It’s got to have he(art).


weddings, Denver, Colorado, love



Syllabification: no·tion
Pronunciation: /ˈnōSHən /
1A conception of or belief about something:

2An impulse or desire, especially one of a whimsical kind:


I tend to hold tight to certain beliefs, but take care not to adopt too many.
I do this because I enjoy staying open to the possibility that perhaps there is something, somewhere that I have overlooked. Some fact that I have yet to learn that will change the course of my actions in future scenarios.

It’s not that I like being wrong of course, that would be absurd.

But, … there is comfort for me in that blindside;

a chance for brighter sparks.

Colorado wedding photography, Denver, Wedding, Sparkler exit, Love

Usually, I like to start the blog by sharing something positive with you.
I’ll say, “I love horse feathers.” (The expression, not the band) or ” I love the old churches that spot the territory of Mexico.” And then a reason follows…
“The colors of my heart, or that expression always makes me laugh.” 
And it is my purest hope that at least one of my readers will feel the same way, or will have a loved one that also loves horse feathers, and some kind of warmth is spread over these imaginary lines.
(And I swear that where ever I am, at that moment, I can feel it too.)

That is one of my favorite beliefs…
That sharing parts of yourself openly will help others feel brave enough to open up too. Because connection is paramount. And then comes love.


And you know that I believe in love.

Colorado wedding photography, engagement photography, Seraphim Fire Photography, Rebecca & SethColorado weddings, first look, groom moment, Seraphim Fire Photographyengagement session Michigan, champagne celebration

The less poetic reality of this bottom line however, is that everything changes.
And whether the particular instance that you now find yourself is negative or positive is really inconsequential…
with a little time, whatever the landscape in front of you looks like, that weather will change, and how you look at it matters too.

But, what happens when you feel overwhelmed suddenly by all that responsibility? After months, or years of feeling a kind of delightful certainty in what remains un-certain, what if the space of unknowingness feels entirely… uncomfortable?

Well, it means that your blog can not begin with something so trite as horse feathers,
and that life simply would not be balanced without light’s opposite.

Light Painting, self portrait, Snowy Denver at night, Regan L Rouse


Line breaks: tene|bros¦ity
Pronunciation: /tɛnəˈbrɒsɪti /

• literary
The quality of being dark or shadowy.
………………………………………………………….   Ann Arbor Michigan, Seraphim Fire Photography, Typewriters

In late November I mentioned to two of my closest friends, (also writers) that I was suffering from what I called “a loss of my creative ambition.”
To those of you that do not work in the arts, I realize that this sounds like a made up thing.
Like cooties, or Dragon Pox.

I’ve experienced this type of  turmoil before,     so without any real solutions in mind the conversations usually trailed off like the sound of a motorist dissolving down the highway, leaving my own squat to remain low beside the road; (much like my spirit)
a tired thumb out to the side of me.

But this time it felt like something worse, something that I couldn’t exactly understand myself, and so I gave it time.
(After all, that’s what they always tell you to do with a problem that you don’t know how to solve, let alone identify.)

But still, I kept trying… letting the work speak for me in languages that I could not seem to decipher. And despite the strange and desperate hunger that I felt, a need to explain with words that I could not find, my only contentment existed through the lens, and in the positive responses from clients and colleagues.

head in the clouds, artistic expression, creative ambition

wedding, colorado, time, flowers, Bella Calla, Seraphim Fire Photography
So naturally, when weeks later Drew turned to me and said,…

“Give it time…it will pass when you feel really inspired.”
My expression spoke louder than I could. It screamed.
His eyes stayed locked on me, so it was impossible to hide the look on my face, something deeper than worry.

Something with a heartbeat, and feet that left boot prints.

“What if it doesn’t?”
And because I am sometimes a little dramatic, all he did was smile this warm, fantastic smile, and kiss me softly on the temple. And usually, that would have done it.
Restored my faith in the system, the universe,
whatever well you drop your coin into.

But it didn’t.

And I didn’t have the strength to tell him that frankly, Inspiration was hardly the problem.

Family moment, Baby in bed, pointed toes  Boudoir session, Love, ring detail, engaged
Lifestyle Portraiture, editorial portraiture, Seraphim Fire Photography, Lady Super Hero Project, Clark Kent  Tattoo, Denver, Colorado, Fine Art, Seraphim Fire Photography, Tattoos, red, beauty, Colorado Mother walk, down the aisle, Mexico wedding motherhood, mother's day, pregnancy, maternity

And this is the time that I would tell most of you not to worry. To keep your faith, and that some magical thing will happen to you to restore whatever it is, whatever is missing. To stay positive, and take walks, and write love letters, and to kiss your children.

And I do believe that. ..

But in this case, none of that worked.
Denver Art museum, night photography, Darkness, Colorado, Regan L Rouse
wedding, Denver Art Museum, Elevator Love

It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when, in preparation for our big move, we took everything off of the walls. And the words & the feelings, (vague & in no way categorical) started to link together, and It didn’t feel temporary.

