How did I get here and why did it take so long to find myself?!

me at 6This is the first photo that I have of myself fishing. The fish was actually frozen stiff, but I didn’t really care, I wanted a picture with my fish. My grandmother had dinner ready so we put it in the freezer for just a minute and well…hours later we remembered him! It’s one of my favorite photos! The year was…ummm… a few years ago and I was about six.  I was spending the summer with my grandparents down in Venice. My family moved to Sarasota, Florida and my grandparents lived close, so I would go stay with them during the summer while not in school. I spent most every summer down there until I was about 11 years old. Sometimes my three older sisters would be there or maybe it was just my cousin Christopher and I.  Those summers we spent down there were some of the best summers of my life… but I forgot how great they were and how happy I really was.

Back in the 70’s…giving my age away… both of my parents were working a lot. I had older sisters who would watch me most of the time, but to go to my Grandparent’s house, that was the best!! They lived in a mobile home park, which to this day is still one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. They had two clubhouses with huge pools and many lakes. I would be lying if I said it was the most boring place for a six year old. Oh and I got to drive golf carts around everywhere, it was awesome! They had pairs of swans that patrolled the lakes they were super scary and they chased me home a lot, but it was still fun.

My grandfather, I believe, was one of the most patient men that had ever walked the face of this Earth. He had 4 granddaughters and 3 grandsons and we all wanted to fish. He taught his daughters and all of his grandchildren,  because he knew we would love it as much as he did. He spent most of his time putting bobbers and hooks back on our poles after breaking our lines that were always horribly stuck in the rocks at the Venice Jetties. I don’t believe that I actually ever remember him fishing at all. He was always helping us and there were so many of us! He would go from one to the other and never stop the entire time we fished. We were very high maintenance, it’s a miracle he lived to 99…we must have really kept him in shape!

Most of the time I would fish in the lakes at the park. They had a beautiful clubhouse with a porch overlooking the lake with big wooden rocking chairs. I would gather a bag of old bread and a couple of hot dogs, and head over to the clubhouse porch to fish every day! They had thousands of blue gill  that could easily be caught by balling up a piece of bread or ripping off a piece of hot dog. You would carefully put it on the hook and lower it into the water. Hopefully it stayed on long enough for a fish to get it and if you mastered the art of bread balls…you could pull up fish every minute, all day! They would feed like piranhas! Not much sport in it, but could be very competitive when seeing who could catch the most or the biggest.

Now the biggest fish in the lake were the bass, but the biggest was this one large mouth bass, “Big Daddy Bass.” He was a mythical creature that others spoke of, but few actually ever saw. In my years of fishing there, I saw him maybe five times and I caught him once! He was too heavy and broke the line, but it was an awesome day!! I loved fishing and it was hard to keep me away from the water back then. I don’t know really know what happened to me, but I guess I just discovered horses and boys, which left no time to fish.

As I look back, there was never a time where I loved living in Florida, I’ve always wanted to move to the mountains and be near lakes. I’ve truly hated living in Florida and as I grew older, I never went to the beach and definitely would not go in the water or fish. If it was a holiday that my big, crazy, awesome family would spent out at the beach I would go. I might fish, but it was just to pass the time, no real enjoyment. Then in March of this year I was contacted about a Heroes on the Water event at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton. They offered to take my family and I out in kayaks to fish for no cost, since I was an Army Veteran. Not many fish were caught, but I caught the fishing bug that day…my love of fishing returned and what happened next would change everything!

