© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Awakening


A good friend told me you have to continually put yourself out there, as you’ll never know who might stop and take notice.

Easy words to say. But for some reason, harder to put into practice. Naturally, I can usually come up with a thousand reasons, sure let’s call them excuses, as to why I shouldn’t put myself out there…yeah, we’ve all played that game. Awesome always says to think about the worst case scenario. Most of the time, it’s never really that bad and very infrequently does it ever reach that level of badness.  So in an effort to change, I’ve started doing. 

Doing comes with a common wavelength of patterns. A multitude of highs and lows that ring to the sound of rejection, rejection, rejection, acceptance, acceptance, rejection, acceptance, rejection… REJECTION!  It’s all a game in an effort to build thick skin, character and humility. You know, keep that ego in check less it run amuck, streaking naked like a wild banshee and annoying everyone in sight! No one likes that person!

And laughing at the game has become a new favorite past time. Honey, good news, I got another rejection letter today!  I’ve learned to moderate expectations by turning the dial to low.

Then one day something magical happens. I happened upon the right place at the right time with the right vision and all the puzzle pieces fall into place. As if they’ve been there all along staring at me, rather blatantly, wagging their tongues as if to say “I told you so!”

The moment was a high. Highest of highs. A high to rule all other highs. And I will happily ride it until that next rejection letter sends me crashing back down to reality. A reality where this subjective world of art wears a thousand shades of colors, one specifically tailored to fit an unsuspecting passerby. If I’m lucky, maybe two or three. If I’m really counting my stars, four of five.

But at the end of the day, those two or three or four or five are really just icing. Because the reality is they are all tailored to fit me.

Social media really is a necessary evil of sorts. But what I love most about it is the ability to connect people from afar. I’d been swimming in the same circles as Robert Cornelius for several months and had even happened upon his work before I realized who he was. Needless to say, this guy is a bad ass. Seriously, go check out his work. I’ll wait.

Not only does he have mad skillz, but he’s a really likeable, down-to-earth guy. One who still owes me a handstand! But I digress…

Several of us made our way to a little park in Northern Maryland, coming from Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. In Texas terms, it was like driving from San Antonio to Austin! As with many of these little jaunts, sometimes we come armed with ideas and sometimes we let the space inspire us. Awakening was clearly inspired by the space. Robert was kind enough to model, balance on a step ladder (on one foot even) as well as create these massive splashes of water to assist with my vision. A big thank you to Kory, Tom and Anita for adding to the flair by finding and throwing rocks! If only we could move boulders!

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Awakening

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Awakening

And then there’s this which makes me smile from ear to ear.

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - Awakening

These are the days I am most thankful for. Everyone is encouraging and helpful. Where collaboration is high and inspiration follows. Where friendships are made. I have much to be thankful for.

Dec 17, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Robert Cornelius Photography - AHHHHHHH YAAAYYY!!!!! I love this! Everything about it, the picture came out just as you had explained it and it’s AWESOME!!! What a fun day that was I can’t wait until the next adventure! Handstands to come.

A Rabbit Hearted Girl

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - A Rabbit Hearted Girl

A Rabbit Hearted Girl


One. Little. Word.

All it takes is one little word to spawn the wrath of man (or woman). Who knew that one little tiny word could pack so much power.

After all, sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me, I remember from my childhood. Yet, now I recognize while the word itself may not elicit the breaking of said bones, it may instead be the catalyst, the nudge needed to “release the Craken” on one’s body.

But I knew that word packed a punch which is why I let it freely slip into the moment. Timely placed for emphasis. For boldness. To help strengthen my resolve and claim my territory!

What I didn’t expect (well…not exactly) was the verbal retaliation that soon followed. I opened the flood gate and now stood solid as the waters engulfed my feet, slowing rising up to my chest. There was no stopping it now…and even if I could, the damage would surely reach catastrophic levels. So I held my ground, my stare,  unwavering as the verbal attack continued for what seemed like a small eternity. I hadn’t felt this level of adrenaline course through my veins since I was a foolish, little teenager poking a snake with a stick. Surely, this must be a dream…because in my world no man comes into my home and speaks to me this way. No one.

After the emotional dust settled and the imminent threat dissipated, I removed my rage goggles and took a good look at the event I helped create.

Over the course of several days a roller coaster of emotions raced through my thoughts:

First came guilt. I blamed myself for being the catalyst, adding fuel to the already glowing fire.

Then anger…but not anger for Mr. Bad Man but for my incessant ability to first blame myself for the encounter and NOT him! I’m angry at myself!

Sadness soon followed…sadness that despite the fact that the news displays a constant barrage of all the evil in the world, I prefer to live in my safe little cocoon of rainbows and unicorns, never once thinking that anyone could rain bullets on my parade. That only happens to other people. Not to me…because damn it, I really do try to be a good person.

Replaced by fear. This is what really ticks me off…aside from the rose colored glasses I prefer to wear, I also walk in a bubble with, apparently, a very false sense of security. I never paid much attention to the cars surrounding my building or felt the need to look over my shoulder. I use to leave my door unlocked, even while I slept, as if every night the sandman transported me back to the 1950’s when the majority of people respected each others’ lives and property. Now I am alert, like a rabbit breaching the brush before hopping out into the great wide open. It’s exhausting to feed this new sense of awareness.

Then another kind of anger formed. This one is of the “I may be small but I’ll take you down if you mess with me again” variety.  Dynamite comes in small packages. And I refuse to be a victim!

So with that -

Awesome bought me a pair of gloves and signed me up for some Muay Tai classes. It’s time to channel Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Le Femme Nikita meets Aeon Flux. Yes, I am a nerd…but one who will kick your ass! In the end, I may go down, we all go down at one point or another, but I will go down wreaking havoc on the way!

Behind the Scenes:

As we start ramping up for winter time, and with the first snow already out of the way, it was time to put the finishing touches on this piece with the adorable Grace Potter. A Rabbit Hearted Girl was originally inspired by Florence’s powerful song, Raise it Up. Like most of my pieces, certain concepts immediately create themselves while others round out and take form on the drawing board. This one was no different, perhaps being a combination of the two.

This concept was photographed on a warm day back in February. The sweltering temperatures rose into the 40’s that day! It wasn’t too warm to melt the snow but warm enough to hang outdoors without a coat. Yes, that’s me there wearing some thin yoga pants and a light sweater. It’s a Christmas miracle! And Ann Marie, I promise Grace’s foot was only exposed for a few quick frames and then tucked safely and snuggly back into her Uggs!

Grace, thank you for being a willing model! For bending to my crazy and weird, creative whims! And thank you for your encouraging words. You have no idea how much they meant to me. :-)

© Marisa S White - White Sparks Photography - A Rabbit-Hearted Girl

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!

Nov 22, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Janet Lenaburg - Damn! Girl’s got some vertical!

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!