Erika Ray Photography » blog

If I took a Buzzfeed quiz about what color and shape my aurora would be, I can guarantee it wouldn’t be a Pink Fuzzy Orb.  I’d guess it’d be a Spiky Red Triangle.  I’m not Hallmark-y.  I’m not a hugger.  I’m not concerned or upset about it.  I’m just not those fluffy things.

So why the hell would I spend one month blogging about Gratitude?!  That doesn’t sound like something a non-fluffy person would do.  But every year, I complete it for two big reasons:

  1. Every guru/self-help/Buddhist/Christian/Oprah-like person says it’s important to not only be grateful but to spend time each day and write it down.  After 3+ years of doing it every November, I can say they’re right.  I can’t do it every day because that sounds silly.  But for a non-fluffy person, I think the 30 days gives me just the right amount of good gratitude residue for the year.  Maybe when I take the Buzzfeed quiz on December 1, I’d get an Not-So-Spiky Orange Triangle.
  2. I like a challenge.  Sure I could write 20 posts about health, family, friends, etc and 10 bullshit funny posts.  But that’s too easy.  And honestly, I am grateful for those 20 Big things every day.  For me, I mainly focus on the mundane bits of life.  I dig deep and celebrate the crap most people overlook.  Life is nothing without those moments and if you can’t hug the shit outta those things, life will be incredibly difficult. Who needs a more difficult life?  Not me.

Here are my rules:

  • Post every day in November with something I’m grateful for.
  • Sometimes there will be a picture and sometimes there won’t.
  • If I do write nicely about someone, I make sure to tell them.  I’m not great at publicly being ooey-gooey about someone.  I’ve gotten better at hugging Good-bye, but verbally telling someone “You’re the best”?  Nope.  Most people aren’t great at this and let’s be honest, it’s kind of awkward for all parties.  Plus I’m better at expressing my Love in writing rather than stammering it over dinner.  So if I write about my gratitude for someone, I make sure they know it’s coming.  In the end, your loved ones should know you love them.


I start on November 1.   You can too!

Don’t you want some residual goodness for the year? Post to your FB feed.  Post on my Facebook page or in the comments of my post.  Keep a log.  Shoot a photo with your big camera or shoot it with your iPhone.  Do it for 3 days or do it for 30.

I don’t really care how you do it, but it’d be fun if you did.  Make a non-fluffy person feel comfortable and get Huggy/Hippy/Smooshy with her.

<insert random pictures because people dig photos on a “Photography” blog> ***



*** Don’t be surprised if my Spiky Red Triangle self rears up and 30::30 is written something like “Thank god this damn project is over!”

Let’s talk about things I’m obsessed with this week.  It won’t be Internet heavy because I can’t seem to get wrapped up in the Internet.  I don’t care about Renee’s face.  It’s Hollywood and it’s happens.  Ebola?  Yeah I guess that’s scary to a few people.  I haven’t listened to T. Swift’s new NY song.  I will.

But I’m obsessed with normal every day Me shit.

    • Pressure Cookers.  Oh sweet good Lord, this is the most beautiful invention ever.  How did I live without this for so long?!  The beans are the most delicious beans I’ve ever had and in 20 minutes?!  20 minutes!!!  With no soak?!  Bone-in chicken thighs in less than 15.  And the best tasting white rice ever: boys approved and devoured.  It’s like the pot conjure’s up Black Magic and I don’t even give a damn.  Go.  Buy One.  NOW.
    • Halloween is almost over.  That’s right.  It’s almost over.  I’m sick of it.
    • I’m still digging Lena Dunham’s book.  Thank you for writing refreshing shit for women.  Ladies, buy it or simply read it.  Just do it, ok?
    • This article.  I don’t like babies (that’s a given if you’ve been with this blog for a while).  I thought it was a magical thing that happened once you had your own baby.  It doesn’t always work like that.  But here’s the thing: I adore other people’s babies.  I beg you, let me babysit!  Cause I can give them back.  My own?  I survived.  And I’m really proud of that.


  • Day 100’s photo.   I think that people should have strong serious portraits as they mature.  Show the world that you’re wise and fucking full of badass piss.  I believe that pets should get that as well.  She’s sweet and old.  Her days are numbered and that hurts in a way I didn’t anticipate.
  • Knitting.  It’s a cold weather thang.
  • Hand-stitching on a quilt  Come on?  That’s some sweetness for a baby girl.



  • Coop was trying to answer a homework question with: Because that’s the answer.  “You can’t write that.  It sounds SmartA.  Explain why it’s the answer,” I said.  He answered the next question and I repeated my last statement.  I know he wasn’t being a Smart Ass but it clearly sounded like it.  The third time, I asked “Why am I saying ‘Smart A’?  I mean what else would you say for Smart A other than Smart Ass?!  Just don’t be one and don’t say, ‘Smart Ass’ yet.  OK?”  Coop responds with, “Well, you  could say SmartAlec.”  Smart Ass.
  • Hozier’s “Take me to Church.”

