Photo Lab Recommendations

I heard about Adoramapix from a few talented photography friends.  I began using Adoramapix for my major clients in November, 2017 and now I use their photo lab exclusively for client prints.  Their product pricing is mid-range with excellent results; I am especially fond of 'standout' mounted wall prints produced on real silver halide photo paper.   Their processing time table is spot-on so you know exactly when your delivery with be on your doorstep or in your mailbox.   

https://www.adoramapix.com/app/referral/9507166

Another lab I've used for five years is called Mpix.  Their quality is consistently exceptional and their product pricing is mid-range.  I like having custom photo notepads around the house and Mpix is where I make them.  The notepads are a fun way to write a  quick message to a neighbor or for making vacation preparation notes or the books-to-read list you have promised yourself you will find time for this summer.    

https://www.mpix.com

White House Custom Color is a local photo lab in Eagan, MN.  They have excellent quality and customer service.  They are known for their quick turnaround times and used by high-end photography friends.  Creating an account is required.

https://www.whcc.com

Color Space Art and Imaging does high quality work, offers some different paper options and the canvas work is excellent.  Their pricing is on the high-end.    

http://colorspaceartandimaging.com

Parabo Press offers cool products including color and B&W engineer prints, wide panorama prints, light-weight news prints and glass prints.  The calendars and small prints by Parabo Press have a lush look and feel making them my favorite lab for making gifts. 

https://www.parabo.press

Give Parabo a try by getting photos off your phone and laptop onto thick matte paper.   Four-inch prints are FREE + shipping and five-inch prints are $5 per set + shipping, available in a white border or printed edge-to edge.

https://www.parabo.press/square-print-small

 

Aren't all photo labs the same?

Definitely not.  First, the ability to navigate their website is important so you don't get frustrated with all the details and task of making something.  Second, your investment of time and money to make something is a factor; I have learned by ordering products from at least 6 different labs that there is a significant different in color, sharpness and quality between the labs.  All of the recommended processing labs are available to non-professional photographers and frequently offer discounts, such as first time customer and holiday card orders.  If you are making the investment to have a professional take your pictures, please have them processed by a lab that will yield beautiful prints, enlargements and other products.  The labs listed are recommendations based on my own professional experience as well as other professional photographers.

Each of these labs offers a variety of products and I encourage clients to expand how they use their images.  Incorporate pictures into everyday objects or meaningful gifts for family and friends.  Here are some ideas....

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Make an 8 x 10 inch print of a simple image and place it in a wooden frame for a bedside table.

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Make a book for a child with a focus on their curiosity that will be treasured when they are an adult.

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Create folded cards using an eye catching image with bright colors. Leaving the inside of the card blank gives you space to write personal messages. Or make a postcard.

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Place the birthday girl's face on the invitations to her next birthday party.

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Place three images with similar tones on metal frames for your kid's bedroom.

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Make a 50 page notepad using a soft muted photo so pen ink will still be visible.

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Create a unique coffee mug for a friend.

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Place an image of friends on a small canvas.

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Put a distinct colorful vacation photo on a ceramic mug.

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Make post cards using photos of your best friends and you on shared adventures and give the cards as a surprise gift.

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Make a seasonal 12 x 12 inch book with journal entries for a coffee table.

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Create a photo luggage tag for a birthday gift.

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Make a puzzle using a colorful nature picture.

 

Documenting Life

4/22/2018

Some of you know that my husband David has advanced lung cancer and that he retired in mid-December. Many changes happened quickly as his cancer treatment plan was modified and his long career in healthcare was complete. David is a rock, practical-minded, a thinker. He had a new life to embrace, but he felt lost.

We needed direction. We needed brightness and a new sense of purposefulness.

I have two primary jobs; freelance photography year round and I work at a garden center from April - October. My work has considerable flexibility to set my schedule as well as care for David.  I'm a dreamer.  I am a planner and I felt lost.

By New Years Day, we had tossed about more ideas than there are yellow candies in a 16 oz. bag of lemon drops. We both needed direction, not a To Do List but a revised life plan. We needed meaningful things to look forward to; recognizing that the year ahead was exceptionally precious.   In January we put together an outline of priorities for the year. The priorities evolved into actions, and those were aligned with each month. The outline looked aggressive but we needed direction. I said we may not accomplish it all but we are going to try, and we will flex where we need to adapt.

Each month has a dozen or more activities to focus our time together, time with family and friends, as well as individual activities. Each month also has four personal growth statements (like ways to practice mindfulness and caring) but that's not the focal point of this new photo series. What I am beginning with this series is a glimpse into the whole year. I won't be writing much with each post, nor will the posts be in order chronologically.

