My 18 in 18

I started 2018 a bit unexpectedly, joining that big movement we've all been hearing about called influenza, then subsequently passing it on to Lance. Whoops. So alas, here I am in mid-January, but I suppose it's better late than never to share my resolutions for the new year.  

This year I'm doing my resolutions a little differently. I wrote out the things I wanted to work on, keeping in mind that I wanted to cultivate more balance in my life. Coincidentally the results were eighteen resolutions that fit almost neatly in three different categories ( "working on my website" didn't fit into any category, so I just put it one. whoops). Without further ado here are some things I want to focus in on for 2018

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For me. Much of the resolutions in this category were major focuses in my life when I was at my best. So for 2018 I want to work my way back to my best self. In the past three years since moving to Alabama, I feel like I was constantly swimming up stream. I moved here not knowing a single person besides Lance, having to restart my business, trying to navigate how to be married, and trying, with much difficulty, to understand the culture here. It was a lot for me experience all at once, and many times I felt like I just was trying to keep up. But now I feel like I'm finally getting my bearings and in a place to do more for myself, and I think these six resolutions will help me get there. 

1.   Read
2.  Write
3.  Be curious
4.  Be brave
5.  Say yes
6.  Say no

Reading always centered me, but this year I want to especially focus on reading for myself as I manage some book sponsorships and reach my goodreads goal. I want to savor and enjoy reading, not just as a means to an end. As for writing, whether  it was in my blog, in my journal, or to friends, I always felt a sense of calm and self-renewal when I wrote. And since I've not written at all in the past year, I'd love to get back to it. 

I love structure and consistency in my life, but recently I've felt a little stagnant. I think leading this year with curiosity will refocus myself on seeing the world and people with new eyes. With that, I'll need a bit of bravery to break out of my comfort zone and overcome the fears that have kept me from being my true self. 

Finally with being brave comes saying yes to those things that scare me. Maybe it's joining that book club I've been meaning to join or getting out of my comfort zone to pursue more connections or becoming more vulnerable with people. Whatever it is, I want to approach opportunities with open eyes and an open heart. But with "saying yes" needs to come balance. I often find myself saying yes to things only out of obligation or because I'd feel guilty if I'd said no. So I want to work on saying no to things to maintain some of my boundaries. 

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For fun. When making new year's resolutions, I feel it's necessary to throw in some low-commitment, all-fun resolutions for myself. You need to throw in things that would be great to focus on, but if you can't, there's no sense of failure, since they were all in fun after all. This set of resolutions are purely for my enjoyment. 

7.  Take more personal pictures
8.  Print my pictures and scan my instant film
9.  Get outside
10.  Explore
11.  Be a good plant mom
12.  Work on my website

Lance and I are at a really fun part in our life together, and I want to be able to look back on this part of our life and not just have the memories, but also the pictures. I want those pictures of us cooking in our kitchen, playing board games, going to the grocery store...etc.  But being a photographer and having the social media envy seriously prevents me from taking pictures of our "ordinary" life because I'm only taking pictures in those perfect, perfectly-lit moments. It's really hard to get over. I want to remember to take pictures of our life whether it's a "bad" or "good" picture opportunity. 

Also, I must admit I'm that photographer who doesn't print her pictures. In fact, I've only printed about three photos from my wedding. Eeeek. I swear I meant to; I just haven't gotten around to doing it. So I definitely need to get out and print my pictures. With that, I'd also love to get all my instant film scanned. I literally have hundreds of polaroids and instax minis just lying around. 

Getting outside and exploring kind of go hand in hand, but I want to hike/walk more as well as try the different adorable places in Homewood and the surrounding areas. For example, the Alabama Booksmith's only a couple miles from my house, yet I've never gone, even though it's a bookstore of signed editions of books. How crazy am I that as a booklover I've never gone to this little gem in my own town?! I need to get exploring! 

Finally I'd just love to keep all my plants alive and work on my website. I think that's manageable, right? 

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For life. If you've gotten this far in this blog post, thanks so much for reading; I know it's been long. My last group of resolutions are things I want to work on for just an overall better quality of life. 

13. Be kind
14.  Venture off my island
15.  Work on my friendships
16.  Finish
17.  Minimize
18.  Think big and long term

Choosing kindness is a sort of beacon for me. I admit I have a mean streak in me that I've spent my whole life trying to combat. I've come a long way in overcoming it, but when I want to react to situations, thinking of how I can be kind put me on that road to becoming a better person. I want to continue to work on choosing kindness whenever I can. 

