A Full Moon in December

It has been a full week fraught with surprise, worry, and anticipation. We are near the end of our fall semester, which means tests and papers and sorting grades, and then I came down with an upper respiratory infection suddenly. (It’s not the flu, praise God. I got tested.)

And then my father had a medical emergency on the other side of the country, followed by a midnight trip to the emergency vet for Salem just last night.

So much came at us at once, and every day since Saturday has felt too heavy to carry. I’m low on sleep, so I’m pacing myself.

Then I saw the moon, and it was so bright that it lit up the entire neighborhood. For the first time in a long while, I grabbed my camera, full of inspiration. (I’ve missed that feeling, that pull to take photos and capture something in the moment. Honestly, it’s been a long time.)

Photographing the moon is tricky. You cannot rely on auto settings or a tripod. You have to know exactly how to account for distance, darkness, and the high contrast of a bright moon.

Using the Nikkor 55-200 mm lens, I set my Nikon 5300: ISO 100, shutter speed 1/125th, aperture f/8. Then I dug my elbows into my sides and snapped.

Full moon on Dec. 11, 2019, 8 p.m. EST. Nikon 5300/Nikkor 55-200 mm. Setting: ISO 100, shutter speed 1/125th, aperture f/8

It could be clearer, and, truthfully, I wish I’d captured it earlier in the night when it appeared even bigger. But, it is was it is, and I am pleased.

With Advent underway, I can’t help but feel extra pensive. More than usual, even! This is a season of waiting, but after this week, I feel like I’ve waited beyond my portion – waiting for phone calls, waiting for updates, waiting for doctors to finally work their way around to me, to my dad, to Salem.

Mercifully, this moon made me stop and take a breath. It pushed pause on my list of worries. It reminded me that there is much more going on in the world than I am privy to and still, I am not forgotten.

How Christmas is 13 days away, I cannot understand. I swear it was just Halloween. More than ever, I need to unburden our schedule and intentionally slow down. This moon was just what I needed to remind me that time doesn’t have to go by so quickly.

First Romp in the Gulf at Miramar Beach, Destin

Our life feels crazy sometimes, but after nearly a decade into Chuck’s job, I’ve learned to go with the flow. Our original plans for family vacation didn’t involve Destin, and then the back-up plan to Destin didn’t include Chuck. All the whiplash in the planning phase came to a head two days before our planned departure.

Long story short, we spent four days at Miramar Beach in Destin and it was perfect.

The boys had never been to the Gulf of Mexico, but they knew the water would be bluer and clearer than the Atlantic.

Jeremy, our ocean-loving son, couldn’t believe it.

It was chilly on Sunday night, and the wind was steady, but that was no deterrent for two eager boys ready to swim and explore.

They were so happy. Instantly. All at once. They, too, have learned to live at the whim of our unpredictable schedule, not knowing how one thing or another may pan out. But at this moment, with feet in the sand and bodies in the water, they were happy.

We had an hour or so until sundown, but that was fine since we had days of bright sun ahead.

The next morning we reserved a set of chairs with plenty of shade and planned to spend the entire day on the beach. It was a Monday morning. We had nowhere to be and nothing to do. The water was calm and clear.

The perk of traveling before schools are out for the summer is having a lot of space to ourselves. Homeschooling for the win!

Jeremy brought a collection of jars and containers to gather specimens and whatever Gulf treasures he found.

This was our view at lunch… We suffered through it.

We spent a little bit of time in the touristy areas of Destin, but not a ton because the beach was so perfect. Whenever we were around water, this was Jeremy:

We were thankful for the weather, thankful for the thin crowd, and thankful we could all be together.

And we still had a few days to go. More pictures later!

The flawless faces of beautiful children

I am a lucky girl. When “playing with my camera” takes me to a sprawling property, situated in front of these beautiful faces, I cannot complain.

It’s not hard, really. Engage the kiddos, chat with them, be silly. I’m not scary or overwhelming, so they don’t mind when I require a little of their time. For these siblings in particular, they are used to me and my lens in their faces.

And now, I’m getting to know their friends, which is a treat like none other! When a friend connects you to another friend, it is the dearest compliment.

