Friday Wine Night: What’s my name again?

My Friday wine night posts are meant to be a way to open up about me personally. Something that I in all honesty have not been very good at. The typical girly thoughts of judgement, over sharing, fallout, and general “what will people think of me” fears have halted ALOT of what Ive wanted to say! In fact I’ve pulled posts down! However for this new year, I want to finally take my journey in a new direction. I am old enough FINALLY to understand who I am and what I want. I am the first to admit there is always going to be room for growth, but at least I am owning who I am.

Who am I? Well, thats a long complicated story, and something that for most people usually starts with a name. My mum died when I was very young, and we (my sister and I) lived with her when she passed. She had divorced my father. She was actually engaged to someone else. Getting ready to have a new name herself. I was born with a very simple and plain, in MY opinion, name. My name was Debbie Smith. A Basic name if ever there was a name! I apologize to ALL of the Debbie Smith’s that are in the world! Im sure you are all lovely and beautiful and unique, but for me, the plain-ness of my name went further. I wasn’t the cutest child. I didn’t have the typical happy home. My dad actually changed his own name for personal reasons, and ours along with it. So I didn’t get to really connect with Smith, or the “new” name. When I married my ex husband, I naturally took his name. Again, it wasn’t really MY name but I WAS married. When that marriage ended after 13 years, I though diligently about what to do. I had daughters, and one day they too would marry and their name would be different. The name my dad changed it to legally wasn’t mine (found this out doing background checks for a US visa!) so who was I going to be? On my birth certificate the Debbie and the Smith were completed with my middle name, and my mother’s maiden name. I looked at her name. I could be connected to her still. Laughlan. I liked it.  So, I officially and with all of the paperwork with one small adjustment. I changed the spelling to Laughlin. With an “I”. For ME. It was MINE.  I started my new single mother life, and indeed my business, under my new name. When I married my new husband,  and this sweet man learned all about me, he completely understood why I wanted to hold on to this new me. Why I hyphenated my name, in order to show respect for my marriage. To make life a lot simpler for the dreams I want to do, I am keeping the Debbie Laughlin business, and on social media, dropping the hyphen. Its long, its hard to look up, and I want to be accessible. if the unimaginable happens and I get to write my book (my dream!), that too will be under Debbie Laughlin. My wedding ring, my certificate of marriage, all of our personal bills and household ALL contain my married name (and I LOVE LOVE love my husband and being his wife!), but going forth, all social media and search engines will say just the Laughlin. Im opening up about this because I lost myself before, in relationships. Now that Ive found me again, and more importantly, now that I am APPRECIATED just for being ME, I want to revel in that name too. This photo below is me, with my Dad, who is also a photographer. He is a writer, a poet, and very creative. I certainly get my love of these things from him. Just, now, only our names are different. 11908237_10153252578119132_1484945146_n

My Beautiful autumn 2014 bride and grooms!

I love autumn! Im a November baby, thats one of the reasons, but come on! Its beautiful! The leaves change, the weather is perfect and everyone seems happier just looking forward to the Christmas and Thanksgiving seasons. Weddings filled my calendar! October was my busiest wedding month for the second year in a row, and I see why. My own wedding was celebrated in that month too. Late september and my 40th birthday on November 1st were also wedding dates for me! More DIY prettiness; two more ladies celebrating; beautiful drives to a winery, to Richmond and Charlottesville; a nor-easter storm to contend with and the prettiest backyard wedding Ive been to complete with a sweet “first look”! I also got to attend a beautiful styled shoot & workshop hosted by my favorite photographer (read about that herewhich has really impacted the way Im looking at my business now! 2015 will be better than I could have dreamed! Its thanks to mentors like that, and clients like YOU, as well as beautiful weddings like these!

I have one last pretty wedding this year, coming in December, but for now, here are some of the images I just love from autumn!

DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Ashley&Patrick-6 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-236 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-313 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-649 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AKWorkshop-5 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AKWorkshop-9 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AKWorkshop-10 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-AKWorkshop-11 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-BakerHibbs-2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-BakerHibbs-17 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-BakerHibbs-18 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-BakerHibbs-19 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mrs&Mrs-2 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-436 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-447 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Wedding-510 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-48 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-89 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-91 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-115 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-207 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Mr&Mrs-541

Friday Night Wine Nights: Getting to Date 23, date 2, 3 & 4.

dating_quote_4The “type”.

