Every great success story starts with a dream. For me, my dream was to always have a camera in hand and a great story behind every shot. In Kindergarten, it was bringing my camera to Show N’ Tell when everyone else brought toys. In middle school, it was getting to know the employees at my local photo lab. In high school, it was an essay I wrote about my 'dream job' of being a photographer.
I have been truly fortunate to watch my lifelong passion of photography bloom into a career and source of happiness in my life.Part of that happiness comes from my love of children and embracing that in my business. My adoration for kids allows me to engage them in a way that makes sessions feel more like a play-date! Whether it’s chasing them around trees or fields, chatting with them about their favorite flavor of ice cream or watching them laugh while I make a funny face, I find it truly uplifting to be a part of their world.
In the same way that every picture tells a story, so too does my blog. I use it to capture pieces of both my professional and personal life. It includes client session photos, engaging stories behind those clients, and even little glimpses into my own family, friends and interests. The curls in my daughter's hair and the cool rock my son found are just a few of the things that inspire me every day!
My sister asked me to snap a few, quick iPhone photos of my niece on our last day at the beach. Even though I was tempted to use my phone (because uploading and sending is WAAAAY easier), I grabbed my “big camera” and headed to the sand.
Even though I’m a HUGE fan of learning photography tricks on smartphones, there’s NOTHING like the color and clarity that only a “big camera” can produce.
For our 15 year anniversary several years ago, Matthew and I traded-in some hotel points and booked our first trip to Maui. The warm breeze, beautiful waters and scenic coast quickly told us we would be back again (…and again)(… and again)(…and ‘let’s go ahead and plan ‘Road to Hana’ for next year’s trip too’)!
During the past three trips, we’ve learned a lot about Maui! If you missed “Maui on a BUDGET,” you can see it HERE.
But, for now, let’s talk about some of my FAVORITE things to DO in MAUI!
Walk the Beach I’m going to give you 3 hard-to-believe facts: 1. ALL of these photos are quick-shots off my iPhone. (I mention this to prove how GORGEOUS Maui really is! No Photoshop or fancy camera needed.) 2. ALL of these places were areas we stumbled across during beach walks. (No planning or searching for beautiful spots.) 3. These ALL felt like our private, secret spots. One of the wonderful things about Maui is how private it feels.
Enjoy the FOOD As I wrote HERE, you can save a lot of money and STILL experience wonderful the wonderful food of Maui! My favorite spots are the FOOD TRUCKS and Kihei Cafe! (Suggestion: Bring cash to Kihei Cafe and pay extra for banana and macadamia nuts on top of the already-amazing french toast! The line looks long, but moves fast!)
Ho’okipa Beach Park (in Pa’Ia) If you LOVE sea turtles, make this trip a priority! You’ll see turtles all over the island, but this place seems to be their favorite spot to hang-out.
‘Iao Valley If you’re a rule-follower, you may only be here an hour. But if you’re willing to get dirty and ignore “Do Not Enter” signs, this could be a FUN day-trip! (Suggestion: Do not be a rule-follower.)
Snorkle Even if you’re not a big fan of TRYING TO STAY ALIVE IN COLD WATERS WHILE BIG WAVES KNOCK YOU AROUND AND YOUR CHEAP MOUTH PIECE GETS FILLED-UP WITH WATER ONCE AGAIN ‘snorkeling,’ you absolutely MUST snorkel in Maui! I’m sure there’s more to see than the beautiful sea turtles, but that’s reason alone to spend hours in the clear, beautiful Maui waters. (Suggestion: Wear water shoes!)
Whale Tour If you’re lucky enough to be Maui when the whales visit (November-May), you’ll CERTAINLY see them from the beach. However, it was REALLY special to be in their domain and witness them up close. (Suggestion: Although we were happy with our large boat, we heard smaller water-crafts were better for being eye-level and getting a little closer.)
Resort Amenities The beauty of Maui has nothing to do with where you sleep at night. However, if you have the opportunity to spend a little extra, cash-in some travel points or use a promotion, I would highly recommend Marriott’s Wailea Beach Resort. The excellent customer care and adult-only infinity pool overlooking the ocean were just two of the reasons why it’s always a highlight of our week. (Suggestion: Save money by “treating” yourself to a nice resort 1-3 nights. Moving around to a less-expensive hotel also lets you experience other parts of the island.)
Helicopter Tour Any helicopter ride is fun, but can you imagine hovering over the base of some of the most BEAUTIFUL waterfalls in the entire world? Well, that’s what you’ll get if you take a helicopter tour of Moloka’i!
