Did you ever Imagine?

I had a family session recently, where the parents had gone to college with me (back in the day).

It's fun to reminisce about those "days" and that time in my life brought forth incredible life long friendships...it's probably the last point in my life that I can remember such a drastic difference between "then & now"

I asked the dad of this particular session, "do you remember college much? do you remember what you felt and thought about back then?"  We laughed and quickly chatted about it all and then I asked him, "did you ever imagine THIS?" as we stood there watching his kids laugh and run all over the park.

It's not that we all don't imagine "good" things for our lives in the future...but, I think it's also telling that it seldom unfolds exactly how we may have pictured...and, in some cases, it actually turns out better than you ever hoped or dreamed...

I don't think any of us could properly imagine, back then,  the fierce love we would suddenly possess for our children.  The  typical "idea" of a family included the sweet little house, the 2.5 kids and a great spouse...

I know that I didn't understand the energy it would take to keep up said kids...nor a lot of other things...

but it's reassuring to me that I also know that most people wouldn't trade reality for their imagined picture for anything!

I grew up in a neighborhood where you could reach out and touch the house next door...It never crossed my mind that I'd be raising 3 daughters, out in a more "country" environment where tractors are plenty and sidewalks are nill...

We don't have "trick or treating" in our neighborhood...or at least the "regular" way of doing things...

Basically, everyone gets on a tractor trailer or truck or golf cart or 4 wheeler or whatever you have...

The people drive down their longgggg driveways and sit, waiting for everyone to pass by...where they hand out the candy...

It's crazy and fun and again, I wouldn't trade it for the world!









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Let's Get Real

When my girls were born, I "retired" from teaching.  I became a "SAHM" as the tagline now has it labeled...(that's Stay At Home Mom)  I relished the opportunity and being a teacher, let's just say that our house "became" a classroom for MANY years. For one year even, I just homeschooled them because, we were basically doing that anyway.

I loved those days of zoo trips & long walks...counting things & naming our colors...sorting clothes & groceries...counting coins & pressing the autumn leaves in books...the list just goes on and on...

and then the girls got older...
and they went to school full time...
and they have friends and homework and sports and school activities...

They didn't need mom to "count coins" anymore...

Don't get me wrong, they NEED me...but, in different ways now...they have become more independent and their dad & I are teaching them to make decisions on their own...

it's part of parenting...the letting go...

The thing is...as a wife/mom first, with my rolls changing ever so quickly it seems, I needed something else to occupy my brain cells during the times they were out of my sight...

This is partly how CT Photo Memories came into existence...

but, let me share with you the "new" set of challenges that have befallen me...and being REAL, I will say that I am in awe of those moms that seemingly have this "balance" thing down pat!!!

I'm not sure if it's the lack of concentration, the easily distracted or what it is, but trying to "get it all done" has escaped by grasp...by a longgggggggg shot!

I'm "finishing up" this fall season..but in actuality, it's a long way from being over...I have folders and folders to process through and get galleries delivered...this produces hours of computer time, intermixed with school volunteering, sick kiddos, school trips and still the occassional photo session thrown in the mix (i.e. today at 1pm)

I'm not complaining by any means...this is a GOOOOOOD life...this is a GREAT "job"...

I'm learning the art of balance (and kinda failing at it in many areas...but I will not give up!!!)

My girls understand that it's a season...that Mom can't necessarily "leave work at work"...it's an ongoing thing right now...I drop everything for helping with homework or cuddling sickies...but dinner may not be finished until 7pm and you will probably be wearing the same pair of jeans for 3 days straight.  

It's this balance of the lifestyle we want to create for our family coupled with the business continuing to grow at a rate that is manageable....at the same time still being able to encourage, be generous, be involved in the things that truly matter most...

it's this balancing act...

I don't claim to have it figured out either...and yet, I'm learning...I learn from the families that I meet...the other photographers with whom I'm friends...from reading my daughters & husband and trying to catch the subtle cues and trusting that the decisions we make, even if wrong, will work themselves out in the end...

The most amazing & most comforting of all...is the love and support...the unconditional loyalty that comes wtih a family...

...the "I'm always here"..."I'll always love you"...

Those are the the principles, the heart lessons that are taught early on...the recognition of value to sons & daughters that continues into their adulthood, that they eventually pass down to their children as well...

I see it in this family especially...the teamwork of parenthood...the committment to fostering that uncontitional love & respect...the "timeout" when needed to just chill together and BE...the tiny reminders that "you mean the world to me"...

