Red, White & Blue BBQ | Independence Day Celebration

We always look forward to July because friends from all walks of life come over to our house for a red, white and blue BBQ. Friends from high school, from college, from work, from living near each other… all in one space. I always love seeing our friends who’ve known each other far too long, laughing and hugging. And seeing new people meet, hitting it off and leaving asking “How do you know them? They are great!” We know. That’s why we keep them.

We begin to lay out the spread: Mike’s recently acquired smoking skills pay off big time and gets everyone’s bellies overflowing with pulled pork, brined chicken, smash burgers and a brisket that made a late appearance. I always make loaded potato salad because it’s my favorite (and everyone else’s). And those birthday cake rice crispy treats just fly off the plate. All of our guests fill in the blanks with fancy baked beans, Asian salad, taco dip, watermelon, fruit tarts, pasta salad, buffalo chicken dip, cupcakes, cookies and the coveted push popsicles… it’s a smorgasbord and we pig out because we need to sustain our energy to keep up with the children.

I counted, like I do every year, just to have an idea of how many Jell-O ladened hands left prints on the glass and this year we topped our chart with 30 kids. 30 KIDS! Bunch of breeders. But we love them anyway. ;)

It takes a lot of work, but we always get excited for it. We stay busy planning and cleaning. Mike sweated his ass of cooking this year because he *had* to have smash burgers. (They are no joke delicious. I should write a blog about them.) I remind myself to carry around my camera before the daylight disappears. And lose my beer at least 10 times. But it’s all worth it. To see the kids have fun. To see the people we admire all in one place. The whole evening makes my heart swell three times larger than it was that morning.

I say it often, because I believe it: Friends are the family you choose.

Week 27: Half & Half | 2017 Project 52

The half  & half prompt had been on the list since #2017project52 started in January. I thought it would be a fun way to “celebrate” making it halfway through the year. And seeing the photos in the Flickr group so far, I think I was on to something.

This week was a weird one for me because I was off work for most of it. Mike and I host an Independence Day party almost every year to bring together all the friends we’ve had over the years, so I’ve taken to having a couple of days off beforehand so that party prep doesn’t wear me out before the actual party begins. I can run errands and go to Kroger as much as I need to without worry of rushing out the door at 5pm, dealing with traffic, and the grocery store being sold out of red potatoes once again.

One thing I learned about this week: I am a morning person when I can wake up on my own at 7am versus an alarm at 6am and can putz around the kitchen with a hot drink while frying eggs. Who knew?

But with all this time off, most of which would be spent at home, I carried my camera with me on most of my errands. You never know when inspiration will strike.

half & half

Settings: f/4.0, 1/125 sec, 35mm, ISO 2000
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

For most of my life I haven’t been adventurous with my hair. I wasn’t allowed to dye in when I was growing up and when I was out of the house, I couldn’t afford to get it done (or trust myself to do from a box). But lately, I’ve been experimenting. It helps that my hair lady is also a very good friend, Martha — or “Navi” to those who know her at the salon. I trust her completely because 1) she’s known me long enough that she’s aware of what I can and can’t do with my hair and 2) we have dinner almost every Friday night, so she sees her handy work on the regular after the appointments.

I think this was my fourth time letting her play with color and we changed it up a bit, but it was the first time I had my camera with me while in the salon. And while she and her coworkers were exploring the newly gutted area in the back of Splitting Hairs Salon, which Martha is the new owner of, I saw my hair in the mirror… half up in foil, the other half limp, all of it looking like crazy. I had to take a picture, if for no other reason than I looked ridiculous, but it fit the theme well. So there you go – having that camera through trips to Kroger, Target, a local hardware store, the post office and a salon paid off.

Week 28: Abstract
due 07.12.17

Sometimes called non-objective, experimental, conceptual or concrete photography, abstract is a means of depicting a visual image that does not have an immediate association with the object world and that has been created through the use of photographic equipment, processes or materials.

This type of photography is new to me, so I’ll be exploring with you! I’ve included some links below to help introduce the ideas of how to create an abstract image, starting with a great article from PetaPixel. Let’s see how we can learn, experiment and test ourselves!

An Introduction to Abstract Photography
Tips on How to Create Abstract Photos
70+ Stunning Abstract Photos
40 Astounding Examples of Abstract Photography

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!

My Point of View | 2Q17

At the end of March I shared some of random photos I’d taken since the start of the year. Some had been posted to Instagram, some weren’t… but most were stand-alone images. I didn’t have a complete story to go with them, so I didn’t blog them.

