Black and white and really adorable!

Sparky's modeling debut!

While driving from Atlanta to Sag Harbor last summer, I stopped in Maclean, VA to visit my friend Jill and take a few photos of her and her beautiful house for her very successful home decor blog, Live Like You.

When I arrived Jill wasn't home so I went inside with my dog Sparky to introduce him to her dogs and escape the record breaking heat outside. The dogs got along so well that eventually they fell asleep together in Jill's living room chairs, so I quietly turned the moment into a photo opportunity. Of course, Sparky always knows when I am snapping his picture...

 Below is the result of that fun little photo session....a lovely 20 page spread in Ivy and Piper magazine. About half the photos are mine.  I'm looking forward to more of these fun shoots with Jill.  Her interiors are so inspiring.

The Juiciest Lessons Make You Cry

I read a blog post an hour ago from Laura Roeder about facing fears....or at least, that's the way she tells it.  In her story, someone criticized her on a very personal level.  She called it her worst fears come true, and it drove her to run away and sob in her room.

I wrote a thoughtful comment and tried to post it to her blog.  Not only could I not post my comment, I now can't get on to her page at all.  She must be burning up the web!

I saw some other people's comment about how to get back at that woman who made the hurtful comments (about her age, her voice, etc).  And I came to my own conclusions, which are exactly the opposite of much of what I was reading.

Laura's 'tormentor' gave her an incredible gift.  Someone told Laura that to be taken seriously, she would have to "be different" (speak differently, act differently, etc), or at least, that is how Laura heard the message.  Laura didn't truly believe she was ok just the way she is.  She didn't truly believe that her age was not an issue.   And along came someone to test Laura's beliefs about Laura.  Guess what?  She was deeply mortified (her words), driven to tears (her story), and yet look at where she is now: stronger, more confident, and wiser.  She was given the gift of experience, which usually (but not always) comes with age.  In that painful moment, she grew.  She grew wiser and more confident.

How wonderful to really learn this lesson before you are 30!  I'm not sure there is an easy way to learn this lesson, particularly if you are a child who grows up in a family of chaos like I did (divorce, addiction, whatever).  I believe there are people who go to their graves never truly believing they are ok, just as they are.  They might 'think' they are ok, tell themselves they are ok, but never 'FEEL' they are ok.  I have felt inadequate for enough time in my life (not always, but enough to feel the debilitating effect).  I am hard on myself and I know it.  I am just tired of it now. 

Age is just time passing.  Sometimes we learn from our experiences, sometimes we don't.  As women, I think we learn the most from the experiences that make us cry.  I know I do.  Tears only come when our egos get out of the way. We cry when things are true, maybe not so pretty, and deeply painful.  Tears are a sign of an emotional response.  I love tears.  They always tell the truth.

Sometimes, criticism hurts.  Sometimes it rolls off my back.  So when it really hurts, I want to remember to thank the person who saw deeply enough into my soul to recognize some inconsistency between what I was saying about myself, and what I was truly feeling about myself. Those are the wounds that need healing.  Once I allow myself to see these wounds, and open them up to fresh air, the healing can begin.  The more healed I become, the more strength I have to share with the next person who needs a lifeline.




Have you heard of The Happiness Project?

 The Happiness Project

Get it, read it, join the project!

This is a book I have been reading lately.  I haven't even finished it, and I already know I need to read it again.  There is something in it for everyone....particularly my fabulous but somewhat frustrated female friends who are searching for answers to questions they can't even fully form (you know who you are!).  Read the book, follow the blog, and sign up for the 'Moment of Happiness' quotations.  There is a lot of great stuff here!

I am ready to start my own happiness project!

Danielle G.

I have known Danielle for years, but this is the first time I ever photographed her.  I still have a specific project I would love to shoot with her, but in the meantime, I had an idea for a series of underwater photos I have been doing, and I was hoping she would be game.
Danielle told me about some of the posing she does for an art photographer friend at SVA, and I thought, "Well this is going to be so much easier!"  That was before I had her treading water for two hours, turning into a prune, wrapped in heavy-when-wet fabric, and relaxing her limbs while trying not to drown.
She really is an incredible model for any artist, with gorgeous long limbs, extraordinary red hair, beautiful features, and above all, the perfect temperament and personality for this kind of work.  She is patient with my plans, generous with her own ideas, and moves like a pro.  
Who knows, maybe she can get some work modeling to help her pay for that fabulous education she's pursuing at NYU (did I mention she's really smart too!?). 
At the very least, she is going to have a stunning collection of photos to choose from for her new Facebook profile picture!
She really went so far above and beyond what I could have expected.  For the last pictures we took, it was so dark and hard to focus, that I needed her to smile so that I could use her white teeth to find some contrast in the picture. 

Live Like You....before and after the Jill Sorensen home makeover!

Jill has such a great sense of style and color! Have a look at her full post on Live Like You to see all the cool 'before and after' photos of her own house. Her bedroom goes from 'blah' to 'wow!' with just a few high impact changes and a lot of fun paint colors.

These are just a few of my 'out takes'. Above, she is laughing because her dog, Bubba, manages to get in every shoot she does. I can attest that he indeed just walks on set whenever and wherever we are shooting.  This dog likes to be at the center of everything!

The funny thing is, so does my dog, Sparky! Sparky is the black flat coat retriever on the right. Lucky is her dog on the left. They all met that day and got along fabulously. Who knew my dog would have such a great play date in Washington DC?  Don't you love how the dogs match her outfit?  I wish I could say we planned that...

Of course, I think nothing says 'comfortable chair' like the image below! We were sitting in the living room, waiting for Jill to come home, and Sparky helped himself to one of these lovely chairs. Bubba soon followed, and not long after, they were both asleep. I had to keep the shutter clicks to a minimum to let them get their beauty sleep, but I found it pretty hard not to shoot this!

Love in Santa Barbara....the story in stills.

In case you aren't a slide show lover...or just don't have the patience for one.

Definitely worth a trip: the Demetria Estate...a private family owned vineyard in the hills of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Always beautiful: Victoria's Secret and Vera Wang

A girl's gotta have her Louboutins!

Ana and Walter, I love you guys! You are the coolest. You know I am coming to that first anniversary party! (Who can wait for the fifth!?) and really, can we bring your DJ, Gavin Roy, and all of those wonderful friends of yours too? Glad you enjoyed your mini-moon. The island you should have a look at is Rangiroa (French Polynesia). I have it on excellent authority that this is an incredible place. (I still have a valid passport, in case you need me with you!)

Sources of beauty for this wedding:
Seriously beautiful paper products by the talented, and gorgeous Robyn Steward at House of Monarch.
Event designer extraordinaire, Debra Hiebert, at Tres Fabu Events with a crazy attention to detail that is impressive by any standard!
Stunning flowers by Toast Santa Barbara
The Four Seasons Biltmore, a place I have loved visiting for almost four decades! I still remember my great-grandmother's 90th birthday in the main restaurant. A perfect place to celebrate events you want to remember and re-visit many times.
A huge thank you to my fantastic second shooter, Stephanie Hogue! I couldn't have been in two places at once without you. Thanks for having my back!