PinkWhen Jen and I!

Many good things have happened on Twitter lately.

That’s where a hypothetical make-your-own blogging convention happened to me in Connecticut.

That’s where I’ve gone to seek comfort during times of dental visit stress and kid-induced meltdowns.

That’s where Jen from PinkWhen first suggested we partner up for this week’s Ask Away Friday.

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You’re going to find this surprising (not), but I don’t quite remember how I “met” Jen either. I believe we started going to each other’s blogs more often after we both partnered with WeMontage to make beautiful photo wallpaper collages.

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(This is my photography and my wallpaper, but this is not my house!)

Or it could have been any of a number of her posts about crafting, cooking, DIY, parenting, etc. Also likely, it could have been when we teamed up on The Mother of All Meltdowns book. The book has brought many of us together, happily.

And here are my responses to her questions. Be sure to check out the PinkWhen blog for her answers to my questions!

1. I love your children’s names, what was the meaning behind Des and Scarlet’s name?

Why, thank you! I actually have two posts on the subject – one for Scarlet here and one for Des here. I think we had similar requirements for our children’s names. They had to be strong names that were unique but not weird. Ones that people would hear and think, “Ahh. Ok. I get you.” And not think, “What the heck were they thinking?” Scarlet was a name that followed me throughout life and Cassidy also felt compelled to use it. He convinced me to use one “t” instead of two! Des is pretty much named for Desmond from LOST. And Destiny. And sometimes I tell people he was named for Desmond Tutu, so let’s just go with that too. Even though it’s more about LOST. And being handsome and dreamy and having the great nicknames of Des and Desi.

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(Scarlet Bella)

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(Desmond Blaze)

2. How long have you been doing photography, and what is your first memory of deciding this was what you really wanted to do?

I worked for a photography studio as a class photographer in schools in 2003. My first professional gig on my own was in March of 2004, I believe, so it’s been about a decade! Of course I took years off to move and explore and try corporate things, and all of that worked for me to a point. I had long wanted to explore photography but it wasn’t until right after college when I received a camera body and versatile lens as gifts, that I really realized how much my visions could come to life. This was in the days of film! I went on a long, spontaneous roadtrip with a boyfriend all the way from New Jersey to Key West, and we must have cumulatively taken 20-30 rolls of film on our trip! I watched the sun rise over Islamorada one morning and was happy to see that my vision of the reflection of our hotel and palm trees reflected onto the ocean came to life. I thought it was like magic.

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I actually found a few photos from my first solo gig! The sepia tones were from film, and not from Photoshop, and it was a fun role-playing shoot:

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3. When you are doing photography in the house, what is your favorite “go to” lens and settings? (Umm…see, I am trying to learn from you!)

Well my favorite lens is my 50mm 1.4. For indoors, I have a 35mm too that can capture a lot more of a scene but the 50mm is my favorite! As for go to settings, it depends on a lot of factors. For indoors, I’m definitely going to be looking for sources of natural light first. If there are none, I’d use an external flash unit but that’s a story of settings all on its own! So let’s say there is good natural light? I’d probably aim for something like this: aperture: 2.2 – 2.8., shutter speed: at LEAST 250 with kids involved, ISO: something around 800 – 1000, realistically. Generally higher if it’s not peak sunbeam time, but usually not lower when indoors in winter. Have I confused you enough yet??

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(Ryan Gosling in training)

4. You have such an amazing blog and your true passions and personality really come thru the blog making us all feel like we know you. How comfortable are you with always sharing your most meaningful feelings?

I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable as time has gone on. I used to get a little queasy as my finger hovered over the mouse to click the “Publish” button. These days I’m more comfortable with the way I choose to share my thoughts and feelings, and I generally schedule my posts the night before rather than publishing them live, so I do have time to go back and change anything I feel is too much. That generally doesn’t happen, though. People tell me I share so much, and really, isn’t there so much more I could say? There are worlds within worlds of what I could say. So I think about that a lot when I think I may be getting too deep.

5. Some of my favorite posts from you are when you start off with lyrics to music, you always tie everything in so well. What kind of music is your favorite, favorite artist?

I like my music like I like my movies – dramatic, light mixed with heavy, peaks and climaxes, then it settles back down. I’ve had pretty much lifelong (or at least adult-long) favorites that I will always feel strongly about. Bruce Hornsby, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Counting Crows, Tori Amos, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Police, Ben Folds Five, John Williams, Danny Elfman, and many more, I’m sure.

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(I was really close to Ben Folds once!)

6. Have you always written so beautifully? Did you take a course, practice, or are you just gifted and awesome like that?

