A few thoughts from today:

- I can't get warm. One of those down to the bone kinda chills that can't be cured no matter how many pairs of wool socks you put on.
- Went shopping today. Bath and Body Works was having a killer sale on their lotion. I bought three for the price of one (fyi - plumeria, night blossom jasmine, and clean cotton).
- Love my new water bottle. It's slightly smaller than my others, but it has a straw with a flip down spout. I only feel a little childish when I use it.
- Watching the Kennedy Center Honors. These passionate, moving speeches would be a whole lot more passionate and moving if the speakers weren't reading from a script.
- Hee hee... I've eaten an entire box of chocolate covered cherries in three days.
- I messaged my husband on Facebook earlier. We were only three feet apart.
- Waiting for magical fairies to come clean my house before we have friends over for New Year's.
- If it weren't for Ryan, every plant in our house would die a long, painful death.
- As of today I'm swearing off caffiene. For good this time. I mean it.
- Harry Connick Jr melts my butter.

And because every post is better with a photo... here's a pretty tree downtown from this fall.


Christmas chaos

Holidays are all about traditions. There's comfort in predictability. When I was little we celebrated Christmas Eve as a family. Together we went to mass, the church bursting at the seams. The sound of the congregation singing carols was incredible. Afterward we would race to my grandma's house. The first grandchild there got to put baby Jesus in the manger of my grandma's nativity scene. My dad likes to talk. And at Christmas Eve mass, there were a lot of people to talk to. I never got to put baby Jesus in the manager. But I was too busy playing with my cousins to notice. We waited impatiently for the supper dishes to be done, because that meant it was time to open presents. By the time the flurry of wrapping paper fell to the ground, we were fast asleep in the car on our way home.

The next morning, like many children around the world, we woke early to see what Santa left beneath the tree. Translation - what my mom and brother put together while my dad slept on the couch and my sister snoozed in the chair. Afterward, we packed up the car again to head off to my other grandma's house. And we enjoyed it all over again.

Eventually things changed a little. But it was gradual. I didn't even notice. This year, mother nature smacked into Christmas, turning it into seven kinds of chaos.

The meteorologists were predicting ice and snow and made it sound like the sky was going to fall. Even before the storm hit there was talk of postponing Christmas Eve at grandma's. I was crushed. More so than I probably should have been. They were talking about moving it to the day Ryan and I had decided to head home. We would miss it. I'd celebrated Christmas Eve at grandma's house every year for 26 years. You just don't mess with something that's been happening for 26 years.

As the storm approached, I lost count of the number of times Christmas Eve was postponed to different days and times trying to find the best time for everyone. We went to my grandma's Christmas Eve any way. It was a smaller bunch and we had frozen pizza instead of the usual chili and clam chowder. But it worked.

Surprisingly, it worked better than expected. Sort of. The storm hit Ryan's home town pretty hard. His parents were without electricity for about 8 hours. And it meant they had to postpone their traditional gathering at his sister's house. They opted to get together on Sunday, and we were able to make it. Since our families live so far apart we don't typically get to spend the holidays with both sides.

While traditions are loved, family is the only thing that matters. And spending time with both of ours was the silver lining to the Christmas chaos of 2009.


Small sampling

It's taken me a little longer than normal - but I have officially arrived smack dab in the middle of the Christmas spirit. It started when I finished my Christmas shopping. Wrapping presents definitely helped, although I'm not quite finished yet. But it was all on when I started making Christmas goodies.

Because it wasn't Christmas until my sister and I ate our weight in melted almond bark making chocolate covered peanut butter crackers. If anyone can tell me how to do it without getting it all over your fingers, I'm all ears.

Then again, never mind. That's half the fun.

I have yet to make sugar cookies. Baking and frosting and sprinkling until I can't see straight. But once that's done. I will be ready for Christmas.

Provided of course I finish wrapping presents.


Keninger wedding tin

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it seems like Michelle and Jason's October wedding was forEVER ago! I had a great time at their wedding. I love what I do. There's no doubt that being asked to photograph one of my friend's big day makes it that much more fun. I usually know the family. I'm almost gauranteed to know some (if not most) of the people at the reception. That makes it unforgetable.

So there's no doubt I thoroughly enjoy creating their CD tins as well.

As always, I wrote Jason and Michelle a little note on the inside.

I feel the need to apologize to Jason. With all the purple and flowers, it's one of the more "girlie" tins I've done. Hopefully he doesn't mind.

Once again, thanks SO much guys. Love you both!


Snow day!