No more borrowed feelings. … …

Lady Super hero

The stark white of the wall that Drew had just painted covered the mint green that peeked out from underneath the yellow before it that in some way captured within its molecular makeup the misconceptions and expectations of my future, stuck in limbo between the new and the aged choices that I would make.
I thought out loud as Drew let the paintbrush dip for the last time into the bucket.
“…There it is…” my words captured inside the breath that I had just taken.

And luckily, because I married my best friend, he didn’t even have to ask.
Instead he wrapped his arms around me, and there I would remain.

Colorado wedding photography, Seraphim Fire Photography, Enagagments

I like to think that the emptiness of those walls suddenly felt promising. I like to think of my Aunt Rachella saying years ago that our eyes need a place to rest in a room, and to leave open spaces while considering the decor of a particular place.
“It lets the viewer appreciate each piece without becoming overwhelmed.”

Whatever it was, very suddenly, that ‘space’ opened up for me. And for the first time in months the rush of emotions was,… gentler.
It was the following week that we moved. And whether anything had really changed, or not, everything simply looked different to me.


eyes, engagement, looking ahead, love, Colorado






Syllabification: ac·ces·si·ble
Pronunciation: /akˈsesəbəl /

1(Of a place) able to be reached or entered:
1.2 Easily understood:

Regardless of how many times I have learned this lesson, I never have allowed its truth to comfort me. Not like I do now.

I believe that change allows us to access new parts of ourselves, or at least shows us that option. For so many of us, change is the uncertainty; something outside of ourselves, something dark and shadowy with no identifying features.

But with time & perspective, even that is likely to change.

Just like ourselves…
Ever growing.


ever changing, ever growing

Lady super heroes, Seraphim Fire Photography, Scarlet Ravin, White Fox,


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Life of Pie & Corresponding Theories on Memory.

Over the last twenty years, I have collected hundreds of images. And in that time they have started to look different to me or to say something new. Either way, they have defined moments in my life and given me new ways to feel about the things that I could not change. They have even acted on behalf of my memory, kindly replacing the characters from those pictures with the cast of my own life. I have postcards from almost every place that I have traveled, torn pages from magazines that I can no longer remember ever having. And even after the numbers of them have multiplied, perhaps growing out of hand, I always know when one is missing.
I have to go searching for it, and grow sad as each hour passes, and finally forces me to let it go.
Now, I try to photograph all of them (or scan them) whenever possible, and Drew laughs at the concept.
A copy of an image, in order to preserve a memory.
JustDivorced UnionStreet_web

The human memory, with its web like structure, is an amazing process. If you haven’t read up recently, ideas about how memory works have evolved. When I first started researching the topic I, like many people, treated my memory as just another part of my body. I would exclaim that in addition to near sightedness, I had a bad memory.
It turns out, I was being more short sighted than near sighted right then.
Now, when I smell my mothers perfume, grown thick and sticky around the edges of an antique glass bottle, the path of that memory follows exactly the same one that it did 23 years ago, as I stood leaning hard against a white laminate countertop, short enough to have to squint my small eyes to look up at her. The many different areas of my brain, linked together by the hippocampus, will begin to fire and in a flash I can see her there in front of me, and hear her voice down low in the folds of my auditory cortex.

I was unaware of it, I think, but this concept may have contributed on that first day that I picked up the camera, aiming it all around & feeling assisted by indisputable captures;
the light that stained that film was to be the blueprints to my future.

And because I understood, even then, that things remembered can bend toward the subjective, it was not enough just to remember.

Life must be Documented.

And then, in the summer of 2007, I traveled all the way to Istanbul Turkey to wander blindly through ancient country.
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I remember miles & miles of olive groves, & cats everywhere, & Incredibly good food. (I love olives and tomatoes.)
I remember sitting way up in a tree, at a meditation camp that we literally stumbled upon, and feeling that things would be changing soon.
I remember drinking red wine with complete strangers, and breathing deeply in all the amazing possibilities ahead of me.
But the air does change, it has to. We change. And thanks to hundreds of images I can return again, anytime I want, to the City of Ephesus, or sit alone in those olive groves.
(Miles of repetition; a comfort to my senses that use to surprise me.)

Despite all of that, what I remember most was the conversation that my two companions and I shared on our very last night in that amazing Republic.
A conversation that was the start of the change that I had been sensing all the way up in that tree.
We talked about pie. LifeofPie_Blog111

Selim Morelevi is a native to Istanbul and four years my senior. We had never met until the day that I arrived there, along side his long time friend Christopher.
It took us a little over 6 hours to bloom though, falling open like books, spilling stories forth like small children. It was 21 days later, as we sat in the dark at a small cafe table; Selim giggling as I reluctantly sampled beef tongue for the first time.
As much as I remember the test of that strange cuisine, and the various colored lights that speckled the Galata bridge, I can not remember how the conversation started. But Selim illustrated the space in front of him with a concept and Chris & I looked on, shaking our heads in agreement; like a head bangers ball, all enthusiastic.
He said that he looked at life like pie, prioritizing each piece carefully, things like family & relationships, hobbies & whatever career you choose.
“You can have as many pieces as you want, but there’s only so much to go around. Your pieces get thinner and thinner as you try to add more, and frankly at that point they stop fulfilling you.” He smiled and looked down right then, and I knew that he was proud of his metaphor. Christopher sat to my left, distracted. He was thinking about all of his pieces, counting them silently on fingers under the table.

