it's been a while

just wanted to wish all the moms out there a very happy mother's day!  i hope you're being celebrated today -- and continue to every day. some mom photographs i've been blessed to capture over the years...

and here's an interesting little tidbit on the founding of mother's day.


past few weeks have been crazy. filled with...   two weeks of traveling.   seven client shoots. two editorial shoots. teaching a workshop.   taking a workshop. not much time on the computer. teaching another workshop next week. and lots of prepping for africa, which is just a short bit away now.  

hoping to catch up and share more very soon.

breaking the mold with deb & leah | coming soon

i'm super excited to share that i'll be teaching a breaking the mold online mini-workshop with my best friend and incredibly talented photographer, leah zawadzki -- march 12th - 26th.  registration opens this monday! see below for all the details...

some topics that will be discussed:

inspiration creativity thinking outside the box finding your style creating great images shooting with a lensbaby editing simplified building a strong portfolio

participants will receive the following: an honest and intimate look at both deb and leah's photography styles three assignments followed by feedback an inspirational e-book lensbaby and lilyblue actions discount codes and a a few special giveaways

registration details:

1. this workshop is for bloom forum members only. if interested in registering for this mini-workshop, but not a yet a member -- you can join the forum (for 3, 6 or 12 months), by clicking the bloom logo below... The Bloom Forum 2. once a bloom member, you can then register for the workshop in the 'mini-workshops information' section, found here.  registration will open this monday morning. 3. the workshop will run from monday, march 12th – monday, march 26th, with posts and interaction daily. 4. active seats are $200.00 per seat. 5. silent/read-a-long seats are $150.00 per seat. 6. the private mini-workshop information will be available for one month after the workshop ends. 7. there is also a private forum section for all past breaking the mold participants, to continue  interacting and sharing with one another. 8. registration opens this monday -- february 27th.  seats are limited!

we hope to see you there!

photos copyright deb schwedhelm & leah zawadzki

under water

a couple weeks ago, i was emailed by K, inquiring about my pricing for an underwater maternity session. i shared with her that my underwater work was a personal project and that i had yet to extend my underwater photography to clients. K shared that she was really disappointed -- this was most likely her last pregnancy and she was confident that she wanted  fine art underwater maternity photographs. our communication continued and the more we talked, the more i felt we were a perfect fit.  within just a couple days, K located a heated pool we could use and her session was scheduled.

underwater shooting is tough and has it's unique challenges but goodness, i love the results so much, i can barely stand it.  i CAN'T WAIT until summer, when i can shoot underwater much more often.

here's a few of my favorite photos from our time together...

lensbaby | interview and info

so fun to see my lensbaby interview reposted on the lensbaby blog yesterday.  not sure if i ever shared the interview here...

i get asked a lot of questions regarding shooting with a lensbaby (i've actually received five emails over the past couple days).  most often, it's inquiring about my favorite lensbaby products or which products i'd recommend. so i thought i'd share a bit about that here (lensbaby makes for a great christmas gift).

first, you need a lens.  i have both the composer and composer pro lenses. the composer pro is definitely more solid / sturdy feeling.  and for a $50 difference, i'd go with the pro.

then you need an optic (or two or three...). i started using a lensbaby years ago, with the double glass optic. some are discouraged by the fact that with the double glass optic, you have to internally swap aperture rings.  however, honestly...i rarely swap the ring. most of the time i'm shooting with with the f/4 ring in.

not long ago, lensbaby released the sweet 35 optic, which is awesome because you can adjust the aperture on the outside [versus having to insert a new aperture ring in the optic].  the sweet 35 is an awesome optic; however, for me personally, i've become so used to my double glass optic (some habits are hard to break) and i seem to be more of a 50mm shooter than a 35mm shooter.  so i still seem to default much of the time to using the double glass optic.

i have almost all the optics and wish i could share more thoughts on the other optics but i haven't shot with any others -- YET!! it's definitely one of my 2012 goals; experimenting and playing with the other lensbaby optics.  anyone want to model for me?

here's a few of my favorite lensbaby photos shot in 2011...

and i'm so honored to have this shot grace lensbaby's sweet 35 optic box.

honoring those who served

as a former active duty air force nurse and now being married to a naval explosive ordnance disposal officer, i couldn't be more proud to celebrate veterans day and honor those who have served our nation in war...and peace.

do you know how and when veterans day was first declared?

