the gift of time

written for the incredible motherhood with a camera blog, a gathering of images and writings, each swirling around a specific theme. this week, the topic was time and here is my submission.

time precious and fleeting unstoppable time gives time takes your past is a memory your future is a mystery all you know for certain is your time now this very moment each day a present how will you spend your time? from the time you rise till the time you rest it’s a choice your choice what will your legacy be? that you lived your life fully and spent your time well that you were kind and good and giving i hope so because time is a gift i will do my best to cherish every minute and celebrate my time but for now it’s time to say thank you for your time!

 

you can view the entire choir of the beautiful and inspiring voices here.

can't wait

sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes in the middle of nowhere you find yourself. - author unknown

i have a secret longing for the middle of nowhere. and even starting over, hence the military life and i getting along so well. and i can't wait to get back to this space.  this space (almost) in the the middle of nowhere.

in tampa, we don't camp in the summer (99 degrees with 99% humidity is rather miserable); we camp in the winter. and i ache for all that camping has to offer...

bonding as a family. away from the noise. solitude. freedom. the sounds of nature. fresh air. the smell of the woods. no obligations. no deadlines. nightly campfires. s'mores. hiking. bike riding. geo-caching. hammock resting. football throwing. book reading. wildlife. exploring. imagination and creative play. embracing dirty. overall rejuvenation. cherished time together. simple days. the memories.

these were taken back in march, on one of our camping adventures and i can't wait to get back to doing this. soon!!

yep... i can't wait. p.s. kiele was out of town during this trip.

words of inspiration

...from her, age nine.

Some people do art for a living. Others just do it for fun. Most people think art is just drawing or painting, but it is other things like photography or architecture. There are many different types of artists in the world. My mom is a photographer and so she is an artist.

My favorite thing to do in leftover time is draw. It soothes your mind when you’re angry. No one is bad at art. Everybody has their own style and texture. As I get older, I hope to become an artist. I hope that my artwork will mean something to everyone. I hope to be a painter or photographer when I grow up. People often tell me, 'oh, you’re drawing is so good!' and I tell them the same thing.

I love art. It is my life.

being good enough

a friend of mine shared with me that she saw one of my photos on the hands free revolution's facebook page this morning. so i went to look. i was so happy to see that they had credited me for the image.  but then i read. their words were perfect and beautiful. and as a self-proclaimed perfectionist, being good enough is something that i often need to remind myself. so today, i embrace and celebrate things in my life being 'good enough'.   yes...good enough!

Children are learning how to be adults by watching the adults in their lives. I want my children to grow up to be adults who embrace “Good Enough.” Here is what Good Enough looks like to me…

Good Enough is spacious. Room for spills, or unkind words, or loud public meltdowns, fielded with love and understanding in-the-middle-of-the-grocery-store-with-the-ice-cream-melting-and-the-produce-overflowing-the-cart when we all agree to just walk away and try again tomorrow.

Good Enough accepts mistakes. Voices them. Owns them. Apologizes. And moves on.

Good Enough asks for help. And never refuses it when it is offered, no matter how awkward it is to send baskets full of dirty laundry home with a friend who is offering to wash, dry, and fold load after load when the dryer is broken.

Good Enough know that “best” requires balance. Especially when life circumstances tax your emotional reserves. When the basement floods, the television is a fantastic substitute for that fabulous, intentional care you typically provide but can’t because you are knee deep in flood water. When your partner travels and you don’t have support with child care, then fish sticks, pizza, or ice cream, (or all three!) are the perfect dinner.

