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  • Hello, friend! Thank you for being here.

    OH my goodness, are we excited you stopped by!
    <------That's my oldest little bit over there. She's excitable, like her mama. The apple doesn't fall far. Except she's blonde and has that rockin' dimple on her chin, she got from the Mister. My dimples are in other places and on good days I have only one chin, but yeah. We're a lot a like. We love to have fun, be together with the fam, take pictures, CREATE (we're crafty like that), be dorks, have dance parties, Matilda Jane Clothing, laugh, laugh at ourselves, cook, eat, LOVE, pray, SHARE, and make new friends. And a lot of the time we're doing all of those at the same time! I am a Jane of all trades, master of none. I am always looking for sunshine and easily amused. I am usually unpredictable, mostly energetic to a fault, quirky and sometimes a bit eclectic, and darn right fun to be around... so I've been told.

    Old friends, new friends, friends we have yet to meet-we like them! So come hang out here for some gettin' real, gettin' personal, maybe a little gettin' real personal. We'll play games, talk some shop, kick up our feet, and have a generally good time. You'll definitely get to know more about me in my REM-deprived ramblings. {I can't be held responsible for how those ramblings look on any given day} And I hope I get to know a LOT more about you by YOU chatting and maybe getting to know your heart and soul by making pictures together. Wouldn't that be a blast? Then you can see what happens when we take what makes you OH-so-unique, add me bustin' a move with my camera, "Beast", and have fun capturing what makes YOU SHINE! This is NOT yo' mama's photography. We could leave a mark on this world- yours, mine, ours... together. Happy day.
    This is me. I can't be anything different than who I am.
    Making pictures... making friends.
    LET IT SHINE! ;)

::It's a Sun. shiney. Day::

Author’s note:  April 1st post reposted on May 25th

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”

– Louisa May Alcott

Today was the yummiest of days, according to the sun.

It was yellow.  it was warming.  it was sunny-side-up and good enough to eat.

I love it when the air is so saturated with yellowy sunshine, that I feel like I can take a bite out of its golden goodness.



What kind of sun is your favorite???…

Go here if you’d like to read more.

Let it shine,


Epiphanie Giveaway

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

Becuase, well, it’s the eleventh hour of entering  this giveaway at  What great peops!!!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least go for it since I’ve been scrambling to figure out how the heck to afford a

Canon 5D Mark II (it’s an awesome camera body for all you photog newbies) on my own.

Can’t win unless you try, right!  And that’s what 2010 is all about.

Going for it!

Stepping outside my comfort zones (yes, I have many)!

Trying new things!

Challenging myself!

Enetering contests that I never win, but heck I keep trying.

Yoda was so wise…. “Do or do not.  There is no try!”

I guess the “do not” win comes from all my trying.  😉

May the force be with you,


Let it shine,


May 21, 2010 - 8:52 pm

{Little Moments} and the one where I talk about hearts « Open Happiness - […] when I talked about 2010 being the year for change here and a little here (and my very first post ever about timing)… to get uncomfortable, go for it, and just D.O. […]

{Save the drama for yo mama} i♥faces-Dramatic B&W

“What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out.” – Alfred Hitchcock

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility.

Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” – Mark Twain

Theme Song#1: “Hey, Soul Sistah by Train

Theme Song #2  “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie


All who know us, know that a house full of 3 girls + Mama, leaves the door wide open for dramatic flair and scare (all of the time)!!!   Even our scrabble game the other night turned into tears.  We will totally let you spell “other”, “uther” at our house.   And just because you can’t even come up with a three-letter word, does not mean you’re not smart-just tired.

Drama.  It’s a girl’s prerogative.

and is in major abundance here, so if you’d like to come pluck some for your own lackadaisical life… we LOVE to share 😉

This week at  iheartfaces, the challenge is “Dramatic Black & White”.  With my 3 drama queens, I should have this one in the bag, but I’m actually going for another favorite of mine.  The head-heart gals said they are “looking for B&W photos that are dramatic, sensational and/or moody in the way they are presented”.  Although I have more portrait-ISH B&W’s I absolutely adore of my girls, they said, “please don’t just enter a typical portrait photo that has been converted to B&W”. So because I like to follow rules (most of the time), this is my entry.  This handsome little boy was caught in this rare, but quiet moment. He is usually found flirting with the girls, instead of looking so contemplative.

