Lessons in What Not to Do: Studio Bingo




Senior pictures; it’s that time of year.  Sunday I was approached by this brunette beauty asking to take her senior pictures.  Apparently she like what I had done for Bill & Mary (LWND:  Getting Mary-ed) and was eager to have me behind the lens for this educational, lifelong milestone.


“Kelly has the utmost confidence in you.”  Her mom told me over the phone after I admitted my photography shortcomings and suggested that they take a last minute jaunt over to one of those “quickie” photo studios a strobe above the street side, pull-the-curtain and insert your dollar kind.  You see, the yearbook photo requires an indoor, solid background headshot.  They even specify how large the head should be (no more than an inch and a half from chin to the top of the hair) and a quarter of an inch short of the top of the picture.  Basically they want a studio shot, something I don’t have nor do I want to financially delve into at the moment.  Like most things, gear can become a greenback black hole where the return will never out pace or keep up with its ferocious appetite.  Lesson learned:  Fess up to your weakness and work the problem to your strengths.  It hit a little hard to know that this sweet girl had more faith in me than I did in myself; I wasn’t going to let her down.


Confidence, huh?  Well, it was time to do what I do best – fake it and improvise.  I stopped by Joann Fabrics before the shoot and picked a couple of Panne velvet panels 1 yard by 58”.  Enough for head and shoulders, but that’s about it.  Stealing the scouting flag pole idea, I cut 1/4” aluminum conduit into three lengths, slapped on two PVC elbows and set the whole thing on rebar spikes.  Indoor wasn’t going to happen, at least if I can help it.  Lesson learned:  Home Depot, not the spendy Idaho Camera, can save the day.


Kelly and I had a five o’clock appointment Tuesday at her parents countryside home.  Beautiful landscaping and plenty of grassy, open shade.  The sun was lower in the sky and sent a beam of golden light between an evergreen and chimney, casting a long column of shadows across the yard.  Using my awesome skills in astronomical mathematics and orienteering, I hammered in the rebar base (making sure not to hit any underground pipes) and calculated the best angle for the backdrop, the reflector and the celestial orb of a side and top light. 


This is where Bingo comes into play.  I have my game card in front of me, my lipstick pink ink dotter in one clenched fist and a lucky, thumb-stroked rabbits foot in the other just waiting on bated breath for those winning numbers to line up.  ISO, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, exposure and reflected, indirect, direct and flash all to be accounted for and let’s not for get the dreaded umbra and penumbra. Full manual, external flash, and opting against my usual lens of choice for the 55-200m VR zoom, I started marking off each square.


Gold was up first on the impromptu stand and Kelly and I rocked it - quite literally.  If you feel good about yourself – it’s a good hair day, your eyeliner isn’t smudged, and blemishes are a thing of the past, chances are you feel better in front of the camera.  Smiles come easier, giggles grow and before you know it you have a stack of relatively painless pictures of you being you and not the I’ve-sat-here-for-hours-and-my-face-is-going-to-fall-off-if-I-have-to-smile-one-more-time while the only thing keeping said smile up is the pleasant daydream of strangling the photographer you.  Add my not-so-secret, secret weapon and who knows what will happen. 


Music.  As in get your groove on music.  I asked Kelly to bring her iPod dock and queue up her favorite playlist.  Michael Buble kicked us off with a Sinatra standard oozing with class, golden oldies (of which I was quite impressed with her extensive tastes a generation before myself) and a couple of current pop-rock and rap ditties.  The Diva herself, Aretha’s Chain of Fools.  Pat Benetar’s Heartbreaker capped off the last shoot (black drop) with a timely, rocker hop off the white plastic lawn chair I happened to be standing on. The rabbit’s foot must have counter-acted Murphy’s Law because I didn’t land most embarrassingly on my backside or worse yet, break my camera. It all seems rather unorthodox, but this is me were talking about.  If I had any proper schooling, I’d know better and wouldn’t allow such childish frivolity to stand in the way of serious artistic expression.  Lesson learned:  Have fun, be silly when needed, get the job done and let the numbers fall where they may – there’s more than one way to win at bingo.


Minimal – and I mean minimal – editing went into these due to time constraints.  I delivered proofs Wednesday afternoon and set up our appointment to go and do the real senior pictures this Saturday.  Another adventure I look forward to.  Michael is invited. So is Pat, Stevie, Neil, Elvis, Aretha, Fergie, UB40, Avril, Miley, Taylor, Josh, the Brothers of course and ….   Can I yell bingo?