Good Enough doesn’t wallow in defeat. But instead, assumes a posture of problem-solving and solution-seeking. Not in pursuit of perfection, but as a way to a fuller life." -Emily Plank

When we embrace our imperfectly perfect life, we give our children the freedom to do the same. I invite you to read the post in its entirety and be inspired by Emily's enlightening perspective. It's the essence of letting go to grasp what really matters.

thank you hands free mama for sharing.

her gift

i sometimes wake in the early morning & listen to the soft breathing of my children & i think to myself, this is one thing i will never regret & i carry that quiet with me all day long.- storypeople

hilary emailed me months ago, sharing that the only thing she wanted for mother's day was for me to photograph her family, while they were vacationing here in florida. she wondered if i was available. i made sure i was available.  hilary, i'm flattered and honored and i hope that your photos are everything you dreamed for and more.  thank you for trusting me!

the girls are night and day from one another.  one loves math.  the other loves to sing. one is serious. the other giggly. one couldn't wait to get in the water.  the other never got in.  and i had an awesome time photographing each of them.

i hope you're all treating the moms in your life to something special for mother's day.

oh yea... and happy earth day.

 

working together

she said she usually cried at least once a daynot because she was sad but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short. - storypeople

over the weekend, steve and sky built a ladder together. a ladder so my kids and the  boys behind us can climb freely over our backyard fence.  when steve and sky were working on our neighbor's side of the ladder, the boys helped too. and it all makes my heart so happy.  and well...i'll just leave it at that. the end.

 

there will never be a perfect time

you will never have this day again.each day is a gift. breathe and notice. today. every day. relish the beauty and charm of the present. enjoy this day because... before you know it today will be gone. [modified from poem by jan hatmaker]

for my dear friend, robin, who i met during my air force days (we worked at the military hospital in tucson together). we haven't seen each other in over 12 years, but she will forever remain one of my dearest, truest friends.  a few days ago, she wrote on my facebook wall...

My beautiful, talented friend....So I pose a question that lots of my friends are requesting an answer to as well...... I MUST get family photos done, but I hate the way I look in pics. I would like something hip and funky to wear.... Got any advice on photographing moms like me? Seems all the families you take pics of are BEAUTIFUL. Also, if you lived in a cold area, would you postpone your sessions until it warms outside? XXXOOO your fluffy friend.

short on time, my initial reply to her was that she is beautiful and fabulous through and through and THAT is what the camera will capture.  and i shared with her that she needs to read THIS.

i told her that i would post a cold-weather chicago shoot here on my blog, for her to see.  so here it is. i was supposed to photograph this family three weeks prior to our actual shoot date (when it was much, much warmer), but i was really sick at the time and had to delay my chicago travel. the original planned 70-degree weather ended up being in the 40s.

i also think it's important to include the words from my client, emailed to me after she saw her gallery for the first time...

I LOVE THEM!  Thank you so much for the amazing pictures. You delivered exactly what I had hoped to get! I have looked over the gallery several times before sending you a note so that I could let you know some of my favorites, to impress upon you, more than just a simple thank you -- how happy I am. But I ran into the problem that I could not choose.  I love them all.  I'm so happy that I can look past the weight I need / wanted to lose before you took our pictures.  Love love love.  That is a lot of love coming from me.  They make my heart happy.  Okay YEAH...so excited!

of course, can't help but love the last two photos of the night.  after our shoot, the kids were excited to show me their play room, so of course, i brought my camera back out and took a couple more photos.

and here's a few photos from my family's cold-weather session in kansas (2009), courtesy of leigh miller photography.  it was FREEZING!

grow great minds

as i do every year, i've been working on my kids' class auction projects.  i do a book for both sky's and ryder's classes, which includes a portrait, writing and drawing from each child (along with a variety of other photos from the kids and classroom).  their school theme this year is 'growing great minds'.  sky's 4th grade class wrote about 'if i were famous...' and ryder's 2nd grade class wrote about 'i am special because...'. this year, i decided to write a poem for their books, based on the school theme...

Go. Read all you can. Open your mind and... Welcome curiosity. Immerse yourself. Never give up or forget to be... Grateful.

Goodness and kindness will... Reward you. Enrich your life. And feed your soul. Trust those who are willing to teach you.

