WC: Shrinking Your World

We’re all quite small in this vast world.  We fill our lives up with work and projects and social lives and activities.  With everything we add, we discover how much the earth has to offer, and we realize we could never experience it all, given a hundred lifetimes.  The world feels bigger and bigger, with each new interest requiring thousands of hours to master, though each never reaches the state of “done.”

What drives us to be so insanely busy all the time?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

When I was young, I remember lamenting mountains of homework, longing for the days when I was out of school, as I’d then have so much more free time.  How naive.  I simply couldn’t fathom being busier than I was then.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Now, between work and home life, I have a passion that consumes every spare moment.  Shooting and editing and marketing and blogging and learning and experimenting.  Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t dedicate so much time to my photography if I didn’t thoroughly love it.  But I sometimes miss the homework simply for the sake of remembering what it feels like to be bored.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

This packed existence starkly contrasts with every other species I witness on a daily basis.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

What must it be like to be a house cat, with no responsibilities other than eating, pooping, and sleeping all day?  Their world is literally confined to the square footage of our home, but they’re content.

Deer might roam entire mountainsides, but they don’t ponder the wonders awaiting them three continents away.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Geese and sandhill cranes have much broader territories, migrating over many leagues each year, but they still focus on what’s needed to survive.  Can you imagine a crane getting a hobby?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I often wonder why we’re unique in that regard.  Have we forgotten how to do nothing?

I’m enjoying shooting wildlife, as it reminds me that life can move at a slower pace.  It doesn’t have to blaze by at the speed of sound; we can stop for a bit and simply observe.  Our world then scales down to something more manageable, we can focus on a small piece, and it’s no longer so daunting.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I personally struggle with this, as I’m a go-go-go-go-go kind of person.  But photography forces me to slow down (especially when I need a tripod), and I can actually enjoy the world I’m shooting, instead of just giving it the “drive-by shooting” treatment, remembering only the moments immortalized by the pictures that remain.


I’m starting my own musical photo challenges!  Be sure to check back on Wednesday for details on how to submit your photos!


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WC: Anything but Uninspired

What inspires you?

All too often, I hear about photographers who have simply grown bored with what they’re shooting.  It all becomes the same, and there’s no fire left to the craft.  I find that terribly sad, especially when it leads to some quitting entirely something they once loved.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Perhaps I’m the strange one (but then, I pride myself on not fitting in), but I don’t quite understand how this happens.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

For me, I’m inspired by every little thing around me.  It’s difficult to go anywhere without a camera; I want to shoot everything!  From my kitties at home to a particularly fluffy cloud.  From a reflection that catches my eye to the simple art of mere garbage.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I get strange looks from Aaron all the time, and I always tell him, “Never question a photographer’s inspiration!”  I’ve shot rocks and footprints, raindrops and bike spokes.  I’m mesmerized by reflections, and I’m giddy over colors.  Everything fascinates me, and every day is a new Christmas.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It helps that I love life and I see beauty in all things around me.  I take hundreds of bad photos and occasionally strike upon something truly remarkable.  I shy away from what everyone else shoots, and I strive to make an impact with something new.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It also helps that I’m interested in so many different things.  I find euphoria in an epic landscape, but I’m immensely entertained by candid moments that come from events.  I love the magnificence of wildlife, and I’m intrigued by details.  I could go in so many different directions, that when I tire of one area, I simply dabble in another for a while.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

One of the things I’d love to do is create a photography “bucket list” – experiments I’d love to play around with – and start trying them out.  These could include light painting and double exposures, infrared and focus stacking.  The world of photography is so vast; the possibilities are anything but pedestrian.  I could never be bored!

What inspires you?  And what do you think I should try next?


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WC: Helpless

It feels somewhat easy to distance myself from the devastation in Texas, and I turn only a concerned brow toward what lies in wait for Florida.  It’s tragic, and my heart aches for all who have lost their homes and livelihoods (and all this month, I am donating 25% of all proceeds from print sales to Harvey relief efforts).  But once the news is turned off, my personal life creeps back in, pushing the drenched scenes, the tears, the pleas for help – back across the miles from whence they came.

