December 30, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action!

Yesterday, I had my first commercial shoot for my new advertising agency, and I had an absolute blast! My agency flew me to their studio in Atlanta, and we shot 10 commercials in 2 hours, which was way more than they thought I would get through. (I worked my rear off and had an easy time with lines, thanks to the teleprompter!) My agency gave me the royal treatment all day, and everyone at the studio was great to work with. I was especially happy that I had a hair and makeup tech follow me around all day, so my day was as stress-free as possible. On the way back to the airport that afternoon, my agent said he was thrilled with the work I had done and thinks I will get clients right off the bat. I flew home that evening and was glad to have had such a successful day.

The next step in the process is for the editors to create commercials from the footage we shot. We shot the commercials in front of a green screen so the editors can insert various rolling footage behind me. Once the commercials are complete, the agency will shop the commercials around to their clients. If a client wants to use one of my commercials, they will edit the commercial to include the agency's company logo and contact information and release it to the television station/s on which the client wants the commercial to air. (To answer one person's question: The agency's clients are scattered around the country, so there is no chance of two clients in the same location airing my commercials against each other.)

If a client uses my likeness (commercial or billboard ad) during a particular month, they will have to pay me a royalty fee. So if several clients use my material during a particular month, I will have the chance of making some great money on work I have already done!

Keep your fingers crossed that my commercials will be used and that the clients see a jump in sales...that will mean even more rewards.

Stay tuned - my agency is writing a commercial for me in which I will sing!

2010 is already looking good...

December 27, 2009

Christmas in Georgia

This Christmas season marked our second in Georgia, and it was a very low key one at that. Christmas Eve was spent relaxing and watching Christmas movies and eating too much. Jason made an incredible veal roast, a first for us.

On Christmas Day, we opened our presents late in the morning, sipped peppermint mocha coffee, watched Christmas movies all day, and played with our new toys, including our new iPod Nanos that Jason bought us. Later, we roasted the perfect duck with all the fixin's for dinner and relaxed with some gin and tonics. In short, we had an amazing time, and are looking forward to more down time this week.

'Twas the night before Christmas...

...not a creature was stirring, not even a Doodle...

...or a Chunkers or a Twerp...

What did Santa bring me?

Jason and his new Craftsman power drill

A new lens!

MacKenzie opening her present

Santa brought each dog a new Christmas kitty toy

Decorating Christmas cookies

Christmas nap time

We enjoyed the perfect Christmas - we hope you did the same!
Jen, Jason, MacKenzie, Dash and Lucie

December 24, 2009

Christmas Came Early

Well, I've known this for a few days, but I'm just getting around to blogging about it now. I received a letter from the Hallmark Institute of Photography - my dream school - congratulating me on my acceptance! I am one of about 200 students who have been accepted into the class of 2011, and I'm really in disbelief!

And if I wasn't in disbelief already, I read the other enclosed info...the updated tuition and fee info. WOWZERS! Not including a place to sleep and food to eat, the tuition for the 10-month intensive program is $48,900 and the various fees are $8,500. Add in some rent if I had 3 roommates and some money for ramen soup, and the end cost is right around $60,000.

While that seems like a lot (who am I kidding, that IS a lot), I'm going to concentrate on the excitement that I was actually accepted into the school, and then see how much financial aid and loans I am eligible for. I am also taking donations. I apologize, but they are not tax deductible at this time. :)

So there is my news... I'm one step closer to reaching my goal of becoming the best photographer I can be AND supporting myself comfortably while doing so...and this makes me very, very happy.

December 22, 2009

A Winter Sunset on Jekyll

On Saturday, my Nature Photography class had its makeup field trip to the south end of Jekyll Island. Although only my instructor, Gerri, and I showed up, we decided to go ahead with the trip. And I am so glad we did because the evening sky certainly gave quite a performance! Here are a few of my favorite shots. Enjoy!

Gerri taking a photo

My favorite:

December 15, 2009


I found this scanned photograph of me at age 3. This photograph carries several thoughts with it. It was taken during a time when life was careless and the most important things were Sunkist fruit roll-ups, Minute Maid orange juice bars, homemade Kool-Aid popsicles, mud pies, painting the house with water and large paint brushes, fishing, my dog, Babe, cul-de-sac block parties, and seeing how long I could stay outside to play during the long, humid days of summer in Ohio before I had to come in for bath time.

