Are "likes" really that important?

You’ve seen it, or maybe you’re guilty of it too. Checking your cell phone every minute or so to see if you got another “like” or comment on your most recent post on social media. I’ll admit it, I do this. Sometimes I may share something, usually a photo, and if I don’t get a positive response quickly, I’ll delete it. I won’t deny that I’ve gotten caught up in the whole instant gratification thing like so many others have.

Recently I learned that Instagram is currently testing a new feature - hiding “likes” on your account. You, as the account holder would still be able to see how many folks double tapped on your photo, but no one else would. At first I wasn’t too thrilled with this idea. That had more to do with the fact that I don’t like change. Though if Instagram is reading this, I would like the algorithm to change back so posts would show up from all the accounts I follow, in chronological order. I’m tired of being told what I “want” to see with some accounts not even showing up in my feed at all. If I liked their account, it’s because I want to see their posts!

But after some thought, I really do hope Instagram does away with the “like” count. Then maybe we’ll start to see authentic images, photos that reflect real life, you know those less than perfect moments. I used to love scrolling through my feed, but I’m finding myself checking in less and less often. There’s so many beautiful accounts, I just don’t think I can begin to compete to get people to follow me. Ironically, the number of “likes” on average for my feed remains the same as it has for several years now. But looking at other feeds and seeing “likes” that are double, triple or even Duodecuple (did you know that was even a word?) mine makes me question whether I should even have an Instagram account sometimes.

But here’s the thing. We all think we want to be the “best”, the most popular, the most talked about account amongst our peers. But what we really want is to be seen, heard, and to know that we do matter. I follow some people even though I know I’ll never buy their service or product, but because they are authentic. They share their trials, tribulations, triumphs and the journey that got them there. I find myself rooting for them when things don’t go right and celebrating over their successes. I’ve never met any of these folks, but I feel like I know them just from following their accounts. It doesn’t matter to me that they have 1 “like”, 100 “likes” or even 10,000 “likes”, I still like them.

If Instagram does hide “likes” I think we’re going to see more real world posts from instagramers. No more sharing a certain post because the poster knows it will elicit thousands of thumbs to double tap on the photo. It will hopefully put an end to our unhealthy comparison to other social media users. Instead, it should encourage more interaction with one another. Which is, after all, what we’re all longing for anyways.

What do you think about this feature? Are you in favor of it or not? Are you guilty of not sharing something because you don’t think you’ll get as many likes as you want? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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terrier mix in Florida

What I'm currently reading

You’ve heard the countdown before. Perhaps it was when you warn your kids that if they don’t do as you say right now, they’ll be put on a timeout. Then you count down 5..4..3..to let them know you are serious. We’ve all watched the spaceships prepare for takeoff and the final moments of countdown before blast off. 5..4..3…

"The 5 second rule" by Mel Robbins has come on my radar more than once. But I couldn’t imagine how 5 seconds in any other context could possibly matter in my life. Boy, was I wrong! 

I’m just a little more than 1/2 way through this book and already I’ve put stickie notes on dozens of pages. Passages I want to go back and re-read. Notes I want to take to reference later. The author promises she can help improve my life in 5 seconds. I was skeptical when I read this on the back cover that she could make my life better. But now I’m beginning to think she is right. 

I can understand how counting to 5 in certain circumstances can be a good thing. Like when you’re angry and want to scream at your 5 year child who just wrote all over the wall with magic markers. As he stands there with a grin on his face because he’s so happy with his creation. After all, you were the one who encouraged him to color instead of spending another hour in front of the television. Take a deep breath. Breathe. And count to 5. All seems like good advice before saying something you’ll regret. 

But Mel Robbins talks about the 5 second rule in other contexts, situations I would never have thought of. The one thing that struck me the most was how everything we do is motivated by our feelings. Want to wake up early and get a workout in before going to work? You set the alarm the night before fully intending to do just that, but when the alarm goes off you make every excuse why you’ll start tomorrow instead. Too tired. It’s raining out. It’s too dark. Excuses. All of it. What you really want is to get back in shape after having a baby.  But you let your feelings take over and you talk yourself out of it. If you countdown to 5 before hitting the off button on the alarm clock and in the words of Nike, “Just do it” you will get that workout in. No, it’s not easy. But it works. 

I know that because there are so many things I have done in my life where I made that decision to not listen to my feelings - my fears, my anxiety, my nervousness. And I usually don’t regret it. I’ve been writing down the same goals for months, even years now that I haven’t made happen. Each time I re-write it, I tell myself it’s going to be different this time. But here I sit with some of those same goals written in this year’s planner. It’s time to make some of them happen because I know they will get me closer to making some of my dreams come true. Which includes creating a successful photography business. So, 5 seconds to a better life? You bet! I can’t wait to finish this book and start putting this into practice! 

Have you read this book? Did it change your life? Do you want to read it now that I’ve written about it? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Let’s have a dialogue and help each other take 5 seconds to creating a better life for ourselves! 

