May 4, 2015

And then I was a published.... photographer! #YourShotBook

Tomorrow is a pretty big day for me. It is the day I officially become a published photographer. The new National Geographic book Getting Your Shot: Stunning Photos, How-to Tips, and Endless Inspiration From the Pros releases and includes an image from yours truly.

That's right. I am being published by National-FREAKING-Geographic! Who would have thought?

I received an advanced copy a few weeks ago, and I have to say it is gorgeous!

The book is full of incredible images. Each comes with a story or tips from National Geographic photographers about how to get your own great shots. There is a lot of really fabulous information - and inspiration - in this book. For every level of photographer.

I would want a copy even if I wasn't published in it. Some of the information is very basic - the book lays out the different types of cameras available, explains what lenses and gear to use and when, and looks at the fundamentals of photography.

But it also goes in depth about the art of photography. And celebrates this unique and powerful form of expression in a beautiful way. The images included come from photographers across the globe, all of whom are part of the amazing Your Shot Community.

When hubby flipped through the book to find my image, he excitedly exclaimed, "Whoa! You got full page treatment!!!"

Why, yes. Yes I did. That came as a surprise, because the image was shot using my iPhone. It in no way compares to the quality of the photographs I capture with my DSLR. I figured it would need to be small in print.

There was some pre-press magic involved, and the result is truly stunning. The magical bond my daughter and father shared has been immortalized. And my passion for photography continues to grow stronger each day. This book something I am so proud and honored to be part of.

Oh, and I have to say, The String Bean thinks it is the Coolest. Thing. Ever. that she appears in a National Geographic book. She loves National Geographic. My six year old would rather watch a NatGeo documentary on animals than just about anything else. Her room is full of National Geographic kids books, and she receives the kids' magazine in the mail. Her day was made when she saw this.

You can grab your copy from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or directly from National Geographic. There is also a really cool giveaway going on. You could win a five day photo workshop and more! Enter here!

May 1, 2015

Adventures In Editing: Getting Creative

The other day I decided to get a little more creative than I normally do with my images. I had a photo I had taken of my daughter in our back yard using my new 50mm 1.4 lens. I normally make only minor edits in Lightroom, and had made edits to an almost identical shot already...

I liked it, but felt like playing around with some more dramatic looks. So for the very next frame, I took a different approach. Here's a before and after look:

Click to enlarge image

The first thing I did with this image was crop in closer, although the before/after view does not reflect that. The image was originally framed more like the photo at the top of this post. I wanted to come in closer.

Then I played around with a new set of presets I had purchased from Photographic Elements titled, "Spring Collection." I settled on a preset called, "Moss Green." From there, I applied some sharpening around the eyes and a slight vignette.

I increased the saturation and vibrance. Then I began to play around with adjusting color hues. I increased magenta and red and decreased blue. The latter is the most obvious when you compare the two side-by-side above. Just look at her shirt.

The last thing I did was apply a skin smoothing brush to her face and healing brush to her lips, which are always chapped. (I try to remember to apply some Chapstick when I know I will be taking her picture, but this little backyard session was spontaneous.)

This is the most I have ever changed the Straight Out Of Camera (SOOC) look of an image I've shot. I normally prefer a more natural feel. But I love the dramatic look of this image. It's one of my favorites I have taken of my daughter to date.

April 24, 2015

The Day I Realized I Was Being A Hypocrite - And Vowed To Stop

Normally, this time of year, I am busy lining up guest posts for my annual Summer Series. Which I have loved hosting on this site the past several years.

But I won't be doing so any more.

Why not? Because I realized I've been asking my fellow writers to do something I myself will not do - work for free.

When I was preparing to launch my new photography business, I reached out to a dear friend who is a graphic designer. Not to ask her for a favor, but to inquire about her rates. She asked what I had budgeted for logo development and what I was looking for, and we went from there.

It was a professional business transaction. She delivered what I had asked for, sent me an invoice, and I paid her.

Thing is, I can't afford to pay people to write for this blog. It doesn't generate enough income to sustain paying contributors. And I can't offer writers the promise of "exposure," because my stats don't support that. Nor would I want to approach anyone that way.

Each writer has to make the choice that works best. It's personal. Much has been written about the topic. I tried it. I wrote for some of the biggest sites on the Internet for, "exposure."

It didn't pan out. The return on the investment (of my time and talent) was not there. And so I quit. Today I only write for sites that pay me. In actual money. Because that is what my family needs. "Exposure" offers even less for my husband and child than it does me.

But it wasn't until I reached out to my friend who is the designer that it suddenly dawned on me - I can't in good conscious continue with my Summer Series. I can't ask other writers to share their words on this space if I can't pay them. It would be completely hypocritical.

It makes me sad. Because I am fortunate to know a lot of amazing writers. If you've followed my Summer Series in the past, you know this. And it has been popular. Last year, I had so many writers interested in participating I had to turn people away (which made me feel awful).

The original idea behind The Summer Series was that it would give me a break from writing during the one season when I don't have much time to do so. And offer fresh voices to my blog's readers, hopefully introducing them to writers they would follow over to their sites and continue to read.

It would also, of course, potentially introduce new readers to my blog who might stick around once I jumped back into posting regularly. And it successfully met those goals. Many times, the participants in my series would graciously invite me to guest post on their blogs as well, and I happily did so.

I was writing for free then. Regularly. Now that I am not, my perspective has changed. The way I interact with other writers needs to follow.

To those who have contributed to my series in the past, I am so grateful and honored you chose to share your voice in my little corner of the Internet. Thank you!

This space has been pretty quiet of late, and with the end of The Summer Series, that will likely continue. I write here when I can. You can find me more regularly over at And hopefully, soon, on some other sites.

With the launch of my photography business, you'll get to see more of my images in this space as well. But you won't see guest posts here until and unless I reach the point where I can offer to pay other writers for their time and talent. As I believe it should be...

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