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

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.

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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

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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
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2/13/13| Personal

Before you tell me Im using the wrong date, Im not. Not in the sense of the way Im going to use it in this post. Im aware that today IS indeed 2/13/14.. One whole year after the date in the title, and therefore, One whole year after the REAL date of my wedding. Yes, its true, and I am sure this comes to a huge surprise to some of you, as we made the decision to NOT tell everyone. Even some of our friends and family members. We celebrated very happily a wedding celebration in October, of 2013, and my dad flew over from Scotland, and several people flew in from Aaron’s home state of Texas.  Was it shotgun? no. Was it rushed? no. Were we lying to people? No… So why? Three reasons: Lauren, Caitlin and Rory.  Blending a family comes with a new set of rules. Raising girls comes with challenges as it is. Trying to raise young women of faith makes these things even harder. We are trying to be examples. Right and wrong… I lean on a lot of my own mistakes and things Ive learned to try and make better the decisions that face my daughters. Does it always work? No. Is it my fault? No.. What I CAN continue doing is leading by examples. Good ones. And being that faith and my desire to be a better Christian woman is so important to me, when it came to dating as a single mother, I tried very hard to be open with the girls. All the while acting and conducting myself accordingly in what I thought was how I should be! I let them see my heartache, and tried through that to say to them thats its ok to hurt, and you can get through it. That we don’t always get the life we think we want in that moment. I didn’t like them seeing me eating mass quantities of ice cream and crying, but as a mother, it was very real. As was letting them see when someone treats me well, because as my engagement to Aaron proceeded, I wanted them to see how they too should hopefully be treated one day. I tried to be the fiancee that I hoped would encourage the girls in the promise of love, and so because of this, and a good deep talk from my pastor, Aaron and I decided to make the big “move” in together, and to do that “right”, we also made the decision to marry.

There was no big dress and bridesmaids, I was at my church with some people close to our hearts, though a few were missing. We told my 19 year old, who was there at the ceremony, and in telling my 12 year old, we were met with mixed emotions and confusion, BECAUSE there was no big dress or bridesmaids. She still believes that was “civil” and our REAL wedding was October 5th, with all of the trimmings.

For us, in that moment, it was what we knew in our hearts was right. It wasn’t about the guests, or the fairy tales. it was taking the commitment and the love we had for one another, and our family, seriously. It was us trying to walk the walk in front of the ladies we are trying to raise. It was for US, it was real, and it WAS 2/13/13.

I could sit here and say sorry to everyone who didn’t know, but I can’t. I believe in my heart it was right, and it was for us. And thats exactly how it was celebrated. Now, now its time to share with everyone else.

I loved the event that was our wedding day, in October. We finally go the fun and the frills and the families together. It was personal and intimate and mostly DIY so we could enjoy something tailor made to our loves and our families combining. I think we both feared people wouldn’t show up if they knew they already missed the big premier!

Marriage is hard enough, without complicating it even more. So as everyone gears up to celebrate Valentines Day tomorrow, we are sitting here reminiscing about this day one year ago. Our commitment to one other then, is as strong as it was in October, and just as dear to us today.

Happy Anniversary, Aaron. _MG_2147-3053996259-O _MG_2153-3053996846-O

Thank you to Holly at Shutterly Sweet Photography for these images!

Superbaby Gender Reveal!

I was absolutely THRILLED when I had the opportunity to shoot this colourful and unique gender reveal for my friend, and fellow photographer, Holly of Shutterly Sweet Photography, as she prepared to reveal the sex of her third little blessing! Alongside Jennifer of Jennifer Krieg Photography, we pushed thoughts of the impending rain and cloudy-but-you-dont-know-it day out of the way, and avoided being chased by mall security as we captured this colourful and inspired session! Mom thought of this incredibly one of a kind idea with a little help from the eclectic personalities in her family, the beautiful and custom made capes she ordered, and of course, a little Pintrest 🙂 The result?? These mobile and excited adorable sisters drinking up their soda pop to announce to the world that mummy is having a BOY!!!!!!!! Congratulations to you all!!!!!

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My New Year Resolve…my new word for the year too..

Ive been trying to think of the word to be encouraged by, for the whole year. Just one word, to motivate and excite me, to overcome things with, to challenge myself with, and to hopefully all around make me a better person. After all, with each new year comes new resolutions and promises to oneself about the “New You”. I however, have spent the past 5 years learning to love the old me. And you know what, Ive decided Im not so bad afterall! I have met challenges, had my heart broken, single parented my way through a bevvy of draining and rewarding parent-trocities and really learned to trust more in myself and faith. It worked for me. I got through it. I even got a “happy ending”, by marrying someone who treats me like a princess!

