Photo Adventures in LaLa Land

A surreal portrait of a beautiful woman and her grandson

Portrait Photography from LaLa Land

Long-time readers of my blog know that I love going to Destin, Florida with my friend, Marla.

Marla's the one who introduced me to Destin. Before that, I'd never even been to Florida (well, except for a one-night business trip with my now ex-husband, but we didn't even have time to go to the beach).

I went to visit Marla up in South Carolina for a few days, which is why I didn't get around to posting last week. While I was driving up, I was thinking about how different my life has been over the past few years as compared to what it was 10 years ago. 

Ten years ago, I didn't know Marla, even though we were living in the same small town of Peachtree City. Now I count her as one of my closest friends.

Whenever I'm hesitant to reach out to a stranger, I think of how Marla and I met. 

I had only just moved to the City of Atlanta after my divorce. I needed a change of scenery. And I wanted to get back into my photography. The city seemed like a smart move. 

Plus it got me closer to my kids and my cousin, though it meant leaving my parents, sister and her family, as well as a lot of good friends which was tough. Thankfully, I'm a reasonable 45 minutes from Peachtree City, so I see my family often. 

But, for my psychological health, it was time to get out of Peachtree City. It wasn't easy just picking up after 20 years and leaving everything I knew. But sometimes a fresh start is just the thing. 


I was wrapping up some odds and ends from my divorce, and my ex called and said the credit union wouldn't allow him to cash a check I'd signed over to him since our account was no longer joint.

I didn't want to drive up to where he was living, and I didn't want to see him. 

I decided to try my luck at the credit union Midtown branch that was close to me to see if there was a better solution. 

When I walked into the credit union, it was quiet. The pretty woman at the concierge desk was friendly and helpful. But she thought I'd probably have to be in person with my ex for him to cash the check. 

I was trying not to cry, and she could tell. I gave her a brief rundown of the situation. She was empathetic and said she was going through a divorce herself. She too had only recently moved to the city.

She asked me to wait and said she'd talk to the manager. 

In the meantime, the line was growing at the concierge desk. 

She came back out with the manager and told me he could help - which he did, saving me an unwanted trip and encounter with the ex.

I was so thankful for that sweet concierge not giving up and taking the time to talk to her manager. 

As I was leaving the bank, the line at the concierge desk was still long, but as I walked by, she excused herself for a moment and came out from behind the desk. 

She walked right up to me and handed me a Post-It with the name - Marla - and a phone number on it. 

"I know it's not a club you ever wanted to join, but if you want to grab a coffee or something, give me a call."

Then she gave me a quick hug and walked back to help the next person in line. 

I was speechless and teary-eyed. It was such a simple act of kindness, but one that doesn't come easy for most people. 

The last thing I wanted to do was call a stranger. But I was so impressed with how she reached out. And I needed to meet some people in the city. I called her that night.

Marla and I have been great friends ever since. 

Never underestimate the power of reaching out. Like ripples on a pond - kind words, a smile, or an invitation to coffee keep extending away from you. You never know how you'll touch someone. 

I'm so grateful Marla reached out that day because I made such a good friend.

She moved up to South Carolina a couple of years ago to be near her daughter and subsequently a grandson, and I miss having her here. 

It was such joy to spend a few days with her and the apple of her eye, little Gus. He's a darling, and it made me miss my own sweeties out in Washington. 

I wanted some photos, but when I pulled my camera out, we had about two minutes before the rain started pouring down.

The wind was whipping up. We could feel drops. Marla's grandson wasn't sure he was all in for a photo shoot. But I managed to get one shot of him laughing. 

I wish we'd had more time before the rain! Here's the unedited photo:

The before portrait of Marla and Gus in LaLa Land

I had a blast editing this. The love and joy radiate off the screen.

There were only a few flowers. I wanted so many more. So I spent quite a bit of time editing in more flowers for a fairy-tale look. 

Earlier in the day, I'd been blowing bubbles for Gus, and he loved it.

I added in the bubbles to further the surrealism and add to the joy. I love that Marla's beloved dog, Murphy, strolled through. There's so much fun and movement in this photo. 

I added a larger-than-life butterfly for renewal and rebirth - something Marla and I have especially been going through in our lives.

Overall, I like the final edit. 

What do you think?

I hope you're having a good summer so far! It's already hotter than Dante's ninth circle of hell here in Georgia.

But...have a great rest of your week and a safe and happy 4th of July (my favorite!!) and see you between the raindrops!