Friday, April 30, 2010

My System

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I have my system for keeping up with appointments. It's old and outdated -- I write them down on my free Half Price Books calendar. I also keep track of all my kids events and bills that are due on the same one. I highlight appointments, sessions, places I need to be in yellow. I highlight birthdays in pink, bills due in green and payments received in blue. Lately my calendar is a mess. I scribble all kinds of notes along the side -- phone numbers, directions to sessions, grocery lists. I realize it's a disaster waiting to happen but I don't know what to do . I tried to use my cell phone calendar to record everything, but I end up writing it on my handy free calendar and then forgetting to transfer it to the cell phone. I tried using Google calendars and the same thing is happening. I forget to update it. I tried to buy a fancy, new leather-bound calendar at the beginning of the year so I could pull it out in front of clients and show how together I am. I couldn't decide on the right color so I still pull out my freebie calendar and laugh it off with a confident "it gets the job done."

A disaster happened last month when I spilled some Diet Coke on my calendar. Everything was a smudgy mess and I had to guess my way around the more splotchy areas. I came out okay. I didn't miss any appointments then. But now with a recent increase in business -- which is wonderful by the way -- I'm finding myself looking for a new system. I've filled every inch of the month of April and May is starting to look pretty complex. It's hard to read my way through the complex labyrinth of appointments, bills due and birthdays. There has to be a better way. Perhaps one of those big desk size calendars would be more appropriate, but then I couldn't grab it and stick it in my bag on my way out to meetings. I'm open to suggestions. What works for you?

By the way, today I'm sharing a shot from a session I did last week. Such sweet kids! Most boys would probably snarl if I asked them to rub noses with their little sister, but not this one. Thanks for letting me capture these moments!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Going to the chapel....

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Meet Nella, one of the sweetest ladies I've met in a long time. Nella found her Prince Charming and will be marrying him this weekend and I'm so honored she asked me to capture her special day. I'm looking forward to this wedding on the Riverwalk and I'm excited about sharing it with you next week. We had a last minute engagement session last night at the Japanese Tea Gardens and got to share the space with no fewer than a dozen other professional photographers shooting bridals, quinceaneras, senior portraits and family portraits. Now I know where all the cool photographers hang out and the secret is out! Not a good place to shoot on a weekend, however, or so I was told by another photographer who made the mistake of scheduling a session there on a Sunday and had to compete with hordes of tourists. But Monday evening was nice and the light was perfect.

On the home front I had the honor of sleeping on a hard floor in NASA with 300 Girl Scouts the other night. My back is still thanking me for that honor. The girls had a blast, however, and will never forget the fun. I, however, would love to forget that floor. As well as the mannequin in a space suit hovering 20 feet above my head as I slept. I kept having visions of Night at the Museum and was horrified by the prospect of looking up only to see him smiling and waving down at me. But since there were no magical tablets from ancient civilizations on display, I was pretty safe. I did return home with bug bites all over my torso and rear end and I'm a bit worried about the possibility that I may have picked up a mutant space bug in my pajamas that will torment me with an incurable rash. Houston, I have a problem.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dear Summer: Please hurry

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Just a few weeks to go. A few more weeks of crazy, end of school year mayhem. Some of you know we booked a trip to Disneyworld this summer and are ticking off the days to get away. We're all exhausted by this time of the year. It's hard to keep up with three kids and all their functions, running Lisa on Location, and leading a couple of Girl Scout troops on top of it. It's also getting into the heart of wedding season so the engagement sessions and bridals are piling up and I don't have a free weekend between now and the end of May. Remember that commercial where the lady shouts "Calgon take me away"? I'm feeling the need to shout "Mickey Mouse take me away."

