I wasn’t born a photographer.

Let’s clarify that statement: I was born a latent photographer.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on our living room floor one early morning, the sunshine streaming in through our window and casting light on the dancing dust motes in the air. I am sitting crosslegged in front of our bookcase with my parents copy of “The Family of Man” by Edward Steichen opened on my lap, carefully turning the pages and looking intently at the black and white photographs on the page. I remember wondering who these people were, what they did, where they got their groceries, what languages they spoke and how lucky they were not to have to wear shoes (in my three-year-old mind getting to go barefoot every day and ride a donkey was akin to Christmas morning. I was not, and still not, a big fan of shoes.). I didn’t look at the book as a photographer, but instead as a child who loved stories.

Another memory I have is going through the art museums in Europe and Great Britain as a five-year-old when my dad took his first sabbatical. Again, when I looked up at the great portraits and still lives and Great Historical Events painted by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and their peers I wasn’t looking at the technical aspects, the “artisticness” of the works, I was wondering about the lives and the stories those painted faces could tell me.

I bet they were really good stories, too.

These images of Meg that I made yesterday makes me think of that old copy of Steichen’s work. There’s a certain timelessness to them that makes me wonder, if I was a stranger and didn’t know the girl in in the pictures so intimately as I do, who she was, what she’s thinking, how old she was, even what year it was.

What’s her story?

That’s the beauty of black and white, I think.

The image is stripped bare of all color, leaving only the girl in the image to tell you her story. You can imagine what she’s saying through her facial expressions, but are your imaginings true? Maybe she’s enjoying playing at the park and swinging like a child, even though she’s an adult; maybe her eyes are twinkling because of something her boyfriend said, even though he’s not in the frame, or maybe she’s twinkling and laughing at the way the wind is playing with her hair. In the second image, her eyes bore into you, the viewer, asking you questions, a look that I’m familiar with as her mother but not you, so her eyes are asking you differnt questions.

What is it that she’s asking you?

What stories are you coming up with?

What’s your interpretation?

I’ve undertaken a month long project to dive further into black and white photography (you can view what I’ve done so far here. I didn’t begin the project until the second day of January, thus the lone color photo at the end). As I alluded to in this post, I want to push myself forward this year, so I’ve come up with sevearal month long projects to spice up my daily picture taking, ranging from this month’s current project of black and white to self-portraits to a month of color to . . . and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I think having months of little projects will help me grow creatively in ways that I could never have imagined as that little girl sitting crosslegged in a pool of sunlight looking at art books so long ago.

buckle down

These are the words that greet me every time I sit down at my desk and stare at my computer. I wrote them on that bright orange Post-it note to keep me from mindlessly surfing the 'net, to stop reading fluffy blogs and photography articles that all say the same thing. I put them there to remind me that the only person who can make myself better at this work is me, that to get myself up the next big step, to wade in waters to where my feet don't quite touch the rocky bottom and I'm having to walk on tip toe to keep my head above the surface, that only person is me. 

And that's what I'm setting out to do from now on.

I have a wonderful project lined up with my friend, Sharon on May 30th and 31. We are donating our photography to the local cancer support house here in town, complete with make up artists, hair stylists, wardrobe, the whole kit and caboodle. 

A bit like Help Portrait, but in a much more scaled down form.

It's gonna rock.

Another project I've undertaken, and one that I'm determined to really get on top of, is off camera flash. I want to teach myself all about positioning lights, lighting ratios, modifiers, flash output, directing the light to fall where I want it to, how to light a white background to be pure white (and not have to cheat in Lightroom/Photoshop) and really, truly understand the Inverse Square Law once and for all.

And then to light other people the way I learned on myself.

I began this mission Tuesday, working with my 24" softbox from 9:30 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon when I literally told myself out loud to stop! enough already! it's time to start thinking about dinner!

I really could've gone all night moving the light stand around, trying out different lighting techniques and such. I'm getting back at it again next week with my Octabox once our first day back on the water and Mother's Day is over (Joey asked for a stand up paddle board as his graduation gift and it arrived Friday afternoon. I'm soooo excited!).

All this to say, I may not be around much. I've decided to take a summer vacation from Instagram and not to troll Facebook so much, and I may even take a break from this little space for a bit. I've started a modified 365 Project titled "lest i forget" where I write a few words about my day. I don't post every day, just when I feel like it. Less pressure that way.

I do so like this little space of mine where I can write to my heart's content and get my thoughts out. Some of you may like what I write here, some of you may not, but it doesn't really matter to me because I write, I shoot, I live for myself. 

And that's the way everyone should live.

And now it's time to buckle down and get to work.

One Lens, One Hour

One lens (50mm f/1.4)

One location (our master closet)

Playing with light and shadows.

Irish Soda Bread

I began my adventures in bread baking this afternoon, making the first recipe in my "Bread Illustrated" cookbook, or what I call "Bread Baking For Dummies".

It has step-by-step pictures to go along with all the recipes! I felt as though the authors were holding my hand through the whole process saying, "Okay, do this . . . now do that . . . here's how you knead . . . quit taking so many pictures and focus on the task at hand!"

Okay, maybe they didn't really say that last sentence, but the instructions were written clearly and were easy to follow.

The book is divided into three sections, easy, intermediate and hard, and the first recipe in the easy section happened to be Irish Soda Bread, and because I'm making chicken noodle soup tonight for supper, I thought that would be perfect to go along with it. 

So, I whisked and folded and kneaded and shaped and slashed the dough with a knife, baby talked the mound of dough as I put it in the hot oven, baby talked it some more halfway through when it was time to rotate the pan, and hey! I wound up with a loaf of Irish Soda Bread!

Most of all, Joe likes it! Win-Win!


One Lens, One Hour

I took one lens (my 50mm f/1.4).

I chose one location (a new-ish laundromat/cafe here in town).

I spent one hour exploring composition, light and technique.

And then I finished up my errands.




And Then There Were Three

Earlier this month, I discovered a robin's nest in our pine tree, more or less right on eye level with me, and I began documenting it with my camera. I chose different times of the day, some early, early in the morning at sunrise, other times late in the evening at sunset, as well as those hours in between to photograph all the comings and goings of the parents. Momma Robin would often fuss and scold me while I took the two minutes or so to take pictures of her babies inside the nest, but I think she grew a timid trust of me when she saw that I wasn't going to hurt the eggs.  I have to admit that I've grown really fond of this little family, stopping to say "hello" to the momma and checking to make sure that they survived all the severe storms we've been having this May. It's been a lot of fun keeping up with this project and I can't wait to see the babies take their first flying lessons, but seeing that they've just now opened their eyes, that might be a few weeks. And Langley the Lab has been told in no uncertain terms to leave those little baby robins alone.