New Beginnings, New Year, New Life

S and I are competitive.  We thrive on competition between the two of us.  Here’s a video we made showing one of our adventures seeking out the perfect combination of things we needed to shoot a picture that we had envisioned together.  Enjoy the video, share it on your social media sites and please vote which picture you think wins this shoot out in the comments!!

To whom it may concern…

It’s been over 25 five years since we spoke last and now I have one more request. Although we haven’t spoken in years, your scent still seem to linger around me every year. The thought of you stresses me out beyond my boundaries.
Twenty five years ago I was carefree boy living off everything my parents worked hard to provide for me. Now I am grown raising two kids of my own on my own. They’ve written you letters and have read yours. They adore you and talk about you all the time as my teeth dig into my tongue I keep silent.
I’ve believed in people or things before and no matter what the end result is always disappointing. I understand faith, but also take it with a grain of salt. So this year beyond all sensible intelligent reasoning I am going to be that desperate Dad with a mindset of a nine-year old boy. Here goes nothing.

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Dear Santa,

Thinking back to the last time I wrote you my tiny hands were covered in dirt and pancake syrup was smeared across my lips. I remember asking for a go-cart or a dirt bike.  That was all I wanted.  Nothing else.  I remember hoping and dreaming for that every Christmas until the day I stopped believing.  Please, please, please Santa, I thought, I’ve been good.  Just please give me one of those things and my life will be complete.  It never happened.  I know the struggles my parents had with you and this idea as well.  Little did I know.  As so many times before, I wish I knew then what I know now.

Now here I am, four days before my kids will get the morning they wait for every year. With dirt under my nails struggling and crawling out of this hell hole I have endured for so many years, I dread that day.  I dread I won’t see the smiles they deserve or hear the laughter that I yearn for.  Divorce not only destroys the soul it deteriorates the heart.  It builds walls of faithlessness and hope vanishes from your vocabulary.  These last few years have destroyed me financially and this will be the first time in my kids life we will not be in our own home for Christmas.   Sadly enough I’m not the only Dad in this situation.  To think about buying fuel for the car or a Elsa doll for Christmas sickens me.

This year I only ask for one thing,

Hope…

Hope for a brighter future in our new life, our new normal.

It was taken from me years ago, I just want it back for us.

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Joy is overflowing today…

This divorce process is so crazy. So many ups and downs and roller coaster days. I just want to get OFF this coaster and start settling down in this new chapter of my life. Today was a good day. And it looks like very soon I will be able to do just that. Meanwhile as I was driving all over Tarnation with my angels in tow to pick up my oldest angel, the boys and I spied this huge building on a hill in Fort Worth. Although S was absent, you guys know by now that if we see something like this, we will literally drop everything for an adventure
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The kids and I hopped out excited to see if we could find any open door to this amazing building.

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I was hoping that since it’s Saturday, some smart bride would have chosen this as her venue! But dang it, every door was locked tight.

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Ohmygosh, now I am dying to shoot a wedding here. It was so beautiful on all sides. The portraits I could shoot here!!

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Maybe this is where I’ll shoot my family this year!

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The reason S and I love old abandoned or just plain old buildings is because of the history. Our imaginations take off picturing the years of memories these places hold.

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So beautiful. They are holding a candle light ceremony on Christmas Eve. You’d better believe I’ll be there so I can see the inside of this beautiful building!!

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Abandoned but not lost

H and I were driving back roads waiting for a meeting and we had 45 minutes to kill. I was telling her how I haven’t taken as many pictures lately and that I kind of wanted to go just find something abandoned to shoot. She said nothing…. Then just smiled. “Oh no” I thought, I know that grin all too well. She spun the car around and we ended up here.
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As we pulled up I felt the same feelings I have when I watch the late night ghost hunters shows. Fear of the unknown and uneasiness in my gut all while tripping out of the car with excitement! The first thing I noticed was the outdoor seating for services near the abandoned church.

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It was eerie. I felt like I was at a crime scene, almost as if I knew about a terrible secret and these were the clues. Then I heard the creepiest noise that gave me chills. The sound of a dilapidated piano so out of tune it hurt to hear. I turned around slowly…. Only to see H pecking at the ivory on this piano at the head of this ghostly outdoor service. She said ” you have to come see the detail in the woodwork S!” This is what I saw.

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The craftsmanship was beauty to my eyes. I sat for a minute and just stared. We are in times of iPods and instant downloads . To think, there once was a time of “non” instant gratification. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine the smell of the summer sun and handcrafted hand me down leather boots that pumped these pedals.

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The thoughts of the crimes scene proved true when I started reading the headstones. The story playing out in my head started to make sense.

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It was time to go. Time to get back to real life. Even if only for a matter of minutes I was taken to a place lost in time. A place I had never seen, an escape from my reality. It was nice to get lost in it.

