Life captured beautifully.

Archive for May, 2011

The Buckmaster Family is back!

I was so happy to be able to squeeze in a weekend session for this great family. I’m good friends with their daughter, Lynsie. I photographed her wedding and you’ve noticed plenty of pictures on the blog of little Grayson.
Well, it was extremely important to get these portraits taken this month because Lynsie’s husband, Matt, is in the National Guard and will be deployed at the end of the month.
I just don’t know how she does it. He was in the service already when they met and he had to leave once already after they were married only a year (if I remember right). I admire her and him so much, for their strength and bravery. I want to thank, not just Matt, but Lynsie too… and little Grayson for the sacrifices they make to keep our country safe.
I am so thankful for being able to choose my own religion, and practice it openly. To live in my home and feel safe.
This morning was the tear-filled leaving ceremony where many amazing families, just like Matt and Lynsie’s, were saying “Goodbye for now.” I’ll be praying right along with them that every single one of those men and women comes home safe and sound.
All my love,

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Senior Portraits : Class of 2011 : Southern MN, North IA Photographer

You would not believe my excitement in being faced with the task of putting labels and stamps on over 1,200 postcards. *glee*
I just love the challenge of coming up with a concept for my senior marketing materials, bringing it to life on the computer screen and then seeing the final product ready to send in the mail!
My senior mailings are one of the ways my studio stands out from the crowd. Sure, lots of photographers mail postcards or fliers, but mine are huge, 5 1/2 x 8″ full color eye-grabbers!
In the past I have usually scoured websites and other retailers’ marketing materials for inspiration, but this year’s design was totally original, out of my imagination (which has lots of different influences from the dozens of magazines and blogs I love to frequent, but still – it is definitely UNIQUE.)

In the first year of mailing seniors, I probably only sent 500 and I managed to do it on my own while watching TV at night (mainly because I still had a full time job back then, I suppose.)
In recent years I have made it more of a fun, friends and family affair. My darling friend, Deb, has helped me several times and she is amazingly efficient and her stamps and labels are always perfectly straight and she can keep up with my lightning-fast speed. 😉
I have also called on the talents of my mother-in-law, Pat, for her great ability to follow directions and keep me distracted with lots of stories about raising my husband. We even have a really cute picture where Collin is sitting on the table (about 4 mo old in a Bumbo seat) with labels stuck to him that I will see if I can dig up… Hahaa! Found it!

Last year was definitely one of the more interesting labeling years. Andy’s father had just had a triple by-pass and we were spending a lot of time at the hospital in Rochester, I had already ordered the postcards before all this occurred and they needed to get mailed out asap since they had dates on them of a short-term offer that would expire… so I was blessed enough to have Pat, Andy, and my two brother-in-laws sitting over at Mayo in a waiting room helping me out.
I will be honest, I felt like a big, huge, insensitive moron bringing all the postcards and supplies with me to the ICU, but they were all so grateful for the mindless task to distract them from all the worry and fear we were all experiencing. (Plus Herb was able to get a good nap in and watch the Twins in peace.) 🙂
This year, my own dear mother has offered to help and so – along with my bestie, Deb – we tackled this chore on Friday with homemade caramel lattes and strawberry scones close at hand! It was a blast and we got it all done in a couple hours.

I was able to get most of them in the mail box on Saturday so I am hoping the phone will start ringing today! Check your mailbox if you have a Senior! (If you have a senior and aren’t on our mailing list just call and I’ll send one your way!)
P.S. The mailing will feature a discount on our most popular session, the Scandalous Senior Session (unlimited outfits, on-location, indoor/outdoor), for only $99 (normally $140). It’s only good for sessions booked from today until June 4th.

Studio Improvements : Rustic Porch

I am so excited to share these pictures with you, documenting the work I did with my husband over Mother’s Day Weekend. I showed you some work I did getting ready to plant some flowers around the deck Andy built for me last fall. Remember how I said it was supposed to have a roof on it, but that I wouldn’t be complaining because it would only take a day or two and it could practically be done? Well, it’s almost done! (My husband works fast! 🙂 Andy Houg Construction if you want to look him up!)
So Mother’s Day Weekend, I had to do a family session on Saturday morning and Andy took one of his employees with him to pull wood off the barn he grew up milking cows in (don’t feel bad, it is falling apart and so I’m doing the environment a favor by re-purposing the wood).
I was just relaxing after having a quick lunch when Andy showed up to tell me they got a bunch of wood and some nice beams removed and he set me to work on removing the vinyl siding along the North side of the studio.
I have a few shots I set up on the timer where you can actually see me doing some work ripping off siding. I didn’t exactly have the most ideal tool for the job at first, but I had vin and vigor! After the initial blast of ambition wore off and I was cussing the damn nails and my scraped knuckles, the guys returned and gave me a crowbar that was more appropriate. Every time I do this kind of stuff I develop a new-found appreciation for my husband and the physical labor he endures every day.
But enough of my whining! Back to business… so Andy and Bob didn’t waste any time getting to work and setting the barn beams into their new role as support posts for the porch roof.
Once that was done, they continued on to framing in the roof for my covered porch. I had the glamorous chore of hauling 10-15 ft long 2×6 and 2×4 boards down the hill from where Andy stores old lumber. (Technically it belongs to his younger brother, but Andy told me using some of it was like charging him a storage fee… so it’s okay! LOL!) *LOVE YOU KRIS!*
I am just thankful Collin was such a good boy throughout the day, as we worked until past 6 pm and he wasn’t much trouble at all. Mainly, he just wanted to pound on stuff with a hammer like daddy, which was just fine… but he also wanted to climb the ladder, which wasn’t so fine. Gotta love little boys!
On Sunday, Andy got right back to work. This time with his brother, Danny, to help. (Gotta love free labor!) **LOVE YOU DANNY!**
They started installing the board and batten siding and I helped out as much as I could while monitoring Collin. (I gotta say, running the nail gun is fun!)
Doesn’t this just look awesome! I am really excited and I can’t wait to see it with the roof finished. I picked up some old galvanized steel siding that my dad saved for me after re-roofing his shop. He was so thoughtful to “antique” it for me the last 20 years. *wink*
I love, love, love the possibilities for this area of my outdoor studio. I still have a couple other ideas to finish out the porch that I’m not going to divulge yet… but I am pleased as punch about the progress.
I am not, I repeat, am not going to put a old wooden barrel on the corner or an old ox yolk across the wall. LOL! Not that there’s anything wrong with that style, but this isn’t meant to be “Western”, it’s going to be a fusion of rustic barn/cabin/porch with bright pops of color and some wicked cool furniture. At least that’s the dream! Watch me make it all come together! Check back often!

