Well it is Valentine's Day (month)... So I thought why not Blog about MY Valentine and let everyone know how we met? It might just surprise some of you. lol!
So.... in 1998 I transferred colleges from Lamar Universtiy in Beaumont, Texas to the University of Southern Indiana in Evensville, In to finish school and be a nanny for my baby nephew. I moved in with my brother and sister-in-law and just buried myself in school and being a good aunt/nanny for little Kaeden.
Early in 1999, a friend of mine from Texas moved to work at USI. One night we were hanging out in the dorm's computer lab just surfing the net and found where people were placing personal ads through our email server, excite.com. We laughed histarically and were like, "look at these losers!" So, just for a kick, we decided we would write our own personal ad without including a picture or any personal infomation and just see what kind of response we would get.
Well... the very next day I got my first response. It was fairly lengthy, well written, made me laugh and soooo sincere. It was Jason and I was hooked. How could this happen??? It was supposed to be a joke. I didn't even know what he looked like! There was no FaceBook, Instgram, nothing for me to creep on!!!!
So we exchanged emails, then we talked on the phone a couple of times and finally he asked me to meet him! YIKES! He could be a serial killer! And NO WAY could I tell anyone what I was doing, they would have killed me themselves, especially my over-protective older brother whom I was living with and caring for his child!
But just like me and my irrational behaviour, I agreed to meet him... still no idea what each other looked like. I was smart enough to know that I needed to meet him in a public place so I recommended this little place I knew called the Deer Head Tavern in Evansville. Jason lived in Owensboro but worked in Henderson so it was an easy drive over after work. To help identify eachother, we told one another what we would be wearing.
So I get there about 5 minutes early and walked in to an EMPTY restaurant! I was like... great, I'm gonna get kidnapped and murdered and no one will know I was here or who I'm with! I walk over to the bar and took a seat, at least there was a bartender there. I turned myself to face the door so I could watch for him as he arrived. However, unbeknownst to me, there was another entrance behind me. Over my shoulder I heard a man's voice say, "Kate?" Shocked and little scared, I turned straight toward the bar. Behind the bar there was a HUGE mirror (why do all bars have those?) and saw this tall, dark headed, gorgeous guy standing just behind me. I told myself, "I don't know if that's Jason, but that's who I'm leaving with!"
And that was it! We spent the whole evening talking and laughing. We were engaged within 3 months and married within a year. Two kids, a successful business and almost 16 years later and we are still going strong! I can't imagine my life without you Jason Higdon! So glad I decided to join those "losers" on the internet that day in 1999.
I'm also so blessed that I get to work with my Valentine everyday! Life is good!
Photographing those I love is a beautiful thing. These images are of my brother Kendall and his sweet wife, Terri, taken while we were all on vacation in Cabo, Mexico.
My family has been spread throughout the country for over 30 years so we rarely get to spend quality time together. My parents divorced when I was 7; my dad moved to Arizona and my mom to Iowa. My 4 older brothers and I never lived all together after that.
Kendall is the middle child and is 12 years older than me. He was always so sweet with me, playing barbies with me, fixing my hair for school in the morning, taking me for rides in the evening on his motorbike, and much more. Everyone in our family agrees that Kendall is the most gentle and cherished of us all. He has such a loving spirit and anyone who meets him just falls in love with him.
His actions toward others has always been amazing to us. When he was very small, one of our cousins was in a horrible car accident that left her paralized. The family and town rallied to help raise money for hospital bills. At one particular event, Kendall sold tickets for kids to ride his beloved pony and then after the event, he sold his pony to donate the money. What kid does something like that???
Growing up in Iowa, kids do a lot of sledding in the winter. Find the biggest hill and hold on for dear life. All the kids went up and down those hills. Kendall loved sledding but he always stopped at the bottom of the hill to see if any of the smaller kids or special needs kids needed help carrying their sleds back up. Kendall was a friend to everyone and made everyone feel special.
Kendall has also had a special relationship with animals of all kinds since he was very small. He has had all kinds of pets; animals just seemed drawn to him and never afraid. I believe that animals can sence a person's true nature and spirit. I believe they have sight into our souls... Kendall's is pure and light, full of love and gentlenes.
When I was little, I wanted to be with Kendall all the time. I learned how to write his name before I learned how to write my own. The house we had when I was 5 was built with cedar shakes on a few of the walls... of course I would get splinters quite often. When that happened, I would sit on the couch for hours until Kendall got home, he was the only one that I would let touch it. He was so gentle and it never hurt when he removed the splinter. He was my hero... and still is.
