About Us

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wedding Season

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It's wedding season and it's been going on for me since April.  Thankfully I have one more wedding next week until things start to slow down a bit, but I had no idea when I booked this many spring weddings that I would be this busy.  Thankfully work has been pouring in -shoots of all kinds, acting opportunities, client meetings, etc.- but I've been struggling keeping me sanity (and consciousness.)  Funny enough, I recall slow days in February and March enjoying crafting up a storm and having tons of family time.  Lately I wish, I wish, I wish I could clone myself.

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I love the work I get to do.  When I'm on a shoot or tucked away in my new office editing, I enjoy it so much.  Often I even feel guilty, that work shouldn't be so much fun because being productive and "working" is supposed to be drudgery, right?  Obviously, the answer is no, that you ought to love what you do and do what you love, but it still feels a little wrong enjoying myself so much while getting paid.

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This week I had the joy of being hired to the University of Texas's Student Unions dept. for a grand portrait shoot around their buildings.  One of the gals, (name dropping here: who's mentor was Rosa Parks and who's father was personal friends with MLK, Jr.) hired me to shoot her extended family yesterday morning as her father had just entered hospice care and all of his family was gathering to be with him.  I was so blessed by being with them for that short hour yesterday.  A family full of love and brimming with joy despite the circumstances.

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Shoots galore, I tell you, shoots galore.

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Today, besides uploading all the photos from last night's wedding we worked, I'm finally taking a day off.  We're starting out with a restaurant-style breakfast and then Brian will prep for tomorrow's triathlon he's been tirelessly training for.  Taking a break and needing it, like, big time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Portrait of a Very Grand Mother

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With a few hours before her plane departure, we snuck in an impromptu photoshoot in the studio.  Wilder had the remote for these shots -as well as his wiener.  We're potty training, so it's a new -ahem- sensation walking around with things so accessible.  (Shaking my head in dismay, shrug shoulders and "that's life!")

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My jazzy, razzmatazz Mama!  Where all my talent comes from -except for my lack of organizational skills. Thaaaaat didn't get passed on.  I cringe at the very word: organize.  *Shiver*
My mother, on the other hand, is a genius of streamlining, efficiency and functionalization (it's a word, Spellcheck.  My mom invented it.  So there.)  She could teach every military branch and Fortune 500 company a thing or two.

My mother is also the Queen of Projects.  I wish, I wish, I wish I had this skill, but ever since I was little (and to this very day) the kinds of big projects my mother could easily conquer froze me in my tracks.  Her mole hills were certainly my Everests.  The most poignant (and now rather ironic) example is THE PHOTO PROJECT.  All capital letters quite necessary.  YOU didn't have to do it; I did.

And the story goes....
When I was in high school mom put me in charge of organizing all of the photos the family had ever accumulated.  Pre-my-existance to the present.  That spanned at least 30 years (I might be exaggerating, but only my mother knows.  Comment surely to follow.)  I had to create a system for organizing negatives and distributing photos, labeled by year, month and event, for all 12 members of our family.  Fortunately mom and dad shared a photo box, but other than that, I had to figure out the rest.
I cried and cried and wasted so many hours feeling overwhelmed and whining.  But, BUT... thanks to my mother and her, "I know you can do it.  If you'd stop talking about it and just get going, you'll be done faster," I eventually finished.

And I'm never doing it again, thankyouverymuch.

To her, it was an easily accomplished task that just took a little extra time.  Just like her bi-yearly Clothing Project where she and my older sister went through all 8 younger kids clothing and freshened up sizes and made things weather appropriate.  Tubs and tubs of stored clothing all marked, such as "Boys 6-8," "Girls Winter Clothes 12-14."  Circulate, organize, put away, repeat.  Holy moly, these women are unstoppable.

Aaaaand I'm tired just thinking about it!  Phew.  I'll be back after a quick nap.

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I love you, Mama, so very much and I'm so proud to be your daughter.  Thank you for always believing, always praying and always loving.  And for never making me do the photo project ever again.

Hugs from us all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Singing Your Rest: A Song For Comfort

Grandmama's Here!

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Grandmama's here!  Grandmama's here!

