All photos in this post provided by iphone 8.
Someone told me once: Go on at least one adventure a week. Doesn’t matter how far, doesn’t matter how crazy—just do something you haven’t done before. That’s what keeps you happy. That someone was my granddad of all people. He told me this was the secret to his and his wife’s 60+ year marriage. This makes complete sense for people like Jess and I because we aren’t static people, we love doing new things or at least doing same things with new people. We often talk about how we have to make at least one new friend a month because it gets so easy to become comfortable and cliquey.
Our weekly adventure happened yesterday evening — We went to the Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar with some friends we hadn’t seen in over a year that live in Carolina Beach along with a friend we hang out with often. We had all never hung out before so it was a double whammy of an adventure and it was the best of them. After a few mojitos, live music and fireworks, we meandered over to the Lazy Pirate for some bar food and more live music. Belly laughs and good cocktails made this adventure a Summer favorite. It’s also an adventure worth recommending to folks that visit Carolina Beach or surrounding areas. The atmosphere in both places made us feel like we were in a completely different world. The town and Tiki Hut itself has been featured on the cover of Our State magazine so it should come as no surprise that it is a coastal gem that garners a lot of positive experiences.
The Tiki Time adventure got me thinking… what if I challenged myself to do three things I’ve never done before over the weekend, right here in Wrightsville? Then I made a list of three things I’ve always wanted to do:
I spy with my little eye: A couple on the verge of making out. I Didn't even notice this when I took the photo! Still capturing love off-duty.
Staying in touch with my long-distance friends is one of worst habits.
I have amazing memories with even more amazing people but I neglect to keep asking questions about their lives and staying tuned in. For example, I have only talked to two people this week that were in our wedding... You'd think if I celebrated a huge milestone with them, I'd celebrate every day life with them too. Read more about my bad habits that I'm fully aware of in today's blog.
Bad habits sound negative to most people, but to me, bad habits just sound like a side effect of being human. Everyone has them, it's just a matter of whether or not they realize it. I took a poll from the general public asking if people would anonymously submit their bad habits to me and I was pleasantly surprised in the answers—some of them bring such a good laugh but some are really humbling to see how honest people are with me. Here's what habits you told me about:
-Drinking a bottle of wine every night (actually got this three times)!
-Picking my nose until it bleeds.
-Throwing recycled goods in the trash out of laziness.
-Only taking poops at work to avoid using TP at home.
-Always saying no when someone asks about hanging out.
-Not washing my face before bed.
-Biting my cuticles.
-Sitting. It's been 5 years since I last exercised.
-Binge-watching Netflix until 2am almost daily.
-Throwing my cig out on highway. Oh and smoking.
-Shameless self-tanner so I'm permanently orange.
-Farting and blaming it on other people.
-Going straight to the junk food aisle every time I'm at grocery store.
-Never keeping cash on me + using my bank cards.
-Rarely tipping Uber drivers.
-Feeding the dog scraps after dinner and now it's 15 pounds overweight.
-Smoke too much pot that I don't know how to chill without it.
-Can't be alone so I find a new friend to hang out with every night even if that means spending money each night.
-Eating ice cream every night before I go to bed (and sometimes not brushing my teeth so I can savor the taste).
-Not drinking enough water.
Self awareness can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to bad habits, but it could also lead to making a change if you don't like the bad habit. I've been around a lot of people that have been critical of themselves, saying they could do this better or that better but cut yourself a break. As long as you don't have habits that hurt other people, it's not the end of the world. If you do have a habit that negatively impacts those around you, then do something about it. Be the change.
Here are some of my bad habits. They may seem silly but they are things I do too much:
-Impulse purchases on Amazon. Last week I bought joint-pain management weed treats for Belle after seeing her having a hard time getting up and down off the floor. Too early to know if it is working yet but fingers crossed it takes the edge off of her arthritic pain.
-Not stretching with the group at the end of workout at Orange Theory classes because I'm too impatient.
-Putting WAY too much salt in everything I cook. It just makes everything taste so much better!
-Leaving my clean clothes on a drying rack for over a week.
-Not immediately cleaning my hair out of the shower. I shed way too much and I'm fully aware how gross that is.
-I don't make the bed every morning. In fact, the bed is unmade now.
-Not calling my family on a more regular basis. (I love you guys).
-Not reading the news (and informing myself) enough. Jess, my husband, told me about this national murder case about Mollie Tibbets yesterday and it was the first time I had heard about it even though it had been on the news for over a month.
-Not telling people how I really feel right away. I usually delay and let it build up.
-Being too cheap that I end up buying a poor quality products when it's important enough to splurge. Example: Buying Pantene conditioner that makes my hair falls out so I switch back to the expensive stuff.
-Not going to church when I'm actually home for once.
-Eating at Tower 7 every week and ordering guac and extra chips.
-Taking so many photos of Belle and never doing anything with them. Here's a framer:
Another bad habit is that I never offer to drive when I'm with my husband. Jess is definitely the driver in this relationship. I'm also really bad at distracting him. (We were parked for this photo though haha!)
Tomorrow's blog post will be about tonight's adventure to a place we have never been before, just 16 miles down the road. On the Cover page of Our State Magazine, they feature a restaurant called Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar in Carolina Beach in the NC by the Sea edition. This little gem is about to get a few more visitors.
Play with Sound. Music License: Summer Eyes by Airplanes
Confession: I just put Belle in the video just to brag about how cute she is. She's usually the only company I keep in my everyday work life and she's the best co-worker a girl can have (even though she just sleeps all day). Yesterday, I skimmed the surface of how deaf I am and already got tired of talking about my hearing loss so I’m moving on to the money makin’ stuff. Obviously, my hearing loss limited my job options when I was fresh out of college in 2013. With an economy that had also gone to sh*t, this artsy English major struggled to find a stable job to be proud of. No sense in sugar coating that because I know about 80% of you may relate to that time in your life. After doing some soul searching and teaching art at a school in Atlanta, Georgia for a year, I decided to move back to the Outer Banks and gamble on myself by starting my own business. In the Summer of 2014, Visuals by Helen was established. Best decision I ever made.