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. []


the other day, i drove around the corner, to look at the monster house they're building right behind my house.  a couple doors down, i noticed a large sign with an american flag and a marine corp flag on each corner of the sign.  i said to my mother-in-law,

that's interesting. i've never seen flags of support like that on a home depot work sign before.

and then we got closer and i read the sign...

Tampa Bay Community Supporting

Cpl Michael Nicholson USMC

Giving our best for the best our Nation has to give!

Send Donations to: Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery c/o Alley, Clark and Greivwe, PA PO Box 3127 Tampa, FL 33601

as soon as i got back home, i began to investigate and learned that on july 6th, cpl nicholson [22-years-old] was on foot patrol in afghanistan and was attacked by a hidden improvised explosive device [IED], tragically losing both his legs and one of his arms.  i continued to his michael nicholson fund facebook page and found this article about the endless search for IEDs in afghanistan.  i also learned that the young man in the 11th photo down, cpl justin crabbe, who is from the same unit, also lost both of his legs due to an IED explosion in afghanistan.

on october 13th, corporal nicholson walked for the first time since july...

corporal nicholson is an american hero. a wounded warrior. a brave, young man, who has sacrificed beyond words. i can't imagine his pain. his suffering. i honor him -- his determination, strength, dedication...his courage.  corporal nicholson is a true inspiration for us all.

if you would like to donate to corporal nicholson's road to recovery fund, here is the info:

The “Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery Fund” is set up and administered by Alley, Clark and Greiwe, PA in Tampa. 100% of the donations will go toward Nicholson's care, specifically on items not covered by the Veterans Administration. The fund is set up at the Bank of Tampa. Donations can be sent c/o Alley, Clark and Greiwe, PA P.O. Box 3127 Tampa FL 33601. Please only donate directly to them or Bank of Tampa and please make sure checks are made out to "Michael Nicholson Road to Recovery Fund"


being a military spouse, i loved reading this article -- 10 things you may not know about military wives, recently shared on facebook by one of my best friends, gwenn, who i was a nurse with at davis-monthan AFB.


lastly, i share photos of some of the veterans [and their families] that i have photographed over the past few years...

i thank you. i celebrate you. i honor you. today... and every day. so grateful to be part of the military family. HAPPY VETERANS DAY!

last glimpse of light

yesterday was not the best day. at all. but it ended more beautifully than i could have dreamed (despite the ridiculous heat, humidity and amount of mosquitoes). i wish i could have kept shooting, but this was it -- the last few shots before the light was gone. heart is happy.  and i so love my job.  i know i always say it, but truly...i am blessed.

nikon D3, 35mm, f/2.0, 1/100, ISO 3200

ETA:  the last shot makes my heart ache.  ache for photos of me with my own children.  i can barely hold ryder anymore; he's so big.  he still wants to snuggle (most of the time) but i know the days are numbered. look back on the photographs. on the memories that the camera captured.  memories that my mind has trouble holding onto.  longing...

to stress or not to stress

i received an email this morning from my dear friend, crystalyn, with the below attached. she and i have been talking a lot about stress and ways to deal with stress lately. and i absolutely  love what she shared...

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight...but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, the burdens will become increasingly heavy, to the point when we won't be able to carry on."

"As with the glass of water, you have to put your burdens down for a while and rest before holding them again. When you're rested and refreshed, you can then carry on with your burden(s)."

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow."

And here are some additional great ways of dealing with any burdens in your life --

Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.

Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.

If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.

If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to be kind to others.

Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.

You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.

