Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dreams | Bucket list: A gift to Grandpa

This post will be a little more personal... And I'm skipping to present day, for a moment. 2014 has been an interesting year to say the least. I haven't been doing many of things I enjoy this year, for various reasons. This year has felt like a constant struggle. It has been a difficult in many ways, yet I think there have been some huge changes with my insides. While I've felt like a sinking ship, I can tell other parts are growing in strength. I'm learning, I'm  letting go, and I'm filling my life with meaning (with what means something to me).

There is one amazing part to this year that despite the reasons behind it, I am incredibly grateful for: I have been able to spend more time than ever with my grandparents. I've been fairly close to them my whole life, as they attended every art show, sporting event, birthday party, etc. And they babysat me for my throughout my childhood. But this year was different, our relationship grew deeper. I spent a few nights at their house when I needed a place to stay, they welcomed me with open arms. One night, when Grandma was headed to bed, I gave her a hug and told her thank you. She replied "Thank YOU!" I asked her what she meant by that, as I'm not really doing anything for her, they're helping ME out. She told me "Thank you for being you" and let me know how she enjoyed my company. I had not fallen asleep feeling so at peace in quite some time.

Grandpa had a few health issues over the course of this year that landed him in the hospital. I offered to stay with Grandma, to help out with anything she may need and to just be there. Grandma and I really enjoyed spending the extra time together. We had deeper conversations than I've had with most people, she was always really good at reminding me of some valuable life lessons too.

Grandma teaching me some new techniques
It was such an cool experience to be able to witness my grandparents in a way no one else probably has (at this point in their lives). I got to watch as they helped one another, they each had their routines yet they also had joint routines that just worked, few/no words were needed. I loved catching a glimpse of Grandma peacefully reading, all tucked into bed, or waking up to Grandpa reading the paper-he'd always pause to say "Good morning" to me and ask how I slept. I talked with them about their travels, and about mine. They did not judge- even if they didn't fully understand my unusual lifestyle, they were great listeners, and they were kind. It was soothing to be there with them, things were calm and quiet. And they had a pretty good understanding about what matters in life vs what we shouldn't waste our time on. Just being there helped remind me and made it easy for me to get back to what's important.

Grandpa "trying on" pieces of the
blanket, the closest thing to a sweater
I could do...
While I was spending more time with my grandparents, I used it as an opportunity to do a few fun projects involving them...

In college, I learned how to knit for a class. Grandma helped me grasp the techniques that were a bit tricky for a lefty trying to learn from all right-handers. I did a few projects outside of school, but eventually stopped. A few years passed, and I decided to give it a go again. I had an idea for a gift for my cousin-we exchange gifts every Christmas. I thought it would be fun to make some sort of blanket. Grandma had also been on a knitting break, but was up for reteaching me the basics, and even joined in on the project. I quickly realized I bit off far more than I could chew-who thinks they can relearn how to knit and then make an afghan in just over a month?! I ended up enlisting the help of other family members and a friend (the pattern made it easy for multiple people to participate). The gift was incredibly late, but turned out great and came with a booklet of photographs of the entire process (everyone involved). We were all a part of making something cool, and Grandma and I were back into knitting. ( The image above and the image to the right are two from that project)

Now, to take it to the next level... I had only done square/rectangular things thus far, and only knitting (no purling or any fancy techniques). So Grandma helped me create some mukluks (slippers). Holy smokes! It took a lot more concentration, but I loved every part of this.

I was tired of babysteps...I had another project in mind... one that I've been wanting to do for a long time...but I was definitely going to need Grandma's help on this one... The only problem was Grandma was quite busy making baby afghans for family members. I decided to wait.

It wasn't long before Grandpa ended up in the hospital again. Suddenly the decision was made to put Grandma and Grandpa into assisted living--something they've never really wanted. My Grandpa along with my Grandma's father built their house, and they've lived there for nearly 70 years. It is more of a home to me than anywhere. So much about this process was unpleasant and difficult, and I suddenly was not able to spend nearly as much time with my Grandparents. I missed being able to spend time with them like I had been... and now I wasn't ever sure I'd be able to continue these projects.

Not long after being in the assisted living center, Grandpa's health started to show some signs of decline. I decided I needed to start this project now, on my own, or I may never have the chance...
I had already begun!

