On my last birthday, I was feeling soooo good. I had a few surprises throughout the day and I was just in a really good place mentally and emotionally. I had recently received a promotion at work, was recognized by my peers, and feeling really confident about my work life, my home life and everything around me.

But you know how the story goes. Life is full of ups and downs.

I still have that job I love. Still happily married, with our doggins and our home, and I wouldn’t trade those for anything. But there have been some hiccups along the way.

I hate hiccups — they’re just annoying enough to drive you nuts and hard as hell to get rid of.

The first hiccup was worrying about things I can’t control. And while I know better than to dwell on things, it’s been really hard. Especially at work. I said goodbye to some amazing teammates and the vibe in the office just felt different — hasn’t really returned either — but I let that funk take over me for a while.

The second hiccup was losing some confidence. I’m not sure when it happened, but re-reading my post from last year, I don’t feel as confident as I did then. I know what I’m capable of and what I can do, but I’ve been struggling a little. Having enough self-awareness to recognize that is good though, because I know it’s a goal to work towards.

The third hiccup was becoming more and more of a Negative Nancy. Even in the last few weeks I’ve told myself, “This has got to stop!” Negativity is like an infection and if you don’t fight it, it will spread. I annoy myself with it.

The fourth hiccup was spreading myself too thin. I was recommended to be an alpha-tester in a course at work — I jumped at the chance because it was a great opportunity and I don’t pass up great opportunities. I did it all: attended all the classes, read all the materials, took all the notes and dug my heels into massive spreadsheets of data for a gigantic group project. I got to work with great people and got a green belt certification out it. But I paid for it.

The fifth hiccup was my health. Late in 2015, I started having problems with my stomach, but they improved after a few months. Then this last September (when the “great opportunity” started) my body decided to hate me. I had an upset stomach constantly, pain in my abdomen, heartburn, bloating, bathroom issues, and eventually was vomiting. It scared me, enough to go to the doctor and do some tests. And now I know I have an ulcer and a practically non-functioning gallbladder. Fun times.

I didn’t expect to revisit a “year of learning,” but I think this past year is the Universe’s way of saying, “Lady, you need to slow down, take it easy and quit being so damn hard on yourself.”

If you had asked me if I was hard on myself the last year, I would have said no. I took a lot of time for myself — I focused on my photography hobby and just threw myself into it again. But looking back… I really expected more from myself than I ever have. And for no good reason. That disappoints me. And makes me a little sad. But I’m thirty-fiving it this year.

No “time to shine” or any of that bullshit. I have a stellar list of New Year recommendations and I have plans for those. I have to get over this funk, and this freaking ulcer. Practice gratitude and journaling to keep me centered. Be around people I love, who bring me peace and energy. (And stay away from people who do not do those things.) Focus on the good I can do instead of the things I can’t control. Say NO more often — and be OK with it.

It’s time to take a break from anticipation. And take more pictures.

Week 6: Blue | 2017 Project 52

Color challenges are one of my favorites because you’re on the hunt all week for that color. Even when you’ve walked past the same spot a hundred times, you see it in a new way. The color just pops out at you.

The hunt took over my days this last week and I loved every minute of it.

The fun part of a color challenge is trying to figure out how to capture it. You can approach it head on… but can you change it up? Is there a different angle or POV that makes it more interesting? Can you frame your subject so that you can tell a story with the color? Have you considered your DOF, shutter speed or any other compositions to draw in your viewer’s eye?

I had several options to pick from this week. From the ruffles of a feisty little girl’s dress to wine bottle seals. But I ended up choosing an image from a photo walk instead.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/640 sec, 35mm, ISO 1250
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

I drive past this little corner shop almost everyday. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it open, and its seen better days itself, but I always stare at it while I wait at the red light. When I drove past it on Monday, it called to me. “Take my picture!” So the next day I had my camera and took a detour to my car as I left work. I tried a few different perspectives: one close up, one from across the street, one that was include the blue soda machine. But this one was my favorite.

That blue concrete. I wonder why they chose to paint it blue. All the lines. In the raised platform, the foot rail, the bar and the sides of the stools. There’s something about that keeps my stare. It could be all the lines, but I think there’s visual balance with the image as well. Either way, I like it… and I love finding inspiration in something I see everyday. Can’t wait for the next color challenge!

Week 7: From Where I Stand
due 02.15.17

#fromwhereIstand has become a popular hashtag for images that photograph exactly where a person is standing by looking down at their feet. It’s a simple idea, but there are ways to make it more interesting, more YOU, by considering your environment or including a “prop” that gives us a peek into your personality/day.

If you don’t want to look down, look out. Or interpret the theme another way, where do you stand emotionally, socially… explore yourself and where you stand.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

Week 5: The Sign Says | 2017 Project 52

If you had told me when I started making this list of 52 prompts that I’d trip myself up in January, I’d laugh at you. But here I am laughing at myself.

There just wasn’t any inspiration this week. I barely picked up my camera. I had to force myself out of the house early on Sunday before meeting with girlfriends to at least try to photograph some signs that I admired. (Those pictures turned out terrible. Gah.)