So, rather than find a new me, Id like to keep bettering the REAL me. To hone my photography craft to the next level, to take my business to new markets, to be a better mother, a more patient person, a better friend, a deeper Christian and a more content Debbie. My word is Refine.

v. re·finedre·fin·ingre·fines
 verb \ri-ˈfīn\

: to remove the unwanted substances in (something)

: to improve (something) by making small changes

v.tr.

1. To reduce to a pure state; purify.
2. To remove by purifying.
3. To free from coarse, unsuitable, or immoral characteristics: refined his manners; refined her speaking style.
v.intr.

1. To become free of impurities.
2. To acquire polish or elegance.
3. To use precise distinctions and subtlety in thought or speech
This will guide me in all areas of my life. Not just personal. Not just photography. Not just in faith. Because Im not just ONE of these things. Im ALL of them.
I have grown sadly accustomed to comparing myself personally and professionally to those around me who, on facebook anyway, certainly appear to have it all together. However, I know there was life before Facebook, and while I commend these people for having such a great outlook and command over a mulitude of things, I am “old enough to know better” and see beyond a social media status to accept its not all bubbles and kittens.
I also resolve to start a blog, a series of 4 or 5, on being a seasoned mum. Baby balancing in a chaotic life is crazy enough, and focus tends to be on actual important physical needs. However, our offspring do not remain cute energetic toddlers and infants forever and I know there are mothers,, and fathers, like me out in the http://www.com universe who may learn from, or commiserate with, some of the challenges us hard working (in all senses of that word) mothers of children/teens/young adults face, that we cant get past with a visit to Toys R Us. First blog will be posted tomorrow, and I hope you come back to read, with totally honesty, how it is for this business owning mother of two, and step mother to one, deals with the challenges of blending families, juggling personalities and maintaining control of her sanity, all while being a great wife and whole person!

My name is Debbie, and Im a …..

As my blog says, and as you who know me know, my name is Debbie…and I am 38. Im from Scotland. I have two daughters. I am engaged to a sweet guy. I love red. I sleep to horror movies. I have a weakness for coffee, chocolate, corn flakes, hot wings, cheese and wine – sometimes all at once.  My name is Debbie…and I take pictures. I do. I edit and work from home… in my “office”, where George Michael and Culture Club can play without mockery. Where I can mosh if I want to. Where I smile at “my” bald Chris Daughtry picture from where I met him!  Where I run away if I see spiders. Where I wear footsie pjs without shame, and watch Gilmore Girl season after season. My name is Debbie, and yes, I take pictures…yet why is it SO hard at times for me to say, My name is Debbie and Im a PHOTOGRAPHER. After all, I AM. 

People in this business who are new, “newbies”, or starting out, sometimes keep themselves of the new list for a long time. I know anyway that I do. Photography is an art form, and Im there in some of the most private or special moments in the lives of those I capture. I shoot homecomings, new babies (though thats an art form I refer out! Its a tough specialty! Not my strength) engagements, stolen kisses, first kisses as husband and wife. Im first to know gender of babies after the couple! I see tears in Dads eyes, smiles in moms, winks from wives. Hands being held, bubbles being blown and hair as the sun sets a glow on it. I love it. I love what I do, the moments I bear witness to, and the stories I get to tell from my own viewpoint. 

Im learning, and Im growing, and I am not the wise old girl on the block, but Im not just starting out. Theres the fear of criticism, but there would be that fear no matter how amazing and seasoned you are. Not everyone will love my work, but my clients do. I walk into houses and I see MY pictures in frames, on walls and hung with love. I look at facebook and see 15-20 profile pictures that I shot. I couldnt be more thrilled! I see the “likes” on my business page grow and grow, and its exciting! It makes me try harder and work smarter, and give up my evenings to do what I want to do!

Im inspired by old movies, by 80s movies, by art, and books with stories of love and dreams and imagination! I had a tough childhood which I will save for another day, but it made me who I am, and to know where I want to end up. Im working on a book too, because storytelling wether scripted or pictorial IS what I want to do! Its where my passion lies (outside of my family and aforementioned snacks and wine!).

People ask me to shoot. Its a dream. Gone are the days of me always asking “Can I take some pictures?”, unless Im doing it for something special for my soon to be launched site then I DO still ask!! Im thankful for a community full of “newbies” like me, who lean on and support one another. WHo help you through rough spots and compliment and give credit on your great days! Im inspired by great women who mentored me, Tara Liebeck and Amanda Hedgepeth who both take time from their crazy busy schedules to give back and invest time in us. After all, if I want to be better I need to learn from the best, and those two ladies are AMAZING. I cant say that enough.

 I finally need to take the training wheels off, and put away the life vest and take a big deep breath and say FINALLY: I am Debbie, and I AM a photographer. I am, I am. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage