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Hello everyone! I’m so honored to be asked to be the October blogger of the month. It’s another wonderful reminder of how important it is to “gather, grow, and connect” – because great things can come of it!

Who is this Deborah person?

I’ve been a full-time freelance writer off and on since I first graduated from college, with this last wave lasting for the past 8 years. I started out as a writer/producer of corporate videos, TV and radio commercials, newspaper ads, etc. and worked with or for companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell International, Ryan International Airlines, Koch Industries, and a whole bunch of ad agencies, marketing companies, and video production facilities.

camera shoot
That’s me at the camera, hanging over the water while deciding on the perfect cute kid shot

The best part was it allowed me to move wherever I wanted, including Orlando, Florida. Unfortunately, I was there when the bottom fell out economically. Or rather, it basically keeled over and died for a while. Several struggling clients told me they were sorry but couldn’t pay my invoices and I was suddenly out several thousands of dollars. And starting to panic.

But you know that old saying about how when 1 door closes, another opens? Thankfully, that’s what happened. Orlando is a HUGE market for conferences of all types. (I guess everyone likes the idea of getting away to a place where they can bring along the whole family!)

Medical + Travel = Great Combination

In 2008, when I was approached about covering a medical conference in town that had already started, I said yes without completely understanding that it meant I’d be interviewing doctors and writing about newly presented research with a short 1-2 day turnaround. Yikes! I’m super grateful that the editor was very forgiving of my very amateurish efforts. But a strange thing happened – I really, really liked writing about medical topics and started learning everything I could.

deborah browser

That eventually led to a full-time contract (but still technically freelancing!) writing job in 2010 with an online news company’s psychiatry and mental health department, where I still am today.

Around the time I was reinventing myself as a medical writer, I began writing published travel stories. Hey, I was in Orlando so there was always something interesting to write about! Not surprisingly, writing about medical research and writing about a brand new roller coaster seemed to take different parts of the brain. It was fun giving each side of the mind a rest. And I fell in love with my new, dual career.

coaster girl I’m on the right, screaming my head off!

Unfortunately, as I wrote before for this site, I left Orlando in a cloud of sadness after an important person to me suddenly passed away 4 years ago. [ ] But it was Arkansas that welcomed me in a warm, comforting embrace. I’ll admit that as much as I appreciated my new state, I was very sad for quite a while and went back to just writing medical stories… That is, until the beauty of Arkansas started poking at me and re-awakened my love of travel, and exploring, and adventure. And boy, does this state have a lot to offer!

mount magazine Enjoying the views on Mount Magazine

I suddenly wanted to write about all of its hidden spots and fantastic locations, the great food (Bacon Bowl!!) and its thriving music scene. And I wanted to finally start writing about the wonderful countries I was being sent to when covering medical conferences. And so, the Travel Browsing With Deb blog was born. :-) [ ]

Huge credit goes to the Arkansas Women Bloggers. I created my blog last year, right before AWBU. That conference was instrumental in helping me decide what direction I’d like to take the blog and that it didn’t have to just be a portfolio of sample stories, but rather an interactive space that could even make some money. Wowza!

The bottom line? Never say no to a unique opportunity, realize that sometimes something bad happens right before wonderful occurs, and keep digging until you find yourself doing what you love. Oh, and AWB rocks!

I look forward to hanging out with everyone this month. And can’t wait to connect! Here are my social sites. (I promise to add Facebook business and Instagram sites soon) -

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IMG_4023 copy (1)By Sarabeth Jones and Whitney Lobber

   First of all, think about:

  • why are you taking pictures?
  • why are you sharing what you share?
  • why do you like to look at pictures?


 instagram-logoNow. Pull up your instagram profile. Look at the grid of pictures under your name. What do you see? What story are you telling?   Here is a random list of some of our favorites – they are telling a clear story with beautiful images, and they run the gamut from professional photographers to regular people who have simply learned some tricks to help out their photos. Take a look at:

  • @abeautifulmessofficial
  • @alisonchino
  • @destinationeu
  • @kjp
  • @smileandwave
  • @garethpon
  • @taza
  • @bobdavidson
  • @ryanbyrd
  • @christenbyrd
  • @mooshinindy

 Now that you’ve seen these, we hope you’re inspired to take better pictures. Here are some things you can do!   While you’re shooting:   What are you shooting with?  

