Sunday, November 30, 2008

Looking back for the future...

If you're a regular follower, these photos will look familiar. I've posted them before and they are on my Web site. So why am I posting them again? Well, I will get to that in a bit.
But, it's partly because I've just spent time looking at the fabulous refreshing blog of Anne Ruthmann, based in Massachusetts. Her engagement photos of couples are so capturing and her writing, well, being a writer, I admire her postings. So I started thinking, what is it about her blog that I love ... her work ... I mean there are thousands of photographers and just as many blogs to browse. When I go to post, it's like a roadblock. Maybe because I write for a living so when I actually have the freedom to write what I want, my fingers just STOP!

As I read entry after entry, it finally dawned on me why Anne Ruthmann is such a great photographer specializing in couples. She CONNECTS with them. She finds out WHO they are! Well, that's what I do in journalism, but as a wedding photographer, I think I've not been so good in that respect.

It wasn't for lack of trying, but it seemed like I always connected more with the bride's mother, since she always seemed to be running the show ... in many weddings. I just don't want any one previous client thinking I have singled them out. No, not at all. I'm really going out on a limb here and divulging what I believe are some of the cons I've listed for myself.

Wow, this is going to take a bit of time posting this. I may regret it tomorrow! Hah!

These images I've shared here are those of couples that I did connect with! Christian and Laurie in Florida and Charlie and Ryan in southern Oklahoma. Well, Charlie and Ryan are much, much younger than myself and yes, I'm friends with her mom, but I've known Charlie for sometime and was familiar with Ryan. I didn't shoot their wedding, but did get to shoot their reception and it was fabulous!
As for Christian, he's my nephew and more like a little brother to me since he lived with us for so many years. I'd have to say it was the most fabulous 3 days of wedding photography I've ever experienced!
And he makes a great 'assistant' even when he's in the shot!

Now, the reason for this post is I really wanted to succeed as an engagement/wedding photographer. I had a client once tell me that yes, I took great shots, but throughout the wedding she probably never spoke more than a dozen words to me. And those who know me, know that probably drove me crazy. Yes, it did and to this day, I have pondered greatly over what I could have done different. Well, I should have realized at the consultation that the conversation was more between myself and the bride's mother and the intended groom. That right there was a huge STOPLIGHT that I never acknowledged. Everything seemed fine. But looking back, apparently it wasn't.
I don't ever want something like that to happen again. Oh nothing bad happened, but just having a feeling of discontentment on either side (mine or the bride) is something I don't want to repeat. So, with that, I backed off weddings. That was a couple years ago. I've had a lot to learn in that time and had a chance to review how to 'sell a wedding package' that doesn't have me pulling out my hair six months later. So many wedding photographers claim to sell a complete package, shoot the engagement, then the wedding, edit the images and then hand them over to the couple, and they never have to look back. They create beautiful coffee table style books and don't have to worry about redesign, the couple accepts it as is.
So, how can I accomplish this? Do I even want to?!
Now, with all that out in the open, here's why I posted this. I am seriously considering getting back into the engagement/wedding business for 2009. I've proposed to my youngest son, who will be 22 and is pretty adept with people skills and a camera, at joining in with me. He likes the idea! That means two shooters at each wedding booked.

After the first of the year I will revisit this subject and if interest comes my way to be chosen as someone's photographer, I'll just have to see where it leads. It's not my photographic talents that I'm concerned about. I think my work speaks for itself. It was more the after-the-wedding work that put a damper on things. Mainly my spirit!
But I hope to offer Oklahoma couples a more contemporary approach to their 'wedding photographic memories' than what is being offered these days.
Meanwhile, if you need a solid wedding photographer, visit The Walkers are knowledgeable and likeable!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Homemade love

Baby loves whipped topping!
Homemade love is more than something sewn or crafted. For me, it's the joy that comes from being with my family and seeing the joy of life they get from the things I do for them. Like baking pumpkin pie. It's a big favorite in our house. And pecan pie! I could not find my pie plates this year and only was able to make the one pie. Even went to Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving day to find more plates and had no luck! Sold out!