Luau I’ll be honest… my expectations were too high. Because of what I’d seen in movies and dreamed-up in my head, I envisioned sitting in the sand with a huge pig in the ground in front of me… all while fire was being tossed around by gorgeous natives with real straw skirts. (Suggestion: If you go, expect a good show and a long-wait to a decent buffet.)
Drive Around! I’ve yet to find a part of Maui’s coastline that isn’t remarkable! If you have a rental car, take a day to simply explore the coast.
Enjoy YOUR View! Yes, Maui is one of the most BEAUTIFUL places in the world, but, honestly, my BEST moments in Maui are of the person I got to share my memories with. If you’re lucky enough to visit this amazing place with someone you love, don’t over-plan and simply enjoy the person beside you! (SUGGESTION: Bring a Blue-tooth speaker, a fun playlist and take time to simply take in the view!)
But being a thrifty gal, I’ve discovered some really SIMPLE ways to experience paradise without going broke! Here’s a few tips:
FOOD: * FOOD TRUCKS! Maui has some WONDERFUL food trucks and is ALWAYS our 1st stop once we leave the airport! (There’s a parking lot across Costco with several great food truck options. However, check hours!) * Pack snacks and granola bars. Since all Maui’s food must be shipped in to their island, it’s naturally much more expensive to buy your favorite foods. * Pack a refillable water bottle. Most resorts have fruit-infused water in the lobby where you can refill and save money throughout the day. * HAPPY HOUR: Most restaurants offer discounted prices before the evening crowd. My favorite Happy Hour places are Monkey Pod and Japengo. * GROCERY STORE: We always make a quick stop at the grocery store where we’re not eating out every meal. * Discount cards from hotel. We’re always grabbing free appetizers or desserts using the discount cards given by the hotel lobby. * Skip a meal! When in Maui, it’s a MUST to eat (at least ONCE) at Kihei Cafe! Not only is it INCREDIBLE food, there’s enough food to actually SKIP the next meal! We go at least once each visit and I’ve never been able to eat lunch after their AMAZING french toast breakfast (Portuguese sweet bread dipped in our decadent french toast batter … fresh n’ local Bananas & Macadamia Nuts with a coconut syrup.) Remember to bring CASH.
GETTING AROUND: * Rental car: It’s nearly impossible to NOT rent a car when you’re on the most beautiful island in the world. However, you’ll probably save $$$ choosing a rental facility NOT at the airport. * WALK: During our most recent trip, we skipped the rental car (and daily parking fees) and, as a result, ended-up making some of our BEST memories on FOOT! * Trolly/Shuttle/Bikes: Many hotels and areas offer FREE services. Just ask! * Bus: This is NOT for the faint-of-heart (nor a first-timer to Maui), but we purchased a public transit bus ticket ($4 a person per day) to get us all around the island. (Between the waiting time and confusion navigating bus numbers, many would say this is NOT worth the money you’ll save using Uber or renting a car.)
The BEST things are FREE! * Bluetooth speakers + a FUN playlist = BEST.DAY.EVER! * Beautiful hikes * Hidden beach trails * Turtle, whale and dolphin watching
EXCURSIONS: * Explore on your OWN! Instead of spending all day with a group, save money by discovering Maui’s beauty on your OWN! Not only will you still see all the wonder, you’ll likely get to swim ALONE with a big sea turtle! * If you’re taking a whale-watching tour, consider a smaller vessel. Not only will you possibly save money, you will probably end-up much closer to the whales than the larger boats. * This is NOT for the faint-of-heart (nor the easily persuaded), however, if you’re willing to give up 90 minutes of your vacation, viewing a time-share presentation can save you LOTS of money on excursions! (Last year, in exchange for attending a 90-minute presentation, Matthew and I received (2) Helicopter Rides and (2) Whale Watching Tours.)
RESORTS & FLIGHTS: * Sign-up for notifications of deals with Expedia and other travel sites * Consider using a credit card that will allow you to earn points for travel * Consider your risk when paying a tiny-bit less for airfare. Although we knew better, we choose American Airlines based on price and ended-up losing an ENTIRE day due to their mistake. Our return flight was ALSO cancelled which ended-up costing us an extra travel day, PLUS added expense. (Currently, American Airlines is not reimbursing us at all for both of their mistakes and all of our extra expenses.)
PACK: * Cash * Snacks * Snorkel gear * Water shoes * Only the basics! You’ll spend most of your time in a bathing suit. No hair products required. (I always pack light enough where I can simply bring a ‘carry-on’ with me.)
If you have other tips, I’d love to hear!
Meanwhile, click HERE to read “Maui: Favorite Spots” with a list of Maui highlights!
