oregon, karen, and cameras. oh my.

For all two of you out there who don’t know who Karen Russell is (yes, you under that rock…I’m talking to you) she writes one heck of a blog right here. Her resume includes being a Creating Keepsakes Hall of Fame winner, inventing scrapbook transparencies (yes, you read that right!), creating and running an amazing photography workshop (linked on her blog), and being mom to four great kiddos. Her life is seriously full. I’ll confess to being a tad intimidated about not only meeting her but teaching her anything on my trip out to her hometown last week. How could I possibly teach her? Not to mention what if we flat-out didn’t like each other? That would be totally weird, right? I mean, I was going to Oregon afterall which, last time I checked, isn’t anywhere close to Alabama.

But the minute she hopped out of her car and said, “Hi! You’re shorter than I expected!” I was a fan. A big one.

‘Cause you know what my first thought was when I saw her?

“Hmmm. She’s shorter than I expected.”

My next thought was, “She seems super nice.” (and I hope that was her next thought too.)

For the record, I was totally right about her being nice. Like, really, really right.Β  And I love being right.

I was there for two full days. We literally worked 14 hour days shooting, editing, talking, eating. Did I say eating? That counts as work right?

Oh heck, who am I kidding. There wasn’t a lick of work out there for me. Shooting, editing, talking, eating and staying in a hotel for three nights of blissfully uninterrupted sleep will never be considered work in my book. (Please excuse me while I issue Karen a refund check.)

I took a bajillion pictures while I was out there. Thinking about how we shuffled them between memory cards and computers and external hard drives makes my brain spin but I’m relatively sure the ones I have in my possession are mine. (It helps that she shoots Nikon and I shoot Canon. Thank goodness for file naming.) Karen has been posting quite a few on her blog, both mine and hers, edited by her. It’s so cool/bizarre to see my shots on someone else’s blog, edited by someone else’s hand, and think, “that looks like…mine.” Like a doppelganger for photographers.

We did quite a bit of shooting with Annie, Karen’s youngest child, because she was the easiest child to take out of school. I’ll post a ton of those on my business blog in the next few days. In the meantime, here are just a random few from around Karen’s house. Which, by the way, is unfreakingbelievable. It looks like it was transported directly out of Anthropologie and into her charming old farmhouse. Except that when I said that to her she said, “what’s Anthropologie?” Which means, my friends, her style is the real deal. Authentic. And amazing.

First up, sweet Miss Courtney Lee. I like this kid. A lot. She was so sweet and snuggly, and on my third night away from my babies I really, really needed that.

Annie is just as sharp and sassy and spunky as you’d expect out of a four year old who is the youngest of four. She’ll be fourteen next year I’m pretty sure. She called me “hey” the whole time I was there and I swear to youΒ the way she said it was so cute I wanted to officially change my name to “hey”. Hey Cobb. It has a nice ring, don’t you think?

(Annie sweet talked me into that kitty cat…which didn’t take much, trust me. And then she picked out one for Sarah. Annie has named hers “Lucky” and Sarah has named hers “Happy Cat.” These girls need to meet.)

Cole is Karen’s youngest boy. And from what I saw, this shot pretty much sums him right up. Willing to do whatever for his mama. Have you ever seen a third grader so happy to smile for his mom’s camera? He’s a winner.

I have to show this next shot because it makes me think about how cool it is to shoot side by side with another photographer. As I was taking it Karen shouted, “did you seriously just take a picture in my stairway?!” Apparently that may be the only place she’s never attempted a shot. Just when you think you’ve discovered all the places, shooting with someone else can help you find a new patch you’d never considered before. And as an added bonus,Β now you all know what Karen’s stairway looks like.

Anyway, it’s past 11 and I fear I’m starting to ramble. I’ll end with what are probably the only two shots I have of Karen. I love them because they capture her learning…

And then her in the middle of an “A-HA!” moment…

And as the highly accomplished Karen Russell says, “I love A-HA!”

JackiApril 26, 2010 - 9:20 pm

What a cool experience for both of you! Thanks for sharing.

DomenicoApril 26, 2010 - 9:22 pm

Looks like some serious fun. If I ever get my grades up I hope my mom will let me sign up for a class with you.