He has always been pretty small in comparison to others his age... but his heart is as big as a mountain. There honestly isn't enough time or space to document all the loving, special moments and stories Kendall has created for animals and people. The best part is that he doesn't even know how special he is... I've always beleived that his spirit was somehow uniquly touched by God for a greater purpose than most. He is such a gift to our family and to anyone who gets the opportunity to meet him.
One of my favorite things about him is the way he loves his wife, Terri. Kendall doesn't hold back at all, he loves her with every fiber of his being. She is his top priority in life, his hopes and dreams are all wrapped up in her. They've been married for over 20 years, yet he still watches her from across the room as if he's only just layed eyes on her. It's a beautiful site to see.
In 2001, I gave birth to my first child, Jillian Kyndall Higdon. I had dreamed of having a baby girl my whole life and she exceeded every expectation I had. When choosing her middle name, I knew exactly what it should be. Naming her after her Uncle Kendall made me feel comforted as if somehow part of his precious spirit would be passed to her. I prayed that she would inherit his kindness, open and loving nature. That was and is my biggest hope for her.
So, as you can tell, being able to photograph my brother and his wife on this gorgeous day in Cabo was such a blessing for me. I pray that God grants us many more moments like this.
I get asked "What is your favorite image you have ever taken" quite a bit. So today's Blog entry is dedicated to my ALL TIME fave! It's called "She Loved Her Roses, He Loved Her."
The story of this image was born at a photography convention in Indiana where I was judging and teaching. During the lighting course I was teaching, there was an older man, very tall and still handsome, that was picking at me just a bit. Not really giving me a hard time, but making me earn my keep for sure. Sooooo.... of course I made him stand up and be the model for one of my lighting demos to give it back to him. He was a great sport and we had several laughs as did the rest of the class, however his laughs seemed to require more effort than I would expect. Afterwards, I went on and completed the class, had dinner that night and was very excited to sit in on a very talented JuliAnne Jonker's course the next morning.
I found my seat in the front row and then noticed the same tall, elderly gentleman heading my direction. I invited him to sit next to me and we started into traditional small talk. However, very quickly his head lowered and his face suddenly looked very weathered and worn. He began to tell me that his beautiful wife of many, many years had recently passed away the previous month. He explained that she was his everything... his life. He told me how one day she was there and fine, then the next day just gone, passing of a heart attack with no warning. He said they shared a very large, old home and now he just wanders through the rooms feeling so alone and lost. I imagined him there... so tall and strong, but seeming so small and frail with the tall ceilings, large furniture and soft grainy light coming through the window sheers. I didn't picture him sitting in his overstuffed chair, I didn't picture him sitting at the kitchen table or lying in their bed. I imagined him just standing in a large open hallway, the only light is the sunlight that is filtered by the curtains hung on tall, stain-glass windows. He's dressed in nice, gray pants, black dress shoes, and a button-up shirt with only the top button open. He's lost...
All I could do was reach over and hold his hand and thank him for sharing something so personal and special with me. It startled him just a bit, as if someone hadn't gently touched him in a very long time and then he just exhaled. Then I said, "She must have been a very wonderful woman to have a man love and miss her so much." He nodded slowly as we looked up noticing the class was about to start.
I had to leave class early to head home before the weather and was never able to speak to the man again, but the love he had for his wife and the loss that was so evident on his face left a permanent mark on my heart.
The next couple of months flew by as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went. It was January and we were in the middle of Print Competition craziness. I was at a complete loss of what to photograph. Jason knew exactly what he wanted to shoot... flowers. I was NOT excited. For me, if my subject doesn't have eyeballs, I'm just not interested. But I decided to go with him to find his flowers. A friend of mine, owns a flower shop and she gave us free reign to search the store. Jason was busy finding the perfect lily, rose, daisy, etc. I was bored... Looking around, I noticed several pink roses; hanging and wilted but still in water buckets in a back corner. They were so beautiful, but so sad at the same time. I couldn't help but think of the old man I had met in Indiana. I asked about them and my friend said they were from a wedding the weekend before and I could just HAVE them. I loved them even more at that point... FREE!
Immediately, the image started to form in my mind. How could I translate the impact the old man had on me through these flowers? They were so similar, there had to be away.
I called my father-in-law, who has been struggling with a chronic illness for quite sometime. He was tired but, as always up for anything I wanted to do. I needed him to look small and frail so I put him in my husband's, who's almost 100 lbs more than his dad, dress coat. I chose a lighting pattern that emphasized the wrinkles and character in his face and hands. In the end, not only did the vision come together, but I also got to use one of the most amazing men I've ever known as my model. Such an honor in so many ways... So blessed...