(check out more awesome B&W entries here.)

I actually enjoy the drama (some of the time), because I would NEVER trade it for anything!

My girls are incredible… drama and all!!!

shoot from the heart,


p.s.  Of course you could also check out other “girl” themed music like Hannah Montana (G.N.O), Mary J. Blige (No More Drama), or if you into some old school Cyndi Lauper (Girls Just Wanna Have Fun), Beastie Boys (Girls), and who can forget Motley Crue-Ha!

Let it shine,


April 1, 2010 - 12:43 am

Monika - Love it, Dana!!!

March 31, 2010 - 11:54 pm

kristin - Ooohh! What a handsome little guy – great drama!


March 31, 2010 - 9:24 pm

danaohlsen - Hello and thanks, Margo! So funny, I’m doing exactly the same thing. Haven’t even given it out to my friends yet either, or my won mother!!! Ha! I’ll have to go check you out. Are you a hobbyist or aspiring photog? So glad to meet you!!! 😉

March 31, 2010 - 9:02 pm

Margo - Hi I love that photo of the trees, so great! I too am a new blogger still finding my feet one month in.Dont really have a plan. lol but hopefully will get interesting before I realease the address to friends. lol. Cant wait to see your next photos.Margo

March 31, 2010 - 5:04 pm

danaohlsen - Yeah, yeah, yeah!!! So weird to see YOUR name on my site, instead of the other way around! I’m giddy! It’s small and humble, no? I’m going to upgrade very soon as soon as I figure out more of my branding and shtuff! I still don’t even know how to post a photo properly. Ha! Thank you for all your love and support, girl! Love you! xoxo

March 31, 2010 - 4:58 pm

Marcel - Looking soo good girl!

March 31, 2010 - 4:40 pm

danaohlsen - Thank you everyone! This is only my third post on my new blog and I must say, it’s pretty fun getting comments and making new friends! Woohoo! Really appreciate you stopping by!!!

March 31, 2010 - 6:15 am

Jessica - oh wow, lovely shot love the lines in the trees :)

March 31, 2010 - 4:56 am

*rowe* - beautiful composition and i love your editing!

March 30, 2010 - 10:33 pm

Becky - I really love this image. It is perfect in B&W

March 30, 2010 - 10:07 pm

Anya Coleman - Nice shot!!!

March 30, 2010 - 10:02 pm

Mandy - LOOOOVE this!

{Is This Thing On} Part Dos

After reading through other entries for the Amy Wenzel contest, I feel a little unfinished.  There is SO much more I want to say about how my experience with AIDS helped mold my heart, my mind, and my soul.  Making a point in 600 words or less is harder than it sounds!  Especially with my bottled up thoughts I’ve had swirling around my head for so many years, like fall leaves on a breeze and no appropriate place for them to land.  I took a lighthearted jab at my first post, where maybe I should have went for the jugular.  And now that I ‘ve said the “s-h” word, I need to repent again.  I promised myself that this year I would “shoulda” less and DO more… it’s my initials for goodness sake, just D.O. it!!!   But I digress.  There  is a street full of layers of crunchy, leafy thoughts waiting to be stomped on.  I need to remember that I can only DO it  leaf by leaf; give myself some more of that unstoppable time I spoke of and all will land how, where,  and as it should.

Now more of what I shoulda said.

I shoulda told you it was 1989.  AIDS was a four-letter word.  These were times where people were afraid to shake your hand, sit in a hot tub, use the same restrooms, or even speak face to face with someone with the disease.  It was cryptic and illusive and misunderstood.  Ever since I went through the experience of watching my father die over a span of two and a half years, there was always something more I wanted to do to put a tangible face and a palpable heart to the melancholy and confused world it existed in.  It is still a subject that is surrounded by discomfort, by even the mere mention of that four-letter word.  I am pretty much an open book, but this is one word that awkwardly rolls off the tongue as if it’s coming off the lips of a llama, {spat}ting the receiver straight in the eye.  The reaction is visible and sometimes greeted by stammering sounds and unsure of what to say next.  And although I feel it’s uncomfortable for the listener, I never feel like it’s something I shoulda kept to myself.  It’s my life.  My reality.

