Sunday, October 29, 2017

For the Love...of a Photograph, and Guest Interview 1:17 Photography

Julie, 1:17 Photography
When I was young my dad was always taking pictures at events or special occasions.  He did not have a little Polaroid camera like many people in the 1970’s, my dad had ‘a camera’.  It was a big one with lenses and giant flash additions and a large case.  My dad had a growing and evolving interest in photography, setting out to capture all of our family moments on film.

Posing for pictures for my dad sometimes proved to be a tedious event in itself.  These were the days of actual film in the camera and there was no way to know how good the shot was as you were capturing the moments.  No kids saying “let me see” as soon as the picture snapped.  You just did not know.  That is why Dad took a ton. Also, there was no automatic digital macro focus with the fancy lenses.  So Dad was focusing and refocusing and we posed and posed.

Dad’s love for the hobby of photography has trickled down to me.  I love it.  I love taking pictures.  It’s a part of who I am and I will never quit.  I love the artful side and the sentiment that comes with a wonderful photograph.  Since my kids were tiny, I have carried out the legacy of capturing moments on film.  Yes, my children have grown tired of these sessions, just like I did as a child.   My hope is that they will understand the beauty in the memories for years to come.  The treasure of it.

This brings me to our fall family portrait session a few years ago.  We don’t do family sessions but every few years.  Too many months and years had passed before this session.  Given my light history with photography during my life, I feel like I have a good sense of good photographers.  I had been admiring the work of 1:17 Photography for a few years and I know the Photographer, Julie, personally.  It was time for a Simpson Family Portrait.

I wrote a post right after the session.  It will give you a little insight on the Simpson Session. Here was my summation of this family ‘activity’:
Photo:  1:17 Photography

Phases – The Process of a Family Portrait Session- October 2014

We had our family portrait finally accomplished yesterday. It seemed like a feat similar to moving mountains. This was all on us, as the photographer was awesome and I adore her work and how she runs the session (Thank you Julie Torregrossa/1:17 Photography)! I reflected on all of this yesterday and decided there were phases to this, from a Mom’s perspective. Here they are:


 #1. You book the date and are excited—it’s on the calendar. Booking Phase.
#2. Later, you tell your family and you are probably ignored. You send email to spouse to put on his calendar–this may or may not happen. Family Calendar Phase.
#3. You forget about the ‘clothing’ issue until days before—you realize not only do you NOT have clothes for people that fit, but NO ONE needs to ‘clash’ with clothing choices. Panic section begins. Uh Oh Phase.
#4. You squeeze in sprint-like shopping by yourself. You have never shopped with so much drive. You realize you will be making LOTS of returns. (Marathon Phase?)
#5. The day before, you brief family members of attire and collectively get the articles of clothing selected. Panic section starts to wind down. Final Clothing Selection Phase.
#6. Day of session and one hour before departure, you are asked if cargo shorts and jeggings can be worn. This is after JEANS discussion the day before. Disbelief and Denial Phase. Can also be known as the Oppositional Phase.
#7. Crying Phase of youngest and Mom pops Ibuprofen. (Mom wants to cry)
#8. Pre- departure Phase. One member of family does total change of shirt 30 minutes prior to departure. Disbelief Phase still going strong.
#9. Son wears fleece jacket in car after being told NOT to wear jacket, as mom spent time ironing shirt. This rounds out the Disbelief Phase.
#10. Grumpy Phase for all in car.
#11. Actual Session Phase with no sibling wanting to touch one another and pretending to like each other seems impossible to them. 20 minutes is a long time.

#12. Post-session and family enters the Elation-happy Phase—where were these people for the last 2 hours?


Photo:  1:17 Photography

The wonders that Julie created with so little time and such undercover grumpiness. 

Photo:  1:17 Photography

I wanted to invite Julie to my blog today and let her share a little bit about her passion. I interviewed her to dig into her creative side of life!

Photo:  1:17 Photography

TS: Tell me about the name of your photography business, 117 Photography.  I know you have some detail on your website, and the photos are WONDERFUL of your own family.  What would you like to share here?

