• Kathy Stockbridge

Updated: Jan 24

As I embarked on 2020 in January of last year, my focus was to be grateful. Grateful for things in my control, people in my life, and all the little things that make life special. Little did I know that 2020 would become the year gratitude was most needed. I've often sing the praises of my family and friends...but this year I relied heavily on them to make it through the year as we traversed the Covid Pandemic together, albeit 6 feet apart and masked up!!!

2020 began with a bang. Behind the scenes, my friends and I (I refer to us as the Irish Posse as we are some badass women) were in the midst of planning our first CNY Irish Festival event for July 11, 2020. A multitude of meetings and development were ongoing throughout the month as we finalized the website, designed a logo, and made-up business cards and handouts, as well as holding meetings with sponsors and partners, speaking with bands and vendors, and doing all the paperwork associated with beginning an event as large as this. We all had prior experience in this type of event, and each of us brought to the table a unique and specific skill set. We were a well-oiled machine. By mid month we were ready to announce it!!! As we announced the event, the influx of support and excitement was monumental, and we were so extremely grateful to be able to offer this to so many who were looking for an event such as this to join in.

Throughout January and February I also was involved with some of my most revered colleagues as we set out to break apart from our last publication (that was under different management), and to develop a new music magazine together called 315 Music News. Redirecting our focus on not only local music, we wished to feature more of the arts, local restaurants, wineries, and breweries, and events in the area. We hit the ground running covering shows, venues, musicians, eateries, wineries, etc. in the 315 area. Covering two shows for the year of 2020 (which I will later highlight), it would be a first for me to not be in the pit or at the soundboard! My normal schedule included at least an average of two shows each month in the winter months, and up to 8-10 each month in the summer touring months. Throw in a few festivals and my schedule was booked solid. Sadly, this year was devastating for those we covered. Tours were cancelled, venues closed due to social gathering guidelines, and festivals were cancelled, including ours. Not the regular content, we managed to grow our readership through podcasts, news articles, interviews, album reviews, etc. So grateful everyone stuck with us and gave us a thumbs up and read (if not...head over and do so). Can only imagine how once the world opens back up, how good it will feel to back in the pit again bringing everyone even more that Central and Western NY offers!!!

As the snow flied in the early months of 2020, I also was able to reconnect with friends, a subject matter I don't normally cover as it's just something that we all do...but this years dinners with friends were so special to me...because they would be the only ones I got to enjoy in 2020. First, my Leadership Mohawk Valley classmates, the Unicorns...and secondly my great friends Kathy & Marsh. I truly cherished those fun nights out in the winter of 2020. Friends feed my soul...and throw in great conversation...lots of laughs...and great food and drink and I ask you..can anything be better? So grateful for those moments with them all! I think we all will never again take this for granted.

In February I was also able to attend a Syracuse Crunch game and see my son in action as he did his internship duties assisting with gameday operations. I was so very proud of him, and the fact the Crunch won just made the night better. I got an insight as to what is in store for him as he follows his dreams to work in sports management. A short time later, life would come to a screeching halt for him...the Crunch would cancel the remainder of their season, his senior year in Caz LAX would end abruptly calling him home from tournaments, and his classes would become remote. So grateful for making it to the game to see him action. So grateful to see his other LAX games in previous years and cheer him on. So grateful to have him home safe and sound as the world locked down.

So if I only had two shows to cover in 2020, I had two AMAZING shows by golly!!! The first one was a bucket list show, The Lumineers in Buffalo at KeyBank Center. This band has such substance in their music. Every song they sing pulls me in. Although I was a million miles back at the soundboard, my friend Brian lent me his 600mm lens and I was able to not only test out what I would later purchase myself, but capture some awesome shots from the show!

Remember when we could sit this close?

The second show was my pals, Enter the Haggis at the Wescott Theater in Syracuse. I love each and every performance these guys have....they are such a fun live show...and so animated for me as well to photograph. Yes, these two shows were more than enough to tide me over until we can get back out there. It would be merely days after Enter the Haggis our world would lock down. So very grateful to have seen those two shows in 2020 and captured some amazing moments to hold me through till we can reconvene life as normal in large groups again.

