Archive: ‘Personal’

Project 365: Week 2

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Project 365 continues with week 2. Yay! This week I was inspired by an article I read on a trick called “Poor Man’s Macro,” that I’d read about awhile back on the MCP Actions blog (one of my favorites!). See, my list of gizmos and gadgets that I’d like to acquire for this hobby…ahem, career…must be a mile and a half long by now. And while a macro lens is on the list, it’s not anywhere near the top right now. So this week, I decided to try it out. I’ve still got a way to go before I’ve mastered it, but oh, the possibilities! Anyhoo, without further ado, I give you…

DAY 8:  Learning to Tie

Miss J is really mastering tying her shoes…what a big girl!

Settings:  1/60 sec at f/3.5, ISO 3200

DAY 9:  Resident Artist

I’m blessed with two daughters who love to create! This is MJ making heart cards.

Settings:  1/200 sec at f/2.8, ISO 3200

DAY 10:  Listen to the Music

The intricate inner-workings of a music box.

Settings:  1/60 sec at f/1.8, ISO 2000

DAY 11:  My Sister’s Sadie Dog


Settings:  1/125 sec at f/1.8, ISO 2000

DAY 12:  Snowman!

Settings:  1/80 sec at f/2.2, ISO 2000

DAY 13:  Succulent

Settings:  1/160 sec at f/1.8, ISO 2000

DAY 14:  BFFs

This is my sister’s dog, Cadbury. Obviously, Julia LOVES Cadbury, and I do believe the feeling is mutual. (Honey, I think we need a dog….)

Settings:  1/60 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600

Reading Is for Awesome People

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately, which has been SO good for my soul. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been so great for the laundry and dishes that have been piling up, but oh well. Everybody needs a break from reality from time to time, and reading is mine. Anyway, in spite of Mt. Laundry, I’m still awesome, which I happen to know because my equally awesome sister says so. She even has it on a shirt, just like this one:

(Isn’t that the greatest shirt ever? You can get one for yourself or your own awesome sister friend at 🙂

I thought I’d share with you my latest adventures in reading, which of late have taken me from a 11 foot square room, to the distant future, and back to the Middle Ages. It’s so cool that just by opening a book, your mind can journey anywhere imaginable. LOVE IT!!!!

Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue
If you know me, you know that 9 times out of 10, I’ll choose historical fiction. But this one was a book club selection, and while it doesn’t quite fit that genre, I’m awfully glad I read it. The book is about a mother and child who are forced to live in an 11′ x 11′ room, and it was absolutely fascinating. The story is told from the perspective of the five year old boy, and it was so interesting to take in this story, with all its ups and downs, through the eyes of a child. I hesitate to share too much of the plot as not to ruin the plot for you, but I will say that this book was a page turner, and I would highly recommend it!

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana DeRosnay
This was MY most recent book club choice, recommended to me by my amazing photographer friend, Tina of Tina LeAnn Photography. It’s set in modern day Paris, and tells the story of Julia, an American expatriate whose life becomes intertwined with the story of a 10 year old girl who lived in Occupied France during the time of the 1942 Velodrome D’Hiver roundup and deportation of thousands of Jewish families. This book moved me deeply, and I am sure that it will remain with me for a very, very long time.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Okay, I know…I’m a little late on this one. It seems like everyone else in the world has already read this trilogy, but if you’re one of those who for some reason was living under a rock (like my former self), get  to your nearest book store or download these to your Kindle tout de suite. You will not be disappointed! The trilogy takes place in the future, when the world as we know it has been destroyed, and in its place is Panem, a land made up of thirteen “districts” and the Capitol city. As the stage is set, we learn that in the past, the districts unsuccessfully revolted against the Capitol, and as a reminder of the Capitol’s superiority, each district is required to send two “tributes” — one boy and one girl — to participate in the annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are all about survival of the fittest; there can only be ONE survivor. And from there, the story begins. I know it sounds grim, and it is, but these books are seriously amazing, entertaining, and thought provoking. LOVED THEM!!!

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
I LOVED burying my nose in this book, which is set in 12th century England, and centers around the building of the cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. It’s got everything you could want in a novel — the theme of good versus evil…romance…war. An amazingly good read, and while I’m probably no better for having read it (I can’t say that I’ve been profoundly changed for having read it, like I’d be willing to say of the other books I’ve discussed in this post), I was amply entertained and am looking forward to reading more of Mr. Follett’s work.

So, my reader friends and fellow AWESOME PEOPLE…if you’ve read any of these books, I’d love it if you’d share your thoughts in the comments! And definitely feel free to leave a comment with some of YOUR favorite reads…I’m always on the lookout for a good book!


Project 365: Week 1

Monday, January 16th, 2012

I am loving my Project 365! It gives me an excuse to get out my camera and experiment with different settings AND it challenges me to look at the world just a little bit differently. Here are the images from my first week.

