Going to Haiti!!!!

It's finally arrived!!!  

We leave this week for our trip to Haiti and Dominican to help build a school in Haiti and a home for a deserving family in the Dominican and we were just introduced to the family!!!!


This family of four consists of husband and wife, Jose (33) and Juanemilia (21), and their two children, Luis (3) and Wisnalyn (6 months). Jose has been living in the community for 25 years, and his wife recently relocated there 2 years ago. Jose works at a local car wash, and Juanemilia, who was only able to complete elementary school, stays home to care for the two young children. They are excited to be receiving a new home, as the one they are living in currently is unsafe, with mold problems, and rain that comes through the walls and roof.

Check out the baby girl and little boy!!!!  Better go empty my camera memory card cuz I've got a feeling it will be FULL of these two by the end!!!

Then we get to go help build this school in Haiti… 
it's up on a mountain… 
I should have worked out more to prepare!!!


I have to say this whole trip has somewhat snuck up on me!!!  Even though I've done a fairly good job of planning ahead and started gathering things for the trip months ago, I'm still finding myself suddenly frantically packing and creating last minute shopping and "to-do" lists!!  

I blame it on this past long weekend… it took away my Monday and I was counting on that day!!  But it was sooo worth it!!!  I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE watching my kids play soccer and I LOVE LOVE LOVE taking photos of the action (outdoors especially)…



Justin is in his last year of "regular" soccer and will need to play on a men's team next year if he wishes to continue (ACK!!!  My baby boy is growing up!!!!) so I'm desperate to not only watch every one of his final games, but to capture the memories as well in photos… 
it's a happy sad sort of thing… 
I envision myself scrapbooking after my kids have left home and laughing and crying as I relive it all.  But I'm going to stop now, because if I continue with this line of thought, I will end up in tears as I type!

Back to Haiti… I cannot wait.
I cannot wait to experience again the deep inner joy of making a difference in our world.
I cannot wait to experience it with so many close family and friends.
I cannot wait to capture images that will forever preserve it all.
And I cannot wait to come back and share with you all I learn and see and do.

What Moms REALLY want...



Mother's Day is this weekend...

I'm the first to admit that I love and eat chocolate and thoroughly enjoy beautiful flowers… but if you asked me what I REALLY want for Mother's Day, those things would be so far down the list (in fact I really DON'T want them on "expected days")!!

So when my son asked me awhile ago what I'd like as a gift "that wasn't too expensive" as he doesn't have a lot of money right now… I knew immediately…

"There is nothing I want more right now than a beautiful photo of me and you".

"I think I can do that", he replied.  "I'm beginning to see why they are important".


You'd think as a photographer I'd have thousands of me and my kids… but I don't.  I'm usually the one behind the camera so I have to be more intentional with this.

And when I think about what if something happened to them or to me, I fear I don't have enough photos!!!

Yup, even my son is starting to recognize that life as we know it today won't be the same as tomorrow and isn't what it was yesterday… 
we grow, we change, and sadly…

we lose loved ones sometimes unexpectedly… far before "their time"…

like the 5 university students here in Calgary recently…
like the niece my friend lost this week...

and suddenly photos are immensely meaningful, and precious, and coveted. 

And so that is what I as a Mom REALLY want for Mother's Day this year… some beautiful photos of me with my kids.

And I'm guessing many other moms out there would say the very same thing and so I have a special gift offer to give you what I want for myself… buy it for yourself or for your mom or a new mom or show it to someone who will buy it for you!!! 

And I've committed to giving 25% of the certificates bought towards helping moms and kids and families in Haiti when I go in 3 weeks…  what could be more special this Mother's Day?!?!?!


Oh and meanwhile go hug your loved ones and let them know you love them.

Mixed Media for Photography?!?!?!


So suffice it to say… I am just having WAY TOO MUCH FUN!!!

Not only am I LOVE LOVE LOVING playing in my new studio with beautiful everyday women (like Carlyn seen above who is expecting her first baby soon!!)… but I am also LOVING learning and playing with computer editing on my portraits!!!

As an artist who has been active in the scrapbooking world for decades and a photographer for even longer, it pleases me to no end to be able to create art with my photography!!!  Starting with beautiful props, gorgeous fabrics and a plethora of flowers and creative photo sessions with hair and makeup perfect for portraits and posing women just right to look their best and editing with artistic filters and colours and effects on the computer and finally presentation of professionally printed images in a beautiful frame or folio box.