  • Neil Diamond is coming to my town.  I think it’s a show I must see.  Hearing the opening of “America” is something everyone should hear once.  Indulge me and just agree.  Pretty please.
  • Last night while scratching Becks’ back I asked him, “Isn’t this the best?”  Expecting a hearty YES from him (the kid loves a good scratching.  even bossy about it), I get a surprising: NO.  Kind of annoyed because I was scratching well past my normal length, I asked “Well then Becks, what’s the best if this isn’t?”  He quickly responds without turning from the tv, “You are Mom.  You’re the best.”

Give me something else I need to be obsessed with.  Please.

I dig being obsessed with something, anything, everything.

  • Bethany Petrik - OMG THAT QUILT!!! I die. October 23, 2014 – 2:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Melanie Sonnier - I love that sooonggggggg!October 23, 2014 – 6:23 pmReplyCancel

  • Claire Tremeer - “You are Mom. You’re the best.” – awwwww :) He will go far!!October 23, 2014 – 9:54 pmReplyCancel

I met Kristen at my very first birth.  She was the doula and was pregnant.  She asked me to photograph her birth, but her birth is the only one I’ve ever missed.  I can’t let this go.  It irritates me every time I think about it. We’ve remained friends because she’s lovely, badass, and I respect her.  She once said, “You know my sister, Kellie, is a big fan of your work?”   I blushed and smiled.  Who doesn’t love fans?  And then I discovered that Kellie is also a photographer and is really talented.  Even sweeter and humbling.

One night last winter, I met Kellie at Kristen’s house.  We chatted about photography, our kids, and her barn.  Shortly after our meeting, I got an email that she was expecting her fourth child and she asked for me to photograph the birth.  Are you kidding me?!  YES!  It would be my first official hospital birth, I’d finally get to shoot one of these women in labor, and photographing a photographer was a good kind of pressure.

Kellie started having contractions early.  So I had plenty of notice (a rarity in my position).  When I got the call to show up, the room was full of light and laughter.   I pride myself on being quiet and out-of-the-way during a birth.  That was not happening this time.  I laughed at their jokes and stories.  Even gave my opinion on weight, middle names, and bathroom etiquette.  But labor always heads one way: pain.  The room drained of the fun and went straight to business.

Kellie was amazing.  She was supported by her sister and her husband: he gently played with her hair (because he’s the best at it) and Kristen gave Kellie different positions for comfort.  It was time.  The team assembled and she got serious.  She accessed her power and pushed out her son.  And when she did the room once again filled with smiles, laughter, and the kind of light only a baby brings.

Dear Little One,

You’re the baby of a large, caring, supportive, and hilarious family.  You’re life will be beautifully documented and you’ll hear stories that will make your belly hurt from laughter.  I know this because I’ve witnessed it.  The very hands that held your Momma on the day you were born will support you for life.  The smile your Momma couldn’t hide even while in pain will greet you every day of your life.  You were given the most supportive and humours start at life.  That’s a gift, Kid.  It’s your world and I’m so thrilled that I got to witness the second you enter it.











You can see Kellie’s work :: Shutter and Glass Photography  ::  Facebook Page

Kristen :: Birthing Beautiful Ideas :: Facebook page

Jim :: He’s just funny.  Sorry I don’t have anything to link.

  • Claire Tremeer - ok So I cried. What wonderful wordsand wonderful wonderful photos. And how didshe look so amazing immediately after giving birth???? A truly special set – congratulations to the family (we have 4 too – three boys and a girl in the same combination. Its a constant cabaret!)October 10, 2014 – 9:16 amReplyCancel

  • Claire Tremeer - ok So I cried. What wonderful words and wonderful wonderful photos. And how did she look so amazing immediately after giving birth???? A truly special set – congratulations to the family (we have 4 too – three boys and a girl in the same combination. Its a constant cabaret!)October 10, 2014 – 9:17 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah Lang - What a beautiful Momma, and I love that look of joy on everyone’s faces in the last shot.
    Urg, you make me reconsider my stance on shooting birth photos- there’s just nothing like it! An incredible story, yet again. Love it.October 10, 2014 – 9:46 amReplyCancel

  • Meredith Askey Novario - Wow! Gorgeous. <3October 10, 2014 – 12:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Sytsma - Ok… I totally cried looking at all these pictures! Kellie you did a fantastic job making a human, and Erika what a wonderful job you did capturing every precious moment of it. How absolutely and wonderfully beautiful! October 10, 2014 – 1:11 pmReplyCancel