But when tragedy strikes so close to home, I can no longer shut it out – intentionally or otherwise.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The Columbia River Gorge is one of my many playgrounds, and I’ve blogged about several hikes in the area.  In fact, I just wrote about the famous Multnomah Falls last week.  The Gorge is lush and green, spidered with tantalizing trails and breathtaking views.  It’s full of waterfalls and moss-covered trees, paths begging to be explored, and hidden nooks just waiting to be photographed.  I love it dearly, and I’ve remarked on more than one occasion how grateful I am to have it in my very own backyard.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

And as I type this, it is being destroyed.

A senseless act of recklessness sparked a massive wildfire that has consumed tens of thousands of acres of this stunning landscape.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

It has threatened homes, and it trapped hikers.  It has closed a major freeway and diverted boat traffic.

Multnomah Falls was on fire.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

Visibility dwindled.  Ash sprinkled from the sky and collected on the cars.  And it has darkened the city’s skies for days, forcing residents to remain indoors to take shelter from the harmful air.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

The only meager silver lining is that it has made for some powerfully compelling photos.

But documenting this tragedy is all I can do.  The fire is still burning, and it will likely continue to burn until the autumn rains return.  Beautiful trails are being ravaged.  And all I can do is wait for it to stop.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

I hike there every summer.  I take visitors out there whenever they’re in town.  Aaron and I got married there.  That historic highway was one of the things that made me first fall in love with the Pacific Northwest.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

And it is forever changed.

I can’t ignore it when I’m surrounded by thousands who are likewise mourning this loss.  I can’t shrug it off with, “I’m glad that didn’t happen to me.”  This literally hits home.  And I am utterly heartbroken.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2017

But I also know that I’ll return.  New trees will sprout, and with enough time, it will be green again.  I’ll do whatever is in my power to restore the grandeur of that beautiful wilderness and ensure this playground is around for future generations.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

A news article quoted a spokesman from Portland Fire and Rescue saying, “The Gorge still looks like the Gorge; it’s not a wasteland.”  That’s heartening amidst this despair, and it’s exactly what I needed to hear.  I may feel somewhat helpless right now, but I’m not without hope that I’ll play there again.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015


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WC: Milestones

The world is inundated with superb photographs on a daily basis.  It is an immensely saturated market.  As someone passionate about photography, I’ll never stop working at my craft and trying to find my edge.  However, I often feel grossly inadequate.  Who am I to try to break into this market when it’s sadly undervalued by the general public and already dominated by artists far more talented than I?

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WC: When Happy Meets Good

If you didn’t know by now, I’ll let you in on a (not-so-)little secret: I’m a bit obsessed with photography.  I experience much of my life through the lens, and I remember through pictures.

It’s difficult for me to separate photographs of good technical quality with those that have a strong sentimental tie, because I have similar reactions to both.  The former are like the good child – always doing well in school, someone who brings great pride.  The latter are also like children (they’re a piece of you), and while they may not perform as admirably, the mother loves them for all of the happy moments and experiences.

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WC: The Quest for the Edge

When I was a more casual photographer, I shot whatever caught my eye.  This mostly consisted of random moments, people, cats, and daily oddities.  My pictures generally didn’t look like others’, mostly because I was shooting things they missed.  I found an appreciation for scenic and landscape shots, but they too were mostly spontaneous – whatever I saw as I came across them.

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WC: A Year in the Life of a Photographer

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a little crazy.  I do so. much.  You know me as a photographer.  But I’m also a musician, writer, software developer, anime enthusiast, and cat lover.  I love getting outside – bike riding, skiing, camping, hiking, and now backpacking.  I travel and read.  And I don’t know how to say no to an opportunity. Continue reading

WC: This Fleeting Yet Beautiful Life

I’m constantly reminded that life is fleeting.  The older I get, the faster time goes by, and the stronger my slippery grasp upon it becomes, milking every ounce of excitement, adventure, experiences, and love that I can.  We live in a crazy world, and I simply never know if I’ll have another opportunity to photograph Landscape Arch standing, witness a total solar eclipse, or spend a day with my beautiful kitty.  Time goes by so quickly – impermanent as a colorful sunrise – and I want to make sure it’s well spent.

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