my annual book and a surprise letter

i wanted to start this post in sharing a handwritten note i received in the mail yesterday, which i opened this morning... Deb, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know a few of the ways you inspire me. First off, the way you push yourself so far into your art helps me to not be complacent in sharing my vision with the world. You help me to become a better artist.

I can tell that you're a great mom. Someone who knows what matters most in life (family) and puts their heart, soul and full energy into crafting a life that allows for the love and support kids need. I know you're raising well-love kids and they're going to change the world because that's what well-loved kids do. The intentionality in how you live your life inspires me to focus on presence with my help me become a better father. I can feel the passion / heart you pour into the words / images you share, so keep posting...

It might seem odd to get a litter from me, when we've met face to face only once, but when someone inspires me, I want to tell them in a meaningful way. Too many times we think awesome thoughts about people, then never tell them. That makes me sad so this is my way of saying you're awesome, you inspire me and to let you know how much you are loved.

With gratitude, JS

what an absolutely incredible surprise to receive this note in the mail. i'm blown away by his beautiful thoughts and so very grateful for his sharing with me -- i will treasure the card forever and already have it tacked up on my inspiration board --  a lovely reminder (especially during those challenging days) that i'm doing a pretty good job in this world.  something i so greatly aspire to do is not only be an inspirational artist, but most importantly, be a great mother, wife and friend.  i'm happy to know that this comes through in how i present myself and all that i share.

right now, i'm gratefully heavily engrossed in preparing for a portfolio review, two solo exhibitions (new orleans photo alliance in december and baum gallery in february) and the development of a fine art book of my work (edited by the amazing jock sturges and produced by gallery vevais).  yep, just wow, wow, WOW!!  did i mention that i am beyond grateful?

but i've also been recently engrossed in the design of my family's annual book, something i've been doing each year since i started photography in 2006. my family will always be my priority and, well...the making of our book each year makes my heart swell and inspires me.

i shared my book layout on facebook yesterday and received a lot of questions regarding my design process, who i use to print, etc. so here we go, a little about my process...

i use blurb booksmart application. i start with a completely blank book and then select page template  based on the photographs that i am selecting for each page spread. with most of the pages, i modify the template, but the template provides a good starting point. i design the book, keeping the photographs in chronological order. how do i select which images to share? i just do. images that mean the most and share my family's story throughout the year. i also include special artwork and writings from my kids. this is something that i keep up with all year (scanning artwork and typing their writings and place into a folder on my computer entitled annual book). i have a page, where i include each child's age and thoughts about them. this year, i'm also asking them about some of their favorites.

my book typical ends up about 140-150 pages and so i needed a book printing company that was somewhat inexpensive, but still offered great quality and blurb fits that bill for me. i not only print the book for our family, but also for the grandparents as christmas gifts.

if you decide to try a book with blurb, be sure to print with their pro paper. it's a bit more expensive but totally worth it.

here is my overall book layout, along with a few of the page spreads. each book is unique to the happenings of the year, our location, etc.  i don't ever have a specific plan when i start the book.  it just unfolds page by page. all the annual books beautifully grace our credenza and nothing makes me happier than hearing my kids reminisce and giggle as they look through previous year's books.

i hope this will inspire you to share your gratitude with another.   i hope this will inspire you to write a handwritten note to someone you love and / or care about. i hope this will inspire you to get your family's photographs OFF THE COMPUTER. i hope this will inspire you to live your life beautifully and authentically -- and cherish every minute of it.

have questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. i will do my best to answer and will edit the post to share my thoughts.

book layout

front and back book cover

some page spreads

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.

workshop scholarship winners

all the entries were so beautiful and heartfelt, making it extremely difficult to select the scholarship winners, but here they are --  the two winning entires (along with announcing a couple  awesome adjustments with the bali workshop)... CANADA -- amber lowe

so i'm up at 5am on a wednesday, to steal an hour of quiet & coffee before the kids wake… and i stumble upon your post. at first, it felt a little like when you read about someone else's lottery winnings or other dream-come-true. i almost didn't click on the link for details. i mean, what are the chances? i bet your inbox is flooded with applicants! then i realized... it's been a long, long time since i let myself dream big.

i've only attended 2 workshops, ever. both taught by friend & mentor, cheryl jacobs-nicolai. both in 2005, which seems like a lifetime ago.

for a few years, i poured myself into my work as a portrait photographer. then my oldest son fell seriously ill and everything work related came to a screeching halt.  several dark months/doctors/hospitalizations later, my then 11 year old was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder (+aspergers). fortunately, we were able to find him the proper care and treatment he needed, and today he's well. not unicorns-and-rainbows-well. but stable-well. and for that, i am grateful.

