It's amazing how I have lived in Hampton Roads my entire life, and yet, I still find new enchanting places to explore. This time, my guide was Jada as she showed me parts of Norfolk that I have not seen before. Though it was in the middle of winter, it was surprisingly warm as we wandered to the Pagoda from the Hague (though there were moments where we were grateful for our coats). We both were laughing as we swapped stories from events in our lives that the surrounding area reminded us about. And of course, what excursion downtown would be complete without stopping at a bakery--a bakery that nonetheless specialized in macarons (Hummingbird Macarons)? It was truly a memorable afternoon.
Last December 31, 2016, I made the last minute decision to take a photo every day in the year 2017 (which is odd that I would do that because I do not normally make last minute decisions, especially one that would impact me for an entire year). I have seen other photographers take on this challenge, and I have always wanted to do this to grow my photography skills. This year seemed like the perfect year to try it out, so I did.
My rules that I set for myself was that I was going to take at least one photo everyday, and I was going to share that one photo on Facebook. About once a month, I allowed myself to post a picture that I did not take, but that I was in (but I only took advantage of this about 5 times--most of the pictures with me in them were actually self-timed photos that I took). I recognized that sometimes memories are more important than getting the photo myself.
I had a lot of fun taking photos every single day, but I certainly learned several things that I was not expecting. So here is my list of the observations that I made through 2017 because of my photo a day.
1. Before this year, I would often find myself behind the camera the entire time at certain events to the point that I had these great images; however, when I looked back at the event, I did not have the memories—only the photos. This year, I would pull out my camera, take a picture, be happy with my picture, and then put my camera away to enjoy the rest of the event. I got the photos with the memories.
2. Facebook Analytics—Now before I reveal my observations, please know that these are by no means able to draw conclusions about everyone. The population done is my group of friends, and I never posted the same image twice to see if I would get different results. So these are just observations, not statistical evidence.
A. Even if it was an absolutely beautiful photograph (say of a flower), I would get very few likes, if I had no caption.
B. However, a crummy photo followed by a deeply profound caption would get in the top like scoring photos.
I don't want my man to go viral as he demonstrates his love in some majestic never-before-thought-of way for a large audience; I want the everyday moments to show his love like holding my hand, washing the dishes, going on walks, enjoying a sunset, or going on a picnic where we listen, share, laugh, cry, and pray together. One day he'll come. For now though, I can use this day to pray for him and enjoy the treats and thoughtfulness of my students. 2/14/17
C. I did try once or twice a beautiful photo with a profound caption, and the results were pretty good though not exceptional.
D. Posting after 10:00pm, no matter how beautiful the image or meaningful the caption, would get me very few likes unless it had something to do with a significant life event like a birth or an engagement.
E. The best time to post is around 7:30pm.
F. Pictures of just me will get the most likes. Pictures of just one of my friends will reap many of her friends liking the photo. Conclusion= people like to see their friends in photos, but it is weird for them to like photos that include people they do not know. But with multiple friends that a person knows in the picture, you are guaranteed to get even more likes.
G. I began to wonder how much Facebook knows to show images that relate to certain people and withhold other images that seem of little importance to that person. Or do people see more than they let on? Hmmm…interesting...
H. My analytics were all thrown off on days when I posted multiple days because the images showed up as part of the album, not individual pictures.
I. There seems to be more active people on Instagram than on Facebook.
3. This year, I forced myself to do things and explore places. I had to because I did not want to take the same flower in my backyard over and over again (though I did take many backyard photographs). I got to see new parks, go on excursions, find local events, and organize events with my friends. And with that, I have a small moment from each day of this year recorded for years to come.
4. Sometimes an imperfect picture is beautiful because it captures a moment that can never happen again.
5. Though selfies are not the most beautiful photos ever taken, I understand their popularity. They are a quick reference to an event with all the people you were there with. Looking back at the selfies I took, I remember the conversations, the laughter, and the happiness from each encounter. And the people who view it like to see you having fun, not just taking photos.