I know that this is no new concept, and there were certainly no theorems to put down on paper that evening, but six years later I still think about it, and I call it memory pie.


I think what fascinated me most about what I learned in all my reading about memory was the concept expressed by Dr. Fiona McPherson on ‘the role of emotional memory.’
She supports the idea that how we feel directly affects what we see, and therefor, what we remember. It seems to me that if this is true, and in turn we repeat those paths each time, we should treat ourselves and our memories delicately;
taking care of what must last. Like our bodies, or the earth.

Because our memory is always taking pictures.
Copying down images to preserve what was there.
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Mustard Seed. (The light hitting the water: part two)

It doesn’t happen all the time, which is what makes it feel so good, I think.

Despite all the noise in this busy world, things get very quiet. And I can see the color of the light and all the zones of gray as the shadows start to bend and spread, like a photographer’s stepping-stones;
sometimes, the only way to get from where we are to where we want to be.

If it is late in the afternoon, just before sunset, the light seems to drip off of things,
and because I know it will all change within seconds I must look into the future;
a private little race between the sun and me.


I live for these moments, and in them I feel truly centered, and the work seems to do all of my talking for me. Photography has become so much more to me than a job, and more than my passion even. It is my voice, and some how it always seems to say the right thing.

This summer has been one of the really good one’s. One of those summers that I know I will look back on and long for. Thank heavens then for photographs and for all that quiet & dripping light, because in June I traveled to Mexico and kicked off the wedding season with a wedding of my very own…

                                                                                    Right next to the water.

The truth is, I would have married Drew the day that we met. But it took ten years and six months to finally meet on a beach in the Riviera Maya with a small group of family, and make it official. Drew wore flip flops and after it was over he threw me over his shoulder and carried me off, down the beach. The clouds kept us cool and everywhere we looked, there was a blur of smiling faces, and so much love.

I don’t think I will ever forget the way it felt, but if I ever do, I will just look at all the photographs and travel back in time.
(Or look into the face of my husband, who never seems to age for me.)

He is the light, He is my water.

  The woman responsible for these beautiful images is my assistant and partner here at Seraphim Fire, Hannah Thomas.
Over the last year, Hannah and I have had far off adventures photographing weddings in places like South Carolina, various regions of Colorado & Wyoming, and most recently, Mexico. She has a beautiful eye for details and composition, and on the day of our wedding she moved quietly around us, simply capturing what existed, and with her own share of love…
she also happens to be my new sister in law.How wonderful that this marriage has brought with it a new partner in work & life. Twice. Thank you so much to my sisters that spent their time & energy making me feel (and look) so beautiful on our wedding day.
A few weeks later, still buzzing, Hannah & I flew back to Mexico (To the exact same little beach in the Riviera Myay!) to capture the wedding of Natalie Wellam and Ian Seyerle. Natalie is originally from London, but lives now in Houston, Texas. Her crew for this weekend wedding celebration flew in from all over Britain & the U.S., and gave me the opportunity to experience a little bit of my own wedding, but this time, behind the lens.
How marvelous…

Every wedding is unique, and it is one of those rare times in our life that we can share the way we feel about our partner, unencumbered.
I think the guests (and even the vendors) can get caught up in the wake of such a glow, and then they carry that extra little bit of love into their own lives…
And you never know the impact that influence can have one us,
or the distance it can go.


I wish I could recall for you all the details of those few minutes before I walked through the door, on my father’s arm. But I will tell you that it was very quiet, and the light seemed to drip off of things. And I thought of mustard seeds.

It was years ago that I heard the expression that ‘Faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.” and it gives me so much joy.
It reminds us of our power as individuals, I think. Tells us to hold on.

Without faith we might never try anything new, or scary. We might never travel, or follow our passions. With out it, we might settle for something less than true love.

I think that passion is my mustard seed; my passion for Drew and for photography. And even though it can’t be seen or touched, its power is still so present to me.
Perhaps if I keep using my camera to harvest,
I can always share the bounty…

Whatever the reason. (or season.)

One of the most wonderful things about writing is that you can look back on how you have been feeling, and how your perspective has changed. In the past my battle with this blog has been slow and steady bouts of writers block followed by intense focus and eventually, a common thread. One worth sharing.

The past four months have been quite different, and so full of experiences that the writing just appeared each day, like it did in my much younger years.
And even though the common thread (now pretty frayed from so much use) is so long it dangles behind me when I walk, and has become difficult to manage even; it still seems worth sharing.
So forgive me for taking so long and for a few disconnections, but stay with it. Because nothing worth doing is ever easy. And some lessons can take a while to learn.

