Lacing up Your Shoes

families21526. I can hear John’s Irish brogue, telling his son what needs to be done before our  session begins. We need to put on our shoes before we go out with Miss Stacey. She’s going to take our picture today. Photography trains the eye (or does the eye train the photographer?) to see. To notice. The small details become incredibly powerful when the light hits them right.

 

Make it Look Easy

25. Wedding photography has a reputation of sorts, and not a great one. I think that people feel like it’s a second choice. Like you really wanted to be a sports photographer, but failed, so got stuck doing weddings. Those people have no idea what they are talking about. Shooting a wedding is like being on Top Chef. Here is your basket:

200 people you don’t know

3 locations with distinct lighting and space challenges (remind me to tell you about the time I had to stand on a radiator for the cocktail hour to get any usable shots)

A ‘must shoot’ list that at times requires you to be in two places at the same time

Zero chance for a re-do.

And….go!

I love shooting weddings. They continually make me earn my place as a photographer. Technical knowledge and on-demand creativity is required, in addition to a sensitivity with people, a sense of calm, and serious physical stamina. In Ryan and Stepanie’s wedding, I wanted to capture their intimate details in a unique way. This image is of Ryan’s dad giving a deeply heartfelt toast. I had already covered their expressions and moved around. Ryan reached over and grabbed Stephanie’s hand, kissed it, and then her, as his Dad was sending them off in this rite of passage. Having my lights in the right place, and putting myself there too, gave me this image. Which might seem simple. But in that simplicity there is the true story of the evening.

0049-2

Art in the Everyday

24. It might not be for everyone, but there is something that I’ve always loved about this image. This is Victoria and her twin girls, waiting for their session to begin. I had just finished with a previous client, and looked across the way to see them – a splash fountain between us. So I just took a shot. Frozen in time like this, I feel like I’m looking through glass that had been splatter painted, and that they could be anything, really, paper dolls, a drawing, a painting. It delights me to no end to create something new, something I’ve never done before and didn’t plan. It doesn’t happen every shoot, or every day, but when it does, those are the ones I hang onto.

0036.jpg

Little Faces Watching Me

 

23. Sometimes, while I’m working, I’ll turn to see a version of this stare. Watching to see how and what I’m doing, as my camera is trained on something other than them (and in their house, no less). I admit that when I catch these glimpses, I hope that they’ll store away that little moment of curiosity, and pick up a camera someday. 0034small

Getting Unstuck: Pretty Umbrellas, Free Headshots, and Connection.

dsc_0377dsc_0298-edit22. There’s a way to get beyond both the January doldrums and the frustrating political reality of today. And that’s to shake it all up. Find connection. Build community. And give back. Therefore, I present to you my Tuesday:

  1. In late November, I started a new company: Bird&Fish, Co.

I’m dedicated to bringing art into our everyday. I’ve been out and about this week, finding wholesale accounts for my new umbrellas (above). If you have any leads of shops who you think would love to carry these, please let me know. And if you want one for yourself, head on over to the site!

      2. I’m on an NPR binge. The government is shut down. Here we are thinking we could get to Hurricane Ridge anyway with our visiting cousins. To be met with (photo left unedited so I can get some sympathy for our rainy Seattle winters 🙂 :

img_7115

I’m incredibly frustrated. Guatemala is a second home to me and Latin America is near to my heart. I believe that some of our political leadership is not engaged in discourse, but in a battle driven by ego and power. Therefore, I am offering free headshots to any female candidate, regardless of affiliation, running for local office in Seattle or Washington, D.C. in 2019/2020. Since posting this on Facebook at 10pm last night, I’ve received over 1000 likes and shares and a ton of personal emails.

Connection. Action. Inspiration. And mobilization. (Yahoo!) I can’t wait to meet the folks I get to work with. Please pass along.

3. This morning I did a video training for one of my clients, the awesome flower shop Little Acre. The owner Tobie and her new employee Amber are adding photos to Instagram each day of their products and needed some training on how to get great images from your iPhone. What a joy it is to spread knowledge. It fills you up.

That’s my noon update. What’s yours? Share with us, spread knowledge, inspiration, connection and action. I can’t wait to be inspired by you!

 

 

 

Finn, Prunes, and his Baby Sister

54-editsmall22. This is Finn. His baby sister had just come along, and he was the best three year old little helper that you can imagine. He showered her with love and kisses as I worked with the family. So it makes me feel a shake bad that this is my favorite image from their shoot. Because I was at the foot of the bed, encouraging making faces. I believe in this frame I asked him to “say prunes” while squishing his own cheeks – a trick my Dad used to ask us to do to make him laugh hysterically.

Just wanted to clear the air for ya Finn. You’re a great big brother.

(Although if you did feel this way once or twice, your secret is safe with us).

Colorado the Moonscape

DSC_3921-Editsmall22. This is Route 285 in Colorado – generally heading from Denver to Telluride. People live here. Really beautiful, kind, hardened, and hard-working people. I met a few in the gas station, a few in the diner, and a few when I had my tire repaired. The couple who gave me directions to the post office looked at me with terrible sadness and concern when I said I had lived in DC. They weren’t concerned that I was “of the swamp”. They were elders, concerned that I was spending years in a place in which my soul couldn’t breathe. They were partly right. They were partly full of stereotypes. But it was a good and interesting start to a conversation on the side of that country road.

