Looking back at January

I thought I would share some photos from the month of January. I haven’t committed to a 365 project, but I almost take a photo a day anyhow. These are simply some family documentary photographs from our month, which actually wasn’t very adventurous due to snow and a winter cold and working through grief from the loss of my aunt. We also adopted a new puppy, which was been very overwhelming and turned our house upside down a bit. 
 

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!

Tuesday photography tips for moms: Get on their level | Athens, PA photographer

Every other Tuesday I will be offering practical photography tips for  moms who don’t consider themselves a photographer but still want to visually record the everyday lives of their children. These are merely tips or suggestions, not rules to follow. You should record your photographic memories for you in your own way and hopefully these suggestions will help give you ideas on how to do that.

For more photography tips see my What to Capture series. Other articles in the Tuesday Photography Tips for moms can be found in the Tips link at the top of the page or by clicking HERE.

This week my photography tips for moms (and dads for that matter) is to “get on their level.” In other words, when you photograph your child try to take less photos looking down on them, unless it is for an artistic reason. We’ve all done it – snapped a cellphone photo from our level and our child’s head looks huge and their feet small. This perspective can be used artistically but when used all the time it isn’t visually interesting ad doesn’t accurately portray your child for you future memories.

The looking down angle is great if you want to convey how small your child is in the big world or in comparison to the size of something or someone, for example, but it isn’t great when you miss out on a great expression your child has or an interesting activity your child is involved in.

 

My challenge to you is when you start to photograph your child as they are engaged in play or an activity, kneel or sit down or even lay down so your eye level is close to your child’s. Not only will this create a more compelling image that will bring viewers of your image into your child’s world,  it will also literally bring you into your child’s world. You will not only be on your child’s level with photography as a goal but with personal interaction being a result. 

Have you ever imagined what it is like for a child who has to always look up to see his or her parents? Not only is it probably bad for their spine alignment (don’t quote me on that, of course, instead ask your chiropractor) it creates an emotional distance between child and parent. Children are often delighted when Mom or Dad kneels down and looks them in the eye and actually converses with them instead of talking at them. 

In relation to photography, an image which creates eye contact with the viewer helps the viewer to see more of the subject’s true personality and see not only a pretty face but also, maybe, a little of the child’s soul.

I’m not a fan of asking a child to look at a camera because I find that causes them to either fake a smile or put on a show and not reveal their true selves. I catch most of my eye-contact photos when the child looks toward me or someone behind me.

Even if the child isn’t looking right into the camera, being down at the child’s level can create layers within your photograph that tell a story about what activity your child was engaged in.

Photographs taken from above, looking down, or from above, even looking up, have their place as well, so I’m not saying never take them (especially since I do all the time). We will discuss how different angles and perspectives in photographs tell a story in future posts. 

 

If you have any questions or comments,  feel free to comment below, contact me via the contact page or email me at lisahoweler@gmail.com.


Lisa R. Howeler is a wife and mom living in a small town located in northern Pennsylvania, less than a mile from the New York State border. She is a photographer, writer, chocolate lover, and one of those Jesus freaks your mama warned you about. Find her online at http://www.lisahoweler.com; www.instagram.com/lisahoweler; and Facebook, www.facebook.com/lisahoweler.
 

Embracing the role of motherhood

For 13 years when someone asked what I did for a living I said “I’m a newspaper reporter”.  It made me feel like I had accomplished something in life. Four years of college, a degree, and a job in what I went to college for. I was a contributing member of society. I was a public servant, informing the community. I was important, at least in some small way, or so I thought.

Then I burned out on the news and, really, on people. I left newspapers, convinced my love for photography would translate into a successful business. Then I could say “I’m a photographer”

I left the paper for two reasons: to be home with my son and to start a photography business. When the photography business never happened I was left with . . .being a mom because in my mind I wasn’t a photographer if I didn’t have a business, which, of course, I now know isn’t true.

Just a mom.

Just.

A.

Mom.

I couldn’t imagine having to answer the question of what I did for a living with “I’m a mom. JUST a mom.”

As a kid, I’d never imagined myself a mom. I’d always pictured myself traveling the world as a writer and photojournalist.

My mom was “just a mom” and I had never looked down on her for that so I had no idea why being “just a mom” filled me with a feeling of personal failure.

Why was it bothering me so much to be “just a mom”?

I think the society we live in today, especially in the United States, tells moms that being a mom isn’t enough. The idea that being a mom is the best job a woman can have is very popular but only if a person can say “I’m a writer but I’m also a mom and that’s the most important job I have.”

If a woman can only say “I’m a mom. It’s all I do” I believe many look at her as if to say “is that really all you do?”

