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How I Spent My Last 30 Days

Not too long ago, I made it abundantly clear that I wanted to take my photography to the next level and go pro.

Over the past 30 days, I’ve been running around like a mad woman making that possible.

I’ve always known that photography was my calling. Whenever I got a new camera, I wanted the images that I took to look like Ralph Lauren ads. And over the past year, I’ve been busting my ass practicing, reading, and practicing some more in order to make that happen.

On my birthday (September 17), I officially opened for business.

It was a bittersweet moment for me, because it meant that most of my (relatively non-existent) free time would be consumed by photo shoots and post-processing and schmoozing new clients, leaving little time left to write on this blog.

But do not fret, dear readers. I will not abandon this place entirely.

I’ll pop in from time to time and post Frankenstories or Conversations with Jake (and soon to come: Conversations with Benny). And maybe even sprinkle in a few LOUD stories or McDonald’s escapades.

I love my “Mama Blog,” and I will always leave it open to comments and suggestions, and will always be back to write something. Even if it takes 12 months between posts to do it.

In the mean time, won’t you come over to my new digs and check out what I’ve been up to? (By the way, if you’re in Northern California, and know of anyone interested in Senior or Family Portraits, send them my way! I’m VERY reasonably priced!)

And if you’re feeling the love, subscribe to my RSS feed so you can get my daily updates and photo shoot sneak peeks.

Thank you all — you have no idea how much your loyalty and friendship mean to me.

With much love and crazy humor,








09 2010

Because I Just HAD to Tell You! (And YES, I Know it’s SATURDAY)

The LOML and I decided to go to an “R” rated movie today. With EACH OTHER. (Because we usually have to have grown-up movie time alone since we haven’t found anyone stupid enough to watch the kids, and WE JUST KNOW that the one time we leave them home alone to go see a movie together, THE HOUSE WILL BURN DOWN. And we can’t be telling the fire department that we left our 7-year-old in charge of our 3-year-old because then they’d be all, “Uh, can you please have a seat in the back of that squad car?”)

ANYway, the powers that be sent us this place called “KidsPark,” where they’ll watch your kids NO QUESTIONS ASKED as long as you leave them your credit card number. You pay through the nose for your freedom, but the fees pale in comparison to the absence of kids who don’t want to sit still during a 90 minute cartoon and, oh yeah, THE ABSENCE OF A CARTOON ALTOGETHER.

So we get to the theater and I buy the tickets to what I think is a movie that starts at 5:30pm, but then we realized that I read the wrong time on Fandango and the movie we were supposed to see actually didn’t start until 7:10. And the LOML was all, “We can’t afford to have the kids at that place any later than 8:30!!” so we changed our tickets out and decided to go see “Inception” instead.

And all I can say about it is longest BEST. MOVIE. EVER. And you hardly realize that the movie is as long as it is because you’re drowning in its awesomeness.

But your BLADDER does.

So there I was, tapping my toes trying to figure out how I could pee into an empty water bottle in the dark run to the bathroom and not miss anything when I remembered (and strangely enough, at the same time, got verbal diarrhea and exclaimed in a theater full of people), “I CAN USE RUNPEE!!”

And the LOML said, “Can you do that some place ELSE?” And I was just so excited to have even REMEMBERED to THINK of runpee that I said, “Shut up or else I won’t tell you when the best time to pee is when it’s YOUR BLADDER that’s burning hole in the side of your stomach.”

So I got to do my thing and had TWO EXTRA MINUTES of pee time left! I felt like a hall-of-fame-urniator. (And YES I DID remember to wash my hands. Freaks.)


08 2010

Conversations With Jake: The “Nay Kit” Flash (Or, Why You Should REALLY Make Sure Your Kid is Asleep Before Listening to Podcasts in Your Car)

Earlier this year, I wrote about a photographer named James Beltz (who I now refer to as “Professor Jimmy” around the house, because, as it turns out, he really DID feel uncomfortable with my calling him “The Jimmy Lama”).

To know him (through his podcasts) is to love him. He’s southern and charming and hilariously funny in his A.D.D./silly ranting kind of way and frankly, the LOML is starting to get jealous of my constant bringing up of his name. But the fact of the matter is that Jimmy is the only photography instructor that I know that totally gets “it.” He doesn’t take himself too seriously, gets his audience/students to relax, and teaches in a way that is both fun and challenging. And I honestly have NO IDEA where I’d be without his classes or podcasts.

