♫ I’ll Stand by You…♫


I was at a camp out this past weekend with my son’s SMA Raider team. Most of you have no idea what I’m talking about so I’ll try to explain. My son’s school is a military school for good kids, focuses on them going to college and really gives the kids the chance to focus on school and be whatever they want to be. At his school, they have a team called “Raiders” it’s a JROTC team with running, push ups, tire tipping, mud-slinging & sweat galore! I left out a lot of other activities, but I think you get the idea.


This weekend they also had a competition with another military academy, that also is a public, charter school for good kids with the same focus on college. They were fromSummerlin Military Academy, so it was sort of cool having SMA vs. SMA!  Now, the camping was fun, the competition awesome, but really that wasn’t what the weekend was about. This weekend was about making the team. The kids from our school & some incoming freshman…trained all summer long with 3 mile beach runs on Saturdays and 3 mile park runs on Wednesdays. This was the summer… you know, where most kids don’t leave their beds until noon…only to fall asleep for 2 more hours in front of the tv & then later go out and start all over again. Not these kids! They were focused on making this team. They have 8 slots for the All Male team, 8 for the All Female team & 8 slots for the Mixed team. There will be alternates…a few…but last year my son found out that while it’s just an honor and a great achievement to make the Varsity team…it’s not the same if you don’t compete! The kids on our team were fighting to beat Summerlin, but really were fighting for a spot on the competing team. Raiders training is hard & the 50+ kids that have dropped out in the last 3 weeks proves it! Our kids…really took a beating this weekend and it wasn’t out of fear of losing or worrying about what other people would think. No, it was because they have had a taste of what it’s like to be a part of something bigger…something amazing…something great!


Our Raider team has won 1st place at the State Competition for 4 years now! Our kids on these teams are the best of the best! It’s not just because they are faster or stronger, but because they are led by a team of men with great integrity and these kids support each other through everything, even when they fall or fail! I’m so proud to be a part of this team, even at a distance…watching through my lens…grateful that there are still people who will stand by you…pick you back up & support you until you cross that finish line!


The Ugly Duckling…

This is a story of a boy and his truck. This boy since he was old enough to talk, spoke of his love of cars and trucks. He had his favorite Matchbox cars and trucks as a toddler. As he grew older, he could name the make and year of a car just barely in sight and tell you facts about that car that the average person wouldn’t know. He would watch “Overhaulin” with Chip Foose every chance he’d get and he would talk about how that would be the coolest job in the world, how he wished one day he would have an old truck that Mr. Foose would come and make new again.  He would constantly ask his Mom who knew NOTHING about cars, very specific questions like, “Does it cost more for 2 small tailpipes or for a really big one?” His mother having no idea and not the ease of Google back then, she would say, “You need to find it out yourself.” This boy would always find the answer…somehow?!

This same boy when he turned 15 and started to drive, was a much better driver than his Mom could have hoped. He listened to her instructions, he did everything by the book, which made his Mother very proud 🙂 He talked about wanting an old truck and every one he would pass on the road, he would say if it would be the perfect one for him. He searched them out on Craigslist and if they drove past one, he would make her turn around just to drive past it…r.e.a.l.l.y…slow!

When he turned 16, he was blessed with a job on a surveying crew and his first job was more than his Mom could have asked, because she knew his boss & he was a truly kind man. He worked 40 hour weeks in the hot sun on his Summer vacation to save up for his dream truck. He finally saved up enough to buy a truck, he searched out one online and they were off to get a truck. They drove an hour to get there and when they pulled up to the truck…his Mother’s eyes were as big as salad plates! This truck, that they drove an hour for, looked nothing like what the photo showed. The man walked out, introduced himself and they started thier way around the truck. It was in rough shape and that was even being kind. He came down $450 from his original price, making it a $750 truck. The boy drove the truck and when he stepped out of the truck, what his mother saw was truly shocking. That boy was grinning ear to ear, like he was…in love! How could this be? It is so rusted, the door could fall off any minute and the paint job…it’s been spray painted black…which is now more of a grey! The boy wanted the truck…so he bought the truck.

The truck worked one day…it was in the shop a week…it worked one day…it was in the shop another week. The boy’s mother was hating herself for letting him buy that truck! That truck…the one with all the problems…the one that nobody would want! The man selling the truck told a story of it being his grandparents truck, they bought it in 1977, they drove it around their family farm for 33 years and somehow only put 54,000 miles on it! He didn’t want to part with the truck, it was the only thing he had left to remember them by, but times were tough for him now. He could have scrapped it and made more money, but he wanted to sell it to someone who would keep it, love it and maybe one day restore it.

