LOVE IT: 10 Reasons Why I Love Pictage

posted on: February 22, 2010

I've been a Pictage Photographer for almost 5 years now and I can honestly say that every single year my experience has been better and better. With the recent change in leadership, Pictage has become a true lovemark and partner in taking care of me and my clients. With the amount of travel I do, I need to have instant access to my images, albums, and slideshows no matter where in the world I am, and Pictage has always been there for me. While there have been a few growing pains along the way, it has always been in the relentless pursuit of improving services and products based on photographer suggestions and feedback.

I know there are a lot of people out there who struggle getting their photography business off the ground, or who spend so much of their time doing everything on their own and end up sacrificing their quality of life or their dedication to their clients. I'm not receiving any compensation for sharing this and I'm not asking you to participate in any referral program. I'm simply providing my own reasons for why I enjoy working with Pictage, and you're welcome to read them or ignore them. I'm happy to answer any questions you have in the comments link at the bottom of this post and please note that I have provided many links to more detailed explanations of what everything means.

1. Unlimited high resolution off-site storage and back-up of all images.
2. On demand FTP access and downloading of all previously uploaded images.
3. 100% guarantee on all the products they offer with great customer service.
4. A variety of viewing and searching options in the galleries to make browsing more efficient.
5. Customizable photographer and client folders make finding selections of images super easy.
6. Online album design software and service fully accessible and editable from any computer.
7. Several different levels of gallery privacy for ultimate client protection.
8. Beautiful packaging, a variety of shipping options, complete order fulfillment.
9. Payment plans and automated billing with advance automated reminders for clients.
10. Online gift certificates, sales, discounts, and free print campaigns for clients.
11. Quick & easy slideshows with great royalty free music stored on Pictage servers.
12. A private online community message board of Pictage photographers and great educational opportunities through PUG meetings, Podcasts, and the annual Partner Conference. Not to mention special member discounts on other services in the industry.

OK, so that was more than 10, but I didn't want to leave anything out. My first weddings were uploaded to Pictage during a 6 month discount on Pictage's Pro Plan about 5 years ago, and I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to grow my business without all of the help and services that they've provided me and my clients along the way. I want to publicly express my sincerest thanks to the entire Pictage Team who continues to be my support system behind the scenes!

Message In A Bottle Wedding Invitation

posted on: February 19, 2010

Message In A Bottle Wedding Invitation
You know it's going to be a fun wedding when the invitation arrives in a Coca-Cola bottle with sand, an island map, and smells of sweet piƱa colada! Makes me wish I was there already!

I'm Being Sold on EBay

posted on: February 17, 2010

It's quite an unusual thing to see yourself as an item for bid on EBay. I'm sure that's not what my parents had in mind for me when I was growing up. Thankfully it's for Thirst Relief, which provides water filters in areas where water-borne illness has a dramatic impact on the population. It's such a simple and effective solution that improves the quality of life every single day for people in developing countries, and every donation to Thirst Relief has a lasting positive impact around the world. If you're interested in making a donation and finding a great mentor for your small business, here are some mentors (other than myself, of course) that I highly recommend because they are awesome people with big hearts, and because they have a lot of wisdom and experience to offer their winning bidder!!

Jason Domingues: Weddings, Portraits, Bands based in Kansas City, MO - runs his business from his home, along with his wife, while caring for two young children. They've gone through the process of buying a studio space and ultimately deciding that working from home was the best thing for them and turning their home into a haven for both family, clients, and office work. Jason just went through the process of completely overhauling his blog for a new branding look, so he's in a great spot to help you work through your branding and website.

Angela Anderson: Weddings, Boudoir, Fashion, Commercial based in Louisville, KY - has created an amazing studio and an awesome team of people to help her be the photographer SHE wants to be. She is fearless, inventive, and risky but has found a way to make it all come together to create a thriving business with a dream team of support. If you're afraid of taking risks, let her share the stories of how she's risked almost everything to make her dream come true and how taking risks have kept her business always moving forward and progressing to become one of her area's biggest luxury photography studios.

