Spring has arrived!

After waiting months to see some color, spring finally arrived! And I couldn't wait to get out there with my camera and capture it! I love the burst of color coming up through the ground, the trees waking up and sprouting tiny little green leaves and the sound of birds as they become more active. Spring is probably my favorite season. I'm sure having a May birthday has something to do with that! I haven't photographed many pets lately. In fact, Izzy is the only dog who has been in front of my lens. I've been feeling stuck in a rut with my work lately, as I struggle to create images I'm proud of. It's been refreshing focusing on other subjects during this creative block I'm in. Hopefully it'll help me get through it. But if nothing else, I enjoyed my evening strolls through the gardens. Grateful to not have to bundle up in sweaters and winter coats anymore! Here's a few of my favorite images!

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Pet photography workshop | Recap

I'm always striving to learn more about photography and improve my skills. This year one of my goals was to attend a workshop. With so many opportunities out there, I decided I wanted to focus on studio lighting. This past weekend I spent a day with Andreas Romijn, a dutch photographer, whose work is superb. I've been following him for a while and when I learned he was coming to Chicago to teach, I knew I needed to go. 

Early in my photography journey, I swore up and down I would never shoot in any condition except natural light outdoors. But as time goes by and I see how much you can do with strobes, I'm finding myself using off-camera flash, or OCF for short, more and more. Lighting is tricky to learn in the beginning, but once you grasp general principles it gets easier. These days I have a dream of owning a home where I can set up a studio on my property. I'll never stop shooting outdoors in natural light, but I definitely want to integrate studio sessions into my business.

Andreas' style is pretty much the opposite of what I usually shoot. Dark backdrops, black dogs and dramatic lighting. Yet, I love it! I tend to lean toward light, bright images, with a pop of color. He showed us how he lights his dogs and different ways to use a number of strobes. Then he let us shoot and see this for ourselves. As artists, most of us tend to learn better visually, so this was the perfect way for us to grasp it. He was very involved answering our questions and encouraging us to make decisions on where to place the lights and what settings to use on our camera. I prefer this teaching method over the photographer who sets up the shot, explains why and then lets his students take a photo so they can go home with that "perfect" shot. No one ever learned how to be the best at their craft in just one attempt. 

I came away learning more than I dreamed I would and can't wait to start practicing on my own. Here are a few shots I captured that day. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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

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Giving thanks

If the only prayer you ever say is “Thank you” that will be enough. ~ Eckhart Tolle

I came across this quote many years ago and it’s still one of my favorite sayings. I truly believe in gratitude and end every day with a prayer of thanks. Too often we hear of requests asking for this or that. And while many of them are worthwhile prayers and I’m certainly going to add these requests to my list of prayers that day, I think we overlook the many things in our lives we should be thankful for.

Which is why I love Thanksgiving. Being a vegetarian, I don’t care about the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Some years I’ll do a little shopping on black friday. But most of the time, I find the crowds, hassles and prices to be frustrating. As for football. Well, if Penn State is playing a game, I’ll watch it. But unlike my husband who can camp out in front of the TV all weekend long and watch game after game, I’d rather go for a walk and play with my dogs. But I am mindful of what this holiday is all about and make an extra effort to be truly grateful for what I have.

And that includes all of you, who read my blog, have cheered and encouraged me on this journey of becoming a professional photographer. Who have trusted me to photograph your families, who follow along with me on my social media and “like”, comment and share my posts. And most importantly for all the furry friends I have made who have captured my heart and given me the purpose of my life. Thank you.

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A weekend in New York

Horses. Dogs. Puppies. Children. Good friends. Late nights. New York. What’s not to love? That’s how I spent my weekend and to be honest, I’m still recovering! 

When my friend and fellow photographer invited me to join her to help photograph an event that’s near and dear to her heart, coupled with other dog sessions for us to shoot, I couldn’t turn down her offer. After all, I’ve been watching her get to know the horses and kids who participate at this event over the last several years, vowing to find something like it here in Central PA. It was a whirlwind 3 days, and while I was exhausted, I truly had so much fun, I just didn’t care. There’s nothing like spending time with like minded friends, talking shop, shooting, cuddling dogs and eating late night meals at the diner! 

I have hundreds of photos to sort through which will keep me plenty busy for a while now! But I just wanted to share this image, the last one I captured after we had wrapped up a day of shooting in Dumbo, an area of Brooklyn I had never visited, but intend to come back to in the near future! There’s nothing like New York. And for this Pennsylvania chick, while I get overwhelmed with the busyness of the city, there’s just something so energizing about it. I literally could spend a day (probably even weeks) just walking around photographing all the dogs I meet. Like this sweet girl we saw as we headed back to our cars. Pretty, isn’t she?

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