Perhaps one of the sweetest babies I have ever had. Baby Darla was an absolute DREAM!
So absolutely perfect in every way…
And really? How beautiful are her parents….
Perhaps one of the sweetest babies I have ever had. Baby Darla was an absolute DREAM!
So absolutely perfect in every way…
And really? How beautiful are her parents….
I have to say that ever since I made the decision to change my business hours and give up the phone in the afternoon/evenings, I feel like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I have been more relaxed, focused, and most importantly “present” with my family anytime I am with them. I think this is one of the best decisions I could have possibly made for us and I’m just sorry I didn’t bite the bullet a bit sooner. With everything falling into place and fitting “life” into the new schedule, I was still feeling like so many other things needed to get taken care of as well.
One of the main projects I have been wanting to attack was my own picture situation. Back in the old days… you know, the film days, you filled up your roll of film, immediately brought it to the store, and had it developed then possibly put it into an album. More importantly, after printing you were always given the negatives that could be stored for generations. Nowadays, with everything being digital, it’s easy to fall into a trap where your memories and pictures just stay on the computer or your hard drive/s. Granted, sometimes its nice being able to just flip the computer on and look through pictures, but there is nothing like having the printed image in your hands. I remember a couple of months ago being at my sisters house and seeing the kids find an old album I made for them. It was SO fun to turn the pages and hear the kids laugh at everything they saw and then say “Oh my gosh, I totally forgot about…”. I loved seeing everyone gathered together looking at those pictures. It really lit a fire under me! So as soon as I got home, I started organizing my files and began having the past 6 years of our lives’ PRINTED!!! This was a HUGE project though which is why I probably put it off for so long. So happy to have things underway now!
As a photographer I need to bring up this little , minor detail. Now, I would NEVER suggest anyone having any professional photo’s printed at a kiosk or non pro lab like Target, Costco… Walmart (oh the horror)!. You have invested money into a photo session for top quality images, so definitely do NOT ruin them by printing anywhere but with your photographer or places they have hopefully suggested to you. The quality in your prints cannot even be compared… even at first glance they won’t look the same, colors are ALWAYS off, always! Also, over the years, you will definitely see a big difference in how the pictures look…
Now that being said, when I decided I was going to print thousands of photos from the past 6 years, I knew it would never happen if #1 I hand edited each and every single one in Photoshop or if #2 I ordered from my pro lab, that would just be too expensive. ALL of the ones we printed were just regular day to day things like playing in the pool, family trips,building our house, landscaping, sports, holidays, etc. The “important” photos from holiday sessions, dance recitals, studio stuff I have done with the kids… those are always printed at my pro lab and hung/displayed in the house, no if, ands, or buts about it. My goal with printing was to ensure that the family had these images and memories to look at anytime they want, present and future. I could care less if these pictures didn’t have the best pops of color or were artistic looking. I wanted all of those memories and every day events printed! Thats all.
So, take a look at our lives’ for 2006 and 2007!
The first batch came to about 1,600 pictures and that was only 2006! This was after narrowing every “event” on my computer down. Only printing the images that gave the best story, captured the best emotions. There were pictures everywhere! We obviously couldn’t just leave them in one big pile and shove everything in a big box so hubby and I spent a big chunk of time organizing them. He even bought me these neat boxes from the Container Store (which are totally on SALE now, weren’t when he bought them)! This is what our tables looked like after the first batch of printed photos! Things were a mess…. but a somewhat organized mess I think!
Once we had all of our piles done, it was time to organize them into the container. Everything was done by Month/Year and I even busted out my handy dandy labeler to help us out! OCD & anal retentive much? YES I am….
Look at how neat and pretty things look now!
Obviously starting to print everything was my main goal, but when my BFF was in town last week and was wondering about the San Diego fires we had a few years ago… having things organized like this was so handy! I remembered what month/year it happened and then I just grabbed the container! Easy peasy! When I had my nieces and nephews staying with us a couple of weeks ago, but heart just about melted when the girls found the boxes of pictures. I never suggested they look at them, but this is what I found them doing downstairs the very first night they were there…
Now THIS is the reason why I did what I did… they sat there and went through all of it. My heart was smiling from ear to ear listening to them laugh, call the boys in to show them this or that, and to just be “together”. Beat still my heart.