Did I have one?? Some of my friends seemed to think so, and even though I disagreed, since my relationships had been with VERY different people, I heeded advice.
IS this what date 1 was so much not like me at all?? Was a I subconsciously seeking a “type”?
After the cold debacle of my first online experience, I decided to go against type. To look for other “types”, or at the very least, establish a type.
As a society, we label people all the time, so I assumed this could be socially experimental, and offer me a chance to meet people that I wouldn’t normally meet if indeed I had been limiting myself. After all, if God has a plan for me, then wouldn’t my denying the experience of meeting people be my going against a God I love? Yes.
Date 2. The Funny One.
I consider myself to have a funny sense of humor, so maybe since laughing was a trait I wanted, Id read the online profiles to find a hilarious one. I did, and it really truly cracked me UP! He was smart sounding, his intelligence was dry, and sharp. Being from the UK, I fancy myself as a similar type, so I imagined laughs and giggle all night.
The date was set.
The hair was curled.
The outfit ready.
The place found.
The butterflies started.
The date didn’t show.
Not. SO. Funny.
Lesson from this, I can actually get a lot of reading done and don’t mind dining by myself, something I treat myself to now.
Date 3. The Christian.
Faith is a biggie on my list, so it only made sense to seek someone out who was on a similar path.
Again: Date set.
Again: Hair was curled.
Again: Outfit Ready.
Again: Butterflies.
Text after 10 minutes of not so patiently waiting, telling me after considering my profile, he didn’t think we were going to be compatible as he got a sense that I was going to be difficult to date having children already.
Well. Wow. Ok. Hey, at least he was honest. Still stung like crazy. I felt weak.
I also finished a really good book.
Date 3. The Nice Guy.
I mean, after all Ive gone through, THIS was someone I needed to meet, and asap before “all the nice ones were gone”. I looked, I “winked” online, I conversed. Mr nice likes kids, seemed polite, could spell, and had everything interesting to discuss. No mention of faith but thats private to many, and he wasn’t on the mission i was after all.
He also showed up. Well, he IS nice. We stayed there having a beer, laughing, talking, and before you knew it, 3 hours passed. He even put this as his status on social media after, how nice it was to not realize 3 hours passed. Sweet. NICE. Sad thing is, we were actually compatible friends in the making. I knew I wanted to retain a friend here, and in fact he became my daughters soccer coach, and we hung out an an ODU game, and he attends my church now. He is really nice. I hope he finds someone equally as nice.
And yes, he knew about this blog 🙂

Friday Night Wine Nights: Getting to date 23

I am starting this getting to know me section so that friends, family and clients can read about my journey so far, to understand who I am, why I love what I do, why Im excited to do more, and how it feels to walk a little through the roller coaster of a life Ive led up until now. Im going to be blunt. Open. Honest. Real. DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Debbie-1

On November 1st I will be turning 40. An incredible milestone by my standard, after holding a fear for a long time that I will pass on early, like my mum sadly did.
Looking forward to what my new “era” will hold, I will be blogging new experiences Im going to try, setting little life goals and business goals, chasing a dream of book writing, and hoping to grow older more gracefully than fearfully.
Part of who I am came after my divorce, 8 years ago, when I finally finally found myself, or found MOST of myself! Realizing who I was, where I was going and what I wanted were GIANT steps to gaining the confidence to plow full steam ahead as a single mum, running a home based business. A giant part of that, was dating. I had one beautifully broken long term relationship after my marriage ended, and quite honestly, it was my first heartbreak. It took a long time to get past that, and when I did, I did what I never in my dreams imagined I would ever do.
I WENT ON 23 FIRST DATES
With different people. Most from online dating websites. I know I know… there are a lot of crazies out there. Trust me, Ive met many crazies in person too, however I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be in love. I wanted a romantic movie in my real life, and once I decided to begin, I was ready.
The hardest thing about dating was creating my profile.
Selfies were not big back then, and recent images of myself were not flattering, because when you are in a relationship, you tend to get comfortable and just forget the rest. I pulled a variety of semi decent shots from my not so smart phone, and even some from myspace, see? I told you it was BACK WHEN… None really looked like I did now, some looked like how I wished I still looked, and some looked like the me I wanted to forget.