Meet Kelly, the cutest southern belle this side of the Mississippi.



Collage Gold


Collage Green


Collage Blue


Collage Black


And the yearbook photo is….


dsc_0071 logo

Kitchen Couture



I don’t think my sewing machine has left the dining room for the last six months.  In fact, I know it hasn’t and to lessen the cringe-factor of being such a slacker seamstress, I decided to channel my inner Lucy, to duke it out with Donna Reed and put together an apron any true domestic diva would be proud to sift, simmer and soufflé in.




Inspired by a vintage, twenty cent thrift store pattern and a buck-fifty a yard “retro” looking fabric, my Bernadette and I began our torrid affair last Thursday.  And like any to-do, we had our ups and down and I unfortunately let the seam ripper get between us much to my own chagrin.  I suppose it would help if I didn’t have to have it MY
WAY all the time, but there you have it.  Stubborn as all get out and definitely too big for my sewing britches. 


The top portion is big enough to bless the well-endowed woman which I’m certainly not and I added the extra raspberry trim at the neck, waist and hem line upping the sewing difficulty level to beginner.   Let me tell you exactly how many pleats there are in the bodice and skirt – a gazillion.  I found some kiwi flat lace and added two strips to the v-neckline just to give the appearance that I know what I’m doing. 



Yes I digress, an actual picture of my backside.  My motto is “the bigger the bow, the smaller the biscuits” and I’m not talking about the baking powder kind though sometimes I wonder at the rate mine are expanding.  Those Victorian ladies had it right; corsets, bows and bustles hide many a late-night nibble sin.




What can you do with extra fabric?  Why…  accessorize a la Lucy.  To be honest, we’re making headbands and bows as one of our Enriching U-niversity labs for Super-Saturday and this was the trial run.  I didn’t attach the bow, it’s on a clippie so I can move it around or just wear it alone.  Sunday I wore it (yes, I wore my apron to church solidifying my place as a true “moron” in the world in an effort to advertise the upcoming Relief Society event) and placed the bow at the bottom of the headband, just where the fabric meets the elastic.



I happened to buy two patterns that day and a second set of fabrics to make yet another apron.  This one is a retro blue/brown paisley pattern and I’m so going rockabilly with it, pettiskirt and all.  If you can’t cook, at least look like you can.  Maybe I’ll make a matching apron for Miss Is and get her off on the right foot.


Props to Devin’s shooting skills, though I’m reminded of why I’d rather be behind rather than in front of the camera.  Humility.  Check.

I Can Can



September Canning


I seem to be back in the thick of it, making up for lost time while the swine flu had us down.  Our tomatoes and peppers we started from seed this spring are finally producing.  The church orchard is ripe for gleaning peaches and thanks to a fellow gardener, I have an abundant supply of jalapeños.  My counters are covered in zucchini and I’ve made enough fresh salsa to more than cover the daily veg recommendations for the next six months.


Peaches halved, Roma’s whole, tomato juice, salsa and crack in a jar (a.k.a. jalapeño jelly) have all been canned.   Thank goodness for our three burner camp stove and a nine quart water bath.  I do all the chopping, slicing, dicing, ice water bath inside.  The rest is done outside in my makeshift kitchen.  Less of the mess and the less my A/C has to kick on.


I’m keeping all the canned goods in my pantry this year and I have to admit, I get a little buzz of pride at seeing it all. Warm, hardy stews, spaghetti sauce from scratch, peach cobbler, crack and cream cheese, and spicy salsa to chase away those bland, brown months until spring.  Canning is a skill I’m grateful to have, though pressure canning is something that still scares me.  Something about exploding jars and steam burns…  I suppose at some point I should get over it, but then again maybe I won’t as long as grocery stores have case lot sales of canned corn and green beans.


There is at least one more twelve quart batch ripening in the garden and apples will soon be on the way.  I think it’s time to make some of Grandma Madeline’s apple butter and another chocolate zucchini cake.  I love fall!