It follows the popular phrase of "document your days". A visual story that I hope you will follow.  We are not unique. We are fumbling, doing the best we can, we grieve and laugh a lot, we are working our plans fully understanding that changes can be the largest blessings imaginable.

The series is inspired by our grand daughter, Rosemary Oliver, who is learning to play the ukulele with her Mama. This little girl is daring and brilliant, she a bright light and wakes with hugs to give.  When Rosie and Stevie recently sang the words to and strummed to the song 'Chinese Translation', I knew what I wanted to do.

There has been a break in sharing our story, and it feels like time to get back to it.

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"And I said

What do you do with the pieces of a broken heart

And how can a man like me remain in the light

And if life is really as short as they say

Then why is the night so long

And then the sun went down

And he sang for me this song.

See I once was a young fool like you

Afraid to do the things

That I knew I had to do

So I played an escapade just like you

I played an escapade just like you

I sailed a wild, wild sea

Climbed up a tall, tall mountain

I met an old, old man

He sat beneath a sapling tree

He said now if you got some questions

Go and lay them at my feet

But my time here is brief

So you'll have to pick just three."

            by M. Ward

4/24/2018

Goofing around with friends at Walker Art Sculpture Gardens, conversations about beliefs and health. Settled in to watch "The Greatest Showman" one night, stellar music at Washington Square another night and brunch at The Copper Hen. This was one of three recent "stay-vacations" that have lifted our spirits.

5/6/2018

Rosie turned four years old on February 13th.  A few weeks before her birthday, I decided her Papa Bestafar needed to be with her so I booked a surprise trip to Baltimore.  I was planning to tell David at the airport that we were going to see Tony, Stevie, June and Rosie but it was needed before then. 

On his birthday, January 29th, David was having a rough day...not feeling well and just down.  His 60th birthday and he was wrestling with emotions and discomfort.  For David, having travel plans or fun plans or family time to look forward to has been invaluable.  He focuses his attention on the travel rather than the cancer-chatter that crowds the mind.  It gives us something to share beyond talking about his next appointment or surgery.  Some adventures are small and local while others are big and far away. 

When David heard we would see our kids and grand kids soon I could see his mood shift and he started asking questions about the trip.  Having surprises (little and big) to pull from on difficult days has been a good strategy for forward momentum.  From my experience, the person battling the challenges of chemotherapy requires extra fun built into their weeks. 

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June calls her Ro-Ro.

About 47 times a day.

Happy Birthday sweetest Ro-Ro! 

The seasoned and oh-so talented photographer was sorting out how to pose her family.  Meanwhile, the birthday girl on Stevie's back is falling asleep and I am laughing. 

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Roland Park, Baltimore

     June likes to carry her daddy's key set (upper left photo).

Going to Maryland was exactly what was needed.

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6/24/2018

Do you those days when you are fully present so they move along slowly and suddenly the fireflies are out and you think how did this day get to be dark already?  This was a day like that, one to come back to in pictures.  My father passed away one week ago today.  It is fresh and raw.  David is on a road trip he has dreamed of for years and I am thrilled for him. 

On Saturday, at the cabin, these were the people that brought smiles and calm to a hurting heart.  

Thanks for taking some of the pictures Alex and Nicole.  I love them. 

time in cabo with friends + A Razor Expedition

Getting there

It was a happy Spring Break crowd on the four-hour flight from Minneapolis to Los Cabo.  The Sun Country plane ticket was expensive at $1420/non-stop but we booked close to the departure date.  Totally worth it for the massive amounts of fun we all had.  Getting through customs was a breeze, 15 minutes.  I arrived at SJD airport tired and hungry; longer flights and I are not a great combination.  I was planning to grab a sandwich for the hour drive to the resort but the lone restaurant was closed by six o’clock.  Smaller airports have their own way of doing things, don't they?  The last trek detail was taken care of by our great friend Allene Kind.  She and her husband Chuck have made this trip a dozen times or so - they knew dealing with transportation can be confusing with multiple car rental agents approaching the minute you get through customs.  Chuck and Allene use Cabo Travel Solutions for transportation and the van was there on-time. 

The days were sunny.

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Exploring the terrain and staying at Novispania

Getting Home & Tequila

The return flight was blissfully half-empty and since walking before boarding is my standard it was nice having time to wander.  The time turned out to be surprisingly educational when I walked through the Duty Free Shop. 

Tequila tasting?  Sure, why not.  The rep pouring talked about a liquor I knew little about.