Shortly after that, I had decided to have a tumor in my neck/head surgically removed. I had ignored it for a few years, for the fear of having partial facial paralysis. I was having problems that left me no choice but to remove it.  We tried to biopsy the tumor, but it was in such a tight area, they couldn’t get a good sample. So going in to this surgery, we had no idea if it was cancerous or not. I was under a great amount of stress from my job and my doctor said there would have to be changes made in my career and a lifestyle change with more fun and less stress! I spent every moment like it was my last, I fished a lot with my younger son and then I went in for the surgery. Praise Jesus that it was not cancerous! I realized there were many changes I would have to make in my life. When I was recovering, I realized how much I had truly missed fishing all of these years. I realized how much I LOVE where I have lived for almost 40 years. I realized that I have not been living, just going through the motions and I was ready to start the life I owed myself, my husband and my children. I was ready for joy, laughter, contentment and peace with who I am. For anyone praying for God to change a family member or friend’s heart…I’m proof! He completely changed my heart…it took 40 years, but it can be done, please don’t lose hope!

I know this was a long story, but I felt the need to bring you up to speed, to how I got here and why I’ve turned a photography blog into a fishing & lifestyle blog. I’ve been fishing non-stop since I recovered from my surgery back in May. I’ve searched for 2 months for the elusive redfish and finally caught one! I will have to tell that story another time, but know that it’s my favorite fish, so strong and gentle all at the same time! Don’t get me started on how beautiful they are! I try to fish 3-5 times a week and it still seems like I want to do more. When my son is tired and wants to quit…I’m just getting started. I would love to fish professionally one day, hopefully before I’m 60 or I won’t be able to get the fish in the kayak! I fish by kayak when weather permits, but it’s summer and highly unpredictable like a toddler. So lately, it’s been pier fishing, which is not my favorite, but please know how grateful I am to just be fishing, to be alive and to spend time with my husband and kids! Someday I’d like to have a small boat, maybe I’ll win one…maybe I won’t…but it won’t matter either way…because I’ll still be fishing! If you ever want to fish, I’d love to go!  If you don’t know how to fish,  I’ll teach you everything I know, which honestly isn’t a lot, but I’ll make sure we have some fun. If you know a lot about fishing, I’d love to learn anything you are willing to share.

I wish for you all…lines that are tight, bait that is lively, hooks that set & big fat beautiful fish that make you smile :)

Corinne Noel †

Furry little miracles

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Everyday we are faced with the decision to take what the day brings and stay positive or to allow trials to destroy us. I’ve had my share of trials and I admit there are some days that are more than I handle…I cry, I pray…I cry some more…I move on. Not everyone can do that, not everyone has somewhere they can turn, someone or something to look to for help, for comfort…for peace. I’ve made it this far, not on my own, Glory be to God for the peace I’ve received in my times of need. I think I’ve been through some tough times, but today I was blessed to share in a special day, a day of victory, a day of overcoming that most would bow in defeat!

Today was the entry day for all kids competing at the Sarasota County Fair. I remember as a young girl, my friends and I were in the 4-H horse club. We made and sold elephant ears at the 4-H booth. We were allowed to stay the rest of the day after our shift and see all of our friends, but the best part was that I got to hang out with my best friends from the barn. It was a great time in my life, those friends, those moments carried me through some hard times in my life. Now, the county fair brings back memories of rides that made you sick and food that made you sicker! I guess as time passes and the further you walk away from who you were, time muddies the memories and they start to look less like anything you would want to remember. Today, the mud was cleared by the tears from a video of a rescued bunny and a little girl and her calf! Today, I was brought back to the one of the many reasons why the fair was one of my favorite places when I was younger. I was reminded why cows, pigs, chickens, bunnies, goats and ducks were more than just farm animals, they are valuable in connecting kids with the outside, teaching them a sense of pride and accomplishment and most of all, helping them bond with real friends that will last a lifetime!

As I stood in the tent where the bunnies, roosters, ducks and chickens were, there stood an amazingly happy family. Todd and his beautiful wife Jessica were there with their two children, Bailey & Xavier. There were many families there today, all with children that were entering a furry friend into the fair to compete, but this family was different. This family not even 36 hours ago, lost every possession they owned and sadly 3 dogs in a house fire. They were renting and didn’t have rental insurance, so they lost everything! Todd & Jessica are both Veterans who fought for our country, they sacrificed their lives and now this amazing family of 4, have lost everything, but each other. Everything but…a miracle bunny named “Shadow” who was revived and rescued by the firefighters. Everything but…a hedgehog named “Sonic” that was found a day later, still alive!