I don’t know if everything truly happens for a reason. But I do like the comfort of the message. I also like stories with a narrator, with their omniscient nature and the promise of balance in things. February reminded me of how much I enjoy what I do, and how even the simplest encouragement can push us forward.

At the start of the month I shot an event with a dear friend of mine, Jana Everett, for a new business in the up and coming Highland area of Denver. The Tea Bar has become part of a local Triad with The Green Garage, and The Motherhood. All three are located in one very large space, and offer Green options galore. The Motherhood has educational classes, yoga and products for new families, while the Green Garage is an eco-friendly full service auto center. In between the two you will find the Tea Bar by Teatulia, chock-full of delicious options including infused tea sodas; an invention that they were giving out the night of the grand opening. My favorite was a strawberry tea soda infused with lemon grass. I started to feel spring creep in when I would drink it, despite the cold and windy weather outside. By the end of the night we saw a few hundred people pass through the space, and between the band playing in the garage, Teacup the Clown, Joy’s face painting and free children’s yoga, I was moving and snapping the entire time.

The following weekend I had the pleasure of shooting a B’not Mitzvah for All Digital Studios in Lafayette, Colorado. The event took place at the Lions Gate, a huge interior location with dark wood and a giant stained glass window face. It is one of the most challenging places to shoot, but I adore its vintage touches. It was my first mitzvah of any kind and a really  beautiful tradition to witness. This particular occasion is called a B’not Mitzvah because it honors two girls (sisters in this case) that are accepting the responsibility of adulthood. It made perfect sense to me as I watched that the tradition called for tremendous focus in education and philanthropy. There was also singing in Hebrew, which I think is a feat in and of itself. The girls finished their ceremony without any mistakes and I saw the Hora for the first time. I admit for a minute that  I wished to set my camera down and join them on the dance floor.

A few days later  I received an email from Joy Knickerbocker, a fellow artist that I had met the night of the Tea Bar Grand Opening. Joy was reaching out in an effort to connect and to also collect some images that I had taken of her that night. After reading the blog she said,“Your writing somehow felt like it was watering my soul as I was reading it.”
And I was reminded exactly why I started this blog to begin with. Because I wanted to share my work and inspire others, and in that moment I felt so successful and full. She went on to remind me that I was due for another entry, and that night inspired by what she said, I sat at my computer for a few hours writing about duality and learning about its corresponding theories in physics.
When I finally retired for the night, I said a little prayer for Joy and I slept so well that I didn’t dream at all.

It was in the first few weeks of March that I realized that I could count on one hand the months left until our wedding day. In quiet moments I could close my eyes and look back on all the change and patience and distance covered in the past three years. In those moments I could feel, very physically, my pride in Drew and all our growth.
During one of these quiet moments, in the middle of the afternoon, Drew called me at work to tell me that he had mailed our invitations. When I came home I saw that the little red flag on the mailbox had laid down. Like an excited child I peered inside to make sure that they had really gone.

I never thought I would be so happy to see our mailbox, empty.

A few days later I got an email from Yellow Paddle informing me that I had a client looking to do an engagement shoot in the next few days. Mindy and Levi had a very similar story to my own. He was in the military and they had known each other for years. I swear, as I watched them together on that sunny afternoon my heart swelled. Their love was so genuine and she watched him with adoration as he told me their plans. Our session went on for almost two hours and if I hadn’t any other appointments that day I could have stayed on into twilight. Love has in it so many possibilities. And with my camera I tried to capture all of them.

It was well into April when I had a truly ‘terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.’ And even though I loved the book as a child, it seemed not nearly as funny when one morning I woke up to a very flooded basement and no hot water. Later that afternoon  I would learn that my car was due for some very costly and time sensitive repair, and so I called into work and sat waiting for our ‘super’, while Drew ran to the hardware store. As I watched him drive away I looked up at a looming storm and thought that perhaps my mood had brought it on.

It is in these moments, usually forced upon us, that we can give thanks for the good days and realize that maybe they wouldn’t be so good, without the bad one’s. I wrote at my desk for nearly an hour before our doorbell rang, and in the end I was thankful for the inconvenience. It was the first day off that I had seen in 10. And our kitchen floor was finally clean.

 The following day I borrowed Drew’s car and  visited one of my oldest friends and her husband in order to shoot their very first maternity session.

For those of you that have followed Seraphim Fire, you may recognize this lovely couple from their wedding shots posted last year. I have known Sassy since college and this day she helped me complete a dream of mine. To steadily capture the growth of a couple as they move through love and into a family. She is an even more beautiful mother than she was a bride, and a terrific friend. Congratulations Mr. & Mrs Allender…

It was actually the dogs that  helped me notice all the time that had passed. That suddenly May was here and instead of snow we had sunshine all around us. We found a new hiking trail in Morrison and I could wear short sleeves and the dogs could swim.
I have always loved this change of the season. It feels to me, like a crush. Something you wake up thankful for and look forward to. The heat is comfortable, welcomed even, and my skin slowly darkens by the end of the day.
Thanks to February, March and April I was able to enjoy so deeply all the experiences that I was sharing with my family, and soak in all the love that was being given to me. Three weekends out of the month were dedicated to bridal showers and celebrations for my up coming marriage to Drew.
I shot as much as possible but allowed myself the freedom of setting my camera down when we all gathered together.  For the first time, perhaps ever, I enjoyed the weightlessness and absence of my camera strap, and I forced myself to remember all these special moments in a new way. Mostly.

