Breaking the Silence

Oh hey.

So, It’s been a while. Liiiiiike 4ish months? Something like that. It’s time for that to end. I never intended on taking that much time off from this space, but I think I needed it. And not in a whimsical “I just needed some space” or some crap. No. Like in an “I am dropping the ball in every area of life and I need to figure myself out for a sec.”

“From what?” you ask. Or maybe you don’t, but just humor me for a sec. There are quite a few things that have been pulling me away from writing all of the many thoughts and feelings and all the things here. For starters, I’m pregnant again. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you probably saw our annual announcement photo. Just in case though…

#Lil2Fitt

This is a pretty accurate depiction of our chaos actually. Who is the other person in the photo? Well that’s the second main component of the growing list from the whole me-dropping-the-ball-on-life thing. THAT is the child we are adopting. Yep, at the same time as we are having another baby. He was living with us for exactly 1.5 weeks when we found out I was pregnant. Try to tell me that God doesn’t have a sense of humor and I will fight you.

This has by far been the hardest thing I have ever been through, which might be sad, yes, but still difficult none the less. I really look forward to writing more in detail about the triumphs and battles and emotions (Which OMG there are so many of) and wins on this blog. I’m sorry that I have not done so in the past few months. I needed to write. I needed to pour my feelings out. I needed to be snarky and honest and vent and everything else, but I just haven’t been able to even wrap my mind around taking that time. I am running on empty, and I am so hoping that my corner of the interwebs will help fill me up again.

That, and Jesus. And sweet tea, as it turns out. And my people. You guys mean more than you know and I’m sorry I suck at friendship and daughterhood and sisterhood and personhood lately. I love you.

Love, Alex

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Grady’s Nursery!

Nothing to see here, just being a mom, not posting on my blog. Ugh. Ok fine, here’s another picture of my kid.

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Up on dat drool game.

Despite my best efforts and complete lack of skills, Grady has a pretty bomb nursery. It’s bear themed (What else?) and I had some amazing help with almost every aspect, mostly from my amazing craft-queen of a friend, Rachel Hamen. She has a super successful Etsy shop called One Crafty Foxx where she sells everything from themed party decor packages to t-shirt designs to witty kitchen signs. She’s my go-to for all things crafty or design-oriented and she should totally be yours too!

I hope you also enjoy a virtual tour of our baby room, complete with my meaningless commentary.

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My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

My grandfather painted this bed gray for us. It was so sweet and cute. He was extremely concerned about the paint being safe to have around Grady and went to great lengths to ensure that the bed was perfect for our little guy.

Bryan's second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn't love this more! It's adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

Bryan’s second mom had that quilt made. When I found out we were getting a quilt, I was a little worried because I am not a quilt person at all, but I couldn’t love this more! It’s adorable and fits the room perfectly. Those cute pillows were handmade by my friend Kim, who maintains my sanity on a regular basis.

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

These are a Rachel specialty. She found the perfect colors to go with everything and did the silhouettes exactly like I wanted. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx 

What kid wouldn't love  fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

What kid wouldn’t love fake bear rug? Mali and Phoebe like it too, unfortunately.

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Rachel was the main host for my baby shower, and since she knew she was helping with my nursery, she made decoration for the shower that could double as nursery decor. This bunting was one of those items, and I loved it so much I used it in TWO different places in the room.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan's sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl's got skills.

This shelf was custom made by Bryan’s sister Alicia who has a business called Burnside Woodworking. She is amazing at this stuff and did I mention that SHE MADE THIS BASED ON A SMALL IPHONE PHOTO THAT I FOUND ON PINTEREST WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PATTERN AT ALL? Seriously, girl’s got skills.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

We have a bear shelf. you guys! A bear shelf! Just so awesome.

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That birth plaque may be one of the things I'm most obsessed with. Maybe. There's too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She's awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

That birth plaque may be one of the things I’m most obsessed with. Maybe. There’s too much. I asked Rachel to make a stats sign and she whipped this up in like a day. She’s awesome. She can do whatever animal and custom colors for this bad boy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/onecraftyfoxx

Found that lamp at Walmart y'all. Not kidding.

Found that lamp at Walmart y’all. Not kidding. Also my grandfather made this table for me and painted it the same color as the bed. Tornado Woodcrafters for the win!

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

What even is the point of a toy bin without a bear on it? Says my husband. #BearsForLife

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? Good gosh she's good.

This is the coolest wall in the room. Rachel made everything on it (save for the coat hook). That ombre bear cutout? BY HAND. Good gosh she’s good.

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A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

A bear hook for a bear coat. What else?

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

Shout out to Brian Bailey of the Mustache Goods and Wears in Fayetteville for this bad boy. So, so cool.

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Bryan took and edited like 80 photos of this bear because he loves it so much. I’m only leaving you with 2, but trust me, I can give you the hookup on photos of this bear if you want.

Did you think there would be anything that didn't have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Did you think there would be anything that didn’t have a bear on it? WRONG! Even his clothes hamper is with the program.

