i wanna get witcha and take your pitcha.

*Deep breath in*

Ok, friends. Here’s the truth of it: Imma big fan of taking pictures. Not just Instagram pictures–fancy camera pictures.

For awhile now, I’ve been practicing practicing practicing and learning oodles about photography. But there’s an issue. I’m an anxiety-ridden perfectionist–killer combo, I know. So, the idea of putting my work out to the world makes me want to hurl.

You mean, I could be scrutinized?! People might not like my work? Are people going to roll their eyes at yet another girl with a nice camera who thinks she’s a photographer? Will people think I’m lame?!

Um. Yes. All of those things are likely to happen if they have not already.

But I can’t shake how much I love it. I love learning more about it. I love capturing memories for my friends and seeing their reactions. The rush I get when I take a priceless image is unbelievably refreshing. Admittedly, I feel super discouraged when I look at a poor quality picture I’ve taken–when my metering is off, it’s overexposed, out of focus, or just plain dumb-looking. It’s easy to fall into a “Who am I kidding? I can’t do this trash” attitude.

Then I look back on the last 4 years that I’ve been learning about photography and realize that I’ve gone from taking an engagement photo like this:

DSC_0195// That light. That vignette! God help us all. Two beautiful subjects, and I’ve done them no favors. //

To capturing an engagement photo like this:

DSC_5525

// Disclaimer: this is not to say Liz is an upgrade from Danielle…you’re both stunnas. //

Sweet gracious. I have learned so much. In terms of technique, I’m certainly an amateur. Am I quitting my job to become a full-time photographer? Girl, please. I simply want to keep growing in my skills and gain more experience.

There’s still so much I need to understand about this field. I’m grateful to have learned from talented people like my cousin who have inspired me to be bold in this crazy love of mine. Señor and many of my friends keep believing in me and pushing through my self-doubt. And, boy, is that self-doubt screaming its ugly brains out.

I don’t claim to be exceptional. I don’t even claim to be good. But I do feel like I’m improving. And I would love more practice.

Maybe even on you?

So, here it goes. If you feel so inclined, I’d be honored if you would check out my work. Perhaps even schedule a session with me if you live nearby or know that I’ll be visiting. And if you have an opinion, be nice to this perfectionistic soul. I’m just here to learn.

www.lauraarmstrongphotography.zenfolio.com

*Deep breath out*

birthweek.

Birthdays are not about us. We shouldn’t be the one receiving sweet gifts. The fact that we have whole days celebrating our existence in the world seems a bit absurd when you really get to the bottom line.

Birthdays are for mothers.

They’re the ones who labored for hours to bring you into the world (unless you’re an anomale child who was born in a matter of minutes…how did you do it? Share your secret so we normal women can anticipate labor with unrealistic expectations). They bore you for 9 months hoping you didn’t come out with a cone head or extra limb growing from your face. They took prenatal vitamins like candy, avoiding needed nectars of life such as caffeine.

So the next time you start thinking about how cool it is that it’s your birthday, remember your mom’s commitment to your life. And be grateful.

In light of this new perspective, let’s rethink the birth’day’. Once you were in the world, high-fived your mom for making it through, and slapping the doctor’s hand away from your toosh, you took responsibility for your life…mainly breathing and pooping. But you had control, nevertheless! So I say, let’s celebrate that control and command of life with the same kind of self-centeredness that most birth’day’s permeate with.

With none other than a birthweek.

This past week was my birthweek–complete with cake, presents, movies, friends, family, and even some tears because, well, the older I get, the more emotional I get. Especially when those around me are super awesome and surprise me with love and candlelit dinners. Mm, bliss (and tears). They are amazing.

To sum up my birthweek in a few words: simple, humbling, and delicious. The best kind of birthweeks.

There was boating on a lake with my bro-ski.
There was a pensive señor…probably dreaming of how big our boat is going to be at our future lake house in Minnesota. He’s dreamed it all up in his head. I’m just along for the ride.