THIS is what matters most...
we "work" to live....but we LIVE for the relationships...the connections...the loving without conditions...









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to Mini Session or to Not Mini Session

A majority of people these days get family pictures primarily for their Christmas cards...

They just want that one picture of everyone looking at the camera, smiling so that they can send it out to all their family and friends...and perhaps get a few enlarged for grandparents' gifts, etc...

I understand this...I do aim for a picture of everyone looking with even my own family because I know the Christmas cards will arrive and my GG will want to see how long the girls' hair is getting and whether my youngest has lost any teeth...

However, there is more to a photo session with me...and that's partly why I haven't chosen to do mini sessions yet...

If you've ever gone to a studio and tried to get your children to smile at JUST the appropriate time and have EVERYONE look at the camera at the INSTANT the shutter is snapped...only to have melt downs and frustrations rear their ugly heads...

well...then you "get" me...

Don't get me wrong...I'm not a miracle worker...if kiddos are hungry, angry, or just plain defiant...I'm pretty confident that no amount of humor is going to make them want to sit for a perfectly timed christmas card family photo...

But you see, that's NOT what I'm after at all...and I hope that "vibe" attracts my "tribe" of people that feel the same...and this season, it truly has...

Oh sure, if it's possible to get the "Christmas card portrait"...we totally go for it...but, my focus is more on letting families relax and not feel like they have to sit or stand in a specific way...not have to always look at the camera...I'm not after perfection...I'm after connection!!  This takes time...not a ton because who wants to be taking pictures ALL DAY (well, except for perhaps Senior sessions, hee, hee) But, it takes more than just a quick pop in and out of a studio to let kids run free and roam...for us to chat about sports and favorite foods...to talk Disney princesses or sports teams...

These guys were awesome and we were able to get quite a few "holiday card worthy pics", but mostly, their parents understood that it was about capturing personality and family time together...And so, we could focus on hanging out and making faces and just being together on this beautiful day...






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#comedyoferrors

I sat at my computer late Sunday night editing, after coming home from family photo sessions with little ones at a park.

I love photographing children, but I'm often quite spent by the end of it...I tend to give everything I've got in a short period of time...

I'm more of "sprinter" rather than a long distance runner, so to speak...in my personality, that is...

So, I came home...kissed my children & husband and headed back to my computer immediately...

It's what I do in the fall...if I'm not shooting, I'm editing, if I"m not editing, I'm shooting...everything else in the house sort of piles up...I do make time for all my girls sports and activities, but "me" time is definitely put on the shelf until about Thanksgiving...

Anyway...I sat at my computer until very late and my husband finally came to me and said, "listen, you only have one shoot in the afternoon tomorrow"...take some time away from the computer and just veg for a half hour and then come to bed."

Since I felt as though I had been running a cross country meet rather than just one lap around the track, I thought it was logical and so I scheduled my last sneak peek and sat down to just veg for a bit and then headed to bed.

Within 2 hours, my eldest woke me up feeling nauseous and rather uncomfortable.  She is ME when she is ill, and therefore, being a high maintenance sicky myself, I did the best I could to comfort her in my half asleep stupor.  Due to this, I did not sleep that well...but it is what it is...

At 6:30am I heard the rumblings of my middle child & husband both fiddling in the kitchen and getting things going for the morning.  I awoke to say goodbye and went to check on the eldest child...still in her nauseous state, she decided to stay home from school, albeit she did not want to be alone in case things got "bad" and she needed some assistance.

I was due to take the youngest to the doctor to get checked on yet another virus going on in our home and was worried that it was strep (it's not thank goodness) I thought my eldest would be fine to just stay home in bed while I ran to the doctor...but at that moment the AEP guy came to the door to inform me that he needed to turn off the power to the house so that he can fix the box that is sinking and falling over...

I can't leave my eldest alone with a man outside, so I called hubby to come home and sit with her...this put me about 10 minutes behind in my 40 minute drive time needed to get to the doctors...(oh the joy of moving when your kids are young but keeping the same doctors)

Mind you the power is off, so I need to manually open the garage door and be ready to pull out the moment my husband pulled in...no sooner had I got that taken care of ...and my dog throws up on the carpet...

I did what any mother would do at that point...

I lit a candle and decided to let my husband take care of things ;)

My littlest munchkin has a virus, but since her fever is gone, she is "okay" to go to school...for the sake of other mothers, I will be keeping her home, at least for the morning to make sure it's truly okay!