Last year I sought out a natural doctor for some health issues I’ve been having. She asked me what I did in my spare time. I started to tell her I was a mom so I don’t have much spare tome and she interrupted me “but what do you do for you?” I photograph my children in what I feel is an artistic way and told her but she shook her head in disapproval and I immediately felt that shame at being “just a mom”. Here was another woman, maybe even a mother herself, reminding me that I needed to be more than a mom. I needed to do something more with my life. I couldn’t just be a mom.

Other women shame each other into believing they need to be more than a mom but I don’t believe God desires there to be any shame felt when a woman’s sole job, so to speak, is “just being a mom.”

I’m working on accepting this title of mom, which I know sounds weird since I’ve been one for almost a decade.

I’m practicing saying “I’m a mom,” and not needing to add after it “And I am also a photographer.”

For me, photography isn’t a job, and I don’t want it to be. It’s part of who I am in the same way being “just a mom” is part of who I am and who I always will be.
 

Her little face | Elmira, NY Photography

This photo was taken by sitting the camera at an odd angle and not even looking into the viewfinder because I couldn’t get into the position I needed to get the shot I wanted. If I start Yoga up again maybe I can get into that position some day.. When I knew bending down was going to rip my back out more and give my chiropractor even more business, I put the camera on my knee and shot up because I desperately wanted that backlight around her cute little head. This shot was also edited in Lightroom to give the image even more of the feel I was looking for.

Why I photograph | Pennsylvania Photographer

Recently I’ve been watching photography documentaries and reading about various photographers and why they photograph. Consequently, I’ve been thinking about why I fell in love with photography

It’s pretty simple.

I wanted to document life, my life and the lives of those around me. I wanted to capture a person how they really were in a particular moment.

The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” — Andy Warhol

I still want to document life and since my life now entertwines with those of my children, I find my lens often focused on them.

I document the lives of my children so I can remember the good, fun, crazy, true, and real moments of their childhood and through that they can remember them too.

Photography captures that one specific moment, isolating it from all the others. Photographs tell a story when words can’t or simply aren’t enough.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs.

When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” — Ansel Adams

Capturing a specific moment or person and revealing the truth within the frame is something that is so clear in the photos taken by Vivian Maier. Maier never shared her photographs with anyone. Instead her art was private to her and for her. Her images captured the lives of the children she nannied but also the characters of Chicago in the1950s, 60s, and 70s. More than simply “taking a picture”, she revealed the souls of people most of us never see. We see a man on the sidewalk and he’s wearing a torn shirt and his shoes are covered in mud, but we don’t really see him because we are on our way somewhere, or maybe he makes us uncomfortable and we are afraid to make eye contact.

In her images we have the chance to truly see the people, and the world, she photographed. We see them the way she saw them.

The chance to slow life down and truly see it, each part of it, each detail, each person, each place, each memory is what draws me to photography.

I find myself wondering why Maier didn’t want to share her art with others. We each see the world in our own way and sharing how we see the world can be both exciting and terrifying.Maybe Maier photographed what she saw so she would know she was there. Many of her images featured her in either reflection or shadowed form as if to say “I was real. I existed. You didn’t see me, but I was part of this adventure called life.”

She wanted to remember life in her own way, document it in images, instead of words.

Photography, like any art, is often selfish. We want to capture or freeze a moment in time for our own pleasure, our own benefit, our own need to interpret life somehow.

Artists document their view of life in paintings, in sketches, in photography, in the written word.

  I’ll admit that I compare myself to other photographers too often. Last week I told my brother’s wife (who incidentally has her own blog called Dispatches from the Northern Outpost), that I was submitting to a photography magazine but that I felt my work wasn’t good enough.

She told me: “You have to maybe trust the other voice, not the ‘I can’t,I’m not, It isn’t possible’ voice, but the one that made you pick up a camera in the first place.”

Sometimes that voice is drowned out by the screams of doubt, or the voice of some other photographer or artist.

I’m finding myself struggling to hear my own voice most days and the prominance of social media makes the struggle even harder.

This next month I plan to turn down the volume on the other voices and raise my own voice again.

____________

“I have heard other photographers say things like, ‘I went to photography school and I don’t know what to shoot because when I shoot something I mentally compare my image to so and so or so and so,’ And finally they feel so weighted down by references that it hinders their photographic practices. I don’t have any photographic influences, I don’t have any master, and I prefer to stay a good distance away from photographic culture. What matters is shooting what you feel like shooting, concentrate on that and the equipment comes second.”

Alain Laboile, photographer, France

_________

Find Vivian Maier’s work here: http://www.vivianmaier.com/

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