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady's name on this for me. She's super talented as well and you can find her at

Another crafty friend of mine painted Grady’s name on this for me. She’s super talented as well and you can find her at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SkvarlaStudios?ref=search_shop_redirect

Obviously I have some extremely talented friends. My nursery would never have looked like it does without their help and we are so grateful. Anyone who can sit down with me and catch my non-vision and somehow turn it into a reality deserves high praise and all of the chai tea, so one more HUGE shout-out to my amazing friend Rachel Hamen at One Crafty Foxx.

All photos taken by Sixth and Burnside Photography.

Love, Alex

This Isn’t Really My Jam, But…

In addition to my ramblings on this site, my personal blog, I also write articles for business blogs. One of which is my very talented husband’s photography company, 6th & Burnside.

This is the most recent blog posting I wrote for it, and I am sharing it here because I think it applies to so many other areas than photography. Really any passion we have and want to take further needs to be put through the ringer that is these 10 steps. I’m hardly my usual hilarious self in it, as you’ll notice exactly zero self-deprecation and ridiculous language such as “like” and “for reals.” I hope you can muscle through any writing without clever rhetoric beginning with “So…”

So… here it is guys!

Being a Photographer 101: The Beginner’s Guide to Fitting in

We’ve all been there. We have a great idea, passion, talent/hopeful talent and want to start making money on it. This is specifically for those of us who enjoy being behind a camera, but I think it applies well to people in lots of business ventures. One of the hardest parts is breaking into the market and being respected in your field by your peers and those who’ve come before you. After being in the photography world for almost 10 years, we’ve seen a lot of beginners come and go, and have learned a few things about what it takes to fit into your field.

 

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Photo of: Bryan Fittin & Josh Noren (www.joshnoren.com) Photo Credits: Andrew Lisle

 

1.      Stay humble! No one likes a guy who bought a semi-nice camera and a cheap version of Photoshop and calls himself a photographer. Or even those who have some money to blow and buy a really nice camera and all the latest software and then call themselves photographers. It’s fun to play around and we certainly think photography is the bomb, but it takes a lot of time, sweat, training, and practice to get to a point of quality work. People will have much more respect for you and will be more willing to give you paying gigs if you’re humble about your skills. You’ve got to walk before you can run, so get out there and learn the ropes before you go around acting like a big shot.

 

2.      Reach out to respected professionals. There is so much good that can come out of learning from those you look up to. Most photographers love to talk about photography! That should go without saying, and if you come across someone who is unwilling to help you, then run away quickly and find someone else. Everyone we know and associate with in the business would love to let you tag along on shoots, do an internship, an apprenticeship, whatever you want to call it. We have an intern program in our company, and are getting to work with an amazing college student with a passion for photography right now. She is getting to learn a lot, build up her portfolio and resume’, and earn a little money to boot! No one is stopping you from doing the same. And hey, it never hurts to get one someone’s contact list for second-shooters while you’re still learning. I know she’s at the top of ours!

 

3.      Make sure you have some second-shooting under your belt to build up a portfolio. Before doing wedding photography, you absolutely need to have some experience! Of course I’m using weddings as an example, but they are stressful! We’ve seen many a photographer get way overwhelmed and in over their heads because they had no idea how fast-paced and demanding it is. Like I said before, work with some other professionals, have some shooting and experience on your portfolio, and have someone else look at your work often to make sure you’re ready to break into the world of professional photography.

 

4.      Be teachable. Don’t let your fear of a bad critique get in the way of humbling yourself to ask others’ opinions. Asking a professional to do a portfolio examination often will set you apart from the rest and instantly gain you respect among your peers. Editing can be tricky stuff and technique is what separates people with cameras from those who deserve to be making money doing photography. Reach out and ask for help as often as it takes to be ready to market yourself as a professional photographer.

 

5.      Stay away from cliché work. Nothing screams “I’m new and don’t know what I’m doing!” more than posting tired, cliché stuff on social media. We’re talking your train track poses, making a heart with your hands, and you know, all that is the sunset photo. Don’t do it. There are plenty of lighting and editing clichés too, but we’ll let your selected professional mentor handle that one.

 

6.      Learn how to market yourself in the type of photography you want to do. Starting out, you’re going to be doing a lot of stuff for your friends, and that’s great! But keep in mind what kind of photography you ultimately want to do, and target what your clients see most based on that. For instance, we ultimately want to market ourselves more to bands and musicians, but we do A TON of family, landscape, wedding, etc photography as well. What we choose to post and feature of those shoots is work that will still market to that music crowd. When choosing your featured work from your collection, focus on photos with the color scheme, posing, and general mood that will best fit your target audience.

