Friday, July 23, 2010

{Austin & Meagan's Wedding}

I remember being a high schooler in love. I was told I was young. That I needed to finish college first and then get married. All of it made sense. But I couldn't stop loving Adrian the way I did. I knew.. knew we'd marry someday.

And we did. High school sweethearts. Cheerleader | Basketball player. We married with one year left of college. 14 years later... And while the road has not always been easy - we have weathered it together, and will continue to. That's what it's about - if love is a journey - it is on both paved and gravel roads.

Austin and Meagan were high school sweethearts. So I got it when she told me that they had been together forever already! There's a sweetness about this couple that's quiet, but observed. When two people have loved one another long enough and weathered storms already, it's an unspoken undercurrent they share of mutual admiration. It's just there. 

It's always such a huge honor to not only have the opportunity to photograph a wedding - but to be the one that follows the bride to her groom as she taps him on the shoulder for that first look before they begin their pictures. This little moment that they've waited for - for what seems their whole lives... as the photographer you are witness to. It's beautiful. Sacred. Private. And here I am almost in tears while I'm trying to photograph it - softy that I am. :)

Congrats Meagan and Austin! Thank you for being willing to go where I suggested to get pictures. You are a gorgeous couple and I really enjoyed your wedding day and being a part of it. Many blessing to you both.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Pronounced "Fah-toosh"
No, not fat toosh. Quite the contrary. :)

One of my favorite foods is Lebanese food. Mediterranean food. All the same.
Oddly? I have an interesting and somewhat connected fascination with Egypt. Most of the egyptian diet was based on the same basic food components: Chick peas, fresh vegetables, lemon, garlic, parsley, olive oil, grains. So not only do I love Mediterranean food, I think I could live in Egypt. Minus the fact that I would be in the minority there as an obvious American-white-girl with a pricey camera. Probably not taking the Egyptian trip of my dreams anytime soon. Someday, I hope to... before I am too old to climb the pyramids.

In the summer I love to make this salad and sit on the front porch and just enjoy the simple fact that this is another summer, on this porch with this wonderful salad. It's soooo fresh. Soooo good for you. People that know me know that I love this sort of food. If you come into town to visit me, chances are I will take you to Elia's, the local Mediterranean restaurant and probably my fav restaurant EVER. Contact info for Elia's here. I would introduce you to the owner, Helen (she is gorgeous, I swear Lebanese women ALL are!) We would try hummus, baba ganouche, tabouli and I would absolutely ask you to check my teeth for remnants when we are done eating. Sooo worth the exceptional food to deal with 1). smelling like garlic for a day and 2). dealing with parsley in your teeth.

So, here is one of my ALL-TIME favorite recipes for salad EVER. I hope you make it and enjoy it like I do. I am one of those cooks that sorta goes most the time, recipe-less. So give or take a few dashes... and voila! or... 'Ktiir mniihv' for verrrrrry good in Lebanese.

Tomato quartered
Cucumber, seeded and peeled, chopped
Onion sliced thin
Fresh Parsley, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped - if you have it
Grilled Chicken, chopped (marinated w/ lemon, salt, garlic and oil)

1 lemon squeezed
3/4 c. EVOO
1 tsp. dried mint
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt or to taste
Fresh ground pepper
Pinch of Sumac - if you can find it it'll be in a farmer's market spice shop. It's red and it's not poisonous - though there is a plant in the states that is - Sumac is a spice commonly used in Mediterranean food. :)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, pressed

Shake or whip the dressing ingredients till it thickens.
Pour over salad. Opt. top with baked pita chips or serve w/ fresh pita bread.

Left: Fatoush with chicken and dressing. Right, Jasmine rice with grilled, marinated portobello mushroom.

Fatoush served with mint iced tea.