but as i was trying to hold it together in the wake of my personal tsunami... something else happened. i stopped shooting. the mere thought of picking up my camera sent a flash of sheer panic through my veins. it felt as though if i took my eye off my kids, for even 1/250 sec. their world might come crashing down. and i couldn't risk that happening again.

since then, it's been an ugly, slow, painful, gut-wrenching, terrifying, soul- awakening, beautiful journey back to photography. i'm finally pursuing once more what i know i'm meant to. recently, i started shooting clients again. partly because i ache to photograph faces, connect, and share my work. (because what is art if it's not shared?) partly to take care of my 4 kids. and partly because the cost of loving a craft like photography is almost as much as a 5th child would be. ;)

now, here i am rebuilding my business… crunching numbers, working on a website, branding/marketing, trying to keep it simple, planning everything in a way that will both spare and fuel my passion for the art. all while simultaneously depleting our savings to invest in start up. what i really need is a reprieve. a chance to catch my breath. to refocus. time devoted solely to connecting. to inspiring and nurturing the thing that drives me. so then i'm up at 5am on a wednesday, to steal an hour of quiet & coffee before the kids wake... and i stumble upon your post.

my reason for wanting to attend a workshop is simply because i'm inspired to dream big again.

and i absolutely deserve this scholarship... because i've fought a thousand battles to be inspired to dream big again.

i would be humbled, honored, and absolutely over-the-moon-thrilled to receive a scholarship to either workshop. bali sure looks especially incredible though... and i'm dreaming big. so if i got to pick, that's where i'd go.

BALI -- liz perryman

In the past, I have given into the voices of self-doubt and fear that paralyze me from trying and reaching beyond my comfort zone. It is so much easier to stay stagnant, protected within the walls of familiarity, but that is not what life is meant for. I do not wish for the whisperings of self-deprecation in my mind to silence the voices of desire and passion, of faith and the insatiable longing to improve, to attempt even with the possibility of failure. I have an inner voice that screams to be heard and to make a difference in the lives of others.

I feel that I see the world in a unique way. Amid all the struggles that we face, I found a way to notice the beauty that surrounds me even when darkness threatens to overcome. I see it in subtle touches, raw emotion, imperfect reality, the grand, as well as the simple and mundane of everyday life. I have an overwhelming desire to capture life and freeze time - not through sugar-coating reality, but by seeing the beauty interlaced with the grit that we as humans get covered in, yet continue to push through and survive . . . not just survive, but live as fully and joyously as we know how.

With my experiences in life, I have come to realize how fragile and precarious life is - through the death of my sister, years of infertility, and a deep depression that left me feeling as though I might drown and never break the surface again. Yet through these experiences, I have grown in love, appreciation, perspective, and compassion. I have learned that life is about more than me. It is about sharing myself with others, cultivating love for them and doing what I can to show compassion and reach beyond my comfort to bless their lives.

I have an unyielding need to continue to learn and develop my photography skills, so that I can more fully express myself and capture the beauty in this world for the benefit of others. It would be a dream to attend a workshop in Bali, surrounded by other artists who share my driving passion for life and photography. To experience a different culture and part of the world away from my own, to see the humanity and beauty that extend beyond anything I have experienced would be an undeniable blessing. And to do this with one who has influenced my passion for this art would be an honor.

There is so much to be learned and treasured in life. I want to hone my skills and set myself on a course of self-expression, capturing the beauty of real life, and extending service & my talent to others. This would be a wonderful opportunity on the path to realize my dreams.


i have decided to modify the bali workshop a bit -- now a 4-night / 5-day retreat (august 11th - 15th), with the first day (august 11th) open for arrivals, adjusting to the time difference, relaxing by the pool, seeing sites of bali, etc.  workshop discussion will begin the morning of august 12th and conclude at approximately 12 PM on august 15th.  i've also added a morning of private yoga at the villa and am in the process of exploring a couple other amazing bali experiences for the group.

to allow for the additional day, i have had to change the villa location and am in negotiations with two absolutely incredible, breathtaking, luxury villas.  you can view all the workshop details HERE.

there will be assistance in finding one- or two-bedroom villas, for those who would like to stay additional days in bali.

TUITION  for bali retreat: $2400 RETAINER: $800 deposit to reserve your seat. remaining balance can be paid in installments. payment due in full by july 21st. please note that all rooms are shared king beds.

TO REGISTER: email for payment information.

