The Architect of Circumvention

Architect of Circumvention

The Architect of Circumvention

Awesome and I were having a deep conversation the other day. Talking about what motivates or demotivates us as human beings. (Yes, we wax philosophical quite often, especially after a margarita or two.) The topic turned to fear…to which I immediately declared should undoubtedly become the 8th deadly sin!

That sucker rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times and wreaks havoc on an otherwise beautiful day. He’s the annoying part of your subconscious, dancing with the devil, reminding you of your insecurities at length. You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. And gosh darn-it, people will laugh at you! Oh, and he’s good at it. Stopping you dead in your tracks when you were just working up that momentum. Unfortunately, his perpetual squatting has taken up residence in your grey matter for so long that it’s sometimes hard to distinguish him from all the other thoughts in your head.  He’s a real trickster, that one.

I’ve had these moments where he takes control of the wheel. The ones that make me want to thrust my head into the sand. Ignore the world. Evade that important, if not somewhat, confrontational conversation. Build a fortress of solitude. Retreat into my little world where it’s warm and safe. Where there are kittens. Lots of kittens!

But those moments, no matter how safe or warm they may appear, are quite limiting. They kept me at status quo and walking down the wrong path for way too long.

I often wonder what my world would look like had I followed this path from the beginning. But what’s done is done. Yesterday is but a memory and that rear view mirror serves as a history lesson all on its own.

A good friend told me a story about her boss. How she has those looming thoughts of not being ready, feeling insecure, worrying about this and that regarding any particular task. But the difference being….SHE DOES IT ANYWAY.

I’ve been using this as my mental motto for months now. Stumbling forward most of the time. Faking it until I make it. And even having those uncomfortable conversations. Sometimes it works and sometimes I get a lovely little rejection letter (literally). But the beauty behind it all is the realization that succumbing to fear only leaves another nasty emotion – regret. And at the end of my days I don’t want to glance back at the would-as and should-as of life with a heavy heart and a hanging head.

Because I’ve come to recognize that the only thing I fear more than fear is regret.



© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Architect of Circumvention
Earlier this summer my sister and I met up for a girls’ weekend trip to Seattle. Naturally, we planned it all around Tori’s (Amos) tour schedule for the year. Of course, we did.  Since my departure from Texas, this marked a year since we’d spent any real quality time together. Much needed quality time.

We hit all the typical hot spots…climbed the Fremont Troll, scoped out the Space Needle, walked through Chihuly’s garden at night, paid homage to Nirvana and Jimmi Hendrix and took a clipper boat out to Friday Harbor.

Of course, the sun shined the entire time in atypical Seattle fashion until we decided to hop a boat for the islands. But a visit just wouldn’t be right without a little rain to even out the experience.

We had a big day planned. Once disembarking at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the plan included renting a bike and riding out to the lavender fields for their annual festival. We’d spend the day picking lavender, maybe photographing an impromptu shoot if inspiration struck. It would be picture perfect.

What were we thinking!?!

It’s easy to laugh at this now…neither one of us are seasoned cyclists and Friday Harbor was hilly. So hilly in fact that we had to embarrassingly walk the bike up the hill on more than one occasion. Then we got lost! This little adventure was only a day trip out and back with a timeline and the looming fear that we may miss our ride back to Seattle.

Seattle-6So a quick change of plans took us in search of bald eagles at the San Juan National Historical Park. We set out for a quick little hike hoping to see something, anything, praying that our trip out the island was not in vain! Luckily, this handsome fellow was hanging out in plain site for all to see.

My beautiful sister, who often agrees to be my guinea pig model for all kinds of crazy, wacky ideas of mine, consented once again. Our hike brought us to Grandma’s cove where we came upong a beach covered in debris. Massive amounts of wood and seaweed layered the sand creating a weird landscape amidst the dark clouds and calm waters. Nervous about time and the ride back to the harbor, we set the stop watch at 15 minutes and built this fortress for the scene that had already started developing in my head.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Architect of Circumvention

As with many of my concepts, I sit on them until they’re ready for the making. The Architect of Circumvention was no different. And creating this piece on the fly and under a time crunch added another element to the excitement of it all.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Architect of Circumvention

We did make it back to town with time to spare and a celebratory beer to laugh off the huge error in judgement on our part. Lesson learned. RENT A CAR!!!

