August 30, 2010

ihf - Photojournalism

This week's photo challenge at I Heart Faces is Photojournalism - images that tell a story.  In keeping with the theme, I am purposely not going to tell you the story behind this image.  What does this image say to you?

Yes, I broke the rules - no face in this image.
I couldn't pass up sharing it.

August 23, 2010

ihf - Beach Fun

Woohoo!  My image of Miss A on the beach made an honorable mention out of almost 600 awesome entries!

* * *

I adore photo challenges at I Heart Faces...but I may adore this image even more.  Meet Miss A, who turned one year old and had a wonderful time running on the beach, discovering the water and playing in the sand as I happily snapped away.  Candid shots are the best, don't you think?  This one is just precious.

August 17, 2010

IHF - Got To Wear Shades

The best thing about Mondays (because, truly, there isn't too much to be excited about besides this) is participating in the weekly photo challenge at I Heart Faces.  This week's theme is Got to Wear Shades.

Meet Jay - my uber cool bridal party partner in my sister's wedding.  This picture says it all about his fun, spunky personality.  We made a good match and enjoyed being our goofy selves.  (If you look closely, you can see me taking Jay's photo in his left lens and my sister in her beautiful white dress in the right lens of his glasses.)

By the way, Jay needed no help with posing ideas.

Click on the image for a crisper, larger image.

August 14, 2010

Altamaha Apiaries

This week's "words" photo challenge over at Mama Heart's blog inspired me to edit the images I took of the Altamaha Apiaries in Gardi, Georgia.

The building was built in 1900 and originally served as a post office and general store.  It was later bought by a family who started a honey business.  I've driven by it a few times but made it a point to stop when the wisteria was in full bloom this past spring.  I love everything about this charming deteriorating structure, especially all of the little details you find when you walk up close to it.

Click on the image to enlarge, back arrow to return.

My entry:

Other "wordy" images and details about the building that I just adore:

Love, Love, Love this one!


 Thank you for the inspiration to finally edit these photos!


Cool Cat

“The cat is the animal to whom the Creator gave the biggest eyes, the softest fur, the most supremely delicate nostrils, a mobile ear, an unrivaled paw and a curved claw borrowed from the rose-tree.” ~ Sidone Gabrielle

This week at The Wishful Lamb they are hosting an "cool cats" photo challenge.  My entry is of my favorite feline I've photographed - a shelter cat named Felix.  I recently gave this image the Lightroom treatment and am amazed at the results.

Although Felix is not my cat, I wanted to enter him to promote shelter animal adoptions.  While I photograph the dogs at a local shelter every Saturday...and am allergic to cats...I just couldn't resist snapping up a few images of Felix.  Can you see why?

If you are thinking of adding a furry friend to your family, please opt to adopt.  You would not believe the number of amazing dogs (approx 25% are purebreds!) and cats that are being dumped at shelters all across America due to families feeling the financial strain of the country's economic situation.  These animals are often housebroken, trained to walk on a leash, have great temperaments and are generally very well mannered.  Even the strays are amazing!

If adopting is not an option for you right now, then why not volunteer your time - once a month, once a week - and photograph the animals at a shelter near you?  The rewards are amazing, both for the animals and for yourself.  Check out my recent blog regarding this passion of mine and some of my favorite images I've taken over the past 2 years.  Rescued is the best breed!

Here are some links to help you get started:

Find a Shelter Near You

Tips for Photographing Shelter Animals

Shelter Photo Tips


August 12, 2010

You Capture: Everyday Things

It's summertime!  Time for some seasonal creatures to come out and play, and one of my favorites is the dragonfly.  Dragonflies are very curious beings, hovering and following close to objects that catch their attention, checking out these new found objects from every possible angle.  Dragonflies are probably my favorite creature (besides my two four-legged children, MacKenzie & Dash) to photograph because of the intricate detail on their wings and bodies.

Dragonflies are a Georgia summer staple and my subject for You Capture's Everyday Things photo share.  This little guy was an amazing model, holding still for me for several minutes while I snapped away.


I chose this one to enter in this week's Macro Friday sponsored by Blogging from Bolivia.  It's my favorite!

August 11, 2010

On the Road Again...

When I saw the theme of  this week's In A Yellow House photo challenge (sponsored this month by the amazing Ashley Sisk), there was only one photo that came to mind.

Last June, when my sister and I were taking a road trip from our hometown in Ohio to my current home in Georgia, I snapped up a very cool image from inside one of the tunnels in Virginia.  The image captured the motion of driving in the tunnel perfectly, and in the distance, the light from the other side spilled into the middle of the image.  It was such a neat photo, I used it in my first gallery show at my digital photography certificate program graduation at the College of Coastal Georgia the following March.