6. Though I already knew this before, I love going on photo walks, especially I discovered when another photographer or friend joins me. Photo walks are relaxing and peaceful, and if you are with someone else, you get to know that person even better. And these walks always gave me something to look forward to while also knowing I would get fun shots there.
7. I learned different techniques of photography like night-time photography and different lighting. Again this was because I did not want the same photo every day, and during the winter months, the sun sets before I get home so I had to learn night-time photography.
8. Photography became the thing that I used to relax after teaching. Though I did include some teaching photos, most of the time, photography was the time that I did something completely unrelated to teaching. This is so important to have because it gave me a break and allowed me to relax. I would be more focused to get work done later in the evening.
9. During the month of November, I took on the grateful challenge. Each thing that I was grateful for coordinated with the picture that I took. It was a purposeful way to reflect on what I was grateful for that day and how I could show it through a photo. It was also special to have a month where I got to see almost everyone who is near and dear to my heart.
10. No matter the mood I was in or the day I had had, I came home and took my picture. Looking back, I can tell you how I was feeling that day. Many of the pictures reflected my mood even through little subtleties that only I would understand.
11. On days when I had people in my photos or I took the photo with them there, I was happier than on days when I just was by myself taking photos, especially when I got to photograph the small children in my life. Though I am an introvert, spending quality time with people is so valuable to me.
12. I noticed that people started looking forward to me showing up with my camera. In fact, one of my friends told that she heard I was coming over so put on make up because she knew I would have my camera.
13. On average, my shutter speed is usually 1/300 of a second. That means in one year, I have recorded about 1 full second of my life, and yet it feels like more because I captured memories. People feel like they know me better now because of these millisecond glimpses into my life.
14. I love photography. Yes, I knew that beforehand, but I understand even more now why I love it. It preserves memories and stories. And with my discovery of my love for photography, I began selling my photos on stock imaging sites and setting up opportunities for portraits. And to document it all, I have also begun my own blog (but you probably already realized that).
15. Thank you to each and everyone of you who were part of my album (and ultimately part of 2017). I know some of you did so more because I asked you to be in a photo than because of your eagerness to be photographed. You are all so special to me, and I pray that 2018 will continue the bonds and the memories created in 2017. You all made 2017 memorable! Thank you!
Also thank you to those of you who consistently liked most of my photos. (You know who you are! :D It was always fun to see your name pop up, and your faithfulness to liking my photos really encouraged me!)
16. I feel like I am going to be at a loss of what to do come 2018. I am not going to be doing a photo a day this year or as someone suggested a photo every hour for a year. I am though going to be more purposeful in setting time aside to take photos, whether setting up photography sessions or going on photo walks. So if you would be interested in setting up a photography session or go on a photo walk with me, please message me for details.
The discoveries that I have made about photography are worth continuing to pursue, are worth getting to know the people around me better, and are worth my time and energy.
So what lessons have you learned this year? What are your favorite 2017 memories?
Sometimes people are in one’s life for only a brief and important moment; other times, those people stay in the lives of those they have impacted. Reland is one of those people who has continued to be in my life.
On my very first day of college, I whispered to my sister, “I don’t feel like meeting new people today.”
“Girl, you better get over that real quick!” she comforted me.
I guess I did because that was the day that I met Reland. She was on my freshman hall, and though I did not click with anyone else on my hall, I became fast friends with Reland. In fact, the next year we became suitemates, and our final two years of college, we were roommates.
Reland is one of the most joyful people that I know. We are always laughing together or coming up with some silly skit or video together (which she will go all out for any costume she must wear). I value her opinion, and I always look forward to being able to spend time with her whenever we are able whether over coffee, cupcakes, or Christmas celebrations.
Through the years after college, we have continued to stay close friends through different and sometimes difficult stages of life. Earlier this month, I had the honor of being a part of her wedding shower where we got to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Because of her love for coffee, not only did we have coffee, but we also had chocolate coffee cupcakes. It’s been so much fun celebrating her engagement, and I am excited to celebrate the beginning of her marriage to Anthony in a few short days.