This project was for my Grandpa, a man who always had a sense of humor. He'd like to poke at ya, to get a reaction. Eventually you'd know when it was coming just by the smirk on his face. An example of this: ever since I started knitting, he'd ask me "So how's my sweater comin'?" Followed by his signature chuckle. Grandma and I would both laugh, I could barely knit a potholder! But it secretly became a bucket list item, to make him a sweater one day. I was so intimidated and felt there had to be this progression, there were skills I needed to develop before I can accomplish such a project. It felt so far away. Well now my time was up, I either had to jump in and give it a go, or simply let that bucket list item go. I couldn't let it go. Something inside me just pushed forward, making up my mind that no matter what, this was going to happen. I knew the color I wanted, I gathered up every shade in my collection and additional colors in case I wanted to switch it up-I generally use thrift store yarn, and rarely do you ever find enough of the same color to do an entire project.

I asked around, to friends who were also knitters, trying to feel out if I'd be able to get any help since Grandma's plate was pretty full at the moment. I didn't even know where to begin! I had no clue how to read a pattern, or tell the difficulty level. A friend was kind enough to send me a pattern that she thought may be doable, but she was more into crocheting. I took the pattern and ran with it.

I knitted with every free moment I had. My arms burned. My fingers ached and were starting to look permanently curled. I was determined.

Then Grandpa ended up back in the hospital... and this time, there was a good chance he would not be leaving...

I barely slept.

Knitting with Grandma
I had to enlist the help of my Grandma for the complicated parts that I just couldn't figure out (I swear knitting patterns are in Chinese!). When I first told her about the project, and revealed to her what I had completed already, she was blown away. She'd show it off to anyone who stopped by while I was there, proudly saying "Isn't it a beautiful pattern? She's really come a long way!" Various people would make comments, thinking I was crazy or that this project is pointless considering the situation. I'm not sure anything could get me "out of the zone" though... And this was something between me, Grandma, and Grandpa.

It wasn't long before Grandpa was no longer able to speak, his eyes now remained closed.

When I first started this project, I had it all planned out... I would complete the sweater (with Grandma's help) and set up a day with Grandma and Grandpa to visit, bringing the secret sweater, wrapped. I'd make sure someone was photographing/videoing the whole process, because I guarantee Grandpa would have gotten a kick out of this and that would be a reaction I'd want to be able to remember. I could almost hear his chuckle... But now it was too late... I wasn't going to be able to hear that chuckle again...

I visited him every day. The family took shifts staying with him, to make sure he remained comfortable. I brought the sweater to work on during my shift-I barely put the thing down through the whole process, but during my 4+ hour shift of just sitting in the hospital with him, all I wanted to do was hold his hand. So I pulled the recliner along side his bed, lied down, and did just that...

I didn't get the chance to show him the sweater while he was awake, but I did lay what I had done over his chest, and ran his hand along it, telling him what I was making, telling him the colors. He always looked good in blue.

Late night sweater work
I was supposed to leave town that week with Andrew Kufahl for a photo/art related adventure, but decided to do an abridged version of the trip. However, when it came to the day Andrew and I were supposed to leave, I felt some unexplainable panicky feelings. I couldn't think anymore, I couldn't function, I couldn't go. The only things I could do were knit, visit Grandpa, and visit/help Grandma (we brought her to the hospital nearly every day to visit Grandpa, letting her stay as long as she wished). Outside of that, nothing else mattered. I had been looking forward to this trip, a painting of mine was accepted into a show in Michigan, I was excited to meet up with a couple photographers, Andrew and I were finally going to be able to work together again, but I just couldn't do it. I barely slept that night, I just kept knitting. In the morning, early early, I woke up and debated on at least trying to make it to the art opening that night... but still, I just couldn't... not long after, I got the phone call. It was my aunt, unsure if Grandpa was still breathing or not. I flew out of bed and scrambled to throw something on and run out the door. I was interrupted by a second phone call, just minutes after... Dad called to say he was officially gone. I raced to the hospital.

The fact that he was 92 does not comfort me. I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful Grandpa, but I wanted him forever... so no matter how I look at it, it just hurts. And I miss him. He was a huge part of my life, and has left a massive hole in my heart.

Knitting has brought on some really peaceful moments. Max, 
who is in need of a home, was pacing a bit one day when I 
visited him at a kennel he's being temporarily housed at. 
I started knitting, and he laid down nearby...  I only had feet 
available,but started petting him anyway... he became right at 
home, snoozing for over 45 minutes! 
The sweater was nearly finished, but it still felt like so long to go. I asked Grandma for permission to  place the sweater in the casket with Grandpa, if I was able to complete it in time. She loved the idea.