Joy & Garrett Nudd: Weddings, Portraits, Fashion based in Chattanooga, TN; Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL - husband and wife team who started out focused on weddings and have recently launched an entirely new brand and studio for portrait photography. No matter what they're shooting, they always do it with an eye for high fashion and excellence in customer service. They also have a young daughter Graycen who is always at the forefront of their lives as parents and has been a great introduction for them to connect with children's clothing designers around their hometown! If you love fashion and are looking to grow your business with local partnerships, they are an ideal couple to talk to about where you need to go next.

David Murray: Weddings, Photojournalism based in Kennebunkport, ME; Atlanta, GA - is one of the few wedding photographers who can also wear the badge of being a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He has seen and experienced things in his job as a former photojournalist that most of us will never even come close to viewing on a television screen. While he's never one to toot his own horn, he's photographed some VERY famous people and can share stories about how he's made important connections in high places. While he is in a different generation than most working wedding photographers out there, he continues to stay on top of the trends with an eye for high fashion and international flair while having a life of experiences as rare as any precious stone. David travels back and forth between a studio in Maine & Atlanta and can share some of the advantages and disadvantages of working from multiple locations. He's also really great at lifting you up when you find yourself in a rut.

Emilie Sommer: Weddings, Photojournalism, Charity, based in Portland, ME - has a big heart for charitable giving and a mind for building a strong business and brand. Her background in photojournalism has made her an excellent editor and taken her into high places like... the oval office (no exaggeration). Her nose for news and eye for passion have helped her firmly establish herself in the Portland, ME market and establish great relationships with many of the major wedding bloggers and magazine editors. She can help you figure out where your branding or business need to go next as well as what relationships you could be pursuing and how to pursue them.

Shawn Reeder: Royalty Free Music, Outdoor Nature & People Photographer based in Bishop, CA - a man with boundless energy, Shawn has successfully turned several of his passions (outdoors, photography, music) into full time careers and continues to enjoy uninhibited success to pursue all that he loves in life. Shawn has been able to form successful partnerships with companies like to help provide a regular stream of support for his Royalty Free Music brand, and could be a great resource for helping you identify what potential partnerships you might want to explore in your business as well. He's a solutions person with great technical expertise and could help you create a streamlined workflow so that you can enjoy more of what you love as well.

David Beckstead - Workshops, Fashion, Destination Weddings based in Kettle Falls, WA - known for his relentless pursuit of artistic imagery through composition, framing, posing, and light - he has been a judge for several different international photography contests and continually offers artistic exploration workshops around the world. David would be an awesome person to talk to if you're looking to bring your photographic work to a new level of artistry. He can evaluate your work and/or website to help you narrow it down to the best imagery and give you an idea of what you could pursue more of in order to elevate your work to the next level. He can also give you excellent tips on how to win photo competitions, if you're looking to gain more awards for your work.

LaCour: Weddings, Photojournalism, ShootQ, based in Atlanta, GA - is the dream team of serial entrepreneurship. It's actually solid hard work, but you'd think that it's pure luck because it seems like everything this couple touches turns into gold. Photojournalists turned wedding photographers who created a luxury brand of wedding photography, an associate company of wedding photojournalists, an inquiry + workflow + billing management system, and a wedding meeting space. I almost feel like there's got to be another company I'm forgetting! They are excellent at establishing a brand identity and finding a target market for probably any business you can imagine. They could share a lot about what it takes to get a business off the ground and the many different ways of making it sustainable.

I wish I could spend even more time telling you about ALL of my favorites because there are so many other awesome people in the Thirst Relief Auction that I could go on and on without end!! I chose these mentors specifically because I felt like their initial bids were really low for the amount of value that they could provide someone- so head over to the Thirst Relief Auction and snag them up before someone else does!! For additional tips and tricks on bidding and making the most of your mentor, head over to!!

