This 2005 Easter morning photo is a classic representation of motherhood, even though I’m not in it: mom plans the children’s clothing in meticulous detail—matching shoes and hairbands, coordinated outfits, nothing but the best—and just wants one photo to commemorate her efforts. {You moms know that I probably wore an old, un-ironed dress and didn’t have time to fix my own hair. This remains undocumented, because I’m not in any of the photos.}

The kids want no part of it—too young to understand mom’s tireless efforts—except for the oldest (and you can tell that he’s much older than the rest), who shows sympathy and tries to rally the troops.

A photo taken this Easter morning, 9 years later, might produce the same results, although my kids are older and some of them don’t mind being in pictures (if selfies count). I’m still waging the same internal battle about how soon it’s appropriate to wear white shoes. This year I chose gold and off-white for my youngest girls, just to be safe, but I obviously took the frugal position of just one pair for the whole summer—in white—in 1995.

I’m joining my friend Jessica, who starts a new series today called Throwback Thursday Stories, the story behind the photos.

Question: Do you buy Easter clothes for your kids and if so, do you get something new, too?



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Today was the second of Photoshop World here in Atlanta (find the day 1 recap here), another great day of inspiration. My husband attended two sessions, visited the Expo Hall, and met some of my KelbyOne (formerly NAPP) buddies, which made it extra special for me.

Here’s what I did:

Session 1

Class: Thinking Outside the Box
Instructor: Joel Grimes
Track: Photoshop Skills

I was a little late for this class, which started at 8:15 a.m. (that’s my perfect excuse), but I wish I’d seen the whole thing. He showed samples of stacking images in camera (like on this website) and I totally want to know if it’s possible on my Nikon D700.

Session 2

Class: The Creative Portrait
Instructor: RC Concepcion
Track: Photoshop for Photographers

I had major technical difficulties during this class—my iPad locked me out for nearly an hour (I think my keyboard in my purse wasn’t turned off and I was accidentally typing the wrong password over and over) and my phone locked up and eventually needed a hard reset—but I took two pages of notes on borrowed paper.

“Find your courage.”
“Sharpening is like pasta: it’s all to taste.”

Session 3

Class: Top 10 Headshot Blunders
Instructor: Peter Hurley
Track: Photography Techniques

Peter Hurley’s classes make me want to hang my white backdrop and start shooting headshots.

“Posing isn’t authentic.”

Session 4

Class: Creating Your Own Custom Photo Books with Lightroom 5
Instructor: Scott Kelby
Track: Lightroom

Why haven’t I made Blurb books from Lightroom’s Book Module? Beats me. This looks so fun!

Keeping a small 7″ x 7″ book in your camera bag can open doors.
People prefer looking at the 8″ x 10″ book instead of the largest sizes.
The softcover books are great quality and what Scott orders most.
You get a 20% discount on your order if you leave the small Blurb logo on the back page of your book.

Session 5


Class: Live Food Photography Shoot
Instructor: Joe Glyda
Track: Lighting

Fascinating stuff! Joe didn’t even talk about his X-Rite MSCCPP ColorChecker Passport (<—affiliate link), but after seeing it and reading up on it, I’m going to search the Expo Hall tomorrow for a good deal on one. I’ve carried a torn up gray card ripped out of the back of a Scott Kelby book in my camera bag for too many years.

“The secret to food photography is backlight.”

Session 6

Class: Bad A$$ Text Effects
Instructor: Corey Barker
Track: Creative Cloud/Graphics

By this point I’d officially attended a session in each of the 7 tracks. Corey never fails to amaze me with his creativity.

The 3D and Properties panel are the most needed for Corey’s heavy duty text effects.

Session 7

Class: Zack’s Daily Lightroom Tips & Practices
Instructor: Zack Arias
Track: Lightroom

Zack is one of my favorite instructors: genuine and informative. I wrapped my brain (or at least my notes, practice makes perfect) around a technique that I’d seen but not understood in Lightroom. I realized today that my favorite images came from photographers who did the least editing. Go figure. This is an interesting revelation to a girl who loves to edit.

Sadly, the Lightroom track is on a hallway that’s too stinkin’ cold, but I’ve been to the Cobb Galleria Center enough to know to carry a sweater or jacket.

Great Scott Kelby Interview

Check out this new interview with Scott Kelby about the new KelbyOne and the vision behind his company. I’m all about continuing education and honestly, I bawled over this video. Watch it and see. It will make you want to go teach somebody something that you love.

I look forward to another great day of classes tomorrow!



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Photoshop World logo

Today was the first day of Photoshop World, the place to become a serious Photoshop ninja. Photoshop World (or PSW) is held twice a year: on the east coast in the spring and on the west coast in the fall. After attending in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Washington, D.C., I’m tickled pink as the cherry blossom in my neighbors’ yard to see the conference right here in Atlanta.

