• Kathy

Each year I sit down on January 1st with new hope and reevaluate the past year and what's on the horizon of the new year. I've learned over time that no matter how many lists I make to keep me on course, I falter with resolutions. So maybe I need a new approach. As we begin this decade together, instead of concentrating on changes I need to make in my life, I want to focus on the positive things I am blessed with daily. Yesterday I heard a comment from one of my favorite influencers from Instagram, Sara Jo from @bryartonfarm, she said "from gratitude we find happiness in what we have". Those powerful words from an amazing woman resonated with me and by implementing them in my life this coming year, perhaps everything will fall into place for the new year.

As a soul that craves a creative outlet, whether it's my photography, writing, decorating, cooking, or exploring, I found solace in the stories of so many strong and influential women on Instagram this past year. I love to watch their stories and see how they survive their daily lives with work, children, husbands, pets, and the reality of it they so often share. Although their feeds may show the most put together posts, they often share the behind the scenes reality of the chaos in their lives, and they just make me laugh and feel like I'm part of a community. As a photographer I can relate. Although I want you to see my best foot forward each and every time I post, it's not always the case or reality, and 2019 was no exception. I had many highs and lows throughout the year that no one saw. I tend to become extremely introverted when lows occur in my life. I don't want to bring others down or burden them with a sad or bad mood, so I tend to pull back from friends and the things that bring me happiness. Seems rather backwards now that I put that on paper, but some of you may relate to what I'm saying. Through social media though I was able to find inspiration and ways to cope in 2019 through these ups and downs. Say what you may about being on social media, through this outlet I found a few daily smiles to keep my spirits up from women all around the country. For that I thank them.


I set out in 2019 with a plan to reconnect with family and friends and get some home projects completed. When mapping out my vacations and adventures for the year, I included a trip home to Illinois to see my momma, family and friends in the spring and to cover my best friends daughters wedding in the fall; a trip to Michigan to have a girls vacation with my bestie, Jeanne; a trip to the city with my son and his girlfriend; and a solo trip to Maine. In addition to putting a lot of miles on my truck, I also wanted to find time to get a few projects around the house accomplished. Did I accomplish everything I set out to do? Well, yes and no. Let's revisit some of the highlights!!!

In 2019 I began a bullet journal. Not sure about you, but if it's not in writing, it won't happen in my life. With the craziness of my scheduling for work, a photography business, and family, it was a godsend!! Lists are my life. I am visual and this is how my brain is wired. So a fully inclusive planner for all areas of my life was the first thing on my list to accomplish in 2019. If I was to be organized, it was a must. Anyone that knows me, knows about my lists!!! So bullet journaling was the one way I could organize my life in the way I needed to. Although I started off strong with stickers and artwork, I quickly learned that the foo foo wasn't going to happen each and every month so I adjusted and found a clear concise way to keep everything I needed on paper so that I could be more organized!! For those of you who don't want to do it on your own and just want a planner that is organized and aesthetically pleasing... one of my favorite bullet journalists has just created one for you that you may like to start with. Her name is Amanda Lee, and check out her new planner she just launched this year!!! This resolution was one for the win column, and will be continued in 2020.


Shortly after that, I worked on separating my personal and business social media accounts so that I could focus more photography on one and my personal life on the other. After reviewing the year on both, they still overlap. That was a resolution fail. In my defense though, I had the most difficult time getting my Instagram sharing features to coexist with the correct accounts so things did not get posted always to both Facebook and Instagram correctly. Did anyone else have this issue when creating a business page? I ended up abandoning my personal Instagram and focusing on the business one, and once again focused on my personal Facebook and ignored the business one. I think I may have it figured out now so 2020 I hope to do better!!!


I also found Marie Kondo in 2019. The art of folding only joyful items was short lived. Although I still do this method when folding to fit more things I don't need into a small space, I didn't get through the massive amounts of paperwork that needed to be sorted and disposed of, or items in the basement. 2020 I will do better!!!! This was a resolution win and fail all in one. Very Marie Kondo!!

Music was still a huge part of my life in all aspects in 2019. I began the year with a Birthday bash and some of my favorite musicians, Enter the Haggis at The Egg. These guys are the most talented musicians and all around great guys. Proud to call them friends. As an added birthday bonus, I got to see Skerryvore, as they opened for them that night!!! Wow what a treat that was!!! Happy Birthday Kathy!!!

March was a busy music month for me with Celtic music statewide. On the list was We Banjo 3 at Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute; Colin Farrel's band, Lunasa, in Troy as they were joined by Natalie Merchant at The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, The High Kings at The Palace in Syracuse, The Moxie Strings at the Heritage Hill Brew House , and rounding out the spring full of my favorite musicians were Trevor, Craig, Brian (from Enter the Haggis/House of Hamill) and Rose (House of Hamill) at the Brae Loch Inn as they joined us in early April. Could it get any better?

Well yes, as 2019 was also the year my sister and I shared music together. It began in May when she treated me to a night of music without my camera as we saw Foreigner at the Turning Stone where we danced and sang like we were back in high school!!! We followed that up with several shows at CMAC over the summer as we saw Lionel Richie, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Daryl Hall and John Oates together. Although I had to work for these shows, I loved looking over seeing her singing and dancing in her seat!!! Love that we are close and we got to share these moments together...so thankful for her this year when I needed her most!! (I also captured Jason Isbell, but she didn't make that particular show with me).

