Archive for March, 2011

Remember this???

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

If you’ve ever dug into my portfolio at, you might have stumbled upon the following pictures of Bekah and Diane a little over a year ago when they were still single chicks. They were kind enough to be what us photographers call “willing subjects” and allow me to photograph them for some practice. I had assigned myself some photography homework to challenge myself to shoot better. We had a fun night together shooting.

Coincidentally, this day was the day after Bekah had had her first date with Lewis McNeel. Diane and I wanted the scoop. It must have been a pretty good date because they ended up tying the knot a few months later.

I shot their wedding which you can see by clicking here.

And who would have guessed that just a little over a year later, I would be applying and building on some of the things that Diane and Bekah helped me practice at Diane’s own wedding? So all this to say a big thank you to all of the people who have supported me along the way and helped me to get better at photography. (My very first blog post elaborates on this more.) Keep scrolling down to see more from Michael and Diane’s wedding. . .

Oliver (the pig) and Johnnie Lee (the girl)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Before I tell you the story of Johnnie Lee and Oliver, the pig at the San Antonio Rodeo, I need to tell you a bit about where I’m coming from.

I like food. I’d even say that I’m a foodie. I cook a lot. I eat a lot of good food. I share food with the people that I love.

I’m also a city girl. When I visit the country, I’m just that–a visitor. Even though my parents have lived in a rural area for 13 years, that move happened after I left their home. I grew up in Dallas. I live in San Antonio now. But I do love being outside. And I appreciate some of the values that I see played out in small town, rural life, namely community and hard work. So there is an inward part of me that is drawn toward country life.

And I’m not a vegetarian. I eat meat. I don’t eat a lot of meat, but I do enjoy it.

I’m also a Christian, and being a Christian is changing the way I think about everything–even what and how I eat.
After watching the documentary, Food Inc. (which I highly, highly recommend), I’ve thought a whole lot more about where the food that I eat and that I serve my family comes from. You can click on the link under the movie’s title to get more information about it. As a result of watching the movie, I’ve started to consider the following question more and more: What happens when we produce and consume food in a way that prizes efficiency and cheapness above all else? Even though you may not end up agreeing with all aspects of this documentary, it will get you thinking.

Bottom line: I want to support food sources that treat people and animals with respect and gratitude. I don’t want to support food sources that treat people and animals with disrespect.
Is anyone still reading???

So all of these themes about food and people and animals were swirling in my head when my good friends, the Bowers family, asked me to photograph their daughters’ first national rodeo show in my backyard at the San Antonio Rodeo. The light was super, duper crappy, but I did my best with what I know now. I’ve blogged in the past about the Bowers family and how Emmie and I got to help take care of their pigs here. Katie and Johnnie Lee have both been raising pigs since this fall in NE Texas. Johnnie Lee (the younger sister) and Katie (the older sister) have been caring for these pigs non stop. They have fed them, bathed them, weighed them, and taught them to walk next to their side. They’ve gotten up early in the morning and visited the barn a couple of times a day. And when they arrived in San Antonio for the Rodeo, they waited in line in a car for 5 hours in the middle of the night just to get a good spot in the very crowded swine barn.

I know for certain that under Johnnie Lee’s care, Oliver was well taken care of and treated with respect.

The show is a bit like a wrestling match and a beauty pageant. Like wrestlers, the pigs are classified according to weight. If your pig is a very competitive pig, you will try to push them into a higher weight class. So how much you feed your pig is strategic. Upon arrival, your pig is weighed and you can’t let your pig fluctuate within 10 pounds of that number or you are disqualified. Like aspiring beauty queens, there are certain qualities that a judge is looking for in a pig. I’m not sure what these qualities are, but I think they relate to the proportions of a pig’s body.

When the pigs arrive at the rodeo, their ears are notched to indicate when they were born.

Unfortunately we missed Katie’s show the day before. We were able to make Johnnie Lee’s show. Her pig was very promising so she and her parents and ag coach decided to place Oliver in the heavy weight category. This placement meant that Johnnie Lee would show her pig alongside kids much older and more experienced then her. It ended up being a bit of a David and Goliath kind of story: an elementary aged first-timer up against the bigger, more experienced high school veterans.

The anxious minutes before the show were full of encouragement, pep talks, hair brushing and strategizing.

There were also goodbyes. I learned that immediately after the show, your pig goes on a truck with hundreds of other pigs, and you never see that pig again. This is the very pig that has become more like a pet or member of the family than a food source. I could tell that Oliver recognized Johnnie Lee and Johnnie Lee deeply cared for Oliver.

Even though the barn was jammed pack with animals and people and stink, it was a very lonely place at this moment:

Right before the show, the plastic pants come off to reveal the fancy jeans and belt buckle underneath.

Breeders were eyeing Oliver and were trying to persuade Johnnie Lee and her parents to take the pig “off her hands” for a price. The parents stuck to their guns and said no. They placed a greater value on their daughter having this life experience than on the money that they would have made.

It was time for the show. If your pig has a chance at all of placing in the top 10, they are “penned”. That means they don’t go on the truck right away. Instead, you and your pig go in a shoot. The gate opens and you show your pig in front of a judge. Johnnie Lee and Oliver got penned. Your pig is weighed one last time. And you spray your pig down with water to keep him or her cool and calm. I also wonder, if this helps calm down the human too because it give you something to do while you are waiting. . .

