened over the course of the past two months:


December:

1. I helped out with an amazing organization called HELP-PORTRAIT. I haven't did a full update yet, because they are still tallying up how many people were helped (it's a worldwide event).


"HELP-PORTRAIT was founded by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowing in 2008. Our mission is to empower photographers, hair stylists, and makeup artists to use their skills, tools, and expertise to give back to their local community.
Each December, photographers, hair stylists, and makeup artists all around the world will find people in need, take their picture, print their picture and then deliver it---free of charge.
HELP-PORTRAIT is about GIVING the pictures, not taking them. These portraits aren't for a portfolio, website, or sale. It's about giving people who otherwise couldn't afford photography, a chance to capture the moment, a memory... and a whole lot more."  
2. One our cars broke down, and we had to get a tow. It happened almost at one of the worst times. It was happening, while my husband was on his way to work. I was at home, so I drove to where he was broke down out. We switched out vehicles, while I waited for a tow back to the house. They said it could be at least hour, so he couldn't wait around with me. Luckily, the tow was there in about 20 minutes. It turned out something to do with the fuel pump. The husband was able to fix it all on his own and saved us about $600+ (which is around what a mechanic would charge). Thank goodness, we didn't have to spend that!! Unexpected expenses aren't fun and are stressful, especially around the holidays. Thank goodness for the husband being so handy with cars!!

3. We are avid Sam's Club shoppers (and also members of Costco too). We have saved so much money!! We've only had to buy paper towels and toilet paper twice in one year. 

Before we shopped, we ate at the "restaurant inside" If you haven't, you should and you are missing out terribly!! One large slice of pizza and huge drink for $1.50 or they have hotdogs for the same price. Um... yes. You cannot beat that price (and it is great pizza and hot dogs too!). I wanted another slice of pizza after I finished mine, and they let me have it for free. I don't know why, but I wasn't complaining. (Something like that happened back in October when we were at Sonic. We were there around 3am or 4am and the machines reset right after we ordered, so they couldn't access them. They ended up just giving us our food for free).

We then went onto do our shopping and was about an hour away from closing, if that. Well, by the time that we were checking out, it was closing time. I saw all the rotisserie chickens and felt sad. I told him that there was so many of them left and no time for anyone to buy them... What were they going to do with them? Just throw them away? Give them to employees? The birds died in vain and for no reason :-( Well, as we were leaving, one of the employees had a cart with the ones left and were giving them to each customer that left. That made me feel so much better.





4. We cut down our own Christmas tree at one of the local tree farms. They have such a cute idea. They take a picture of us with your tree, and next year when you come back, they give you the picture. That's great marketing!! is that or what. We always buy a real tree, but this time it was different because we cut it down




5. We went to St. Barb's military ball and it was a blast!! We even got to be a part of the ceremony pouring some alcohol into the grog.



6. After the ball, we all changed into our onesies and hung out until the early morning.

7. We attended our first "ugly Christmas sweater" party. 


8. Now, I can't forget about our yearly Christmas family portraits (even the dogs are included).

9. We celebrated bringing in the new year with friends!

10. Gas started getting super cheap. On this particular day, it is $1.98 (and even now it is around $1.85 or less). We can now fill up our SUV for around $25-30, when usually it was about double that. I remember back around 2003, when it was $1.43!! I'm sure when that I started driving it was less than that. Those were the days, and it seems like they are sort of back.




January:

1. The husband was promoted to Staff Sergeant!!

2. I've become obsessed with Apartment Therapy (it isn't just for apartments! It has tips, diy, and more for houses, rentals, dorms, and just about any type of living situation out there). I've in the process of decorating our house (been in current rental for three years). It will probably take a good part of the year to get it the way that I want. I plan on buying furniture (new and thrifted) and doing lots of DIY to make each room like I want. It will take that long, because I'm frugal with good spending habits now (concentrating on paying off credit card debt once in for all and those things that I want would be nice, but aren't necessities).


