J.A. Laub Photography: Blog https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog en-us (C) J.A. Laub Photography [email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Tue, 20 Jul 2021 23:55:00 GMT Tue, 20 Jul 2021 23:55:00 GMT https://www.jalaubphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u83928597-o570630524-50.jpg J.A. Laub Photography: Blog https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog 120 80 Get out and see the world! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/7/travel-with-robin Robin Cline Talks Post-COVID Travel and Starting a Travel Business in a Pandemic

A poll in January 2021 cited that less than 1 in 10 Americans do not plan to travel this year. Safe to say, with the pandemic tapering off and the world reopening, we are all excited to return to travel. As you look forward to summer and the travel possibilities it offers, we talked with our friend Robin Cline about her bold decision in early 2020 to pursue her dreams of working as a travel agent, and what tips she can offer for travel as the world reopens.

With their youngest child off to college, Robin Cline and her husband began to think about the next season of their lives and what it could hold. They’d owned a business for 20 years, but in the back of her mind, given her travel addiction, Robin had always wanted to be in the travel industry and so Cline & Co. Travel Consulting was born. 

“I love doing itineraries, especially really different and unique trips––things that are really more experiential,” she said, “We talked about it and decided that that was a good next move. So, I decided to make the investment and go forward and all of that, and signed on the dotted line with my host agency, and literally two weeks later, COVID happened.”

Even at this worst possible moment to step into the world of travel, Robin was grateful for the opportunity to ease into the career change, and says it prepared her better for where the business is now.

“In hindsight, I think it actually really turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it gave me a lot of time to learn a lot of things I didn't know I needed to know.” She explained the surprising complexities of the industry. “I had always sort of done travel as a side hustle.... I've worked with some friends on travel and things like that, so it wasn't totally new to me, but a lot of the back-end office stuff was, and that took a little longer to learn than I would have thought. So it was good to really have that time to do that. It was frustrating at the same time, of course. I wanted to just jump in and start booking travel immediately.”

The benefit of the hesitation, however, was getting a leg-up for the flood of travel interest she’s seen now. She was able to find domestic properties she would not have known otherwise, and ease into property inspections in locations like Kenya. This has all prepared her for what she’s seeing now: a huge surge in travel interest, and limited options as a result.

“There is like, no availability in the United States,” she laughed slightly, “you cannot get rental cars out West anymore. You can hardly find hotel rooms. Alaska and dude ranches are completely packed full.”

With these domestic options filling up, there is much more opportunity for international travel. Something that, in this season more than ever, requires the services of someone with the skill and knowledge of Robin. 

Her first piece of advice? Travel insurance: “If you're thinking about it, you should be researching it… a lot of people don't even think about it, but I think it's going to be even more important going forward in the future.” Aside from this piece to encourage security and confidence in travel plans, she also knows peace of mind in this season of travel means mastering the complexities of COVID restrictions and guidelines, which she passes along to her clients.

“I never dreamed I'd have to deal with all this. Everybody expects you to know all the answers to every country, and it takes a lot of research… It is taking a lot more time to get things set for people to go because every country has different rules and regulations. Some say you have to be vaccinated, some are saying as long as you have a negative COVID test, but like Kenya says 96 hours, Greece is 72 hours, Croatia says 48 hours,” she rattled off regulations casually, “they all just have different rules, so I have to learn all the rules to each country every time I get ready to book.”

Though it has added an entirely separate function to her job, Robin feels grateful for the opportunity to support travel plans in this way, and enjoys the idea that her job has become more needed than ever.

“I think travel advisors are becoming infinitely more valuable,” she explained. “Before COVID, a lot of the people had to go through all the issues of canceling and rebooking and credits and everything else, and learned the value of having somebody else to do that for them.”

When asked about location suggestions, she listed South America, Ecuador, and Colombia, additionally giving a special nod to Turkey. Her highest recommendation, however, is for safaris.

“If going on a safari to any one of the African countries is on your list, this is a really good time to do it,” she reported with strong enthusiasm. “Or get planning if you're going to do it in the future, because that’s a trip you want to plan in advance, but right now there's some availability!”

Whether an exotic safari is in your plans or a domestic adventure, there’s no better way to celebrate post-COVID opportunities than making a travel plan, and no easier way to do it than consulting with those who are up-to-par on all the complications post-COVID may bring. Traveling may seem tricky at the moment, but it’s very possible––and enjoyable––with the right guide.


-Allison Antram

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) luxury travel Robin Cline Travel travel https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/7/travel-with-robin Tue, 20 Jul 2021 12:02:58 GMT
Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/7/historic-preservation-education-and-patriotism JeanEllen Melton talks about honoring American history on July 4th weekend

JeanEllen Melton is a longtime friend of ours. She and her husband Jonathan and their sweet little daughter have been in front of our cameras for many years (picture below is from 2020), and in that time I have grown to appreciate her knowledge of and stories about Daughter os the American Revolution (DAR for short). So, in honor of Independence Day I thought I'd share a quick interview with JeanEllen to learn more about DAR and the American history that is so woven into her life and the lives of DAR members.

The Daughters of the American Revolution of more than 1,000,000 women that was founded 130 years ago. It honors history and ancestry while being relevant in today's world. DAR members join to honor their heritage as well as make a difference in their communities across the country and the world.

Abby Laub: When did you learn about DAR and that you had the lineage you did? Who were your ancestors?

JeanEllen Melton: I actually learned I was related to Daniel Boone in third grade. We were learning about him in school, and my mom told me he was my cousin. She already belonged to DAR at that point so she'd done the research. Living in Central Kentucky, I periodically run across names I recognize from her research like the Barnhills and Swopes, in addition to the Boones.


AL: What does it mean to you on a personal and professional level to have this unique involvement in American history?

JEM:.  It's neat to hear stories of the people who blazed the trails west and to think that those are "my" people. I'm a pretty twenty-first century person, so to think about their hardships or having a spouse gone for months or even years in pretty unfathomable to me. What's neat about being almost 250 years removed from the American Revolution is that many, many people have connections to our nation's founding that don't necessarily realize it. It's cool to know with certainly that my family was here for it, but that applies to so many of us, and there are stories to learn in every family.


AL: Were you always a history buff? 

JEM: Definitely not! I was more into Sweet Valley books than history books. The DAR was founded on three objectives: Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism. I found my passion in the organization in the objective of Education - we support education in so many ways. I often say that if my mom hadn't been a member, I probably never would have joined because I wouldn't have dug into our family history. That said, I do love the stories. When we started dating, I looked up my husband's family in the DAR Ancestor database. I expected to find a man, but instead found a woman who was a widow at the time and who gave a gun to the county militia. That fascinates me! I want to know more about her!


AL: What unique things have you learned about American history through DAR? Or just general interesting observations?

JEM: We're actually celebrating our annual conference this week, and this is one of my favorite weeks every year. We're virtual this year, but even so, there are so many amazing speakers! In the past, I've had the opportunity to hear from military veterans like U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, who incidentally is a Daughter, and Bob Dole; we had the cast of Hamilton one year and the guys who started Story Corp. Back when I was first getting involved Charleton Heston came. It didn't mean much to me, but the older ladies were very excited!


AL: If you could teach kids today something about history, what would it be? 

JEM: I think that the idea of history sounds so huge and dull, but making connections is so important. In high school, we had to ask our parents where they were when Kennedy was shot. My dad said he was standing in the parking lot of his high school (which later became my middle school) on a smoke break with his buddies when they heard it on the radio. That made it so real to me. I can picture that! At some point, I can imagine having the same conversation with my daughter about where I was on 9/11. I think if kids can connect with the stories that make up the dates in a history book, and relate those stories to how and why we live the way we do today, that is where history gets interesting. I would point out here that the DAR sponsors an American History Essay Contest every year for children in fifth through eighth grades. The topic every year prompts children to do some research and then write their own story as if they were living in the time period or situation of the prompt. The national winners are invited to read an excerpt at our conference every year and I'm always impressed!


AL: What does celebrating July 4 mean to you? How do you celebrate?

JEM: So I probably complain about the neighborhood fireworks a little too much, but I do love to get together with friends to cook out and play with sparklers. And I love a good community parade! I think that's what the Fourth is about - getting together with friends and neighbors of our choosing to celebrate our freedom and right to gather when and how we like.


AL: How can people get involved?

JEM: Anyone who is curious about their own ancestry should absolutely visit dar.org to do some research! If you're interested in learning more about the work of the DAR, you can find so much information on the website. The organization is 130 years old and over 1 million women have joined since our founding. Today's DAR is focused on community service (Daughters made and donated more than 1 million masks and other pieces of PPE during the pandemic!), preserving history, education, and supporting current and past service members. There really is something for anyone!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/7/historic-preservation-education-and-patriotism Mon, 05 Jul 2021 22:36:44 GMT
Summer is here...breathe in the trees https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/5/breathe-in-the-trees In honor of the official start of summer and all of the adventures to come, I'm sharing a piece I originally did for Kentucky Monthly. This was one of my favorite projects and I hope you enjoy! 

Originally published in Kentucky Monthly

Before Jennifer Owens led me into the woods at The Parklands of Floyds Fork in Louisville for my “forest bathing” session, I was skeptical. Visions of hugging trees and swatting mosquitoes filled my mind, which had simultaneously scurried off to the deadlines awaiting me while I went off to relax with the trees. 



[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Kentucky Monthly https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/5/breathe-in-the-trees Sun, 30 May 2021 02:41:34 GMT
CAMPING WITH KIDS: A Q&A with Abby Laub https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/5/camping-with-kids-a-q-a-with-abby-laub Allison Antram here, a non-camper with a great admiration for the Laub’s commitment to the outdoors! Summer is here, and I love hearing about the creative ways Abby and Jeff incorporate time in nature into their everyday lives. It’s not popular to willingly drag little ones into the woods for camping trips, but they pull it off. 

In honor of the official kick-off of summer this weekend, I hope you’ll join me in learning from Abby’s nature-centric perspective and how their family camps with kids and tries to live with an overall outdoors-y focus.

You've established such a fun family culture of being outside, and prioritizing adventure and play. How would you suggest incorporating these kinds of activities?

We love to get outside together, whether it’s just daily tasks, like walking or biking to school; or bigger weekend adventures, like camping, paddling and hiking. In 2021, so far I’ve stuck with my goal to walk outside every single day, even in the freezing snow. Now the kids are totally on board and love joining mommy on her “daily walks.” And Jeff rides his bike to work almost every day. 

Also, we live in a place that makes walking or biking to everyday places (grocery, school, coffee shops, friends houses, etc.) very doable, and it is so fun! This was not always the case, and we literally moved houses in order to make this happen - it was that important to us! 

And then on the weekends we tackle those “bigger” things when we can. Just last weekend we were at Lake Cumberland and the weekend before that did the Harrodsburg Road bike trail together. The kids are 6 and 8, so they aren’t too cool yet to do stuff with us. We try to get outside as much as possible. Aside from health and recreation, it’s a helpful reminder for us and the kids that jumping in the car and being in a hurry isn’t always the priority. In fact, we lived for three years total as a one-car family! God blessed us with health, and we don’t take it for granted.

Your family finds uncommon ways to connect! What are your favorite things to do together?

Definitely camping and paddling! Thankfully Kentucky has plenty of warm months to get in quite a few trips every year. We standup paddleboard and kayak. Our favorite family activity is to set up camp at Laurel River Lake and spend the days hiking and cooling down on the lake and doing lots of yummy camp food. There is just nothing better!

And then just the simple things, we also love. We love walking or biking to and from school together. The day is just a little more of an adventure that way. We stop at the park, take our time exploring along the way, or visit the neighbor’s chickens, or stop at a friend’s house. I want play and adventure to be instilled into their daily lives and not to be so over-scheduled that there isn't any time to amble home.

Camping?! With kids?! What are the challenges and the joys?

Yes! We love it. There will be snow on the ground and they’ll ask when we can go camping. Every year for our daughter’s birthday, we camp. The challenges were great in the beginning - that’s putting in nicely. I won’t lie; the first time we ever took them camping, the kids were about two and four - there were dirty diapers involved, and it was a nightmare. We camped at a place only about 30 minutes from home, and I nearly packed up and drove away at midnight because it was a disaster. BUT, we pushed through, and now they are truly expert campers! Just had to get over the hump and not throw in the towel before it actually got fun. 

There is literally nothing better than escaping the daily grind and getting out into the woods together. Almost always it also incorporates paddling, swimming and hiking. We’ve even taken some trips with friends, and sometimes venture into the woods in a rustic cabin when it’s too cold to camp. We all decompress and get a lot of quality time together. There are many rounds of UNO. This is our fifth summer of regular camping together. 


Food when camping with kids - is this difficult? Have you all found any innovative campfire 'recipes'?

I would say that about half of the reason I put up with the difficulties of camping is for coffee outside in the morning, made on the camp stove. I can smell it now. The trees, the dirt, the coffee. 

For food, I do a lot of the prep ahead of time at home, and then we pack up our huge bear-proof cooler. I do a lot of simple pre-chopped veggies in foil with some EVOO and S&P, hot dogs, burgers, and bacon. Then we throw ‘em on the fire to cook. I boil eggs ahead of time for breakfast and chop some fruit or make biscuits. We eat very well, and I have most meals planned ahead of time so we don't run out! We have a lot of great camping supplies, like a stove, pans, cast iron skillet, fire starters - the usual supplies!


Can you share a favorite camping story, or two?

There are so many memories, but I’ll never forget the time we went camping when the kids were really young and it was literally 88 degrees and about 90% humidity overnight - a record-breaking heat wave. We spent the entire day in the lake, but trying to sleep at night was basically torture. We have since purchased a quiet, battery operated fan for the tent. 

Or the time my son nearly giving me a heart attack by accidentally stepping on a baby snake down by the lake. It was just a water snake. (Pro tip: Learn snake identification when spending a lot of time in nature with kids and be snake-safe!)

Some more positive memorable moments include our daughter learning how to stand-up paddleboard by herself. We were so proud of her confidence and enthusiasm. And get lots of laughs when little brother tips them over. Or bringing along friends and family on trips, and finding lots of new places to explore. One time in the winter we even discovered a freshwater jellyfish washed up on the shore at Cave Run Lake. Google it - it’s a thing! 

If you could only give one nugget of camping wisdom, what would it be?

Expect it to be difficult, especially at first. Throw away your glamorous expectations. There is nothing glamorous about camping with kids. We tent camp, often at primitive sites. If you are camping - trailer or tent - don’t go into it expecting not to see ants, mosquitoes, spiders, snakes, and some occasional dirt in your food. Be prepared with proper clothing, bug spray, footwear and first aid. Thank God, we’ve never had any true emergencies, just occasional scrapes and bruises. Don’t do foolish things like forgo life jackets or let your kids stick hands under big rocks. 

Get used to the idea that it will likely be difficult, but then embrace it! Look up at the trees, take big deep breaths of the woods and soak in those phytoncides, lie in your tent at night and look out into the darkness. Turn off your phone. Wake up to the birds singing, and just enjoy God’s creation to the fullest.

And, get a van! 


What advice would you give to someone looking to make their springtime more active, more adventurous and family-oriented, but not sure where to start?

Start small - just add simple time outside to your life every day. Don’t overthink it. Eat outside, dust off your bike, stop at the park to climb a tree on the way home, or read a newspaper on the front porch in the morning instead of aimless phone news scrolling. 

Also, my goal of walking outside every day this year has been so easy and beneficial. Long, short, doesn’t matter. Sometimes the walks are aimless, and sometimes they incorporate something productive, like an errand, listening to a podcast or catching up on phone calls. We are all so deceived to believe that we need to be productive all the time, myself included. Walking outside every day connects me with nature, gets me moving, and gives me time to think, pray or just simply be silent. 