And it IS ALL ART!!!  

In the crafting world, we call combining artistic methods "Mixed Media" (and may I just say that my soul sista Christy Riopel is the Queen of Mixed Media?!?!?!  Check out this piece she did recently… I am in love… and she's going to help me do my own art canvas for my home!!!  Be sure to watch for that reveal!!!)


Anyways, I'm not sure what the equivalent of "Mixed Media" would be in the world of photography, but I am having fun exploring it and pushing the boundaries… 
all while helping everyday women get to experience something fun where they get to look and feel gorgeous and have a beautiful artistic portrait of themselves that they can be proud of…

Like Sammi (below) who bravely shaved her head for a friend going through cancer…
who is graduating this year…
and deserves to have a beautiful portrait in her stunning grad dress.

Calgary GRAD Portraits

It seems like the entire year of Grade 12 is dedicated to graduating!!!

In between studying and making sure you actually pass and get into the college or university you would like, it is also a fun time of... 
finding a dress
choosing a hairstyle
 securing a limo...

but please don't forget about the PORTRAITS… especially those beyond the typical cap and gown!!  

After all, portraits preserve the memories of this wonderful milestone in life so be sure to save some time and money to invest in this extra fun part of graduation that will truly last a lifetime :)

And gathering a group of friends makes it extra special!!



I have a NEW GRAD PACKAGE ready to go for 2014 GRADS so be sure to contact me soon if you are interested.  I want to capture the true YOU!!!


Brazil… my own personal Soap Opera

I admit that back in my college days, I watched Days of Our Lives… it wasn't my fault though.

My roommate and I had one of the only TVs in the dorm and after lunch, all the girls would gather on our waterbed (yes, this was the 80s) and watch Days of Our Lives.  Despite my initial mocking of this ritual, I found myself gradually enthralled in a few story lines (ok… anything with Bo Brady) and before I knew it, I was fully hooked and joined in watching the ups and downs, tears and rejoicing and crazy plot twists!!

So what does this have to do with my recent trip to Brazil??  Well, the weeks leading up to leaving and the actual trip had a somewhat "Soap Opera" feel for me… ups and downs and crazy plot twists… and lots of tears!!  Let me explain…


I've sponsored children in Brazil for many years… and I've met each one of my "children".  That alone has ups and downs because 2 of them I currently have no idea where they are now… each time I go to Brazil, I pray I find them or see them, but to date, I have never heard again from Alexandre or Carina :(

Then two years ago while in Brazil, our family chose to sponsor Taira Patrick Machado Rodrigues…


It was easy to love Patrick (he preferred we call him this as we struggled to pronounce his first name!)  He was a soccer player on his way to possibly play for a professional team (he spent hours playing soccer with Justin and Lindsey)



And he was always full of joy and happiness and fun… and he spoke fairly good English which really helped!!  And when we returned to Canada, we continued to talk on Skype and Facebook and he slipped into my heart like he was one of my own children. 

So I had been anxiously waiting for 2 years to return to Brazil to see Patrick and all the other kids at Chain of Love. Patrick's birthday was Feb. 6 (he turned 18) and I was so excited as I was arriving the next week on Feb. 14 and had both Christmas and Birthday gifts ready to deliver along with two years of missed hugs.  We talked online the morning of his birthday and I thought all was well...

But I was devastated later that day to learn that he left Chain of Love that afternoon.

  And all the worries and thoughts about not ever seeing him again flooded my heart… my friends consoled me as best they could, but I was so very sad and desperately prayed that I would still get to see him.  And thankfully I did… and it was wonderful.  I heard that he had moved in with a brother I had never met.  Well, let me introduce you to Bruno…


Here's where the classic Soap Opera twist comes in… a few months ago, this guy Bruno came looking for Patrick at Chain of Love and introduced himself as his biological older brother.  They had no idea each other existed… and to meet Bruno was like seeing double!!!  They are freakishly similar in so many ways!!!  And along with Bruno, came an extended family that is now part of Patrick's life outside of Chain of Love. 


It was soooo sweet as we jumped on a bus and he took me on a whirlwind trip to meet his grandparents (who he and Bruno currently live with), his biological father, his uncle and cousins.  I got to see Patrick several times over the week and would have loved more time with him, but I'm just thankful for what we did have together.