We could learn a lot from crayons... Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

- author | source unknown

in closing, i wanted to share a few more photos of my cherished friend, steph, who always handles life and stress with such beauty and grace.  her third baby is due in two weeks, while her husband is deployed (home mid-december).  and i'm so very, very excited to have been invited to photograph her family upon his return.

finding peace

meet my dear friend steph beaty, who i respect and admire beyond words. steph was actually one of my very first clients in may 2006 (referred to me by carrie sandoval) -- which is still hard to believe.  the photo below was from that first session together.  little did we know at that time, that we'd one day be the best of friends.

steph's husband is currently deployed and will (hopefully) return when the baby is two months old -- making steph's shirt peace on my mind very literal.  they also have a four-year-old and two-year-old.  steph's strength, along with her kindness, passion, faith and goodness, inspires me each and every day.

lucky for me, steph grew up in the tampa area and her family still lives here.  so while we live plenty apart, i'm excited that steph and i will see each other (at least once a year) over the next few years, while we're stationed here in tampa.

on steph's trip last week, i was able to do maternity photos for her.  to say the evening was magical would be an understatement.  we had already rescheduled once because of weather and this was it -- no more days to work with if this one evening didn't work out. i think the only thing that could have possibly made the evening the tiniest bit better would have been a can of bug spray.  at one point, i looked down at my leg and had at least 10 mosquitoes chomping on my calf.

i am blessed to have steph in my life and so grateful to call her my friend.  i could go on and on but i'll stop there.  i think y'all get my genuine admiration for this woman.  :-) © deb schwedhelm | tampa maternity photographer

and then...

we went to a field.  a most magical field.  a place that swarmed with beauty and strength.  just like the momma, who we photographed. i couldn't get enough and i didn't want to leave. stunning in every way.

and i just had to share this excerpt, from this most incredible woman's blog post...because these words are so applicable to terrie. to today. and tomorrow. to life with this baby girl.

and i will crack myself wide open open open open to experience to pain to love to hurt to the brilliance that could be my life, that will be my life. - jeanette leblanc

terrie, do not fear. be open. and know that in the end, everything will be okay. actually amazing. you are blessed. you are strong. as will she. i wish i could share with you all that i see. and if i could, you would know that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. as jeanette so eloquently wrote -- cherish the experience, the pain, the love, the hurt, the brilliance. cherish all that life is about to bring your way.

underwater magic

just returned from san diego late last night and to say it was magical would be an understatement.  i photographed a ton and was able to get together with some incredible friends. i was commissioned by my sweet friend, terrie, to do her maternity and newborn photos (it just so happens that my july trip to san diego works perfectly with her due date).  since she's a friend and a photographer, i knew she would be game for pretty much anything.  so i threw the idea of underwater photos at her -- and game she was.  then i asked my dear friend and partner-in-crime, leah, if she would be interested in shooting too -- and game she was.  together, leah and i, collaborated and photographed terrie in leah's pool and later that evening, in the most magical field, in orange.

the following day, i photographed terrie and her family at pacific beach pier, which was so fun but crazy cold -- i ended up completely soaked and covered in sand.

shooting underwater...i felt this renewed spirit with my photography.  and even with myself.  i'm not sure i can fully explain it but my heart is so happy and inspired by the possibility of shooting more underwater photography and offering it to my clients.  my dream, wish, hope, desire is to purchase underwater housing shortly after we arrive in tampa and just go for it.  shooting underwater is not exactly easy but i love it so...and can't wait!!  what a perfect place to offer underwater photography -- the warm and beautiful waters of tampa, florida.  woot!  woot!

note: terrie and i have a special bond.  both our oldest children are deaf with cochlear implants, which is how we originally met (years ago, at an auction to benefit a deaf | hard-of-hearing organization).  terrie's second son is hearing and her baby girl on-the-way is going to be deaf.  this is what terrie shared with me after seeing the image below, which left me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.  love you terrie -- for all your strength, kindness, passion, determination and beauty!!  you are one amazing lady!

