Why you don't want digital files

Anyone remember 8 track tapes? How about cassette tapes? Or LPs? Floppy discs? Still have any CDs around your house? 

Our generation will be remembered as the technology generation. Things are changing so fast, even in our lifetime, what was considered new and advanced is now obsolete. 

When I bought my first digital camera over 10 years ago, I was saving my digital files to a CD. I bought a new computer two years ago and getting a CD reader wasn’t even an option. So now I have to transfer all my digital files to another version just so I can even see those photos.

One of the most common questions I get is do I sell digital files. While the answer is yes, I want to share with you today why you shouldn’t care. 

Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a place for digital files. Social media is a a great example. I have a digital photo frame in my house. I’m surprised these aren’t more popular than they are, but I suspect one day you’ll see one in almost every household in America. Digital files are convenient when you want to share a photo with everyone in your family - just email it or send it via dropbox. Viola! Now everyone has a copy. 

But it’s also important to get these images printed. While I now save my digital files to a thumb drive or an external drive, it’s quite possible, soon these will be obsolete too. If you’ve ever experienced a drive going bad, as I have, everything you have on it will no longer be accessible. Yeah, I know what they say. Back it up. Then back it up again. While I’m better at this than most people, I get lazy too and put off doing this with my own personal photos. 

It only takes one time to learn a lesson. But do you want it to be the time that you photographed the entire family right before your grandmother passed away? You can’t recreate that scenario again. Ever.

Let’s talk about the cloud. I know more and more people are using the cloud. I haven’t been able to embrace it nor do I plan to. Maybe one day I will, but right now I think the cloud is a bad idea. Yes, it’s unlimited. Yes, it makes it easy to think you are covered and don’t need to create a backup plan. But all these stories of stolen identities from using credit card machines and online banking make me nervous. It’s not a matter of if, but when the cloud will fail us. And I don’t want my or my client’s precious memories to be the victim.

In today’s digital age and camera snapping happy society, we takes hundreds of photos. Every. Single. Day. But digital files have a tendency to end up on a hard drive never to be seen again. Do you really take the time to organize your photos so when you want to find a particular image, you know just where it is? 

Prints matter. Hang wall art of your family on your walls. Make your workspace more personable with prints of your favorite vacation memories. Tell the story of your loved ones with coffee table photo albums. Aren’t these more meaningful than some random artwork or home decor item you picked up at Home Goods? 

I hope this helps you think differently about digital files. As I said earlier, they have their place, but should not be a substitute for having prints made. 

Thanks for reading!


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French on bridge

Toxic Algae is killing our dogs

There’s a killer lurking in our waters. And it’s threatening our canine friends. No, it’s not the Lochness Monster. It’s cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Maybe you’ve read about it in the news in recent days. It has now affected dogs in 15 states across the country. I have a feeling that number is about to grow.

Three dogs died after frolicking in a pond in North Carolina. Another dog passed away after swimming in a river in Texas. An hour after swimming in a lake in Georgia, a border collie passed away. In every case, it was only a matter of minutes before the dogs were not acting like themselves and rushed to the emergency veterinarian hospital. 

What started out as a play date or a fun afternoon ended with tragedy and a warning to other dog owners. Be careful out there. 

The algae can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds streams and brackish water. This includes backyard fountains and birdbaths. Not all blue-green algae produces toxins, but even very small exposure to contaminated water can be fatal. Even if your dog doesn’t swim, just getting water on his body, then licking it off is all it takes for exposure to result in death. 

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, drooling, disorientation, seizures, and collapsing. The ultimate cause of death is often liver failure. Seek immediate medical care if you suspect your dog has ingested the toxin. There is no antidote for blue-green algae poisoning and because the poisons enter the system so quickly, it is often too late by the time you reach a vet hospital. But if you get treatment early enough, it is possible to rid the body of the toxins. 

Blue-green algae grows in hot, humid climates where the water is warm. Typically they are found in slow moving waters that are rich in nutrients from sources such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows. Algae blooms can take place anytime, but usually they occur in the late summer or early fall. 

