Monday, May 31, 2010

Time to Reflect...The Simple Things in Life...

My goal today was to do absolutely nothing. Be lazy. Just hang around, no plans, no responsibilities, no picnics, nada. I slept in, cooked french toast and the day was before me with no "to do" list. Glorious!!! While I sit here with my daughter, watching Annie and singing along to "Tomorrow," and think back on what we've done today...cleaned up the house, made an emergency run to the mall to get Emily her "must-have" Justice sunglasses, then relaxed at the Skinny Dip with huge sundaes to beat back the heat, then cried through the end of "E.T." as Emily asked a million questions about the tiny alien on screen, I think...this has been a great day. And yes, I am in sweats, no makeup, and I love it.

On Saturday I took some time to myself to grab a good friend and head over to the Botanical Gardens. Just to meander around, enjoy the scenery and get some good practice in with my macro lens. As a photographer, I think we can all too quickly get lost in the weeds, buried in edits, catering to clients and sometimes forget the love affair we have with our cameras. I think it is vital to take time with your camera that belongs just to you. Get out and shoot! Take pictures that belong to no one, no strings, no responsibilities, no one else's opinions. Just you. And the camera. That was Saturday for me. Wandering aimlessly, overwhelmed by the colors, the unique textures of the trees, petals...the sun, the breeze, life. Just be.

There is no real point to this post except to say this: Don't forget what you love. And don't forget what got you there. Constantly return back to the simple things in life. It's the little things that keep you ticking. A Happy Memorial Day to all and a salute to all those who serve honorably defending our freedom. We will never forget.

Here are a few favorites from Saturday's "Katy time."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stephanie and one!

Stephanie and Jim were my second wedding clients ever. What I remember most about their special day was that their family was incredibly awesome. They are a sweet couple, totally mad about each other, and they like to laugh. Their family followed suit and the result was memorable and fun. They were a big part in me realizing I really, really wanted to do this. Be a photographer. Share in people's happiest memories. Get to borrow people's families just for a little bit...

I can't help but include this photo. See how fun they are?!

I couldn't have been more thrilled when I heard they were expecting their first little one together. And even more beside myself with excitement when Stephanie reached out to me to set up some baby photos. As a total rabbit trail, I just have to tell you that my "two Stephanies" as I now fondly call them, met each other! My first wedding, Stephanie and Mike, was of course followed with Stephanie's maternity shoot and those super cute pictures you all remember of tiny Lily with her rainbow tutu and big pink bow. It just so happens that both Stephanie & Mike, and Stephanie & Jim, were both expecting right around the same time. And who would have guessed they would choose the same pediatrician for their babies?! And even better, who would have guessed that they would both be sitting in the waiting room, at the same time, casually eye-balling each other from across the room because they recognized each other from my website and posts! It was a super cool moment for me to realize I had overlapped my worlds and that someone somewhere had actually uttered the words "Kathryn Blevins is your photographer, right?" Somehow, that just made me feel like the real deal. Like Peter Pan's "I'm a real boy!" I wanted to yell "I'm a real photographer!" after hearing them both tell the story.

I digress...

I can't say it enough, but having repeat clients that allow me the distinct honor of capturing the different milestones of their life paths is humbling and beautiful. Spending time with Stephanie and Jim again was so much fun. Their "plus one," who I have dubbed "Little Man Jack" because every time I sort through their photos I see this little man from a farm out in TX in his little face, was such a sweetheart and had the most flawless baby smooth skin and stunning eyes I have seen. Everything about him tickled me with ideas and just joy in his new life. But even better was seeing the blazing pride of a father and mother. Jim and Stephanie adore Jack in such a vibrant way. It was amazing to see how they have grown as a couple and now as parents of a newborn. was even better to realize that Jim and I share a love for Paul's Pasta on Thames Street in Groton, CT. Small world!

Introducing little man Jack!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Any photographer will tell you that portrait sessions can be a challenge. Especially for first time clients. No one is really prepared to have a camera snapping away, feeling shy, self-conscious, unprepared, and all kinds of awkward. Sometimes photos feel rigid, rehearsed, unnatural. As photographers, how do we help break the ice? Laughter.

Laughter truly is the best medicine. Even as a photographer, a good laugh at the start of a session helps me loosen up, revives my passion and gets the creative juices flowing. I am finding that my favorite pictures are the ones captured in between poses. Those brief moments when they forget I'm there and do their own thing for a few minutes, sparking a laugh or knowing smile at an inside joke or special love. Sometimes, I even make up reasons to dabble with my camera, adjust settings etc. to give them a few breaths to relax, enjoy each other and think I'm not looking so they can be "themselves" for a moment. Then SNAP! Real life, real love, frozen in time. Those are the photos I love the best. The ones I didn't TRY to get. The ones that found me.

Chrissie, Robert and little Kylie were true examples of a family that loves laughter. I could tell in just a few minutes with them that they were going to be a lot of fun (Especially Kylie! LOVE HER!). When you let life do it's thing and give people time to be themselves, laugh a little, and then allow yourself to fade into the background and become a silent observer, it's there that you find why you do this. Why you're a photographer. I love what I do!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The littlest faces of hunger...

