Don't Miss The Gifts Before You

Many times we get to busy to notices the things around us. Last year I photographed the beautiful flowers I saw in my garden and around the area. I put this video together so you remember to take the time to notice natures most precious gift. http://video214.com/play/VNQ6LN13ucB294Vv78w0hQ/s/dark

Spring Is Here In Belgium

I just arrived to my summer home in Vorselaar, Belgium. The first think I noticed was of course the weather, sunny bright, green and with a temperature of 70 it is  wonderful. Even the stewardess from the plane commented that she was not sure we were in Belgium because it was not raining. Personally after being in Colorado where rain does not occur that often I would have welcomed a rainy day especially since I was going to have to take a nap to start the jet lag recovery. But with the weather as it was I was going to have a hard time sleeping on such a wonderful day. As I walked around my yard all I could see was work. Old plants needed to be discarded, windows and screens need washing, the horse was shedding and could use a good brushing and the garden was ready to plant. My wonderful guy prepared the garden for my arrival as he knows how much I enjoy getting my hands in the dirt.  

Prepared Garden Ready For Planting

 

So even though my suitcase is still packed, camera equipment is still waiting to be put away, tomorrow I will be headed to the garden store to buy peas, green onions, and leaf lettuce and start the planting. This year I decided to keep a photo journal of my garden so I can see it as goes from small seeds into to an abundant harvest. Residing on the back roads a garden is a big part of country living. It just doesn't make sense to let good dirt go to waste. I love composting, planting and nurturing a garden as much as I love going out and picking and eating fresh food. It just taste better when you grow and pick your own harvest. I also read somewhere that plants that you take care of yourself are better for you body because they have picked up the energy of your body and supply what it needs. I believe it because food just taste better from my garden and I feel better after eating it. Oh how I love nature and all her benefits.

In Belgium gardening is so easy compared to the years I tried gardening in Montana. Nice fertile sandy soil, and no rocks. But insects are something you have to keep a handle on. So the spring work begins as I leave the inside cleaning alone until next week when rain is in the forecast and Belgium will be more its typical self. But I will feel better knowing I will be eating fresh peas and lettuce before to long.

How does your garden grow?

Here are a few photos of spring around Belgium.

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Sometimes A Back Road Is All You Need

gigi-embrechts-spring-1 For the past three weeks I have been preparing for my semi-annual move back to Belgium. If you have ever moved you know just how many things need to be arranged and taken care of. Sure I do not have to take the furniture but I do have to figure out what I will need for the next 6 months and how to fit it into two suitcases. Along with what camera equipment can I live without and what really needs to come.

Also I have been getting my life in order and decided it was time to not only think of my family and what would happen say, if my plane goes missing. I also have ben working on getting my business matters in order, like a bookkeeping system, LLC's registered, bank accounts in order, insurance, taxes,.... ick, just writing this drives me crazy let alone having dealt with it all in the last three weeks.

So now that I am up at 1:30am in the morning worrying about all that is left to do before I leave, I am realizing I need a break.

I know just where to go. I am going to find myself a nice country back road and take a long walk in nature.

There is something about getting into nature that can put things back in perspective when you feel over whelmed. The sound of the spring birds, gentle flow of a water, farm animals basking in the sun, the fresh smell of early spring. Your problems and concerns just melt away as you just take it all in.

So if like me you have been busy with life's constant duties, try taking some time away and find a quiet little back road and drive and enjoy the rural scenery. Then park the car or truck and get out and walk awhile. I know you will come back refreshed and ready to take on the next challenge life has waiting for you.

Above are some photographs I have taken while I was on a back road.

It Truly Is A Small Word

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one who lives a life that is unique and hard to manage. As some of you know I live spring and summer in Belgium, {my husband's home country} and fall and winter in Colorado to be with family along with stops in the Chicago area where I was born. This type of lifestyle is hard to manage when you have a photography business because I am always on the move. It does create great opportunities, but managing paperwork, computers, second residence, communication with family and friends and language and cultural differences can be quiet a challenge. Many times my I feel I am the only one who lives such a lifestyle and I am on my own when dealing with all the challenges.  But a recent trip to a small town in Shell, Wyoming made me realize just what a small world this truly is.

