Missy Mayo – Dallas Family Photographer » Dallas Photographer Missy Mayo captures joyful and genuine family, child, and senior portraits throughout the DFW metroplex.

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Today is the last day my sweet son is five.  Tomorrow he is six and that seems like the true start of the big kid stage.  For his birthday he asked if instead of celebrating with a party, to take a family trip to the beach. Lately his biggest passion is fishing.  He practices casting in the yard daily and my husband takes him to nearby ponds every week.  But his ultimate dream has been to go deep sea fishing. (just thinking about it makes me sea sick!)

Well, lucky for him he didn’t have to twist our arms too much.  Our family has a serious case of wanderlust and is willing to embrace any excuse to hit the road.  This weekend was jam packed and full of fun and celebrating.  Our daughter is at the sweetest age (3) for the ocean – lots of squealing, laughter, and cuddles in the waves.

The fish weren’t biting for him, but I think he enjoyed the experience just the same.  He made up for it by consuming plenty of calamari and fried fish at the restaurants :).

Happy Birthday to our fish loving little boy!

Clickaway 2016….where do I begin?  I guess back to the start, when I first learned that I was selected to speak at this amazing photography conference.  Thrilled, honored, and proud best described my emotions this spring.  And, I also had a lot of fear…….. let’s face it, teaching in front of your peers and with some of the biggest names in the industry is nerve wracking.  The months of build up helped nurture that fear.  It spread into the corners of my mind and replaced some of my thrill with a bit of self doubt.  Sure, I knew my material and have a background in teaching but questions began to surface that I just couldn’t answer with authority.

“What if no one wants to come to my class?”

“I’m going to be awe-struck at my fellow presenters…. those immensely talented women won’t even give me a second thought.”

“One thousand things could go wrong…. my microphone won’t work, it will rain, someone will answer a question I can’t answer.”

“I”m going to screw up.”

The spoiler alert is that EVERYTHING went great.  My classes were filled with eager faces –  women who asked questions, got that “a-ha!” look on their face, then gave me hugs afterwards.  I met some of my photography idols  and they were so niccccceeeeeee.  Truly.  No egos.  In fact, I met so many empowering, talented women in my classes, the lobby, and out to dinner….and they became more than an idol – they became my friends. Also things DID go wrong.  It rained, there were questions I couldn’t answer, and my presentation didn’t go exactly according to plan.  But it was ALL good.  Each little challenge was easily overcame, which gave me back my confidence.

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And while I had the honor of teaching at Clickaway, my  love for learning means I am an even better student.  My schedule didn’t allow me to attend many classes, but I soaked up what I could….

 

Amanda Jane Jones  – your talent for design inspired me.  I am looking at my photography through refreshed eyes.

Meg Loeks – attending your class (pictured below)….whoa.  I look forward to every image you post and it was incredible to meet you in person.  Plus, you are really super duper nice :).

Lissa Chandler – Your infectious giggle, grandma florals, and talent at adding FUN to every image made me exceptionally eager for my high school portrait sessions.  You rock, lady.

Yan – You are a warm mug of hot cider (sweet and unexpectedly spicy) on a rainy Seattle day.  I soak up every word you say, and am now adopting the mantra to “set the bar low.”  I learned from you in Austin.  I learned from you in Seattle.  And I sure hope to learn from you at Yan Fam Way 2.0 in NYC.

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And from my own classes – here are just a few favorites from my sweet model family sessions.  Both families were amaze-balls and it was a BLAST to photograph at the Seattle Center.  Bright colors, bold lines, and cool architecture are a match made in heaven for me.

It was the BEST weekend and I am so PROUD to be a part of the Clickaway Community.  We represent the best of the best in the industry.

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Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Which came first, my mind lost BEFORE Galveston or my mind lost AFTER?

 

I dunno, but I do think I had to be slightly off kilter to entertain the idea of a 2 year old and now 5 year old at the beach without my husband. ha! See, my husband had been traveling for work for about 6 weeks at this point.  What was going to be a little family weekend trip, turned into an either “missy takes the kids by herself trip” or “missy stays at home with the kids and feels sad” decision.  I am sure you have guessed by now what choice I settled on.  It wasn’t easy, but it WAS a complete blast. Below are the top five lessons I learned:

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1.) It may be better to be completely fried by the sun than to leave sunscreen application up to the children.  Picture my back as a fiery red and pasty white fingerprinted masterpiece.  I can now say that I will wear my children’s handiwork on my back all summer. 🙂

2.) I missed my husband for many reasons, not the least of which was what an excellent personal Sherpa he makes.  A beach trip is work!  The packing, car loading, unloading up to the condo, and reloading  out to the beach multiple times a day ain’t for the weak.  I truly realized just how much of the PHYSICAL work my husband does for us.

3.)In my book, a beach vacation entails adult beach beverages.  I drank Capri Suns all weekend = NO beach vacation. (BTW, the Pacific Cooler is  my jam.)

4.) My kids are rockstars.  They are truly such adaptable, funny, and loving babies.  They do better on road trips than I do.

5.) I could list a hundred cliche sayings about this, and every one would be true….  single parents, you have my utmost respect.