Make each day the best. It takes time, but your hard work will pay off. Nourish your creativity. Dream big and... Surround yourself with people who will lift you higher.

and here's my two book cover photos (both shot on the school grounds)...

i'm grateful that i can do this for the kids each year, but i sure wish the auction was at a different time of year.  a november 3rd auction date makes it super tough!!

meeting sally mann

anyone who knows me...knows that sally mann has been a longtime inspiration.  like...HUGE, HUGE inspiration.  before i knew any better (in the very beginning of my photography journey), i tried to copy her work.  as embarrassing as this is, here is the photo, taken sometime mid-2006 (after purchasing my DSLR jan 2006)...

then i began to learn, grow, evolve and begin to discover the artist that i am myself.  and i tried again...to do a candy cigarette photograph in my own way (i loved candy cigarettes growing up).  taken feb 2007 and i remember being so, so proud of this photograph...

and then i continued to learn, grow, discover and appreciate...

fast forward to a few days ago.  i got to hear sally mann speak...and meet her (even if it was for the briefest of moments).  i'm pretty sure i was asking her if we could pretend to be best friends in this picture...or something like that.  lol.

to be honest, i dreamt about the day i might meet sally mann, but wasn't sure it would ever really happen.  just kept hoping, dreaming...believing.

sally spoke at university of michigan's michigan theatre, which was incredibly beautiful.  and having grown up in detroit, it was awesome to be back in the area, after 20 years of being away.

sally (can i call her sally?) read an excerpt from the book she is writing and shared a new body of work that will accompany the book.  in her work, she is photographing black men.  seeing her new work was awesome.  hearing the background and inspiration for this new work was that much more incredible.  she's hoping to publish the book and show the work (as 30x40 prints) in the next few years.

the talk was followed by a Q&A session and book signing.  i had brought two sally mann books with me to ann arbor, but, to my sadness, i had left them in my hotel room (immediate family was actually the first photography book i ever owned).  i asked chrisstina, who was running the show, if she thought i had time to run back to my hotel to get my books.  she said, "hurry...run fast".  so that's exactly what i did.  my sickly self ran as fast as i possibly could handle, back to my hotel room -- returning in time to be the last person to have  books signed.

chrisstina was pretty shocked to learn that the group of us had traveled from FL, NY, MN and canada, to  listen to sally mann speak.  so we begged, along with chrisstina's encouragement, to get a photo with sally.  all we had were our iphones and light was minimal...but who cares, right?!!

my sally dreaming isn't quite done yet.  i dream to one day photograph sally and maybe her whole family.  i dream that i can talk to her more.  she strongly discouraged the audience of photographing our own kids, but didn't expand upon the topic, which i found interesting.  needless to say, i have lots of questions regarding the topic.

all in all, it was absolutely amazing -- and i am really, really grateful!!

stay passionate, work hard (really hard) and don't ever give up on your dreams.  you  just never know when it will all pay off and your dream(s) will come true.  :-)

+++

ETA:  there's been a lot of feedback, thoughts and questions voiced regarding the obvious -- why did sally mann discourage the audience from shooting our own children.  and i don't know the exact answer. her statement was a response to a question asked about her book, 'immediate family' (although i can't remember the exact question). most of the Q&A time was spent discussing sally's new work and the discussion about photographing her own kids was very minimal.

i do NOT think sally meant don't photograph your children at all!!   and i'm pretty confident that her statement revolved around her choice to photograph her children nude, but i just wish she had expanded more on the topic -- especially since i, myself, photograph my children a lot and very often, for personal work / projects.  obviously she and / or her children were affected by sally's journey of  photographing her children.  but i don't believe it's as straight forward as that. i don't think it can be directly applied to me / us, without discussing and considering all the surrounding factors (then and now).  i love photographing my children. they are my muses. they are part of the art that i am currently creating. and i feel that i photograph them respectfully.  they are always aware of the resulting photograph and they know and are aware of what i share publicly (especially if the photograph is a bit moodier, edgier, etc.).