Biohazard Chaos



Devin Waiting Room 


Not even a week into school starting, Devin gets sick.  He wasn’t feeling so hot on Sunday so let him play hooky from church just in case anything other than an achy feeling cropped up.  Monday he was up getting himself ready for school at the usual time; I was being lazy and still in bed when I heard a terrible hacking noise.  “Is that Devin?”  I asked Dave who was also doing his best to delay Monday.  I got up to check on him and good thing I did.  He was sacked out on the couch and I instantly knew he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  A couple of clicks of the mouse later, Devin and I discovered that he had every single symptom of H1N1, affectionately covered by the media at large as swine flu.  The hard part about each symptom was that it’s exactly like any other run-of-the-mill illness.  “Nah, you don’t have swine flu.”


At D.J.’s football practice later that night, we heard from friends that his middle school had a suspected case and sent home fliers that afternoon to warn parents and symptoms to look for in their son or daughter.  “Nah, it’s just the flu… maybe.”


By Tuesday morning, he was one sick teen and the Quick-Care Clinic was first on the agenda.  The poor guy “shouted groceries” half a dozen times within the five minute drive to town.  Immediately we noticed warning papers taped to the outer glass doors of the clinic in hunter – or should I say biohazard - orange.  If you have a cough, please ask for a mask at the front desk.  I felt the piercing, disgusted eyes of everyone in the waiting room as Devin snapped the elastic over his head.  Nothing says I have a communicable, deadly disease so watch out like a dual-filtered, foam-lined mask.  So here was are, sitting in the foyer just outside waiting room, Devin, Death and I.


Devin Waiting Room 2 




Finally making it in to the physicians assistant, the compulsory tests were ran without much to do.  It wasn’t until the two foot long swabs came out that Devin got a little nervous.  “I think they poked my brain.”  He said after the assistant left the room.  The influenza swab is taken high up into the nasal cavity almost but not quite his brain.  Insert teaching lesson because I’m that kind of mom,”How did the Egyptians mummify their dead?”  Devin’s reply, “By sticking a wood needle with a hook up their nose and scrabbling their brains to pull it out in little pieces.”  Wow, he did learn something in sixth grade world history!  Two pokes and ten minutes later, he’s positive for influenza A, the first indicator of “swine flu”.  One more swab for the C.D.C. and we were out the door with a prescription for Tamiflu and a mandatory week of no school – worse yet, isolation.  Quarantine….   Official results wouldn’t be in for a week while the state looks its over so in the meantime we were advised to take it seriously.


Devin Doctor Office


Is it or isn’t it?  Are we just being paranoid?  That was the big question on our minds.  What do we do with Miss Is and D.J. (who seemed just as unusual as usual)?  David took the rest of the week off.  He’d be drawn and quartered if he brought “it” into his workgroup even though he tested negative later that morning.  Debating whether or not we should go to football practice that afternoon, D.J. started coughing and within two hours ran a fever of 103.  Now I have both boys sacked out on the couch.  I don’t like to take advantage of people, especially people we know, but it really helps when your Bishop also happens to be a pediatrician.  I had called for advice the day before and he was most helpful, that night I called to see if Devin’s dosage would work for D.J. I guess four years and ten pounds apart didn’t make much difference so I started him on the antiviral as well.  That made the decision easy.  Nobody goes anywhere.


Devin had the orange puke bowl, D.J. the white.  By Thursday, I had officially claimed the red.  Yep.  Let me tell you how fun that was.  Not really. Wouldn’t recommend it.  I remembered why I don’t sit around and watch daytime t.v. everyday, why I love MY pillow and why it’s best to braid you hair.  I had held out hope that I would escape infection, but knew that moms almost always suffer the same fate.  During Dave’s ‘Doc-in-the-Box’ clinic visit at work, the P.A. prescribed a full course of Tamiflu with a wink, “you and your wife, just in case”.  I was grateful for the thought and stated taking the white and yellow caplets right away.  I was, however, well enough to watch the BSU – OSU football game!


The last four days of exile seemed very, very long.  You can only watch so many movies, play so many games, sleep so many hours before stir crazy takes over.  Friday afternoon we took a family trip to the rural (and empty) gun range to shoot the .22 Cricket.  (My babies can shoot a gun with surprising accuracy.)  BYU vs. Oklahoma  and home-made Twix bars Saturday.  Slacker Sunday at home and Monday was the last day, thank goodness.  (Happy Labor Day)


Tuesday life went back to normal.  The farmers were off to school, Dave to work and I had a bunch of errands to make.  That night during D.J.’s football scrimmage, I got the call,  H1N1 positive – your son has been confirmed by the state.


