Thursday, October 27, 2016

Free Halloween Print Download

Good morning lovelies!! Today's post is a short one, as I'm super busy on weddings and getting ready for our costume bonfire this weekend. But I have a special treat for you today!

I'm sure you're just as excited as I am for HALLOWEEN!!! Well, I created two prints for you to celebrate.

Print them large to display on a wall or table, or print them small to use as cards. Have a better idea for them? Share with me! I'd love to see how you used these rugged beauties.


Get Halloween print #1 here.
Get Halloween print #2 here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Watercolor Logo: Pressed In Books

Well, I delivered a logo this morning to a client slash friend of mine and I thought I should share with you. I'm happy, she's ecstatic, and life is good all around. I can't wait to see her use this gorgeous design in her shop.

Now I know this little boy has nothing to do with logo design or handmade jewelry (he's actually just an adorable a client of mine), but I wanted to display the white version of this logo somehow, so here you go. Thanks Eli! You're the perfect model.

I'm so happy with it, and so is Kellie, and I can't wait to see her use it on her packaging!

Interested in a custom or premade logo design? Visit my store!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

On Organization + A Free Download

Hey y'all! I hope everyone is having a beautiful day so far. I'm sipping coffee and thinking about all the things I still need to get done at home in addition to finishing 5 weddings before the end of November. I'm trying not to stress about it but it's making me realize something kind of crazy:  this OCD lady is actually pretty disorganized.

I don't mean to be. I think my busy life has finally caught up with me and I'm feeling super overwhelmed about it. I fantasize about getting home after work and decluttering my entire bedroom - a project I've wanted to complete now for over 6 months. I want to get rid of clothes I know I will never wear or fit in again. I want to go through all of my art supplies and get rid of old paints and organize everything neatly so I knew where it all is the next time I start a project. 

I have a very long list of things I need to finish.

But when I finally get home every day the dishes need to be done, the litter boxes need to be emptied, the floors need to be swept, and dinner needs to be cooked. And once I finally get to sit down, I'm eating that dinner I cooked, cleaning up from the mess I made cooking it, and heading off to shower and sleep.

Luckily I finished my last wedding of fall last weekend, and I don't have another one now until New Year's Eve, so I should have more time for myself here soon. Granted, we went to Busch Gardens this past Sunday, but I haven't done that in what feels like an entire year, so I felt that was much deserved. But other than random weekend evenings spent out, I need to focus on the house.

So today, I want to talk about organization.

We live in a distracting world. Cell phones have us glued all day. Televisions at night. Laptops, tablets, etc. And it's really hard sometimes, especially for people like me. I run my businesses and blogs through the internet and social media. I'm posting everywhere, and I'm constantly checking stats and comments. Anything to keep the process going smoothly.

But how do we get the chores done? How do the meals get cooked? How do we stay organized enough to not go crazy?

I find prepping for just about anything extremely helpful. This could be as simple as choosing an outfit for the next day before you go to bed. But the following are also beneficial:

Pick up around the house:

Do a quick walk-around the living room and kitchen - and any other rooms that get used frequently - and put away anything that doesn't belong. This helps prevent things from piling up and overwhelming you later.

Make tomorrow's To Do list:

By creating a list for the next day, you're doing wonders for productivity. I tend to get more done myself when I have a list to go by.

Tip - Split your list into what you "NEED" and "WANT" to get done. This will help you place the appropriate items in priority mode.

Plan tomorrow's meals:

Oh, does this save time! There's nothing I hate more than sitting at work asking myself the same old question of "What's for dinner?" just moments before I'm supposed to head home. This helps me plan based on what I already have at home to use, or what I need to run to the store to buy. I mean, that's more appealing to me than walking aimlessly around the grocery store for an hour after work.

Go to bed at a reasonable time:

This is so important! I typically crawl into bed at least by 10 PM every night. If any later, I feel so groggy in the morning, and it makes the day drag on at a slower pace. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep is good for you and can help you get more done the next day.


Postpone the smartphone:

I try not to mess with my phone at all in the morning. I always have a full inbox of emails to answer, notifications on Facebook to respond to, and texts to return. But they can wait. My morning time is sacred. And I definitely don't let my phone dictate me before coffee!

