If you would like to set up a photography session, or have any questions, contact me via email: betsy@betsyjophotography.com. Thank you!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Together: (adv.) in cooperation; with united action; conjointly.

After I came home from class this morning, the kids and I decided it would be fun to make cookies. Nora was a big 'help.' The little apron she has on can be bought here, at one of my favorite stores. Ever. I can walk in there and just get so many ideas, feeling refreshed and motivated all at once.

Every one getting their turn...

Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies ready for the oven. Paul had made these a few weeks ago for dinner at my sister's house, and I haven't forgotten how good they were! So, now I remember why I hesitated baking them-- because I eat them!

While we waited for the cookies to finish baking, the kids enjoyed playing 'Carmen SanDiego' with their friend who is spending a couple days with us while his parents are away. I realized today that because of this game, all 3 of our kids are beginning to know more about geography than their mother. Joel, Connor and Nora all enjoy having an extra playmate. He's certainly an easy house-guest!

The finished product-

Two expert taste-testers:

Next week has a lot coming up for me within the realm of photography, and I can't wait to start on some new experiences. I'll keep up this photo journal as I go throughout the week.

Today was a good day, filled with lots of chatter, many episodes of laughter and good, homemade smells. We enjoyed just being home--together.

"A year, ten years from now, I'll remember this: not why, only that we were here like this, together."
-Adrienne Rich, American essayist, poet. (b. 1929)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Result: (n) a desirable or beneficial consequence, outcome, or effect.

The long awaited results for the contest are in, but first I'll share the photos of the 'secret shoot spot'.

I was talking to a fellow photographer friend recently and told her I was doing a family session, but I was stumped for a great location. She recommended this area as one of her favorite spots. (Thanks, Heids!) So I went to check it out beforehand, and grabbed some quick pictures to email Shannon to see if she was game. And, obviously, she was! I really like the doors, the stones and columns- so European-looking.

This door handle/knocker intrigues me, and makes me wonder about all sorts of things-- is it original? Was it used often, or is it distressed just from years of sun and rain and wind? Who made it? Where did it come from? And most of all, who desecrated the thing by putting a shiny metal screw next to its lock?! You know, important things like that. I guess I could admit that I do like the juxtaposition of old and new, shiny and worn, black and silver. Which I do. A little bit. But not enough to not feel irritated that 'someone', whoever they may be, didn't put a little more effort in finding a black screw as to not disrupt the continuity. -- Which makes me think of this quote from one of the most eloquent, dearest of authors:

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
-Lucy Maud Montgomery, the finest Canadian authoress. (Yes, that's my description.)

Oh, and the answer? This is a sweet little chapel located in Grove Hill Cemetery. Yes, I know. A little out of the box. But, then again, so am I. And that's why I like it. Congratulations to Heidi V. for 2 reasons: 1) She was the first one to guess correctly and 2) Her name was drawn from 3 correct answers. Your gift card should arrive from Target.com in 3-5 days, Heidi. Thanks to all who left comments! You'll get another chance someday....

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vacation: (n) a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

With the title above, it would be understandable to expect pictures of a beach with warm sunshine. Alas, that is not what our February vacation looked like. We were home in CT where it was quite cold and cloudy, but we ended up having a good week, anyway. My parents were in FL, so the kids helped me out working at Noggintops in the afternoons. At home, they enjoyed coloring, playing with trains and marbles, and arguing. Lots of audiobooks were listened to.

On Friday, Paul had the day off and we trekked to the mall carousel and (of course) stopped at Barnes & Noble. These images tell a little piece of the story. I should have taken a picture of a box of Kleenex, since that was a prominent fixture throughout the week. All of us got sick (or are currently sick) except for Joel. Even so, it was a nice week. The house is now quiet, though, and I'll just admit to being rather happy about that.

Don't forget to put in a guess for the contest-- a hint: most people are way off :) So far, there's one correct guess on the blog, and one correct guess in my e-mail inbox. The drawing is tomorrow, so 'better get on it...

"Rest when you're weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work."
-Ralph Marsden

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Family: (n) a group of persons who form a household under one head, including parents and children.

I think this shoot holds the record for 3 things:

1) It was the COLDEST session I've ever done-

2) Because of reason #1, it would also qualify as being the quickest shoot ever!

3) This is the first post that includes a contest... Keep reading--

We had very limited time to get 4 children in pictures and back in the van to warm up in between shots. I have to admit to being worried about how they would all hold up. They were so well-behaved, just doing what they were asked without complaining once. Even the little 2 year old was happy, as long as Mom was in his sight.

Because of the fierce weather, we abbreviated how many locations we would go to, but some beautiful pictures resulted, anyway. So, it goes to show that even with limited time and temperature, some great images can be had.

I love all of the pictures, but I'm especially glad for the ones of Jim and Shannon alone- somehow we parents sometimes forget to do those shots as a couple, and I know they'll be glad they did!