The summer music series kept me busy as I continued to cover shows for the St. Joseph's Lakeview Ampitheater, NYSMusic, the final Great American Irish Festival held in Frankfort, and last but certainly not least my beloved Syracuse Irish Festival. So thankful for my relationship with with all of these partners as I am truly blessed to capture these moments and bring the highlights to those who love them as much as I do.


You know I love a wonderful night of country music and Chris Young did not disappoint. With Dylan Scott opening and showing what he has and Chris Janson on the harmonica, I was blown away. Just wow!!!

Peter Frampton was a bucketlist show for me this year. Sadly it would be his final tour, and he certainly shone for all that night and made me so happy to be there to witness it and capture it. With Jason Bonham opening, I was in my glory reliving some of my favorite tunes from the 70's that night.



What can I say about Shinedown that I haven't said before. I just love them. Four classy guys who totally bring it for their fans. And Brent Smith is the ONLY musician that makes it a point to shake each photographers hand. You're okay in my book Brent. You can always count on me to be at one of your shows.

The Great American Irish Festival held what would be their final weekend at the Herkimer County Fairgrounds in July of 2019. With a new direction being taken in 2020, it's bittersweet for me to know now that the photos from that weekend would be the last of their kind. I treasure the memories I've made over the years and like a flash in time, they are now over. It's moments like these that I truly appreciate the ability to capture these moments to recall and reminisce in the years to come.

For those of you that may not know, in August, the day after I covered the Daryl Hall and John Oates show at CMAC, I experienced a loss in my life. My father unexpectedly passed away. As I reflect back I think to myself, I wish I could have seen him more, or called him more, or told him more that I loved him. I wish I could have gotten out of work earlier the day I covered the show to be able to stop by and say "I'm just passing through for a second, but I love you Dad". I didn't push the issue for reasons I can't get into, and I'll always regret it. What I am consoled with though is this, throughout this year I did surprise visit him several times having funny and interesting conversations, and in my last conversation with him a few days before his passing, our last words to each other were I love you. He called me at work and it was the first time I had a chance to speak to him after he had been discharged from the hospital. His cell service was sketchy where he lived so to reach him had been a game of phone tag. Normally I don't answer personal calls at work, but I had been so worried about him and his health, I did that day. I thank God for that call. It was our last conversation.

The day after his funeral I needed some time to myself to find my smile again, and what fills my heart the most when I'm sad is music. So I drove to cover a show at the Great NY State Fair. Standing in the rain holding an umbrella over my camera equipment, I shot the always magnificent Mavericks. It was exactly what I needed. As I was passing by the buses several hours later I noticed Raul Malo, lead singer for the Mavericks, spending time with fans by the bus area. Stepping up to meet him I introduced myself and asked if he minded if I took a photo for the article. Think the photo ended up being cut out of the article during editing, but it was a pivotal moment for me, as it showed me that music and good people are all around us to help bring us a smile when we need it most. Thanks Raul. You know what else I learned that day? A rainy day at the Fair is the best day to go because there was no waiting or crowds for anything!!! Bam!!!

A few short weeks later music and friends once again brought light to my life as I covered one of my most favorite music festivals, The Syracuse Irish Festival. It's one my favorites because it's like a family reunion. From the day I began working with them, they welcomed me as one of them. It's a small group of people and volunteers that work tirelessly to bring a fun filled weekend of music, culture, and wonderful memories to those in the area..and for free. Doesn't matter if it rains or shines, this will always be one festival I'm front and center for. Stay tuned for more on this festival in an upcoming blog. I really want to highlight more on this amazing event and share with you how truly special it is.

I also had a chance to mark another moment off my bucket list. I got to cover the Professional Bull Riders Show at the Oncenter for two nights. What a spectacular event that was and what great folks to work with!! Bet you didn't know I had secretly wanted to be a cowgirl!!! Can't wait for them to make their way back soon. Hopefully again in 2020!!!


My travel adventures began in May with a trip home to see my momma, family, and friends. Check out the recap of this wonderful time as I recharged my heart to full once again.

In July I headed off to Michigan to see one of my dearest friends, Jeanne. Jeanne and I met back in the late 80's as our husbands were both in the Navy in Charleston, SC.

Sharing so many of life's ups and downs together I'm am so happy we've stayed friends over the years. It was high time we took off for an adventure together. Riding shotgun, I tortured this poor lady as we chased lighthouses all along Lake Michigan for a book I'm working on. We began our adventure in Frankenmuth, MI. I had always wanted to see this quaint little Bavarian town and what's better than sharing with your bestie? Sharing it with two friends as my friend Joanne joined us for the day!!! All three of us spent the day eating brats and pretzels, and wandering all around the town shopping and exploring. Ending it all in the worlds largest Christmas shop Bronners, it was a fun filled day for us all!!! And one I cherish dearly. Thank you so much Joanne for joining us and keeping Thelma and Louise out of trouble!!!




After a few stops at local antique marts in the area, we hit the road for Frankfort, MI where we stayed a few days along the coastline watching glorious sunsets, searching for the states best Bloody Mary's, and chasing lighthouses up and down the coast. After making our way back to our home base in Wyandotte, we took our obligatory trip to IKEA where I spent way more than I should (of course) and was in all my decorating glory!!! This was such a fun week and something that was long over due!!! Think I need to add another trip there soon...after all there is still the Upper Peninsula we really haven't touched, and so many more lighthouses calling to us!!

