Exploration is a Toddler’s Job

Last year, I photographed Rowan and her family right before she turned one.  This year, I got to chase her around with a camera just after her second birthday.  Gotta say, if we photographers posted all of the images from a session with a toddler, the results would not be quite as polished!  I can vouch for this as a photographer AND as the mother of a toddler myself!

Back to Rowan; I love this girl!  She has energy and curiosity to spare.  She told me that she had not one, but TWO very colorful birthday cakes (lucky!).  Rowan was drawn to the fountains at St. Philip’s Plaza like bees are to flowers.  She could not get enough of them, so most of our session was spent right up close.

Sara and Ryan are awesome.  They let me do my “observant photographer” thing and kept Rowan from exploring not-so-safe areas of the venue (namely, the streets).  This was all while remaining completely accepting of the Magellan-like tendencies that toddlers possess and being photogenic to boot.  They were kinda my dream parents- they didn’t worry that Rowan wasn’t always looking at the camera.  They totally understood that my goal was to capture her, as she is, right now in her life.  I feel that it is a gift to be truly present for and with our children and these parents exemplified this so beautifully by allowing Rowan to be herself during the session.  So, thank you, Ryan and Sara!

Mary, Mary

Apparently, Mary and I met in high school art class.  However, when she attempted to talk to me about that class years later, I didn’t even remember her being in it.  I’d blocked her presence in my memory of that class and refused to believe her account of our meeting…until I saw a photo I took of her in the class we supposedly shared.  It was true!  She wasn’t just trying to fool me (if you know Mary, you know what I mean by that).  She is the only friend that I have whose meeting I cannot recall on my own.  This kind of disturbs me, but I chalk it up to my psyche not being strong enough to handle the awesomeness of meeting Mary , hence the blind spot in my memory.

It’s a challenge to sum up the whole of Mary in a few words and pictures.  She’s stunningly beautiful, has razor-sharp wit, is scary smart, and is an understanding friend who’s not afraid to call b-s on you.  Mary has the ability to crack you up with an off-the-wall, yet incredibly fitting comment (she once called fingernail polish “the elixir of life”).  She helped me rearrange my living room on a recent visit, which earns her major points in my book.  And she can cook like a mo-fo.  I am going to stop trying to word her up here.  I can’t do her justice.

Here are some pictures I took of her when she visited Tucson.  Maybe they’ll give a better description of the enigma she is than my words.

Picturing Gratitude #1

One of the reasons I make pictures is that doing so helps remind me of things that I find important.  I think that I often take pics of what makes me feel alive and connected to the world at-large.  VERY often these things are not people or events, but objects that bring up a memory of the past or of the experience that I’m having at the moment.  This is usually true whether I’m photographing for myself or for a client.

This week, I found myself actively looking for stuff that I am grateful for- practicing gratitude, if you will.  The more I looked, the more I wanted to capture with the camera.  I decided to share them with you in a visual gratitude list!   This is the first installment of what I plan to make a weekly post.

First off, I have got to say that I am extremely grateful for the camera phone I have.  It’s a handy little tool to have when I’m on the go and don’t want to lug the monster camera around.  Granted, the pics aren’t as high quality as I’d ultimately like, but I’d rather have them then not!  The first two images where shot with my phone and edited with an app called Little Photo.

1.  This colorful dude crossed my path on a zoo outing this morning!  He was so pretty that I kind of wanted to steal all of his feathers and glue them on my back to make myself a peacock cape.  I figured that wouldn’t be very nice, so I just took this pic instead.

2.  Usually, I try to be a safe driver and NOT touch my phone while behind the wheel.  BUT, at sunset yesterday I was on my way home from a photo session and was enchanted by the lovely golden-red light falling on the Santa Catalina mountains.  Some days, I don’t even notice these strong, sturdy, quiet rocks and take them for granted.   I love them and consider myself so lucky to see them daily.  I’m going to make more of an effort to really SEE them, though!

3.  Last year, around this time, I was asked to photograph the grand opening of Blue Banana Frozen Yogurt.  This week, they invited me back to photograph their first birthday party!  Many of the same employees that started with the business are still there.  Considering that the majority of them are teenagers and have stuck with the job for a year, I take it as a sign that the owners, Linda & Rick, are good at keeping the workplace fun and happy.  I consider it an honor that they wanted me to be a part of their special day again.  Thanks, Blue Banana, and congrats on one year of awesomeness!