A group of fellow equine photographers ventured to a fabulous guest ranch to create winter images of horses and western lifestyle images. We stayed the week at The Hideout Lodge and Guest Ranch located in Shell, Wyoming with a population of 63. This ranch is set just below the beautiful Big Horn Mountains. It took my breath away with the beautiful log cabin lodge and quaint cabins set in fresh snow with views of the mountains everywhere you looked. It brought back my memories of living in Montana.

After settling in to our quaint log cabin room we all met for the get acquainted dinner in the lodge. That is when I discovered that this beautiful guest ranch was managed by a couple from Belgium. I could not believe that I would hearing that lovely Belgian accent so familiar to me in such a remote place. Peter De Cabooter and his wife Marijn Werquin (just to clarify in Belgium women do not take the family name of their husbands which I think is great} manage this lovely lodge and guest ranch and also live a similar lifestyle as myself. Who would have thought I would find a couple from Belgian in such a remote location?

We had a chance to talk about Belgium, living in the two countries and how we both handle the travel of back and forth and all that goes with living in to different cultures.  Having met them made me feel a bit more content with my very different lifestyle. I realized that there must be many who live this multi-cultural life and deal with all the excitement and challenges that comes with this.

Having worked with my husband on several guest ranches while living in Montana for 10 years, I quickly recognized how Peter and Marijn bring the best of Belgium to this small western community. The ranch offers nothing shy of quality from the beautiful log lodge and quaint cabins to an accomplished chef Sheena cooking meals you would only expect in high level restaurants. All the staff was professional, friendly and very qualified for the position they were hired to do. Peter told me during one of our conversations during cocktail hour that he understands that if he hires the best employees he know he has to offer them a long-term career so they can keep the high level of employees that they have. Unlike the ranches we worked on that after three months you were scrambling to find another job for the rest of the year which most likely not make if possible to return to the guest ranch the following season leaving the owners to continually trying  find new employees. Which in return leaves regular guests wondering what to expect the following year.

In Belgium you can not just hang out your sign and run a business, you must be trained, schooled and certificate for the professional position in most cases. I see that at the HIdeout ranch Peter and Marijn have brought this quality to the ranch. I also experienced the friendliness and creativity of the employees that is so prevalent in our culture. Like Tom Bercher the head wrangler with his patience for us demanding photographers to Rebecca his wife who is the office manager and keeps everything running smooth.There were the two twin c cowboys  Greg and Mark Prows entertaining us all with their cowboy stories. So with the best of two cultures they have created a very unique and pleasant experience. This was the first time I experienced both of my worlds coming together in this lovely week.

I hope in the future I can bring my husband back to The HIdeout Lodge and Guest ranch so he too experience what it is like when you blend these two cultures together and how a quality ranch guest ranch can be run.

If you have a dream of experiencing the western lifestyle and want to ride a horse in the beautiful wide open spaces of Wyoming I highly recommend The HIdeout Ranch as a place for your destination. I guarantee you will not be disappointed and will you will have a once in a life time experience at this very unique and traditional western ranch.

Here are some of the photographs I took during the week. The interior image  are were created by the talented fellow photographer Rebbeca Neff.

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Tom Bercher our vary patient and wonderful host.

Rebecca taking a day out of the office

Double Trouble Mark & Greg Prows

Augustus son of Rebecca and Tom Bercher

Peter & Marijn

Marijn with her faithful border collie

The whole crew of riders

Blogging To Blog Is Not Blogging

I think so many of us hear over and over that we need to blog. It is how you are going to get found, how you advance your brand, how people will find you in this vast sea of content. Is this true? I have to admit I blog because I feel maybe that is what I should do but I am not a word person I am a visual person. What I care about I see through the lens of a camera and want to share that more than I want to share my thoughts. Quite frankly I feel like my deep thoughts are for me to write down to learn more about who I am than to share with the world.

So why do we all blog when it is not something we enjoy? Well I am still wondering that myself. I like visual blogging along with a few thoughts, like what I am doing here. I suppose I like sharing what captures my interest in chance that maybe you enjoy what I see also.  But I struggle to find deep words of wisdom to share to change the world. It is just not me.

