March 30, 2011

wednesdays: bookshop

I love the written word. I hope the countless hours of story-reading to my children (by me and T both) helps them love reading as much as my mom reading to myself my siblings created a love of reading in all of us. E is rummaging in my purse, but W is "reading" a book. W and I just read a book that was a little scary for him (didn't know) but it was touching to watch him be brave til the end of the story.

Day Booking It. Success

(Can I first say that I debating about putting up this post? I think it is a worthwhile topic, but I know from reading a few pages from Predictably Irrational that after reading that book I may have more to say about success. But I think it warrants discussion now, even if I change my views later. I'm glad for the ability to change one's mind. )

Let's talk for a minute about success. At what point do you consider yourself successful? I think for most of us, as people, we equate success with monetary gain and financial stability/status. I think our culture feeds this notion. However, talking lately about Vivian Maier, a unknown photographer who only posthumously has gained notoriety, the question came up about whether being "known" is a requirement for being a successful artist. Some of this depends on your own personal considerations.

I love the dictionary, so in pondering this, I decided to check out what Webster's had to say. Here is what I found:

Under this primary definition (#1), I don't ever want to be successful as an artist. Success in the art world is not terminating attempts. Growth is continual and sought.

Under the secondary (#2), it is more vague. What type of position? What honors? WHAT is the like?

Here are my attempts at making this clear.

Money money money, right? Well, prosperity, worth, and substance are all synonyms. If you work has substance, are you successful? Who determines the worth? (you? them? general populace?) And how do you define prosperity? The most important thing about this one, I think, is that we need to debunk our connection to money for success. I think this is the reason SO many people (women especially) jump into having a business with photography before they are ready. They want validation. And the green kind is the only validation of value that they see (maybe?).

If you're in the spot where you see beauty in the every day and desire to document it, I think you've attained a position others covet. You've got the eye. You see beauty.
If you're in the place where you can previsualize and apply the technical to get the result you crave, you're in a good position.
If you're at the level where you can explain things to others, or tell what you admire in a piece by another artist, you're in a good position.
If you're in the place where you want 5 million followers on your blog and 100 comments on everything you ever create because then you'll know that doing art is worth it, I don't covet your position. Just sayin'.

Do you have any formal education in your field? (do you want it?)
Have you won any awards? (have you tried? do you want to?)
Have you been in any shows? (do you want to?)
Do you honor your work and see its value?

The Like
This seems like a catchall for comparisons. Its synonymous with equivalent. So, reader, what do you consider to be "the like" in your life? At what point do you look around and say to yourself? I like where I am? The view is astounding? The colors are rich, the light is beautiful and I can lose myself in this beautiful place?

Looking at Maier's work changed some things for me. The honors I crave (and oh, how I do crave them. I admit it) are being in gallery shows. I think my work is viewed best PRINTED and framed. It does best with a physical presence, and I want to create things that are worthy of it, worthy of taking up space in this big world that is full of so many things. I'm less stressed out about creating since viewing her work.

See, I played the piano and flute since I was little, like under 10 years old. And I always felt like piano was just for me. I didn't enjoy performing (still don't). But I LOVE the piano. I love to play, I love to learn new things and I love to benefit from listening to the talent of others. So, for me, its not a stretch that someone could be just as happy with art, creating for personal pleasure. Art without strings has the ability to cut through all the anxiety that is created with sharing something so personal. Having personal things in one's art, things that aren't shared (maybe until later or even ever) can be extremely beneficial.

March 29, 2011


the new porta 400.
with a ricoh.

This is my boy. Bright eyes, happy face.

March 28, 2011

ideas by the wayside

Last year I had an idea hit me like a ton of bricks. I was thinking about how 1) it seems like there aren't many people in my generation who have or use china for special events, family dinners etc. and 2) how there is a country China that people take ownership in, made so clear via the opening ceremonies of the olympics there. And I was thinking that there can be a great commentary about the state of our country in relation to the "honor" we give our families. Who sits at a formal table anymore? China certainly was unified (and made the commentators speechless) in their performance. Could Americans perform so perfectly as a group?

