Behind the Scenes | Year of Yes | Bring on the Wine; I’m Getting Personal

If you asked anyone that knows me most of them would never in a million years describe me as an introverted. I rarely if ever have a problem standing up and speaking up in public, I don’t have children, and as far as I know I don’t have one let alone two or more Emmy award-winning television shows on any major network or even a syndicated one. So can someone please explain to me why Shonda Rhimes book “Year of Yes” is speaking directly to my soul? And let me tell you that I am not liking it one bit.

It is really strange when something holds a mirror up to your face and forces you to confront things that you have carefully swept under the rug in a steel lined and chastity belt locked room. You realized that maybe you aren’t as happy as you want to believe.  That there might be somethings missing in your life.  You start to question what is really going on.  You think maybe you have just been keeping your carefully crafted smile in place so that no one really looks to close; including yourself and you remind yourself that you are not this person.

I have a cousin that sees herself in absolutely everything that she watches. Whether it is the story of a loner art student that just got her heart broken by the musician that is going away to pursue his dreams, a physical therapist who falls for the wrong guy and has to rebuild her life, the man who just lost both his legs and is struggling to learn to walk again it doesn’t matter.  All of them will have her screaming “Why is this my life?”. That is just not something I do. Sure I can relate to characters that I have things in common with but I don’t see myself or my life in too much of anything I read or watch.

Yet Shonda, I feel like we need to be on a first name basis…she is after all cutting into my heart, has become my twin. We might be fraternal but we are twins none the less. From chapter one and definitely chapter two she has forced me to confront somethings that while I might have known on the periphery of my mind I didn’t want to look to close to and I’m not even halfway through this book. Who does that without ever having said word one to you in real life?  Not cool Shonda, not cool at all.  In fact it makes me want to slam this thing closed and rush it back to the library before she can get any deeper into my world.

See I had decided to go ahead and read this book because it has been on my “need to read” list for quite some time but for some reason I kept putting it off. Now that I have started it I am thinking that subconsciously I knew it would be life changing. Still I decided to dive in as I start to really think about how I want to end the year and start setting my goals for 2018.

Now I’m sitting here reading this book and I’m rethinking so much about my life, about my goals, about who I am. How did that happen? I tell you Shonda and I are in a gladiator match of ridiculous proportions right now but this book has become that huge scab on your arm that you know you shouldn’t pick at but you just can’t stop. It’s my own personal chicken poxs and I’m scratching all up in this piece. Besides one of my favorite quotes is “Everything you want is on the other side of fear”. How can I stop just because I can’t take the chance that I will be inspired to change things in my life and that is as scary as stepping on a scale after finishing a pan of double chocolate frosted brownies.

If you are looking for a book that might or might not have you grabbing for the Merlot and wishing you had just read the new Stephen King book instead then I highly recommend this one. It could go down hill from here (I’m still in the middle of chapter 5) but somehow I just don’t think the queen of Thursday night drama is coming with anything other than a “How to Get Away With Murder” wig pulled off, one tear down the check, WTF type of ending that is sure to drop a bomb of knowledge. I could be wrong but if you have ever watched one of her finales then you wouldn’t question my logic.

I’ll see you at the end.

Balloon Journey | Centralia, Illinois | Flying High but No Glow

I swear that someone is trying their best to make fun of me.  My family swears that I am causing it all by myself.  Whichever one is right doesn’t seem to matter.  For some reason I can’t seem to get to a Hot Air Balloon Fest where they have a balloon glow and a balloon race at the same fest.  Either the weather is great for the glow and bad for the race or vice versa.  No matter what I just can’t seem to get them on in one weekend.  I have even tried coming home overnight and planning on going back the next day and still one or the other is cancelled.  It’s become a little of a joke to those around me but I tell you I am not laughing one little bit.

The streak continued when we ventured to Centralia’s IL Balloon Fest this past weekend.  We got there just in time to see the balloons take off (I had already thought we had missed it) but as I was in the middle of taking a picture they announced that the glow would be cancelled.  Yep I had struck again.  It was suppose to be because of rain but I think I only felt one drop all night long so really it was just because I was there.

The loss of the balloon glow not withstanding, I did have so much fun capturing the balloons as the took to the sky.  It has bee quite some time since I have been able to get more than one, maybe two, balloons in the air at one time but Centralia gave me a few great opportunities to really let loose.  Sure there were a crazy number of trees in the way but it was in a park after all.  It’s not like I could ask the trees to move over some.  If anything I really think the trees add a little something to the view.

