Day 126 – Too cool

Apparently Stevie taught Henry how to look cool in photos. So this is now the thing every time I try to take a picture…

Day 43 – Throwback

I think this is always going to be one of my favorite photos.

This was such a fun day. Cadence was about 3, and we’d spent a day out in the yard at the old house raking about a billion leaves. When Stevie busted out the leaf blower, Cadence thought it was too much fun to run away from his as he blew stray leaves into our piles. I grabbed my camera and caught gold.

I bought a large canvas for Stevie for his birthday, and it has been in his office ever since. After his office was rearranged (and the only photo-hanging wall was made into a giant whiteboard), he finally decided to bring the canvas home. For the last week or so, he has been cleaning and rearranging in the basement, and he told me he was going to hang this downstairs, to which I replied that he most certainly was not, and I promptly swiped the canvas and took it to my office.

Time to do a little decorating!

Elf on the Shelf 2015 – Day 9

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate getting my picture taken. Hate, loathe, despise, abhor…there really isn’t even a word strong enough to describe it. I’ve always been more comfortable behind the camera, standing in the shadows, observing first in lieu of diving right in and throwing myself in the center of the spotlight.

Throughout my childhood I had a tendency to just run from the camera, or throw a hand up in front of my face whenever someone pointed one my way. When Mom and Dad would force us into one of the customary family photo ops (standing in front of the Christmas tree, posing with Grandma in our Easter dresses), I would usually resort to making a goofy face or plastering one of those just-take-the-damn-picture-I’m-smiling-as-hard-as-I-can-right-now-and-my-face-is-starting-to-hurt smiles on my face until the flash blinded us and I could run off and play again.

By the time I hit adolescence and young adulthood, my disdain for being photographed stemmed more from my eating disorder and my self-loathing. I hid from the camera (and behind it) because I wanted nothing more than to be able to observe life without really being forced to participate in it. It took a whole lot of time (and therapy) to finally begin to see that there was something worth photographing, something worth preserving. And while I’m still not especially comfortable in front of the camera, I try to make a conscious effort these days to put myself in front of it every now and then, especially now that I’m capturing myself and memories for Cadence and Henry too.

So maybe you’re the type of person who thinks selfies are stupid, or that anyone who takes a selfie and shares it must be some sort of egomaniac, but for some of us, the selfie can be the most unobtrusive and painless ways to break another little piece out of our protective shells and get ourselves in front of the camera. Cadence and Stevie and I, we’ve become self-proclaimed selfie masters, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Henry is too.

Seems even the elves have been practicing. With a little help from my trusty GCBAA selfie stick, Cosette and Henry took a truly epic sELFie.

Get it, s-ELFie.

Sorry, I couldn’t help it. Enjoy!

Oh, and the best part of the sELFie? Pedro the parrot totally photobombed. Best selfie ever.

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Picture Day – No Cheese

Okay, so I won’t pretend like I love being in front of the camera. Everyone knows my place is behind it. I’m comfortable there. I like to take photos for the same reason that I write. I love sharing the world the way I see it. It’s my way of letting people in.

My husband, on the other hand, well…any of you that actually know him know that he is a ham. Put him in front of a camera and you’ll get a radiant beam, a crazy pose, a Gene Simmons impersonation. There’s no shortage of silliness when Stevie Romano is around.

Like so many other things with our child, Cadence’s camera antics are some strange combination of the two of us. She likes to play coy, to act annoyed. She likes to turn and run away or turn me down when I tell her that I want to take a picture. It always starts with a bit of a struggle and stoicism.

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She holds out as long as she can, but eventually a hint of a smile starts to sneak through. If I act fast, I can catch that fleeting moment, that sweet soft smile, before the full force of our daughter’s exuberant personality is unleashed.

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I love this girl, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. We’ll keep it cheese free around here for as long as we can, when it comes to smiles anyway.

Thank God for digital cameras.

Project Life 365 – Day 1 – Resolution

Well, it happened, the new year is upon us. ┬áLuckily, the Mayans were mistaken and it looks like we’ve got some more time to spend here on this beautiful planet of ours.

I’ve been sitting here thinking about 2012. Whew! What a ride! Amazing highs, gut-wrenching lows, and so many unexpected twists and turns in between. But, I guess that’s life. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the Universe throws a wrench in your plans, derails you from the direction you’d been going, and sends you rolling down a completely different path.

Sometimes, in the midst of all the chaos, you lose sight of the bigger picture.

Now, I’m not a big one for New Years Resolutions. The way I see it, those are made to be broken. We get all excited in our champagne-fueled, end-of-the-year delirium and we come up with a list of seriously unrealistic expectations for ourselves that we have no way of living up to. Lose 50 pounds. Quit smoking or drinking. Get organized. How’s that for vague? If we can’t even specify what we want to organize, how can we really expect to begin? It’s no wonder that most people don’t even bother making resolutions, and only a handful of seriously determined individuals actually end up seeing them through.

So, instead of a “Resolution”, I’m going to challenge myself instead. I’m not the sort of girl who has ever been able to back down from a challenge. I come from very stubborn stock. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. It might take me awhile, and I might even take some detours along the way, but I always get where I’m going, one way or another.

So, this year…

I’m challenging myself to write more–whether it’s paid articles, handwritten letters, one of those unfinished novels cluttering up my desk drawers, or here on my blog as part of this Project Life 365 Photo Challenge.

I’m challenging myself to read more because, well, let’s face it, I used to read at least 2-3 books a week and I miss it.