Start there, and then see what else you can add to that! I’d love to hear about it!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) camping camping with kids laurel river lake sup life https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/5/camping-with-kids-a-q-a-with-abby-laub Sun, 30 May 2021 02:27:20 GMT
Simple Spring Wisdom: Gardening and Cooking Advice from the French https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/simple-spring-wisdom-gardening-and-cooking-advice-from-the-french Serious inspiration for your garden this spring and summer

I always plant my garden after RunTheBluegrass is over every year. It’s always a crazy weekend of shooting nonstop from Thursday to Saturday and then processing tens of thousands photos for hours and hours on end. Planting my garden is the unwinding after that big adventure in our professional life every spring.

When I think about what to plant this year, I’m inspired by my friend Sylvie Bruner. Sylvie and her husband Raleigh own Wildcat Moving. He moved us way back in the day when their business was just getting off the ground. Raleigh also was a trailblazer in undoing some antiquated laws in Kentucky that favored the “big guys” of the moving world and has since built an incredible family of businesses. When I interviewed him for a story during this legal challenge, he said “you have to meet my wife, you guys would get along well.” He was right! Sylvie also happens to be a master foodie. Truly! She always provides major food inspiration, and she uses fresh herbs in ways I'd never imagine.  

Allison Antram talked to Sylvie to learn from her French heritage for all the herb and cooking wisdom we’ll need for spring and summer! When you have basil coming out of your ears this summer, you’ll be glad you read this and planned your garden accordingly!  (All photos by Sylvie Bruner!) -Abby 

Sylvie’s love of cooking originated with her father and her French upbringing. His recent passing gave her an ideal opportunity to reflect on him and the skills he passed along, and she remembers him as a “true master.”

“He could rival any French or fine dining chef I’ve ever come across,” she reflected. “He really approached the method from a scientific eye. He measured everything and thought it all through. He loved recipes. I think that’s how he learned he was good. He could appreciate the process whereas I had to learn the patience behind the process.”

With his wisdom leading the way, Sylvie’s creative instinct tends to overtake the process for her.

“I loathe measurements,” she admitted. “I’m a taster, an eyer, a trial and error cook. Anytime someone asks me for a recipe I do my best but numbers don’t mix with the creative side of my brain so, no, no recipes. The only time I will seek out a recipe is for the ingredients list or to bake a birthday cake.”

This experimenter’s spirit, however, is what makes her such an innovative cook, and what has given her a passion both for cooking and incorporating different flavors into that process. She considers herself “a sense seeker, namely scent and taste.” 

Sensory herbs

“I can tell you everything I have ever eaten if it’s tied to a memory. It can be anything from a childhood party to a lunch with my husband,” she explained her superpower of sorts, which inevitably led to her love of gardening. “Herbs are so sensory friendly, I just realized I wanted them around all the time, and I had better learn how to make that happen year round.”

To those who immediately find herb gardening unattainable or intimidating, Sylvie insists on the accessibility of this practice, and particularly advises simplicity not only for beginners, but for a basis of good gardening.

“At first I thought I needed everything I liked to grow. Not true,” she laughed at the overabundance of seeds given in the packets, “it’s hard to keep it minimal but it pays off when you have a few quality crops.”

For those looking to get started, Sylvie’s advice is simple: 

“Number one, master what you love the most. For me it was basil. Number two, hold off on sprouts and seeds and start by transplanting mature plants. You will find a balance with soil, drainage, sun and watering.”

Perhaps you’re not new to the herb garden game, but don’t know what to do with all your herbs when harvest time comes. To this, Sylvie expressed enthusiasm for her love of salads (some dish ideas at the end of this article!), but reiterates her French sensibilities for cooking: keep it simple.

“French food is my love language and it’s really simple if you do it correctly. Often you’ll find a saucier is the most important job in a French cuisine kitchen,” she explained. “I have seen beautiful steaks and simple chicken or fish go Michelin-level with a few tablespoons of sauce and nothing more. A protein, a vegetable and a sauce are all you need. Master those!”

As someone who was “pairing wine, cognac and port as an eight-year-old” and at 18 told her now husband he had a “sophomoric palate,” one might expect this seasoned cook to offer an equally elevated perspective on cooking for kids. But Sylvie insists, “don’t worry about your children eating what you cook!”

With three of five in their household struggling with gluten allergies, she says “my kids live on chicken nuggets, frozen vegetables and pizza. It’s always gluten free and if I can get a bite into them of whatever I am eating myself, then I feel like a success,” further advising, “I never stress about making everyone eat the same. We are all on different paths with different tastes. Food should always be enjoyed, and access to your favorites is a luxury.”

Armed with the encouragement of simplicity and the wisdom of French sensibilities, we hope you’ll be able to jump into spring cuisine with more confidence and more homegrown experiments. If you want further tips, Sylvie gave us a few of her go-to dishes – sans measured recipe, of course.


Salmon and Steak (Hint: HANDS OFF!)

  • "Truly each steak is a different animal of its own when cooking, but use a cast iron skillet and coconut oil––highest smoke point of the oils––and sear on each side. Don’t touch it, don’t poke it, don’t put a lid over it. Slow sear but don’t burn, add sliced garlic, salt and coarse pepper in the middle. Add red wine or water if it’s smoking or drying."
  • "For salmon, this is one of my favorites: skin on, medium heat, with coconut oil and cast iron are my favorite elements. Leave it for 6 to 8 minutes – don’t touch it – and flip to the other side. Again, don’t touch it. It’s really just a watching game. Don’t let it burn, but watch it get crispy. Take it off the heat, and use a fork to pull the skin and flip to the other side."

Sauce to complement either protein:

  • Sour cream, mayo, lemon juice, raw garlic, cayenne pepper and lots of fresh dill

Caprese Salad 

“I live on different forms of caprese,” Sylvie insisted. A great use of those fresh herbs! An additional tip: “I always seek out the most green, fresh and organic olive oil. Stick with the best ingredients and it’s hard to go wrong.”

Classic: Tomato and mozzarella with basil with olive oil

Variation: Fuji apple with basil and mozzarella with olive oil 













[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) food foodie gardening herb garden https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/simple-spring-wisdom-gardening-and-cooking-advice-from-the-french Mon, 29 Mar 2021 14:24:40 GMT
See the Light (Part 2 of 2) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/see-the-light-part-2-of-2 Have you bared your white winter legs to the world yet? Mine have seen the light of day a few times in March, blinding passersby as I boldly walked pants free to pick up the kids from school in sad shorts dug out of the back of a dresser drawer. My objective this week with glorious spring weather was simple: Fulfill my professional and personal obligations while soaking up as much sun as possible.

I have my reasons for seeking out the sun. I am going to Florida in April and don't want to get fried when I'm there, so there's that. But I discussed some of the more important stuff in the prequel to this post that was written...oh, about a year ago (oops!) My convictions on this have become even more cemented in research and practice.

So I want to share with you some of the ways I've been working through this quest for more sunshine, and hopefully inspire some new thoughts and habits. It is not the popular opinion to get more sun. We've all been told for years to use more sunscreen by all of the corporations of the world, but research is constantly revealing that it is actually fake light that is making us sick and weak. This was a great article on that topic of sunscreen, too. And this guy is a great place to start in researching the topic of light. 

Part of it starts with knowing WHEN you can even get vitamin D from the sun. (It's not all the time.) Check out this handy chart! There also is a helpful app called dminder.

And it's not just vitamin D. There are too many sources to cite with evidence that disrupted circadian rhythms are a huge contributor to the increasing rates of breast cancer, for example. I digress, but there is so much research to explore that it's hard to know where to start so I want to keep this practical and provocative. 

There are habits I've changed in my life to let light from the sun - and at least eliminate some of the 'fake light' - safely work its magic in my own life and my family. I'm not perfect, but I'm better than I was. It's unpopular because there are pills for everything and busyness is a badge of honor (who has time for a walk!?). Alas, the sun is free, and it is good to chill out. 

1. I walk outside every single day. I have yet to miss a day in 2021! Sometimes it's very quick, sometimes it's long. I try to simply incorporate it into my life...errands, grocery store, park, school, phone calls, etc. Thankfully we live in a place where this is very doable. Fresh air, stress relief, fitness, healthy circadian rhythm, vitamin D. You have the time, make it happen. (Skip social media for a day - there's your time.) I often listen to a podcast while I'm walking. Or just the birds or Jesus or the kids!

2. I try my best to get outside first thing in the morning, even if it's just for a few minutes. Sometimes I freeze, but it tells my body, "It is time to be awake!" Fun little article on the subject. The signals received by this dose of morning set hormones up for success for the entire day. We all know that hormones basically control everything, so we want them to do their jobs properly. There is ample research on all of this, so dig into it.

3. When I'm working during the day I try to be in the brightest place possible. This week it meant comically trying to take zoom meetings on my front porch in the bright glaring sun. It worked! After our rough winter weather, I was drawn to the sun this week like a mosquito drawn to my legs in the summer. Sometimes it's just parking myself in the sunny corner next to my plants to knock out deadlines.

4. Get your news the old fashioned way. My disdain for staring at my phone to read the news prompted me to subscribe to a PRINT newspaper. That thing that comes to your door. It had been years! This also provides a way to get out for that morning light. Throw on your bathrobe and trek it out there like grandma. I used to work for a newspaper, and now I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and probably will forever so they need to keep printing it for me. Don't read the news on your phone, because it's 99% clickbait, anyway. I guarantee you'll be smarter and better informed. 

5. The elephant in the room. I don't even need to waste time on social media. You know what to do, and here is some inspiration to get you started! 

6. Get some blue light blockers. I'm wearing BLUEblox, below. It's also worth researching the effect of sunglasses on your eyes and health. You might be surprised! My eyes and sleep are better because of it. 

7. I've been learning about red light therapy. Think of how amazing you feel sitting in front of a nice campfire. Now you can kind of imagine how a red light feels. I have an EMR-TEK Firewave. I am still trying it out so I can't comment yet on a difference it's made or not made, but I have many friends who tout the benefits of red light therapy and there is plenty of research to back them up. 

8. Go outside. That's it. You'd be surprised how much you can accomplish outside in a pinch. Or accomplish nothing and lie on your patio like I did on Sunday afternoon like a lazy cat. A very pale one. 

That is all on the subject for now. Of course I am not a physician - just a curious journalist, but I contend that our feeble culture can reclaim much of its power by making some serious changes surrounding our light exposure. I do not think it is a coincidence that disease, depression, chronic pain, allergies, etc. are on the rise as our culture continually moves indoors and onto tech. Take the unpopular approach, or at least start by asking the questions. 

Below: Writing this in my blue blockers, which thankfully are more stylish than my first few pairs! 

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/see-the-light-part-2-of-2 Tue, 09 Mar 2021 04:26:11 GMT
2021 PREVIEW: Races to look forward to...see you there! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/a-schedule-of-races-to-look-forward-to-see-you-there After a year of cancelled plans and shifted schedules, our lives are starting to piece back to normal and we hope yours are doing the same. One thing we are excited to return to photographing: races! See a blog post from last year for a really fun recap of these events! 

Thanks to our race director friends all over Kentucky, we have so much to look forward to. We kicked it off on March 6 with a lot of familiar faces and a lot of green at the Lucky Leprechaun. See below!

Whether you’re ready to get back in a group run, or want to participate virtually, there are so many options for you. Here’s a preview of the upcoming races. This is not a comprehensive list of where you can see our team in 2021, but it is pretty close. 

RunTheBluegrass Half Marathon on March 27 at Keeneland. Last year's flagship spring event - which would have been its 10th anniversary - was canceled so the race directors added on an all-new fall event that is here to stay as part of their COVID pivot! We are so excited for that! See below for more on that one. 

Horse Capitol Marathon on April 10. This race, in its sixth year, is stunning (and hilly!) and has all of the wonderful features you can expect from RaceRise. It has an all-new location this year at Spindletop Hall. 

Pending summer events include...Survive The Night Triathlon Relays in June, Bluegrass 10,000 on July 4 and A Midsummer NIght's Run in August. We'll keep you posted.

On August 28, be sure to head to the DV8K at Keeneland, with all funds benefiting DV8 Kitchen's incredible addiction recovery program. We don't collect a penny from this event and are honored to contribute to the cause, just like the Brothers' Run. This third annual family friendly 3K held on September 11 supports mental health and suicide awareness. I cannot think of a more important race to take part in this year, with so many struggling from lockdown-induced mental health issues. Both of these events are hosted by RaceRise, and they hit the mission nail on the head every single time. 

On September 19, the Iron Horse Half Marathon is back in action. This race is in Midway and there are horses, stone fences, and Bluegrass scenery galore. And fun fact - their race director is a total boss

A new race for us this year is the Run Richmond Half Marathon & 5K on October 2. This race is held in conjunction with the City of Richmond's Millstone Festival. 

The Kentucky History Half Marathon is a personal favorite. Held on October 16 in downtown Frankfort, this is a race with a lot of gorgeous scenery and sweeping panoramas, challenging hills and inspiring history. It is the "Greatest Half in History." Don't miss it - and visit the Kentucky Historical Society while your'e there! 

Also on October 16 just a little further down the road is the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon in downtown Louisville. If you like a good party, this race is definitely for you! It is a fine production. 

Then on October 31 at the iconic Kentucky Castle is the RunTheBluegrass Fall Royale. This is another breathtaking course (literally and figuratively) through horse country's most famous farms. 

The Gobbler Half Marathon, 10K and 5K for sure helps us get into the Thanksgiving spirit every year! 

So many races, so little time to blog right now. But there’s no better way to get excited about spring and back to (somewhat) normal than events to look forward to. We can’t wait to see you there!


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Central Kentucky running half marathon runner running RunTheBluegrass https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/3/a-schedule-of-races-to-look-forward-to-see-you-there Tue, 09 Mar 2021 02:26:02 GMT
The Humanity Found in the Waiting https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/the-humanity-found-in-the-waiting 'The world does not revolve around me. And I can wait.'

By Allison Antram

Learn more about Allison here


It’s overdone and unremarkable to say that America is a convenience-based, get-it-now kind of culture. Some combined grievance of privileged society, hyper-advanced technology and social media has shrunken our attention spans and our capacity for inconveniences or delays. We simply cannot tolerate, have no formula for, waiting.

Ah, what a loop the pandemic threw all of us. We are now required to wait for our long-planned vacations. For family gatherings. In line for Trader Joe’s. What was once so inherently fast and convenient has become just the opposite. Everything requires thought, patience, a reworked schedule. The delay of our desires is now the norm, if not the entire cancellation. We have no category for loss of personal control, which is precisely what this year has required of us. So what have we learned in the in-between?

Have we finally felt our grief, or maybe even boredom? And did we lean in to experience it, or run?

Did we relearn how to appreciate (or cook) a home cooked meal, around a table with familiar and loved faces?

Have you felt your pulse slowing down? Your schedule returning to a more humane speed? 

Did you feel the discomfort of non-instantaneous gratification? Better yet, was there something to learn from it?

In the waiting, we find a number of things: how deeply our expectations were hinged on what we must now wait for, how restless or anxious our hearts have become, the magnificent impatience of our own character. Most simply put, our humanity.

When we wait, we forcibly surrender the idea that we are part-machine, in full control and simply can’t spare the time. We are messy flesh, in such little control, and we must spare the time. Where our phones now occupy our minutes of discontented waiting in line, we once would have to look at the other human beings around us, and talk about the mundanity of being human. 

“I can’t believe how cold it’s been!”

“My daughter has hair just like yours.

“Is that book any good? I’ve been thinking of picking it up.”