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
 
golden retriever Australian shepherd at Phillippi Estate Park

Location scouting - Phillippi Estate Park

While I’ve been to Phillippi Estate Park before, it’s been a couple of years. Two things that struck me about this location when I first discovered it was how awesome the light is and how beautiful the property is. Oh, and dogs are allowed! Ok, so that makes it three things that I love! This weekend I decided to go back and explore it again with a fresh pair of eyes. I loaded the car with all 3 of our dogs and my husband to head off for an adventure. When we arrived, we walked around the side of the main building just in time to hear over the loudspeaker, “I now pronounce you husband and wife!” As we came around the corner, the bride and groom were walking down the aisle in our direction. Afraid my dogs would start barking, I quickly ran to the other side of the sidewalk and hid behind a tree. The happy couple and bridal party seemed genuinely happy to see the dogs. And to my delight, the girls were well behaved and didn’t make a ruckus barking and carrying on at the wedding party as they walked our way.


We headed off to another section of the property to explore. I set up my gear and took dozens of test photos. The longer we stayed, the more I just loved it. Photographers always shoot with the light and I just couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful evening. I tried new things, practiced old techniques and checked off a bucket list photo I had been wanting to shoot for a while. Some photos I took for specific reasons and I’ll share more when the time is right. But for right now, here’s one of my favorite images I captured of Kita. This is definitely going to be one of my go to locations for client sessions.

Thanks for reading!

 
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terrier mix southwest florida park

1st quarter goals check-in

I love the New Year. It's a time of beginnings, fresh starts and the opportunity to make new goals and resolutions. The first few weeks of the year are exciting as I make changes in my life and tackle my list of things I want to accomplish. Then like everything else in life, the novelty wears off, I get busy, or things happen and I don't stay committed. This year I decided was going to be different. And to help me really stick to my guns, I bought Design Aglow's The Big Picture Planner. What I love about this planner over all the other ones out there on the market is that they have pages devoted to yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. And aside from a couple of weeks in February where I had so many emotional things happening in my life, I've really made it a point to do the work and write it down. Sometimes my list is too ambitious, but for the most part, I found myself tackling many items on it. What I also like about this planner is that I can break tasks and set a time period for when I want to make them happen.

Like all the other years in my life, time flies and I can hardly believe we've just turned the calendar over to April. The start of the second quarter. Recently, I sat down with my planner and evaluated what I did and didn't accomplish in the first quarter and set goals for the next three months. It's so easy in the mundaneness of the day to day life to forget all the little things we've done. In my mind I really thought I hadn't made much progress, but sitting down with my notes, I realized that wasn't true. No, I didn't accomplish everything I had hoped to. But the year is not over, and there is still plenty of time to make those things happen. 

So here's a look back...and forward so far in 2018. Last year while I was in Florida, I signed up for a Certified Professional Photography prep class with Al Audelman. Sadly, Al passed away unexpectedly late last year. I didn't take the test in 2017, but it is high on my list for 2018. So I got out the study guide and have been studying almost on a daily basis. I've declared my candidacy and plan to take the written test in the next month or so. I also spent a lot of time, I mean hours, culling, organizing and editing photos I took in 2017. Since the winter months are a slow time for me with work, this was the perfect time to do this. I have a hard time keeping up during the year and I'm pleased to share that I have finished this task! And I finished organizing the rest of the files I hadn't gotten to from 2016! Man, what a good feeling it is to have this done!

I fell off the wagon last year when I only sent out one newsletter. My intention was to change that in 2018 and I'm pleased to share that I did send out the first edition in Feb. I plan to keep up, sending out a new edition every quarter. I also re-evaluated my product and pricing list. And I'm excited to announce that I have added a new product that I think my clients will love! While I love blogging, sometimes I find myself stressing out because I have nothing ready to share. In those moments, I end up writing something hours before I post. So I vowed I would get ahead and have posts ready to go as fas as a month in advance. I got ahead back in Jan, then fell behind, but once again, I have written several posts and hopefully won't find myself panicked on Tuesday and Thursday mornings anymore.

I've also made some changes to my website, updating some of the pages and photos. I have more work I want to do, but since it's a never ending process, I'm happy with what I've accomplished thus far. Last year I created a business Pinterest page and pretty much didn't touch it after that. It's been on my mind to learn how to set up my blog so I can share it on Pinterest effectively. I'm hearing from a lot of small business owners who are using Pinterest as a marketing tool and are having a lot of success. If you follow my blog, you may have noticed some new graphics I created specifically with Pinterest in mind. 

I didn't accomplish everything I wanted to. I had planned on writing a pdf download that all new subscribers to my newsletter would get when they sign up. I started writing the text, then just dropped the ball. I also intended to enter District Print Competition back in February. The deadline was just at the wrong time and apparently many other photographers felt the same way since entry numbers were down this year. I am, however, still planning on entering International Print Competition which takes place later this summer. I also wanted to set up a Limited Edition session that would take place in April. I've had this idea for a couple of years and told myself to just make it happen. And again, I did not. I'm not giving up on my idea. I just have to pick a new date and get to work on the details and marketing. 