I sit here with a ton of gratitude, not only because people trust me with their family’s photos, taking up their time and a little bit of their money, but because what started as a hobby (and continues to be a hobby) has turned into a gift I’m able to give others. I love it. My work doesn’t stand against the work of professional photographers whose creativity is their livelihood, but it’s good work. It’s beautiful. It’s honest.

Thank you again.

If you’d like to book a photo session, do let me know.

Come here. Sit down and look at me.

I do this often. I’ll be playing around with my camera, figuring stuff out, and suddenly I need a face in front of me. I’ll call a child, whoever is closest, and he’ll stare at the lens. I click, adjust, click, readjust. My handsome boys, the test models.

Jackson in mid-June 2016

Two things about this I love:

First, I always have updated photos of them. Not just blurry phone pictures, but real, detailed, up-close images of what they look like RIGHT NOW. Every freckle, every inch of peach fuzz. This is Jackson at ten years and ten days old. This is Jeremy at twelve years, nine months, and twelve days old.

Jeremy in mid-June 2016

The second thing I love is that while I fiddle with aperture and shutter speed, we talk. We talk about random stuff, like Pokemon cards, football stadiums, swimming with friends. Though neither avoids conversation with me (yet), this is a time and space when we have each other’s full attention. I’m looking at him, he’s looking at me. Though there is a camera between us, we have eye contact.

I’m not sure how much longer they’ll let me use them for test models, and if I had to guess, I think Jeremy will jump ship first. But for now, I will continue. Every month or so, every couple of weeks, I’ll sit them down on the edge of my bed, outside on the porch, wherever, and say, “Come here. Sit down and look at me.”

And it will be worth it.

Jennie Creates an Attitude Adjustment

We’re a month into summer and something is wrong. I’m moody, irritated, and wishing electronics didn’t exist. I’ve been moping around the house disappointed, watching trash TV and eating chips from the bag, even though I couldn’t nail down exactly what I’ve been disappointed about.

Only this morning did I realize what’s been bothering me, and I’m ashamed to say it’s nothing new: Simply, expectation met reality. 

This basic equation sums up every level of disappointment one can have. You expect something to be one way, then it turns out another.

For example:

Expectation: By June, I thought I would’ve spent more time working on my novel.
Reality: In the month of May, I only worked on it twice.

Expectation: I thought the boys would spend most of the day outside with neighborhood friends.
Reality: One set of kids is out of town for several weeks, the second set of kids has a series of sports commitments, and the third set of kids spends most days with their grandparents. That leaves Jeremy and Jackson with only each other.  And what happens when two siblings have been around each other so much that they are on each other’s last nerve? Mom becomes a hostage negotiator.

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Expectation: With more free time, I thought I’d be back to running five or six miles, maybe more, by mid-June.
Reality: It’s too damn hot. I ran four miles on the treadmill the other night. It was fine, I guess…

Expectation: Lots of photo sessions, lots of fun!
Reality: My 2009 iMac is starting to run slow and it makes me panic. Uploading and editing photos gives me physical and emotional anxiety. I have no backup plan to replace hardware or programs if this computer chokes and dies tomorrow. Now that I’ve released this negativity into the Internet, I’ve jinxed myself and the computer will for sure die.

Expectation: Lots of freelance work, extra money!
Reality: Writing doesn’t pay well. It will never pay well. And if I’m working on freelance, I’m not working on the novel. Catch 22.

Expectation: Without school work to worry about, the boys will be footloose and fancy free with all the time in the world to play.
Reality: Their default setting is video games. I hate it. Two hours a day still feels like too much time with the screen. It is my least favorite conversation to have with them and we have it every single day. 

See, none of this is innately bad. No one is sick, no one hurt. We are blessed with opportunity, freedom, and choice. ALL GOOD. And yet, I’ve let high expectations override common sense and stir me into discontent.

Which brings me to this morning. I checked myself at the bedside: Life is good, but dang, girl, lower your expectations. Brothers will fight, freelance work will always be tedious, and it will be hot until mid-September. Playing extra video games in the summer will not kill the children. If the computer dies, you cancel photo sessions. Will you be upset? Yes. Will you cry? Probably. Will it be the end of things? No. You aren’t the breadwinner here.

And by God, do the yoga. You always feel better after the yoga.