It was SUCH a crazy plan, in the minutes leading up to it, I found myself sitting alone in front of Crystal Bridges Museum of Art with a BIG smile on my face (…silently wondering if this scheme was actually going to work).
Christy told me how she’d really like updated photos of her family, but was afraid everyone else might SAY NOnot be as excited as her. And THAT‘s when she came up with an OUTRAGEOUS idea!
Christy and her husband, David, asked her parents to join them for their first visit to Crystal Bridges. She also mentioned that her friend, Christy, would be meeting them there to show them around.
(Are you starting to see where this is going?!?!?)
Everything was lining-up perfectly!
* Their (pre-planned) outfits were colorful, well-blended and not too matchy. * Purses and distractions were all left in the car. * Those cute little “Crystal Bridges” shirt-buttons were all discretely hidden in my backpack (to save me LOTS of time in Photoshop later).
Now the ONLY thing standing in the way of photos was ME. You see, when I get NERVOUS, I start talking a LOT. So, being a Crystal Bridges JUNKIE, before even stepping foot in the actual museum, I began educating them on EVERYTHING I had EVER learned about one of my FAVORITE places! (And I’ve taken a LOT of tours, field trips and information-walks over the past 5 years!)
After about 20 minutes of me explaining “We the People,”“Mamam,” and all the fascinating facts about the architecture, I remembered I was there as their PHOTOGRAPHER, not their official TOUR GUIDE!
Now to the TRICKY part…
I casually directed my captive audience outdoors (thank you, “Fly’s Eye” for that perfect detour) when Christy’s mom, Donna, said, “Oh, we should have brought our camera!”
Without seeming over-enthusiastic, I quickly said, “Oh, I actually have my camera with me.”
The next hour was spent ‘touring’, laughing and me LEADING THEM TO BELIEVE I WAS INSANE non-nonchalantly asking them if I could please snap a “quick picture”.
Also being a girl who LOVES natural (MUCH more than posed), I actually enjoyed this challenge!
Thank you, Christy, for trusting ME with your genius plan! Not only did we do a fun ‘tour‘, we got lots of fun pictures to document your special day and wonderful family!
I’m SO excited to share your precious child’s photo!
To view, simply:
* Visit: https://christymartinphotography.shootproof.com/gallery/kindle/ * Click “OPEN GALLERY” and enter an email address * Choose your child’s gallery (alphabetically by last name) & enter password (sent in child’s folder) * To purchase, select image and add “PRINTS” and/or “DIGITAL MEDIA”(upper left) * To receive 20% OFF your entire order, use Promo Code EARLY by May 31st
Q: Once ordered, how do I receive my prints? A: Your photos will be printed at a professional lab and mailed directly to you. (Your family members may also order photos which will go directly to them.)
Q: How do I receive my Digital Files? A: Once you complete your purchase, you’ll receive a link from Shootproof with a link to download your High Resolution Digital Images.
Q: How may I use my Digital Files? A: These are all YOURS! You may share them on social media, archive and enjoy them however you’d like! (If not printed through the viewing site, I recommend a professional lab to ensure proper color and quality.)
Q: Will my photos still be available after May 31st? A: Yes, but the 20% off code ( EARLY ) will no longer be valid.
Q: What if I lost my child’s password? A: Simply call/text me (770-639-0598) or contact your child’s teacher.
As quickly as our house sold and I began boxing-up books and craft supplies, Ruthie started specifically praying we could move into an apartment. Based on her heart-felt conversations with God, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when the house we planned on moving into didn’t go through. You can imagine the SMILE on Ruthie’s face when we delivered the news that her prayer had been answered- She’d be sharing a room (...and bed) with Rayna for a good part of this year!
During our last five years, God gave my family the most incredible gift of MARGIN– showing us all what’s most valuable in our lives (time) and allowing us to fight for it and cherish it. In this new season, I am trusting God will reveal the value of SIMPLICITY. And nothing jump-started this expectation more than packing-up 95% of my family’s possessions and locking them away in a storage unit!
But as much as I wanted to embrace minimalism in this new season, I knew I couldn’t possibly go months and months without any photographs on our wall. So, with a box of family photos, mini clothes hangers, a cheap spool of thread and 3m Command Strips (no nail holes!), I began to display our family’s memories on a big wall we get to see everyday!
YES… there were severalINCREDIBLY FRUSTRATING failed attempts (see the last photo, but please don’t judge my decorating and decision-making skills!); but, I finally grabbed a tape-measure and made it look presentable.
Looking at the photos, it struck me how many of my favorite photos were taken in new places that were, sometimes, out of my comfort zone. So, as we continue to live in a very small space for the next few months, I look forward to the NEW memories we’ll make here!