I'm not sure how it is possible to get even less sleep than I was getting, but I gave up just about everything to continue this project. I was told that even if I don't finish, I can still give it to Grandpa. That wasn't an option. My dream was to make a sweater for Grandpa, a man who did so much for me, for everyone in the family and who I was never sure how to thank enough. I wanted to give him something special. I HAD to finish this.

That week was ridiculous. I can't even explain it all. But the day after my Grandpa died, my car died. And then a day or two later, my backup vehicle died (mom's). I was going to be bringing my Grandma to the funeral, but the way it was looking, we'd be walking! Thankfully, my aunt (on the other side of the family) was kind enough to let me borrow her vehicle. She also told me how to attach the sleeves of the sweater. ;)

I asked Grandma if she'd like to cut out a heart from a piece of her own clothing to sew onto the sweater. Despite her eyes being bad, she did it. (The next morning, she redid it because she felt she had done a poor job :) )

I didn't sleep at all the night before the funeral. The skin on my hands had been progressively cracking, my hands were a wreck. My body wanted to shut down on me. I think I laid down for less than an hour, and then was up and getting ready for the funeral... wondering when I was going to fit in the last part of the sweater...

I had to do the neck yet-still completely clueless as to how to do this.  I continued knitting in the back of the church during the family portion of the service. The neck was not well done by any means. I screwed it up. I'm not sure a head can even fit through there! I'm disappointed in that. However, I finished it and Grandma and I placed it into the casket together.

I dragged my feet on ever starting this project. There were a million excuses, some were totally valid reasons for pushing it off, some were just my messed up perception. When it came down to it, the love and passion I poured into that thing for my wonderful Grandpa made it happen. It didn't matter I didn't know how to read a pattern, or increase/decrease stitches. It didn't matter I've only ever made squares or slippers. It didn't matter I was still trying to get the hang of purling down. It didn't matter how badly my body hated me for pushing it so hard. It didn't matter I screwed up a lot (the second half was a nightmare!). It didn't matter I was sad, that I was tired, that I was stressed, or what outside people did/said. It didn't matter that there wasn't enough time. I wish I would have let all of those things not matter sooner, so I could have given the sweater to Grandpa when he was well. There is no changing that. I am so incredibly thankful for completing it in time to give to him at all.

As silly as this project may have seemed to some, it was loaded with meaning for me. It pushed me well out of my comfort zone, I was able to create something I never thought I could yet always wanted to, I was able to finally give Grandpa something special (that was a thing between us), and this project reminded me that with love and passion, you can do some insane things! It was also a great reminder to NOT drag my feet... and if for whatever reason I still drag my feet, every moment is a new opportunity to change that.

Thank you Grandpa, for all the love, laughs, and inspiration.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dreams | Travels: The Carolinas

It has always been a dream of mine to travel. When I was working a normal job, full time, I felt I didn't have the time, the travel buddies, etc. There was always some reason. When I became unemployed, I had the time but lacked the funds. More reasons. Eventually I realized, there is and always will be some sort of excuse, as valid as they may seem. So I started trying to live my life-and my dreams-differently than I ever had before...without excuses.

I had a couple opportunities to do a little traveling once I hit my twenties-I dated a guy out of state, I had a friend who took me along on a couple work trips, I was lucky to experience travel in these ways... with people I got along with. I quickly became addicted to flying and travel in general. But I was spoiled, as I didn't have to do any work with the planning/booking.

A few years later, after I lost my job and got into the modeling/photography world, an opportunity came up to model out of state... to meet photographers I may never have had the chance to meet- a lot of people in a short period of time. It was a large workshop. While I was financially responsible for the whole trip, it seemed like a good opportunity and a good step in pursuing what I love.

And lucky for me, photographer Andrew Kufahl had interest in attending as a student for a while now. So we decided to go for it.

This was the first time I would have to do the planning. I quickly realized just how difficult it can be when you're working with a tight budget and a time frame. This would require some creativity and patience...

The main purpose of this trip was for the workshop, in Charlotte, NC. I had a large amount of prep to do simply for that. But I couldn't help but research what else would be in the area... I had never been to North Carolina. Or South Carolina...hmmmmmm....