Plan a morning routine:

I don't really have to write mine down, as it's already second nature to me. I am definitely a creature of habit. But it always helps to plan other little things to do in the morning if I want to get them done. This could be fitting in a workout, taking some personal time to read, or eat breakfast, etc. It's surprising just how much more you can get done if you follow a routine.

Take small breaks in between chores:

This one is important, but I don't always follow it. If I'm working on something strenuous, like deep cleaning my kitchen, or reorganizing my bedroom, I will stop for a snack, or to watch my favorite show. Anything to keep from going crazy. This helps me get back at it with a fresh perspective. But for the smaller things, like dishes and sweeping, I'll keep going until it's done. But take breaks when you feel they are necessary!

I hope to do more of these things for myself - and my sanity - over the next few months. And I definitely hope you take some of these tips into consideration, too!

In the meantime, enjoy this free download! Use it as a desktop background, or print it and display it on your desk. Who doesn't love coffee?

Download yours here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Let the Planning Commence

So we've finally started thinking about our wedding. I started a blog over here to carry on the wedding goodness completely separate from this blog, but I thought I'd share some here today, too. 

I love how no wedding is the same. Even if the color scheme somehow matches a previous wedding, it's still going to be different. I'm noticing that already with my own wedding planning. I want a very rustic, natural look, with earthy tones and rugged textures. And whenever I think of the colors I want to use with the style of decor I want to incorporate, it changes every time.

For example, I love gold. I have to have it in our wedding somehow, whether it's on our invitations or in the centerpieces/various reception decor. I don't think I'd go as far as having my bridesmaids wear gold - after all, that doesn't really fit the whole rustic look. But I definitely want it present at our wedding. DJ already agreed. And we both agreed on some form of red. I wasn't a fan at first; visions of past weddings I've photographed with awkward and overplayed color combos of cherry red, black, and white came to mind. I eventually came around to a dark red wine color popularly known as Marsala. And what's not to love about matching your wedding to your favorite alcoholic beverage?

But one major color I've fallen in love with recently is mustard.

[All images can be found here.]
It's such a golden, warm, inviting color. And the more I see it the more I want it in our wedding. I mean, I've even started incorporating it into my wardrobe and my logo designs lately. I feel like it's less popular for weddings, but I think it would brighten everything up just a little bit. And it would look especially beautiful with gold. But would my Marsala and gold look good with this color? Let's find out...

[All images can be found here.]
Looks pretty amazing, actually!

This would be great for the end of summer/early fall, which is around the time we're trying to have our wedding. I envision it being very backyard and BBQ, if we can make up our minds on the location.

What do you think of this color combo?

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Hood Family

This week has been so stressful. We're leaving this evening for Mississippi and every day has been a crazy adventure. I cleaned the house probably 3 times, I had sessions, galleries to send out, and other business to tend to. I've been trying to finish all my work at the office so everyone's updated while I'm gone, since no one else really knows how to do enter the reports I do every week. And I was up until midnight last night packing. But it's all done. Today is my last full day at the office, and once DJ picks me up I'll get one last shower in before the trip, we'll get the truck all loaded up, we'll be off. 14 hours in the truck together. In a hurricane. Woo!

It really shouldn't be too bad while we're down there. I'm just ready to finally be down there. I have officially finished all galleries and have absolutely zero work to do while we're there, which is nice. (I will probably still be responding to emails though, so don't hesitate to shoot me one!) But anywho.

I really need to do more of these posts to show off my most recent work. I post all over Facebook and once all the hype is gone I forget about the blog. So, without further ado, here's the Hood family, along with their grandparents from yesterday evening on my property.

We were really worried it would rain, and seeing as I'm going to be gone until the 18th, and Olga's parents are leaving on the 10th for Russia, we really didn't know what to expect. But it all worked out. And the moodiness of these photos turned out pretty great too, if you ask me. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

When the Internet Turns Ugly + A Change of Plans

I'm sorry it's been crickets over here for a while. I had some personal/business issues I needed to sort through.

Are you in any of those support groups for your creative specialty on Facebook or elsewhere? I am. It's where creative professionals and newbies alike go to share their struggles, success stories, or questions. Because let's face it. We're never going to know it all. And if you think you already do know it all, I feel sorry for you, my friend. There is always something new to learn.

Recently I received an email from a very angry bride. And I'm not going to sugarcoat it. She was upset. I decided to turn to a group on Facebook for some advice. And what I received in return made me change my mind about certain communities.