  • iPhone camera (Whitney) I shoot 99% of my phone photos with my iPhone camera. No fuss, No frills.
  1. Touch the screen to control the focus and exposure (brightness).
  2. Lock the focus (helpful when your subject is close or hard to focus on) by holding down on the spot you want to focus until the yellow box pops up.
  3. Help yourself with the rule of thirds (more on this later) by turning on your grid, I think the default is off, but you can turn it on under settings.  
  • VSCOcam (Sarabeth) I also shoot mostly with my iPhone camera but I also like the camera in this app for a few reasons:
  1. Tap the screen with 2 fingers to separate your focus from exposure which gives you a little added control over brightness.
  2. Shoot in a square mode to help you see what you’re getting for Instagram – the full rectangular frame is still captured in case you want more to work with later.
  3. The whole bottom of the screen turns into the camera button – it’s just bigger and easier.

 Don’t shoot in an app that’s not made to be a camera – like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. You just have more tools to work with and will get better pics using a camera app.

  Things to keep in mind while you’re shooting:  

  • Why: take a minute to think about the purpose of the content. You wouldn’t share on the fly on your blog; remember that this is part of a bigger story. Pictures of your kids, pets, dinner, place you visitall fine, but does it fit the story you are telling
  • Where: look at your surroundings, how does your location play into the photograph,
  • Light: Where is it coming from, and what kind? filtered sunlight, direct sun, interior light, backlighting, side light. Turn off your flash. Don’t be afraid to play with light, moving around to see how it plays in your photo.
  • What (check background, etc): be aware of the entire frame, even the background tells a story. With food you want the water on the fresh produce to give the photo a feeling, same can be true of the surrounding/background. For exampleif I’m (Whitney) taking a picture of my son on my couch I might get up and open my blinds to add better light or shadows and move laundry off my couch to give a clean look. It’s still true to a natural moment, but just a cleaner version. I am a photographer and I will set people up for a natural photo; it’s very rare for it to happen completely naturally.
  • Angles: start by taking lots of photos. Don’t be afraid to move around and see what works. Shoot from above, get lower (on the level of your subject), straight on, from the side. Then, in editing, decide what you like best. Resist your urge to post multiples and only post one! Save the progression and full story for your blog.
  • Color: pay attention to it in each photo as well as your total feed/story. Use it, don’t let it overwhelm. A note about black and white – make it black and white, lots of contrast, not just a bunch of gray.
  • Rule of thirds, leading lines: imagine you take your frame and cut it in 9 equal parts, like a tic tac toe board. This is the rule of thirds. Use the intersections of those lines as points of interest, something the eye will naturally be drawn to. By placing a subject in the middle of the frame your eye is immediately drawn to it and then has no place to go. By placing your subject on one of these points of interest, near a side, your eyes follow the photo and linger longer. Another tool to lead a viewer into a photo is the use of leading lines. Often a road, bridge, straight line, path, but can also be a softer line that leads you deeper into the photo.
  • Try the opposite: Always important to remember that sometimes we have to throw out all of these rules. Some of our favorite photos are real life, messy and all, or a photo off the grid. We can really love a photo in full center focus. or something with so much negative space.
  • Take a LOT of pictures: It’s worth repeating. Take several, look at what you got, adjust. Try the opposite! Lather, rinse, repeat. J

  While you’re editing (you ARE editing, right?):  

  • Cropping can make your picture stronger – make it look better, give it a stronger point of view. You can adjust to use leading lines or the rule of thirds, or can fix things you didn’t get quite right when you shot.
  • Contrast & saturation: if I (Sarabeth) don’t do anything else, I always adjust – increase – these. Especially for these pictures that are viewed on small screens.
  • Don’t over adjust – remember to keep a natural look, especially if you are going to share these at a larger size, like on your blog.
  • Color: Would your picture be stronger if it were black & white?
  • You can do all of this in Instagram, or you can try our favorite apps


  1. Snapseed – we love the sliders for adjustments, mostly use crop, tune image & sharpening screens. You can vignette with the center focus screen.
  2. VSCOcam – also has same tools – I like the separate shadows/highlight tools here – but VSCO sliders have stops, so they’re not quite as flexible as snapseed. Easier to vignette because there’s a specific tool for it. Some really nice filters too.  