Anything exciting happening in your life lately?

14 January 2015

How I Persevered in 2014

In 2014, this was the year where everything really started for me. I was tired of the hurt that I faced in 2012 and of the guilt that I had felt  by not overcoming obstacles and having a lack of self-confidence. "My One Word" for 2014 was perseverance. 

I decided that in 2014, I wasn’t going to care what people thought about my prices. It always seemed like the people that truly cared were photographers. Prior to 2014 (and even still now), I saw how nasty photographers could be to the “newbies.” It wasn’t an accepting feeling. I felt accepted, but I could see how some would ostracize others and tear others down. Some would find other photographer's work, post it in a photographer group just to make fun of it. If that doesn't rub you the wrong way, then nothing will. It was more disdain and annoyance. 

Remember no matter who you are in life or whatever career you choose to stay humble. Everyone was once an amateur, and a lot of people seem to forget that along the way. No one starts out at the top. FYI: Just because someone is new to the business of photography does NOT mean they are new to photography in general. At first, it bothered me. I stopped caring. It wasn’t worth it, because there was always going to be people looking at you and not believing you can do it. 

I knew what my CODB (cost of doing business) was and how to be successful. Everyone has different goals, target market, business models, etc. Just because one does it a certain way does not mean that a) it is the correct way (because there isn’t one) and b) that particular business model may not be successful for you or meet your wants/needs/goals. There’s a place for everyone; from the $50 hour session photographer to the $475 hour session photographer and everyone in between, whether we agree with the other person’s business model or not. That’s life. That’s how it is with everything. There's nothing more annoying than other photographers bitching about so-and-so's business model and how it is "hurting the industry." Okay, maybe it is or maybe it isn't. "Just go and do you." Seriously, it isn't all that hard. I just come from the mindset of "Move on. Do something positive and productive, instead of worrying about someone else. Worry about you."

Okay… Okay… I’m going off on a tangent.

When people think photography is easy, I just laugh. It isn't. In fact, photography is 80% about business and 20% about photography. You can be a crap photographer but be widely successful and an amazing photographer but struggling to get clients. It's all about marketing. Also, the work of the photographer should factor into people's decisions. Notice, how I said should. Some people just care about price and could care less about the quality or not even notice the difference. Some facts: In the first year, 60% of photographers give up. Another 25% will fail within the second year. The photographer turnover rate is 85%. With the influx of DSLRs and the affordability of them causes a lot of people to believe they can open a business. I'm all for people chasing dreams and whatnot, but photography isn't just about taking pictures. It is way more to it than that, that people don't see.

How I persevered? I just went out and did it. Granted, there were several days and sometimes even weeks, where I wasn't motivated or cranking out new work like I should've been. I then would gain motivation again and then keep on trucking along. Each day is a new journey within itself. It has its up and downs, successes and failures, and desire and wanting to quit altogether. You never know what the next day will bring. No matter how I felt, I kept at it. The end result that I want for my life is to have my own successful business, be able to continue to stay at home (now and in the future when we have children), and be happy with my work. Everyone sees success differently. To some, making an extra $500 a month is success and to others, it may be $4000 or maybe even $10,000. Success is such a relative term, and it is up to you to know what success means to you. I know what it means to me and would love to get to that particular number and do it consistently without fail.

In all seriousness though, I did accomplish quite a bit. First, let’s take a look down memory lane…

I remember the day that I first set foot on my new beginning of my new journey into photography. This particular day was in February for the March issue of Imperial Magazine’s doll issue. I remember being so nervous. This was the first time with models, posing, and studio equipment. I jumped into it and was quite hesitant and unsure of myself. I met a lot of photographers and models that made me feel at ease. I still talk to them to this day (of course). I learned to adapt and immerse myself into the situation, and the rest is history!!



2014 was quite a year!! In 2014, I accomplished…

-I’ve met dozens and dozens and dozens of models, photographers, and other creatives in the industry.

