Finding your voice

Finally finding your photography voice is both blissful and terrifying. 

There was a time I didn’t see the value in the shadows. Shadows were a nuisance and darkened what I really wanted to see. I moved all around and repositioned the pieces until everything was in the light and under my control again, just where I liked it. When I could control I felt safe, secure and free. This is true in life and in my photography.

What I failed to see for so many years was how the shadows made the light even more interesting. By jumping into the shadow and back into the light I began to appreciate the light instead of take it for granted. The shadows became a way to compliment the light and created a depth.

I found myself more willing to let go of some control and instead of making the light do what I wanted I let it be and worked with it.

What freedom there is in letting go and letting the light be light and the dark be dark and recognizing the beauty in how the two dance around and through each other – the perfect dance partners.

It isn’t the equipment, it’s the photographer

Many of the forums I’ve visited over the years are filled with photographers absolutely obsessed with lenses. They are always looking to upgrade, add one or talk about how great certain lenses are. I get caught up in it too or did. I’ve become less concerned about my perceived need for a bigger, better lens, especially when I read about some of my favorite photographers and their use of only one camera and one lens for all their images. 

When I think about Vivian Maier and how she almost exclusively used a Roliflex for all her images or Alain Laboile who uses a Leica and a 35 mm 1.4 lens, I am reminded it’s not about the equipment we have as photographers but how we use it. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that if we had a certain lens we could take photographs exactly like a photographer we admire., but we should never hope to take images exactly like someone else because we are not them.

We are each unique in how we see the world. While different lenses can help showcase our vision knowing how to use the lenses we have now can strip away that desire to be someone other than ourselves and instead keep us focused on capturing our world as we see it.

 

This post is part of Melissa Firman’s 99 Days of Blogging.

In need of a break

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the information flying at you on a daily basis? I can barely take more than two minutes of Facebook these days before I have to turn it off. It’s even worse on the computer where the trending column screams at me daily about this or that tragedy or celebrities and their lives (becauseI care that some socialite from California had her butt waxed and filmed it). I’ve found that my anxiety, stress and negative outlook on life is directly tied to how much time I’m on social media.

My brother, Still Unfinished’s author, likes to make declarations of his plans on his blog, but I’m afraid if I declare I’m taking a Facebook break I’ll fall on my face in failure. Still, I do think I’ll commit to only brief stops to the site a day and I think a full break these next few days will help my overall outlook on life.

What about you? Do you find breaks from social media and technology help you feel more relaxed?

(This post is part of Melissa Firman’s 99 Days of Summer Blogging)

 

Summer is here | Athens PA Child Photography

The Boy still has a day and a half of school, but it already feels like summer has arrived. We pulled out the sprinkler and then he became fascinated with the mud it left in our front yard and decided he should paint himself with it. I don’t remember him playing in mud like that before so this was a new one.

I treasure our summer days, especially now that my son is moving toward his tenth birthday this fall. These 9 years with him have flown by and I love watching him simply being a child, even if the mud he played in did clog our bath tub drain and possibly ruined a pair of his shorts.

In the modern days of technology and video games it’s a welcome sight for me when I see a child jumping in puddles or running through sprinklers or doing anything outside.

I hope this summer is much like last year and is filled with more outside than inside time.

This post is part of Melissa Firman’s 99 days of blogging.

 

10 on 10 February | Athens, Pennsylvania Photographer

This post is part of the monthly 10 on 10 blog circle. Be sure to catch the next photographer in the circle by clicking the link at the bottom of this post.

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I am convinced my children have joined forces to see who can turn my hair gray quicker. My 16 month old has been walking since she was nine months old and is now climbing anything and everything in our house.

My oldest is nine and every other night he takes cushions off couches or moves stools to make what looks like a gymnastics tumbling facility or a basic training obstacle course. 

The baby fell off the back of a chair the other night and slammed Into several of her toys on the way down. I was convinced she’d broken several ribs. She cried for 20 seconds, let me hold her for five seconds and then headed back to the chair to climb on it again.