I had another full weekend to share. First I wanted to share a photo from an engagement session. Really great couple -- I can't wait until the wedding. I also got a chance to shoot the Girl Scouts Me and My Guy Dance. That was a lot of fun. I usually send Jayme and the girls off to this dance and get some one-on-one time with the boy. But this year I volunteered to shoot the formal portraits and donate the proceeds to SHARE -- an organization that provides the funds so every girl can enjoy Girl Scouting regardless of her ability to pay for uniforms and supplies. It was really a blast. I'd never had a chance to see all these dads, grandfathers, uncles, cousins or special role models cutting loose and dancing with their little girls. It was such a joy to see so many great dads and father figures.

Okay so another busy weekend is behind me. Next on the list, Girl Scouts NASA sleepover, garage sale, two weddings, two engagement sessions, at least half a dozen family sessions, dance recital, piano recital, family picnic, leader banquet, photo classes, and then --- Disneyworld here we come. Whew!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Beach Day Wrap-up

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
The first Lisa on Location Beach Day is done and up for viewing. I have to admit, I was having kind of a bad weekend at first. I had a no-show for one of my sessions the day before, I was grossly overcharged by a big corporation who shall remain nameless and was suddenly off budget, and I woke up that morning to find my sweet cat Tootsie not looking too good (see blog below). The sky was overcast and rainy and I feared we would be rained out. I packed up the family nonetheless who were all excited about beaching it.

The drive down there was pretty clear, besides the intermittent drizzling of rain. My foul mood, however, took a nosedive when I got pulled over for speeding. Honestly! If you know me this will totally surprise you. I'm often teased for my lack of ability to drive over the speed limit. It was one of those towns that lowers the speed limit little by little really quickly and if you aren't on your toes -- like I wasn't because I was concentrating on looking for the correct turn -- you can get trapped.

So I showed up in Port Aransas with a major chip on my shoulder. Only made all the more troubling by a last minute call to cancel made by one of my families. That was okay. I totally understood! The rain was troubling many people that day and the line to get on the ferry to get the heck out of town was extremely long.

So have you ever had one of those days -- or actually a series of days -- where nothing really seems to go right. Where it seems like the fates are conspiring against you. That was me on my Beach Day. Until I showed up at one of my client's beach condo -- where she recommended I have my sessions. This family looked so great all dressed in their khakis and so excited and happy to see me. Their smiles were contagious and we jumped right in to our session. It started drizzling part way through and I half expected them to want to go inside and call it a day. But they were content to splash around the surf with the rain drizzling down and the wind kicking up.

The next family on the schedule reacted the same way. They were just thrilled to be there and were so great to work with.

What I ended up with wasn't exactly the series I had in mind. I was picturing blue skies and a perfect sunset. But I kind of like the dreamy quality in these images. Made possible by heavy fog and drizzle along the horizon. I was grateful I had my handy weather-sealed 70-200 with me. I wasn't too worried about the drizzle and the sand on the breeze. It turned into a really great Beach Day after all.

So I guess the moral of this story is that something beautiful can come from even the dreariest of days. The date of my next Beach Day is still to be set but I promise it will be a Saturday and I will give plenty of notice.

Sleep Well My Tootsie

My Tootsie Cat is gone. It wasn't a tragedy. She was 18 years old. She was a blessing to me. She lived her life the way every cat dreams of. She never knew human cruelty, she never knew hunger, she never knew what it was like to sleep outside -- afraid, cold and alone. She was born in my parents garage while I was in college. I brought her to live with me in my first apartment. She was the first animal that I was totally responsible for all by myself. I spoiled her rotten.

She was with me when I graduated from college, got my first real job, moved away to a new city all alone. Then she was with me when I met my husband, got married, and brought home 3 different newborn babies over a span of 7 years. She's seen the worst in me and the best in me.

I video taped her as a kitten standing up on her hind legs and barking like a dog. She was great entertainment for my college friends who had planned on me striking it rich by sending those videos to America's Funniest Home Videos and, of course, sharing my wealth with them for their outstanding moral support. I never sent the video.

She was also my first model when I was a photography student back in the old film days. I would pose her, she would of course not stay that way. Looking through my old photo album last night I saw shot after shot of her tail end running away from my elaborately staged photo sets. Because it was the days of film, I couldn't check my exposure on the spot. So there are dozens upon dozens of badly exposed shots of her as I experimented and failed time and time again.