My granddaughter finally got to taste whipped topping today on her 15 month birthday. She never made it to the homemade pumpkin pie that I made, but she definitely enjoyed the topping. This probably is one of my most favorite images from any Thanksgiving in years. Though it was the day after, it still was T-day related because of the pie. Some of the other images do have her in it and not just her little hand. Many are a soft focus, on purpose, as I was going for a faux vintage look.
The pie is a recipe I've made for years, Pennsylvannia pumpkin pie. It will go in a self-published cookbook I'm making through blurb after the holidays. It's mostly going to be filled with lots of beautiful images of food and some favorite recipes.

What is it that is homemade love for you during the holidays? Share your little stories on my comments page!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Great writer, good story!

I must share the link to a touching story. The content of the story is amazing and the writer, Robert Bridges, is one of CNHI's Best of 2007 finalist writers in Div. III (smaller circulation than the paper I work for). I had to go see for myself what makes this guy stand out from hundreds of others who enter this contest each year.

Read the story and you'll discover for yourself why he's such a good writer. The story itself is one though, that needs to be shared over and over. There's a small photo with the story, which I found interesting in that the Polaroid survived the ocean trip.
A note for those wondering what prompted this post. CNHI picks only one winner and a finalist in each category, should the judges find entries worthy. I was a finalist in Div. II, also for features writing. Even though these awards were announced months ago, I haven't had a chance to go and just read some of the other winning writer's works. I'm really glad I did tonight. Oh, I'm just getting started reading them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The official announcement

Well, hopefully! I posted a quick image last week, but here's a much nicer baby birth card of my new grandson! Isn't he so cute?! I love that little button nose!

Black and White tree fungi

Here's some fabulous tree fungi I found while doing a shoot for a magazine featuring influential people in October. This was in the backyard of Ed and Betty Apple. A beautiful garden with all these wonderful gifts offered by years of nurturing and nature. Ed will be on the cover of the magazine, Influence, a small product our newspaper has launched. It's the second issue and I did the photography. Usually I'm the one doing the feature writing, so it was fun to get to break away from that.
I must admit, I think my images could have been much better of Ed, but considering several 'hurried' factors, they are OK. Ed is a former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner. I had the pleasure of interviewing and writing a feature on him some years ago when he retired. His wife, Betty, is a nurse who really embodies the caring spirit.
It was worth it this time though not to be the writer, just to be able to find the hidden treasures like this tree fungi. Ed pulled out some photos from more than 30 years ago, I believe, showing the bareness of their yard when they first purchased the home and property. Children and grandchildren later, the yard has all these little things around it that show the work and love of a family.

I was inspired to finally post these images after visiting a beautiful blog tonight, Springtree Road at typepad. All this lovely black and white imagery and nice writings. Plus she includes lots of links in her writings to other blogs featuring black and white photographs., is it a photograph if it is online? Or is it imagery? I think it's imagery until you actually print it, then it becomes the photograph. Share your thoughts! I've also included a color/texture version for my fans!
And psstt....I need some blog followers! See below!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Second post in as many minutes..

This is from my flickr stream and is in the video at the top of this blog. I love this shot. The colors, subject, everything about it.
Little berries

My cat does not like dogs

Bokeh Kitty1

She quickly hit the top of this fence when discovering an unwanted dog in the neighbor's yard on the other side of our yard from this fence! Apparently, they are dog-sitting. A german shepherd and not a bit friendly.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Stars and Stripes/Still Life art

Stars and Stripes

Pear candy

If you are interested in purchasing either of these images or any of my fine art photography, please post a comment or visit my Web site: and use the Comment section to e-mail me directly.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Flashback Friday

Here's some images I shot at the beach of my nephew's children. August 2006. I have been re-editing them and really like the new improved versions. You'll just have to take my word they are much better as I'm not reposting the old unedited versions!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My new grandchild!

Isn't he cute! That makes two boys and one precious beautiful little girl. Well, the boys are precious and beautiful too! Congratulations Tim and Jen! I was in such a hurry that I just tossed this together fast. I got to see him and shoot just a couple photos this morning around 8:30. But my day is very busy so off I go. I get to do a full session on Friday! I can't wait. I love photographing squishy sleepy newborns! It's been a very long time since I did that (well MM will be 15 months this month, if that tells you anything!).
I remember the first two years I had my studio open, that was about all I photographed - lots of newborns. But since closing my studio and really not doing much in portraiture work, well, I guess I didn't realize how excited I would get when I finally would get the chance to do a newborn session. And it makes it much nicer being it's my grandson!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never tired

Of playing with my cattle drive images!