*ALL PAYMENTS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE; however, if cancellation is necessary, you may sell your seat to another photographer.

closing with a little beauty and inspiration from the majestic land of bali...

filmed by andrew melikov

taking a risk

honored to have been asked to participate in THE CHORUS this week -- sharing a photo and thoughts on the subject of risk. this is what i shared...

my journey i tread along this path of comfort this route of familiarity then i see it as i had so many times before "NO CROSSING" the sign demands but this wondrous space ahead it calls to me full of longing i ache for it this unknown mystery magic in the distance could it be? i see the the lingering trail of others do i take the chance? go where i haven't gone before only a fool would enter, a familiar voice whispers yes, only a fool my heart races my palms sweaty maybe tomorrow always tomorrow but tomorrow may never come and i remind myself... you never know what will happen you never know what you will find so i venture in slowly bravely step by step and suddenly my feathers ruffled my wings are spread and just like that… i am free to soar! [deb schwedhelm, 2013]

so many more beautiful images and words, on the topic of risk, shared HERE.


once you have slept on an island

if once you have slept on an island you'll never be quite the same; you may look as you looked the day before and go by the same old name,

you may bustle about in street and shop you may sit at home and sew, but you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls wherever your feet may go.

you may chat with the neighbors of this and that and close to your fire keep, but you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell and tides beat through your sleep.

oh! you won't know why and can't say how such a change upon you came but once you have slept on an island, you'll never be quite the same. - rachel lyman field

a beautiful poem shared in grandma's celebration of life (funeral) program this past monday.

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.

who are you not to be?

our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. we ask ourselves, 'who am i to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?' actually, who are you not to be? - maryanne williamson

my portfolio review experience

a couple weeks ago, i had the awesome opportunity to attend the photoNOLA review in new orleans.  it all started quite a few months ago when i went to register for photoNOLA, only to find out that the review was full.  each year, they limit the number of participating photographers to 65.  bummed that i missed the opportunity, i put my name on the waiting list.  a few weeks later, i received an email informing me that if i was still interested, they had an opening.  it took me a couple of hours to clear the dates with my husband and then i quickly emailed photoNOLA to let them know i was delighted to attend, registered, paid and -- i was officially set to attend my first portfolio review. from that moment on... i stressed. i worried. i was anxious. i was nervous. i was super excited. and the preparation began.

on my to-do list: fine-tune artist statement (for the 1000th time) fine-tune bio & CV determine which portfolio images to bring (approx. 20) print the best quality 16x20 prints possible (which ended up being 17x22 prints) order clamshell portfolio box determine what i wanted to leave behind with reviewers design & order leave behinds design & order business cards establish editioning & pricing (i hadn't sold prints yet) review & rank reviewers (not every reviewer is a good fit) learn as much as i could about attending a portfolio review determine what i wanted to verbally share with reviewers regarding my work practice my spiel

some things i thought about during the preparation process: what do i want to say with my work? what is my goal for this work? what size would i want to exhibit this work? how do i want to sequence my photographs? which photograph will be the first? the last?

and this was only the beginning.

portfolio box, prints, leave behinds, business cards and a few other miscellaneous items in hand, i left on november 28th for my 10-hour drive to new-orleans. i had enrolled in aline smithson's creating the fine art portfolio workshop , which was the best thing ever. her lecture was extremely informative and preparatory and the workshop concluded with an optional portfolio review.  without a second thought, i opted in.  i was so nervous, i was shaking and wanted to throw up, but presenting to aline gave me push that i could do this and it got those initial extreme nerves out of the way. aline also gave me lots of things to think about over the next couple days, prior to my photoNOLA reviews.

the following day, i attended the CURRENTS show opening and shelby lee adams's lecture. both held at the ogden museum of southern art. both were incredible!!

my eight reviews were held over two days (saturday and sunday). i also won a lottery, which allowed me a ninth review. i ended up with four reviews on saturday and five on sunday. each review was 20-minutes long.

siting in the room, waiting to be told it's time to line up (to then enter the review room), i was pretty darn nervous. actually, i was really nervous. my first reviewer was jason landry, from panopticon gallery,  and he made me feel very much at ease. he opened our conversation with,

why are you here? what do you want to get out of this review? i want to know about you; i don't want to just hear your artist statement.

i shared with him that i dream of one day having gallery representation and a solo show. he commented that that's quite ambitious. i replied, why shouldn't i dream big?  seven years ago, when i bought my first camera, i never imagined i'd be attending a portfolio review -- and here i am.

once i got through that first review, i remember thinking, I CAN DO THIS!! all my reviews went really well. that doesn't mean every review was completely positive; plenty of my reviewers offered suggestions and constructive criticism. and plenty of the feedback i received was contradictory of what i had heard from another reviewer. one reviewer's favorite was another reviewer's least favorite. one reviewer encouraged me to pursue my more abstract work.  another thought the more abstract photograph didn't fit.  i wrote down as many notes that i could remember and i will continue to digest their feedback and thoughts.

saturday night was the photoNOLA walk, where all the participating photographers displayed their work, for anyone who was interested, to see.  again, i was nervous.  again, everything went really well.  i was blown away to have a couple reviewers, who were not reviewing my work during the formal reviews, stop and peruse my entire portfolio.

