Getting Back Into The Exercise Groove
August 20, 2015
white pants and a cerulean blue top. fashion over 40
Lovin’ Me Some White Pants!
August 24, 2015
Getting Back Into The Exercise Groove
August 20, 2015
white pants and a cerulean blue top. fashion over 40
Lovin’ Me Some White Pants!
August 24, 2015

She Found A Passion For Photography In Her 40's

This summer I got to spend some time with a friend from my college days. I have been impressed watching Dana’s talent for photography blossom over the last few years. After we spent some time reconnecting over lunch, Dana pulled out her camera and we got busy doing what she does best…well, besides being an awesome mama to her four kids.

We ventured out Dana’s front door and she motioned to her neighbor’s overgrown side yard. However, Dana’s eye for photography chose this patch of weeds as a perfect location for a photo shoot and the results speak for themselves. I guess overgrown Florida lawn = fantastic pictures when you are working with a talented photographer.

How Dana Found Her Passion After 40

I am particularly inspired because she has developed her amazing talent in her second season of life. I asked Dana to share how she found a passion for photography in her 40’s.

1. When did you first realize that you had a gift for photography and had you ever considered picking it up at an earlier age?

I’ve enjoyed taking photos for as long as I can remember. I knew I had a pretty good eye, and I had invested in a good camera, but I kept it on “auto” for everything. I had this big, fancy camera, but I really used it like a point and shoot.

Then, a few years ago, I read the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0. It was a game changer for me. I took the StrengthsFinder test, and one of my top five strengths was being a learner. The test was right! I’m happiest when I’m learning. Not long after that, I signed up for a photography class.

Taking that manual photography class opened a whole new world for me. I learned how to adjust the settings on my camera manually to achieve my artistic vision. Since then, I’ve taken classes on composition, lighting and post processing. I think I’ll be able to fill my love of learning with photography for a long, long time.

2. What do you enjoy most about taking pictures?

I love fine art. My ideal day off would be spent wandering through an art museum. Even though I don’t have any formal art education, fine art and beautiful design resonate with me on a deep level.

In my photography, I love having the ability to create art, especially beautiful portraits.

Dana Ball and Family

3. I notice that you take a lot of pictures of your kids, how do they feel about being your subjects?

I’ve heard it called photographer’s child syndrome. My kids definitely have it. One of them may or may not have recently screamed, “All of life is not a photo shoot!”

But, in reality, they are my biggest cheerleaders. They are excited to see me developing a new skill, and they realize that by modeling for me, they are helping me grow and reach new goals. And it helps that there are four of them. I try to make sure that I’m not asking the same kid to model every day.

4. What advice would you give to other women who may be thinking about picking up a whole new hobby/skill in their second season?

Don’t wait for someone else to give you permission.

You know, no one every told me I was creative or gave me permission to be an artist. But thinking through my strengths using StrengthsFinder, and taking a class, helped me discover a new passion.

I guess my point is that your second season is the perfect time to take up something new because by the time you hit your forties, you should know yourself pretty well. And hopefully, you’ve gained a little courage along the way and are willing to give yourself permission to try something new, even if it is not what others would expect from you.

I am so thankful to Dana for taking the pictures for my new website update.

Below, I am reposting an article “Choosing A Photographer – Where To Start?” written by Dana. You can find the original article and other helpful articles on Dana’s website: Dana Ball Photography.

She used photos she took of me in her post. You can see those here and others throughout my website.

I believe Dana’s story illustrates the rewards of finding your passion after 40. I hope it inspires you to follow your heart by exploring your own talents and gifts. Maybe it’s time for you to invest time in developing something new and exciting in your life.

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Check out the other fabulous lifestyle linkups I’m joining this week – My Linkups!

Living It, Shellie


Dana Ball Photography

 Choosing A Photographer – Where To Start?

By: Dana Ball

As I’ve been building my portfolio, I’ve talked to a lot of moms about photography.

I’ve heard a few things over and over.

Often, these moms have concerns about how to find a good photographer and honestly, about the cost of custom photo sessions. Here’s my advice, honed over years of experience as both a budget conscious mom, and more recently, a photographer.  This post applies whether you are looking for a wedding photographer, a senior portrait photographer, or a family photographer. It’s what I’d tell a mom looking for any type of custom photography.

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start

First of all, let’s define custom photography. I think everyone can see the difference in a custom photo session and say, for example, your basic school photo. You know, the kind where you sit in front of a generic backdrop while the photographer twists you into an awkward position and has you say, “Cheese.” I always end up looking like a deer in the headlights. Or like I just saw a UFO.  Trust me; not a good look.

The school photographer has been hired to “take your photo.” That’s it. There’s nothing unique or creative about the process. She’s not trying to capture your real personality or to get you to relax. She’s going for volume and a uniform (even if it’s uniformly awkward) look in everyone’s photos. Sit down. Tilt your head. Lean in. Look up. Say cheese. Next. . .

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?

Custom photography is something totally different. When you book a custom photo session, what you are really doing is commissioning an artist (the photographer) to create custom artwork for you.

Custom artwork of your family. It’s an investment that will hopefully gain value through the years and one day be passed down to your children and their children.

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?
Because you’re commissioning custom artwork, price shouldn’t be your number one consideration. In this case, there is something even more important than price.

Here it is.

Do you love the photographer’s work?


Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?
Since you’re commissioning custom artwork, it’s crucial to check out the photographer’s online portfolio. The best indicator of what your portraits will look like is the photographer’s recent work.

You need to love it.

You wouldn’t ask Picasso to paint a Monet for you.

Because you’d envision this.

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?
But you’d get this.
Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?
Yes, asking Picasso to paint a Monet for you is never going to end well, even if Picasso paints you a picture for free!

So while family budgets are real and important, you should never start at price when shopping for a custom photographer.

Start by looking at her online portfolio. 

The internet is your friend. Almost all professional photographers have a website these days.

“But I don’t know what to look for,” you may say.

Sure you do. Start by asking yourself if you love the photos. Are you drawn to her work in some way? Would you be proud to hang similar photos of your family on your walls?

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?

With a little research you may find several photographers whose work you love. At that point you can look at their pricing and the products they offer. Call and speak with them by phone. Here is where your budget comes into play. But don’t start there.  Start by finding photography you love.

Choosing A Photographer - Where To Start?

A beautiful, custom portrait is an investment that will increase in value as the years go by. Choose a photographer whose work you love.

Questions about choosing a photographer that this post didn’t cover? Ask in the comments, and I’ll be glad to answer!

The model for this portfolio building shoot was my beautiful friend, Shellie. Shellie lives in Manila and blogs at The FABulous Journey about fashion, fitness, and fulfuillment for women over 40. 


  1. Wendy says:

    I absolutely love this! Not just because Dana is a fantastic photographer who takes beautiful pictures, but because her attitude and outlook on her current season of life is exactly where I am, too! I started my own blog out of a motivation to keep learning and stretching outside of my comfort zone. Figuring out how not to be a “point and shoot” camera operator is high on my “‘Why Not’ do this list,” though I doubt I’ll ever reach Dana’s level! ? Thanks for this inspiring post, Shellie! Definintely sharing the inspiration on FB!

    • says:

      Hey Wendy, I am so glad Dana’s story inspired you! It did the same for me. I wish you the best as you continue to reach for new horizons.

  2. Wonderful article! Dana’s photos are gorgeous–especially love the one of your reflection taken in the mirror. I started over in my 40’s also, so to speak by going back to college and earning my RN degree. You are never too old! Lovely to co-host #OMHGWW with you again, Shellie.

    • says:

      That’s a real accomplishment, Donna! It’s never to late to step out and try something new! I enjoy hosting with each of you lovely gals for #OMHGWW each week!

  3. Christine says:

    What a lovely and inspirational post! It is so true to Just Go For Our Passions! My dad loved photography, I remember him spending hours in his dark room. My oldest daughter, has taken some amazing photography as well! She’s been my inspiration, to take that leap of faith, and have fun with it at the same time! Writing my blog, has shown me what a joy photography is, and I’m just starting in my 40’s, so anything is possible, if you just believe!

    • says:

      Thanks Christine. I am trying to embrace the whole photography thing. I did buy a better camera,but have yet to have the time to figure out how to use it! Enjoying co-hosting #OMHGWW with you as usual!

  4. Tara Reed says:

    Love this! It’s never too late to change paths – at least I hope not as I seem to make turns regularly. 🙂

    Also great advice about looking through a photography portfolio before hiring someone – just because they have a camera doesn’t mean they excel at what you want.

    • says:

      Our path changes as we progress through life, so it makes since that our interests would too! Thanks for stopping by Tara!!

  5. Lovely work. Photography is a wonderful means of expression. I was a professional photographer working in press and pr for many years but never ever tired of it. It is like an obsession. My cameras go everywhere with me!

    Great advice on choosing a photographer – love the work shown here. Laughed about photographer’s child syndrome – my kids appeared in so many magazine are brochures as they grew up they started to hate me!

    They still moan like hell and say what you said here – all of life is not a photoshoot – but guess what – it is for people like us. Deal with it – I will be buried with my camera!

    • says:

      Yes, Dana really inspired me with her photography skills! I am having to learn more about photography with the blog, but I definitely wouldn’t say it is something that comes naturally for me.

  6. I have been thinking about taking a photography class too. Until now I’ve been very intimidated because my brother is a professional photographer and even pretty famous.
    As I’ve gotten older I don’t care so much what others think.
    Your work is fabulous and the tips are spot on.

    • says:

      Yes, that can be a real perk of aging. We finally get to the point where it’s not so important what everyone else thinks! Thanks for stopping by

  7. Kathleen says:

    Lovely post and photos, thanks Dana and your lovely model. I do love the weeds, I would never have thought of that setting. Thanks for sharing this with us on Fridays Blog Booster Party #21

    • says:

      That’s what I thought when she directed me over to her neighbor’s overgrown yard…haha. She definitely has an artist’s eye.

  8. suzanne says:

    Great article. We wait too long for the permision to be who we truly are. very inspiring. Wonderful photographs. Thanks for including the second article by Dana – very helpful. Suzanne

    • says:

      It’s easy to sell ourselves short instead of seizing on new horizons and opportunities. Yes, Dana’s article has some great advice.

  9. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Beautiful photos! As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more interested in photography and more appreciative of stunning photos. I may even sign up for a course.

    • says:

      I say go for it, Helene! That’s how things started for Dana. She said she just started with one class and grew from there.

  10. Great post and beautiful photos, Shellie!