Seeing in black and white | Elmira NY area Documentary Photographer

When I document my family’s life I enjoy doing it in either black and white or color photographs.
This week I decided to challenge myself  by trying to see my photos in black and white as I took them. I always shoot in color and convert to black and white in case I want a color version of my image one day. There are some photographs which simply scream black and white to me.

I love how black and white can strip away the distractions and focus the viewer on the scene or subject within the frame.

Sometimes I need this in life too. I need to remove the distractions and focus on what’s in the frame, not the distractions around me.

I’ve been taking more social media breaks lately.

I was doing this anyhow, but really started to take it more seriously when I realized I couldn’t hear my own voice beyond the noises of social media.

There is so much pressure anymore to make ourselves and our lives look just right on social media.

It’s even spilled into the photography world where photos have all started to look the same. There is a certain style out there these days and it seems to many photographers are afraid to break away from that style and make their own style. I find myself caught up in this effort to fit in too, whether it is in the photography or the Facebook world.

That’s why a break is needed, to remember who you are and why you fell in love with photography in the first place, if it’s the photography world that’s screaming at you, or remember who you are in general, if it’s the social world screaming at you from so many different directions.

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Weekly Favorites: August 23 to Aug. 30 | Athens PA Photographer

Our son went back to school this week so it was a week of adjustments. We had to adjust to him being away from home all day, but we also all had to adjust to getting up a little earlier each morning. I think out of all of us, the youngest had the most trouble, even though she ended up getting up earlier only one day out of the week.
It looks like I only photographed my daughter this week, which is partly true, since I’ve been home with my daughter during the day, but I also photographed my son. I simply haven’t had time to edit those images and also have them planned for other posts this week.


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Faces from the Past | New Albany, PA Family Photographer



The photos were in boxes in a cabinet under Grandma’s entertainment center. Most were sepia toned or black and white and featured stern or blank pale faces. But there were others, in a leather bound book, with black paper background, that were of smiling faces in Flapper style hair and clothes and suspenders and other early 1900 clothes

Who were these girls in striped leggings, straight bangs, pants and boys shirts, sitting on top of a train caboose, laughing and having fun? Curved letters on the back of the images dated them sometime in the early 20s and the one with the determined, fierce expression, broken only by the hint of a smile on one side of the mouth was Ula Gladwynn Grant, my grandmother, daughter of J Eben and Grace Cranmer Grant.

I was enthralled with the images of Grandma as a teenager, laughing, smiling, looking determined. I wondered what she was thinking in the very moment the button was pressed to capture those images. And who took the images? Cameras weren’t as common back then as they are now. Phones with cameras that you carry in your pocket? It is something that in the 1920s Grandma could have never imagined. My dad thinks my grandmother’s aunt Ivy, may have taken the photos, documented these real moments for future generations. Ivy died young from complications of a kidney disease. I’ve looked at the photographs of her and something about her wry grin and the sparkle in her eyes makes me think she and I would have hit it off.

I wish I’d asked Grandma more about the photots when she was alive. I wish I had asked her who the other girls were, who took her photos and why she was grinning. I wish I had asked her more about Ivy, the woman whose grave is facing a different direction than everyone else at the tiny cemetery behind the church, a sign to me that she was someone who liked to be unique.

Those images of my grandmother revealed someone vastly different than who I grew up with, or at least how I saw her. Somehow I seemed to think Grandma had always been old. She had never been a teenager, laughing with her friends. But these photos showed something completely different. Someone completely different, even though it was my grandmother’s laughter I’d captured with my camera one day when she was 88 that made me realize how much I love to photograph the real moments of life.


Sometimes I wonder if these photos were why I would later find myself desperate to capture the moments of my own families life. Her death was one of the first times I realized how important photographs are and that they can capture the real soul of a person, freeze a memory of that soul long after their body has left the earth.

Those early, faded images of my ancestors showed me there is life to be captured and documented, yes, but also to be lived. I loved that many of the photos featured real expressions, not strained and forced smiles or stiff poses but real life.

Weekly Favorites: Aug. 16 to Aug. 22

Here we are at the last week  of summer and I can’t even believe how fast it went by.  My son is entering third grade this week and my daughter,  husband and I will be figuring out how to spend our days without a crazy 8-year old to entertain us. Here are some of my favorite images from this past week.
Grace is a climber and apparently she thought she was going to climb the fence into her brother’s little haven he’s set up for himself. I took her down seconds after taking this photo, to avoid her falling on her face.


My son is growing up too fast. He also has one of the most expressive faces. I can’t remember what this one was for but it had something to do with a story he was telling me about Minecraft.


Grace likes to try to sit right next to her brother when he’s drawing and I mean right next to him.


Grace has loved exploring our backyard with our puppy this summer, especially since our mini garden of pumpkins and tomatoes has been taking it over.


Jonathan was thrilled he could finally climb all the way around this particular playground equipment.

Grace has started leaning into her brother for hugs each morning.

Our second living room has become his Lego/Art Room. Somehow. It’s where he creates now.