Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sacramento, CA

Greetings from Sacramento, CA! I am here for a photography workshop. Long story short, I booked a convention in April, (and paid for it in full) only to realize that I am supposed to be in Eastern Europe that week. (Big, expensive whoops!)

I checked out the workshop schedule, and found a earlier workshop in Sacramento. And then I found airfare for $179 round-trip. THEN I realized I would be right by Napa. And that was all the convincing I needed. So, basically I am here for a workshop that I could have attended in Michigan. However instead, I am three time zones away in California because I can't enter a date in my calendar correctly - and the idea of drinking red wine in 70 degree weather was too good to pass up!

So far, Sacramento has been wonderful. As you may or may not know, I am a morning person. I usually wake up about 5 or 5:30... and by far my favorite part of the day is sunrise. This morning, I forced myself to sleep in until 8:30EST/5:30 PST... and this was what I woke up to. Love it.

So, I will have lots to tell tomorrow. (Wait until you see what I am about to do! I need my head checked.) Let's just say that today will be one of the days I remember when I am 90 years old and in my rocking chair... I promise to post the pictures.

I promise to write soon!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shindeldecker Crew

Okay, as a rule I don't post names on the blog, but I know lots of folks that follow this blog know the Shindeldeckers. They live in Chicago and came in for their daughter's one year photo shoot (which was very humbling!)

What I got when they walked in, I was not at all expecting. She was only one year old, can say anything from cat, shoes, sock, soft (<---this one really shocked me), and none of my little one year old tricks worked. I would hide something, and she would notice it missing. And she didn't sit down. EVER. I had to use an old trick I usually use on pets to get her to stay in one spot. Friends, Scott and Andrea are in t-r-o-u-b-l-e with this one. If they ask you to babysit, don't plan on doing it alone! ;) All that said, the shoot was fun! We were able to do tons of stuff, and she was pooped in the end. Here are some of my favorites from the shoot...



cuddled up in Daddy's arms...

mad that we are telling her to please stop tyring to pet the fish... hilarious!

still determined to pet the fish...

sportin' the accessories...

A serious moment...

and finally, dancing in her tutu... (you might have to click on this to actually see it.)
This is a quote from Mom and Dad's favorite musical artist, Will Hoge. Note: As a rule, I watermark my collages to protect them from other photographers who would try to take my work and claim it as their own. (Yes, it is sad, but this actually happens...) But in this case, I destroyed the image completely if I put the logo on it, so no logo for once!

Baby Blues

Yesterday, I met up with good Friends of mine for a shoot of their youngest son. I have taken pictures of him many many times before, but this time I said out loud... "oh my goodness, look at his eyes...!" And folks, look at his eyes....

I love these kinds of shots, because they reveal the true personality of the child, rather than some "posed say cheese!" picture. (Besides, anyone that thinks you can actually 'pose' an awake baby is out of their mind.) This shot couldn't relay this boy's personality any more clearly: he is such a sweet, good natured boy - and it is so evident from the picture!

Here are some of my other favorites from the shoot... Enjoy!


Again, look at those eyes... they sparkle!!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Slbling Bliss

About one week ago, I had the pleasure of meeting up with a new family. The main goal of the shoot was to document the youngest child, (isn't he adorable?) What struck me about the family was how well the kids all cared about this little guy. A lot of the time, older siblings are jealous of the time younger siblings take - especially babies. Not these guys. It was wonderful to watch.

(See, check out the way this little girl is looking at her brother.... love it!)

Here are the some more of my favorites from the shoot...



Monday, February 9, 2009

What goes around, comes around....

The response to my Guindi posts has been mind blowing to say the least. I have been getting e-mails from all over the country, including other photographers and friends of Louise who are just saying (well, they are saying very nice things).... but they are also saying they're making plans to get someone to take their family pictures (with them in the picture!) The response is just incredible.

For the record, I am in the process of booking our family shoot in Buffalo for this spring. (Anyone know any killer photographers in Buffalo??)

In the meantime, I did want to end this little series of blogs on a bright note. I am getting all this attention and new buisness - more than I ever imagined... and it is all because of a charity event I donated to. That's right! The Guindi's were bidder on a silent auction I donated to! So photographers and small businesses out there: What goes around, comes around! Maybe instead of printing fancy marketing cards, you can help a local charity out with a donation or two.

Anyone know any great charities that are in need of donations this year? Folks, post your comments, with the names and numbers of the charity - and photographers, read the posts! It's crazy how far a little donation (like mine was) will get you.

Last but not least, we will be having the 3rd annual Halloween Charity event (so plan your costumes early!) This year, we will do ten minute sessions, and we will be limiting it to costumes only! No costume, no pictures! All proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in the name of Louise Guindi. We will likely have the event in early October.

...Okay, that was waaay too vague...

Let's just schedule it....