One of the other important things that had been on my mental to do list for years was backing all of these precious memories and pictures up. 2006-2011 were more or less all backed up on an external hard drive, but here I was in June and all of 2012 was still on my laptop AND I had pictures all over the place in random folders, nothing made much sense. First thing I did was put 2012 on my external hard drive. Then I put everything into folders by year/month. It took forever, but everything was now at least accessible & easy to find.
So, we are backed up on 2 hard drives and CD’s. Perfect right? Nope, that definitely wasn’t good enough for me. Lets face it, all things digital are susceptible to fail. Not only that, nobody can predict a natural disaster or fire so what good is it to have all of those pictures and files stored on the computer or your hard drives in your home if they could all potentially be ruined and lost forever?
Ideal off site storage for all of your pictures, files, and your computer! The initial back up took forever, but so well worth it. I now feel 100% covered and protected. My client files are now protected as well as our personal pictures. Definitely look into this. There are other similar companies who offer the service, but I had heard such good things about them, thats who I went with! My heart and brain are now resting easy knowing our memories are safe and sound (and in multiple locations)!
Take a look at the new back up process:
When I explained my entire back up system to my husband, he thought I was crazy but you really just never know!
Don’t wait until its too late!!! No time like the present
It was a very special week for my family. Not only did the kids get out of school for Summer break, it was also the first week of the new schedule/work hours, AND most importantly it was also dance recital week! After months and months of practices, my baby girl was finally going to be on stage again. I swear this girl was meant to perform. We are SO extremely proud of her. We still can’t believe how much dedication and love she has for dance. It was a super long week with last practices, tech/dress rehearsal, and two days of shows. I may have complained over the course of this week, but all of that went out the door the second she woke up on the first day of shows…
It’s kind of a tradition for me to take a sleeping shot of her on the morning of the show, which reminds me that I need to do side/side comparisons to see just how big my little girl gets over the years. After this year, I definitely have a feeling we will have many more dance recitals in our future!
As for this dance year, Makena not only took her regular ballet, tap, and jazz classes, but also wanted to add on hip hop. Totally shocked us, but she adored it! Always left class with a big smile on her face. These were her outfits for this year. All of them we thought were cute except for the tap one… a little too risqué for our taste, but when all of the girls were on stage, they looked totally adorable! We weren’t even going to let her perform that number when we first saw the costume, but she had worked so hard, there was no way we could say no!
Once hair was done, I would normally do her make up. This year, she had been asking me for weeks if she could try doing some of it herself. How could I say no to that face?
I think she did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. I let her take care of bronzer and blush, then I did her eyes and lipstick… she looked perfectly natural, just like all little girls should (in my opinion anyways)!
This year was also the first year she was able to use regular earrings and not the clip on ones… Makena was SO excited about that! She felt bad a couple of years ago when all of the little girls already had their ears pierced and she was too scared too. Now she was just like them!
Let’s get to dress rehearsal!!! Costumes, shoes, accessories, water, snacks, bobby pins…. check!
Dress rehearsal went off without a hitch and the girls were so excited for their show! We had 24 hours until show time… figured I would sneak in a few pictures of Makena in her costumes!
Show time baby!!!! Here are my babies
And a quick shot with me and daddy….
Time to let her go and do her thing… my little shooting star!
Please excuse the stinky show pics… no flash photography or video during the recital so I had to crank my ISO all the way to 12800! We were also a few rows back which didn’t help things! Thank God for awesome photo equipment or else I wouldn’t have been able to get anything!
So proud of our little girl! It was a wonderful first show!
And then on to Day 2… 2 more shows to go!
