Wednesday, October 27, 2010

slow down, you're moving too fast + Jacquie

These past two weeks have been so crazy. It seems like I just keep feeling farther and farther behind with all of the elements of my life. Sometimes I feel like I am just going through the motions and not really living, because I feel so busy that I almost don't have time to live.

But I am grateful for the reason I'm busy...the business has really been taking off. I'm learning so much already about pacing myself and about how much work is too much to get done in a short space of time. I'm learning a lot about myself, too. But some days I feel very sad, because I haven't really had time to pursue my other passions and really unplug. Those of you who know me know that I love to cook. Cooking is like a form of release for me. I can tell when I'm really stressed: it is when I just want to order carry out, because I'm too exhausted to even use the creative energy it requires to cook. I had a brief respite last Saturday, when I made Ayron homemade hollandaise sauce for his Eggs Benedict. I snatched it from him for a minute while he was eating so I could snap a quick photo of it.

I also made myself some amazing juice of the apple/orange/carrot/grape/strawberry variety! Thanks to my in-laws for the awesome wedding present!

 But  honestly, I have got to figure out how to manage this stress. It is a good thing I'm a list maker. But the past couple of days I just haven't even wanted to get out of bed because I felt like I had so much to do there was hardly a point. And I feel so unhealthy because I am stressed. Every part of my body is yearning for balance, because I'm so off-kilter. Luckily, I made some major headway tonight and after I finish another big project tomorrow, I will not feel so buried. I can't wait for Thanksgiving week! 

On a much more positive note, I want to take a few minutes to blog about my amazing session with Jacquie earlier in the fall. Jacquie is another singer who I've known since I first got to IU. She is very special to me, because she and her husband Aaron gave me one of my first hired photo jobs: photographing their wedding! It was an amazing and beautiful day, and it was so wonderful to be a part of it. I am blessed to have people like Jacquie in my life who are willing to take a chance and invest in a new business! :) Thanks Jacquie (and Aaron too!).

Jacquie is one of the warmest, most genuine people I've ever met. (I feel like I say that kind of stuff a lot on here - I guess I'm just blessed to have amazing clients!) She always makes me feel happy when I'm around her. And did I mention how beautiful she is? Well...you can see for yourself.

 Jacquie, thanks for being you. And for giving me the privilege of photographing you! You are beautiful. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Shareese is one of those people who I've come across in life and felt like we were friends long before we met. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but its true. She has the most open and inviting spirit, and she is so genuine and wonderful. Everyone who knows her would agree with me, I'm certain! I've had the pleasure of sharing many heart-to-hearts, hugs, and laughs with her. I don't get to spend quality time with her very often, but when I do, I feel that all is right with the world.

I took a quick headshot of her our first year here, in a few minutes and with little planning. That was before I really had spent more time thinking about photographing people. And once I had learned more and bought a portrait lens, I was so excited when she asked me to take her real headshots last spring. 

Shareese, where do I really begin? When I think of you, I see a tower of strength. You are inspiring. You are an old soul. You radiate feminine power. When you come into a room, sunshine and joy come with you. These are not just words. These are truths. It was an honor to photograph you. It is an honor to be your friend.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


When Scott contacted me at the end of the summer for headshots, I was so excited! Scott and I came in as masters students together and we study with the same voice teacher. I remember when I first saw him sing Germont in La Traviata, I was floored by his amazing stage presence and incredible voice and so honored to be in the same studio as him! And then when I got to know him, I was totally taken aback by his genuine kindness. It isn't that one doesn't expect someone so talented to be so nice, but I remember thinking, seriously! He has to be one of the nicest people I've met at this school! I'm not blowing smoke, Scott. It's true. 

When he told me he was going to have a cool beard for an upcoming production of Figaro, I could not have imagined the awesomeness of this facial hair. These headshots are striking because he looks so striking and so different in the most wonderful way possible. Way to do your homework, Scott. And he also brought his totally amazing Indian tapestry from home to make a sweet background. And the open bowtie look! Aaah! Love it!

Scott, you look like Brad Pitt.

Scott, thanks for letting me photograph you. It was so much fun. I'm looking forward to doing it again in the future...if you stick around here long enough! :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010


 This school year sure started out with a bang. My husband, Ayron, and I moved right before we got married in August, and then we went straight on to start classes for our final year of our masters. I took the moments in early summer for granted while they were happening. Things were so much slower then. I spent a lot of time just recording small moments, like the night that my Mom and I went on a walk after supper to our family farm and I brought my camera along, where I snapped a few photos of our free-range hens scavenging for scraps out in the grass. I remember the quiet of that night. I can feel the warmth of May in Iowa. I can imagine how silent it is there, and I want to find that zen and that silence now.

I know that both Ayron and I feel anxiety about the year ahead. Where will we be headed after we graduate? Will either of us get singing jobs? If we don't what's next? I wonder what will happen if my photography business continues to take off? Will I need to make a choice between the two at some point? Right now I feel so overwhelmed (but in a good way) with living a divided life between singing, being a student, teaching my wonderful students, and being a photographer. Sometimes I worry that if I keep going full throttle in all four, that I'm going to have trouble succeeding at one to the level that I want.

But then I look at the photographs below, and I remember why I took them. To bring myself back to remember that no matter what happens, there is quiet beauty all around us. And no matter what happens, I always have a place to come back to, both within myself and outside of myself.

I think it is going to be alright.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


When Emily contacted me in August and asked if I'd be interested in taking her headshots, I was so excited! She was positively radiant and so much fun - I think that comes across in her beautiful pictures. Shooting with Emily gave me a lot of confidence as a photographer. Before Emily, I didn't have a lot of experience as a professional photographer, and I was still really nervous about making clients happy. She was so encouraging to me and so laid back and willing to try just about anything (basically the perfect subject!). I remember a moment when she was gone changing into a different outfit, I sat on the bench with this giant, make-your-face-ache smile, just wishing I could somehow express my excitement and butterflies-in-your-stomach joy that I was feeling at the time I was working with her.