Do you ever wish you could go back to a time like that...even just for a moment or two?

Jenny, age 3

December 14, 2009

Hallmark Institute of Photography

I had my phone interview with Brooke, an admissions rep from the Hallmark Institute of Photography in MA. I spent an hour on the phone discussing my passion for photography and allowing Brooke the opportunity to get to know me and what makes me tick. It was her job to decide if I had the right personality, determination and talent to not only survive Hallmark's very prestigious, 10-month intensive training program, but thrive.

After looking at workshops, training programs and colleges around the country, Hallmark was the only program I felt would give me the complete skills I need to become the best photographer I can be and run a successful photography business. They teach you everything - from different genres of photography (wedding, portrait, advertising, nature, aerial, medical) to post-production work to learning how to start and manage a business. Check it out for yourself - Every week, I receive another email regarding what the students are learning that week, and it is absolutely insane how amazing their opportunities are.

At the end of the interview, Brooke said she really liked me and thought I had what it took to succeed at Hallmark, and would be referring me and my profile to the dean for review. After I submit more paperwork to Brooke this week, I should hear something next week.

So realistically, do I expect to get accepted to the school? They only accept 200-250 students a year, so it is also relatively difficult to get into the program. However, I thought it was worth a shot to see if they thought I had what it took to be a Hallmark student. And if I do get accepted, do I think I'll be going to the school? Unless a small financial miracle came down from the heavens, probably not. (Guess I should start buying lottery tickets now.) If it's meant to be, it will be. Brooke asked me if I didn't get accepted into Hallmark, would I still pursue photography, and I answered immediately with a "yes." I may have to do all the research and work on my own instead of at a fancy-schmancy institute, but one way or the other, I'm ready to work hard and turn my love of photography into a successful business.

Do you think they sell lottery tickets at this time of night?

December 11, 2009

Adelaide: The Revival

In October and November, I had the honor of playing the comedic leading lady named Adelaide in The Island Players' production of Guys and Dolls. Adelaide and her Hot Box girls were ditzy singer/dancer night club entertainers who spoke in high pitch New Yorker accents. We made sure our voices were ear-piercing, to say the least.

We were asked to perform at The Island Players' Christmas concert and revive our characters in a rendition of "Santa Baby." Ginny revamped our Guys and Dolls costumes and scarecrows to fit the holiday theme. We were an absolute hit! [I also sang Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)" but it wasn't nearly as fun as singing my with girls.]

Mary Jo, Me, Angie, Darlene & Ginny
Posing the Guys and Dolls music director, John Harper

Jason and Adelaide

December 3, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

...well, as much as it can look like Christmas in Georgia, anyway.

This year, we decorated the the house earlier than we have ever done so. Since I had the Friday after Thanksgiving off, and I didn't go home to Ohio for the first time ever, I decided to spend my day taking down the Fall decor (didn't I just put that up?!) and readying the house for Christmas. Without putting up the tree, I spent 6 hours decorating and cleaning!

Friday night, we assembled the tree and put the lights on. Me + Christmas lights = way too much stress. I have an OCD complex that I can usually keep at bay, but something about stringing Christmas lights on the tree brings out the worst in me. Jason usually leaves that to me for a time when he's not home. This year, I requested we do the lights together...but only after I had had a few glasses of wine first. It went way faster than it did last year (last year, it took 2 days...don't ask). After stringing up the first set of lights, which covered half the tree, I went to add another strand when I realized that the prongs didn't fit into the new strand...or any other strand we had. So we completely started over with another strand of lights...after more wine, of course. A few minor bickerings and one bottle of wine later, the lights were done and looked good.

We were too tired to decorate the tree, so we did that Saturday night. Lucie, our foster pup, enjoyed licking some of the ornaments hanging low on the tree. After the initial amusement, she left it along. Not too shabby for a 3-month-old pup! We watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the original Grinch on DVD while decorating...our annual tradition. (We love Rudolph because it's sexist and not very politically correct these days. Oh, and we always sing all the songs aloud.)