Friday, July 16, 2010

{Fabulous Finds Friday}

Normally on a Friday I'd be annoyingly cheerful b/c the weekend is approaching and the weather looks good.. but even though I AM certainly cheerful (!!) I'm a tad overwhelmed too. I admit it, I AM A-type personality and very much a get-it-done-100%-girl-no-half-bootie-anything! ... I am having trouble keeping up. And that's a good thing. I'd always rather be busy than the alternative!!
But - I get stressed. Sorta. Cuz I'm already behind and so chained to this desk. So I'm unshackling & heading to the pool for about two hours w/ my kids. Sunshine = medicinal stress therapy and hello, it's FREE. 
I will just put on a pot of coffee tonight, again. I can't ask you to feel sorry for me. I have the best job ever and work from home. Really, what is to complain about here?

SO back to the matter at hand...
Fabulous Finds Friday - where I list a few things that are fabulous to me at the moment. 

  • Eucalyptus Spearmint ANYTHING from Bath & Bodyworks - but specifically the massage oil. Heaven in a small green vintage-looking bottle. No wonder I love it.
  • Smoked Coho Salmon from Alaska, via my brother who lives there. And I am not a fish-kinda girl. But smoke it and I likz it.
  • Apricot Sharp Cheddar white cheese via our friend Kevin. Adrian and I polished the last bit off this past week on the front porch at about 11p w/ a glass of Chardonnay. Beautimous.
  • Orange Jaffa Cakes. Someone please stop me. Or entirely shut the entire chain of Aldi's down nationwide b/c I will continue to buy them... in mass quantities.
  • Paula Deen's Creme Brulee candle - smells like I'm baking cookies ALL day yo.

Happy Friday!!

And b/c a post just isn't a post w/o a picture - here's a few shots, favs from Meagan and Austin's wedding! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

{Recent Work}

There is no way I seem to be able to post each session on here, good intentions or not. :( So, I am going to post a few favs from some recent sessions for those not on Facebook who are bombarded by my photos on a weekly basis. :)

{Ernsberger Family Session} 

{Futa Family Session}

{Hamilton Family Session}

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

{Josephiney - What's in a name}

You may ask... why the name Josephiney?

My husband gave me the nickname Josephine. First. Then on days when he was really being extra kinetic - he'd call me Josephiney. It was endearing I suppose - or so I thought back then. I am after all sort of an old soul. I like old things. And admiringly, I boast pictures in our dining room of his ancestors. Why do people put those old photos in drawers? They are amazing!! Get them out, hang them on the wall. Without them somewhere along the lines? No you. You owe them respect.

You want to see an example? You don't believe me? :) Here's our dining room wall.

Detouring... so as I was saying...

Josephine is a French name. Derived from the Hebrew language it means "God will increase." Pronounced JOE zeh feen or JOE zeh feeny. :) 

To me, the name Josephine is nostalgic, a little eclectic, a little forlorn, a little vintage, a little artsy and intriguingly beautiful. Josephiney with the addition of 'y' makes it a little spicier, mysterious yet with a little fun, a little child-like. I want to believe that all of these above descriptions sort of encapsulate me. I think they do - even if only in small ways. When thinking of naming a business - so much of what I have learned about marketing is branding yourself by what defines you.

Josephiney is me, to a tee.

I inherited this pet name. And with that, I started calling him Abraham - it sounds kinda old, right? (Sorry all you Abrahams out there, I do associate all of you with our long-gone president though.) And thus, the Amish love names began of Abraham & Josephine. I know if he calls me by Josephine he's usually singing it in his sing-song voice and serenading me. And accordingly, I respond in a similar song with "oh Abraham." Yes, we are weird, but if life is predictable only - count me out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

{Chrysalis} Perspective & Purpose

I've had something on the brain for about a week now.

I've watched other photographers go through it. I've watched myself go through it. Any profession, any walk of life - at one point, you stop and wonder... am I good enough? Am I where I should be? In our human tendencies.. we dissect, compare. Sometimes we feel ahead of the game. Sometimes we fall short. We stack up the odds against ourselves. We do it. We know our worst insecurities. And sometimes - that fact? That fact alone is what we allow to reside in our hearts. We pick our "frailties" apart one by one and sort them out, attributing each a tag of influence or cause. Only thing we are left with is sorted and tagged insecurities... and let us not forget... the lovely sullen emptiness that follows as the caboose to the precarious, pitiful parade.  But... we do it. I am laughing and shaking my head as I myself am guilty of this - all of it.

