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Monday, October 27, 2014

What does the "K" stand for? And can she use a camera? ;-)

It is technically MK Designs. I am Michelle Anne "K" in that... but if you know me, you know there's a K that has changed my life for the better. Her name is Karlene and she's my daughter. This year she's in 4th grade and loving her teacher and school. 
Karlene made me hold this leaf for her... just right in the light. 
Karlene actually is good with a camera. She started clicking photos when she was about 5. It does bum me out that she's slowed down BIG TIME because she really does have a good eye for it. 

These are a few she took this summer at the Washington (Mo) Riverfront Trail.
See Mr. Frog? She did a little "Frog Stalking" 
She knows how to get close to her subject... and how to look for light. 
I watched Karlene wait for Mr. Frog to hop into the light! 
She's so good at following the Rule of Thirds, and honestly - she doesn't even know what that means. She doesn't even have a camera that shows the Rule of Thirds grid when she shoots. 
She somehow knows that dead-centering things isn't the best thing to do for composition. She also isn't afraid to get close to a bug! Good little photographer! :-)
I love how she looks all over for interesting perspectives and angles. 
Trees covered in vines...
Karlene may not take as many photographs as she did a few years ago, but when she does, I am always impressed with what she sees and how she captures it with a little camera. I highly encourage any of you to let your kids experiment with photography... no matter how young they are. It will really help you see the world as they see it. 
More of the trees covered in lush green vines along the Riverfront Trail in Washington, Mo.
Photos by the K of MK Designs. Do not copy or print without permission. 

If you'd like to order any prints, all $ will go directly to Karlene's Pokemon Fund. 

MK Designs 2014. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Tactical Error: LaBarque Creek Missouri

I had seen a few images by Chet Gaugh (an awesome local photographer) of LaBarque Creek, then I noticed that "Camping Missouri" had updated their cover photo on facebook to one of LaBarque Creek... so I told myself I had to find it. 

Sunday, on the way home from errands in the big city, I found LaBarque Creek Conservation Area. It's just south of Eureka and Pacific... and the minute I arrived I knew this place was special! 
I crossed a foot bridge and felt instantly at home. 
Creating this special spot took a lot of teamwork!

I had my trusty camera and camera bag with all my goodies for a photo shoot in the woods ready... I crossed the foot bridge and started on the trail... and I knew it was a 3 mile trek, but I felt pretty optimistic about it. Maybe too optimistic. 
See the heart on the tree? Too cool!
At first I took my time, clicking pics and trying not to slip on the muddy inclines. All seemed to be on track for an awesome walk.

Then, it hit me... this trail is a bit slippery, the mist is picking up, and I have about an hour of light left. 
So peaceful. The woods were this amazing mix of green, yellow, red... I love Fall in Missouri!
I started to pick up my pace, and even pondered turning around even though the trail is a loop. When I saw the sign that said "1 mile" I (stupidly) said to myself, "Keep going! Just one more mile!" 
Someone found all these, but I took the time to stack them! 
These rocks needed my organizational skills to create a Cairn in the woods! 
Just a bit later, I had about 10 more minutes of good light left, and the rain picked up... that's when my heart sank. 

I saw a sign that said "2 miles." I clearly hadn't read the other sign correctly. I still had a mile left. A long. Wet. Slippery. Rainy. Getting-more-and-more dark. Mile. 
Taking this photo helped calm my nerves a bit once I realized I had about 10 minutes of light left and a little over a mile to my "Betty" aka Ford Escape...which is fitting because I was ready to Escape the trail at this point! 
Just a little damp! 
I had several thoughts race through my head that could possibly fall into paranoid range. However, the main thought was two-fold. 

#1. Don't lose the trail. 
#2. Don't fall. 

My camera bag is fairly water tight, so my camera didn't get hurt. I also have several items I carry on me when hiking, especially just by myself. I had my emergency whistle, compass, mini-flashlight, cell phone, hoodie, water bottle, pepper spray, napkins/tp, and more... 

That mini-flash light came in handy for the first time EVER.
Rain. Rain. Rain. 
Brilliant Colors to Warm my Soul! (it was a bit damp and chilly!) 
I couldn't create an image like this! The water droplets were just perfect upon this leaf! 
What I could see of the last mile as the light kept dimming - was stunning. I must go back to this area when there's more time and daylight. I could see areas you can off-trail towards the creek, rock overhangs (one I figured that if I had to I could camp out under if I lost my way and/or the rain got worse!), and amazing Karst topography. 