If you are a teacher or have a teacher in your life, then you know that the first few weeks once school starts are crazy. Teachers probably work crazy hours (and not just at school, but when they're home too!) and have no time for relaxation.
So this year, I stocked up on my relaxation before school, and it was a dream. For one week, I got to explore the beauty of Hawaii. I explored almost the entire island of Oahu, but it went by too quickly. As I was busy working and preparing for the school year in the weeks following (notice that I have finally written this about 7 weeks after going to Hawaii, and 5 weeks after the students came), I could listen to Hawaiian music or look at my photos and release a happy sigh of relief thinking about the beauty of Hawaii.
People have asked me my favorite parts of Hawaii, and though I try to describe them in words, it is difficult without my pictures. But now, I get to share both!
1. Hanauma Bay
This was by far my favorite place that I visited. I had read online that the parking lot is often full by 7:30am, so I made sure that I got there extra early. I arrived at 6:20am. Not only was there plenty of parking, they allowed us entrance without having to pay parking or an entrance fee. Of course I was thrilled! And I was even more thrilled when I started walking to the beach to see it glistening before me at golden hour.
Hanauma Bay is a protected marine life conservation area with hundreds of fish. I had never been snorkeling before, but later, I texted my mom that I had found a new hobby. Seeing the tropical fish play around you as you watch is breathtaking, and so peaceful. I even got to see Hawaii's state fish: Humuhumunukunukuapua`a or more simply the Hawaiian triggerfish.
2. Spitting Cave and the surrounding land
I had read about the Spitting Cave from another blog, and I was really excited to see it and the cliff-face that it boasted. When I got to the address I had found (7 Lumahai St, Honolulu, HI 96825), I thought I was in the wrong place.
My GPS dropped me of in a well-to-do neighborhood with no evidence of cliff-faces and crashing waves. Then, I saw a small park sign and a group of people getting out to explore. I quickly jumped out and asked them if this was the Spitting Caves. Come to find out, it was a tour. The guide corrected me that it is the Spitting Cave, but yes right place.
I walked down a narrowly downward winding path. And then, I stepped out. There is a wide expanse of sky, ocean, and cliffs. It was absolutely breathtaking. It's moments like that where my breath catches, and I think, "Wow! God created all of that!"
Supposedly this spot is excellent for watching the sunset and the stars, but I didn't get a chance to see that for myself. If you have, I'd love to hear your experiences.
While there, I saw one of the few seals still there in Hawaii. He was adorable and was kind enough to pose for me.
After visiting The Spitting Cave, I got back on the main highway, and I drove around the coast that continued to have the rocky coast-line. It was well-worth the slow trip on that day (that was all I did that day).
3. The Beaches of Oahu
I know; I know! Of course you are going to go to the beach in Hawaii. Be sure though to visit several because they are all so different and beautiful in their own way with the turquoise water or the fine sand or the mountains in the distance.
4. Oahu off the main road
While in Oahu, I got to go on four different hikes, and each time, I saw breathtaking vistas. Each gave me a different vantage point. Hiking is so rewarding because one makes it to the top and thinks "Oh wow! That is beautiful!" But the next day, when that same person sees the mountain he climbed, his confidence is boosted as he think, "That's right! I went up that mountain!"
5. The beauty right next to you
No matter where you are on Oahu, there is beauty to be seen. For me, some of the most peaceful moments were when I took a breath and just looked around. On the very first day, after beating jet-lag by going to bed at 9 and waking up at 5, I got to see the sunrise from my friends' apartment. It was so peaceful to watch from above as the city began to come to life.
Later that night, the moon came out and completely changed how the scene looked. But I would have missed those moments if I had not taken a moment to just enjoy what was in front of me.
So to settle any doubts, yes, going to Hawaii is definitely worth the trip. However, one does not need to go to Hawaii to relax or to see beautiful things. Take time to explore your local town, and do so slowly, to really appreciate the beauty or the history or the people that you see.