-I was published eight times in four different publications.

-I’ve got to work with a variety of photographers and models, as well as assisted a few of photographers on photoshoots.

-I did a surreal self-portrait that was a pretty big hit!!

-I got to photograph two fashion shows.

-I got to photograph a wide variety of genres; fashion, boudoir, children, couples, families, and portraits. I also did events like Scarefest, fashion shows, and charities (like awareness for shelter animals and HELP Portrait).

-Now, I use Pixieset, which is the way that I deliver galleries. It is so much easier and efficient than CD/DVDs!! My computer doesn’t even have an optical drive! I have even started to transition into doing print sales via Pixieset.

-I have obtained three different types of film SLR cameras (four total) with a variety of different lenses and accessories; Konica AutoReflex TC, Nikon FM10, and two Nikkormat EL cameras.

-I got a new computer (an iMac) to replace my Macbook that I had for 5.5 years.

-My website finally looks the way that I want it to look. I’ve kept the same template the entire year, but I’ve tweaked it and organized it and added widgets. I’m now 100% happy with the way that it looks!!

-I got over 500 likes on my facebook business page!!

-One of my images appeared on page one of of the most popular images in the fashion category on 500px.

-I designated a place in our house for my office (It still isn’t nearly finished, but nevertheless, the space is mine).


I believe that is all. It’s really hard to think about every single thing that happened within the year. Even the little things matter and can add up to the bigger things.


I have tons of goals and accomplishments that I want to see to fruition in the upcoming year. The goals range from booking more clients to blogging more often. I want to be somewhat secretive about my goals, because I don’t want everyone to know what I’m working on at the moment. However, at the end of the year (2015), I’ll definitely make sure to mention whether or not, I accomplished everything that I wanted. No matter what’s on my list of goals, the biggest one is to grow my business and clientele. Period.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds!! I know that 2015 will be my greatest year yet, regarding both my personal and business life.

13 January 2015

Life Was So Different Than This Time Last Year

Before I start back my regular schedule of blogging, I'm going to ease back into it and do an update of what I did in 2014 and then what currently has been happening. I just feel like that I need to get that out of the way first. Plus, those are things that I want to be able to remember easier, when looking back at my blog later in the future.

2014. What a year! Can you believe how fast that it passed by? It was so quick. It's funny, because when I was in high school, time seemed to drag by. When I say dragged by, it was slow as molasses. I had a terrible in high school. I had very few friends and was made fun of and occasionally bullied. There was nothing that I wanted more than time to pass by fast, but it never did. Now, as I'm older, each year seems to pass by at lightning speed. If only those things could be switched. I'm actually happy now and don't want life to pass by any faster. 

I barely blogged any. Some months, it was once and others three. Usually, I would at least blog fifteen to twenty-five times, but not this year.



January
-"My One Word" aka "Word of the Year" for 2014 was perseverance. I chose that particular word, because I had/have a habit of giving up too easily. If something gets too hard, isn't easily attainable, or results aren't seen immediately; I always gave up. (This week, I plan on doing a recap on how I did with my word and then talking about my word for 2015).

-Last year, there was a polar vortex (last week, the temps were almost the same). I remember up until January 2014 never feeling temperatures that cold. One day, it was -4 and the "feels like" temp was -23 degrees. We all know that the "feels like" temperature is what really matters, and that's a FACT. Since it was so cold, the "boiling water trick" became viral. We even did it and videotaped it, of course. No one was harmed. Where I live, we set a record for the NATION'S BIGGEST 24-hour temperature drop. It was 55 degrees and then 24 hours later, it was 3 degrees with the temperature still dropping.

-I had been to the Titanic Exhibit in Ohio back in 2006, but my husband never had been. When it was in our city, we made sure to go!! It was such a perfect date night.



February
-I restarted my photography business. (Restarted? I guess you can call it that). I had my first fashion photoshoot with models and a magazine.

-My aunt was found dead.