It is March that life began a new for the world. Life as we knew it would change not only for us, but for the entire world. Lives were lost, battles ensued against a little known virus for both patients and medical personnel trying to save them. Fear of this unknown virus caused us panic that I've never seen in all my years. Some felt it was a glorified flu...others felt it was a political ploy...but I saw firsthand how very serious this virus was, and how it changed lives of those it touched. We joke about the lack of toilet paper but seriously...it was a real thing. The unknown on how this was spreading so quickly caused us to mask up, sanitize everything as though it was an operating room, and become more cognizant of how germs spread. I joke, but it's true, my grandma Grace prepared me at a young age for this pandemic with her constant harping of hand washing and sanitizing of anything others touched. I was aptly prepared. A new found respect grew as we counted on our grocery store employees, delivery drivers, first responders, medical personnel, and all essential workers. I am considered an essential worker as I work in governmental housing. I watched as so many began to be placed on furlough or laid off from their jobs. I was so grateful my job was secure, and I could take care of my family. Although protocols changed, I was still able to continue to work safely.

So what does one do when in lockdown to pass the time? How about projects around the house that have been put off forever? Lord knows I had plenty to do, and lots of time to do them..so I decided that while I could, I needed to be productive. I found myself with some down time that needed to be filled, with the lack of concerts and photography jobs that normally kept me busy after the day job. So as spring faded away and early summer began, our state was released from full lockdown, and I decided to do a few much needed home improvement projects around the house. First thing, the backyard makeover.

My family teases me mercifully about my lack of yard work skills. Never has been something that interested me, most likely will never be, and my shenanigans as a child to dodge these chores will be something I'll never live down. I love a beautiful garden, but it's the remembering to water it and weed it that escapes me. So, you can only imagine how bad my back yard was. The trees were so thick along the property line that you couldn't see through to the unsightly house bordering it on the backside. First thing I needed to do was remove those trees. Most were already dead, and there were a few others that were leaning on the garage roof that had to go. So out they came. With the trees finally removed, my plan for the backyard was ready to begin. Only issue with my plan, it just so happened to be everyone's plan in 2020. Who would have thought that 4x4x8 foot posts and fence pickets were such a hot commodity!! They were sold out everywhere in a 60 mile radius. Forget the toilet paper, that was way easier to put your hands on! Every morning my contractor and I called every single lumber supplier trying to catch the truck on the day it came in with our supplies. We finally lucked out! With supplies in hand, the work began.

Although my plan was to make over the back yard for a more comfortable place to spend time quarantining, let's really say who it was for; my dogs. Who had a better life in 2020 than our pets? Who deserved it more for keeping us sane and still keeping us sane? My dogs deserved the world in my opinion. They forever had gone outside on a lead or leash without the ability to run and play freely. Living in a city atmosphere, they couldn't run free, and walking was not an option for a few reasons. So finally, they would have a space for themselves.

Work began and my crew was the best. My son, along with his friends Jimmy and Angelo, were my crew and they knocked it out of the park getting my fence up in no time flat. They helped to keep the cost down for me, and they did an amazing job. The next step was a few new windows to be replaced on the house and the doggie door for easy puppy access. That part of the project ended up taking quite a bit of time as both the windows and the door had to be custom made. With the door finally in, they now have free reign to run and play with each other!! It was the best money I ever spent!!

I spent the remaining spring and early summer working on the rest of the space. With the fence up and the backyard leveled off, I now could finish the rest of the work getting the fire pit in, clothes line up, gazebo built, and patio all set up. With a few hand me down pieces I revamped and made new. It was beautiful being able to finally relax outside with the dogs. I even got them their own doggie pool, which became a huge water bowl, as they didn't get the whole concept of playing in it. We'll work on that again this next year. The only thing I didn't get a chance to complete out back, was the garden areas and a decent lawn. I got a lot of the plants planted and some starter seed down, but never had the time to finish it off as I wanted, as my traveling adventures began and my squirrel like focus was shifted.