Creating a generic business name like Visuals by Helen was intentional: I wanted to be able to open myself up to additional visual opportunities beyond photography like graphic design, videography, marketing, etc. I wanted more than one thing to be passionate about. I had learned some of the ropes from another local photographer on the Outer Banks throughout high school and college and then I dipped into graphic design when I was in Atlanta so that opened a whole new niche I was fascinated with. After watching You-Tube videos, subscribing to every Adobe software, and taking an online business certification course at the Kenan Flagler Business School at UNC-CH, I was the owner of my own company in three months time. Now, I label myself as a self-taught photographer, graphic designer, and marketing guru. Funny how that happens right? I always had the belief: if you make something your homework, it takes all the fun out of it.
The first thing I do when I brand Visuals by Helen? I ordered about 3,000 beer koozies with my logo on it and made a promotional video because koozies and videos make everything look legit right? My theory was everyone likes free stuff and something pretty to look at. After rallying a gorgeous model named Katie, a talented hair stylist named Chelsea, and an amazing videographer named Jess, we went into the marshes of Wanchese, North Carolina and I took bridal portraits of Katie in a wooden rowboat. Looking back on it, it sounds nuts, but it was some of the best memories in my business! That video got me through two years of wedding expos with the Outer Banks Wedding Association —it was the perfect icebreaker with engaged couples I had never met before.
Check out the video:
After launching the video on my new Facebook page, I recruited followers and the awareness of my business spread across different facets of the internet. In the meantime, my entrepreneur parents, wanted to start over with their 25-year franchise restaurant on the OBX and make something of their own: Rooster’s Southern Kitchen. I volunteered myself as marketing director, designed the logo, the food and drink menus, and the initial website along with managing their social media and food photography. That’s where all my graphic design skills kicked in and then I eventually became confident enough to start selling myself to other small businesses looking for a contract graphic designer. A break in the photography rhythm helps me stay creatively inspired so that I am not just photographing and editing on repeat. My romantic and bubbly personality thrives on wedding and engagement photography and then my nerdy and tech personality thrives on the small design projects—so I get the best of both worlds.
So yep. I don’t make money by just doing photography. I don't make crazy money but just enough so I can do what I love and enjoy a life with my husband and dog. Sure, there are days where I have to rely on my brilliant husband for troubleshooting. Sure, there are days where I have a million questions but the internet is an amazing resource. Sure, there are days when I’m doing hours of my own invoicing and accounting that I want to pay a million dollars to never do that again. But that’s the small business life—you take on about fourteen different roles to make it work. So when you say "working from home is the life," that just depends on whether you're fully prepared to be responsible for your filling your own wallet.
Monday’s blog (and 4th day of my 30 workday blogging challenge): “How does my hearing loss affect my job, much less my everyday life?” Funny stories about how my hearing loss has helped and hurt my business. Once I accidentally left a bride + groom on the side of the road because I misheard what they said and one time I walked in on the groom going numba 2 even after knocking. Yup that happened. More details Monday.
Have an amazing weekend everyone!
This drop-dead gorgeous bride, Haley, got a new last name last night so it's officially time to show off her beauty through her bridal portraits. Haley wanted to do her portraits at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, NC and my goodness, the location made every photograph look like a idyllic dream.I feel extra connected to this sweet person because she's from the same town that my fiance is from and has that sweet Southern charm to her. Everyone that knows her speaks so highly of her so I was honored that she and her husband asked me to capture their special day. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Day!!! I wish you both a long life of happiness, health and love.
Katy and Keith's lives changed for the better on March 12th at 9:29pm and I could not be happier for them both. Look at this beautiful baby girl named Wilder—isn't that the most beautiful name you've ever heard? I was blown away with how alert she was the whole session and the fact that she didn't cry once! She's an angel with the most perfect lips. At the time these photos were taken, she was only 14 days old. Congratulations to this new family of three!
Carin got herself a sweet 'ol husband on March 24th at the Battleship so it's officially okay to post a few photos from her bridal portrait session. The photos took place at a beautiful lofty space called Belle Vue and all the natural light made her radiate. The coolest thing about this location is that the building is right across the river from the Battleship where she got married so she was able to do some photos in front of her wedding venue as well. Carin is an absolutely breathtaking bride so the camera loved her of course. Wishing Mrs. Beam a thousand congratulations for her marriage to Mr. Beam!
Kelsey + Rocci are getting married on July 21 and by the looks of these photos, they are so ready! They are so undeniably cute and just treasure each other through their body language. They live in Winston Salem but made a fun weekend out of coming to Wilmington for their engagement photos back in February. How sweet is that? I loved getting to know them through this morning session by the river and feel like we're best friends already! Looking forward to capturing the real thing in July. Congratulations again on your engagement, you two beautiful lovebirds!
Last Summer, Daniel proposed to Mary Shaw on a catalan near Ocracoke Island and even had the boat guide photograph the entire thing. Of course she said yes so fast forward a few months... the two lovebirds said their vows this past Saturday in Windsor, NC at Mary Shaw's grandmother's farm. Celebratory photos were captured yesterday as a memento that they survived the crazy night of love! I'm so so happy for you two—thank you for letting me ask you a million questions while I captured your beautiful souls. Congratulations!!
Ring: Daniel had it custom-made at Creative Jewelers in Nags Head, NC, goodness gracious it's a beauty.
Make-up: Dollface by Melissa came on location to do her magic!
Thanks for reading!