Fast forward a month later, and my mom's fiance, Bob, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It was a very difficult time for all of us, as we loved Bob very much.  In May, I flew up to Ohio to visit with Bob for a long weekend, right after the partial amputation of his right leg due to the cancer-caused blood clots.  My first visit with Bob was difficult for me...seeing him in pain, having a hard time breathing, and with part of his leg missing.  But I saw past all of that, held his hand, and was just glad to be there with him.  I asked him how he was doing, and he said he just wished he could see a little light at the end of the tunnel, even just a pinhole light, so that he knew that things were going to get better.  I immediately thought of the photo I took in the tunnel the previous June...

On my last day visiting with Bob, we came to find him in his room, sitting up on the side of his bed!  Tears of joy streamed down his face, as he celebrated his first major goal after being sick for so long and after his amputation.  It was an incredible site to see!  After a while, he laid back in bed, and asked us to close the door after the nurses left.  He told us his team of doctors had given up on him, were not going to try radiation to treat the cancer, and told him to find a hospice.  It was devastating to think the one group of people who should have been encouraging him and supporting him the most simply gave up on him and left him to die.  But my family didn't believe it.  Bob was making great strides every day, was gaining weight and eating again and was a strong person in spirit.  And so after reassuring him that we would be with him every step of his way to prove his doctors wrong, I presented him with a gift: a framed copy of the tunnel image with the words Never Give Up printed on the bottom. Little did I know when I was wrapping his gift earlier in the day that I would be bringing it to him on the day that he needed it most...  It clearly meant a lot to him, and it meant a lot to me to give it to him. 

Over the course of the next 2 months, Bob told me he stared at that picture every day and used it to give him strength...through his 6 weeks of radiation treatment (that the doctors agreed to give him), through his physical therapy in which he went above and beyond what anyone thought he could do, and through all those quiet moments when he was in his room alone.  Visitors, doctors and nurses commented on it, and whenever Bob was moved to a different room or different hospital wing, that picture always went with him.

After the radiation treatments were over, Bob's body began giving him some trouble.  His heart rate was high, his blood pressure was low, he had difficulty breathing, and he was feeling very tired.  The doctors found fluid in his lung, drained it, and tested it to see if the cancer had spread.  A brain scan was also taken to help the doctors figure out why Bob was having so much trouble.  Despite his deterioration, Bob's spirit and sense of humor remained constant.

A day and a half later, Bob's blood pressure was extremely low.  His doctors and nurses tried everything they could to bring it back up.  I was told he closed his eyes and quietly passed away........

The lung fluid test later revealed the cancer had spread through his body.  While Bob hadn't given up, his body was too weak to carry him any longer.

I didn't get to say goodbye, but I know he knew how much I loved him.  While he didn't get the chance to officially become a member of our family, I will always consider him my Daddy-o, as I liked to call him.  He was an amazingly selfless, caring, thoughtful, honest, honorable man, and I am so lucky to have had him in my life...even if just for a little while.

The framed picture of the tunnel sits on my desk in my home office.  I look at it every day and think of Bob.  It was almost a year exactly...from when I had originally taken this image to when Bob passed away.

I had the opportunity to drive through this tunnel a few weeks ago, and I thought of Bob.  I don't think there will ever be a time when I won't think of him often...and with all the good that he brought into my life, I'm okay with that.  He's a source of strength to me now, as I was for him, and I am forever grateful.  Love and miss you, Daddy-o...always.

Never give up.

August 10, 2010

IHF - Surprise!

Not meant to be a serious entry this week but definitely the best surprise ever!  Jason not only surprised me, but my two girlfriends with whom I was having dinner and drinks.  Thank you to Heather for snapping this perfect shot!

We are very much looking forward to our upcoming Hawaii!  So looking forward to being husband and wife!

Best. Surprise. Ever.

August 9, 2010

Shutter Love Tuesday - Vacation!

 This week's 5th place winner!


I am only allowing myself a quick moment today for working on photography, as it could very well my last day of normalcy before musical auditions and 3 months of rehearsals begin!

The theme at Shutter Love this week is Vacations.  This is my very favorite self portrait, taken on vacation at our past stomping grounds in Mt. Shasta, California.  I made sure I got in a few hours of fishing every day...and loved every minute.  (Don't worry - I catch and release.)  I love everything about this image...the sun's rays, the color, the serenity and simplicity.  I hope you enjoy it, too.

Ahh...just mentally transported myself back there.  Do not disturb...