Well first of all, I’m blushing. Thank you. I have always written the way I do now – very expressively. I remember writing a note to my 4th grade teacher after seeing her cry one day, about how it touched me to see her sad. I left the note with a box of Valentine m&ms. She called me at home that night to tell me I expressed myself well. In 5th grade, it was the famous English teacher who told me that if I didn’t become a writer, she’d hunt me down one day. She was the one to tell me that my writing was very sad, so that I didn’t have to be. At least, not always. I took honors writing classes in high school and I majored in journalism in college, so I took many courses to get to where I am today, at least structure-wise. As for the expressive part of it, I was born that way. I think I’d go insane if I didn’t have this outlet.

7. I am a relatively newbie blogger having only done this since the beginning of the year. You have mentioned that you have blogged for a long time. What would be two or three things that really helped you take your blogging passion to the next level?

Awesome question! When I started, I didn’t have any idea I’d get into the photography aspect of it. Once I figured out that sharing photos on my blog was super cool, the passion ignited. The second thing was being accepted into the BlogHer Publishing Network and getting syndicated. The third thing was joining SITS and meeting all of you. I think about what blogging would be like without, not only a community, but without this particular community, and I just shudder to think about it.

8. Let’s pretend you are having a magical day (You’re the Queen, Hubby the King, Des the Prince, and Scarlet the Princess) what would you be doing for that one magical Royal day?

I had to skip and come back to this one a few times. Obviously I have my version of realistic dream days, that include sleeping late, going out for breakfast and being with the family all day. However since we’re royal in this scenario, we’d take a helicopter or private jet to the woods of Maine. And then we’d look for the rare albino moose. I’d settle for the brown ones too. There would be lots of potatoes in this scenario too. Probably because my stomach is growling right now and that sounds perfect.

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9. Back to photography, (because that is what I always associate you with – beautiful pictures) what are your FAVORITE pictures to take? All of them are gorgeous, but what is your real passion that when you get to take these certain pictures, you just zone in and have fun?

Well there are the moments that I say something funny, or life just happens the way it happens, and something natural but aware settles over the subjects. Laughter, or that moment after laughter. Love, or that moment before love. I don’t even know what I’m saying but let’s just say that candid expressions and moments between people make me really happy.

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10. It’s winter time and it’s getting dark early, cold, and sometimes the season can be a little “depressing” because of it. What are some things you try to do with the family to keep things cheerful and bright?

I do struggle with this. Not in a seasonal affective disorder way, but in a way in which I fully acknowledge the losses of long days, warm sun, light, and that magical thing where if you have to go somewhere..you just get in the car! Genius, right? No starting the car ten minutes early to warm it up and melt some frost. No hats and boots and mittens and puffy coats. It’s..amazing. And I will never take it for granted again! Come back to me!

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  1. Wow! Am I really the first to comment. It's posted on the 15th but it's still the 14th for me. πŸ™‚ Looking at your first photos you've always been talented behind the lens and I can't wait for you to photograph Madison. (I'm still holding you to that!) Your English teacher was so correct, you're an awesome writer and I only wish I had half of your talent with your writing and your photography. I have such a long way to go. I can sit here sometimes and just read and read your posts and it feels like I'm right there with you while you're writing it. Madison is here with me right now pointing at Scarlet and Des and saying "baby". She thinks she's so grown up now. πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend my friend and in-law.

    1. You are the first! What’s weird is that I scheduled it for midnight, east coast time. With the time change, WordPress is still publishing them when they think they should – at 11:00! And yet, it still shows the correct date for when midnight would be. I have no idea here!
      Des calls Scarlet “baby” and she calls him “baby.” I call him “Babydoll.” Think I’ll get away with that when he’s 13? Doubtful!
      Have a great weekend. I’ll be thinking of you!

  2. Aw these questions seemed to be very enjoyable for you! I was lost on the photography answers but I would so love to know more! I’m always excited to read your posts. I tend to have to go back and remove some of my exclamation points lol. I’m trying to dive more into Blogher. Perhaps reading this will be more of the ammunition that I needed. πŸ™‚

  3. So I wrote down your photography tech-speak, as if I will actually be able to know what to do with it. But I just got a 50 mm lenses yesterday, and I want to try it out. Jen asked some great questions, and you answered them awesomely. We should pair up one of these Fridays!

    1. haha! I hope my tech-speak actually helps. It's from years of trial and error and it works well for our house's available light.

      I would love to pair with you!! It would be a holiday!