....OCTOBER 10th it is! (Laura is going to kill me...) But anyway, mark your calendars. On a more serious note, this is a great event and a great cause. We don't make a dime on this - ACS gets every penny - and you get cute pictures of your kids!

As I said before I truly believe, what goes around, comes around. Maybe if we give this time, we will finally get back the ultimate gift........ a cure.

Hope you guys are having a good evening,


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Request from the Guindi Family

As a follow up to the post from earlier this week, the family has requested I post the final slideshow that was played at the funeral on Thursday. I wasn't going to do this because of the personal nature of the slideshow and because it is just so hard to watch.

I showed it to my mother last night, who came over to play cards. I left her alone to watch it. She came out with tears in her eyes and immediately said what I have been feeling all week: "if you never take another picture again, it will all have been worth it." I couldn't agree more.

I cannot warn you enough that this is a very powerful slideshow. As I said in my previous post, of all the art I have produced in my life, this is probably the piece I am most proud of. If you are at work, and about to meet up with your boss in 15 minutes, I would suggest you don't watch this now. I got the idea to intermingle the kid's artwork in the slideshow. That alone is a reminder of how young the kids are, and again, makes this very hard to watch.

I promise to make my next post something more upbeat. I know this has been a tough couple of posts!

I hope you are enjoying this heat wave...!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why I am a Photographer

I don't think I've ever put this on the blog before... Do you guys know why I am a photographer??? I mean, I started because a good friend liked some pictures - and told everyone - and I got a million phone calls for shoots - and then my company was born. But that's not the real reason I am a photographer.

(Hmmmn...How do I say this eloquently???) Some of the general public is well... seriously NUTS - and less than pleasant to deal with. I have quickly come to realize that simply being good at something isn't enough. In order to put up with all the craziness, you have to love what you do and have a mission. Well, for about two years, I took pictures without a mission. At the end of 2007, I was tired, frustrated, and contemplating quitting.

I met Louise Guindi in November 2007. We instantly hit it off. She was kind. She was genuine. And her family was fun... We met at a shoot and had a blast. They ran, they played, they tickled, and froze. It was awesome - despite the frigid temperatures. Here are the photos from that November 2007 shoot:

These pictures made me excited about being a photographer. I was literally giddy with the results of the shoot, and was so excited to show Louise and her family. The response I got, I could never be prepared for.
It would be this phone call to Louise that would change my life. I would call to tell her her photographs were done early on a Monday morning. She would reply that she had just learned that her cancer had returned. She informed me that the situation was dire, and that she needed to order that day. I immediately rearranged my schedule to accommodate her simple request.
I was devastated. These children were babies... they were facing the possibility of losing their mom. Did I take enough pictures - were they good enough to withstand the test of time? The youngest was five. What do I remember about my mom at the age of five? Would she remember? Suddenly photographing this family - and preserving these memories for other families would become a personal mission. If I could help just one more family, I would....

So, at every shoot since November 2007, no matter how crazy or nasty people get, I continue because one day a family member might look at the pictures and remember an emotion or a wonderful memory. That alone is worth it.

But... is with a very heavy heart that I report that Louise left us on Sunday. Her husband and three young children will say goodbye for the final time today at the funeral.

We did take some additional pictures over this last Christmas. Louise's situation was getting more dire. So, we did a "why not?" shoot. The family has allowed me to share the pictures from that shoot with you..

I am honored that she asked for me to come see her in the last days before she left us. We were able to talk to her at length and say goodbye. I would actually wind up spending a lot of time with the family over the next couple days, helping them gather and prepare precious memories to be used at the funeral. You see, today especially, we reap the benefits of these images we have captured over the last 2+ years. Yesterday at the funeral home we were able to display pictures of Louise's relationship with her family through Slideshows, prints, and cards that I created for the family. Each picture illustrates a bond - and I am so proud of that.

(Okay, I have to say this next part... and it isn't necessarily nice. But I really feel I have to say it. Here goes...)

Moms, I want you to get out from behind that camera! Stop making excuses and waiting for that extra five pounds to come off, that pimple to be gone, etc. … Go find someone that knows what they are doing with a camera. Anyone. Have family pictures done the right way. Drag your parents, grandparents and kids into the picture. Hug them. Laugh with them… and tickle everyone. But celebrate every second of the time we do have – and document it – again and again, for our time here is far too short.

Words cannot describe how hard it is to see the four of them without her now. Louise was only 38 years old. At 10:00 today, hundreds of people will see a slideshow with my work documenting the Guindi's over the last couple years. I am more proud of this Slideshow and these images than any piece of artwork I have ever produced (and after taking about 200,000 pictures over the last few years, that says a lot!). The fact that I was chosen to document these precious moments will forever humble me.

If I can help just one more family celebrate each other, then it's all worth it. And that is why I am a photographer. This is why I do what I do.

God bless...