In the end, Miss Is and David remained untouched and nothing more than a lingering cough for the boys.  Hopefully that will be the last we have to deal with the flu this year.  I suppose it’s better sooner rather than later when school work is still in post-summer review and nothing pressing on the calendar.  Take care, wash your hands often, have groceries (easy prep food) for a week in the pantry and lots of Lysol and bleach and you’ll survive… we did.

August – A Narrative: And So It Begins…



Football Set 2_13



The first week of practice.  D.J. is the one in the grey t-shirt.  Practices are Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesday, Fridays with games on Saturdays.  Oh, a let’s throw in Scouting Thursdays for good  measure. This week was all about conditioning. 

Stretching, running, basic drills and plays.  I couldn’t help but laugh during warm-ups, I kept thinking of Spaceballs and bobble-heads for some reason.



 Football Set 3_7

Football Set 2_11

Football Set 4_1


The second week of practice was full contact and much more exciting.  D.J. is in the purple jersey.

More stretching, running, drills and plays with a crunch.

He took a hit from the “toughest” player on Monday, the first day with pads, and hurt his wrist.

D.J. shed a few tears and sat out for about fifteen minutes, but was back in action for the rest of practice. 

I was really worried that it would’ve been the end, even Coach W called to see if he was okay. 

When we got home that evening Dave and I asked if he still liked football. 

“I don’t like football….”  Here it comes, I thought.  “I love it!!!” 






















Saturday, August 29th was their first “game” during the jamboree at the local high school. 

Our boys were in blue and aptly named the Broncos.  We all had to wing it since their uniforms were ready yet.

The D (defense) shut down their offense and once we took possession it was Bronco time!

D.J. is getting some much needed advice from Coach W. 

The rest of the pictures are of various teammates during the game.








D.J. loves to play and we’re all excited to support him and the team.

We’re even watching football on t.v. now.  Shocking, I know.

More as the season goes on!


August – A Narrative: Aye, Aye!


It’s that time of year again when ships sail the pipe – or rain gutter – for maritime glory and Cub Scout bragging rights. 

D.J. made his ship by himself and did a bang-up job of it too.  He chose the Cub Scout colors of blue and gold.


D.J.’s dry docked ship.




Huffing and Puffing!



Bubblegum, bubblegum in a dish.  How many pieces do you wish?





In the end, D.J. won a few races and had a great time overall.

Lessons in What Not to Do: Mrs. Idaho Headshots



Beauty pageants?  Last week I had the opportunity to take headshots for Mrs. Canyon County to compete in the Mrs. Idaho pageant.  She needed headshots to submit for the contestant pamphlets, pageant brochures and other media.  I’ve never done specific headshots before and had a lot to learn.  What is a headshot?  Is it just your head?  Head and neck?  Head, neck and shoulders?  Straight on, side or from behind?  Black and white?  Touched or unedited?  And that’s just the tip of the ice burg.


I met up with Molly around eleven in the morning and snapped off a few inside.  Yeah… not good.  I was seriously doubting whether or not I could pull this one off.  Studio lighting indoors is a must – at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.


Outside and in my comfort zone, we found some open shade to work with.  Molly had a lovely celery green sweater on and perfect retro-glam hair that worked well with the evergreen tree I used as a background.  My reflector became her new best friend, it was a love-hate relationship adding just a touch of light underneath her chin and cheekbones to chase away those unflattering shadows.  Lesson learned:  Don’t blind your subject in pursuit of shadows.


Since theses photos are specific in nature, I let Molly glimpse the camera LCD to make sure that we were headed in the right direction.  Some angles and lines that we thought would work well didn’t and some of the “let’s just give this a  try” (as I contort myself into an odd example) poses gained the best reviews.  Lesson learned; it’s okay to be a poser – sometimes.  Find what flatters and don’t be afraid to twist and tweak it until you get what you want.


With any luck, she’ll be the next Mrs. Idaho


(The last two shots are the ones she chose to send to the director.) 



A Outdoor Set 1_3wm



A Outdoor Set 3_15wm



A Outdoor Set 4_7wm 


A Outdoor Set 6_3wm


A Outdoor Set 1_5wm


A Outdoor Set 6_13wm

August – A Narrative: Forever Young



Tuesday, August 11-12th: 


I had the utmost pleasure in tidying up the house to play Bed & Breakfast to my best friend from Oregon, Lora as her and her kiddoes, minus the eldest, made their way back from Utah.  The day they came happened to be Tayler’s fourteenth birthday and Devin was excited to share it with him.  (I’m sorry Tayler that you had to spend it with us! lol)  In his honor, I made a vanilla-strawberry cake with Strawberry and chocolate ice cream on the side.  (Thank you Duncan Hines and Dryers.)