My friend on the other hand blogs because she has something to share, and in the process she is discovering she is a writer and her words come from a place she can not describe. She shares her thoughts but more she is sharing somethings we all need to hear and give deep thought to. Here is a link to her blog. http://commonplacegrace.com

I like to share what I see in my world and what captures my attention. Maybe because I have worked so hard at learning to create more compelling photos and still study photography obsessively, but I love images and how they capture a split moment in time that would otherwise go unnoticed. I like to try to tell a story through vision rather than words.

So if my blog has more photos than inspiring words, it is because that is my passion, my gift, and my intention. To share moments in time, things I feel are beautiful, funny, interesting, and catch my eye for some reason.

For all you wonderful bloggers of words, keep moving us with your thoughts and inspirations and we visual story tellers will keep showing you what we see and hope you stop for just a moment and look.

So that being said, here are a few photos of the dogs being dogs having fun and doing what they love. Which by the way is the reason we are all here isn't it?

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Where Is Home ?

Homestead in Belgium I have struggled with this question for many years, all my life actually. I was born in Joliet, Illinois and I my family lived there for three years before moving to another town about 10 miles away.  This was a big move in the 50's because back then most families put their roots down in the town where they were born and many even lived on the same street next to other family members.  So for our family was making  a big move. We lived in the house my parents bought for about 7 years. Then hard times hit. My father lost his job and they were forced to sell my mothers dream house which then resulted in years of renting and moving from house to house.  My mom use to comment about how many times we moved when I was younger, I think we counted maybe 9 or 10 times in the same town. This situation did not change for me as an adult.  I got married young and had four children, during that time we started in a small apartment, then our  first house, then a bigger  home suited for a growing family and then my dream of living in the country on mini farm. After the mini farm we moved due to a work transfer and built another home in the country where things settled down for about 15 years.

Life continued to be challenging after my children were raised and I found myself on my own. With constant moving being a continual theme in my life.  I found myself in Montana, Wyoming, Florida, back to Montana and then a bold move to Belgium and now splitting my time between Belgium and Colorado.  All in all since 1998 I have moved more than 20 times.

With every new place came the same question from the locals,"where are you from?"  where do you live?' "where is your home?" The answer was never simple.

But today I found my answer and a feeling of knowing where home is for me.  I found it in  a TED talk.

The speaker talks about having many of the same experiences I have and how he explains it put me a peace. You see people like me that live a non conventional lifestyles is becoming very common. Today many of us find ourselves in different states and countries far from where we were raised.  The world is changing and apparently my life is more common then I thought. Your home is not where you think it is.

I highly recommend listening to this talk:  TED talk Where is Home?  It will open you up to a new way of looking at the place we call home.  Now I have the simple answer to the question I am so asked often.

Dinner In a Bag or Cooked By a Chef?

draft horses-50 I have been working on my business plan and organizing how my business is going to run. This is an overwhelming task that is taking hours and research and decisions on what my business will be in the future. I get afraid sometimes of all the photographers out there and all the new technology that comes out and trying to keep up with this crazy industry. I feel a lot like the horse in this image, worried about what is coming next

But today I came across a blog post from the Lesser Photographer  http://alesserphotographer.com that set me at ease and made me feel good about the path I am going down.  I realized that most of us are more than willing to pay extra for the experience of having dinner out where a highly skilled chef is in the kitchen looks after every detail to make it  the meal special. The restaurant is clean and decorated and you feel comfortable just to relax and enjoy your meal as compared to going to a fast food drive up window and get your dinner in a bag with plastic forks. I can see I now the difference in the photographer that shoots and burns compared to the photographer that creates a business like the chef in a top restaurant. It is all about the experience and the quality of product and the price usually reflects what you will receive.

The Power Of A Comment

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Sometimes life can be confusing especially with all the information that is at our finger tips. I have to be so careful of my addiction to learning on the internet right now. When I decided a few years back that I needed to learn and attempt to master a skill I turned to the internet for inspiration. I was drawn to the amazing photographs that would appear on my screen. I also realized how many beautiful things there were in my world and wanted to try to capture not only the image but what it was saying to me. So I began my journey of education in everything photography.

