This is Our Life: Project 52 [Week 4: A Different Perspective]

Life project: Week 4 [A Different Perspective]

Week 4 in my project 52 had the theme "A Different Perspective", which interestingly enough, applies perfectly to another post that I was working on in my head. On Friday, I traveled to Kansas City to listen to Justin & Mary Marantz speak and teach at the final stop of their "What's Next" Tour. I left feeling exhausted, but incredibly inspired and ready to continue on my journey with a new perspective.

Not only are Mary and Justin incredibly talented photographers, but they are also kind, humble, and inspiring individuals. I'm so very thankful that I had the opportunity to attend and learn from them firsthand. Mary began the day talking about fear and how to move forward toward your dreams. She said several things that resonated with me (like 5 hours worth of things!!) but one major one was that sometimes, we are our own worst critics. We feel "who am I to want this?" and wait on permission to go after our dreams (which will never come, unless of course, we grant ourselves permission). Mary encouraged us to stop thinking of our dreams as opportunities, but instead as obligations. She asked, "Who sacrificed so you could achieve your dreams?" and told us that we OWE it to them to live the life we've been given. We were all given some time to write a letter to someone in our lives who sacrificed and made it possible for us to chase our dreams, and for about 15-20 minutes the room was filled with soft music, the scratching of pens, and sniffling as people wrote letters to their loved ones.

That day I wrote a letter to my mom, and I plan on mailing a copy of it to her (after I transcribe it into something legible!) but I wanted to share a bit of it here on the blog.


Thank you for raising me to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to...for always believing in my dreams, and for never making me feel foolish. I know you sacrificed a lot for me - as a young adult you put your dreams on hold so that you could raise a little girl and I will always be thankful for that. You gave me confidence that I could do anything I wanted in life, pushed me to never give up, taught me to always give 100%, and you helped shape the strong work ethic that I have today. I hope that I have made you proud by doing work that matters, documenting people's journeys so they can look back on their lives and have tangible proof that they were beautiful, geniune, and loved.    ~ Jen

Mary challenged us to stop waiting on someday, as "the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that there will always be more time". I refuse to live a life full of regret. In 40, 50...60 years, I want to look back and be able to say that the work that I did mattered, and that I left everything out on the table.

"The world is better when you're in it, and in it all the way." ~ Mary Marantz

*This post is mainly about Mary's section but I also wanted to say a huge, huge thank you to Justin Marantz for being willing to share his photography genius with everyone who attended. I learned so much and I am so excited to apply his techniques to future sessions and weddings. I hope someday I can attend their Walk thru a Wedding workshop, as I know I would continue to learn a ton from them both. Also thank you to Ashley, Liz & Ryan, and Jeremy for putting your lives and businesses on hold to help Justin & Mary put on this tour, the experience was invaluable to me. Also a huge thank you to all of the photographers who attended the KC stop, it was wonderful meeting you all - especially Christine (you are an amazing individual and it was an honor getting to know you! I hope our paths will cross again, I know great things are in your future!).

Happy Birthday Clara! [Personal]

Today Clara turns 1 year old - she made it through puppy-hood (relatively) unscathed, though I'm not sure I can say the same for us! :)

It's been an interesting 9 months since she arrived at our home, disrupting Einstein's calm life, and waking us up two or three times a night for the first few months. She loves to hunt for socks, harass her brother Einstein, attend her new agility class, and is way too happy in the mornings for all of our liking (Josh, Ein, and I are all NOT morning people). All in all she's grown into a sweet pup, who makes me laugh almost every day.

Happy Birthday Clara! 

(all photos taken by Josh or me, except the one on the top left in the set below, taken by Matt Murphy)

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This is Our Life: Project 52 [Week 3: This Makes Me Wish I Could Freeze Time]

Week 3 of my project 52 has the theme "this makes me wish I could freeze time". There are obviously a lot of things that I could post about for this week's theme - hanging out on the couch with Josh and the pups, reading a good book on a cold winter day, or enjoying an evening out with friends. However, Josh snapped this photo today of me doing one of my favorite things - petting my two furry friends while they snuggled on the couch, and I knew it would be perfect.

I know that our life isn't always this calm, or relaxed, and that the pups don't always spend this much time in close proximity (Einstein is becoming a bit crochety in his old age). In fact, shortly after this photo was taken, Clara jumped up and started biting Einstein's face and he wanted off the couch immediately to go explore the backyard...where he could be ALONE (thankyouverymuch!). Peaceful moments like this are never quite long enough.

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This is Our Life: Project 52 [Week 2: This Makes Me Laugh/Smile]

I'm a couple of days late on last week's photo project, partly because it was really hard to think of what I could photograph that makes me laugh. There are so many things that make me laugh, such as the fact that on January 15th we STILL have our Christmas tree up (seriously, we are so lazy right now!!), or that Clara chases Einstein under the bed every morning (she is such a morning person, it's almost painful), or Dan when he tells me "your mom" jokes.

Finally I settled on taking a photo of a photo that makes me laugh. This weekend, my sister Bri and her husband Colby celebrated their marriage with a reception in their hometown (they were married in Las Vegas this fall) and had a photobooth area. We all had a great time trying on the props, and this photo is one of my favorites because it includes me and all of my siblings being completely silly. Also, is it just me or is my sister Rachel totally channeling Slash from Guns & Roses with that hat and glasses?