In August I took my son and his girlfriend on a trip to NYC. I think of this trip as a learning experience. I learned that summer is way different in NYC than fall and winter. I learned that NYC smells way different in summer than in fall and winter. Finally I learned that you just don't go to NYC in the summer because it's just way different than fall and winter. We had a great time and explored new things such as The Vessel and the High Line, but we also learned that the subway lacks fresh air in the summer, Central Park is super crowded, and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge is a test of patience as I found by the end of the walk across I was yelling at tourists like a real New Yorker to get out of the bike path before they hurt someone or get hurt. Yep, learning experience.

Solos adventures played a huge part of my sanity this year. They rejuvenated me when I needed it most. Because I was traveling around the US this year I didn't get to join my Celtic sisters as they jotted over to Ireland twice and cruised with The Elders in the fall. It was tough I have to admit not being with them!! But we did the next best thing...I recorded a message to take with them over to Arklow for the grand opening of the Asguard Theater...and we video chatted at the grand opening so I could be a part of it!!! Thank goodness for technology!!! The solo trips really helped me regroup and remind myself that this year was about family and doing other things I had on my to do list. If I could, I would visit the world and see all my friends all over, but unfortunately my day job only allows us so many paid days off...so until I get picked up by the Travel Channel or get a sponsor (open to discussing both)...I have to alternate my excursions.


The first solo trip was actually just a day trip to Ithaca and Taughannock Falls. I always wanted to see these falls so I combined this day trip with a surprise visit with my Dad, a hike in the gorge, and covering a show of a new artist at a new venue. Will link my blog here for you to see. It really helped me regroup, and almost killed me at the same time!!! Seriously, read it. You'll see what I mean.

The second solo trip was my trip to Maine in September. This was the first time I took a solo trip to an unknown destination. I didn't know anyone on the other end, I didn't visit it previously, and I didn't know what to expect. This trip was life changing for me. I don't want to go into here too much, as I will feature it in it's own blog, but just know that everyone needs to take solo trips in their lives to learn about themselves. It's really eye opening and empowering. Just what I needed.


As I reflect back throughout the year sharing these memories with you, although it was a tough year for me and I'm glad to put it behind me, there were so many wonderful moments too. Of course there's my musical moments and my travel adventures I've just shared...but I loved the every day things too.


I golfed for the first time with my son this year!!! It was so much fun and something I know we'll do more in 2020. I don't know why we never did it before.

My granddaughter celebrated her first birthday this year!!! What a blessing she is in my life. Just look at her....she loves cake like her Grammy!!!

I made over my front porch this spring, and I finally fixed the fence and put in the flower bed out front. You know...projects I've wanted to get done for a long time. The front porch needed a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling and floor, and a little sprucing up on the decor. Took me a few days, but after one long weekend of working, it was completed!!

After that I set out to create a nice flower area in my front yard by the fence. Don't know if you've ever done this, but I thought it would be a good idea to buy my plants from one of those catalogs. You know...the ones with the already designed flower areas that outline what everything is and where to place it? Picking out the perfect combination of flowers for all day sun I set to work to clear and prep the area just waiting for them to arrive. When I received the plants a few days later, they were root balls and all labeled by their latin names. What?!!!! I had to google each and every one to make sure I was planting in the correct area so the taller ones weren't towering in the front and not by the back fence...then....I had no idea if I was even planting them upside down or right side up!!! That was fun! Not!!! Well, over the course of time some came up, some didn't. Operator error? I think not!! I was set up for failure on that little task. Moral of the story? Buy local...from my son Ryan and Olney's where I know what I'm buying and if it's being planted correctly. Despite my botanical fail I do consider this one for the win column!!! Why? Because I gardened!!! My grandparents and my Dad G. were smiling down on me as I blistered my hands and broke my back. The whole time I have to admit, I was secretly smiling inside knowing they would be proud of me.

In October, my sister and I decided to commemorate my father's birthday a way he would approve...we got tattoos!! Oh, my Dad wasn't the normal conventional Dad...he loved hunting, fishing, motorcycles, and yes tattoos!! Even after his motorcycle accident that almost cost him his life and took the use of one of his legs, it didn't stop him from buying a Harley trike and bungie cording his walker to the back. Yes, my Dad was a character. And he raised us to be hard working, tough, independent women. We spent the day remembering the good times with him and reminiscing with my sister in law, Tammy, the funny times we all shared. It was the perfect way to honor him on his day. Every day now I have a little bit of him with me.

Christmas was very special for me this year as I got to spend it with (almost all) my children and grandchildren. With several of them living out of state, I don't always get to share holidays with them, so when my daughter messaged me to say she was coming for Christmas to see us, I was giddy!! It was an amazing holiday full of love and fun memories as we laughed, had family game night, and got to enjoy each other for the short time we spent together. It was perfect, and made my heart full!!

2019 was a great year for my photography business. I love watching the trends as they unfold each year. I don't do major marketing. I normally work on referrals and happy return customers. So each year brings new opportunities to be creative. This year's trend was just right. I had a few weddings, several family shoots, and several senior photos.








I also was able to complete a few commercial shoots this year. Helping out my son's friend develop her portfolio, I covered the Cazenovia College Fashion Show. The show featured some of the most talented designers, and I am certain that one day you'll see their designs on the runway!!!