Looking ahead to the next quarter, I have some goals to carry over as well as new ones to start working on. April gets started with a bang when I attend a workshop on studio lighting for pets. I also finish up a class I've been taking on preparing for print competition learning new editing and photoshop skills. I've learned a ton that I can't wait to start using in my workflow! I've already got a couple of sessions booked and I can't tell you how excited I am to get outdoors and behind the camera again. Winters are hard when the landscape is so blah and colorless. 

So, all in all, I'm pretty pleased with how 2018 has started. Looking forward to what the next three months brings! 

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This is my why

The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to live life following your true purpose. Finding your way is not always easy. We have so many voices out there telling us, prodding us or even pointing the way to the life we should be living. But the only voice that matters is the one inside your head. Are you listening? I mean, really listening and paying attention?

Are you really listening to the voice inside your head?

I believe I'm one of the lucky ones who discovered my life’s mission at a young age. And while I’ve stumbled and fallen along the way, I never lost sight of what that is. But before I talk about that, I need to dive into my childhood and share a little bit of my history. 

When I was in fifth grade, my teacher gave the class an assignment to write a paper. I don’t remember all the specifics, but I do remember that I chose to write about the panda bears. As I did my research, I learned the plight of these cuddly black and white bears - how their numbers were dwindling due to deforestation and population growth. I wrote a proposal on how I could solve this problem. In the mind of a ten year old child, it was easy. Set up a table at the base of the mountain where the panda bears live and stop anyone from further destroying the habitat and developing the land. Simple, right? 

self.portrait.golden.retriever.woman

Well, that was just the beginning of my awareness for my love of animals. Like so many adolescents, I struggled with finding my place amongst my peers. I was probably more insecure than many of my classmates, and I definitely was one of the shiest kids in my class. I struggled with fitting in and feeling like I was well liked…or even liked at all. My self-confidence was low - something I eventually outgrew, but only as a young adult. My teenage years were tough, to say the least. I know I fought depression to boot and often wondered if my life would ever get any better.

While at the time puberty seemed to be a very painful experience, looking back, I’m glad I went through everything I did. I believe it made me a more compassionate, emphatic and caring person. Getting through those years wasn’t easy though. And the single thing that probably helped me the most was a cat. Yes, a crossed-eye, loud mouth siamese named Ke-O-ke. 

She was born a year before me. I’m sure when I came along, she wondered what was this creature that cried, smelled and babbled. Then once I was crawling and could pull her tail, her ears, her fur, she probably hated me. But eventually I got bigger and calmer and we became the best of friends. Even though she was my parents' cat, the baby before me, she ended up being mine. She hung out in my room during the day, followed me everywhere and slept beside me every night. 

She was the one I told my secrets to.

She was the one I told my secrets to, who listened to my sobs whenever I cried, who made me feel like I mattered when so many days I wondered if anyone really loved me. She didn’t care that I had a face full of angry red welts otherwise known as pimples, was moody because of PMS (or just all the time!), or that all the girls, except me, had gone to the movies. She didn’t care if I was the most popular (I wasn’t) or the best dressed (I wasn’t), she still greeted me at the door with her purrs when I came home from school. 

When I doubted anyone would miss me if I ran away, I knew she would. When I felt alone, she was the one who kept me company. When I didn’t feel I had anyone to talk to, it was Ke-O-Ke who meowed at me. You see, she didn’t see me the way I saw myself. She didn’t judge me the way I judged myself. She loved me in a way I couldn’t.

And now that I’m all grown up, I still struggle with self-worth sometimes. Don’t we all? But isn’t that what we love about our furry best friends? They love us unconditionally. They stand beside us even when we make mistakes. They don’t care if we are single, married, are parents or not. It doesn’t matter if we are dressed to the nines or wearing yesterday’s dirty clothes. Or if we take them to the park in a fancy SUV or a beat up old car. They don’t care if we make an appearance at friday night’s happenings around town or stay home curled up with a good book. They make us laugh, give us purpose and make a difference in our lives. In a way we sometimes can’t do for ourselves. 

It’s no accident that dog is God spelled backwards.

I don’t think it’s an accident that dog is God spelled backwards. While I can’t say for sure there is a God, I do believe in something bigger than myself. I believe this higher power, or Supreme Being, created me. And in His or Her eyes, I am perfect in every imperfect way. 

I also believe that one of the struggles every human being faces, is the ability to see ourselves the way our Supreme Being does. The way our dogs (and cats and other pets) do. That we are worthy of life, love and human experiences. I believe that every thing happens for a reason. It all serves to get us to the point where we believe and know that we are enough. That we are all connected. That we all matter. Our life purpose is to discover who we are, to unearth the treasures hidden deep within ourselves and share them with the world. 

For some of us, the way to this truth is though the furry best friends we meet, care for and love along the way. They teach us so much about life. About ourselves. About human kind. About connection. Because in the end, the only true thing that that matters is love.

The only true thing that matters is love.

This is my why. Why I’ve made a career out of working with animals. Why I am a photographer. And a pet photographer in particular. To capture the connection, the bond we share with these creatures who play such a huge role in our lives. To show you what they see in you. And what you see in them. Your teachers, your protectors, your best friends. Because animals matter. And so do you.

PIN IT!

This is my why