There was always something knocking at the door of my teenage soul, wanting to do more for the cause, but could never quite figure out what it was.  There was the AIDS quilt and volunteer work, but that was too close to home at the time.  Really, I just never opened the door.  I never allowed myself to go any deeper into the depths of despair where I spent so many a night wondering how this happened to me… to him… to us.   Yet, never asking why, because I truly believe God never gives us anything we can’t handle, and have gained strength and testimony of this through my trials. But so much clarity of my life in general has come since I lovingly picked up my camera and started focusing on what’s most important in my life and to mend the battle wounds from the beasts of my past. Enjoying the little moments that happen daily while remembering the ones past that formed who I am becoming.  I am blessed with deeper understanding and empathy that would have never been were it not for that four-letter word (and a little more OCD, but we won’t go into that now-Ha!)

As corny as it may sound, that little black box has brought so much clarity.  It has cracked open that door.  I have the tool that will help me to inspire and put a voice to that which is unspoken of so many things.  Whether it be here on US soil with those who suffer from the still often-not-talked-about  four-letter word, AIDS, or whether it be in Africa with the orphaned children affected by the monster.  I have a way to communicate…  I can put a face to it and educate myself and those around me who may not understand how far-reaching it is, or may not want to look it in the face out of fear of the unknown.  I can make the heart of it all beat from every image I create.  I can live in OPEN happiness and tap into the potential we all were given if we just live in the world of possibility.  I will posture the possibilities of dreams and growth, loving and giving.  Photography is more than an art, it is an opportunity to serve by the love we are bound by.

Looking at what can be through a WIDE open door after all.

I see a wide open spaces with no end to the horizon.

I see colorful leaves swirling with passion and purpose.

I see faceless, infinite possibilities of what I will D.O.

I shoulda kept this post shorter.

Bah!  Nobody’s perfect.

Thanks for listening to my 600+ words.  AHEM.

love&simple things=great things,


p.s.  Warning:  If I haven’t scared you away yet, there will most likely be a Part tres.  This girl’s got a lot on her mind!!!  😉

Let it shine,


February 11, 2011 - 4:33 pm

{Letting Go is Hard-just breathe} » Photo Journal - […] {Best Face of January} I Heart Faces […]

May 21, 2010 - 8:52 pm

{Little Moments} and the one where I talk about hearts « Open Happiness - […] when I talked about 2010 being the year for change here and a little here (and my very first post ever about timing)… to get uncomfortable, go for […]

{Is This thing On?}

WOOTY-WOOT-WOOT!  I’m here.  So here’s the sitch.  I have been intending to start a blog for almost 7 years now.  (I’ll pause so you, namely my sister, can pick yourself up off the floor)  This here little post of mine will be THE inaugural, the debut, THE MAIDEN VOYAGE post to start off my journey into being more inspiring, finding my voice and RAISING it, giving back, and keepin’ it real!  Ever since I stepped onto this crazy photography scene, I have coveted Amy Wenzel’s photography (I’ll repent later).  Let’s face it, who doesn’t consider Amy da BOMBDIGGITY!!!  Not only for her mad photog skillz, but for her mad life skillz as well. Beautiful inside and out.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to jump outside my comfy little box and hopefully WIN a seat at her workshop via the awesome blog, iheartfaces.  Entering this contest is not about winning for me, but about taking the first step and shushing those ugly voices (think Fran Drescher meets Cruella DeVille) in my head saying that I can’t.  Okay, who am I kidding, you betcha I want to WIN, but this is so much more than that.  Now all I have to do is find some WONKAVISION so I can smuggle my little sister to the workshop in my purse…

AMY WENZEL,  YOU are an INSPIRING woman and have SERVED me by having this contest… you got me off my keester and

I started a blog {enter cheers and jeers here}!  So even if I don’t WIN… I’ve won.

IT”S ON!!!

“Tell us how you love, serve or inspire other people in your life, and what attending the workshop might mean

for your photography journey… in 600 words or less.”


