Monday, February 28, 2011

Good night kiss

Little dark and grainy, but definitely a keeper for our family album.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Child's pose

Is there anything more relaxing than child's pose?  I'm pretty sure I could fall asleep like this if I wanted to.

It doesn't happen often, but tonight I found myself wishing for a studio.  I used to think I wasn't a fan of studio portraits at all, that I would always prefer a portrait in a more natural setting, but I'm starting to see how I would want to sometimes do portraits that don't have anything to distract from the subject.

Oh, and I actually started out trying to take a photo of myself in wheel and wimped out after a couple of attempts and decided I just felt like child's pose instead.  Lazy! 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Puppy dog eyes

My puppy Tama was kind enough to model for me tonight (for a reward of three or four doggie cookies, of course).  I really think the middle one is really funny; makes me want to buy a fish-eye lens.

I've been super busy this week, and the busyness is not quite over yet but is winding down.  I'm feeling antsy to push myself a little more, and feeling guilty that I've just done the bare minimum the last few days.  I'm not going to let myself do my normal self-deprecating thing though; one of my favorite things I am learning from this blog project and especially from following other peoples projects is how to feel inspired and motivated by seeing other's art instead of feeling intimidated and inadequate.  So thank you all for raising the bar for me, I hope to follow your creative lead very soon.  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roger's new job

Things are getting a little more serious between Roger and his girlfriend Belle, and so he has decided it is time to put his globe-trotting and dreams of game-show stardom behind him and get a real job.  So, with the help of yours truly, he has landed himself an internship in the IT department of Buchanan Community Schools.  He has a lot of learning to do, he's always been pretty tech savy but needs someone to take him under their wing and show him the ropes (hmm, can I fit any more euphemisms into that sentence?).  Not much pay right now, but if he proves himself he could end up with a good position with great benefits, in a nice little town to raise kids. 

It's amazing what a good woman can do for a man, or in this case, an elephant.  Is this elephant motivated?  Roger That.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Turn around (or upside down)

I've been in a funk the last few days.  Some reasons are clear, some not, but either way I need to turn things around.  So here is me taking that pretty literally.  I haven't been as motivated to push myself creatively, and this post wasn't all that challenging either (besides trying to get into a headstand in the amount of time it takes my timer to go off), but it was a good reminder to me to push through these difficult times and also to see myself in a new light.  The back story to this is that I started practicing yoga last summer, which I am totally addicted to now, and pretty early I was introduced to this pose, technically called Sirsasana.  I loved the feeling of being upside down (I was being assisted into the pose at this point) and became absolutely determined to learn to do it without help.  This from the girl who can barely stand on one foot for more than a second or two.  I have horrible balance.  So of course the first week or two of trying to force myself to learn this were disastrous.  I quickly reached the point where I would normally give up.  I often become inspired to do something new or different, and I never stick with it.  So I've spent a good bit of my life feeling defeated but as though I ought to be capable of more (hence the beheaded goddess).  But, as I learned more about yoga, I came to realize that the pointlessness of trying to force myself to do something I wasn’t ready to do and then feeling bad about how I couldn’t do it.  So instead of giving up, I tried to accept where I was at, and started practicing this pose up against a wall and didn’t worry about it too much (other than periodically doing this pose throughout the day just because I loved it so much).  And then, a couple of months later, a teacher showed me a slightly different way to position myself, and all of a sudden I found my balance.  It was incredible, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so good about myself.  But here is the kicker, without the strength I had built the previous two months of doing the “wimpy” version of the pose I wouldn’t have been ready to learn to do it without the wall.

So maybe that is what this blog, this year of photos, is all about.  Building my strength, and preparing me for the day I get the opportunity to do something I never dreamed possible.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Today was an exciting day for me.  Most importantly, today was my first "Seva" (service) project with a group from the wonderful Dhanwantari Center for Yoga and Well-Being.  We served a meal at Hope Ministries community kitchen in downtown South Bend, and not just any meal but a pretty damn good one if I do say so myself.  And I think this is only the beginning; by the time the meal was wrapping up we were already chattering away about the menu for the next, which sounds like it will be even better.  I'm glad we are doing this project, but I'm even more proud that we are trying to do it well and serve food that is made as nutritious and tasty as we can (which apparently next month will include maple and brown sugar sweet potatoes, yum!).  So many, not just those pictured here, contributed to making this meal happen, and even the kids got involved by beautifying the chalk board in the dining room.  As far as the photos, I didn't take many one because of working but also (again) because of my lack of assertiveness as a photographer, something I need to keep working on.  The second exciting thing to happen today was that I (or we, more accurately) had a real paying gig today!  Wasn't anything special, but right after this dinner I had to dash to the high school back in my home town to work with my husband to offer portraits at the annual "Winterfest" dance.  It was a pretty easy job, we did all right, but we also tried to use this opportunity to drum up some senior photo business.  We'll see how this goes, maybe someday photography could make me money instead of costing it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bowl o' berries

