Sunday, January 8, 2012

a new year

anyone else need a clean slate besides me?  that's how i'm looking at 2012... a perfectly, blank canvas that has the potential to be many beautiful things.  i know that some people don't believe in resolutions, but i am not one of them.  call them resolutions, call them goals, call them whatever you want... but if you don't take the time to "resolve" to do something, it will likely never happen.  and there are just too many things that i want to do, that i want to be better at doing, to not take the time to say them out loud.  no, i don't always keep them perfectly and by the end of the year life looks a little different than what i envisioned for it on jan 1st, but that's ok.  i still believe in the idea of that carrot dangling in front of you, motivating you to move forward, giving you something to strive for and something to look forward to.  and if you need to switch that carrot out every once in awhile... well, go ahead and do that from time to time.  there's nothing worse than pursuing a goal hard and fast and then realizing that it's the wrong one to be chasing.  so that kind of sums up what jan 1st means to me... a reminder to look at my carrots and make sure they are the right ones to pursue.  and yes, i had no idea where this analogy was going when i started writing, if you couldn't already tell.  ;)

so not only is my blog a little dusty and my writing skills as well, but somehow this week i took about ten steps backwards in my photography journey too.  i guess that happens but what really bums me out about it is that i am starting this new project with a group of very talented friends and i was really hoping to knock one out of the park.  it's the first time i'll be participating in a project 52 (one photo a week for one year) and the theme for this week's photograph was "a new year".  my plan was to start the project off with a self-portrait of me and my family.  i had this vision of capturing us with a little 2012 banner or sign and in my mind it was the perfect "book end" to the beginning of my project 52, which i'm hoping to take a very personal direction.  in essence, i wanted my photograph to say, "this is us at the start of 2012" and then by the end of the year it would be a milestone marker of who we were because no doubt by december we will not be the same.  that was the plan, anyway... wink, wink. ;)

without further ado, here we are.

project 52 :: week one

typically this would be one of the shots on the outtake reel for several reasons that may or may not be obvious to you, and when i first saw this on my camera i literally wanted to cry.  it just wasn't what i envisioned.  notice the banner never made it to fruition, and notice the very low setting sun which gives a hint to how late it was when we started our shoot, and although it looked like my husband was in the right spot when i set the camera up on the tripod, we most certainly are not centered here, which is what i was going for.  and then there's a bit of awkward space between brian and i due to both of us shifting our weight opposite directions and the shot that came out of camera is underexposed because the light was rapidly changing on me.  and the ankle crop alone would be a reason to fire the photographer here according to what i've learned.  

but you know what?  this is us.  and the more i look at it... the more i actually think it's perfect.  because we are a very imperfect family, to be honest with you... and in a way, this picture screams "us" much louder than a well composed picture would have i suppose.  we have a lot of growing to do in 2012, and i have full confidence we can do it together.  but in the meantime, we've started the year out a bit disheveled and messy, but beautiful none the less.  and yes, despite all my failures as a photographer here... this picture is still beautiful to me as a wife and a mother.  because when i look at it with my heart i see other things too... like the way she's holding her daddy's neck... the way my guy is smiling in response to my touch... the fact that brian has his arm around me (even though you can't see it)... and the love that lays the foundation for our new year.  it's the first page of our book for 2012... and actually quite fitting.  there's room for improvement in our home, just like there's room for improvement in this picture.  and i'm ok with that.  i'm aware of our imperfections, and although i don't believe they define us, they certainly motivate me to name a few carrots.

personal :: a deeper appreciation of everything that flows from the Lord's loving hands into my life and the lives of my family

photography :: get back to blogging my journey -- no excuses like facebook, pinterest, or photography blog reading allowed

motherhood :: provide better structure for my daughter who really needs it unlike me

marriage :: be more loving and better at communicating love

artistic :: continue to hone a photography style and voice that is consistent throughout my body of work as a whole

practical :: get my computer files organized and an efficient workflow down for the thousands of undeveloped pictures sitting on my hard drives (

for my home :: fill my rooms with love by finally printing and hanging all the beautiful pictures i have of our family and loved ones

as far as what else is in store for 2012, only the Lord Himself knows.  i try to remember when mapping it all out that i can do all the planning i want, but in the end it's His plan that trumps everything else.  and since i can trust in His goodness and His love for me, there is nothing to fear in that.  every year has had it's ups and downs, so i can be sure there will be some of those ahead as well.  but no matter what unfolds, i know i am very blessed and i have this perfectly imperfect picture to remind me.

here's to a new year.  

dawn shiree

Thursday, October 20, 2011

we took a walk

so all around the world, on 10.8.11, a bunch of moms with cameras signed up to take a walk together. well, not literally all together, but we did meet up by city and my local group of clickin' mamas decided to take their walk through the quaint area of columbus referred to as german village.  {actually, you've already seen a peek of german village on my blog here.}  one of the leaders of the columbus, ohio group arranged for a few young girls to volunteer as our models and since there were 14 of us we split up into smaller groups which made sense.  you can imagine how overwhelming it would have been if we had remained in one large clan that looked something like this... haha!

my group consisted of two professional photographers, myself and one other aspiring photographer.  our model was "miss m" and by the end of our walk, we were quite fond of her... she was such a doll!  she is in the 7th grade and hopes to explore modeling as a career option at some point.  as intimidated as i would be to have four photographers taking turns giving me directions and pointing their cameras at me for 2.5 hours straight, she was the exact opposite... not everyone could do this!  just so you don't have to leave what this would look like to your imagination, i took a few pull back shots to share with you here.

and here are my personal favorite captures of miss m...

as we walked around, i snapped a few additional pictures for myself to commemorate my first photo walk.  i was a bit too nervous {or intimidated maybe?} to really focus, but here are my {random} favorites...