I felt a strong desire to soak in as much as I possibly could... to use this opportunity thoroughly...because who knows if I'll have the chance again...

My planning process is puzzle-like and involves a large
amount of post-it notes and scrap paper

When I was researching flights, I was frustrated at fluctuating prices for the most convenient routes. I started trying to get creative... to see how I could combo my main goals: see/experience as much as possible, for as cheap as possible, with the amount of time we were given.

The approximate ridiculous route, not including the accidental detour to
Tennessee that Andrew surprised me with after a brief nap

So we flew into Asheville, NC... immediately went waterfall exploring in Transylvania County...I can't remember how many we made it to, but there were a TON in the area, and each was unique. We even were able to fit in a hike-in search of a big one that was known for its rainbows... The hike ended up being much longer than expected... sweating, huffing and puffing, we finally heard what was undoubtedly rushing water... and then water started misting our faces... how refreshing! A few steps further, and we saw it... it was breathtaking! We watched people cliff jump and took a moment to take it all in... We ended up running most of the way back due to time constraints and a hungry bug that decided Andrew would make an excellent  lunch... that was all we needed to get our butts moving!

Waterfall hopping!
TIP: It is incredibly handy to 
travel with someone taller 
and stronger than you...
for moments like this...
when a ladder would not
fit one into your suitcase.

View out our door, river 
running in the background.
From there, we followed winding roads into the mountains, deep out of cell range... We were going to be spending the night in a cabin, on the riverfront, in Hot Springs, NC. After relaxing in the hot spring hot tubs while listening to the river, we  struggled with soggy campfire wood to make some sort of dinner. Our campground neighbors offered up their hot coals-as they were about to turn in for the night, and had issues getting their  fire going as well. We were not sure what to expect with the weather for this trip... especially with the range of area we planned to cover. The majority of my bags were filled with modeling necessities for the workshop. This cabin required campers to bring their own bedding-we learned the hard way, it can get quite chilly here! Life lessons. ;)

Between time simply moving far too fast and the uncomfortably chilly night, we barely slept... But we pulled ourselves out of bed for our next  adventure: Grandfather Mountain... the mile high swing bridge caught my interest when I had been researching the area.

Every turn up the mountain made us gasp at the view... we were in awe... Couldn't get enough of it! When we finally arrived to the bridge location, we were filled with excitement. The swing bridge was sadly not very swingy, but the view was incredible!

We sat down-I dangled my feet over the edge... Andrew nervously looked on from a few feet back. The shadows of clouds moved over the landscape--oh how small we are! I remember days when a cloud would move in, and it seemed to cover my whole world... sometimes it was beautiful and welcomed, other times it was frustrating... Observing it from up here, even the clouds looked small! And they were creating these small moments that seemed to be so big before... Up here, it was unbelievably quiet... you could feel the wind in a different way than you do when you're in a city... on the ground... my little world was blown wide open, and I was reminded that there is so much more out there... so much more than I can know or see. This moment in itself changed me... I could have spent the whole day in that spot!

Pouting, we had to carry on to our next stop, but admittedly we were quite excited it at the same time... We were hoping to check out a mine, and pan for some gold! We had checked several times about the hours of operation and availability. We were sure to leave the mountain with plenty of time to get there... only to arrive and find out they close the panning portion early! We drove all this way and only had this moment to do this... we still were able to tour the mine, and made the most of it... and then we were on our way once again... we were bummed, but now we were headed to the beach!

Exploring the gold mine

Somewhere in between 
mountains and the beach, 
there was a toilet that
required a little extra effort.
Myrtle Beach... sand... water... palm trees... warmth... mmm... This was my very first time seeing the ocean! We arrived at night, but made our way to the water, first thing!

Happy screams as waves snuck up in the dark

I got drenched nearly to my waist, Andrew to his thighs...we watched the lit up ferris wheel, accidentally stumbled across a couple hiding on a sandy grassy pathway who were um enjoying each others company, and I'm pretty sure something in the water hit my leg causing me to run screaming. ;)

While in Myrtle Beach, we had a sunny day and a rainy day. We played mini golf when the rain took a brief moment to rest. And explored a thrift store. We chilled in the hotel's lazy river, walked the beach and walked it some more.
And by mini-golf, I mean goofed around
the whole time...