My MIL showed up to sit with both girls while I had a senior shoot until around 4:30pm...at which time, I ran home, shoveled some food into everyone's mouths and then ran back out the door when my hubby got home to get to the redistrciting committee meeting (because apparantly I thrive on CRAZY)

I got home at 10pm last night...only to sit down to write this blog post and continue editing...not that you needed to know all this personal information, but for lack of brain cells and any creative juices outside of when my face is behind a camera, this is about all I can muster at this point in the season!

I promised to SHOW UP...and so here I am...I'm a tad flustered, but I'm being REAL...

Quick update:

My youngest is doing well, her gums are still swollen, but we'll find out on Nov. 11th whether or not the nerves survived the trauma..although we have discovered that her accident has already cost us around $1000 out of pocket just for the x-rays alone...I will say it's moments like this, after hearing from so many about the adventurous nature of boys, that we have all girls...at least this isn't a regular occurance :)

I AM PLANNING A SNAPSHOP CLASS IN THE NEW YEAR!!   Once I get all my sessions edited and delivered (hopefully all of them before Thanksgiving) I will post information regarding that and christmas certificates!!!

LASTLY, I do not have Oct 31/Nov 1st available for photo sessions...However, I am looking to open a few time slots on the 7/8 and a couple more on the 14/15 IF weather cooperates...I already have a wait list and I may not be able to accommodate everyone.  Please let me know if you need a list of other area photographers that I can recommend to you if we don't get you in OR if you'd rather not chance it...My biggest concern is that you get some pictures...whether it's with me or not :)

I hope you enjoyed this episode of "comedy of errors" in my home...
stay tuned for more CRAZY, as I'm about 100% SURE that we'll have more acomin'

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Coming to a Close

This is the last full weekend of October.

The fall season is coming to a close....yes, I'll probably still have a few more session spots open on some weekends in November...and inevitably, there is a gorgeous day over Thanksgiving break and I'll run to my neighbors' houses to get quick pictures of their extended families...

but the huge "hubbub" is winding down...

Every year it gets a little tougher...I expect more out of myself...I want the images to be MORE, I want the experience to be MORE...I push myself to give it all I've got...

It's the way I'm wired...if I set my mind to something, I don't just give a half hearted effort...I go full force...and in the midst, I commit to letting it only majorly impact me and not the rest of my family.

I get down to the last week and I see that light at the end of the tunnel...I still have loads of editing to do, but Daylights savings hits and weekday sessions aren't possible after work hours any longer...and so my days change back into a normal routine.

there is something exhilerating about the Fall...it still is my favorite season of all, even if it means it has become my busiest "work" time as well...I'm faced with new opportunities and locations and people every year...it's exciting and challenging all at the same time...

I'd be remiss if I didn't say that I wasn't looking forward to just hanging with my girls again though...


I'm looking forward to reading together at night before bed...to family dinners where we're all around the table...to decorating for Christmas and starting Advent...

For everything there is a SEASON...I'm thankful for this one and I'm happily anticipating the next...


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ABBIE: Senior Session

I've met with a lot of Seniors this year...

A. LOT.

at least for me...

typically, I have stuck with family sessions and running after toddlers...putting leaves on my head, making ridiculous noises, telling camp stories, singing songs...

you know...the usual stuff...

Senior sessions have actually been this quiet reprieve from it all...

and I must admit, as my daughters are getting older, there is a curiosity in me for these emerging young adults...their perspective on life, their anticipation of the future...

So what are Senior Pictures for in the first place?  Why has it become such a huge thing?  I remember when I had my senior pictures...I sat in a studio, folded my hands on a large mirror and rested my head upon them while my ever-so-large pink hoop earrings floated down upon my cheek...

my mom thought I looked angelic...

I don't wish to comment...

Anyway, as I was asking...what is the big deal about senior pictures...do they NEED to be a big deal?

Here's my take on it...

It's a LIFE event...a life story...

When a newborn arrives, we coo and ooo and ahh and we take a gazillion pictures...we pose them and wrap them and send out announcements to tell the world that he or she has arrived in our home...

As the years pass we have the milestone pictures...the school pics, the birthday party pics..sports and first day of school....onto homecoming and prom...these are all part of the "story of life"...the little stops in our life journey.

As a senior, they are embarking on the NEXT journey...the one that is completely different from what they've ever known...Mom & Dad aren't physically with them every step of the way any longer, decisions are now made as an individual, career choices, finance decisions...it's all quickly being placed on their shoulders...