All conversations that have happened, in checkout lines, sweetly and unremarkably. They were not productive, it wasn’t about networking, it didn’t get me to the Target cashier any faster. But it reminded me that this person next to me––whatever we may or may not have in common––shares some form of humanity with me. The world does not revolve around me. And I can wait.

Last year, in the height of a pandemic, waiting to be released from my tiny apartment, I found many simple, precious gifts of being human. Learning how to make some very ideal cinnamon rolls. Walking––a lot––and relearning the streets of my own neighborhood, picking out favorite trees that blossomed in a particularly stunning way. Appreciating conversations in any form, even through screens. 

Waiting dethrones us from our overly self-important agendas. In rediscovering our own humanity hidden in the discomforts of impatience, we also find the humanity in others, the beauty around us, and a life set to a pace that requires our full attention. Look around. By the grace of God, we may soon be free from pandemic burdens and inconveniences, but we can still choose to return to the wait.

Leather journal cover by Survivor Made. Learn more about that organization, here. All photos (shared to mellow you out) by J.A. Laub Photography

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Allison Antram J.A. Laub Photography learning to wait Waiting https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/the-humanity-found-in-the-waiting Tue, 16 Feb 2021 19:25:33 GMT
A new face around here - meet Allison!! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/meet-allison Pursuing 'a vision of independent success and hustle'

As the pandemic pivot and transition drags on, we are working hard to update the blog once a week with what I hope is inspiring, compelling and educational content. The cool thing is, most of these posts will highlight the incredible people we get to work with through our business. We have no shortage of amazing people to feature and hope you enjoy their stories. With help, we can do it better. Enter: Allison Antram! Allison is a kick-butt freelance writer and an all around cool person. I'm happy to let you all get to know her a little bit better because her byline will be on many of these stories we publish. 


AL: Tell us who you are! Where are you from? What led you to Lexington?
AA: Hi! I'm Allison Antram. I'm originally from Canton, a.k.a. northeast, Ohio. My grandparents lived in Somerset, Ky., for most of my life, and convinced me to go to Asbury University in Wilmore, Ky. I ended up moving here permanently after college and I've been here since! The community has been too sweet, and kept me here much longer than I expected!

AL: You recently quit your full time job (with benefits, the whole "adult" thing) just in time for this pandemic! How did that feel?
AA: Whew, I really did! To be honest, it felt great. Definitely scary, but great! I was in a 9-to-5 job that was fine, but I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do long-term or where I ultimately wanted to be. I am lucky to have an inexpensive apartment and no spouse or children to provide for, so if I wanted to take the risk, it seemed like there was no better time! It felt so freeing. Can't wait to tell my future children how I quit my job in the middle of a pandemic.

AL: Did you have a moment of panic?
AA: I have many tiny moments of panic, ha, but it has much more to do with imposter syndrome than instability.

AL: What are you doing to “make it”? Any advice?
AA: I definitely don't feel far enough along to give advice on this (I'm sure you would have great advice!), but I will say connections have truly been everything for me. And I'm never afraid to send a cold email and semi-obnoxiously put myself out there.

AL: More and more people are turning to freelancing. I've read often in Forbes that the freelance/gig economy IS the new economy, and it is how increasing numbers of people prefer to work. Why do you think that is? 
AA: Of course there's a technology factor; the pandemic showed us just how possible remote work is. But honestly, I feel like the draw to freelance work is a big millennial culture thing. Nearly everyone I know has a side hustle or has thought about going rogue and finding a way to be their own boss. I don't necessarily relate to my generation's extreme love of flexibility and complete self-authority. I actually was pretty hesitant toward the freelance world! But I think that has grown our version of the "American Dream" into a vision of independent success and hustle.

AL: Tell us about some of the projects you are excited about for 2021? We are so excited to be working with you.
AA: Honestly I'm just excited to get settled in with freelance work! Everything still feels new and shaky, so I'm hopeful for it to become more normal for me. On one hand I'm really looking forward to continue some contracted copy/writing work, but more importantly I'm partnering up with my best friend to be her copywriter for her branding studio, South Brook Studio, which she's relaunching soon. And on the other hand, I'm excited to explore my personal writing and branch out into more magazine writing! That's where I'm hoping to end up, so looking forward to taking steps in that direction.

AL: You write a lot. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? 
AA: Pretty much! There were a few years in early childhood where I wanted to be an artist, but I have truly always been a writer. I would write and illustrate short stories when I was young, or make newspapers for my family. It's always been my niche.

AL: Logistically, where do you typically work? 
AA: I truly live in coffee shops. I also work from my apartment, but it's quite tiny and as an extrovert I find I need a bit more stimulation to be productive. So I'm usually at Manchester Coffee or Brevede in Lexington.

AL: I love working with you because I was a less-cool version of you 10 or so years ago, and I love seeing people like you succeed! I used to cry in my car on the way to work at the last "full-time" job I ever held. I have never looked back, and I truly admire people who step out of the status quo. But I know it can be scary. For me, all it took were a few wins and a few people telling me I could do it. What made you take the leap to freelancing?
AA: Ha, first of all, you are absolutely cooler than me, just in different ways, but I am honored! That story resonates more than I would like to admit; I wrestled with my job for a while for a lot of reasons, most of them involving not knowing what my next step was going to look like, and being fearful that I would be equally frustrated with whatever I hopped to next.

There were many small lightbulb moments, I would say. There was an initial jump, when I knew in my gut that it was my time to take a leap of faith and quit my job with quite literally nothing lined up, and from there it was a lot of prayers and emails and rejected job applications before I recognized the amount of freelance work I already had in front of me, and that this could be a viable option, not just a backup plan. It's definitely not where I thought I would end up, but I'm so glad I did. Opportunities have continued to unfold in proportion to my willingness to say "yes."


AL: I LOVE that. 'Opportunities have continued to unfold in proportion to my willingness to say yes.' This is truth! Have you ever second guessed yourself? 
AA: I second guess myself about many things, but I have not second guessed quitting my job one time.

AL: I love working with you, because you are very creative but also incredibly organized. A rare combination! I can just say a bunch of random stuff that I'm envisioning and then all of the sudden you’ve sent me some nice tidy to-do item in Asana. What do you feel that you bring to the table for your new clients? How have you set yourself apart? 
AA: Ah, so much joy in doing that for you! I'm a very strategic thinker, which translates into organization, but also communication and structure around goals. So my organized creative brain has led me to become a jack-of-all-trades, which I hope makes me adaptable. I've done large and small-scale event planning, I created a podcast, I've managed publications, I dabble in photo and design, I do all kinds of writing from profiles to business to very technical copy to more reflective pieces... these are all creative elements that, I hope, can lend me to be an exceptional support for the individuals and businesses I work with. I love learning and taking on something new.

AL: Most writers also like to read! What’s a favorite book you’ve read recently?
AA: More recently, I really enjoyed Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle, and it has stuck with me. But honestly, I started my 2020 reading Educated by Tara Westover and I still think about it all the time. Incredible memoir and it reads like fiction.

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/meet-allison Sun, 14 Feb 2021 22:50:29 GMT
Help us give back to CASA https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/help-us-give-back-to-casa Photo session proceeds benefit CASA....read to the end to learn more!

Our work over the years has afforded us the blessing of meeting so many amazing people in Kentucky. They care deeply about the communities they serve. Take CASA, for example. CASA, which stands for “court appointed special advocate,” is one of our favorite local organizations because of the meaningful ways they support the overwhelmed foster care systems in Kentucky. They help children every single day. 

“The Courier Journal recently reported that for the third year in a row, Kentucky has the worst rate of child mistreatment in the nation,” Ben Kleppinger, their Community Engagement Coordinator, explained the crisis and where CASA seeks to intervene. “We had just over 20 cases of child abuse and neglect per 100,000 children in 2020. More than 1,200 children in our four counties were affected by abuse or neglect in 2020 — and those are just the children we know about because the abuse or neglect was detected and substantiated.”

In response, CASA organizes trained volunteers to partner with these kids in the foster system.

“In 2020, CASA of Lexington had more than 200 CASA volunteers, who advocated for the best interests of 583 abused or neglected children. Because cases last on average 18-24 months, there may be 2,000-3,000 children who are involved in the family court systems served by CASA of Lexington on any given day. CASA volunteers are usually assigned to the worst or most complicated cases, where the judge really wants an additional set of eyes to help evaluate,” Kleppinger explained the great need, and how CASA has become an essential part of meeting it.

CASA advocates, unlike lawyers or social workers, focus specifically on the needs of the child. They work through the family court system to place a consistent advocate in the life of the child, regardless of what other figures may change in their lives.

Pictured is the pre-pandemic Bourbon & The Bayou Gala, CASA's primary fundraising event for the year. With the 2021 Gala canceled, CASA needs your support!

We’ll be looking forward to their fall 5K (to be announced soon), but in the meantime, please find a way to get involved - anything from donating, participating in the auction or signing up to volunteer is beneficial! Kleppinger urged, “There are hundreds more children in our local communities who could have benefited from a CASA volunteer in 2020; and there will likely be even more in 2021.”

Because we care about this cause, for the first two people who book a one-hour portrait session* with us and mention this email, 100% of the profits will go to CASA! Email [email protected] to book! Or, ask us how to get involved in volunteering or donating other goods and services, and we will be thrilled to put you in touch with CASA.

*A one-hour session in Central Kentucky, only - either family or headshots - is $275. Includes 10 retouched high resolution digital images with print release. Prints not included.

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) CASA CASA of Lexington give back photo shoot https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/help-us-give-back-to-casa Tue, 09 Feb 2021 14:39:47 GMT
Trailblazer of Redemption: Ked Frank and Refuge for Women https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/trailblazer-of-redemption-ked-frank-and-refuge-for-women 'I don’t think about the beach, I don’t think about playing golf, I don’t think about slowing down… I love what I do,'


As Refuge for Women founder Ked Frank and his team prepare to launch a new brand, Survivor Made, we took some time to talk with our longtime friend. We’ve had the privilege of working with Refuge for Women since it launched in 2009 and are thrilled to see the unveiling of Survivor Made. The site launched today! 

Founded in Central Kentucky and now with multiple locations across the U.S., Refuge for Women is a non-profit, faith based organization providing specialized long-term care for women who have escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation. Survivor Made is Refuge for Women’s social enterprise that creates jobs and income the program’s participants when they have barriers to employment. 

With Refuge’s launch of Survivor Made, It felt like a great time to learn more about Ked’s story and the remarkable work of Refuge. 

By Allison Antram

Getting into the work of rescuing women from the sex industry isn’t for the faint of heart, but heart initially is what Ked Frank was leaning on as he forged an entirely new business model in Central Kentucky. 

“Once your heart gets engaged in something, it’s hard to break away from it,” he said about the humble beginnings of Refuge For Women, which now spans nationwide. “It seemed like the issue just kept popping up everywhere. We felt like the Lord was making it really, really clear ––that he was doing something, and we were going to be in the middle of it.”

There is much about the beginnings of Refuge for Women that is only explainable through the lens of a God-plan. Ked and Michelle Frank were living in Ohio when they began to learn about the crisis of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation, and they knew they were being called to be a part of the solution. A move to Kentucky and Refuge’s 11 years and seven locations since, the success and magnitude of what they’ve created is deeply inspiring. Yet, it began with simple vision, deep conviction, and willingness to take a risk.

“I enjoy blazing trails and starting new things,” Ked explained. “You don’t know what you’re stepping into. You don’t know how this is all going to work out… the unknown is exciting. It’s an adventure, asking God, ‘How are you going to do this?’” 

Such a posture, which deters most, excited Ked. In the early days, this resilient attitude toward his work and the complexities of it propelled Refuge through its rocky start as they learned of the depth of needs from the victims they were helping, and how they could meet them.

“The needs that the women were bringing into the home were more extensive than I had realized; the PTSD, the addictions, the mental illness, the trauma they’ve been through, the lack of trust… it was harder than what I anticipated,” Ked admitted, laughing as he reflected and simply said, “It wasn’t easy!”

The early days - a farmhouse and $1,100

When the Franks began their rehabilitation and safe houses with an old country farmhouse and $1,100 to renovate it, there was no shortage of challenges — from the home itself to balancing a weighty ministry with their own family. Yet, Ked insisted that this phase of the process held something unique; “There’s a desperation on God and a childlike faith that’s just exciting and adventurous.”

This attitude has boded well for their ministry and their family, as the work of redemption has become a joyful pursuit, inseparable from other parts of their lives. 

“I wake up everyday and I’m passionate about it,” Ked explained with a tangible passion. “It doesn’t even feel like a job. It feels like a part of my life. It’s so ingrained in our family… It feels like a real privilege to get to do what we do each and every day.”

The privilege is visible in the fruit of their hearts and ministry. Ked recalled the initial seeds being planted, when he and Michelle were given a prophetic word about what they were about to embark on, and that “people from all over the world are going to be coming to be a part of this ministry you’re going to be doing.” Though at the time they had no idea what that would look like, it was years later, sitting with a woman trafficked from Europe who spoke no English, that those words reverberated in his mind. It had looked entirely different than he or Michelle had expected or could have planned, but infinitely better for it.

There is no "Plan B"

It comes as no surprise to hear then, despite the difficult nature of such a ministry and its difficult beginnings, that Ked has no “Plan B,” and has never wanted to give Refuge up; the clarity of their call has been too great, and his energy for it is unmatched. 

“I don’t think about the beach, I don’t think about playing golf, I don’t think about slowing down… I love what I do,” he laughed, shrugging off retirement dreams after explaining that he had no idea what else he would even do. “I feel called to do what we do, and I see a long path ahead of us for developing this.”

This long path has already been a stunning one, having acquired a national presence and now spanning seven different locations across the country. But just as their tenacity and vision grows, so does the crisis, while societal understanding remains limited.

Recently this topic surfaced in mainstream news, as Visa and Mastercard blocked the use of their credit cards on PornHub following an investigation that exposed the site’s hosting of videos involving rape, child abuse and other unlawful content. Even with this apparent win, Ked explained that this does sadly very little, as it simply redirects the demand elsewhere.

“We’re not going to end the problem,” he acknowledged that the core of these issues is one that could not be assuaged. “Sex and money drive our world,” he said, going on to explain the roots of the crisis and dispel common myths. He cited the two primary problems that perpetuate the cycle as childhood sexual abuse, and demand. 

“Every single woman we’ve served in 11 years, her world started collapsing when she started experiencing sexual trauma at a very early age and did not have support to be able to process the trauma she was going through,” Ked said. 

He talked through how this trauma and pain and need becomes cyclical, often trapping women in their own circumstances. “When people are desperate, they do what they have to do to survive,” and it’s a truth he’s witnessed — and helped many overcome — firsthand. 

Consequently, he also confronted the myth that sex work is empowering, that there’s a version of it that isn’t harmful, or that this world is something women genuinely choose. Given his experience in seeing the reasons women enter this industry, the addictions it fosters, and the ceaseless demand, he is too familiar with the realities of the industry’s vicious cycle. These realities strengthen his call to the work of Refuge, knowing as the problem only grows, so must the solution.

A creative solution

At the moment, a new and growing phase of that solution is the Survivor Made program, where women work and learn skills as they go through the Refuge program. The products available for purchase include quality leather goods, accessories, candles and gift sets. 

“We want to continue to expand the job opportunities that we have for the residents,” Ked explained their heart behind this development, noting a hope for majorly expanding this resource or getting into boutiques in 2021.

With unmatched heart and trailblazing skill, these efforts and Ked and Michelle’s ministry will surely only continue to educate their community, offer solutions and bring redemption to more and more women. What began with a call, open hearts, and a willingness to take a risk has transformed innumerable lives, with no signs of slowing down.