I would say I am self-taught, but that is not true because it is the talent and generosity of others that have help me learn photography. Their sharing of techniques and photos, and education and technical advise that has brought me to my skill level today. I have met and work with some amazing teachers over the past years. But with all this education there is one thing no one can teach me and that is how to find my gift, what I want to give to the world what makes my photography a kind of art only I could offer.

This question has been on my mind for quite a while lately. I get so sidetracked watching and learning what other photographers are doing yet not able to find what I am called to do.

Recently I decided to work on an old photograph I took of a friends dog and give it an artful feel. I posted this photograph my Facebook page and it got many comments. Most admiring the beauty of this dog.  But a few comments came through that changed my thinking and made me realize maybe I do have something to offer that is uniquely me.  The comment said  "I wish I knew how you bring out their personalities!" Or this one from someone who recently viewed my website "I can see you have a real passion for horses."   It made me realize that this is not only what I do, but who I am. I see animals deeply when I photograph them and it seems to come through me and at just the right moment I capture them.  I know I need to honor that and work in that direction.

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Denver

Funny how it  can only take a few kind words to set you on your unique path.

I feel we all have gifts to give, if you are seeking to know what yours might be, just ask and listen and it will be revealed to you.

Day Of Rain

Day Of Rain

What Makes Art Valuable?

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I had a conversation the other day with a very good friend of mine who has been an artist all her life. She draws wonderful illustrations and has now been writing and using her art to help illustrate her thoughts in her blog Commonplace Grace.  I was telling her that I am playing with some of my images and seem to be turning them into more art feel rather than photography. Then she brought up that with all the things Photoshop can do, that this will only make her work more valuable. Is that true? Because we can simulate art with a software program does it make it less valuable?

What makes art valuable?  I googled it and found a variety of answers to the question. Some came from the art collectors point of view where something is valuable because it is old or rare. But does that mean people do not spend the same amount on new furniture that they may on an antique? One article said that the art worth the most are the pieces that were created first, a fresh idea and new perspective. But if that were so why is there so many kinds of paintings and drawings and music and books that are still selling? Others say the artist has to have died to make the art work valuable...hmm that is a real heck of a way to make a living.

I think it all comes down to the buyer. Sure there is a world of art collectors out there but are they buying for investment or because the art spoke to them? When money is involved it is funny how something you would have walked past suddenly becomes of interest because a dollar amount has been placed on it. While just recently in Belgium a pigeon sold for over $75,000!!! How many pigeon have you looked at lately?

I think the real value is in the creation. None of know why we like one thing over another but certainly if we are attracted to something there are others who will value it also.

I remember a few years back my husband gave  said he wanted me to go into an art gallery and pick out something I liked. I was so excited to be able to actually buy a piece of art from a gallery. I was living in Wyoming at the time and so a western art gallery was my first choice. I walked into a nice gallery in Sheridan Wyoming and started to look around. I was convinced I would buy a western piece, like something Tim Cox had done or something you would see in Western Horseman magazine.

But there was a framed piece hanging on the wall of  six cows in a field. Three  were Herefords my favorite breed and three White face cows looking out of the picture like I had just walked up to them in their pasture. I was fascinated by this. The art was called "Pasture Patrol" and that is exactly what they looked like they were doing. I didn't know if it was a painting, photograph or pencil drawing. All I knew was it would not leave me alone. I never heard of the artist and really did not care.

I walked away from this piece because it just wasn't what I had envisioned myself buying. As I strolled around the gallery the lady at the counter could see  my confusion and asked if I needed any help. I told I came in to buy  a western art piece but those crazy cows will not leave me along. I was confused as to which piece I should buy.

She then informed me that when a piece of art speaks to you this way there is usually a reason and she said if it were her she would buy the one that speaks to me because it probably will not leave you alone until you do. So I took her advice and bought the cows. I still have it hanging in my house and I have to admit with the decorating style I have today a western print would probably be up in the attic. The cows look fine in my country home, so I guess I made a good choice, and those cows still speak to me every time I look at them.