regarding if there was anything that surprised, intrigued me, made me rethink... sally mann shared that she's a bad photographer and a compulsive printer. i had heard her say this before in an interview but it still is a bit strange to hear her say it in person. she was very open and willing to answer any question that was thrown at her. i loved that but wish we had had more Q & A time.

i pretty much suspected, but it was confirmed that sally mann is very private and doesn't get in public very much or even talk much with other artists. it took something like six years of trying, to get her to speak at UM.

i was a bit surprised that she was reading an excerpt from her book as i had hoped that she would just be sharing and talking to us on a variety of topics (she's a brilliant writer). i believe that her book is going to be great and in the end, will probably be more informative and educational than hearing her in person.

someone asked her how she found the black men, who were / are her subjects in her new work. she shared that she sees someone interesting in her town and will just ask them. she pays them $25/hour and will typically work with them for 1-1/2 hours. she says she is as uncomfortable as they probably are through the process of photographing them.

i just came across this harvard link, which shows a few of images from sally's new work. the reading that she shared with us was a smaller version of the reading she did at harvard.

hearing for the first time

i saw this video on TV the other night (can't remember what show). a 29-year-old deaf girl hearing for the first time. her mother-in-law cashed in her pension to pay for her daughter-in-laws implants.

and this morning, i learned that the story continued -- on ellen.  such a beautiful, inspiring story.  and i'm blown away how good the deaf woman's speech is...

the esteem (the device that this woman was implanted with) wasn't available when kiele was implanted.  it is a completely internal device.  kiele has an internal and external portion, which she wears behind her ear (kind of like a large hearing aid).

we love advanced bionics (the makers of kiele's cochlear implant), but having a completely internal device is awesome -- and one of the main reason's why kiele continues to not have her second ear implanted.  technology keeps improving.  hopeful that one day advanced bionics will come out with a fully implantable device.  i think it's only a matter of time -- and maybe by then, kiele will be ready for the surgery and a second implant.

this was kiele's reaction the day her cochlear implant was activated.  not quite as joyful; she was rather confused about the sound she was hearing.

i also found this video, which simulates speech and music through a variety of different channeled cochlear implants.  kiele's implant has 16 channels. it all just blows my mind!

my sweet kiele.  she amazes me each and every day...

thank goodness for the water

most who know me know that i've been having a hard time here in tampa. i really want to just pretend we're moving to germany this summer and start packing things up. but the reality is that we have no idea where steve will be stationed next and the kids and i very well could be here in tampa an extra year by ourselves, to get kiele through high school.  i'm hoping we will know something regarding steve's next assignment by december. with all of that said, one of the things that always makes my heart happy and keeps me sane while here, is shooting in the water. it feeds my soul more than i can even explain. i think about it constantly. i long for it. i ache for it.

here are some photos from an evening spent in the water, with the littles and my friend, jen, when she was visiting us a couple weeks ago from atlanta. i wanted to post these earlier, but ended up with a flu bug that kicked my butt -- and i'm still battling.  anyways...

i think it's fascinating to view our two sets of photos -- how very different the feel / mood is between our photos, yet shot together, many of the frames fired within minutes of each other...

and yes, i do think about the fact that there might not be water at steve's next assignment location, but i'll deal with that when the time comes and...probably be quickly planning my vacation trips back to tampa. lol.

i did edit some images in color. maybe i'll post those tomorrow.

what _____ looks like | month thirteen

a month of settling back at home after a very busy summer (most of it spent away), awesome friends visiting, a trip to crystal springs and LOTS of time spent in the water.  here's what august looked like... back with kiele.

hanging out at honeymoon island.

payton and the mermaid barbie she found rescued from the water.

kayaking and swimming at three sisters spring -- where the water is a constant 72 degrees and the manatees like to hang out in the winter.

the whole gang.

the security guard at our hotel, who has lived in the area his entire life, told us that three sisters spring was named that because three sisters had died there.  he shared that it was shut down for quite a while. so when editing the photo below of my friend, it kind of creeped me out to see three hands in the image (heather's plus two reflections of each hand).  but of course, it also made me love the image that much more.

twister with friends.

at our hotel.

jumping into the river, where we saw five manatee swim by.

celebrating jen's birthday.

lake time.

swimming at home.

playing in the street puddles.

me, shooting in the rain, in the street [taken by jen].

shooting in the smelly bay with jen & the littles [more photos from here coming soon].

and of course, the first day of school [taken after school].