Why do we? If this life is a journey and each person a different gifting to behold, a different contribution to make during our time here - why do we label ourselves by classifying the things we think determine us? They don't. False perspective makes us question our purpose. True perspective? Solidifies purpose.

Life will never be about the perspective of accolades declaring who we are. But guaranteed ... it will be about purpose. And what was ours. Was my purpose to be as good as so-and-so someday? That's a great goal - but one should never feel satisfied that they've arrived. There is always learning to be had and growth to achieve. The people that get this? Watch them soar. They aren't worried about what anyone else is doing. They aren't comparing.  They just continue to move forward - journeying ahead.

The purpose is to stay on the journey you are called to, do your best and enjoy each moment of discovery that comes along the path. It is really about discovery of your talents, your strengths .. you. Avoid the shortcuts, the potholes, the detours - push through the construction! Accept where you are today and realize that you won't be there tomorrow. And that whether you move forward or backwards - you are still called to a journey that doesn't care about destination. There is no destination. There's only journey.

I truly believe in a plan for each life. That although we are given free will, we are each designed for something truly special and unique. Don't waste time wondering if you are good enough or where you should be. If you know that to which you are called to - do it with purpose.

I have always known that God gave me a huge love for art. Even as a girl I saw beauty in things others did not. I knew that I would study art/design early on. But never in a million years - even after taking classes in college did I figure that my heart would be stolen by photography. But you see, the journey I was on led me to it.  There is purpose in the journey even when you don't know your destination - just ask hindsight. Had I not studied art, worked in Marketing and Graphic Design for so long - photography had not gone digital... all the what ifs.

I was called to this for a purpose. And when I look at it in that perspective - insecurities and measuring ups fade away, don't matter. Because really, each time I photograph people, it's a blessing. It's a gift. It's an honor. I don't ever want to lose sight of that or feel that I deserve to book sessions, or deserve to excel or deserve to make 'X' amount of dollars. No, truthfully? I don't deserve any of it. I don't. I am considerably blessed to be on the journey that I am.

There's a musician I really like that sings about a purposefully lived life. Sarah Groves. We hold all the keys to our undoing. (lyrics) I love that. We decide so much of who we become. Decide to enjoy this journey, every single step - even the hardest steps - follow through, they lead you to views you can't enjoy without the hard work of climbing forward. Decide to accept each day with grateful indebtedness and each dollar as absolute blessing. Decide to live a life with purpose, not comparison. Decide that on this day you have come very far on this journey - far from where you have been - but that you will push harder, learn more, stretch further ... tomorrow and every day thereafter.

And.. if your perspective matches your purpose - you will. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

{Weddings} ala Josephiney

I was recently talking to a prospective bride and realized that maybe this might be some helpful information to put on my blog! Sometimes people wonder - what are the key points that differentiate YOU Joanne? Well, if I were to photograph your wedding, here are the main things that I would tell you...
  • Choosing a wedding photographer is a huge decision. I don't take your choice lightly. I want you to make the choice of what works for you. I am not a fit for every person. And as odd as it may sound? Not every person is a fit for me
  • I truly do connect with my clients - and especially after photographing a bride all day, I leave feeling like we are old friends. It's something that happens almost every time. It's an honor. I really like people and my attempts at getting to know you and make you happy are truly genuine. I care about my clients, their needs and their experience with me. It all matters in a huge way. 
  • I offer a great package of quality photography that has a unique style - a style that I continue to craft and hone in on. One I am proud of because I feel that it is reflective of my history, my degree in Fine Art and my many years in a design industry. I look at my work as striving to be more  of an "art print" than anything else.
  • I offer the above at a considerably lower price than other photographers locally. I do not advertise (typically) I did one time when I left my FT job in Marketing. But generally my advertising is word of mouth. It is better than any print ad as far as I am concerned. My overhead is lower, I do not operate an expensive studio - I shoot strictly on location, the cost savings that come back to you are reflective of this. I typically shoot alone, this is also a reason that pricing is lower. I of course can and do hire a second shooter based upon what the bride wants. Cost of second shooter varies upon their experience and availability. 
  • I offer a disc of images. Average number of photos is around 800, more or less depending on the day. More photographers are starting to offer discs, but you'd be surprised at the number that do not. My opinion? You deserve every photo. It is YOUR day. Period. There's nothing to add to that.
    My wedding packages start at $1,600 (8 hours) and go up to $2,000 (10 hours). They both include an Engagement Session on disc from a location of your choice, my time and editing of each photo on disc from your wedding day and a mounted 11x14 of your choice for your wall. Wedding albums, prints, Engagement albums, announcements and many other items are available ala carte.

