Click, Click, Click . . . FLASH!: My Photoshoot Story

I call this concept The Broken Doll. Cute, huh?

I call this concept The Broken Doll. Cute, huh? Because that’s how I felt. Like a broken doll.


Lights, camera, ACTION! Isn’t that the usual order followed whilst on the set of a professional shoot? There were lights. Very bright lights. There was a camera. But there wasn’t a whole lot of action coming from me during my first official photoshoot months ago somewhere in the heart of downtown Birmingham. In my case it was more like, “Lights, camera, . . . don’t just stand there. Start posing! Do something, woman!”
As I stood before the lens of the camera, white lights beaming blindly in my sensitive eyes, I relied on the photographer to guide me (an amateur “model” at least, a stiff mannequin at best) in what I was supposed to do next. The time had come to put to test if I was as photogenic as people politely claimed me to be; to challenge those who would always tell me I should become a model. I’m quick to tell those people who advise me to become a model that I am, in fact, not a model neither do I try to be or want to be.

I’ve never been the type who likes the focus of attention on any level, because it gives me an uncomfortable feeling of being self-conscious of everything from my hair to my body language; it’s because of this feeling that I’m opposed to taking too many selfies (that, and I just think they are the quintessence of the word vanity. Besides, who has the patience to take 20 shots just to get that perfect one? It’s so aggravating!). After months of ironing out the concept with the photographer–who by the way is one of my confidants–discussing the direction I was aiming for, the time had finally come to test out my painfully lacking skills.IMG_20140831_230735

Originally I had every intent on recording part of the session as a look behind the scenes for “Skinny Girl . . .” but I was afraid my incoordination and ineptitude would produce a major case of secondhand embarrassment to my viewers. If I ever do another one, I’ll try my best to not be too camera shy long enough for me to be recorded. Maybe.

 With Adrianne Morrison Hogan, the woman who gave me the awesome henna tattoo.

With Adrianne Morrison Hogan, the woman who gave me the awesome henna tattoo.

Watching my friend, D. Jerome Smedley, work gave me a new respect for photographers in their profession. Being the inquisitive person I am, there were moments I asked him about the equipment he used and their functions. In the end I did have fun thanks to him (and my Mom who was present, God bless her). Dancing to Michael Jackson and Prince songs on Pandora helped loosen me up, too. They both laughed at my dancing, but I don’t care. They were just jealous of my moves, that’s all.

Would I do it again? I’m not opposed to it. Maybe I’ll have a glass of wine nearby and the right kind of music to help keep me from looking like a stiff mannequin who lacks expression next time.

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And now for a shameless plug. Please be kind and visit D. Jerome Smedley’s website at http://www.djeromesmedley.com for contact information.

Of course I had to pose with the photographer!

Of course I had to pose with the photographer!

*k*

Photo Credit(s): http://www.djeromesmedley.com
Styling: Elegantly Chic

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I Love My City: Part 1

I love my city. I mean that with the utmost sincerity. When it comes to the foodstuff, there is always somewhere new to try. No wonder Birmingham, Alabama is creating a name for itself as an up-and-coming culinary city!

Not long ago, I went on a field trip (yes, I just called it that) in this city I love. I’d made plans to play catch-up with an old high school mate of mine. I was going to settle for only a quick phone call, but I thought meeting him in person over food would be more appropriate. We agreed to meet at Urban Standard, a local coffee shop located in the contemporary loft district of downtown Birmingham. We both ordered a grilled cheese sandwich made with cheddar, american, and an herbed goat cheese spread accompanied with a jelly for dipping; kettle chips; an iced tea for me, soda for him; and we shared a [tofu] urban noodle bowl. I don’t know about him, but I was as “full as a tick,” as the idiom goes.

We ate while we discussed changes in Birmingham, its natives, traveling and living abroad, retro cars, Nike kicks, music . . . whew! I even had the pleasure to meet a local musician my friend occasionally plays for. Just in casual conversation with her, she reminded me of an artist . . . someone like Janis Joplin or maybe Carly Simon. She told me about her upcoming shows and gave me her card for me to come see her performances. (As much as I love music, I just might do that!)

Faith Skate Supply's skateboard deck wall.

Faith Skate Supply’s skateboard deck wall.


After we ate and talked for awhile, we made a quick stop in Faith Skateboard Supply next door–a first visit for me. Arranged with an entire wall of skateboard gear and Vans . . . the shop must be a skater’s dream place.