It’s hard to choose sessions with so much awesome taking place at once (classes in 7 categories—Beginners 101, Photoshop Skills, Creative Cloud/Graphics, Photography Techniques, Lighting, Lightroom, and Photoshop for Photographers run at the same time), but here were my picks for today.

Session 1

Class: Photographing Americana Subjects
Instructor: Bill Fortney
Track: Photography Techniques

I love photographing old things so I knew this was the class to attend during the first session. Bill Fortney discussed photographing old cars, wood, metal, historical objects, planes—you name it. What an inspiring set of images!

“When you see a dramatic shadow, look for a way to shoot it.”
“Everywhere you go, there are graphic representations of the past.”

Thanks to this session, I want to check out Old Car City and the Southeast Railroad Museum here in the metro area.

Session 2

Class: The Art Behind the Headshot – Top 10 Tips
Instructor: Peter Hurley
Track: Photography Techniques

I read Peter Hurley’s bio before the conference while choosing sessions; what a great story. I chose his class based on the subject matter, with no idea what a charismatic presenter he’d be. I’m totally uncomfortable having my picture taken, so I thought this session would help me both as a photographer and a subject. It did.

“I want people to behave like human beings in front of my camera.”
“You’re 90% therapist, 10% photographer.”
“Everybody has a digital identity.”

Expo Hall

@zarias talking street photography @ Photoshop World #psw14I caught the middle of Atlanta photographer Zack Arias’s Expo Hall class called Street Photography Saved Me. {This is an example of how awesome the Expo Hall sessions are—Zack Arias, people!}

“If you want to become a more interesting photographer, become a more interesting person.” (I think Zack quoted someone else, I just don’t remember who.)

Zack’s creativity in capturing candid street photos is amazing.

Session 3

Class: Concert Photography
Instructor: Alan Hess
Track: Photography Techniques

Alan is my buddy, my photography mentor. He advised me when I bought my camera in 2009 and has been plagued by my requests for information ever since, although I finally copied his advice for shooting concerts into my phone’s notepad app so I wouldn’t message him every time.

Concert photography tips:
Initial settings: ISO 1600 night/200 day; aperture f/2.8; shutter speed 1/250.

Session 4

Class: Beginner’s Guide to Illustrating in Photoshop
Instructor: Pete Collins
Track: Beginners 101

Yep, I even made it to the beginners track. Pete showed some serious examples of how you can photograph a basic sketch on your phone and then flesh it out as an illustration in Photoshop. Very inspiring!

Create custom brushes from things such as clouds to create texture in your illustrations.

Ready for Tomorrow!

I’m already excited about tomorrow’s classes and the fact that my husband will take the day off of work and join me. If you’re here in Atlanta, you should seriously consider checking out the Expo Hall with a free pass. Online registration is no longer available: just show up and register on site. Let me know if you come!



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Friendship is Worth the Fight Today at (in)courage

April 5, 2014

I am not a fighter. I’m a peacemaker by nature; a keeper of secrets; a respecter of privacy. I ruffle few feathers. Diplomatic, that’s me. My awareness of boundaries and personal privacy sometimes keeps people at a distance—not too close—even friends. Yes, sadly, even friends. But in good friendships, like good marriages, disagreements happen. There’s […]

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Download April’s Desktop Calendar!

April 2, 2014

Dogwoods are always appropriate for Easter. Legend connects them symbolically to the crucifixion, as you can read in this (in)courage post from 2011. It’s my prayer that this calendar blesses you and turns your eyes and conversation toward Jesus Christ and him crucified. Download April’s Desktop Calendar Small Large X-Large [For those of you who […]

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Surprised by Motherhood

April 1, 2014

I don’t remember dreaming of my wedding day as a child, but surely I shared the same fantasies as most little girls. By high school, my focus shifted to academics. What college would I attend? What job would I choose?  Marriage and motherhood simmered on a back burner, untended and unnoticed, relatively unnecessary {or so […]

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Knight Training at Medieval Times (with a giveaway!)

April 1, 2014

Tonight we stepped into the Middle Ages as my kids were dubbed Knights of the Realm and enjoyed an evening of chivalry, rivalry, and revelry at Medieval Times in Atlanta. Comment on this post for a chance to win four tickets for your family! Knight Training This Spring Break, kids between the ages of 5 […]

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(in)RL: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You

March 30, 2014

I love conferences. Last weekend we attended the Great Homeschool Convention and I’ll be at Photoshop World in two weeks. Later this year I’ll go to my high school reunion, our annual (in)courage authors’ retreat, and Allume. As much as I enjoy these opportunities to learn, network, and catch up with friends, I limit my […]

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Our Delightfully Nerdy Weekend at the Great Homeschool Convention

March 23, 2014

My husband and six of our children just spent three blissfully nerdy days in Greenville, SC, at the Great Homeschool Convention. In the early years of our (currently) 21-year homeschooling journey, I attended conferences to hear the speakers; for the next few years I’d skip the speaking sessions in favor of the expo hall (those were […]

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