It's kind of hard to read, but the chalkboard says "DONE AT 6" (all one word though), which is my parents' license plate.
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Julian [Iowa City, IA Newborn Photography]

Newborn sessions often take a bit more time than a regular child or family session, which is understandable because babies need breaks for feeding, changing, and lots of time for cuddling. The great thing about spending a morning or an afternoon photographing adorable little babies is that I also get to know their parents pretty well by the end. The session with Julian and his parents Coelle & Chris was no exception, and by the end of the afternoon I felt like we were old friends. Julian was a GREAT model (hello, have you ever seen such a cute little guy?) and enjoyed all of the cuddling with mom & dad. Coelle and Chris are not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. These two are so funny, and are very much in love with Julian, as well as each other. It's really an incredible thing to see, and it was an honor to document it all for them.

So, without further ado - Julian's sneak peek. I hope you guys enjoy!! Coelle and Chris - congratulations again on your new addition, Julian is just gorgeous (or should I say handsome? Either way, he's perfect!!). Thank you again for inviting me into your beautiful home, and for the opportunity to photograph your family at such a special time in your lives!!

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Julian is so darn cute! He was born on December 13th, 2012 but arrived a little early so he was still pretty tiny at our session last Sunday.
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Everyone knows I'm a sucker for backlighting, so these next two images are definitely in my top 3 from this session!
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I forget what Chris said here to make Coelle laugh, but I just love this photo. julian-9077 bw copy

I have to thank Coelle and Chris again for letting me pretty much take over their gorgeous home and being up for trying whatever I suggested. Lifestyle images are some of my favorite, and their house was absolutely perfect. 
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Coelle told me that Julian's nursery is a work in progress, but it looks pretty darn cute to me!
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2013: Looking Ahead

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It's that time again (though admittedly, a little late) as we all reflect on the previous year and resolve to better ourselves in the coming months. Last year I made several resolutions, which I think I made some good improvements on (maybe not so well on the finding balance thing though!!) and was overall very happy with the way 2012 went.

For 2013 my main goal, particularly in business, is not to be afraid. In the fall of 2011, I made the excruciating decision that in late 2013 I would be leaving the full time job I've held for now 10 1/2 years and going full time with my photography business. It was a particularly painful and difficult decision because I really LOVE my full time job. I work with a young man with a disability and love him and his family dearly - they are truly more than just the family I work for, they are just family - period. Even though I am excited about pursuing my passion for photography on a full time basis, my heart is also heavy with dread as I anticipate not seeing Dan and his family every day and sharing my life with them the way I do now (though they will ALWAYS, ALWAYS be a big part of my life).

So, in regards to my resolution this year - I am making the commitment to push myself - to take risks, to stop making excuses based out of fear of failure or rejection. To pursue my dreams of being a full time photographer by going for it 100%, putting everything on the table, no holds barred. I don't want to look back on this year and feel as though I didn't give it everything I had, and so off I go in preparation for going full time - wish me luck!

What are you resolving to change or do in 2013? I'd love to hear about it!

Ellie [Coralville, IA Newborn Photography]

You may recognize Elizabeth and Eric from their maternity session this fall, and I was really looking forward to their newborn session where I would get to meet their new addition. Sweet little Ellie was born the day after Christmas, and I couldn't be happier for these two. You can tell very quickly that they are head over heels in love with their little girl, and after meeting her myself, I can attest to her charms. This little girl was a perfect model, sleeping through almost the entire session (much to Elizabeth and Eric's surprise I think!). :)

Elizabeth and Eric - Ellie is perfection. Congratulations to you both, and thank you for trusting me to document this milestone in your lives!! I hope you enjoy the sneak peek...

Love that hair!! 
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Elizabeth and Eric are Bears fans, and they met in Chicago, so of course Ellie is a fan as well! Headband courtesy of Andrea at Forever Handmade.
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Wrap courtesy of Forever Handmade.
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This is Our Life: Project 52 [Week 1: Evening Ritual]

I wanted to do a 365 project last year, but somehow never got around to it. So, for 2013, I am going to be following Paint the Moon's "This is Our Life" project (see more info HERE). After looking through my files from last year, I realized I had taken very few personal photos. Granted, we don't have children (just the puppies) but it's nice to look back on the past year and reflect, so this year I thought would be a great time to start documenting the every day moments (but only once a week, as I have to be realistic about my time commitments!).

The first week's theme is "evening rituals". We have many, but one that has been a regular occurrence since Clara joined our family in April 2012 is documented below. Sock hunting, one of her favorite things to do since she figured out how to launch herself into the laundry basket. This is a nightly ritual, though I neglected to take any photos of the disarray she leaves in her wake as she drags them all over the house.

What are your evening rituals?
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Best of 2012 (Maternity, Newborn, Child/Family) Contest!

To show my immense appreciation for my maternity, newborn, and child/family portrait clients, I have decided to hold a contest on Facebook (click HERE to view all of the entries)! Every session that falls into one of those categories is represented by a photo below (unless it was requested that their photos not be shared on Facebook), so if you did two sessions with me you get a bonus entry! :)

The photo that gets the most "likes", comments, or "shares" will win, followed by the second and third most - so make sure to tell your family and friends! Contest will run for 1 week (ending Friday, January 11th at 12 noon), and the winners will be contacted the afternoon of Friday, January 11th via email.

The prizes are:
1st place - One complimentary session (Session must take place in 2013, and must be scheduled 2-4 months in advance for spring/fall dates, does not include the month of May 2013 as I am FULL. Does not include any mileage fees that may apply outside of a 30 mile radius, or prints.) 

2nd place - A 16x20 gallery wrap (Photo is your choice, can be applied to a future session's print purchase if you prefer, must be redeemed by December 31st, 2013.) 

3rd place - A $50 print credit towards a future session (A gift certificate will be provided to you, must be used before December 31st, 2013.) 

Here's a preview of the photos that made the contest! Don't forget to place your vote by liking, commenting, or sharing the photo that you love best!