The basics:  Tequila comes from agave plants.  The plants have thorny leaves that are chopped off with big blades.  The way to figure out if you are getting good quality tequila is look at the label.  If the label only states Tequila it is not 100% blue agave.  After learning what goes into what I have typically purchased I doubt I will buy the golden stuff again (caramel coloring, sugar syrup, glycerin – ugh).  The inside of an agave plant has a piña (massive pit) which is crushed and heated.  If the plant is roasted – giving it a smoky flavor – it will become Mescal.  Otherwise the crushed piña becomes juice for Tequila Mixto or 100% Blue. 

Naturally I walked on the plane with two bags of amazing tequila to bring home for Palamos and shrimp tacos.

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Dust and taking on water in river beds.

Cabo Adventures offers Pacific Sunset Sailing, camel rides, swim with sharks and dolphins to mountain biking, all the typical action nature-inspired outings. 

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When the group was talking about going on a Razor for an afternoon with Cabo Adventures, I was like YES!  We have to do that!!! 

I didn't know what a Razor looks like but it sounded like driving crazy fast and dirt and I am all about that.  The all-terrain ATV is made by Minnesota-based Polaris. 

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WELCOME  TO  WHISTLER  -  FEBRUARY 2018

 

Crossing the border in Surrey, British Columbia took a whopping 4 minutes in line.  The Canadian Border Patrol had three questions: "How long do you plan to stay?", "Do you plan to leave anything behind?" and "Have you ever been to Canada before?"

I was eager for a full Canadian experience, “No, sir.  This is my first time in Canada.  You have a great mustache.  Would it be alright if I take your picture?”

“Of course!", he said.  "I am not camera shy."

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I like it here already.

The Sea to Sky Highway is a slow climb from Vancouver to Whistler and oh so pretty.  If you have an opportunity to make the trek, do it during the daylight to see the fjords.  I wish I had taken the time to stop at the viewing areas, but with minimal light left and an unfamiliar winding road, it was best to keep going. 

The Four Seasons Resort in Whistler is a nice place to retreat without feeling overly fancy.  The accommodations were comfortable and quite large, I loved the sitting area.  The bathrooms are downright elegant.  Many resorts bump up prices based on the view from a room.  I stayed in a standard room and liked everything about the view and space.  Even with skis and poles on a shoulder, walking the couple blocks to the mountain base is easy.  If that is not appealing to you, there are frequent hotel shuttles to get around town.   

 View from the walk-out patio. 

View from the walk-out patio. 

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A Taste of Canada

The more ingredients and complications with food, the less interested I am in eating it, so the food was not my favorite part of the trip.  The trend in using edibles from high-mountainous terrain, like root beer bitters and plum bitters and Chaga Tea (made from mushrooms said to have healing properties) seems very old and presented as new.  The trend is interesting but the intensity and number of different flavors in a single dish does not appeal to my simple palate. 

Shasaparilla Bark with bourbon?  Major props for the smokey presentation.

  Lauren Mote, cofounder of Bittered Sling Bitters, crafted the potions.

Lauren Mote, cofounder of Bittered Sling Bitters, crafted the potions.

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I do enjoy the local story-telling about the food.  Listening to staff describe food and beverages is delightful if you allow them the time.  OK, the cayenne pepper, tomato powder with safflower oil popcorn was pretty amazing. 

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  A bowl of oatmeal with slivered almonds, please. 

A bowl of oatmeal with slivered almonds, please. 

Whistler Mountain stands next to Blackcomb Mountain and is considered the largest ski resort in North America yet there is a plethora of things to do beyond clicking into boards.  It is as charming as I expected it would be with cobblestone streets and a friendliness about it.  This was the first time I’ve traveled to a ski resort in winter and not gone skiing.  The first day was trekking around Blackcomb Mountain - and honestly I was wistful looking at the skiers - but it was also fun to watch people, ride and take photos without rushing.  Next time, skiing for sure though!

For me, Gondola Rides are a mix of tranquil swaying and listening to bits of conversation.  I don’t talk much when there is that much stimulation around me.  I think that I could simply take a nap on this thing dangling in air except the views marked by jagged rock formations and gigantic evergreens is not to be missed.  There is nothing quite like gliding 1,427 feet above a valley.  

The gondola operates from 7:30 am to 3:30pm.   The lift is 20 minutes and when you exit you will see a small crowd gathered around 2010 Winter Game Olympic Rings.  It is a kick to watch faces beam as they take their “Winner” poses.  Be prepared for fun chaos with people wandering every direction.  For breaks, if you go at non-peak times to eat and rest the crowds thin slightly.   Try to score a reservation at Christine's On Blackcomb for the views.

River Rafting: Wilderness and Bald Eagle Tour

Squamish Rafting Company began the Whistler, BC operation last summer, but they are not new to rafting or birding, between the owners and crew they have 70 years of experience.   The driver and guide really made the experience great.  I was impressed by their low-key way of sharing animal knowledge with regional information in a warm conversational manner.  I would have enjoyed hanging out with them over a beer when we left the river.  Cool experience with good competent folks.