So what makes art valuable? I think none of us know for sure because if we are creating it we do not know who is going to buy if anyone at all.  We just should create out of the spirit of creation and not with the end goal of making a sale.

So I created the flower photograph in this post and I did because while riding my bike I spotted these lovely wildflowers on the side of the road.  I picked myself a nice boutique and put them in water. I love the color and the shape of them. Then this morning I realized they will not be around  but just a few days so I got my camera a small head lamp and a piece of black paper. I made a few adjustments and took a photograph. I then took the photograph to Photoshop and played with it for a couple of hours until I created something that I really liked.

So is this art? Is it valuable? Will someone every buy it? Well it is my art, it has value to me and will anyone buy it?  I am not sure  but I know I am going to invest in a nice frame and hang it in my kitchen because I love what I created and I love the beauty of these nice little wild flowers.  I will also put it up on my website and if it speaks to someone else that would be great. But the value really lies within me the creator.

Here is where I started off with the photograph so you can get an idea of what I was thinking.

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Learning Photography It Never Ends

I have had a few jobs in my life, a professional pet groomer, a horse farm manager, a guest ranch cook (don't laugh I am only giving you a few of the many jobs I had) I will stop there because these are the three I most enjoyed, the rest were, well just jobs. It was time to get serious and learn a craft, something to master, something to dive deep into and never quit. I chose photography. Probably at the best time because digital was just coming in to play, and the worst time because more and more enter this field and it is in a free fall right now where nobody knows what is coming. New technology, software, cameras, books,  seem to come out weekly and you have to keep up with it all or you can get lost in just a short time.

So I have been learning and practicing for over 6 years, and see no end in sight. But I wanted to share with you some early work and where I am now.

I had no clue what I was looking for in this photo, how embarrassing

Nice photography but not really much more than a snap shot

In focus, closer and expression

Although at the time I loved this, I see many technical problems

This is a bit better and tells more of a story

I am not anywhere near where I want to be, and honestly I doubt I will ever reach "it" what ever that means. But I am glad I took the time to learn and practice and attempt to master this every changing industry.  Every year I make a calendar of images from the previous year. I save the calendars as a reminder of just how far I have come and how much I have learned.

I thought I would share just a few of the places I learned and got inspired.  If you are just beginning with photography don't get discouraged. Looking at where I started should be encouraging enough.

  1. Here is something to think about

http://alesserphotographer.com/blog/2013/5/28/look-at-this

2.   If your starting out and still do not understand aperture and how to use it here a good article to read.

http://photofocus.com/2013/06/09/understanding-aperture-a-simple-explanation/

3. If you want to know where I started my education here is a great website that will really jump-start your learning.

http://www.learntotakephotos.com

4.Want to see what you need to achieve? This website has some of the very best photographs. You will understand why it takes so long to get to this level.

http://500px.com

5. Got Money?  Go here to purchase gear. Great customer service and they have everything, I mean everything!

 http://www.bhphotovideo.com

Let me know if you need any other help, ideas or direction, I am glad to give back the same way others have helped me. None of us get there alone.

Today I Am Asking Why???

I just was reading a new book on my Kindle called "The Creative Life in Photography" by Brooks Jensen. This book has got me thinking about why I am doing the type of photography I am doing. I mean really digging deep into why I am photographing horses, dogs, nature etc.. Sure I am always in the pursuit of learning more and perfecting my craft, but why? What is it I am trying to accomplish by photographing my subjects? I sat in silence to really dig deep. Here is what came to me. Since I was small I have been attracted to the animal kingdom. I had an imaginary farm in my head at age three, I still can recall every detail of this farm. As I grew up I was continuously bringing home lost dogs, kittens, rabbits, baby birds, turtles and mice  I drove my parents crazy with these creatures I wanted to have live with us. So there started the root of my interest.

But today after many years of living (59 to be exact) I am asking the question why? What is it about animals and nature that has dominated the decisions I make not only to photograph but how I live my life.

I am now starting to ask why do I want to photograph animals and nature?  Why must I live near them.  Why horses and particularly draft horses, why dogs, why regular dogs and not the beautiful show dogs, why nature, not the landscapes you travel to but the ones I stumble upon.  Not just flowers but weather.