Senior pictures are a type of "remembrance" for the family but also a courageous send-off for the Senior.  For them to SEE themselves for WHO they have become...to bolster up their confidence, that they CAN do this thing called LIFE!

Abbie is a senior that has reached so much of her potential and it just keeps coming...and yet she's humble and gentle and kind...As she, her mom and I walked around, it was easy to see why so many people are attracted to her...her heart is full and there is no pretense with her...

I wanted to encourage HER...to let her get a glimpse of what WE all see in her...because perhaps, she doesn't focus on "self", but rather everyone else & how to encoruage others...she may not have noticed the strength & beauty that she possesses...

Abbie, you shine girl!






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MIA

I was Missing In Action yesterday on the blog...

I know this and it bugs me...

I want to SHOW UP...I want to BE HERE...

However, it's been a little "cray cray" lately...you know with the photo sessions and dishes and photo sessions and laundry and photo sessions and helping with homework and photo sessions and having to get my flu shot and...did I mention photo sessions???

So, the times that I'm not doing sessions, I'm actually committed to my girls' activties/volunteering/carpooling/etc...which leaves a tad less time to edit/blog/FB and IG :) (and the newly added TWITTER)

The good news is that I'm averaging about 9500 steps on my Nike Fuel everyday...and that just puts me in a good mood because...THANKSGIVING...

and that means TURKEY and mashed potatoes and carrots and stuffing and rolls and butter...
lots of butter...

So there you have it...My youngest is healing slowly...we allow her to go out to the playground at recess but she can't jump or run or use any of the equipment,

so you know that makes her ever so happy and aren't we just the coolest parents that ever were?

There is a reason for our madness, although I'm not sure if it will really help considering I almost knocked her in the face with my camera bag as it was on my shoulder and I was turning around too fast in the kitchen...

but I'm just going to give myself KUDOS for trying hard!

We're on the countdown to the end of October...

only 14 more official sessions scheduled for this month and if the weather cooperates, I'll actually be able to open up a few times in November on the weekends (because Daylights Savings)

I love to keep showcasing my families & seniors through the winter...and based on the rate I'm going, we'll have LOTS of showcasing going on through the bitter cold months ahead!  And that will be nice because I will be longing for vibrant color and memories of being able to feel my hands & feet on a daily basis!

But, let us not wish this time away my friends...let us relish in the moments we have right now...

Those moments when brothers and sisters laugh and play together like best friends...when daddy chases & cuddles are the safest and most wonderful playtimes in the world...when mommy can snuggle in close with her baby girl and there is such security in knowing you are so, so, so loved!

This family has got the LOVE part down! It's evident in their interactions and just how easy they are with each other...it makes my heart happy to meet families like this...

ENJOY!









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Showcase Togetherness

This season has been one of my busiest...I've been blown away by the inquiries, but more importantly, by the encouraging words, hugs, emails, messages, even captured images that my amazing families have communicated/sent to me throughout the fall season thus far...

I think it is a very true statement that your "vibe attracts your tribe"!  I have always presented myself as perfectly IMperfect!  I've got my flaws and my quirks...but, I'm fiercely loyal and I love determinedly (is that a word?) 

Therefore, these are the types of families that seem to come to me...

Ones that are more concerned with authenticity rather than a perfect smile...
Ones that want to show genuine relationship rather than try to give the appearance of faultlessness...

It may be busy, my laundry may be in piles, I may start my editing in front of the computer screen right as the rest of my family lays their heads on their pillows for the night...

but, I arrive at each session with expectation and excitement...it's not a drudgery or "job"...

I can only thank these wonderful families that keep coming back each year...I've come to love them and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have "friends" all over Columbus :) 

This family is the epitome of all that I mentioned above...I love the spark, the energy...(not to mention the CUTEness!) 

Enjoy a few more snapshots of our time together!










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It's been a week and it's only Thursday

My girls have school off tomorrow...so today kinda feels like Friday already even though I could really use another day...because, well...I'm tired.

last week put me just a "teensy" bit off on my editing...you know...just a little bit...I'm not hyperventilating...yet.

but, I am staying up until 1am every evening and feel as though my eyes have criss-crossed at least a hundred times in the past 24 hours...and I should probably google "what happens to your hand muscles when you sit at the computer too long?" at some point...just for academic purposes...

We also had a rough homework night the other night...

it centered around "math"...

This is a subject in which I actually have a Minor degree in...and believe it or not (although, yes, I do still count on my fingers...I just tell my sweet hubby to get over it...it is what it is) I got a 4.0 in every math class from elementary school through college.