One of my favorite shoots this year was a band promo shoot. I've hesitated to share any of the photos from that shoot as I'm not sure what they will be using them for yet. However, here's one I absolutely loved and they said I could share with ya'll!!! They were such good sports. Thanks Trevor, Brian, Craig, Mark, and Bruce for your patience with me...the hours of wandering...and always being willing to try anything. Was truly my honor to have you trust me with these.

All in all, 2019 was an amazing year. I think when we stop and really reflect on things collectively in a grander picture than a single particular moment, it puts things into focus. No matter what ups and downs that come my way, I want to stop and recall all the positive things I am so blessed to have with gratitude. Then all the other negative things that seem so detrimental, will be in a more realistic perspective.


2020 will be a different year and different decade. A blank slate. Not sure what's in store yet for me, but no matter what life brings my way, I am so blessed to have an amazing support group of family, friends, colleagues, and opportunities afforded me. As long as I stay focused on gratitude, I feel that I will tackle this new decade with gusto. Thank you for coming along on this ride with me, I so appreciate each and every one of you, and I hope you stay buckled in for whatever new adventures I take you on as the year unfolds!!!

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." George Bernard Shaw


Slàinte My Friends

Kathy

  • Kathy

January 1st is a day of reflection and hope. It's a day we all sit down and think about what the last 365 days brought us, and what the next 364 days have in store for us.


I find reflection a method of growth, especially as a photographer and business owner. I'm able to sit down and review what did and didn't work in my business plan, my methods of photography, and my plans for the future as an artist. Comparing my work throughout the years helps me to see what I do and do not like to bring to clients, as well as where I wish to guide my medium.


In 2018 I launched my new website, introduced my new logo, and redirected my attentions to areas I wished to focus on, i.e. more traveling. I would like to take you along as I reminisce about the year, and what I think did and didn't work for me. I also wish to forewarn you in advance as this may be a long read. You may want to grab a cup of tea or coffee and hunker down.


January 2018

After the busy holiday season, as well as year end with a business, I took January to just breath and plan. This is the month most photographers catch up on everything they can't seem to fit in throughout the year. Sometimes January's are more busy than other months.


I knew I wanted to still shoot and write with NYSMusic, but I wanted to be more selective and diverse in my choices. I wanted to mix it up with some new music, and give others at the magazine an opportunity to shoot shows too that I may have spoken for in the past. I felt like my music photography was becoming stale, as well as my writing. I felt like my articles all began to sound the same. Perhaps I'm my own worse critic, but I want to grow in my field and not just stay status quo. I also wanted to put more efforts into my actual photography business expanding on portraits and weddings and building my clientele.


My main focus for 2018 was to make my methods of social media and marketing more cohesive and reflective of who I was and the direction I wanted my business to go. After doing some research, I decided to change website builders and I chose to go with Wix. It gave me the best options to have everything in one place, was easy to use, and was more affordable. So January was the month the work began; to build a new look and new website. Working together with my very talented son, Ryan, who also is a graphic designer (shameless plug), we designed a new logo. I wanted a look that would incorporate my photography (music and regular portraiture) together with my love of travel. I think he nailed it.

For me, it is more reflective of what I am, who I am, and what my business offers. The old logo was great, but I never felt like it was me. Once I had my inspiration piece, I began to build the pages. This took some time, but was well worth it as I fine tuned them about a million times throughout the month. Finally I was able to have a page that incorporated my regular photography, my music photography and articles, and my travel blogs. One tidy neat package.


February 2018

In February, I launched my new website and introduced the new look. I invested in new branding materials featuring the new logo, and implemented a new way of packaging my products to clients.


In February I also finally began my blogging. To me this was a new way to share a part of who I am. My blogs may be randomly posted or lengthy at times (something I'll work on in 2019), but I mostly want to share with others a way to explore yourself both through art and adventure. The message I want to share is that just because you may older, be single, and/or on a fixed income, you still can pursue your passions, no matter what they are. Just do it! My passion obviously is travel. I love to see new sights, meet new people, and capture those moments through my lens. Through my blogs I hope to inspire others to do the same, and not let things such as fear be a deciding factor. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

In 2018 I also experienced personal growth through a program called Leadership Mohawk Valley. This was a huge learning experience for me. The program helped develop the leader within me. I learned about community organizations, programs that are available to assist those in need, and I developed and nurtured skills within myself to help achieve success in my day job, my business, and my personal life. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wishes to become a better all around person. It's not just a means to grow leadership skills...but also to become a team player and foster leadership in others. And as a footnote, I fostered a new family of friends through this program that I will always cherish! #lmvunicorns


March 2018

In March I became more involved with the Great American Irish Festival as I covered the Hooley for them. I have always been a part of the organization as a volunteer, however this year I began to become part of the team. A small but mighty team that works tirelessly to celebrate Celtic music and culture in the Mohawk Valley. (More to come on this later in the year.)


This month I also had an opportunity to shoot some band promo pics for a local band; Simple Props. I had a blast doing this and hope to do more of this in the future for local bands. Hey hit me up if you need new band photos for marketing!!