There were pancakes, waffles, omelettes, coffee, tea, and a lovely woman named Sophia.

There was a somewhat patient birthday girl who let her señor take pictures incessantly for allotted 30-second periods.

There were goodbyes at the airport. Our faces are round. That’s how you can tell we’re related.

There was a Panda. And he was Express-sive.

There was cake. A Dairy Queen cake no less. What can you expect from an ex-(DQ)pat?

I mentioned my birthday was humbling, as well, yes? Yes. This is why: Please notice the wreckage that was my kitchen. There were literally piles of dishes from a weeks’ worth of my sabbatical from dishes. Ok, it wasn’t a sabbatical. It was a defiant, blatant disregard of the disaster. But then, my bro–the one who was all like “I’m awesome because I’m a Marine.” No, really, he’s super awesome–He. Washed. All. Of. Them. I mean, it only took him 3 hours. That’s no big, right?

Humbling.

My birthweek was also delicious. Between cake and the brownies I made last night…shoot. Sugar coma commence!

And by brownies, of course I mean, the batter was delicious. The actual brownies…subpar.

For all those involved in my birthweek, thank you. I love you. I’m grateful for you.

And you sure as heck better thank my mom next time you talk to her.

24 hours.

It has been 24 hours since:

Laura showered.
Laura put clean clothes on.
Laura felt like she smelled socially appropriate.
Laura slept well (4 hours on the plane doesn’t count).
Laura had truly coherent thoughts.
Laura was in good standing with United Airlines (I’ve had enough of your delays, big commercial airline people).
Laura was on vacation, basking in and admiring the Asian continent.

Which brings me to now…24 hours later. Señor and I are stuck in the Chicago airport, awaiting our 10pm flight. That’s a whole 6 hours after we were supposed to leave. I could be relaxing in my tiny apartment, curled up in my semi-comfortable bed, and passed out asleep. Not that it would matter because jet-lag will wake me up at 3am. I’m sure of it.

I shake my fist at you, jet-lag!

As you can tell, I’m on my last leg of sanity. Or foot. Or arm…I don’t even know what I’m saying. Is that a real phrase? The leg of sanity? I digress.

Want to see some pictures of my trip? Ok, good. Because pictures are worth thousands of words. And seeing as words are not my forte at the moment, let’s just stick with those. These are some of my last pics from Vietnam.

A marble cave at the top of Marble Mountain. It was a HIKE. I felt like a champ.

At the peak of Marble Mountain. Sweatin’ like the athletes on the Gatorade commercials. Except ours wasn’t colored. Lame.

I don’t know what I love more about this picture. My dad’s expression or the fact that this vase will be displayed in our house in a few months. It’s natural jade from the mountain we climbed. And it’s being shipped on a boat. Like a boss.
One of my dad’s best friends fought in Vietnam. It was his dream to go back someday. Though he passed away without that opportunity, his wife gave my dad his dog tags and we gave them a proper resting place…
…Right in a hidden spot of a helicopter at a Vietnam museum. Awesome.
Lost in translation, much?
Yep. That’s what Americans were called all over those museums.
A pit stop view on our way to Hue (pronounced ‘way’). A Vietnamese version of a pit stop equals a dirty toilet and lots of cheap paraphernalia that most Americans love. No thanks.
Almost took these ones, too. So beautiful.
These were startling. Then I realized they mean something MUCH different in Asian culture. Thank goodness.
I picture this ancient statue saying “Oh no you din’t”. In Vietnamese of course.
Sign: “Do not touch, sit on, or play on the ancient artifacts”
Señor: “Oo! Get a picture of me riding the dragon!”
A few of these things are not like the others.
Naturally I sang the Rocky theme song when my dad came down the steps. I chuckled more than he did.

In a few days I’ll post pictures of Hong Kong. If I took pictures too often in Hong Kong, though, you would have thought that all we did was shop, eat, and shop some more. Which we may or may not have done. So there will only be a select few. But I need to wait another 24 hours or so. Recuperation is in desperate need.