I once described love as the light hitting the water, and I really do see it that way. When you are loved and give love back, things can brighten all around you, motivate you, and give you peace.
And despite not having all the answers (and the occasional bad day) that refracted light can help you see far into the distance.
I think, thanks to all these experiences, which I never could have had with out all this love, I understand this concept more than I ever have. And the future looks bright.

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A Travel (B)log: Changing lanes…

The apex of my circumstances these last few years have usually taken place behind the wheel of a car, or in the seat of an airplane; there is always and of course, the lens of my camera too.
It has been a period of transition, as they say. But luckily,  I believe that we grow the most when placed outside of our regular routine.
(It could be that I believe that because I can’t remember last having one.)
So, in both a blessings wake and what would feel at times like a dare, I traveled from one end of the country to the other; changing as I went, my entire life.

September:  Olympia, Anacortes & the San Juan Islands

If W. Clement Stone was correct , and we are a product of our environment, then I am the product of a small green suitcase with one broken latch. In both the state of our living and all the states that we still have to travel through, I have realized what few items are my desert island five, and how to strategically fit them into the suitcase with one broken latch. It is a shame I think, that I can not sift the salty sea air of Washington and some how steal it away in these last days of September; as summer drags her fingertips across the Sound just one more time.

We have been living in one long narrow room for five weeks. The tenants of a local Olympia hotel while Drew will finish what the military calls his ‘ETS’. It stands for ‘estimated time of separation’, one of the many acronyms that I have learned in the last two years. So to break out of the monotony of working and waiting, Drew & I filled the car with our two dogs, his pack and my little green suitcase and headed almost four hours north to ‘Deception Pass”.

(Named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792… “Feeling that he had been deceived by the nature of the inner waterway… he wrote on his chart ‘Deception Pass’.” )

To cross this amazing channel means that you have finally arrived in Whidbey Island, just the first in a long and beautiful string of Islands in the very north corner of Washington. The plan was to spend the weekend on the shore with family, coaxing mother nature into kind temperatures….

She listened so well that we didn’t leave Anacortes for almost three weeks. Instead we combed the beach and made boats, played pirates and always stayed “just one more day.” One of those rare times in life when we followed only our bliss, while we let the rest sit waiting.

October: ‘Our last gasp’, the I-90 stretch and an early Thanksgiving in Mexico.

We finally left Washington in the early weeks of October with two walkie talkies and a dog in each car to keep us company. It took three days on I-90, which meant time to enjoy the way that the color of the sky changed as we passed through Idaho in the early morning, the moon rise in Montana, and
the density of the dry Wyoming air. For me, it was a welcomed change. Like Colorado was waving hello, and I knew it wouldn’t be long.

We only had two days in Colorado before we hopped a plane to Mexico for an impromptu Thanksgiving with my family. (On October 12th!)
It was just enough time to find an apartment and lock it behind us.


What a blessing that we should once again find a reprieve from all the change; with only the shadow of love to fall underneath. It was one early morning on this trip that I stole away to simply sit and give thanks.


A few days later the reality of my  ‘best laid plans’ surfaced. Seraphim Fire had a wedding booked at the end of the month, which meant that I had four days to get the sand out of my  suitcase and pack for the next flight.


Sasha Gil, a beautiful and long ago friend from my days in New York, works in fashion and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fiance Wallace is from Greenville, South Carolina. For a chance to capture their southern wedding day, I would head East.


It was my first time visiting one of the Carolina’s, and turned into one of those magical trips that made me want to (despite all odds!) pick up and move again.
I suppose that is the curse of being malleable. Each place I have been, I have left a small but imaginative piece. One that can exist right there, and maybe never go any other place.

November: Coming home.

On the plane ride home, I imagined clicking my heels together slowly.

Like Dorothy would have.

I immediately pictured myself in Drew’s arms, and I thought of the dogs taking up my side of the bed.
I always thought of myself as a gypsy. Someone who flowered along the roadside. I realize now, that  my home is not defined  by which state line I land within, and it isn’t ‘my next big adventure’ either.

Now, when I picture the future, it always has just those few simple things.

And of course, my camera.

I wish you all the happiest of holiday’s, and I remind those that find themselves absent from my photographs to give me a call.
Because I celebrate life through the lens, you (come one, come all!) are always welcomed.

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Part 2: “For anyone who has ever had a mission” Statement

I’m not sure what it says about me that in early December, on the eve of my 29th birthday, I am swaying to folk music in my pajamas. It is 6:08 AM and I have been awake for over an hour. I am not thinking about how far I have come during this year or what I want for myself in the year ahead.  Not just now, no. Instead, I am thinking about Christmas trees.
I am also thinking about the spelling of Joan Baez, the cold & empty feeling of the house when Drew has left it, and the height of my eye from the ground in its relative distance to sea level.