View More: http://elizabethhensonphotos.pass.us/eastbeachbabesDeciding on a few images, I then wrote what I wanted. This part was easy. I knew what I didn’t want, and wrote that. I literally wrote I didn’t want one night stands, casual flings, young boys, non-christians and people who didn’t like children. I also stated I was open to them having children. After all, most single men my age were probably in the same stage of life I was. Right? I also said I was starting the journey to find a real relationship. On the dating website I wrote that! Why waste time? Time was precious. I didn’t want to date people interested in not being a consideration for a relationship. I was determined to say the least.
Boy did I get some responses. Both in favour of my honesty and bluntness. Some out and out calling me a bitch. Some sending lewd suggestions imagining they could sway me into one of the aforementioned casual nights. I wont go into all of the details, and I wont mention any names, since in my head, to keep a straight head on myself, I gave them names of my own.
Date 1. The “cold” date.
I love tattoos, I have 9 now, all little, but 9 none the less. SO I was thrilled when a seemingly nice young (old enough to date me!) man chatted using proper grammar and asked me to happy hour for a cocktail and a bit of a chat. I agreed. I dressed up, then thinking it was too much, dressed down. Then realizing my pi’s were not a good first impression, dressed back up a little, to a church friendly non provocative jeans and casual top ensemble that left no signs of cleavage and a pile of discarded clothing in my trail.
We met a a busy bar in a well lit area, can of spray mace in bag beside me. I was ready.
He was outside waiting, dressed in not so great a first impression “Even your mom thinks Im hot” tee-shirt. Maybe he was being funny? I let it slide. He shakes my hand then one arm awkward hugs me. The smell of fries and other food stuff tempting me to eat, when I had on purpose not eaten in an attempt to squeeze into the last years skinny jeans. Mistake on my part.
We walked in, ordered a drink. Wine, kept it simple, bought my own too. Another precaution of mine.
We actually talked about the weather, and he admitted his mother got the shirt. I laughed. I would do that to a son probably too. Well, ok, maybe not THAT tee shirt.
Then he said he had ran late because he got a new tattoo, and asked if I would like to see it. So of course, he had big arms and who wouldn’t want to see nice arms. At least, I assumed it would be his arms.
Date 1 pre-ceeded to not so casually pull out his male member and put said member on stool, and asked what I thought.
????????????????????????????????????
“Are you cold?”, I asked.
He didn’t find that nearly as funny as I did.
End date.

10462703_558420480935516_5786009468641285143_n

Investing In Me | The Abbey Kyhl Evolving Workshop, Virginia

Imagine my favorite photographer/business owning/mother, whom Ive followed for a long time, who inspires me, and writes blogs to encourage, shoots incredible images, teaches other photographers the fine art of balance…are you imagining? Then, imagine her here. In my present home town, after MY husband picked her up at the airport, and finally imagine MY excitement, at getting to spend two overwhelmingly amazing days in her company, and her assistant Jacki, as well as in the company of some equally eager-to-learn photographers, and you have imagined my experience at the AK Crew workshop, Virginia, hosted and run by Abbey Kyhl.
Last month I spent the days counting down until I was sitting in my chair, incredulously looking at how NORMAL she looked! LOL. She was real. She was here. And she brought to me the hands down best experience in workshop form that i have EVER been to, without a doubt the best investment I have made for my business growth, and I will even say that quite honestly I grew personally.

As she talked about how I can take back control of my time, return to a life of planned FREE TIME, of being a better wife and mother and friend, I became emotional. I was hearing someone tell me, and encourage me, to be the woman I am FIRST, to make myLIFE my passion, and not my business, and that I would STILL be able to provide amazing client experience to the business I love so so very much! She made it okay that business should not be your passion, if it was, you would put it before absolutely everything that you already had going on within your life, and forget about some important things, some special family time, or some other memory because you felt somehow that your business would fail if it didn’t get 100% of the best part of you. I was making it 100% priority, and taking on so much, that I was neglecting even more.

Now, I LOVE LOVE what I do. Being there for the most important events in people’s lives is an honor, an honor. I get excited by new shoots, seeing the final images, looking at the canvases and prints chosen by my clients. However, Abbey was right, my life should be, and IS, my passion!

I do NOT have enough space to cover exactly how inspired I was, and all that we covered from business systems to social media, to even un-friending people on Facebook, and the freedom you would have to enjoy life again, and still maintain a successful small business. I am so ready to begin implementing all of the things I learned, and I have already begun. Re-branding is underway, forming stronger client interaction has begun, and deciding what my specialties shall be is next. I am so ready to bring you the next chapter of Debbie Laughlin Photography, so ready to bring my family and best friends a whole new refreshed Debbie.

If you are a photographer, I strongly encourage you to join the AK Crew and look into these workshops! I am not exaggerating when I say it WILL change you!

Abbey – THANK YOU so very very much, for bringing your knowledge to us, for making sense, for supporting us even now after the workshop. I cannot wait for the next one…

Enjoy the following images from the styled shoot portion of the workshop, styled by some amazing vendors!!!

