Well, September 11th has come and gone once again this year. I am never unaffected by my memories of that day in 2001 and the sheer awfulness and terror I felt.

I was in Atlanta attending an industry tradeshow. I had been in New York just the week before. I watched the events unfold on the big screen in the show hall, where a client had a booth with the AV equipment all hooked up and ready to go. All travel was shut down and it ended up taking me three days and a whole lot of follies to make it home to California, where I lived at the time.

So many things in my life have happened as a result of that day. We moved our marriage up by a few months, because we didn’t know if he’d be around longer than that. All of the successive deployments and the war that has kept our family apart for years of our marriage.

Families just like ours all over the world are faced with long separations and deployments, and the heartbreaking ache they are left with when their family is divided.

As a photographer, I have had the amazing opportunity to capture some pretty amazing images for a few of these families. Through OpLove, I have had the opportunity to capture so many heartfelt moments: families being reunited for the first time after a long deployment; capture the moment a daddy holds his baby girl in his arms for the first time; witness the tears fall as a Marine steps on the bus, officially starting a long deployment; and SO many others.

I just wanted to say thank you to all of those military families out there for doing what you do. You are truly amazing!!!

One of the major reasons, if not the most important reason, you will hire a professional photographer is because you like the unique look of his or her photos.

These days, with the advancement of digital arts, photography has become even more of a form of art and each photographer has a special look that they have cultivated through their camera work in the sessions, as well as digitally.

Just as important these days is the photographer’s skill in the digital darkroom. Professional photographers spend years honing their digital skills and will be continually looking for ways to educate themselves and further their knowledge in a technology that is always changing and recreating itself.

Don’t get me wrong, you have to start with a decent shot straight out of the camera. That’s why you hire a professional to do the job. But, also take a look at the way the photos are composed, the color balance of the photos in their portfolio, and the overall feeling you get from viewing their sample portfolios. Know that if you like “the look” of the photos you see, you should see a similar product in the photos produced for you.

Using the digital darkroom with proficiency can take a good photo and make it great through cropping, warming the tones and making the colors more rich and vibrant, as well as creating a depth to the photo that may not have been previously visible. The digital darkroom is really what separates photographers these days.

Taking the shots during a shoot usually takes an hour and a half to two hours. Culling the photos and editing them can take HOURS UPON HOURS. And, even then, I always go back and tweak my photos to produce the absolute very best image before sending them to print.

And THAT is the difference between a professional photographer (me) and the person with a really nice camera that lives down the street.

You are making an investment in a product that will last a lifetime and serve as a reminder of those wonderful memories long past. You might even choose to invest in a custom photo product that you can hand down for generations to come. Professionals should offer a range of items that you would be proud to invest in to give to your son or daughter one day as an heirloom.

I will be running a series of before and after shots, so you can see for yourself the difference the digital darkroom can make for a photo.

Definitely in photography, as with most everything else, you get what you pay for.

I got a card in the mail this afternoon that made my heart smile and brought tears to my eyes.

I recently worked with an amazing couple through OpLove. The wife was set to deploy shortly and they wanted to get some shots together of themselves and their animal family before she headed to Afghanistan. (If you are unfamiliar with OpLove, please read more about it on the Giving Back portion of my site and look through a slideshow of amazing images under the OpLove tab).

Oftentimes, I will send the album to the deployed member and get a nice email thanking me for what I do. This is the first time anyone has taken the time to actually write a letter and put it in the mail. I know in my heart what those images will do for the woman deployed away from her husband for months at a time. It will be something for her to hold on to and a means with which to remember happy times before leaving. I am proud to be a member photographer and have the opportunity to do this one small thing for some of our deployed service men and women.

Perhaps it is a product of the technology now available to us that hardly anyone writes letters anymore, but I still LOVE getting mail. I am guilty of this myself, oftentimes resorting to digital communications because it is the easiest thing to do. But, I forget the simple pleasure of opening the mailbox and finding something other than bills.

I will try to remember this the next time I need to say “thank you.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

As I look at my day in the rear view mirror, I am once again reflecting on how wonderful my special day has been. For me, Mother’s Day is not about gifts or special treats, as those are inherent in the day itself and everything it stands for. I am always catching myself throughout the day as I thank God for my special little gifts that have given me the honor of taking part in this day. I am forever kissing and hugging my little monkeys in awe that I AM their mom and constantly wondering how I got to be so lucky. That’s what Mother’s Day means to me. Not just a day of relaxing or a day away from my “mommy duties,” but a day to truly be thankful for everything I have been given. I am sooooooo very blessed.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there who pour their heart and soul into nurturing and guiding those little people each and every day. It IS a tough job, but somebody has to do it… wink, wink. Hope you had a lovely day!

Sometimes when gathering with friends or family, I will say come dressed for pictures and we’ll have some fun. A couple of weekends ago, we had lots of families share the Easter holiday with us and this little cutie came camera ready! One never knows how a child will react to the camera. Some are shy and distant, while some just seem to blossom right in front of my eyes while they put on a show. This little one was definitely hamming it up and having fun, which is what it is all about. I had an amazing Easter and feel so blessed to have been surrounded by so many amazing people. I love my Marine Corps family!