One time a friend asked, "How long could you be in a cabin in the woods completely cut off from the rest of the world." My immediate answer was two months. (Hers was one day.) Admittedly I've always been an introvert, gaining my energy from being alone, but over the years of working from home that's just gone to the extreme. I'm super introverted now, and as a result that's made me content to be an island. I want to venture off that island of solitude and cultivate my friendships and relationships with people. I want to be accessible to people who need my help or want to get to know me better. I want to be more available and open in my relationships. 

My theme for the past couple of years was fear, and it's fear that kept me from finishing many of my big and small projects, like keeping up this blog or updating this website or even putting up my pictures in my living room. It was fear of what other people thought, of not doing the job well enough, of making mistakes, of failure.... you name it. But this year I hope to finish projects however small. After all what use is it to want something to be great, if you never finish it. 

Minimizing is an ongoing battle as I swear that I'm a hoarder. I want to minimize most everything in my life from spending, to screen time to, of course, my possessions. I have plenty of clutter in my life that I would live much more happily without. To tackle this task I'll need to be more conscious of how I spend my time, money, and attention as well as pare down the unnecessary. 

Finally, I want to think big and long term.  Almost a decade ago during the recesssion when I was laid off from my job, I basically abandoned all my long term goals. At the time I think that was the right thing for me. I needed to seek out and depend on God's plans for my life instead of leaning on my own ideas of how my life should be. Seeking God's plans brought me to my career as a photographer, to my marriage to Lance, and to this wonderful life we have here in Alabama. However, recently I've felt like God speaking to me, encouraging me to continue to trusting in Him, but also asking me what my dreams and long term goals were. I don't know what 2018 or my future hold, but I think it's time to think big and long term. What do I want my life to look like five years from now? Ten years from now? Fifty years from now? What are some big crazy dreams I can concoct? The possibilities for 2018 and beyond are endless, and I can't wait see what comes. 

If you've made it all the way to the end, bless you. Thank you for reading about my resolutions. I'd love to hear your resolutions or if you'd like to join me for any of mine, so let me know! 

(And just in case you were curious, here are my seventeen resolutions in 2017. )


Baxley, Georgia, November 24, 2017 | Canon Rebel XSN. Kodak Colorplus 200 developed and scanned by Indie Film Lab

My 5 Takeaways from Teaching at Alt Summit

The Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs

Alt is where it all started for me.

Somehow two years ago I got it in my head to apply to be a speaker at Alt. I pitched a bunch of different ideas and was chosen (woot) to speak on editing, specifically "How to Develop a Consistent Style". I prepared for weeks and the classed turned out pretty good (although it could have used some finessing).  Since then I've found the courage to pitch different classes at other conferences and even hosted my own workshop, each time honing in what works and what doesn't work. 

Upon hearing Alt Summit would be in Palm Springs, I applied again to be speaker at Alt and got those magic words from the Design Mom, Gabrielle Blair, in response, "Congratulations! You've been selected as a speaker for Alt Summit 2017." I would be teaching a photo editing workshop. I literally screamed when I got the email. 

Fast forward to Thursday morning of the conference, with my hair and makeup did, I taught photo editing to my cozy class of 25-30 attendees. The hour and fifteen minutes flew by, and I felt so completely happy with how it turned out. So I just wanted to shared some takeaways I learned from teaching at Alt this year. 

1. Unexpected challenges can foster creative problem solving and better results.  

In that same email congratulating me on being a speaker, Gabrielle snuck in a little fun surprise, "The room will not have a screen or projector. So please plan your class as a true, hands-on type workshop." Yikes. Those words haunted me. How do you teach a class about work done solely on a computer without a screen or projector? What does hands-on really mean?? Blerg. Can you feel how stressed I was?

So that was my challenge: how do I effectively teach a bunch of people "blindly"? I queried one of my handy facebook groups and got several helpful suggestions which eventually inspired my final solution. I ended up asking all the students to bring a laptop and gave them each a digital folder containing a pdf of the slides of my talking points and a Lightroom catalog for them to follow along with. I made sure my entire spiel was only twenty minutes so I could spend the rest of the time going around helping people one-on-one. Overall I think this workshop was more successful than any of my other talks, and I owe it to not having a projector. Had I had a projector and screen I imagine my workshop would have been pretty dry. The way I presented ended up being completely much more effective as I was forced to go table to table to help attendees individually and see what their specific needs were. 

2. Teaching will bring out the best or the worst of you. 

Teaching is no joke. It's not easy. It's stressful and challenging for someone like me. I honestly had to learn to be a better person while I was teaching my class. There were plenty of moments when I thought I was going to go crazy. I definitely had to exercise plenty of grace and patience, but it all worth it. 