How do you find time to enjoy the simple things?
If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, or subscribe. You can even purchase or like your favorite of these photos by clicking on the photos or clicking here. Also be on the look-out for a Hawaiian edition of photo-cards coming soon.
Do you know anyone who has a birthday?
Yes, of course you do!
Everyone has a birthday.
Have you ever wondered what the perfect birthday gift is? You know, the one where the birthday person will love, will remember, and will smile with? The birthday gift that she knows you love her?
This perfect gift then needs to be a gift that speaks to multiple love languages to give to a multitude of people.
Last summer, I read The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. This book talks about having a thriving marriage by speaking the love language of your spouse. If you only speak English, you would not understand what someone who only speaks French is saying. Just like verbal language, love language must be understood to be received.
However, I'm not married. So it was a good reference but not exactly applicable to me yet.
And then I found: The Five Love Languages Singles Edition: The Secrets that will Revolutionize your Relationships.
I loved this book! However, I thought a better title would be The Five Languages: Secrets for Everyone in Your Life.
It was not just for how I relate to other singles or potential significant men in my life (yes, there was one or two chapters on this), but most of it dealt with every sort of relationship that we have. It dealt with love languages of parents, neighbhors, co-workers, and other everyday relationships.
The relationships that people have with the birthday people in their lives--everyone.
So what is this perfect gift for anyone because it captures so many of the love languages?
A birthday card.
Not just a card, but a card that is beautiful on the outside housing your beautiful words on the inside. A card that says more than "Dear Obadiah, Happy birthday! Love, Me," but one that shares a funny story, shares how you feel, shares several sentences. A card that is handmade with love.
I know, I know. You are probably thinking, A simple birthday card does not cover all the love languages. So let me show you:
The five love languages are:
1. Words of Affirmation--these are genuine words spoken to that special person in your life that are encouraging or complimentary.
A birthday card that shares more than "Happy birthday!" are words that your person can read over and over again. She can read how much you love her and what she means to you.
2. Gifts--Gifts are small tokens that say "Hey, I found this and I was thinking of you." They do not need to be extravagant, but they do need to be something tangible that you give.
Yes, it is usually better if this card is accompanied by a bit bigger gift, but the card that you picked out and carefully crafted the words for will speak to the person whose love language is gifts.
3. Quality time--This is the love language where spending time together is so valuable. Quality time though can also be in the form of quality conversation.
Though you may be absent from the person, taking the time out of your day to draft a well thought-out and meaningful card will speak volumes to your quality-time friend. And of course if you give him the card in person and then spend the rest of the afternoon with him, he feels extra love. Trust me on this one; quality time is my love language, and I love receiving cards and letters.
4. Acts of Service--Acts of service are where you go out of your way to help someone through washing the dishes or taking the trash out or doing the laundry.
Giving a well thought-out card may not really speak to an acts of service person, especially if your room is messy. However, you could write about how you cleaned your room or even promise them to help them in some way (as long as you follow through and keep your promise).
5. Physical touch--This love language says that you love someone by coming into physical contact with them like a hug or a pat on the shoulder or even just brushing against her as you pass.
This one, I admit is a bit difficult to explain with cards. However, if you hand-deliver the card then you can reach over and give that desired hug. And maybe if you are far away, the person will still feel loved because you were actually touching the paper that he is now touching.
So what are you waiting for? It's time to get your very own perfect birthday gifts! Or if you aren't quite ready to buy one, you can like, share or subscribe our page for when you are ready to buy that special card.
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A few days ago, I was cleaning out some old papers and I found this.
Look familiar? It was the prototype of my current logo.
The notebook this was in was from 2012--five years ago. It's crazy to think that I had this shop in the back of my mind for five years.
As I studied this doodle, it reminded me about why I started with cards. With each card that I make, I am giving a little piece of my heart to go along with the card.
Each card that I hand-craft is formed with love. If you are one of the people who gets a card from me (birthday, invitation, just thinking of you etc.), know it is my way of saying that I love you and that I am thinking of you.