Thirst Relief Mentor Auction 2010

posted on: February 16, 2010


Check out the tips on how to bid & win mentor auctions on!!

I'm up for auction again and this time I'm throwing in the kitchen sink!! If I have it, than you'll have access to it! For an ENTIRE year you get access to my contracts, marketing materials, private daily schedule, tax returns, EVERYTHING. On top of that, you get to pick my brain as often as you'd like! It's like getting the insider access of an intern, without all the work!

So, what's that worth to you? What figure would you put on an all-access pass to a photographer's behind-the-scenes operation? Whatever that figure is, I want you to turn it into clean water for developing countries. I want you to make that money go to work for people around the world with a trusted organization that is changing lives every single day. That's why I want you to sign up right now so that you'll be absolutely ready when the Thirst Relief Mentor Auction begins!

I'll also be speaking on the topic of pricing at an upcoming workshop called Inspire Boston. If the mentor auction gets a little too pricey, you can always join me and many other helpful photographers in the Boston area for this two-day intensive retreat! Check it out at

(Special thanks to my dear friend pictured to the right, Roberto (aka Junk Culture), for helping me put my studio together last year! And no, he's not included in the auction, but you might get to meet him if you come out for a visit!)

Wedding Geek Out - Wedding Planning Tools

posted on: February 15, 2010

I thought that after being married for 6 years, I'd stop geeking out about wedding things, but I still get just as excited about new developments in the wedding world as I did when I was planning my wedding. Luckily, being a wedding photographer gives me a good excuse, or at least that's how I can justify it to those who love me. ;-) Here are a few cool things I've learned about recently that I think brides will totally dig...

Google Wedding Templates
Brought to you by a collaboration with the fabulous Style-Me-Pretty team, comes a series of Google Wedding Documents that can be shared with family and friends! What's even better is that now Google Docs is allowing you to upload ANY file format for online archiving - which means brides can upload all of the contracts they get from vendors and keep them stored online in one easy-to-access-from-your-iPad folder. Check out the video below to see an example of how to use the new Google Wedding Templates for your wedding!

Facebook + The Knot = WeddingBook
I've only barely glanced at this application, but it appears to be a facebook app community similar to What I think is nice about it is that you know exactly who's posting because they aren't hiding behind an anonymous identity. Since most people aren't going to go out of their way to create an entirely new facebook profile, this means that the people posting comments have to have more accountability for what they say, rather than hiding behind a fake name or photo, which seems to be one of the downsides of many public message boards. Also, you could probably claim it's networking or work related to have facebook in the background rather than something that's obviously related to weddings. ;-) If you like to keep things uber private, why not create a private facebook group for your own wedding where you can invite your bridal party to help plan outings and coordinate schedules all on facebook? Ah... the magic of long distance togetherness on the internets.

Get Your Groupon
Perhaps I'm a little late to the Groupon party, but now that I've found it, I look forward to discovering a new deal every day! I mean, even the ridiculously rich can't help feeling the little adrenaline rush of scoring an awesome deal- it's just natural.  Sometimes you don't really dig the main offer, but there's a cool side offer you might like - like on today's Groupon, you can get a custom memory book for only $25 (retail value $55) which could be great for a guest book made from your engagement photos, or that wedding album you said you were going to create with your disc of images, but never actually got around to doing.  Yeah, you know who you are (pointing finger at myself).  Perhaps you & your wedding party want to pelt each other will hard balls of paint to relieve pre-wedding stress, take some Zumba classes to sweat off those extra cake tastings, get some vintage threads for your pre-wedding Pin-Up shoot, learn how to make sushi together for a rehearsal dinner, race each other to the top of a wall to decide who has to say their vows first, or get your style on with a fresh hair cut.  I mean, the opportunities for finding something fun to do for less are endless!!  I pity da foo' that doesn't know about these deals!  Check it out yo'.