ANYWAY, most of you know that I do quite a bit of my podcast listening while driving. And sometimes even while the kids are in the car. (Usually while they are sleeping, or else I get pelted with Cheerios or Cheetos until I tune the dial to Radio Disney. ACK.)

A few weeks ago, I had picked up Jake from day camp and didn’t even get out of the parking lot when noticed that his eyes were getting heavy and he had leaned the seat back a little bit in order to settle in for a nap on the way home. So I decided that as soon as he was “out,” I would plug in my iTouch and listen to one of Professor Jimmy’s podcasts.

And wouldn’t you know, it would be one where Jimmy uses the phrase “Nekkid” flash about 678 times. (“Nekkid” is southern for “Naked.” And a “Nekkid Flash” is what you would call one of those big long flashes you see on professional cameras WITHOUT what you would call “a white thingy” on the end. A “white thingy” is a flash diffuser, which helps soften and spread light evenly.).

And I remember thinking, Holy CRAP it’s a good thing that Jake is asleep or he’d be asking me what the word “nekkid” meant. BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW INQUISITIVE THIS KID CAN BE.

Fast forward a few days.

I had hopped on to the computer before going to work to check out some recipes I was thinking about trying for dinner. And without remembering to bookmark the page that I’d found, I shut the browser down and turned the computer off.

When I returned home later that evening, I fired up the browser and decided to go to my internet history in order to find the site I’d been on earlier that morning. And this is what I found:



Yes, you read that right.

There were searches for “NEY KIT FLASH,” “NAY KIT FLASH,” and “Professor Jimmy,” among other things.

Now, if you are slow to get this, bear with me. BECAUSE THIS IS A DAMN FUNNY STORY. (The LOML had me add, “Damn funny to photographers, maybe . . .”)

After discovering the search queries I laughed. HARD. For, like, TWENTY MINUTES.

Then I picked up the phone and called the LOML.



“Uh, can I ask you a question?”

“Oh . . . ‘kay. What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. Nothing. Just wondering if you happened to be on the computer at lunch, looking for something to buy me for my birthday.”


And then I was all, REALLY? Have you NOT ever heard of the INTERNET HISTORY BUTTON?

“You’re joking, right? I KNOW EVERYTHING.”

“[Loud silence, and then a long sigh.] Fine. YES, I was looking up stuff I wanted to buy you for your birthday. But I couldn’t find what I was looking for.”

“And what exactly, dear, were you looking for?”

“Well, this morning on the way to drop Jake off at summer camp, I asked him what he thought we should buy you for your birthday next month, and he said, ‘The man on mama’s radio says that you can do just about anything with a nay kit flash, so maybe we should get her one of those.’”

Receiving and Giving Props

I’ve got family and friends that still can’t believe that I’ve only had “my rig” since September of 2009. That’s less than six months.

The LOML had no idea what kind of monster he would eventually create by giving me my first “real” camera. Because since September, I have read at least 100 books and magazines, viewed dozens of online tutorials, and subscribed and listened to over 400 podcasts on photography. I’ve also reached out to a few photographers on Facebook or through their websites for tips, help, and some simple advice.

What’s interesting about some of the photographers I’ve written to is that they billed themselves as “happy to help” or “all about giving back.” (Which is why I chose them to begin with.) Yet I haven’t received a single tip, trick, or bit of advice from them. I’m not sure why — maybe they’re busy, or just forgot to respond. Or have big egos and think that sharing a secret or two about how they set up lighting or do post-production in PhotoShop might result in lost business.

It’s hard not to feel a bit brushed off by their lack of communication. Because even the best of the best photographers had to start somewhere.

But not all pro photographers are snobs.

In fact, I’ve been quite blessed with finding one in particular that has helped me in so many ways that I personally nicknamed him the “Jimmy Lama.” (A nickname he swears he doesn’t like . . .)

If you live anywhere NEAR Oklahoma City, hire this guy for any and all of your photography needs.

Jimmy Beltz, owner of BC Photo (near Oklahoma City), is a one-of-a-kind balance between southern boy, skilled pro photographer, patient teacher, and family man. He is dedicated to his craft and genuinely loves to help those who fall into the category of “amateur” photographer. Like me.

(You can also hear Jimmy on his podcast called “PhotoTips,” and/or become a fan of his on Facebook, and/or buy his products on

It was through sheer frustration that I found Jimmy on an iTunes search for a decent podcast on digital photography. I’d listened to a few other photography podcasts before, and most were “round table” discussions between professional photographers who droned on and on about gear (Mac vs. PC, or Nikon vs. Canon, etc.) or their own websites without really digging into the basics or providing insight.