There are a few more fest coming up this year and maybe since I can only go to one or the other they have a fighting change of getting both a glow and a race in but I’m coming for it in 2018 and let me tell you there will be glows and races a plenty.  I am claiming it right now and I can’t wait to see what I am able to see.

Behind the Scenes | Why I Have to Let This Word Go

I have to start this by saying that this is not a political or social commentary post but just a look into how the political and social climate is speaking to my business.

I like what I do and I’m very proud to do it.  I believe that everyone should have portraits of themselves and their family and I absolutely love a good, heart-felt smile.  One of my favorite things to do is share with others what I am doing but where I use to always say “I’m going to shoot Sally today” now I feel that I have to rethink that word.

It’s funny that when I was looking up an image to go with today’s post (I didn’t really want to use one of mine) and I typed in “shooting” the most popular images that came up where cameras, portraits, and stars.  Yet if you tell someone you are “shooting a school” their first thought is “OMG no”.  It is sad that this is the times we live in.

I have no idea how to fix what has been broken since before I was born and realistically since before we knew it was a problem.  That is the main reason this isn’t a political post.  If I had an idea I would be screaming it from every rooftop in the world.

With all that has happened over the last few months and especially the last few days I have decided that “shooting” can no longer be the way that I describe what I do.  I realize it is a little thing and in no way touches on what is going on in our world but it is something that is touching me.

My heart goes out to those that have lost someone to the violence and ignorance that seems to be so strong lately.  We have to learn from the past in order to save the future but until we understand fully the mistakes of the past how can we learn?

As I said I have so solution but I believe in the power of love, faith, and prayer, and I pray that we all learn to be more accepting of the differences that make us each individual, special, and most of all beautiful.

Photography Insights | Are Senior Wallets Dead?

I might be showing my age a little bit with this post, but heck I’ve never been ashamed of it so why start now.

Senior year of high school and I had just gotten my proofs back.  I’m sitting with my father trying to figure out which package we were going to order and what size pictures we really needed.  There was the holidays coming up and announcements and probably a ton more events that were considered but that was some time ago.

My dad was being practical; thinking of family both near and far away.  I was thinking of the 300 plus classmates I had and how I needed wallets of each of my favorite pictures so that they could have one of each.  I mean if I loved them and wanted them all, wouldn’t they?  In the end I think we settled on a package that included enough wallets for the classmates I ACTUALLY talked to, announcements, and family.  Sure we had to order extra wallets cause I still wanted EVERYONE to have them and gave away all of them before we sent announcements but I’m not counting that.

I look back now and I really only have maybe one or two of my senior wallets left and I wonder if any of those people I swore had to have one even remember what my pictures looked like let alone still have one.

As we are still in the full swing of senior pictures season (or winding down if like me in high school you couldn’t wait to get in front of the camera), I find myself really looking at what I’m offering and what people are asking for and I have to ask; are senior wallets a think of the past?

It seems like now more and more with everyone having a cellphone, tablet or touch-screen laptop, there just isn’t a place for wallets anymore.  I mean really, most teens don’t carry wallets anymore.  Some don’t really carry purses.  It’s not like back in the day when you had spaces and booklets for displaying your wallet pictures.  Even a lot of my parents aren’t really looking for wallets.  Sure sending a picture with the announcement is still important but to that regard I’m getting more request for digital images than for wallets.  Again it makes me think.

I remember saying once that my cellphone was really like my wallet pictures.  I could carry way more than I ever could fit in an actual wallet, when I handed it to someone to take a look they didn’t look surprised, and I could send them to whomever I wanted or share them wherever struck my fancy.  There was no restrictions.  Is that really what the senior wallet game has come down to?

Honestly, as I speak with a lot of seniors they talk about having their friends take their pictures using their phones and calling it a day.  But I think they are missing the bigger picture.

My father still has a box of senior pictures that he has kept all this time.  He is still involved in each and every class reunion and there are times that friends from high school just drop by simply to check in.  There was a closeness there and a connectivity that I think with all or Snapchatting and Instagraming we have lost.

I’m not saying that senior pictures where the only reason for this closeness but I do think it helped.  Writing little notes on the back of each picture and keeping the ones that meant the most to you.  There is something to be said for sentiment.

