January 12, 2015

Surprise 28th

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I've been meaning to write about my beautiful surprise birthday party for, oh, over a month now... but you know, busy-ness and the holidays and excuses excuses excuses. On this dreary Monday morning, however, I've finally gotten to it, and I'm having such a nice time reliving this oh-so-sweet evening.

On Decemeber 5th, I turned 28, which is weird all unto itself, seeing as how my twenties are creeping to a close and in some ways I still feel so young and others I feel so old. In some ways I feel so accomplished, and others I feel so panicky for not being further along. But that's another post for another day.

Also on December 5th, a few friends threw me a surprise birthday party, which was, indeed, an actual surprise!  In the last year or two, I've grown close to a beauty named Brittany who started her own event rentals company (Birch & Brass Vintage Rentals) here in Austin, of which I've helped to photograph the inventory over the course of many sweaty photo shoots and hundreds of beautiful pieces. Brittany is so, so good at styling perfect tablescapes and vignettes, and I always wished I knew her before our wedding or some other excuse to have her style an event for me.

Well now, thanks to her expertise and kindness, I have this incredibly perfect little party to look back on fondly, much thanks to Shalyn's gorgeous photos of the evening. I was so in shock that night, I barely took in all the details. Another reason that photography is so important: to capture and freeze time so you can go back and enjoy special moments over and over again.

There was fried chicken and other southern-style comfort foods (my absolute favorites), rum punch (another fave), cake and cupcakes and doughnuts (because you KNOW I love my sweets), a ridiculous piƱata I had to whack about 47 times before it finally broke, and karaoke and quality time with sweet friends I was so grateful to for taking the time out of their Friday night to attend.

Thank you so much, Brittany, for one of the most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me, and to Celine & Justin for hosting and for handling all of the mess that comes with that, and to Shay for taking the most beautiful photos and creating the most gorgeous little placecards, and to Kelsey & Jona, John & Kirsten, Kate, Emilie, Federico, and of course Matthew, all for attending.

Here's a few photos from the evening... thanks for stopping by today!

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November 24, 2014

It's that time of year again...

You guys, it's that time of year again! Every year my favorite people over at Photography Concentrate have a KILLER Black Friday sale (which has already begun!) on their amazing photography tutorials, and as per usual, I have to tell you all about it.

While I AM a member of their affiliate program, helping to promote these amazing learning tools is the most natural thing in the world to me - a perfect partnership because I TRULY believe in these products and have used them and benefitted from them myself, long before I was an affiliate. Going through the tutorials was the single best thing I ever did to jumpstart my photography, in particular the Extremely Essential Camera Skills tutorial (which effectively teaches you to shoot in manual mode and understand the ins and outs of your camera) and the Super Photo Editing Skills tutorial (which teaches Lightroom and which I'd have been LOST without).

I remember I paid $99 for a four hour Photography course here in Austin a few years ago, and I left feeling almost as confused as when I came. Then shortly thereafter, a photographer friend of mine that I admired recommended Extremely Essential Camera Skills, and  I went home that same day and looked it up. Besides her recommendation, the tutorial really kind of sold itself. I purchased, went through it in a few hours one afternoon, and it was like a lightbulb went on. I switched to Manual mode and never looked back, and so began my long and illustrious career.... I kid, I kid. ;) But really, it's incredible what these tutorials can achieve for you in one afternoon or evening. You could literally spend hundreds or thousands on classes and still not "get it" as quickly and efficiently as with the Photography Concentrate tutorials. I really believe Rob & Lauren (the husband and wife team behind P.C.), are natural-born teachers and designers, which makes their tools as useful and truly priceless as they are!

Anyway, enough of MY rambling. If you'd like to check it out, HERE is the main page with all the fun info about the sale, awesome giveaway going on, and links to all the various tutorials. Below I'll leave links to my four favorite tutorials, as well. Their already super-affordable prices are now DIRT CHEAP, and won't be priced this way again until next Black Friday week, so get on it! ;)

PS - I forgot to mention, the Really Easy Retouching tutorial is literally worth its weight in GOLD. I went through it just this last year, and learned for the first time how to do "compositions" or head swaps in Photoshop - I can't believe how many amazing photos I've been able to salvage since then that I otherwise would have lost (one family member looking away or blinking, etc), and I can't believe I lasted so long WITHOUT knowing how to do it!

Here's all my favorites...

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November 19, 2014

Way too many pictures of me and my dogs

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Last month my sweet, sweet Gracie and Cooper turned nine whole years old, and we had a veritable little party for them, complete with a doggie cake, party hats, presents, and lots of pictures. I had been thinking a couple months ago about how incredibly special it would be to me to have professional photos that capture the bond I have with these dogs… they aren't getting younger, and all that. To some it may seem silly, but allow me to try and explain.

Gracie and Cooper have been in my life for nearly a decade now. I watched them, along with their full litter of nine pups, BE BORN, and named them, and took care of my little Gracie when she was sick and almost died of Parvovirus. The full story of these two is right over here, if you ever have a spare minute or two to read it. Long story short, it's practically a miracle how these babies are even together and in my life, and over the years, they have been with me through 5 homes, two boyfriends (one that became a husband), college, a career change, life changes, deaths in the family - you name it, we've been through it together.

I wasn't always as close to my dogs as I am now. I don't remember feeling the same way about them when they were younger as I do today. They used to be kind of terrible - destructive, badly behaved, and just not as bonded to me as they are now. Time and age does that to you, or at least you hope it will (soften your edges, calm you down some, strengthen your bonds with the people you love).  But today, and I don't think it's my imagination, but today we are as close as humans and animals can be. In tune with each other, and able to communicate actual love and companionship. These dogs, and interestingly, Cooper in particular (the black and white one), have the purest, most selfless souls. I really think he is the closest thing to an angel I've ever felt in my life. Maybe someone, somewhere, knew how much I would need his sweet little spirit.

Anyway, I could never really express how much I love my babies. I can't imagine my life without them one day… it's something that I shed tears over on a fairly regular basis. (As I wrote in another post, it's the cruelest joke of all that man's best friend doesn't live nearly as long as man.)  But these photos. These photos! They will live forever. I asked my dear friend Shalyn of Love, The Nelsons (amazing wedding photographer, y'all!!) if she would be so kind as to capture some sweet images for me, and she blew me away with a beautiful gallery that truly bottled up the love I feel for these little ones. I will cherish these forever.

Here's just a few of my favorites (OK, more than just a few)… thanks for stopping by. :)

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