25 April 2010

An overdue Thanks to Texas A&M University

It's ironic that sometimes you don't appreciate something you have until it's needed... This post is a tribute to the Aggie Family that I've discovered that I've had over the past year.


Texas A&M University, probably 26 out of 25 schools I applied to was the last place in the world I wanted to go out of high school. I remember how distraught I was that I couldn't get the money together to go to any other school in the country.

Ironically, I ended up loving the school. Found my very best friends... and really learned a lot about myself.

It made it even more special when my little sister decided to attend the school when she got out of high school. Now, I had somebody that I could share all of the traditions and secrets about the school.

When my sister was killed, almost a year ago, for the first time I really understood what it meant to be an Aggie.
Wooden Cross on the Left Side of the highway.
The school had come together to make arrangements for me and my family to host the memorial service. An entire network of people were calling me to to make sure that I knew, should I require it, they would be able to help.

There are two traditions at A&M that were always special, but after this year, became personal.
Silver Taps (there is an earlier entry) where the school comes together the first Tuesday of every month during the academic year to honour the current students that had fallen during that time-- and Muster.


Aggie Muster is held at the same time every year. April 21st, San Jacinto Day. It's a ceremony that is held across the world to make sure that time is taken to reminesce of family memebers that have passed away. By family, it's not the bond of blood that holds them together, but rather that of sharing Texas A&M. So if you passed away as a student, as an alumni (even fifty years later), somebody will remember you and will answer "here" for you on Muster.


The Muster at A&M is the largest, but at the ceremony, each person answering "here" lights a candle and holds it while the name is being read.

I did this for Serena and behind me, were her friends and Aggie family remembering her.

During the week there is a set up where people can have a reflections display of the those being honoured at muster. For me, that was even more significant than the ceremony as it gave a chance for Serena's friends to say a couple of things.



I am so thankful for Texas A&M and the Aggie Family for helping remember someone that is so special to me.

The Flowers are in bloom...

23 April 2010


There are few girls that really have it all.
My good friend Anna is that. Not only is she incredibly smart (she is completing her Law Degree), but she's also the most loyal of friends... and GORGEOUS.

She was kind enough to be my model while I am learning how to pose people.

We started out at the Fairmont Apartment on San Felipe in Houston, TX. It's a gorgeous apartment building with the most beautiful pool.


Inside, in the guest room.

Lounging by the pool



I loved the fountains here.

Mirror Looking at Self _Anna
Inside by one of the walled Mirrors.


There's an outdoor fireplace I'm standing on to get this.

Inside the club house.

Lara_Swanland_Anna_candid True to form, my favourite shots are always candid. Here she was laughing at me because I was almost hip deep in water trying to get the right angle to get the shot. I was wearing white shorts... which turned out not to be a great idea. However, the previous pool shot was taken because of the sacrafice :)


Thank you Anna, for being such a great friend and a fantastic model. I'm so lucky to have you as a friend :)

20 April 2010

Puppy Smiles

There is something about dogs that really capture what families are about. I had a chance to photograph my great friend Anna (who has photos coming soon) and her sister's dogs.

Ever So Mischevious Max

Her Favourite of TodayLara_Swanland_Anna_Dogs


Here are some photos of just the sisters :)
Sisters have a special place in my heart. I love the interactions between them, there really isn't anything in the world that is like having someone who can rat you out to the world what a huge dork you are...
I think Anna and her sister really capture this!


19 April 2010

I've Got Texas On My Mind

I've been in Texas for most of the week and I have to admit, it's actually really pretty at this time of year.

I stopped a few times to take some photos of the views.

Texas on my Mind
Blue Bonnets on HWY 6 on the way into Navasota.

This is my good friend Nicole. We stopped at my sister's crash site and these beautiful flowers (Indian Paint Brushes) were covering the hill.

HWY 290 coming back to Houston.

ON the road in Brazos County And of course, me with my tri-pod and new wireless trigger :)

This is the prettiest I've seen Texas in a long while. I'm glad I got to see it before the sun got unbearable and torches everything to a dismal brown :-)

Also nice was I sold my camera to a woman who is learning photography! I'm excited about it making into the hands of someone that will like and use it like I did.

11 April 2010

All eyes in the Centre of the Ring - Low Light

So let me first put it out there, my D700 is amazing.
Making the jump from the D80 to the D700...
First, the menu options are intuitive. It's so much easier to change ISO as well as White Balance.
(they have buttons on the top instead of having to use the back menu).

I'll summarize what I think about the pros and cons later :)

So for the circus, 1.) I've NEVER been to one. Crazy huh? I was so extremely excited to be invited to go. Who doesn't love clowns, animals and acrobats? My stomach was feeling a bit queazy so the suggested cotton candy wasn't a part, but the best part? I got to go with a new friend that was into photography, so there wasn't any wierdness talking about lighting/how far lenses could reach etc.

Here are my photos:





I had a lot of fun, but hands down the bears are my favourite :)
Yay for the circus!

10 April 2010

The World Has Shifted...


Today is the day that I have retired my D80.
But, I'm still reeling from the spending spree I went on, but I have a new member to my family... My D700.

I jokingly called this a hobby, but hobbies are controllable and don't interfere with your life. No, Photography is now a Habit.
and I am at the top of my high for the D700.

So Goodbye to my D80, I hope it finds a home with somebody who will love learning on it like I did... and hello to a new way of shooting :)

The Gear that has to find a home... crazy how much of that I have amassed!

D80, amazing for me to learn on and get to figure out everything on it.

Sometime later when I've had time to take more photos with the D700, I'm going to post a review.

06 April 2010

Bong Jung

I had a chance to spend a lot of time with a little 2 year old who ran all of the adults around her's lives :)

Here is Bong Jung Koo, an extremely sassy and adorable little girl.


She Loves to blow out Candles!



02 April 2010

Hello to the Strattons

Kelsey and Alan Stratton were married in Savage, MN. This being my first wedding where I spanned the entire day (instead of having just one job for a couple of hours), I've learned a WHOLE lot.
Bouquet on the Window

Kelsey planned the entire thing with her mother and amazingly, not only was she a beautiful bride, but she was still running the show on her big day!!!

So congratulations to Kelsey and Alan and thank you for letting me participate in your day!

Kelsey and Alan are moving straight to Lousianna after their "mini-moon" in Minnesota. Alan just got stationed at a base there.
One of the neatest parts of the wedding was that the Groomsmen came from all parts of the services, Alan's brother is a Lt. in the Army, Alan is an airman in the airforce and Kelsey's brother is a Marine. These are some of the shots where the brothers are messing around.
The Best Man: Older Brother

Alan and his Brother (left) Kelsey's brother's, being brothers (right)

The Groomsmen. Army, Airforce, Josh(who felt left out), Marine and Jake

They got a little West Side Story on me, to loosen up

Jessica Texting

First Look... First Hug of the Day





walking towards a new life (left) Alan and his brother shooting the crap at the reception (right)

Jake (the 13 year old) came a little late to the photos, so as soon as he got a chance he jumped right in and wanted to be caught up. I love this one because he's getting the low-down on what is about to happen.

The wedding bands, the ring was just like Kelsey, very delicate, but beautiful.

Cake Topper: Saved for the 1 year anniversary

Kisses at the Reception


Hands down, this might be my favourite picture so far. It looks like he's wispering how wonderful life is going to be now they are together.

They are a wonderful couple and I'm so very excited for them!