This is only a direct correlation to my abillity to study and cry my way to an answer...it really has nothing to do with my understanding of anything mathematics...and therefore, after hours of watching Khan Academy videos, messaging my dad and putting pleas out on facebook, I finally had to give in and contact a teacher...

Slope intercepts and graphing perpendicular lines isn't exactly my forte'...either is adding numbers without using my fingers, but you already know that now...

With the other daughter's math homework (we had a twofer with math homework last night) it had to do with solving an equation, but not really having an equation...

I was taught that "old school way" to solve for the unknown variable of X ...apparantly they don't do that in 6th grade and so I had to determine a way to create a bar model that represented that unknown variable...

needless to say, we can now blame MATH for ALSO putting me a tad off on my editing as well...

Hurray though, because we did infact, figure it out...and to celebrate I had my 4th cup of coffee for the day...

this is what you do when you are staying up until 1am anyway...

I have family coming in town for a couple of days and I'm praying that the smell of bleach sitting in the guest toilet upstairs will mask the fact that I haven't actually cleaned my house since August...ummm: PHOTOGRAPHY...

I wish you all a happy weekend...and I will leave you with a "deep thought" as it pertains to the current state of my home:

"I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life??? ~Jack Handey




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John: SENIOR

Have a I mentioned that I've had a few seniors lately? 

It's a different type of photo session altogether and I really enjoy the dynamics.

When I'm with a family, typically we are all talking at once...little ones have "ideas"...we're distracting a toddler...we're playing chase...we're telling jokes and twirling like princesses...someone needs a kleenex, someone else needs the bathroom...SQUIRREL...it's just the nature of a family session...

And then come the Seniors...

We talk...walk...discuss future plans...laugh about schedules & school stories...it's like meeting up with friends and hanging out for a couple hours...and while we're there, we'll take a few pictures...

It's during this time that I get to know these young adults that are about to embark on this incredibly journey...they have no idea what's on the other side of high school, but they are excited...

Each one has different talents, abilities, personalities, life experiences...all these things that they bring to the table...and I do all that I can to showcase all those facets...because together, they tell the "story" of their lives...these first 18-19 years before the officially put into practice all they've learned.

John is somewhat reserved, watchful...aware...he is patient and compliant...he has a gentle soul...

I always enjoy meeting my opposite personalities, because typically they are happy to just let me talk and talk and their kind nature puts my nervousness at ease...

Congratulations John on your upcoming graduation...you will be GREAT! 






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HOLY MACKERAL WHAT A WEEK

Alright, last week was something...in case you missed it, you can catch up HERE...

I don't feel so much like I'm "free falling" any longer.  We're still in a place we don't want to be, but we're doing our own moving, our own climbing & don't feel like we've been pushed into a neverending black hole any longer.  I stil ldon't like that my baby may need surgery...nor do I enjoy watching her cry because she can't play soccer or play in the playground, or go to gym class...I don't like that she's self-conscious about her smile or that she's so hungry but can only really "eat" through a straw.  Nope, not ideal persay, but manageable...and in it we're able to find the #goodthings!

And you know what, I didn't cancel our family photos this year...we'll have those in a week or so...she'll be bruised and her teeth are chipped, but you know what?  It could have been worse & you know what else?  SHE'S STILL HERE!  Oh I know I sound morbid & "debbie downer" but hear me out!

If I believe what I say I believe then "every moment" we are given is unique, special & can be celebrated...bumps & bruises included, extra pounds & zits, bad haircuts & damanged front teeth...because everyday we're given is a gift!  I want to be one that embraces the imperfections for the sake of the connections...for the gratefulness of HAVING a moment to share, because I don't know what the future holds.

THIS family has got this whole "idea" figured out already...They inspire me, they do it with humility and grace, but incredible courage & this strength that seems to come out of nowhere but allows them to not just "survive" but THRIVE as a family.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you've seen a lot of these sneak peeks already...I can't help but share the delight & joy they share with each other.  They are just like every other family, but they've honed in on a secret...or not so much a secret, but rather they have tapped into the strength that is given so freely & at just the right time.  I believe it takes being still and knowing...and believing...because sometimes putting one foot in front of the other, is all we have the ability to do in given moments.

I hope you'll smile as widely as I did as their images grace your screen!










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How can I reach you?

The best way to contact me is either through Facebook Messaging or emailing me at ctphotomemories@gmail.com

I can't wait to hear from you!
"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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