I have to be honest, at one point on the trail I could see the creek through the foggy misty rain... I could even make out the creek, along with a fence and horse barn, but then the trail turned up and away... I was near tears... but I told myself to trust the trail blazers, but if my compass didn't show me turning back towards LaBarque Creek with the signs of civilization in at least 10 minutes, I was going to go off trail. 
There's a fungus among us! 
My worst-case scenerios didn't play out and the trail did indeed turn back towards where I knew I needed to be. A few carefully placed steps (with my flashlight) down the rocks and the mud, led me back to the footbridge. I have to say I was elated to finally be finished. My sweaty, rainy, muddy selfie was my "reward" - my "I did it!" photo. 
Now that's a face of relief! And, what an adorable face! Who wouldn't want to see that daily? Ha! :-)
A little over 24 hours later, and I must say that I do like the challenge in the woods that my little "tactical error" created. Why? You have to think. You have to trust. You have to believe in yourself - knowing you will not lose the trail and you will not lose your footing. 

However, next time - I think I'll make sure I give myself way more time to explore in full daylight when I return to LaBarque Creek Conservation Area. 

Here's the link to learn more about this lovely place!

Photos and Words by MK Designs!
Until next time... ~ michelle 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ramblings of an UnBooked Photographer in October

I think we all go through moments of self-doubt... and people who claim that never happens to them very may well be suffering from some sort of mental disorder! All jokes aside (or was I joking?), I am having serious self-doubt when it comes to photography. 

I haven't had one portrait session since last May. 



Where did the portrait clients go?

I miss doing portrait work! 
It's not just me, I have had several fellow photographers discuss this with me. Where are the Senior Sessions? Where are the family gigs? Couples?

While some of us are feeling the slump, others seem to be flourishing by...
1. reaching out to clientel outside of Franklin County
2. or just DOMINATING the biz in our area (we do have some that are THAT good!)
3. mixing it up and shooting "bordouir" photos
4. Real Estate / Business photography work
5. teaching workshops (which I am seriously considering)
6. Craft & Art Shows! 

Even myself, I can honestly say - I am having more "luck" helping out local businesses with my photography, or being asked for postcards for area towns and neighboring counties. 
Future PostCard for Gasconade County - Owensville, MO area. 
However, I actually do enjoy portrait work, and while sweeping landscapes, lovely light, natural scenes, and architecture are all enjoyable - I can't help but question "What am I not doing right?"

Some people say I charge too much, while several others say I charge too little. 

Other people say that EVERYONE is a photographer these days, which I can admit - I am noticing to be true. Seems like someone takes a class and gets a fancy DSLR and BAM! they have a facebook page and are taking money from people left and right... 

...but where does that leave me? The teacher chick who has been into photography since she was in the single digits and even studied it in college? 
Me. The teacher chick who LOVES her camera!
Lately I've been feeling bummed about the lack of portrait work, so tonight when I was having one of my mini-mental-meltdowns over my art, I headed out to Robertsville State Park. 

The .8 mile loop I love is awash in yellow and green now. The light was so beautiful, as always. 
Yellows and Greens tonight on my little .8 mile loop at Robertsville State Park.
I did my usual dance with the four deer that like to notice me, run near me, hide, stare, and then repeat it again... we've done this dance a lot since this past August. I don't even attempt to photograph them, I just enjoy the game. 

I said hello to my two favorite trees. They are mammoth old wise souls. I noticed the two long vines that form a cross are still precariously hanging in limbo... waiting for a wind strong enough to knock them down one of these days... (or years). 

It was peaceful. 

Berries One.... not bad... 
Berries Two. Kneeled down to get the light/bokeh effect in the background. May not be as "focused" all around with the motion blur from the wind, but I love this one much better than the first one. Time on the trail to LOOK and play... that's priceless for me. Time to experiment is a good thing, especially away from the "noise" of life.  
I left the trail only to see a fantastic full moon on the rise. My camera's battery finally gave out... leaving me just to watch and enjoy. 

Hello Moon! WOW! 
Just as my camera died... 
I drove through the campground... which is always a dangerous thing for me to do during the school year when I am working. There were four different little worlds... all camping and enjoying the lovely fall night. Seeing such sights gives me dangrous thoughts. Sell it all off. Downsize. Be a vagabond with wifi, a laptop, and a camera. 
Oh, to be "free" in the fall to see more of this during the day! 
Don't worry, mom. Reality always kicks in and I remind myself I have at least 11 or 12 more years until retirement, and health insurance matters... and my daughter needs stability in these formative years. ;-)

So, I may not be booked full like usual in October with portrait work. Maybe it's time I "be still" and listen to God. Maybe this is Him reminding me I gotta stay focused on that day job for at least 11 or 12 more years... and that there's other opportunities to click the shutter. Perhaps He is telling me that sometimes just to "be" and enjoy the games with the white-tail deer is more satisfying than making a sale or making sure someone's hair looks good and their eyes aren't squinty. 

Luckily, I don't "need" MK Designs to "make" money. Through a lot of hard work and dedication, I have established a fairly good career that allows my hobby/craft to be as it is - not as I think it should be. 

And, as we all know, things can change in an instant. Maybe I'll check my email tomorrow and have five people asking for available dates? Or maybe I won't... 

For now, I am ordering 50 postcards for a business in Gasconade County who likes my work. ;-)

Until later, 

PS Yes, I have a first name. ;-) 
MK Designs Photography October 2014.