Saturday, April 30, 2011


Angels, Once in a While
Author Unknown

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket. Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two.

Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave 15 dollars a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either.

If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.
I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress. I loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job. The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed, crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince whomever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money - fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added another strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home. One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. 

I made a deal with the owner of the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.

On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. These were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. 

When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning I hurried to the car. I was hoping the kids wouldn't wake up before I managed to get home and get the presents from the basement and place them under the tree. (We had cut down a small cedar tree by the side of the road down by the dump.)

It was still dark and I couldn't see much, but there appeared to be some dark shadows in the car - or was that just a trick of the night? Something certainly looked different, but it was hard to tell what. When I reached the car I peered warily into one of the side windows. Then my jaw dropped in amazement. My old battered Chevy was full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. 

I quickly opened the driver's side door, scrambled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat. Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes: There were candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was a whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll. 

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World
Songwriters: George David Weiss and George Dougless aka Bob Thiele

 I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

 The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They're really saying, I love you.


 I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more, than I'll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

 Yes I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Oh yeah...

This week I have been working
on capturing love when I shoot.
Not so worried about settings
or weather
or stress : )
Just finding love!

Does anyone know how I can make the videos bigger?
I am at a loss!
Happy Weekend Lovelies
May you be surrounded by a wonderful world.

Photographer Interview: Molly Flanagan

Molly Flanagan is one of the coolest girls I have ever interviewed.

I love her pictures and her style.

I love the way she sees the world.

Most of all I love the way she finds the love.

When did you fall in love with taking pictures?  
It wasn't until my son started crawling that I decided to save up for a dSLR.  I was so frustrated with how slow the lag time was between pressing the shutter and the picture actually taking on my point-and-shoot.  I got plenty of pictures of the back of his head!  Once I bought my first dSLR (canon rebel xti) I was on a mission to learn how to use it without depending on the flash.  So I never did use my camera in auto.

How do you organize your time when you are editing and shooting a session? 

 Well, with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and one on the way, time isn't easy to come by.  I work around my husband's schedule, so I only book 2 sessions a month.  Those are usually on Saturday mornings or evenings.  As far as editing, I have tried really hard to speed up my workflow and analyze each step to see where I am wasting time.  This year I got a super duper fast computer and that has helped tremendously!  I usually edit during the kids naptime, and in the evening if my husband has to work late.  
What has been your favorite shoot so far? 


Oh goodness, I have no idea.  I am not trying to be diplomatic, but I have honestly enjoyed every session I have had so far.  Even the tough ones I come away from having learned something valuable.  But if I HAD to pick one, maybe this session.  The mom asked me to follow them around for a couple of hours.  I loved just crawling around on the floor with them, letting them show me life from their perspective.  And the mom got a couple of hours to just putz around in the kitchen... sort of like a free babysitter!  
Do you have a dream shoot you would love to do someday? Tell us the details. 
 I don't think it really matters who the people are, what they look like, or where they live.  I would love to just spend the day shooting a family that completely let their guard down and allowed me to capture them for who they really are.  The happy bits.  The frustrating bits.  Just being themselves.  Oh, and their house would have beautiful light.  That would be my only other "dream session" condition.    

How would you say you have changed as a photographer from your very first shoot until now?  

I definitely shoot from my heart more now, and am more conscious of the story images tell rather than getting the prettiest picture.  My very first shoot was for a friend's Christmas cards.  We met in a park and it was VERY posed.  I also remember being really proud that I put a lens flare in one of the pictures in photoshop.  Yikes!  It didn't take long for me to realize that I was not comfortable with super posed, traditional photography.  

I knew I really wanted to take pictures for people, but I would come away from family sessions dissatisfied.  It seemed more like going to the dentist than capturing "happy family moments".  Moms worried about their hair, snapping at their kids for smiling weird.  Dads glancing at their watches wondering when they could get back to watching the game.  And me working my butt off shaking rattles and making poop jokes to get the kids to look at me.  I wanted to take the kind of pictures for other people that I took for myself... more documenting life than creating some perfect fantasy family.  

Over time, I have fallen more and more in love with shooting in people's homes.  Every corner contains a memory.  Having a family isn't easy and contentment is something that needs to be cultivated.  Capturing memories in photographs is a great way to preserve those cherished moments.  And it is a complete honor for me to play a part in preserving those memories!    
Is pricing hard for you? What do you use to help you decide what to charge?  
Pricing is so hard!  After my first 6 months in business, I came to the realization that I was paying strangers to let me take pictures for them!  Not cool!  It has been difficult finding a good balance between charging what my time is worth, covering all of the expenses in running a photography business, and also providing packages & product options that suit my style of photography.  

I am not trying to become a millionaire, but running a photography business is a lot more work than people realize.
You are having a new baby. Do you love being pregnant? Or are you one of those girls that only does it for the end result : )  
Eh, depends on the day.  I really shouldn't complain because I have wonderful pregnancies.  But the whole gaining weight thing... nothing fits right... that part is not fun.  Also getting kicked in the bladder... not cool.  But there is something amazing about having a life growing inside of you!  It is miracle!  And a great excuse to take an afternoon nap.      
Are the kids excited about the new baby?  
VERY.  They have been wonderful and always want to talk to their little brother through my belly button... telling him everything he needs to know to prepare him to be a big kid.  
How do the kids feel about having the camera with you all the time?  