A little background.  Each January a group of trained bald eagle experts walk a dyke and float the river to make a formal tally of the eagles.  Only the eagles in the trees are counted, none flying. The numbers have grown significantly since DDT was banned as a fertilizer, which ran into water supplies and the birds ate the contaminated fish.  Bald eagles were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.  Listening to the guide describe the ways the chemicals affected the birds was startling. To have come close to losing this majestic part of the ecosystem seems unimaginable. On this stretch of the river, the count has shifted from a single mating pair to 927 eagles counted just one month ago. 

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Eagle Watching is Only A Winter Activity

During the months of November, December and January, few sightings occur with as little as one nesting pair on the tour.  The eagles migrate south of Whistler when the salmon run hits so planning to incorporate this tour on vacation is tricky; there is no guarantee of actually seeing any eagles.  The birds are active with feasting, flying and mating which makes them difficult to spot.  To increase the likelihood of seeing ten or more eagles, float the river in February or early March.  The day I toured was cloudy.

When the food supply is close to depleted, they return to Alaska, northern parts of British Columbia and the Yukon, on the most western edge of Canada.  At this time of year, the food sources are getting minimal so it was fortunate to see ten Eagles.  It was cold and drizzling, which is typical in Squamish.  However, the low pressure brought on by cloud cover keeps the Eagles grounded and a little easier to spot.  The crummy weather is worth the unique winter day on a river.

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An evening of Snowmobiling and Fondue

The last couple days brought another foot of snow and no one should resist playing in fresh powder. When a planned helicopter ride was cancelled due to poor visibility and wind, the Four Seasons Concierge contacted Canadian Wilderness Adventures (CWA).  There was a late afternoon reservation still open for snowmobiling up Blackcomb Mountain with Fondue in a warm charming cabin.  Perfect!

There are two ways to get up to the Fondue Party: Ride in a SNOWCAT or drive a snowmobile.  If you go the snowmobile route, you can drive alone or pair-up with a friend. The staff excelled at their roles, from transportation and ensuring the gear fit properly to the highly competent snowmobile guides.  Not to sound overly boastful but I have made some really good Cheese and Chinoise Fondue dinners over the years.  This was the best I've ever tasted; stellar flavors and the freshest meat and vegetables.  And the fruit pie after dinner?  Homemade.   

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The snowmobiling option is great for young adults and adults.  The Concierge indicated the snowmobiling is for beginners and an easy run, not exactly how I would classify it though.  From my perspective, the driving does not require intermediate-level skill, but I would recommend that the sled driver have some experience before tackling mountain terrain.  Or ride the cool Snowcat. 

Next time I am in Whistler (and I will be!) I would use CWA services in a heartbeat.  They offer anything snow-related from dog sledding to guided ancient forest snowshoe.  The snowmobile night ended up being a highlight of the trip.  I have told several friends about riding switchbacks in the dark on a snowmobile and when you keep retelling a story you know it made a strong impression. 

Recommendations for a river raft expedition: Kids can easily do this trip if they are comfortable sitting on a raft bench and have interest in a 5 hour activity.  Contact the company about two weeks prior to your trip to get current information on potential sightings.

Recommendations for a snowmobile expedition:  The company has everything you need so if you did not bring snow boots, snow pants, ski goggles and face masks do not let they deter you from going.  There is a big difference in weather conditions at the base of a mountain and the mountain top, especially at night.  Dress in layers and bring hand warmers. 

If you have advanced snowmobiling skills look into this ->

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2017 Donations

Each year, I have a goal of donating at least one photo shoot session to a nonprofit organization. 

This year, it was an honor to donate two photo shoot sessions to:

  • The 2017 Newborn Foundation Awards Babies & Badasses Gala Fundraiser (www.newbornfoundation.org) supported by the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.  Annamarie Saarinen, Co-founder & CEO, Newborn Foundation | Coalition, is a neighbor.   As a Minnesota Parental Advocate, Annamarie paved the way for the inclusion of Pulse Oximetry Testing in Newborn Screening across the United States.
  • The 2017 Epilepsy Foundation Rise Above Seizures Gala Fundraiser (www.epilepsyfoundationmn.org), was sponsored by Medtronic, the world's largest medical technology company with headquarters in Fridley, MN.

Heartfelt thanks to attendees for supporting local and global not-for-profit efforts  ~  Julie

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James, on the phone, "I'm not two any more and we have cake!"

Right in the middle of a conversation he will look me straight in the eyes, sometimes with a hand in my hair or resting on my back, and say "I love you, Bammie."  Like a morning songbird he tells of his heart.  James does not believe in waiting for good-bye hugs and kisses or bedtime prayers to tell others they are important to him.