In March I started to implement a personal goal; being in the moment more. In the past I always felt compelled to capture the moments of every sporting event my son participated in. As my son's lacrosse games began for Cazenovia College, I held true to my goal and found myself only capturing only a few team photos this season. I learned how much fun it was to be on the bleachers with the other moms and dads cheering on our boys.

This year was also full of baby photos!!! Whether it was pregnancy shoots, or newborns, 2018 was my year of babies!! And oh how I enjoyed it!!! Especially the arrival of my granddaughter, Remi Mae Stockbridge in August!!

April 2018

In April I got to go into the studio with a friend and capture some action shots for a video they were putting together. This was really a fun and different experience for me. I love the creativity of others, and was thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it and see it unfold.

If I had to pinpoint the one thing I love the most about being a photographer, it would be the relationships I have developed over the years with my clients. Most of my clients are return clients that allow me to capture their lives as they unfold. This month I had the opportunity to shoot a baby christening for a family I met right as I was beginning to do photography. I originally began shooting this family through a commercial shoot I was hired for at the last minute. He is my Santa that I often share on my social media pages! They liked my work so much they hired me to do a family portrait, then senior photos, then wedding photos, more family photos, and finally their grandson's dedication ceremony. I just love them, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to grow along with this family and chronicle all their special life moments. Yep, that's definitely one of my favorite things about being a photographer. My clients become a family to me!!


May 2018

May was a rather quiet one for my business. Remember how I wanted to be more present in the moments of my life? Yeah, I did this in May! I got to spend some time with my sister, my son came home for the summer, and I did some things just for fun! Yay!!!

Starting with....Hollywood Vampires!! This month I got to be a fan, and just a fan. No camera, no articles, just shear yelling and screaming like a crazy person. My friend asked if I wanted to go with her to see Hollywood Vampires, I was like...what? Absolutely I want to go see Johnny Depp again!!! Who turns down Johnny Depp?!!! As strange as it may be to be at a show without a camera around my neck, it was fun to sing and dance and act like a goof! Yep, life in the moment doesn't suck!!!

The one senior photo shoot I did this month allowed me to explore a new theme; baseball. Had tons of ideas in the past for possible baseball images, so this was a new creative avenue to explore. This senior had other photos taken earlier in the school year, but his mother wanted a more personal set of photos. My subject wasn't too sure at first with me or my ideas, but he was a great sport and played along, and I think we got some great captures that day. Although he was a little reluctant at first, I know his mother was happy we did this, and I know he did this more for her than for himself. This brings me a warmth in my heart now as I reflect back on this shoot. A few weeks ago I learned that we recently lost her to cancer. Cancer sucks!! She was a beautiful person that loved her children so much. I hope whenever he looks at these photos it will help him remember how very happy he made her that day by his selfless act.


Being a photographer is an honor. I feel like I have a responsibility to my clients when I photograph them to freeze moments in time. Capturing the moments gives them the opportunity to relive those emotions. These moments are priceless. This gift makes what I do very personal. It's not a job, it's an honor.


June 2018

In June I watched as my son took off for his first vacation by himself with his friends to Florida. How did this happen? You know, the growing up and becoming an adult part? He had taken vacations before, but with other parents along for the ride. This was his first sole vacation as a young adult and a turning point for me as I had to let go a little bit more of the apron strings. Geez...I hope it gets easier as time goes on!! I have a feeling, it won't.


Speaking of family, I had my first photo shoot with my granddaughter and her parents. She had the easy part, think she actually slept through the whole thing! Her parents on the other hand were just beautiful!!! So blessed to have such a wonderful family. So blessed to be able to document their special moments too!!

June began my busy season for NYSMusic and the Lakeview as well. Now named the St. Joseph's Health Ampitheater at Lakeview...I will be calling it the Lakeview from here on out, just to make things easier for this blog. I love my work with the Lakeview and LiveNation and couldn't wait for the 2018 year's shows. They had an amazingly diverse mix of music for everyone and some great performers I had yet to cover!!!


I started off the season with Kenny Chesney and Old Dominion. A first time with Kenny Chesney, and second time for Old Dominion, they didn't disappoint. My second show was Imagine Dragons with Grace Vanderwaal. What a show this was! Grace was so sweet and talented and Imagine Dragons bring an energy that to their shows that transfers so well to stills. Rounding out the month at the Lakeview was probably my favorite show of the whole season, Foreigner with Jason Bonham and Whitesnake. First of all, Jason Bonham is beyond amazing!! Ever since seeing his performance with Ann Wilson at the Kennedy Awards, I have been hooked. His father would be so proud of him and his legacy he carries on. This was a first time for Whitesnake for me and I just love 90's hair bands because they just love to play to the camera. (see below) Covering Foreigner was a bucket list item for me. As a teenager I owned all their albums. As the show began with Long, Long Way Home...I found myself singing along to every word. I can't remember what I walked into the next room for, but I remember all the words to their songs. Priceless!







I also had the opportunity to cover one of my favorite Celtic bands this month, Gaelic Storm. They put on one of the best shows around. Their energy and talent shines through and for those came, they were in for a real treat. For those of you not familiar with them, you may just be and not know it. They were the featured music for the "Real Party" scene on Titanic!

Sometimes when you are not looking, you find something new and exciting. This happened one night as I was volunteering at a Saranac Thursday. I was there with my LMV family to pour for United Way. Scheduled for this particular Thursday's show was The Eric Tessmer Band, from Austin, Texas. They happened to be playing that weekend at Mountain Jam and made a pitstop to Utica for a quick gig. This soulful band immediately captured my attention, and although I didn't have my equipment..I couldn't help but snap a few pics with my phone and run an article on this amazing band the very next day. Check them out! They were another of my favorite new artists for 2018.