All of which I would like to address. But first…

Day 1: The sound of the alarm clock breaks into my dreams without actually waking me. It is one of those mornings where I went on thinking that the house was on fire until the coffee makers rough grumble reminded me where I was, and that that foggy look in the room was just the sleep in my eyes.
The clock on my microwave came into focus, 4:12 AM. By eight the entire pot of coffee was gone. Found my old twin lens camera that a very dear friend gave me, and one rogue roll of film in an unpacked box way up in the loft.
Because I can not remember the films age, I assume it is from art school. two year old film. To most people, that makes this roll of film ruined, to me it seems an opportunity for something amazing and unique.
What ends up being most amazing is how long it takes me to load the film into the camera.
Goal one, Shoot more film.

Day 3: The third in a series of extremely early mornings. It is a Wednesday, and I spend almost 13 hours in front of my computer. I love Wednesdays.
My work space is settled on the backside of our living room. A large open space with a bay window where I have taken over our dining room table and made it my desk. At one point, the sunny sitting bench within the bay could be opened, and may have contained some antique treasure.
Now however, because  this house is nearly one hundred years old, and sunk into a damp city in Washington, it has swelled shut. The only things that I can seem to imagine there now are my spooky assumptions of what was lost inside.
This is one of the many reasons that I love this house. This is the one corner of our living room that stays lit throughout the whole day; even when the storm last as long as I do.
Which is exactly what has happened today.  The sorting through of nearly 4,000 images shot in the past month. Some will be used for marketing, and with any luck I will find a new logo for Seraphim Fire in the pile. The rest, far more importantly, will be printed and used at Christmas time.
Goal two, make prints & build something beautiful out of them.

Day 5: When I was a kid my parents had this theory that things readily available to my brother & I would become less appealing. For example, a large drawer in our kitchen sat fully stocked with candy. We were famous for this, my brother & I. While over for play dates, my friends would shamelessly eyeball the candy drawer, while I played on unaware.
I must admit that their theory held out well into my adulthood. While I love sweets, ( I am not immune to Chocolate) I don’t really eat much candy. I do however, implement the candy drawer in my home now. It is an act of nostalgia more than anything, but it also continues to make my house pretty enticing.
The trouble with our candy drawer is this, “it is a place where fortune cookies go to die.”  At least this is what Drew said to me the other morning while searching through our drawers for something. “I am going to throw these away, ok?”
The funny thing about all those fortune cookies is that while I never eat them, I love saving the fortunes. I love giving them to people as a pick me up, or because they just fit. I like finding them on days that I can not concentrate, and just like a cloud that takes shape, I find new motivation in the day. So naturally, I protested like Drew had just threatened to get rid of the dog.
He gave me kind of a funny look and then kissed me before leaving for work, and once the door had shut completely I looked at Carl (our black lab) and said, “Crap buddy, now what am I going to do with like 30 fortune cookies?”

Day 8: My lists have begun to pile up around me like waves. Every once in a while when I am really focused, even the rustling of papers sounds like the ocean. I have had the beach on my mind lately. If this has ever happened to you, then you need no explanation. If not, then it is sort of like the shifting of a boat when the current is strong. It becomes very difficult to anchor yourself down. Figuratively speaking.
I thought of all those fortune cookies, and  all the piles of digital files that needed organizing. My internal movement took me, without thinking, into our kitchen and emptied the candy drawer into a large mixing bowl. The candy was sent back, but the bowl of fortune cookies sat next to me at my computer, and I cracked one open. “Your future is what you make of it, so make it a good one.”
Goal three, open a fortune cookie each day.

Day 12:
Call me crazy, but the fortune cookie idea really works. It is so easy to get weighted down in the monotony of a job, or a routine. The trick is to make it fun, or to give it a fighting chance. That is exactly why things like fortune cookies exist, right?

Some days my fortune doesn’t really apply: “You have the uncommon gift of common sense.” (Heh heh heh).
Some days it rains, and I clearly get someone else’s fortune. “Your day will be filled with sunshine.”  (Not if you live in the north west.)
But then Some days I accomplish even more then I set out to. “Your path is arduous but will be amply rewarding.”

And that was the night I finally finished the logo, and then some.

Day 13: We finally got to the beach.

Day 17:
Late in the afternoon I Drive to Seattle to shoot an event for PROVAIL and make some amazing new connections.
Back in 2004, during an afternoon art history class, I made a friend in an awesome girl who made her reputation as a screen printer.
Kelly now works with PROVAIL, a company based in Seattle, that is dedicated to meeting the needs of people with disabilities. (
Tonight they are hosting a wine tasting event and silent auction inside the McKinstry Innovation Center. (
The building itself is artful, and huge at 24,000 square feet, but also take into account the art work, free raffle give aways, and the six booths of wine from all over Washington State.
Thanks Kelly, for all the art & the history.

