Did you miss it? Catching up for the week…

In case you missed it, I had some fun posts this week and last, featuring a chef, a photographer and an author and some ramblings from me.

Last week I featured local chef Jason Wheeler for the Tell Me About feature. 

“We are changing the food culture and reminding people that the best food really is grown close to home.”

 

This week I featured photographer Mina Mimbu for the Tell Me About . . . feature. 

“Children are my biggest inspiration. I believe they see a world differently than us adults.
I think the world to them is much bigger, brighter and more colorful, and full of wonder and excitement.

On Monday, author Lisa Hurst wowed us with a column about being victory!

“God recently spoke to me when I was thinking about needing His breakthrough in several different areas of my life and He said, “You are victory!” In a flash, I saw that all the victory that I will ever need is already stored up inside my heart. Like a keg waiting to have a tap put into place, my heart is brimming full of His victory!

Tuesday I shared about our family day at my parents on Mother’s Day.

And Friday I featured our quest to build a garden in our backyard.

Enjoy poking around the blog and catching up for the week!

Hey, honey, look! A deer! Oh. How did you get down there?

I took the kids for a ride on the golf cart Sunday while we were visiting my parents and thought I broke my 20 month old daughter’s nose at one point. “Deer! Jonathan cried and without thinking I slammed on the brake and then reached for 

Grace sitting on the seat next to me so I could lift her up to see the deer. The issue is, she wasn’t there for me to grab. Golf carts don’t have seat belts and Grace isn’t very heavy so she was in the floor with her face pressed up against the front of the cart. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up this child and expected to see blood gushing from her face but haven’t.

This was one of those times. She had tears and a look of confusion on her face but her smile came back pretty fast as I held her on my lap for the rest of the ride.

Her brother seemed to want to get injured since he thought it was funny to jump off and on the cart while it was moving. The thing cruises along at 15 mph most of the time but I still pictured him tripping and falling under a tire. The one time I didn’t mind him jumping was when he jumped into the high grass to grab me a bunch of flowers. Well, I did mind a little because I’m a mom and of course I thought about how there are ticks in that grass and how he was only wearing shorts.

I’m reading a book by Ken Davis called Fully Alive and I’m trying to follow his suggestions of pushing fear aside and trusting God so I can live life to its fullest but I wasn’t sure if walking in the high, tick-infected grass was living with abandon or just being plain stupid. I prayed over the grass and walked in for a few photos before dashing out again and hoping none of the little Lyme Disease carrying monsters were drilling their heads into my skin. Yes, this is the way my brain works.

I’m working on it, Ken, but old habits die hard.

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.

Letter to my daughter

At 20 months of age you are insanely clingy and there are brief moments it drives me crazy.
“I need my hands free to push this cart! Good grief! “
“I brought the stroller so you would sit in it, not so I can carry you in the sling while I push an empty stroller and get bewildered looks.”

But those protests are quick ones because there you are, eye level with me, in my arms, secured against me with a sling, and smiling while you lean your head At 19 months of age you are insanely clingy these days and there are brief moments it drives me crazy.
“I need my hands free to push this cart! Good grief! “

“I brought the stroller so you would sit in it, not so I can carry you in the sling while I push an empty stroller and get bewildered looks.”

But those protests are quick ones because there you are, eye level with me, in my arms, secured against me with a baby sling, and smiling while you lean your head against me. You are safe here, arm up on my shoulder, tucked securely against my side, under my arm. All the people towering above you and the ceilings and world so high and far away aren’t as scary if you’re kept safe by the person who is the center of your world.

I can certainly relate to the need to feel protected and sheltered from a world that feels scary and overwhelming. I often long for my own safe haven as I force myself to leave the house when many days I instead want to hide away and not be seen. For years I have forced the introvert within me to be an extrovert and the introvert has decided she is no longer happy with that arrangement. 

Many nights I lay down thinking about and mentally preparing myself for the next day’s errands or chores that will require me to go into public; associate with the rest of the human race. I often try to find a way to avoid the trip, even going so far as to wonder if peanut butter sandwiches are okay for dinner simply so I don’t have to shop among the masses. 