Finally, finishing out this hectic month was a treat as I watched my niece graduate from high school. As I said previously, capturing photos for my family is a gift and I found it hard to focus as I became misty watching her walk across that stage.

July 2018

July began with carrying out my personal goal of enjoying more of the summer this year. Normally I work most of the summer with shows, weddings, and festivals. But this year I was determined to get the "Green Machine" out on the water more. I am happy to say that although it wasn't as often as I wanted to, I happily accomplished my goal twice. And...to top it off. I even captured an amazing photo of a loon! One I've been striving to capture for years now! What? What?!!!! Those little birds are quite elusive!!!




In addition to my kayaking adventures, friends and I also took an overnight to Ausable Chasm. Ausable Chasm is located just south of Plattsburgh and about an hour from the Canadian border. This area is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks, and rightly so. It was spectacular! Take a peek at my Blog on Ausable Chasm for details and photos!! It is definitely a must see!! For those of you who haven't explored New York, it's so much more than skyscrapers and yellow taxis! It's one of the most beautiful and diverse states around! They don't say I Love New York for nothing!!


This month I attended my very first World Series of Bocce. Can you believe I've never been before?!! It's a true Roman tradition, and I'm ashamed to say this was my first ever. A first for my son and his friends to complete as well. They happily won their first match to make it to round two, however were defeated by one of the best teams out of New Jersey in round two. The whole experience was a good time, and a tradition I will continue...next time I may even bring my camera along to catch a few matches.


Speaking of traditions, July is the month of the Great American Irish Festival. This year's festival welcomed newcomers, We Banjo 3, celebrated with many returning favorites and said farewell to festival favorites, The Elders. Take a peek at my article for GAIF and a special interview with We Banjo 3 and a special farewell message to CNY'rs from The Elders!








Finally rounding out this amazing month of July, I would be remiss to not mention checking off another bucket list show at the Lakeview. July I was able to see the amazing Janet Jackson at the Lakeview. "Ms. Jackson if you're nasty"! She is everything and then some folks! This was truly an honor!

August 2018

Looking back now, August was my busiest month of the year. How I fit everything in is beyond me!! Starting with the arrival of my beautiful granddaughter, Remi Mae! She took her own sweet time arriving, but you have to wait for perfection and it was worth the wait! My heart is full!!

August was a month of music for sure! Back in the 90's my son Ryan introduced me to a band he loved called 311. Not a mainstream band to me, I was unfamiliar with them. Through him, I grew to love them and their unique mix of rap and rock. Fast forward 24 years later, and I find myself in the pit taking their photos and loving every moment of it wishing I could share with him. But as the good Daddy he is, he was home with his gals taking care of them. I think this was definitely one my favorite captures for the 2018 music season. This one's for you Ry.

Opening for 311 that night was a hometown favorite of mine. Travie McCoy and his band Gym Class Heroes. The band hails from my hometown Geneva, NY or GTown as we call it, and I think I may have even gone to school with Travie's parents. Will have to pull out the year book one day and see. Being able to capture this set was really fun, and prideful seeing a hometown band's dream come true. This capture is another favorite from last year.

Finally, on the 311 tour was the Offspring. Not really familiar with their music, I began researching them and found that not only are they amazing musicians (and I was familiar with a few of their songs) I also found that the lead singer Dexter Holland in 2013 published a paper that focused on "computational molecular biological approaches to identify microRNA-like sequences in HIV". What?!!! This man is a molecular biologist and published scientist! I love it!!! Proof that people are so much more than what others perceive them to be. Never judge others!! Loved their set and love them!


August also marked the first ever annual Woods Fest at Woods Valley Ski Resort in Rome, NY. With acts such as Los Blancos, The Old Main, Mike Powell and John Hanus, The Black River, Les Brers, Nick & Jay from Floodwood, and so many more, this event was hailed as a huge success, a great family friendly event, and is on again for 2019. So stay tuned for lineup and more information!

Below please find one of my other 2018 favorite new artists, Mike Powell. He is amazing and folks he will be a huge star one day. He's so very talented and humble!!! Check him out!!! You can thank me later.

Although the Lakeview was in full swing with shows galore, my schedule only allowed me two more nights there covering some amazing acts. First up was Lynyrd Skynyrd with special guests, The Marshall Tucker Band, 38 Special, and Hank Williams Jr. Talk about a night of country rock!!! They were all amazing and there is nothing like finally being at a show where they yell "Freebird" and the band who is actually suppose to play, plays it!!

Marshall Tucker Band

38 Special

Hank Williams Jr.

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd

As the month progressed, so began the Great New York State Fair. One of my favorite times of year, I love covering shows at the Fair and this year offered an excellent line up. Fitting in three shows, I was able to cover two bucket list shows (Blondie and Dropkick Murphys), and cover another favorite of mine (Counting Crows).

Blondie is a legend. Loved her always, and she's still the most amazing!! So happy to have covered this show!! She sounded amazing, and just look at her...she doesn't age!!! Was right back in high school as she sang "Rapture".


