Friday, May 23, 2008

Celebrating Memorial Day Weekend

This weekend, please take a moment to reflect upon those who have given their lives so that ours may be better and honor them by flying an American Flag at your home or business. It's the least that we can do to let them and their families know how thankful we are for their sacrifices.

This holiday weekend is especially important to our family for two reasons. The first being honoring our cousin who was killed in Iraq on Christmas Day, the second reason is last year during this holiday weekend, we lost Karl's grandmother (Ean's great-grandmother) after a very sudden major stroke. Both of these two very special loved ones gave so much back to our family and they will forever be remembered in our hearts.

Since I know many of you will be celebrating with the First Official Cookout this weekend, I wanted to share with you one of our family's favorite recipes!

Mozzarella Stuffed Burgers
Preparation Time: 10 min. | Cooking Time: 6 min. | Serves: 4


  • 1 1/2 lb raw ground sirloin beef
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian Parsley (flat-leaf)
  • 1/4 cup Red Onions -- finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup small Capers in a jar, drained
  • 1/4 cup dijon Mustard
  • 2 medium fresh Roma (plum) Tomatoes -- ripe, seeded and cut into 1/4" diced pieces
  • Yolk from 2 large eggs
  • 4 pieces sun-dried Tomatoes -- (8 halves) coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4-6 teaspoons part-skim milk Mozzarella Cheese -- coarsely grated


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except the cheese - gently tossing with your hands. Do not overmix.
  2. Divide mixture in half and make 4 patties out of one half.
  3. Make a small indention in the center of each patty and place some of the grated mozzarella in each. Top with the remaining meat to finish the patties.
  4. Grill over hot coals for 3 minutes on each side for rare -- or longer to taste.
Hope you Enjoy!

Mikkean Photography Earns the Certified Professional Photographer Designation

It's official! This past week while at my week-long school, I received the news that I met all requirements to become a Certified Professional Photographer and I have been floating on cloud 9 since.

What does this mean? Well, it means that I'm among a select few (less than 3%) of all professional photographers in the United States who have earned this designation. And of all the hundreds of photographers here in the greater Jacksonville area, I'm one of about a dozen that has earned the CPP designation.

Here's a little more about what all that means!

Certified Professional Photographer: A Symbol You Can Trust

When you hire a photographer, you want the best. Unfortunately, anyone can claim to be a professional photographer – so ensuring that you get the best photographer for the job can be a difficult task. To make it easier for you to find a truly professional photographer, Professional Photographers of America offers the Certified Professional Photographer program through the Photographic Certification Commmision.

As the leading certifying agency and association for imaging professionals, PPA’s Certification program is recognized throughout the industry as a sign of excellence. When you see a photographer displaying the Certified Professional Photographer seal, you can be assured that he or she is among the less than 3% of all imaging professionals who have successfully completed and maintained our requirements.

Those who have earned the Certified Professional Photographer designation have passed a comprehensive written examination measuring their technical expertise, and have successfully submitted their work to a panel of judges for review and approval.

Every five years, a Certified photographer must renew his or her credentials by participating in continuing education programs and periodically submitting work for critical evaluation. This helps assure you that Certified photographers maintain their level of expertise and continue to develop new skills and techniques.

Your Assurance of Quality
Every day Certified professionals help record the most important moments in life. And while every situation brings new challenges – you can be assured that the Certified professional has the creativity and skills to deliver the best possible images for you.

Be assured that whenever you enter a studio that displays the Certified Professional Photographer emblem, you will be dealing with a professional who is dedicated to providing you with the highest level of professionalism and expertise available.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What an AMAZING Week!

Earlier this evening, I arrived back home to three sets of open arms ready for hugs after my being away since Sunday morning. Several times a year, I take a week away from the studio to go and study under some pretty amazing photographers. This past week, I was immersed in a sales & marketing class and I was so inspired and have so many incredible ideas that I can't wait to implement. We went full force for all 5 days and I can honestly say my brain hurts, but in a very good way!

We had an incredible group of about 16 in our class and I think we all learned something from each other, at least I know I learned something from each of my classmates. I made some great new friends and really just look forward to watching everyone grow after this intensive experience.

Okay, before you think that we did nothing but sit in a classroom, I just have to tell you about some of the "field trips" we made. One day was to the local mall. Cool, shopping, huh? Well, not really. We visited some stores such as Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Victoria's Secret, and Origins and really got to look at how they brand their business and carry that branding through everything they do, from hangers, to packaging to the total experience.

Last night, we had an awesome field trip to the hotel's lounge to study wine labels and how the label itself, including the logo, the wine description, etc., can really tell you about the experience you may have when you open that particular brand. Cool stuff, huh? We all loved it.

What week long class wouldn't be complete without a fun celebration at the end? After the classes were over last evening, we all headed to the ball room area for a fun 70's party. There was a lot of dancing and just letting the hair down and there were quite a few people dressed up in 70's style clothing! I didn't dress up in any themed clothing, but you probably would have had a hard time pulling me off the dance floor!

