In honor of a little #TBT, I wanted to take a second to reminisce about the blog I had a few years back called Melissa From the Ground Up.  It was a quaint little blog with the tagline “Almost everything is better from scratch. Here is to living simple, doing it yourself, and being connected to life from the ground up.”  There was really no purpose behind this blog except that I liked to share my fascination with learning about things in their original form.  As a family, we pretty much live by this, not because we feel like we’re trying to prove anything, but just because it is fun and interesting, and for most things, it just feels right.  (It also could be that we might be a little weird, but I’m ok with that.)

This blog featured anything from gardening, to kid projects, to our DIY home improvement projects.  It had instructions on how to make your own yogurt or bake your own bread, and even a recipe for homemade deodorant.  It shared our adventures in solar ovens, home birth, cloth diapers, my challenge to myself to not use the microwave, and a story about why you should wash your vegetables first before eating them straight out of the garden.  (If you missed that last one, don’t ask, I’d rather not relive it.)

Anyways, there is a point to this reminiscing.  Taking a step back and looking at all those little things that inspire me, it was a total “duh!” moment as to why I have fallen head over heals in love with, and have a sudden infatuation with film photography.  

I admit, being in my own little photography bubble, the first time I heard about photographers using film instead of our expensive and fancy new high tech digital cameras, I was intrigued but honestly a little confused.  Film is a dinosaur I thought.  Why would someone want to use it?  Film is a slow, film is expensive, and most importantly, you can’t look at that little screen on the back of your camera!  AHHH!  Who even develops film anymore?

My confusion quickly ceased when I began looking at other photographers’ images.  It had been years since I had looked at one really.  What did I see?  Character, softness, beauty, details, and glorious glorious nostalgia.  I can’t even fully describe it, but I was instantly in love.  I could not (and still can’t) stop staring at film photos.  Even photos from my heroes in the digital photography world, I would not study them like I do almost every film photo I view.  

I quickly began reading everything that I could get my hands on about film in an effort to try to relearn it.  I took photography in college, but that was forever ago and it was only black and white.  How does the process even work?  

After figuring out the basics, I couldn’t get my hands on a film camera soon enough.  I pulled out and dusted off my old Pentax film camera that I used for my college photography courses.  I went out and bought batteries for it and a few rolls of film.  Unfortunately, when I fired it up, I found that it wasn’t working properly.  I then searched ebay, and after some research I decided on and bought a Nikon F100.  I got it in the mail, shot two rolls with my kids and sent the film off to a lab to process.  

Then, like waiting for Christmas morning, I waited for the scans to show up in my email box.  I was literally dreaming about them.  Would the exposure be correct?  Were any of them even in focus?  Was I going to even like them after all of the studying I just did, and money I spent on the camera, film, and processing costs?

Finally, I saw the email I was waiting for.  “Your scans are ready.”  I downloaded the files and opened them up for a look.  At first, I honestly didn’t know what to think of them.  They were so different than what I am used to looking at in my digital work. 

…So I closed my laptop and walked away.  

About 20 minutes later, after the first soaked in, I opened the files again for a second look.  With that second look, I realized how much I really loved them.  


I was sold.

The details were amazing.  Its like each hair on my daughter’s head was clear and distinct, but also soft and natural at the same time.  The highlights were retained, even when overexposed.  The skin tones were beautiful.
Best of all I didn’t have to spend hours editing them like I would have if they had been digital photos.  They were perfectly beautiful on their own.  A few tweaks here and there might be needed, but nothing like the retouching and color correcting that is needed with digital.  For a mama who wants to be on the computer less and with her family more, this in itself was like a gift from the universe.  Visions of me going to sleep at normal hours instead of being up editing in the wee hours of each night crept in my head.  Why hello bliss.  

What about the slow and expensive part?  I’ll be honest, the slow part is probably the best part about it. Not only does it make me slow down while shooting and really think about each image, but the anticipation with the processing time is seriously like waiting for Santa.  It is so much fun.  And the expensive part?  Well time is money, so I’m willing to make the trade.  


So, after reading that previous blog that mentioned film, or seeing my film photos pop up on Instagram or Facebook, and you’re wondering what I’m thinking, here you go.  This is the why.  

After a glorious month of atypically cool weather in May, and June being extremely generous as well (thank you universe!), I’d say we may have used up about all of our luck by now.  Of course, those few hot days that we had in there prompted my husband’s annual jabs at me about my complaints about the heat.