Peyton – Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

It’s been many years since I’ve walked down this path. The grey hairs on my head popping up out of the blue are a constant reminder that youth stands just East of center and I’m staring into the West now. High school is all but a faded memory. But this post isn’t about me. Not today.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of photographing Peyton for her senior portraits. Her parents flew me to Texas, to Denton, to capture this special time in her life. We first met when she was barely a teenager. And now she stands at the edge of eighteen, staring forward into the future, eagerly awaiting the next chapter of her life.

Valedictorian of her class….making her parents very proud. Beauty AND brains!

Stocked with a bunch of ideas, locations and props and the thumbs up (Gig ‘em, Aggies) to “do whatever I want” (gotta love that!) we set out to paint the town.  Denton has undergone a major reconstruction since my days at college. The square sits pretty with many local restaurants, shops, cool walls and textures galore. So we tangoed with a half urban, half country chic vibe. And when there wasn’t texture…well, I improvised.

Peyton could rock that smile on cue.  These are a few of my favorites…


Peyton – Class of 2015


© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

Graffiti on the back side of a car service station. Gotta love those magical little gems.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

This wall cried out with color and whimsy. And maybe a levitation shot. Traveling to college by way of balloons is way more entertaining than by motor vehicle!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015
This has to be one of my favorites. The light shifts so fast this time of day and casts gold throughout the trees.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

This portion of the session is brought to you by Denton’s finest, the Police. Doing their best to ensure the safety of all stander-byers. I would tell the rest of the story, but I won’t for fear of incrimination! Mischief managed!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Peyton - Class of 2015

Thank you, Peyton, for letting me “play!” Best of luck to you as you round the corner to finish off high school. College is but another adventure on the road of life. Just remember, HAVE FUN! There are so few opportunities where you can fly solo and still have the safety tether (your parents) to tug on for financial support. The real world comes all too soon. So does responsibility!

I remember how quickly I tried to move from point A (school) to point B (real world) without savoring the moment. So savor away! You’re only young once!

The Invitation to Madness

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - The Invitation to Madness

The Invitation to Madness

Another Sunday night and I find myself sitting, half tucked under a blanket, half watching, half shielding my eyes from the unbelievable madness displaying itself across the screen…once again. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the Walking Dead is at it for another season. Frightening us with those gory decaying faces of bodies long past their expiration date. And reminding us that people are far scarier than those other things, you know, the ones that go bump in the night.

And despite my shocking disbelief that I’m actually subjecting myself to a TV show where cannibalism is the soup du jour, or perhaps the foot du jour, we then turn around and suck ourselves into the catty and cocky calvary of the two brothers, Sam and Dean. Our latest Netflix addiction…Supernatural.

It’s embarrassing to say, but my feet actually start to sweat when I watch these shows! It’s really quite ridiculous. Capt. Awesome laughs at me all the time exclaiming, “It’s not real! It’s just a show/movie!” Well, tell that to my feet! They seem to know better than I. Apparently, the ability to separate myself from fact & fiction eludes me. Cue the ominous music, the killer on the loose, the loud, timely bangs strategically placed to make you toss your popcorn. I fall victim, hook, line and sinker. Every. Single. Time.

Even when I know it’s coming.

(shakes head)

Surprisingly, I used to watch this crap like it was going out of style. There was something about the adrenaline coursing through my veins that made me feel alive.  I watched all the Nightmare on Elm Street movies (except the horrible second one) and witnessed Johnny Depp being sucked into a bed. Let’s not forget Patricia Arquette and how she met her fate and was left hanging from a TV! Ah, Freddie Krueger…I could sing the entire song verbatim.

One. Two. Freddie’s after you. Three. Four. Better lock your door….

But now, I have less regard for the high blood pressure that will inevitably ensue after too much binging on the supernatural. I like my feet dry. Thank you!

And the unfortunate side effect – nightmares.