I still offer those senior packages with the wallets for maybe not everyone in your senior class but quite a few but I also offer digital add-ons that allow for sharing on your phone, social media, and everywhere you can think of.  The reason I keep the wallets for seniors?  Because I believe in passing those memories along and doing in a tangible way.  I want my seniors to be able to look back one day and still have those wallets and stories like the one I shared.  I hope that 10, 15, 25 years down the road they will still have those friendships that my father does and if I can help with that in any way with a simple wallet picture then to me it’s worth keeping them alive.

Do you still have a box or album of wallet pictures from your senior year of high school?  Did you love your senior pictures?  Are you not sure about getting senior pictures?  Share your experiences below and let’s chat about it some more.

Montelle Winery | Augusta, Missouri | Play That Funky Music

Montelle Winery Glass | Augusta, Missouri

What’s not to love about a sunny day, wine and good music?  Nothing I say and that was exactly how I felt last Saturday when I went for a visit to the Montelle Winery in Augusta, Missouri to see the Sean Holland Band.

I was going to see a friend that I have known since the Fresh Prince still ruled Bel Air and it was all about a Different World.  We came up together and from the moment I met him he was always singing.  It is such a joy to see him doing his thing now and doing well and in such a beautiful setting.

Sean Holland Band | C. Jay Conrad

Now while I’m not a newbie to wine or wineries, for that matter, I was a newbie to Montelle and the Augusta, Mo area.  That being said I will definitely be back again.

Montelle Winery | Augusta, Mo | Landscape

The landscaping was absolutely wonderful and the wine that I tried was quite nice.  I’m not a huge wine drinker and I generally tend to stick to the sweeter wines but they had two that I would highly recommend; the Himmelswein and the Red Raspberry.  Both had a lightness to them while still having enough flavor and substance to hold their own.  Add in the simple pairing of their flat bread pizza and it was worth the drive and I haven’t even gotten to the music.

Sean Holland and his band showed up to do the dang thang.  They were rocking from moment one and they didn’t stop all afternoon.  The guitar player had those strings smokin so much we were wondering if he was going to start a fire and somehow they still managed a TED talk about dancing in the mix.

Sean Holland Band | Montelle Winery

The set list included everything from some classic Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind, and Fire to current chart toppers like Buno Mars.  They had just about everyone out there seat on 24K Magic and didn’t let them sit back down.

Sean Holland Band | Augusta, Mo

Sean Holland Band | Montelle Winery | Drummer

Keyboard | Sean Holland Band

C. Jay Conrad | Sean Holland Band

My suggestion is that if you get the chance by all means visit the Montelle Winery.  As a bonus, if you happen to be free on July 22nd the Sean Holland Band will be back and if I had to guess going just as strong as they did last week.  Trust me you will dance, shout and shake it down to the ground.

Kourtney and Kevin | Delmar Loop | Missouri Engagement

If you know me then you know I love movies.  I absolutely, without a doubt, no questions asked love movies.  There might even be one playing as I write this.  There isn’t really but it might be on pause.  The point is that me and movies; we’re close.

So when I get a call to do an engagement session and the bride-to-be says that movies are their thing also…let’s just say there may have been a happy dance.

This wasn’t the first time Kourtney had been in front of my camera, we had done a model session a little while ago, but it was my first time meeting Kevin and let me tell you this guy is hilarious.  I think I was laughing from the moment they got out the car and I’m not really sure that I ever stopped.

It’s so easy to see that together they are a great complement.  Sure she seems a little quieter or more reserved and he completely outgoing but as you sit with them you see that they are more on the same playing field than you might have originally thought.

I’m still not one hundred percent sure how we ended up moving part of the session to Fitz’s Restaurant but somehow we did.  When I mentioned that I had never had one of their famous root beer floats Kevin swore that I had to have one and next think I knew it was sitting before me.

With such a beautiful beginning I am sure that they will have a long future ahead of them filled with laughter and a few root beer floats.

Behind the Scenes | All About My Logo

TLR Photography Logo | Posh Creative

I was strolling through my old blog today and looking at how my photography and writing style has changed over the years when something crazy hit me.  The logo on my old pictures.

I had this wonderful idea that just because I understood Photoshop and knew what I wanted my logo to look like then I could do it myself.  I’m sure there is someone right now that is thinking the exact same thing.  You might even be reading this right now.