Not much time or creativity left to spare tonight, so food photography it is.  My last few busy days have been extra frustrating because I have an idea I'd like to get some time to work with and suddenly can't find any.  Oh well, at least I got some good macro practice, and honestly these strawberries are really awful (I usually don't buy fruit out of season but had a moment of weakness) so at least I got some use out of them.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Moon over South Bend

Long day, and no tripod with me for these shots (I guess I'll have to start taking that with me everywhere too), so these are not as nice as I'd like, but will do for today.  Good night!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

46 degrees!

The weather was so gorgeous today we just had to try to enjoy it a bit, so Josie and I visited one of my favorite places this afternoon, Fernwood Botanical Gardens.  They had a train exhibit set up in the greenhouse; Josie seemed like she could have watched those trains all day.  Then we went for a walk on the grounds, at least in the places that were shoveled, because even though the temperature has been above freezing during the day for the last 5 days or so, there is still at least a foot of snow on the ground.  It was so interesting to see people walking their dogs in their shorts and tee shirts today next to huge snow drifts; we are all so eager for spring!

I have a ton of shots, but these few were my favorites (well three of them were my favorites, Josie cast her vote for the train picture so I included it).  I think I'm turning Josie into a model, today in the greenhouse she said, "Mommy, do you want to take my picture for your blog?"  I almost died laughing, but then said yes, and she proceeded to pose herself on a rock ledge.  Suppose this was bound to happen, not sure why I'm surprised!  At least she wont suffer from my severe camera-shyness.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Nose in a book

Nothing too special tonight, Roger kept me up really late last night so I'm tired and grumpy and just want to get this over with so I can go to bed early (after watching the conclusion of the "Watson" special on Jeopardy of course, because I'm a total dork).  So here is a quick photo of yours truly pursuing her other goal for the year, to be better read.  I used to be the girl who always had her nose in a book, but since motherhood (and an unfortunate accumulation of library fees) I've fallen out of the habit and decided it was time to change that.  So I made good with the library and decided to start with a classic I had never read before, hence Moby Dick.  Which, I've been pleasantly surprised to find is really funny and insightful.  I did also start reading Toni Morrison's "Beloved" too, and the last few days have sort of forgoten about Moby Dick since I've gotten more into that story. 

Anyway, that's my night, got to go now, Watson time!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roger's big date

This is Roger.  I've been wanting to do a post to properly introduce you all to him since Misha suggested his awesome new name.  First name Roger, last name That.  As in: is this Elephant a love machine?  Roger That.

Roger was born in jungles of India, of course, though left as a young bull to pursue his dream of someday becoming a TV game show host.  Since then he has traveled the world, working odd jobs, everything from a taxi cab driver to a window washer.  Likes:  dijon mustard, comfortable shoes, really big paperclips, ice cream cones, and feeding ducks at the duck pond.  Dislikes:  kittens and puppies, people with food in their teeth, ice cream (all flavors), long walks on the beach, and horseback riding.  He is in a relationship with Belle, as you may be able to tell from the photo above, and he is really sick of jokes about him being "the beast".  He worked very hard to prepare a big Valentines Day surprise for his girl tonight. 

I'll be checking in on Roger periodically, and will make sure to update you on him.  Roger That.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The winds of change

Today was a pretty remarkable day for a Michigan February.  The temperature got into the upper 30's (you all in more temperate climates are probably laughing at me right now) and there was a pleasant breeze instead of the howling winter winds we've had for the last couple of weeks.  So I took a drive and ended up on Warren Woods road, not too far outside of my little town, where I happened upon an abandoned farmhouse and barn that I'd never noticed before.  With the couple feet of snow I didn't venture off the road to get any good shots of the house or barn, but this old windmill was a perfect subject.  It also was a fitting symbol for the way this day made me feel, like a change is not far off and the wheels have already been set in motion.  I've been feeling this way for a while, but feeling a bit of spring on the wind magnified that feeling significantly.

