A look back at 2017

Januarys mean new beginnings. But it's also a great time to reflect on the past year and take note of all my accomplishments and failures. The year began with a bang when I took an extended trip to Florida. It was good for my soul (all that sun!) and my business as I was able to focus on tasks that needed to get done, but could never find the time. This included overhauling my website, getting back into blogging and shooting more that winter than ever before. 


My return to Happy Valley brought in more clients than in 2016. And stretching myself out of my comfort zone I shot studio portraits in my clients home. Something I had shied away from for so many reasons, but ended up being more doable than I ever imagined. 


I met and photographed several puppies (and had way too much fun!), consistently blogged twice a week and posted on social media on a regular basis, something that previously I had only done sporadically and with little intention behind what content I was sharing. 


I made decisions that in 2018 I hope will move me toward focusing even more on my photography. Letting go of some things took time (years actually), but I'm excited to make some changes in my life and get closer to making my dreams come true.


While I achieved many of my goals for 2017, I fell short on some of them too. I only published one newsletter edition all year, didn't book as many clients as I had set in my goals and completely failed at some marketing plans I had started to put together, but never acted on. Some goals I achieved, like entering Professional Photographer's of America (PPA) International Print Competition, attending a PPA Certified Professional Photographer class and expanding on my photoshop skills, which were not part of my plan when the year began. So I'm proud of myself of taking advantage of opportunities I hadn't expected. 


One thing is clear though, how much I've been enjoying my journey as a photographer. Reflecting on all of this has been part of the process as I work on setting goals for 2018. And let me tell you, I've got some pretty ambitious ones this year! It's always fun to look back and see how far I've come in just 12 months. And a great reminder that this journey isn't about getting there, where ever "there" is, but the experiences along the way. So whether something was an accomplishment or a failure, I'm grateful for all of it!


Now that the holidays are officially over, I'm ready to jump in and get 2018 started! 


Best of 2016

Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop. ~ Ansel Adams

With every new year comes new goals and ambitions. As an artist one of them is to grow and perfect one's skills. In the ever changing world of technology, it can be hard to keep up - new editing programs, better cameras, new skills learned, etc. But it is also important to remember the basics which never change no matter how much the world has. It's so easy to compare myself to other talented photographers, but in the end, the only comparison that really matters is the one to myself - 12 months ago.

I took a look back at the images I created this year and picked 5 of my favorites. Some I have have never shared publicly before. All of them are images I am proud of. Some involved using new techniques I set out to learn in 2016. Others were created perfecting skills I had learned but wanted to improve. In my mind, there's no doubt my work as a photographer has grown a lot these last 12 months. In many ways, I have far exceeded goals I set for myself. My journey to defining my style has really started to take shape this year. It's been a fun ride and I'm really looking forward to what 2017 has in store for me! 

This is probably my all time favorite photo of Izzy! Which is saying something because I swear every time I take a new photo of her, that image is my new favorite! I love everything about this - from her expression, to how life like she is, the background and the beautiful blue sky. Creating this image was a big defining moment for me this year. It set the path I've been down regarding my artistic style and where I plan to take my creative vision in the future.

Of all the images I captured this year, this shot of Kita is the one I am most proud of. I've had this vision for over a year and for one reason or another was never able to make it happen. Then one night I saw the sunset I had been longing for, grabbed my camera and said it's now or never. With a long to do list of things that needed to get done, creating this shot was the most important thing to me that summer night. I emphasize the word create as this is more than just being at the right place at the right time. It took careful planning to make it happen. You'll see more images like this from me next year especially on some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. 

One of the things I wanted to do more of this year was capture the relationship between the pets and the people who love them. Posed shots are great, but it's the moments when something special happens right before my lens, the interaction that isn't coaxed, planned or forced like this one that I want to photograph more of. I love this special moment between Harley and her mom, don't you?

Although this is similar to the image of Izzy above, I included it because of a challenge I gave myself and met while creating this photo. I loved working with 5 month old Asher. Not only is he handsome, but he really worked the camera like a professional model! This day I proved to myself that I can use my lighting to create beautiful images at a location I had never seen until that very moment. All within 10 minutes of arriving to my session. This is harder than you might think. Especially when working with a very active and easily bored puppy!

There's something so special about this image of Nixon and Snoopy. From the fall colors, to the magical light, to the way they sit side by side - best buddies and "brothers" - my heart just melts every time I look at it. Maybe because while I got to know these two, I truly came to love them. Maybe because I know the bad rap that pitties get and I wish people could meet dogs like these two. I don't know, but honestly, it is one of my favorite photos captured this year. Seeing it printed on a canvas wrap for a Christmas present was even more awesome. 

While I've come a long way since last year, I still have so much growing to do. I can't wait to see where my journey takes me in 2017!


Penn State Dog Session: Gabby

Last summer I got a call from a couple visiting from Mississippi who were interested in getting photos. They wanted to include their dog Gabby who came along with them on their trip to Happy Valley. Being Penn State alumni and because Gabby joined their family during their years as students in State College, they thought it would be more appropriate to have photos taken here instead of back home in the midwest. I was really excited to do this as I just put together the idea of creating a Penn State Dog Session, for families like Gabby's. Like so many alumni, Gabby's people have stayed in touch with former professors and friends and come back periodically to visit. 

I asked them how they found out about me, wondering how a pet photographer in PA would come up on their radar if they were searching in MI. It turns out that Gabby, a german shepherd mix, is a PAWS alumni and they had seen some of my photos of adoptable cats posted on the PAWS Facebook page. Due to their short trip, we were limited on when we could meet for the session. As it happens, we were fortunate the day we picked, the weather was absolutely glorious. Now, anyone who has visited or who lives here in Happy Valley knows that when the weather's nice, there's no better place to be. Blue skies, white puffy clouds, low humidity with just a gentle breeze in the air. Ah! Doesn't that sound lovely? And since Gabby's mom and dad were Penn State alumni, there was no question where the session should take place.

I met Gabby and her family at the Hintz Alumni center and spent some time getting to know them, making sure Gabby was comfortable in her new surroundings. A shepherd mix, Gabby was very friendly and needed no time to warm up to me. This spunky and energetic girl didn't show her age, can you believe she is 13?!

We talked about getting a variety of photos - some of Gabby alone, some with her mom, some with her dad and of course, some of all them together. 

All year round the campus makes for a beautiful place to capture photos. I think it's especially glorious in the summer when the flowers are in full bloom. I've tried my hand at gardening with a little success. Whenever I need some inspiration or quiet time to sit amongst beauty, the alumni center is one of my go to places.

Since the photo session wasn't planned prior to leaving the mid-west, Gabby and her family had to work with the clothes they packed for their trip. Deciding on a blue color scheme, they capped off their outfits with a blue and white scarf for Gabby. With Penn State's colors being blue and white, how much more perfect could it be?

I had a delightful time with Gabby and her family. Gabby stayed pretty focused in spite of all the ducks running around the pond. That is until the end when a squirrel, in typical Penn State fashion, decided to come over and check things out! Gabby was beside herself with the newfound party crasher and we knew then it was time to end the session!

Gabby's family opted to purchase a photo album since there was such a variety of photos it was too hard to choose just one to frame and hang in their house. I love how it turned out and can't wait until they receive their order!

If you are a Penn State alumni and would like to have your family, including your furry 4 legged members, photographed while in town, give me a call and let's set up a session! Honestly, you can't ask for a more perfect backdrop than the beautiful campus to capture memories you will treasure forever!