All In A Days Work

Book Store Dog

Frost Bite

 

This is the question I am asking myself today, why?

It never hurts to stop in your life and ask why you are doing what you are doing. It will bring you to a spot to examine your life before you make choices that may lead you away from yourself rather than toward who you really are.

So here are some answers to my why. Because animals let us into their world if we just ask  rather than insist.  Because the draft horse can overpower us but chooses not to.  Because nature can inspire and destroy us all in the same day. Because the relationship is more important than the activity. Because the eyes speak and beauty inspires.

I have a feeling I still need to dig a bit deeper, but a least I know why I photograph what I do. Now I need to ask what I will create with my photography and why.

What is your why?

 

The Creative Process

gigi-embrechts-78 Most photographers today realize that unless you are doing photo journalism the image that comes out of camera and the image you have in mind are far from each other. If you are a photographer like me who wants to create fine art photography  the camera is just the start. Something like an artist first pencil of the rough image, or a writers first few sentences this is not the final product but just the beginning.

With all the digital tools we have to create it is no wonder we are seeing some amazing digital art and photography all over the web. When I first started down the photography road and just learning to get comfortable with my camera I remember looking at those amazing images and saying "yes but they are not real they were photoshopped" like photoshopped meant that the photographer did not have to have the camera skills to take the photograph but opted to just do something with it in Photoshop. As I learned and grew I realized this is far from the truth.

You have to be an accomplished photographer to get a great image, even if it is just the starting part. You need to know what subject your subject is, where to place the subject in the photograph, how to direct the viewer to the subject, get great exposure and focus and do this all under great light which is really like your paint. A photographer with experience hopes you will linger in the photograph and connect as they did to the subject. What comes out of the camera is only the start to achieving this goal.

Sometimes however in the case of this photograph, I had no idea what I wanted to do with this image. I just knew that when I saw this mare and foal I loved the close connection they had. There were many distractions in the background but I  was focusing on them. In fact when I uploaded this image I passed it by several times due to all the distractions, and just wrote it off as a lesson in moving to avoid distractions and  get a better angle. I did not delete it, but it was going to live in my archives as a lesson learned for quiet a while.

But it kept haunting me because of the eye of the mare and the connection she had with her foal, Something told me it was worth looking at again. Then it dawned on me that if I play with it maybe I could use the digital tools I have to make something create something.

Here is where I started and the different things I tried before getting to the final image at the top

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After trial and error of this photograph I had finally created something I really loved. It started as just a photograph, but it would not leave me alone and ended up to be an art piece I loved so much I made the investment to have it framed and is now hanging proudly on my wall. It also taught me to look at photography a bit different. Look for the art, look at my subject more and know there could be a hidden gem in there. I do not always have to take the perfect photograph when it comes to background and distractions but I do have to make sure the exposure is correct, the focus is right and the subject is placed where I need it to be. But the bigger lesson is to slow down and listen to what my subject wants to say. Then it is my job to create and tell that story.

This image will be available for purchase on my website https://gigiembrechts.com

2 Hundred Belgian Riders Try To Destroy Farmers Field

Some of you may not know but I live half the year in Belgium and split my time between Belgium and Colorado. After living there for 5 years I find this small little country very interesting. They have unusual traditions, politics and economy.  Much different from the USA I have linked a video of just one of those crazy traditions. It is call Paardenprocessie Hakendover

This dates back to mid-evil times as you can see on the video of the first riders. I guess there is a saint that protects the crops in the fields, so to prove that every year after the planting of the field 200 horses stampede across the field to tear it up. But as the tradition goes, the crops are protected and still grow and thrive even after the riders stampede across the field.

Very strange tradition but has been going on for years and years.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pnDPPd0SRs

Making Photography Business Decisions

Brynn, dreaming,  like we all do This week I have been struggling with business decisions. I am attempting to create a business plan to fit not only my lifestyle which includes a lot of traveling, but to also support me as a photographer and business person. Let me tell you this is quite a challenge.