Any time is good.  And really, why wait?  

Today, before cake and before we slide and bounce at the Monkey House, I'm going to hold your little face close and say "James, I love you so so much."  Maybe, just this once, I will get to say it first.  

With grateful hearts here are some of our favorite moments from your first three years.                                                                 Happy Birthday, James  ~  With all our love, Papa and Bamma  (February 10, 2018)    

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 Papa & James at the Cabin (August 30, 2015)

Papa & James at the Cabin (August 30, 2015)

 Grandma Kay & James at the Cabin (August 29, 2015)

Grandma Kay & James at the Cabin (August 29, 2015)

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 Sweet baby James & Me (March 10, 2015)

Sweet baby James & Me (March 10, 2015)

 Daddy & James
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New York City

Traveling the Roads Well-Traveled.

September, 2017

Hotel Basics

I'm a sucker for flowers and Dark Chocolate with Ginger on the pillow.   Beyond sparking clean, it is details that make a hotel noteworthy or just average.  The Bryant Park Hotel has a small footprint but the rooms are largish by New York standards.  The rooms feature Red Oak wood flooring and a fully updated marble bathroom to put it above average on my lodging barometer. 

What makes this hotel noteworthy is the location across the street from Bryant Park between 40th W Street and 42nd W Street.  Even on a lower floor, the view of the park is grand.  Sometimes I get a little claustrophobic in large cities so the 100 year old oak trees - verses another tall building - were helpful.  I haven't been in many heavily populated parks.  I like this one.  It hosts yoga sessions, a kiosk with board games that are free to take to a table, a mid-size carousel and Shakespeare plays on the weekends. Seating in sunshine and shade and somehow feels intimate as hundreds of people walk by. 

Entertainment

The first night in NYC was one of Eric Clapton's final tour concerts.  Clapton says, "I swear this is it, no more…..I know I’ve been threatening retirement for the last fifty years.” 

I've listened to Clapton's music for over three decades but fully appreciated him while watching a performance at the Minneapolis Excel Center and after reading his self-authored book 'Clapton'.   At concerts it seems at times he is playing and singing just for himself - head down, eyes closed and fingers that move quicker than a cat. I wonder, is it still fun?  Nerve wracking?  Or like any job, sometimes you just have to talk yourself into doing it day after day for 50 years?

Clapton is a serious performer.  Only at the very end of the performances I've attended has he cracked a smile on stage and I sense that is more for his band mates than anyone else; as if to say to the musicians "well done, thank you, well done".  But that single smile lights up a stadium.  I wait for it with binoculars in hand.  Walking out after this performance onto 4 Penn Plaza, we talked about going the next night.  It was that sensational. 

While you will never see my words, Eric, I will write them anyway.     You are my Forever Man.  

 

Hamilton: an American musical by Playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda

Hamilton is everything that people talk about so save money and GO when you have an opportunity. 

Minnesota, it is arriving next year!  Information available on this link:  Hennepin Theater Trust

 

Education at The Empire State Building

 

Education at The New York Public Library

 

Ah, pastry and tea time. 

Even on this brief trip I learned a good strategy for getting through a long tourist day.  Hangout in a pastry shop.  Order calming tea, find a table in the back so you can recharge phones and prop your feet up on a chair.  Sitting for an hour helped me refocus for more sightseeing.

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What I didn't expect.

I didn't anticipate being utterly charmed by the spaces at Rockefeller Center where an estimated one million people visit every year.  The plaza is flanked by flags from every nation.  Visitors come from every nation.

I liked the outdoor Rock Garden Cafe with couches in front of the waterfall, a nice spot for shareable salads and desserts.  Founder John Rockefeller envisioned a city within a city over 100 years ago.   The Center opened in 1933 and has a fascinating background story:  Rockefeller Center History

"I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might." ~ John Rockefeller

"Everybody goes every way all the time."

                                                                          ~Jerry Seinfeld

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Walking is my thing.  Manhattan is a style mecca where anything goes and walking in any direction seems to be acceptable.  Ragged sidewalks, bumping shoulder to shoulder, feeling like a fish swimming upstream is fun.  For a long weekend it's a blast.  Everyday it would not be my thing.  We do like walking to mostly everything we want to see.  Madison Square Garden, where Clapton performed, is an easy 20-minute walk from the hotel.  Broadway's Richard Rodgers Theater near Times Square is a 13-minute walk door to door.  Spyglass Rooftop Bar and The Refinery Rooftop Restaurant, both on West 38th Street, are 7 minutes from The Bryant Hotel.  We only had to take a taxi twice - from airport to hotel and back to the airport.  Perfect.  