This family was smiling and giggling the entire time I was there. The strength that Todd and Jessica have… to keep it together for their children, when there is so much loss…they are inspiring others…they know that they have each other and that is the greatest blessing. The parents are trying to keep the kid’s spirits up and being around the animals, the community and their friends helps remind them that there is so much good to focus on! I wanted to meet the family, take some photos to help them create some new memories, give back to my Veteran brother & sister and in trying to help them heal, they helped me remember a time of my life that was missing that I’ve desperately  needed back.

Their daughter Bailey is showing a calf named “Snickerdoodle” today at 7 pm. She lost her show outfit in the fire along with her show boots and belt. I heard that someone had donated boots for her to wear today, but I would love to help Bailey have a beautiful shiny show belt to wear today…shiny like her smile, even in this terrible mess that their life has become overnight. I’m asking my Greenwood Stable friends, Hunt Club friends and friends that are still at barns, to donate to this family. We all know what it was like to show animals, we had our show clothes, our own jackets and boots, but what if we lost them in a fire? I can’t imagine how this little girl is feeling, how her little brother and her amazing parents, how they are coping.  I CAN imagine that maybe giving her something to make her feel special, like a shiny new show belt, how that might make things good just for a day and I want to help give that to her! Her family has been given clothing for the kids and right now they are all staying at their parents house. I know it sounds silly to ask for just a belt when they need so much more than that. I believe that there are many people out there that want to help others, they want to really know who they are helping and they want to really connect. I wanted everyone to really know this family, not just see them as a family in need, this is more than a story of a bunny, a cow or a shiny belt. This is a family of Military Veterans, a 4-H family, a family in our very own community and they need your help. Will you please help?

http://www.gofundme.com/oimqgo?fb_action_ids=10155245481995562&fb_action_types=og.shares&fb_ref=undefined

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Finally seeing what has always been there…

Bleeding Heart

We’ve been living in the same house for the past 5 years. Not too much has changed, same color on the exterior, a few walls inside are different, a few new items from Ikea, but for the most part, it’s all the same. The outside vegetation has been completely dead or so overgrown that the neighbors wonder if we’ve moved out ;) The back yard is the most neglected, we had grand plans for that space, complete with a grill, fire pit and seating for the family to eat outside when it cools off. All that being said, I think we have been out there to eat, maybe once! The plants and the bugs took over and life got busy and we forgot about what grand plans still wait in our backyard.

We had some plants in the front yard die this past winter, so I asked our youngest, Bronson to find something alive from the backyard that might do well in the front. He chose bleeding hearts. They thrived in the backyard with just dappling of sun during the day, but they were being put in the full sun. Usually I’d read up on a plant to make sure it was the right spot, but being busy, I just smiled as he planted them.

The first 2 months, they dried up, all the flowers fell off of them and I was just grateful to have something in front of the house. I was sure they were gone. Enter monsoon season and 7 inches of rain in a weekend. Suddenly every plant we thought we lost from drought….came back with a vengeance! We are still trying to cut things back after 2 weeks of pruning!! The bleeding hearts are doing beautifully :) I never really cared for them before, they were more like weeds in the back, every time we cut them all down, in a week they would be back. This is a photo of one tiny bleeding heart flower, all alone, silent and still. They were always there, I just never took the time to really see them. I never realized how lovely they are :)

I say all of this to bring up the fact that I love photography :) It took so long for me to realize it! I’ve been shooting again, all thanks to God who answers prayers for a camera and gear to shoot with and then amazingly supportive and loving friends like Jennifer Ford-Cote, Joni Dusek and Carissa Warfield, who answered the call!!