I have read, watched, and taken many business and photography courses to try to find the magic bullet that is going to work for me. I have not yet found that magic bullet and realize now there is no "magic" bullet.

I have my own style, talents and interests which makes my life very unique so there is no plan out there that will fit my situation and give me all the answers. I realize now that I have to come up with my own plan which will work for my own business.

I  believe that we are always where we should be and life will lay out our path if would  just get out-of-the-way. Well the path that I feel is laid out before me at this moment is to start and create a business that will serve not only my clients but my life with the gifts and talents I have today so we both can benefit.  This will be no easy task.

Here are just a few of things I have discovered.

  1. Mountains and nature are not going to pay me to take a photograph, but their beauty  releases my stress so I will continue to photograph while in the beauty they share even if it is only for my eyes.
  2. Most of my horse photographs come easy to me and I just instinctively know when to push the shutter, but again the horse is not in the market for photographs, it is people who love them that are.
  3. Taking portraits is a challenge but challenges are what makes us stretch and grow so I am going to learn posing and how to create compelling portraits.
  4. I love to capture the connection between people and the animals they love so I will bring my strength to photograph animals and learn my weakness to photograph people together to create a great product.
  5. I also love to  decorate and have been told I have an eye for it, so I will use this talent to help create beautiful wall arrangements for clients so the photographs become more than just digital.
  6. Having a good business means learning to get you emotions out of your business so I will learn the skills of business so I can become profitable thrive.
  7. Handling money scares me to death but my husband is a wizard at it so I will consult him every step of the way.

So these are the things I need to work through to create a business that I love and will support me and my family and be a service to clients and customers. A lot of work, education and practice but I believe it will be all worthwhile.

Here are a few attempts at photographing my grandchildren over Easter. Nothing like going for the hardest subjects children under 4

Cadan giving me a very rare smile 3 years old

Ryan, 4 years old and quite the little character.

Brynn at 9 months just so sweet.

I Decided To Just Stop

At this time last week I was frustrated and confused. I had more questions than answers about my business and managing my life. I was pushing for the answers and pushing myself to do more, learn more, market more and on and on. I was trying to control my business and my life and it was driving me crazy.

Then I remembered the message in a  book I had read last year called "Dying To Be Me" by Anita Moorjoni A book about being who you are and finding joy. Anita had witnessed her own death and came back with a strong message for all of us.

I decided to just stop and look for the joy in my life. I was not going to strive and worry and try to figure it all out.

After that decision I instantly felt relief. I went about my day doing what was only in front of me. It felt good to let go of what I was trying to make happen.

Then some amazing things started to happen. I went to my photography club competition and one of my photos won in my division. I later got an email from a client that wanted to buy two more prints for her home. I had invigorating conversations with my husband and close friends. I hosted a cocktail hour for some neighbors and had  a wonderful time. A foot of snow fell, I love snow. Then on Sunday morning I could see out my window that the morning fog was coating everything in beautiful crystals. I grab my camera and drove to the lake and wildlife refugee near my home. It was a magical morning, a photographers dream. I was in natures playground of beauty. I could not take enough photographs. Although I should have brought my tripod, I was still just so enjoying the beauty and stillness of the morning.

I can not say how important it is to just live in joy. It's time to quite spending our lives striving and fighting against   things we can not control. Just let it unfold. Find the joy that is waiting for you in your life

Have a great week and experience the extraordinary.

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Getting Real With Photography and Business

Ghost Horse I decided to start writing about chasing the dream. That dream of making a decent living with the craft of photography. Did I just get your attention? Probably because most of us who are not doing this just as a hobby are trying to make a living in a very saturated industry.

I heard this quote the other day." If your business is costing you money it is a hobby not a business, is this true? What about the cost of a start-up? What about the cost of education, equipment, marketing, etc for any new business? I think that you should expect it is going to cost you a lot of money to get to the point of making photography a business. It is also going to cost you a tremendous amount of time in practice and education.  Photography is not like a franchise, this is a craft that will  most likely  take years to perfect. I am going on my 6th year of full-time education and daily practice trying to master  my vision. I will not even say what this all has cost me, just incase my husband reads this someday.