With the lock down guidelines still pretty secure limiting where we could travel and how we could gather, a plan was made to do something I always said I would do, explore my very own backyard right here in New York State. Back yards were a thing for me in 2020! It was the perfect opportunity to finally see all those places I said would one day go to. It was finally "one day". This limit on travel had become a blessing in disguise.

My first expedition was a tag along with my son and his girlfriend to hike Bald Mountain for the first time. I know!!! You can't believe I never hiked Bald Mountain either? Well, who would have thought that, but I always steered away from it thinking there were areas that I may not be able to maneuver due to my fear of heights. Well, that wasn't an issue at all, however I did find myself realizing I wasn't 20 years old any more (and a bit out of shape). A moderate trail, there are some steep boulders that must be climbed as you near the top that were a bit tricky for me, and the trail was a bit steep in a few spots. Overall though not a bad trail and one I would do again. Once up top, you got a spectacular view of the Fulton Chain of Lakes, and the opportunity to climb the fire tower for an even better view, which was a hard pass for me. I did climb up one set of stairs for a shot, but maybe one day when it's not so busy, and I build up enough courage, I'll make the whole climb. I highly recommend hiking boots for this trail, and perhaps hiking poles to assist. Glad I had my boots coming down, as it made the descent much easier on the boulders.

I have to say, I love my friends so much. They are always up for an adventure no matter where I suggested this past summer. But I need to give a special shout out to my friend, Sheila who was even more adventurous this past year. She was down with wherever I wanted to go, and camping overnight at places didn't faze her at all. In fact, she had most of the equipment we needed, and what she didn't have, I had. So, we were all set. We planned several day trips that all of our friends could join in, and a few overnight trips where camping was involved. I cannot thank her enough for being such a great and accommodating travel buddy this summer. Wherever I suggested going, she said sure and then even found a few more places in the area for us to see!! It was beyond great, and just what we needed to feed our wanderlusting souls. I also would like to thank my other travel buddies Janie, Heather, Nancy, and Gail who traversed some of the day trips with us. We enjoyed quite a few very cool and interesting places together.

Our first outing to get our feet wet, literally, was to our favorite spot up north for some kayaking. A beautiful summer day, we put in and paddled for hours around Moss Lake, then took a hike, and finished the day with lunch at Daikers. Known for their outdoor seating, it was the perfect place to social distance and stay safe while enjoying a great lunch. It felt so good to finally get out of the house, have some sunshine on our faces, and get that green machine wet again!! I did actually feature the day in a blog which I'll link here for more photos and details.

Our second trip was a full day trip chasing lighthouses. Our first stop was to Sodus Bay and Sodus Outer Lighthouses. The main building was closed for the season due to Covid, however the grounds were open and simply gorgeous with full blooms bursting out of the many gardens surrounding the light.

Next, we were off to Chimney Bluffs State Park to see the magnificent sand bluffs formed along Lake Ontario.

Finally, we ended the day in Oswego touring a lighthouse and maritime museum, and having an awesome lunch at a local spot. I recently went into more detail on these particular areas in a previous blog I'll link here. If you haven't subscribed yet to my page/blog, please do so that I can notify you when they go live!!! As a disclaimer...I know I'm not the greatest at posting these blogs timely...but in my defense, I would rather do the traveling and collect the content during the months I can, and write in the months I can't travel!!! Makes sense right?!!

August was a busy travel month as we fit in several more hikes. The first was to Watkins Glen to hike the Gorge, have some lunch, and hit a few wineries out in the Finger Lakes region.

The second hike was to the Ithaca area where we visited several of the beautiful waterfalls and gorges that area of New York is famous for. These two particular hikes will be featured in an upcoming blog that I've already begun, so no real details here unfortunately, but want to share a few photos to wet your appetite for the future. You would be reading forever if I tried to outline them all here in my 2020 Reflections blog. So, stay tuned for more information on all of these trips, as they were A...M...A...Z...I...N...G!!!

