Warrior | Heidi Hanson Photography | Connecticut Wedding Photographer

For nine days I took a journey to the Napo Region of Ecuador as part of a team put together by an amazing photographer Alicia Daw. Simply Love 2014, was a group of individuals from all over the country who volunteered to work at Casa Feliz an orphanage run by an organization called Bless an Orphan.

It is really hard to put into words all the things that I encountered in the nine days I was gone, the ups, the downs, the highs and lows, the emotional moments (yes there were many), self realizations and just pure fun. The stories of the 17 children that live at Casa Feliz are so heart-wrenching, it is purely gruesome to hear how awful these children have been treated by their family members lives, but so beautiful to see their smiles and how happy they are now because of the love they have from the generous souls who help make Casa Feliz such a loving environment.

I have wanted to do a mission trip for a while, but as many things go, life kind of gets in the way of things like that.  But coming off the heels of 2013, one of the worst years for me ever, the stars aligned and everything seemed to fall into place.  I needed to know that there was some good in this world and that I could experience it first hand.

I don’t want to say that it was a soul searching mission for me, but I definitely learned a lot about myself during this trip. Living with 13 complete strangers will definitely help you figure out a lot about yourself rather quickly – LOL.

I feel like I’ve come back with a newer, fresher perspective on life and can really focus better on what is important in life:

  • I’m not going to beat myself up so much.  When I’m presented with a challenge I will take a step back and figure out how to handle it, we’re talking baby steps people; not blowing everything out of proportion…just simply looking at new ways to handle things rather than getting down on myself;
  • Being more truthful with myself and others.  I’m not going to filter so much more of my thoughts, so look out, I’m going to be more honest, it may backfire, but I’m tired of hiding my feelings inside ( “You hear my voice, you hear that sound Like thunder gonna shake the ground.”- Katy Perry Roar – yes I love this song 🙂
  • I know I can’t change the world, and a lot of circumstances are way beyond my control, I can’t change the past. I realize that. I have to let fate or ‘whatever’ let things be.  What I can change is myself and focus on the way I project my own thoughts and feelings onto people and events.  I am going to try really hard to let that happen this year.
  • This year I will learn to accept what I cannot change – whew this is a BIG one for me. And by big I mean hard!  I am going to have to remind myself of this everyday and take big deep breaths and really, really, REALLY try hard to do this.
  • Life is too short – I want to live it to the fullest with my family and enjoy all the moments we can together.

While I was only there for a short period of time I think that I was able to make a little bit of a difference.  I participated in projects at the orphanage including organizing all the donations we brought down there (thank you to all those that donated); organized the storage room; helped paint an outdoor chalkboard wall for the children; made corn hole and beanbag toss games; assembled a checkerboard tile area outside for the children; and put on a carnival in a jungle village (pie in the face – that was my station)! I also hope that I helped bring a few smiles to some of the children while I was there, because they certainly brought some smiles to my face.

I cannot say enough about the staff and volunteers of Casa Feliz and Bless an Orphan; they are amazing people who give up their entire lives and move thousands of miles away from their friends and families to help put smiles on these children faces everyday they truly are warriors. And the kids….they are the true warriors after having been through abuse, delinquency, corruption, neglect and worse, they are still smiling and happy to be alive and in a loving environment.  This was my first time doing something like this and it certainly won’t be my last.

Now I’m a warrior, I’ve got thicker skin, I’m a warrior I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, – Demi Lovato

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Tales of a Tired Photographer | Heidi Hanson Photography

I’ve been trying to figure out a name for my personal segment on my blog for quite some time now.  I went through the Crazy Chronicles, Diary of a Deranged Lady…etc. But I think Tales of a Tired Photographer is probably the best.  This segment is going to be once a week (believe me there’s enough stuff for me to post daily), but I will not bore you with my ridiculous antics on a daily basis.  

So a lot of you that have been following me, especially on Facebook, have mentioned that I should be writing a book for all the silly, crazy things that happen in my life, you know the types of things that I just can’t make up.  The things my kids say or do, that really are kind of unpredictable.  Well sadly, this blog (at least today’s is all about ME)! 