I personally disagree with the accusations.  In my own mind, I do my best to stay positive during the summer and not openly complain.  However, there is a *slight* chance that my silent sweaty sulking has a different effect on the outward appearance of a positive mindset.

Just to prove my husband wrong and publicly start the summer on a positive note, here are the 5 top reasons to LOVE an Arizona summer:

 

1.  Water Play!   

Pools and splash pads are open and scream summer time fun.  Who doesn’t love the pool and its endless entertainment, and amazing ability to wear the littles out.

Make sure to check out the splash pad in downtown Gilbert beneath the water tower.  Its a local favorite, and water play in this location is extended to playing in the fountains too.

2.  Camping.  

Summer months are the perfect time for weekend trips up north for some wilderness fun.  Camping with kids is easier than you think and what a great way to escape the summertime cabin fever.  Kids dig it, there is no better way to get them unplugged and experiencing nature.  

3.  Monsoons.  

Rain!  Glorious Rain!  If you live in the desert you understand.  Even though those storms get a little hairy, any form of precipitation is loved by all who live here, and it is always an adventure.  Plus, the puddle jumping aftermath is a blast for the kids (and grownups too if you wish).  

The past few years, my favorite part of the monsoon season has always been the very first storm.  We step out on the porch to hear the rain and feel the moist air, and we start hearing our neighbors yelling and cheering on the rain in excitement too.  Booya!

4.  Vacations. 

The hot hot hotness has come, the kids are out of school, and its a great time to get out of dodge.  We use this time to go back east to visit family, not to mention to soak in the green, and the cooler temps.  

5.  Wally!  

Ok so this one just applies to me personally, but I figured you would also enjoy this cute face.  Our desert tortoise “Wally-Co-Co” comes out from hibernation and visits us when we’re hanging out in the backyard.  He’s definitely a cute perk of the higher temps.

See!  We totally got this.  Summer is going to fly by so enjoy those awesome things that make summer summer.

Wait, here’s a bonus – Ok, so I know I said 5, but you get a bonus reason because summer is just that awesome…

Open road!
  The snowbirds have migrated for the summer, no school zone slow downs, and people are on vacation (or simply don’t want to get in a hot car to go anywhere), so there is far less traffic!  Yessss!

Most of you that know me well, know that like most moms, I’m a mom first.  Mom life isn’t always easy, but I don’t want to miss a moment and probably a little obsessively so.  My two little people are the reason I left my day job.  We rarely use a babysitter, we homeschool, and even gave birth at home because I selfishly want it all with them.  Family first.  Always.

I have a true love for photography, I do.  However, I also don’t want my mind elsewhere, when with my kids is where I want to be.  Although, I don’t work while my kids are awake, staying up until the wee hours of the night isn’t sustainable either (even if I do love the rare sound of a quiet house!)

I hope this doesn’t sound like I am not enjoying photography and I haven’t enjoyed every session that I’ve done, I absolutely love every second of it!  However, there are only so many hours in the day, and so many days of the kids being little.

That leads me to what is changing.  In order to make sure my focus is on what is most important to me, I’ll only be offering 1-2 full sessions a month on a first come first serve basis.  Not only will that help me not feel like such a frazzled mom, but I am excited that less projects will help me give each and every one of your photos just that much more love.

There is one more change coming soon, but for now I’ll leave you with a hint.  See photos below.  First person to guess the change in a Facebook comment wins a free child mini session with said change!

I’m so excited to share this session.  These two brothers are so adorably handsome!!  In fact, my 3 year old agrees!  She’s had this darling little baby crush on Jax since we met him at soccer practice this spring.  His mad soccer skills and dreamy blue eyes must have been what caught her eye!

And little Luke, what can I say, can you get any more cute?!?  Those cheeks!! (I want to squish them!)

These two beauties were amazing enough to volunteer to be child models for my MOMtography 101 workshop.  They were the life of the party, and did a perfect job for us!  (More on the workshop in a future blog.)

Before the workshop I went out with them for a little photo shoot at Papago Park by the hole in the rock.  This location proved to perfect for these two adventuresome little mountain goats!  I just loved Grace’s Mom’s idea of having her daughter wear her hiking boots for a few shots!

Here are some of my favorites from this session.

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