I’m challenging myself to shoot more for myself–hence, this Project Life 365. I truly believe that the art of photography, the real beauty in photography, is finding a way to translate your own unique perspective of the world, your own unique vision, into your work. These days, there are far too many photographers out there who are stuck in a rut, trying to recreate someone else’s vision, and the images just end up feeling flat and lifeless. I’ve said from the very beginning that my writing and my photography are not two separate things. I couldn’t isolate them if I tried. My writing should paint a very vivid image in the minds of my readers and my photography should tell a story. If they don’t, I’m doing something wrong. My photography style, much like my overall sense of style (ahem, my signature flowered boots), is mine and mine alone, and it’s time to own it.

I’m challenging myself to find greater balance in my life. I think I’ve done relatively well with this. Hell, I’ve had people tell me I’m the calmest, most serene person they’ve ever met. If only they’d met me about 12 years ago! Truth is, it’s hard to find your own personal balance in this crazy, topsy turvy world, and it’s even harder to maintain it. And yet, finding that balance is absolutely vital to be able to reach your full potential. This past year, I sold myself short, allowed myself to be pulled in too many different directions, and allowed some of my relationships and my time with my family to suffer because of it. So, in 2013, I am making it a priority to put myself and the people most important to me first, and not to worry as much about the things that can wait.

I am also challenging myself to get healthier. I’m not talking about an unrealistic goal on the scale or an unsustainable deprivation diet. I’ve been there, done that, have a medical record to prove it, and I’m never, ever doing it again. What I’m talking about here is just getting back to the basics, getting my ass up to exercise (even just a little) everyday, and being more mindful of the choices I’m making in my diet because, let’s face it, eating frosted sugar cookies for breakfast on any other day but Christmas is just ridiculous.

And so, I begin 2013, not grateful that 2012 is over, but grateful instead for the many blessings. The hard times, the frustrations, the pain, the joys, the laughter, the victories–they are all part of the ride. It’s true that 2012 was a particularly rough one, but I am thankful for wonderful family that I get to be a part of, and for all the amazing people I get to call my friends.

I’m wishing you all a very happy New Year filled with blessings! Hold on, and appreciate the ride.

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Christmas gifts from my hubby to help me start my year off right. A new pair of flowered boots to replace the ones I’ve been wearing since college, and two new books to add to my reading list.

Elf on the Shelf – Day 4

I’ve written at length before about how much I hate having my picture taken. Truthfully, I don’t even think that “hate” is a strong enough word. I mean, I know everyone goes through an awkward stage, but come on! Between my television screen-sized glasses and a couple of bad perms gone wrong, my awkward stage lasted far too long and resulted in far too many photos like these haunting my childhood…

lori school photo 1987

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lori in ne sweats xmas 1990

I guess I can always blame the 80’s, right?

Even so, I was always more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. I remember having a cheap plastic 35mm film camera by the time I was 10 years old. Mom and Dad were good about buying me film and letting me snap away when we went on vacations or visited family for the holidays. In high school, I finally got my hands on my first SLR camera in the Photography class I took with my Newspaper teacher Mr. Buck. The old Pentax K-1000 just felt right in my hands, and I fell in love with it, and with the magic of seeing my vision come alive in a bath of chemicals in the Holdrege High School dark room.

My Uncle Harry and Aunt Jean were always two of my biggest supporters, cheering me on and hanging my framed photographs of old barns and windmills in their home. They even gave me one of the greatest gifts ever one Christmas, when they sent me my very own K-1000 that they’d found in a pawn shop in Dallas.

I can’t even tell you how many photos I’ve taken since. If I had to wager a guess, I’d say I’m probably closing in on a million. Maybe more. Thank goodness I made the switch to digital photography. Otherwise, I’d likely be living penniless on the streets from the cost of developing all that film.

Yet, whether I’m shooting film or digital, and seeing my images come to life in an old-fashioned chemical darkroom or a digital darkroom like Photoshop, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as seeing that little piece of life I captured and knowing that it has been preserved, timeless, forever.

For the longest time, I feared that Cadence would likely suffer from what so many photographers refer to as Photographer’s Kid Syndrome–a debilitating disorder that makes kids highly allergic to having their pictures taken and causes them to turn and flee whenever they see a camera. to make matters worse, Cadence also had a 50/50 chance of either being a photophobe like her Momma or a total ham like her Daddy.

Thank God her Daddy’s photo genes prevailed.

It’s much more fun to snap photos of a willing (and patient) subject than to have to chase her around and pray that I get one shot out of a couple dozen. And it’s even more fun now that she’s starting to get interested in taking pictures herself. The little digital camera her Granny, Pawpoo, Aunt Whitney and Uncle Collin bought her last year for Christmas has certainly gotten a lot of good use already. And I guess Cosette wanted to get in on the action because last night after sending Cadence off to bed and giving another good day’s report to Santa, Cosette gathered up some of Cadence’s stuffed animal friends for a little photo shoot of her own…

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She took some portraits of Brian…

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A few pet portraits with one of the Pound Puppies…

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She set up an engagement session with Rango and the Sock Monkey…

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Took some portraits of Marvin the Martian…

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And helped Animal update his photos to advertise his band…

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And then a few group shots of everyone before wrapping up the session for the night…

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This morning, Cadence came down for breakfast, and was surprised to see what everyone was up to…

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And of course, she wanted a little time behind the camera, so she asked Cosette if she could have a turn…

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Yeah, that’s my girl! ­čÖé

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And I have to say, after taking a look through the photos from Cadence and Cosette’s sessions, these girls definitely have the “eye” for photography!

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