Speaking of geeks and hip hop slang... if you're a true geek and/or nerd, you seriously need to add Nerdcore Rising the Movie to your Netflix queue. Press play to get a sample...

Special thanks to the Lowell Film Collaborative for introducing me to awesome underground flicks. ;-) And to my hubby for always keeping up on the latest technology developments and making me geek out with him.

Red Ball Masquerade Fundraiser for Miracle Providers NorthEast

posted on: February 14, 2010

The Miracle Providers NorthEast have a mission to "improve the quality of life for local, less fortunate children and their families infected/affected by HIV and AIDS". Most of their funding is accomplished by throwing party-style fundraisers with fabulous performances in drag. Afterward, that money goes to local health agencies as well as providing items families may not be able to afford due to the costs associated with medical treatment.

Their most recent event was held just one floor below me in the Western Ave Studios Loading Dock. They did a great job of transforming a bare bones space into something fancy and fabulous! While I wasn't able to make it to the actual performance this time, I was able to capture some of the people who were enjoying themselves and contributing to the cause! Press play to begin the slideshow:

5 Last Minute Romantic Gifts for $10 or Less!

posted on: February 12, 2010

Valentine's Day is Sunday!! If you haven't already taken me up on one of the ideas I shared a few years ago, here are some of my favorite last minute Valentine's Day suggestions that will keep your sweetie and your wallet happy for $10 or less!

1. Full Body Massage
Who doesn't love being pampered by someone they love? You can upgrade the ingredients if you want, but just some simple Baby Oil & a glowing Lavender Candle will go a long way to creating a relaxing environment for a partner who needs to take some time to relax. For extra points, start by surprising your sweetie with a hot bubble bath already drawn for them to slip into and then pull a warm towel or robe fresh from the dryer to keep them warm when they step out of the tub.

Film Noir Boudoir
(PS. I don't advocate smoking, but if makes you feel better, that was a clove cigarette.)

2. Fondue
There's something incredibly sensual about dipping little bits of veggies, breads, and fruits into a melty concoction of cheese and/or chocolate. Perhaps it's the temptation to feed each other, or that it's simply decadent to smother perfectly healthy food in luscious fats and sugars. Either way, most people have what it takes to pull this off already in their fridge or cupboard. For a little boost of excitement, add a touch of spice to the cheese and a kick of coffee or espresso to the chocolate. Spices and coffee can be aphrodesiacs on the one you love! Pair fondue with a nice wine, liquor, or tea and you're guaranteed to have a lovely evening!

3. Music & Movies
We all know that anytime you add a soundtrack to life, you're guaranteed to get a little emotional about whatever is happening- it's just the way we're wired. I actually shared some of my favorite sweetheart songs a few years ago, but there are so many awesome hidden talents waiting to be discovered in the iTunes Store right now that you can fill an entire CD for less than $10 with a quick search of love songs! Or, for those who keep putting off seeing those romantic dramas and romantic comedy flicks that your counterpart is always dropping hints about seeing together at the movie theaters, be proactive and make a movie night out of some serious romances that will make you fall in love with each other all over again. To save yourself some cash on both movies & music - check out your local library for a surprising selection of free new releases!

4. Make Art Together
It's so simple and sweet, especially since your sweetie doesn't already have expectations about you becoming Michelangelo overnight! So have a little fun with some paints, pens, markers, or whatever you have laying around the house. Try drawing pictures of each other, or do a photo shoot of each other (you decide the wardrobe.. or not), or just put the paint right onto each other. The longer you observe something and try to interpret it in another way, the more appreciation you have for it - so creating art out of the one you love is just another way of falling in love with each other. Believe me, I have a hard time not falling in love with my clients after observing them for an entire day full of beautiful emotions!

Eames Pumpkin Decorating-30.jpg
(Above photo from my Adventures in Dorm Life, taken during a student pumpkin decorating contest. Remember, art is in the eyes of the beholder!)