He still calls me "Mommy" and I love that, but I feel so much better knowing he has real family now in Brazil who also care about him. I still worry about him… he is trying to finish school this year, but it is difficult for him and education just doesn't hold the same importance there sadly.  But I pray each day for him and just trust that God has a wonderful plan for his life… and I have to just love him from a distance again… and it's so very hard, but it's all so very good.

SCENE 2 from my Brazilian Soap Opera:  

So before leaving for Brazil when I was being consoled by my soul sista Christy about Patrick leaving Chain of Love, she said to me, 

"Maybe God is just making room in your heart for the next child"

And I didn't want to consider it because I was hurting so bad… 
But then while doing a photo shoot (we also sponsor this beautiful girl named Jana… I had sooo much fun doing portraits with her!!!  She is such a special and talented girl… she's artistic too!!)


So while taking portraits, along came the sweetest boy I think I have ever met.  He said to me, "Excuse me, but would it be possible for you to also take a photo of my sister?  She is shy and does not think she is beautiful, but I think she is very beautiful."  
And my heart melted.  
Meet Matheus and his sister Yasmin…


And now I sponsor Matheus (who likes to be called Mat because it sounds more Canadian)… his birthday is the day before mine and he will turn 16 in March.  And we talk every day (his English is excellent) and he is quickly slipping into my heart… you were right Christy.  Patrick is still very much in my heart and always will be, but there is always room for more… God gives us infinite space for love… and for that I am thankful.

So my Brazilian Soap Opera still continues… it has ups and downs and plot twists and changing characters… but it is mine and it adds so very much to my life and I can NOT WAIT to see what all happens next!!!

And the WINNER IS...

And the WINNER IS...

The Children in Haiti!!!!!



This past weekend we did our Crop For Haiti scrapbooking and crafting event and it just always makes me giddy that that we can have THAT MUCH FUN and raise THAT MUCH MONEY that is going to change THAT MANY LIVES!!!!

So our total raised was (insert drum roll here)...

$7607.25


During the event, I had a "moment"... 
I looked across the room at all the women laughing, crafting, eating and chatting away...
and I just had such a heart full of gratitude (my word of the year)...
I am still in awe how a few posts on facebook and my blog results in this event each year...
with the absolute BEST women ever!!!!!
And the best instructors EVER (seriously talented ones that give so generously of their heart, soul and creative giftedness without hesitation)...
and the best team of helpers (who take control of everything non-crafty for me!!)
and a church that enables all of it...
and an organization Live Different who is changing our world!!!!



We don't yet know exactly how much building the school in Haiti is going to cost or how much building a home in Dominican will be... but it is ALL GOOD!!!  I will keep you posted once I know, but in the meantime...

My heartfelt THANK YOU to those who joined in.  
I have no more words... just gratitude for you.

Crop For Haiti this Saturday, Feb. 1!!!!!

Woooo hooooo!!!  This Saturday, February 1, 2014 is the BEST event EVER for a great cause!!!  And I can hardly wait!!!  We still have about 5 spots left should you still wish to join us for the entire day, but note:

EVERYONE IS WELCOME 
to come shop our onsite Crafting Garage Sale 
(from 10am-4pm) 
or even sign up for one of the below classes.  

And once you see these amazing classes, you might want to rearrange your schedule!!!


"Enjoy the Journey" layout by Christy Riopel (10:30am - $30)  Let Christy guide you through the creation of a lusciously layered layout designed to showcase a special photo of someone enjoying this journey called "life" (hopefully it's YOU!!)


"Flutterbies and Friendship" cards designed by Jennifer Reynard and taught by Sharon Reinhart (1:30pm - $20)  Any day is a great day to give a special card, but with Valentine's Day just around the corner these beauties will give you 4 great reasons to share some loving words with someone special!!


"Creative Canvas Play" mixed media canvas with Christy Riopel (4pm - $30)  We don't call her the "Queen of Mixed Media" for nothing!!!  Learn how to play with sprays, stencils and simple drawing to create your very own unique masterpiece!!

Now that you've seen the awesome classes, let me introduce our talented instructors...


Sharon Reinhart
Sharon is a multi-media designer, teacher, consultant and author who has been widely published and has taught at countless events including CHA.  We are so very fortunate to have this local Calgary girl join us for this event for a cause.


Christy is our local "Queen of Mixed Media" and teaches us great new techniques each and every time she blesses us with her projects!!  She writes for Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine and has also taught around the world including at CHA and Crop and Cruise and at countless other events.