This past week I had some doozies! We have this little blue suitcase of fun things that the kids get to pick things out of after they’ve finished their homework and cleaned their rooms after school.  So last week they picked quiet time in their room with Mommy which turned into a makeover – their favorite thing to do to mommy!  Fast forward to me looking like Tammy Faye Baker and it is time to take everything off.  Well lesson learned do not put the nail polish remover next to the makeup remover.  Can we say burn much?  Wow, the removal of glitter eye shadow with nail polish remover on the eyes, don’t get me wrong, it totally works, but ow!  It freaking burns, like really bad!!

The other day as I’m running around trying to get my kids ready for school, and me ready for my morning run.  I can only find one running sneaker. Literally how does that happen?  Sometimes my dog takes shoes when guests pop over, not to eat them, but just to greet folks, it’s kind of cute, but at the time I was so annoyed.  Then I remembered that I had my son bring his laundry down to the washing machine the day before.  Sure enough I opened up the door and there it was.  So now I have one really pretty clean running shoe, which was soaking wet because I wasn’t going to have time to dry it before I ran!  

Yep so so that’s me, in a nutshell.  Stay tuned for more tales of a tired photographer. 

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UNPLUGGED | HEIDI HANSON PHOTOGRAPHY FAIRFIELD COUNTY WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Well, 2014 started and it is my first full week of the kids having school and me being 100% motivated to kick 2014 in the um, let’s say face! And what do you know….no house phone, no internet!  What???  Of course that happens!  I can’t even use my cell phone because those of you who know where I live, Easton…yes that’s in Connecticut!  It is in the woods, country land and there is one spot on my driveway that I have cell service, and um if you haven’t checked the weather lately, it’s was a a monsoon yesterday and today it is 6 degrees outside…so cross that spot off the list of my productivity places!

So um yea, instead I went grocery shopping, yeah favorite thing ever…NOT.  Except that I have started listening to Pandora with my earbuds to make it more enjoyable and it definitely is (especially without the kids there requesting everything or throwing things in the cart without me knowing).  Only downside is when I start belting out the chorus to some songs while picking out my yogurt – LOL

So I guess today was really an unplugged day when you think about it – literally unplugging the modem, plugging it back in, unplugging it, plugging it back in. Saying a little prayer or two hoping it would turn back on!  Never happening.  So instead of this long list of things I had hoped to accomplish – I bleached the master bath – woo hoo, did some ninja kicks on the cable wires in the basement, created something for dinner in the crockpot…who knows what that will taste like and created a really long to do list for January…….

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Best of 2013 Weddings | Heidi Hanson Photography Connecticut Wedding Photographer

IT is really true, 2013 is over and we are into full swing with 2014…WOW!  It went fast!  I pulled together some of my favorite images from last year’s weddings and I hope that some of them are your favorites too!  I really enjoyed plugging in my hard drives and pulling up all the images…it brought me back to all the fun times I got to have with each couple, and reminded me again of how much I love what I do.

Enjoy!

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Year End Reflection | Heidi Hanson Photography Specializing in Weddings

Wow, so goodbye 2013.  You literally flew by! Whew…this was probably one of the suckiest (yes I said it – so it has to be word) years personally for me EVER.  And of course one of the hardest blog posts for me to write.  I got this awesome planning packet from a great website, which I cannot remember now…..So in helping me plan for 2014, it gives me a chance to look back at 2013 and all your accomplishments.  At first I felt wow this was going to be easy, and then as soon as I put the pen to paper, I kind of paused, almost like I was scared to write, and then I froze like someone was watching over me; ready to buzz that big buzzer from Family Feud with the X you know like X you’re wrong! That’s not an accomplishment!  Or maybe I just dated myself and should say more like American’s Got Talent, you walk up to the microphone ready to belt out this amazing song you’ve been working on for years and then all of a sudden Howie hits the button and the huge red X appears over your name on stage and the audience boos you.  It was that kind of fear.

