I'm a teensy bit torn about mixing my writing with my photos.

I considered starting a new blog for my writing, and then reality stepped in real quick and I knew I would never keep it up. It's just something I'm dabbling with in the hopes that it will unlock a part of me that needs freeing. (See, I'm getting all creative and stuff with my descriptions). I've always loved creative writing, and maybe just maybe if I am consistent with it... I will improve. Maybe one day my writing will be something worth reading. But I know, hands down, I will never improve if I don't practice.

So there.

Along with fun images that, hopefully, still stir something within you... I will also add writing that may someday do the same.

What {hidden} talent or desire are you trying to improve on?

Go dance in the rain...

We had a few random downpours today. They didn't last long, but the rain drops were big! One of these downpours started as I was about to load my three youngest boys into a shopping cart and head on into good ol' WalMart for some misc shopping...

I was actually changing a diaper, half in, half out of the van when it began. My back was getting soaked! As soon as the bum was clean and the fresh diaper on, I jumped back into the driver's seat! We were cooped up in the van (by then they all had their belts off) and I was debating whether to wait it out or not.

So, naturally, we voted.

"Who wants to go through the rain?"

"ME!!!" voted the two and five year old.

They're boys. Of course they want to be in the rain!

So we loaded up in the now-soaked shopping cart that was just waiting for us...

And we got rained on. 

We didn't run. We didn't squeal. We just walked and talked through the rain...

And it was lovely.

"What does the rain smell like?"I asked,"How does the rain make you feel?"

"Marshmallows!" "Water!" "Cold!"

Yes. It was a moment.

And writing about it makes it more real.



Now, go dance in the rain!

Tough Guy.

Anyone out there a third child?

So is this guy. He's the third of our four boys, and sadly, this was the first time I took him out to get pictures of him. I mean, sure I have head shots of him, like I do all the boys, but I really don't have images that capture his personality... and we've never gone out just for him.

Of course, my first son has a plethora of images and one-on-one photo sessions... but for some reason this little bugger has gotten caught up in the mix and has been slightly over looked and photographically neglected. Well, his two big brothers are in school now... so we get more one-on-one time. I love it.

I am biased, but what a gorgeous kid! And his smile! Oh, I'm a sucker. I'll tell you what though, (if you'll let me brag for a sec) when he is sweet, he is the sweetest thing in existence! He is generous with his pleases and thank yous, (I wish I could take full credit for that, but they just come like that, you know?!) and that little voice is just angelic.

But don't let him fool you. Like any two year old he has his moments. And when he doesn't like what's going on... watch out because this kid is loud! And when he's in a mood, attitude seeps out of his pores. You can see it, can't you? Brrrrraah! Those are some tough learning moments for both of us.

I'll confess... it was hard to get images of him. He didn't hold still for two seconds unless he was being cautious with that board (he is my cautious one), and he did not want to look at the camera (believe it or not...) and he definitely wan't going to make this easy for me and just smile for it!  But obviously, I got a few keepers.

I love these images of him because 1) he's mine. and as his momma I am allowed to gush over him no matter how awful the lighting might be ;)  and 2) It's been a little while since I've done portraits for a little boy, and I remember how fun they are, even if they never stop moving!

It's been fun to "get to know" him better and spend time with him when his older brothers aren't trying to dominate every conversation and situation. He's got big personality in that little body. It makes me wonder what incredible things are in store for him!

If you're a third born, what tips do you have for me as a parent? What should I be aware of to help my third born? 

*side note, if you're interested in birth order: I'm a first born (of 6) and my husband is a second born (of 8).

Want to take better pictures? Tips from Alicia.

I always have friends asking me about their cameras or telling me that they want to learn how to take better pictures.  Now, I'm no expert, but I have learned a thing or two in the 8 years I've been shooting with DSLR. I started with a Canon Rebel with the kit lens, and now shoot with a Canon 40D and my primary lens is a 50mm f/1.4. I started shooting M about 5 years ago, and have been shooting RAW for a year now.

If you didn't understand what I just said, that's ok. This post is for you. :)

(If you're more into the post editing part here is a quick post I did a year ago. )

Here are a few tips, thoughts and suggestions I have for you.