  • Da Miec - Goodness! What a gorgeous family and a beautiful beginning.October 10, 2014 – 2:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Jo - Beautiful beautiful birth. And Kellie, you look so gorgeous throughout the entire process!October 10, 2014 – 2:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Sharon Oberlie Neal - What an old sop I am. I am crying. I gave birth to three sons and husbands and support were not allowed in the room. What a joyous event and little sister reaching out to hold her little brother. Great work capturing this wonderful event. Hugs.October 10, 2014 – 2:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Suzanne Gipson - so ,so good! and yep, really beautiful family!!October 10, 2014 – 2:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Megan Hatheway Cieloha - Beautiful, Erika. You, Kellie and family made a fantastic team. As always, your honesty in seeing and storytelling inspires. October 10, 2014 – 3:13 pmReplyCancel

  • Mickie - These are beautiful!!!October 10, 2014 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Jamie Lynn Roberts - In love with this family!!! We are def lucky.
    Thank you for sharing that.October 10, 2014 – 9:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Anonymous - Erika. These photos seriously made me cry looking at them. What a beautiful memory of this new little baby joining the family.October 10, 2014 – 11:27 pmReplyCancel

One Second A Day :: August-September from Erika Ray on Vimeo.


I probably could have squeezed in a few more ass shakes, but I felt dirty asking for people to shake their asses.

Disclaimer:  All featured ass shaking was not demanded as the Participant was mid-shake as I was filming.  All participant knew their ass was being filmed.  We just happened to have a very Ass-Shaking month.

  • Angela Thomas - seeing this makes me want to do it. not bad enough to do it, just to want to do it. September 22, 2014 – 3:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Monica - I like you more and more everyday ….September 22, 2014 – 8:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Erica Caligiuri - The peeing hose cracked me up. Guess I’m a 13 year old boy at heart.September 24, 2014 – 4:28 pmReplyCancel

A couple years ago, my sister was having a faux argument with her husband.  He looked at her and said with a thick Arkansas accent, “I’m not gonna do it cause I’m a grown ass man.  A GROWN ASS MAN.”

Seriously, how do you not love those little words?    How do you not live by those words?

I was already to write a lengthy post about why women don’t live by these words.  It was going to include how we spend tons of time trying to teach young girls to embrace this attitude of self confidence (aka in my words: Not giving a fuck).  It had a paragraph about how the media forgets women older than 25 because they assume we’ve learned the Lesson.  That paragraph was followed by how some women just never learn and why that’s sad to me.

But you know what?  You don’t need that and you probably don’t want it.  And because I’m a grown ass woman, I’m skipping it today.

Instead, let me tell you what I’m doing or not doing because I’m a Grown Ass woman.

  • I’m wearing my PJ pants and going bra-less for as long as humanly possible.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t clean and swapping out undies would be ideal.  But that’s too much work.
  • I’m going to jam Taylor Swift’s Shake It and Jennifer Lopez’s I Luh Ya Papi.  And when the guy in the next car looks over, I’m not going to stop.   And if he looks over at the exact time, I’ll tell him he’s not my Papi.
  • I’m going to start a quilt simply because I can.  So can you.  It’s simple.  Buy fabric.  Cut or rip.  Sew it together.  Not rocket science, but you do have to do it.  Or find a friend to finish it for you.
  • You were bitchy to me?  Guess what?  I don’t have to say Hi just to be polite.  You aren’t.
  • I’m not unloading the dishwasher.  I’ve got kids.  Work, Boys.
  • I’m not putting away anyone’s clean clothes.  And when you’re doing this, I’ll be on the couch.  Watching.
  • I’m going to reuse the zip loc bags.
  • I’m going to toss zip loc bags and not feel awful.
  • We need clean clothes, so I’ll do one load, but I’ll forget about the other 6 loads down there.  I’ll do a sniff test and check for stains on the clothes scattered on the floors.
  • I won’t obsess on one bad comment regarding work.  Cause I did the best I could in the situation.
  • When Mark asks for steak, I’ll make Salisbury.  Probably out of ground turkey.  It sounds good and I’m the one cooking.  We’ll have steak another day.
  • I’m not going to say, “I’m sorry” when you run into my cart at the grocery store.
  • I’m going to drink wine from a box and not think it’s novel or funny.
  • I’m not going to fake interest when Star Wars, comic book, geeky/nerdy junk is being discussed.  It’s not my thing.  I support it, but please don’t expect me to get excited.
  • I’m not going to the office to watch America’s Next Top Model or Below the Deck.  I’m going to watch it on the nice couch and bigger tv.
  • I’m going out with Mark and friends tonight.  I won’t think or worry about the boys for a second.
  • I’m going to listen to the same playlist again and again and again.
  • I’m going to use words that offend people and not apologize.
  • I’m going to have strong opinions about really dumb shit.
  • I’m going to stick to those opinions until I don’t want to and then I’m going to change my mind.
  • I’m going to be passive aggressive on purpose.
  • I’m going to post a morning photo and not think twice.
  • And I’m going to convert it to Black & White.  Cause everybody looks good in B&W.  It’s true.
  • I’m not going to read and reread this post looking for errors.  It happens.  I’ll fix them when Mark emails me.