  4. Okay…I KNEW Ben Folds was going to play a role in your music answer before I scrolled and saw the picture. I think that makes me a mega fan, right?! I hope so, because I totally am!!

    I loved your answer about candid moments in photographs. Those special expressions and moments captured, they are my favorite types of photographs!! –Lisa

  5. I love reading more about you and learning new things…you are amazing and I love your reasoning behind the kids's names. And start planning a family trip to Key West – it has changed quite a bit – I can only imagine the pictures you could take now.

  6. Hahaha .. I knew the moose would come into this post somewhere! Everytime I see one on TV or hear about one I think of you! LOL

    And could Des be any more of a Ryan Gosling in training? Holy hell!!! Those eyes.

    And you nailed it girl … your teacher was right on. You do have an expressive way in your writing and I'm glad that she doesn't have to hunt you down.

    You are way to gifted to not be shared with the world πŸ™‚



    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo

    1. He is Ryan Gosling! And he even poses like him! He's just a lot droolier.

      And thank you for your kind, kind words. I wouldn't want to be hunted down by her either. She was fierce! In the best way possible.

  7. That palm trees photo is awesome. I still can't decide if yours is a photography blog with stellar writing, or a writing blog with incredible photography. Hmm.

    Damn, that was sweet to leave that teacher a note. The only time I left a teacher a note, I got called to the office for a lecture about age differences and junk like that.

    I kid, I kid.

    1. I actually laughed out loud at that one! Maybe you thought about doing it for real? I had an 8th grade teacher I really fancied. He was all of 23 which I thought was so old back then. Sigh. Not now.

  8. So AWESOME, as I of course 100% expected and you delivered! Love the way you write and photograph and I am just super excited about having partnered up with you this week. I think I could seriously have an every Friday post swap with you… Thank you again for being my awesome partner.

    1. I know! Let’s do it again just to confuse everyone! Seriously! We can call it, “Part 2.” I think that would be a riot.
      I loved your questions so much – they made my night so enjoyable to answer them. You are an awesome partner.

  9. That last one you totally know I struggle with and not in a Seasonal Afflect Disorder type of way either, but man I loved your answer not hat and so going to have to remember it now. And we need to do another Twitter party soon, because plain and simple I miss you!! πŸ™‚

  10. Lovely pictures. I’d love to know the story behind the lady & the horse ones. Very interesting.

    I like that last one of the guys and the fishing pole πŸ™‚

    1. Well it's a bit of a long story but it was a gift for her mom and she wanted to look old-fashioned in some of them, and like a princess in others! I think she achieved that.

  11. This is so funny! I was just wondering the other day if Des was short for Desmond. The only time I had ever heard it was on LOST. But I love it! I also LOVE that orange room! Color, set-up, design everything! My house really lacks such style!

    1. I cracked the code on that one! Oh and that orange room is totally not our house! I should have mentioned that. It was a mock-up made by WeMontage. I'll have to show you the photo from our kids' bedroom. Not as much style.

  12. Tamara! Love reading more about you, although the camera answer makes me sad because I keep hoping that by using my new expensive camera with the auto-settings will give me photos like you take. It doesn't. I was just going to comment on the AWESOME orange room!! But I see that it's a mock-up. Still I want orange paint now!! You're awesome with your kid names and your kickass photos and amazing lovely words.


    1. haha! I'm so sorry to make you sad. I should have said, "All of my photos are taken with my iPhone on auto settings. Yes, really!"

      You're awesome with everything you do and say. Doesn't that get exhausting being so awesome?

  13. Okay the M&M's and letter to your teacher had me teary-eyed…

    That story just displays your kind heart– and exceptional nurture. I love that story!

    Your children's names are beautiful; they're both strong names.



  14. One of these days, I'm just going to drive on down to Western Mass and pick you up and bring you up to Maine. Maybe not in the dead of winter though. We'll find some moose for you for sure. It's not that far! πŸ™‚

  15. Such amazing description of the photography aspect, your joy in it can definitely be felt! I love the names for your lil angels, we tried going with unique without being weird, too. I am also trying to get more into SITS and BlogHer, but time constraints make it hard. It has been so wonderful getting to know you! Thanks so much for sharing so beautifully. Have a great weekend!

  16. I did not know that about Desmond. I love you even more now. I LOVED Lost. It’s one of my all time favorite shows. We went to Hawaii and we’d pass places where they’d film Lost and I practically would convulse with excitement.

  17. Your first shoot looks amazing! You are a natural at it and writing. Het question #6 is something I often wonder when reading your work. It’s hard to imagine you writing so expressively as a youngster. It’s like a gift!