Planning, Design + Styling Michelle Amarillo Event Planning | Florals + Styling Studio Posy | Dress Maya Couture | Stationary The Girl Tyler | Makeup Beauty + Baubles | Hair High Voltage Hair by Crystal Casey

2014-10-06_0001 2014-10-06_0002 2014-10-06_0003 2014-10-06_0004 2014-10-06_0005 2014-10-06_0006 2014-10-06_0007 2014-10-06_0008 2014-10-06_0009 2014-10-06_0010 2014-10-06_0011 2014-10-06_0012 1385910_698243340245382_478395695285320782_n

The Elizabeth Sessions ~ Happy Birthday, Mum

May 9th is today. And had God had a different plan in mind for my life, today I would be celebrating the birthday of my mum, Elizabeth. Instead, I mourn her, as I always do, as she passed long ago when I was a little girl. Nothing ever makes up for the time I will never know, the hugs I will never feel, the fights I will never get to have, the moments she has missed or the tears that still flow when I need a real mum to talk to, in a way only mothers can be there for.
On Facebook, in remembrance, people change their profile pictures into one of their loved ones who passed. I can’t do that. I have exactly two images of my mother: a black and white one of her on a bench, and a passport image of her and my dad before they broke up. I wish I had one of her and I. In fact, I wish I had more, of her in general. Or of her with my children or of her with my new husband. Or again, just of her. I don’t. I realize more and more with each client I meet in my business the absolute importance of having photographs to pull memories from. To cherish and to remember. I don’t. **Id usually insert a sad face here and a gratuitous tear, but I won’t. The memories i DO have of her were great. Fun. Childish, but happy. Short, but very, very sweet.
As much as I, like many people, cringe at the thought of being in FRONT of the camera, I am determined to leave behind better memories for my own daughter. And memories that include photographs.
Every year on her birthday I do something; play a song she liked, or read from her bible, or go shopping with her memories to buy a little thing that would remind me of her. This year ~ something different.
I am offering a mother and daughter mini session event, at a very low price of $75. The precedes going to a charity, Adopt America Network, so that we can help create homes for children with no families, here domestically.
The date of these sessions will be May 25th, starting at 4 and going till 7, in slots of 15 minutes each. These won’t last long! Please email me at debbielaughlinphotography@live.com or contact me on Facebook or via my website to reserve your spot and get a digital album of images with you and your mother!
I really hope she is up there looking down on me smiling (Im hiding my cherries mum…) and knows that each and every day, I wish she were here.
Happy Birthday, Mum xoxoxDebbieLaughlinPhotography_ElizabethSessions-9
DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Family-87 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-Familyspring-11 DebbieLaughlinPhotography-MotherandI-17 1526805_688320347875489_37476811_n

Still working on filling frames…Personal

Following a previous post I had written, about making sure my own personal frames could be full of pictures, with ME actually IN them, I have slowly but surely been working on feeling comfortable in front of the camera.

Having no photographs at home of me as a young child or baby, and having none at all of me with my mother at all (who died very young), I really need to keep making sure I am leaving some pictorial memories behind for my own daughters. I will have a blog dedicated to my mum, Elizabeth, next month because I plan on doing something special in honor of her May birthday, so watch for that, especially if your own mother, and pictures with her, matters to you like it does me.

Being that I am now in my last year of thirty-something, and dreading the downhill slope of aging, I decided to do something fun, sassy and new with my comfortable and faithful dark hair, by adding more fun layers and bold red highlights to it! A colour like that meant for me that I had to really own it! So, I decided to have new head shots done. Not just ones where I sit and smile real wide and fake, as is the norm for myself. I wanted to show me. And the perfect opportunity came two days after my new look had been adopted, in the form of my friends and fellow photographers Erica of Hildebrandt Photography and Crystal of Crystal Reyns Photography, and our lunch date!

We hit Virginia Beach Town Center on a cold blowy day, determined to get head shots that would make me feel young and beautiful! lol. Well, the shots are gorgeous, because Crystal has a way with posing you, and my hair is definitely something of a stand out! Despite the wind, and the cold, I had such a fun time with these two ladies! Its great to have good photographer friends. I swear I see too many wrinkles and at least 9 gray hairs, but, Im getting there, getting more friendly with the lens of the camera. Are you?View More: http://crystalreynsphotography.pass.us/debbie-headshots View More: http://crystalreynsphotography.pass.us/debbie-headshots View More: http://crystalreynsphotography.pass.us/debbie-headshots View More: http://crystalreynsphotography.pass.us/debbie-headshots

A HUGE Thank you to Andra, now at Blush Beauty Bar, for my sassy look!