As the dance year was ending, my husband and I were so overwhelmed with all of the practices, the commitment, driving back and forth to the studio, and everything that goes along with the recital. We had contemplated having Makena do something else in the Fall instead of dance but honestly… I really feel we would be doing her an injustice by keeping her from it. She really adores it and although we are a little biased… we think she’s actually pretty darn good at it! Many moms have come up to us and said how focused she is during practice and well she moves. Looks like we will be adding on yet another dance year for 2012-13!!!
I won’t ever regret the past 3 years I have spent starting and building my business. For the first 2 years, it grew organically & really out of nowhere. I didn’t have a clear direction about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to specialize in, no business plan, just my love of photography and design driving me. Once I kind of figured things out and had a bit of direction, it grew exponentially. My calendars were filling months in advanced and I felt like I had more business than I knew what to do with. I was finally getting to a point where I could say “no”, where I was referring clients out, setting some terms & guidelines, AND was 100% happy to do it. I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful families and to have also helped define looks and brands for so many photographers/businesses. I was always taught it you work hard, good things will come… and they did. It has been rewarding. I felt important. I felt relevant. I selfishly felt content. I built something from nothing and am totally proud of everything I have learned and accomplished in this short amount of time.
Earlier this year, I heard something on the radio that stuck with me for many months. I found the article online and its one worth taking a peek at: Top 5 regrets of the dying
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
For me… #2 and #4 are really the only ones I felt applied to me… everything else I think I have under control For some reason, I continued to think about this article and the words “I wish I didn’t work so hard” have plagued me . Over and over again, it played it my head. As so many people I knew were being diagnosed with this and that, some totally fighting for their lives’ for months, I really began to take a step back and think about how my life was being spent. What I was doing day to day, what was important to me, how it was affecting my family, my kids, my relationships, and me.
Then last month, there was an article circulating that really grabbed my attention and set everything in motion. You will definitely need to read it HERE to truly understand my words and feelings. The first time I read it I found myself in tears thinking to myself how guilty I was of SO many of those things, especially the past 2 years as my business flourished. That article was the catalyst for me to start changing things in my life. I more or less decided right then and there that my business and I were ready to do things a little differently. My first step was not scheduling sessions or design work over the weekends. Weekends were strictly for my family and doing more fun things together, more active things, more quality time. I have more or less stayed true to those changes over the past month except for some extraordinary things that did come up on 2 occasions, but there is always room for improvement like no answering emails at all, not taking phone calls, no Facebook-ing, etc. One day I will 100% weekend work free and that time is quickly approaching, faster than I knew it.
Maybe a week after I saw that article, I was hit like a truck when THIS video and Jen’s story started circulating. For at least a 1/2 hour I was crying uncontrollably. 2 hours later I shared it with my husband and I sobbed all over again. Of course, I was moved by her story, her courage, her journey and after I made my donation, all I kept thinking to myself was “Holy shit, that could be ME!”. In seconds, your life and the world you know could be completely turned upside down for any number of reasons. Everything you once knew, were comfortable with, and you cherished could be taken away from you, JUST LIKE THAT…. and here I am working ALL hours of the day from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. Whether it be answering emails, rushing to send a proof, editing, doing marketing, posting on my business page. Many times it would be at the expense of my kids and family. I found myself continually telling them “Hold on a second while I finish this email!” Or “Oh, I have to take this call… gimme a sec!” Here was a good one… “Makena, I will get your lunch in 5 minutes okay?” (which ALWAYS ended up being anywhere from 10-30 minutes). We all came to HATE the alerts on my phone for emails. I was literally cringing when my phone would go off. But what did I do? Immediately grab it, regardless of where we were at and what we were doing, read it quickly (of course telling them “Hold on a second guys….”), and then feeling the need to take 5+ minutes to return an email. I began to seriously reflect about Jen’s story and realized I was totally taking my truly precious moments here on Earth for granted. And for what? All in the name of good customer service? Now granted, my situation is a bit different because my husband and I don’t necessarily rely on my income alone. We more or less could survive on his salary, everything I brought in has been for the “perks” and extras we have been able to have like vacations, savings, shopping, etc. If I was the main bread winner in the family, I obviously would need to work a lot… however, that is not the case for me. I was doing all of that because I felt I needed & had to in order to have a successful business.