I've since resolved the issue and put it past me. It was scary and it hurt. A lot. But I did it without the help of that particular group, save for maybe three people who actually gave me the advice I had asked for. The others? Well, they went searching on my personal profile for reasons to have a problem with me. They told me to delete certain profile images, blog posts, and statuses. They told me I was a terrible photographer and extremely unprofessional. A few of them even called me racist after something about the Confederate flag was mentioned. (This particular conversation lasted hours and even went into the next day.)

After I cried myself to sleep like a baby, I did my research on a lot of those people. Most of them were brand new to the industry and their work showed it. I had shared with them ONE bad experience in my 12 years and even admitted it wasn't my best work. But their entire portfolios were lacking this 'experience' they'd been bragging about.

I was angry. I mean, I was outright livid. How dare these people talk to me that way? I put myself out there. I asked for help because I needed it and I was embarrassed in the process. And not just by them, but by myself. I regretted ever thinking #communityovercompetition was an actual thing to most people.

To the ones who helped me out and stood up for me, I am forever grateful. To those who felt it necessary to carry on an inappropriate conversation about racism and bash a fellow photographer, shame on you! You won't make it far with that attitude.

With that said, I've made the very serious decision to step back from weddings. I have booked 12 for this year, and have completed 6 so far. I have great relationships with the rest of these clients and have even booked one more for 2017. I have a couple of friends getting married next year, and I will gladly work for them. But I don't personally enjoy shooting weddings like I wish I did. I have more fun photographing families and kids, couples, seniors, and even pets! And lately I've really enjoyed collecting props and shooting styled mini sessions on my property.

I hope this decision doesn't offend anyone. I've had so much fun at my past weddings, and I've gained a lot of new friends and clients from them. But I can't force myself to do something I don't enjoy anymore. It's not fair to anyone involved. You deserve a photographer who will genuinely love to shoot your big day.

So what have I been enjoying doing more of lately? Graphic design.

If you need a logo, blog and/or Facebook elements, or even advertisements created, shoot me an email and let's chat! Or check out my Etsy store! Or if you need advice in photography world, please get in touch! I'd love to answer any of your questions. No negative judgement here.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Confessions: I'm a Control Freak, and That's Okay

I'm a control freak. And that's okay. Why? Because it's how I get the absolute best images delivered to you.
You've done your research, I assume, before booking with me. You've looked at my work, and you've okay'd everything with your significant other prior to setting a date and putting down a deposit. (Doing this quickly allows you the date you want, or else we give it to someone else!) You clearly want me for a reason. You like my work, you like my personality, and you think we're a great fit! ...Which also means if you don't agree with any of those things, I'm not the photographer for you! And that's okay too, because I can most definitely steer you in the right direction. I have a giant list of other great photographers in the area that might be a great fit for you!

But the #1 thing you should keep in mind is that I like to be in charge during your session for a reason. Those photos you see on my Facebook page and website? The ones you loved? The very reason behind your decision to book me in the first place? They were created by me, using 100% of my own ideas and creativity and direction.

I love when you bring your own ideas to the table. I  don't mind discussing those things prior to your session, reviewing any Pinterest boards you may have made in preparation, or discussing poses you absolutely have to have, important shots you want for family members, etc. I get it. But during the actual session, it's a bit awkward to repeatedly tell you no when you suggest things I know won't wow you later. Because my #1 priority is you. And I most definitely want to wow you.

And this doesn't go for every idea you have, because some of your ideas are really great! I'm only really talking about those awkward locations you might point out. Maybe you wanted to find a cute bench, for example, and without really thinking about the surroundings, you point one out that sits directly in front of a public restroom. 

...I don't personally want to photograph you there. Why? Because I know you won't be impressed with a photo of you and your spouse and a men's restroom sign hovering above your heads. That's just not very cute. Unless that's your thing! (Although I hope not...)

And it's awkward because when I tell you no, it makes me feel like I'm telling you your idea flat out stinks. And that's not my goal. I will take ANY ideas you throw my way. But I want you to know I have this ultimate goal of giving you beautiful photographs to keep forever. Ones that you will want to hang on the walls in your home. And I have done it a million times, so I feel confident I can do that for you.

I'm a control freak. But that's okay. Because I know you'll thank me for it later.