Another suggestion I hear is that if there is no competition there is no market.  Really? So we need to do what everyone else is doing  if we want to make a living?  I had to sit with that for a bit. I suppose that is true if you want to be a commodity but if you're an artist, you want to run and run fast from becoming a commodity.

I feel fear when I think about  my vision for my business because I want to focus my photography on draft horses. Which for a business plan in the so-called "real world" would falter due to it is such a small niche part of the market. Then I watched a podcast  on TWIP about this guy  Don Kamarechka who has poured himself into snowflake photography and is now attempting to publish a fabulous book. This got me thinking.  How big could the snow flake market be? But he is now known as the expert in snowflakes. Who could imagine that for a market?

The world does not need more of what we have already have. We need new stories, visions, art, products, and perspectives.

It is so easy to walk down the path that is well-worn and mapped out. But to follow the path your heart is calling you to follow takes courage, dedication and the wiliness to not listen to the masses. I believe you are experiencing such a calling when you feel fear at the very thought of doing what you have been called to do. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of status and reputation. When you feel these fears it is a good sign that you are on to something and you need to take serious look at this because there is something here  that is designed with you in mind.  It is also a path that you can choose to follow or pass up it is completely up to you but if you pass up the inspiration it will move on to someone else and you will have missed the opportunity. I am sure you can recall such a situation.

Will I be able to pay my bills and live a comfortable life by following my heart? I have no idea, but you can follow along with me as I share with you this dream and vision and the challenges I am sure to face.

Let the journey begin. I will post something about my journey each Tuesday, even if it is just to say I can not post today because of  ???

Video Challenge

My Window View I love visuals of all kinds. Recently I entered a 30 days of filming video challenge from a Creative Live class given by Sue Bryce. If you know her you are probably wondering why I would take a class from a photographer who teaches glamour photography which is so far from what I am doing, but she is an amazing teacher and I love to learn every aspect of photography.

Well back to the point. In this class she was teaching us short video to use as promotion. Her guest was Hailey Bartholomew who does an amazing job with producing short videos. She challenged us to begin by filming and producing a video of the things you love and appreciate for thirty days to help us develop our skills.

I joined in on the challenge and this is my video: Window View

I submitted it to her contest, not sure how it will do but I learned a lot and found another avenue to sharing my vision. I can not wait to use this skill when I am photographing  the draft horses in Belgium this spring and summer.

Snow & Frustration

A tip of a branch I am sure when you read this title and if you have live in an area where you have gotten snow lately you think I am going to talk about how frustrating it is dealing with the snow. Driving in it, shoveling it, scrapping windows,salted roads, dirty cars etc.. I am afraid you would be wrong. Although I have to deal with those frustrations like everyone else when it snows, my frustration comes from the fact that it seems to snow on days that I have other commitments and appointments that prevent me  from spending  hours photographing the beauty just outside my door.

Today is such a day. It snowed here in Littleton, Colorado about 8 inches and everything looks white and soft and beautiful. But I have appointments and things I must do and I am so frustrated because it has happened on a day when I am booked with work that can not be rescheduled.  Today is such an opportunity sent by nature and  for someone like me who just loves snow.

It is my hope that it will snow all day and maybe late this afternoon I can get out and explore and create the beauty  of this wonderful gift from nature.

But until then I just will get ready for my appointments and feel the frustration.

Here are some previous photographs I have taken on a snow day.

Milk weed in the son

Finally Rural Life Get Noticed

I was so excited with the Dodge Ram commercial because rural life is finally getting some attention. Just as we have all watched hundreds of commercials, videos, television shows, photographs, centered around urban living in this modern world, Dodge came out and  changed it up and showed us what country people are all about Yepee!!! (visualize me jumping up and down now) I was thinking I was the only one in the world that got it, but now the rest of the world saw in prime time what it takes to be a farmer,  thank you Dodge!

Farmers, ranchers, country folks, unite. We have been noticed again and we warmed their hearts. That is our best quality. So be proud and celebrate.

In case you missed it do to chores, here is the link

Ram Superbowl Commercial 

Here is one of my contribution to the farmers out there.

Plowing the old way