It was after I photographed Emily and sifted through and edited some of her images that I started to really believe in myself as a professional. My experience with her motivated me to take the next step and set up a website and a facebook account for my business.

Emily, thank you for your beauty, your kindness, your radiant energy, and your amazing attitude. Thanks for believing in me!

So naturally graceful...

...and that smile! It is so joyful and so warm. If I didn't know you, I'd want to after looking at this picture.

 I think maybe this is my favorite image from the session. I'm not sure what it is about it, but I love it. It is so genuine.

Thanks for everything, Emily! You are beautiful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A new leaf + Alyssa

I am standing on the edge of a new life and I'm so excited. I have been blessed since launching my website and embracing my photography business for real to have had a steady stream of inquiries and bookings. I am so humbled and so grateful that there are people out there willing to take a chance on someone new and to be a part of the foundation of my business. And I have had nothing but fun shooting all of you! I am going to use this blog as a space to share my work, my hopes, my dreams, and my life.

My photographic journey started out a long time ago. My first impulse to learn photography came when I was in middle school and I was sitting on the front steps of my rural Iowa home, staring off into the distance. That's what I did in my childhood: I was always yearning for something beyond myself. Sometimes it was the fleeting feeling of summertime, or sometimes it was for the stars beyond our own on a perfectly clear winter night in the country, when the milky way is so clear above that it makes you stretch and ache to grasp some sense of its grandeur and meaning. I sat on the front steps that night staring at a bank of clouds in the northeast sky, which was reflecting the perfect, angry colors of a fiery summer sunset. I wanted to capture that on film so I could hold onto the moments forever. My parents bought me a film camera for my birthday that summer, and I began obsessively photographing the sky whenever I saw something beautiful. I have albums full of sunset, sunrise, and sky photographs. I would run outside in my socks through snowbanks in the winter just to capture a moment that I was afraid would pass if I took time to put my shoes on. I spent a lot of my allowance on film developing in those years.

My parents got me my first digital camera when I was a sophomore in high school, and that brought on all kinds of other wonderful photographic experimentation. I learned photoshop and had fun with my best friend trying to create strange and fantastic photos inspired by our love of fantasy and science fiction and nature. It gave me a free pass to photograph all of the sunsets I wanted, because I no longer had to pay for film developing, just the many CDs I used to store all of my images.

I don't know why it never occurred to me to consider photography as a career path. I think it is because I was a painter and artist as well as a singer. I felt like I had lots of other choices. And singing and music were such a huge part of my life when I got into high school. Singing came so easily to me and I enjoyed it so much that by the time I got to the point in my life where I had to decide something to pursue, I chose music. I think I chose music because I felt that music gave me the most insight into that endless space of wonder that lies just beyond this life. I am still a singer and a musician for this reason. But, somewhere in the process of becoming an adult and getting to the part of my journey where I have to become the architect of my life, I realized how much would be missing if I were to give up the many other facets of who I am to become who I thought I was supposed to be. And I felt saddened at the thought of having to compromise so much of who I have been to be who I was going to be. Perhaps this is one of the painful truths of growing up; you have to make sacrifices. Maybe I never want to grow up. Or maybe I've realized I am supposed to sacrifice different things to end up on a different path.

The pressure was really on when I graduated from college and enrolled in the master's program at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music. Singing felt so much different during the scary summer before I moved away from my home state and my longtime boyfriend. My parents helped me to buy what I refer to as my first "big girl" camera that summer before I started graduate school. I had discovered the phenomenon of photo blogging about six or seven months prior to this purchase. I saw all of these normal people photographing their lives and the smallest moments that would normally just pass by and be forgotten. I realized how special this was for these people - that they were appreciating the small moments in their lives instead of just worrying about the big moments ahead. They were grounded in the present, and I wanted that feeling. I researched nice DSLRs that winter and spring until I decided to buy a Nikon and start documenting my life.

I didn't want to forget the way that the field looks in the middle of summer, so achingly beautiful and so perfect and precious to me.

I didn't want to forget the beauty of a garden as it gives birth to itself, and then as it comes to its fullest maturity and then eventually dies--such a beautiful metaphor for our own lives.

I wanted to take the images of my childhood and my life with me, so that I would never forget the deep beauty and simplicity that my parents had surrounded me with and taught me to love.

And then my wonderful brother and sister-in-law blessed our whole family with a new and precious addition, who I wanted to take as many pictures of as possible, so I could have something precious to hold onto to remember her when I was so many miles and hours apart from them.

And then they had another precious little angel...

And that is when I really fell in love with documenting moments. And it slowly occurred to me over that period of time how rewarding and how wonderfully perfect it would be to give other people the gift I had been giving myself. And it has already gone beyond that. It isn't just perfect, it is amazing. It is irreplaceable. It is infectious and it makes me overflow every time I do it.

Most of the work I've been doing has to do with the nature of what I do and where I live. I meet so many new and wonderful musicians everyday. These people are artists who all have their own beautiful story. I have been taking their headshots, but really, I like to think of it as showing the world their beauty. It is something they can't do on their own, mostly because a lot of them don't realize how positively radiant and wonderful they are until they see themselves, captured in a moment and an image forever.

Hello, world! Meet Alyssa. I was in awe of her spirit and her beauty the whole time I photographed her. She is a mezzo with a wonderful spirit. I think you can see it in her pictures. :)

Alyssa, I love the color of your eyes. And your hair. And well, I just love you.


 I am so lucky. :)