Blondie

Any time the Counting Crows come to town you can expect to see me there. Adam Duritz is one of my all time favorite musicians. The emotions he puts into his music and lyrics is what draws me to him. Plus he's fun to shoot as he is an emotional performer. Definitely a highlight for me at the Fair this past year. A few years ago I had a chance to interview him and it became one of my favorite interviews ever. Scheduled to be around 10 minutes, our conversation was flowing so well he kept telling his publicist that it was okay...we could keep talking. He taught me a really important lesson about interviewing someone..never ask a question you aren't sure of the answer. His take on Woodstock 99 was true and from the heart and took me back a little leaving me in a position of how to turn the interview around on a more positive spin. The rawness and honesty was brutal, and for someone that only likes to say something nice, it was a real turning point for me as a journalist to just write what was said and put it out there. Check it out here, he's is definitely one of my favs and always will be.


The final show I covered at the Fair was a total surprise for me as I didn't have any more scheduled. Not scheduled to appear, the Dropkick Murphy's were a last minute addition when Dickey Betts had to cancel due to health reasons. It wasn't a question, I was fitting this show in for certain. I had never had an opportunity to see these guys, and was so glad I did! A tough act to shoot, the two front men, Ken Casey and Al Barr, just never stop moving. Good thing I'm versed at action photography. Otherwise the photos would be a blur. A great show and a band I definitely go to see again. How did I not ever see them before? Loved their raw, energetic Celtic rock sound. Fan forever now.





My final show of the season at the Lakeview was one I snuck in (as if I didn't have enough on my plate!!) The show was Shinedown and Godsmack with opening act Red Rising Sun. What a crazy show this was, and one of my favorites of the year, but not for the usual reasons. The first act, Red Rising Sun played their set, however with a terrible storm on the way, the show ended up delayed by a more than an hour until it passed. After the storms passed and both Shinedown and Godsmack were back to the stage, they played their hearts out to make it up to those who stuck out the weather. It was during the Shinedown performance that something special happened for the first time ever. I've shot many many shows from the pit and usually the artists just put up with us. They sometimes smile...they sometimes pose, but mainly they are just wanting us to leave and get our cameras out of their faces. I get that. Who would constantly want a number of cameras shooting every angle of you as you sing? Not always is it a flattering position to be photographed. So when Brent Smith of Shinedown came out on to the amps and reached down and shook each and every hand of the photographers and security personnel, I was a fan for life. He got it. He understood that like him, we enjoy music and want to display it in the way we love, through our photos. Thank you Brent Smith. You are one helluva guy. I am now a fan for life. #madrespect #shinedownbrentsmith


Red Sun Rising

Shinedown

Sully Erna - Godsmack

Godsmack

Godsmack

Rounding out this amazingly busy month, I took off with my Celtic family for an #emptynestadventures to cover the Kansas City Irish Festival for three days. One of the nations largest Irish Festivals, it was treat to go see my friends, The Elders, play in front of their hometown crowd. With three days of the some of my favorite Celtic bands, being with my friends, making new friends, and the VIP treatment from those in charge, it was a highlight to my past year. I can't thank my friends from the KCIF enough for their over the top hospitality. This one top notch organization!! A must attend for those who like Irish Festivals. (Stay tune this year for a more detailed blog on this event)





















September 2018

I began the month with one of my favorite events of the year, the Syracuse Irish Festival. I have been the official photographer from the Syracuse Irish Festival now for several years, and each year it is such an honor to work with this amazing group of individuals. I love each and every one of them and all the hard work they put in to bringing Irish music and culture to the Syracuse region. Because this was the final year for my friends The Elders before they retired from touring, this would be the final show for the Central NY area and was a bittersweet one. They had become family here with their fans, and there wasn't a dry eye in the place as they sang Men of Erin along with a packed crowd in Clinton Square. It was a fun filled weekend, and despite my camera breaking during one of the final sets on Saturday, I was able to capture not only the final moments with the Elders, but also a new band Cùig. A huge thank you goes out to Ann for allowing me to borrow your camera and to my trusty Android phone..moments were captured to document another successful weekend for the Syracuse Irish Festival.














September was my month for weddings. It's such an honor to do weddings, as it's such an important day for the couple and their families. It's even more special when you get to photograph a wedding for someone you've had the pleasure to know for years and are friends with.

I had two of these moments this month. One with a couple I met through the Irish Festivals, and one who is a family friend and actually used to babysit my son when he was little. Both were super special to me and highlights of 2018!!! I just love LOVE!! I just loved these weddings!!


Speaking of wedding couples, I love when my wedding couples call me after the fact to let me know they had a baby and ask to do newborn photos. This is all the feels for me. It's like you are part of their story. Your heart swells knowing you get to capture another special moment for them. Yep I have the best job ever!! Just look at this cute little chef!!

Back in June I got to capture my niece's graduation, well I don't know where all the years went, but in September I got to capture her younger brother's senior photos. I am feeling a bit old now. That time flew by, and now he's a grown young man, driving, working, and applying to colleges. Okay, you two can stop growing up so darn fast!!



This month also had a very proud moment for me as a music photographer. I had the opportunity to shoot the Thomas Rhett show in Syracuse at the OnCenter, and after posting the photo below, Thomas Rhett reached out to me personally and asked for a copy of the photo to frame! What?!!! Highest compliment ever when an artists likes a photo so much they want it, to frame. Mind was blown and you could have tipped me over with a feather!! Yep, September was a pretty great month.