{do not shop here if you are grouchy or plan to leave your child unattended...ha!}

for all of my nervousness, i did manage to get the courage to walk up to a complete stranger and ask for permission to take his picture in true street photography fashion.  he ended up talking to us for a solid five minutes and after a couple of other photographers snapped his picture, i'm sure we made him feel like a celebrity.  this was one of my favorite memories of the day and this gentleman was so sweet, he deserves his own spot in my journal.  sir, it was nice to meet you... and thank you for not saying "no" when i asked to take your picture.  :)

and right behind that moment was the encounter with a food photographer, troy amber, and his wife.  wait... let me back up.  as we were walking down the sidewalk, i noticed the beautiful light spilling through this gorgeous tree outside of his door.  of course we had to pose our model in front of it, and while we were doing that he opened his door to get his mail.  i thought to myself, "maybe we should explain why there are four photographers and a young model hanging out on his stoop".... so i did.  it turns out in a small world kind of way that not only was he also a photographer, but he actually photographed my husband's food while brian was the chef of a local fine dining restaurant a few years ago.  crazy, small world, huh!?  i regret not asking troy for his picture, but i definitely added his neighbor's beautiful tree to my personal bokeh collection.  (if you happen to be a bokeh junkie like me, you will appreciate this pinterest page.)

{straight out of the camera}

then on our way back to meet the rest of our group for lunch we walked past this book store...

which is a brilliant place that is filled to the brim with new and used books and it truly deserves it's own photo shoot to do it proper justice, so i'll leave it with this one picture that sums up it's contents.  if you happen to find yourself in german village with a need to kill some time {like brian and i found ourselves nearly nine years ago during our dating era}, this is where you want to be.  trust me.  <3

as you can see, it was a lovely autumn morning and the people i encountered were even more so.  again, i can not say enough how appreciative i am to be a member of clickin moms and for the opportunities they provide to grow as a photographer.  since our walk, a few of us from ohio have decided to do this again because we enjoyed it so much.  {and maybe because we later saw the awesomeness of other cities from around the world and now have a mission to redeem ourselves and our representation of columbus... ha!}  so more to come in november, maybe?  looking forward to it.  in the meantime, the most important picture of the day for me was this one.

a picture that captures the reflection of this mama on her own clickin' journey... thanks for taking these steps along side of me.

dawn shiree

Monday, October 3, 2011

for her birthday

i love, love, love birthdays.  always have.  one of my deepest beliefs is that every person should be celebrated and cherished by their loved ones.  and there is no better opportunity or invitation to do that than a birthday, don't you think? yea, me too.  in our family, we typically keep birthdays pretty simple, really.  there are three main ingredients we are sure to include... food, family and a cake with candles.  after that, there really are no expectations.  and i like it that way.  decorations?  your call.  games?  maybe, maybe not.  theme?  usually no.  like i said...  simple.  but one thing that we definitely do is make sure that every single little person in our nearby family tree gets a party where we do our best to gather the troops and rally on their day.  (and when possible, the big people get one too.)

now when i say "troops", i am speaking of our immediate family of about thirty people.  this only includes our parents, our local siblings, and their children.  without even inviting a single friend or extended family member, we are a full house already.  as the kids grow more and more each year (and take up more space in the rooms... haha) we keep wondering how we are going to make it work in the future.  soon enough, we'll be passing the cake and ice cream (or ice cream cake once in awhile) sitting shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee if we have to... actually, we've done it before as i recall.

thankfully this year, for the celebration of our own firstborn turning five, we had a little room to breathe as opposed to sitting on each other's laps.  when the weather outside suddenly turned too chilly to have our party at a park, we had to come up with a plan "b".  so we borrowed some space from a local cooking school where brian occasionally teaches and provided the kids with an opportunity to prepare the dessert course along side of him.  it was a total experiment thrown together at the last minute, but i think it turned out to be quite memorable in the end.  of course (among all my other tasks!) i had to take some pictures to document the fun.  welcome to uncle brian's (daddy's) birthday cooking demonstration.

of course, the birthday girl had a few extra opportunities to assist the chef.  here she is telling everyone the ingredients used to make the cupcake batter.

with a little help that is...

this is a common scene in our house... he is so patient with her and she absolutely loves working with him in our kitchen.

this is one of my favorite pictures of the day... she realized that she was on the large screen tv while she was coloring the frosting.  so cute.  if you only knew how many "cooking shows" she's performed for me in her mock kitchen at home, you might begin to grasp how big of a deal this was for her.

want to see what they were making?

profiteroles (creme puffs minus the cream) with vanilla ice cream and chocolate drizzle and seriously delicious chocolate cupcakes.  yum!!

after the cupcakes finished cooling, everyone had a chance to design their own to taste with various toppings and candies.  considering our family is pretty artistic, they had a lot of fun with this activity.  not to mention uncle brian's hot chocolate concoction to make it all worthwhile, as well.

while everyone else was having all the fun, our little guy was getting passed around by loving aunts and grandparents who were trying to comfort him while mommy and daddy were keeping things moving.  unfortunately he came down with some kind of virus on this day.  in case sissy ever wonders where he was during her party, he was there too.  this little trooper took one for the team... all for the sake of celebrating one very special person.

awwwww.... sissy, we love you.  daddy even baked you a heart shaped cake just like you asked for... happy birthday to our big, little girl.

and many more.

all of us