Day 19: “I realized something today,” I am leaning over my plate and I can’t see him, but I know that Drew is laughing at me. He is letting his mind skim blindly over all sorts of things that I could have realized. (That I’m a lousy driver, but will never admit it? That I listen to the t.v. too loudly?)
“I never shoot horizontally. Or if I do it is really rare. I had a hell of a time designing an album today because of it. Stupid templates.” I mumbled that last part.
“Well, you should start. People like horizontal shots and those templates are there for a reason.”
There was 2 1/2 minutes of silence before Seinfeld cut to a commercial and Drew looked at me, still smiling, lips pursed.
It was like he was trying to give me a head start before I launched into a passionate run-on sentence about how vertical shots were so much more interesting, and something about cropping.
It was such a thick excuse that I lost track of it.  The next morning when I sat down at my computer I reached for a cookie.  “Bad excuses are worse than none.”
Goal four, stop making excuses.

Day 20: I finally applied to a gallery downtown. ‘Childhood’s End’ besides being a co-operative space, (something I will forever support) is located on a corner directly across from the marina. It looks to be almost 1000 square feet and houses not only pottery & hand made jewelry, but a range of specialized pieces done by local artists;
Artists that I would love to learn from. It didn’t take a fortune cookie to motivate me today, this is the place that I want to be showing my work. I turn my portfolio of Love Letters over to a lovely dark haired woman at the desk and share a short conversation, resisting the urge to ask her a million questions.
She does explain though that I had just barely made the cut off, as they take a three week break from Jurying new work during the holiday’s.
When I got home I opened a cookie, just for good measure.
“People find it difficult to resist your persuasive manner.”

Day 23: I leave for Mexico at 6AM. As is the tradition in my family, we spend Thanksgiving together (the only time all year that I see my siblings and their children) at a little place an hour south of Cancun called Puerto Adventuras.
We have been going there for 13 years. 

Allow me now, to introduce you to my Clan. My dad, Robert, is a sixty something dark & handsome, with exceptional math & vocabulary skills. Pam, my step mother, is equally stunning.
A grandmother to now five grandchildren that fill our home during the holidays, she wanders behind them kissing and cleaning up skinned knees;
egging the children on as they grow. This has become one of my favorite things to watch since the arrival of the first grandchild to grace us.
Pam will light up around children, just like a Christmas tree, and I must admit I share her warmth for them. (The unfettered showering of affection, their candidness, little socks….)
Besides the babies there are four of us, all siblings, but not necessarily by birth. Now each of us have families of our own, ranging in size & development.

Needless to say our family holidays have  also been growing.

Day 29: While south of the border and away from my station in the bay window, I focused on the simplest changes to my photography. (Like shooting horizontally. A change that has made the most difference in my work.)
But it was during this vacation that I started to think about this entry and all the time that continued to pass. Right then I said breathlessly and more loudly then intended, “…What the heck am I going to write about?”
My father was working on the Sunday crossword and made a very familiar face as he looked up; his eye lids pushed together in a purposeful squint. “Hm?”

I rambled as his head sat perfectly level over the page, about my impending mission statement and all the progress that I felt I was making but with no real clue of how to illustrate it. Just then his squint softened into recognition.
I waited for him to speak, but he had just figured out another piece of his crossword.
Now folks, for the past year (as long as this blog has existed) my dad has not only taken part by reading each entry, but he usually lets me know that he has by sending an email, a few hours or even days later, with grammatical corrections and a few suggestions. That is his love letter. The deep desire to see his children succeed and act with ambition.
This time though, it only took about twenty minutes before he looked up and cleverly motioned out to the horizon line directly in front of us. “How far do you suppose the horizon is from sea level?”
Assuming this was something to do with the crossword, I guessed. Thirty something? Maybe more? He didn’t know either, so we all sat there, Pam, my sister Michele & me, taking guesses. Looking out at what was now the sunset.
It turns out we were all wrong. The formula for calculating the distance to the horizon is essentially the same old pythagorean theorem that we all learned in school.
So the height of the individual person, their geographical location, and the arc in the earth are all considerations in the formula.
For me, the distance is roughly 3 miles. Only 3 measly miles!?

Once the sun had disappeared I finally stood up & brushed my legs clean, swatting away the mosquitos. “It just seems so much further.”
Just then my dad’s face softened.

“It’s a little like life, isn’t it? It would be nice if we could always see that far into the distance, but what we can control is how high we stand.”
His smile was almost wicked when he added,
“You know what else sweetheart? It’s never as far as it seems.”

Goal five: Keep growing.














A Mission Statement?: Part One


“You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards” J. Thurber
I love that the beginning of something always feels more like a question. It bends around and then down, and then wouldn’t you know it, there at the bottom you have to make a giant leap!

Get it?

Well, It feels that way because that is exactly what it is. In essence you are asking yourself whether you accept the challenge of starting, which inevitably means moving forward. It is not a question of can you? But, will you? Certainly you can choose to dig your heels in and stay put, or….You can leap. Therein creating something new, something out of nothing, which is different from, say…telling about it later. (Although good writers have, for years, taken the act of retelling and made something out of nothing. Heh.)
For me the two acts ended up running smack into each other. My desire to share is strong. Stronger sometimes than my delicacy

With school 400 days passed me, I have to say I have been delighted; so much freedom to choose where my camera falls!

