Things I Learned at PhotoCampHouston

So Photocamp this weekend was awesome. So many really great photographers, most of them NOT child and family portrait photogs like me. Sure there were a fair amount of wedding photogs there but there were a lot of fashion photogs, sports, concerts, architechture or just anything! The camp counselors were really great and I'm so impressed with how they put this together, all for FREE. It was pretty relaxed and anybody could give a presentation if they wanted.

I first went to a really BAD one about business strategy from some baby "life coach" in training. She was awful. It wasn't until the photogs in the audience started giving EACH OTHER advice that it really got good.

Then I went to one all about legal issues, namely copyrighting your work and how copyright laws work. Very important and something I need to consider more carefully.

Then I went to two back-to-back presentations on shooting in RAW and RAW processing using Aperature or Lightroom. Those were GREAT. I will now always shoot in RAW and I have already started using Lightroom...it seriously ROCKS. The two guys giving those presentations were excellent photogs and presenters.

Then there was one on portrait lighting, which was also great, and convinced me of a couple tools I need to buy. AND the big thing I learned: light the backdrop!

Oh, I also got a mini-lesson from some guys in the Houston Strobist club on DIY equipment and off-camera flash. Definitely going to try it now. I was intimidated when reading about it on Strobist.com but I learn things so much better in person. I didn't catch the name of the main guy who was teaching me and I can't find his Flickr thread so I'm trying to hunt him down to thank him. James Crossman was also very cool and helpful.

I had lunch with three very nice people, especially Tina, a single mom with two jobs who is trying to start her portrait photo business on the side of all that. She was so cool.

I went to one very boring presentation on exposure, and then sat through an informal presentation of a few folks showing their work. This guy Michael Schulz introduced us to Parkour, also known as free running, with some INCREDIBLE action shots. He uses big lights though.

It was all very inspring and encouraged me to take my work up a notch. Oh and did I mention, these people are serious social media junkies. Most of the folks there already knew each other through Twitter, with Flickr being kind of a side favorite medium. I guess it helps that I'm a social media junkie too.


Another Monday

Big Brother
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom
Not a whole lot to report as news today. I have a yucky spastic muscle in my lower back, thanks to carrying my 30 lb toddler around. So I decided to start letting him climb up and down the stairs by himself. So far so good, but my back still hurts.

The grandparents stopped over for a bit yesterday to watch the Eagles LOSE with us. Boo. Well, at least Penn State should be pretty good again next year...there's always that.

I did a maternity photo session (as you can see) for a new friend. Came out ok, but I'm more excited about doing the newborn session. I tried to start my new photography website but I just suck at even the simplest web editing. I guess I could pay somebody to do it for me.

Church was pretty good, we attended our first service in the new building, the "Lifecenter" they call it. It was LOUD. Good music but LOUD. And the sermon series is on "How to Recession-proof your life" and they played Pink Floyd's Money for the video intro...Mike thought it was funny to hear PF in church.

Anyway I can't help but feel a little wierd that I'm not at all affected by or worried about this recession when everyone around me is pretty freaked out. I did look at our retirement accounts which of course took huge hits, but it doesn't bother me in the least because we won't need that money for a very LONG time. Our jobs, while never a sure thing, are about as secure as anyone's could be, and we would be fine for a long time even if one of us did lose our job. So it is a weird, but good, feeling. I guess part of it is our laid-back, not normally prone to anxiety personalities, but part of it also comes from our faith. Yes, we are financially sound at the moment, but I feel like part of the reason for that is that we don't place much value on "stuff" or "money". I think the Lord is blessing our attitudes of finding our security in Him alone. I know that even if we lost everything, we'd be ok. I try very hard to keep in mind that everything, even my husband and children, are not mine but on loan to me from the Lord. I have to be prepared to give everything up at any time, and I have to be a good steward of what I am entrusted with. It makes me want to be more generous with my time, money and talents.

So anyway...whoa deep thoughts for a Monday!


New Year New Stuff

Almost Full Moon
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom
So what's new around here? Not that much. Alex is sick again, with a wicked cough and runny nose. I suspect he may stay home from school tomorrow. Work right now consists of reading and scoring about a hundred 3-6 page technical abstracts from people wanting to present their work at our annual wastewater conference in October. It is tedious work, with the occasional really interesting one thrown in. I volunteered to do this four or five years ago and it has paid enormous dividends in both my networking and my knowledge base, but I think this is my last year and I'm glad.

