Archive for July, 2009

The Forasteros preview

July 27, 2009

Rainbow colored Chuck Taylors. An incredibly gorgeous farm. Cotton candy, snow cones, and hot dogs. An all turquoise room to get ready in. Karaoke under the stars. A bobble head cake topper. A comic book guestbook. A splatter painted piece of artwork that the guests helped create. Wow, what a wedding. I’m still recovering from the weekend back in Columbia, MO where I photographed my awesome friends Amanda and JR get hitched. More to come, but here’s a sneak peek of them and their rockin sassiness. forasteros-1 copy


Sushi Date

July 23, 2009

I went on a date tonight. But it wasn’t to go get sushi (oooh, I tricked you, didn’t I?!) Tonight, our second Spendyourself photoshoot of the week was rained out, so I ended up getting to hang out with my man (since one of us will be out of town the next THREE WEEKENDS in a row. Blah.) We went to La Que… one of our favorite little places, which is incidentally where he took me on our first date (after we got lost on our way there… yep, on the first date. it was awesome. But that’s a story for another day.) I was so glad to be with him tonight though because tomorrow is our 11 month anniversary! Woo! (Is that like really teenager of me to count the months? No– whatever. I don’t care. It’s love:) So anyways, at La Que I get this awesome dish *every time* that has chicken over noodles and then all of these wonderful flavors: curry, lemongrass, cucumber, cilantro, peanuts, spicy stuff, those little sprouty things that sometimes are in Chinese food, and a mystery sauce that we just ladle alll over it. Scrumptious.

But this post is about sushi. Lol.

Last week sometime I took Lee out for sushi (another of our faves) to celebrate him paying off all his school loans! Yippee for paying off that debt. Dave Ramsey would be so proud. Well, actually, he still has $17 he needs to pay, but when he tried to pay it the loan company told him that they had sold his loan to the US Government, and that he should write them a letter. Yeah… like that’s really going to solve anything. Or maybe he could call them? Oh wait… have you ever tried to call the US Government? Anyways… hopefully he can track the $17 down before it turns into a letter 10 years later claiming they owe him 1,573.92 in interest.

Sorry, this post is about sushi. I keep getting distracted.

So there it is— in all its glory!

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We got some other stuff too (like crunch n munch.. mmmmm) but when this plate came out I nearly swooned at the colors. I had my camera with me (duh!) and I quickly apologized to Lee that we were going to look like Chinese tourists for a moment (ummm did i say that?) as I took a picture in the restaurant, of the food. I just couldn’t help it! I mean look at it!

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And here’s the cute boy across the table from me, who politely obliged when I told him to “hold up some sushi… you know… like in your chopsticks!”  <eye rolling commences>  “no, come on, like closer up by your mouth. oh i know! maybe pretend like you’re eating it!… No??… Okay fine… just a little higher up then…”   Poor photo slave boy.SushiwLee-3 copy

(Side note: how about that blue wall behind there matching the sushi plates?! holla!!)

And then we went on a photowalk. Okay, so we really just went on a regular walk. But… ugh… I just. couldn’t. stand. it.  I HAD to take pictures. And Lee just kept walking. ;-)

This one reminds me of a little joke from Spring Break my senior year of high school— “This “body” belongs to Chuck.” Oh goodtimes. (There are only 4 people out there in the world that would get it… lets see if they’re reading ;-)SushiwLee-4 copy

I kind of have a propensity for ol beat up metal stuff. Lee is starting to understand this about me. For the Spendyourself shoot… I was so proud when he said “I bet we are going to take pictures over there in front of that dumpster aren’t we?” And I said “YES honey! We are!! I’m so proud that you know me so well that you dont even think its strange anymore that I want people to gather around an old metal nasty smelly dumpster and smile real pretty!!”SushiwLee-5 copy

The other benefit to photowalking with the Lee– a built in hot model. I love how you can see his shadow. And I’m pretty proud of his progress in not having to smile in .every. single. picture. SushiwLee-6 copy

Its a telephone pole, yep! But its gritty and cool, no?SushiwLee-7 copy

You can do it, little weed!

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Here’s my model again.SushiwLee-9 copy

Now he’s smiling at me. He can’t help himself. SushiwLee-10 copy

And now he’s trying realllly hard to be serious again. Nice try, boy.SushiwLee-11 copy

Okay I’m running out of commenting steam. Its a wall. And a light. ;-)SushiwLee-12 copy

Is that some medicinal herb growing there, buddy? jk jk. i know that’s not what that looks like.