The gates open and you maneuver your pig through traffic. Your goals are to maintain eye contact with the judge and show him your pig’s best attributes. The judge is that guy in the blue ball cap.

You can see how crowded the ring was and how much older the competition was.

Johnnie Lee didn’t place, but she did get a firm handshake and a “job well done” from the judge.

And with that, it was all over. Oliver went to the truck. Johnnie Lee left the ring.
Katie, her big sister hopped over the barricades and ducked under the bleachers to comfort her sister. She had said a similar goodbye the day before.
I want my kids to support each other like this.

I couldn’t help but wonder how Johnnie Lee will tell this story to her friends and even kids one day. To me, it seems like it will be a real coming of age story in her life. I also hope that this story will remind her of the support her family gave her. And hopefully, she will look back on my photos and be able to show her kids what it looked and felt like.

School Parties

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Just wanted to share a few images from the kids’ Valentines’ Day parties. (Yes, I know I’m behind.) In case you don’t know, our three kids are at three different schools this year. So on Valentines’ Day I got to spend a bit of time with each kid and their friends.

Carter and I did some crafting.

Carter enjoyed some angel food cake with strawberries and whip cream.

Harrison and I got to play at the water table. Yes, it was warm enough to do some water play on Valentines’ Day. The water was dyed pink.

The boys and I surprised Emmie at her party. We then walked home together. I’m always on the hunt for those elusive three kid photos. . .

Birthday Tiara

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

I just want you to know where I’ve been. My days have been filled with family, shooting, and editing. There hasn’t been much time to blog. It makes me laugh to think that when I started this blog I was concerned about not having enough to share. Turns out, just the opposite is the problem.

Here are a few last pictures from Emmie’s actual birthday. It was a super full day. Carter had his very first soccer game (which I blogged about here) and I shot Diane and Michael’s wedding. I literally went from soccer mom to professional wedding photographer within minutes time. But the morning started at a slower pace and was full of sweetness.

In our family when it is someone’s birthday, the other family members sneak into his or her room to wake them up by singing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday girl (or boy). I’m pretty sure Emmie saw this coming because she was “sleeping” with her birthday tiara on when we sneaked into her room.

Carter draped himself on Emmie which she totally ate up with a spoon. Harrison decided that he wanted in the mix too.

You’ll also notice Harrison’s stitches that he got in this shot. He fell going up a step while holding a small flashlight in his hand. As he braced himself, a sharp edge of the key ring on the flashlight sliced his chin. God took care of us, and I’m thankful that Harrison was o.k. He handled the stitches like a champ. (I figured our number is up because, believe it or not, none of our kids had never been to the emergency room. It is pretty remarkable that our streak lasted almost 8 full years with three kids.)

Carter lingered a bit longer. He acts sometimes like he doesn’t need affection, but guess what??? He does.
He was still and quiet for a long time. Later in the day at his first soccer game, he picked the number 8 for his jersey because it was Emmie’s birthday.

We opened up some gifts before Greg went to work. This is a total Emmie expression:

Nana and Pa gave Emmie a baby “Rainbow Sparkle” to match her full-sized “Rainbow Sparkle”.

We also joined the American Girl Doll “train”. Nana, Pa, and Great Grandma got Emmie all set up. Emmie was delighted to meet Rebecca. (Her head fell off later that day, but that’s another story. She’s back from the AG Doll Hospital and is fit as a fiddle.)

After a kiss from dad, he left for work.

And I took this quick pic in our driveway just to mark the day and keep a photo tradition alive.


Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

I just wanted to let you know that I am busy working on Diane and Michael’s wedding photos. I can’t wait to share these pictures!!!

Please check back in the next few days. I’ll have a lot to share.

Rookie Season

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Carter began his rookie soccer season this spring. So far, he’s enjoyed two practices and two games as a Lion. He’s still learning the rules and learning to pay more attention, but so far he loves it.

I think he has a great coach too. Coach Paul is patient and encouraging. He has the right perspective to coach these little guys and girls.

It’s also my rookie season in a way too. I’ve never been a soccer mom. In my neighborhood, I am probably a bit of a freak in some people’s eyes for not having signed up Emmie and Carter for sports yet. We live in a very high paced community where sometimes it doesn’t seem like kids get to just play outside or hang out with their families or rest. So I have been swimming upsteam on this one–trying to protect play and rest and family instead of pursuing super-performer children.

And quite honestly, I was afraid to sign up for sports. I had visions of struggling to get all 3 kids to and from the field on a Saturday, the only day we don’t go anywhere in the morning. Greg, my husband, works on Saturday so I was fearful of those Saturdays when I would have to transition very quickly from soccer-mom-of-three-kids flying solo to professional wedding photographer.

So why did I take the plunge this spring? For one reason only. I think that it loves Carter to give him a shot at soccer. He loves being active. He loves being outside. I want to encourage my kids to be who God has made them.

The season started with an amazing display of sportsmanship. We needed 6 players to play, but only had 4 so the opposing team shared two “mercenaries” from their team with us. They met in the center of the field; switched jerseys; shook hands; and got to work together. You can see two little guys shaking hands after meeting for the first time over the coach’s left shoulder.

The Lions were shut out the first game, but Carter didn’t seem to notice or care.

For Game #2 against the Houligans, we had enough players to play without borrowing from other teams.

After the game, the Lions huddled up. Instead of putting their hands into a circle to yell, “Go Lions!”, the kids decided to put their feet in a circle instead.

Go Carter! Go Lions!