This past August, while we entertained guests, I found myself sitting between two horror movie lovers, subjected to watching Occulus. (What, you don’t think that was scary?….well, I bite my thumb at you, sir!) Granted, it wasn’t a total slasher movie. The plot had potential, but lacked a little finesse. Yet, still I found my feet sweating up a storm! To make matters worse, after we all had gone to bed, Awesome woke to find me thrashing against some invisible enemy attempting to take my soul into the depths! Apparently those evil ghosts decided that a TV screen was as good as a mirror and were out to get me! It wasn’t pretty. With age, I’ve lost the ability to control my dreams, a la Nightmare on Elm Street’s Dream Warriors, to fight off those evil demons!

He vowed to never make me watch another scary movie again.

So he’s goes to town while I’m traveling and unable to veto his suggestions watching Deliver us From Evil or The Taking of Deborah Logan or Contracted or Let the Right One In….Suffice it to say, he’s completely jacked up my Netflix profile!

I asked him once what was the appeal to being scared senseless. The answer – he’s a sucker for the triumph of good over evil.

Well, if that’s the case…I’d take Lord of the Rings or Willow any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

That other stuff, well, let’s just say I’ve rescinded the invitation to madness for a good night’s sleep!

Oddly Even

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Oddly Even

Oddly Even

This week marked a new beginning. Awesome and I, in our determination to plant our flag outright here in Virginia, have begun the daunting task of house hunting, looking at finances, educating ourselves on the market, etc. etc. Ad nauseam.

This process continues to remind me that the more I know, the more I know…I don’t know. And I don’t like not knowing…but I digress as I often do.

In an effort to expand our purchasing power in an already extrememly ridiculously expensive part of the country (we’re talking ridonkulous!) I reached out to an organization for some part time work. But not just any organization, one with a focus on business owners…entrepreneurs. Aptly named the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Their mission is to engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow. They are the sole reason why or how I was able to start and sell a company back in my past life before photography, working as an administrator for the San Antonio Chapter. And as luck would have it, their headquarters happen to be right in my backyard.

Back track to last week…

I walked through the doors into a place that was oddly familiar. Mind you, previously working on the other side of the fence, it was strange, yet comforting to pull back that curtain and see the wizard(s) hard at work, turning the gears from the inside out. Like a well oiled machine with an endless supply of coffee, smiles and a willingness to help a newbie but an oldie. It reminded me how important culture is in any organization. How setting values and then hiring people with those same set of values can only create the foundation for an empire. Or rather a community. A team. Working toward a common goal.

It takes a special breed of person to put your heart, soul and resources out on the line to operate and run a business. They are the movers and shakers of the world. The ones who create jobs, inspire others, lift up the community and offer a product/service to better our society. If you’re lucky enough to be around one of these individuals (or many) they will make your head spin with their energy, ideas and charisma. It’s infectious and contagious.

So despite the new surroundings, and my innate need for normalcy and resistance to change (if I’m being honest!), a new calm blankets my being knowing that at the end of the day….I got this!

They say if you’re not the lead dog, then the view is always the same.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS Oddly Even
Oddly Even came about from a recent workshop with The Wild Ones, a trio comprised of Joel Robison, Sarah Ann Loreth and Shane Black. All three, having success with their photography ventured off on a cross country tour to make new friends and educate photographers, old and new, in the ways of conceptual photography. In my ongoing journey to continue to hone my craft and make new friends, I attended the workshop along with good friends Kory and Jessi whom I previously met in France.

Making lifelong friends on these adventures just adds to the icing on the already decorated cake. Getting to explore cool places, slip and slide down rocky terrains, feed off each others’ create energies is merely part of the ride.

The swans came into my life whilst visiting my good friend, Molly, up at Fire Island over the summer. I took many photographs of these beautiful birds (yes, I realize to some they are just geese, but gorgeous geese at that!) with the full intent of incorporating them into my work at some point in time.

A big thank you to Carol Persons for modeling for us!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS Oddly Even

The Great Escape

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - The Great Escape

The Great Escape

There was once a day when I dreamed of running away from home as fast as I could. Without a penny to my name. Brazen enough to never even look back.