Thanks again to the kiddos for being so cooperative!

Someone's growing up to be a nice young man:
The eyes have it:
So placid and quiet:
So sweet:

Shannon is a Certified Labor Assistant/Birth Doula.
I'm thinking this image should be used on her profile at her website...?

So, the contest: Whoever can guess the exact location of this shoot wins a $10 gift card to Target! Leave a comment with your guess, and I'll draw the winner from all the correct answers. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday. (Even the person who gave me the idea for this location gets a chance to win-- you know who you are. And thank you!) For those who aren't from the area, I can ship the gift card.

I'll give these two hints:

1) It's not in Europe. :)

2) It's in the Tolland County area.

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."
-Jane Howard, novelist (b. 1923)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Patient: (adj.) quietly and steadily persevering or diligent, esp. in detail or exactness

I want to share a great photo that our friend Eric Virkler shot while on one of his fabulous trips out West. I have to say that after reading how he captured this shot, I realized we may both be photographers, but we couldn't be more different in our approach. Here's what he told me about getting this image:

"This photo was taken last September in Hayden Valley of Yellowstone National Park. I followed this coyote nearly a mile as it hunted alongside the Yellowstone River. 1/1500s, F/5.6, 400mm, ISO 400." (Yes, you read that right- 400mm!)

I know from seeing other images of Eric's, that he'll wait hours (HOURS!) to get exactly what he's looking for, watching in complete stillness. Paul and I had to laugh at the thought of me doing that. Can you imagine me waiting hours in silence for anything?! I love people and the fleeting emotions that pass across a person's face. I put my camera in high continuous mode as to be able to capture 6.5 frames per second, because one little look can last for a fraction in time. On the other end of the spectrum, Eric will get up before dawn(!), to wait hours for a perfect reflection on water. He'll gladly follow an animal for a mile to get what he's looking for. I wish I had a fraction of that patient diligence. Which, of course, is why Eric captures nature and I capture people.

Eric recently added a photo blog on his website, so be sure to check it out here. He'll sometimes share the story behind some of his shots and his musings on photography in general. Prints are available for purchase on his site. He has some beautiful galleries there. And for the photographers out there, he's gracious enough to add his details and specs about some of his images.

So here's the coyote he followed in Yellowstone:

"The two most powerful warriors are patience & time."
-Leo Tolstoy, Russian philosopher, author. (1828-1910)
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Create: (v) to make or bring into existence something new

On Thursday night, the kiddos had fun putting together their classmates' Valentines. Which, thanks to my little sister, Colleen, were custom-made. She is a Creative Memories guru, so check out her site here.

The kids thought the cards were great. Of course, the fact that there was a lollipop attached didn't hurt any, either!

"Think of things not as they are but as they might be. Don't merely dream - but create!"
-Robert Collier, author, researcher, editor: (1885-1950)
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Play: (n) exercise or activity for amusement or recreation

Do you ever get something in your mind, and can't let it go until you've accomplished it? Well, that's what these pictures are for me. There's an abandoned parking lot with a great wall that I drive by weekly; and I've wanted to do a photo session there for the last 6 months, at least. I finally decided that I would take our kids there right after they got off the bus, and squeeze in some pictures. They were far more cooperative than I expected, although that may have something to do with the 'treat' I gave them at the end. For those that know me, this is out of character- giving my children something that makes unnecessary noise! But it worked, and I got a few extra smiles because of it.

I've made a commitment to myself to get pictures of our children once a week- not a full shoot, but a snapshot here or there. It's easy for me to concentrate on other people's images, and leave ours behind. So this is my solution- 1 image per week, documenting the everyday happenings in their life. I'm sure some will end up on the blog.

The hats the kids have on are hand-made by the 'bespoke tailors' of Hanna Hats in Donegal, Ireland. They are all available in both children's and adult sizes here. Not that I'm biased or anything, but NogginTops is a great place to get a hat for the upcoming spring. Hey, I'm just sayin'.

And the bribe, of course:

Click here for a full slideshow of the images.

"I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things... I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind."
-Leo Buscaglia; author, motivational speaker, professor. (1924-1998)

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sneak Peek

Here's what I did this afternoon right after the kids got off the bus:

More images to follow. Believe it or not, we had fun. -And I'll even show you what I bribed them with! (That's right, I said bribe. Bad mom. But it was worth it...)
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Action: (n) an act that one consciously wills and that may be characterized by physical or mental activity

So I said I would post some pictures and details from my day at the Spread the Love Workshop. 'Problem is, I hardly know where to begin. It's like my mind is filled with fragmented adjectives, instead of complete thoughts. Words like: Stunning. Spurred. Move. Prime. Motivating. Inspire. Breathe. See what I mean? They don't really make practical sense; they're not even in the same verb tense. But they sum up how I feel. I am so thankful for the opportunity I had. And I realize now that what I learned has the potential to be life-changing. That part is up to me.