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My mother arrived on our doorstep last Monday all the way from Washington as a mother's day present to both herself and to me!

The kids have SO been enjoying playing with her and all the extra love and sweet hugs, and it's been a greater blessing than I can express hearing them all together, laughing and being together.  We don't get to see my mom that often -this was a very special treat!

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Kisses from Ba.

These pictures were actually from the night she arrived, last monday, but it's been so busy here that I haven't had a chance to snap any new ones and mom heads back home this afternoon.
Mom was able to join Brian and I as we saw the screening of a UT graduate film I was in this fall; the first time I have ever seen myself on a big screen.  Having Mom here for that was super-extra-special.

I am so glad Mom was able to come.  We squeezed in a trip to Costco, playtime around the house, Mom and Wilder had a looooooong date at Burger King (totally fabulous), some yummy Texas BBQ, and some movie time.

We love you, Grandmama!  Can't wait to see you again!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Shoot Your Mother

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Like this.  With a tripod, remote and 3 year old handling the system.
This was my other present to myself for Mother's Day: pictures with my babies.

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It's obvious who Wilder got that goober expression from...

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I felt the love, most certainly!
The kids were squealing with glee at the soft box strobe going off and the timer remote.  Oh my goodness, it was fun!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sunshine and Succulents: DIY Window Sill Cactus Garden

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Good Morning!  It's a sunshine-themed day already.  I love that my morning has been blessed by yellow and I just had to share some snaps of the AM glory and warmth, as well as my recent crafty/creation: succulent window sill gardens!  So hot right now.

Above, Wilder's golden waffles.  Thank you, frozen foods, for making my morning just that much easier.

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The yellow rose of Texas, jump starting my day with caffeine and color.

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Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun.  Waverley still asleep, breakfast with my happy man.

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Basking in dreams of a summer road trip.  Guess where we'd like to go...

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One of the easiest (do I ever do anything else? no) projects I've done.  And it's fun -gettin' dirty for a good reason.  Gardening is so, um, earthy -for lack of a better word- and I love how connected I feel with creation when I'm tooling about amongst roots and top soil.  Ahem, not that it's been something I've done lately (still dreaming of the garden I've yet to build, but annually think about as spring rolls around.)

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Yesterday my friend Aubrey and I were getting some gardening supplies at Home Depot to keep the wee rabbits out of her garden.  We spied the miniature succulents and I was immediately struck by "Idea-ism": must make a window sill succulent garden!

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Lately I've been seeing these beauties on so many blogs and websites.

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And now for the DIY bit:


  • Glass jar, vase, container, large mason jar, candle holder, etc.
  • Small rocks for decorative drainage for roots
  • Sand (optional, but useful as well a pretty)
  • Potting soil
  • Assortment of succulents/cacti
  • Small figurines (optional and slightly hilarious and/or charming)
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Takin' Steps~
  • Layer rocks and/or sand in your container
  • Add top soil
  • Arrange your succulents and gently pack them in the dirt
  • Arrange your charming/ridiculous figurines (mine to be added when I find 'em)
  • Place in a high light area and smile often!
These two mini gardens cost about $28 total.  The thin, oval vase was the gouger at $15, but I found it at Garden Ridge and it was the perfect fit for my skinny window sill by the kitchen sink.  Brian keeps expecting to see a fish in there. 
It makes me happy.

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Boy howdy, I simply love seeing these colors!  And the plants are so plump and adorable.
Hopefully I won't kill them within a month.

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My Mother's Day present to myself.  Now everything else is gravy, baby.  Don't tell Brian.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Yeah, I know it's early, but knowing me I'd better post this now or I'll never get to it.
So, in anticipation of Sunday...

Here's the long, quirky version, followed by the short(er) one.  Crystal's in the first one, so it's a little more entertaining -more laughs, less tears.  Like that.

And the short(er), simple version:

I love you, Mama.
Thank you.

The (un)Glamorous Side of Acting

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(Disclaimer: I happened to have some recent shots from our fabulous feature film, Out of the Darkness.  The following is not about this production, but about the industry in general.  I LOVE working on this film and am so thankful for the opportunity to work with the marvelous Danny Carrales.  What a gift!)