The hang-up of course, was, how do you show people with the china? Do you photograph families at a table? Do you photograph the china itself, then a portrait of the owner? Do you photograph Chinese people with their families, using China?

I think there is something here, but the idea and link is too non sequitor visually. Its a discussion thing, not a photography thing, and that's ok.

March 27, 2011

the feel of a place

how do you think this place feels?

March 26, 2011

the courthouse

I drive by this building most every day. I like it the most at night. The orange panels and the symmetry are pleasing to me. I also REALLY love how the circle column on the left looks at night. So well lit and interesting.

March 25, 2011

Our hotel lobby. I was thoroughly impressed.

March 24, 2011


For real conversations
fun play with your cousins
and a heartfelt welcome to me
as family.

We spent last weekend up in Rexburg, ID where T's nephew is attending BYU-I. I hadn't met Tyler before, so it was pretty cool to spend time with him. He is great to talk to, and it made me nostalgic for college days, walking around the campus, talking about his classes, and seeing how excited he was to go out with a good girl. Also, this is great because I used a different camera this time, and I am really happy with the results. The camera was a gift from T's father before we got married. I find such value and USE out of older 35mm cameras. Readers, I bet your parents have one. Ask them for it. Contact me and let's have lunch. I'll explain the basics. Things that matter deserve a closer look.

March 23, 2011

Not Boring

this gorgeous image by Roland Bello is PROOF that even the most simple, unnoticed element of life can be elevated. love this.

March 22, 2011

the iPad

Is anyone else annoyed by this on the Apple website? Your old iPad. I swear, the first time I actually saw someone with one was only last summer.

Let's be real-- I still have my circa 2005 iPod. And I use it ALLLL the time.

I think its great to donate to schools. I respect Teach for America. But the "old" factor, and the "spend your money on the newest and shiniest" instead of making things work or making due. So not a fan.

Less is more. For example.

March 18, 2011


I am so thankful to my sister for making me an aunt. I wasn't one until this little guy came. I am grateful to have a sister I can share with, about birthing, breastfeeding, everything. I seriously have no idea what I'm going to do when she and her husband (and baby) move out east for law school in the fall. Just the thought makes me have a pit in my stomach. The closeness that I have with my sisters is the stuff of which dreams are made.  I am thankful that I have saved millions of dollars in therapy bills because of the bond I have with my sisters. smirk. Seriously, though. I have no idea how I was chosen to be with these amazing women, so fused, linked and bonded. I especially like that I have the privilege of hearing their insight on my woes and emotional upheavals. But even more it is knowing that there is no conflict/jealous/anger over each other's accomplishments. We are truly happy for one another. Of course I have relationships that are similar with other women (and I count myself lucky) but to have 4 (four!) amazing women who get me, and that I can help and support like its second nature-- it is just a special thing. My relationship with them is a breeding ground to make me better in all of my interactions.

I'm especially thankful that because of them, I can still be not quite done with processing an experience in my life. That is a heaven-sent gift. That I am not alone with this.

March 16, 2011

Tru Talent Agency

Read this.

I had a good laugh about this today. When Wallace was  about one, Todd saw an ad in the paper for a cutest baby contest. He called and set up an appointment. We went in. We waited in the lobby next to the winners of the worst B.O. contest in the world.

When we were called in, the guy's office was ridiculous. The framed pictures on the wall were tear-outs from magazines of famous people the company does not represent (some of them obvious dated, we're talking 80s and early 90s) and his glass desk was dirty. It looked so incredibly unprofessional. The guy would not stop talking and literally railed on and on about how awesome they are (for a solid hour). He also made this big speech about them wanting to protect the children from parents who see them as cash cows. It was baffling listening to this guy. (I did mention the B.O. guys in the lobby and his explanation was that they had to accept all types to succeed in business. How true considering their deceit!)

Finally he gets to the point and drops the money bomb. "You pay us $2k for a lifetime portfolio by our professional photographer, yada yada.... is that something you're interested in?" And my response, which I will say I am so very proud of to this day:

That is definitely not something I am the least bit interested in.