“The Greatest Love On Earth!” a styled shoot

I am very proud to FINALLY announce, alongside Jennifer Krieg Photography, I will be hosting a beautiful styled shoot, for photographers of all levels, using a circus inspired and “Water For Elephants” themed design throughout! The event will be filmed by Holly of Shutterly Sweet Photography, so we can forever remember this event!

This styled event will be taking place on February 23rd, 2013, on a scenic and secluded private farm, Southern Gaits Paso Fino Farm. This location is a picturesque horse farm, with well over 30 horses of all colours in our background! There is a gazebo, a lake and an array of shrubs, in the winter look. Also, a swing. How fabulous we get to seat a bride on one of those!

We are so fortunate in that we will be joined by some amazing and talented vendors, who will be providing floral, hand crafted background pieces, hair and make up, paper products and our cake! We will feature a bride and groom, as well as bridesmaids, a best man, and some small children as our “extras”. We will even have the honour of using one of the prettiest white Paso Fino horses I have seen!

We will have several stations and photography opportunities available. We will be offering complimentary head shots to all participants also. Following the shoot, we will have a champagne and desert gathering in the stables, to toast what is sure to be a wonderful success!

The investment for the event is $150, with a $25 discount available if you sign up before January 18th. Please follow the link below to view our page and invest! Following confirmation of your participation, you will be added to a private Facebook group, where you will see sneak peeks posted as they are finished or in progress, and vendor information for the event! I am SO SO very excited about this and hope to see you there!!!!

Information available, as well as ticket investment, through this link: http://debbielaughlinphotography.com

2014-01-13_0001

 

The hard stuff, from a seasoned mother. Part 1.

When I was a child and I drew pictures with my sister depicting my future wedding, husband and children, they were picture perfect. If there was a slip of the crayon, or a smudge or smear to damage my future life, I erased the image and started over. I am a brunette, yet  I drew blondes. Except the mystery husband to be. He was tall, dark haired and oh so handsome (though slightly resembling George Michael). Fast forward 20 years, and let me just tell you straight away, besides stating the obvious that I didnt marry George, you cant just rip out a page and start over ever time life makes a smudge on your family.

I told you Id be honest in this series. Right from the get-go of parenthood for me, my proverbial crayon slipped. I gave birth younger than I “dreamed” at 20, to a very premature baby, born with gastroschisis. Gastroschisis is a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall. The baby’s intestines stick outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button. The hole can be small or large and sometimes other organs, such as the stomach and liver, can also stick outside of the baby’s body. Immediately I aged in maturity 20 years. Having lost my mum when I was very young, I really didnt have guidelines or counsel when it came to this, so trial and many, many an error gave way to a somewhat regular pattern. Two surgeries within 18 months corrected the defect itself though Lauren doesnt have a belly button, a fact that doesnt bother her, and I feel like I got through a tough time and earned some sort of invisible kick-ass mummy award.

Crayon slippings continued throughout my new mum years, as a navy wife to my ex husband, life became tough. I was living in America, and very homesick. One baby more (blessedly healthy) and a divorce later, I found that I was in a oh-no-Im-a-single-mother-what-the-heck-will-I-do status. Except, that wasnt a social media status. I had to put that as “divorced”, but it may as well have been ostracized, because thats what I felt like at times.

To say I was on the ramen noodle diet was putting it mildly. However, I did survive. So did my girls. Who, sidenote, DID turn out to be those picture perfect blondes I was drawing about.

Life, well, it can be very hard. Big hard and little hard and all kind of hard stuff in between. You protect your children yes, naturally, as people do when they become responsible 24/7 for another human being.

So I think that the lesson Ive most learned from the hard stuff in my life, the stuff not like the pretty pictures I drew, is that Im preparing these “babies” to be strong. In hardships. To show them and explain to them that it IS hard. Its not all puppies and play dates and bubble guppies and pony tails. And as hard as it is for some new mothers to accept when they are in the beautiful bask of newborn love and adoration: one day, they WILL leave our homes. They will be out there, potentially facing life outside a perfectly coloured page. So we have to be open about hardship. Transparent about mistakes. Sincere about life and her lessons. Most importantly, encouraging them to not let these things close their little hearts off to the sunshine and flowers that come after the mistakes. To hang onto hope that these things lead to better things. Rascal Flatts say it best “God blessed the broken road..”. So I feel that its up to me to teach them how to navigate a broken path, without Dora and her map. Instead, with faith, God, and a cell phone to mum!

Exactly HOW?? Well, I will share my experience with that in part 2.

Lauren at Day 3 when I first got to hold her.
Lauren at Day 3 when I first got to hold her.
Lauren (19) and Caitlin (12), my blondes
Lauren (19) and Caitlin (12), my blondes

1471815_557594587642653_791463010_n