Sunday evening:

Two and a half days later:

We are officially snowed in. Ames got 11.5 inches. Des Moines got 14.5! The snow is supposed to stop soon, but you won't be able to tell. The wind is blowing too hard. We're in a blizzard warning until 6 pm. Travel is not advised. Several portions of the interstates and highways are closed. They pulled the snow plows off I-35 from the Minnesota border to just south of us and on I-80 from Des Moines to Newton. The Iowa National Gaurd is helping stranded motorists. CaRAZY!
Personally, I love snow. I can't wait to go play in it... but it might not be until tomorrow. This is as far as I got today.

Ryan's off helping the city crew (all three of them) clean up. He's off on his four wheeler plowing the sidewalks. Meanwhile, I'm home in my fav hoodie and jeans with a hot cup of coffee, snuggled under a quilt. I'd LOVE to venture out this afternoon to take some more photos... but I'm not sure the weather is going to allow it.

Pretty snow makes pretty pictures!



I was hoping I'd be posting photos of fluffy white falling snow tonight. The weatherman said we'd be getting 1-2 inches after 3 pm. It's almost 6 pm now and no sign of the white stuff. I absolutely love snow. The simplicity of it. The purity of it before someone - or some thing leaves its tracks behind. Seemingly over night my world goes from dead brown to winter wonderland.

After every snow fall a part of me wants to run out and make a snow angel in the front yard. Or dig a snow fort out of huge piles of snow my dad pushed out of the drive way. I love the way it makes me feel like a little kid again.

But since it hasn't happened yet, I will wait. Hoping that tomorrow I wake up to a simple and perfect snow covered world.

And because every post is better with a photo... here's one of Ryan and I (plus Gus) a friend took this evening for a homemade Christmas gift for Ryan's grandma.


Happy turkey day!

I love the holidays. Not for the food - although, that is a huge perk. But for what it does to people. For the attitudes it changes. For the kind words and smiles of strangers. It seems like that month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is so much nicer. Everyone just gets a long a little better.

Well, minus the crazy Black Friday shoppers I suppose.

But that's not the point. I love the holidays because for one month of the year everyone sees things a little differently. They all realize the blessings they have in life and actually take the time to appreciate it. Family becomes more important and work less so. Things just come into focus.

I wish that atmosphere could last all year long... but a month is better than nothing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S. Things will be quiet on the photography front. I'm taking advantage of the long weekend to get caught up.


Family Photography: The Carter's

It's really a small world. Jerry's mom and Ann's mom went to school together. Ann's aunt was Jerry's preschool teacher. Ann and Jerry got married a few years ago, and their daughter Olivia will turn 2 in a few months.

Growing up, my best friend's sister was Ann's best friend. So there were many times we ended up at their house at the same time. When Ann and I reconnected on Facebook, I realized they had settled in Audubon, Iowa. Ryan's grandma lives there so I've come to love the home of Albert the Bull. I also found out Ann's a teacher in Ryan's home town!

I was thrilled when Ann asked me to take their family photos and a few of Olivia and her cousin, Brody. I was not so thrilled the morning of our session when the thick blanket of fog hadn't lifted by the time I left to meet them in Ankeny. But we lucked out. The fog burned off by the time we got started. Could have been a little warmer, but I think we were all thankful it wasn't any colder!

Ann, Jerry, Olivia, Jill, and Brody - thanks for braving the boring frisbee golf course and letting me play with you at the "real" park! More to come.

Tracy Anne Photography - On location photographer based in Iowa



Sometimes life feels a little like my dog. In the sense that it seems life is pulling me by a leash, and I have to run to keep from getting my arm ripped off. If only life had something like the gentle leader. But busy is never bad.

There's the new job, which is going amazingly well. And wrapping up the end of the photography season. My last session of the year is this weekend. Unless of someone is looking for snowy photos, which I think would be big fun.

But that certainly doesn't mean my photography business is slowing down. Far from it. Now I get to focus on the business aspect. I'm working through my 2010 pricing. I'm taking time to do a lot of reading about photography and business. I'm re-thinking my brand. A combination of which could lead to some new things and some changes to the old.

I'm really excited about the opportunity to re-evaluate. I think it's important to make your business a unique reflection of... you. Uh -- I mean me. Not to mention, I love the whole process of brainstorming, editing, creating, and editing some more. After all, I'm not the same person I was when I started this little venture a year ago. So my business shouldn't be the same either.

And just becase posts are more fun with photos... a little bokeh for ya.