So you can imagine my reaction when I first listened to Jimmy — being all southern and genuine and funny without even trying.

I was hooked.

Then came his ridiculously cheap photography class. For $20, you learn all you need to know to start shooting like a pro.

THEN came the ridiculously cheap photography BUSINESS class. For $70, you learn all you need to know to start EARNING MONEY like a pro. No joke.

And unlike the other photographers who never bothered to share a trick or tip or one word of advice, Jimmy ACTUALLY SHARED HIS BUSINESS MODEL in the course. Not just a few things about work flow or what he charges for different types of jobs. But the ENTIRE model for his successful, six-figure income earning business.

How many photographers do YOU know who would do that? Hell, how many BUSINESS OWNERS do you know who would do that? I’m thinking not many.

Why do you think he does that? My answer is that he wants those who learn from him to be successful, and ultimately wants them to GIVE BACK once they are capable of doing so — maybe by sharing a portion of their profits with charities or giving free photo sessions and prints to those who cannot afford it themselves.

Between the time I first gave Jimmy a listen and purchasing his classes, I wrote to him to tell him how much I enjoyed his podcast and his instructional “flavor.” He wrote back and had a few nice things to say about the blog. And that was pretty much it until I wrote to him about a podcast he did that explained (in his southern, genuine, funny-without-even-trying way) what you should recommend your clients NOT wear in a shoot (Episode #30, titled “What Not to Wear”). Basically, it was so hilarious that I had to listen to it again to see if I missed anything from laughing so hard.

Anyway, while I had already planned on blogging about Jimmy because he’s been so helpful, I decided to write about him sooner because he spoke about me and the blog on one of his podcasts (Episode #31, to be exact).

Now, I have to explain that I don’t often listen to podcasts right after they’re posted. In fact, I listen to my iPod in weird cycles. I go on audio book binges, then after a few podcasts have piled up, I begin knocking them out. Then I go on music binges . . . and so on and so on. Suffice it to say that it had been a while since hearing Jimmy’s voice. And saying I was surprised to hear him mention me AND the blog would be a definite understatement.

Because it wasn’t just “Hey, Kathleen, thanks for the letter,” but at least a minute or two about how funny he thought the blog was. And then he compared me to ERMA BOMBECK. I could. have. died.

Because she’s the reason why I started writing in the first place. She was my 4th grade hero — when all the other girls were reading Judy Blume and wishing for their periods and bras, I was reading Erma Bombeck. She reminded me of my own mom, and I always thought that if I were to ever become a parent, I’d want to be like her.

THEN reality set in. People all over the WORLD listen to Jimmy. And I realized that he’d driven them all to MY BLOG. The blog I hadn’t written on SINCE DECEMBER and still contained the ugly old purple theme and then I TOTALLY PANICKED thinking, “OhmyGod, Jimmy told them I was funny and I hadn’t brought the funny for MONTHS and then OHMYF-INGGOD that purple theme was so stupid why didn’t I change it up sooner?” It was similar to just learning that a friend was bringing over a celebrity in five minutes and you hadn’t showered yet and your house was an absolute mess.

Then I realized it was just Jimmy and “his peeps,” and I totally relaxed. He wouldn’t care about appearances and neither would those who listen to his podcast or hang out in his forums. They’re too nice for that.

I am anxious, though, to find out what they think of my photos . . .

Anyway, thank you Jimmy for the “shout out.” I wasn’t expecting it, and you didn’t have to share my little slice of blog heaven with the world, but you did.


02 2010

I’m Somewhere Between “1″ and “3″

I’ve been Facebooking a LOT lately, which has a lot to do with why I abandoned the blog. I’m so busy writing over there that I stopped writing over HERE. And don’t EVEN ask me how long it’s been since I’ve sent a tweet.

Anyhoo, Facebookers have been making up all these stupid themes lately (“What color is your bra day,” or “Retro Week,” for example) and for a while there I managed to avoid the silliness..

But then came the whole “enter your first name into and post the results into your status” thing.

And mostly out of curiosity, I looked myself up. Here’s what I found:

The sappy mama in me likes #1. The former ho-bag in me totally agrees with #2. The Catholic girl in me is happy with #3.

So tell me, O faithful readers, which one should I choose? :)


02 2010