August 6, 2010

Byron Colby Barn - Rustic Wedding Venue

Recently, I was honored by the invitation to photograph a very special wedding in the Chicago area.  I cannot tell you how excited I am to be such an important part of this couple's big day.

I am anxious to book my flight this week - I've never been to Chicago, and I am excited to get a little taste of this amazing city the day over Labor Day weekend.  I don't know too much about the area, or the venue where the wedding and reception are being held, so I did a little research.  I thought I was excited before, but now I can hardly stand it!

About an hour away from the heart of Chicago is the Colby Byron Barn in Grayslake, Illinois.  Built in 1885 for use as a county dairy barn, the barn and premises has an enchanting and rustic aura.  It was restored in 1996 to serve as a community center.

The happy couple will be exchanging vows during a classy ceremony in the courtyard, with a lively reception in the barn to follow.

(Photo: / Olivia Leigh Photographie)


Sunflowers, live blue grass band, two-step dancing, cowboy sounds like we are all in for an amazingly fun evening!  I cannot wait to be there.  (Am I gushing?  I'm gushing.  Sorry - I can't help myself!)

Stay tuned for images from the big day...only a month away!

August 3, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

I absolutely adore this week's theme at I Heart Faces...Random Act of Kindness.  What an amazing way for fellow photographers to share with one another their ways of making this world a better place!

If you know anything about me, I am a passionate person.  I am passionate about many things in my life: my family and friends, photography, musical theater, having fun...  But one passion of mine has a separate, special place in my heart - shelter dogs. 

I've found a way to combine two of my passions together for a good cause: photography and shelter dogs.  Almost every Saturday for the past 2 years has begun the same way...with a trip to my county's high-kill animal shelter.  I spend some time photographing all the shelter dogs that are up for adoption that week.  And it is always enjoyable to see my "models" of the week, as they are always happy to be out and about, going for walks, and getting their picture taken.  After the modeling is over, I spruce up the images at home and post them to the shelter's website and to increase the dogs' publicity, which gives them a better chance at finding their forever home.  In fact, people from several states away have adopted dogs from our shelter after falling in love with the dogs' pictures online.  It is the best feeling knowing I'm helping to save the lives of some amazing animals!

I would like to say that it was at the animal shelter, photographing dogs with my little Nikon point and shoot, where I fell head over heels in love with photography.  I loved capturing the personalities of the dogs through their smiles and their eyes.  I learned a lot about how to photograph a subject's best and unique qualities.  It was here where I discovered that I was meant to be a photographer and encouraged me to earn my digital photography certificate from the College of Coastal Georgia and start my own business, which is in the works.  So I guess the shelter dogs helped me just as much as I helped them!

If you are an animal lover, like me, and you'd like to put your photography to work for an amazing cause, I encourage you to contact a shelter in your area to see if they could use your services.  (They will not turn you away, I promise.  You are needed more than you could imagine!)  This is definitely the most rewarding way I have ever chosen to spend my time.

And, without further ado, a look back at some of my very favorite images of my furry friends from the past two years.  All were successfully adopted and are living amazing lives in their forever homes.

One of the first images I took at the shelter, and the one that solidified my interest in photography



Bear Max


Getting some lovin', which is the best reward for my time...ever!

Cowboy is my favorite success story.  He was found wandering around with a gaping wound on his lower neck - he had been tied up so tightly and neglected by his owners, he freed himself and escaped.  (I'll spare  you the details on how he freed himself.)  Diagnosed as heartworm positive, my friend, Mary and I raised $300 in two days for his treatment.  He is now living on a boat in the SE Georgia islands and has an amazing life!



I am allergic to cats, but that doesn't stop me from occasionally photographing a beautiful face!

And to finish - MacKenzie and Dash, my two rescued pitbull mixes.  I'm a proud Momma!

Born at the Siskiyou Humane Society near our first home in California, MacKenzie was born at the shelter and was the last to be adopted at 4.5 months.  We are so glad she waited for us!

Dash was adopted from Nassau Animal Services in Florida just days before his euthanization date.  He likes to think he is the protector of our home, and is the biggest sweetheart/cuddle buddy ever.

After adopting MacKenzie & Dash, I don't think I'd ever adopt another breed but a pit bull.  Both dogs have put to rest the pit bull's bad rap.  Extremely loving, smart, loyal and happy-go-lucky, we love everything there is to love about our pit bulls!

Opt to adopt...and save a life!

For more inspiring stories and photographs from other "do-gooders" around the world, click on the I Heart Faces button.  How will YOU choose to help make this world a better place?

August 1, 2010


My entry for Photo Freak's "Hearts" photo challenge...  A self portrait...