November 24, 2014

It's that time of year again...

You guys, it's that time of year again! Every year my favorite people over at Photography Concentrate have a KILLER Black Friday sale (which has already begun!) on their amazing photography tutorials, and as per usual, I have to tell you all about it.

While I AM a member of their affiliate program, helping to promote these amazing learning tools is the most natural thing in the world to me - a perfect partnership because I TRULY believe in these products and have used them and benefitted from them myself, long before I was an affiliate. Going through the tutorials was the single best thing I ever did to jumpstart my photography, in particular the Extremely Essential Camera Skills tutorial (which effectively teaches you to shoot in manual mode and understand the ins and outs of your camera) and the Super Photo Editing Skills tutorial (which teaches Lightroom and which I'd have been LOST without).

I remember I paid $99 for a four hour Photography course here in Austin a few years ago, and I left feeling almost as confused as when I came. Then shortly thereafter, a photographer friend of mine that I admired recommended Extremely Essential Camera Skills, and  I went home that same day and looked it up. Besides her recommendation, the tutorial really kind of sold itself. I purchased, went through it in a few hours one afternoon, and it was like a lightbulb went on. I switched to Manual mode and never looked back, and so began my long and illustrious career.... I kid, I kid. ;) But really, it's incredible what these tutorials can achieve for you in one afternoon or evening. You could literally spend hundreds or thousands on classes and still not "get it" as quickly and efficiently as with the Photography Concentrate tutorials. I really believe Rob & Lauren (the husband and wife team behind P.C.), are natural-born teachers and designers, which makes their tools as useful and truly priceless as they are!

Anyway, enough of MY rambling. If you'd like to check it out, HERE is the main page with all the fun info about the sale, awesome giveaway going on, and links to all the various tutorials. Below I'll leave links to my four favorite tutorials, as well. Their already super-affordable prices are now DIRT CHEAP, and won't be priced this way again until next Black Friday week, so get on it! ;)

PS - I forgot to mention, the Really Easy Retouching tutorial is literally worth its weight in GOLD. I went through it just this last year, and learned for the first time how to do "compositions" or head swaps in Photoshop - I can't believe how many amazing photos I've been able to salvage since then that I otherwise would have lost (one family member looking away or blinking, etc), and I can't believe I lasted so long WITHOUT knowing how to do it!

Here's all my favorites...

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November 19, 2014

Way too many pictures of me and my dogs

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Last month my sweet, sweet Gracie and Cooper turned nine whole years old, and we had a veritable little party for them, complete with a doggie cake, party hats, presents, and lots of pictures. I had been thinking a couple months ago about how incredibly special it would be to me to have professional photos that capture the bond I have with these dogs… they aren't getting younger, and all that. To some it may seem silly, but allow me to try and explain.

Gracie and Cooper have been in my life for nearly a decade now. I watched them, along with their full litter of nine pups, BE BORN, and named them, and took care of my little Gracie when she was sick and almost died of Parvovirus. The full story of these two is right over here, if you ever have a spare minute or two to read it. Long story short, it's practically a miracle how these babies are even together and in my life, and over the years, they have been with me through 5 homes, two boyfriends (one that became a husband), college, a career change, life changes, deaths in the family - you name it, we've been through it together.

I wasn't always as close to my dogs as I am now. I don't remember feeling the same way about them when they were younger as I do today. They used to be kind of terrible - destructive, badly behaved, and just not as bonded to me as they are now. Time and age does that to you, or at least you hope it will (soften your edges, calm you down some, strengthen your bonds with the people you love).  But today, and I don't think it's my imagination, but today we are as close as humans and animals can be. In tune with each other, and able to communicate actual love and companionship. These dogs, and interestingly, Cooper in particular (the black and white one), have the purest, most selfless souls. I really think he is the closest thing to an angel I've ever felt in my life. Maybe someone, somewhere, knew how much I would need his sweet little spirit.

Anyway, I could never really express how much I love my babies. I can't imagine my life without them one day… it's something that I shed tears over on a fairly regular basis. (As I wrote in another post, it's the cruelest joke of all that man's best friend doesn't live nearly as long as man.)  But these photos. These photos! They will live forever. I asked my dear friend Shalyn of Love, The Nelsons (amazing wedding photographer, y'all!!) if she would be so kind as to capture some sweet images for me, and she blew me away with a beautiful gallery that truly bottled up the love I feel for these little ones. I will cherish these forever.

Here's just a few of my favorites (OK, more than just a few)… thanks for stopping by. :)

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September 18, 2014

Get Away to The Prairie

A few weeks ago Matthew and I got the incredible news that he had been offered a great job as an attorney here in Austin, and those of you following for a while now may appreciate the long and winding road that took us here… it feels SO good to finally reach this elusive "place" we've been waiting to be. PHEW. Maybe now life will take on some semblance of normal.

Before he officially started the job, we took off on a little getaway to Round Top and The Prairie by Rachel Ashwell, which is a piece of heaven on Earth, if you ask me. It was really generous of Matthew to take me here, seeing as how it's not exactly the most masculine place ever. ;) I just have to share a few photos of this gorgeous spot… if you ever have the opportunity to stay here, DO IT! So dreamy. I can't wait to go again.

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August 22, 2014

The Hundred Event

Welp, I like to arrive fashionably late to most parties (don't want to seem over-eager, you know), but my timing here is bordering on ridiculous, so.... I figured I better talk about the Hundred Event before it's a good HUNDRED days later!

Photo above by Awake Photography

Two weeks ago, my friend Brittany (of Birch & Brass Vintage Rentals here in Austin) and I packed our little bags and headed up to the Dallas Warwick Melrose for a weekend at The Hundred Event. She supplied the vintage china, glassware, and manned the floral arrangements all for the Sunday Brunch, and I offered up my humble knowledge of photography for two 101 classes on Saturday, as well as helped photograph the Sunday Brunch and headshots alongside Shalyn.

The weekend was a whirlwind and I hardly know how to tackle my thoughts on it all. I am introverted and extroverted in equal measure, in that I love being around people while in the moment, but I find it all very draining and need plenty of alone time to recharge afterwards.  The weekend consisted of meeting some of my long-time favorite bloggers and friends (looking at you, Bridget, Megan, and Dayna!), meeting lots of fabulous new-to-me faces,  public speaking and the natural anxiety that begets, and plenty of general socialization and high-strungness that are always a bi-product of these types of conferences. Like last year at Texas Style Council, I found myself outrageously bad-tempered for a good three days after I got home - the low that often comes immediately after the high.

But one thing I can certainly say I took away from this weekend (besides a super shitty mood) was a reminder of why I'm still so fond of this platform we call Blogging, and how GOOD it has been to me in my life. While I've become all-consumed by my photography business lately, my first love is still writing and social media, and the Hundred Event weekend was a needed reminder of that.

At this point, rather than re-cap everything in great detail, I think I'll just leave a few photos from the weekend and link you all to some of the truly incredible brands that sponsored the event. Seriously, I'm so impressed by these guys! And to Grace, Lauren, Megan, and Bridget - thanks for putting together such a fun weekend for all of us to enjoy. You did a fabulous job, especially considering that this was your first time putting on a conference, and I know all of us are hoping it will be a yearly thing! :)

^^Brunch at the beautiful Aldredge House^^

^^cakes by Cake Walk^^

^^Vintage Rentals by Birch & Brass^^

photo above by Shalyn

Brands to browse: Joules // Minnetonka // Love Ophelia (softest and best robes ever!!) // Twine Interiors // Lily Jade // Bungalow Magazine // Peacock Alley // 
and awesome donations from:

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