DAY 1: My Kindle

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/80 sec at f/2.2, ISO 400


DAY 2: Squirrel Watching

The girls and I had a great time watching this squirrel munch on pumpkin seeds on our front porch. The girls named her “Miss,” and she didn’t seem to mind us watching her at all. (And yes, I do realize it’s time for a good window cleaning…anyone out there do windows?)

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/640 sec at f/2.5, ISO 400


DAY 3: Water Droplets on the Window

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/80 sec at f/4.0, ISO 800


DAY 4: On My Nightstand

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/60 sec at f/1.8, ISO 800


DAY 5:  Responsibilities

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/60 sec at f/1.8, ISO 800


DAY 6: Snowfall

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/1250 sec at f/2.5, ISO 200


DAY 7: Homebrewed

Kirk brewed his second batch of beer, a Dunkelweizen, at the end of last year, and now it’s finally been bottled!

Lens:  50mm 1.8
Settings:  1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400


Are you doing a Project 365 this year? If so, leave me a comment with the link to your blog, your Facebook page, or your Flickr feed…I’d love to follow you!


WINNING in 2012: My New Year’s Resolutions

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Okay, kids…I know I promised you some New Year’s Resolutions, so here we go.  (Eeek! I can’t believe I’m putting these out there in a public forum – so much more accountability than when I plan them out in my head and keep them to myself. Like I’ve done every other year of my life, with the exception of the last couple. Last year, and the year before…and maybe even the year before that… I didn’t even trust myself to get past January 1st before failing miserably. But that’s the way I USED to roll. Yep…I’m proud to say I’ve come a long way in the last twelve months, peeps, so we’re going to try this resolution thing once again…this time publicly. How’s that for brave?)


(As in more veggies, fewer calorie-laden, oh-so-comforting desserts)

(You guessed it – fewer caffeinated and/or carbonated beverages, but definitely MORE water and milk.)

Be Merry!
(Yes folks, this self-professed goofball really does need to lighten up a bit more and enjoy life’s “in between” moments, instead of getting caught up in making sure that the “big” moments are hitting the mark. Funny, isn’t it? One of the things I love most about my job is that it gives me an opportunity to peer in on someone’s life, capture those little moments that make life worth living, and then be able to show my photographs to them to remind them just how beautiful their life is – and yet here I am missing SO MANY of my own little moments that I could be enjoying with my husband, my kids, my friends. How CRAZY is that????)


Remember how your fourth-grade teacher would always look up over the rim of her glasses during your social studies tests and in that authoritative voice briskly say, “Class, keep your eyes on your own paper?” Well, in 2012, I’M going to be Mrs. Reinhart. No…I’m not going to take up teaching fourth graders – sheesh, that would be a disaster waiting to happen! But yes, I’m going to remind myself to “Keep my eyes on my own paper,” proverbially speaking. I read a beautiful quote on Pinterest the other day:

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
– Steven Furtick

Something about that idea really struck a nerve with me. I mean, I’d already decided back in October of this year that those moms out there with perfect hair, perfect nails, perfectly clean houses and perfectly behaved children and husbands are more than likely big fat liars. Or crack addicts. But somehow I hadn’t brought the idea full-circle until I read that quote.

This year I’m going to worry less about what I think  other people have or are doing and spend my time focusing on what I need to do to achieve MY goals.


Get Organized. Okay, people, I’m going to let you in on a secret. There’s a room in our house – thankfully NOT the front room – that if you walked into it you’d think to yourself, “Oh my! These poor people have been robbed!” Or, you might just assume that we’re renting the room out to the local chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon (no offense, guys). The kids call it “Mommy’s Office.” But given its current state, it’s been WEEKS since any work took place there. It’s time to define and create two distinct workspaces in our home that will allow Kirk and I to work more efficiently. And then comes the hard part – MAINTAIN. Yikes!


Do ONE thing every day to keep moving forward. With respect to our family, our marriage, and my business, I’ll hatch my plan on a day-to-day, or perhaps weekly, basis. But when it comes to nurturing my creativity, I definitely plan to start a “Project 365” of my own. What is Project 365? Pretty simply, it’s a photo journal project where you commit to taking at least ONE photo a day, every day, for a year. I was inspired to take this on by my friend Kara Schoenle of  Kara Leigh Photography. I followed her Project 365 throughout the year, and I watched her creativity, her technique and her confidence just blossom over the course of the year…amazing!

I’m particularly excited about this resolution, because it gives me something important to reflect on and a reason to CREATE each and every day. When I wake up, I get to ask myself, “What ONE thing are you going to do today for your family? For your marriage? For your business? For yourself?” And then throughout the day I’ll have a GREAT excuse to be attached to my camera. In the words of my favorite four year-old, “Yippee! Yahoo!”


I think that’s where I’ll stop. Honestly, my list could go on and on…I LOVE lists! But the truth is, I need to set myself up for success. I’ve tried to make sure my resolutions are measurable and attainable, and who knows…if I rock these out the first few weeks, I might get brave and add “WORK OUT” to the list. But for now, like I said, let’s keep it attainable!