Sleep comes only after I recite a verse that has become a daily mantra: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Sometimes I have to say the verse over and over while trying to chase away the anxiety that creeps up into my throat like reflux from a spicy supper. In the morning I remind myself I can’t be a hermit, no matter how much I want to. I have children to feed or take to the doctor. And I have life to experience because as much as life terrifies me it fascinates me.

The appropriate Christian thing to say is that God is my safe haven, the One who keeps me from living my life behind closed doors, and He is. But sometimes I don’t trust the way I should; I don’t listen the way I should. Thoughts overwhelm me and all I hear is condemnation and criticism. 

I pray so I can find comfort in the One who reminds me He is home even when I’m out in the big, scary world. 
I want you to feel comfort while I hold you, Little One.

I’m so honored to be your safe haven, your comfort zone, the person who you need to make you feel like you’re home no matter where you are.

So cling to me when you need to and I’ll cling back and treasure these simple moments of comfort.

Part of Melissa Firman’s 99 days of blogging and my Letters to My Daughter’s feature.

The lost art of real photography | Pennsylvania Documentary Photography

I was admiring a photo on Instagram the other day and tried to imagine how the photographer was talented enough to capture an entire family in silhouette in front of the most amazing sunset. Honestly, those photos make me doubt my photography skills a bit even though those type of images are not my style. It turned out the photographer was talented enough to capture the family in one take but the sunset was an overlay she added later. In other words, the photo, like many you see today, was an enhanced image and therefore an inaccurate view of reality.

Many times even those amazing sun flares we photographers swoon over are, in fact, fake and were never even in the original, out of camera, image. It is unfortunate that I know find myself looking at a photo, admiring it and the wondering “I wonder if that sunflare or those bubbles were actually there or if the photographer added them in Photoshop.”

Yes, I edit my photos, such as lowering highlights or adding some color, which is often needed in the RAW format I shoot in, but, no, I don’t add skies or elements that weren’t there in the first place. I won’t say I never have done this, because I have, once or twice. In fact, I recently edited a child out of a photo because he wasn’t mine and the image was stronger without him. I immediately felt guilty at having changed the reality of the moment and essentially erasing a person because they didn’t fit my idea of how I wanted to remember that moment.

The problem with all this editing and adding elements that were never there is photographers have only added to the world’s already warped idea of perfection. Little girls and boys today grow up believing they have to look a certain way because that’s how the women and men in the magazines look. If only all young girls and boys, and even women and men, understood that photos in the magazines are often manipulated to the point that who you see on the page is not who you would see if you were to bump into these women and men on the street.

I can’t even imagine how difficult life is for the person in the photograph because they are expected to always look like the woman or man the photo editor created.

Many photo editors are insanely talented and true artists. Their work and their ability to transform the photos a photographer has taken is to be commended. What I hope many will remember is that their final creation is not always reality.

I edit my photos by enhancing colors or converting to black and white and darkening and brightening shadows to bring my vision into focus. I very rarely remove or add elements (people, pets, bubbles, sunsets) that were or were not there. If I do I feel uneasy, as I mentioned above.

It isn’t that I believe my more minimalist style of editing makes me better than photographers and photo editors who take editing to the extreme. Not at all. It’s simply my style of photography.  I believe both styles are art.

I choose to keep my images as true to reality as I can. Maybe that’s because I understand how harmful an altered perception of reality can be to our society as a whole, not only the youth. Maybe it’s also because I was trained as a journalist to report the truth, the good and bad, because by doing that you present an accurate account for historical purposes. I know that many reading this may scoff at the idea of journalists today being accurate in their reporting and I’ll leave my comments on that for another day because that is an entire blog post in itself.

Even though I prefer my images to be more documentary, I can’t deny the art behind the heavily edited or manipulated image, so I hope it doesn’t sound like I am condemning those images. Manipulating and changing a photograph can help the artist create their vision and I recognize and absolutely understand that. I do, however, see the unfortunate side affect of the viewer believing the image is real and I think that if a photograph has been manipulated that much the photographer or photo editor should be willing to say they manipulated the image.
 

The camera is much more than a recording apparatus, it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world.
                                                                                          ~Orson Welles

This post is part of 99 days of blogging with Melissa Firman

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)