ZING! I could tell he was caught off guard. He asked why, and I explained to him that I am a photographer, and that I KNOW it is not standard industry practice for a company to expect the person they are representing to pay money. The company is supposed to take a percentage of the earnings of the model. He poo'poohed that, and said he guessed that some people might do it that way.

Fast forward to 6 months later--
I get approached in the grocery store by two girls. They are coming up the aisle towards me, so they are facing the back of Wallace's head. Before they even see his face they start telling me how adorable he is and that one of them is an assistant at Tru Talent and they'd love to do a test shoot, yada yada. I was so annoyed. I told them I was too busy raising my child to engage with riffraff. Especially considering Wallace has a birthmark on the back of his head that wouldn't make a model scout look at him from behind and think, "this kid has potential."

Fast forward another month-- same grocery store-- I saw them coming from a million miles away-- two guys, one girl, dressed like they belong on the streets of NY (and not in a good way). They didn't even get the first word in this time. I knew she was coming towards me so I just said,

"What do you want? Do you want to tell me my kid should model?"

It was hilarious. She was so taken aback.

She stammered, "Yes."
I said something like, don't try to scheme me or something like that..... and she haughtily responded that I was missing a great opportunity for my child and that I should just take their interest as a compliment. Later on in the store I heard them in the next aisle talking to another mom. She was translating what they had said to the family with her (mother and grandmother). I was so angry because I knew they had duped her and she was ALL for it. So I went over, told her that her kid WAS beautiful and precious and that I had overheard the conversation and I knew that those people were trying to scam her. I told her to protect herself and not spend any money.

I was so angry for this mom, and for myself, for being harassed and schemed at in the grocery store that I went upstairs to the customer service desk and reported them. I got to watch security haul them out of the store. So worth the hassle.

I am so happy their horrible business practices are coming to light. They are LAME.

E Turns One!

happy birthday to our little miss bliss.
(thank you kiera eve photography for these
awesome marvelous pictures. so glad we did this)

oh japan

its heart-wrenching. (these are containers, like you'd see on a freighter.) Sometimes with tragedy, I pull away from the world. I refuse to watch. I honestly can't take it. That is kinda what is happening with me and Japan. Its not that I don't care (oh, so very much on the contrary). It is that I need to not crumble. I can't watch the news during the day with my two little ones. W has so many questions about the whole world. But we pray. And he added to our prayer tonight, "please bless japan. they had an earthquake there." And I know that He knows. I know that He is there. Calming. Buoying up relief workers. I am grateful for eternity.

March 14, 2011

wednesdays: FOUND

the post for wednesdays is early this week because wednesday is a BIG day around here. More to come on that.

Was SO excited to find this baby in an old camera bag. I'm dejunking, (spring) and I thought I had an old USSR rangefinder (I do, but its at the studio), and I had TOTALLY forgotten about this one. I spent the afternoon checking it out and it is SWEET. Looks like next month (or even part of this month's one roll a month) will be on this baby. yay!

This seems to happen more than once in my life. I love it. Hopefully its clear that my house isn't all calm on the western front (have you read that book? I haven't. Should I?), but is definitely filled with bliss, chaos, and moments of photographic clarity.

March 11, 2011

have you heard?

of Carolyn Hax? She writes a column (now syndicated). Its legit. This drawing is by her husband, who does the illustration for each column. I was going through some files, cleaning up the drives and such, and I found this. A screen shot from 2005, before I met my husband. And I laughed, because I know who it was that made me laugh.

March 9, 2011

wednesdays: under the table

did you finish my title with "and dreaming?" For a long while now, under the table has been W's domain. He loves it. Pretends there are monsters, pretends he's a monster. Just this last month, he's letting E into this space without pummeling her. In general, he's not a combative child, and is nice and loving to sweet miss bliss. But under the table has been his thing.

2nd image: he stayed that way for me. I think this is probably his first directed image. Just wanted to note it so I don't forget it.

above water calm

underwater crazy.

there's a lot going on around here. and its exciting. the inspiration is flooding me. Minor setbacks are so not a big deal.

March 7, 2011

happy accidents

the beginning of a roll. a split exposure. i like this random sampling of my life.

what is large format?