I had this kitty baby for almost half of my life. She was the pet of a lifetime. The one who will always stand out as I get older as the one who was a part of me.

She doesn't leave me catless of course. I still have Stinky -- the Siamese who refuses to use the litter box. She is almost as old as Tootise was. She just turned 15. And then there's Duchess. The pure white gorgeous kitty who does know human cruelty and hunger -- I rescued her from the shelter in 1996 and she's still skittish and fearful of strangers. She's about 14. Then of course there's the baby -- Kody -- a mere 7 months old. She belongs to my girls and she enjoys destroying things and causing problems.

There's a peace over the house today along with the sadness. Because I know that I gave Tootsie a good life. I know that she was happy. And the happiness that she brought me will live forever.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mother's Day Photo Project

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Mother's Day is just a few short weeks away. Time to start planning!

Most of you know that every year I like to come up with a special project for the kids to make for their moms. I'm a mom and I love getting cool hand made gifts from my kiddos, but most of the time it's me who comes up with the gift ideas. I can't take credit for this one, however, because I happened upon it the other week while reading the archives of Carey Schumacher -- one of my favorite photographers along the west coast. It just oozes coolness to me and it's so super easy anyone can do it.

You'll need to take a little control of your camera so put it in AV or manual mode. You want your aperture pretty wide open to get sufficient blurring of the child's face. Set your F-stop to as low a number as possible -- these are at F2.8, but if your lens doesn't go down that low, that's okay. You can still get some decent background blur if you stand far away and zoom in on your kiddo's fist. Have your child stand with their fist up at you as if they're handing you a flower. I had to trick some of the little ones by offering a toy and snapping when they reached up to grab it. One little one simply refused to reach up at me so I loosely tied a piece of yarn around her wrist -- much like you would a balloon string -- and pulled her little fist up. She thought it was funny as could be and her expression was priceless. I then had to go into Photoshop and erase that string but it was pretty easy to do. Focus on the child's fist but get their face out of focus in the background. Snap the photo and there you are. I went into Photoshop and added the words "Happy Mother's Day 2010" on mine, but that's not necessary if you don't have the means to add text to your photo. Or you can always add that after the fact with stickers or paints.

I then had the kids paint a 5X7 frame or a mat. The little ones just made fingerprints or hand prints around the edge.

Next, after having the photos printed up, I used a razor to slash a little slice right above the fist and another right below the fist -- obviously this is a job for you and not the kiddos. Then I got a silk flower and stuck it through the holes. The stem pushes the fist up just a bit under the photo adding to that 3-dimensional effect. The sharper the focus on the fist, the better the results will be. I also used metallic paper because it seems to give the photo even more of a 3-D look.

Okay, now you have a project and a few weeks to work on it. Get going! And if you need some help with that photo, drop me an e-mail and I'll see what I can do!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Clock is Ticking on Bluebonnet Season

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
Texas in the spring time is a beautiful thing to see. We're known as the wildflower state and it's easy to see why when you travel down I-10 to Houston, or up I-35 to Temple. There are plenty of magnificent displays of red and blue and purple and yellow wildflowers all over the state. We've had an especially vibrant crop this year because of the cold, wet winter, whereas last year was a dry spell for us. Not much of anything colorful popped up in 2009. I guess that's why everyone is so in awe of this year's crop. On our Easter road trip to see the grandparents we couldn't go a mile without seeing cars pulled off to the side of the road, families traipsing through the flowers to find the perfect spot.

I've had a good time with bluebonnet sessions as well. I found a spot that I absolutely love. I discovered it early in the season and kept my mouth shut, only sharing with a few people. But it wasn't long before everyone else discovered it themselves. This little plot of land outside of New Braunfels that I've passed thousands of times the rest of the year became a booming draw for motorists the past couple of weeks. I shot this family there last weekend and wanted to share one of the images. It's getting harder, however, to find a spot amongst these flowers that hasn't been trampled yet. And many of the bluebonnets have started going to seed and are soon to disappear for the year.