What did I really accomplish this past year?

It wasn’t really that much of a successful year was it?

Maybe it was more of a learning year, was that a way to approach it?

So after a panic attack or two, I took a deep breath and then reassessed the situation.  I looked at the number of weddings, family sessions and boudoir clients (my new favorite) I got to capture this past year. The number of new clients I got to meet.  The number of clients that turned into friends. It felt better seeing these little things as accomplishments.  Then my pen started flowing, and I even went on to another page 🙂

The next section was way easier, things that didn’t work – aka where you sucked this year – no panic attacks here and no time to pause – again the pen started flowing of course much easier this time.

So of course I wanted this post to not turn into a negative nilly – oh woe is me blog post.  I also don’t want to announce anything too prematurely, but I do have some ideas up my sleeve.  So I think today I will just leave you with I have some hopefully, interesting things coming down the pike for 2014 and hopefully some successful ventures for me and my business.  And I hope that everyone will stay with me during this time and get ready for this roller coaster we all call LIFE!

Happy New Year!!  Bring on 2014 BABY!!

ICE ICE BABY | Heidi Hanson Photography

Yep, ya’ll are singing that classic 90’s song from Vanilla Ice right now aren’t you?  And you’re welcome!  It is no secret that this is my favorite time of year.  While I’ve got some down time, way more than I’d like, I’m working on some mad camera skills…LOL yep, we all need to keep working on our skills, don’t want to get rusty in the offseason.

I was stoked about the snow and ice that we got over the weekend.   I’m a winter girl, so I love snow, just something about it is so pretty, so serene.  Minus being trapped inside with my crazy kids all weekend, it was great!

I forced myself to use my 85mm, my least favorite lens, as I wandered around my yard trying to find some interesting things to shoot, that wouldn’t completely bore you.  And I think I am starting to like (yes, I said like) my 85mm lens a little more now….So here are a few of the images that I captured from this weekend.  Enjoy

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My Favorite Things | Heidi Hanson Photography

So I’m using this ‘down time’ to reflect on my photography, revamp so to speak, and work on my website.  I’m really working on the “About Me” section, which is kind of cheesy and in general really hard to do.  It’s essentially like saying, hey I’m freaking awesome,  you need to book me, and like now! 

So in an effort to re-do this awkwardness of me talking about my self, which I suck at; I thought it would be kind of cool to do it like the Sound of Music, best musical like ever, I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad….; which is on the xmas radio station non-stop.  I also was trying to do it alphabetically, but then I realized it was going to be nearly impossible to find something for a Q and an X (oh wait X-Men, LOVE that movie…in fact my daughter was almost named Rogue)!

So here goes, remember to sing as you read –  

My husband and children and of course my goofy golden retriever, Gage

Avocados

The beach – any kind, really it doesn’t matter.  Something about it just is soothing.  It doesn’t matter what time of year either. 

Christmas – best time of year; especially now that I have kids!! Getting our tree, decorating, putting up our Christmas village

PIZZA – any topping – even anchovy YEP – I went there

Fall – love the changing colors, the crisp air, picking apples and pumpkins, everything about it

Ice cream –  sundaes, cones, doesn’t mater, the more toppings the better

Katy Perry and Lady Gaga – two of my favorites to jam to at the gym

Martinis and margaritas – pretty much any kind

Peppermint hot chocolate – Starbucks makes it best – I drink it all year round, but they jack up the price of course in December!

Winter – I love everything about it, especially SNOW.  And I really hope we get more of this white stuff soon!

Lord of the Rings (all three movies, haven’t actually read the books)

Running – it is really the only place I can be alone with my thoughts, take my self to where I need to be think, process, dream, and decompress

Penguins – I mean seriously they are so cute and they waddle

Dancing like no one is watching

Can’t forget Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball and all – her voice is pretty amazing and she is also all over my Pandora station while I’m running.

Changing my hair color and often – right now it’s half blondish and half pink!