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Which is what I did. I made some phone calls and then did half an hour of yoga (click on the photo above to watch the sequence). Refreshed, I washed my face and emerged from the bedroom ready to start the day with a different attitude. As I type, I am actively trying to push aside the disappointment and focus on the good. THERE IS MUCH GOOD TO FOCUS ON, and if I can continue to dwell in this space, then summer won’t be so bad after all.

Also, more of this please. #PubNight

Night at the pub

Images for Sale

First, a bit of housekeeping:  I’ve finally connected with a photo lab so folks can view their images online and place orders. Slowly but surely I’ll be uploading photo sessions from this year and a few from last fall (but not sessions prior), so if I’ve taken your photos in recent months, please take note. Access to full collections are password protected for now. If folks are okay with them being public, I’ll make them public.

Moving forward, this is how I’ll give clients access to their images. Downloads are free if you want to use a different photo lab, but for ease and convenience you can order prints and such directly from the site.


Now, onto the sale.

Many of the photos I take aren’t of people at all. I love landscapes and scenery and seeing something beautiful in the ordinary. To make good use of these images, I’ve decided to make them available to everyone for personal use.

Crevasse

Now available for download is a small collection of images from various trips over the last few years to the Pacific Northwest, Santa Fe, Chicago, Charleston, Washington DC, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Prayers of the People

It’s a diverse collection of photos that would be lovely for canvas prints, desktop wallpapers, or some other use that you find appropriate. Someone you love may enjoy one as a gift.

Spring

Though I often find it difficult to put a price on anything I create, I am determined to embrace some level of worth here and not be that person who gives everything away.

Weight of Water

Therefore each image is $15, payable through PayPal.

Garden Fount

I will continue to upload additional photos over time, so check back often to see what’s been added. If there’s something specific you are looking for, let me know.

Library of Congress

For now, follow this link (JennieCreates at Pixieset) to view the full collection. By offering the images as a download, you can use the photo lab of your own choice. If you encounter issue with the site, please let me know immediately.

Thank you for indulging me, readers, and to those who’ve encouraged me in this creative realm, a thousand thanks go your way.

Henry + Catherine 2015

It’s a gift to me to photograph my friends’ children. I wasn’t there at Henry’s birth, but I’ve been around for Catherine. Fingers crossed that I’ll get to take their prom pictures.

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Sweet baby cheeks

This weekend was full of photo shoots (hurray!) and the first two were definitely the cutest. Sofia is nine months old and I’m about ready to send her photos to Baby Gap so she can earn some money off that face.

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Earlier in the day I captured this little guy’s first birthday party. Boone wasn’t sure what to make of me at first, but he eventually warmed up and got used to the lens.

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I worked in the background, slipping here and there, to make sure all the memories were documented. This allowed Boone’s parents to enjoy the party. Brilliant, if you ask me!

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Little Emma

Meet Emma, the most smiley 15 month old I’ve ever met. Bright eyes, toothy grin, and not afraid of a camera in her face. Precious!

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The Wire and Favorite Photos

I’m down to it. The wire. The end of the semester. Everything’s about to be due and I’m feeling the pressure.

In the next three weeks I must complete a synopsis of both my novel and one I’ve read this semester (they are not easy to write), a mock query letter, an essay about the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing, a fifteen-page introductory paper for the novel, a mock dust jacket for the novel, and – oh yeah – the novel. Even though the rough draft is finished, it’s not tidy. It’s fraught with misspellings and needs a good going-over.  The errors have mostly to do with fast typing. It’s maddening.

I’ve been a lucky little photographer lately and have enjoyed a smattering of photo sessions with wonderful people. That blessing will continue over the next few weeks and, honestly, I’m grateful because it allows me to be creative in a way that has nothing to do with graduate school. Here are a few of my recent favorites:  Continue reading “The Wire and Favorite Photos”

Insert panic here

Suddenly we’re at the end of October. As I type, my bacon and goat cheese grits aren’t sitting well as my stomach is turning inside itself with worry. I have six weeks left in the semester, which means I have six weeks to finish the novel, edit it, design the front and back matter, write a synopsis, and complete a fifteen-page companion paper to introduce the project, explain my process, and cite sources of influence.

I also have to complete four big assignments for Genre Writing, homeschool the kids, do a few photos shoots, and say hi to Chuck every once in a while.

