For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bucket List. Check.

I don't have a bucket list.

Nor do I want one.

I think the best moments in life are those that take you by surprise.

If I were to make a bucket list,  maybe I'd go about it differently.  When I experience something I feel is worthy of being on my bucket list,  I will add it AFTERWARD.  Then I can check it off as soon as it's written.   Think about it.  Whenever I "kick the bucket",  everything on my bucket list will be checked off!

My latest bucket list entry would be:

Witness the sunrise from the summit of Haleakala on Maui.

Haleakala is a 10,023 foot volcano on Maui in Hawaii.   It is also a top tourist attraction, especially for sunrise.  On our recent vacation there,  we set our alarms for 3:00AM and were on the road before 3:30AM.  When we reached the road leading to the summit,  we could see the headlights of many cars making the climb behind us.   After a two hour drive,  we were one of the lucky visitors to get a parking spot at the summit.

We expected it to be cold.  The car thermometer read 30 degrees.  I wore layers - 3 long sleeve shirts and a windbreaker jacket with a hood.  I thought I'd be warm enough, but I didn't factor in the wind. When I tried to open the car door, the force of the wind made this an extremely difficult task.  Sunrise wasn't until 7:00AM, but I wanted to get the lay of the land.  I stumbled in the dark, and followed a few hooded figures up a long set of stairs leading to an unheated glassed-in observatory.   At this early hour,  it was empty.  The action was outside where photographers had already set up tripods.   The prime spots, where the building was blocking the gale force winds, were already taken.

The sky was dark at 5:30AM and with gusting winds so strong they could blow me down, I decided to go back to the car where it was warm.

By 5:50AM, though,  there was a steady stream of people climbing the stairs to the summit.  I grabbed a hotel towel as another layer of defense against the cold and headed out into the dark once again.

There was a brilliant ribbon of orange and yellow in the night sky.  The sun was on its way up!  I tried to take a picture but the camera (and my body) was being blown around.  I decided it would be steadier to rest my camera on the top of the stone wall next to me.  I put the towel on the stony ground so I could kneel more comfortably and huddled in a ball with my camera, in an attempt to say warm.

The camera was still being shaken by the wind, so I needed to push it down into the stone to steady it whenever I pushed the shutter.   After just a few minutes,  I could no longer feel my fingertips as I tried to change camera settings.  If I had to guess,  I would say the wind was blowing steadily at 25 mph with gusts to 40 or 50 mph.  The wind chill had to be in the teens at best.

Whatever I was feeling (or not feeling) was forgotten as the sky began to come alive.   It was a mostly clear day with clusters of fluffy clouds suspended slightly below us.  As time passed, the clouds were illuminated with shades of blue and purple.

The band of color across the sky grew wider and brighter as each minute passed.

As the sun began to brighten the sky even more,  the jagged peaks of Haleakala's giant crater were backlit and began to be revealed, first in silhouette and then in more detail.

It also revealed just how many other people were there with me.  I hadn't known this since it had been so quiet,  like we were in church.   That made sense.  It was impossible to witness this sunrise without being in awe of God's creation.

Vance joined me then,  wrapped in another hotel beach towel.  He came over and pointed out the tiniest pin-point of the sun beginning to reveal itself.

After this,  you could literally see it rise at a pretty fast pace.

When the sun began to peak above the horizon,  it took only minutes until we were squinting at its rays.

The crater was also illuminated.

Even though I was chilled to the bone,  I lingered a little longer. 

I walked around (ie. got blown around) the barren landscape that resembled more the surface of the moon than the earth.

It was hard not to look at the sunrise,  but the moon in the west was a pretty awesome sight too!

I didn't know when I took the picture above, but the plant in the picture is called "Silversword". 
In the whole world,  this plant is ONLY found on Haleakala.

When I got back into the warm car, I realized just how cold I had been and couldn't stop shivering.
I wasn't complaining, though.   

The ride down the volcano continued to amaze.

This was my first time seeing the sun come up.
On Haleakala.
Bucket list.  Check.

On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it.
                                                              ~Jules Renard

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Telling the Story of a Very Special Day

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. 
What you have caught on film is captured forever... it remembers little things,
 long after you have forgotten everything.  ~Aaron Siskind

I love photography.

I love taking pretty pictures.

But more than that,

I love making memories with my camera.

Capturing moments forever.

My sister asked me to be the photographer for my niece's wedding.
Mikey would marry Lance on January 31 2015 in Hawaii.

It was scary.

It was a huge responsibility.

I had never done anything like that before.

The pictures that I take of the wedding will eventually be 
what people remember of this life event.

The pictures that I take, or don't take, will tell a story.

Weddings are all about feelings and emotions.

If I could just capture those emotions with my camera,

I would be the ultimate storyteller.

Before the wedding,  I was very concerned with being prepared technically.

Lenses, exposures, apertures, light...

But when the day came,  I just kept looking at faces.

There was so much to see and capture, and I didn't want to miss anything.

So much love, caring, and support.

Moments that they've pictured in their minds all their lives...

and now they're living them for real.

It was a day full of anticipation.

Happiness and sadness.

And fun.

Caught up in the emotion of the day,

 the fears and anxiety I had been feeling for the past month were gone.

There wasn't time to think about those things 

when there was so much beauty around me.

A groom seeing his bride for the first time.

The lovely Hawaiian setting.


My sister watching her daughter say her vows.

Pure joy in one another.

Two lives becoming one.

It was easy to take beautiful pictures of the bride and groom.

Their happiness was so apparent. 

They just had to be themselves.

As the sun went down,  the reception began.

Everyone was relaxed and happy.

I felt so fortunate to be chosen to do this job.

I felt like I was telling their story well.

In the quote above, Aaron Siskind says "photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving".

That is so true.

My first experience shooting a wedding was very rewarding.

But being so focused all day was also very tiring. 

As I went to sleep that night,
I felt very relieved.
I didn't let them down.
I didn't let me down.

Now I have only 5 months to get ready for Emily & Joe's wedding.
In June.
In Alaska.

I feel privileged to be able to tell their story too.

If you're interested,  you can see their entire wedding gallery here