Photo Shoot Review

After photo shoots are coordinated, photos taken and edited, and clients have time to look through their collection it is fascinating to me to see which images they like most.  Evan is funny and artistic and we had such a great time together, shooting indoors and outdoors on a chilly November day.  

 

From Evan's Mom:  

Oh Julie!!!!  Words can't even describe how thankful I am for ALL the pics!  We absolutely LOVE them!  What you see with your camera is just amazing.  I adore the artistic shots of Evan with the cold breath, and the shots of him on the metal staircase!  All the shots encompass our vision for what we were looking for! 

Thank you!

This photo was selected to be part of a 2016 Art Gallery, followed by hanging on a conference room wall at Tradition Companies Office in Edina for one year.   What an honor!  And because that lovely little girl is our grand daughter the large print sits on our living room mantle.  The photo was taken in Blaine, Minnesota in October, 2015. 

A special thank you to the Art of Edina for including my photography in the art installation and to Tradition Companies for their ongoing commitment to supporting local artists. 

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Summit Ave. Garden tour

Summit Avenue is a famous street in St. Paul, Minnesota. It is located in a heritage district where the homes are grand and preserved to retain their architectural foundation. Several of the houses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a gorgeous 4.5 mile walk during any of our four seasons and what draws my attention even more than the stately homes is the landscaping. The variety of plants and trees feed my passion for gardening and landscaping. If you have an opportunity to drive or walk or jog down Summit Ave you will be in for a memorable day.

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These photos were taken during the Summit Ave Garden Stroll, June, 2017. The event allows you to walk around and behind the private homes, often meeting with the homeowner and hearing the pride they take in tending to their fruit trees, annual flowers, perennials and vegetable gardens. The next garden stroll will be held Summer, 2019.

 

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Thanks to the residents for the warm welcome into your yards!

my kurt jorgensen band journey

You hadn't heard of Brianna Tagg and Kurt Jorgensen?   Consider yourself introduced to two of the greatest musicians you could find.  They will wow you and you will want to see them a second time....that's a guarantee.
 

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My brother Steve and I have been on a live band music kick for the last year.  We were in his big truck and Steve says "listen to this."  He puts in Jorgensen Tagg's CD titled "Love Wins" and I fell in love with the sound after the first three songs.   I tried to bribe Steve into letting me 'borrow' the CD.........ummmm, no.  But, he says, let's go over to P.D Paddy's Music Bar in Stillwater so you can hear them live.  Better yet, Steve says, I will email Kurt to make sure they have their newest CD there and I will buy you the "Love Wins" CD.  Deal.

Two weeks later I am sitting next to the stage.

The full band has opened for Foghat, America, The Little River Band and Joe Cocker - - big names , big outdoor festivals.  But here's the thing.  They perform in small places every month which makes them accessible to watch up close.  Their fan base is clearly strong when band members spend time chatting with familiar faces during breaks.

We are fortunate in the Twin Cities to have a ridiculous amount of talented musicians.  Add The Kurt Jorgensen Band to your list of must-see groups; both the full band and when Brianna and Kurt play as an acoustic duo. 

Is it the lyrics?  Definitely. 

Is it the soulful magic blend of guitars lead by Kurt?  Yes. 

Is it the life time commitment to making exceptional music by all the band members?  For sure.

Is it Brianna's powerhouse voice?  Absolutely.

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Kurt Jorgensen - Vocals, Acoustic, Nashville Tuning, Resonator, Bass, Electric and Classic Guitar, Mandolin and Percussion

Brianna Tagg - Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Hammond Organ, Piano and Percussion

Jeff King - Alto and Bass Sax, Flute

Lars-Erick Carlson - keyboard

Brenda Lee King - Bass Guitar

David J. Ross - Drums

C Harris - Conga/Percussion

Their website is evolving and it is an honor that some of my pictures will be part of their branding.  Find upcoming shows here.

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All images property of Julie Oliver Photography, taken Sunday August 30, 2017.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Forever. Psalm 23

The pastor said, "Keep taking pictures.  They will be an important part of healing and comfort."

I wasn't going to take more than a couple distant shots as people were gathering for my nephew Todd's memorial service in May, 2017.  I wanted to assure this fine pastor that I would definitely not take pictures during a sacred service.  He responded with, "You definitely should....keep shooting, girl."  

I wasn't going to share the pictures either but with the families encouragement, I share these images to continue the mission to de-stigmatize depression.  Todd's life and death could be any of ours.    

 

 My husband gathered various woods from our workshop to make this box for the ashes. 

My husband gathered various woods from our workshop to make this box for the ashes. 