3. Ask for help and accept it when it's offered. 

Like I mentioned before, in a facebook group I asked how I could teach an editing class without a screen or projector. The help and resources I received from that simple ask were invaluable to me. I really owe much of the success of the workshop to those who helped me in that group. So often someone else has already solved your problem, so why not take advantage of their knowledge and save yourself some of the legwork. I saved so much time figuring out my pickle by simply asking for help. You really have nothing to lose by asking for a little help. 

At my workshop I had an Alt representative. I wish I could remember his name because he was so incredibly helpful. While I was preparing to speak, my Alt rep went around helping people load the workshop material on their computers. That little bit of help was really loads and loads helpful to me. Part of my personality is to always turn away help--I never want to put someone out or inconvenience them, so over the years I've really had to learn to accept help when it's offered because utilizing the people around me is really such an invaluable asset. 

photo by justin hackworth

photo by justin hackworth

4. Trust yourself. 

When I was in college I presented a multi-million dollar housing project to Bank of America for a competition. I was super nervous, but I'll never forget what one of my teammates said to calm my nerves, "You know this material. Trust yourself." To this day her words have stuck with me. Even though I'm pretty snazzy at editing, I was scared about my workshop. What if no one learned anything? What if no one showed up? What if I didn't make sense? What if my screen/projector solution didn't work? But I knew the material backwards and forwards, so I trusted that. I trusted myself. In the end that's all I needed and everything worked out. A couple people might have even told me it was the best class they'd been to at the conference. (cue happy dance.)

5. Share knowledge generously. 

I once had a mentor who shared everything about his business with me from his business practices to his insurance agent. He was generous with his knowledge and I'm indebted to him for that, so I've always used that as a model in how I want to interact with other creatives. I tell my creative friends I have no secrets with regards to my business. And I really don't. If there's something you want to know about my business I'll share it with you. 

At my workshop I was so happy to see that the attendees were learning something. Even if it was just one small thing, I was happy I could share that with them. There's no reason for me to keep this editing knowledge to myself when I could instead be helping people with what I know. 

All in all I felt like my workshop was a total success. I'm so thankful for the people who attended my workshop, their patience with me, and the really, really good questions they asked. 


Saguaro Hotel, Palm Springs, CA. February 2, 2016 | Fuji x100s

My 17 in 2017

New Year's resolutions are both my thing and not my thing. I often start the year optimistic, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, having these grandiose plans for myself, but that over-optismitic, overachieving gung-ho-ness gets me every time. I want to make resolutions and keep them, but my goals are just too unrealistic or I don't give myself enough grace when I'm making those resolutions. The one time I recall mostly sticking to a resolution is when I committed to reading every day. That resolution worked because it already fit into my lifestyle of reading and just challenged me to slightly amp up what I was already doing. So for 2017 I was inspired by Advice from a Twenty Something to make some "refreshing and simple" New Year's resolutions that could actually be manageable and attainable.

  1. Be kind.
  2. Floss more. 
  3. Go to bed and wake up at reasonable times.
  4. Explore Birmingham.
  5. Take advantage of our back porch.
  6. Eat vegetables.
  7. Write.
  8. Take pictures for myself. 
  9. Keep my library borrows to a minimum.
  10. Start the Harry Potter books.
  11. Cook and eat at home. 
  12. Keep up with the laundry.
  13. Read through my collection of books.
  14. Blog.
  15. Sort my personal pictures. 
  16. Focus on the blessings. 
  17. Downsize and purge to live a more simple life. 

Disneyworld Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida. April 26, 2016 | Canon Rebel XSN, film developed by Indie Film Lab



It's a dreary, but beautiful day in Birmingham. Being that it's December and I haven't blogged in literally months it's pretty good time to update. Without further ado, I am currently...

realizing I haven't seen people in months. Last night some of my friends saw me with short hair for the first time. Since I cut my hair a couple months back (30 inches gone!) I suppose I've coincidentally/accidentally have been in hiding ever since. yikes. So here's an announcement for all of my friends I haven't seen in ages. My long hair is gone and my short hair is here to stay. I'm already wishing it was even shorter!

working like a crazy person. Somehow I've managed to speed up my workflow and now can now edit some weddings while watching one Harry Potter movie (approximately two and a half hours).  With my improved workflow I've been able to work a lot more in a shorter amount of time. But there's been so much work because of wedding season that I've still been holed up, thus the reason why I've been so anti-social as of late.

watching a lot of Harry Potter. And I mean A LOT. Lance bought me the entire collection of Harry Potter movies for Valentine's Day, and a couple months back I converted the DVDs to digital files so I could watch them on my iPad while I worked. Since then I've basically watched the entire series literally countless times. That's all I watch when I edit now. 

planning a lot of travel. I've got some surprises up my sleeve, and with a brand-new LARGE suitcase, I'm raring to go! 