This is a lot of information, and it’s a little hard to convey without visuals, but there are so many great tutorials on pretty much every aspect of photography – so if there’s a term you don’t understand, start Googling (or ask us)! Here’s to taking better pictures: Slideshare.


Whitney Loibner and Sarabeth Jones are framily. They love to take trips together, especially cruises. They love to have drinks on the patio together, especially margaritas. And they love living in Dogtown and taking pictures of it all. Whitney is quite adept at putting funny things in Sarabeth’s purse for her to find later, and Sarabeth is practically a professional at borrowing Whitney’s clothes.  [ |, @whitneyloibner & @sarabethjones on twitter & instagram]










As the cooler temperatures seemed to have found its way to our state, it reminds me summer is still trying to fight to stay around just a little longer. It has a way of doing this every year. Even though summer has been a little quiet but it has reminded us these past couple of weeks with the heat it’s not fall yet.
Summer has always meant a little more sunlight to play in. Or a little more sunlight to spend in the garden weeding or picking some of the last fruits of all the labor during those hot months. Our summers were spent mostly in my Mamaw and Papaw’s garden or should I say gardens.
Beside their house was their main garden. Here was some of my greatest childhood memories (outside of my tree haven) were made. There is where I found my love of the feel of freshly tilled dirt between my toes as my sisters and I walked up and down the rows planting seeds. Here is where I found my love of gardening even though for years I denied it. Here is where I learned patience while waiting to see if the seeds would grow and for the vegetables to ripen.
In the back of their house down a dirt path surrounded by bushes you had to push past to get to the pea patch. It felt like my secret garden. (I might have always wanted one since I read the book.) There were actually three pea patches: two purple hull peas, and one black eye peas. These patches taught my sisters and me some life lessons, I will never forget. If you want something bad enough then you must be willing to do the manual labor to get it or earn it. The red ants are called fire ants. They earned that name because when they bite you it feels like fire has entered your body. Peas always taste better when you pick, shell and cook them yourself. And no matter what; you will always have a place at your grandmothers.
Everyone learns different things as they grow up but I like to think we all learn the same things in our way and time.


Sunday Link-Up {Sept. 28, 2014)

September 28, 2014

We’re having a little linky party! Come join the fun. #ARWB #SundayLinkupClick To TweetPowered By CoSchedule  

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#AWBU Recap Pinterest Rockstar with Taylor Bradford

September 27, 2014

By Taylor Bradford Hi y’all! Taylor here. In case you weren’t able to catch my Pinterest Rockstar session at #AWBU, you are in luck today!! I’m giving you access to my presentation and some notes to help you become a rockstar on Pinterest.First up….the link to my Pinterest Rockstar presentation.  Okay, now let’s chat about [...]

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Flirting With Figs {Foodie Friday}

September 26, 2014

By Wendy Finn of I Touch People My mom loves figs. If I‘m at a Trader Joe’s I always pick up some Calmyrna figs for her. Back in the day I remember her loving fig newtons. I never really dug it, until I watched her gleefully planting a fig tree in her yard, not sure [...]

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When the Old Isn’t Working… {Back in my Day}

September 25, 2014

Written by Miranda Holman My mixer died today. For some, that would be no big deal. You would throw it away, and run out and buy a new one, and never think about it again. But for me, it wasn’t that easy. You see, that very mixer belonged to my mama for many years. When [...]

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#AWBU Recap Post: Becoming An Evernote Ninja, or Why You Need To Join My Cult

September 24, 2014

By Bethany Stephens Earlier this year, Evernote announced that it had reached an astounding 100 million users worldwide.  As a point of reference, Twitter has 271 million monthly active users.  These numbers are interesting because despite its widespread popularity, Evernote still feels widely unknown and underused.  The vast majority of savvy people I interact with are [...]

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Totally awesome hair! {Wordless Wednesday}

September 24, 2014

By Jenn of The Loves of Jenn  Jenn lives in Northwest Arkansas with her husband and two daughters.  She loves Jesus, her family, her friends, diet coke, and SEC football!  She spent the last year battling breast cancer and WON!  She is officially cancer free and striving to live each day with enthusiasm, humor, and [...]

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Favorite Childhood Books {Back in My Day}

September 23, 2014

By Karen Weido One of the things I am so thankful to my family for is my love of reading. I can remember being a very young child and my mom spending time reading to me. Once I learned to read on my own, I lived with my nose in a book at all times. [...]

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