5. Do all of the above!!
Since almost everything above could already possibly exist in your home, why not do it all and make it the most memorable Valentine's Day or weekend EVER!? Then, when your sweetie pops the question because they can't imagine the rest of their life without you, call me to see if I'm available for your wedding! ;-) I couldn't help myself... I love love.

Which reminds me, check out "Inches & Falling" from The Format...

Internships Available 2010

posted on: February 9, 2010

I've been receiving a lot of requests for internships lately and I'm finally ready to start planning for interviews! I absolutely LOVED working with Alexis Hall & Katie Baker in 2009! While I can take absolutely NO credit for their successes over the last year, I do hope that I at least helped in some small way!!

Since getting a studio, I've had the opportunity to do a few more promotions and special events which have required extra help along the way. Emily Ku did an awesome job helping me as an on-demand, super-duper office manager, and Ivan Feign & Lauren Peate were extra helpful getting my studio up to par during my Holiday Photo Booth!

Lighting Tests-009.jpg

What's it like to work with me?

I asked Alexis Hall, graduate of the Photography Program at the Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston University, what she liked and didn't like about her internship with me:
"The internship: overall, two thumbs up. I learned SO much, and I think that I was helpful, too, in the process. For me, the most valuable part was being able to have access to Anne and bounce ideas off her and learn from her experience. The only parts of the internship that I didn't particularly enjoy were made for a really late night for me (only because I'm an old lady and go to bed at 10pm, ha) and it was a little bit far away, but I knew about both of those things before I signed on for it. If anything, I feel like I didn't do enough to help, and that I got more out of it than she did. A 5-hour block of time seems like a lot of time to get stuff done, but once you factor in dinner and general chit-chat time, it really isn't."

Here's what Lauren Peate, graduate of the Photography Program at the Art Institute of Boston had to say about working with me in the studio for a few weekends:
"Anne was an amazing person to work for. I had a great time helping her with the holiday photo booth. It was fun for everyone because of Anne's uplifting energy that she is able to hold throughout the day. I learned so much about the production/bussiness side of photography that I never learned at my four years of school for photography."

My intern needs this year are very similar to last year's internship needs, however I will also be launching a few new exciting projects this year, which will involve a lot of building something from scratch - which is a great opportunity for someone who wants to start their own business & build their brand in a competitive market.

I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by a constant supply of photography students from surrounding colleges and universities, which is why this internship is unpaid and quite competitive. Last year's internship interview had approximately 12 attendees, and I ended up recruiting additional professional photographers who were also seeking interns so that we could find placements for as many interviewees as possible!

If you can commit to spending 5-6 hours a week in my Lowell, MA studio for a term of 6-12 months- that would be an ideal internship schedule. We can negotiate which days and hours will work best for you. At the end of the internship, we can evaluate if you'd like to continue with the internship or if there's an opportunity bring you on as a paid employee or contractor, depending on your strengths and the needs of the studio.

I would encourage ANYONE who's interested to apply, provided that you can make the time commitment. I'm not looking for perfect photographers or students with certain skills, I'm just looking for AWESOME PEOPLE with energy and passion to learn and help out. The internship will be tailored to utilize your strengths as well as challenge you in a few ways that will round out your natural talents. So much of what needs to happen behind the scenes is more related to running a business rather than just taking great photos. If this is something that excites or intrigues you, than you could be a great fit!

Lighting Tests-006.jpg

I'm planning to conduct internship interviews on February 28th, 2010 from 10am - 4pm. Since my email inbox isn't nearly as reliable as my voicemail inbox, please call 888-678-ANNE (2663) and leave a message with the following information:

- Your name & phone number.
- Why you're interested in the internship.

I will be returning phone calls next week in order to set up your interview, so don't worry if you don't hear from me right away. Feel free to follow me on Twitter or Facebook in the meantime, so that you can get an idea of what I'm like in advance. I'm full of optimism- so if that annoys you, we probably won't be a good fit. If you appreciate lots of different cuisines, I have a feeling you'll really like working for me. ;-)

(Images above feature Rich & Ashley of Pizzuti Studios and Douglas Levy Photography from a day when we were playing around the studio with some of my lighting equipment.)