sunday, after the reviews, i had the opportunity to visit a gallery for fine art,which has the most diverse and awesome collection of photographs i've ever seen, and meet keith carter, whose work i have long admired.

in conclusion, this was an absolutely amazing, surreal experience -- one full of inspiration, meeting new friends, networking, sharing, dreaming and so much more.  i HIGHLY recommend attending a portfolio review, to anyone that has a cohesive body of work and feels ready. what is ready?  well, each person is different and only you can decide.  something to keep in mind -- participating in a review is a large financial and time commitment (much more than i had originally anticipated). for me, it was really important that the first impression i was presenting was a great one.

i am beyond grateful for the friendships that i made (some who i have LONG admired), while at photoNOLA. i met so many kind, supportive, wonderful people that i would have not otherwise had the opportunity to meet. and i learned so much through this process, not only about my work and the industry, but also about myself.

and my biggest news of all... I WON PHOTONOLA REVIEW'S FIRST PRIZE!!!

and as part of my winning, i will be exhibiting november 2013 at the new orleans photo alliance gallery  -- a SOLO SHOW (#5)!!

i'm blown away. i feel like i'm living in a dream world. and i am so incredibly grateful to all those who have encouraged, supported, helped and believed in me -- and simply been my friend.  from the bottom of my heart, i thank you!!  work hard and dream big, my friends.  DREAM REALLY BIG!

if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. i am more than happy to answer / offer my thoughts, in a subsequent blog post.

screenshot of some of the photographs that i brought to photoNOLA...

peace, love and hope

your journey has molded you for the greater good,and it was exactly what it needed to be. don't think that you've lost time. it took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. and now is right on time. - asha tyson

i stay out of politics as much as humanly possible. but of course, i have seen a lot of politically-inspired posts via my facebook feed over the past few weeks.  i'm happy to say that i personally have not seen any negative, mean or hateful posts BUT a lot of my friends are sharing about others posting nasty and hateful comments (directed to those supporting a certain political party). really?!! it all makes me so sad. and i just don't. get. it!!

and then i came across this post from my dear friend, becky earl and well, i think she sums things up better than i ever could...

It's no wonder kids these days are cruel and mean to others. They get it from their parents. I am sick to see people on my feed say they 'hate' people who voted for the other party (seen it on both sides). Can we be a little understanding and compassionate and even actually Christian (if you claim to be) for one minute and realize people come from many different circumstances, environments, households, religions, financial situations?! Each person has a to the core, passionate reason why they vote and or believe in someone to make a better life for them. It's not always the same as you. Get over it. Don't teach hate. Kids are sponges and I pray they aren't at school today saying they hate someone cause they think differently then themselves. Instead go hug your kids and love them and teach them to be charitable and loving and kind and to be tolerant of all different thoughts. The change starts with YOU not our president. Peace and love.

as always, becky, thank you for your inspiration.

wishing you all peace, love and...

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 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 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, " 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.

waves of gratitude

this is so inspirational --  really fricken incredible!!  gives me the chills.  the cinematography. his words.  mmmmmmm...

open your eyes and hearts to the world. be inspired. cameras help me relate, translate & interpret what i see. live creatively. pay tribute to the magic -- through photographs. ignite the imagination. never take this for granted try and keep motivation simple. positive. if i am going to scrape a living... at least it's a living worth scraping. fires of happiness. waves of gratitude. i love doing what i do.

a special thanks to isabel, for reaching out and sharing this with me.

DARK SIDE OF THE LENS from Astray Films on Vimeo.

so, so much gratitude...

my love for her...

oh how i love sally mann!  stumbled upon this video the other morning -- from a charlie rose interview in 2003. sally mann just blows my mind -- in the best way, of course. it's about 20 minutes long, but so worth your time (IMHO).  i hope you'll watch. my friend, meg, also shared with me this morning, that sally mann is going to be speaking at the university of michigan's school of art & design on september 20th.  if i wasn't already traveling, i would so be there!

i am confident that one day, someday, somehow...i WILL meet sally mann! for the moment, i'll just keep dreaming about that day. :-)

now go.  work hard. be determined.  stay true to yourself.  pursue your dreams. and make things happen.

and on that note, let me close with these words from the inspirational seth godin...

One reason to do something is because you get paid to do it.

But it's sad to think that this might be the only reason to do something.

Now that you've got a skillset and trust and leverage and a following and the tools to make something happen, are you going to invest your heart and soul into something that's important or waste it selling something you're not proud of?

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.


wild & free

if one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams,and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. [henry david thoreau] a new favorite photo. :-)

i hope i never forget to live deliberately -- wild and free...

and i couldn't help but fall in love with these words of henry david thoreau... yourself -- not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.

i went to the woods because i wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when i came to die, discover that i had not lived. i did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did i wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. i wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.