October 2018

In October you would think I would slow down a bit, but not really. I began the month doing something fun. I got to celebrate my 35 year class reunion!! Our class was the best. We have always been an extremely tight group, but with the invention of Facebook, we have been able to continue to stay in touch and be a part of each other's lives even today. We are a support system that most don't have after graduation. So very happy to have all my classmates as friends still!! Check out highlights in my blog about "After All These Years"!!!


November 2018

It's not normal for me to wish away time, but November couldn't get here quick enough for one very special reason...I was heading back to Ireland with my Celtic family to join The Elders on their final tour. What can I say? This was going to be the best farewell tour ever. We traveled all over Ireland; along the Wild Atlantic Way, to the southern coast and back up to Dublin. There are so many photos to share, so many memories and highlights, that I cannot possibly include them in this reflection post. But don't fear, these moments will get their very own blog and highlights. Until then, here are a few teaser photos for those of you who love the emerald isle.













The remainder of the month of November I dedicated to my clients. I had wedding packages to deliver so they were my main focus. Some think this life as a photographer is glamourous. I am here to attest, although it's very fulfilling, you need to love what you do because it's so much more than pointing a camera at a subject and clicking the button. There are numerous conversations with potential clients, research and inspiration boards I create ahead of a shoot to help guide the session, the travel and preparation for the shoot, the shoot itself, and then numerous hours of editing and delivery of the photos. Then there's the update of the webpage and social media marketing and if it's music photography, there's also an article and/or blog that accompanies the photos. So, November was definitely a catch up period for me.


In November I also officially became a member of the Great American Irish Festival's committee. A volunteer for years, I was officially voted in and made part of this dedicated hard working team! I look forward to continuing my work with them and look forward to the new year with the festival, and the newly built Cultural Center.


December 2018

As December rolled in, I had one more little adventure planned...this time with my sister and niece!! And there is no better place to spend the holidays than in New York City. If you've never been to NYC at Christmas time, you are missing something special. The city itself has an energy about it year round, but add Christmas time to it, and the energy and Christmas spirit is off the charts. There is so much to do and see, that you can spend days just wandering around enjoying it. I won't go into what we did those three days, as that's a whole blog in itself, but I must say, sharing this time with my niece and my sister was the best way to conclude an amazing year of @emptynestadventures travel. Here are a few sneak peeks from our trip to tide you over till I can write and share the blog with ya'll.








When I began this "2018 Reflections" blog, never in a million years did I think this would become a novel. But as I began to write down a few highlights for each month and add photos, and it just grew! I've actually condensed it, if you can believe it! I guess I was pretty busy this past year, and I must say, I enjoyed every single minute of it.


As I reflect back, I see things I would like to change for the coming year to help become more of a well rounded photographer, parent, grandparent, and friend. I won't be heading over any large ponds this year on any adventures, but I do have a few excursions planned. There are a few things I wish to focus on and I will list them below. It's easy for me to become complacent and just put off things till I don't have the time to do them. By listing them, it's like a checklist and helps to stay on track.


Things I Would like to Focus on for 2019

  • Update photos more often on webpage and Pinterest - you want to see current work...not the same ole same ole!!

  • Develop a storefront on my website for those who may wish to purchase prints and packages (let me know if this is something you would be interested in)

  • Separate personal and business Instagram/Facebook/Twitter - needs to be more cohesive and focused - portraits, music photography, and travel photography on one - Babies , puppies, home, and food photos on the other

  • Do more live videos so you can get to know me on a more personal level (note this is totally outside my comfort zone...hate the camera being on me...so this is all for you guys!!)

  • Organize and focus more on my blogs -highlighting this year not only the travel I do but also the projects and clients I work with

  • Learn new methods of shooting/editing/etc.

  • Include more parents into senior photo sessions - why haven't I done this before now...I have in a few past sessions...but will insist in the future

  • Show my appreciaion to my clients more (you'll see what I mean if you are a current or past client)

  • Offer more mini shoot sessions around holidays to make capturing family moments more affordable for those who may not be able to do a full session

  • Travel of course...but destinations this year...will focus on family and friends!!

  • Less music coverage...more music listening - share with you my current musical moods

  • Focus on becoming more community oriented with my photography - not sure how yet, but have a few ideas

  • Finish outstanding projects...a must do!!! I have so many things I need to still do

  • Organize Photo Library..another must do!!!

  • Organize family history in photos. I've inherited boxes of old photos I would love to do something with

  • Appreciate other art forms/learn from them (Lynn are you ready for more adventures?!!!)

  • On the same page, I would like to take more time to just go shoot photos with other photographer friends!!! Anyone game?

I know there is so much more I need to do in the next twelve months, but this is a good start.

I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart, if you've made it to this point. I wish I had a prize for every one of you! What a long read!!! I can attest that this will not be the norm this year!! I promise!! I said so in the list above...so it has to be done now!! I thought it was important though to share with you a little about each month, and then, it just grew, and grew, and grew. So thank you for taking this journey through 2018 with me. It was a remarkable year, and I hope to share a little more on a few of the trips through my Emptynest Adventure Blogs.


And now on to 2019! Let's do this!!

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© 2018 by Flashback Photography

Kathy Stockbridge | 315-225-5952

www.romesflashback@gmail.com