- A picture of my husband and me was broadcasted in Times Square. Axe had a campaign, Make Love Not War. You sent pictures of you kissing someone via twitter with the hashtag KissForPeace. They picked ones to broadcast in Times Square on the big screens. After they showed my picture, they sent me a picture of it live in NYC. How cool!!

-We had a low-key Valentine's Day at home. I cooked the ribeyes, while the husband cooked the sides. He also knew that I was was wanting a piƱata for forever, and he bought me one! (I can't remember where he bought it, but I'm thinking it was either Wal-mart or Kroger).



March
-We celebrated St. Patrick's Day downtown again with all the vendors and the parade. We also ate at Shakespeare & Company. We have the only U.S. location. All the others are located in the UAE.

-The photoshoot that I did back in February? The magazine came out and FIVE of my images were published.



April
-Usually, UK is awesome just about every year, but in 2014, they were more of the underdogs (despite us being the winningest basketball program of all time). In just about all of the games of the tournament, it came down to mere seconds. We then would shoot a 3 pointer and then win the game. No one thought we would make it to the final championship game, but we did.

-I turned 28 years old!!

-Three of my images were published in a magazine.




May
-Two of images were published in a magazine.


June
-We celebrated three years of marriage!!

-I was published again in two different magazines (one image in each), and I also photographed a fashion show.



July
-We celebrated downtown with the vendors and parade for the Fourth of July. It is definitely one of our favorite holidays!!

-I was published in yet again two other magazines (one magazine had one image and the other had two images).

-There was a crazy storm and split one of our trees in half. It almost crashed into our bedroom window!

-We bought a new grill, since ours got stolen at our old house when we were in the process of moving (back in 2012). We also bought some brand new patio furniture!

-Bentley got the "cone of shame."


August
-I second shot a wedding and covered the reception by myself. 

-Also, one of my images appeared on page ONE of POPULAR images in the fashion category on 500px.

-Lastly, I photographed another fashion show.

-Someone in Louisville created a flyer as a joke and tried to get a "real life" Purge to happen. Needless to say that listening to the police scanner that night was hilarious. (The majority of claims were unfounded, but if you were listening, you may think it was actually happening. Notice, I said maybe). At one point, there was over 86,000 listeners and the app became number 3 in the iTunes store. There was a guy that did steal pickles and a beer! 



September 
-I got a new iMac to replace the Macbook that I bought back in March 2009. (Hey, 5.5 years is a great run!).

-I tried macaroni and cheese pizza from Cici's, and it is pretty much one of the best things ever.

-The husband and I did a photoshoot with a photographer.




October
-A Cheesecake Factory opened up at the mall later this month. They did two days of "practice sessions," and I got reservation tickets for my guest and me. We got an appetizer to share, an entree for each of us, and a dessert to share. Free Cheesecake Factory? Umm... yes!


November
-I was published yet again and was even interviewed as well. (My images appeared three times).



December
-For the past five years, we have gotten a real tree for Christmas. However, in 2014, we went to an actual tree farm and cut it down ourselves.

-We also went to St. Barb's military ball and it was pretty fun (I'll talk more about it, when I do an update on what I've been up to lately).

-Finally, we rang in 2015 with tons of friends.


I couldn't have asked for a better year!! I just know that 2015 is going to be even better!!

08 January 2015

Our Digital Footprint

I wonder does anyone blog anymore? I haven't logged into Bloglovin in months and months. Literally. It also seems that some of my favorite bloggers that I started reading back in 2009 and 2010 stopped blogging this year as well.

In 2014, it seems that was the least that I've blogged since 2009. Hell, even while I was in grad school full-time back in 2010 and 2011 and working full-time (sometimes up to 55 hours and on call 24/7), I blogged more than I did in 2014. In fact, 2010 and 2011 were the two years that I blogged the most. Go figure.