LeahApril 26, 2010 - 9:49 pm

I have followed Karen’s blog for several years now. When I first bought my DSLR and realized the kit lens was not at all what I wanted or needed, I bought my 50mm 1.4f on her recommendation and have learned a LOT of what I know about shooting in manual from her blog. When she mentioned she was flying you out, of course I had to come check out your blog. Imagine my surprise when the post I read mentioned Monte Sano.. I about fell out when I saw you live in the same town as I do! So glad she pointed me in your direction. I have a new blog in my reader now! πŸ™‚

Amy RApril 26, 2010 - 10:18 pm

It sounds like too too much fun. I checked Karen’s blog after you told me about her in Dec but finally added her to the ole reader after you announced your trip out there. Hoping she’s going to talk you into that editing tutorial. πŸ˜€

LaurenApril 26, 2010 - 11:20 pm

Love it! Love the pictures of Karen with the piano in the background! Well, I love all of the pictures! Looks like so much fun was had by everyone!

SusanApril 27, 2010 - 5:51 am

Hello Erin! I love these photos! I’m taking Karen’s class and she is amazing, talented and so kind. I’m so excited to find you through her! I’m looking forward to your editing tutorial! Have a beautful day! Susan

Eva HarderApril 27, 2010 - 6:15 am

Great post.. I’m looking forward to reading the rest on your business blog. I’ve taken Karen’s class and I loved it.. now I think I’m finally ready to do a consult with you.. I really would like to learn to edit better :-).

elizabeth HolderApril 27, 2010 - 6:25 am

I have been a fan of Karens forever!!! I am taking her photography class starting in june – shes awesome –
but you are just as awesome and I am really hoping you will make available your editing techiques – boy I could use help w/ that!!
THanks for posting!!!

SandyApril 27, 2010 - 6:33 am

I have followed Karen’s blog, and have taken her online course plus her one-day workshop. She is phenomenal in her skills, and truly remarkable in her patience in teaching her students. When she mentioned your blog, I checked it out. And now I am hooked on your thoughts and photos as well. Your work is beautiful, and I cannot wait to pick up on any little tips you drop into your comments. My photo-editing skills are very very minimal, so I look forward to your completed tutorial (I know you will be doing this!!! lol!) While all of your photos are expectedly amazing (Canon, edited to create amazing finished products), the photo of your son in the ER, taken with your iphone (!!!) just blows me away. Thanks for sharing as you do — I am your newest fan!

shalondaApril 27, 2010 - 7:03 am

oh erin please come to texas….my sweet hubby finally bought me the mkii and i need you too ;)….love the ah ha moment shot…looks like yall had tons of fun

AmyApril 27, 2010 - 7:29 am

Hi Erin–So happy to meet you! I’m a big fan of KR’s (scrap product, taken her class, love her blog), and now of yours, as well. Can’t wait until your editing class πŸ˜‰ Thank you for sharing your heart.

laceyApril 27, 2010 - 7:37 am

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall while you two were shooting! I LOVE both of your styles and desperately want to know how you edit. πŸ™‚

I bet you two had a blast!

tara pollard pakostaApril 27, 2010 - 7:46 am

how fuN! these are GREAT shots!
You both are fabulous!!!

KristinApril 27, 2010 - 8:30 am

Looks like a good time! When you comin to Vegas to teach me? I do get to have the amazing Wendy come to teach a flash workshop in May and I am excited to have a house full of photographers so they can help me find the nooks and crannies I have yet to explore to take pics in!!

TracyApril 27, 2010 - 8:57 am

I have been waiting to hear more about your trip. Your posts ALWAYS make me laugh out loud. Love that!

TracyApril 27, 2010 - 9:07 am

P.S By the way how tall are you? I imagine you being about 5’8 or so:)

martha hernandezApril 27, 2010 - 9:13 am

these are awesome. it’s still feels funny coming to your website and seeing karen’s kids. you are both amazing photographers and people! what a great honor to learn from both of you!

i second everyone else regarding editing tutorial….will give you my second child for a lesson! πŸ˜‰ (oops, factory closed here for that…seriously, your editing is great)

martha hernandezApril 27, 2010 - 9:16 am

one more…know you use a grey card, do you use it for every shot or do you sometimes just use the presets for WB? when you were hiking, i would assume you just used presets, i can’t imagine you custom wb?

thanks Erin!

KariApril 27, 2010 - 9:32 am

I love that all Karen’s fans are coming over here and adding to encouraging you to do a tutorial!! I have to admit my jaw dropped when I read on Karen’s blog that she suggested it to you πŸ™‚ VERY EXCITING!! I know nothing about editing, so I’m not sure if I could handle it but I would SO be willing to try! So at least know you have a customer base if you do consider doing it πŸ™‚

DebbieApril 27, 2010 - 10:48 am

Hi Erin! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but have never left a comment until today.

