April 29, 2011

briana blackwelder

i don't know where to start.
my heart has weights.
attached so securely that i wonder if i'll ever
feel uplifted from this.

sorrow isn't a normal place for me.
depression isn't a place a i frequent.
but i can't.seem.to.leave.

but at the same time i'm
so grateful.
for photographs done well
for the blessing of talent from a loving god
for a friend that held the promise of many shared memories.

i'm crying. i do every time i think of her.
being busy from sunday-wednesday was really good
for me.
i couldn't crumble.
i had to perform.
finish pictures, check.
respond to emails, check.
give to family, help with film-making, book making, program making, check.
bring frames.
bring more frames.
figure out a display.
kick myself for not printing it bigger.
keep kicking myself.

what i cannot forgive, and i know it doesn't matter
in the scheme of the impact she had, or the friendship that
was budding after her wonderful presence at E's birth....
is that an opportunity to see her,
just one last time,
was something that i said no to
to put my family first.
it was a crazy morning. the SLC marathon was in full-swing.
we were headed there... but oh the traffic.
and i was embarrassed that we'd be so late.
and i knew T didn't really want to go.
it was his first saturday off in so long.
and we missed him, me and the kids.
and i didn't fight for her.
didn't insist that we go and support her.
and so, i said it was ok.
and i didn't see her.

that feels wretched.

but more than that, its this,
from that night.

as soon as the day was over, and i went online to do a few things
she wrote me. immediately.
she reached out to me. yet again. ever giving.
i felt it now and i felt it then.
i let her down. she never would say so, of course.
but she noticed.

she so very much deserved my support.
she gave and gave and gave to me....
to help sort my issues with E's birth. to help me see the beauty.
and i partook.
i can't think of another well that fit in this weird space of
confidant, caregiver yet not a regular social life staple
that has run as deep as hers, for me, in this and so many other ways.
and so these weights are staying their course.
don't tell me it doesn't matter in the scheme of things,
i know.
it doesn't change the hurt,
the regret, and the deep sadness.
this isn't a hurt i need comforted. its a hurt i need to say,
that needs to stay until it fades.
aren't those the ones we learn from the most?


i want to write about the positive.

i had the privilege of photographing Briana.
Not only in the studio, but on a day with her
and Cathy. Visiting mamas, watching them work
so seamlessly together.
i was gifted long car rides.
and sweet laughter.
i go to bask in their connection
as friends, caregivers, saints.

Cathy believed in me.
in my ability to create real portraits.
she had me photograph briana
(two birds with one stone. she was part of the MATTER project, obviously).

i am indebted to her.
i have long said, i want to create images that show someone, truly,
who a person is.
i take a long-look approach. i want these images
to speak
20 years from now.
i want them to be the beautiful things held onto by grandchildren.
momentos, heirlooms.
pieces of someone past that shows
her beauty. her spirit.
her true self.

though as artists, we strive to be successful,
i never knew it would hurt so much.
to know i had nailed it.
completed my desire.
even in her passing, she gave, again.

i'm truly speechless.
there are memories.
wonderful ones.
of visits, and honesty
of cakes, soup, comparisons.

but underneath it all,
i miss her.
i will miss running into her
at the park
at the market.
i will miss her ability to
truly embrace a person.
to uplift with her touch.

"Believer in ferns" as they said
"Agent of creation" as they said
an original, a standard, a sentinel of worthy things.
that is what i'm saying.

April 25, 2011


Ok Ladies. Send me you addresses to alisha (at) alishastamper (dot) com and you'll get something lovely.

last chance

scroll down and enter my little handmade pay it forward giveaway.

April 24, 2011

April 22, 2011

28 things and something to enter

Today is my birthday. years ago, a random stranger gave me some hit and run criticism about needing to "up" my self-esteem and people skills. He said I needed to write down 50 things I liked about myself. ( I then spent the next 30 minutes at the store thinking of all the things I liked about myself in relation to him--did I mention he was a checker at our local grocer who wears crazy hats a la six flags? I know this was not exactly a nice moment for me. Did I mention he told me he's a life coach as a precursor to his unsolicited advice? yeah.)

Maybe its just my hubris talking, but I think I have too much of one, and am amazing at the other, of the things he said I needed to boost, respectively. But I think there is something worthy of keeping a nice list of things about yourself. I know that I have never written one before (barring any memories I am missing from my formative years at girls camp, etc). So here's 28.