The finished product turned out beautifully, and we're enjoying evenings lit only by the tree light and a strand of pre-lit garland around the kitchen window. We also have this fabulous oil burner we use from Bath and Body Works with various Christmas scents to get us into the holiday spirit.

Now all we need is some snow! can dream.

Jason decorating the tree

How I decorate the tree

Time out for puppy playtime!

What is this yummy-looking green thing?

*slurp* Mmm...

So tempting...

Dreaming of a white Christmas

MacKenzie and me posing by the tree

The tree and mantle decorated for Christmas

Christmas love

Mission Accomplished!

I am very happy to announce that Lucie, our foster pup, has already found a loving forever home with my friend, Val, and her family in Ohio! Val and I were friends in high school through show choir, and I sang in both her and her sister's weddings. Val and husband, Pete, have 2 young boys, one of which has been begging for a dog for some time now.

Val had seen my photos of Lucie on my Facebook page and fell in love with her when she viewed a photo of me holding Lucie by my Christmas tree.

Lucie will be traveling to her new home in Ohio shortly after Christmas. While I fell in love with her, I am so excited she has found the perfect forever home with a good friend, and I am very excited that I will be able to watch her grow up! Lucie's adoption feels like Christmas came early

If you are interested in adding a furry friend to you family this holiday season, consider adoption instead of buying at a pet store or online. Check out my friends at Glynn County Animal Services at or check out a shelter near you on You will not only find your perfect family addition, you will also be saving a life.

Jen and Lucie with her first Christmas tree

November 26, 2009

My List of Thankfulness

This Thanksgiving is filled with firsts. I am spending my first Thanksgiving away from my family in Cleveland, Ohio. It's my first Georgia Thanksgiving. I will also be roasting my first turkey ever. (Jason wanted to fry a turkey in the spirit of Georgia, but I wouldn't let him. That's one first we can save for unimportant day.)

This year, and every year, I have so much for which to be thankful, and often times it's easy for me to take it for granted. So here's a small list of some of the important things for which I'm thankful:

1. My best friend, the love of my life, my better half, Jason, who spoils me with love, affection, support and encouragement.

2. My mom, grandparents and sisters - the most supportive family ever!

3. My dogs, MacKenzie and Dash, who put love in my life and a smile in my heart.

4. A beautiful home.

5. A new car that has air conditioning, working seat belts, a radio that doesn't take time to warm up on cold mornings to a decent volume, power steering fluid that is not a milky red color, and one that hasn't caught on fire yet. (Thanks, Obama.)

6. Food. All of it...except cooked carrots.

7. My very few, close friends, who are quick to support, slow to judge and have no problem picking up where we last left off...even if it was a year ago...since we are all busy people.

8. Jason. (He's worth a second mention...most days.)

9. I am thankful I got the premature gray hair instead of the tallness and the big nose.

10. I am thankful to have opportunity to live my life the way I want and the chance to pursue my dreams when I am ready. It is largely to the credit of our military, past and present. Thank you for keeping me safe and making this country great!

11. Honorable mention: sushi.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and may both your family gathering and the thanks in your heart be bountiful!

November 23, 2009

Lucie, the foster dog

My heart has been with a certain 3-month old shepherd mix puppy since I first laid eyes on her 2 weeks ago. Lucie and her twin sister were kenneled together at the shelter and, I was told, were two peas in a pod. But since her sister's adoption, Lucie has been nothing but very afraid of everyone and everything. She has been taken on two mobile adoptions, including the one this weekend, and shook like a leaf the whole time. My heart went out to her. So I thought that since I was not doing anything on Sunday (yesterday), I would ask to take her home for the day and try to work with her in effort to get her to come around, trust more and just have fun like a puppy should.

The shelter called Sunday morning, said Lucie was still available, and that I was welcome to foster her for a few days. I raced over to pick her up, and as soon as she saw me, she tried to hide under her bed. She did well on the way home in the portable kennel, hugging her toy the whole way.

I took her out and put on the floor in the living room and she was so scared. I slowly walked around the house and she followed me everywhere, but strayed on her own a little, exploring the new surroundings for herself. She found that she could fit nicely under the coffee table, and chose that as her safe haven. Next, we introduced MacKenzie and Dash to her. They sniffed her like crazy, as was to be expected. Lucie dished out many, many kisses to both of them. MacKenzie was unsure of her and kept hiding under the dining table, while Dash was thrilled to get a new playmate, even though he totally overpowered first.

