I can’t believe that it’s already New Year’s eve!  I always have goals in mind for the months and years ahead, but in the spirit of the cliché “New Year’s Resolution” trend I guess I will actually write a few of them down.

I expect this year to be very interesting, and probably very stressful.  My husband and I own a house in Hawaii, and are currently renting it out.  We might have difficulty finding new tenants late next year so that is weighing heavily on our minds (and our finances).  Ideally we would be living in it today, but the military doesn’t exactly let you decide where you live when you want to live there.  My husband and I would like to start a family this year, too … I realize that we will probably be broke as hell towards the end of the year, but if we keep waiting until the “right time” then we will never have kids!  So, most of my goals (or hopes) for this year revolve around either making, saving, or not spending any money.

First of all, I need to photograph more and upload more to iStock (that’s my #1 priority).  I also am considering building a portrait business … fortunately there is no significant cost to getting this started, since I already have all my gear.  I will just need to do the paperwork and pay a few small fees.  Hopefully these efforts will bring in some extra income to help reduce our bills.  I have thought about getting an actual “job”, but I really want to be able to work from home with photography and on the computer so I can stay home with our future kids.  That is really important to me, and if it means that we have to pinch pennies then that’s what we’ll have to do.

Aside from (hopefully) making more money this year, I really need to make sure that I don’t spend too much!  I already have a lot of great photo and computer equipment, and even though there are some things that I will need to upgrade one day (including my computer) I need to be happy with what I have right now.  In the past, when I had money, I bought a lot of equipment that I just don’t use that much so I need to fight the urge to spend my money on the “bestest-newest-greatest” gear and just use what I have.  It’s going to be tough, especially if Nikon comes out with a new camera that fits my needs (yes, I follow the Nikon Rumors!) but I’ll just have to hold off and make sure I stick to my priorities.  (One place that I now look for a lot of great props is thrift-stores and garage-sales; I got the scarf in the above photo at a thrift store for $5 … and I’ve even started knitting my own.)

My last (but not least) goal is to save my money.  If I do end up getting anything expensive this year, it will be because I saved every penny for it.  Delayed gratification is a very powerful thing, and something I need to enforce on myself more often.  Plus, it will be good to have the money saved up just in case it needs to go towards something else (like a house payment … blech!).

I’m really looking forward to next year … a lot has changed in our lives for the better, and I’m excited to see where it will take us. :)




This year has been a huge change for me.  Almost exactly one year ago I separated from the Navy to focus on photography, but also to have the ability to be a stay-at-home mom when the time comes (no little ones yet, though!).  My husband is still in the Navy, so I will be following him around for the next several years until he retires.  We moved to California at the beginning of 2008 after being in Hawaii for three years, and it’s unbelievable that we’ve already been here for a full year!  Time really flies.  I’ve even taken some classes for fun at a local college (thanks to the GI Bill) and learned a thing or two, and also made some really great friends along the way.

Now, looking back, I know I’ve had a great year.  It’s been bumpy on some stretches of the road, but also really fun and eventful.  I’ve traveled to Utah and Arizona to meet up with iStock friends and get some great photos, and went to Photoshop World in Vegas in the summer.  Even these last few weeks have been amazing!  I was recently a guest on This Week In Photography, a podcast and blog that I’ve been a fan of since they started in January.  I was also interviewed by Frederick Johnson on his website (as seen in the video above), where I talk mostly about iStockphoto & photography.

I’m really excited to see how the next few years will go.  I’m getting more and more motivated about photography, and am so blessed to have a wonderful husband who is supporting me through it all.  Overall, the community of photographers online are so amazing and really make this venture so worthwhile!  I am really happy with the path I have chosen and hope I am able to motivate and inspire others in the process.  I know I would not be anywhere without the knowledge and inspiration of other photographers and Photoshop experts online … my hats go off to you all and I hope I can bring something to the masses as well. :)

Happy New Year, everybody!!!

Photo of the Year

April 27, 2008

A recent article on TWIP inspired me to blog about my own “Photo of the Year”.  This was a photo I took of my husband, who doesn’t really like to be photographed, so I guess in a sense I was lucky to get it!  (He doesn’t really mind when I use long lenses, though … this was taken with my Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, so I was pretty far away.)