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Uriah : Newborn Portrait Session

Remember cute, little, two-year-old Quentin? And his beautiful, pregnant mommy? Well, I’m pleased to introduce Uriah, the newest member to their family, to you!
Isn’t he just as cute as a button? I am so happy to have him in my studio, with both he and mom looking like the picture of health. It was a bit of a tricky birth for her with an emergency c-section after being sent home a few times from one hospital and finally changing hospitals at the last minute to find someone that would actually listen to her. Thank God that they are both doing so well.
I am always amazed at the little miracles that all newborns are. Big brother, Quentin, is pretty enchanted with his little bro. Isn’t this picture of them so cute! I love how he’s clapping his hands. It wasn’t easy getting him to pose next to his newborn brother, but I did get a couple other shots where he’s right next to him, serious and smiling… but I love these spontaneous ones. He was so proud of himself for doing what we were asking. I’m sure he’ll be a great helper for his mommy this coming year.
After some intimate family portraits, Daddy and Quentin went back home and we focused on just newborn photos. I had four or five different set-ups ready and his mommy brought along some things that were special to them that we incorporated as well.
I am very pleased with all the amazing images we achieved during the session. I had a full house with dad, mom, the two boys and grandma coming up from Clear Lake, IA to help. Grandma and mommy were in awe of my ability to get Uriah to sleep in baskets. They were joking that they needed to buy one for him to sleep in at home. LOL!
Words can’t express how thankful I am to have such great customers like Uriah’s mommy. She just gushes every time I talk to her about how much she loves my work. It makes all the hard work and time away from my own son, so worthwhile.

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First step : Working toward a photo garden

Since I went full time about three years ago, I’ve had the strong urge, each spring, to do more landscaping and gardening and bring more flowers to my yard-scape.
The first year after I went full time, Collin was born and Andy built the studio out of what used to be my half of the garage. (Actually it was my stall and the stall for his smaller truck… which he NEVER will let me forget! 😉 LOL!)
Then the next year I was still trying to learn how to juggle work and family with a one year old. Oh, and furnish the studio! But I finally felt like I gained that “balance” late-spring last year, but didn’t get the ball rolling early enough with the landscaping.
Well, technically I did get Andy to build a deck for me late last summer, but it’s not quite finished yet. (Not even close actually…)
Andy did instruct me I to wait until Spring before I attempted to paint the deck (otherwise the treated lumber would tinge it green).
I’ve also been patiently waiting for the guys to come back and put the roof on my deck, but I might be waiting a bit longer.
In the meantime, I had this incredible urge to buy some flowering perennials the other day when I was in Home Depot to exchange a track lighting fixture I had that didn’t work… and walked out an hour later with just over $100 worth of flowers, cedar mulch, potting soil… and most importantly… INSPIRATION!
I got the flowers on Friday (April 29th) and wanted to plant them right away that day, but needed to get a plan in my head of where the best place would be. Also, I came to the realization that although it seemed like I had a lot in my cart and in my car… in my yard, it won’t make much of a dent! 😛
But it’s a start!
And one of my favorite quotes of all time is: “Imperfect action beats perfect inaction! Every time!”
So, today, after much thought I lugged out the old garden tiller (which was a chore in itself – considering it was buried back in Andy’s shed) and I got the beast started all on my own! *insert huge beaming smile of pride*
Then, it was off to the races! I just held on tight to that baby and rode it like a bucking bronco until I had the top layer of grass loosened up enough so I could scoop it up with my shovel.
The shoveling was the hardest part. But I didn’t mind it much. I am a farm girl at heart and love a good workout although I’m thinking my back might be reminding me how I’m not really a farm girl anymore, tomorrow.
And that’s where I stopped. So I could have time to blog about this and decide my next step of action.
I plan on placing my arbor/trellis on the left side of the deck (where the path currently ends. And eventually continuing the path on down the hill. It was too windy to just place it there today so you could see what I’m planning and I’m thinking I’ll make sure Andy’s around to help me get that snug in the ground.
But, I must say it was much easier than I feared it would be. (I know, I know, it’s far from done) Funny how we think something will be so much work (like re-painting a room) until we actually get out the stuff and DO IT.
Can’t wait to share more! I’ll keep you posted!

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Inspiration! (Love my watering can!!)