New 9 to 5

When I was laid off in June I had no idea what was in store for me. There were so many questions. So many unknowns. And the unknown is scary. Eventually I washed my hands of the worry and stress. I gave that to God. My job was to focus on finding a job that was exactly what I wanted.

And I did. I just finished started my second week as marketing director for Farm Safety 4 Just Kids. FS4JK is a national non-profit established in 1987 by Marilyn Adams after her 11-year-old son died in a gravity flow grain wagon accident. Volunteers across the country and Canada form Chapters that put on various farm safety programs in their communities. The programs are on a number of different topics including animals, chemicals, tractors, atvs, seat belt use, and various other potential hazards facing kids in rural areas.

As a "country kid" growing up, I've always had a passion for agriculture. Certainly more than I ever did for retirement. In the last week I've learned that going to work every day beliving in what I'm doing and knowing that I am helping make a difference is what everything is about. I already feel very at home there and that feels good.


Happy.... pheasant season!

In our house, Halloween got over shadowed by the opening weekend of pheasant season. Some in the family would tell you it's the most important holiday of the year. The first morning everyone's up early. Earlier than necessary because they're too excited. My mother-in-law makes a feast for breakfast and sends them on their way.

As the sun crests over the hills to the east, everyone piles out of trucks and SUVs. The dogs are excited, as if they can smell it in the air. They guys are constantly watching the clock and a few minutes before 8 am they move into place. I go along, shooting with my camera instead of a shot gun.

Within the first ten minutes our nephew harvested the first bird of the season. Total they got eight birds. It was a good day.

Meanwhile, back home... we forgot the cardinal rule of trick or treating and left our porch light on. A fire department member called to tell us if we went out of town for Halloween we should turn our proch light off. Oops! To all the trick or treaters that stopped at our house, sorry for leaving the light on!


Angela: Senior photography

I'd never met Angela before. But once upon a time - a lonnngg time ago - I spent the night at her step mom Nicole's house. We couldn't have been more than ten-years-old. I remember playing on round bales and dancing in a big room with huge windows.

Nicole and I grew up (well, sorta), and Nicole married Angela's dad Jeff. Nicole and I just recently found each other on Facebook. Raise your hand if you love Facebook! Nicole became a fan of the Tracy Anne Photography FB page. A few days later I was blown away when Nicole asked me if I'd take Angela's senior photos.

Um... of course! So on a chilly Sunday afternoon I met Angela in Manchester.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was blown away again. Angela is smart, funny, and into photography herself! Angela loves art and the future University of Wisconsin Badger wants to go to school for graphic design.

She was working it out in this door way...

I'm seeing a reoccuring theme.

Thanks so much, Angela (and Nicole). I had a blast, and I hope you did too!


Jason and Michelle: Wedding moments

It was the way he looked at her. The way her eyes danced when she saw him. How tightly they held each other. She fits perfectly in his arms. And he was meant to be forever at her side. They laugh together and love together. This past Saturday they were married in Greeley, Iowa. They will conquer the world... together. And they've gotten a pretty good start the last few months.

I knew from the time I took their
engagement photos in May my good friend Michelle had found her forever in Jason. At the reception I discovered Jason had found his in Michelle. As he walked me outside, I asked him how it felt to be married. His response, "Perfect. She is the best thing that ever happened to me."

Michelle and Jason, I am so honored you asked me to play such an important role in the start of your new adventure. The two of you are destined for great things... and you know how to throw a really great party!

Hope you enjoy...

The two of them were pretty much just like this the whole day...

The whole amazing crew.

See... just like this. All day.

I don't think anyone will forget the love of Michelle and Jason's wedding. But they might just remember it for courage, strength, and determination as well.

For more photos of Michelle and Jason's wedding, check out the



When I was shooting Kierra's one year photos last weekend, her mom was telling me all about the princess theme for her birthday party. So what better way to scrap her CD tin than with... princesses!

Melissa, I hope you enjoy the photos! They should be there in a few days.


Kierra: Children photos

When I was younger my sister was obsessed with this song... I don't remember the name of it. But part of the chorus was "I'm the happiest girl in the whole USA." I have no idea who sang it. I'm not sure I could hum the melody. But after a good hour photographing this little one, I have no doubt she is the happiest girl in the whole word. I don't think I ever saw her stop smiling.

I just love her front toofers. Can't help but crack a smile when you see a picture of those.

My large file sizes are limiting my ability to post any more for the time being. I certainly wish I could though. I have a dozen or so more I'd love to share. Eventually, you'll find them all on the Tracy Anne Photography
Facebook page.