I still have to get my own kids out there -- have to put them on the calendar I guess and treat it like a client's session or it'll never get done! But I need to do it soon or these blooms will be gone for another year. And who knows when we'll get another year like this.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sometimes It's Best to Trust the Pros

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
I'm a do-it-myselfer. The dryer broke last year. I researched it on Google, got the part I needed and fixed it myself -- or rather printed out the step by step guide and made Jayme fix it. We do our own yardwork, never hire a cleaning lady (don't I wish we would), we do our own taxes, paint our own walls, steam clean our own carpets, the plumbing gets clogged up -- that would be Jayme's job -- but I've also been the main hair cutter for my kids. I don't claim to know what I'm doing, but my kids aren't picky and it's always a special treat when I actually take them to a real hair stylist.

I goofed up last week, however. The boy needed a haircut and I attempted to give him one. He just turned 4 so sitting still for him is always a challenge. The mess he ended up with was straight from a sitcom. I was a bit ashamed to admit we needed help. I asked around and found out about an old place on Landa Street that many of the locals here have been going to their whole lives.

Walking into JD's Barber Shop is like stepping back 50 years. This place is packed with antiques -- antique waiting chairs, antique barber chairs, antique mirrors, antique coke machine. But they aren't decorated with antiques to be stylish and retro, everything's an antique because everything's just been there that long. Nobody greeted me when I entered, but the place was packed. We squeezed into a couple of chairs and looked around. Antlers on the ceiling, antlers on the walls, old issues of Field and Stream stared back at us. I turned to the nice lady next to me and asked "is there a sign in sheet?" "No" she said, "you just kind of remember who you were here before."

Okay, so we sat and waited. I coached the boy on how to sit still. "You see how still that boy is sitting in the chair," I said. "Can you sit still like him?"

"Yes," he tells me with a fierce look of concentration on his face. He had a mission. His job was to sit still and let the man cut his hair. His reward would be a sucker. Soon there was a call from the chair. "Next," a barber called out. We looked around. Several of the men made moves but then motioned to another. Everyone was so polite. Everyone was taking turns. A couple of men got up to take their places in the open chairs. We waited a few minutes more. A 9-year-old was in a chair. The barber asked him how many girlfriends he had. The boy blushed and answered "none." I should hope so.

Before long we heard it again. "Next." We were up. The boy hopped in the chair. I sheepishly went over the details of my failed attempt at cutting the boy's hair myself. The man didn't blink, he didn't judge, he went to work. A few snips of the scissors, a few clicks of my camera -- which is always by my side -- a few buzzes of the electric razor and -- boom -- he was done. A new little man sat before me. He never looked so grown up as he did just then. All fresh and trimmed with a big boy haircut and a serious expression of accomplishment. He had sat still. He knew it was time for his promised sucker. I did better than that. He got a sucker AND a happy meal.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lisa on Location is having a beach day

Originally uploaded by lisablaschke
My family and I are planning a little day trip to the beach in a couple of weeks and so I thought it would be fun to meet a few of my regular clients for a little mass photo session. I put the idea out there to my fans on my Facebook page and got a really great response. Basically I won't be charging a session fee to anyone who wants to meet me on the Port Aransas beach after the close of Sandfest. We'll meet close to sunset and shoot about half an hour with each family.

It is, however, a Sunday afternoon on a school night so I've been getting e-mails about offering a Saturday afternoon shoot as well. Okay! I promise to offer a Saturday afternoon session as well, but that will have to wait until at least next month because my Saturdays are filled up for April.

I'm really looking forward to it. I love the beach. It's the best natural backdrop possible and everybody looks so beautiful with the wind in their hair and the golden sun on their face. Check back in a couple of weeks for a date on that Saturday beach day and drop me an e-mail if you want to be included in this or the next Lisa on Location Beach Day.