Posted in Storytelling Photography

J* Family | Sullivan County, PA photographer

I loved photographing this family at their home in rural Sullivan County.

Their small country farm with their chickens and easy access to hunting land is my idea of an ideal place to live, since I grew up not far from where they live. 

Before I got there, Mom had one specific request; her daughter wanted a photo of her with her chicken.

It was so much fun to watch the children chase the white and gray rooster to make sure she could have her photo taken with her favorite farm animal.

If you’re interested in a storytelling session similar to this, at your own home, be sure to contact me via my contact tab at the top of the page, or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

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Posted in everyday musings

Blueberry Picking and practicing storytelling through the lens

I read Elizabeth Willson’s post about storytelling through your lens after we visited the local blueberry farm, but was a bit proud of myself for actually following most of her tips already. Since reading the post, though, I’m looking forward to trying this again and capturing each of the different images she suggested.

I’ll be honest, we chose to visit the blueberry farm for something other than photos – we were hungry for blueberry pancakes and blueberry muffins. Still, it did provide a nice opportunity to capture my family interacting and their personalities. 

Like Elizabeth suggested, I did try some wider angles to capture more of the bigger picture and surroundings. I also focused in on details like little hands carrying buckets full of blueberries, and little fingers picking berries. And of course I also focused on my son sneaking blueberries when he was supposed to be picking, though I couldn’t say much, because I was doing the same thing.

I also made sure to capture my children interacting and luckily I didn’t have to take Liz’s suggestion to photograph the bad moments as well, since the visit went fairly well until Little Miss decided she needed a nap. Even then we were able to get her to the car and home for a nap before a major meltdown happened.

As for “getting in the frame” I didn’t use my own camera, but did finally ask my husband to grab one of the kids and I together with his cellphone so they would see that “I was there too.”

And like many I wasn’t thrilled with a photo of myself, but when my children are older and look at the photos, they won’t see what I see. They’ll simply see their mama. Or at least I hope.

For our next trip I’ll try more of Liz’s suggestions of trying different perspective and switching up with lenses, even though right now I’m only carrying around two.

 

Posted in Storytelling Photography

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.

Posted in personal reflections, Storytelling Photography

Why documentary photography? | Athens, Pennsylvania photographer

Sometimes I want to give up on photography that speaks to my heart so I can make a quick buck with some quick poses but then I remember why I love lifestyle, or what I also call storytelling, photography.

It’s real.

It’s emotive.

It tells stories.

It’s memories frozen in time, not poses.

One of my favorite, newly found photographers is Lisa Tichane and she spoke at Click Away, a photographers’ conference, this Fall about why she incorporates movement in her family photography.

If I look at this image, (posed portrait photo) what does it tell me other than look how sweetly they were posing for the photographer? . . . this isn’t real. They are playing a role. As a photographer what story am I telling here except the photographer was there? . . As a family photographer this is not what I want to provide my clients. I want to create memories for them. Memories that wll remind them who they really are in 2015, not the fact that I was there.

She’s right. I have frames full of photos a family member used to give us every year for Christmas. It was the only gift she ever gave and it was her children looking uncomfortable and unnatural in posed portraits. I don’t want this to sound like a complaint, because the images were a kind gesture and we appreciated them each year. However, even though the lighting was lovely the only thing those photos tell me about her children is they know how to follow directions and be forced to smile.
I couldn’t tell from those photos that the youngest was full of crazy fun or the second oldest loved all things sparkly and shiny or that the oldest was a sports fanatic.
Eventually these portraits made me uncomfortable, partially because the family members no longer spoke to us and partially because the expression of the one girl was so full of discomfort I felt bad she’d been forced to pose.
I put those images in a closet and filled my walls with images of my children being children. There is one of my son standing in my parents driveway, wearing my dad’s fishing hat and another of him standing in a pool of light in a local creek.  
There are others of him smiling at the camera,but none of them were forced and I didn’t ask for the smile.

The photos on my wall tell a story for me of a boy who likes to explore the fields at his grandparents’ house. They tell a story of a family who isn’t always perfect, but is loved, is trying, is striving to be better.

I have images of smiling faces, but almost none of them were obtained by asking for them, they came naturally, they were gifts, given to me in naturally happy moments.

Most importantly, the images I treasure most tell a story and that story is what I want to remember as the years pass.

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
— Karl Lagerfeld

Posted in Days with Gracie, Uncategorized

beauty from ashes |

Isaiah 61:2-4To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.4Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.…

Soft hair brushes against my arm and you sigh in your sleep.

I nuzzle my face against the top of your head and breathe in the scent of you. I smell honey from the shampoo we used to wash mashed pears out of your hair. Your chubby hand has somehow found its’ way into my hair and the strands twist around your fingers, trapping me until you’ve fallen into a deeper sleep.

I love these moments. I love the feel of your soft skin, your warm breath, your heart pounding. I love the feel of your life, a life I never expected but that, like your brother, has changed mine 180 degrees for the better.And here we are, at your first birthday. You’ve been here a year and it may sound cliche but it absolutely feels like it was yesterday.

It was the end of a long day when you decided it was time to come see your brother, dad and I.

By the next morning you were in my arms and it felt like you had always been a part of our life.

Your daddy counted fingers and toes but I never did. I knew you were perfect. I knew you were from God and that’s all that mattered. All I saw were your eyes and they were looking into mine.

You, joined with your brother,  have been the burst of energy, the breeze of freshness this stale, jaded, empty soul needed to remind me that life is still good, that God is still on the throne and that beauty comes from ashes.

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