When in doubt, stay out. The best advice is to stay away from any body of water you suspect might have this algae. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And not all blue-green algae has the toxin cyanotoxin in it, you can’t tell if it does just by looking at the algae. 

terrier mix near pond

A look back on the last year

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since my husband, our 3 furry kids and I packed up everything we owned and moved to Florida. It was an exciting time as we chased a dream and began a new chapter in our lives. We didn’t know how things would unfold or if it would even work out. But realizing how short life is, we knew we needed to at least try.

Just over a year ago, after the sudden and unexpected death of my friend, I found myself lost. Especially creatively. I saw the world through a different set of eyes. Ones that I truly believe made me live life more fully and deeper than I ever had before. I had little to no desire to photograph during this time which befuddled me because this is truly one of my passions. But after our move to the sunshine state, slowly I began to feel like creating again. 

The beach is my happy place. It’s where I find peace. It’s also where I found my soul re-awakening again after so many months of sadness and loss. The more I sat on the beach listening to the sounds of the waves lapping on the shore, feeling the wind in my hair and watching the sun set at the end of the day, the more alive I became. It’s where I was when I first started seeing images in my mind that I wanted to create with my camera. No matter how lost I had felt, bit by bit, I was beginning to see, my life was unfolding exactly the way it was supposed to.

It hasn’t been an easy journey. In fact, I’d be lying if I didn’t say more than once I wanted to pack up and go back home. To Pennsylvania. My safe place of over 40 years. It was familiar. And that made me feel less afraid. But I also knew if I did leave, it would only be a matter of time before I found myself wishing I was here, where I am now. In Florida.

They say when you step outside of your comfort zone, that’s when you truly begin living life. The thing you are most afraid of, is exactly the thing you must do. The bigger the fear, the more important it is you face it. I’m a creature of habit. I love familiarity and hate change. Everything in my life was new. If I was having a panic attack, all I had to do was close my eyes and picture myself back in my old home. Then I’d be ok again. 

We sold our home in June. It wasn’t our dream home, so we decided it was time for someone else to love it like we had. When we accepted the offer, I sat down and wept. Not because I was ecstatic, but because I could no longer go back to the one place I always felt safe and welcome. I was way outside of my comfort zone. Yet, somehow I knew I was right where I needed to be.

I was fortunate to get the job I wanted if we had moved to Florida. I’m working for one of the most talented photographers of our generation. Everyday when I go to the gallery, I am surrounded by his beautiful photographs. I work with a team of people I feel like I knew long before I ever met them. I get to talk photography with customers and co-workers. For a girl who wanted to shift careers from pet sitting to photography, there couldn’t have been a more perfect way to make this happen.

Because of my new work schedule, I have more time to devote to my own photography. I earned my CPP (certified professional photographer) at the end of 2018. I made progress toward earning my Master of Photography degree by getting more education and exhibition merits this year. I’ve learned new lighting techniques and bought more equipment so I can continue to perfect my skills. After reading some incredible marketing books, I’ve revamped my marketing plan to promote my newly open photography business in southwest Florida. And finally, I am photographing again. I think my work is better than it ever was. Not just because the old adage - the more you practice, the better you become. But because the time I spent lost helped me find my true photographic voice. For all the tears I shed, the moments I spent curled up under a blanket, the words spewed in utter frustration, it was worth it. For I am home. Here. In. Florida. Doing exactly what I was meant to do. 

The following quote has been my inspiration on this journey: 

“Follow your dreams, because you wouldn’t want it so bad if you couldn’t have it. The universe gives you these dreams because you can have them. If you’re willing to work for it, you can have anything you want.” ~ Michael Flatley

Always chase your dreams. The universe wants them to come true. I can’t wait to see what the next twelve months has in store for me!

Thanks for reading!


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Dog in Venice Florida

Living with Coyotes

Last week I saw a news story about a yorkie that was killed by a coyote in Sanibel Island. I was horrified and saddened by this. I’ve never seen a coyote in the wild, until I moved to Florida, so this story really hit home for me.