A common dream of mine. The grass, naturally, displayed a greener shade and I would flourish in a world without being stuck under the thumb of what I considered to be an intolerable and improper ruling. Oh, and they would be sorry. Never to hear from me again. At that point, they would no doubt understand how their actions led to the great escape of my eager emancipation.

After all, I was a teenager. I knew it all! And how dare they keep me from reaching my fullest potential!

I have to laugh, even now, as I sit here writing this…the self righteousness of an adolescent. It’s a rite of passage that everyone must attend, both parents and children alike. And potentially an ugly one at that. Unfortunately, my mother was gifted the wrath of my early days, packaged beautifully with a bow of venom and hatred. She, more than anyone else, endured my constant threats, slamming of doors, nasty looks and downright ugly attitude on an almost daily basis. It’s amazing I’m still alive!

Looking back now, almost 20 years later, I see with clearer vision. Much clearer. So I would consider this long overdue…

Love Letter to My Mother

I wish I could properly put into words how sorry I truly am for being such a brat (and that’s putting it mildly) when I was younger. Growing up was never easy and as soon as those hormones made their nasty appearance it was all over! I believed I knew everything and hated you for not letting me have my way. But I realize now that despite my behavior, you did everything out of love. So to let you know that I was paying attention, I walked away with some of these valuable lessons.

  • You have to earn it! – In life, rarely does one receive free handouts. Society does not bow to the self-entitled. Success grows from hard work and perseverance. When my English teacher dangled a trip to Europe for 17 days to four countries which included a stop at the Louvre, my heart leaped! I wanted to go more than anything. At first, the answer was a resounding no. The trip came with a pretty high price tag for 1995. But after a talk with dad, a decision presented itself…that my dream could be realized if I paid for half of the trip. So I applied to my first job working at Taco Cabana at the age of 16! Not a glamorous job by any means and it only paid $4.25/hour but I worked after school and on weekends to earn enough for my share of the adventure plus spending money. Again this situation arose when I bought my first car, paying for half. I’ve carried this lesson throughout my life, knowing what it takes each time I set a new goal. You plan. You earn. You celebrate!
  • It’s important to have a strong sense of independence. –  Dad always said this was one of the characteristics that drew you to him. And even after the two of you split, you made it work on your own for so many years. You worked a side job for extra money, never asking anyone for financial assistance. And you worked your way, from the ground up, into a management position, proving what hard work can accomplish. I may not have recognized it at the time but I followed in similar footsteps working two jobs in college and even up until 2010, finding ways to make it work when I started my own payroll business. This made it possible to forge forward, never needing to rely on anyone but myself. Then comes the self actualization of knowing that I could do anything I put my mind to…if I really wanted it.
  • Live lean and mean! – While I think Capt. Awesome curses this side of my personality you taught me the art of frugality. We never splurged on the unnecessary yet still had nice things. I thought it crazy how you frequently saved lightly used paper plates or walked through the house turning off the lights we left on in every single room but you drove the point home…everything costs money. There’s no need to be frivolous! And why pay more when you can pay less for the exact same thing! I now use coupons when I can and search for the best deals. It drives Capt A crazy sometimes but then he’s amazed when I bring home amazing finds like a pair of Levi 501’s for $20! This also factored into other parts of my existence as well. I do believe this is how I made ends meet when starting my business, living on a part time paycheck alone…before I was able to properly pay myself. And the reason why I created a nest egg for the future.
  • Every action has an equal and opposite consequence! – When you’re young, you try to push the limits. Is the stove hot? Let’s see. Burn! Let’s call it a learning curve. Part of the teenage strife involved pushing said limits, specifically when told otherwise. Usually, this involved grounding for me. Grounding from the phone. From hanging out with friends. From anything that involved any and all outside activity apart from school/work until the sentence was paid in full. The worst case involved grounding for an entire a month when the grocery store came a-calling after they found me shoplifting. Not my proudest moment. The cops arrived, filed paperwork, etc. Turns out they filed the wrong paperwork but that didn’t keep you and dad from dressing me up and sitting me down in front of the police chief to receive a stern lecturing on taking what does not belong to you. Needless to say, I never did that again!
  • This is what true love looks like. – As hard as it was watching you two divorce and dealing with the aftermath, there’s a part of me that’s grateful for that experience. Love perishes for so many reasons. So many stay together just for the children, but I don’t necessarily agree with that decision. Each upbringing creates a sense of normalcy to our overall experience. Grow up in a home with a loveless marriage and you’re more than likely to repeat the same mistake. I’ve seen several friends proceed through life this way. So as hard as it was dealing with the heartache of a broken family I have to commend you on the decision to part ways so that we, your children, wouldn’t believe in that kind of normalcy. Then when you found true love, it knocked you off your feet. And hard! Of course, being the brat that I was, made it difficult every step of the way. But now having experienced the same thing, I can appreciate that feeling of elation. I waited for it…as the lesson was never to settle.