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/trailblazer-of-redemption-ked-frank-and-refuge-for-women Thu, 04 Feb 2021 16:58:29 GMT
DELETE - Part 3: Liberating my Future https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete---part-3-liberating-my-future Part 3 of a 3-part series. Part 1. Part 2

By Guinevere McWhorter

This morning the sun was brilliant. It’s late January and the days are noticeably longer. I strapped on my boots and headed out for a long walk through the snow. My senses trilled with the catharsis of the cold air. There is tragedy and beauty in life. The wintry death of nature always gives way to new life and the tiny buds are already forming on the naked trees.

In this impossible beauty, my mind returned to Facebook. It must be put to death so that new life could blossom. Today would be the day!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that my sister beat me to this. She’s now two weeks Facebook sober. I asked her about her journey so far. She said, “It’s like I dropped a heavy backpack off of my shoulders or was released from prison. I feel happier. I have capacity to think about other things. I’ve started taking piano lessons and cultivated new friendships.” With her inspiring words, I soldier on through my own detoxification.

I’ve spent the last few weeks messaging connections on Facebook who still hold some irrevocable place in my heart. I didn’t want my departure to be bitter for these many wonderful people. These were some of the connections for which I joined the platform in the first place and whose relationships I cherish. Old friends. Interesting acquaintances. Certainly family. I’ve said hello, told them of my intentions of leaving, and ensured I had their contact. And then, one by one, I deleted them. I watched my friends list decline and in the days that followed, I wasn’t visited by any insufferable regret.

Over the Christmas break, I spent some time with my brother. I explained my intentions. In his matter-of-fact way, he said, “I pity the people who have Facebook.” He’s a good man and years removed from all social media. I reflected on his words as we both labored over pieces of wood in his shop. I watched him there, bringing dead wood to life with some creation. It was beautiful, and I knew that I needed to embrace that physical world more fully. 

With this memory, I commenced the 3-step process of deleting my account. When I was done, I stepped out into the sun for a walk. 

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete---part-3-liberating-my-future Mon, 01 Feb 2021 17:59:52 GMT
DELETE - Part 2: Erasing my Past? https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete---part-2-erasing-my-past Part 2 of a 3-part series. Part 1. Part 3

By Guinevere McWhorter

Now that I've identified those sinful parts of my online nature (ego, anger, validation), I must deal with the memories. The photos are seemingly innocuous. This is where I realize that Facebook was a tool; one that has outrun its usefulness, not unlike a film camera or an overhead projector. It’s time to move on. And so, I moved on and downloaded all of my Facebook photos.

But first, it seemed a good idea to look at the photos before I deleted them. I remember the innocuous, innocent days of Facebook. One of my favorite poets, Robert Frost, was right when he said, “Nothing gold can stay.” Gold is often interpreted as innocence. I was living abroad when I first opened my Facebook account. Opening one was a rite of passage somewhere in the brave first few years of our tech overlordship. (At the time, they were benevolent monarchs. “Here, I’ve given you this little container for your memories.” I acknowledge the utility of this tool.)

With the proud emotional toolkit of a middle-schooler, I looked at photos. But then, a new foe crept in. Memory. Memories wrapped up in photos and albums and comments. That scanned, uploaded photo. There I sit with my sister, perched upon my grandfather’s lap, sometime in 1985. Or, that trip to the desert, astride a camel. I was abroad and I portrayed the exotic. That got many likes. But it was the memory of that cloudless Sahara night and the blinking stars that captured my heart again. Or it was that snowy family Christmas photo. We were all smiling, some clutched snowballs. It was the last one all together before Papa died.

I began to question my resolve. Perhaps I’d need to see a therapist. Much of our identity becomes wrapped up in memory. What we once were and what we hope to become is all intertwined with memories. Doubts swirled. Was I erasing my past and my future? “No Gwen. They’re all saved on a file and in the cloud and you printed an album for your mom for Christmas.”

OK. I kept deleting. Soon, a certain weight lifted. I let the memories linger and I carried on. Some of my photos embodied that unique form of social media attention grabbing. This is a sin as old as Eve. “I’m important! My experience is better than yours.” Just like Eve, we are insecure. And then I found an interesting album. It’s the album of unresolved conflict. It was a birthday party with an old friend and shortly after, bridges were burned, and the friendship was piled on the ash heaps of history. The voice said: “Just hold on to this one album!” either to feed my rage or my grief.

It went on like this, and one by one I deleted albums and watched the flames engulf the memories.


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete---part-2-erasing-my-past Mon, 01 Feb 2021 17:54:25 GMT
DELETE - Part 1: Purging my Toxic, Online Disposition https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete-purging-my-toxic-online-disposition-part-1 Part 1 of a 3-part series. Part 2. Part. 3

By Guinevere McWhorter

As I pressed “Delete Album” on another Facebook curated collection of my memories, I was struck with a sense of panic. Was I sitting down to systematically erase my past? Or was I liberating myself from the more toxic elements of my disposition? This blog in three parts documents my process of digital immolation.

How did I get here? The final straw may have been the last time my cursor hovered over the video sharing the inspiring rehabilitation of an obese pony. (I want to press "like," but then I know I'm outed.) You know how those algorithms work. The more times you hover over a video of an obese pony’s rehab, the more of these ponies you’ll see populating your timeline. “Enough of this,” I muttered. “But the pony!” My humanity seemed to return.

Or maybe it was the last time a rage arose in my stomach as I scrolled through the virtue signaling of a “friend” who felt compelled to convince or judge those with whom she disagreed. It’s such important work to judge the politics and subsequently the hearts of others you can’t see. Her profile, so laced with self-righteousness, fed something primal in me.

Or perhaps it was the mirror before my heart. It was the endless times my own self-aggrandizing, self-validating desire compelled me to share something to the world that was important. “If I just share this one more video, maybe then they’ll get it?” I post, then I abruptly delete it. Move along.

And then of course, perhaps it was how this mess all began. Post a photo on my timeline of my adventures. Tell something to the world. Like. “This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me,” says the poet Emily Dickinson. She must have been an early adopter of Facebook, sending her letter out into cyberspace.

Perhaps finally the irony was not lost on me. Maybe I was full of judgement and narcissism and cheap humanity. I suddenly realized that this is what Facebook had become for me, and I must rid myself of this disease.

And so began my journey of deleting my Facebook account.


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/2/delete-purging-my-toxic-online-disposition-part-1 Mon, 01 Feb 2021 17:34:21 GMT
Yes, it's time to care https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/1/its-time-to-care It is way past time to care, actually. Change doesn't happen with social media posts. We have to live differently! (More on that subject coming soon.)

For years I've subscribed to Seth Godin's daily emails. They're always quick and spot on. This recent post was by far one of my favorites and I want to share it with you. It is so relevant right now. This is only a one-minute read. Read it and digest. 

Why isn’t there a line at the library?

If any other institution was giving away essential items, it would be a sensation. The grocery store, the car dealership, even the laundromat would have a line out the door.

And now that we’ve moved many elements of the library online, it’s even easier to access.

Read on and enjoy! 




[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/1/its-time-to-care Sun, 17 Jan 2021 04:20:54 GMT
'Restoring life in those that once felt lifeless' https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/1/prevention-is-key-in-ending-human-trafficking Brittany Ross of Mission 108 discusses human trafficking prevention


The best thing about the work we do are the people we meet. Each one has an impactful story, but this month I am excited to tell you about our friend Brittany Ross (pictured here). You can read more about Brittany and her husband Robbie Ross Jr. here. Jeff and I had the honor of photographing their wedding in 2010. 

I decided to interview Brittany this month because January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The Rosses founded the non profit Mission 108 in 2012 to serve people in Kentucky and several years later it grew into combatting human trafficking in India. I am excited to share the story with you and hope you consider supporting the work. In the interview below, Brittany offers some excellent insight into trafficking and prevention

Mission 108 aims to advocate for the marginalized, empower the vulnerable, partner with the willing, and focus on Human Rights for the survivors of human trafficking and the extreme poor. Visit their website for more information!


Abby Laub: When did you first become acutely aware of this horrific issue of human trafficking? 
Brittany Ross: In 2016 while working with a non profit in Uganda.  


AL: What were the steps that led you to form Mission108?
BR: I was invited to visit some partnership programs we were funding and to learn about the aftercare system in Northern India. I fell in love with a safe home that was losing its funding because of new government regulations after working so hard to get off the ground. The director of our safe home had a vision of sustainability and understood on a different level what soul care meant for the victims and survivors of sex trafficking. We created a plan to partner together and the rest is history!


AL: Tell me what Mission 108 is funding, and how it's helping women and children impacted by trafficking?

BR: We fully fund our safe home every year by hosting an event weekend in the Bluegrass. Funds go toward raids and rescues, a two-year rehabilitation program that includes soul care, healthcare, therapy, education, job and skills training, and the most loving nourishing environment to heal from the traumas of exploitation. Once a girl comes into our safe home, she is family. We are there for the girls emotionally, spiritually, and physically throughout life. This work is lifelong and we are in the business of creating new life where so much has been taken from them. 

We also partner with local initiates stateside that focus on prevention like working in the school system on educating students on everything from consent to healthy relationships to human trafficking awareness. It starts with the youth!


AL: Why did you decide to work in India?
BR: India leads the world in human trafficking according to the global slavery index. America is one of the number one contributors to trafficking across the globe. It was clear to us that Mission 108 should bridge the gap between the two countries. We believe that if India and America are hot spots for where the problem begins, then the two countries working together can also be the solution and where we see human trafficking end. Both india and America are taking great strides on a governmental level to better support survivors. We are honored to be a part of that work.


AL: i know a lot of people are not aware of the vast reach that traffickers have, right here in the states. It is everywhere. Can you shed some light on this?
BR: Human trafficking is in every crevice of the world because it stems from unhealed (often sexual) trauma and abuse of power from the perpetrators. 

Even if we never come in contact with a trafficker (most of us won’t) or wouldn’t be considered “at risk” for being trafficked, there are proactive ways we can help bring awareness. Most of them start in the home. Things as simple as monitoring our kids' social media (or not giving them access to it at all), and teaching consent (age appropriate) to children at a young age. As early as 2 to 3 years old (as soon as children have language) is when I like to tell parents to start teaching consent. Example: If grandpa or uncle Joe wants a hug but Suzy doesn’t want to give a hug, we don’t force it. We encourage body autonomy by saying something like “Suzy doesn’t want to give hugs right now. Maybe next time!” 

More than 90 percent of traffickers are identified as male. So we believe if men are statistically the problem, then men have a unique opportunity to become the solution. Mission 108 partners with collegiate and professional athletes (mostly men) to spread awareness and begin healthy conversations on the issue of human trafficking. It’s important to use our voices for things that matter! 

The Kentucky Derby is one of the top five human trafficking hot spots in the United States, behind only events like the Super Bowl. So just by simply having a basic understanding of what to look for and what to do if you suspect a human trafficking situation can save a life. 

Prevention is key in ending human trafficking. Creating and encouraging a healthy family dynamic is essential in our fight against human trafficking. Survivors attribute over 96 percent of their trauma and what led them into human trafficking to be an issue that started within the home, often beginning with sexual abuse from a caregiver. 

That means striving for healthy and trusted caregivers is something we can ALL do to ensure our children are protected. I am all about simple and organic solutions: Invite kids over after school that might not have healthy home or trusted caregivers. Ask your kids the hard questions and be open to listening to them if they are expressing an issue with caregivers, or any adult they’ve been alone with. 

We also need to advocate for better laws for victims and survivors of sexual assaults and abuse.


AL: I know this is on your mind every single day. How does this fight impact how you live your life? 
BR: It affects every aspect of my life. Sometimes I feel like I live in a different universe than most 30 years olds. My perspective on life because of the things I’ve seen is something I value. You can not unsee a child whose first days in our safe home are filled with fear and terror because she has never been able to trust anyone, not even her own family. You cannot unhear a conversation between a pimp and a trafficker. Those things change your perspective on a deep level. But I believe that because I’ve seen and experienced deep pain, I have more capacity for deep joy. The two go hand in hand. And I am honored to be called into this work. 

I’m acutely aware of how to protect myself and my family. I educate my friends as I learn myself. We are so busy in our everyday life that sometimes we don’t think about things unless we’ve been taught. I’m always encouraging my friends to evaluate they way we think about sleepovers because of what I know. I say that not to invite fear but to invite power. Awareness is power and the more we know, and the more we are paying attention the better we can protect our children.

AL: I know that COVID has made some of your work difficult lately. What does 2021 look like for Mission 108?
BR: We aren’t exactly sure. We are dealing with that one day at a time. A huge part of our fundraising and the beauty of being a part of Mission 108 is we love the art of gathering. We love events and gathering around tables and taking our donors to visit the safe home. That will look a little different for us this year, but our donors are some of the most generous, life giving people on the planet. I have no doubt we will rally to support our work.


AL: How can people get involved in the fight against human trafficking or support the work you’re doing? 
BR: We love when people donate on their birthday to support a day of the safe home. You can go on our website and make a donation. In the notes tell us your birthday or special occasion (anniversary, kids birthdays, etc). It’s a special way to give back on a day we typically get something special. 

Follow us on social media (@Mission108) and come to our in-person events when we are able to have them! We typically host a Women’s Brunch, Celebrity Golf Scramble, Silent Auction and Black & White Gala.


AL: Can you leave us with some of the wins Mission 108 has had? 
BR: We have rescued nearly 300 girls and seen them walk from darkness into light, from the point of rescued to graduating the program. We’ve had girls get married and have babies (a dream that never felt real to some!) and pursue their dreams and get their dream! We’ve had one girl testify against her abuser and seek justice through the ever improving laws, and we have seen the spiritual warfare shake off of traffickers who’ve committed some of the worst crimes. It feels insane to say but we are evidence of the Divine in our work daily. God is capable of restoring life in those that once felt lifeless. 


Thank you for reading! 

This last photo and the photo at top are of Brittany and Robbie from a cold winter shoot we did a few years ago on his family's farm. All other photos provided courtesy of Mission 108. 

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Brittany Ross human trafficking awareness Mission 108 https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2021/1/prevention-is-key-in-ending-human-trafficking Sun, 17 Jan 2021 03:35:45 GMT
Local, last minute, fabulous Christmas shopping guide https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/12/last-minute-christmas I don't take pride in the fact that I'm somewhat of a last minute Christmas shopper, but I do take pride in the fact that I do my best to shop local and stay off of Amazon when it comes to Christmas shopping. We put together a list of some of our favorite colleagues, friends and business partners who sell great products or services in case you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift that doesn't line the fat pockets of some random exec who doesn't live in your town. These are all incredible people right here in the Central Kentucky community. Enjoy, and happy last minute shopping!



Sign up for a Dry Stack Coffee subscription

We can authentically endorse Dry Stack not just because they’re longtime friends of ours, but also because we drink their coffee every morning, and it is the best! Dry Stack is fresh, local and high-quality coffee subscription service, and is the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life… or for yourself! Owner and roaster Aaron Ranson told us about how they’re getting in the Christmas spirit.

“This holiday season, we're thrilled to offer our first-ever Christmas blend, Merry and Bright," he said. "We specially selected origins for this blend that would bring a pronounced brightness with a little touch of spice at the end. It is the perfect complement to serve with your favorite Christmas dessert or to cozy up with while watching a movie."

The Dry Stack Sampler includes (4) four-ounce bags of coffee in an attractive stamped gift box. It's the perfect gift for the coffee lover in your life or a great way to get an introduction to specialty coffee. Warning; you'll never drink store bought coffee again. 