 

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TEN days in a camper heading to southwest Texas, one sassy 2 year old, an adventurous 4 year old, and no real plan  – it was going to be a family trip that would either make us or break us.   My in-laws (whom we borrowed the camper from) provided us with plenty of advice – how to use the camper, clean the tank system (a job fully bequeathed to my husband), and even advice for when the inevitable mariatable fight arose.  But advice for living in about 200 square feet with two small children (one who was in the midst of potty training)?? Besides their suggestion of plenty of libations (we took them up on that), they pretty much just shook their heads and planned on an early return.  I’m not going to lie – somewhere around day 3 Guy (my husband) had his break down.  I handed him a beer and a box of cookies and eventually he came out of it. Mine came the next day after realizing that my shower option that day was the public showers (due to hot water problems in the camper).  PUBLIC.  Somewhere between dodging  a spider the size of my fist and several nasty hair balls clogging the drain, I started rethinking a lot of life choices.  A whole lot. It took more than one beer for me to move past it. Anyhow, odds on making it through the “vacation” were against us.

But let me back up some.  I should mention that our family loves to be on the go.  We travel frequently (often just weekend trips to Oklahoma and around Texas) and enjoy adventures together.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I am a much better mother away from my house.  Mind you, not that I’m a bad one in our home – but I’m way more interactive for long periods when I am away from the need to keep a clean home, maintain a business, and just keep up with life.  When we are out of the house I can fully give my attention to the most important thing, my family.  I wish I weren’t that way (hello, mom guilt) but I am and I know this about myself, so I make it a priority to take my kids somewhere most everyday (park, walks, zoo, etc) and plan plenty of family getaways.

Anyhow, at the beginning of the year our family made a 2016 Mayo Family Bucket list.  We filled it with plans and experiences that we wanted to enjoy together.  At the top of my list was to go to the Monahans Sand Dunes, Marfa, and Big Bend. An odd family vacation choice with such young children, but thankfully my husband subscribes to the “happy wife, happy life” theory.  So Spring Break we decided to make it happen AND do it in a camper. Go big or go home, Mayo’s.

Our trip was epic.  An adventure I will NEVER forget.  At the risk of getting over the top cheesy, I would say it had fed each of our souls and given us exactly what we needed.  My husband and I overcame tests of patience and teamwork and our children saw a whole other landscape, overcame their own fears and challenges, and were fed constant quality time and encouragement.

 

This is a long post and very pic heavy, but scroll through to read and see more about our big adventure:

*On a side note, these images were taken with a combination of my 5Dmark iii (my big DSLR), a GoPro Hero 4, iPhone, and a cheap point and shoot. I believe the best camera is the one you have with you!

 

Our first stop was the Monahans Sand Dunes.  In college, Guy and I went to the Sand Dunes in Colorado and it was one of the most memorable experiences.  I have always wanted to go back, and when I learned that Monahans was a mere 6 hours from Dallas, I knew we needed to get there.  It did not disappoint.  In fact, I believe it was our kids favorite part of the whole trip.  They went bananas!  From a photographer’s standpoint it was gorgeous.  The wind had really picked up and I didn’t bring my DSLR case, so I didn’t take many pictures with my “big” camera.  But the few I snapped I sure do treasure! Mostly I used a cheap point and shoot that I bought many years ago and it was perfect.

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After one night in Monahans (we could have easily stayed two), we headed out to Marfa.  It did not disappoint with its weirdness – starting with a random turkey in front of the elementary school.

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So, Marfa was ok.  We had a great time, but I think it would have been better if we had come on different days.   A Monday and Tuesday in Marfa isn’t exactly  hoppin’, ya know.  It’s definitely an interesting community – a strange dichotomy of wealth and poverty, art appreciation and deterioration, etc.  Business owners seem to run their restaurants and shops like a hobby – odd hours and days, so we were left with a pretty wide open schedule due to not much being open.  One night we even went up to Dairy Queen just to get out of the trailer and entertain the kids a bit.  And I will say, that D-Q was a pretty popular place!  ha!  Of course, we also saw the Marfa Lights and  Prada Marfa – both interesting experiences. A highlight was going to the goat farm!  The kids loved it and learned a little too.

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On the road again….. our final stop was to stay the rest of our trip in Big Bend. We didn’t have any real idea what to expect from the National Park.  We were blown away by it’s vast size and utter desolation.  Thankfully we had our trailer in Terlingua (old ghost town) that wasn’t far from the park – otherwise we would have been without electricity.  Camping without modern conveniences was for my 20’s – not my 30’s with two little kids!

The next set of images are from Terlingua.  The Starlight Theatre is a must for dinner.  And the sunsets there….. freaking insane.

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So Big Bend Park.  There was something there for each of us – photography (obviously) for me, bike riding for my husband (he’s a bad ass going up those mountains), and hiking/fishing/animal scouting for the kids.  We did it all and could have easily stayed much longer. The hiking trails vary from very easy to quite rigorous and you can choose areas around the river, mountains or desert to go into.  Our favorite hikes were to Balanced Rock (in the Chisos Mountains), through the stunning Santa Elena Canyon, and along the Mexican border at Boquillas Canyon Trail.  It’s definitely legit hiking – plenty of water, an eye out for snakes/bears/panthers/mountain lions, and proper attire are needed.  Cell phones don’t work so you have to be very prepared. Our kids did FANTASTIC and were pretty much rock stars.

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So that’s our big trip.  We are already planning another one and I am positively ITCHING to go.  Next time I think the only thing we might do differently is stay at the Sand Dunes for two nights and do Marfa on a Friday or Saturday for one night. There were so many things we didn’t get to do and are wanting to try.

Despite meltdowns from each of us, long days and long nights, and a constant battle of dust and dirt – we made it and lived to tell about it.   One more item off our family bucket list has been checked off!