I'm glad I did this for our family.  They are valuing the visuals of a day that was a blur with tired brains and heavy hearts.  I'm also glad I did this as a photographer because seeing genuine emotion, the most raw kind, is the place I want to be.

 

It is a wonder how flowers can bring deep feelings when let go with love.    

Todd, we honor your life with love and respect.

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An April Photography Gallery: What I know to be true about women.

During the month of April, 2017, I wrote brief narratives about women that have been important in my life.  Several of the women I have known for a long time with a few newer friends that I am thankful to have met. 

What prompted me to do this project was recent thinking about how women are absolutely unique yet share many qualities, appreciating the beauty that resides in every woman, and the unrest I was feeling about the change in presidential leadership with a desire to feature the important roles of women.  

exploring the Hallmarks of Washington

april, 2017

You won't get bored in the State of Washington.

We have family that lives in different regions of Washington State so every few years we fly out for a long weekend and see something different every time.  This trip was all about steel head trout fishing, the Museum of Glass and seeing if I could catch a fish at the Public Market.  Of course we had to make time for one winery because, come on.....it's Washington!  

Fishing
It was two long days of fishing for some of the family; David, Nicole, Steve, Grant and Terry.  They were often cold and rained on but enjoyed every hour of being together.  Two shoreline lunches over a fire helped warm them up and dry their gloves out.  The best advice is connect with a fishing guide who will have all the equipment needed, know how to navigate the water and where to go, and maybe more importantly coordinate pole placement so no tangled fish lines! 

The Museum of Glass is an afternoon well spent.  I was surprised that most of the finished sculptures were not behind glass; even the most intricate fragile pieces are highly accessible for viewing and taking pictures.  In the huge art studio which is housed inside a 90-foot stainless steel cone, is the 'Hot Shop' side.  'Hot' as in kilns, molten glass, torches and sweaty bodies.  Some of the world's best glass blowers come to Tacoma to use this space.

 Featured Artisan John Miller and Crew Leader

Featured Artisan John Miller and Crew Leader

The team of glass blowers designed and formed a giant glass of Guinness including the use of white powder to represent the beer foam.  Notice how the top is always kept heated so it stays pliable.  If the glass cools too much, slicing off the top to create the wide open mouth of the glass would result in the whole piece of art shattered.  

Welcome to Stottle

If you enjoy wine, a stop for wine tasting is a given in this beautiful state.  Visiting Stottle was less than a two hour visit including travel time from Lacey.  The business is primarily the dream to reality and hard work of Winemaker Josh Stottlemyer.   After leaving web development and internet marketing, Josh along with his wife Amy, ventured into the wine making business.  Tasting Room Coordinator, Lucy, was so welcoming and jovial I didn't want to leave our conversation.  

"Josh and Amy bought the winery in Yakima Valley specifically for the exceptional grapes nearby.  Yakima Valley is east of the Cascades which is significant to winemakers on the western coast.  The damp winds are blocked by the Cascade Mountain Range to the east which assists with keeping the vines drier and the sun warmer.  Some grapes like cooler temperatures but too much moisture and inadequate sun is definitely not good for grapes."
~ Lucy

I tried a combination flight of reds and whites.  A personal favorite is The Lucille Late Harvest, a dessert wine named after a grandmother on Amy's side of the family.  A little bubble wrap and I brought five bottles of wine home in my checked luggage.  That trick works every time. 

Stottle's retail space and tasting room is part of the Urban Winery Movement, keeping access close to buyers and tasters.  The store is tucked into an industrial area rather than more traditional wineries on a winding road in a rural setting.  The Urban Winery strategy caters to wine lovers that work and live in Puget Sound.....or in my case, a girl out for a drive looking to experience local flavor.

 

Pause long enough to enjoy a State Park

Seattle’s hustle and bustle is a big draw for visitors.  However, you can move ever so slightly in any direction from the big city and you will find Washington’s abundant beauty.  The obvious choices are to go to a mountain range and climb parts of Mt Olypus or Mt Rainier.  I love every minute we can get near a mountain side.  Yet the lush forest greens and rolling lake waves have a particular pull for me. 

I have to balance any trip with time in nature.  With more than 100 state parks it is easy to find a place to slow down and savor quiet time.

Saltwater State Park is located in King County.  I found it by googling ‘parks’ because I wanted to have a solo adventure but only had a couple hours available for a respite.  Since we were staying in Auburn, WA, Saltwater State Park popped up as the closest destination.  I didn’t have time to explore much of the park’s 87.4 acres but it was satisfying enough to walk a trail and wander down to the shore.  I finally shut off my phone, parked it on a log and just listened.