I’m a huge Karen Russell fan!! I started out loving her scrapbook products and have followed her career over the past few years! I’ve been lucky enough to take several of her classes! She’s an awesome instructor!! Patient & full of passion!! And she’s a huge inspiration to me!!

I LOVE all the photos! Looks like a wonderful experience for both of you!

I’m really looking forward to learning more and excited you’re considering doing a tutorial and sharing more of your knowledge with everyone! πŸ™‚

ChristiApril 27, 2010 - 1:31 pm

another Karen fan who is now an Erin fan
my question is what do you recommend to improve the lighting in a room to get your beautifully exposed photos indoors? Or am do I need to make all my friends move to houses with more windows and only visit during the day? if I crank the ISO to 800 or 1600 I get tons of grain even when I shoot at f/1.4

Lovely Cee.April 27, 2010 - 3:36 pm

very cool:) two great photogs hanging out- way fun!

kat-in-texasApril 27, 2010 - 3:45 pm

I’m excited she introduced us to you, Erin!!! I have learned so much from Karen over the years, and I’m thrilled to learn from your expertise that she thinks about so highly! Your styles are similar–love them both. Looking forward to reading your blog now too!!!

I’ve met Karen (took her Photographer’s One Day Workshop-totally awesome) and have followed her blog religiously for a few years. She IS the “real deal”. She doesn’t sugar coat her life and she doesn’t give a puny little hug when she’s thanking you for coming to her class….she gives you a ((((HUG))))!!!

That’s genuine in my book! πŸ˜€

p.s. What’s Orange Beach/Gulf Shores like in your opinion? Any favorite hotel/condos? We’re thinking of heading there for vaca this year…if the oil spill doesn’t ruin everything…:( sad.

Thanks Erin!!!

AngelaApril 27, 2010 - 4:22 pm

I discovered your blog via Karen’s (and am secretly wondering how much your blog stats went up when she mentioned you)…anyways, I would love to know what you taught the fabulous Karen Russell about shooting indoors. Also, what are your favorite photo editing tips. I have both Photoshop CS4 and LightRoom. I love LR, but feel like I’m not using it to it’s full purpose.
Thanks for sharing your beautiful family with us.
Angela M in Texas

AnonymousApril 27, 2010 - 6:32 pm

awesome pics and play by play notes – i can’t wait until you come out with a tutorial. clearly you are an amazing at photographing your every day life and then when you edit – it is so clean and crisp! i’m glad your trip to oregon went so well. karen was a fabulous teacher earlier this year during her photography class. i’m so glad i found your blog via karen πŸ™‚

GretchenApril 28, 2010 - 7:45 am

LOVE your editing style~so excited that Karen hinted on her blog you were thinking of doing a tutorial!!! CAN”T WAIT!!!

PennyApril 28, 2010 - 9:01 am

I’ve been following Karen’s blog since well before Annie was born, and I love it – she’s so accomplished and a wonderful inspiration. Glad she turned her readers on to your blog. You’re an awesome photographer, a terrific blogger (great story teller :), and I love that you share photo tips along the way – very nice that you give back to the community that way. I don’t comment a whole lot, but I love to read the posts. Thanks, and I’ll be back often.

JaimieApril 28, 2010 - 8:09 pm

Looks so fun! I love her blog and now I am starting to love yours. : )

adminApril 29, 2010 - 8:31 pm

First off, Hi Leah…nice to “meet” you! So cool that we’re both in H’ville!

Welcome to those of you who are new readers via Karen. I hope you’ll stick around!

JannaApril 29, 2010 - 10:21 pm

Love your blog! I found it, like several others, from a link on Karen’s blog. Your photos are so gorgeous. I added you to my reader so I won’t miss anything now. I love learning more about photography and I’m really hoping that you do come out with a tutorial about editing pics. I’d love to learn from you, as your photos look awesome. I am especially in love with the one of your daughter blowing the dandelion. I was inspired to try to get one like it of my 3 yr old son. I got something I like, but it isn’t quite as nice as yours. Thanks for sharing your photography.

StaciApril 30, 2010 - 1:03 pm

Very cool! LOVE all the photos as always!

KelliMay 1, 2010 - 12:48 pm

I love Karen, and if she thinks you are awesome, so do I! Love that shot of Annie and her Lucky!
I think I need to repaint my house lighter colours.
I can’t wait to see what classes you have to offer.

MayMarch 2, 2011 - 7:30 am

Ok now I’m addicted to both blogs! yours and Karen’s! thank you for sharing all the wonderful photos and experience. That gives me lots of hope that some day I might have some good shots.

AdrianneMarch 3, 2015 - 1:18 am

Relax and no do the job!

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