We also took the opportunity to shoot... we didn't arrive with an idea in mind, but soon enough, we had a seed of inspiration and went to work. We were really just playing around on the beach with a camera. But we ended up getting something pretty neat and totally new as a result! Check it out...

"Do you still remember that night... 
down by the ocean... 

when we just... danced? I do..."                        Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

And then it was time for the workshop... it was difficult to leave the beach, but this trip had an interesting way of making us ache for more time where we were, yet had us thrilled to move on to what was next.

Making friends

There were going to be photographers who I've been fans of for years... Bigger named people than I ever thought I'd have the chance to work with or even meet!

The hotel the hosted the workshop was pretty gosh darn nice. My favorite part was all of the ponds/fountains... where beautiful birds hung out and would say hello if you stopped for a moment...

To be honest, I ran into quite a few bumps during the next few days... I struggled... it was tough to be a "newbie" when it seemed so many people already knew each other and were quite close. It was tough to find a place, to get the necessary info, to fit in, etc. I did not get much shoot time, I did not get to meet or work with many of the mentors...or even the students...And I had no clue to how go about changing that at the time.

I was starting to feel like I was wasting time and money here... and I felt so limited with what I could control. I started feeling down about myself- I was bigger or older than the other models, I'm a no name, I'm too quiet, blah blah blah... a million reasons to feel like I wasn't good enough. We put so much time and money into this trip, that extended far beyond the few days of the actual workshop. Even though Andrew had his own frustrations and struggles, he was supportive and helpful and I learned just how lucky I was--it finally clicked that I was fortunate to have been here with someone who I do fulfilling work with--why not USE this new location for what WE love to do during these down times when I had felt my time and talent was being wasted? Why not control what we can and make sure we get something out of this experience? We both knew we were capable of so much more, and to think otherwise was silly... So we started doing our thing... In between the few classes I modeled for, and the ones Andrew attended as a student, we'd meet up to play. I started doing my own hair and makeup, and let go of feeling like I needed modeling assignments to be doing anything productive... I knew Andrew and I could make good use of the looks I'd create and the 15 outfits I was told to bring that had yet to see daylight. It felt freeing, to create, to do what I came here for, to do what I love... And we got some really really great images! Such as these three:

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

I did meet/work with two or three mentors who were absolutely wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and their students. One night, during the down time, I met a few other attendees who went out of their way to make sure I got some shoot time (receiving images was the only way the models were "paid"... so when I was not getting much shoot time, it really did not seem worth the flight/hotel...and they wanted to help change that!). They were fun, kind, and ended up catching the attention of other students--which resulted in more shoot time! :)  Thank you Ray and Ryan!

Photographer: Amy Parrish
Photographer: Kari Witthuhn-Henning

Andrew and I had also run into some familiar faces... photographers we were friends with from back home. One night, we were all in one place... one of the photogs had a fun photo idea-it had to do with a   water fight. She positioned us, one at a time, threw some water, took her shots. There were lots of laughs and it turned out great!

Thanks to the help of Andrew and the hometown friends, I was also able to briefly meet the one photographers I have been a fan of for years... I also watched a couple of her classes, which was a nice way to enjoy the workshop in other ways outside of modeling.

Amazing how things turned around once I let go of my expectations. Just like the other parts of the trip that didn't work out ideally, there is always something to learn and always a way to get something out of an experience.

Before we flew out, we had one more non photography random pit stop: a giant moving silver head sculpture, Metalmorphosis. We waited, as there were only certain times it would actually move... we waited and waited... eventually, we looked it up online and it was out of order that day. Darn it. It was quite the impressive piece, even when not moving. We admired it, checked ourselves out on the web cam, and enjoyed the beautiful weather...and maybe joked around a bit. ;)

Watching ourselves live via webcam

I am so thankful that we turned this trip into what it was... that we tried to see as much as we could, whether it worked out or not. I'm glad we explored... that we ventured into nature to see things we do not have in our home state. And I am glad that I have a great friend who I enjoy working with-and can work anywhere with... who I can laugh with... and I'm thankful for the reminder of how there are some really kind people out there who are willing to reach out to you. And the reminder that even in situations where you don't feel you have any control, there are ways to get creative to make the most of experience for yourself. I originally thought the point of the trip was the workshop and based its value (and my value) on that element, but there was so much more to it. THIS is the stuff that made the trip what it was... It was filled with life lessons and new experiences that opened my eyes, my mind, my heart. My passion to create was alive and well, and my passion to travel was lit on fire. And just like the feeling I got on Grandfather Mountain, everything was now limitless, and extends far beyond what I could possibly see, expect, or know...