When I heard there were coyotes in our neighborhood, i didn’t really believe it until I saw them myself. At first I was spooked and concerned. Knowing they were running up and down our street, I wondered where it would be safe to walk my dogs. Over time, I got more comfortable and eventually learned some things that I could do to help keep myself and my pups out of danger.

Frequently, we would see what appeared to be 2 young coyotes. They didn’t have much fur, which is a classic sign of mange. One day we noticed one of them was injured, favoring a paw. We decided we really needed to try to do something to help these creatures and reached out to a local wildlife center - The Wildlife Center of Venice. One of their volunteers came out and agreed that the pups needed veterinarian care, so a trap was set up.

It wasn’t long before the injured pup was captured. But his condition was so poor, he was euthanized. It would be many months before the female coyote would be caught. She was unafraid, sometimes even walking on the other side of the ditch as I walked my dogs. I heard from neighbors who also said she would approach or follow them as they walked their dogs as well. She appeared to be harmless, probably lonely and desperate for companionship. Eventually she was trapped and is now getting the care she needs. I’m not sure what the plan is when she is ready to be released, but I hope this will help her get healthy. While I got over my fear of her and started to look forward to our encounters with her, I have to admit it was odd seeing her as often as I did, especially during the day.

We learned quickly it was best to take our dogs for a short walk at night. Just long enough for them to do their business. While we hadn’t had any issues with the coyotes, they are prey animals and will do what instinct leads them to do - kill small animals. Of which I have one.

My heart goes out to the woman who lost her dog last week. It’s horrible losing someone you love. There are some things you can do to help prevent a coyote attack. They are:

First, always, no exceptions, keep your dog on a short leash.

Seond, at night, take a flashlight with you.

Third, if you live in or near a wooded area, shake something and make a lot of noise before going outside. You can take a plastic water bottle and fill it with some stones. This is especially a good idea at night when you can’t see the coyotes, yet they might be just a few feet away from your door.

Fourth, do not feed the coyotes!

Fifth, coyotes can come inside a home through a dog door, so it’s best to barricade these up overnight.

And finally, ff you do encounter a coyote, do not run. Instead, shout or throw something at it. 

I hope this helps you protect your fur kids while finding a way to live in harmony with these beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading!

Australian Shepherd dog in southwest Florida

Izzy turns 9!

I know I’v’e said this before, but time sure does fly! It seems like it was only yesterday that I brought this cute little roly poly puppy home! But last week she celebrated her 9th birthday!

golden retriever birthday party

In dog years she's 9
In hooman years she's 56
If she were a Disney character she would be Eeyore
If she were a human she'd be the laziest teenager ever
Her favorite food is pretty much anything
Her favorite thing to do is be by my side
She loves Florida only because she can swim in the ocean
She prefers to ride in the front seat of the car
She hates it when you blow air in her ear
But we love her to the moon and back!

golden retriever birthday hat

I’ve always enjoyed doing something special to commemorate Izzy’s birthday. I know she doesn’t really care, but honestly, it’s just an excuse to get out my camera and photograph her. One day I’ll be grateful that I have these photos marking milestones in her life.

puppy cake 3 tier bone cake

This year, I decided to do something simple. I picked up a box of Puppy cake in peanut butter flavor and some peanut butter ice cream. Once I cooked the cake, I used a bone shaped cookie cutter and cut out enough to make a 3 layer cake. Then I used a smaller bone shape cookie cutter for the top layer. The box comes with mix to make icing - it’s really simple, add enough water to the consistency you want and spread it on top or in between the layers. Izzy enjoyed her cake in about, oh, 4 or 5 bites. The hard part was keeping her from chowing down before I got any photos of her with the cake!

golden retriever eating birthday cake

The morning of Izzy’s birthday, the first thing I thought about was how my other golden retriever, Mika, was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma 3 days after she turned 9. Seven months later we said goodbye to her as she lost her battle to cancer. While Izzy shows no sign of illness, I know it’s probably just a matter of time. Canncer is so prevalent in the breed causing the average age to be younger than it used to be. Knowing this, I intend to treasure each day I have with her, while keeping all my fingers and paws crossed that we have many more years together. Happy birthday Izzy!

Thanks for reading!


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