I’m not suggesting that being a Grown Ass Woman means you can be incredibly bitchy or rude.

I’m suggesting that we let go a bit.  Be selfish.

Be a GROWN ASS woman.


  • Johnna LaFaith - you’re my hero, but not in a novel way. You’ve reminded me more times than I can remember what living is really about. XOSeptember 19, 2014 – 2:19 pmReplyCancel

  • Robin Geer Troxell - a-fucking-menSeptember 19, 2014 – 2:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Angela Thomas - perfect. Jennifer Zandee Engelbrecht you’ll love this.
    September 19, 2014 – 2:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Melanie Sonnier - Dear god, woman. I love you.September 19, 2014 – 3:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Kim Kravitz - Love this! Thanks for sharing it. <3 <3 <3September 19, 2014 – 4:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Celeste Pav - love this! September 19, 2014 – 5:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristin - Thank you!!September 19, 2014 – 5:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Candace - LOVE every part of this! Especially #1 and #6September 21, 2014 – 3:22 amReplyCancel

I’m a purely selfish volunteer.

I do the PTA because I live on top of the school.  How do I not go and my lights are on?  I also do it because I dig hanging out with the other members.  It’s a side effect that I also help the school.

I serve food once a month at our neighborhood resource center because my neighbor asked and she’s fun to hang out with.

I posted charity drives on the blog because it was easy to do from my couch.  I’m on the couch and my blog has a small crowd.  Why not?

Let’s review: I volunteer because I like hanging out with people, I don’t want to be caught at home during meetings, and sometimes I can do it lazily.  Plus it has to win me some decent karma points?  But because I’ve just advertised the fact that I volunteer (no matter how lazily) it cancels out any good I created because people will think it looks self-serving.  And probably is.  Shit, I’m truly a selfish person.

But thank god, there are people who are different.

There are people who recognize that their community needs help so they simply help.  They help because they can’t NOT help.  They help without anything in return or a blog to advertise their good deeds.  It’s in their core to give.  Secretly, I’m jealous of those Folks.  And not so secretly, I adore that our world has them.  Once a month, I get to watch these people help and witness the gratitude from those on the receiving end.

I started this blanket with the intention of keeping it.  But once I got into it, I realized that the polka dots just weren’t our style.

So I’ll unload it and donate the funds.  This is a pretty local fundraiser.  All funds will be donated to CRC which is located in my neighborhood.  I’m sure your neighborhood has a similar place.  Do some research and find your own selfish reasons to volunteer.

I don’t feel like creating a starting price.  It feels weird to me putting a price on the blanket: Would someone really pay that for a blanket of mine?  It’s not professional after all.  How about we do a silent auction?  I swear you’ll win this blanket for less than it’s actually worth.  And you’ll feel warm and fuzzy about helping out a good place.  How ’bout it?!

Let’s start at $10.  Email me a dollar amount higher than that and it could be yours!  You can do this by using the Contact button at the top of this page.  Or you can go to my Facebook page and message me (Check your Other folder for my reply)  At some point during the day, I’ll let you know if you’ve been outbid.

Highest bidder wins this 55×55 100% cotton quilt. You can toss it in the washer and dryer.  It’s meant to be used: cuddled, played on, eaten on, and pee’d on if necessary.

Top bid by the end of Wednesday night becomes the proud owner.  Send me a check or even better, use Paypal.  As long as you’re domestic, I’ll cover shipping.  International?  Throw me some extra change, please.

Let’s go.  Who’s got $10.25?

Please don’t make me give it away for a mere $10.25…

Polka Dot Scrappy Trip Along

polka dot scrappy trip along 2

Polka Dot Scrappy Folded and Ready to go

  • Michelle K - I would give you $40September 8, 2014 – 9:46 amReplyCancel

  • Cassie - I know what fabric, supplies, machines, and time cost for a quilter as my mother is a quilter. That puppy is prolly worth more then $250 easy. Good luck with it! I just love it!September 8, 2014 – 9:52 amReplyCancel

  • Amy Knisley - I want your polka dot blanket :) September 8, 2014 – 12:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Johnna LaFaith - this is beautiful. I love it, and I don’t think you’re a selfish person… you just really enjoy the things you do that help others.September 10, 2014 – 12:51 amReplyCancel