Now, lovelies, I ask YOU – how have YOU resolved to do in 2012? Tell you what…leave me a comment with just ONE of your resolutions, and we can check in with each other from time to time to see how things are going. I’m up for it, and it’d be awesome to have you join me on the accountability train. We are SOOOOO going to ROCK 2012!



P.S. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve shared any photos with you. How ’bout we ring in the New Year with a beautiful baby girl? Stay tuned!



Let’s Start Here…

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Forgive me as I wax sentimental here, but with the New Year approaching, I’ve been doing some serious soul searching about how I ended up here at this juncture in my life and why it is that I do what I do. And truthfully, an integral part of this self-reflection has been putting pen to paper and reflecting on the beginning of my journey as a photographer.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, here’s the highlight reel as seen on Twitter: I’m “a mom, wife, and photographer who LOVES love, chocolate, beer, and Mark Twain quotes.” Yeah, I guess that pretty much sums it up. (For those of you who DO know me personally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my highlight reel – leave me a comment!)  (And there’s a little more here, if you’re interested.)

Anyhoo…as a kid, I had a “HATE” relationship with the camera. I’m the oldest of three daughters, the oldest grandkid, and seemingly without fail somebody ALWAYS had their camera trained on me. I became a pro at ducking out of the frame in the last moment and at sporting cheesy grins and silly faces. I consciously decided that I would NOT sacrifice “living” my moments at the expense of trying to capture them on film, and sadly I made it through my college years and young adulthood without many pictures to remind me of all the fun I had, all the people I knew, and all the memories I made.

In July 2006, I married my wonderful husband Kirk, and as we pored over our wedding proofs, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I could SO do this! And I’d even think to get a picture of the bride’s gorgeously hand-beaded train and heirloom cathedral-length Belgian lace veil!” In December of that same year, we discovered that we were expecting our first child. I felt a stirring in my soul — just a little tug — telling me the time was coming that we’d need to pull out that dusty old Kodak EasyShare. And I listened…kind of. Julia, born August 2007, was an oft photographed infant, but I refused to become a card-carrying member of the “Mama-razzi.” Then along came Madeleine in January 2009. A week after her birth, I broke my elbow, had surgery to repair the break, and sustained considerable nerve damage rendering my right hand virtually useless. Our family was supposed to move halfway across the country in February, chasing Kirk’s career, but with this complication we had to postpone our move. I was devastated, frustrated, and one evening, in a moment of raw emotion and self-pity over my gimpy hand that we didn’t know for sure would heal, the difficulties I was having adjusting to mothering a toddler AND a newborn, and the upheaval in our marriage as a result of all these changes, I cried to Kirk, “How am I ever going to be able to be a wedding photographer if I can’t use my hand?!?” It was the first time I’d ever given a voice to this hidden dream of mine, and as the days passed and we adjusted to our new “normal,” we didn’t talk about it again.

Flash forward a year and a half, we were nearly settled in our new home in Annapolis, Maryland, my hand was (mostly) healed, our daughters were getting sweeter every day, and Kirk and I were working harder than we’d ever worked to try to make ends meet. His job as an AV producer had him working 10-12 hour days and travelling what seemed like more often than not; my job in the non-profit sector had me leaving the house most days before the girls woke up and returning home just in time to tuck them into bed most nights. We were burning the proverbial candle at both ends, and something had to give. After a couple of very intense counseling sessions (marriage and individual), it became clear that the first thing that had to give was MY job, because the alternative was going to be that our marriage would crack irreparably. During one of my individual counseling sessions, my therapist very wisely asked me, “Who are you? What makes you tick?” That question marked a turning point in my life, because in that moment, I didn’t have an answer for him. Here I was, 32 years old and so burned out that I couldn’t answer the simplest, most fundamental question about who I am. We spent nearly the entire session searching for the answer to that question. I remember him saying, “Come on…you must know what it is that you’re passionate about — what really just gets you going.” And I couldn’t for the life of me answer him. It took two whole days of contemplating the answer, and this is what I finally came up with: I am creative, I love drama, and I love the craft of storytelling. And I didn’t really want to be a manager at a non-profit association…I want to create. I want to tell other people’s stories. And I want to tell those stories with beautiful pictures. The gig was up. That little voice inside nagging me about doing a better job of telling our daughters’ stories with our camera…that voice that out of nowhere in a moment of pure honesty said “I want to be a wedding photographer”…that voice — MY voice — was finally ready to be heard.

So in July 2010, we decided to make a huge leap of faith. I resigned from my very wonderful (but draining) job, and we made the difficult decision to say goodbye to Annapolis and return to my old stomping grounds in Central Illinois, where life is loads more affordable, where we have tons of supportive family and hands to help us raise our two precious girls, and where I could begin chasing my dream and setting a positive example for the girls of what leading a “full” life looks like. After all, shouldn’t every child get the opportunity to grow up knowing that you don’t have to be a Disney Princess to make your “Dreams Come True?”

And that folks, is how this crazy adventure started. Not sure where it’s going to take us, but I do know it’s been a worthwhile ride so far!


(Up Next: New Year’s Resolutions…ay yi yi!)


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