This list could go on and on…

But -

I do recognize now, what I then believed to be any and all attempt to keep me a slave, was really meant to keep me safe. It can be a cruel world out there and most of us live inside a safe little cocoon. One that our parents build for us before we’re ready for release out into the real world. When I was told not to drive downtown on New Year’s eve (which I did, which resulted in more grounding) it was meant to keep me out of the path of a drunk driver. When I was told not to pirouette through the living room, it was merely to avoid falling and hurting myself. I now have a scar to prove the defiance. And when I was encouraged not to date _____boyfriend, it spoke of your love for wanting the best for me. And he so clearly wasn’t it!

I love you, Mom. I know we don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but I appreciate all you’ve done for both my sister and me. Parenthood, unfortunately, doesn’t come with a set of instructions, but I can say that you did good!

I wish I had the maturity to understand all of this during adolescents…but then again wisdom comes with the crinkling of lines and the greying of hair. Youth is clearly wasted on the young.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - The Great Escape
Just like Here in My Head, The Great Escape brain child took place on Assateague Island. After learning that wild ponies roamed freely on this island, the 8 year old inside of me begged to travel the three hours to see for myself. But like most animals, they frequent top spots in the morning and evening to feast upon breakfast/dinner after sunrise and before the nightly slumber. So they kept to themselves until it was time for us to leave, making their appearance known along with the setting sun. Looking at those tan hides and bleached blonde hair, I’ve come to think of them as rock stars! And the 8 year old inside of me was satiated once again.

Before the arrival of said rock star, my red-headed niece and I carried a bag of props, a step ladder and a change of clothes out to an open patch of water. Not a cloud in the sky. An intermittent breeze blew at whim. And with the occasional distraction of horseshoe crabs and passerbyers, we managed a levitation pose over the bay as the step ladder slowly sank into the sand.

My favorite memory from that day came from a little boy. His family had just crossed the wooden walkway to greet the bay in search of horses. In his disappointment from an empty pursuit, cried out to his parents, “What a rip off!” Hopefully they stayed through the evening for dinner time!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - BTS The Great Escape

Oct 7, 2014 - 4:31 pm

Tom Newforge - Every young person should read this.

Oct 7, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Mom of Capt. Awes - You are the best! Well said and I love you for putting it out there for all to see and absorb.

Oct 7, 2014 - 9:56 pm

Molly Bayerdorffer - Beautiful. I know your mom appreciates this love letter. I definitely appreciate it being a mother of two adorable little monsters (I mean angels). I’ve known you since those early rebellious days, we’ve grown up together. We are so lucky to be the strong women we’ve become today because of the strong mothers who raised us.

Oct 7, 2014 - 10:36 pm

Marisa White - I hope they do, Tom. It’s never easy growing up for either party. Hopefully this posting will give hope to moms…that there IS light at the end of the tunnel. And to kids that as mean as your mother may appear at any given time, it’s really love and protection in disguise.

Mom of CA, did I ever thank you for raising such a wonderful man!? I know he put you through the ringer too, proving it’s not just us girls reeking havoc!

Very well said, Molly. Very well said.

Oct 10, 2014 - 2:37 am

John Sarabia - The Bee Gees once wrote ” How deep is your love?” The fortunate ones learn that taking the focus off of self eventually opens life to the giving and receiving of true love and as time goes on, the deepest love. Your Mom and I are both very proud of you.