So on Monday, after lunch out with my pal Erin who indulges me far too often with donuts, we took a quick detour into the Starks Building. A 100 year old building nestled in what we now call Fourth Street Live that has marbled walls, wood and iron railings, deco-styling throughout and even an original mailing shoot. Needless to say it was the inspiration I was looking for.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/60 sec, 35mm, ISO 2800
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

We walked around the first floor and there were a few things that caught my eye. The metal mailbox with the shoot. The details on the first set of elevators, with the large brass panel that lights up. But when we walked down the hall, making small talk with the security guard, Erin pointed out the back set of elevators.

They were beautiful. Large wood panels with silver details inlaid, a very posh and deco “S” centered on each door… and the most perfect sign that read “this car up.” After the shutter snapped, I knew I had my photo for the week.

We snuck around a bit more, walked up to the third floor where there’s ongoing construction – I got a really cool picture of the inside of the building and when you look at it the image looks like it’s moving. But the Starks Building proved to be the perfect place to get distracted and explore with Erin and my camera. Looks like I’m buying the donuts this week.

Week 6: Blue
due 02.08.17

Our first color challenge! You’ll see more of these throughout the year because color can inspire photography. But this week let your eyes find the color blue.

You can display the color blue anyway you like in your image. As the dominant color or an isolated pop. A deep, dark hue or something light and soft. You are the master of this palette!

Bonus Challenge: Blue is a color that’s commonly described as calming and can create a sense of serenity and concentration. But it can also demonstrate coldness or lack of emotion. Find a way to photograph the color blue and capture an emotion (positive or negative) that is usually associated with it.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!

“Broken Down” in Downtown Louisville

Last weekend, Mike offered to escort me on a photo exploration. I was trying to capture an image for the 2017 Project 52 theme “broken down” and he offered to drive with me to a few different places in and around downtown Louisville.

I’ve taken a lot of pictures downtown over the years. I’ve worked in different downtown areas for a total of seven years now, so there’s been opportunity to explore with my camera. The thing is is that I don’t always feel safe. Especially where I work now. When I’m with another person or a group, I’m good to go. But sometimes being by yourself can be an invitation to other people. Luckily, I’ve only ever been asked for cigarettes or money, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

We started out in the Portland neighborhood searching for some mansions that had long been abandoned. We never found them. Well… we found one on Jefferson Street, but it had been recently restored (and is so beautiful now). But we kept driving down streets, taking any turns that we wanted, and would stop when something seemed cool. We eventually drove out of Portland and found a cleared lot with only a chimney left standing on Main Street. We went back east and found our way going south into Old Louisville where I found THE PLACE that was perfect for “broken down.”

We only drove around a bit more and then headed home. But from our two-hour exploration, I had some new photos that I really liked.

There’s still so much that I’ve never seen in my home town. It’s big enough to remain a mystery, but small enough to meet someone new and have a mutual friend. And in the first hour, I wasn’t feeling the “driving” part of this photo adventure – I’d much rather walk and stop when I want to take a photograph. But some of the areas we were in weren’t the safest. Regardless, my favorite part of it all was that it was Mike’s idea. I love that man.

Week 4: Broken Down | 2017 Project 52

I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to capture this week. But I’m always reluctant to go on a photo walk by myself in areas I’m not familiar. You never know if people will be around, if they’ll ignore you or be nice to you, want to bother you or just be assholes. So I didn’t know if I’d get to explore like I wanted.

When I was telling Mike that the theme was “broken down” and that I’d really like to find something abandoned, he had an idea. “Let’s drive down to Portland [a neighborhood in Louisville] and see if we can find those gigantic mansions that are boarded up.” He’s never really offered to drive me before… and I’ve never really asked because I know that photography is my hobby, not his. But that’s exactly what we did.

We woke up at a decent time on Sunday morning and hit the highway. We drove around Portland, stopping a couple of times when we found something cool. He’d say hello to people who were walking past, I’d take a few pictures, and we’d hop back into the car and drive on. There were some good finds in Portland… but nothing that got me going. We ended up driving into Old Louisville for a while too and eventually saw this big factory building that appeared to be missing walls. Once we rounded back to that street and pulled down, I saw something even better.

Settings: f/4.0, 1/320 sec, 24mm, ISO 400
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8

I got excited when I saw this egress between the abandoned buildings. It’s definitely broken down, but still so interesting. All the different colors, the graffiti, so many textures from the brick, plaster and plants growing down the walls. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Or talking about it. It’s just a really cool space and even though it was dirty as hell, it would be an interesting place to come back to for some gritty portraits.

I had a few other images that turned out great too. From Portland and Main Street and Old Louisville. But this was my favorite. Even Mike commented about how he knew I’d pick an image from this space because how I acted when I first saw. I totally thought I was playing it cool, but I guess not.

Week 5: The Sign Says
due 02.01.17

Signs, Signs, Everywhere there’s signs…

During your routine this week, try to see your surroundings with new eyes. What signs do you see? Are there any signs that keep your attention or look different to you? What signs speak to you? Can you photograph it in a way that tells a story? Consider your point of view, depth of field, zooming in/out, and space around it.

Informative, symbolic, humorous or foreboding… all signs, anything goes.

If you post your images on Instagram or any other social media, use the hashtag #2017project52 so that we can find your work and give it some love!
Have questions about 2017 Project 52? You can find more about it here or in the Flickr group description. Please join us!