I wish I could give a little slice of how the day went- the inspiring words, the crucial, direct advice on how to remain current, how to 'be the brand', and bring a higher level of service to those around me. How we dug deep into who we are, participated in activities that made us realize our potential, even wrote our own obituaries! (Highly recommended, by the way.) I wish I could explain it all. But the workshop was 7 hours long. And it felt like half that.

Justin & Mary have accomplished a lot in their time in business. They're the same age as me, but in a totally different place. I can't even explain how much I love where I am. And they love what they're doing. How it shows.

Mary has a real pride for her "West Virginia, daughter-of-a-lumberjack roots". Her father means a lot to her; she quoted him often throughout the day. That hit home for me. For those of you who know me, you know how much I appreciate and respect my Dad and Mom. Mary's parents sacrificed everything for her to leave the dirt-floor trailer where she grew up so that she could graduate with highest honors from WVU and then go on to graduate from Yale Law School. During that time, she met Justin, falling in love with him- and his camera. And then she had to call her "6' 5" lumberjack Daddy" and tell him she had decided she didn't want to be a lawyer; she wanted to be a wedding photographer instead. I think that's my favorite part of the story. She had a choice between making her mark w/Justin in the photography business, doing what she loved, or signing on at $140,000 a year (to start!) in a law firm-- which she dubbed as "selling her soul." It's obvious she and Justin made the right choice.

So now I have some work to do, some books to read, and some lists to make. I am a dreamer; many of my friends and family know that. Sometimes that's good; other times not so great. But did you know that only 16% of the population say they even have goals? And only 4% write them down? And only 1% go back and look at their lists regularly? J & M also stated that those who write down and implement goals have 9x more earning power than those who don't. Very thought-provoking.

The exercises we did make me want to be better. A better wife. A better mom, sister, friend, daughter. To spend more time. To cling tightly to my faith. To slow down. To re-assess. To seek out a respite.

I was able to meet some great photographers from throughout New England; people whose work I've admired from afar, and finally had the courage to introduce myself to. I'm so glad I did. Thanks to some of them: Carla Ten Eyck, Amanda Herzberger, and Shyla. Their work inspires me, as they seem larger than life, but they were kind and gracious.

This was the international 'kick-off' event before J & M bring Spread the Love across the nation. For those who are photographers or small business owners, I can't recommend this workshop enough. Go. You will be so glad you did.

Their fabulous logo:

When I said they were larger than life, I meant it. Come on, I know I'm short (5' 1" on a good day), but they made me feel rather small here...

(taken by Amanda Herzberger of Orchard Cove Photography)

So after the workshop, as I was walking down Capitol Ave in the freezing cold- full of ideas and goals, who did I call? Yup. My Dad. And I told him that I think this is what people must feel like when they leave his RLF sessions. Brimming over.

And then, of course, I called my Mom and Paul. Who else? :) Because, when people ask 'how do you fit it all in with school and a family?', I have a one-word answer. Paul. Thanks, hon'.

"If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day."
-Alex Noble

Oh, about the obituary? Paul and I died naturally at the ages of 106 and 100, respectively. In our sleep. On the same day. Healthy to the end. After being married for 82 years.
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Hey, I said I was a dreamer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Hope: (n) the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best

This picture makes me happy for a lot of reasons, but mostly because right now it's snowing and about 20 degrees outside. Not my favorite time of year, so when my little sister told me she grew grass in cute pots for centerpieces, I had to snap a quick picture. Now I'm hoping she has one left to give me, since I know she reads my blog. (Hi, Colleen!) I. Need. Spring. This will have to do for now, I guess.

This post isn't only about 'hope' for warmer weather and green grass. I am full of hope tonight because tomorrow I will be attending the 'Spread the Love Workshop' in Hartford. Put on by famous photographers Justin & Mary Marantz, the Workshop is an all-day affair for photographers (and others) who are prepared to learn from the Marantzs' extraordinary experiences. I am hoping to soak in all that I can, and come home brimming with dreams and ideas! (Well, Paul says I'm almost always dreaming, but... so be it ;)

I will be posting about the workshop experience- along with some photos, of course!

"The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for."
-Allan K. Chalmers; mentor to MLK, Jr., member of NAACP (1897-1972)
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Pet: (n) any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately

I had a shoot on Saturday at Fehr Meadow Goldens in Ellington. Though it was a bitterly cold day, the dogs were happy, and I am quite sure I got a huge smile at one point!

Check out their website: www.meadowviewgoldens.com to see some beautiful dogs, and pick out a puppy of your own!

Thanks to the Fehr Family for a great session.

"Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies."
-Gene Hill; outdoor enthusiast & author
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