Go ahead, make my day!

Every Wednesday, Thursday and every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday thru Monday morning. That’s what I got for devoting the last 13 years of my life loving and building my family. I had to pay a guy who barely knows my name thousands of dollars to rearrange my whole life and everything I knew. My whole existence of being a loving Dad and loyal husband is now dictated to me through pieces of paper, fancy stamps, and unreadable signatures. I am a bitter single Dad. Fueled by hate, anger, and confusion I will rebuild one day at a time.  Keep chipping away at this mold and see what becomes of who you threw away and buried deep in your soul. I may be fragile, but I won’t crack.

Today was proof. Today was what I needed. Today a complete stranger made my day. Today this lady did what most people only think about.

Today is Wednesday, my day to pick up the kids. I parked as usual, tucked my hands in my pocket, pointed my nose to the ground to block the wind and walked toward the school to get my angel. There’s only a hand full of people who engage me when I arrive because I don’t look like the rest, no suit, no tie, no expensive car and designer clothes. Just me and my big beard. It doesn’t bother me and I don’t blame them, I may seem unapproachable. Most times I’m fine with that. Today was different.

“Mr. Kingston” I heard from behind me. “No one knows me here” I thought, so I kept walking. “MR. KINGSTON!” I heard again and this time a little louder. I wasn’t sure what to expect. “Hey your little girl is in the same class as my little boy” She said. Again…. I thought to myself how do you know me? “She is such a well-behaved sweet little girl and I just wanted to tell you.” Confused and proud I said “thank you!” She told me more as we walked together to the school. “It’s really something the way she looks up to you, she thinks the world of her Daddy!” She continued with “I’m here with my boy for a lot of the activities in the classroom and your girl speaks so highly of you. She even asked if we could pray for you when you were sick. You know Mr. Kingston it’s really amazing to see the connection you have with her.”
I was speechless. Absolutely speechless. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear. To know I’m doing the right thing and complete strangers take the time to tell me about it was surreal. The bitterness in my blood was beginning to ooze from my pores being pushed out by pure joy and bliss. For that moment all my worries were washed away, all my pains healed, and any doubts were dissolved. To that I want to say thank you Mrs “I never caught your name because you just made my day.”  Thank you… you helped make this Dad stand a little taller today.

All it took were words and courage.

Remember, unapproachable or not, speak up. You never know who’s day you may make.

Want to learn how to shoot like this?!

In our many business ventures together, one of the new avenues we will be offering to our awesome local followers will be photography school!  In this industry, the only way to get better is to practice and learn.  When I decided to become a pro photographer, I literally signed up for every single traveling seminar that PPA offered in my local area.  I even traveled to Austin twice for classes and once to Los Angeles for a weekend course.  So many times I was disappointed and felt like these photographers were in it for the money and were actually cutting major corners with their curriculum.  It felt more like a “look how freaking awesome I am” rather than, “here’s how to be freaking awesome.”  I want to teach with complete honesty and full disclosure!  Hands on work shops.  Teaching everything from beginners courses focusing on the basics, how to take better photos of your kids, shooting for scrapbooking, etc…  All the way to the advanced skill sets including posing, studio lighting, bridals, etc, with models and all.  I will even offer a shadow course where you can follow me on actual shoots and even weddings.

We are working towards finishing out a LARGE studio space that we will be offering these classes in, as well as renting this space out to photographers who haven’t yet had the opportunities to get their own studio spaces or equipment.  I’ll be offering classes on how to use the lighting, reflectors, etc and my whole studio and props will be available for rent.  This studio will also have land with props built all over as well, that will also be available for rent for local photogs!  So stay tuned!  We have BIG things in store for our Pair of Spades Ranch!!

Here’s one of my favorite shoots from last week.  Learning how to see light and setting your manual exposures are paramount to get images like this!

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It is done

After 8 months of guilt, fear, regret, sadness and the prospect of hope and future happiness…  My divorce is finally final.  My D day was Dec 3.  I stood before a judge, and my lawyer went over our divorce provisions, I asked him to sign the decree and he signed them, looked at me and said, Good Luck.  The entire process took between 2-3 minutes.  3 minutes, standing before a stranger to end almost 20 years of marriage.  My ex husband sat in the back of the courtroom, watching the process.  Face blank of emotion, if anything, possibly just a small expression of shock that this was actually happening.  It was actually done.  We immediately drove to Fort Worth, to our bank, so that M could take my name off our joint checking account.  The final step to our separation.  As I drove home, I read an email of support from S, telling me to be strong, that he knows this won’t be easy, but to think of this as the first day of the rest of my life.  I immediately started crying.  My emotions were close to the surface the entire day, especially as my lawyer read off the names of the children involved in this divorce.  My eyes filled with tears, my chin quivered and my voice was shaky as I looked at the judge and confirmed that yes, those were our children that are now under state mandated custody orders.  After reading S’s words of support, my emotion spilled over and I drove to his shop to be with my best friend.  I walked in and he asked me how it went.  I sat down and said that I got emotional when…..  and couldn’t contain the tears any longer.  My heart is completely broken for my children.  I never wanted this broken family for them.  I never wanted them to grow up in a home where they had to fear what walked into the door after work.  I never wanted to have to explain why I am crying so often.  And the worst part, is having them not ask why I was crying, because they knew. They were there, and they were crying with me.