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Recommendations for a day trip:  Dress in layers because within any given hour it can be sunny, rainy, warm and chilly, especially near the water and changing altitudes; take a kite to run along a beach; bring a camera so you can revisit the remarkable views; pack a picnic of fruit, cheese and crackers to go with one of Washington’s exceptional wines.

Iconic Seattle Public Market

Aren't outdoor markets energizing?  Between the vibrant colors of fruits and vegetables and flowers and the unique handcrafted tee shirts to cutting boards there is, in fact, something for everyone.  I am partial to the street musicians.   

If you get to Pike Place Fish Market we highly recommend asking if you can catch a fish.  .Just ask for one of the fishmongers that has the best quarterback arm and Bam! you can catch a salmon thrown from 25 feet away.   

Thanks to Jaison Scott for having a great arm and not throwing THAT at me!

 

Till next time, Washington.  We love ya!

Ice Castles Minnesota 2017

Another cool day in Stillwater. 

Rosie turns three!!!

Soon to become three years old, Rosemary.

Our love for you shoots to the starry heavens, circles the moon again and again and returns home. 
                                                                                                                         Bamma & Papa Bestafar

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The American Swedish Institute's 'Winter Solstice Celebration'; December 2015

 

Baltimore over Labor Day Weekend; September 2015

 

The Norway House; Minneapolis, December 2016

Happy Birthday, little love!

a winter carnival snow day

Snow was hauled into the Minnesota State Fairgrounds for one of the newer events of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.  I love seeing the fairgrounds used year round and the mass of the sculptures and snow slide were perfectly suited for this space.   The sculptures were created in a couple days with judging completed on January 29th.    

It was a classic cold Winter Carnival day with bags of Carmel Corn and cups of cocoa galore.  The bright sky didn't warm things up much but that was in the favor of the sculptors that required chilly weather.   

Brothers Kurtis Klett (left), Keith Klett (right) and Mike Leider (not picutred) won the Sculptor's Choice Award and Vulcan's Choice Award.  This was their fourth year in the competition. 

Congratulations, gentlemen!

 

Thanks for organizing a fun family day, Saint Paul Winter Carnival Vulcans!

a Holiday Glogg Tour at The American Swedish Institute

December 11, 2016

It was the most picturesque visit imaginable!! 

Pulling into the American Swedish Institute is a personal highlight at least once a year because each visit to this grand property is unique.  The staff and caretakers ensure the grounds and building are immaculate; I have yet to see a single bulb not working or smudged windows or complete order in the gift shop.  It's as if a few unseen elves scurry in a few times a day to keep everything in order.

Tonight's visit was special for two reasons: time spend with darling friend Stephanie Olson and my first time on a private tour of the mansion.  The tour was guided by Scott Pollock, Director of Exhibitions, Collections & Programs.  They served glögg – a warm, mulled wine – and a few appetizers from traditional Nordic and Jewish cuisine but it was the storytelling that made this a memorable evening.  Mr. Pollock explained how the rooms are a dedication to five Nordic countries-- Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland.  Each room was decorated with holiday symbols to honor the customs of Hanukkah as well as the countries they represent.  The glassware and table settings are reason enough to wander each room.  Add the views from several rooms with freshly fallen snow and it felt like walking into a fairy tale.

 

In the Swedish Room, there was an emphasis on the handcrafted glass pieces with plates recently used at the Noble Peace Prize dinner that honored Minnesota native Bob Dylan. 

 

A 1965 Volvo was on loan from Morton Minneapolis Volvo for an uber quaint courtyard.  

 Stephanie was completely charmed by the car and elves.  Just beautiful; the woman and the setting.  We were glad we braved the cold to spend time outside.       

Stephanie was completely charmed by the car and elves.  Just beautiful; the woman and the setting.  We were glad we braved the cold to spend time outside.       

Our tour guide explained the home construction that began by the Turnbald Family in 1904 took four years to complete.  Swam Turnbald came from a small village in Sweden at the age of 8 with his family.  They originally landed 50 miles south of where the Turnbald Mansion would be built.  Swam was an ambitious young man and tired of farming.  Rather than being discontent, he went to work for the Svenska Amerikansak Posten, a Swedish newspaper, as a typesetter.  Within 10 years he owned the most widely circulated Swedish language newspaper in America.  The newspapers popularity took off when they began using color print for adult and children's cartoons, which was trendsetting in the newspaper publication industry.  Mr.  Turnbald acquired significant wealth and originally built the imposing structure to be a private residence.  To read more about the years the family lived in the mansion and when it was donated to the American Institute for Swedish Art, Literature and Science click here.  

Next year they may tackle a skating rink!  My family would be thrilled to glide around the American Swedish Institute courtyard on skates.  Followed by hot chocolate with whipped cream, of course.