01. i am a good friend
02. i am a good sister
03. i am a good wife
04. i am a great mom
05. i enjoy my calling at church
06. i love to read
07. i am involved in my community
08. i am a champion of women and want to help empower
09. i like long walks
10. i like to cook
11. i enjoy having people over, especially for meals
12. i forgive
13. i am a good storyteller
14. i connect people
15. i am righteously indignant when necessary
16. i am honest
17. i am realistic
18. i dream
19. i am welcoming
20. i can sing and love to
21. i like to teach others
22. i like to sew
23. i plan
24. i am grateful
25. i take a nice picture
26. i like to give credit where credit is due
27. i pursue continual education
28. i am well-spoken

I intentionally left out appearance things. Not only are we more than just our outer frames, but I think when women list what they like about their bodies, it inevitably makes other women criticize themselves.  I don't like that and don't want to have that effect. I'll just say that I am a positive realist about my body.

Now, HERE'S where this gets interesting:

A friend recently did a post of sending others handmade things. I have seen others do it also. I think I try to be in the closet about creating things if it isn't photography-- at least online. I'm not completely myself here in the niche I've created. I think part of it is that I don't want to be perceived as a jack of all trades and master of none. Because I think I am really good at doing large format portraits. And I don't want to be another person with a blog of every little thought.

But I do make things, and cook things, and try to beautify my life and have that enrich the lives of the people I love.

SO, dear reader. Leave me a comment about something you like about you. Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you if you're not sure I can. I'll pick five randomly and send you something worthwhile. You have the whole weekend. (ending monday 8am)

April 21, 2011

dinosaur eggs

Today is a mom day. Where I try my hardest to steer clear of all the rest of the stuff in my life (except during naptime) and just BE a mom. Read stories all day, color, lay on the floor. With our upcoming updownallaround east coast extravaganza trip coming up, I know that I need to get back into funmom mode. Do you do that?

Some of my favorite, inspirational home ladies had a rockin' tutorial for easter that is perfect for hand-ons, BOY fun. It is a great introduction to dyeing eggs... when wee ones are tooooooo little to have the desire for anything other than smashing and dropping eggs.

I think I might try these next.

April 20, 2011



complete with shutter release and viewfinder (that is really long).

we were photographing tomatoes.

April 18, 2011

i have this thing

with ambient light. I only photograph it super yellow. and it always looks kinda creepy. i'm going for warm and inviting, of course. but nope. just creepy is what i get. i did photograph these lamps before and it was nicer.

April 17, 2011

while mentoring

I grabbed these two shots. i am loving the square. The 222 building is newer, at least to me. I can tell a big difference downtown since we first moved here and I am really liking this city more and more. I think Within Walking Distance is slated to make a comeback in June.

good Mami

while i was out, definitely got some looks. but its not the kind of looks that tell you, hey! you still got it. nope, its the kinda looks where they are looking because of your camera. Remember how Mami is super pretty? Yeah. Proved it while i was out.

April 14, 2011

the retro rose

Can I just say how much I love this picture? The bokeh makes me swoon, and the tones, OH the tones.

Back when pictureline was on 200 east, I went there once and afterwards was walking around a bit and found the retro rose. I've gotten a few things there over the years, always classic pieces that I love, even from the first thing I got there. a few weeks back I met christine there so we could walkabout and photograph downtown. It was kinda raining here and there but it was the kind that feels SO good. Well, this was right after I had picked up Mami from the shop. I literally got one frame outta her that day then had to carry her around for nothing (or, if I remember correctly, christine did, thank you again).

why would i have the person i was with carry around my camera? well, see, this was wrapped onto me:

A friend gave me a korean backwrap (I'm sure there is a much more beautiful name for it), and christine is lovely and oh so accommodating. She even took that picture and i La La La LOVE it.

But for real, peeps. getting back Mami and working with her has been more of a learning curve than I was anticipating. I won't be discouraged, of course, but photographing lines that should be straight is not in my foreseeable future, let's just say that.

our house

lest you think i'm joking when i say one/both of my kids are sick. yeah. this is what my days look like sometimes between october and may.

April 11, 2011

my new best friend

Meet Mami. (Said  Ma Mi, like mommy with a spanish accent)
She's been a occupant of my top left closet corner for awhile now.
(Talk about embarrassing that she's been so poorly treated).
I tried photographing with her a couple of times, but then she started getting stuck
on the sixth exposure of every roll I shot. And its not like you can just
push a button on the bottom and wind it back on a 120 roll like you can
with a 35mm camera.