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Oh and then I LOVE this one. This little pup was trying to be so fierce… and then he stuck his little nose through. Love it. I feel like I should be hanging out with Opie, going fishing and whistling a tune or something when I see this image. SushiwLee-14 copy

I got really excited about this yella door. I want a yella door.SushiwLee-16 copy

I thought I should be in a pic. This is all that I got. SushiwLee-17 copy

Oh my, he’s so handsome, isn’t he girls?SushiwLee-18 copy

And a pretty little plant. Bonus points to you if you know what it is. Too bad I’m pretty sure Grammy doesn’t read my blog, because I’m sure she’d know! She had me saying “Silphium Terabinthinacium” at like age 3. And thats no lie. SushiwLee-19 copy

Thanks for photowalking with me. Oh it was fun! How about you do your own photowalk and let me see your pretty pictures??

Spendyourself Kisumu Shirt

July 20, 2009

The newest Spendyourself shirt is officially here! This shirt benefits a village in Kisumu, Kenya that has been ravished by AIDS and political violence, leaving many of the childrens orphaned or on the streets. We are partnering with our friends at Life in Abundance (LIA) to empower the church in Kisumu to minister to the orphans in Kisumu. Read the story of Kevin, a young man from Kisumu and the pioneering methods LIA is using to empower this community here. And buy a shirt while you’re at it! 100% of the profits head straight to Kisumu.

Since this IS my photo blog, I just have to share with you a few of my favorite images I captured on Friday while doing the photoshoot for this shirt. We had some INCREDIBLE models… they did crazy stuff… like this:

And this

And then there was the field. Oh I love you, field. Except that I had to painfully photoshop out all the light poles and the house in the background

Um, well… I guess I got too lazy to keep photoshopping them out :)

Sweet Summertime

July 17, 2009

I’ll admit it.. I sort of like domesticity. Don’t get all hateful on me now… I bet you would like it too if you tried. :) Lee and I kept talking about wanting a garden. I look at all of the pretty articles in Martha Stewart Living and daydream about picking beautiful vegetables out of the backyard and then whipping up something delicious, summery and healthy for dinner.

I guess our container gardening on my back porch is a first step into the foray of gardening, right? I have summer yellow squash… which hasn’t gotten very big yet… a basil plant, and a tomato plant (the goal there being to make some yummy tomato, basil and mozzerella salads).

Well, the tomatoes have come out rather… well… mini-sized. But boy are they sweet… not to mention adorable!

Here are my first two little precious tomatoes that I plucked and promptly ate (not, of course, before taking some photos of them :)

Who has gardening tips to share?

True value…

July 9, 2009

I think I’ve been too scared and too limited to use this blog as MY blog. I’ve kept it semi-sterile (well, aside from posting a whole slough of pictures of me making ridiculous faces…)

But this blog is not just about making some pretty pictures that try to keep up with the competition. I am reading a book called Fast Track Photographer by Dane Sanders. And though I’m on page 12, I’m pretty sure I must have told at least 4 people about it already, because I know the concepts contained within are going to knock my socks off.


This summer I am focused in large part on getting J*Grace Photography actually off the ground… defined a little bit… and rolling! I’m exploring website and blog options and am just learning all that I can. Although I’m not in school at the moment, I have realized that I AM pioneering two small businesses, between this and Spendyourself. While there are sooo many people entering the photography industry these days with the introduction of affordable dslr’s and the relatively easy learning curve, Fast Track Photographer is helping me to understand what it is that will make me stand out.

Oftentimes we think that the value of a business is found solely in the product or in the profit made from that product. But, Dane Sanders asks us to think for a minute… if all the Starbucks in the country burned to the ground and all their beans were destroyed… would Starbucks just die as a company? No…they would be up and rolling again soon because their real value lies in their ideas, their branding, their people, their purpose, their passion, their reputation, their way of doing business. So too, my images are not what makes me valuable. Despite the fact that my identity and purpose will never fully be found in photography, but in Jesus Christ, within my business, I as the photographer am what makes J*Grace Photography valuable and unique.

Sanders writes “To believe that either your inventory (i.e. your images) or the price you charge for it is where the real value of your company rests is superficial thinking. The real value is the engine that creates those images. The real value is not in the photography, it is entirely in the photographer who takes the pictures. The photography itself is the result of the photographer doing her job. Nothing more… The goal of any business, if it intends to thrive in teh long term, is to increase its real value. And the best way to increase that value is to invest in its core value engine. In the case of wedding photography, that core engine is YOU.”

If I make “the fundamental decision to make [my] business not about what [I] create but about the photographer they’re seeking to become, guess what will happen? The competition will never materialize. It can’t. Why? Because “you” is a scarce resource that cannot be easily copied.” And if you increase scarcity, you increase value.

And so, I embark, with my steady guide, Dane Sanders, to discern how I am wired up and how J*Grace Photography is going to roll. Thanks for joining me on the journey.


Vintage Awesomeness

July 8, 2009

I finally got to visit the Lagomarcino cabin on the Rock River this weekend. We estimate that the house was built and has been in the family for 75 years. I L.O.V.E.D. it. Before we left, I asked if I should bring my camera. My wonderful boyfriend advised against it, saying there was just a bunch of “old stuff” there. I am glad I went with my instinct and his sister’s suggestion, and brought the Canon along.