Waiting; that's what it all boils down to.  And that as an actor you are on the bottom-most rung when it comes to producing a film/commercial/etc.  You're a trained monkey -the one who the show is seemingly all about, but when it really comes down to it, you're just there to perform on command.  I'm beginning to warm to the idea of being in production instead...

I love acting; it's great!  The challenges, the novelty of being in front of the camera, being "the talent," it's fun and I'm not dogging any one experience (particularly the current film I'm working on.  It has been a JOY being a part of it.)  But there are things that most folks don't know that are everyday parts of being an actor.  Things that I'd have liked to know in high school when the dream began.  And things that make living this flexible lifestyle hard on anybody, particularly a family and your "other" job.
I'll expound.

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Lately Austin has been inundated with commercial work.  Yay!  I get an email from my agent.  Double check if I'm available for the audition date, potential callback and the potential shoot dates (which they usually have 3 of, though you'll only be used for one.)  You have to have an open schedule for all of those dates in order to accept the audition.  I move my schedule around, make sure babysitting is taken care of, then say I'm available.

An audition usually takes up half my day.  For less than five minutes in front of the casting director.  The drive time, allowance for bad traffic, getting ready (hair, wardrobe, directions, printing scripts, memorizing,) babysitting.  It's kind of an ordeal.  Arrive at the audition, wait sometimes up to an hour if they're running behind, do my thing for a few minutes, then head back home.

If you get a callback, it may be the night before that you hear, "Congratulations, you're callback is at 9:20am..."which means -CRAP!- I need a babysitter!  Who can I call at 10:30pm to watch the kids at 8am so I have ample drive time?  You get it figured out, go to your callback, then wait.
You won't hear if you didn't get the job, but you still have to have those dates available just in case the producers/client changed their minds last minute.  So don't make any plans.  But, statistically speaking, you didn't get the job.

The good thing?  When you do book a job, you normally get paid more for 4 hours of work than you would for 2 weeks/1 month at a normal job.  It's kind of like gambling.  You never know if you're going to win, even if you feel lucky or you rocked your audition.

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(Pictured: Mike Gassaway)
Acting is tough on the ol' ego, as well as your schedule.  Constantly putting yourself out there, doing your best, occasionally booking a job but mostly simply not hearing anything while you keep your life on hold, just in case.  And if you do seize other opportunities when you should be holding your schedule, your agent won't see you as reliable and will cease submitting you regularly for projects.

Am I griping?  I don't mean to.  Well, maybe I do... On top of all of this juggling, when you do book a job, you may not see your paycheck for months.  I finally got paid for a voice over I did in June 2010.  Last week.  Still waiting on payment for a project I did the last week of December.  I'm seriously considering starting an actor's-collections-slash-bounty-hunter agency.  Gas, wardrobe, babysitting -all of that requires finances directly out of my pocket.  The truth is that actors are pawns in the chess game of production.  Not a complaint, just a fact.  If I want to change that I should get into producing my own work -and I like that idea.  But I do wish a few simple changes would be made to how the current system operates.

1) Casting Directors should post when a project has been cast in order to release all of the potential bookers.

2) Agencies need to get paid within 1 month of the project shooting so the actor can receive compensation in a timely manner.

What a relief it would be if those two things were ironed out!

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(The penthouse set built at Omega Studios hangar for "Out of the Darkness."  Amazing how fancy and solid sets look on screen when they're really, well, plywood.)

So you want to be an actor?  To make it as easy on yourself as possible so you can fully pursue a career in the limelight: live with your parents, marry someone with a well-paying job so you aren't required to bring in any regular income, be a trust-fund baby, have your life revolve around acting (not a bad thing), and don't have kids.  See, it's simple!

It's a fun, fun job but it comes with quite a few challenges and sacrifices that not too many folks are aware of.  I truly am thankful for the chance to pursue what is available in the Austin/Central Texas market, thanks to having Brian home 5 days a week for the kids and being self-employed.

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(Director of Photography, Michael Cano, talking with director Danny Carrales.)

Maybe I'll create my own show... It can happen.


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