A Smart Girl’s Survival Kit for the New Decade (D122)

So I’m not sticking with the theme this week. I will definitely work on that in 2010. But for today I want to reflect on where I was 10 years ago at this time. In one word, Y2K. Well, if that’s a word.

I was a single mom in a ministry that was a bit apocalyptic (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, but only a little). Seriously though, we were strongly “encouraged” to create emergency survival kits. Of course with my bent toward organization I was elected as one of the organizers for my roommates. I had emergency drinking water in silver packets, along with an extensive list of other supplies, including a space blanket, pocket knife, and toothbrush. And despite all my frequent moving around the country in the last decade, I still hung on to my kit.


Being a single mom in my twenties with a five-year-old, I was concerned about what we would do in the case of an earth-shattering event. I didn’t really believe it would happen, but I also couldn’t completely ignore it.

As 2009 comes to a close, I find myself going through my old emergency survival kit and throwing out toothpaste that expired eight years ago, tossing out water that expired five years ago and don’t even ask what the fruit roll up looked like ten years later.

As I reflect back on the last ten years and how far I’ve come as a person, I have to smile. It seems like another lifetime. I’d like to think I’m much wiser and more balanced when it comes to “threats” like Y2K. I’m less inclined to buy into hype and hyperbole from anyone.

Personally, I cannot believe how much God has worked in my life to bless and transform me. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I marvel at what has already taken place. My hope and prayer is that the next ten years will be characterized by greater joy, contentment, and love.

What am I packing in my “survival kit” for the next decade? Here are just a few things: my camera, moleskin notebook (never leave home without one), iPhone (music, podcasts, Kindle books, notes, etc.), lots and lots of images, glasses (ugh), favorite books, Bible, and memories of a life I never imagined I’d be living.

Where were you ten years ago? Where do you hope to be ten years from now? What’s in your survival kit for the next decade?

Manual: Last page—since it’s the last day of the year, I read the last page of my manual.

Images: Gordon Parks book Half Past Autumn. Stunning, inspiring photography.

Reason #121 to Unclutter Your Life…

Hidden treasure. Seriously, I found hidden treasure in my uncluttering today.

The most valuable treasures I found were my collector’s figurines that I received as a gift years ago. I love these girls and am so thrilled to have found them so I can display them in my room. They make me happy every time I see them.


Also unearthed a picture box with 3 mini frames. Inside were stashed pictures my hubby had printed of us when we were just dating! Talk about flashback to the past.

I must say that uncluttering the garage is going to take longer than I planned. More on that later, but let’s just say that the spider webs are a serious deterrent to my organizational efforts.


Specs: Shot today’s image with my 50 mm lens while holding a video light in my left hand. 1/125 @ f/2.5, ISO 400. Processed in Lightroom with Gavin Seim Vintage 1 preset, then decreased contrast and increased blacks and saturation.

Manual: Page 11—The Write Protect Switch.

Images: Looked at the latest images added to Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School blog. Great photo resource if you haven’t checked it out. I was recently interviewed by one of their writers, so I’m excited to read the story once it goes live.

What NOT to Do on a Photo Shoot (D120)

You’re all set up for a photo shoot. Maybe it’s one of your first, you’re doing it for free to get practice or build your portfolio. Or perhaps it’s a client that booked you after seeing your images on Facebook or your blog.

You’re excited. You’ve looked at images for inspiration. You connected with your client online or via phone to make sure you understand what they’re looking for. Your gear is packed.

You don’t have a checklist to follow yet, but you’re pretty sure you’ve got everything ready. You even remembered to clean your lenses.

Off you go to the shoot…confident, inspired, ready.

After the initial greeting and small talk, you get set up. Tripod, lights, reflector or maybe you’re all natural light and hand held.

Here you go… shot 1, shot 2. Check the settings, adjust to fit the lighting conditions. Shot 3. Looking better.

Shot 4. No good. You check the back of your camera and the image isn’t showing up in the viewfinder. You think it’s just taking a while. You wait. Then decide to just take another shot. No good. That’s not working either. You look at the menu. Uh-oh.

What just happened? Do you know? Have you ever been there?

Battery is flashing. You forgot to recharge your battery! In all the excitement, you forgot one of the basic elements. This is the #1 thing NOT TO DO on a photo shoot.

(I’m not saying this happened to me. I’m not saying it didn’t either. I’m just saying…charge your battery.)


Today’s shot was impromptu. Pressed for time, I shot in auto. 5 quick shots. Not enough light or even height for the girls to really jump. So many things I would do differently. Can’t wait to get them in the studio for a REAL photo shoot! Processed with Kubota actions in Photoshop to change the color and make it fun!