I also spent some time with my sister this past year. As you may recall, our father passed away last August so each holiday, such as the date of his birthday or passing, we've tried to get together to do something. Last year we got our tattoos, this year...we hiked. It was crazy too, because for all the hiking we've both done in our lives, this would be the first time we hiked together. Black Bear Trail in Inlet was our choice. I wanted to complete my Fulton Chain Trifecta badge (Bald, Rocky Point, and Black Bear Mountains), so off we went. It's a pretty trail, and it was a great day for it. The trail itself is pretty wooded and we were actually very surprised to be able to stop and witness a flock of pheasant in a nearby area. Very random, and I know it was a sign from Dad that he was there with us. Never before had I seen something like that. They were there for the longest time too. For those of you who didn't have a chance to meet the very unique man my father Larry was, he was an avid hunter. His whole life revolved around hunting, even his decisions on where we ended up living were driven by the local areas to hunt. So, for this flock to meander through where we were and hang with us, yep that was a sign from Larry for sure.

Once reaching the top, that view was amazing. Funny as the two trail heads are right next to each other (Rocky Point and Black Bear), but at the top of Rocky Point...the view is so much different (as you'll see in a bit). A trip into town and a delicious prime rib dinner later, it was the best day ever, completed with a few beverages around the fire pit with Zach and the squad once we got back home! The next day..right back at it with a quick trip up the road to Pixley Falls!!!

Our final August trip I think was hands down my favorite of the year; Letchworth State Park. This was our first camping outing for Sheila and I, and doing so for a long weekend was perfect.

Letchworth State Park is known as the Grand Canyon of the east, and rightly so. Viewing this spectacular area was literally life changing for me. The first morning we awoke early and headed down to capture the sunrise. If you've never watched the sunrise here...you must do so. The colors were spectacular. Oranges, blues, greens, purples, and golds painted the sky as the mist of the clouds rose through the mountains. I catch my breath just thinking of it again.

Joined by our friends Janie and Nancy for the day, we discovered the three waterfalls known to the park and had the best day exploring and hanging out at camp together. Who cares that the racoons stole our cookies and we got rained on...it was well worth it!!

September was originally supposed to be my trip to Charleston, SC with my sister so having the whole week off, I decided it should still be a trip with water and fun, so once again my friend, Sheila, joined me and off we went to discover and camp Long Island instead! Still part of New York, you feel as though you've been transformed to another state completely. Passing through the city and getting on the Long Island Expressway, traffic is something to remember when traveling this area. We chose Sunday evening around 6pm, yep not the best plan. We originally wanted to stay out toward Montauk, but it was all booked up so we found an alternative place a few hours away that was more centrally located to everywhere we were going. It was fate too, as we ended up with the greatest camping area right on the northern shores of Long Island. Every morning and evening we were able to walk to the beach for sunrises and sunsets. It was glorious.

While on Long Island we chased some major lighthouses. One day included Montauk Lighthouse, Cedar Island Lighthouse, and a lighthouse cruise out to Long Beach Bar Lighthouse or aka Bug Light; another day a trip to Fire Island Lighthouse, and another trip into the city to visit Governors Island for the day. Squeaking in a few more on the way home, and the best lobster roll since my trip to Maine, the trip was outstanding with some fun times, lots of laughs, and memories to get us through till our next Sheila/Kathy camping excursion!!

What do you mean the road ends?

At the end of September, I unexpectedly lost my oldest sister to cancer. Her diagnosis and passing were all within a months time. A shock to us all, I needed to escape and have my own day to mourn and celebrate her life, so I headed north to Old Forge and Rocky Point again. Nancy and I at one point lived together here in New York, and during that time I brought her north to Old Forge and she loved it up there. She didn't get to hike as she wasn't physically able at that time to do so, but she loved the general store, the lake, and all the little shops and diner in town, so I thought this was the best way to celebrate her, to go north and share some quiet time remembering her.