Also as an aside, to those of you who've been looking at this blog somewhat regularly, I'm wondering if my photos have looked any different in the last few days.  I recently calibrated my computer screen so that I can more accurately prep photos for printing, and I'm worried now they will look horrible on other screens.  Any thoughts?  Thank you!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It's my party...

My post today is a bit of a cheat, today we had Josie's third birthday party (yesterday was her actual birthday).  I had planned after the party was over to stage a shot of myself next to the half eaten cake halfway passed out, surrounded by wrapping paper, burst balloons, etc.  But, ironically enough, I was too exhausted by the end of the party to bother.  So here are some are a couple of shots from the festivities, just for our family album really, not anything great.  Though I do really like this one here to the left of my extremely adorable little niece, Noelle. 

Goodnight, I hope to post something a little more on the artistic side tomorrow!

Friday, February 11, 2011

On stage

These photos of Josie were taken on the stage at the high school my husband works at.  I was being a little experimental with the light and the flash and I think I like the effect (not so much for "portraits" but for more artsy stuff).  Josie was awesome, I think she belongs on stage, in the photo at the top she actually told me, "I'm going to go sit in the chair and be sad Mommy, and you take my picture, okay?"  Then she would jump of the chair and patter back across the stage to see the picture I took and then run back and to try again.  I'm glad she is not sick of me taking pictures of her yet!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Portrait of an activist mother

Today Josie and I went to visit my friends Jen and Joe and their daughter Brielle.  Josie loved getting the chance to play with her favorite little girlfriend, plus the their bunny, fish, and new puppy (how lucky is this kid?).  And I was excited to get the chance to take some photos of Jen nursing Brielle, who turned 2 in October.  Jen is an amazing mother and a soon to be Doula who is passionate about mothers and children (she is also, by the way, the one who left the comment about asking if birth support could be considered an art form, which of course I told her it obviously was and much more!).  She is also starting to work on writing a children's book about a nursing toddler as a means to educate people and fight the misconceptions in our culture about breastfeeding past infancy.  She asked me if I might help her illustrate something like this with photos, and of course I said yes!  I think it is a really cool idea and can think of no one better to write about this topic but a person who has lived with the struggle of choosing what is best for her child in spite of cultural pressure.

These shots above were sort of just a warm up for me, Brielle actually didn't nurse for more than a couple of minutes while I was visiting so I didn't get to take many shots.  I'm also still a bit unsure of myself when shooting portraits; I'm not real comfortable directing people and I want to get as natural shots as possible, but I know I could have improved on these if I had worked with my subject a little more.  Oh well, there is always next time, we only had a few minutes anyway.  It was really nice to get to shoot a moment like this between a mother and child.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bath time

Back to my favorite subject tonight, Josie!  I thought about doing some more outdoor winter shots today, but the high today was 17 degrees.  The high.  So we'll save that for another day.  So these photos are not really groundbreaking in any way, but I love taking pictures of kids (and especially mine, of course). 

I'm really excited about tomorrow, I've got plans to do some portraits that I think could turn out really cool.  So come back tomorrow and see how they turned out!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Late night snack

Wow, I really cut it close with this one.  Didn't start working on a photo until late (again) and then my first several ideas were major flops.  This is okay I guess, this little elephant seems to be a good subject to shoot (he's nice and contrasty) and I think I'd like to do more with him.  He needs a name though, any suggestions?  Besides that the only other thing I learned from this is that my kitchen floor is really uncomfortable.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Aww, honey (do do de, do de do)

Well, that is enough of baring my soul for awhile, I think, so here is something totally frivolous!  I was making oatmeal cookies today with Josie (she loves to "help", which mostly means eat raisins and spill things) and became fascinated with the honey as I was poring it off the measuring spoon and into the batter.  I was trying to recreate some of the cool patterns and shapes the honey made in this photo shoot, but it didn't exactly work out, I think it has something to do with the honey hitting the smooth bottom of the cup instead of the rough surface of the batter.  Still though, I think some of these shots turned out pretty cool. 

Also, a big thanks to my husband who "helped" me with this shoot, mostly by cleaning the spoon.  Thanks honey!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finding my own smile

Well, after the last self portrait post I did ("In my own skin") I've been thinking about a lot of things and decided to try to take that theme a little farther tonight.  I'm really feeling exposed (ha, ha, ha) posting this, but here it goes anyway. 

My thoughts behind this image started with a conversation my husband and I were having last night.  I was trying to explain to him how I feel I've changed and am changing over time and how I now more than ever take responsibility for my own happiness.  So I wanted to create a portrait of myself that illustrated this point, how I can feel peace and joy without the aid of anyone or anything.  Obviously I don't feel this way all the time; I am certainly a huge work in progress, but I'm so grateful to the things in my life that are teaching me how to be this way more and more (being a mother, practicing yoga, making art, and just getting older, to name a few).  I hope I accomplished this at least a little.