You can find the Christmas blend, sampler and more on Dry Stack’s website for a very caffeinated Christmas!

Help Ironcology provide hotel rooms to cancer patients

For those in your life who don’t want or need anything, and mean it, what better gift than making a philanthropic donation on their behalf? One of our favorite
organizations is Ironcology, and while they couldn’t host their epic overnight triathlon relay this year (last year's pictured), they are still in need of donations to support their efforts to provide housing for cancer patients and their families. 

“We are tremendously reduced in terms of our availability for places for patients to stay who are receiving cancer treatment,” Ironcology founder Dr. Jonathan Feddock explained their current struggle. “So, the need for hotel vouchers and travel support to patients has never been as important as this year. We have provided over 200 hotel rooms this year to cancer patients in central Kentucky including gas and meal vouchers. Any donation helps!”

We hope that as you extend generosity this Christmas, you keep our friends at Ironcology in mind!

For the business savvy friend; The Lane Report

The Lane Report is one of our favorite publications to write for and to read. We check their website daily! For you, the local culture aficionado or the business expert, this is a great gift. You can subscribe to the print edition to receive one year of the Lane Report, delivered to you for two extra years for FREE! This magazine never runs sales, so get this one and you are absolutely guaranteed to be in the know on all things Kentucky. 

Check out "Survivor Made" products from Refuge for Women

“Consider a gift for Christmas that changes lives,” Ked Frank is the president of Refuge for Women, and makes this convincing plea as you look for last minute Christmas gifts.

Refuge is one of our favorite organizations because of the life-changing work they do every day, and we can’t think of anyone better to support this season. They house women recovering from sexual exploitation in seven different locations across the country. Plus, they are offering beautiful "Survivor Made" products, including purposefully made leather goods and candles, one of which is currently burning in our home. 

“Leather goods and candle bundles are available that are created by survivors of sex trafficking… Women make products in a business called Survivor Made that allows them to develop job skills while earning income while in the program.” Frank explained their Survivor Made program, “Your support will continue to give women hope this Christmas."

When you give a gift from Refuge, you’re also giving to this incredible organization. We hope you’ll be inspired by them and support them as you shop!

Kentucky's best on the Kentucky Monthly shop

Kentucky Monthly is one of our longest standing and most fun writing and photo clients. The magazine is always a delight to read, and we've learned so much about the beautiful Bluegrass State in its pages. Share the Kentucky goodness with someone with a gift subscription (only $15!), or check out their Kentucky Gift Guide for unique local ideas. They also offer a variety of books (all of which are discounted right now!) in their shop.

Alpaca awesome with River Hill Ranch

Ever since connecting with River Hill Ranch many years ago for a magazine article, we've enjoyed visiting the alpaca farm for outings, shearing day(!!), Ranch Camp for the kids, and shopping at the quaint store for high quality, incredible alpaca gifts. If you want the best pair of socks or gloves that you will ever own (PROMISE), check it out. Founder Alvina Maynard has an expert grasp on sustainable, impeccable quality, "slow fashion" made of fibers from her spunky alpacas that you can visit right on the farm. These are products that last for a lifetime. Purchase some products, or buy a tour. Read more about the farm here.

Business of Blogging Masterclass with Allison Lewis

We all know someone who prefers a practical gift. For that business owner or entrepreneur trying to grow their business, our friend Allison Lewis has compiled her blogging and social media wisdom in a book, as well as a masterclass!

“It is the one book you will need to successfully grow your dream of becoming a blogger, social media influencer or grow your brand on social media,” Lewis said of her book, The Business of Blogging and Social Media Influencing.

“The Business of Blogging is for anyone who wants to gain clients and customers for their business, work with other brands as an influencer or for the person who just wants to understand social media better," she said. 

Not only that, but her Business of Blogging Masterclass” allows for businesses as well as individuals to learn at their own pace with a 10-part video series. In this training participants can expect to add to their toolkit Content Creation, SEO, ALT Text, Hashtags, Apps, Caption Creations, Analytics and Insight Analysis, Social Media Strategy and more.

Support hyperlocal with A Cup of Common Wealth

To fuel your shopping excursions, or to fuel your friends’ latte addictions, we highly recommend A Cup of Common Wealth! This local coffee shop continues to be a vital part of the Lexington community, and is very worth supporting since they participate in so much wonderful community work. They have also been one of the most adaptable local businesses in challenging circumstances, and continue to offer curbside service everyday until 5 at their downtown location (105 Eastern Avenue), and you can call 859.255.0270 to place orders.

Pick up some guaranteed-to-please gift cards, merch or retail coffee in their shop, at their Georgetown location (100 E. Main Street) or on their website. You can also stop in to check out their new Winslow and Lime location (closed Dec. 19 through Jan. 3)!

Give the gift of philanthropic fitness with RaceRise

Do you know someone who is trying to meet a running goal? Give them a boost with the RaceRise Frosty Feet Winter Mileage Challenge. This is a fun gift for the ambitions friend who already has everything. Run, walk, hike, or treadmill 26.2, 50, 100, 150, 200, or 250 miles between December 19 and February 6 and collect a prize at the end. Pick your challenge, or form a team! Check out RaceRise for more details. RaceRise does incredible community work for a number of local nonprofits. Your mileage supports the Dv8 Kitchen Vocational Training Foundation, Inc. Win-win. 


We could make this list a mile long, but hope these ideas will put a bow on your Christmas shopping and help you remember local businesses this season. We are doing the same! If you’re looking for more, consider gift baskets and gift cards from a local restaurant, shop owner, clubs or service provider. Think outside of the box with us this Christmas! We wish you all a very merry Christmas season!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Christmas https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/12/last-minute-christmas Sat, 19 Dec 2020 03:47:08 GMT
15 Questions Celebrating 15 Years of Marriage! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/12/15-questions-celebrating-15-years-of-marriage In honor of fifteen years of marriage, we sat down with our friend Allison and answered fifteen questions about these years and who they’ve made us and
how we’ve built our business through it all. We have a lot to celebrate - being both married and in business together for 15 years! Thank you for your support! 

How has your business grown alongside your marriage?

Jeff: The growth and change our business has experienced is very closely tied to our marriage and family life over the years. I think back to fall 2007 when our friend Micah, a lawyer, helped us draw up our articles of incorporation. We owned one DSLR camera and one external flash, and not much else. We didn’t know at the time that J.A. Laub Photography would grow into something that would take us to new places, teach us new things, support our family, earn us new business relationships, and most importantly, friendships. 

You learn a lot about each other being married, but you learn different things about each other trying to run a business together. There’s been things I’ve discovered about Abby by working with her that I probably wouldn’t have (at least as quickly) if we’d never tried this.

The decision for Abby to leave her full time job about 10 years ago was, at the time, a scary one. It seemed to be one of those decisions, like marriage, where you never really know how prepared you actually are. It turned out to be the right one, and the business flourished.

You all are nothing if not adventurers! What is your favorite travel experience you've enjoyed together?

Abby: A highlight for us personally was going to France together last summer. And on our 10th wedding anniversary Jeff surprised me with a trip to the Bahamas. That was incredible! Our business also has allowed us to take some fun tr ips over the years, including New York, Washington, D.C., and others. We have been very blessed to have many travels over the last 15 years! 

J: We met in Colorado (see the pic of us as little youngins!), and over the years have had a few opportunities to go back there. I’d personally put those high on the list as well, just because that place will always be special to me. One in particular when I was looking at grad schools out there early on in our relationship, just the two of us drove out there in my truck. I remember driving through the snowy passes, and just talking a lot about life, getting to know each other in a deeper way.

What is your ideal, local date night?

A: We don’t go on enough dates––Jeff, let’s go on more dates in the next 15 years of our marriage! When we do, it usually involves food or coffee or a bike ride together, or paddling without the kids if we are really lucky.

J: My ideal is very simple. Start with a long chunk of time (ideally open ended), grab our bikes and ride down through campus to downtown, and just do whatever we want. Eat, hang out, maybe just looking at all the old beautiful homes in old downtown for a bit. Finish off the ride with a treat, then head home!

You each hold different parts of the business in different ways. Abby, as the written-word storyteller, what are some of your favorite stories you've written in the last 15 years?

A: I did one recently that I really loved. It was about trees. I think almost all of the articles that I do for Kentucky Monthly are always a favorite at the time I’m writing them. One time Jeff and I went on a zip-lining adventure together for an article. Another involved photographing hysterical little chickens. I’ve eaten amazing food, taken so many fabulous photos, met so many people and experienced more than I ever would have otherwise. I can't pick one favorite. Quite a few of them can be found here. I love all of the writing I do for endless clients, but those ones are always the most fun. 

Jeff, is there a race you look forward to each year?

J: As far as races we shoot, I really look forward to RunTheBluegrass… it really kicks off our race season, and we get to bring a whole team of people for three days to shoot with us, and it always makes great memories. I also really like the Honor Run in Northern Kentucky for the people, the Urban Bourbon in Louisville in the fall for the scenery (and it’s where I grew up), and strangely enough, I like shooting the Gobbler and the Thoroughbred Classic 5K at Keeneland on Thanksgiving. Those are such chill (and chilly!) days; short so everybody still gets home to their family, but it’s a nice late season reminder of the community we share. 

For races I participate in, I love any and all of them. One that has a special place in my heart that I’ve been making a point to get to consistently is called the Bix7 in Davenport, IA. It’s one of the older road races in America, but more importantly, I have family roots there. My mom’s side of the family is from there and I was born there. For the Bix itself, my uncles ran it, my dad ran it, and it connects me to a storyline that reaches back long before I was here. Some great reflection tends to come out of that trip for me each July. 

A big but valuable question!: What has been the greatest joy and greatest challenge of 15 years of marriage?

A: Having our two kids together is a very special highlight. We’ve also experienced many great losses and disappointments together. We’ve taken a few big risks that thankfully have paid off. I think one of the greatest joys is just knowing that he’s stuck with me, no matter what. There is great comfort in that. And we take joy in doing fun things together, like taking the kids tent camping from the time they were babies. Adventures like that make normal months less mundane. 

J: I agree that bringing our children into the world has been not only one of the greatest joys in 15 years of marriage, but in my entire life. That’s an incredible experience to share with someone, and it’s ongoing. I would have to say the greatest challenge is the continual dying to self. I am a selfish person, and there simply isn’t any room in a successful marriage for selfishness. 

And similarly: What has been the greatest joy and greatest challenge of running a business together?

A: I’m pretty sure we’ve had a lot of conversations that have started with me bursting out, “Fine! I’m selling all of these cameras and we are done because this stinks and I can’t work like this anymore!” Thankfully, all the cameras are still accounted for. At first we got under each other’s skin with the business because we have completely different work styles…But we've learned and we’ve managed to grow our business every year, regardless. It’s been a joy, overall, to see what we have accomplished without going into any debt. We realize that although we operate differently, at the end of the day we think a lot alike and value the same things.

J: The greatest joy for me has been the freedom running a business together brings us and our family. I love getting to do things how we think they should be done, and learning all the lessons (positive and negative) that come along with that. I think the greatest challenge is related to my answer for marriage above… I have to remind myself that our business would not be what it is without both of us. Actually, it mostly wouldn’t be what it is without Abby. It grows and becomes stronger because Abby has a different viewpoint than I do, and that’s a good thing! Letting go and trusting her never turns out badly for us. 

How do you celebrate your anniversary each year? How will you celebrate this year (celebrations are still important, even in COVID)?

A: Every year for our wedding anniversary we eat more food than previously thought possible at Malone’s in Landsdowne. Jeff gets some $500,000 steak on the menu and we just let loose and sit for like three hours. Some years we've done special getaways, but we always make time for that dinner tradition.

J: They’ve got the Christmas decor up and all that so that’s a great detail we love about it, too. And for this year, we celebrated the same way, even though because of COVID it was in a huge tent in their parking lot. 

What truly sets your business apart is how communally you approach projects. You have such a beautiful network of client relationships! Who are some of your closest and longest-standing clients?

A: So many! Relationships with our clients is one thing we value, and it has paid off. We truly like the people we work with, so it’s not just a business transaction. Some of the races and race directors, and so many others are just really people and we have a lot of mutual respect for each other. Corporate partners and publishers like Kentucky Monthly, The Lane Report, SmileyPete and so many others have been with us since the beginning. Some of the family portrait sessions we’ve done for more than 10 years––starting with their wedding and continuing on through the years. 

Abby, what is something unique about Jeff that your clients may not know?

A: He doesn’t own a car! He sold his truck in May 2019 and we’ve been a one-car family ever since. He rides his bike to work every day––heat, rain, snow, cold. It’s pretty incredible. We do a lot of walking and cycling together as a family for every day events. 

Jeff, what is something unique about Abby that your clients may not know? 

J: Abby’s an identical twin! We just celebrated their birthday last weekend with a Zoom birthday party! Abby has an incredible commitment to family and when her family of five siblings (and their spouses and kids) is together it’s quite an experience! 

If you could give one piece of marriage advice from your fifteen years of wisdom, what would it be?

A: I feel like I still know nothing about marriage. Just support, love and respect each other, always. Be nice, and remember your happiness isn't contingent on the relationship. And if we didn’t have God in our lives, we’d probably not still be married. I’d say, too, just be fun and adventurous together. Do things differently than other couples. We try not to fit too well into the “the mold.” 

J: Get over yourself and serve your spouse. Bring what’s good about you to the table, and let what’s good about them fill in the major holes that would definitely be there if they weren’t. 

What about one piece of wisdom from working with your spouse?

A: Have your own projects and then have some together. If we did all of our projects together, we would drive each other bonkers. We keep synced up just enough to run a business together, but each bring our own unique clients, projects and skills to the table.

J: Don’t let work become the centerpiece of your relationship. It’s hard to do, but it’s critical to have separation between what you do and who you are as a couple. Your work doesn’t define you, and although it plays a big role, our business doesn’t define our marriage. 

How do you separate work from family and marriage?

A: I could easily be a workaholic because I really like what I do and have worked incredibly hard to build my career while also raising children without full-time daycare, so it’s hard to cut myself off. We don’t talk a lot about business outside of work hours, so that helps. We have enough hobbies and interests that help draw us away from all business all the time. 

Let’s take a trip down memory lane! What stands out as a memorable story from your time working together?

J: There are so many. I remember shooting Kerry and Alan's barn wedding on a 95-degree day and sweating through about three shirts. I remember one wedding where I broke a lens on the dance floor. I remember another bride knocking over one of our cameras we had on a tripod. I remember breaking a flash at another wedding. I remember getting to stop in New York City for a couple days and take in Wicked while traveling to upstate New York to shoot a wedding. I remember when weddings started to become less of what we wanted to shoot, then meeting lots of crazy and awesome runners and athletes as we worked our way into a new community and business model. I can remember getting to meet Boston Marathon winner Des Linden and photograph her with American Pharaoh the year after she won Boston. I can remember countless 4 or 5 a.m. wake up times for races, meeting our good friends who’ve shot with us for years now to make a sleepy drive somewhere to be at a race early.

I can remember some of the most breathtaking views of Kentucky sunrises and horse farms and lakes and back roads that made me feel lucky just to be alive in that moment and that will stay with me forever. I can remember staying up all night the last several years to shoot an overnight triathlon relay and working shifts so that one of us could get back home and be with the kids while they slept. I can remember somehow making a wrong turn on a course in downtown Louisville and ending up in busy traffic for a couple of miles, driving a golf cart. I remember the finish line proposals, the cold mornings where I accidentally underdressed. I remember our friend Alex who wore a pair of Toms with no socks to photograph RunTheBluegrass one of the years it was in the low 40’s and rained hard for the entire race. I remember retrofitting a bicycle trunk bag for photo gear and riding my bike to photograph races like the Bluegrass 10,000 and the Midsummer Night’s Run. 