 

7.      Volunteer! This is one of the fastest ways to get in with professionals and to be able to serve at the same time. There are a number of charities geared at photography, but the one we serve in most prominently is Help Portrait. There is a branch in most major cities and it is a charity that does photos for families in need around the holidays and for high school seniors in the spring. They will have everyone come and set up “studios” usually in church classrooms and will schedule “clients” in 30 minute sessions for you throughout the day. A good way to get involved up front is to volunteer as an ambassador or an assistant in your first year with the organization. Other ways to volunteer are to donate sessions to your pastor, someone you know who volunteers a lot of their time to worthy causes, or have people sign up for a drawing to donate a session to someone they know who deserves it. 

Alex and I at a Help Portrait Event//Photo Credits: Phillip Thomas (novo-studio.com) // http://www.helpportraitnwa.org

 

 

8.      Invest in a professional website. This one is important. Running your business off of Facebook may be fine for a very short while, but if you are serious about getting into this line of work, invest some funds into a working, clean-looking, professional photography site. If you are starting out and don’t have the cash-flow just yet, pay a graphic design student a small amount to get you up and running. This will invest in their future and give them some good practice as well. Make sure they give you the rights to edit it, so if needed, you can later have a more skilled professional designer touch it up.

 

9.      Let your pricing and marketing reflect your skill level. This key item goes all the way to the beginning of the list in staying humble. If you’re just starting out (this includes your first 2-3 years), there is zero chance you are skilled enough to be charging professional pricing. Don’t be vague about your skill-set. Be up front with your clients in that you are just starting out and don’t market yourself as a master photographer and charge them like one. This will likely lead to frustrations on both ends with the work they get back and will definitely lose you a referral. It’s better to leave your client pleasantly surprised by your great work than very unpleasantly surprised by your lack thereof.

 

10.  Have fun with photography and remember why you love it. Every photographer struggles with keeping it fun and not just a job. We encourage everyone to grab their friends from time to time to practice new techniques, new poses, new lighting, and just to have fun with shooting and editing! When you’re starting out, this is absolutely essential for practicing and building your portfolio as well. It is great to have those beginning photos to go back to and remember why you even wanted to do this in the first place. (And to keep you humble on your beginnings!)

 Starting out in any field is rough, but following these key elements is a great start to being respected by those who have committed to hard work to get to where they are. We’ve all put in our time and hard knocks along the way. No one was born perfect at this amazing line of work that we are privileged to be a part of. If anyone acts like they know everything there is to know, then stay away from them.

We say all of this with love as people who have been beginners. We’ve learned so much along the way and want to be able to help others succeed. People with cameras (Are you catching on that this is a common term among people in the business?) just cheapen the market and slay the reputation of good photographers. You definitely don’t want to be passed off as a cocky amateur early on in your career, so stay humble, reach out to those you respect, and put in the work and you’ll be just fine. Welcome to photography!

The Daily Fav Day 19: Photography

Back in high school, I was known in my friend group as the group photographer. I had a blue Kodak point-and-shoot and I probably annoyed the crap out of everyone for taking so many pictures. I cannot stress that enough. I took a freaking ton of pictures. Granted, they weren’t especially good or anything, I knew nothing about lighting, advanced camera settings, exposure, or any of the other fancy words my husband uses all the time. I really just wanted to capture moments in my life. I wanted to be able to remember the fun times I had with my friends for years to come. I’ve never been into nature, sunset, or landscape photography, just people.

Those years of being "group photographer" got me relecs like this gem.

Those years of being “group photographer” got me relics like this gem.

…Or this one. Ok I’m done.

Fast forward a few years and I met the love of my life who happened to be an excellent photographer. For real y’all, check him out. I say that he is amazing in the least biased way possible. I have so much respect for him as a photographer and artist and he does amazing, so-not-boring work. This talent of his quickened the “falling in love with him” process a little I’m sure.

Look at him go. All mine :)

Look at him go. All mine 🙂

Where I am like “What do you want to watch on TV tonight?” He’s all like “I’m editing photos FROM THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF SOMEONE’S LIFE so I can’t.” (No big deal.)

As you can see, he gets REAL comfortable with the ground on shoots.

As you can see, he gets REAL comfortable with the ground on shoots.

He took the photo of me that I use on this blog, as a matter of fact, just up to your right. 🙂

It is because of this great respect that I am so honored to get to work with him! I have come to really enjoy the professional side of photography and I try to keep up my end of the teamwork by handling a lot of the people-side of things. He’s all “We’re going to have to flip around so there’s not a glare,” and “I’m going to adjust my shutter-speed and aperture to balance the natural lighting” and I’m like “You stand here, you stand here, and both of you do this,” and “Here, let me fix your hair and fluff your dress,” and “Stop making it look like your hand is in your crotch.” (That seriously happened. It may seem blunt, but I bet you’d prefer to not get a raunchy photo back to go home and show your mom, amiright?)

We make a super cute team right?!

We make a super cute team right?!

It’s super fun and gives us a creative outlet and best of all: free photography, yo!

Although this post is not meant to be an ad, I love doing this so much that if you mention having read this blog and follow me, we’ll give you 25% off a regular session! Just leave a comment about scheduling.

SO MUCH FUN!

SO MUCH FUN!

Oh and I have to say this or Bryan will kill me: #TeamCanon!!