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this 'what ____ looks like' monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] — starting with leah zawadzki | orange county family photographer.

love & trust

the professional takes the project that will make her stretch.she takes on the assignment that will bear her into uncharted waters, compel her to explore unconscious parts of herself. so... if you're paralyzed with fear, it's a good sign. it shows you what you have to do. [steven pressfield | the war of art]

i have this photo -- this photo which i love -- deeply love. yet i questioned sharing it. i worried. i doubted. i'm sure it's obvious why. but the photo speaks so much more to me, than what might be seen at face value.

it speaks of... childhood sisterhood innocence the freedom to be be and act without fear of judgment the beauty and magic of summer the love for a friend

and so i fight my fear and choose to trust -- myself and my art. and i knew what i had to do!!

i also had a friend facebook message me this yesterday:

i don't know how you did it but for me, you've gone from outstanding photographer to "artist" in the truest sense. these photos are dark but beautiful at the same time. i'm wondering if your africa trip influenced them or the way you've been shooting lately? i see a different kind of soul in what you are doing now. really interesting. thanks, as always, for sharing. xo

my response to her:

thank you. thank you. i think the biggest thing that influenced me is letting go of everyone else around me. not looking at other work as much as i used to. not trying to be anyone else but me. not caring what anyone else thinks. it really makes me teary thinking about it all. thinking about my journey. allowing myself to be free of the noise in this photography industry. and instead embracing all the gifts and opportunities that have come into my life -- and be the artist i'm mean to be.

it's about allowing myself / yourself to see. and trust!!

i wanted to share this here [with my friend's approval] because it seemed to all tie in together. and maybe -- just maybe -- it will help, encourage or inspire someone else someday.

closing with more words adapted from the war of art [one of my favorite books]... our own unique genius watches over us, guiding us to our calling.

 

what _____ looks like | month twelve

hard to believe i've been sharing these monthly posts for a full year now. although technically, this is really post eleven since i didn't share last month. BUT i think i had a pretty good excuse, being in tanzania and all -- and  i think i made up for it with my RIDETZ posts. :-) july was an exciting month for us, filled with lots of traveling: san diego, CA carson city, NV tahoe, NV san francisco, CA vegas, NV (an unplanned stay & ER visit) battle lake, MN.

we spent less than a week at home in july, which was perfectly fine by me.

what our july looked like begins at camp oma's in NEVADA...

with the cousins

my animal lover

izzy and her walking stick, on our hike

at the top

and back down again

the 1989 van

hands off

sky & great grandma mary

guitar practice

morning

TAHOE lake stop

our hotel in SAN FRANCISCO

cool paintings that filled the walls of an entire alley way

overnight at alpana's

sick at the airport causing an unexpected two-day layover stay in vegas, NEVADA

back home in TAMPA & boating with our besties

a week family vacation in MINNESOTA with martha & her family. new friends...

sometimes, but not often, cheering up was necessary

with daddy

at our cabin, which we didn't spend much time at all (thanks to martha & her fabulous family :-) )

photo shoot of ellie & sky (shooting with and styled by martha)

cabin break

paint by number

soul sisters

lots of swimming in the lake and some super fun time shooting in the water.  a separate post on that coming soon.

there’s a small circle of photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project.  i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link] — starting with stephanie moore | tucson family photographer.

and with that, i say good day and...