I look at this and it is such a symbol of strength for me.  Knowing what this baby will go through with her hearing loss, knowing how strong she will have to be, how strong I'll have to be for her and my family, how much she will lean on me as she becomes a woman.  love that I'm standing tall and strong and ready to bring my babe into the world and face it together----oh how i love this photo!!!!

hoping to share more field photos tomorrow.  my heart is so happy!

san diego sessions

...availability this wekeend. i'm off to san diego in a few hours, for client sessions. so excited to be back, even if it's only a quick 2 1/2 days. any time in san diego is great time.  sure hoping to connect with a few friends, while there too.

also, a client just had to cancel her session this weekend because of sick kids, so if anyone is interested in reserving a session this weekend, please call or email.  i will be checking my emails regularly via my iphone.

so looking forward to trying some new things with my photography this trip.

and a few san diego photos, from the past few years...

signing off -- without a computer -- for three full days.  have a fabulous weekend!!

thank you 2009

2010? that's crazy. i remember 2000 like yesterday, although not really because i have a terrible, terrible memory. but seriously, i can't believe it's 2010 tomorrow. as every year comes to a close, i think about how seriously blessed i am.  and this year is no exception.  it's been absolutely amazing!  my life is so full. and fricken awesome.  i'm so thankful--both personally and professionally.

on the brink of 2010, i was thinking of my goals for next year (just a start and in no particular order)-- be more present for my family (i.e. get off the computer). challenge myself professionally. shoot my kids' everyday lives more. get back to regularly working out (and feeling good again or as mary would say, not feeling fluffy). live each and every day to the fullest. give more. begin to journal.

i can't wait to see where 2010 takes my family and i. the one thing we know for will be elsewhere. and that, in itself, is pretty darn exciting.

thank you to everyone, who has supported deb schwedhelm photography and | or my family. i appreciate it more than i could ever express in words.  i don't think my family would be together right now, if it wasn't for some of the blog comments i received during that time of indecision.

here's to 2010--a fabulous year full of love, peace, health and happiness!

and in celebration of an incredible 2009, i share a some of my favorite personal and client photographs from the year.

so many thoughts

very little is needed to make a happy life;it is all within yourself... in your way of thinking. - elisabeth kubler-ross

i'm not kidding when i say that i've rewritten this blog post three times today...and i had started and saved at least five different blog posts last week that never got published. so many thoughts running through my head, but none of those thoughts have made it farther than a blog draft thus far. but today is the publish no matter what!

first, let me share that i'm back on the wagon--not the 'i'm going to abstain from drinking' wagon but the 'i'm going to get back in shape and not be so squishy' wagon. i was pretty much feeling crappy the past few weeks...really crappy. i had stopped working out a couple months before steve got home because i got too busy with work (photography). then i embraced steve's return and continued to not workout. a month later, we relocated and here we are--no more excuses--just feeling very "fluffy", as one of my dear friends says. it didn't matter how much i weighed; i knew i was fluffy and i felt like shit. a week ago, i committed that i'd get back on the wagon and begin working out. so i've been following a daily routine, alternating cardio and weight training. while i'm certain i haven't lost a pound and i'm not any less fluffy at this point, i'm standing taller and walking prouder already. i am determined!!


i've also done a bunch of business thinking this week--ordered new business postcards, new business cards, and worked on a portfolio book. this morning, i began a blog post about my endeavors to market, in an effort to get clients while here in KS. by afternoon, i had decided that i'm not going to do any hard core marketing while here.  instead, i'm going to use the next 11 months to hard core spend time with my family and shoot a bit (or maybe a lot) for me--personal work. i already have a few project ideas in mind, projects that actually having been keeping me up at night lately.

one of these days (soon) i'm going to feel settled enough to get back shooting.  it's been a nice break but i really do miss my camera time.

if interested, you can preview (and even order a copy of) my portfolio book here. designing and sharing a book of your work, even if self-published, is always exciting. while the book started as a deb schwedhelm photography portfolio book accompanied by inspirational the end, i decided to just let the photographs speak for themselves.  i hope you enjoy! :-)