    Prices do go up every year. If you want these prices honored on your wedding date - price is reflective of when you book with me. K, so hopefully that answers some questions!

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    {Chrysalis} Traditions

    As a kid we had traditions. Grandma gave us oranges at Christmas for awhile. That was a tradition that all of us Grandkids were thankful didn't last. Ha. Every year Aunt Lucy made her pistachio salad for Christmas gatherings. Each winter Dad would buy a box of oranges from the church. If Mom took us camping, an educational "nature walk" was to be had. We all have traditions from our childhood. Things we looked forward to even if we didn't. Things we expected. Anticipated. Things as simple as a favorite dish. Tradition represents normalcy. Stability. Consistency. 

    It's necessary.

    As we grow up and marry, have children.... we begin our own traditions. I have never really until this moment sat down to recognize and collect Kaser family traditions. But I know that every Christmas morning we head over to Adrian's mom's house. Every Fourth of July we grill with Dad and then head to North Liberty fireworks. Each July represents the birthdays of both of my children - a birthday party with family is to be orchestrated, celebrated. Every fall I want to recklessly drive into the pumpkin stand that sits in the middle of the town intersection. That never changes, sadly, renegade that I am.  Every fall I buy buttermilk cookies from Amish Acres & cinnamon lamp oil from Borkholders. And to take us back to the topic that is today: Every summer we head to New Buffalo beach for sun, play-time in the water, rock climbing, dune climbing and the grand finale that is Redamaks. 

    I said in an earlier post that every week, once a week I will try to post a Chrysalis topic. One that involves learning, growth. The word Chrysalis refers to the third state of the butterfly metamorphosis - it is a time where the caterpillar is broken down and its parts - literally rearranged in order to become the most beautiful and final stage. Growth and wisdom come from transformation. Transformation doesn't happen without change.

    What I have learned - and recently - is that traditions silently mold us, shape us into who we are. They are insignificant until we recognize this. And when we do in fact realize the importance traditions hold in our lives - the more we try to initiate for our children, ourselves. Traditions are in essence a glue. The melding that comes from anticipating something you do together - the memories that precede it from last year - the joy of expectancy in what next year holds - it is all a small but vastly important part of what makes up our lives. 

    Traditions make our lives rich. Traditions are sweet sentiments of yesterday, today and tomorrow. 
    Traditions document our progress, our changing, our aging, our life.

    Traditions carry us. 
    Make one, or two.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010


    I met Jordan, her mom and friend Ashleigh at New Buffalo for a Senior Picture Session. I don't ever mind if a friend or someone else wants to be in a few pictures. I actually encourage it. It's a momentous time of your life - you're graduating and so many things have contributed to that accomplishment! - including but not limited to friends, significant others, parents, PETS!

    I really enjoyed getting to know Jordan a bit and as I photographed her - I remembered how exuberant and youthful teens are. The energy levels are influential and just admirable. Jordan and her friend had me laughing so many times - sometimes it's hard to believe that what I do is a JOB! Sometimes it's just having fun and hanging out with cool people!

    So congrats to Jordan as she enters her Senior Year of high school. I hope it is full of many wonderful memories. :)