I cannot wait for Saturday!!!  And most importantly, I cannot wait for May when I will get to go to Haiti to help build a school and a home in Dominican for some very deserving families and children!!!  I couldn't do it without you!!!!

How I plan to fail in 2014

I love New Years!!  Partly because we always have a huge party to celebrate the New Year and partly because I seize any opportunity to re-evaluate my life and ponder and plan what I want to change.   I do this at New Years, on my birthday in March, at the beginning of Summer, start of Fall... pretty much anytime I can as I think it is the key to actually seeing growth in myself.

So after much pondering leading up to 2014, I decided that I will plan on failing on some things this year!!!

YES... I'm planning to fail in 2014!!!

Before you think I've gone a little "cray cray"... let me explain.  I've never really been scared of failure in my life... I fully admit I experience fear (like with spiders, heights, blood, being seen without make-up, etc.),
but I'm not scared of failure... 
if something lights a fire in my heart, 
I am the first to jump on it and go for it.  
If it works out, GREAT, if not, 
live and learn and move on.

There is a pattern in my life of me trying somewhat crazy things... this is what led me many years ago to try out for my college volleyball team despite never having really played (and yes, I made the team)


It's what made me jump at a job in inner city Winnipeg working with street kids (and wandering all alone through some pretty dangerous areas of town... much to my mother's chagrin!!  I just kept telling her "Mom, if I'm meant to be shot, I'm not going to drown".  I'm sure that calmed her!!!!)


It's also what led me to take a chance with this guy who caught my eye one night sitting in Bible Study at church (I still have the note I wrote out to phone him when I knew he was out... I rehearsed it over and over to make sure I sounded calm, cool and collected when leaving a message!!  It worked!!!  He called me back, we talked for hours and the rest is history!!!)


Years later after "finding scrapbooking"... I entered the biggest contest out there at the time... Creating Keepsakes Magazine's infamous "Hall of Fame" contest and got chosen and published in the 2003 edition!!!!  (It was only honourable mention, but it ignited my passions and long story short, led me to my first front cover with Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and regular appearances on TV that I still do to this day!!!


And THAT led me to probably the craziest BHAG (Big Harried Audacious Goal) I ever had... I took a HUGE risk and planned, coordinated and hosted a Scrapbooking Cruise... and I had NEVER EVEN BEEN ON A CRUISE SHIP BEFORE!!!  Talk about biting off more than I can chew... but it worked and I did it again and again as it made for some of the best adventures of my life and friendships that I am eternally grateful for!!!


So you see, I could go on and on about how my life is FULL of taking chances and risking failure (btw, not all of my BHAGs work out!!  Sometimes things don't go as planned... but I don't let it knock me down and out... like our favourite fish says... "Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming!"

And this year, 2014, I am planning to fail because I'm setting up some pretty crazy goals... one I've already failed!!!

Perhaps you have heard about "365 Grateful"... it's a challenge to take a photo each day of something you are grateful for.
Well... I've already failed!!!!  
And it's only January!!!! 
And I'm a photographer!!!
  
BUT IT'S OK!!! I knew full well I would fail!!!  But that doesn't stop me from trying and still taking photos some days and striving to be more grateful in my life in 2014.  In fact, it's my word of the year for 2014 (and this photo is one of the ones I DID take of my orchids from that handsome guy posted above that are blooming beautifully)...


So although I'm planning to fail at the official 365 Grateful challenge, I am NOT planning to fail at being more grateful and taking photos of random things I wouldn't otherwise photograph that make me happy and grateful for the abundant blessings in my life... I just won't do it every day and that's ok!!

And one more way I plan to fail in 2014...
I mean, it's bound to happen...
And I'm bracing myself for it now...
Because I don't want THIS failure in particular to stop me...

I'm going to take a beautiful photo of a beautiful woman... and she's NOT going to like it and she will NOT see it as beautiful or see herself as beautiful.

And there will be nothing more I can do about it except hope and pray that one day she will see herself the way others see her and especially the way God sees her... a beautiful creation worthy of celebration for simply being alive.  So in anticipation of this inevitability, I'm choosing to focus instead on all the women who DO come through my studio who not only LOVE the experience, but also LOVE their photos... like Tanya... wife, daughter, devoted hockey-mom, scrapbooker, friend to many and much more that makes her truly beautiful (inside and out)!!!!