I wanted something that inter-connected the three letters of my business name but let each one stand out.  I wanted it to look mature and classic but not dated.  I wanted a bit of fun to it but not like kid party invitation fun.  Something that spoke to me.

My logo then was the best that I could do to get to what I wanted but I look at the new logo that Miranda from Posh Creative has designed and I realize this was what I really wanted.

It has the connection, the mature look and the classic feel.  The outline gives it just the right amount of fun without being way to over the top.  This is why you find a graphic designer that gets you and understands your vision even when you already think you got it.

I’m sharing this to let you know that the new logo might be showing up a little bit at a time as the months progress and we get closer to launch day and I didn’t want you to feel confused.  My most current logo will still be around but less and less.

I hope you are liking the new look and feel to TLR Photography because I for one am doing happy dances all around my room and everywhere else I can.


Behind the Scenes | The Voice Within

Blogging Voice | TLR Photography

I’m not sure most of you know that I started out as a journalist.  I had dreams of writing for a major magazine and living the semi Sex in the City life.  I saw myself in front of laptops and in coffee shops writing the next great article that touched peoples hearts and shaped their world outlooks.  I still see a part of that in what I do now; touching peoples hearts.  I’m just doing it without the Manolo Blahnik.

This is why sometimes it’s so hard for me to understand why blogging feels like a challenge.  Do I really need the coffee shop and the high priced footwear?  Maybe it is the switching up of the type of writing.  Whatever it is, it can be quite annoying.  Especially when you have so many people telling you that to blog really well you need to find your voice so you can “speak” to your “ideal” client.  While that sounds all well and good, how do you translate who you are into 500 words or less to speak to an ideal person?  I have absolutely no idea.  So I’ve decided not to try; at least not to try that way.

Truth is that I’m a crazy mash up of communication nuances.  I tend to speak in movie quotes and the occasional Buffy the Vampire Slayer speak.  I love using big words cause I think they make me sound smart and it’s even better when I know what they mean.  There are so many times I get to the end of a sentence and have to ask those around me did it make sense cause in my head I sound ridiculously brilliant.  I could keep going but you only have so much time.

I love travel and food, movies and gourmet popcorn.  I am obsessed with tea and all things planner related.  I live off Netflix and my Roku and if I could only eat one thing forever it would have to be pasta.  At times I’m slightly goofy and if I can fit a good laugh in then I will.  I can’t tell a great joke to save my life but somehow I am still insanely funny.  I’m random and quirky and uniquely me.  Which I think is all any of us can say about ourselves.

So that is what my blog will be; random and quirky and uniquely me.  I’m going to talk about photography and traveling and food and movies, but mostly photography since I’m a photographer and that’s what you came to see.  At times you might find yourself cracking up (hopefully) and at others you might be like “this girl is nuts” (and that’s okay to).

Whichever side you land on I hope that you stick it out and enjoy the ride.

Behind the Scenes | A Look at the New TLR Photography

Mood Board | TLR Photography | Posh Creative

Have you ever loved something but it just didn’t sit quite right with you?  Like it was good but it wasn’t exactly what you had in mind yet you’re alright with it because it works.  That has been me with the look of my photography business.  I like it but it’s never completely felt like the exact idea I had in my head when I first thought of my look.

That is why when the lovely and oh so talented Miranda Myles Jackson from Posh Creative  and I met about re-branding my business I jumped for joy at the way we were vibing.  It was like she was the sauce to my spaghetti or the butta to my mashed potatoes.  She just completely got me.

I carried that feeling all the way until she sent me this mood board.  Full disclosure, I did have to look up a mood board to really understand what I was looking at and once I did I was thrown for a loop.  I kept trying to understand how my portraits that I was taking might match up with the ones that she had pulled.  It didn’t make sense to me.

We jumped on a Google hangout and I still didn’t get it.  Matter of fact it wasn’t until days later, a talk with her husband, and more research on mood boards that I finally got what I was looking at.  In all fairness, there are still times I’m not sure but that is neither here nor there.  As I told her when we were talking, as long as she gets it and can explain it to me in a way that I get that she gets it then we’re cool.

But I wanted to share it as a start to this new blog and this new site to let you know that things are changing around here.  That doesn’t mean that you might not see a little bit of the old from time to time.  It simply means that we are growing and maturing and getting all kinds of creative with it and I thought you might like to come along for the ride.