Manual: Page 26—Shooting, Playback, Setup
Images: Browsed images online at photographer.com, StumbleUpon.com, and flickr.

Creating the Perfect Package (D119)

Today I put together a few gifts (albeit a bit late) for some dear friends. If you’ll remember about a month ago, I showed you an example of a new custom photo card I had printed with one of my images. Well, I had a few more printed and assembled them into sets of 10 cards with envelopes. I am so thrilled!


If you’re a photographer, this is something you should definitely consider. Here’s why:

  • It’s a great way to put all those great images you take to good use.
  • Having cards ready to send as thank you’s or thinking of you is super handy.
  • They are great to use yourself or assemble in packages as gifts.
  • If you’re a pro, your clients will love the thoughtfulness and special attention.
  • You and your images will stand out in people’s minds.

Need I go on? For those who aren’t pro photographers, these are the greatest cards to buy as a gift for someone else or yourself… just read all the reasons above. And they’re easy to write a quick note without worrying about how you’re going to fill up all the space on a blank card! I’m super excited about them and plan to select more images and quotes. Just you wait and see, I’ll be opening up my own card shop very soon!

Manual: Page 34—Focus Lock.

Images: Looked at images by Michelle Kane. Her images have a rich, deep, vibrant color to them.

How to Go From Picture Taker to Aspiring Photographer (D118)

That’s a paraphrase of what Natty, a fellow tasra365-er, wrote in her post last week. It beautifully captures why anyone and everyone interested in photography should join a challenge like this. Here are her words…

I went from being just an avid picture-taker (which I’ve always been actually) to an aspiring “for real” photographer. My dad would be so psyched for me right now.

I have learned more about photography in the last three months than I ever have in my life, and see the world with COMPLETELY different eyes. That is not an exaggeration.

I love that! And it inspires me to keep pressing on in the new year. 2010 is the year this project will be complete. I’ve already grown so much as a photographer, photo editor, and writer, that I can only imagine what the next 9 months have in store. If you haven’t yet joined us, now is the time! If you’ve fallen behind, get back on the wagon, there’s plenty of room for everyone!

Today’s image is just one of many in my uncluttering binge—magnetic studio tins as far as the eye can see. Prepare to see many more before and after shots in the next 7 days…I’m uncluttering my life in one week and it feels amazing!


Manual: Page 96—Metering.
Images: Looked at images from the coffee table book, The Art of Meaningful Living.

Dining with Picasso (D117)

tasra365-picasso-3 Instead of buying stuff for one another this Christmas, Ron and I decided to give each other the gift of time. So we planned an evening out, dinner at Picasso Wine Bar and dessert at Starbucks.

It was the perfect gift and made for some interesting images for today. I particularly love the colors, lines, and shapes of what I found and captured. But I guess that’s not surprising given the namesake of the restaurant.

What was your favorite gift you gave or received this year?

Manual: Page 68—Format Memory Card. Is it good to format your memory card frequently? I rarely do.

Images: Looked at an image by Tracy Hayes about lighting people in my book Studio Photography.

D116: He Finally Got It!

tasra365-look! Yep, his fifth Christmas and he finally really got it…Santa comes down the chimney, eats milk and cookies, gives us presents and we get to open them. But don’t forget about the real Christmas story and prayer before opening presents. Or about the three presents Santa promised when Daddy called him since it was too scary to meet Santa in person.

No, we definitely can’t forget those details. Nor will we forget when our son prayed last night before dinner…including God, aliens, Santa, cookies, and more. It even reduced Chris Brogan to tears (from laughter)!

And then this morning, he actually started to pray to Santa. Um, I think he’s a little confused. But, when he opens every present and says, “This is exactly what I wanted!” how can you do anything but smile and love his innocence.

Today’s image was one of those moments when he could hardly contain his excitement. It represents the excitement of the day for him and for all of us. I hope your day and memories are bright this year. Hold on to them until the next. Merry Christmas!

Feature Friday: Since it’s Christmas, I’m going to postpone Feature Friday until next week. Hope that’s okay.

Manual: Yes, I read a page since I hadn’t heard from Scott Bourne about whether or not I could skip it. Page i—Table of Contents.

Images: Looked at images in my new book about handpainting photographs. Interesting idea.

Joshua’s First Christmas Prayer from Ron Dawson on Vimeo.