Yup... I am bound to fail in my BHAG of photographing every day women and capturing beautiful photos for them... 
but that's ok... 
and I will persevere 
because I know the truth :)

TV Segment on Christmas Crafting!!


I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas and one of my favourite motifs is the snowflake!!  Check out this awesome snowflake photo by my friend Natalka Lindstrom... she has inspired me to try my own real life snowflake photos!!

So when preparing for my Christmas Crafting TV segment, I googled snowflakes and discovered some pretty cool ideas!!!  I've had so much fun with these Star Wars Snowflakes designed by Anthony Herrera and with the help of my Westcott cutting mat and blade, they were easier than they look!!!


To make these and to find even more fun Star Wars Snowflake templates, click HERE to go to the Anthony's website.


Then I came across Ballerina/Nutcracker snowflakes... click HERE to see more ideas for these fun "Dancing" snowflakes!!


I did my own rendition of these "Snowy Candle Holders" using salt and Craft & Glitz glitter, but you can click HERE for more inspiration above.

And as always, Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine, the magazine I write for has TONS of great ideas for Christmas AND features my Mommy and Daddy on the front cover!!!!!!  Be sure to get your issue soon!!!

And if you're still in need of an awesome gift for the crafter in your life, be sure to check out our Crop For Haiti event... consider buying the gift of this event as a wonderful way to also give to others and change lives!!!  It's a win-win-win!!! 

Crop For Haiti!!!!

Wooooo hoooooooo!!!!  As many of you know, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel the world on assorted humanitarian trips and this next year has me sooo excited!!!!

I am going to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in May 2014 with a wonderful team of family and friends to help build another home (this one made of heavy bricks!!!) and it sounds like we might also be helping to build a school?!?!?!?!

Be still my teacher's heart!!!!!

And as always, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to also extend the invitation for YOU my family and friends to partner with us!!  I do not yet know what the exact costs will be for the building projects, but I'm guessing it will be similar to past years (about $6000 per home) and because I love to party while partnering, we are again doing a "Crop For Haiti" event on Saturday, February 1, 2014 where 100% of the $100 cost PLUS all money spent at the event will go towards our projects!!!!

AND YES... we are bringing back the infamous "Garage Sale" of crafting goodness!!!

AND YES... as always, we will provide delicious homemade meals and strong helpful men to carry all your supplies to and from your cars (and if needed, clear the snow for you and start your vehicles so they are toasty warm!!)


And seeing as this trip seems to be all about the kids... all my promo is showing assorted beautiful children from past trips to Haiti/Dominican with Live Different!!!

Be still my photographer's heart!!!!!

So if you are able to join us either for the day or even part of the day, we would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have you!!!!

Click HERE to register starting Friday, November 28, 2013!!!

Confessions of a Corner Hoarder


My name is Allison Orthner and currently I am a "corner hoarder"!!!

Here's how it happened...

We moved 3 years ago.  In our old home, half our basement was storage... organized shelving with boxes upon boxes of "stuff" we had collected, saved, stored, etc. over the 17 years we lived there (including those childhood years with countless toys, clothing and baby things!!)

I desperately tried before moving to go through as much as I could... my goal was "nothing comes into the new home that I don't want to keep AND have a place for".  It was a GREAT plan!!!

But as life goes, I didn't get through all the boxes and they moved with us and ended up in our garage (we couldn't put them in our new basement as Brad was going to build and finish the basement and didn't want to work around boxes).  And life just kept going.


Friends warned me it would be YEARS (yes years!) before I would get to all the boxes, but I didn't believe them.  And now here I am over 3 years later still going through the boxes and all the "stuff" that migrated over to the new home with us... most have made their way from the garage into our home (because I don't like trying to go through them in a cold dark space).

But walking around my home, I realized that I gather things in corners hoping to deal with them soon... but then life just keeps going... and the corners keep growing!!

My biggest issue to getting rid of things, is I really struggle with just tossing things or dumping a huge load at the thrift store... and I admit I have a bit of a "hoarder heritage" in my family line that I have battled and tried to overcome over the years (with a fair bit of success).  But it is still EXHAUSTING for me to process each and every thing to insure it gets to a "place" where it is needed, used, appropriate and NOT just thrown in our landfill!!

But wait!!  I have new hope!!!

FIRST, I must say, all my visits to poverty stricken places has really helped me to see that we don't need most of what we have to live and be happy.