While within the institution, my work changed drastically, either due to serious focus or an obsessive need to explain why. 
“…And why, Ms. Beisenherz, did you chose to photograph a wine glass full of old spoons?”
You have no idea the looks you will get when you respond with…” um, well…,” palms sweating as I realized how I was about to sound…
“because I thought it was beautiful…” And I really did.
But I could never explain it beyond that. I started to think of it as ethereal, but I think my teachers saw it more as impetuous. What I should have said was, “I love the way it makes me feel.” But it took me awhile to get there.

As my work took shape (just like life) I wound up shooting subject matter that I had spent most days fighting against. I couldn’t really see myself spending summer months shooting the wedding circuit, or imagine that I would talk in soft and slow whispers to new parents in the hospitals of two major cities. Admittedly though, when I did, I would leave the hospital always smiling with this warm light of accomplishment beaming from inside. The truth is, children are so fun to photograph. They are small and new, yes. The socks are adorable, but no matter what strange and unique quality that I saw that day, those new parents could see 10. And I watched love multiply.

I really enjoyed being apart of that. I loved the fact that my time was spent doing exactly what I wanted to do, take pictures. Better yet, it would end up being just as special to whoever loved that child. It would continue to multiply. I might not be saving the world, but I am capturing it and, almost literally, holding on to it forever. On those particular mornings that I was tired or cranky, (or sometimes too broke to even get to the hospital to shoot that day) those bad feelings would eventually wash out leaving this realization behind.

Despite everything, life is beautiful.
I am learning that there are rules to shooting delicate moments. Recipes that can be handled any number of ways, some with supplemental ingredients; but there are those few that cannot change. Passion, of course, is one of them. But another is that unnamable feeling that I used to create my images of antique spoons, or crab shells in the sand, or cut up fruit from a Saturday morning breakfast. Over the past year I realized that I wanted to grow up with these people, to shoot with them each year, and grow along side them. Not just the babies, but the families that I have watched begin in matrimony.

The trouble is that when you make the choice to do anything that you really love, you have to work much harder to keep it alive. That is something that people (mostly optimists) always over-look in the hour that they make that crucial decision to leap. To become an artist, or a soldier, or even a mother…It is hard work to keep your inspiration alive. (And the pay can be lousy.) More importantly however, the self-discipline is excruciating. How do you take something you love and make money at it, without turning it into a job?
With this question I sat. I sat for days….But you can’t just look at the big picture all of the time. If you do you can lose focus and things get fuzzy. I needed a few small details to guide me, like the color of the fish underneath a big ocean, or the reflection in the water.

Part of the problem was that I felt stinted, like I was falling behind this ever-growing profession. I had left Denver and no longer had my teachers and peers there pushing me. (I have to give a very sincere shout out to Michelle, Lindsey, Megan, Jake, and Todd right here.) For those of you still in school, take it from me, find your ’round table’. By that I mean, there are always at least three people, colleagues, that will help you keep your eyes open and looking forward. Those special few have the quality to challenge you with positivity and genuine interest and intelligent criticism. They will help you feel it when you have a really good growth spurt, and they know all the vocabulary.

And then my life lessons intersected. During the month of September, we took time and traveled around visiting family & friends that Drew had gone nearly a year without seeing because of the deployment. It was amazing.
My dad had a birthday, I played golf and went surfing for the first time ever, albeit very clumsily. But the best part was the amount of love in any one room. It was literally audible. So much laughter…
I started thinking while on that trip that our gypsy lifestyle was making the same point as my passion to grow as a photographer. I loved the adventure, and I was getting so much out of it. But each new place meant leaving something else, not necessarily ‘moving on’, but still letting go in a way. It was making me stronger, but also it was making me work a lot harder at my relationships; to try and stay connected even when I was busy with other things and other realizations. Growth feels funny sometimes. It can be uncomfortable, but then suddenly, you can reach a little higher.
“So…” I thought, “that is what I have to do. Reach higher.”
How simple.

When we returned home it was work and routine; A complete alternative to the past few weeks. I gave myself a few guidelines and wrote them down. Hoping that the visibility of my scrawled out mission would be a motivator. Even if it was just a post-it note.
I would get up when Drew did everyday (usually before sunrise) and force myself to sit down at the computer. Working from a home office is not an easy task, especially for someone like me. What an amazing use of my self-discipline it has been. Even if I do chose to spend the sleepy hours of the early morning puttering, I can have  the dishes done and the laundry spinning in the dryer before nine thirty rolls around. On those days, with my third cup of coffee, I am forced to sit down in the small bay window of our living room and edit or write, or explore new software & equipment. My best days contain all three, but I admit the writing everyday has been my biggest challenge.

I have seen during this time though that when we open up the doors of ourselves for experience to come in, it rushes.