Insider Scoop from Emily Ku

posted on: February 8, 2010

The following blog post was written by Emily Ku after working with me during the holidays in 2009! The words & images are all hers, and the pleasure of working with her was all mine. ;-) Thank you Emily!!

"It all started when I read one of Anne's tweets saying that she needed some temporary help for a holiday photo booth. I have been following Anne's blog for around a year when she first started to blog on Weddingbee Pro (now on hiatus), so I knew she was an awesome wedding photographer and had a great sense of humor. At first I didn't really understand the free holiday photo booth since Anne mainly shoots weddings, but I knew it was going to be big and wanted to be a part of it. It turned out that the photo booth was to celebrate her studio opening at Western Avenue Studios in Lowell, MA and more importantly, to have a really good time."

"From the outside, Western Ave looks like a big, rundown warehouse, but inside houses some of the most amazing local artists I've encountered. There are over a hundred artists who work on everything: glass figurines, hand painted scarves, jewelry, paintings, photography, etc. They open their doors to the public on the first Saturday of every month, and for holiday open studios, they opened the first two weekends in December. Most people who visited Western Ave during the holiday open studios didn't budget enough time to visit all the studios, so some people unfortunately didn't have enough time to take holiday photo booth pictures."

"These are just some of the many props that people could choose from. We also had a lot of holiday props which were the most popular, and we even had some festive Hanukkah props. Sometimes there were so many people waiting to get their picture taken that you'd think we were giving out free swine flu shots or something! I had a really fun time helping people pick out costumes, and Anne even let me shoot for a bit and play with the studio lights! It was quite challenging shooting a different group of people every ten minutes because there wasn't any time at all to get to know them and make the camera-shy people feel comfortable, but we were able to get a lot of really fabulous shots. When the shooting was over, the hard part started. I helped Anne edit through the thousands of photos that she took and also tried to help her complete holiday orders from her wedding clients. There was a ton of work to do after each weekend and while I could go home whenever I wanted, Anne was burning the midnight oil for weeks. I've now been introduced to the grueling life of a photographer, and I actually really enjoyed it!"

"Here's a picture of the wonderful people in Anne's beautiful studio: Anne Ruthmann (top left), Amanda  (top right) - the "hot chick" down the hall, aka the owner of Brick Mill Studio.  Ivan Feign (bottom left) - one of the wonderful assistants I worked with, and Lauren Peate (bottom right) - the other wonderful assistant I worked with. There were three of us total working for Anne, and it has truly been a pleasure! She is the best boss in the world!! Thanks Anne for letting me guest blog!"

"I just want to leave you with one last picture. Meet Emma, my fellow photographer friend Alex's dog. Isn't she so adorable?!"

To learn more about what Emily is up to now, visit Emily Ku Photo's Blog!

Headshots for Haiti Success!

posted on: February 7, 2010

Press play to see some of the headshots selected yesterday!

I'm so grateful for everyone who came in to give a donation to Haiti relief and gave me the opportunity to photograph them! A special thanks to the following people who volunteered their Saturday afternoon to help raise $400 in just 5 hours! I couldn't have done it without their help!

Meg Belanger
Emily Ku
Karmen Lee
Royce & Ralph of the Waltham Church of God

Casting Call: Boston Pin-Up Girls!

posted on: February 6, 2010

(Press play to begin the slideshow!)

One of the funnest things I got to do when I lived in Terre Haute, IN, was partner with Samantha McGranahan to help establish The Roxy Girls. Now that I have a studio in Lowell, Massachusetts, I'm ready to update my Pin-Up Photography Collection in anticipation of a new brand for the New England market! All I need now are some awesome girls to help make it happen! Girls of ALL sizes ages 18+ are welcome! You may have to pay for hair & make-up, but the photo shoot will be complimentary to help me re-establish my portfolio with the wicked smart, geeky, and kick-ass girls of New England!