And now to have them in this situation where they have to ask who they will have Christmas with?  Who will we have New Year’s with?  Spring break?  Summer break?  What will happen next?  In many ways, now that this divorce is final, our future is more uncertain than our past.  Because now we have to look to those papers to find the answers to those questions.  Now mom will have to work full time and can’t be at all of their daily school functions, because she chose the chance for happiness over continuing to live in an empty marriage.  To my angels I say, take your time when you grow up!  Don’t rush into a marriage because you feel the need to be needed, or because it’s the first time you’ve felt love.  Pay attention to the little things that worry you.  They may be the red flags that you shouldn’t over look!  What does your family say about your choice of love?  Do they love and support him/her because they see that they make you into a better person?  Are they kind to you always?  Do they lift you up, hold you when you are hurting, comfort your pains and make you laugh through your tears?  Do they criticize your every move?  Make you question what you say before you say it because you are afraid of saying or doing something wrong that will shame them?

No relationship will be easy!  No marriage is without work!  But when the two of you grow so far apart that you feel like virtual strangers and silence is the resounding sound of your conversations, then something is direly wrong.  Look inward.  There is no relationship where blame lies directly on one person.  Talk to each other!  Get off your phones!  If the only joy and laughter you have is because of your virtual conversations and relationships or friendships that you have online, YOU are destroying your own marriage.  Fix what you have.  If there is love left in your heart for your spouse, if there is a good time in your marriage that you long to get back to, then freaking work on it and get back there.  Because the heart break and tears in your children’s eyes after divorce isn’t worth it.  Every sadness and tear that is shed by my children breaks my heart anew.  While I know that this decision was the right one for my family, the fear and unknown have been so frightening through this process.  And although the papers have been signed, I feel as though this unknown has just begun.  There is so much left for me to figure out.  Where to live, how to provide for my family, how to still be there for them at the capacity that I always have, while still finding a way to provide for their needs.  And their emotional needs are constantly at the forefront of my mind.  Have I done the right thing?  Yes, of that I have no doubt.

I think the most difficult part of this process has been me slowly losing faith in my belief in the mormon church.  Not only has my family been broken apart, but the beliefs that I have clung to my entire life are being tested to their very core.  In this time of upheaval when I need my church family the most, I continue to be met with judgements and ostracism.  The word “apostate” has been used to describe me more than once.  I absolutely believe in God.  I absolutely know that Jesus Christ is my Savior.  But I continue to be hurt by the words of those that profess to be members of the “only true church.”  People that I have never even met have said that they aren’t surprised that my kids aren’t going to church much anymore because, after all, I have an “anti-mormon” blog.  Instead of approaching me and saying, jeez, I can understand how this process must be unbelievably painful and difficult, what can we do to help (please know that there are many many good people who have done just this, and for them I am eternally grateful), but it is difficult to look past the sharp slaps in the face and judgement and outright lies that I continue to get from complete strangers in my faith.  To my best friends that have given me never ending friendship, support and love, I say thank you.  From the bottom of my heart you have saved me again and again. Without you and the laughter you shared with me along with wiping away my tears in my low times, I will never forget you.  I never could’ve made it through this process without you all.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I will find my future.  I will deal with my faith.  I will provide for my children.  I am grateful that my ex husband has been kind throughout this process, and has looked inward to try to become the father that he now realizes that his children need.  I am strong.  I can do this.

My haiku about dog diarrhea

Beautiful Boxer
What is this diarrhea?
I am so lucky

Oh I love haikus. So simple. So beautiful. Even when written about the perfect ending to a completely stressful and overwhelming day. I have court tomorrow. The judge Is signing our papers, making our divorce finally final. Today was filled with Running errands, looking for a new home for my angels and I, Trying to separate out our phone bill, our finances, edit images for all of my client’s Christmas cards. Never enough time. And to top it off, I get to come home to a laundry room full of diarrhea. Such a lucky girl. What do you guys do after a day like today?! How do you decompress and let it go rather than curling up in a fetal position and refusing to move unless someone needs a ride to the ER?