And P.S.– these images, and most others are always better BIG, in my humble opinion :) So feel free to click them to see them bigga’

Thanks for reading!

BFF Birthday

July 6, 2009

My BFF Julie had a big birthday this year. We are doing a photoshoot to commemorate soon… but here are a few shots from one of her parties. This was the dress up and eat dinner party, as opposed to the bring all our Somali friends, eat BBQ and jump in the lake party (which I regret to say I don’t have pictures of).

Isn’t she pretty? She is always laughing.

Here’s Shannie. Really close.


Us in standard form:

First she does the macarena, for the whole restaurant

The she gets all hawaiianed up:

So that she can do the hula on a chair for the restaurant :)

Grandpa, aka Ol’ Poo came down for the dinner, along with her mom, stepdad and brother.

Isn’t he cute??


Our view. The Ohio looks much prettier in this pic than it is in real life :)

Rockin the roomie’s bday

July 6, 2009

My roomie had a birthday… so we had to PARTAY! Old roomie, Kayla, came back to join us… and we all got ready together… like old times. Man I miss borrowing clothes from her closet ;-)

We made them go dance with this crazy old guy…

See? Crazy…

I made her a wall of shame… umm i mean fame… and Grammy’s chocolate chocolate chocolate chocolate cake. Its pretty much the best thing eva!

You might recognize Shannon’s mug from her portrait session here.

Camp Freedom

July 6, 2009

A couple of weekends ago had the opportunity to work at a disabilities camp for the weekend. Man, what a blessing. I was honestly a little nervous, and didn’t know quite what to expect… but absolutely fell in love with our campers.

Tellin jokes in the talent show…

This guy asked me to dance with him in the talent show. So great.

My two boyfriends :)

Destin- A little long in coming

July 6, 2009

Lee was supposed to be overseas serving the Lord in the Middle East… but when plans fell through due to some terrorist activity, he got to join me for a few days in Florida! My best friend since the sixth grade, Maegan, and her husband Jon and little girl Mackenzie also joined the party. It was pretty much a blasty blast.

Today, when on our way home from the 4th of July weekend in northern Illinois I told Lee I was taking him somewhere. He sort of chuckled… but in my head I was wondering what he would really do if I kidnapped him and we went back down to Destin right then and there. Forget being an adult and having a job. We had that much fun… we wanna be back.

Can’t you just tell he had a blasty blast? Okay, maybe not from this one…

How about this one…?  No…?

Okay, surely in this next one you can tell he’s having a blasty blast…

He loves me. Really. I promise.

Okay, okay, now for some real, not shot-with-a-point-and-shoot-while-walking-to-the-dock-and-fixing-our-life-jacket pictures.

Oh, just kidding. Just to show you we aren’t just wearing those life jacket for kicks:

That may or may not have been after I threw us off the jet ski… not that I would ever do such a thing.

<Notice he is driving again…>

So here’s the whole smokin hot gang… struttin it like they’re gettin paid to do it or something..

I tried to get a nice little Vestal family picture. Mackenzie had other plans. Or maybe she just wanted to wink.

Dad soon caught on… (probably since their photographer was laughing hysterically)

She’s pretty much precious though. Here she is rockin’ my shades.

She liked to boogie in random places. My mom liked to join her.

But she also really loves Mr “Golden Bob.” I love these shots I snuck of my dad and Miss Mack.

Here’s Dad and Jon holding hands… erm… I mean.. holding Mackenzie’s hands :)

Dad just kept taking pictures. He was like the papparazzi.

I’m not sure what just happened in this next one, but as mom said, it looks like the joke is on me!

I pretty much think this next one of my parents is adorable:

Here’s my silly/beautiful friend:

Mackenzie needed her daddy on the big scary boat.

But the boat didn’t work for a little bit… so while the boys fixed it, the girls sat on the dock and looked pretty.

By the time we got to where we were going, Mackenzie had decided she was going to move in on my boyfriend. I didn’t protest, just took pictures of the whole darn adorable thing.

There were birds at the restaurant. Did you know that some of these parrots live for 100 years? And did you know that the crazy man that put the birds on my head has 100 of these suckers at his house??

This one liked to cuddle with mom.

This didn’t feel too good on my sunburnt scalp. And the little green one started gettin fresh with me.

Oh and heres some crabbies we caught out on the dock in the crab traps. Jon sacrificed a finger retrieving them… and the boys got all nasty every night baiting the traps with chicken backs. Yes, chicken backs. But we ate these guys (hence why most of their legs are gone in this shot) and they were delish!

The End.

P.S. J*Grace Photography is going to be getting a website and a blog facelift this summer. Get excited!