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small town main street Columbus, TexasThere are lots of small Texas towns each with their own history and things to see. Many of them have a historic downtown square with shops in the buildings surrounding the grand county courthouses. This is exactly how historic downtown Columbus, Texas looks.

We started off at the Colorado County Courthouse because we only had about 30 minutes before the building closed for the day. It is still used for business and open for the public to walk through. Built in 1890, it has a stunning mosaic Tiffany-style skylight in the center of the courthouse ceiling that was a replacement to the original bell tower after it was destroyed in the 1909 storm.

Right outside of the courthouse is the water tower. It is now a museum and while I realize it is a landmark for Columbus there isn’t much to see.  Built in 1883, it has been used as a water tower, firehouse, and museum.  When I was looking through the Columbus, Texas visitor’s guide, I counted about 100+ stars to note Texas historical markers in town.  It is really remarkable how well preserved the history is in the buildings and houses.  You can even take a guided tour by listening to stories on your radio.

What to see in historic downtown square in Columbus, Texas.

  • Tour the courthouse and check out the stainless dome.
  • Take a photo of the third largest oak tree in Texas.
  • Shop the boutiques and stores in the square.
  • Grab some almond brittle for snack.
  • Take the self guided audio tour while looking for the Texas historical markers.
  • Shop local produce at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.
  • Get tickets for the dinner theatre at the Stafford Opera House.

If you are headed to Columbus from the Houston area then it is worth stopping in La Grange, Texas too.  It’s another fabulous small Texas town with a brilliant history worth stopping to see.

All the photos below were taken with the Fujifilm Mirrorless XT1 camera and the 27 mm pancake lens.  This combo is perfect for travel because it is lightweight and looks like a point & shoot camera but with tons more capabilities.  *those last two links are affiliate links so if you click through and shop then it helps me keep sharing about great places to visit and how to photograph them.

one day in small main street town Columbus, Texasone day in small main street town Columbus, Texasone day in small main street town Columbus, Texas

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9 must read books for creatives

 

It’s no secret that sometimes it feels like your creativity will never stop.  And then there are other times that it feels like you may never have another creative idea again.  This isn’t unique just for photographers but for all kinds of creative people.  There are tricks and strategies you can use to get yourself out of a creative funk.  You can use gear like a Lensbaby or education like from Creative Live or Skillshare to get inspired.

And of course, another of my favorites, you can use these 9 books to jump start your creativity.  I’ve recommended these books because I have read them and loved them.

If you aren’t sure that you have time to read one of these books, then you may want to check out Chase Jarvis doing a live interview with Brene Brown or his live interview with Austin Kleon.

Here are 9 must read books for creatives.

  1. Creative Confidence : Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

  2. Steal Like an Artist

  3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

  4. Big Magic Creative Living Beyond Fear

  5. Daring Greatly

  6. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life

  7. The Book of Doing:  Everyday Activities to Unlock your Creativity and Joy

  8. Wired to Create:  Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

  9. Make It Happen 

Have you read any inspiring books lately?  Leave the titles in the comments below!

          *the amazon links above are affiliate links which help me out some if you click to shop from here.

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  • SaraApril 13, 2017 - 1:55 pm

    I’ve read two 🙂 I should get a superstarReplyCancel

  • LaurieApril 19, 2017 - 10:09 pm

    Added to my books board! I love a good read ❤ReplyCancel

one day in small main street town La Grange TexasYou really can fill one day in small main street town La Grange, Texas.  And if you do, I promise it will leave you feeling grateful for all the history and stories that still speak loudly from the people and places that you will see.

As soon as we stepped into the store housed inside one of the historic buildings on Main Street the storekeeper greeted us with a warm welcome as though we had stepped through an old friend’s front door.  It felt like another sign that I was back in Texas.  After a little chit chat about the day and the weather, the store owner asked if we would be willing to look after the shop for a few minutes so he could go next door for a coffee.  We of course said yes and he hopped off his stool and told us he would be right back.

Even though I grew up around this kind of Texas hospitality, I think that I have been away long enough that I was caught a little off guard and just stood there in disbelief watching him walk out the front door leaving us alone in the shop.  My mom kept browsing like there was nothing unusual about this situation.

And I love the thought that this is just another regular day in downtown La Grange, Texas.

On the drive from Houston, the bluebonnets were in full bloom all along the sides of the road.  A few times I thought about pulling over to take some pictures of the bluebonnets and longhorns.  Instead I parked the car as soon as we entered the city of La Grange when I saw the perfect patch full of Texas bluebonnets.  We had an amazing lunch, shopped, walked around, and generally enjoyed the slow pace of a small town.  You can see what La Grange, Texas looked like to me in all the photos below.

Here are the must see (and do) things in La Grange, Texas:

Start at the Historic Casino Hall.

The Historic Casino Hall has been beautifully updated and is now the Visitor Bureau for La Grange.  There is a photographic outline of the history of La Grange on the wall.   A visitor center person is available to fill you in on what to do and answer any questions.   If you need more information there is table full of walking maps and brochures.  Plus you can see an original safe door that was preserved and is on display in the casino.  If you have anyone at home who would enjoy real mail, you can also send off a La Grange postcard (my mom sent one to my son which was fun).  Free parking and clean bathrooms are also on site.