Sparks fly

So H and I were trying to figure out new and creative ways to take photography.  Granted this is not new… it was new to us.  We made it an adventure to learn something new, while videoing it as well.  Be sure to like our facebook page and subscribe to our new youtube channel.  Hope you enjoy!

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We Be VIP’s!!

Everyone who knows S knows how much he loves airplanes.  All types of airplanes.  Big ones, fast ones, loud ones, slow and fat ones.  Lord knows, if they make sounds, S will drop what he’s doing no matter how important it is, and run outside with his eyes to the skies trying to find the airplane that is making all the noise.  He loves to quiz me on what the letters in their names mean.  What does B stand for?  Ballistic? I say.  Rolls his eyes.  Bomber H.  Bomber.  What does the C stand for?  Carbonite? I say.  Lord H!!  You know nothing!  Cargo.  It stands for Cargo.  I have so much to teach you, he says.  With this glimmer in his eyes, because his passion for these planes runs so deep, it’s something I won’t ever completely understand.  His love affair with aviation.

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A couple months ago we went into Fort Worth Camera and were chattin’ it up with our buddy MacKenzie and he told us about this VIP Pit that FW Camera is sponsoring at the next Air Show.  If I had a quarter for every time S said the words Air Show to me over the past six months, I would be literally drowning in quarters.  We asked what happens in the VIP Pit.  Oh, you know, says MacKenzie.  Just a private sunrise tour of the flight line, and a private photo pit right on the runway, along with sponsors there with giant lenses you can use.  S looks at me with the biggest eyes I’ve ever seen, and I knew.  We had to do it.

After forking over 6 months of our salary for the VIP Tickets, we walked out of FW Camera with a little jump in our steps.  Fast forward a couple months, and the alarm is going off at 4:30am.  Groggily we get dressed, grab coffee and step out the door into the pitch black early morning and head an hour away to the runway.  Not surprisingly, we were the first ones there.  Finally, everyone else shows up and we are allowed to walk in.  Go ahead!  (the airshow ppl say), you’ve got the run of the field to take all the pics you want as the sun rises.  Then meet me at the big bomber and I’ll take you along the ThunderBird Flightline as the sun comes up!  We spent the next couple hours walking along, looking at the planes while S took pic to his heart’s delight.

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This was the very first day that my arm was out of the super sling from my shoulder surgery and it felt very stiff and sore.  I wasn’t able to do any shooting, and we were with a group of about 25 middle to retirement aged men.  I wondered how long it would take before I heard the words, Soooo…  You just came along with your husband for the fun of it?  Paid all this money just to tag along?  Are you having fun texting over here on your phone while we men take all the pictures? I responded with 1) He’s not my husband, he’s my best friend and 2) I’m a professional photographer who just had shoulder surgery and 3) BAAAAMMMM!  (I was holding my phone, editing the pics I took with our GoPro at the time.)  I flipped my phone around and showed him these:

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He was like….  WHAAAAAATTTT?  I smirked and walked away to take some selfies with my best friend.

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Then S ran around taking more pics of the Thunder Birds as the sun rose.  It was a beautiful morning.

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Holy Cow, my partner in crime is ALMOST as talented as me.  Soon we were ushered off the flight line as the show was about to begin.  Ummm….  I meant it was about to begin in 4 mother flipping hours.  S and I sat in our chairs, rested our heads on each other and took a nap until they finally decided to start the show.  And once it began, it was pretty cool!  This was my first airshow and S delighted in every single gasp and jump and scream that came out of me every time we were unknowingly buzzed by giant loud aircraft.

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Here we are in the photo pit.  (before the crowd arrived)

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This is shockwave.  A giant semi truck that blew a ton of flame and smoke out of his butt.  (of course he made his appearance right when S went to the porta potties!  I was frantically texting him…  SHOCKWAVE, SHOCKWAVE, HURRY HURRY!!!!)  I was also screaming as I texted him because shock wave was so loud and the flames were SO hot!!tbirdsflag

 

We saw a TON of parachuters (which was cool the first time, but by the 257th one was super boring and not worth the crink in my neck)

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And here’s a big airplane.  (insert S rolling his eyes because I have no idea which one it is)

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Here is S behind his giant 100-500 lens.  That thing was a beast and super hard to use!

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This is how S takes a selfie.  We can’t post without a stink face somewhere.

And this is how we passed the time while we waited for the Thunder birds to be announced.  OMG it took FOREVER for them to take off!

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And finally, this is the photo pit after the crowd arrived.  We had such a fun day and by the time we left we were absolutely exhausted.  I think we both went to bed for the entire night by 8pm.  So much fun that day.  Thanks S for an awesome day.  Can’t wait till the next one in April!

 

When Wood Bend Photography met Kingston Creations, Pair of Spades was born.

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