Ahhhh... it's officially the weekend!

We are off to the annual hay ride with Ryan's family. It's supposed to be a chilly 40 degrees tomorrow, so I'm packing lots of layers. There's usually so many people we have to take two wagons. It's great fun. This year they're having a bon fire afterward.

The fall festivities will make for a great backdrop to take one year photos of our niece's daughter, Kierra. We don't get to see them very much so I'm really excited. And who doesn't love photographing an adorable little girl? One year olds are so much fun. Full of energy and exploration.

I've vowed not to get online once over the weekend. So - until Monday!

Happy TGIF day.


I repurposed the tin a little. So far I've put CDs of digital negatives in them. But when I was getting ready to send out Kayla's prints I had an idea.

When I was in high school *ten years ago now.... ouch, hurts to type it* we carried around our wallets. That way our classmates could pick their favorite. You wrote everyone a little message on the back of your photo. If they were a close friend you rambled on and on. If they were just an acquiantence they might get something like "good luck in all you do." I'm guessing just my little high school did that, because most every where else you don't even know half the kids you graduate with.

At any rate. I thought it'd be fun to make a tin for Kayla. Who knows what use she'll have for it. But it's wayyy better than sticking her prints in some boring envelope!

P.S. The inside is purple and gold - because this fall Kayla will be a UNI Panther!


Oh happy day!

I think I've mentioned my love affair with the post office before. Every time I visit I know one of my couples is going to be very happy in a few days.

Today I mailed this: Breanna and Reid.

These tins, they make me happy. I put them together based on the flair of the wedding. And I adore each one. More than anything I have a ton of fun making them! My actual scrapbooks haven't been touch in... oh, ten months. But that's okay.

I'd also like to take this moment to show you something. Can you see the difference between the first photo and the second photo?

Both photos are properly exposed, but the lighting in the first one is very harsh. The lightest areas are blown out. Blown out means there's so much light all you see is white. No color, no pattern. And it has that really nasty rigid shadow. Yuck. It was taken in full sunlight around 2:30 - 3 pm this afternoon.

So what did I do differently for the second photo? I positioned my body so it was blocking the sun. By completely shading the photo you eliminate the harsh look of direct sunlight. You can see the texture in the paper and there's a much more natural shadow to the right of the tin.

Amazing what a little shade can do isn't it?!

All of a sudden I feel like those cheesy don't do drugs, don't give into peer pressure, or always wear your seat belt commericals that end with "because the more you know..." It kinda fits though.


Apple orchard

Last weekend we went to Deals Orchard just west of Jefferson, Iowa with Ryan's family. It's a cute little place where the store is inside a huge barn. They have the best caramel apples, so warm the caramel is practically dripping off them. Mmmm... delicious.

Ryan's mom let all the grandkids pick out a pumpkin. Total they went home with 80 pounds of pumpkin! I'm shocked we didn't take one home too. Ryan's been talking about carving a jack-0-lantern for weeks.

Random tid bit - my new camera still rocks. If it weren't for snow in forcast this weekend I'd be out all weekend shooting. Most likely, the two family sessions that are just waiting for the fall colors to really pop.

It's too bad my photo editing software doesn't like the huge file sizes. It freezes every time I try to open a photo. Which is why you don't see the Tracy Anne Photography watermark on the photo above. Considering I used to get "memory low" messages all the time before, I'm sure my computer will be blaring them at me now.

I can't complain too much. That desktop has lasted me eight years! LOL. My father-in-law would say "they just don't make 'em like that any more!"


Friday fill-in

One of the blogs I follow, the Quiet Life, does a Friday fill-in. Donna posts a handful of statements with blanks. You fill them in and post to your blog.

1. My car is fixed.

2. Michelle and Jason's wedding is coming up next.

3. Lately, things seem busy.

4. Hubbard's Hill is one of my favorite 'hiding' places.

5. What happened yesterday?

6. Forever is not impossible!


Good day

Yesterday was a good day. Ryan brought this home.

It was no ordinary brown box. My new Canon was inside.

I was so excited. Like giddy school girl at a Britney Spears concert excited. Okay, maybe not quite to that extent. But I may have been bouncing around a little.

Hello gorgeous.

I spent a couple hours shooting with it already, and I looove it! It's lighter, faster, and easier to use than my old one. The sensor is bigger, which I discovered means larger file sizes. So large in fact my computer nearly imploded when I downloaded them.
Perhaps a new laptop is in my future... : )