To the average person,  if they saw this truck, they wouldn’t buy it and if they did, they would sell it to the junkyard for scrap or parts. The boy’s mother had a similar thing happen to her when she was a teenager, but it was a horse that no one wanted, that looked more like a donkey than a horse, and the man who owned her wanted someone to love her. He could have made more money sending her to a glue factory (horrible thought), but he loved her, so he sold her to a man for $200. That horse was loved and was trained by the little girl and when she was older, that horse was beautiful and worth so much more money than anyone could have thought. So the mother understood how he could love this “Ugly ducking” of a truck, because with love from this boy, it could one day be beautiful!

The mother was fortunate to find a really amazing mechanic, who offered to show the boy how to fix his own truck, just so it would run. The boy isn’t worried about how it looks, he just wants it to run, he wants to sit behind the wheel of his dream truck and smile and know that it’s all his and that he loves it…just as it is.

This is a photo of my son Anderson and his truck…this is his story 🙂

To be a Curse or a Blessing…

Most of my life I can remember my Mother telling me to help others before myself. I did that growing up and then found that there is a point where you give so much, that you have nothing  left to give, you are no longer healthy enough to help anyone. This is an area that most people have problems with. Yes, it’s great to help others & do nice things for them, but you have to make sure that you are healthy first! It took a 2 year period of classes at a Lifestyle Management Class in Dallas, Texas called Pathways, before I ever understood how to give & still hold onto some for myself.

There is a process that I went through that is called “Are you a giver or a taker?” This is all about giving to others, not out of personal reward & not out of selflessly trying to give help that you are not really able or should give. This is about giving help in a way that you are able to, keeping some for yourself & that when you do give, it feels good, you still are in one piece & everyone walks away a winner.

I’ve thought about blessings lately…I went to an awesome Ladies Retreat with Aletheia Tampa and although there were many things I learned, the biggest lightbulb moment for me was approaching each new day with the question of “Who can I bless today…How can I be a blessing?”  The question that I believe most people ask themselves toward the end of their lives is…Was I a curse or a blessing? What kind of legacy am I leaving behind? I’m hopefully not nearing my time of departure anytime soon, but why wait until you’re 90 when you could have changed your path at 30 or 40 years old & made a difference & left an amazing legacy for your children!

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? -Nichole Nordeman

Here is my challenge to you…if you know me…ever met me, talked to me online or in the real world…if you are from my past or still in my present…I want to hear from you! I want you to be honest…have I been a blessing, did I choose the high road, or was I less than a blessing and more of a curse? If so, then tell me what I did to bless or curse you…so I may apologize & do my best to now be a blessing to you. Why wait until the end of your life to question if you loved enough, gave back enough, was a good friend or a horrible friend? I want to be a blessing…please let me be…

Corinne Noel †

The Hopes and Prayers of a Single Mom

I still remember the moment he left, the moment I knew I was on my own. I remember how I felt, first I felt abandoned, then I felt anger & then at the core of it all…FEAR that cripples even the strongest of people. My fear…raising two boys on my own. Now, I was fortunate to have some child support & the fact that their Dad was still local so they still had him in their life. There are hours of things that I could write about that would anger even Mother Theresa, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the victory, the end result, after all the bad…the bright shiny ending 🙂

See, I was a single Mom for 7 years with two amazingly wonderful boys! I’ve since remarried about 3 years ago, but again, this isn’t what this story about. This story is about the single Mom & how she hope & prays every free moment, that she loved those kids enough & that they won’t miss the other parent. They pray that they give them enough & that their kids don’t want for anything. Single Moms work sometimes 2 & 3 jobs to provide for their kids & so they have the best that they can give them. Single Moms worry about their kids sometimes to the point of being ill & they love them until their hearts burst!

We hope that we taught them enough, loved them enough, prepared them enough & was there enough, even though we know we couldn’t be & it wasn’t a matter of choice like with other parents. I think we hold our breaths until they graduate from High School, because there has been so much put into them to get them this far. Now after hanging onto our kids for dear life…we have to learn to let go…let them spread their wings and fly…watch the beautiful sight of them making a life of their own & smiling when you know that you had everything to do with it! Well…you & God, but He was the one that entrusted you to carry this life until he could walk on his own & love him until your own breath was gone.

This photo is one of my friends Latoya & her son Kenny. She is an amazing single Mom 🙂 She has raised a wonderful young man & soon he will graduate and head off to the Army! I love that I was able to capture this moment last week, where she can rest her head on his shoulder for a change. Latoya…your prayers have come true & your wishes come true 🙂 He’s a good man! Just like we all hope they will be…so breathe…smile & know that someone appreciates all of your hard work & is so proud of you! Love you…you did it!

Corinne Noel †

Ahhh…to be 17 again, but look like a model!

