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Three weeks and seven pictures

So I've been MIA the past three weeks, on a vay-k (vacation) back in Wisconsin for the holidays...what have I been doing?

Michael and I arrived in Mukwonago (my home town) the day before Christmas (celebrated with fervor at our house, as you can tell by this picture of my parents' living room):

We stuffed ourselves silly with lots and lots (and lots) of food, especially on Christmas Day. It's a Caldart (my mom's side of the family) tradition to honor our Italian heritage (my Grandpa was born in Italy) by gathering at my parents' house for a GIGANTORE Italian meal. And mmmmm was it good. My mom cooks for days beforehand and the house smells like lasagna, garlic bread, Italian sausage, gnocchi, ravioli.... We've been doing this since I was a little girl and it's a tradition I look forward to every year. Check out the spread below and you'll understand why:

So on to New Years Eve, spent at my parents' cottage in Northern Wisconsin. In the last couple of years, my parents' have regularly spent New Years Eve here and we decided to join them. Unbenownsted to us, we would get roped into participating in their tradition of creating weird homemade hats and wearing them for the night. Clearly, I got into it. What can I say? I'm never one to back down from making a fool of myself....

I also got spend my birthday up at the cottage; I even got a cake! I'm getting older, as you can see by the difficulty I'm having in blowing out all those candles:

Michael flew back to Wisconsin on the 5th to go back to work and I stayed on an extra week to hang out with the 'rents and visit with friends in Madison.

On my last day in Wisconsin, my parents proposed going for a walk in the field below our house before the sun set for the evening. So we bundled up in thick wool socks and jackets and trudged through the snow. Chloe had a blast stuffing her face into the snow and coming up with powder all over her nose and ears. I didn't realize how beautiful a sunset could be when it sets over the snow....ahhhh....so pretty:

Just as we were heading up the hill back to the house, a mist settled over the river and I snagged one of my favorite pics of the vacation. It was a nice send-off.So I arrived back in San Diego early this week, to be greeted by my birthday present--a brand spankin' new COMPUTER!!!! Clearly, I'm very excited:

So that's my past two weeks in a nutshell.

I've got big plans for the new year (get excited!!!!), including giving the blog a facelift and incorportating it into our home site, www.WeddingsByVantage.com. Yeah, I know, it's probably the most exciting thing that will happen to any of us ALL year...so keep your eyes peeled for that news. I'll also be writing some new informative articles about photojournalism, sending out a fun little "info" packet for brides- and grooms-to-be and who knows what else. Yay!



Michael and I are about to jump in the car and head to my parents' cottage in Northern Wisconsin (Three Lakes, to be exact, right outside of Eagle River) for New Year's Eve. We've got a few days of puzzles, reading, more puzzles and more reading to look forward to. Ahhh...gotta love the northwoods pace of life....

Before I leave, I just wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to you, our lovely blog followers, for a wonderful 2008 and wish everyone an incredible 2009. It's been a hard year for a lot of folks due to the economic turmoil, but I have faith that we'll turn this around and make 2009 the best we can.

Happy 2009 and all the best to you!


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...Fa la la la la....

Yippee!! Michael and I are leaving on a jet plane for the winter tundra (Wisconsin) tomorrow! I really do love living in San Diego...but there's something about the snow and cold during the holidays that gets a girl in the mood. I can't help but get all gooey when I think about it--the lights, the fire in the fireplace, the cozy wool socks, the smell of cookies in the oven, the sound of Frank Sinatra crooning "IIIIIIII'm dreeeeeeaming of a whiiiiiiiiite Chriiiiiistmaaaaas...." I just love it!

My friend Kira recently asked how the weather was in S.D. "It's been pretty chilly here lately, actually. I wish it would warm up a bit," I answered. "Hmm," she said. "Chilly as in 5 degrees?" "Ummm, no......." I replied, "More like upper 50s. Ok, point taken."

Yeah, according to my Google weather gadget, here's how Madison and San Diego compare...Brrrr!

So Michael and I are off to the winter tundra that is Wisconsin. Hopefully if my fingers don't fall off from frost bite, I'll be able to check in periodically while we're away.

Until then, Happy Holidays!!!!!!!


Generations Project: Wisconsin

Hey all, so I have a couple of families that will be participating in my Generations project in Wisconsin while I'm home for the holidays. If YOU want to be a part of it, I'll be in Wisconsin from December 23rd until January 12th and would love love LOVE to take pictures of your family! All it takes is an email/phone call...just let me know you want to be a part of the project and we'll make it happen.

And if this is any incentive, I just bought a new (well, new to me, it's gently used) voice recorder for the interviews......ooo la la, pretty, no?