MacKenzie and Dash didn't really know how to play with such a small creature. They tested her out and tried to play rough but then backed off when they realized she was more delicate than they originally thought.

After a bath, Lucie and I went outside and ran around a little, and she really opened up and came alive. She was smiling and jumping around and just letting loose like a puppy should. Later inside, Dash was persistent at trying to get her to play, and in a few hours...she was kicking his butt! In fact, those two resembled a cyclone for much of the day.

Last night, she slept well in her indoor kennel and whined only when she needed to go out to the bathroom. This morning, she followed the dogs out and went to the bathroom with them. She's getting the hang of housetraining but has had a few accidents.

Jason and I felt bad that we had to take her back already this morning, so we decided to keep her for another day/night. However, MacKenzie and Dash are exhausted! Lucie has given them each a dose of their own medicine. MacKenzie, the licker/kisser, is tired of receiving so many kisses from Lucie, and Dash, the instigator, is tired of playing. I think they'd both be happy if she had left today. :) She is also beginning to chew on things and in general, is exploring everything.

Lucie will make someone a wonderful forever friend. If we had more room on our bed, we'd adopt her ourselves. If you're interested let me know! I'll be happy to give you more information on the little furrball.

Beautiful Lucie

Playing tag with me in the backyard

November 21, 2009

New Faces - 11.21.09

I'm only two posts in, and they're both about dogs. *laughs* What can I say? They're a big part of my life.

I was overjoyed to know that my long time favorite dog, Oscar, was adopted last Monday...three days short of his euthanization date. Patch, who had also been at the shelter for a while, was adopted Saturday, four days shy of his euthanization date. I'm being told more and more that people see my photos of the dogs online, fall in love with them, and come to the shelter to adopt them. What an amazing reward.

Here are some of the newest faces looking for forever homes. Maybe one will find a way into your heart. Contact Glynn County Animal Services in Brunswick, GA at 912-554-7500 if you are interested in someone and want more info about him or her.

Izzy (m) and Cocoa (m)

Terry (m) Razzie (f) and Diana (f)

Samson (m) Patches (dad) & Little Girl (mom)

November 20, 2009

A Change of Pace

Life is constantly leading me in new directions. When I first moved to Georgia with my boyfriend, Jason, and our shelter dog, MacKenzie, I never imagined I'd wind up becoming so passionate about shelter dogs that I'd be volunteering my Saturdays at a local high kill shelter as a dog photographer. Just like I had no idea that photographing shelter dogs would lead to an intense passion about photography. I mean, I had always loved taking photos. I am the family member or the friend who always forces everyone to take time to capture the holiday, the special event, the milestone on camera. But something about working hard to capture a shelter dog's personality through his eyes and face - and then having those pictures be the reason a person comes in to adopt that dog and give him a forever home - drew me deep into the creative, emotional world of photography.

When my pocket Nikon point-and-shoot finally died, and I transitioned to my first Nikon DSLR, it changed me forever. The technology of the DSLR enabled me to take better, crisper, more vivid photos...the way I had always wanted my photos to look. It was insane. That was February. Since then, I've become quite the amateur photographer, my camera at my side wherever I go. Anything and everything is a good subject. I am currently taking workshops and working toward my certification in digital photography at the college where I work.

Early this year, I began a blog about my photography work at the shelter. Now that I've expanded my horizons and learned more about my craft, I thought it was time to expand the scope of my blog where all my photos could be displayed, shared, and critiqued, if people so choose. Yes, I will post shelter dog photos from time to time, but I also have much more to share with you these days. I hope you will enjoy this blog as much as I know I will enjoy creating it. Here's to embracing a new direction.

Peter, my first shelter dog subject.

Cowboy, who survived being slashed across the throat and his heartworm treatments, now resides on a yacht in Jekyll Island.

One of my favorites, Blue, is now happy in a forever home with two young boys.

Maddie, found her forever home in New Jersey with wealthy Ferrari dealer and his family.

Shy girl, Alissa, recently found her forever home with a wonderful family.

"Within every stray lies the singular desire to be loved."