Inspiration is Priceless... Art is Forever.
My parents' senior portraits are some of my favorite pictures. I LOVE them and they are among the items that my siblings and I fight over. Mind you they are just head shots, but I still love the youth and beauty that was captured in those photos.
However, I would give ANYTHING to have well done images of my parents dressed in their "everyday" clothes. My mom in her poodle skirt, my dad in his jeans and a white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves and hair slicked back, or my mom in her band majorette costume and my dad with his motorcycle. I would LOVE to see them as they were... all their different expressions... their hobbies, their interests, a glimpse of them in their youth. A portrait of them before the heaviness that is life had weighed down on them. A portrait of the ease and hopefulness that is youth.
See the thing about senior portraits is, the senior thinks they are for him/her, the mom thinks they are for her, but REALLY the people who will enjoy those pictures the most and longest will be the senior's future children even grandchildren.
That's just another reason I love my job... I get to create something that people will cherish for generations. How many tangible items can that be said about these days???
We don't want anyone to miss the opportunity to have amazing senior portraits taken. It's already February and graduation will be here before you know it!
Senior year is CRAZY! No worries... you still have time! We are currently running a 2015 Senior Procrastination Special. Just call the studio ASAP and get your complimentary consultation scheduled so we can begin planning the session. 270-685-5164
Being chosen to photograph a family is always an honor but being chosen to photograph the last session a family will ever have is one of the greatest honors of my life.
On February 17th, 2015 the beautiful wife, mother, and sister, Michelle Sharp passed away at home surrounded by her family. She faught a good fight against a horrible, agressive form of breast cancer. Michelle touched so many lives through her struggle and also as a nurse herself.
I met her the Sunday before Christmas when her immediate and extended family came in the studio for their "last" professional portrait session. Michelle and her family had been told less than a week before that there was nothing more the doctors could do for her. The cancer had spread into her lungs. The mood was very somber, yet the studio was full of love and warmth and appreciation for the time that they had together. There were still smiles and laughter along with the tears.
Knowing that the emotion would be overwelming for everyone, I decided to take the extended family portraits first. It was beautiful to watch Michelle's family gather around her with such a sense of familiarity and peace. The moments of silence were deafening, everyone thinking the same thing, but no one speaking it. Her little sister and little brother trying so hard to be strong for Michelle, yet their vulnerability was present each time they turned their faces away from her.
I am so blessed to be truly loved and cherished by an amazing man and I have two beautiful great kids who mean the world to me. At that moment, I couldn't help but put myself in Michelle's place. How do you prepare your family for your death? Your absense? Their emptiness? Their grief and anger? My eyes began to burn and my breathing quickened... I had to hold it together. This was one of those moments where I had to step outside myself and focus on creating images that would be cherished for a life-time.
After the extended family session, I decided to photograph Michelle with her husband and children. I knew this would be an image they kept up in their home forever, it needed to be a happy moment, capturing some sort of normalness in a moment of intense grief. After that, each child had their own session with their mom, no one else in the room but me. This is when my shoulders dropped, I exhaled and accepted the emotion in front of my lens. I quietly stood behind the camera and just let them exist in their own space with their own individual story. Each relationship was unique and precious. Michelle was so quiet, barely saying a word. It felt as if she was pouring all her energy into each child and trying to imprint that moment on them so they would never forget the depth of her love for them. The ease in which they were with her was beautiful and painful at the same time.
Last to enter the camera room was Michelle's husband, Jason. His emotion was evident on his face. Eyes filled with tears, yet his posture and dimeanor were nothing but strength. His eyes were focused right on her, he took her in his arms, held her close and squeezed his eyes tight. Everything stopped for just a moment... we were all frozen in time. Then he opened his eyes and they both solemnly looked toward my camera. This cold, hard piece of technology that was their to capture the softest, warmest part of humanity. How can a camera know loss? know love? understand the depth of their despair or offer any hope? I think that it was no cooindence that Michelle's husband and my husband have the same name. All I could see is my Jason holding me, trying to pull me so close until we were sharing the same breath, the same heart beating in our chests. Thinking that if he just held me this close forever, no harm could ever come to me. He could protect me! And as he exhaled, the realization of helplessness and loss covered his face and there we were. So we bagan... the last images of a love so strong that it will reach beyond Heaven's gates.
Thank you God for giving them this time together and for giving us all the strength to endure. And thank you for using me as an instrument....