Take a look at the La Grange Railroad Museum.

After you visit the Casino Hall/Visitor Center, cross the street (walk past the car dealership) and wander around the La Grange Railroad Museum.  The museum has two train cars and railroad platform on display.  The train cars and station are colorfully painted (you can see them in the photos below) which makes you feel like you took a step back in time.  The actual museum is only open on Saturdays but it is still worth checking out even if you are there on another day of the week (like we were).

Get a bite to eat at Bistro 108.

Bistro 108 is an adorable small town restaurant set up inside a historic home.  They serve lunch and dinner.  Good food, friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere.  I had the salmon filet oven roasted and topped with tomato Provencal sauce and it was perfectly cooked & seasoned.

Walk over to the old Fayette County Jail.

The old county jail was built in 1883 and made of native Texas stones in the style of a gothic cathedral.  I never knew a jail could have so much style and character.  It is now a museum so you can walk through it and see one of the jail cells as it was when it was built.  The rest of the interior has been renovated for other uses.  You can even see a drunk tank on the front lawn where they would throw people overnight so they could sober up.  Members of Bonnie & Clyde’s gang even had a stay here in the Old County Jail.

Head around the square and check out all the antique shops and boutiques.

This is where we were browsing when the shop owner asked us to watch the store for him.  Lots of friendly people, really well priced antiques if that is your thing, and cute boutiques.  You can even grab an iced coffee at Latte Cafe while you are strolling around.  I had an iced chai tea with almond milk that was perfect.  We were told their desserts are too good to miss but didn’t try them since we were still full from lunch.

Tour the Fayette County Courthouse.

The county courthouse is in the middle of the square so by now you have probably already stopped to admire it.  It is well worth the time it will take to walk through it though.  The originally typography is still on the windows above the doors and all the gorgeous woodwork is awe inspiring.  Even the star of Texas is etched into the seats inside the courtroom.  We stood there in the two story courtroom with the light streaming through the windows.  I could imagine all the countless dramas that have unfolded here over the years.  After just serving jury duty here in Orange County, California, I can tell you that I would have much rather been sitting there in the Fayette County Courthouse.

Last stop, Texas Quilt Museum.

We didn’t actually make it inside the museum.  We still wanted to have time to go through the courthouse in Columbus, Texas so we just walked through the blooming gardens outside the Texas Quilt Museum.  But, if you are a quilter I have heard this is a do not miss kind of place.  They have quilts on exhibit, a store, and a library.  It is so close to the square that the gardens are worth checking out.

All the photos below were taken with the Fujifilm Mirrorless XT1 camera and the 27 mm pancake lens.  This combo is perfect for travel because it is lightweight and looks like a point & shoot camera but with tons more capabilities.  *those last two links are affiliate links so if you click through and shop then it helps me keep sharing about great places to visit and how to photograph them.

 

 

one day in small main street town La Grange Texas
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Coming up with outfit ideas for what to wear on a spring photo session can be one of the things that holds me back from scheduling a session for my family.  But, it doesn’t have to be hard or costly.  In fact, you probably have some great outfits in your closet already.

One of my favorite things about these spring session fashion guides are the featured colors.  It is so helpful to determine your feature colors when you are pulling together outfits for multiple people.  Look how the berry color pops in the first guide and using that color in the rain boots is perfect.  The multicolor guides in the 2nd and 3rd outfits are also helpful when you are looking to pull in patterns in the clothes like with the cardigan or the leggings.

If you are looking for more outfit inspiration, check out the spring outfits in this post or follow my What to Wear Pinterest board.

outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season outfit ideas for what to wear in the spring season

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Picking up your camera daily and practicing your photography can be challenging. But practicing often, especially daily, can really help you improve your photography skills. Plus capture all those amazing everyday family moments you don’t want to forget.  Here are 4 tips for daily photography made easy.

4 tips for Daily Photography made Easy

1.       Choose a good walk around lens

When you are working on shooting every day, it is important to choose a camera body and lens combo that won’t end up sending you straight to the chiropractor.  For a long time, maybe two years, I carried around the Canon 5d Mark II and the Canon 85mm lens.  But, on long days , like a trip to the zoo or Disneyland, that would leave my shoulder aching.  It is so heavy and slow to focus which means I missed a lot of those spontaneous moments.

If you can find a good combo that has a light weight lens it will make all the difference when you are thinking about whether you want to carry your camera with you everywhere.  And the more often you carry your camera, the more often will you will able to catch those moments that you didn’t know were coming plus it makes it easier to document your life.

I have two combos that I love for carrying around with me all the time.  The first one is the Canon 5d Mark II (the Canon 5d Mark III and Canon 5d Mark IV are the more up to date versions of this camera) with the Canon 28mm lens. It is a small light lens plus it’s a good focal length for daily activities like grocery shopping, playing at the park, and just hanging out.  It is a sharp lens with a quick focus and nice color straight out of camera (which means less editing if you are shooting daily too).  I’ve also been debating giving the Canon 24 mm pancake lens a try.  It could be a good one to rent to see if there is enough difference between it and the Canon 28mm focal length.  Because it is a pancake lens it is even lighter than the 28mm.  I also think that the smaller lenses attract less attention when you pull them out in public than the large ones.