This is the America that so many of us in DC and Seattle never think about, as we battle traffic and people and perceived and real scarcity.

If you can, if you can possibly imagine it, get into your cars and drive. Don’t plan. Stay in the local spot or camp on the land, eat the grilled cheese, the cordon bleu, the food that you come across that is the aspiration of the cook or chef. And discover without effort that we all want and all seek the very same thing. Good lives: security, community, love, personal growth, and to be needed. To be important, somehow, even though we are just a speck in the cosmos.

 

 

Thoughts on Life

60small21. The father of my best friend soul sister carried and hung these peace flags as he and his best friend climbed Denali. A lifelong dream of his was to stand on that particular summit and overlook the Alaskan landscape. I’m not sure why they waited to do it until the eve of his 61st birthday, maybe it was fitness, maybe conditions, maybe money, maybe just time. In the interim he had run marathons in all 50 states, he’d climbed Kilimanjaro, descended, and run a marathon around the base. He taught spin classes and ran with a local group – building community and his quad muscles all at once.

He was the first to teach me, his daughter and the third of our trio to rock climb. He infused into our 15-year-old spirits the magic qualities of confidence, fitness, adventure, and a whole lot of laughter.

There is a photo that his best friend took of him as they stopped about half way to the 20,310 Denali summit. Bill is beaming. He’s shining as if his whole being were made of gentle snow – sparkling and dancing – boundlessly. According to his friend, he looked out over the dramatic landscape and said something akin to “have you ever seen anything more beautiful?”.  A few minutes later he said that he didn’t feel well. And a few minutes after that he died.

These prayer flags were strung overhead of his son and son’s fiance as they took their vows. His presence wrapped around and through these beautiful young artists as they wedded each other. Their public union and those who witnessed it was overflowing with beauty, sacredness, family, and heritage. The light wind rippled through these prayer flags. And Bill was there.

He is a man who loved this earth deeply, pursued a full life, inspired many of us to seek the fullness of each day, and is so deeply missed.

 

 

Joy

119Small20. With the rain falling on his shoulders, David was in a state of bliss. Surrounded by those they loved and trusted, Karen and David took their vows.

In being totally present, we find peace.

Checking In With Ourselves

39small

19. I’m getting these little check in’s from the women around me. Each has been filled with the desire of a renewed self in the new year. I’m not hearing about resolutions. I am hearing about re-patterning.

How we think is akin to a worn path through a grass covered lawn. The one that cuts diagonally from the parking lot to the front door, because that perfectly square sidewalk that braces the perimeter of the property is totally inconvenient. It takes you on a tour of the property, rather than where you want to go.

This is the physical equivalent of our thought patterns. The ones that feel as true as the sky is blue, the earth is round. They were formed before we remember and are a combination of how we are wired with the experiences we have had. They might go something like this:

Daring thought: “I should go to Africa! I’ve always wanted to go on safari.”

Automatic thought: “No way. You can’t go to Africa. What if a hippo charges you? What if you get malaria? How are you going to pay for that trip? (side tangent: did we pay the credit card bill this month? Do we have enough savings? We need to protect ourselves! We’re doing a terrible job of being a responsible adult). Well, it’s a nice idea to go to Africa, but let’s think about it a bit longer. Maybe next year things will be different and hippos won’t be scary because we’ll be stronger and fitter and leaner. (side tangent: I really do need to start working out more. Jeez. remember when we were thinner? We need to get back there.)

Those familiar automatic thoughts drive us directly to an answer without letting us first consider, really consider, an idea. Out of perceived self-protection, these “truths” limit what we think we are capable of. They limit renewal.

So, let’s do this together. Let’s enter into this new year by both developing an awareness and engaging in a dream.

Do a wild brainstorm of all that’s in your heart and spirit. Just jot it all down. It can be anything from how you want to live to where you want to go to what you want to have. Keep a separate brainstorm of all of the “truths” that pop up in your head. The “why I can’t”s. Start there. I’m curious to see what you come up with – because once all of that is externalized, you may see a new truth clear as day.

I’ll give one example of how this worked in my life. Twelve years ago I was trying to leave my previous job. My heart sank further and further with each job posting I read. Because I realized that I was already in the best organization for my field. It was the work that wasn’t a fit for me, not the job. So I made a list of the most fulfilling jobs I’d ever had. And another list of positions where I was the most frustrated. I included all paid positions – even mowing the lawn for the neighborhood pool club.

I then listed the core qualities of each. The result?

The best jobs had this in common: working with my hands, moving all day long, interacting with people but not the same people every day, working on my own time and without co-workers or employees, and having an “end” to my efforts. A consistent physical outcome of what I spent my time working on.

The worst job qualities included: sitting at a desk, working from 9 – 5, a commute, working with same people each and every day, and seeing no real end to my efforts.

The challenging and freeing new realization once I had this information? My hardwired brain had eliminated an ENTIRE group of careers, because I had been socialized to believe that the definition of success was an office job with a corner office and employees underneath me. No amount of changing organizations was going to fulfill me, because the core qualities of what make me happy are not inherent to the line of work that I was in. My default “truth” of what I should do for a career was not only on the wrong path, it was in the wrong mountain range. I may never have seen that so clearly had I not done that simple exercise.

So, if you’re working with an amorphous desire to do something different in your life, but you can’t quite pinpoint the solution, check in with what you think is “true” and challenge it. And let us know what you find!