What did you see this week that made you feel grateful?  Comment and let me know.  If you have a blog and post your list, put a link to it in a comment.  I’d love to check it out!  If you want to read similar posts related to gratitude, you can find tons of them through Liv Lane’s weekly Bliss List blog link-up!

Thanks for reading,

<center><a href=”http://blog.livlane.com/little-bliss-list/“><img title=”The Little Bliss List” src=”http://blog.livlane.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/bliss-list-badge-150-multicolor.jpg” alt=”Bliss List” /></a></center>

Scotland: Part Two, Edinburgh

Happy Friday!  I’m back with Edinburgh, Scotland.  I don’t know what it is about Edinburgh, but I loved that city.  Glasgow was interesting, it was bustling, it was metropolitan, all that you’d expect a city to be.  Edinburgh…that town just wrapped me up in a warm hug, brought me a cup of hot tea, and entertained me with stories about art, literature, architecture.  Yeah, it charmed me.  If I go back to Scotland, I want to spend more time with that lovely place.

It's a REAL LIVE CASTLE!

Our first stop was the obligatory Edinburgh Castle.  I was pretty stoked to see it, as I’m from the middle of the U.S. and there are, sadly, no real castles there.  It looks very regal and majestic from afar.  I honestly think it looked like what I imagined some kind of fairytale castle would, sitting there on top of a hill, overlooking all of Edinburgh.

A view from the castle

And there I am, all goofy grins at the Edinburgh Castle, overlooking the North Sea.  My husband snapped this shot of me.  I’ve got my camera backpack on like a big nerd.
I used to love to shoot with my toy Holga camera.  Holgas have plastic lenses that give an ethereal, compressed, blurry look to the images they make.  They also are known to have cracks that leak light in random places on your film (once again, that F word).  To some, those two things sound like a recipe for disaster.  But I adored the unpredictable, fleeting, distorted views it captured.  Here are two examples:

Subliminal Messages

Business Man

One of my favorite things about Edinburgh was the little quirks that made the city have so much character.  Hopefully, by the next time I go, this guy will have gotten a pair of pants.

This guy's pretty happy.

Vignetting Bliss

Alrighty!  I’ve been inspired to join a blog link up with Liv Lane all about bliss.  Her blog is focused on finding the beauty in every day- and not just the aesthetic kind.  A few weeks ago, she started a thing called “The Little Bliss List” where she actively remembers and lists things that have brought her joy throughout the week.  She invited readers and bloggers to join in, so I’m gonna.  Also, today has been a pretty less-than-stellar day for me so I’m going to use this as an attempt to shift my attitude.  Think of it as a gratitude list of sorts…illustrated with pictures I took.

Fortunately, January in Tucson is pretty mild so I was able to spend quite a bit of time outside.  I found some peace and happiness out there.

Exhibit A:
Watering plants with my 21 month old kiddo was pretty awesome.  She was able to do it all by her lonesome for the first time.

Exhibit B:
Like I said, it’s January here.  And look at all that GREEN in my backyard!  I know most of it is composed of weeds, but I really don’t care.  It’s pretty cool to look out my window and see green again.

Exhibit C:
This sky.  The blue.  The cirrus clouds.  The still-green leaves of the tree stretching out and up toward that beauty above.  Delicious.

Exhibit D:  Well, you’ll just have to look, but I made more than one post in one week!!  That is definitely a personal best!

Exhibit E:  Re-examining my blog and some of my art photos has made me feel a new joy in the photographic work that I have done in the past. I am probably my own worst critic.  Rarely ever am I happy with work that I do right away.  To look at it from a new perspective, to try to tell you what I see BEYOND the basic visual composition, is bringing new life to my work.  That makes me excited to explore the new possibilities.

Possibilities

I still haven’t forgotten about sharing more of Scotland with you…it will be up soon.  So will some of the recent portrait work I’ve been doing.  Stay tuned..or, erm…bookmarked!

Scotland: Part One, Glasgow

So this week has been wack-a-doo.  Last Friday, I messed up my toe so badly that I thought I broke it (photographer’s aside, I dropped my Wacom Tablet on it).  Fortunately, it seems to be going back to its normal size and color, so I don’t think it’s broken.  Two days ago, I came down with a nasty flu that kept me fever-y and incoherent for almost an entire 24 hours.  I tell you this because my post may be long and have lots of typos to demonstrate my health as of late!

Whenever I go anywhere, even if it’s in my own backyard, I find that I have a compelling need to capture what I see with my camera.  When traveling far from home, I don’t usually buy souvenirs, I take pictures.