Hiking in at sunrise, I got a little off trail, but found my up as the sun began to peak out. Two women were already there...but quickly left me to be alone as I took in the most vibrant colors of the trees in what was the most spectacular fall we've had in years. The solace, the reflection, and the time to say goodbye was much needed and was one of the most spiritual times of my year. Coming back down the hill I met a family making the hike up before remote school, which I thought was the greatest thing ever....secretly wishing I lived closer to have that option while raising my kids. I bought a sandwich at the donut stand, a place known to all who ever went north, and then sat by the water eating my breakfast remembering the time Nancy sat there too. With a quick tour of the General Store, I finished my memorial service and headed home as the convoy of cars made their way past me to also see the spectacular leaves.

The adventures didn't end at Long Island as my friends and I headed northeast to Ausable Chasm out by Plattsburgh at the end of September. Another amazing gorge area in New York State, this hike was spectacular, but the drive in even more so. With Covid restrictions in place, we made reservations ahead for the hike of the trail. I've featured Ausable Chasm in a prior blog, but I have to say each time is like seeing it all over again for the first time. The wonderment and awe of God's nature is just breathtaking. A quick stop on the way home in Lake George for lunch, made for the perfect fall day.

Every fall for as long as I can recall, my sister and I did a wine tour. This year was a bit different due to Covid, but a good different. This year we explored the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. Stopping at a few wineries along the lake, we took in the beautiful changing leaves, and had an amazing dinner. It was an awesome day, but the highlight of that trip was very unexpected. It was my discovery of Grape Pie!!! Yes, you heard that correctly, and it was delicious!! Just imagine the sweetest grape juice in pie form. It is NOW our new tradition!!

Our final friends outing was at the end of October, and it was such an awesome day. The day after Halloween we headed down to Sleepy Hallow and Tarrytown. Booking a tour of the grounds at Lyndhurst Mansion, it reminded us of our time together in Ireland, a trip we all had to put on hold this past year. It was a dreary drizzly day out, and there was a huge castle like building involved. Yep, it was the next best thing to being in Ireland! The grounds were beautiful, and although we couldn't go inside any of the buildings, it was still very informative just meandering in and around the multiple buildings on site. The property sits on the shores of the Hudson River overlooking the new Mario Cuomo Bridge (aka the Tappan Zee Bridge), and the trains run every few minutes down below on the tracks that follow the River. A nice lunch in town, we embarked in hopes of finding me the Tarrytown Lighthouse before making our way to the Sleep Hallow Cemetery to see if we could spot any spooky sites. Due to construction we weren't able to get very close to the Lighthouse that day, which is okay as I wish to go back next year just the same. The cemetery was super cool, and massive. We only had a short time before they closed the gates to the entrance, so a quick spin around inside, we were amazed at all the folks resting there we had heard of. Only seeing a fraction of the cemetery and town was enough to convince us that we would be back in 2021 to spend a lot more time there.

Gatherings this past year were sparse. If it couldn't be held outside so that distances could be kept, they didn't happen. It was heartbreaking to not be able to celebrate my son, Zach's, college graduation. Done virtually, I cheered as we watched his name announced Live online but it wasn't quite the same. Tears still flowed, and I am still so very proud of him, but I felt bad for him as all the years he put into it was just another day.

We squad moms decided to do it our way, and through Zoom meetings (a norm for the year), we planned an outside graduation party for all our sons that graduated to include only immediate families. We weren't going to let their achievements go uncelebrated. Keeping the numbers down to the allowed amount, we ate, drank, and had the best time (6 feet apart). The guys were so very surprised, and it was so nice to be able to celebrate their accomplishments.

That was how a few other parties I attended in 2020 played out. In July we celebrated my friend and travel roommate, Heather; and in August we celebrated my granddaughter, Remi's 2nd birthday. Gathering outside was one way to finally see our loved ones, but boy was it hard as I am a hugger, and it was so difficult to not hug and be close to those I love. Despite the inconvenience, it still was definitely the next best thing this year and moments I'm grateful to have had!! By the way...show of hands of who misses hugging?

As restrictions became more relaxed this past fall, I found my photography business starting up again. Seniors still needed portraits for their yearbook, and families still wanted photos of their loved ones. Being so beautiful this fall, it was the perfect time for these sessions. I also gave my boys a surprise graduation portrait session to mark their time and accomplishments, and also to provide them some headshots for their LinkedIn profiles. With a few family sessions, a few newborn portrait sessions, and even an elopement, 2020 ended up being a great year for me to be able to create memories for others. It was a busy and wonderful photography year. I found some new friends, welcomed back some old friends, and got to capture a few of my favorite ever photos.