The upside is that I get to go to Orlando later this month to meet with the committee and arrange the schedule for the best presentations. It's 2.5 days of meetings and three nights of fun socializing with friends. I also have the job of selecting a venue for the annual young professionals party, which is a pretty fun job involving visiting a lot of bars and restaurants. I now have a few friends who regularly assist me in that task. We also plan an annual service project, which apparently this year will involve wearing waders and getting muddy, cleaning up some wetlands. Unfortunately because I was selected to the governing body for the Water Environment Federation, I don't really get to participate in the service project because it conflicts with a big meeting.

This year it also conflicts with my best friend from college's wedding. ACK! I am so excited about the fact that she is marrying an awesome guy that I really want to go. So we will see about that.

In the meantime I'm also getting ready to build a new blog as a professional site for my photography. I'm not really looking to make a lot of money, I'm mostly interested in expanding my shooting opportunties and making families happy. I just want to advance my skills while affordably giving people a better product than a cheapie local Sears photo studio would.

As part of that endeavor, I'm planning to attend something called PhotoCampHouston, which happens to be free. I like free stuff. It appears to be a gathering of local photographers who will have discussions and presentations on various aspects of photography. I haven't quite figured out what the schedule or format will be, which make the strong J in me quite uncomfortable. (I'm a Myers-Biggs ENFJ if you know what that means.) So I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and hoping it pays off. I'm not generally shy, but I feel like an outsider when it comes to that group.



Brother Hugs
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom
I guess I'd better post something here before my sister gets bored again.

Low key weekend. Saturday we all went to Best Buy so MIke could get a new cell phone. His company's cell phone policies are stupid so we decided he needed his own personal one. I would hate to carry two phones, but if the company one sucked and never worked well I guess I'd have to. So then we had a successful dinner out at Outback. Miracle, I tell ya. And we stopped at Sam's Club on the way home. We live such an exciting life.

We skipped church on Sunday because Alex has a very runny nose and a cough. I made a big trip to the grocery store and met a fellow Penn State in the checkout line. And then we had my grandparents over for dinner and I tried a new recipe, pecan crusted chicken tenders with a sweet mustard glaze. Yum. Took longer to do than the book claimed, but that's always the case with me.


Alex and the Butterfly

Alex and the Butterfly
Originally uploaded by Mainline Mom
Alex has a binky habit. It used to be he only used the binky in his crib. But then once in awhile I would pick him up at daycare and find it in his mouth after a fussy afternoon. So when he got sick, I let him wander around the house with it. Now he would prefer to have it all the time. And he can talk enough to make his desire for it clear...to me at least. Now when he sleeps, he will have one in his mouth and one in each hand. It's cute, but sometimes he wanders around the house carrying three at once. And then they get lost. I am tryinig to gradually cut back on non-bed binky use. But sometimes when we are out in public, it is the best solution to a vocal toddler.

I love that Alex talks now. Most of it is just baby gibberish, but there are a few words he gets. He has exactly the same facination with and pronounciation of "balloon" as Nathan did at his age...which is funny. Also if you say "Ready, Set...." he says "Go!!!" Actually having him clearly be able to understand me and follow directions is even better than him talking. He knows two signs...more and please.

The boys are very good about entertaining themselves, although it often involves wrestling or tackle-hugging which may end up in someone crying. They enjoy playing with their Geotrax trains and planes together, sometimes for as much as a half hour unsupervised until I hear screaming. Life with two boys is pretty good these days.


2008 In Review

So this was a big year for us, with a big move halfway across the country. In fact, 2008 was a great year for our family, in my opinion. It was a year that God showed up in a big way. In an extremely bad housing market we sold our house on the first showing, before it even was advertised. We found an incredible house in an incredible neighborhood, and we even had a really perfect apartment for the time period before we could move in. Our three-day drive to Texas which could have been hell was pleasant and uneventful. And Hurricane Ike which left so many of our friends and neighbors with costly damage left us untouched. It because an opportunity for us to make friends and help others, which blessed us greatly.

In 2009 we are also looking for God to do big things in our lives and the lives of those around us. We want to be a blessing to our friends and family. We want life to be about more than consumerism and success. So we are waiting anxiously to see the great things that lie ahead.
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