“You want to go to Steel City Pops?” my friend asked, and we were soon driving on the streets of the Southside on our way to Homewood where the popsicle eatery is located. I’d been trying to go there for over a year. I was craving something sweet anyway and it was a hot summer day, so it was the perfect time to cool off with a frozen gourmet treat. FM3It appeared like we weren’t the only ones who had that idea since the place was crowded with patrons waiting to get their hands on a bizarrely mixed popsicle. I mean, kids, moms, dads, girlfriends everywhere . . . nowhere to sit inside; people were standing in the doorway waiting to order, that’s just how packed tight the little cozy eatery was.
Of course Steel City Pops has typical “safe” flavors like watermelon, strawberry, or peach for those who prefer one of the fruit variety. I wanted to be daring and try one of the more odd flavors, though; maple bacon with bourbon to be exact. Wait . . . what?!

The maple bacon with bourbon popsicle. Creamy and delicious.

The maple bacon with bourbon popsicle. Creamy and delicious.

Yep! A popsicle with bits of bacon in it. Seems bizarre, right? Let’s face it! Bacon is on and in everything! If you didn’t get the memo, bacon is no longer limited to burgers and salads. No, sweets are having their way with bacon these days. Doughnuts. Milkshakes. Cupcakes. So why not popsicles, too? Surprisingly, it was really good! OK, not too surprising. It’s bacon! Of course it was good! Bacon ups the ante on any food, right? (Goodness. I’m salivating just thinking about it. )

I had a good time that day trying new things in the city of Birmingham with my good friend. Had I settled on calling him instead, I wouldn’t have had the chance to enjoy eating a popsicle laced with bacon bits. (Oh. I enjoyed his company, too.) But on that day, I was reminded of how there are so many more restaurants my appetite for delicious food wants to explore in the city I love. Someday, I will try those restaurants. It’s only a matter of deciding where to go to next.

*k*

Painted, Splattered, Covered, and Proud: How I was color-bombed for a good cause

Click the picture if curiosity is getting the best of you. (photo credit: Color Me Rad)

Click the picture if curiosity is getting the best of you. (Photo source: Color Me Rad)

Some time last year, I decided to start a bucket list of activities I wanted to accomplish before transitioning to eternal life. Out of 25 activities on my life’s to-do list, I learned that I have a little daredevil within who is anxious to satisfy an adventurous appetite for thrills. As for some of the remaining activities, while achieving them will bring me gratification, they aren’t as terrifying; neither do they seem like anything I would want any part of.

Now, I will be the first to admit that there isn’t one athletic bone in my body; never has been and probably never will be. But one of my goals was to participate in a 5K run just to see if I could do it. I achieved that goal on June 1st for none other than the Color Me Rad 5K. The 5K benefits local charities in a given city, and for its first time in Birmingham, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama was the chosen one to receive the proceeds from approximately 5,000 participants. (I imagine the figures to be astronomical!)

Thanks to a Facebook friend’s post, I found out about the race, read about it, watched the video on the website’s homepage, and right then and there I decided that it would be the perfect race to link myself to (if you know me, then you must know that I like a collection of bright colors). Complete with an 80s-inspired theme and even a rave-like party at the finish, participants were given neon wayfarer sunglasses and were encouraged to wear a shade of white. Why white? Because at the end . . . you will see (continue reading). So not only was I able to relive all of the radness from the era I was born in, I contributed to charity too! Now that I look back on that day, I willingly allowed complete strangers to “bomb” me (and my hair) with bright colors of orange, green, yellow, pink, and purple throughout the course. Totally outrageous!

Having several friends there to experience my first 5K with made it all the more an enjoyable time. (We made it a point to go out for breakfast afterwards for the mere enjoyment of the puzzled expressions on onlookers’ faces.) A fellow blogger and friend of mine, Art Bella, is used to running several 5K’s throughout the year; so it was great having her alongside to talk about fitness, life, music, dating, and lessons learned. Record times were not measured (runners only had to finish the race before dawn), but she kept me focused, gave me a few tips, and helped push me along the way. In the end, I was satisfied with my choice to let Color Me Rad be my very first 5K–that’s one more activity I can mark off my bucket list. Color me proud!

Scroll down to see the pictures of me and my friends. We look as if we’d gotten into a struggle with a massive box of colored chalk . . . and thoroughly enjoyed it.

A rainbow of colors, you say? Color bomb me!

Picked up my race gear two days prior. Some memorabilia.

Picked up my race gear two days prior. Some memorabilia.

Taken before the first wave of runners. Look how clean everyone looks!

Taken before the first wave of runners. Look how clean everyone looks!

Yours truly. Like my socks? (WAR EAGLE!) My team name was "Kitten Kaboodle." Don't ask.

Yours truly. Like my socks? (WAR EAGLE!) My team name was “Kitten Kaboodle.” Don’t ask.

The cost of the volition to let strangers color bomb you at any moment.

The cost of the volition to let strangers color bomb you at any moment.