So I took her to be serviced.
And they cleaned her up. And I was so excited. And I hauled her 45 minutes walking to go photograph with her.
And we get to exposure Six and what do you know... she's jammed.
SO bummed.
So I took her back. And they looked at her again.
We were reunited on friday.
And all day today I've been photographing with her.
Past exposure Six.
I'll be excited to share images later this week.

Something I love about this set up is that I have this accessory that I can use for easier holding. It has a shutter release button on the handle so its user friendly. Something I don't love about it, is that scratch you can see on my table that it causes (click image to enlarge). I want to only take this camera and one 35mm when we go on our massive, 3 week east coast up and down trip in May, but with kids I need to get used to operating this baby and composing with her.

Just thought I'd share what's going on with me. What's going on with you?

April 9, 2011

day booking it: reflecting

back in the day, i went on a photo trip to goblin valley. i have some good memories. i knew that landscapes weren't for me, then, just like i know it now. especially since there was a professional guy there with like 12 cameras set up in different parts of the park, and he spent the whole time running around checking if any of us were in his shots, and then asking us, awkwardly, if we'd move. he was visiting from japan, if i remember correctly.

what i like about this picture is that it was the first instance where i really paid attention to the light that is STILL there after the sun goes down. I also learned for the first time about the spatial properties of wide-angle lenses. I wish there was more of this, traveling with other photographers and creating real images, regardless of if that type of photography is our cup of tea or not.

capturing it in-camera vs. post effects

Recently I've been participating in challenges with some friends. Our most recent was the idea of photographing "THROUGH". Here are my captures, all film, with the new kodak porta.

The first two are warm to me, very romantic. I think its funny to note that there are a lot of photographs that look this way-- the key difference is that this is not digital manipulation or an iPhone app that is creating this look. This is what I saw through my viewfinder.

These next two are eerie. I'm pleased with them as well. It was pretty cool to get two completely different looks on the same afternoon, depending on what I was using between my lens and the subject.

So what are you waiting for? Go try this yourself. It was fun.

April 8, 2011


this is our life right now.
bowls of varying size and curves.
ceramic and plastic.
shiny sun and reflected gold thread on my finally procured table cloth.
i love these colors.
i'm grateful they struck me as beautiful all together while i was putting away the dishes.
i'm glad it was at the time of day that i could take this picture that say so much about our life.
Its by no means a photograph, or a piece of art. but its a document that says a lot about us.

i like it.

April 7, 2011


Yesterday I received this card in the mail. Maybe its from my best friend in HS living far away, but I am so hooked on written-word love. The tangibleness of notes and letters is lasting. Yesterday was a good day for friendship love. Both about myself as a woman, as one who seeks truth, as a believer, as an artist, as a mom and as a friend. I was buoyed and enriched all day long. I went to bed grateful, and breathing deep from the well of true friends that I have in my life. I'm beyond lucky. I saw a post from another blogger awhile back (don't remember who, but it hasn't left me) and she wrote about the necessity of being your biggest fan (without getting a big head). I like the idea. Self-esteem is talked about all the time, but how many people have it without becoming heady?

my april shelf

I'm done with a quarter of the newberys. It feels good. Here are the next three months outlined, if you're following along. I have been enjoying them with only a few that have make me bored to tears. There are some that I can't believe I hadn't read before. If you're new around here, this is what I read for the last three months. I'm taking these resolutions of mine seriously.... even if one or two have fallen by the wayside (journal writing. sad.) The one roll a month thing has become more than one roll. And I like that.


April 5, 2011

something's wrong

this picture greeted me while I was checking my studio schedule. The caption was to the effect of "Fergie decided to go with a kid-friendly dress made of legos for the Kid's Choice Awards."

What part of this outfit is kid-friendly?

April 4, 2011


symmetrical architecture stops me in my tracks.

April 1, 2011


polaroid type-55 instant

there's a lotta change and challenge going on for me artistically and business-wise. Last night I submitted an application to do a few Saturdays at the Downtown SLC farmer's market doing instant large format portraits. If I get in (and I hope I'm an accepted vendor. How cool would it be to have my huge camera out there, doing my thing at the market?!), I'll be there 4 or so saturdays, just to try it out. I'm really thankful for photography friends who have listened to me talk about this (for the past year) and have encouraged me to pursue it. Also super grateful for a new photo friend Mitchel Issel who helped me fix my crazy polaroid back. Such a fan of community and people who learn geeky technical stuff from tinkering around.
The goopy paper is still on this one, but this gives you a feel for what the portraits will be like. I took this in about five minutes set-up (for focusing, posing, etc). Actual exposure time was 1/4 @f/5.6.

This is what the set up looked like. It'll be better (with a table and canopy) at the actual market.