Dedicated to Daddy and Grandpa Mac

Theme song #1: “Turnaround” by Joy Williams

Theme song #2: “Fighting For It ALL” by Mindy smith

Theme song#3: Open Happiness” by Brendon Urie, Cee-Lo…

We’re going straight for the big time here, well, because it’s time.  Yes, time for a lot of things!  There is a subject in my family that is kind of like the “he-who-should-not –be-named” of Harry Potter…  I’m speaking of 18 years ago when AIDS took my father’s life and my 17-year-old dreams along with it.  The circumstances that surround the entire experience are complicated and painful, but my laundry list will have to wait.  (I’ll save that for our girl talk at the workshop {wink-wink})  I want to focus on the positive inspiration it has brought into my life.

My father’s passing gave me a gift.  After my grandfather died, what would have been my dad’s small inheritance was split between my four siblings and me.  It was just enough for me to get my Mac Daddy camera I’d always wanted and get started in living out my passion.  Now I get to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps of his love for photography and leave a legacy for my posterity.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people

will never forget how you made them feel” –Maya Angelou

It’s not just the news worthy things that inspire, it’s the simple everyday things that make great things come to pass.  From a very young age I became acutely aware of how my energy affects other people.   I could light up a room belting out Annie’s “Tomorrow” into my jump rope microphone, or I could watch the poop hit the fan as I sassed my mother into a frenzy.  When someone told me I was contagious (in a good way), I realized that I could use this energy in my small way to inspire others.  Inspiring someone can be something as simple as making a friend laugh so hard she pees her pants, or teaching my girls the importance of kindness.  Photography has given me the opportunity to inspire, like the time I made a girl cry happy tears because in her words she felt beautiful for the first time after seeing her senior pictures we created.  If just being me inspires, then AMEN sistah!  But you see… as I’m supposedly inspiring these people in these moments, it is actually they who have inspired me.

{caption on back reads, “Dana the movie star singer (microphone jump rope)” 1979}

“Know the theory, know the scales but when it comes time to play – just play!” –John Coltrane

Coltrane’s saying about music skills applies well to photography.  I’m ready to play!!!  I’m ready to master the technical side to give me the means to express my creativity loud and clear.  Creativity lies in my soul not in my camera bag, but I need an extra push to bring the two together.   I Feel like I’m standing on stage waiting for the music to start.   Like this blog, I am a blank page ready to be written upon.  I have more to give.  I want to come away from the workshop not only a better photographer, but also a better person!

Timing.  They say it’s everything.  So, until March 31st, I will be biting my nails wondering if it’s my time.  All who have shared their stories are worthy and have won just for hitting that button and having their voice heard. Now all I have to do is push the publish button.  You could do a tribal dance to the sound of my heart; it’s beating so loud.  Time to make Daddy proud.

Here I go… 1… 2…3…

Let it shine,


March 19, 2010 - 10:59 am

danaohlsen - Ok, Erin… Thank you, thank you!!! You are officially the first “friend I have yet to meet” commenter!!! That totally made my day! I LOVE your website and blog-You rock it, girl! Next time I’m in Southern Utah, I’ll have to come meet you. My fam is out west (Pleasant Grove area), so we’re there every so often! Have a fabulous day! 😉

March 19, 2010 - 9:03 am

your little sista and biggest fan - Wahooooo!!!!! I am so excited for you and the photographic journey you have begun! You are so talented and will inspire so many people with your words and art. You are truly amazing and inspire me every day. I love your guts! Congrats on getting your blog started. Now start posting some pics :)

March 18, 2010 - 11:35 pm

Errin Andrus - Ok seriously, such a good post.. Loved it!

And my daughter has that matching swimsuit in that bottom picture there.. so cute!

March 18, 2010 - 1:43 pm

danaohlsen - Thank you so much, you two, for being my first ever commenters on my blog! You should win a prize!!! And Lou, you always have such a way with words. Thank you so much for your encouragement as well. I LOVE that quote (did you know I’m a quote freak?)! You hit it on the head with that one-are tears contagious? 😉 You are the best!!!

March 18, 2010 - 1:31 pm

Lou - D@mn…what a first post…ok, I’ll admit it, at least one (or maybe two) teardrops formed while reading…If I could click a “Vote for Dana” button, I’d have probably hit it a few thousand times by now. I hope Ann chooses you; you deserve it and would honor the oppt. in so many ways!

Quote that came to mind as I was reading your words:

““Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.””

Keep up the good stuff!

March 18, 2010 - 1:06 pm

Monika - Good luck!! I think it’s your time ;-)!

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