And what a way to wind down each night, but to sit out on a balcony in your ocean view room while there was a full moon. Amazing. I did take some photos, but I haven't taken them off the camera yet. Tonight, I just vegged and tried to let my brain, the season finale of Grey's Anatomy was on, and I couldn't miss that!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Studio Closed May 18-22

I'm trying to remember all the things I need to do before I leave in the morning and this is one of the last, I think! The studio will be closed May 18-22. I'm heading a little further south to Daytona for several days to attend the Florida Professional Photographer's (FPP) Florida School! I have been waiting a year to attend and I'm soooooo excited. Can you tell? I promise to come back with great ideas to make our studio even better!

While my class is all about marketing, I'm still taking my camera along and hoping to catch a sunset or maybe even a sunrise if I can drag myself out of bed early enough!

I won't have access to email or phone, but all messages will be returned when I get back in town.

I hope you have a fabulous week!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Phase I of Studio Renovations is DONE!!!!

You have no idea how excited I was at 1:00 AM this morning when the last full row of wood floors were put down in the studio! There's still one more 1/2 row, but it was way too late to be running the circular saw! I don't think the neighbors would have appreciated that. This project was all about blood, sweat and tears (well, the only blood was from a small scratch, so nothing major there).

I must say I was a little stressed this week trying to get it done before the maternity session this afternoon. The camera area was done, but the waiting area was still sporting a concrete floor at 5pm yesterday afternoon. When Karl got home from work, I put him to work and together we finished the last 10 feet of the studio. I had never before tiled or put down wood floors so it was a huge accomplishment for me, but they look great and Phase I is 99.9% done. Just have to put the grout in the tile and add the transition pieces from tile to wood!

The next phase is painting and the final phase is putting the baseboards back up. So, if you're coming for a session in the next few weeks, you might still see a work in progress. I just can't wait for the studio to be complete! Then comes the floors in the living area of the house...oy...

Here are a few snapshots. Don't mind the bare walls, everything was pulled down for the renovations. Just a few easels were put up before the session today and the camera area has to be rearranged once everything is finished.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lots of Fun Teaching Mini Seminar

Last night, I was SO nervous to teach a mini seminar, More Than F-Stops, to about a dozen of professional photographers at our PPSNF guild. Thankfully, my nerves settled after the class got started. The goal of the class was to help other colleagues prepare for their Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) exam. We went through a set of about 55 questions that are representative of the types of questions on the exam and didn't just tell the answers, but discussed them and why 3 of the 4 answers were not correct. The goal was to help the class understand why so they could apply that to when they took the test.

A lot of photography is based on different principles involving math - inverse square laws, lighting ratios, etc. I have to admit that I'm a math junkie. Always have been always will be, I'm sure. So, for some of these types of questions, I got some blank stares as I tried to describe how the answers were mathematically achieved! Yeah, I'm a geek, and proud of it, but I think we finally did get to a point where the math was understandable!

If the class achieved one goal, it was that each attendee would take at least one more bit of knowledge home with them and write their own goal to pursue the road to their CPP.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Studio Renovations and more...

I can't tell you how very excited I am! The studio is getting a BIG facelift! After a newborn session last weekend, the studio floors were torn up and are in the process of being replaced with beautiful wood flooring and a new tile entrance! I am doing this myself, mostly when my hubby is at work - he does help out when he gets home, too. I was hoping to post some quick snapshots and I promise I will later this week, but between laying the floors during the days and attending a few workshops this week in the evening, it just doesn't seem there are enough hours in the day to even get those snapshots off the camera!

This has been a really busy week trying to get all of this done before a maternity session this coming Saturday, then it's off to Daytona for a week to attend a week-long class on sales & marketing with a very successful photographer. I have been waiting a year to attend this class! :) This is a week-long school offered one time per year for members of the Florida Professional Photographers (FPP). I cannot wait!

I'm also excited to be teaching a workshop tomorrow evening as part of a series of mini-workshops that our local photography guild offers to its members. My class is called "More than F-Stops" and it's all about the very technical side of photography. I am so delighted to share this knowledge with fellow photographers! I will be co-teaching this with a fellow photographer from our local guild!

So, lots going on this week, but wanted to take a few minutes to at least give an update on what we've been doing! Keep your eyes out for some of the renovation snapshots!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Urban Fashion Shoot Workshop

One of the wonderful things about being a member of a local professional photographers' guild is attending workshops! Tonight I attended one called an "Urban Fashion Shoot" given by a friend, Vincent Pierce, and the group of us headed into downtown Jacksonville with two beautiful models, Amy and Megan! I'm still going through the images, but I did want to post at least one or two!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Family Fun - 16th Annual World of Nations Celebration

If you've never had the opportunity to attend the World of Nations Celebration at Metro Park in Jacksonville, you're missing out on a fantastic celebration! There are so many cultural things to experience, it's almost like a mini-Epcot right here in our back yard. The kids will have a lot of fun when they get their passport stamped at all the different "nations"! There are so many fun activities, great food, and it's supposed to be a beautiful weekend, so why not get out there and experience it for yourself! You won't be disappointed! Our family is going to plan to visit, and I encourage your family to check it out too! Here are the details...

Saturday May 3 and Sunday May 4 at Metropolitan Park (across from the Jaguars Stadium)

Discover the rich cultural traditions of nations and regions around the world at the World of Nations Celebration. Experience the cuisine, artistry and customs from lands near and far. Activities include Parade of Flags, Passport to the World, World of Kids Playland, and more. Prices: One day ticket $5; Two day ticket $7. Children 3 and under admitted free.