JT: My business began out of my own need to DO something! Oddly enough, if you had told me 15 even years ago that I would be running my own business-in photography no less-I’m quite sure I would have laughed so hard I would have fallen out of my chair.  I never grew up as an artistic type at all.  I could sing, but that was truly about the extent of my artistic talents.  I went to college to be a teacher, and did teach in the classroom for about 4 years.  After that, I worked at a private girl’s school in Memphis running their after-school program.  It was during those years that I had my son, Jackson.  About two years later, I was pregnant with Isabella and we decided that we wanted to take the leap of me becoming a stay-at-home-mom.  Well, my dreams of the happy mom moments were a little off from reality as I struggled with the long days at home with a 2-year-old and a newborn and a husband that was traveling more than he ever had done before.  So I started searching for something I could do on the side that would help our struggling little finances as we were down to one income, and also give me an outlet of something to do outside of our home for a few hours a week just to get away from the insanity of toddlerhood! 
Julie in action!  Sometimes family members help with focusing the subjects.

 I literally knew NOTHING about photography when I first started and now I have a business.  God is so good to provide what we need when we need it!  My husband has always been my biggest supporter from the very beginning.  We had a conversation one day about my “dream job” would be to be a photographer.  Literally, about a week later, my doorbell rang and sitting at the front door was a delivery by UPS.  Jack had ordered my very first digital camera and told me to play around and learn what I could.  He told me “how could your dream become reality unless you have the right equipment?”  He said, “Who knows if you will be any good.  If you are then great.  If you are not, then we have a wonderful camera to take photos of our children.”  From there, I began to take a few classes and teach myself all about photography in between my children’s naps and late into the night while everyone slept.  Thankfully, I did all of this in my 20’s…quite sure I couldn’t swing those hours into my 40’s!

When we became aware that the business was really turning into something and was going to be more than just a few friends asking me to take their photos, that is when I started the task of coming up with a name for my business.  Let me tell you, that is hard stuff!  I prayed and prayed over it and finally settled on a Bible verse.  I knew that it was only by God’s goodness that I was able to get this business started at all, therefore, I knew that my business name needed to not shy away from proclaiming Him.  James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.”-seemed to fit perfectly into my story of my business as well as reflecting the subjects I mainly focused on-children and families!

TS:  I love this backstory to your business!  In turn, you provide a wonderful gift to others—your talent and eye for a great photo.  This is one of the busy seasons for you and a time that many want to grab a session.  What advice can you give to others looking for a photographer to take family photos?

JT:  To me, the best thing to do is to look at the photographer’s work. Browse their website, social media and blog-you will see their work and be able to see if it speaks to the type of images that speak to your heart! 

I want to thank Julie Torregrossa for her patience with me and my questions!  She is inspiring to me so much that I am trying my own little venture with the camera.  Julie’s work is a beautiful niche of family and children’s portraits in natural light.  I plan to branch in a direction not far but on a few different off-shoots of her path.  I hope I am able to capture moments as magical as Julie’s work.

With Joy,



You can follow Julie’s work on her web:


Please visit my Tracey Simpson Photography tab! You can choose the button from the HOME tab, or click here.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Repurpose to Fill That Tank

Have you ever had a couple of days when things just keep pounding away at you?  You keep moving and stuff just whacks you on the head to push you back down.  Just like that old arcade game that had those pop-up moles and you had the giant mallet to whack the moles.  Except in the game of life, the giant Paul Bunyan-sized hammer beats you back again.

Love my new cup, gifted to me by someone who knows me well!
Sometimes there are weeks like that and I forget to look around to see promise.  I miss the kudos.  I fail to hear the encouragement.  I bristle up and don’t feel the pat on the back. I get so bogged down in the negative, that I don’t see the positive.  I miss the joy, which is something that is planted deep in my heart despite the circumstances.  The ‘Joy Tank’ is there and just needs to be uncovered and topped off every so often.  The smudge needs to be wiped away.  That is what keeps the pipes running well.  It’s the Joy Tank.  

Max the Cat...he has his own joy tank.