 About a month before that she fell off the back of the couch and slammed her head off a bookcase. I knew she’d cracked her head open and blood was pouring from it. Nope. She cried for two minutes, let me hold her a few minutes and five minutes later climbed up to the back of the couch again. 

The same week of the couch and bookcase incident I found the whitest, thickest hair right at the front of the top of my head. I swear the kids sat in my son’s room, listening to me moan over it and cackled while they rubbed their hands together.

Then they planned who could come up with the most dangerous, scary, daredevil move the next time and laughed as they thought of me clutching my chest as I watched through mommy goggles.

(To continue this blog circle visit Life with a peanut and a zoybean)

10 on 10 January | Pennsylvania Photographer

It was like she had found the most exciting location in the world the way my daughter stomped her tiny 15 month old, boot-clad feet in the mud puddle in the park of a city we’d visited for the day.

We hadn’t brought extra socks so her dad and I wavered between telling her and her brother to stop playing with the icy water and not wanting to squealch their childhood fun.

Water splashed out onto the brick road and up her legs and she threw her head back and giggled.

And when she giggled her brother laughed. But with the laughter I remember tension and sadness because I didn’t let my nine year old splash as much as he would have liked. He was wearing his school shoes and we didn’t want him to get them wet and dirty.

I’m not good at being a strict parent. I’d rather be the parent who has fun and lets my children have fun, unless they are risking their safety.

I remember my son’s sad, disappointed expression on his face, the way he looked at his sister, as if to say “she can stomp in the puddle, why can’t I?” Looking back I wish I had let him stomp in that puddle. The fun of splashing with his sister was much more important than his shoes, which, if we had had to, we could have found the money to replace.

I look at these moments that leave me with a twinge of sadness as learning moments. The next time we’re near a puddle I’ll let him jump in, as I always have before and did one day after school, ignoring the other parents watching as my son jumped up and down and sat in the muddy water of a deep puddle.

Life is too short to worry about mud covered shoes and too precious to give away moments of pure joy and laughter. (Even though his shoes are these really cool light-up Batman shoes and I’d hate to have had them ruined with the muddy water, so, yeah, maybe it was OK to say no this time. Ha!)

This post is part of a blog circle with a group of other photographers. We post 10 photos on the 10th day of the month. To continue the circle visit Katie Brenkert!

 

A little snow must fall. . .eventually | Athens, PA Photographer

You would have thought we had never seen snow before the way Jonathan and I quickly dressed ourselves and the baby and headed outside into the cold.

“Quick! Before it melts!” I called as I buttoned Grace’s new Christmas-styled coat.

With a winter that was featuring temperatures way above normal I knew the day could warm up fast and turn our yard into mud instead of a winter wonderland.

I also knew the forecasts were calling for record breaking warm temperatures for Christmas and we wouldn’t be having a white Christmas, so we’d better enjoy the snowy scene while we could.

I placed Grace in the slushy white snow in the side yard and watched her look down at it with a confused look on her face. She’d been too young last year to really notice the snow but this year I watched her poke her finger in it on the grass, my shoe, her brother’s shoe. She seemed to be genuinely puzzled by the cold substance on the ground.

I’m sure it will be another year before she really enjoys the snow the way her brother does, building snow forts and snow men (though we’ve never actually been able to make a real snow man).

As for when we will get any measurable snow again in Pennsylvania – your guess is as good as mine.

fearless | Pennsylvania documentary photographer

Deuteronomy 31:6Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

You are fearless.

But that makes me fearful sometimes.

I see what can happen and my heart pounds when you lunge toward a metal slide

You are exactly like your brother in so many ways. You are even more impulsive and I didn’t think that was possible.

I am determined not to limit you, even if I feel myself inwardly cringe when you quickly dash over the rocks at the local playground or shove a dirt covered hand in your mouth.

You both make my days worth living.

You and your brother made a birthday I didn’t really care about worth celebrating because it means I’ve had another year with both of you.

Never stop exploring.

Never let fear stop you, as it has me so many times.

Never let the worries of this world cloud the joys of this world.

But, please, slow down just a little. You’re mama is feeling every bit her age these days. You have an entire childhood ahead of you to explore the world. It’s ok to take your time and enjoy it, ok?

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