I actually took it because I was attempting to do the “Project 365” on Flickr, where you take a photo every day for a year.  I got close, but so many things were going on in my life, and even though I was taking the photos I never had time to process them.  So, I stopped … but it was definitely an experience that was worthwhile!  Not only did I get several amazing photos that I wouldn’t have taken (here’s another example, a photo of my cat) I was really inspired to get out and take more pictures!  I still try to take photos every chance I get, even if it’s just with a Point-and-Shoot.

I live by the philosophy of “practice-makes-perfect”, and even though I will never be a perfect photograher (I don’t think that exists!) I do belive that you can only get better at something by doing it over and over.

Be Prepared

Garbage Truck Fire

Today I was doing my usual routine.  Go to class, come home, and sit at my computer for most of the rest of the day.  Nothing was out-of-the-ordinary, and I still thought that business was as usual even when I heard the sirens close by (there’s a police and fire station a few blocks from my house).  But when I heard a really loud BOOM! I knew that something was going on.  My suspicion was confirmed the moment I looked out my window and saw dark black smoke billowing up to the sky from only a block away.

So, what would any good photographer do in a situation like this?  That’s right … I ejected my CF card from my computer, quickly changed my lens (a Lensbaby just won’t cut for this type of scene), ran (literally) out my door (with camera in tow) and scrambled up the 50-foot (or so, I’m not good with judging heights) hill behind my house.  I was wearing horrible shoes for climbing a hill, but I didn’t care!  I made it up the hill with enough time to get photos of flames and black smoke screaming out of a garbage truck that had somehow caught fire.  The firefighters were there, and only moments away from putting it out.  But I beat them to it.

Now, not everything went perfectly well during this (rare for me) attempt at photojournalism.  I had my Lensbaby on prior to this, so what do you think my camera was set to?  Yep, that’s right.  Manual.  I noticed this after I had taken several photos and climbed all the way down the hill … I was so mortified that the photos would all be ruined!  However, thanks to some careful (and quick) decisions before taking those photos, I had decided that auto-bracketing was best, and bracketed for seven-frames of exposure.  Adobe Lightroom did the rest … there was plenty of detail in the “brightest” image to get the exposure correct.

Now, I’m not the type of person to carry my DSLR with me everywhere.  But I do make sure that 90% of the time I have a P&S nearby, in my purse or in my car, just in case crazy situations like this happen.  I’m also not a photojournalist and don’t really need to be ready at any given moment.  Ultimately, the images that resulted from this entire situation is mostly due to luck – I was home, the incident happened a block away, and I also live at the base of a really tall hill that allowed me to get at a good angle to take the photos.  But the biggest part of the luck was that I was sitting right next to my camera gear.

When things like this happen, you don’t really think.  You just grab and go … I was fortunate that I realized the memory card was still in the CF card reader, or I would have climbed the hill and cursed at myself.  This has taught me that I need to be ready to take photos at any given moment, and have my batteries charged and a (not completely full) card in my camera, because you never know when something crazy and photo-worthy will happen.

And, btw, one of my photos made the news. ;)

Change of Pace


So, I’m seriously considering starting a “real” photography business.  I’ve been photographing stock for a few years now, and always told myself that I would never get into boring portrait work, but I think I’ve found a balance.  I’ve basically decided to apply my “style” of photography (lifestyle, people being themselves) and focus my portrait services towards children and babies.  I’ll definitely photograph adults too … just not the cheesy-unnatural-pose-and-smile-way that I dread oh-so much. ;)

I’m currently in the process of switching my website to PhotoBiz, which is a very user-friendly, simple and easy to use flash-based portfolio website.  I have used Foliolink for the last year, and while the site looks great, it’s not so easy to customize.  (Plus it’s more expensive!)  I also wanted to be able to allow my customers to place orders and send them to me through my website, and PhotoBiz has a great setup for that as well.

So, wish me luck!  I’ll be building my portfolio over the next few months, scouting locations (see my photo above), and hope to have my website and business up-and-running by Spring-time.  I definitely have my work cut-out for me! :)