When I think back over all these memories, I realize I wouldn’t change any of it. The broken gear, the heat, the cold, the early mornings and the late nights; they’ve all been worth it. At times neither of us would have said that, but I believe it wholeheartedly now. This business has been an opportunity again and again to show up for one another, and above all, that’s what I remember most from every story: my wife and partner experiencing it all with me.


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) anniversary business J.A. Laub Photography marriage https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/12/15-questions-celebrating-15-years-of-marriage Fri, 04 Dec 2020 21:41:31 GMT
Happy Veterans Day! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/11/happy-veterans-day Amidst a tumultuous ongoing election season, it is great timing to remember the people responsible for ensuring the security of our great nation - our veterans. Happy Veterans Day!

It’s been a year since we photographed the Honor Run Half Marathon (pictured in this post), and it was with sadness we saw this race - like so many others - fall victim to Covid. Every year this race served as a very real reminder that Veterans Day is not just something to pay lip service to on social media. Something as universally patriotic as celebrating our veterans can return us all to a moment of unity as Americans, something we need now more than ever. 

Without fail at the Honor Run every year, Abby finds herself at the finish line, snapping photos through sobs. The raw pain mixed with pride of those who lost loved ones in war, or who themselves served, is very real and very visible at this event. It’s incredibly powerful and beautiful to witness.

And like many of you reading this, we have veterans whose memory dominates our minds this time of year, and make the day and the run feel all the more significant.

Honor Run Half Marathon 2019
We also think of all the veterans –– some incredible women in particular –– we’ve had the privilege to know and stories we’ve been honored to tell. We think of real-life superwoman Dr. Krysta Manning, who used her dental expertise to serve with the Air Force, even after giving birth to triplets, before ultimately finding a path to her MBA and simplifying her own dental practice. We think of Alvina Maynard, whose long service in the Air Force eventually paved the way to her current business as an alpaca farmer while still serving in the Air Force. 

We probably all have a veteran in our life that we know and love. And maybe this year is the perfect opportunity to honor them exceptionally well above the drama of a divided nation, and recognize the shared values we can celebrate as Americans. Write a card. Look through old photos. Make a phone call. Use your Honor Run half-marathon photo to share your appreciation and patriotism with your followers, or even make a donation. 

Regardless of the events of this year or the outcome of a wild election, we all have an opportunity to bring a bit of unity to our corner of the country we love. And remember that it was fought for, many times with the ultimate sacrifice. 

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Honor Run Half Marathon Veterans Veterans Day https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/11/happy-veterans-day Tue, 10 Nov 2020 19:55:18 GMT
Q&A: An Accountant’s Advice for the Pandemic https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/11/accountantadvice

It's been a wild year, and we have certainly not been immune to the struggles and loss of business. In such an economy and no promise of predictability or “normalcy” any time soon, we decided to ask our good friend, Dal Barrett of DB Virtual Accounting, for some advice, and we thought it might be useful to you, too!

We’ve worked with Dal as our CPA for about 10 years, and have also enjoyed taking his family photos in those years (he's pictured above with his family at their session last month.) And we have been inspired to watch him launch his own accounting business this year. He has a lot of wisdom to offer, and we hope you’ll benefit from this conversation! 

Abby: How do you advise people, business owners or otherwise, as this tumultuous year comes to a close, with chaos likely lingering on in 2021? What are some sound financial and tax strategies that you often point to in light of all of the drama?  

Dal: Take a breath. Life comes at us at 100 mph. Yes, there's a lot of uncertainty right now but we can only control what we can control – budget. It's hard but it’s the best thing you can do for a family or a business. It's not a once-a-year activity, but monthly.

A: You started your own accounting business in the middle of the pandemic. So is it safe to say you’re a risk taker?

D: Actually, I'm far from a risk taker. I've wanted to start an accounting firm for a long time but never took the leap. So to do it now was a very calculated risk. My wife and I decided this was the time just a few days before the shutdown in March. Even as the shutdown continued, we still believed this was God's plan. So here we are.

A: You previously worked as a Certified Dave Ramsey Financial Counselor. How have you been able to offer people hope through stronger financial planning? 

D: Absolutely. There is always hope, we just lose it sometimes; when we lose hope we have to find people and a plan to get it back. I walked through their finances with them and asked some hard questions, then helped them put a plan together to show them there was freedom on the other side of the financial pain. Where there is hope there is progress.

A: We know the rules of taxes are constantly changing. But what are the principles of tax and financial planning that don’t change? 

D: The unchanging principle is to have a plan. One of my favorite sayings is, "Failing to have a plan is a plan to fail." Planning is hard because we are so busy, but a plan is like having a map before you set out for a long road trip. It has to be challenging but realistic, and it has to be revisited at least annually to remind you where you're going and why you're doing what you're doing.

A: Why do you love accounting, and tax and financial planning? 

D: I love helping people. When people have hope they have an opportunity to prosper. When we give someone hope they have the ability to go help someone else, and on and on it goes.

A: There’s a lot of stereotypes. What do you wish people knew about accountants? 

D: It's not about the numbers. We can be very detail-oriented, but it's being able to see the big picture and the relationships between all the moving parts.

A: Level with us; what is your least favorite thing about taxes? 

D: Paying them. Seriously, with the ever-changing rules, it's never ending.

A: And a shameless plug: Why have you enjoyed working with J.A. Laub Photography over the years? 

D: You all have been so awesome to work with over the years; there have been pictures taken by you guys hanging up in our house for years. You all capture more than a picture – you capture personality. Working with you is always fun!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) advice finances recession tax tax help https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/11/accountantadvice Tue, 10 Nov 2020 16:05:23 GMT
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is coming to a close https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/breast-cancer-awareness-month-is-coming-to-a-close October is coming to a close. Aside from the imminent opportunity for half-priced Halloween candy, this also marks the end of something much more significant: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There are multiple races and organizations we would typically partner with throughout this month, photograph or donate services to, and while we’re missing those experiences in 2020, there is still opportunity to honor these causes and their survivors. 

We’ve been thinking about cancer stories like that of Heidi Fuller, and how she turned her cancer experience into a beacon of hope (in the form of a beautiful wig shop!) for women experiencing the same.

It’s for the same reason we typically love partnering with CHI Saint Joseph Health Foundations and their Yes, Mamm! Program, through the 5K race that raises awareness and funds to support their important work. We are amazed by their ability to provide holistic care and support for women in need. Since its beginnings in 2012, Yes, Mamm! has raised close to $100,000 to provide thousands of mammograms and diagnostic services to women and men in Kentucky, along with program and transportation assistance.

Their goal is to raise money to help 300 new women to finish the year, and we want to help them achieve it to close out the month! While COVID has kept us from running for this cause this year, we would still love your support. Consider making a donation to support the important work of this organization to change the lives of hundreds of women. {LINK}

Another organization we love that supports this cause of beating cancer is Ironcology, which typically hosts the Survive the Night triathlon and marathon relays every summer. Like Yes, Mamm!, their goal is to provide cancer support services to those most in need in Kentucky, which is executed through donations. We are honored to partner with them each year and for this incredibly fun event and worthy cause. You can make a direct donation since they were not able to hold their event this year  or learn more about them through their website.

Though the possibilities may be more limited this year, the need is still just as great. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to reminisce on your race experience, share your photos on social and encourage your communities to join you in supporting these organizations. 


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Breast Cancer Awareness Month give back running Yes Mamm! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/breast-cancer-awareness-month-is-coming-to-a-close Fri, 30 Oct 2020 02:16:54 GMT
It's Spooky Time! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/its-spooky-time HAUNTED, HISTORIC KENTUCKY" promo with the Kentucky Historical Society


One of the relationships forged over the years as photographers that's proven fun is with the Kentucky Historical Society. For several years we had the pleasure of photographing the Kentucky History Half Marathon with the society's foundation. It is such a great event, and I look forward to seeing it return in 2021 under the leadership of RaceRise and Small Batch Coaching. 

We also did some fun blog posts for the race as well as an article for Kentucky Monthly.

So when our friend Doug High, president of the foundation, called about helping out with a TV promotion this fall, of course it was a 'yes!' Studio46 in Lexington graciously donated top notch studio time, and I was so thrilled with the results! Doug and Lyssa nailed their "X Files" look. 

But most importantly, please tune in to the show as Doug and his amazing broadcaster wife Lyssa explore some of the state's spookiest secrets at the Kentucky Historical Society! 

"Lyssa and I are VERY excited to be hosting this program and bringing you some incredibly creepy stories from the archives of the Kentucky Historical Society...including a very eerie tale (never been told) about one of our most treasured artifacts...Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch! It will give you the chills! We have some very talented storytellers and historians on the team," Doug said. 

The show details are here

"HAUNTED, HISTORIC KENTUCKY" with the Kentucky Historical Society:

Thursday, October 29 @ 7:30 p.m. on WTVQ-TV ABC 36 in Lexington

Friday, October 30 @ 9:30 a.m. on WHAS-TV ABC 11 in Louisville

If you love Kentucky history, set your DVRs and catch "Haunted, Historic Kentucky" with the Kentucky Historical Society.

Check out next year's race

And finally, if you're stoked for the next running of the Kentucky History Half Marathon held on Oct. 16, 2021, sign up today. You have no excuse for too little training time! And you have no excuse not to see this show - because it's 2020 and we can record anything. 

Last year's race photos are here.

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) commercial photography Kentucky Historical Society promos WTVQ https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/its-spooky-time Sun, 25 Oct 2020 03:08:05 GMT
The Year of Reinvention https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/the-year-of-reinvention Races, pivots, and pushing through 2020 with one of our oldest clients


Our longtime colleague and friend Eric Patrick Marr said it best when he talked about the pandemic throwing a wrench into his perfectly executed plans of the 10th annual RunTheBluegrass half marathon. It was set to be a spectacular event until Covid canceled all of it. It would have kicked off a tremendous year for our business.

“I've likened our experience with 2020 as a giant locomotive barreling down the tracks at full throttle, then all of a sudden having to throw on the brakes as hard as possible,” Eric said in October. “In other words: a trainwreck.”

His words aptly describe this year’s experience as Race Director for RunTheBluegrass, but also speak to an experience many of us can relate to in some capacity. The year 2020 has been full of hopes dashed, plans rearranged, the year we carefully plotted out thrown into chaos. Our business, J.A. Laub Photography, as well as the races and the community around it we love so dearly, was not immune. There’s no sugar coating it; you have to get creative to
keep paying the bills when the majority of your income is supplied by high volume sporting events. 

RunTheBluegrass in particular was ready to have a big year, with 2020 being the 10th anniversary. With more than 5,000 annual participants across multiple events, primarily the half marathon, this race is our largest and most beloved, and we’ve been honored to be with them from their beginning in 2011; you can read our 10-year recap on our blog. 

Bigger things to come

In spite of Covid, this year has also brought exciting changes that wouldn't have otherwise been possible. Over his quarantined summer, Eric had plenty of time to consider the race he built from the ground up with Co-Race Director Rachel Crabtree and where there might be possibilities to reinvent. This race, normally in March, took place with safety precautions at the beginning of October, and was our first event since early March. And it wasn’t the only shift in plans for RunTheBluegrass. 

“From those many weeks and months in quietness were born the ideas of not only expanding toward also hosting a new fall race each year, but expanding out across the country with the entire series, America's Prettiest Half Marathons,” Eric said of his new ideas. “There are so many beautiful places to run across our gorgeous land, it's time to take this show on the road!” 

With the addition of Fall Royale at the Kentucky Castle, and with the larger vision to expand the experience of RunTheBluegrass into different parts of America, Eric’s vision is to transform one of Kentucky’s most classic races into a wide and innovative opportunity. It’s this spirit, this willingness to pivot from what we previously assumed, that has defined what makes a business or organization resilient in 2020, and it’s something we, at J.A. Laub Photography, have been challenged by as well. 

You may purely know us as race photographers – something we continue to be committed to in a community we cherish – but our year of cancelled events has given us time to consider what other endeavors we want to (and need to!) press into as this all unfolds. Through our photography, writing, video and creative marketing, we hope to step into a new chapter to highlight the characters that make Kentucky the community it is. Thankfully we’ve already been provided with opportunities to do that throughout the pandemic. We love being storytellers of our clients and our state, and we hope you’ll join us as we make more intentional steps toward that objective in our business.

Transformative partnerships

In the meantime, we remain committed to the work you know and love, including our strong partnership with RunTheBluegrass “since day one. Literally,” Marr kindly spoke of our work with the race, “And I don't think we'll ever part ways, it's been that great of a partnership with them. Not only are their photographs excellent, themselves, but their ability to adapt with ever-changing technology is a huge, huge asset in this day and age! I think our relationship with Abby and Jeff is one of the single best things that RunTheBluegrass has ever forged!” 

The appreciation is mutual! With partnerships like this one and the unexpected opportunities a tumultuous year has brought us, we have a lot to look forward to. We’ve loved seeing some of our other partners similarly transform their businesses and we empathize with those who have also been forced to dramatically redefine their organizations through no fault of their own.

Eric’s excitement for the future is evident. “I cannot wait to fully launch our new spring and fall weekend experiences, once everything returns to ‘normal enough!,’” he said. “Our now 11-year old spring weekend will now be called The Original RTB, while our new Fall Royale at The Kentucky Castle will be each October-ish!” 

We have the same excitement looking forward to what the future of J.A.Laub Photography can be, and the hope that these reinventions offer us. We hope you’ll join us on the journey!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Business pivot RunTheBluegrass https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/10/the-year-of-reinvention Sun, 25 Oct 2020 01:18:39 GMT
See the Light (Part 1 of 2) https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/4/see-the-light-part-1-of-2

The Sun is your friend

“When was the last time you looked at a sunrise?” my trainer, Jim Laird, asked.  

“Like through my house window in the morning?” I stammered.

“No,” he said, “outside, looking at the sunrise without sunglasses, and with as much skin showing as possible.” 

I had no answer, and I didn’t totally get his point as the question came during a strength training session to rehab my surgically repaired hip a few years ago. “What does this have to do with my hip?” With a little research, more tips from Jim, and first-hand experience I began to see the light and have enjoyed studying the topic ever since. And I’ve reaped the benefits of a more enlightened view. 

To a photographer, this is a big deal. After all, we are light experts, right!? I am well-versed on the importance of light and its effect on a photo. I can create good light when no good light can be found. However, I had never thought much about my own “apertures,” those eyeballs on the front of my face. And, for that matter, my skin. Of course, Vitamin D is good, everyone knows that. But I’d never seriously considered the importance of natural sunlight on my overall health (“It’s all about food and exercise!”). Immunity, stress levels, hormone function, the list goes on. 

After a few conversations with Jim, a Lexington-based health, light and strength training guru, I began to take this more seriously. I quickly saw the benefits firsthand. And the science was conclusive. 

Before I jump into the importance of sunlight, take a moment to think of a few things that come to your mind on the topic of sun exposure in pop culture. You might think of:

1. Sun is great, but you need sunscreen if you’re going out for more than a few minutes.

2. The sun is dangerous to your eyes and sunglasses protect them.

3. Getting a sunburn will ruin your skin forever.

But, what if none of this was true? I’ve spent the last several years sorting through the cascade of sun schema built up in my mind, much of it by clever corporate marketing, and I’ve begun – through practice and research – to filter through what’s junk science and what’s true. Just like fine tuning camera lighting skills. 