  18. I am so jealous of that moose. I so want to see one! There was one right here in town and people got pictures of it all over…and it was even at my son’s bus stop right before he got there!! Then it was at the hospital. Seriously…the places it was photographed were amazing. But it left town from the hospital and didn’t come back. Maybe if we get to go to Alaska to visit my brother in law…
    I love all your pictures and stories…it’s such a wonderful gift to be able to storytell with your photos and you make it look like it’s so easy. πŸ™‚

    1. I guarantee you’ll see a moose in Alaska! There was one in my yard years before we moved here. My neighbor talks about it. I hope to see one in my own town one day..

  19. Love your childrens names and how you got them!! Love your photography too!!!! I stalked your blog a bit too and you are an amazing writer, it was so good to get to know you more.

  20. Hello my friend!

    Your writing talent runs in the family πŸ˜‰

    Loving your blog as I stalk it more all the time. The photos are breathtaking (probably said this before), and I always want more. Haha. I wish I had the camera talent, I just don't have the patience. My dad did, he took beautiful shots. I wish I had them. I returned a camera I had with multiple lenses, haha, took a class. Now and then I look at my notes and say "what!" haha. I stick to my iPhone and Auto. I'll photo vicariously through you πŸ™‚

    1. You know, my grandfather, mom and sister can all draw beautifully. My drawings look like an overtired four-year-old did them. Luckily I have the photo thing or I’d be so embarrassed to be in this family!

  21. Jen came up with some really good questions! I am really loving these interview style ask away posts, they bring out some really fun and interesting sides we don't always get to see. And I totally took notes on the photography tips. On your recommendation I have asked Santa for a 1.4 50mm lens. Hoping over to read the post over at PinkWhen!

    1. I hope Santa brings it! You'll be very happy together. The interview style posts are great and I look forward to them all week on weeks that I participate.

  22. I really enjoyed reading this #AskAwayFriday so much! Your photography, your beautiful kids, and your eliquent writing is why I'm a fan of your blog and your answers to Jen's questions really gave me insight to those things. Except for the albino moose thing…you lost me there! LOL πŸ™‚ Hopefully I'll "see" you tomorrow at SITSSharefest!

  23. I always love hearing photography tips from you. Even if I do only have a point and shoot (but I do know how to change the settings).

    I really have no idea how to get syndicated on Blogher.

    Potatoes are awesome. I swear they are the most versatile food ever!

  24. I had no idea you were a blogger/writer before you were a photographer, Tamara. I learned so much about you from this interview.

    I love the photo collage and your playroom. All that orange. Beautiful.

    My husband is a huge potato fan!!

  25. Super interesting, I always love these little interviews πŸ™‚
    I am in love with the names you chose for your kiddos. And Des is definitely a dreamy, sexy name! Watch out ladies!
    I have seen the BlogHer ad in the corner of a few of my favorite blogs, but I really don’t know what it means. I know it means your posts are automatically published onto their blog right? I have a question if you don’t mind me asking…are you required to blog a certain amount of posts since you are syndicated and do they compensate bloggers who are syndicated with them?
    I joined SITS a few months ago but I’m really intrigued by all I’ve heard about their great community, definitely going to have to make my way over there!

    1. It means you’re part of their network and they feature your work and you feature their ads, and it’s a big trade of stuff!
      I have no requirements at all. I’m only syndicated if they notice something of mine that fits into their themes or if I apply and they like it. Everything I do/say/blog is me. All me. I promise that!

        1. Of course! And you can always email me for more info of the process. I just couldn’t let you think all of my writing/posting/photography wasn’t 100% me talking. It is! Of course if someone offered me money to write something specific…well then..I’d admit it and gladly do it.

  26. Your teacher was so right… you have the most amazing style of writing – and of photography. Truly an awesome gift! Love learning more about you!

  27. Love getting all the insights. I agree that you write beautifully and your photography is just as much a storytelling mechanism as your words. Put together, your posts are always a beautiful.

  28. Scrolling…scrolling….. ah! Okay- here I am!! Better late than never right girls??

    I LOVED this! I love you BOTH!! And I always love getting to know my dear friends even better! Where WOULD we be without each other???


    1. Of course, Chris! Late is still great in my game. You’re here, aren’t you? And to answer your question, I honestly..don’t know. I don’t want to know.

      Big xoxo to you.

  29. Or you could be friends because you are just both totally awesome! I love these “getting to know you” posts. So much about people we just don’t have a clue about by blogging. Those sepia pics are awesome. They look so old timey.

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