 

 

a Vietnamese man hit on my husband?

We have officially been in Vietnam one week. I blame the lack of updates and pictures on the jetlag. On an average day, we go to bed around 9pm and wake up at 5am. That’s a better regiment than what we have back home.

Our days are packed. We spent our first 3 days in Ho Chi Minh enjoying the luxurious Park Hyatt hotel and feasting on local cuisine. And I mean feasting. I’m not sure I’ve eaten this much since Thanksgiving—hmm, bad example…I didn’t even have turkey on that November day…

Let me admit that I’m a picky eater. I grew up on mac ‘n cheese, cheese and mayonnaise sandwiches, and more daily bread intake than the food pyramid allows for in a month. Carbs were not lacking in my diet.

Thankfully my taste buds have matured.

I could literally eat a meal and a half here. Everything has the most delicately flavorful tastes. Enough about food, though. Let’s get on to the sites!

We’re currently in Danang, which is in the northern province of Vietnam. It was where the American airbase was and supposedly the first landing place during the Vietnam War (it’s up for debate…as are many things regarding the war). It feels about 30 degrees hotter up here, but the view from our resort compensates.

Before Danang, though, we were in Ho Chi Minh, as I said. Here are a few highlight pictures from our last few days there.

Eyes closed. Solid. – in front of the President’s home. No one has lived there since the end of the Vietnam War. It’s now a national monument and used for tourists to do their tourist thing.

Incense burning outside a Buddhist temple.

The busy streets of Da Nang

Climbing into the Cu Chi Tunnels – These were used during various war times by the Vietnamese to hide out and ambush their enemies. The Americans actually set up camp right above them and didn’t figure out where they were coming from for months. The tunnels were complete with hospitals, classrooms, a kitchen, and living quarters–all manmade underground.

It was easily 10 degrees hotter in there than it was outside. Woof.

Shooting AK-47’s like the real heroes did.

Clearly I needed some direction.

Our hotel, the Park Hyatt, in Ho Chi Minh!

Complete with tunnel explorations, busy streets, and tour guides named Tre, our time in Ho Chi Minh was superb. But now we’re in Da Nang, the sunny northern coast town of Vietnam. Here’s what we’ve been up to!

We were welcomed to our resort with a traditional dragon fruit drink. And flowers. They really know how to treat a woman right.

Our tour guide cut off Grant’s head…not ok. But a nice lady let me carry the food she was selling! For about 50,000 dong (the equivalent of $2.50). And then made me feel guilty for not buying any food. Oh whoops.

No photo illusion used in this picture. That grown woman is legitimately that much shorter than señor.

I may or may not have stolen one.

Touristy. Check.

Easily the best restaurant we’ve been to Vietnam. Mango in almost every dish, overlooking the river, unbelievable atmosphere.
Whatever you do, don’t overlook this tourist’s hair cut. Business in the front, hippie tourist in the back.

This picture could not possibly be more opposite of what my dad is actually like on vacation.

To be real, most of our days have been spent poolside or playing soccer with some locals (we actually beat some of them. Up top!). We get out every once in awhile, though.

Oh, and a Vietnamese man never hit on señor. Although he did beg him to get drunk with him and offered him a good time. Awkward.

the have’s and have not’s

Since it’s Cinco (Cinco Cinco Cinco Cinco) de Mayo, I figured everyone’s probably feeling pretty celebratory. And I am as well, honestly. Not only am I attending a stellar bachelorette party tonight, I’m also celebrating my first blog entry in over a month.

Up top!

In celebration, I thought I’d share what I have and have not been doing since April 1.

I have been eating an unhealthy amount of ice cream. As in, I went to Dairy Queen 3x in a week. As in, I’ve gained 5 pounds in the past 3 months. Oh whoops.

I have not been cooking recently. Housewife fail…

I have been attending bridal showers!

I have not been planning any baby showers for myself. Because I’m not pregnant. Not even a little bit. If you look closely, you can see the fear in my eyes at the idea. Yikes.