There’s a temptation to pull back and say no to certain things, but that’s really hard to do when you love everything you’re doing. I mean, when I’m taking photos like this, I don’t want to say no:

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(By the way, if any of you know to whom this sweet baby belongs, DO NOT talk about this photo to the baby’s grandmother, unless you want to spoil her Christmas present surprise.) Continue reading “Insert panic here”

Writing Designing Reading Photographing

When I haven’t been talking to Jeremy about abortion, Monica Lewinsky, or what it means to give the middle finger, I’ve super busy with lots of creative and exciting projects. First and foremost is the novel. I just hit 121,000 words, which is still painfully long, but I refuse to cut anything until I’m done getting all of my words out. My goal is to finish by mid-November so I can print everything out and edit over Thanksgiving. It’s a reasonable goal as long as I keep this momentum. The end is close, so I have no more excuses to give. Also, I’ve convinced a few folks to be pseudo-editors on my behalf, though I’m happy to have a few more, if any of you are interested. I cannot open that circle too wide, though. Too much input is… too much.

I’m also working on a few design projects, so InDesign and Photoshop are opened daily. They love the attention.

Reading-wise, I’m about to finish a fantasy novel that is both boring and ridiculous. I appreciate a sensible effort to create a world of possibility in another realm, but if none of the proper names of people and places are easily enunciated, I’m entirely turned off. My eyes glaze over and I want to surrender. Unfortunately, I can’t stop reading it since it’s part of my Genre Writing class. When I’m not reading about goblins and elves, I’m reading a unique story called Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician by Daniel Wallace, who also wrote Big Fish. (Remember the 2003 movie with Ewan McGregor? Yeah, same writer.) I’m nearly finished, so I’ll post a review soon. It’s one of the books I picked up at The Lantern in Georgetown.

Finally, there’s some photography going on around here, which TOTALLY ROCKS MY SOCKS OFF. What a fun hobby, you guys! I just love taking pictures of happy people and giving them something to keep forever. My last session was with a family we know from church. There were laughs all around. Continue reading “Writing Designing Reading Photographing”

Stepping out with my lens

Some of you have been expecting this, but for those of you who haven’t, I wanted to make it public that I’m now accepting photography work. This isn’t a career change but rather a way to make a little extra money doing something I love and have been doing for a while anyway. This is also my way of satisfying Chuck’s reoccurring question: When are you going to get paid for this? 

Families, kids, expectant mothers, sweethearts, friends, and the like – I want to capture your happy faces and lock them in time. The fee is affordable and the work is worthwhile. Those who’ve already worked with me know I’m willing to try almost anything. (I take pregnant women into the woods, you know.)

I’ve created a page to show my work and explain the fees. My schedule is flexible. Jeremy is a great reflector holder. Salem oversees all edits. I’m very professional.

Spread the word! Or shoot me an email if you want to set a date.

Thanks! xoxo

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Springtime Photo Shoot

Yay spring! I’ve been waiting for things to bloom. (Haven’t we all?) And yesterday I had the prettiest little model.

Meet Reese:

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Then she turned into Rapunzel:

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Maternity shoot in the woods

Meet Jenni, my hair colorist. She is the charming young woman who keeps the gray away and happens to be in the third trimester of her first pregnancy. She is already beautiful, so this shoot was a snap. As soon as her daughter makes her arrival, I’ll invite myself over to their house.

To sharpen my photography skills,  I’m always approaching people to be my guinea pigs. It’s a little odd to say, “Hey, can I take pictures of you?” but so far everyone has been a good sport. I learn new techniques every time. I appreciate that so many have been willing to indulge me.

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So, who’s next? Shoot me an email if you’re interested.  (P.S. You don’t have to be pregnant, just willing.)

Burst of creativity

This week has been earmarked by creative expression. I’ve written my first few papers for graduate school, painted rocks for our garden, and convinced Chuck’s cousin and her fiance to let me use them as guinea pigs for a photo shoot. Everyone needs Save the Date photos, right? They allowed me to play with the camera last night and were such good sports about it. Thank you, Mackenzie and Chase! Y’all are going to make some seriously cute babies. And I’ll probably want to take pictures of them too.

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