They are actually great about it.  They don't really like to pose for me, but as I said previously, posing isn't really my thing.  I'd much rather catch them just being themselves.  
How did you decide on your printer? 
 Trial and error.  I tried several and finally found one that seemed to work best with my colors.  I went to a trade show and saw lots of samples from different printers too.  That really helped me wrap my head around all the different products available (i.e. canvases, albums, coffee table books, etc).     
What are your favorite actions to use?  
Kellie Hatcher's b&w presets for sure!  And sometimes I use Jesh De Rox color shift actions.  There are also a couple of actions by Lilyblue that I like a lot.    
What is something you do in regards to your photography that helps you grow? 
 I used to love to draw.  I remember I would start a picture and then crumple it up because it wasn't perfect.  Then one day I decided to just keep working at, and when I stopped giving up, I got a lot better.  I make mistakes, my pictures and editing are far from perfect, but I just try not to over think things.  If I start to think about how I stink, I stop being creative. So I just do my best to forget I am holding a camera and become an observer.  
Why did you decide on Canon? Have you had any focusing issues ever?   
I had a Nikon film camera in college  When I was buying my first dSLR, I just decided to try something new and went with Canon.  Plus the lenses were a little cheaper.  I didn't really put a lot of thought into it.  The whole "Nikon vs Canon" thing sort of irritates me.  I think they are both fabulous cameras.  Sort of like Toyota or Honda... either way, you can't really go wrong.  

And, no, I haven't had any focusing issues.  I do use the center focus point most of the time though.  I did get a Eg-S matte focus screen for my camera and I think that has helped me nail my focus more when shooting wide open.     
How often do you get your camera cleaned?  
Geez, way to call me out.  Um, never?  I really need to, but just haven't had time.  I don't want to be without my camera!  
If someone called you and said "Why should I pick you to shoot my wedding or my baby or my Grandma or my house..." what would you tell them?  Why should someone choose you?  
I feel like I am running for student body president!  "If you vote for me... free pizza for everyone!!!!"  I think if someone called me and felt they had to ask that question, then I am not the photographer for them.  Most of my clients hire me because they want ME to take their pictures.  They want their everyday life documented.  They are not looking for an idealized fantasy... but something that represents who they really are.  They have a passion for their home, a deep love for their family, and want that connection to come across in their pictures.    

Do you have a favorite song that is playing right now we can all jam along with as we read?
  Nope, just the sound of my son watching "The Littles" on Netflix.  Although it does have a jam worthy theme song!

What is your favorite thing about having a little boy? 
 I love how he plays with his toys.  Cogan is almost 5.  He sets up these elaborate scenes all over his room, train tracks, dinosaurs, army men, sticks and leaves from the yard.  He has a very complex imagination!  
What is your favorite thing about having a little girl?  
Ugh, Ruby is 2 1/2. Right now the sweet moments feel few and far between.  But I love her little voice... when she is being nice.  It makes me smile to hear her talking to her toys.  In the bath last night she was telling the plastic shark that he wasn't big enough to swim by himself.  He was arguing back that he certainly was big enough!    
What did you major in at college?  
Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology.  I taught first grade for 1/2 a year, hated it, then worked for the YMCA helping run afterschool programs and summer camps until my son was born.  **shameless plug*** I love the YMCA... and if you like to exercise the Y is a great place to join because your membership fees help fund programs for your community (they also have scholarships available, so don't say you can't afford it).    
What is your favorite thing about living in South Carolina?  
Sweet tea... I couldn't live without it!

Do you have a second shooter for weddings and such? Do you ever wish you had a special partner in crime like Sarah (Image Bearers) and Rosina do? 

 I do have a special partner in crime!  One of my best friends, Erin of Erin Drago Photography, lives less than a mile from me and is FORCED to second shoot for me at all my weddings!  I think I might not book a wedding if she couldn't be there!  
You use 2 prime lenses: the 24mm and the 50mm. Can you tell us what you like about each one? Which one stays on your camera the most?  
I love the 24mm for indoors.  It is a great storytelling lens and stays on my camera all the time around the house and for indoor sessions.  The 50mm stays on my camera for most outdoor sessions.  I love how creamy and beautiful the light looks with the 50mm.    
If you had to pick to shoot in either color or black and white for one whole week- what would you choose? 

Hmm, probably black and white.  I think black & white really helps you pay attention to the emotion in a photograph.  I like this quote by Ted Grant - “When you photograph people in colour you photograph their clothes.  But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls.
Do you have any special bloggers that inspire you?  

Well, right now the Pioneer Woman's recipes have been inspiring me!  That is one nice thing about being pregnant, I have a newfound love for cooking!  I like to visit Sarah Rhodes, The Parsons, Pobke Photography, Wildflowers Photography.  And a bunch more, but those are ones that always make me smile.  
It seems like you embrace the noise in your pictures. I love that. How did you come to do that?  
I love the texture grain adds to pictures.  So I don't mind a gritty look... makes it feel more... real.  Like a comfortable old shoe.    

How often do you get pictures printed? Are your walls covered with your art?
  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures printed very often.  Up until a few months ago, all the pictures in our house were taken with my old point-and-shoot!  But, over the last year I have been trying to fix that and now I have some pieces hanging that I really, really love!  
Do you have a million ideas for newborn pictures? Is there anything you are dying to try?
  Actually, no!  I have a lot of respect for good newborn photographers, but that just isn't for me.  I am hoping to do a picture-a-day for the first month...document the comings and goings of our home... and what it is like having a new baby around.  Hopefully I will be able to follow through with it!  
If you could just give someone that was starting out one piece of advice, what would you say?
  Learn as much as you can.  Read books, magazines, blogs, don't be afraid to ask other photographers questions, even if they tell you to buzz off.  Google everything.  And practice all the time!  

Don't you love her?
Go and visit.
You will click away inspired.
Molly Flanagan Website
Molly Flanagan Photography on Facebook
Molly on Flickr (Pink Goldfish)