My Joy Tank is welded with knowledge of who I am.  I am loved.  The walls of my Joy Tank bind up truth that the Lord has chosen me and not cast me away (Isaiah 41:9).  The bolts of my Joy Tank are strengthened with the promise that the Lord loves me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).  This is the Joy Tank that works on inside me despite what is going on outside of me.

Then there is the part of the day when I am fully human and have those imperfect moments and don’t feel very joyful.  This is normal and God knows I just can’t be perfect (and as much as I want to ‘perfect’ things, I realize it ain’t gonna happen).  That’s when I need to look around, feel and see the positive.  I need to repurpose those feelings of frustration.  I need to take a moment. Move away from that mallet.

Notice that kind word from a stranger.  Notice the encouragement from a friend.  Notice the bird outside the window.  Notice the colors of the sunset or the rosy grin of a 14-year-old.  These are the things the Lord will nudge our way to top off our Joy Tanks.  These are the things that the Lord used to encourage me recently during one of those human weeks.  I was able to see how to repurpose.  He makes old things new.

     “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” – 2 Cor. 5:17

Before picture, adding legs.
I was given a kitchen cabinet recently by a sweet friend who was cleaning out.  I had been planning on finding a corner cabinet for my dining room and I had a tight budget.  I thought this free cabinet fit that budget and decided to see what I could do with it.  This cabinet was once hung on a wall.  It was very plain with nothing fancy to make it seem dining room-worthy.  It was sturdy and solid and ready for a new life. 

I made a few trips to the hardware stores.  Soft grey paint was purchased, along with short legs and a wood board to serve as the cabinet top.  After deciding the cabinet would be one that locked, I found basic hardware and locks to be painted.  Decorative knobs were found and painted as well.  The piece lived in my garage as I found time to work on it.  It was my first cabinet makeover and I was pulling on some self-taught engineering to secure legs, trim, and locks.  The cabinet was chalk painted that grey paint and slightly distressed, then finished with a clear wax. 
Before picture, adding top/trim.
Before picture, first coat of paint.

I repurposed something old and gave it new life.  It has a prominent spot in my dining room now.  I poured love and labor into it and I love it!  This cabinet is different and unique.  It has a purpose.  It’s mine.


After picture, the finished cabinet.
I could not help but think of how God repurposes and uses things in our life as I worked on the cabinet. Sometimes we just have to see it, and top off our Joy Tanks.


With Joy,



Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Encouraging Words to Those Who May Have Some Morning Kid 'Tude

“No One Is Doing Anything To Help Me.”

Just a bit of relational encouragement to other moms out there that may have heard this before.  I happen to be lucky enough to hear it this morning from my teen before school.  I laughed, I was not mad—this time.  I really wanted to just verbally review the last 12 hours or so. 

I took you to Sonic after your late game last night when all I wanted to do is get home.
I washed and ironed your clothes for today.
I woke you up about 6 times this morning. (This really gets old, me being the repeat alarm clock after traditional ones don’t make people budge)
I made your lunch.
Oh and I made your breakfast and put it in the car for the ride to school.
I reminded you a few times to have your bags together for after school.
I opened the trunk so you could throw your things in there.
Not to mention the countless hours I spend in the car because you can’t drive.
I pray and pour out my heart to the Lord for my kids everyday—who else will pray for my children?

I did not review these points verbally.  So I am trying to encourage those who might find any of this sounding familiar.  It is easy to let ourselves get beat down.

You are not alone.
I feel you.

The best thing is to remind ourselves not to listen to negative talk.  Not really just the negative talk that comes out of the mouths of ‘certain people’ living under your roof, but negative self-talk.  Don’t listen to the lies and focus on the truth.  Lies like, “This kid will always be like this.”, or “Where did I go wrong?” have no place in our minds.

Philippians 1:6 says that God has begun a good work in your child—yes that one with a little bit of attitude.  This truth in Philippians also says He promises to finish what He starts.  So I have to remind myself of this…often.

He will finish what he starts, He can move mountains.  All WE need is a little bit of faith.
And lots of coffee.

Have a great day full of JOY,

“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”  -Matthew 17:20