I kept this up over this past quarter, too. Taking pictures of things that speak to me. Sometimes a #2017project52 prompt inspired me and I ended up with a “outtake” that I still really liked. Other times I just had my camera and something moved me to bring it up to my eye. So I have another set to share with you, photographs taken over the last three months from my point of view. I’m ready to clear my mind of everything that’s cluttering it right now and over the next few months shoot with my heart. ♥

Week 26: Photographer’s Choice | 2017 Project 52

I really didn’t have any ideas this week. Mike Murphy was back in town after a long business trip in China on Thursday… I thought about working him into an image even though he would despise it. But I missed him so much, it would have been nice to photograph him. Then I thought about taking my camera to our Friday night dinner (like my last photographer’s choice in Week 13), but I’m glad I didn’t. My small friend Felix bumped my elbow on accident and my drink ended up spilling everywhere. No doubt my poor camera would have been in the splash zone. So I started planning for the weekdays… what could I do on short break from work… if I could get a short break because lunch meetings are a thing now. Apparently.

Enter our good friends Erik and Laura, and their kiddos. Mike on a whim [like most things Mike does] decided he wanted to try a new recipe [nothing new here] and invited our buddies over to be our guinea pigs [because what better way is there to test recipes other than subject your friends to your failures].

The recipe, smash burgers, were a hit with the adults. (The kids didn’t want cheese on their hamburgers… make zero sense as they were eating macaroni and cheese as well.) And our time spent together was nice. The weather was great, we had some kid-friendly shows on television, I pulled out boxes of toys my mom had shipped home with me… I took pictures…


Settings: f/4.0, 1/640 sec, 35mm, ISO 500
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

I really love this photo. Our friends had spent the day at the zoo with another family and you can tell that Erik and Laura are tired. They’re unwinding, chilling with us and talking about adult stuff. Meanwhile, the kids were still in the zone, a crazy criss-cross of “I know I should be tired and my body feels it, but I’ve had so much fun and candy today that my brain is telling my body to shut up.”

Evan was trying to get up on the bench, with a mostly empty bag of gummy bears in his right hand. Claire was poking at her dad’s healing poison ivy and repeating everything he was saying. (Don’t worry, I made her wash her hands immediately because I pictured her touching everything in my house and that I would end up with poison ivy, not her.) They’re still moving, playing, being silly and going bananas… while mom and dad are just present. It’s life, their life, and I love capturing it.

We love these people. We love our history with them and our future with them. We keep them close to us. And I take all the pictures.

Week 27: Half & Half
due 07.05.17

Friends, we are halfway through 2017 Project 52! And to celebrate we have the perfect theme that can be interpreted however you like.

I feel that we can all be a little adventurous with this one. It can be done simply, but think about how you can explore the them with just your camera. Consider your composition – can you frame or layer or add negative to make your subject more interesting? Or what about visual balance? Have you thought about using light as a tool? Be inventive, have fun trying new things and pat yourself on the back for making it halfway through our project!

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 25: From Below | 2017 Project 52

Confession time: Right when I wanted to get more serious about my Project 52 photos, I picked up a project at work. Like, a doozy of a project. And when I drain my brain at work during the day, I fall face first into my bed at night. Most weeknights you can find me changed into my pajamas by 7p — that way if I start to doze off, I can just climb into bed without having to do my nightly routine right before.

I’ve had my camera with me everyday, but not a lot of time to get away and explore. I’ve had a few photowalks that have been fun… but not like what I wanted at the beginning of May.

Now we’re facing the end of June… and too many outtakes for “from below” to count.

from below

Settings: f/16.0, 1/100 sec, 35mm, ISO 100
Camera and Lens: Canon EOS 5D Mark III with Canon EF35mm f/1.4L USM

Narrowing down to an image this week was hard because I didn’t like any of them. But after playing around with a couple that included big, fluffy white clouds… a little editing and cropping… this was the one that spoke the most to me.

I’m not sure what building this is… but that doesn’t matter because the sky was bright blue, the clouds were happy and the most perfect breeze was blowing. It might be teetering in the high 80s, but we were handed a few great days of weather. So I stood on the hot pavement and aimed my camera toward the sky. You can’t win them all, but you can appreciate a beautiful day outside.

Week 26: Photographer’s Choice
due 06.28.17

Another quarter has passed us by and we’re going to have another “photographer’s choice” prompt! It’s nice to take a little break between all the different themes, so this week share your favorite photo with our Flickr group. I challenge to choose only ONE image to share — not two, not three, ONLY ONE IMAGE! Being selective with the photos we choose to share is part of this project, and it helps us figure out our style and define who we are as photographers. If you need a little guidance, I’ve included some articles below that might help you choose the perfect photo.

7 Tips for Choosing Your Best Photos Fast
How to Choose Your Best Photo in a Series — Every Time
How to Narrow Your Vision and Find a Voice

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!