AND... then came Jessica... 

My friend is passionate about this exact thing (ie. share with the needy, nothing should go into our landfills, etc.) and is starting a bit of a business helping others deal with their "stuff" and I asked her to come over and help me "take care of it all".  I wasn't exactly sure what she was going to do, but I was desperate and eager and ready all at the same time!!  And let me just say... it was a glorious day!!!  She simply takes it ALL away and deals with it herself (some recycled, some given to needy families, some sold, etc.)!!  And because I know she cares as much as I do what happens to it all, I don't have to worry and I can release it!!!

And so... through this process, although it doesn't LOOK like it, my corners are now organized piles that have a plan!!!  The top picture is all keepsakes I need to go through, the bottom left I am selling and the bottom right is another pile for Jessica for when she comes back!!!! 

And slowly but surely I will empty each corner and know that I'm keeping what is truly special and deserving of space in my life, earning money from some (to help build homes in Haiti) and then turning the rest over to Jessica who is the perfect steward of it all.

My goal:  nothing left to hoard in the corners!!!
Wish me luck!!!!

BTW... Crop For Haiti is coming Sat. Feb. 1, 2014!!!!
Mark it off NOW to join us then!!!

Great Canadian Scrapbook Carnival this weekend!!


Woooo hooooo!!!! It's finally here!!!  The event we all wait for each year... The Great Canadian Scrapbook Carnival organized by Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine and once again I get to host the Calgary Crop!!!!

Be sure to come shop, visit and have some fun in our infamous Photo Booth!!  AND... this is always a great time to get a subscription for yourself or a crafty loved one for Christmas!!!

I'm heading out... hope to see you there!!!!  Friday hours from 9am-6pm and Saturday from 9am-5pm.

Photo Friday (Calgary Portrait Photographer)


Today's Photo Friday picture is personal again... 
my very own "Butterfly Girl"... 
may she truly know how beautiful she is simply for being her... 
beautiful inside and out... exactly as she is.  

I recently had a mom confide that her teen daughter suffers from poor self-esteem at times (sadly whose teen daughter doesn't?!?!?) and she was wondering if doing a photo shoot with me might help?  

My response?
That is EXACTLY who I want to photograph!!!!  Anyone who has ever looked in the mirror and not felt good enough... I want to provide a very unique experience 
where they get pampered, 
are the sole focus of attention, 
get to play dress-up and 
experience a "beauty" shoot 
with the added bonus of beautiful photos of themselves 
that they actually love!  
And I know it sounds like it's all about the outer beauty, but there is truly something special that seems to also happen inside... a little boost of confidence that comes each time they see the photos :)

So... do you know a teen girl that could use a boost?
I'd love to help :)

Getting Closer!!!



So I'm getting closer and closer to being able to "OFFICIALLY" launch the opening of my new studio... since moving over 3 years ago, I've not really run my portrait business (as I have no studio!!) and I've missed it dearly!!!

Yes, I've been galavanting around the world taking photos, teaching photography in hot tropical locations and writing a photography article for Canada's BEST magazine ever (Canadian Scrapbooker Magazine!) and having way too much fun with my camera (and not-so-fun moments dunking it in the ocean!!), but I really really REALLY miss my studio and the ART of creating a beautiful portrait!!!

Yes, it is ART.  It is a beautiful form of ART.  ART that captivates attention when seen.  

I am loving that I can take any and all women and show their beauty... well... MEN can be "beautiful" as well (at least that's what they say in Brazil!!)


But I don't just want the "beautiful" by society's standards to come for portraits... I want EVERYONE... every age, every size, every nationality, every everything... 

...because EVERYONE has beauty 
and deserves to be celebrated simply for being who they are right now.

And so while getting my studio ready for "official launch" (COMING THIS FALL!!), I've been taking courses and intently studying and practicing with many wonderful women to refine my ART.

And I think I'm going to try a "Photo Friday" where I will post a beautiful photo each Friday and perhaps share a bit of their story... 



So this is my beautiful niece Kayla... and she just graduated and is taking a year to go on an amazing adventure through Canada first semester and then off to Guatemala next semester where she will get to do humanitarian work and really grow and learn about herself and our world!!!  I am so excited for her and seeing this beautiful picture of her makes me smile as I can not see only see her outward beauty, but more importantly her inner beauty that simply SHINES out through her smile :)