The effects area real

I realized that not wearing sunglasses all the time actually did make me see more clearly. And I didn’t even need them when it was super bright outside (a hat usually did the trick in a pinch). I rarely wear the prescription glasses anymore that I used to rely on for computer work. When I wore blue blockers at night, or as often as I could when on screens, I didn’t feel that eye strain (we all know it) and then didn’t have trouble sleeping. Using common sense practices in the summer months, I could build up a great “base tan” without ever getting a sunburn. I could avoid the groggy morning blues with a dose of morning sunshine on the deck with my coffee. These were very simple things that led me to dig into the science of the why. 

I’m the daughter of a scientist, but that’s the only claim I can make to knowing science. However, the biological facts are easy to find if you’re looking for them. Did you know that, similar to gut health, your eyes basically have their own microbiome? Healthy circadian rhythms and the resulting hormone production are crucial to overall health and immune system function. Way beyond the usual sleeping well.

I was always a child of nature. Growing up in the woods of a small country town before the age of everything tech; I was always outside and always healthy. When we were first dating in our early 20s, my husband jokingly called me a hippie because of my earthy ways. But with age comes professional demands, family demands, culture – the usual stuff. It’s tough to get back to that natural life. 

But that has been my goal. Just like my camera likes natural light the best, my body and soul do, too. I challenge you to figure it out for yourself! Your mental, emotional and physical health will thank you. There are simple practices you can implement every day with some intention and effort. 


Dive in to learn for yourself!

To learn more, here are just a few resources to get started. My aforementioned trainer Jim Laird is a great guy to follow (gymlaird.com and on Facebook @GymLaird). Another light expert is Dr. Jack Kruse. Dr. Leland Stillman is another. There are endless “food experts” because you can SELL food and nutritional products. But there are fewer light experts, because you can’t sell the sun. God gave us that as a gift, and He created it to perfectly suit our needs. 

Get out there and see the light! We truly hope that we can take your photos again soon! 


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) health photographer sunlight sunrise vitamin D https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/4/see-the-light-part-1-of-2 Tue, 14 Apr 2020 19:36:17 GMT
We have Mother's Day covered https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/4/we-have-mothers-day-covered Our cameras are sad because COVID-19 has canceled everything; there is nothing to shoot during a season when we are typically very busy. But there was one bright spot recently thanks to Refuge For Women who needed products photographed that we can easily do during social distancing.

Refuge has always been one of the nonprofits to which we donate time and photos shoots. Refuge supports women as they get out of the sex industry. Their work is incredible, and I encourage you to dig deeper into what Refuge for Women does. 

We had the privilege of snapping a few simple photos for them during this COVID-19 crisis. They needed photos taken of their beautiful Mother’s Day gift packages, including incredible candles handmade by the women they are supporting. So if you need a Mother’s Day gift, grab something from Refuge For Women!

Visit http://www.refugeforwomen.org.

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Mother's Day Refuge For Women https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/4/we-have-mothers-day-covered Tue, 14 Apr 2020 17:41:32 GMT
115-mile weeks and headed to the Olympic Trials https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/2/115-mile-weeks-and-headed-to-the-olympic-trials Iron Horse Race Director Zack Beavin gives us an inside look at his marathon preparation 

I’ve said before that all of our race directors are just really stellar, and they’re all very different! At the end of February, Iron Horse Half Marathon Race Director Zack Beavin is competing in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. I decided to ask Zack a few questions leading up to what will perhaps be one of the biggest races of his life. He qualified at the 2018 Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis with a time of 2:18:26.

Zack has been running for approximately 17 years, beginning in Louisville’s Catholic Schools Athletic Association in third grade. Here are some of his thoughts on training, food, and more. 


Abby Laub: How did your running progress? 

Zack Beavin: In sixth grade, my love for the sport was really cemented by running the Louisville Triple Crown of Running and the KDF MiniMarathon where I ran a 1:31 half at age 11. That race was the spark that made me realize that I may be able to be successful in this sport.


AL: When did the realization occur to you that you had what it took to head to the Olympic Trials, and what has that journey looked like? 

ZB: Competing in college, I always knew that the track 10K and cross country 8K/10K (my event focus) was too short for my strengths in the sport. Long runs have always been my favorite session of the week, and more than once I got in trouble with my coach for running 16-18 miles under 6-minute/mile pace. Even in college my head was at least partly oriented toward the Marathon Trials. I was chomping at the bit for years, but my college coach did a great job of keeping me grounded in collegiate competition and development while I was running for UK. While my heart was ready to tackle the roads, my development into a marathoner was definitely helped by focusing on the 5K/10K distance through college.


AL: When did you turn the corner? 

ZB: After finishing my eligibility at UK in 2016, I started being coached by David Long, a 2:12 marathoner out of Louisville. When we first started working together, it was with the understanding that the the ultimate goal was to run an OTQ in the marathon for the 2020 trials. His marathon philosophy is shaped by the 70's and 80's when he was racing all the legendary names of the sport like Bill Rogers and Rod Dixon, where "if you weren't running 100 miles a week, then you weren't running." Compared to college training, I backed off the intensity and upped the sheer number of miles I was running. This volume, strength-based philosophy was the training approach I was looking for and has worked really well for me. Every marathon cycle we only tweaked a single training variable and each cycle was another layer of strength and experience under my belt. On my fourth crack at the distance I punched my ticket to the Trials by running 2:18:26 in Indianapolis.


AL: How many miles a week will you peak at in preparation? 

ZB: I topped out at 115 miles this cycle, which was nestled in a six week block with 630 total miles. This is a little lower than marathon cycles past, but as I've gotten older and stronger, training is increasingly about doing the work to access lifetime fitness versus building new fitness.  


AL: How many calories do you estimate that you eat, and what types of foods do you love during training? 

ZB: I don't really keep track, but I would guess I eat somewhere in the 3,500-4,000 calories per day range. If I'm hungry, I eat. I'm not super particular on what I'm eating. I love all sorts of healthy foods and all sorts of unhealthy foods. When I'm running a lot I'm mostly just worried about getting enough calories in. My go-to pre-run and pre-race food is Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTarts, though. They sit well with me and have never let me down. 


AL: What do you love about the running community in Kentucky? And what can improve? 

ZB: I love how tight-knit the running community is in Kentucky. I honestly have trouble going for a run in either Lexington or Louisville without seeing someone I know out on the roads. I love following the pursuits of runners all over the state like Will Rivera in E-town, friends in Louisville chasing their own road racing goals, or Matt Hoyes in Bardstown (not to mention many others). 

One of the things I routinely find myself wishing is that Lexington had better urban running options. There are definitely great opportunities with the Legacy Trail and the upcoming Town Branch Trail, but we really lag behind other places in the number of places we have to run free of traffic. 


AL: Where do you like to run, and what do you do to cross train? Or maybe this depends on the season? 

ZB: I run all over Lexington for normal daily runs. I generally head out without a route in mind and just make a loop up as I go. For important long runs, I'll usually head to Louisville simply because there are better long run spots there. When I'm not super dialed in to an approaching marathon, I'm in the Daniel Boone National Forest all the time for trail running. For cross training I rely on trail runs (which varies the stimulus on your body from road running and works systems that road running doesn't) and hip/core strengthening with the Myrtl Routine. 


AL: What is your marathon PR and your half marathon PR?

ZB: My marathon PR of 2:18:26 came at Indianapolis Monumental in 2018 and put me under the 2:19:00 qualifying time for the Marathon Trials. In 2019, I put more focus on the half marathon and lowered my best to 1:06:36, again at Indianapolis Monumental. 


AL: Talk about Iron Horse 2020! Anything special we can all look forward to?

ZB: We’re excited to be hosting the 11th year of the race in conjunction with the Midway Fall Festival again! We took a risk by moving the date last year, but it ultimately seems to have a been a good move since it's a generally less busy time of year for everyone. As always you can look forward to a beautiful race course, great medals, and fantastic race photos from our stellar event photographers. 


Use code JALAUB20 for $5 off either the half marathon or 12K on September 20th in beautiful Midway.


[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Iron Horse Iron Horse Half Kentucky running Midway KY run Kentucky Zack Beavin https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/2/115-mile-weeks-and-headed-to-the-olympic-trials Mon, 17 Feb 2020 02:25:48 GMT
Celebrating 10 years with RunTheBluegrass https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/celebrating-10-years-with-runthebluegrass Keeneland sunriseKeeneland sunrise

This race has brought out the good, the bad and the brilliant! 

By Abby Laub

A lot can happen in 10 years. At J.A. Laub Photography, we believe good business relationships should be long-lasting. It is rewarding for us when we can grow alongside our clients. This could not be more true in the case of one of our biggest clients, RunTheBluegrass! 

As year 10 of this amazingly beautiful half marathon happens in March, I want to give you background on how we got involved in that race and what that behind-the-scenes journey looks like. In some cases it’s involved tremendous amounts of stress, technology failures and triumphs, and many sleepless nights of racing the clock to get photos to runners. More than 100,000 RunTheBluegrass photos have rolled through our system. 

RunTheBluegrass race director and owner of its parent organization, LeXenomics, is Eric Patrick Marr. Through an article that I was writing for Business Lexington some 10 or 11 years ago, we met several months before he launched RunTheBluegrass with no money but limitless aspirations. 

“RunTheBluegrass and LeXenomics have grown leaps and bounds in their first ten years,” Marr said. “Both literally started with $0. And funny enough, that first year of the race is when I first met Abby. Every race needs official photographs, right?! Abby and her husband Jeff were brand new, too. J.A. Laub Photography was getting off the ground right at the same time we were. And we've been together ever since, every step of the way.”

At the ripe age of 26 I had just left my full-time, stable job to launch my freelance writing and photo career, and was taking any opportunities I could find. Never had I photographed a half marathon, but I spent a few years as a newspaper sports photographer and had run a couple 13.1s so I knew enough. We’ve since rapidly expanded into the race photography world and hire other photographers all over Kentucky. We are beyond grateful for this partnership with RunTheBluegrass that truly helped kick things off at a time when I had taken a huge career gamble. 

“RTB helping launch J.A. Laub into the race photography world is my No. 1 bragging point,” Marr said about 10 years in the business. “It’s the fundamental reason I started LeXenomics, to begin with; to help other good ideas get off the ground around Central Kentucky. Of course Jeff and Abby's own hard work accounts for 99 percent of their success these first 10 years, but I also think that new startups need customers...eyeballs...and it turned out, RunTheBluegrass had begun to tap into the 17 million runners that sign up for races every year in America. So plenty of eyeballs!”

Starting out, it was an uphill battle to find the services and technology we needed. And the data management; a nightmare. But we prevailed! 

“I personally love working with Jeff and Abby because their work ethic is second to none,” Marr said. “Even back in the beginning, when the race photo technology available was very poor, Abby would stay up into the wee hours getting our thousands of photos uploaded as fast as possible for our runners to enjoy. It was a monumental task. Without question, the top trait I look for when hiring or partnering with someone is how hard they work and whether or not I can trust them to get the job done on their own. Jeff and Abby are the epitome of great entrepreneurs. They produce results, no matter what.”

Let me tell you…there were a few years where we got results by the skin of our teeth! Here is a recap:

Year 1, 2011: Let’s do this!

Eric at our Business Lexington interview. “You’re a photographer, too? Hey, maybe you can come take pictures for this race!” Me: “Sure!” All ignorance aside on my part, it went well and was a lot of fun!

Year 2, 2012: Slow pokes

Eric: “Hey, so this is really becoming a thing, do you want to shoot this race again?” Me, to myself: It’s possible this guy is homeless, but he seems legit and this event is really cool. To Eric: “OK, sure! Let me see if I can round up a few other photographers to help.” Race went great. We uploaded photos in 5-minute finish line interval folders so runners could actually find their pictures. It was time consuming, but I loved the pictures. I thought, We need to figure out a better way to do this. I was shooting the race, about 6 months pregnant with our firstborn and was tired out. I hopped on a plane immediately after the race to fly to New York for a family visit. My husband was completely swamped at work (and watching UK win the Final Four) and unable to touch the photos. Eric: “When will the photos be ready!?” Crap, we have to actually do these FAST! Noted! Now other races were starting to ask us to do this!

Year 3, 2013: Photo chaos

We were happy this year to have unseasonably warm weather and a growing team of awesome photographers. It was a lot of fun, and we again used the 5-minute interval system - still no bib tagging. Inquiries to companies about bib tagging were fruitless, and I was busy being a mostly stay-at-home mom to a baby while juggling many other professional projects. It was pure chaos, but the race got done.

Year 4, 2014: Sleet and tagged photos

The year of the weather from hell. It was bound to happen after years of perfect weather. In 2014 it sleeted sideways. It was unbelievably nightmarish weather; really couldn’t have been worse. My fingers were frozen to my camera, and we had to pull photographers off camers to hold umbrellas and provide backup for photographers who turned into popsicles. Runners had the benefit of at least moving to keep the blood flowing. And I was in my first trimester, pregnant with our second child, trying not to puke on runners. (Usually they're the ones doing the puking!) But this time, at least, we had a better tagging solution. The photos were tagged by timing data that synced up to our cameras, and it was all done by a local software developer. Worked pretty well, but the photos were not yet free for runners and the technology wasn’t hosted on our website, which was no good. The job got done but the search for a better solution continued.  

Year 5, 2015: New solutions…maybe

For year 5 we planned to use this company again, only to find out that it was no longer operating. So after some frantic research, phone calling and emailing, we finally found a company whose technology took our photos from camera automatically to Facebook and tagged to runners who opted-in prior to the race. We set up a separate untagged gallery on our site, and Eric made the smart decision to make all of the race photos FREE as a clever marketing move. This year's solution allowed for photos to be distributed quickly but it was bumpy, expensive, and the photos were not truly “bib tagged”. Back to square one. 

Year 6, 2016: Finally, real tagging

Old pros, feeling great. And finally we had secured and tested in advance a reliable bib tagging service. Humans in India tagged the photos that we uploaded to our site and the process worked like a charm! Runners got great photos, quickly. I held my breath…but it worked. The only downside was that the platform wasn’t the prettiest, and we had to wait for the human bib taggers with runners chomping at the bit for their free photos. 

Year 7, 2017: FAIL

This year Eric decided he wanted to use RunSignUp’s Google vision tagging service. It was economical, yes, but I stressed over the many unknowns and less-than-ideal facets. But I agreed and we had our previous platform on backup because my gut just was not happy with the new solution. Alas, it was a bonafide disaster. The technology simply was not ready. While our team and Eric’s team dealt with unhappy runners (“These are NOT MY photos!”) we pulled an all nighter getting photos uploaded a second time to our old, human tagged, reliable system. It was a stressful mess, but the day was saved. I gave Eric a friendly “I told you so” but agreed with him that we needed a faster and more affordable way to get these photos done on a more attractive platform. 

Year 8, 2018: The best solution yet

Finally. We have arrived. We switched our entire website to a new platform, one where we can seamlessly integrate our many events including bib tagging, print retail, and affordable digital distribution. I worked directly with the bib taggers in India – no middle man, money saved. Another beautiful race. The only downside was waiting on the taggers to complete the tagging.

Year 9, 2019: Actually, there’s an even better way! 

I’d been making calls, sending emails, thinking there had to be a better and faster way to tag. One day I got an email from an old colleague. He was working for a startup that could electronically tag the photos right off of our site. Me: “Well, does it work? Show me. Prove it.” (Told him the RunSIgnUp disaster.) It worked brilliantly. It’s what we’d been looking for. Sold! I held my breath after the race – which is when the hard part starts for us. Lord please don’t let this flop! I’m getting too old for all-nighters! Success! We got photos to runners faster than ever before; 20,000 delivered in less than 48 hours with 100% control of the entire process.