My favorite moments are when I create a card with the preferences of the receiver. The look of awe or "How did you know I love..." make every moment spent on the card worth it.
I chose to sell the cards that I make so that others can experience giving a hand-made card. Someone can look at their friend and say, "It's handmade by my good friend Parthena" (I say good friend because I hope that if we are not good friends that we may become better acquainted through these cards).
Some of my favorite customers have been those who have ordered custom cards. They told me what they were looking for, I then produced a test card to show them, and I allowed them to tweak it as necessary. Working together, we produced sets of cards that were tailored to the recipients.
One customer gave me an image of a Norfolk mermaid with a stethoscope and requested that I create elegant graduation cards for her Eastern Virginia Medical School friends (a school based in Norfolk).
A fellow teacher asked me to create cards based on her classroom theme, monsters. Whenever someone opened the card, he would know it was from her class.
With custom cards, each recipient knows that the sender put in the thought and energy to create the card even if the sender was not the one who put the glue on the paper.
Cards are ways to make people feel special. The outside of the card is the cover to the inside--like a book sharing a preview of the glorious tale within. Most of my cards are blank so that the sender has plenty of room to write how he feels about the recipient without squishing or rearranging words.
Cards are ways to express love both on the outside and the inside. They proudly proclaim, "You are important to me." They announce, "You matter to me." That's why cards.
Do you have an idea for a card? I would love to hear about it!
You can contact me at email@example.com.
Bonus: If you use the coupon code CELEBRATE between now and July 21, you will receive 25% off of your Etsy purchase!
Please like, share, comment, or subscribe if this post inspired you in any way.
Through the years, photography has developed into a passion for me. As I shared in the My Story section, I began taking pictures around middle school. I loved taking my film to the developers and returning with hard-evidence of the stories that I shared with my friends and family. Photography was a way to preserve those memories so that I could look back and remember.
When my film camera died, I upgraded to a digital camera that had control of the settings. My brother was right beside me as he showed me the various settings and patiently explained how each one worked. Through lots of practice and lots of okay pictures and a high school photography class, I began to get the hang of it.
Through college, I had opportunities to practice with DSLR cameras because I could check them out from my college library just like I could check-out a book. I checked them out for special memory-making moments like Pancake House, where my Christian fellowship baked thousands of pancakes for the students on the last day of classes, or for graduation portraits of my friends.
However, I often (usually after a stressful week) would grab my camera (or check one out) and go on photo walks. A photo walk is where you take your camera and take pictures of the beauty that you run across. For me, this was often flowers, animals, and other natural spaces. As I came face-to-face with the little details, I thanked God for His beautiful creation. Through those walks, I learned more about who God is and the peace that He gives.
On December 31, 2016, I decided that a good goal for 2017 was to take a photo a day. I had seen other photographers do this, and I thought that this year would be a great year to do just that. I have had so much fun finding things or people to take photos of everyday. No matter what kind of day I have had, I find something to photograph.
It has allowed me to explore places so that I am not taking that same flower picture again and again. It has allowed me something completely unrelated to teaching. And it has better taught me my camera.
For me, each photo has a memory and a story attached. The smell of summer rain after a major thunderstorm. The laughter of my family. The bird that posed for me and sang me an entire aria. A memorable walk. A rainbow when I needed one. The day someone called me a professional photographer.
I realized from creating this 2017 album how much I enjoy photography, and I realized that I want to be able to share these memories and stories with others.
The beauty of nature and travel photography is that the story varies for different people. When I see a picture of a fire, I think of my summers spent at Triple R Ranch as a camp counselor creating sticky s'mores. Someone else might look at it and think of the family weekends spent sleeping in a tent. Someone else might look at it and see the power and fury that the fire contains. However, whatever story the image reveals to you, it means something to you.
The stories and the memories created from photographs are worth telling; that's why photography.
Please like, share, comment, or subscribe if this post brought back some of your own memories.
What about you?