If this sounds like something you're interested in, drop me an email through my website and I'll send you more info about what you can expect and how to prepare! Please pass this on to friends who would love it as well!

(PS. I also offer Film Noir Boudoir if you're looking for something more intimate & fine art.)

Headshots for Haiti

posted on: February 4, 2010

Headshots for Haiti Poster

This weekend, during Western Ave Open Studios, I'll be volunteering free Headshots for Haiti donations. I'm excited to have a group of Haitian-Americans join me in the studio who are organizing a mission to get back to Haiti in order to help create sustainable aid and infrastructure. They will be available to help answer any questions you might have about their mission and what they'll be doing with the donations.

The following video is from 2008, when four tropical storms ripped through Haiti. They had not seen full recovery before the Earthquake of 2010 destroyed all that they had worked hard to rebuild. They are beautiful and resilient people who simply need more help in creating structures and infrastructures that will keep them safe through acts of mother nature. Things which we take for granted and are protected from in the comfort of our well built homes, on our carefully cultivated land, in between our well constructed roads. Haitians will die before they give up, but there's no need for them to suffer when we have so much to give. Press play to hear some of their stories...

Haitian Hope - The best video clips are here

I don't have much to give- in fact, I probably have fewer assets than most of my readers. However, I can give my time and my talent to help mobilize & equip others, and I can encourage you to do the same.
"No one ever became poor from giving." - Anne Frank.
So, if you or someone you know needs an updated profile photo for facebook, linkedin, twitter, auditions, websites, blogs, online dating, or that secret love letter they'll be writing for Valentine's Day - please pass this info on! While you're in Lowell, you may also want to stick around to enjoy the annual Lowell Winterfest activities like Human Dogsled Racing, Outdoor Ice Skating, Hot Soup Competition, Marshmallow Roasting, Downtown Sleigh Rides, Live Music Tent, and TONS of FREE activities and crafts for families!! This is one of my FAVORITE events in Lowell and I look forward to joining the fun after capturing some great headshots!

February Desktop Image - Birds of a Feather

posted on: February 1, 2010

While I was visiting family in the midwest over the holidays, I was struck by how beautiful and colorful the Cardinals and Blue Jays were against the white snow and bare trees. My in-laws have cultivated a backyard haven for birds to find food and shelter during the winter, and the delight was all mine when observing the colorful creatures fluttering about. I patiently sat by the window, watching birds come and go and interact with each other. The Blue Jays didn't seem to want to get along with any other birds, while Cardinals seemed perfectly happy to socialize with each other and made occasional attempts to socialize with Blue Jays. It was all very Zen, just observing and appreciating things as they are.

Then I had an idea.

There was one particular background and one particular bird I had seen on occasion, but every time I got close enough to the window to capture it exactly as I wanted it to be composed, the bird would fly away. I tried everything to capture this one background perfectly framed around this bird and after nearly an hour of waiting, moving away from the window, trying to be stealthy, etc. I accepted that the bird did not want to fit into my ideal image as I had imagined it. I could not make reality match my ideal.

Then I realized.

I was so focused on on getting what I wanted- that perfect image, that I was failing to see all of the other opportunities near by. Once I was able to let go of my expectations, I released myself from the frustration of not getting what I wanted, and I was able to simply and happily capture all that was naturally being given to me. Just that one simple act - letting go of my expectation of what something should be - gave me the freedom to graciously appreciate all that was real and naturally ideal without trying to impose my own ideas of perfection.

It is this very thought that has made me rethink the idea of one door closing and another door opening. I find it closer to the truth that when one door closes, it is a window that opens, but we're so busy looking for another door that we fail to see the window as an option to reaching our goals.

This month, I challenge you to appreciate things the way they are, rather than wishing they were different, and to look for windows when you're feeling frustrated that there aren't any doors. ;-)

Click either image above to begin downloading a copy for your desktop.

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