10. Year 10, 2020: Celebrate

We look forward to serving RunTheBluegrass participants yet again in 2020. Happy 10 years, everyone! Cheers to photography, technology, and runners! This race is about the best possible experience for runners, and we aim to play a small part in that. We hope you enjoy your free race photos come the end of March! 

SIGN UP TODAY, and if doing business over the long haul is how you operate, give us a call!

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) half marathon Lexington KY race photography Run KY runners RunTheBluegrass sharethelex https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/celebrating-10-years-with-runthebluegrass Wed, 29 Jan 2020 01:44:38 GMT
Things You See In the Dark https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/essay-on-running-in-the-distance Off in the distance, the man leaned forward in the dark, bowing his head low toward the street. It was an especially busy and breakneck city street, too. The kind of urban sprawl avenue-turned-artery where they crammed one too many lanes into the space as the city grew up around it, making things uncomfortable for everyone. There was no separation between street and sidewalk apart from a strip of grass no more than a foot and a half wide, which also played home to utility poles, streetlights, signs and city benches. 

There was not even a curb to speak of, as the ribbon of grass faded away into the pavement of the street; so I was a bit alarmed as I approached to see the man apparently falling forward from his seat and nearly into the lane of traffic roaring by at fifty miles an hour. Commuters partaking in their daily early morning trek to the office, oblivious. At just the moment I was sure he was toppling, he’d somehow catch himself, and nearly bolt upright for a few seconds before wavering again. Was he falling asleep? Was he drunk? It was hard to say. I was still a good distance away from him and had a few urban blights obstructing my view in the darkness of the morning. 

As my footsteps on the sidewalk drew me closer to him, I quickened my pace on some unconscious level out of a desire to be on the other side of the scene and leave it behind me. Why did I seem to find myself in more than my fair share of these bizarre situations? Apprehension bubbled up inside and expressed itself in the first beads of sweat to emerge from my brow. Not to be outdone, palpably my heart began to beat faster to match. The man’s involuntary swaying seemed to worsen. Almost with the wind, it bent him over toward the street, then rocked him backward toward the sidewalk and momentary safety.

Now hurtling toward him, the collision with this terrible episode was inevitable. My path was set. I had nowhere to turn right, and nowhere to go to my left other than into the same street he courted so carelessly. How would he react when he finally realized I was there, out in the darkness with him? I did not want to happen on this man and perhaps spook him further into an irreversible course of gravity into the street and certain death. Maybe more so I did not want him, upon noticing me, to suddenly and mightily regain all his faculties and pursue me as a predator pursues his prey. Either scenario played out with equal plausibility in my mind as I drew ever closer. 

My breath joined my elevated heart rate and damp brow. Labored, heavy. In my hysterical internal musings over witnessing an accidental death or preparing for my ensuing murder, my wits had left me and I’d forgotten the real reason I was out here this harrowing morning. I was running. The joyful and powerful thing that centered me each inky black morning before the rest of the world joined me. Peaceful; but not today. Mornings like this revealed the risk in finding the peace at this hour; alone, vulnerable to the characters like the one only a few strides ahead of me now. Remembering the run, I quickly glanced at my watch. 6:50 pace. Too early in the run for that, but driven there by fear and imagination. 

Gathering what little bit of resolve I had in my bones and lungs and muscles, I made straight for the man, who now appeared larger than life. A huge brute, bent and swaying on the bench, wearing a trench coat with enormous billowing hood pulled down over the head. It was now, at this moment, where finally the run brought me close enough to comprehend the figure with no accompanying imagination to fill in the details. The headlights of the passing cars no longer created a menacing, monolithic silhouette out of the form, but filled it in with light. The edges at first, then the surfaces, then the constituent, minute features that make up a thing. 

The green leaves swayed in the wind as the man had done not thirty yards up the sidewalk. The branches formed arms that sat supported on bushy legs, laid across a bench in a state of overgrowth. The hood of the trench coat, a thick, leafy crown on a bush in need of trimming. Fear became relief in the knowledge that the thing I feared never existed to begin with. The run returned, settled once again in pace, and in peace. The things you see, out in the dark. On the run.

- Jeff Laub

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) runners world running running essay https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/essay-on-running-in-the-distance Sun, 19 Jan 2020 04:33:23 GMT
See you at the races! https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/see-you-at-the-races The year 2019 was a fun one for J.A. Laub Photography. Jeff, Abby and our associates took almost 100,000 photos spread out over almost 25 races and sporting events. If you are a part of this prolific running community in Kentucky and beyond, we are
thrilled to release a big chunk of our 2020 race schedule - where you can be on the receiving end of some more of these great photos, including FREE digital downloads thanks to your amazing race directors! 

3/7/20 - The Lucky Leprechaun, Versailles   Half Marathon, 10 Miler, 5K 

Dress in green and break out of bad winter running habits and join the fun to kick off spring! And dance to DJ James Hummel’s awesome collection of Celtic tunes at the finish line. Just don’t forget shorts under your kilt! 

3/28/20 - RunTheBluegrass, Lexington  Half Marathon, 7-miler, The Yearling (3.65 miles) and kids events

RunTheBluegrass is celebrating its 10th year, and this will be the coolest year ever (as if this event could get even better!) at this race. And we are proud to say that we are one of the few - if not the only - vendor who has worked with this incredible event since the very beginning. If you like a good party and a great show of all things Kentucky, do not miss RunTheBluegrass. Already there are about 3,500 runners registered from all 50 states. 

4/18/20 - Horse Capital Marathon, Lexington  Marathon, Half Marathon

This is the 6th annual Horse Capital Marathon and Half Marathon. Horse Cap is one of Kentucky’s few FULL marathons and it’s one you don’t want to miss because it passes by more than 50 stunning Central Kentucky horse farms. Truly the horse capital of the world, and the beauty (plus the hills) will leave you breathless! This race benefits Bluegrass Farms Charities.

5/23/20 - BIG LEX 4-Miler, Lexington  4-Miler, 1-Miler

Celebrate all that is great about Lexington and kick off summer in the Bluegrass. This is part one of the Bluegrass Trifecta Race Series! The race features a unique (never run previously) course through the historic Keeneland grounds, an exciting team competition and lots of post race fun.

7/4/20 - Bluegrass 10,000, Lexington  10K

Is it really Independence Day in Lexington without the Bluegrass 10,000? The answer is: no. ;) Dress up in your finest patriotic running outfits and join the thousands of other running enthusiasts from near and far to celebrate our nation’s independence through running. This is the 44th year of this iconic and memorable event. You’ll leave sweating (it’s July, after all) and swelling with pride to be an American runner. This is the second leg of the Bluegrass Trifecta Race Series. 

8/8/20 - A Midsummer Night’s Run, Lexington  5K, 1-Miler, Fastest Kid in Town

Ever dream about running down the streets of Lexington at night without fear? Well, here is your chance; at one of Lexington’s favorite summertime traditions. AMSNR has a little bit of everything – from family events to a great post race party. All race donations made by A Midsummer Night’s Run participants will support the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s Yes, Mamm! program which provides free mammography screening, diagnostics services, and program support to uninsured or underinsured women and men. This event closes out the Bluegrass Race Trifecta Series - so be sure to do all three for that extra swag. 

8/15/20 - DV8K Life Changing Run, Lexington  8K, 4K, 1K Kids Dash

The third annual DV8K is your chance to truly help change lives. Proceeds go directly to help DV8 Kitchen Vocational Foundation build a bakery that changes lives. This year’s race will raise money to help purchase a delivery van for DV8K’s Wholesale Bakery to further the mission of hiring and employing people in early stages of addiction recovery. 

9/20/20 - Iron Horse Half Marathon, Midway  Half Marathon, 12K

Presented by the iconic John's Run/Walk Shop and held in conjunction with the world famous Midway Fall Festival, the 11th annual Iron Horse features T-shirts and posters with custom made artwork, massive finisher medals and a lot of other unique swag. Not to mention the festival, a stunning run through picturesque horse farm country and the top notch hospitality of the quaint and charming Midway. 

10/10/20 - Yes Mamm! 5K, Nicholasville  5K

The CHI Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s 6th annual Yes, Mamm! 5K supports the hospital’s Yes, Mamm! program. The money raised provides free mammography screening, diagnostic testing, and program support to underinsured and uninsured patients across Kentucky. The family event features cash prizes, a closed course, medals, homemade ice cream, a hot lunch, and more.

10/17/20 - Urban Bourbon, Louisville  Half Marathon

The Urban Bourbon Half Marathon presented by Jim Beam might possibly be one of the best post race parties ever. Just don’t miss it, OK? We go to a lot of events, so bring your friends and just take our word for it. This masterfully executed race covers most of Louisville, including the stunning Cherokee Park and features fun to boot. 

11/1/20 - BG26.2, Bowling Green  Marathon, Half Marathon, 6K, Kids Race

In its 9th year, the BG26.2 & Half Marathon is a race against Multiple Sclerosis. The Boston Marathon qualifying USATF certified course (13.1 mile loop) starts at the Bowling Green Ball Park and runs through historic downtown Bowling Green, Kentucky and the beautiful Western Kentucky University campus. 

11/8/20 - Honor Run Half Marathon, Florence  Half Marathon, 10K, 5K

If you cry easily, you might not want to sign up for the Honor Run. This race benefits Tri-State Honor Flight and is sure to move you. Just look around at all of the shirts, memorials and stories being told about veterans and their loved ones. Take a moment of silence and gratitude to remember the veterans who made all of the runs on this race calendar possible. 

11/22/20 - The Gobbler, Lexington  Half Marathon, 10K, 5K 

The Gobbler is your perfect holiday season kick-off! In its 5th year, the Gobbler is in beautiful horse country and benefits Glean KY and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption. The scenic course traverses through beautiful horse country and past a number of our horse farms.  

11/26/20 - Thoroughbred Classic, Lexington  5K

Kentucky’s favorite Thanksgiving Day race celebrates its 36th year, and if this is a part of your holiday tradition don’t miss it. This year the first 1,000 participants get free compression socks. Gobble up that turkey and pie afterward.

Many of these races have price increases at the end of January, so sign up early! More races are continually added to our schedule as their dates are confirmed so check back for more. Follow us on Facebook for more breaking race information. 



[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) 5K A Midsummer Night's Run Bluegrass 10 000 Central Kentucky running half marathon half marathons in Kentucky Horse Capital Iron Horse race calendar Run Kentucky running in Kentucky RunTheBluegrass https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/see-you-at-the-races Sun, 19 Jan 2020 03:03:25 GMT
Dust, disappearing medals and running in Morocco https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/dust-disappearing-medals-and-running-in-morocco triathleteGuinevere in AgadirThe author, Guinevere McWhorter, prepares for a triathlon in Agadir.
A lot of runners plan their race calendars months or years in advance. Kicking off the year 2020 is hopefully inspiring many of you to try some new things, or rediscover your love for races you’ve done year after year. You’d be hard pressed to find a “bad” race, but what about trying a race completely different? We’d like to offer you a glimpse one race in a completely different countries - from the perspective of an American.

Let me (Abby) introduce you to my twin sister. Guinevere spent 10 years in Morocco and in that time competed in several endurance races. Our runner friends should enjoy this story. It’s unlike probably any other Western race experience you’ve ever had. Chances are you haven’t had to hop a fence to snag your medal. Enjoy! 


By Guinevere McWhorter

I don’t exactly know what to expect as the crowd bunches up closer and closer to the starting line of the 15km de Bouskoura in Casablanca, Morocco. Will we start on time? Should I find somewhere to pop a squat before we start? Will there in fact be water at kilometer 8? 

I turn to my friend and say, “Maybe I should have done the 10km instead of the 15km!” All of these questions and concerns crowd my mind  as I line up for the race. We hurry up and wait as the start time comes and then goes. The crowd is eager to move. One thing I love about Moroccans is that despite the late start, there is always time to dance to the music, make new friends, and not worry about whether or not the race starts on time. We mingle, and finally the pack of 10,000 strong lurches to the course. 

The 15km de Bouskoura launched in 2011. Bouskoura, a suburb of Casablanca is famous for its oak forest. On any given weekend, crowds of picnickers, bikers, joggers, and horseback riders descend on the forest and its leafy shade. Besides the Atlantic beaches, the Bouskoura forest offers one of the few natural spots anywhere around Casablanca, a city of more than 6 million people. 

The winding route of the Bouskoura takes runners along the villa-lined golf course and then onto the dirt roads of the forest. Immediately off the pavement the dust and tempo kick up a notch. 

I belong nowhere near the front half of the pack of an amateur race, in any country. But here in Morocco where the athletics and leisure sports scenes have decades of catch up to play, especially among women, my plodding feet pass many. The vanity in me was mildly satisfied to leave so many men and women eating my actual dust. But in years to come, I hope the opposite is true. 

I wonder about the future of this country. Some are running in traditional Moroccan headscarves. Others in shorts and tanks. Clean-shaven and bearded men. Young and old, fast and slow. I love the diversity. On any other sidewalk, these sites would be a bit less usual. One thing was usual. The sheep strewn here and there, puzzled shepherds and sheep gazing at the stream of runners. The run would not be in Morocco if we did not pass grazing or dumpster diving animals. 

The running scene is growing all across Morocco. Casablanca’s ocean “corniche” fills with joggers, walkers, runners, and everyone else on the weekends. The tumbling Atlantic waves provide a nice backdrop to a city that offers little other scenery to admire. Inevitably some of these joggers are wearing their 15km de Bouskoura T-shirt. “You did Bouskoura, too?” “I was there in 2015 and 2016!” 

A few spectators line the course as we start to turn back toward the finish line. "Bravos les filles! Allez!" Translation: “Go, girls! Come on!” The crowds are always encouraging, especially as my legs are tiring.

My fears start to coalesce somewhere around kilometer 13. I have to go to the bathroom, and the water stations were not frequent enough to fight the dust kicked up by 20,000 sneakers. A little rain on this course would knock down the dust, but too much would mean mud paddies. I dash into the forest to water a tree, hoping a shepherd boy misses the “full moon.” 

Finally we see the finish line up ahead. The cheers increase, and we are all champions - picking up our pace for the final 500 meters. It’s as if we mean to tell the crowd, “I always run this fast!” Crossing the line with the masses, my friend and I high five.

After a few thousand runners have passed, any semblance of order has gone with them. The scene at the finish line is close to break down. We manage to get our swag bags with a few snacks. On one side of the road a mass of runners scramble after several boxes of medals being passed over a fence. “I’m going in!” I proclaimed to my skeptical friend. Something about endorphins propelled me into the fray. I yell back, “I got one! Want me to try to get you one?” “No Gwen, it’s ok! Get out of there!”

I grab my medal as others stream across the finish line, looking for their hardware. I’m covered in dust, but I’m happy for running the 15km de Bouskoura and joining with the masses of Moroccans running towards a positive future together on the dusty forest roads. 

In Morocco or otherwise, happy running! 

[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) Morocco triathlete Triathlon https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2020/1/dust-disappearing-medals-and-running-in-morocco Fri, 17 Jan 2020 01:17:31 GMT
In case you missed it! Here are some super cool moms https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2018/6/in-case-you-missed-it-here-are-some-super-cool-moms I'm trying to get better at blogging, folks, forgive me! Father's Day is TOMORROW, but here is the Mother's Day email that went out in May. I LOVE these ladies! 

If you aren't already on our email list, you view some of the latest HERE and email [email protected] to jump on the list.

Enjoy...and there's a little surprise at the end!




[email protected] (J.A. Laub Photography) blog cool day moms mother's photography https://www.jalaubphotography.com/blog/2018/6/in-case-you-missed-it-here-are-some-super-cool-moms Sun, 17 Jun 2018 01:23:50 GMT