I’ve learned a lot this time around. Though I’ve preached about it not being about the gear…I was comfortable saying that with $4,000 worth of gear in my bag! I’ve used entry level cameras this time around and you know what…they still take photos!!! It’s been challenging, but so worth it! I’ve had time to make do with what I had and I really had no idea how good some of the consumer cameras are! It’s been a great experience and now I know after all this time which camera and lenses I want to start back with :) It’s not the most expensive, but I’m comfortable with it for now. I realize that I got caught up in the newest gadgets and better glass (more expensive lenses) and I know now, that I didn’t need all of that!

Thank you for all of the support from my family, my friends and my clients! You all believed in me and you loved me back into a place that I never should have left…I know…you were all right :) I’m excited to tell some more stories with my photos on this blog, maybe not just my stories, maybe your stories. So stay tuned…we’re just getting started!

Corinne Noel †

 

Where do I start?

It’s a Wednesday afternoon, I’ve been working my insurance job most of the day and for a moment I reflect back on my photography career. I’m sure many will let out a laugh or maybe roll their eyes, thinking that it wasn’t much of a career. I was never famous, I was never paid $20,000 for a wedding, I never won an award at WPPI for one of my photos and I never went on tour teaching others my style of photography from my tour bus. However, I did start taking photos when my oldest son Anderson was 5 and he’s 18 now.

In the last 13 years, I’ve photographed weddings, graduating seniors, babies, families, pets, talented athletes, homes for sale, new businesses, wild animals, amazing sunsets and much more! If you asked anyone about their photos…they would say I captured the right moment, the one look that defined the moment or that I helped them to realize something special and beautiful. I made a difference in someone’s life or something’s life, like a dog that needed a forever home, but I made a difference!! That means more to me than being a Rock Star Photographer!

I’ve made money, but I did a lot for free and you can’t have a successful business or support your family when you do too many things for free. I did a lot of photographing for myself in the beginning and I find that I really got away from that quickly and then it all seemed like work and forced creativity, which is painful for any artist! Again, I’m sure there will be more eye rolling, but I am an artist. A great chef isn’t great because of the stove or cooking ingredients, it’s what he creates with them. It’s not the camera, it’s where I focus my attention, the lighting I choose, the mood I want you to feel…that is art! I forgot about the art, I focused on what others were doing, or what I needed to do so I was like all the other photographers! I lost the part of my photography that was me :(

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When I think about where to start, I know I need a camera and that is still awhile off, but I need to find out where I want to be, what I want to photograph, what were my mistakes, what really worked for me, where was I comfortable and did I push myself in a direction that I couldn’t connect with? What do I photograph that takes my breath from me, but still makes me feel alive?

I don’t have $3,000 for a Canon 5D Mark iii with a 24-105mm lens today, so I’m going to work with what I do have. There is a cheesy saying ” I think I was taking photos long before I ever had a camera!” It may be cheesy, but it’s so true! I will photograph with my mind until I get a camera, I’ll remember how to see what others miss, to appreciate each moment, to wait for that thing… that one thing that happens at the right second and its tells the whole story in that one moment! It’s humbling to start over, to pull yourself out of the ashes after crashing and burning, but it’s also really beautiful. I get a do over and who doesn’t love a do over!!

Corinne Noel

It’s more than just a rock!

I’m sitting at my desk and I have to admit, I’m feeling…numb! It’s not that I’m feeling nothing, it’s more like when you feel too much and then you can’t feel anymore, so you’re numb, but totally aware!! I find that I’m most humble in this place, I get sick of the sound of my own voice. I notice my faults, weaknesses and mistakes…but it’s where I feel most like me. Here, in this place, I can see EVERYTHING!! It’s such a place of clarity for me, I’m not bogged down with emotion, because I’m past the RAW stage, where it hurts, now I can use it to make me stronger, I can lick my wounds, make changes and start again. This is what it must feel like to the forest after a fire…with the potential to grow again, brighter, stronger, higher…better :) There is so much beauty in being humble and fragile!