D115: We Finally Moved In

This time last year we had only been in our house for about 10 days. And we had none of our stuff except what fit in our minivan for the drive cross country. The moving company hijacked our stuff for a month, including all the Christmas gifts so we made do with a couple air mattresses and camping chairs. Gifts were sparse, but we were warm and together and that’s what mattered.

Flash forward to today, we’ve lived here for just a little over a year and although it’s felt like home (and we have our stuff), we never got around to hanging pictures. So tonight for some reason we got it in our heads that would be a good idea for Christmas Eve. Don’t ask whose bright idea it was because I forget.

But, despite it taking 2 hours longer than we planned, we feel like we finally moved in. The Pièce de résistance is of course, the hallway. I’ve always loved hallways lined with framed photographs chronicling the life of the family. Now ours is complete.


I hope you spent your evening doing something just as heartwarming and fulfilling. For us, the time has come to tackle all the wrapping. I’m determined not to stay up until 3 am this year though.

Merry Christmas to one and all (including dear friend Scott Bourne… by the way Mr. Bourne, do I really have to read my manual and look at other people’s images tomorrow? Can a girl get a day off?)

Manual: Page 123—Camera Error Messages.

Images: Images from my Studio Photography book.

D114: Are You Lost in the Swirl of Holiday Frenzy?

As I write, it’s less than six hours from Christmas Eve. I’m starting to feel the pressure, as if I’m getting pulled into the swirling vortex of holiday frenzy. Am I alone? Or are you feeling the pull and getting lost in the swirl with me?


I’ve done well up until this point, not obsessed about gifts, shopping, baking. I ordered a few gifts here and there, but we really are being minimalist and earth- and budget-friendly this year. We’re focusing more on people than possessions. Spending time together instead of with stuff. So that’s all good.

But about 4 pm today some sort of holiday bug hit me and I started freaking out because we aren’t going to be able to get gifts to everyone on time unless we pay astronomical prices for shipping. Then I started stressing about whether people would feel like we don’t love them if we don’t send the standard yearly holiday card. I know it’s crazy and I fought it until now, so why has it got its grips in me?!?

I don’t know, but I’m going to keep fighting. Christmas and the holidays are NOT about presents. They aren’t about toys, gifts, packages, and stuff. Not even close. And I really want to get out of the habit of feeling like the success or failure of the holidays lives and dies by whether or not everyone gets what they want in time. Know what I mean?

So I’m battling the swirling vortex. Where are you?

Manual: Page 77—Color Mode. Played a bit with color on the images today. Can you tell?

Images: Looked at images online of a snowball fight in Times Square by Doug Kim, a freelance fine art, documentary photographer based in Brooklyn, NY.

D113: Twitter Tuesday

tasra365-bw Today is the first Twitter Tuesday on tasramar.com and I’m so excited! I get to share all the tweets that fellow photogs on the tasra365 journey have posted in the last 24 hours.

I LOVE this community of photographers! Thanks for letting me be a part of your life.

Wanna join next week? Just tweet your daily photo with the hashtag #tasra365.

And here are the tasra365 tweeps… please stop by their post and spread some holiday cheer! Let’s keep each other encouraged through the busy holidays so we can start the new year with excitement about completing our challenge!

@kenworley: Day 74: Cake, part of the 365 Challenge, is up http://artistken.blogspot.com/

@_iDavid: Day 105 a simple snowy tree http://bit.ly/6Bgbbk

@ingridew: Today’s Photo Happy as an Elf in a Tree http://bit.ly/5qBOkv

@Brian_e_Palmer: Day 101, Rusted.http://bit.ly/7as852

@kvoth: Just Posted: D113: Christmas Tree  http://bit.ly/92AdIR

@howlingwolves Day 61:- Tools of the trade http://j.mp/40zTaj

@lasdc9: day 82 and 83 posted to the #tasra365 challenge http://bit.ly/k40j4

@mariannacecere Day 67 of my #project365 is up: Hands. http://bit.ly/7jyBsv

@KKVille Day 92 Photo: As the sun sets. http://kkjphotography.com/

@mkh_photo: Monday’s Project 365 post: Day 107 – “Controlled Access

@dijea Day 61 & 62…..I’m caught up…..http://bit.ly/Q1m5s

My photo for the day… lights in black and white. Cropped in a square with rounded corners, just because. Wanted to see something different.

Specs: Nikon D50, 50 mm lens, 1/60 @ f/1.8, ISO 1600. Processed with Lightroom preset black and white high contrast. Added rounded corners.

Manual: Page 100—Custom Settings

Images: Looked at published images in the latest issue of Wired Magazine. Also looked at images of the latest nominee in the Photofocus Photographer of the Year contest.