2020 was not what we expected, and 2021 has had a pretty rough start so far. Let me ask you though...when has life been easy and just as planned? Never. At least not for me. It's how we perceive our situation and how we make the most of it that defines us. One of my favorite moments this year was my friend Brian's celebration. It was here that I saw what love was all about. It was here I learned about "Live a Great Story". We all gathered to celebrate our friend, Brian, who has touched all of our hearts so deeply, and lives life to the fullest. All socially distanced and masked up, we enjoyed an evening of hearing stories from Brian's "Greatest Story". From far and wide, family members, friends, and famous musicians gathered and shared their stories with Brian. Brian is one of those revered colleagues I referred to above. I met Brian through my friend Mike Kohli, and together we've worked to bring our shared love of music and photography to others over the years. Brian is one of the wisest people I know. He has a calming manner to him that puts everyone he's around at ease. What a gift that is. And smart!!!! His knowledge of music in general but locally too floors me. On this night I also learned what a prolific writer he was too. He had penned some lyrics years ago and gave to one our mutually favorite artists, Mike Powell, to maybe someday put music too. On this night, as a gift to Brian, he did just that. There was not a dry eye in the room, and the standing ovation for this collaboration was very emotional. Over the years, Brian visited and got to know the artists that played in Woodstock at the Levon Helms Studios. On this night, all of those artists came together in a video thanking Brian for his years of support and friendship. There was so much love in that room that night, it will stay in my heart forever.

You see, for all of the times I said how 2020 was rotten, there were good things in 2020 as well. Although they may seem insignificant to most, we found happiness where we could. It was taking joy in the little things, like finally finding The Office, Game of Thrones, and Yellowstone. We all binged watched tv and movies throughout the year, and The Office helped me maneuver some tough times with a story and a smile. I also was surprised one day to open my email and find finally after years and years of waiting, I was the new owner of FlashbackPhoto.com. I know, these are the little things, but boy did they make me smile. That's what tough times are about I believe. My word, grateful, helped me through the year. I was so grateful to have all the extra time with my son and the dogs this past year. I was so grateful for hitting pause and being able to catch my breath from a schedule that was on fast forward every day. I was so grateful to be able to spend such quality time with my friends in one of the most spectacular regions of the world I call home, New York. I was so grateful for my health and those I loved as we all remain safe through this pandemic.

What will 2021 hold for us? It is still so unsure. But I have a plan for the year, and a new word. My new word is potential. Within ourselves, we hold the key to so many things in life. We just need to unlock our potential. We also need to recognize in others their potential and respect their uniqueness. Our world is in a state of change daily, our differences become a divide, but in the end we are all the same and need to respect others and their differences. We don't have to agree with them, but we need to respect them and their voices. We may not understand it, but we need to listen to them and keep an open mind. We need to recognize they deserve to see their importance and potential. I believe that by recognizing potential, we can grow together, hopefully like my gardens this year.

When I bought my house and first moved in, a tiny vine began to grow along the back of the house and one day I noticed the tiniest of roses blooming on it. Year after year I neglected (as I am famous for) this vine and sometimes it would bloom and sometimes it wouldn't. But I left it alone and it kept coming back year after year, despite me. Last year I took the time to try and assist it by guiding it up by the new fence that sat next to it. Last year I had several roses bloom. I see it's potential, and it believed in mine. In my mind it's a hearty vine weaving in and out of my fence with hundreds of blooms. But I know this won't happen right away. Neither will our own potential. But we can help it grow. So this year I want to tend to a few projects of learning and widening my skills, see more of our beautiful world, and meet and spend time with new and great friends. I think that's a solid plan. I see 2021 and all it's potential.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this blog. Till next time my friends.

Sláinte, Kathy

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  • Kathy Stockbridge

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


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  • Kathy Stockbridge

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".


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


Sully Erna - 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