reading very little. This year I've not read nearly as much as I normally do, but I have been reading books that I loved. I just finished Modern Lovers by Emma Straub and Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and am now reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which recently won the National Book Award. 

wishing the fall would stay. Here in the bhams we had a late fall, but it's been so beautiful. California has nothing on the fall here. The colors are so vibrant and lush; it just makes you want to bundle up and drink hot chocolate. 

resting since I finished almost all of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. Lance and I won't be seeing my family for Christmas, so I bought all their Christmas (and some of their birthday) presents in November. When we went to California for Thanksgiving we brought about 35 pounds of presents to California, where I wrapped the presents and got them ready for the holidays. It was a lot of work, but now I can rest easy. 

sleeping at regular times. Before Thanksgiving I was going to bed at around 7am and waking up at around 1pm. I was in an awful sleeping funk. After visiting California and coming home, the jet lag really kicked me in the butt, so now I'm waking up at 8am and going to bed at 11pm. I love it!!

cooking. For anyone who knows me, they know I don't like cooking. So I'm surprising myself with how much I've been cooking recently. I'm taking advantage of our crockpot and scouring pinterest for recipes for yummy soups and chilis. I'm somewhat getting the knack for adjusting the recipes for my and Lance's tastebuds. Also, I realize I've been incorrectly spelling chili "chilli". whoops. 

avoiding changing my name. I know I've got to do it, but I honestly forgot it until now, which I must do it before the end of the year. This is the week I'll be doing it. woot. Finally. 

editing the past couple of years of personal photos. Somehow along with blogging I also put taking and editing personal photos on the back burner. I haven't looked through really any of my personal photos since I got married. Now that wedding season and the holidays are winding down, I'm hoping to spend more time sorting through all those images. 

loving blogging. I forgot how much I love to blog. Maybe I'll keep it up this time around!


Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona. October 26, 2016 | Canon 5d markii 50mm 1.2

31 Things I learned at 31

Recently my birthday passed, and I wanted to reflect on everything I learned when I was 31. It seems like no matter how old I get I'm always learning more. (And actually one key thing, I'm learning more and more how right my parents were... about almost everything.) While I know I'll never be perfect, I want to always strive to grow in character and know myself better. 

1. Keeping in touch with friends and family takes work, but it’s worth it.

2. Moving a business is not easy, but God can change the direction of my life and business in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.

3. The only way for me to keep a house/apartment clean is to tidy a little every day throughout the day.

4. Living in my own house is a dream.

5. Marriage is better than I could have imagined.

6. I will probably never fully understand southern culture.

7. To reach my goals I have to focus on small, consistent steps. (That’s how I reached my reading goal!)

8. Don’t knock it before you try it. I was skeptical of living of Birmingham, but I actually love it more than anything. 

9. I never knew just how much I loved surprises until I married a man who loved to surprise me.

10. Waking up early, early to drive Lance to work is a good thing. I dislike the waking up aspect of driving him to work, but I love to be awake for the entire morning. I’m just so productive. I love it. 

11. I love shooting film. Who knew? I love instant film, but I discovered how wonderful shooting on a film SLR was.

12. Hiking is really one of my favorite activities.

13. “Buggy” is the southern term for a shopping cart. “Keeping a baby” means babysitting. And “dinner” sometimes means lunch. 

14. Alabama heat and humidity isn’t nearly as bad as I was told it was. 

15. Alabama is incredibly colder than I thought it’d be.

16. I love road trips. In fact I might say that I love a road trip more than international travel. Maybe. 

17. I can’t travel the way I used to (all the time and for long periods of time). I can’t bear being away from Lance for long. Plus… I’m old now. 

18. I don’t have to go to a non-denominational church to be happy. I feel more at home at my current church, which is Lutheran, than any church I ever attended before. 

19. Owning real plants that stay alive make me feel alive.

20. You can never have too many blankets.

21. You can make friends in the most unexpected places and situations. 

22. Fried green tomatoes are delectable. I’ve been missing out my whole life. 

23. Lance has impeccable taste in tv shows and movies. (Thank you for making me watch Mad Max.)

24. Driving is fun (but still terrifying).

25. I like grocery shopping and running errands.

26. How to cook corned beef. Woot!

27. The library is truly a magical place. I’m so sad it took me so long to take advantage of it.

28. I just don’t have the energy to be a night owl anymore. I need to be in bed before midnight. 

29. It always pays to be kind and nice.

30. You can never say “I love you” too much. 

31. It only gets better.


My Lemon Poppy Birthday Cake, Feast & Forest, 212 24th Street North, Birmingham, AL | Canon 5d markii + 50mm 1.2L