By the way, the alternate title for this post was, "Adventures in topless photography".

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Grave matters

Went to the cemetery in our town today to take some photos, which I oddly found much less depressing than going to the beach yesterday (hmmm, what does that say about me?).  I would have been happy to stay and take pictures for a lot longer than I did if it hadn't been so frigid today; I think with the windchill it was only a degree or two above zero.  There was so much more interesting stuff there that I didn't get.  This cemetery is actually really beautiful, it's very old for this part of the country and is shaded by tons of ancient oak trees.  It's one of my favorite places to go for a walk when the weather is good.  One other interesting thing, the photo of the monument in the upper left is known in town as the "Atheist's Tomb".  Apparently it is the grave of a prominent business man in the early days of our town who was an outspoken atheist and when he died he had something engraved on his tomb that said something about those beliefs, and shortly after it went up the grave was vandalized and the words removed.  I have no idea if this is true, I heard it as a kid, but it's interesting.

In other news, I went to my first Kirtan event tonight, which was awesome!  If you don't know who Allie Stringer is you ought to, so check her out.  But I am absolutely livid at my camera right now, because I took it to this event but had forgotten my sd card but thought that my camera had some on board memory because it let me take some shots if I changed something in my settings.  Apparently this is just a mode in the camera that was created only to torture photographers, because it will allow to to take images and you can see them on your camera but as soon as you turn it off they disappear, never to be seen again.  I hope that Allie will be back in South Bend soon and will give me a second chance photograph her!

Friday, February 4, 2011

A day at the beach

Oh my lord, is it summer yet?!  I really don't know if I can take much more of this.  Believe it or not these photos were taken at Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan.  But where is the lake, you say?  Good question!  I was hoping for a least a glimpse of open water when I went there today.  I wish I had a more powerful telephoto lens so I could have gotten a good shot of the ice on the pier at least, but maybe by next year I will.  Anyway, I am really looking forward to taking some much different photos in this spot in 6 months or so.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

In my own skin

I really am so thankful for all the new people I've been introduced to over the last week or so on this blog, and for the community of creative support I'm finding on the web.  Artists are just awesome people I've decided, and the world would be a better place if we ran things (though it may be a more disorganized and poor place, but hey, at least we'd all get along, right?).  This photo in particular had two sources of inspiration.  One being the self portraits of Heather Addley on 365 Days of Me , which inspires me not only because there are some really great photos but also because of her using this project to "see her body in a new light".  As someone who went through a period of anorexia as a teenager and still struggles to accept myself (even though my brain tells me I'm a fool for thinking I'm "fat"), I really appreciate a glimpse into another woman's struggle with these issues.  My second inspiration came from a comment from grow365 mentioning portraits of Georgia O'Keefe which I immediately looked up and was amazed by.  I loved the expressiveness in her hands.  I know what I did today didn't even come close, but I really am starting to like the idea of portraits that don't include a face or at least don't feature it.  So I am back to needing models again! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Staying on my toes

When my friend Jennifer brought her son Aiden over to visit with the intention of me taking some portrait shots of him, I don't think this was what she had in mind.  Well I say to her then, "you shouldn't have had a child with such cute toes.  It's your own fault." He was sitting on his mom's lap playing with a magna-doodle and I noticed that he has very fidgety feet, and I think they ended up being a really neat subject to photograph.  I know working with kids is really hard, but I kind of like how unpredictable they are and how you never know what you are going to get with them.  I certainly didn't go into this saying, "I'm going to take take a photo of feet today." 

I hope that I actually did accomplish a "portrait" of Aiden, even if it's not in the traditional sense.  Maybe when he's grown his parents will look back at this and remember something endearing about him, even if it is only how squirmy he was.  And that I think is really the purpose of a portrait of a child, to help us remember what they were like on a particular day when they are changing so fast it's hard to keep up.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seeker of Divine Knowlegde

I've been wanting to try over the last few days creating a photo that tells some sort of story.  I really had no idea other than that what I wanted to do today, and since I waited until the end of the day (again) to start on this I was limited to what I could find around my house.  So, a big thank you all my house plants and coasters, as well as my Buddha and this little elephant guy.  I'm not sure I really love this photo, but setting this up was a lot of fun and I'll probably give something like this another try soon.