I have been admiring señor’s Euro mullet. But was ok to see it die after its short-lived journey. I don’t think Taylor University Financial Aid was ready for that jelly.

He’s handsome. And he’s mine.

I have been taking a lot more pictures with my new lens. Like engagement pictures for this beautiful couple. Dear David and Nicole, You’re cute. Love, Laura.

I have not been taking many pictures with señor as his enthusiasm for such a thing is lacking.

Ahem, exhibit A.

Aaand, exhibit B.

I hope our not yet existent children enjoy pictures a little more than their faja.

And lastly, I have been workin’ my little toosh off at Olive Garden (or Club Italy, as señor calls it).

I have not had a chance to get a picture of me decked out in my sexy tie, tucked in collared shirt, and slip-resistant all black velcro strapped shoes. Maybe next time. Or never. Or you’ll have to paparazzi me at work sometime. Either way, it’s embarrasingly awesome to go out in public dressed like a maitre d’.

So, my hat’s off to April 1 – Cinco de Mayo for teaching me what I’m blessed to have and not have…and that my blog is to no longer be ignored.

¡Ole!

pilots and photographers.

I like to dream of being a professional photographer someday.

Seeing as the extent of my publishing includes this blog, a friend’s engagement picture book, and and the occasional Facebook album, I might have a long ways to go. But this is a hidden passion of mine. Or not so hidden when you see my bulky camera. It’s beautiful in all its Nikon Digital SLR glory.

But that all changed yesterday.

A friend asked if I could take some photos for a marketing ad with his company and I eagerly obliged. I mean, there was a $50 gift card involved. Why not? Oh, and helping out a friend and gaining experience is a nice thing, too. Anyway, this friend thought since I took their engagement pictures for him and his perdy finance, that I could totally take pictures of airplanes.

They’re super similar.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exactly the same.

I digress. So I accepted the invitation and kind of had a blast doing it. I was a pretty offended when I didn’t get to personally fly the aircraft. Do they not trust me?! But all is forgiven. I have cool pictures of super expensive planes now.

Now señor and I get to gorge ourselves on some delicious goodies. Om nom nom!

Anyone else wanna hire me?

p.s. these photos are © LC Photography. That’s me and my made-up photography business.

battle royale.

Our life is simple. We live in a tiny apartment, señor and I are learning to cook, and we spend most of our evenings with eyes glued to our computer or television screen catching up on the latest social networking goodies or Grey’s Anatomy cries. We also enjoy wandering to our neighbs’ apartment for some cuddle action with her kitty (I hate cats and the allergies they bring, but I love Winston). Presh.

This simplicity and I have a love/hate relationship. Who doesn’t love having minimal responsibility and having the “I’m a 20-something” excuse for every lazy day endeavor? But sometimes, I need more. A little more action, a little kick and spice, a little pop, sizzle, and burn…

A little battle royale.

Battle 1: New Wife vs. Kitchen

In the rink stands an unexperienced woman in one corner and the kitchen that taunts her with its fancy gadgets, utensils, and appliances in the other. Mincer, tenderizer, pulper, chopper, baster–what do these mean?! Homegirl has got some learning to do. But from the looks of it, I think she’s actually Sheen-winning. Up top!

Battle 2: Lazy Reader vs. Big Adult Words

When the words gaseousness, turgescence, purgative, and obfuscations appear in a book, you know you’re in for some head-scratching, eye-widening, brain-expanding reading. What happened to Curious George, where the only thing that stressed you out while you read was wondering whether or not his poor owner was going to find him wandering around the city before supper started? Those were the days. Now it’s curious reader against soul-piercing words and heart-breaking convictions. Let’s hope these tabbed quotes stick to more than just the page for awhile.

Battle 3: March vs. the A-Listers

Señor may know more about college basketball than I do, but he must have forgotten my extensive knowledge of the sport. Who’s got two thumbs and was a basketball statistician in high school? This girl. You can drop off my cool points right there in the comment section.

Current score: 27-26. Wifey leads.

Battle on, simple life!