Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Artist Spotlight | Wendy Zook Photography

Artist Spotlight:

Wendy Zook Photography 


  • Tell us a little bit about you.
    I'm Wendy of Wendy Zook Photography. I'm a Momma, a wife, photographer and wearer of many hats. I'm a Jersey Girl originally (and fiercely proud of that) and have previously lived in south-central Pennsylvania, northeastern PA and, most recently, Rochester, New York. My husband's job brought us to the Frederick County, Maryland, area earlier this year and we love it so far. I'm definitely an old soul -- I love to read, enjoy a warm cup of tea at night and classic films. I've been learning yoga for almost two years now and it's been an incredible journey so far.

  • What’s in your bag.
    I'm a Nikon gal all the way. I've been shooting with D700 bodies for the past two wedding seasons. I've had opportunities to upgrade but really love the feel of the D700 so I'll probably hang onto them for at least one more wedding season. I love using prime lenses. My only zoom is a wide angle 20-35mm that works great for getting ready moments and tight spaces. My favorite lens is the 135mm -- it has helped me capture some of my FAVORITE images of 2017. I've also got an 85mm, a 50mm, a 60mm macro and an assortment of crazily-organized memory cards, batteries, speed lights, chargers, detail shot accessories and all the emergency kit essentials. I just upgraded to a large ThinkTank roller suitcase and am so grateful for the ease of just rolling one bag on a wedding day. Last year I also purchased a HoldFast MoneyMaker harness to lug my two camera bodies around and it's been such a relief for my back especially. I love getting fun comments about the harness.

  • When did you fall in love with photography? How long?
    My mom's family has always had cameras floating around. There was always an assortment of flashes going off at holiday get-togethers and always a small group huddled over their gear talking about their recent purchases. I love having memories of my family and my childhood and that ability to freeze time has always stuck with me. My first "real" camera came in 2010 after the birth of my son. Professional photography services, including my first wedding, began around 2012.

  • What sort of work do you specialize in?
    The majority of my work is with couples -- weddings, engagement, and proposals. I love a good love story and enjoy being along for their journey together, getting to know my couples as friends and staying close long after their vows.

  • Do you create personal work often?
    Sigh. Not as much as I would like! Isn't that always the case, though? I definitely do more personal work around the holidays and over "slow" season's winter months, which always recharges me before the next wedding season.

  • What or who got you started in photography?
    My uncle is a talented photographer and artist and has always been an inspiration to me creatively. Many years ago, he and I walked for a couple of miles around my new home, toting our cameras, sharing shots, offering tips and dodging an impending thunderstorm. It is a memory that will always stay with me and it was during that walk that I realized the power my camera and my photography could bring. My husband encouraged and supported my passion for photography when we started our own family and has been crucial in making my business become successful.

  • Who are some of you favorite artists past or present?
    I always admired Annie Liebovitz and her work. I loved how she was able to capture a subject that EVERYONE knew in a way that no one expected. Currently, I enjoy getting to know new photographer friends and cheering on their journeys.

  • How often do you get in front of the camera?
    As much as I, like so many others, get nervous and anxious in front of the camera, I am trying to be present in photographs from this period of our lives more often. I want my kids to have memories of me WITH them when they're older. Also, there's something to be said for a friend and talented photographer capturing you at your best and making you feel like a million bucks! My recent headshots from Jessi of Lovebug Photography and Jenny of Lass&Beau made me feel so gorgeous afterwards. I love using them.

  • What are some of favorite photographer communities?
    Definitely The Rising Tide Society. Although it's not a photographer-only organization, I've made some of my closest creative friends through them and their monthly Tuesdays Together meetings and have learned so much about running my business and being a successful entrepreneur. Finding yourself a great group like RTS helps you feel not so alone in the sometimes-isolating world of entrepreneurship and working from home.

  • Print or Digital? Why?
    Both!I love the ease, for myself and my clients, of offering digital options, but always encourage them to do something with them -- whether it's picking 1-2 favorites to hang on the wall, creating a beautiful wedding album to remember their big day or sending holiday cards to loved ones each year.

  • Do create other types of art? What kind(s)?
    Aside from photography, I most love words. I love reading, blogging, writing poetry and sending handwritten snail mail whenever possible.

  • How do you balance your personal/family and passion?
    I'm most successful when I'm realistic with my expectations and how much I'm likely to get done and I'm most happy when I give myself a little bit of wiggle room and a heck of a lot of grace. I plan and schedule personal adventures just like I schedule my consults and photo sessions and that works great for me.

  • From where do you draw your inspiration?
    My children inspire me daily to find adventures, create joy and embrace creativity and spontaneity. Nature and the outdoors constantly brings me ideas and a love for color and light. Each of my couples opens my door to new possibilities and exciting new potential.

  • What's your best digital resource?
    I love PASS for my photo galleries, TailWind for scheduling social media and my beloved Google Calendar for keeping me on track. HoneyBook is the best in my opinion for all of my business management needs.

  • What kinds of creative collaborations have you done?
    Every wedding is a sort of creative collaboration -- several vendors working together to take care of our clients and do our best work while complementing one another is so key. I have also participated in several styled shoots which always get you out of your comfort zone and bring forth new ideas and ways of looking at things. I have teamed up with Sixth Bloom to share tips to other photographers and love supporting them.

  • Do you work with any charities or special projects? Which ones? Shout them out.
    The National Down Syndrome Society is near and dear to my heart. They were the first and best resource I discovered after our son, Zachary, was diagnosed with Down syndrome after his birth in 2010. In late 2016, I participated in a rockstar-themed photo shoot with more than 50 models and self-advocates who brought incredible joy to my life and helped me realize the wonderful journey our family is on. The photos from those days in New York City were used in marketing and also for the annual NDSS fundraising gala. Recently, I captured moments from the NDSS Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. During those two days, self-advocates traveled from 40 states to meet with their legislators as part of the promotion of a proposed new bill that would give more rights to working individuals with special needs.

  • If you could go back in time, what advice would give to your young photographer self, today?
    Practice, all the time, in all sorts of lighting, with all types of backdrops, using all of your equipment.
    And find other people who will encourage and uplift you along the way.

  • What tips would you give to Artsies reading this in an inspirational rut?
    Go somewhere unexpected with your art. Find a new location to explore; be creative with someone else; do something that gets you out of your comfort zone. Do you photograph people? Go shoot landscapes this weekend. Are you stuck on posing? Search magazines and websites for inspiration -- and then, don't copy them but make them YOU and yours. And above all else, open your heart to someone and let them help you during this time.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Healthy Leftover Turkey Idea - Tex Mex Chili

Ok, so we all enjoyed our Thanksgiving and all.the.food... maybe a little too much. ;)
 Starting a diet and sticking to it is hard enough, but when you add the Holiday seasons (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) we may tend to be more generous with the calories than we'd like. 
Now that Thanksgiving is over, do you need healthy ideas for those leftover turkey legs and thighs (or turkey meat in general)?
Well, look no further. My husband, and awesome chef, Tim made the most amazing chili AND it's low in calories... so I (and you) can eat.it.up.
Guilt Free!

Leftover Turkey, Tex-Mex Chili
(2) Turkey Legs, shredded (already cooked to recommended temp)
(2) Turkey Thighs, shredded (already cooked to recommended temp)
(1) can Corn, 
no salt added; drained 
(1) can Pinto Beans, no salt added; drained
(1) can Black Beans, no salt added; drained
(1) can 28 oz Diced Tomatoes; drained
(1) Medium Onion; diced
32 oz of Turkey Bone Stock

Seasonings - Add to your taste
Salt & Pepper
Chipotle Pepper Powder
Chili De Arbol Powder
Corriander Powder
Ground Cumin
Chili Powder
Hickory Liquid Smoke
Hot Sauce (We used Tapatio)

Put ingredients and seasonings in crock-pot on low for 6 hours. Yes, that's it! 
So super easy, and extremely delicious!
Good for 6 servings:
Calories - 381 | Carbs - 41g | Fat - 11g | Protein - 39g | Sodium - 548mg | Sugar - 12g

Once done, serve in bowls topped with your favorites for chili... onion, sour cream, shredded cheese. 
We left ours plain, so we didn't add any extra calories.

You won't be sorry you made this ;)  If you do, come back & comment how you liked it! 

Gratitude During the Holiday Season

I have a pumpkin cheesecake in the oven, a dog that needs a bath, and packing to do for our Thanksgiving trip! During the busy holiday season, sometimes it is hard to pause and practice gratitude. In this case, I am thankful my son gave me enough peace to bake, thankful Leo is such a good dog, thankful for all of the endless little boy clothes I need to pack, and thankful to have the family to be visiting for the holidays.

You may have heard before that I need tv shows or music playing while I am working late at night to help me focus. Lately, this has included many YouTube videos of interviews with Maya Angelou by Oprah and others. If you are looking for inspiration, look these videos up and start there.
When you practice gratitude every day, it is amazing how much everything changes. A dear friend of mine, who is also a photographer also started on this journey with me a few weeks ago. Drowning in the busy season and trying to figure out how we can improve our businesses for next year, we set goals for ourselves and talked about how important it is to have a positive state of mind and practice gratitude.

Within days of consciously changing our mindsets, we were amazed at all of the amazing things that started happening for ourselves and our businesses.. the power of your state of mind is truly amazing. I realized that along with my hard work and dedication, changing my frame of mind to see the positives and be thankful in all situations, good and bad, was helping me to be successful in my business and in my personal life.

So this holiday season, I challenge you.. to see the glass half full. Be thankful for what you have been blessed with.. even if it does not seem like you can find anything in that moment to be thankful for, there is always something.


photo credit: Tara Heinl of Sweet Rose Elise Photography; edit by Erika Venci

Erika Venci Photography is an award-winning lifestyle and portrait artist in Columbus, Ohio