Let me preface: This is a geeky post. It is all about technical stuff. If you're another photographer, you probably already know this about me, my geeky technical side. This is probably because I HAVE to be with film and large format. If you're really gonna use this stuff, you need to KNOW how. Also, I am in no way an expert and I am sure there are landscape photographers who could run circles around me with large format, but since I use it my way, here is my view.

Let's start with some technical and some history. Photography started out big. In the digital age, where all those consumer (and most professional) level digitals are based on 35mm size equipment (its lightweight, so versatile!), and are easy to take about with you on adventures. In the early days of photo, larger formats were the norm. Civil war soldiers had tintypes (that's a photograph on a piece of tin) created for their families. Timothy O'Sullivan and Matthew Brady were photographing the Civil War with larger formats than 35mm (almost 100% it was after a battle, bc trying to do a wet plate process with shots flying... oy.)

35mm wasn't available then. Photography was not a consumer enterprise.

Fastforward, to Ansel Adams and F.64. The use of larger formats became a thing of fine art. It was phased out of the family type work because smaller, more manageable cameras (with rolled film) became available.

Large format is a designation about the size of the negative (or digital plate in some cases). Film sheets (not rolls) that are 4 inches by 5 inches or larger are considered large format. There are different types of cameras that take this size of film. For example, there are field cameras. These type of large format camera close up in a box, travel easier than other types of large format, and are used predominantly in landscape photography. However, the film plane can be fixed like in 35mm and medium format-- it cannot be manipulated. The focal plane (or front standard) can be adjusted up, down and tilted on its axis.

Another type of large format camera is a monorail system. The downside is that it doesn't travel up mountains too well, and its heavier in general, but the upsides, to me, are endless. Yup, you read correctly. There's no end to the upsides of a monorail. For example:

Focal plane and film plane can be manipulated. The focal plane controls the.... focus. (smartie if you got that!) the film plane controls the perspective. So you can fully manipulate your focus points AND your perspective.

WHY does that matter, right?

Well, when you can manipulate your perspective, you can make things appear different than they are in real life. E.G.: you can be standing to the right of a mirror, but make it look like you're in front of it, you can adjust for vanishing points in architecture, possibilities are limitless.

When you manipulate your focal plane you can make one thing in focus on a plane but not the entire plane. For example, you can have just the hands, or just the eyes..... the possibilities... you know where I'm going with this.

Last thoughts:
--I never photograph without plane manipulation. No offense, Ansel, its just not my style. I don't do landscapes, so the sharpness afforded by f.64 isn't necessary for me.

--The technical understanding and application of the zone system (google it) is not optional with large format. If you don't know it, using this format (or honestly, any camera at all) you'll just getting a BIG negative. No redeeming quality for just being big.

thanks for reading this LONG and technical post.

Day Booking it.

A photographer who has had influence on me has these daybooks he kept. You may have heard talk of them before. Well, I'm realizing, through lots of impressions, that it is time already for me to get this stuff out and in some form of lasting. it's time to write about why i started photographing, why i continue, the things i learn, the problems i solve, all of it.

March 4, 2011

Hello and goodbye

Hi All!

Did you know that I'm posting regularly over on my fine art blog? You can access it by following the link OR by going to my website and clicking on the blog. Having two blogs wasn't working for me, and since it seemed like all my love and true self was going into the personal work one, (and my thoughts of what could get my work out there more and what other people would want to see, was here on this "business blog"), I decided to only post on the other one. And it was a great decision. It was a year ago, and business has been very good for me. I've loved the things I have created and I'm so grateful, looking back, at the work I was able to accomplish and the people I was able to meet.

So, if you'd like to keep following, please head over. Otherwise, good luck in your endeavors and pax.

Oh, and just because I hate to post without a picture, here is a grape from my sizes series, where I documented my pregnancy with still photographs.

the march shelf

february killed me.... almost. there were a few good ones, but the bulk... ugh.

hoping this month is better

March 2, 2011

Wednesdays: soup

have you ever had firetruck, airplane, train and shape soup? when prepared by a three year old, its absolutely delish!