Now that was just a taste of my business life. All the work aside, the time spent on my personal Facebook page and playing games on my phone were a whole different story. I was feeling the need to update and post ridiculous things like a picture of me taking the kids to Starbuck’s. I mean really? In the grand scheme of life and staying “connected” to your “friends”, who really gives a crap about those types of things. I was posting for my own selfish reasons, thinking my friends and family really needed or even wanted to see that. I will say though, I definitely post on my personal page a LOT less than I did when I first started my account and substantially less than a lot of people I know. I don’t really post any personal pictures anymore unless they are quick and easy from the iphone. Because I take all of our main pictures on my big camera, it was mainly out of laziness that I didn’t post pictures BUT I also fell into a trap feeling like I had to edit ANY photo I took in order to post it. Obviously, that has a lot to do with me being a photographer and wanting beautiful pictures shown, but friends and family REALLY don’t care about that at all anyways. All they want to see is that everyone is healthy and happy, maybe doing fun, special things here and there…. NOT 5 times a day (for the most part & for most people anyways). That wasn’t good enough for me though. Everything was newsworthy in my opinion and far too much time has been spent feeling like I needed to show the world how great my kids were and how wonderful I am because I do this or that. I’m officially over it at my ripe old age of 34. I’m ready to TRULY enjoy all that I have been given in life and live day to day 100% “present” in their lives’. I no longer feel the need to justify my everyday life to my “friends” on Facebook. When you look at the bigger picture… is it really quality time with your kids when the main motive behind the activity is feeling the need to take a picture and post it? Will I stop posting status updates and pictures all together? Most likely not, but I will definitely slow down even more than I already have and only post things that mean something a little bit more special than the new pair of shoes I may have bought, what new movie we are going to see, or even how great I think I am because we are having a special home cooked meal!
Now it’s time to make the changes and set the business & personal plans in motion!
Officially, as of today, I will only be working from the hours of 8am-1pm Monday through Friday, no working on the weekends at all.
This will include:
This obviously comes at a horrible time since the kids are now on Summer break but that brings me to the next change, definitely a more profound one and perhaps the one that will take the most adjustment for me…
I will also being going “hands & technology” free from the world after 1pm during the week & on the weekends unless my kiddos aren’t with me or they have already gone to sleep at night. My phone is now off limits, free from any distractions, notifications, playing games, ridiculous Facebook posting’s, no emails, nothing. I’m bringing it back to a simpler time when you just spent time with your family AND enjoyed every single second of it. No more trips to the park while I pretend to feel like I’m being a good mom because I took them there BUT all the while I’m sitting on my phone either answering emails, stalking my Facebook feed, or just playing a game. I will now be 100% engaged. They have my full attention. My family is completely stoked and after I told them on Friday after their last day of school, I swear the whole family dynamic changed. It was the first weekend in a long time, where we were really & truly connected. The kids didn’t argue. They played together so great all weekend. We all joked, laughed, and had a wonderful time. I really believe that the main reason why we had such a great weekend was because I was not stressed out. I wasn’t worrying about this client or that client or rushing to write an email. I did sneak away while my daughter was at a birthday party to visit the baby from my birth session last week who ended up in the NICU, but aside from that… it was all about me, my husband, the kids, and OUR FAMILY! This is the first weekend of many more to come…
No more living a life that I was bound to eventually regret! You only get a small amount of time on this Earth and an even smaller amount of time with your young kiddos… make each one of them count! I know I will be from now on! I’m looking forward to sharing the additional changes my family has made in the coming weeks. Until then, happy monday
Doesn’t get more precious than this sweet bundle of baby! Baby Aleah joins her brother and sister to make a family of 5! She was such a good girl during our session… it was hard letting her leave! Such a good, calm, mild tempered little girl. She was just precious!