Chisholm Trail Cattle Drive
This image is for sale, just not with the border/title. All my images are for sale that are not personal family shots.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunset at Monument Hill

Just a little something to start the day ... with the end of a day!

I sliced a bunch of images up for the sky and threw in a couple of the silhouettes of Wayne and Terri Walker, owners of Truelight Photography and a beautiful B&B here in Duncan, The Hearthstone Inn ( He's the photographer, she manages the Inn.
Be sure to read some of my posts below too. It's been really quiet without any comments. Beginning to wonder what happened to everyone?!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Western lovers! Help!

I am wanting to create a blog dedicated strictly to my western photography. I do have much of it online on my Web site, but also want a blog to promote it and specials I will be offering.
I have a line of products I have been developing for more than a year now and decided this was a good time to start rolling them out. But, the problem is what to name my blog that is solely for western photographic art purposes.
If you have any ideas, please post a comment here or visit my site: www.tonihopperphotography and send me a comment from the form there. Visit the right hand link on the splash page there and you will be able to see some of my western photographic art.
I am looking forward to hearing from you. This new venture is something that really means a great deal to me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Palm Trees and textures

Palm heaven

Palm trees. I really like them. My husband, no, he does not! Shot this in November 2007 in Florida.
I think I will print this as an 11x14 for my gallery wall in my home. It features only landscapes and nature shots.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sock Monkey saves the day!

Roman will be 2 soon, but these were taken in January (if memory serves right! LOL) His dad tried to put a headband on him, and the tears quickly flowed. But, just as quick, once I, the great fabulous grammy, stepped in and gave him the Sock Monkey, the tears stopped.
Sock Monkey smiles

Mine, all mine!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tagged, finally for you know who...

Shoot, trying AGAIN! So I knew I'd screw up trying to do this tag thing, geez thanks Daphne! haha! I had a post then when to link as required by said tag, ummhumm, and lost my post! Very funny! But anyway, here's my lame attempt at reply to last month's friendly tag:
7 random/weird facts of self:

7. The newspaper where I work once did a huge feature on my art journals/altered books. Weird since photography and writing are more my passions and what I am known for, yet, everyone thought my altered books were so awesome. They even had them on display at the public library for a month and I taught a class to sixth-graders about altered books. This was a few years ago. I haven't done much with them since! is on presidents, the odd/crazy things, like Bill Clinton...ummm. I should update it with Election 2008 stuff, but I didn't save any headlines or anything from papers for it.

6. I collect comic strips related to photography. One of my favorite is laminated and on my inspiration board by my desk at home: It's an old Adam strip by Brian Bassett, the strip is dark except for two word blurbs: Ahha, a Kodak moment (in one) and the other says "aarggh, my lens is all fogged up!" I have no idea how many years that I've had it now.

5. My mother was an accomplished musician. I don't play a single instrument. Not that she didn't try to teach me! She finally gave up when she realized I was a better writer than piano player.

4. I love the thrill of adventure/sports, like motocross, drag races, etc...yet I never get to go to these events!

3. When I was a kid, I just KNEW that I would be a marine biologist or something like that. I was fascinated by ocean life. The other things I just KNEW were that I would travel to a Holy Land country or war torn one (so pick, sometimes they're the same these days) on a photographic spiritual mission/journey. Haven't done that either YET! And of course, toss in some archaeology (photographically speaking). Actually, photography has always been in the cards. And that desire for seeking out the unknown. A nosy nature.

2. For years I had a recurring dream of maybe driving up high and looking down upon a city on the side of a hill, lots of white homes and red roofs, the kind with the curved slate.

1. I love Hitchcock movies.

OK, I really had to stretch on this and then it just came quickly and I didn't even think after I started typing. I don't know that the things are so weird.

So, who to tag? Kristin at;; Claudia (must find correct link to your blog!) and a few more that I'll come back and add. See, I'm just not good at this tagging stuff. I don't want to tag someone that obviously isn't into tagging, but I did have fun Daphne!