This photo makes me cry. Just about every time I look at it. I think it is his eyes. Or the gash above his eye. Or maybe that he just seems solemn. And tired. And troubled.

While at a recent Operation Blessing event in Kansas City, where we distributed over 6,000 bags of free groceries to community families in need alongside players from the Royals and the Chiefs, I was honored to meet this little man. I never got his name, mainly because I was somewhat speechless in his striking eyes. They did all the talking for the both of us as I quietly snapped his picture.

To know that children like this go hungry every day, as their families struggle to make ends meet, breaks my heart. To know their childhoods aren't all butterflies, summer sun and sugar, slays me. These children know a greater depth of life than many adults. They are mature far beyond their years.

I have a unique opportunity to work for Operation Blessing in dual roles. I am proud to be a part of making sure little tummies are filled, and honored to have the opportunity to look through the lens and capture real life and raw emotion. It is a singularly unique role and has provided me clarity, purpose and a deep love for life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kansas City: Two Teams, One Goal

I just had to share a quick sneak peak of what I am heading into this weekend in Kansas City. We are celebrating our 9th year of serving those in need in partnership with the Royals and the Chiefs, and this will personally be my second year covering the event. In one day, volunteers, team players, and Operation Blessing staff will come together to break down, bag and distribute over 6,000 bags of free groceries to community families in need.

Below are two very special pictures I captured last year. These two just broke my heart. To see a brother and a sister, so little, walk in such unity and support, lugging their bag of food for their grandmother...Words can't describe. The beauty of seeing a family in tandem during a tough time and the pain of knowing they were struggling to make ends meet.

I am blessed to do the work that I do. Blessed to be a part of changing people's lives for the better. Restoring hope. Lending a helping hand. And even further blessed to have the opportunity to capture the spirit of the day in my photos. The humility of having to ask for help. The encouragement of knowing they can make it through. And the sad reality of what it means to not be able to put food on the table.

I look forward to sharing pictures from this weekend's very special event and ask for your prayers, for safe travel and a smooth event, but most importantly, for those we will help. Pray for these little ones...that better times are coming for them.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Rose Red

So lately I have had this urge to really play with focus and color. I just feel like I am painting when I take a photo. Broad strokes of a heavy brush, laden with bright paint. Today, on the way into the house, lugging mail, purse and all sorts of school gear, along with my 9 year old dragging her own mountain of life-sustaining routine gear, I happened upon a rose growing on a bush alongside my house. This bush continues to produce the most stunning roses, with no help from me I might add. We have no idea what to do with the thing! And yet it grows, and yet it showcases God's stunning masterful hand and His delicate care for every aspect of our planet, that He would create something so perfect and so serene...and it's just a plant! Imagine how much care He took with us.

Drawn to its beauty, I hurried inside, ceremoniously dumped all my junk on the table and raced outside with my camera. Technically, many photographers would think these images are a total wash. Failures. They are noisy, out of focus, and kind of all over the place. Definitely not headed to the next cover of your favorite gardening magazine. But I love them. They make me feel pretty. They make me smile. They make me feel like I painted a masterpiece. If only to borrow from the true Master's hand for just a moment, to capture His handiwork in streaks of red and green.

I hope you like them! What do you think? Failure or not??

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Circle of Life

There is nothing more special for a photographer than developing a relationship with a client that results in repeat business. Entirely apart from the importance of building a client base committed to you personally as their photographer, it goes much deeper to knowing that you are walking with your clients through their lives. Developing a special connection with them, watching them grow, watching them change...To photograph different life milestones as an intimate insider is a profound opportunity I am learning to cherish deeply.

My very first wedding was for a young couple named Mike & Stephanie. To say we were both nervous on their big day doesn't even begin to cover it. It was there that we first struck up a business relationship, but even more importantly, a friendship. I was honored to capture the love of this special couple and indebted to them for giving me the chance to prove that I could do this.

You can imagine my delight when they asked me to do maternity photos as they were expecting their first little one! This was also a first for me, and learning to highlight the beauty of pregnancy with grace, creativity and just the right balance of modesty was a challenge and a joy. Seeing the two of them together, the love they shared and the beautiful roundness of Stephanie's belly and the life growing there was moving for me in a way I can't properly put into words.

And then little Lily arrived. I have about a million pictures I could share of the newborn session with Lily. It was a comical dance of two new parents and one clumsy photographer working silently to position a tentatively sleeping baby in just the right way to catch the light and highlight her tiny features without waking her. Seeing the life created before me, and remembering the first time I met Stephanie and Michael was a shining moment for me. As we laughed together and oohed over tiny toes and one giant tutu, I found we had become friends. And I realized that I was sharing in their life. And I understood why I do this.

In just a few weeks, I will have the opportunity to meet little Jack, the newly born son of my second wedding clients, Stephanie and Jim. I can't wait to congratulate them and meet this little man and remember what it was like to see the two of them get married and share in their joy and anticipation at the life before them. I am truly blessed to do this. Humbled to see life right before me in its brilliant vibrancy. Life doesn't get any better than this!
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