This past weekend I had the pleasure & pure joy of photographing Taylor & Alex for their prom at Riverview High School in Sarasota. We met out at Marina Jack’s and had plans to walk out to the furthest point out near the water for photos. When I said we, I’m sure you thought, the kids, maybe a parent of two & myself. No, that wasn’t the case at all! We… it was a bit more like 200 kids with ALL of their family, not just parents…all at once converging onto a small island! There was lace & satin, sequins & fabulous shoes…EVERYWHERE! It was AWESOME!! All the beautiful colors and designs, textures & flowers! I was in heaven, until I realized I was there to take photos of only 2 of them & somehow I didn’t want the other 200 in the background.

The photos turned out beautiful, everyone was happy & I had a blast. So…when is the next PROM!!!!??? 🙂 Call me…I’m there!

If you want to check out more of the photos from this Beautiful Prom Shoot, click here!

Giving a chance to those without a voice…

I’ve recently had the pleasure to help out a local animal rescue here in Sarasota, one that is near & dear to my heart. My friend, hero…angel, Michelle Sampson runs an animal shelter/rescue called “Gimme Shelter.” She not only helps to get animals in her shelter to forever homes, but she also has a local television show  where she goes to other shelters & rescues trying to help them be seen by the public also. She has a blog where she educates the public & pleads her case for animals needing to be rescued. If she’s not on her blog, she’s trying to reach out to the public on her Facebook fan page. She has been known to travel to anywhere in the state of Florida, to save perfectly good animals from being put down, rumor  has it she might go as far as Georgia. I’ve met one of her rescue puppies named “Georgia”, so I’m sure it’s not just a rumor 😉

I had the pleasure to meet about 10 new furry friends yesterday, they all were very well-behaved for their photo shoot 🙂 There was one special friend that I had seen on Facebook about a month ago, his name was Theo. Michelle rescued him from Orlando, he was set to be euthanized, his only real issue was mange from not being cared for.  She took this puppy, bathed it, treated it, loved it and now he’s almost ready for his forever home 🙂 She saved his life on March 10th, 2011…now look at him…

I’m grateful for the chance to try to help. I offered to take some photos, in the hopes I might be able to show their personalities better than someone just taking a snapshot. I’ve seen some of these photos online with other shelters, with red eyes & cowering puppies, they do them no justice. I think they would all have a better chance if you we all just give a little of ourselves, just a little time, a little money, a bag of food, maybe open your home if you can, or maybe just thank the people doing this amazing work. It’s hard, heart breaking, loving, selfless work! Michelle introduced me to our foster puppy, which became one of our family 🙂

I’m so grateful for her, for what she does, for being a voice for these animals that don’t have one…she’s saving lives…won’t you help?


Stop by the Fan Page & see what’s going on, how you can help, or maybe just drop a note to say “Thanks” 🙂

Gimme Shelter Fan Page

Do I really know who is staring back at me…

Today I caught the end of a movie called ” Mona Lisa Smile” it’s a great movie &  I was thinking “Thank Goodness we are not stuck in that time!” It made me happy to think that we have come so much further than that as women, that we aren’t just preparing ourselves to be married…leaving all dreams & accomplishments behind like they did in the 50s. Then, I thought about a part in the movie that really hit something deep inside. They are showing a photo in a book of the Mona Lisa and saying that her smile was just for the surface & that inside she really was something truly different. They were realizing that even after all those years, they were still hiding behind smiles, when they were falling apart inside.

I realize that although we have come so far with women’s rights & also as a civilization, but we still are not honest enough with ourselves to own our feelings, our thoughts…our mistakes.  What is so wrong with being honest, being humble, being vulnerable? If you’re sad, be sad! If you’re scared, it’s okay to be that too! If your business is tanking or your marriage is less than perfect, why pretend?!  This happens in the Photography business everyday & it spreads like poison! People lie about their bookings, lie about how “GREAT” they are doing and how much money they make. They lie about what they know & don’t…bottom line…nobody wins! I know, because I fell into the “fake it until you make it” line of business.

I’d like to start a new trend “Being real is hard, but it’s not impossible!” How about I’ve been full-time for a year & I haven’t made enough money this year to pay for my business expenses. I have had more opportunities in front of me that I have failed to take advantage of & I had it within my ability to do more…I just didn’t!

Bottom line…I want to look into the mirror & really know that person staring back at me, I want the outside to match the inside! I want to be real…don’t you want to be too!

Corinne Noel †

Things that I take for granted…


Today I’m sitting in my studio & I’m thinking about all the stuff I need to do, things I wish I had, but don’t have & all the things that I’ve either sold or given away that maybe I should have thought it out first. Questions & thoughts like this can burn up hours in a day & probably shortens your life span, much like cigarettes, however the verdict is still out on which is worse for you. Worrying is wasted time, tears, thoughts & effort. If I was doing something productive instead of wasting the time that I worry, I might have my closets organized or know where my other pink fuzzy sock is 🙂

So…I’m taking a deep breath…ahhhh…handing it all over to the ONLY one who has any real control over this stuff…GOD! Now with lighter shoulders, absence of the monkey on my back & the fear of making mistakes…I have time to think about the things that I take for granted, but am truly grateful for 🙂

First…My goodness, the peace in knowing I am saved & cleaned of all the sin in my life…not excused, but forgiven of my wrongs, clean slate…do over…thank you Jesus!! Unconditional LOVE!!