1. It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have if you don't know how to use it.
If you're serious about taking your photography skills to the newt level, learn how to control the settings on your camera whether you use a phone camera, dslr, point and shoot... get out that manual or play with the settings (BUT SAVE YOUR IMAGES FIRST!).

2. The difference between an "okay" image and a really great one is usually the lighting. 
Learn about ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. Those are the three factors to controlling the light within your camera. It doesn't matter how cute your kid is, or how gorgeous your subject, if the lighting is "blah" it won't catch anyone's eye like you want it to. HERE is a good article that explains "exposure".

3. Get closer!
The few times I've taught a basic photography class, this is the first thing I talk about! Get closer! Get closer with your feet or by zooming in. Get close enough to crop out the distracting background and fill the image with your subject! When you first start practicing this, you may want to take pictures of your subject in 5-10 different angles and focal lengths.

4. Be aware of your background.
Do you want people in the background? Half of the building? The pole?
Be aware of the random things behind your subject. The idea is to eliminate anything that will not compliment your subject. Be aware of things that will distract attention from your subject.

5. Practice Practice Practice!
You'll never get better if you don't try. Go out for a walk and practice! Then, take the time to analyze your images. Take notes (mental or literal) on ways you could improve an image. What do you like about your image? What would you change or wish you had done differently? I promise that if you do this regularly you will really see improvement in your images!

What have you learned about creating better images? What have you done to improve your photography skills?

That's me... but I'm not her.

Today I got my nails done. Shellacked, actually. (I have no idea how to actually spell that or if it's really a word). I had rainbow tipped nails but now their just white... like a french manicure. I love them.

I have always chewed my nails. It's a habit I have not been able to break. But shellacking my nails has worked miracles. I haven't bitten my nails in months. Breaking habits is freakin' hard. I read somewhere that you shouldn't focus so much on breaking a habit, but more on the behavior you're replacing it with.  Just a thought. More for me than you.

How long does it take to create a habit? 30 days? I have some positive habits I would like to incorporate into my daily life. Mostly into my personal morning routine. What is your morning routine like? Do you wake up when the kids do? Before them? If you don't have kids, do you wake up at the same time every morning?

When do you find time for you? To think about you? To get to know you better? What do you do for fun? What do you do what you don't have to do anything?

I'm having a slight identity crisis. Slight. Who am I if I'm not "mom"? If I'm not "wife"? I'm definitely not the same woman I was in college, before I was married. I have learned so much. Grown so much. So who am I now?

back in 2003/2004

That's me.
But I'm not her.

one marriage, 4 kids later...

I like me.  But I want to get to know me better.

How do you get to know you? 

The Cook Sisters {Pt. 2}

What beautiful little girls!! It was an absolute joy to take their pictures! You may remember when I took first year pictures of their baby sister... well, we got together again and this time we had the balloon! Each girl had pictures with a yellow balloon for their one year birthday sessions, and last time we got together all the balloon places had closed! 

The lighting was beautiful. Obviously, I have a thing for morning and evening lighting. The backlighting and highlights are gorgeous. 

These girls were natural posers, but even when they weren't actually "posing" they were stunning. It was darling to see the older two interact. I could tell without even guessing that they are the best of friends. 

It's always fun for me to take pictures of girls since I only have boys. It's fun to be around their girly energy and I get to be silly in ways my boys would think were just weird. :) I could never ask my boys to flip their hair or twirl or pop their hip... lol... (I'm chuckling just imaging it!)

More Writing.

I haven't written in a while. Yes, I've posted image after image this summer, it's been an eventful one! But I haven't taken the time to really sit down and write. The honest truth is that I don't think anyone cares what I have to say, and that you all only want to see the images I've created, which is completely fine and there's nothing wrong with that... so I don't take time to share my inner thoughts or feelings.

Well, I'm going to try to change that. Yes this is my photo blog, but it's still a blog. I believe writing will  give it personality. Maybe the images will mean more to you, if I tell why I love them... or maybe not. But if it doesn't help you, it will help me. I  need to tell you why I choose to share these images. I need to do it so it will help me as a photographer. So it will help me as an individual.

So you may or may not read what I have to write, but I'm going to do it anyway. I will do this for me.

And you. ;)