It was good to see and visit again, though I still think that we need a girls weekend retreat to really get caught up! 


family_photo_1Photo props to our mutual friend and photographer, Quillan Kasl.

Lessons in What Not to Do: Baby, Baby


My first maternity and newborn sessions and a gazillion lessons in what not to do. 


You may recognizes this glowing gal from a post back in June; what can I say, it’s been a very busy summer.


Jenna was great to work with.  Easy going and up for just about anything even at thirty-eight weeks. We hit the usual haunts along the greenbelt, at which she wouldn’t let me help her up off the ground, and then headed for her home.  She has the cutest, pee-wee league sized basketball of a tummy that made these “maternity” shots not so odd. 


When I first heard of the concept I honestly wasn’t really sure about it, but then I got to thinking, remembering my first and shuffling through what very little prego-pictures I had and I began to realize that a nice, I-don’t-look-like-the-broad-side-of-a-barn in full-bloom motherhood  would have been special.  Sure, I’m grateful for the snapshot of me in David’s sweats, tent-like tee, bad hair and some type of food – who knows what – being unceremoniously and quickly shoved into my mouth, but I’d like to think that I was beautiful at some point along the way with actual proof and not just the consolatory, obligatory, please-don’t-bite-my-head-off line of “you look radiant, Dear” or “there’s nothing more beautiful than an expecting mother.”   Hmmm… reading back through this grammatically challenged paragraph it appears that I may have some issues here.   What are your thoughts?  Did you – do you – have great maternity pictures?  Would you want to have them?




A Jenna 8wm


A Jenna 63wm 


A Jenna 96wm


A Jenna 100wm


A Jenna 134wm


A Jenna 140wm


A Jenna 149wm


And baby makes three!



Ten days.  That’s how new Christian was when he had his very first photo session.  I had came over in the early evening, just after his usual feeding and before the subsequent naptime.  Babies are best asleep; too bad he wasn’t up for it.  Patience, that’s what I learned.  Lots of patience with new mommies and new babies.   Christian was colicky and as we later found out suffering for acid reflux so needless to say he wasn’t his happiest.  Mom and Dad tried hard to get him settled, but I decided that we could try again later.  Lesson learned:  Know when enough is enough. 


Eleven days.  First thing in the morning after second – or was it third – breakfast.  Well fed and content with a light pat on the back, Christian was a superstar.  Both Mom and I were happy to have the little man resting peacefully so she could take a break and I could snap away.  There were a lot of “oohs” and “awes” as we gently tucked in little arms and legs for each set up.  Christian liked to have his man business on display; his tiny knees bent and crossed at the ankles reminding him of the comforts of mom.  Lesson learned:  Don’t say “little man business” while Dad is around.  He might take offense to certain parts being labeled little, tiny, cute etc.  Instead it’s better to overcompensate with big words like huge, enormous, and gargantuan.  The last one REALLY sounds manly and would make any new papa proud.


Babies poop.  Babies pee.  It’s a fact of life. The couch, the bed, Mom in her only pair of jeans that fit post-pregnancy.  Lesson learned; be prepared to have things tinkled on or worse, machine washable is a plus and baby wipes wipe more than little bums.


Though I’m somewhat happy with the way they turned out, I’ve realized the need for a soft box and a detachable flash would help tremendously.  Shadows would disappear and be replaced with even, wrap-around light to create a depth and details.  It’s on my B&H Photo wish list.  Lesson learned:  Do the best with what you’ve got and that necessity (and a poor-gals budget) is the mother of invention.


I also had the opportunity to make custom baby announcements – six different styles – for Mom and Dad to choose from.  It was fun to let the “scrapper” out of the closet and use different digital papers, embellishments and the like I’ve been collecting. 


Bottom line, love the mommies, love the babies and love what you (try) to do.


Props. to Mrs. DLee P for crocheting the “pod”.


A Christian Set 10_7wm


A Christian Set 10_16wm


A Christian Set 14_20wm

 A Christian Set 15_10wm


B Christian Set 3_1wm


B Christian Set 8_5wm 

B Christian Set 6pm


 B Christian Set 10_13wm



B Christian Set 13_9wm



B Christian Set 14_1wm


B Christian Set 14_5wm