Watch facebook for additional photos from this event, including more behind the scenes shots!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Use whatchya got!

So there you are...
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
Sometimes, I see photos of models in elaborate dresses and jewelry... at amazing locations... I sigh, how would one even get to a level like that?!

But it has taught me a few important lessons...

I've seen photos with incredible wardrobe, and will label that a good photo--when it may not actually be a good PHOTO, but rather an incredible wardrobe... Or an awesome model... or a killer location... So I no longer clump it all into one... I've realized there are a lot of factors that have to line up to make a full fledge killer photo. And to make that amazing photo, you don't NEED that wardrobe, or that location...

Early on in my work with Andrew Kufahl, we'd have occasional photoshoots after he was done working his day job. We'd vaguely talk about hair/makeup/wardrobe, then I'd be on my own to have everything set for when we could start shooting--to catch the remaining sunlight.

During one of these shoots, I started getting so frustrated with my lack of makeup skill. I was never professionally trained. I'm just someone who likes to paint, and view makeup as an art form. But sometimes I can't make my vision come to life... or it comes out differently than I planned. When I'm shooting self portraits, that is not as big of a deal. When I am working with a photographer, I feel like I'm failing on someone else. This is all so silly because Andrew is such a laid back fellow. He just loves to shoot. And these shoots weren't anything that had to be specific- they were to just play around.
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl

So I had to learn to roll with it, just as I would for my own shoot. Things are much more fun that way. ;)

I had a pretty nice backyard... large, with some pretty trees...some woodsy areas... all sorts of places to play. We tried to make good use of it.

During this particular shoot, we wanted to use one of the trees... I'd have to climb it, barefoot. It was a bit painful, and was tough to balance... and we lost light quickly. But there was one shot that just made my jaw drop... Andrew was using the beautiful natural light. He was letting the shadows do as they please. He was using what was right there. Nothing fancy... but there was just something about it that stopped me in my tracks. The title was perfect: Piercing...

We had another shoot that was a similar set up, around that time... I had to have hair/makeup/wardrobe ready to go for when Andrew would arrive.

I had an idea for wardrobe.

Wishes come true...
Photographer: Andrew Kufahl
I should give some back info on this... As I've said before, I was never really a girly girl. So when I got into modeling, I had to bulk up on girly things... clothes, makeup, hair stuff, as the majority of the shoots I was doing required me to do this all on my own. Well, that's all expensive, and I had just lost my job. That's when I started learning about thrift stores, and getting creative with what you already had...

I mentioned earlier about the sighs I'd let out when I'd see elaborate wardrobes... I felt limited. I felt that was out of reach. While I have not come up with anything quite that elaborate, it was so freeing to start seeing things with a much more open and artistic mind. I could find ways to transform existing pieces of clothing into something a little more interesting. I could use the same pieces in TOTALLY different ways, for several shoots even... with a little creativity and some safety pins... I was not so limited...

So for this shoot, I took a skirt slip, and another a cover up type thing (with arms), and created a simple dress... None of these pieces were meant to be used how I used them, but that doesn't matter. I saw them in a new way- not as a skirt slip... but as an outfit, to fit the emotion I wanted... No sewing involved, I didn't have to buy anything new-it was from items I already had. I loved how simple, pretty, soft it was, yet with a touch of something unique... and after that shoot, it was gone. Another art-form in itself. Created out of feeling, and passion.

There have been a lot of people encourage using what you have in the photography world. Fancy gear doesn't make a great photo. There are some incredible examples out there. But the same thing can go for the other elements of a photo, including modeling. I'm not the standard model size, or age. I don't have fancy outfits or jewelry, I'm nothing fancy. But does that mean that I can't create a wonderful piece of photographic art?

Working with someone like Andrew has taught me more about the various levels of a stellar photo. It goes beyond his gear, it goes beyond having crazy hair/makeup/wardrobe... none of that matters if you don't have what's at the core of a piece of art...

It is about the passion... it is about all of the elements "clicking"... there is emotion, feeling, heart that has to be poured into this mixture...

The fancy stuff is just a bonus, or in the very least, there are plenty of ways to fill these parts in. But without the core, it is empty...

I no longer look at myself, my work, my tools as limited/limiting. *sigh* :)