I see the steps of where I’ve been and the path before me looks a little familiar, but my footsteps veer off into a high traffic area and that’s not where I want to go! I’ve been there, I’ve failed, I got up, tried something new, succeeded but felt empty, tried something new…you know how it goes. I know I’m getting all serious and usually I’m all laughs or I make you cry, but today I know that I need to do something different! Today, I live intentionally and as real as I humanly can! I LOVE photography! I LOVED being a photographer and while I’ll admit there were many things about it that I loathed…I feel like I can’t breathe without it!!

I believe that is where you have to get…get as far away from something that you love, walk away, free yourself from every camera, every lens, backdrop, photo book, etc. and then you can miss it, you can appreciate it and vow if it will let you come back, that you’ll be different this time. I want to come back!!! I have nothing, but an iPhone and a dream in my heart…but it’s somewhere to start!!  I want to be a professional photographer again…for real this time, no giving up, for better or worse!! But how…how do I get there???

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This rock…this boring smooth stone…I took this, well actually I asked permission (can you believe that!!) from the desk clerk at the MGM Towers, I asked if I could have it from the waterfall in the lobby, waiting to come back home after my 1st time at WPPI 2011. I wanted to remember how AMAZING WPPI was and how WONDERFUL this photography community really is when you reach outside of my city, to where there are truly big name photographers that are nicer than some of the  local ones with half the talent!  I was on fire and I let it blow out. I still have this stone to remind me of what I felt I could do, of what I dreamed that I could create, of what I really felt…was real!! I’m ready to be real too :) It’s a long way back…but I know all the roads, I’ll be taking a few different ones, the ones I was afraid to take…this time…it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Welcome back…Corinne Noel Photography :)

Mission #1 …going to need a camera…oh and probably one with a lens might be good ;)

It’s amazing what can change in a year!

It’s been over a year since my last post…so many things have happened, that I’m not sure where to start. I closed my photography business down and started with Mary Kay. A year later, I’m prettier (thanks Mary Kay) I’m emotionally and mentally stronger (thanks again Mary Kay!) I just recently left Mary Kay and now am a Licensed Insurance Agent working with my hubby :) Everything is new, so there will be new stories, new feelings, new fears, new joys, new faces, but one thing will be the same…shooting straight from the heart as always! I hope you’ll visit me and see my heart from time to time :)

I’M BACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!

The Passing of a Photography Business…

 

This is a bitter-sweet day for me…I have decided to close my photography business. My first paid job was family portraits at the park for a friend, I really had NO idea what I was doing, since I had only photographed birds and my kids :) 7 years later, being professional full-time for the last two years brings me full circle and to the understanding that I still have NO idea what I am doing, but it would have to be more with running my own business. I love photography, but I’ve come to the point where I no longer enjoy it & that is the saddest part. If you ever get to that point with what with something that you love…walk away before you hate it! Many will think that I am another victim to the new photography community where everyone with a camera thinks they are photographers, with $250 weddings & a $50 family portrait session…CD with full res images included ;) If anything that drove me harder to be better, to be different and to give more customer service :) I have many people in this community to thank… Becker, Dane Sanders, Jasmine Star, David Jay, Doug Gordon, Sal Cincotta, Me Ra Koh, Kevin Jairaj…and I could go on. There was so much support, that I don’t think I would have made it this far without them. However, they were too far away to save this little company & I couldn’t get the support locally that I needed. It’s very difficult to run your own business, I know that now, I’m grateful for the lessons, the friends and the memories :)

I thank all of my clients…well, we were really friends, weren’t we :) Thank you for trusting me with your beautiful moments…it was truly my honor :)

I’m moving on to other pastures…I’m teaching skin care and makeup artistry with Mary Kay Cosmetics full-time now, so if you’re ever in the need of a free facial, a lipstick or just a friend to chat with…I’m your girl!

My blog is going to change a bit…still heartfelt stories, but not about photography, so you can still visit me!

With love & blessings…Corinne Noel †