Looking back on 13 years

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. I’m not superstitious, but I have decided to embrace our 13th as our lucky year! It was a pretty low keyed day since we both worked. But we did go out to dinner to a restaurant we’ve been wanting to try but always had a huge crowd. By the time we got there, it was well past normal dinner time hours and surprisingly there was a short wait. We thought it would be perfect since it was right on the intercoastal waterway. And it was, until shortly after we arrived, the sun set and we were sitting in darkness except for the lights on the tables. Even still, it was nice to spend a quiet evening together doing something other than work after work!

One of my traditions has been to bring a camera, set up my tripod and take a photo of us on or near the day of our anniversary. You’d think that with me having a camera almost everywhere we go, we’d have plenty of photos of us. The truth is, we have very few. Sure, we take the obligatory selfies whenever we do something exciting that we want to share on social media. But I’d certainly never consider them print worthy.

Since I’m always behind the camera, I’m rarely in any photos. I know one day I’ll be grateful I’ve done this. My ultimate goal is to print a book of us, through all the years of our marriage. This is us…13 years after we said “I do.”

Thanks for reading!

xoxo

 
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13th anniversary photo


Lessons from the dog - cuddle with loved ones

February. The month of love. Flowers. And romance. Valentine's Day is right around the corner. I find people either hate this holiday or love it. I love it, though at one time I dreaded it. Years of being single, wishing I had someone to share my life with only to be reminded I was spending the holiday alone. I had fantasies of Prince Charming riding in on a white horse sweeping me off my feet on none other than February 14. Didn't every single girl have the same dream? 

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These days I think Valentine's Day isn't as much about romantic couples as it is about love...for everyone. Which includes our furry friends. While I'm not single anymore, I wouldn't be ashamed to spend my holiday curled up on the couch cuddling with my fur kids. In fact, I think the time they spend cuddling with us is a lesson we can learn from them. 

We're always so busy, constantly on the go getting things done, running here and there. And when we are relaxing, we're not really. Often we're multi-tasking like doing laundry and watching TV at the same time. No wonder we feel stressed and tired all the time.

Every once in a while, Izzy will come over to me and give me a "hug". She'll jump up and wrap her paws around me snuggling her head under my neck. If I sit down on the couch to study, Kita often joins me, curling up on my lap. She'll roll on her back and paw at me trying to get me to pet her. It's like they're saying "take a break." Relax. Pay attention to the things that really matter. And you know what? It works. Yes, sometimes after 30 seconds I'm done and back to work. But other times, I really do stop and slow down. Breathe. Rest. Turn my brain off for a bit. And it feels great.

I should do this more often. We all should. Celebrate love every single day. Not just on February 14. Because one of the things we love about our pets is the love we feel for them and believe they have for us. If we all felt love more, I have no doubt the world would be a happier place. There would be less crime, less bullying, less hatred. Imagine that world. I'd choose that in a heart beat, wouldn't you? 

So this month of love,  let's take a lesson from our dogs and cuddle our loved ones more. Every little step is a step toward a better, kinder, more loving planet. 

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Lessons from the dog - cuddle with loved ones

Why I hired a professional photographer

As a photographer, it’s rare that I ever get in front of the lens. Every once in a while I’ll hand my camera over to my husband and have him take a few shots. His philosophy is much different from mine…hold the shutter button down and eventually you’ll get at least one photo. He forgets that if you don’t make sure the camera is in focus, it doesn’t matter how many shutter clicks there are…none will be any good. 

Steve surprised me by proposing and giving me an anniversary ring!

Steve surprised me by proposing and giving me an anniversary ring!

Last year we celebrated our 10th anniversary. We had a lovely honeymoon on the Caribbean island of Anguilla the week after we got married. It’s been our dream to go back and explore other islands in this beautiful part of the world. So for our decade celebration we did just that. It’s also been 10 years since we’ve had any professional photos taken of us. In fact, the last time was on our wedding day. And while I love my wedding album, frankly, Steve and I are more casual folks. We’re happier in shorts, a sundress and sandals than in formal attire (even though I absolutely loved my wedding dress!). So I hired a photographer to do a session with us on our favorite place on this entire planet - Anguilla.

We were fortunate that Susan of Susan Croft photography was available the day of our anniversary. Not that the day we had our session mattered. But in this case, it turned out to be the only nice day during our brief stay. We heard it from everyone. The Caribbean is known for blue skies, white puffy clouds and turquoise water. For about 3 weeks, it was anything but except for a 3 hour window which coincided with our photo session! 

It’s awkward being in front of the lens and Susan noticed that I wasn’t relaxed. She started our session with us walking through the water to get me to loosen up. Eventually I did and forgot there was a camera in her hand. Even though I brought my camera gear and could have set up a tripod and gotten some photos of us, I knew I couldn’t capture authentic images capturing our relationship. And that was important to me. If these last 10 years flew by in a blink of an eye, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we were celebrating our 20 year anniversary. 

Our session lasted for almost 3 hours.We had fun and enjoyed getting to know Susan. We capped our session with a nice cold island style drink at one of the most popular joints on the beach. Living on a small island, Susan doesn’t get to talk photo talk much with other photographers, so we immediately began chatting about equipment, sessions, goals, marketing and so on.

After our brief visit to Anguilla, we hopped over to Antigua where we spent a week exploring this island. You would think it would be more of the same, but each island is unique. There were some things we loved, and some things we missed from Anguilla. Fortunately, the weather finally broke and we were able to enjoy the perfect sunny weather we had been looking forward to. Among many things, Antigua is known for it’s 365 beaches - one for every day of the year. We probably found about 20 of them, each one better than the last.

While photographing pets will always be my favorite subject, I also love landscape photography. My camera went everywhere with me and I came home with over 1500 images. Sadly, I’ve been so busy, I still have yet to finish sorting and editing all of them. My ultimate goal is to put together a 10th anniversary album with photos from our session on Anguilla mixed with my landscape images from Antigua.

Yes, hiring Susan was an investment. But it was worth every penny! Sure, we have lots of cell phone images we took of ourselves, but it just isn’t the same. How long has it been since you’ve had professional photos of your family? I challenge you to make this a priority! Don’t wait. It’s too easy to put it off, but it should be one of the most important investments we make. Let me tell the story of your family. Now offering family and children’s sessions in addition to pets! Call me for details!

Top Ten - Hair of the Dog Blog

Each week Hair of the Dog blog has a weekly challenge. A theme is announced on Monday and pet photographers from all over the world have until the following sunday to enter 2 of their photos incorporating the theme. Nicole chooses the Top Ten from all the submissions and features the winners on her blog. I followed along with the challenges for a few months before I had the courage to submit my own photos. Many of the photographers who participate are women I've been following, admiring and aspiring to be as good as some day! So when I submitted my first photo and it was chosen, I was just over the moon! 

The talent of pet photographers is amazing! It's also fun to see how other photographers interpret the theme. I'm very humbled and honored that several of my photos have been chosen for the Top Ten. I won't recap all of them, but here's a few that made that the Top Ten in the last few weeks. While I don't participate every week, I intend to get out and start shooting some more as the weather gets nicer. These challenges are a wonderful way to inspire myself to think outside of the box. Izzy, of course, has been a wonderful model. I imagine as long as I reward her with treats, that is something which will never change :)

Be sure to visit the blog to see some wonderful pet photos!

Below are some of my Top Ten images and the theme for that week...

 

Top Ten - Travel

 

Top Ten - Travel

 

Top Ten - Love