The other combo I have been using is new to me, but I am loving it.  It is a mirrorless camera + lens combo with the mirrorless Fuji XT1 and the Fujinon 27mm pancake lens (another reason I might try the Canon 27 mm pancake lens).  The size of this Fuji camera and pancake lens blows me away. You know that inside zipper pocket of your purse?  Yeah, it fits in that pocket.  Which is crazy.  The fact that I can throw it in my purse and not even notice the weight is huge.  The 27mm focal length is perfect for daily shooting too.  I’ve used it in full sun, crazy fog, and at a night time baseball game.  It has performed close to the quality of my Canon in these situations.  I think my Canon full frame combos still have something extra though so at this point I am going to have to figure out how to balance using them.

The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles California

2.       Pick the right camera bag

Over the last ten years I have tried numerous camera bags that were made specially for the DSLR cameras.  One of my favorites that doubled as a purse without adding too much weight was the Ketti.  My only issue with the Ketti bag was that the outside is fabric so I was always worrying about it getting dirty or torn which doesn’t make it ideal for carting around daily.

The next bag that I tried was the Ona bag.  It is leather outside which was perfect for daily use but the size of the bag I choose was ginormous.  It isn’t something that could double as a purse.  When I was doing family sessions, it was a wonderful bag.  It holds my Canon 5d Mark II with a lens attached and at least two other lenses with room left over for more.  Although the room is kind of at the top of the bag above the lenses which makes it awkward to know what else to put there.  I would love to try the Ona Tote Bag for every day use since it doesn’t have that additional space at the top of the bag.

Then about a year ago, I was lucky enough to win a camera bag from The Bloom Forum.  It is a Kelly Moore bag and a backpack style.  I took this bag when we went to Joshua Tree National Park and Yosemite National Park.  There is plenty of room for my camera with a lens attached and two more lenses as well as things like my wallet & keys.  The backpack style is spot on perfect for days where you  need to be more hands free like vacations or hiking and even for shooting family sessions.  But, like the Ona bag, it isn’t ideal for everyday use because of the size.

The thing I have liked the most so far is the Ona Camera Bag Insert.  It is reasonably priced and I love that I can use it with any kind of purse that I buy on my own.  It holds my camera body with a shorter lens attached and one other lens.  Most of the time I just carry the camera with the lens attached and use the other side pocket for things like extra batteries or the Fuji Instax camera (or my wallet depending on how much room is left in the purse).  I love that there are little side pockets on the insert too which I use to hold additional memory cards, lens cleaner pen, and lens caps.

3.       Ignore the strangers around you

Hands down this is the hardest one for me still.  I have to actively work on ignoring people around me if I whip out my camera in the middle of a place that others may not be photographing.  I tell myself things like, I will never see them again so it doesn’t matter or if they were a photographer then they would probably have a camera out too or what’s that saying about how people are more worried about themselves than you?.  It is so much easier to photograph your daily life when you are on vacation and everyone else is taking pictures too (like when you are at one of those places where every other person has a DSLR hanging around their neck like Disneyland).  But, it is much harder to pull out the DSLR at the grocery store or places like the eye doctor (I have taken pictures at the dentist, eye doctor, and pediatrician but usually ask them first if they mind which eases that uncomfortable feeling).  The more you practice taking photos when other people aren’t  taking photos the easier it gets.  This is another reason why I like those combos above that include the smaller lenses.  They just feel less obvious when you are using them in public.

Getty Center Los Angeles from Allison Jacobs Photography

4.       Leave the camera somewhere within reach

This is an at home tip. I know that I am much more likely to pick up the camera and take a photo of my son reading on the couch or the way the light is filtering in through the blinds in the afternoon if my camera is within easy reach.  We have a console table that is about the halfway point in our house and I often leave my camera sitting there so I can grab it quickly if I see something I want to capture.  These moments are the unplanned moments of my daily life that I wouldn’t otherwise be planning to photograph and sometimes end of favorite photos.  I’ve also found this kind of daily shooting in my house has allowed me to really learn the light in the rooms at different times of day so that when I do want to get a planned photo, I am ready.  I know what the settings need to be and I can just pick up the camera and shoot without missing the opportunity.

Just to recap, the things that have allowed daily shooting to be easier and more accessible for me are:

·         using the best camera/lens combo,

·         finding the right kind of bag for carrying the camera around,

·         ignoring the strangers around me; and

·         Leaving the camera within reach when I am home.

My hope is that these tips inspire you to get out into the world and make sure you are photographing all those moments that light you up and make you thankful for this beautiful life.  If you want more photography tips, be sure to grab your free ebooks here.

*There are affiliate links in this post for things that I use and love.  It doesn’t cost you anything additional if you click through a link, but it does help me so I can keep up with sharing photography tips.

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