Blogging used to consume me. I loved it and had to do it all the time. I had to create posts, read posts, respond to comments, etc. I hate to admit it, but I invested way more into it (a really ridiculous and embarrassing amount of time) than I got out of it.

I still love blogging and a part of me guesses that I always will. A part of me changed. No longer did I feel compelled to go home and write a post immediately about something that happened. The majority of time, the things that happened only mattered to me (and my husband) or were things that only we would have gotten (inside jokes, funny happenstances, etc). As much as I would want to share those things, I don't want to just blog to blog. I don't just want to fill up space for no rhyme or reason, you know? I blog to remember my life and adventures and my thoughts. I want to see how I grew as a person. A long time ago, I made my blog into a book (from 2009-2010) and have plans to do it with the rest (it's been on my list forever). I want it to be a nice keepsake that I can keep forever. 

In 2014, it was crazy... only blogged 86 times?!? I know people kept telling me that it was okay that I hadn't blogged, because I was growing a business. I wasn't making excuses for not blogging. I knew blogging would be there, if I wanted to pop in and say "hey," or if I wanted to continue like I never stopped. I did not even miss it all that much. Sometimes I never logged into my computer or turned it on that day. It was nice. However, I did miss all the opportunities that blogging can bring.

Blogging is kind of weird when you think about it. We put our lives out on the internet. Our digital footprint. So many people can "think" they know us or infer "who we are" and assume things about us. Blogging is just one part of us. We decide how much one knows. We decide to share our ups and downs or maybe just our ups. 

Heck, the majority of time, people skim posts anyway (okay, that was a generalization). There has been several instances on my blog and on other bloggers' blogs, where people comment something and it was 100% clear that they didn't read the entire post. The comment that they made was evident, because it either had a) nothing to do with the post itself or b) it was fully explained in the post and it was glanced over. That part kind of annoyed me. 

I also couldn't stand when bloggers got torn apart, because they didn't share any negativity or "hard times." That is their choice. Maybe they aren't going through hard times or maybe they are and choosing not to share? I know that if I had something deeply personal going on in my life, I would NOT blog about it. Hell, I wouldn't tell 99.9% of the people that I know in real life. Just because one person is going through a "hard time" does not mean they have to get mad at everyone else, because they aren't in the same position that they are. Also, some things are meant to be private. I never understood why people are criticized people for that. There are obvious things that you don't talk about it. It's the internet after all. The internet never forgets. Plus, I don't know about you, but I can't stand when people are constantly negative or whining or complaining. No one wants to have someone drag them down. (Fyi: Personally, I never really was worried about that, because I chose what to put out there. Years ago, I did write things--nothing bad and it caused personal drama. Someone was nosy and drew conclusions from some posts and that caused the drama. I looked back at my posts from years and years ago and can't believe that I wrote them. Some were too personal to share). Also, some people might not want to appear vulnerable. I'm sure everyone has their problems or issues, but we all can't just put them out there like that. If you do, cool. If you don't, cool. Some people might have just a troubling issue or secret or whatnot that putting it out on the internet could cause a backlash or repercussions in their personal or even professional life. I can also see how others might relate to your particular situation. Either way, it's a personal choice.

People aren't doing it to make others feel bad. People aren't being purposely being vindictive, so others will feel like crap when you compare your life to theirs. There's more to it than that, I promise.


Linked up with:
Mingle Monday with Life of Meg

12 December 2014

Roses and Polka Dots








shirt: c/o OASAP
belt: came off a dress or something?
jeans: forever 21
shoes: bought this forever ago


Another pair of skinny jeans and another printed blouse... would you expect anything else from me? If you need to know one thing about me is that I like to make fashion fun and stand out. The blouse was too big (bigger than I was expecting), so I cinched it at the waist with a belt. I think it turned out rather nicely. Quick fix :-) I know I must reiterate the same thing over and over. In all seriousness though, why would you want to blend in by wearing some neutral color? Add some color to your wardrobe!! I even matched my shoes with my blouse... you can never have enough polka dots!!

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