Second…My husband is a truly amazing individual 🙂 I’m tearing up thinking about how much I love this man! He supports me & our children with every ounce of energy he has, he always tries to better himself, always believes in me, even when I don’t & he is a God-fearing man whose heart is bigger than even he knows.

Thirdly…Our children…Anderson my 16yr old…that boy is going somewhere! He is brilliant! He’s beautiful & manly & the hardest working, focused kid I’ve ever seen! I wish he could see what I do…nothing can stop this guy! I’m just so proud of the wonderful young man he is becoming. I love him so much!   Bronson…my 10 year old…what a beautiful boy with the heart to match 🙂 He is creative & funny, sooo caring & compassionate! He’s going to do great things, he will help change this world! So proud of him & his dreams to be so many things! I love him so much, he’s my little guy 🙂  My parents whom I love dearly…my sisters who are the reason I’m as passionate as I am. My sister Dawn for always being there…always 🙂 I’m truly blessed by the family God gave me!

Lastly, but not least…photography! I’m forever learning more about photography…about how lighting changes moods, how with the right composition, one image can tell an entire story. I will always be learning about photography, because this passion of mine is forever changing! It’s one thing that I love so much that I sometimes forget to breathe when I’m in the moment…there isn’t just ONE person who is “the best” photographer…we are ALL still learning & growing in our art, so it keeps me humble, keeps me challenged & keeps me happy 🙂

I’m also pretty grateful for ANYONE who reads this 🙂 Thank you for taking the time to read & learn more about me…a silly, passionate girl trapped in a world that sometimes doesn’t get me 🙂

Corinne Noel †

Darling Sweet Stella…

I had the pleasure to meet a beautiful little girl named “Stella” and I think her name fit her beautifully 🙂 Her Mommy was so proud of her, she was well-behaved & her personality came out in every photo. This was my 1st real baby session! I was really excited when I started to see the photos in the back of the camera…I couldn’t wait to put them on my monitor & then show them to Stella’s Mommy! I also took some photos of Stella & her Mommy, some intimate photos of them looking at other, cuddled on the bed. What a special moment I was able to capture. Her Mommy loved them as much as I did, because she wants ALL the proofs that I showed her & then quite a few bigger prints & maybe even a canvas for the wall. I’m so excited to see where this is all leading to. Baby photographer…Yes, I do think so 🙂

I can’t wait until my next baby session! Who knew it would be this much fun 🙂

Corinne Noel †

When you’re feeling down…

There seems to be a lot of devastation in the world today, there is a lot that can make you feel sad or depressed. There are the people suffering in Japan from the Earthquake & Tsunamis, locally it’s the passing of too many teens in a very short time. It almost feels like there is a cloud of doom over us all with no way out of this gloom 😦 If you are feeling really sad, maybe you’re depressed? Depression isn’t a bad word & more people in this world are depressed and need help, but never seek it out. Depression is just one more way your body can be off my one tiny drop of this or too much of another chemical. They have lots of ways to help, if you are thinking you might need help, go for it 🙂 You’ll feel better that you made the first step.

If you’re just sad, then maybe talking to someone about it, might just make you feel better. It seems like you don’t want to burden anyone with your problems, but God has a funny way of putting someone in your path that has had the same experience and they made it through, so they know how to cope with what you’re dealing with.

Praying works for me 🙂 It never fails when I am humbled to the point of breaking, I cry out and I pray & then the peace of God makes everything bearable and very clear. Try it…but if you’re not into praying, then asking someone to pray for you is not too much to ask anyone who does pray…try us, we would love to pray for you 🙂

When you’re feeling down, don’t let the feeling consume you. When you’re sad run from it! Rent a funny      movie or call a friend that keeps you in stitches. Do you have a song that whenever you hear it, it always makes you smile? Can you think of a time in your life, maybe the happiest time ever, the most funnest 😉 place ever? If there is a place like that or a memory, go with it, remember it, close your eyes and try to remember the smells from that day, was the sun hot on your skin, were your fingers sticky from cotton candy? Try to remember as much as you can about the moment, were you wearing those green shorts your Aunt Gail bought you for your birthday, was it raining, did your parents make you wear a big sombrero so you wouldn’t get lost…did you get lost anyway;)  When you’re feeling down, go to your “happy place” go back to that memory & let them change your mood, let them change your outlook on your day, your month, your life or maybe even like Peter Pan, maybe your thinking of happy thoughts will make you fly 😉

Corinne Noel †

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