Chocolate – no explanation needed

Seafood – any kind, raw, cooked, shellfish, regular fish, literally any kind 

In hindsight I probably just should have put eating or FOOD – because most of the stuff up here is food related! 

So hopefully this will give you a little more insight into who I am and what I love – besides photography and weddings 

 

A Wild Wisconsin Wedding | Heidi Hanson Photography

I’ve known Becky for almost three years now and Kwong for just about the same amount of time.  I was really happy when these two were going to say I do in Wisconsin and they wanted me to photograph their big day.  And then when they asked my kids to be part of their wedding party…a little less happy – knowing we would have to make the trek to Wisconsin as a family….yep 22 hours via car!  But we did it!  In fact we spent more time in the car then actually in Wisconsin! But all kidding aside we had a blast!

These two have certainly had their ups and downs and it wasn’t quite love at first site for the bride; in fact they often joke that she is the ‘boy’ in the relationship.  You know, the one that doesn’t really make the plans, or care about the details, or get emotional attached that easily.  When Kwong proposed to her in a quaint little Vermont Inn, she didn’t even say yes…but she did accept the ring!!  We kept calling her the Runaway Bride….the running joke was that she wouldn’t say yes at the ceremony!  During the planning process, she was referred to as the Anti-Bride because she kept saying she had months and months to plan, completely forgetting those months, were flying by and ultimately it was days she had left.

To say these two are perfect for each other is a gross understatement.  They are always laughing, smiling, sharing rare illnesses and unique allergies.  Yes, in the months leading up to their nuptials there were multiple visits to the emergency room, flea attacks and many more rare instances of unusual ailments….they are truly a perfect match.  This Mid-Western girl and this Tawain/Cambodian/Malaysian/Chinese boy; this Green Bay Packer and this Jets Fan….

So we made our way halfway way across the country to this little Hodag part of the country to Rhinelander, WI (population of 7,600) to witness and photograph this union of two amazing people, two friends who truly are perfect in every way for each other.

The day went exactly as expected multiple trips to Walmart, a ceremony that started two hours late, lots of laughs, some homemade moonshine and so much dancing.  It was a perfect day…a perfect Becky and Kwong day.  Here are some of my favorite photos

Ceremony Location:  Private Residence

Reception Venue: Holiday Acres, Rhinelander, WI

Wedding Boutique: The Plumed Serpent

Wedding Gown: Anne Barge

Bridesmaid Dresses: Monique Lhullier

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The gorgeous arch made from a birch tree that mom and dad cut down the night before the ceremony.
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The bride and bridesmaids were escorted up to the ceremony location by a pickup truck!

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And here is a Hodag!

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The evening ended with Chinese wish lanterns being lit into the evening sky!

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Ecuador Bound | Heidi Hanson Photography

ecuador

So I’m heading South…That’s right to South America, to Tena, Ecuador.  Yikes!  I’m wicked excited; and at the same time a little nervous.  I’m going on a mission trip (Simply Love) with complete strangers (except for the organizer, Alicia from No Eye Has Seen Photography), to work for this amazing organization, Bless an Orphan.  We will be staying at the orphanage working with the children  and doing minor construction projects.  We will also be delivering food and clothing to local villages and installing a water well in one village which will give them access to clean water – a major milestone.

I think the most anxiety I’m having right now is that my husband, who normally travels and leaves me home with the kids for weeks/months on end; has so graciously taken time off of work to take care of the kids SOLO.  I’m not sure how this is going to work. Considering he doesn’t know where any of their things are – the only good thing is it is school vacation week!  So he can’t mess up that bad…..or can he???

What I’m most looking forward to?  Rolling up my sleeves and get dirty.  I’ve never done something like this, sure I’ve done Habitat for Humanity while in college, but nothing quite like this.  I can’t wait to see all the little smiling faces of the children we help, truly make a difference.  Show my children that this is something they should be doing.  And maybe one day the four of us can do something like this together.

Please read more about my trip here and how you can help me raise funds to head down to Ecuador!