Memories with friends that will last always. Don't we look rad!

Memories with friends that will last always. Don’t we look rad!

(Want to know exactly what the colors are made from? Then click on the picture above this page, which will directly link you to the website, and become the rainbow too.)

*k*

Shake and bake!: A Day at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

People. Food. Adult beverages. Michael Jackson’s Ferris wheel. And cars. Really fast cars. That is what you will find when you attend the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama races at the Barber Motorsports Park, located outside of Birmingham, AL (in Leeds, to be exact). I had the opportunity to go for the first time last weekend, and let me tell you, it was some of the most fun I’ve had since attending SEC football games in my college days.

FACT: Free stuff always equals a good time!
My sister’s fiancé works for the automobile manufacturer, so he was able to get tickets to the event for me and my family. I was only able to go on Sunday for the IndyCar races, but typically there are four races over the course of three days—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Going on Sunday worked out perfectly for me because I wanted to see the only Indy driver I am familiar with: Hélio Castroneves.

Okay. He has an attractive smile and all, but I really want his racing suit.

Okay. He has an attractive smile and all, but I really want his racing suit.

Free parking was available for those who didn’t mind parking off-site. Assuming that this is usually how it is set-up every year, instead of parking at Barber, we parked at The Shops of Grand River outlet, which is less than three miles from the park. When we got there transits were available to transport us directly to and from the park in under ten minutes. (A cover band even played music to keep us entertained while we waited for the transits to return to take us back to the outlet; which by the way, the wait didn’t take long!) Did I mention it was free?

We were all hungry, so as soon as we were off the transit, we headed straight for the Honda tent for the free food, beverages (non-alcoholic, might I add) and earplugs. Yit-ti-TEE! (Note: So that you won’t go to this event intentionally looking for the Honda tent with the free stuff, let me tell you now that this is only provided for the manufacturer’s employees and their guests; not to the open public. Bummer, I know.)

Rows and rows of cars for car lovers to drool over.

Rows and rows of cars for car lovers to drool over.


There were various vendors selling food, adult beverages, and apparel; inflatable moonwalks for kids to burn plenty of energy on; and Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ferris wheel which provides a grand view of the entire park. So there are a few things for everyone to see and do before the races begin.
I didn't get the chance to take a $5 ride on it. Maybe next year.

I didn’t get the chance to take a $5 ride on it. Maybe next year.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
We bumped into two of my sister’s fiancé’s coworkers as we were leaving the tent. One of them mentioned how he didn’t want to miss the start of the race since it was his favorite part. So now, I was intrigued, right? And I didn’t even know why. It wasn’t like the guy elaborated on why it was his favorite part of the race. All I knew was that I could not miss the start of the race.

If you go don’t forget these [earplugs]! They help reduce the sound of speeding cars.

If you go don’t forget these [earplugs]! They help reduce the sound of speeding cars.

Well, to my chagrin, I missed it. I have my dear sister to thank for that since she had to make a pit stop of her own on the way to the tram that would transport us to the opposite side of the park where we would finally settle. Now I will have to go next year just to witness the start of the race to see what the hype is all about. Not that I mind, but thanks, sis. Thanks a lot.

The legendary Bo Jackson acted as Grand Marshal on Sunday. He took time to briefly talk about his charity, Bo Bikes Bama–a relief effort designed to raise funds for recovery of the decimated areas in Alabama caused by the tornadoes of the April 2011 storms. (More information about the charity bike ride can be found here: http://www.bobikesbama.com.) After Jackson’s introduction, the introduction of the drivers, and the singing of the national anthem, the race was on.

The drivers were escorted onto the race track in these cars.

The drivers were escorted onto the race track in these cars.

Two hours and 90 laps later, Ryan Hunter-Reay (who dominated first place most of the race) was declared the winner followed by Scott Dixon in second place and Castroneves in third. Of course I would have like to have seen Castroneves win it all especially since he moved to first place in the 52nd lap and held it down until the 76th lap before Hunter-Reay overtook first place; however, I was satisfied with seeing him make the podium. If I was a betting woman, though, I wouldn’t be saying that. But I’m not, so it was fine.
Ryan Hunter-Reay takes the win.

Ryan Hunter-Reay takes the win.

Overall, the experience exceeded my expectations. I was impressed with the wooded nature of the park and the friendly staff and volunteers. I would also love to visit the museum someday. Would I go again? You can bet that up! And as much as I enjoy free stuff, I would even pay for my own ticket the next time. Maybe I will be adventurous and take a ride on the Neverland Ferris wheel, too.

Congratulations to the top 6. Great race, guys!

Congratulations to the top 6. Great race, guys!


(Check out http://www.barbermotorsports.com for upcoming events and ticket sales information and other related venues.)