Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017: Year of Growth, New Adventures & Thanks

It's 2018 already! But there are so many things to look back on and 2017 was a great year for me, personally.  

My husband and I, after almost 11 years being together, took our very first vacation. We went to Colorado, and it was amazing... perfect... and beautiful. We long to go back. 

January 1st, I started my very own 365 photography project. It was, at times, so hard to keep up. But I'm glad I did. Being able to look back at these daily memories... what more could I ask for?

In July, I had decided to take a drastic step back as a "professional" photographer, and really dive into my personal life with documentary & portrait photography. It gave me so many chances to learn new things, find new inspiration, and truly find my sense of self and style. 

In April, I started my weight loss journey. I have lost 45 pounds and 4 pant sizes in 2017! I could not have ever dreamed I'd have this kind of success after so many times of trying, failing, or stopping other journeys in the past. It's given me the confidence to get in more photos with my kids.

As for 2018... I have my goals (professional and personal) written and ready to begin come January 1st. 
  1. Get more creative with Food Photography
  2. Apply to Click Pro
  3. Book 1 creative session
I'll also be continuing on with another 365 project and my weight loss journey in 2018 as well. 
What I've been thankful for in 2017:
The Artistic Soul Blog for allowing me to conjure up some blogs this year for them. I'm so truly grateful and can't wait to write more in 2018. 

All the people that have answered Model calls and for those that have let me photograph them. You have no idea how much it means to me that you allowed me in your home to document your life, or document the next chapter in your life!

The clients that I have had this year. I feel blessed that y'all chose me.

My kids for putting up with my need to document just about everything and for always having a camera in their face.

My husband for putting up with a LOT of my crazy 😜. But mostly for being my rock, my biggest fan, and for helping me along with my weight loss journey. It's been his amazingly healthy dishes that make this easy to do!

Share your 2018 goals/resolutions with me!
Kelli, SimplyLife. Images By Kelli

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Dear Beautiful Mama, We Deserve Better

Dear Beautiful Mama, 

This post has been years in the making for me and gets ready because it is going to be a long one. For the last 2 years, I have had the immense privilege of photographing all kinds of mamas. I have photographed them in full makeup and their best dresses, I have photographed them in the moments after they have brought a new life into this world. I have seen them in the struggle as their little ones show up to a session cranky and tired. I have watched them as they close their eyes and slowly breathe in the sweet scent of their babes. And EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I am in awe. 
I am in awe of what we are and what we represent as women. It has been the greatest blessing to be able to use my camera lens as a way to look at what we do as women and mothers from an outsider's perspective. As a mama myself, I find that we so often get caught up in the fray, in the expectation of  what we are supposed to do, or be, or sound like, or look like as we do our best to handle it all ( because let's be real. We DO IT ALL!). 
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But let me get real with you guys for a second. You know what I also experience every single session with a lovely mama? Every single mom makes a comment that I dread. That one comment never sounds the same but it always means the same thing and it breaks my heart every time I hear it. Every mama has some comment about the concerns they have about their appearance in their photos. "Hopefully, you can photoshop me a few pounds thinner." "Man, I wish my hair was just a little less frizzy today." "I hope this dress doesn't make my tummy look chubby." No matter how many times I hear these comments the sadness of it always hits me the same way. 
And I totally get it, because honestly, I do it too. I see your stunning red hair and wish I had hair just like that. I see your petite figures and start to feel subconscious of those 3 (ok it was 4) tacos I had at lunch. I see that precious new baby in your arms and I long for one more chance to do it all again with my little ones. Its heartbreaking but it's what we do. But I have learned something in watching each of you from behind my lens. I have learned that its all in our heads. All of it. Our kids don't care if our hair was a little frizzy today. They just want to hear us laugh and get to play with us. I promise you those 5,10,20 extra pounds don't change a single one of the million reasons our partners love us. The only person who cares about it all is us. 
So let me lay some truth on all you mamas out there. I am going to tell you 100% honestly what I see when I photograph you. You ready?? I see the way your face lights up when you look at that little babe that looks just like you. I see the way your husband's face softens every time he looks you in the eyes. The strength that radiates from you when you have just gone through the raw beauty of childbirth. I see the pride on your face when you watch your kids play. I see the peace that comes over you when you rest in your partner's arms. That's what I see. In fact, I never see the things you point out to me that you are worried about. NEVER even after you mention it. Because what I see is so much more powerful. I see what you represent as a woman and a mother. I see your strength and the beauty that you show when you don't realize I have my camera on you. I see the way you lead your family with poise and I see the love you so freely share with others. 
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So today my one request is that you take a moment as often as possible and try to see yourself the way I see you through my lens. We are in this together mamas. Let's be kinder to ourselves. We both know that we deserve so much better. 
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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.