I shot this photo years ago, slapped a TTv on it and forgot about it. Today, well, should have posted it this morning!
Oh and I just watched the trailer for Fast & the Furious 2009, starring many of the originals, including Vin Diesel and Paul Walker (awesome!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Corners in my kitchen or Bluebirds of Happiness

So, I've been trying to get to sleep for more than an hour, finally gave up. Cripes, it's 3:30 a.m. and work comes pretty fast in the morning, so my Monday will be sure to be miserable. ha! Most Mondays are just because I've been home all weekend and enjoying my life, my family and right now a glass of bad Chablis. I was a cheapskate Friday at the 'beverage' store. Bought 3 bottles of cheap wine instead of one good one like I normally would. Course, Riunite is always good in a pinch. But I bought some Paul Masson chablis. Probably would be better if I had some chicken and it was 100 plus degrees outside.
But, this time of the morning in the cold weather, ack. Oh well maybe it will help my mind quit racing around in circles so that I can go to sleep.

Being totally bored, I started looking through old photo files and found some I shot and just don't have the heart to do anything to them but enjoy them for the sake of just memories.
the fake pears are nothing more than decoration, but I love to collect wine corks. It's getting harder to find real cork these days. I also enjoy collecting game items, thus the jar of dominos in an old mason jar.
the plant is one my oldest son gave me this last Mother's Day. He always gives me a plant, indoor or outdoor, for Mom's day!
The red vase is just one I found. Not long after I met my mother-in-law oh so many years ago, rest her soul, she told me you should have a piece of red glass in your home for good luck and prosperity!
And the bluebirds of happiness are my very favorite. I bought the first one in Arkansas when my oldest son was a baby. The second one I got when my husband and I and our boys visited the place where those are actually made. (Oh wow, it's raining!)
Anyway, the Bluebird Showroom at Terra Studios outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas, is so awesome.
I have a cool photo of my youngest son sitting in the gazebo there that is lined with hundreds of bluebirds! The light reflecting is so beautiful, but my photo doesn't do it or my son any justice.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Pink and brown or patty cake

So I tried using my smugmug to post these images, but they aren't any bigger than when I post directly. The only way I seem to get big images is through flickr links. But I'm stingy and don't want to upgrade to a pro over there, so I'm limited with images on my stream there. So I may just go back to posting directly through blogger instead of going to the trouble of having images all over the place. I'm going to try one more thing using smugmug and see what happens. But isn't MM darling?! I found the tights at Wal-Mart and she already had the cute top, so we paired it up and did a quick fake high key set up.

Almost 2

My grandson will soon be 2, but we had to shoot these really fast. Here's just a couple from tonight's 'session' 9 p.m. His mom is due with second baby and so my son helped me with the shoot. Little Roman was good for about three or four shots. The rest were definite outtakes but funny! They had just come from dinner, so he had some on him, but who cares! I love these!
IMG_2873t webR

webR best_2873t

webR_2874f copy 3

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Cupcakes and gold sprinkles

Well, I thought I'd try getting out of bed for awhile, but I can see after 15 minutes I'm heading back. I don't know what kind of bug I've got but I wish it would go away. Sick, shaky, cold and feverish. My boss called me this morning right while I was in the middle of hugging the porcelain, lovely. I'm sure I gave a great impression. Sorry! Here's some beautiful cupcakes and a cake made by Linda Powers who works at the election board. I love the gold sprinkles! Well, just send me get well wishes!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Take a Lawn Chair, Go and Vote!

Added edit: Came back to add something I feel is extremely important. I was having a private conversation today while at the polling place and someone took it upon themselves to eavesdrop and now other issues are arising from what was an innocent conversation. And it's because of this election. I just hope that people who have the 'power' do not abuse that power. Like I said, it was a private conversation.
I went and did in-person absentee voting this morning since I won't have time to vote Tuesday. There was a line and since the 'polls' opened yesterday here, there have been more than 1,000 voters in Stephens County cast their picks. I was 947.
Here's a few pictures I shot while down there.

But, make sure you are solid with your decisions. The past few days I've been having some second thoughts about a particular person/race at the local level. I finally went with the person that I've been a supporter of from day one. Well, no sooner did I do that and then saw an old friend down there, I found out something about that person that made me wished I could recast my ballot. I knew I should have went with my gut on that one.

Live and learn. Today was also the first time that I stood at the polling booth and prayed before casting my vote for the presidential race. I've been so torn/undecided in this election. But I feel good about my vote!

Be prepared wherever you live, to stand in line. If you give up, PLEASE go back. Don't let it be for nothing. Those of you with disabilities or who are older and can't stand for long periods, take a LAWN CHAIR! Just go vote!!