In 2004, I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel to Scotland for a week.  When I found out I was going, I agonized a bit over how to cram my 35mm camera, black and white and color 35mm film (yes, film), my Holga toy camera (which I miss like NO other) and the 120mm film it required all into my tiny backpack so that I carry it on the plane.  I didn’t want to take the chance that all of that would be lost if I checked it.  I totally put more effort into packing my camera bag than my clothing bag.  The fact that I didn’t care whether or not my checked bag of clothing made it to Scotland is hilarious to me, but shows that I completely had my priorities straight.  Haha!

When I first got to Scotland, I was extremely jet lagged and convinced that I was in a non-English speaking country.  It actually took me a few days to become accustomed to the Scottish brogue, which made me feel pretty dumb.  Once I got my bearings, I set out with my camera in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Doors to Glasgow Cathedral

One of the first places I visited was the Glasgow Cathedral.  I minored in Art History in college, so to visit a real cathedral with Gothic architecture was so exciting for this nerd!

Inside Glasgow Cathedral

I was completely awe-filled while walking around inside that sacred spot.  To feel the cold dampness and know that was how the place had been for hundreds of years was so amazing.  My husband was a little freaked out when I started to cry over it all.  See, I told you I’m a nerd!

Mama deer keeping a lookout

Behind Glasgow Cathedral, there is a humongous cemetery called Necropolis.  I spent hours enamored and completely in love with the Victorian headstones.  Though I took tons of images there, this one was the most inspiring to me.  In the middle of Glasgow, in this cemetery, I happened up on a mama deer and her two babies.  This was an absolutely magical moment for me.  At first, mama was upset that I had encroached upon her territory and started to run away.  Something changed her mind and she hung out with her little ones for a bit longer.  I got to see them nursing from her, graze on grass, and her protectively keeping her eyes on me to make sure I was not a threat.  It was an absolutely beautiful experience.

While in Glasgow, I walked everywhere.  I love cities that make it easy to do that!  Because of where I was staying and where all the action was in the town, I crossed Glasgow Square sometimes two or three times a day.  I captured these images there:Could they be any further apart?

The lion and pigeons are super good friends. They poop all over him and he just slyly smiles the whole time.
Schoolboys making faces on a bus. Too freaking cute and funny!

One afternoon, I got bored and rode a cheesy tour bus around Glasgow.  I tried to snap the above shot of some school boys making faces at the tourists.  I regrettably missed them, though you see half of one of the boys on the right.  They were so funny and free.  I loved seeing this!

Another thing I saw was this elderly couple.  They seemed comfortable and happy with one another.  I thought it was very sweet.

“Honey, what’d you think about that there thingamajig we just saw?”
GIRLS

For some reason this struck me as funny.  I don’t remember where this sign was, but it’s blatant declaration of “GIRLS” didn’t seem demeaning or belittling, the way the word can sometimes be twisted/presented in our culture.  It seemed more of an ironic statement:  “GIRLS” yea, so what!

Breeeehhhhhhhh! Leave me alone! I am an angry stone! Grrr.

It’s getting late and my face is starting to look a lot like the one on this statue above.  Hopefully, you’ve not gotten too bored and have gained some small piece of inspiration from what you’ve seen.  I’ll be back soon with images from Edinburgh!
~Emma

The start of something new…

Aye Caramba!  How is it possible that January is ALMOST OVER???!!!?  How is it possible that THIS is my first post of 2012???  Gotta say, I feel like I’m slacking over here.

One of my goals (I don’t want to say “resolution” because that sounds too intimidating) for 2012 was/is to make more frequent blog posts.  To help me in that endeavor, I am currently taking a blogging e-course called How to Build a Blog You Truly Love.  Though I’ve only been in “class” for a week, I feel like it’s given me the courage to make some changes that I’ve been wanting to make on my blog.

When I started this blog, I did so to showcase my portrait work.  This has been fun, but I’ve felt a nagging that somethings wasn’t quite right about it.  I want to breathe more life and authenticity to my posts.  I’m going to start showing some of my personal work, in addition to the pictures I make for other people.  Honestly, that is a bit scary for me, but last night, I drank two cups of tea.  You can see the messages I got from the universe in the image above!  I think it’s a sign that I’m on the right track…or that I drink a lot of tea.  I’m okay with either scenario!

To start with, I created a new little banner and tweaked the background of the blog a bit. As you start noticing more differences, don’t be too surprised.  Fell free to leave feedback to let me know what you think about it all.  I hope your 2012 has been great to you so far!

Thanks for reading,

Emma