Why does it take so long to get my photos?

Ever wonder why it takes a photographer awhile to get you your prints after you order them? After all, everyone shoots digital nowadays and we can all see the picture instantly....

I've been doing some editing on some of the last photos I took of my grandma Frieda and I thought I'd share with you a "before" and "after" of one of my shots so you can see the level of work that goes into an individual image before it's printed.

The image on the left has had minor corrections done like exposure and basic contrast (this is what we call a "proof"). The image on the right is a finished product: I've done careful dodging and burning (lightening and darkening certain areas to bring out details) and increased contrast in certain parts of the image. I even put in subtle reflections of light in her eyes, since that makes for a more pleasing portrait (even though the average person is unconscious to that fact). Usually I'd try to account for these sort of lighting situations beforehand, but since this was a "grab" shot, not a posed portrait, I had to do "post-process" work to make it a stronger image.

Even though it's digital, I haven't done much more to the image than a skilled film technician would do in a professional film lab. Can you see how much stronger the image is with the extra work put into it?


I'm a delinquent....

...yes, it's true. I'm a blogging delinquent. I know, I know, I've been MIA for the past week (and a half....argggh) but I have a good excuse! I call my excuse "Thanksgiving".

We were lucky enough to snag flights back to Wisconsin to visit family and even luckier to have two (yes, TWO!) Thanksgiving meals in one day. It's one of the benefits of having a partner--two family gatherings for holidays! So we stuffed ourselves silly with turkey and gravy and cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and pecan pie (mmmmm...pecan pie...).

And, of course, we found time to honor the time-tested Caldart tradition (my mom's side of the family) of playing board games. This year it was Scattergories, one of my favorites. It's one of those games that's just perfect for creating really funny memories that usually involved poking fun at someone because of their answer. If you're not familiar with the game, in a nutshell you have to come up with words starting with a particular letter for a particular category. For example "Boy name starting with the letter F" and I would answer "Fred". Trust me, it's way funner than I just made it sound.

This year's winner for my favorite answer was given by my aunt Carolyn. The category: Famous duos and trios. The letter: P. Carolyn's answer: Pigs, Three Little. Genius!! This is especially remarkable since we still make fun of Carolyn's response in a Scattergories game we played several years ago. The category: Things you shout. The letter: M. Carolyn's answer: Music.

Music?!? Who shouts "Music"?? Apparently Carolyn does. Well, she redeemed herself this year. Congrats Carolyn. And I promise, I have my own ridiculous Scattergories answers--just ask Michael. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to fill you in on the details. :)

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving!


Oooooo....so pretty!

I'm in the process of updating the Vantage business cards so they're more in line with our image and, needing a bit of inspiration, I googled "Business Card Inspiration". One of the first things that came up was this site: http://dailypoetics.typepad.com/phot...er_/index.html

This one is my favorite of the bunch (you scratch off the feather to get the contact info!) :

And this one was from a different blog:

Aren't the fabulously fun?! ?! I am officially inspired. Thank you Google! :)


Help me with my Generations project.

As some of you know, my 95 year old ("95 and a half" as she would have said) grandma Frieda passed away two weeks ago. I know I will (and already do) miss her immensely and am so appreciative of the time I was able to spend with her. She was a phenomenal woman who touched many lives.

As a testament to my relationship with her, her love for her family and my appreciation for history, I'm starting a new project with the a working title of "Generations" and am in need of subjects. Please help!

I'm looking for families able to gather at least THREE generations on one side of the family (grandparent, parent, child) in one place for a portrait created in their home (even more generations is great too!). Portraits will be relaxed: no backdrops or lighting. I simply want to document the generations of one family interacting with each other. I will be conducting short recorded interviews of the family members in addition to creating the portrait.

I am interested in creating portraits of all different types of families: adoptive families, LGBT families, all different races, economic backgrounds, abilities, etc.

You will receive a free portrait session and all final images on a CD (with a letter from me giving you full permission to print the images at a photo lab of your choice) in exchange for your time and written permission to use the photo(s) and recordings in my project (I will ask you to sign a model release). You will also have the option of purchasing prints directly from me if you'd like.

I plan to produce the project as a coffee table book, an interactive website and whatever else pops in my head.

I will create portraits wherever I can, whether in San Diego County, southeastern Wisconsin, etc. Even if you're not in San Diego or Wisconsin, contact me since there's a chance I'm traveling out your way in the upcoming months.

I will be working on this project for awhile, meaning long enough until I have a sufficient group of photos for publishing, so even if you won't be getting the whole family together for another 6 months, contact me anyway.

If you are interested, please contact me at info@vantagephotography.com.



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