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

our world | day one

It's so hard to believe that twenty-thirteen is quickly coming to a close. This year has been amazing in so many ways, but the days have absolutely flown by -- and continue to do so!! And with that, I could no longer ignore the fact that I hadn't taken enough photographs of my children this year. While I can't take back the previous months, I decided that I could do something about it now. After talking with my dear friend Rowe, who just happened to feel similarly, we decided to team up on a photo project -- one that would get our focus back on capturing the everyday of our families, while also fostering personal growth. After quite a bit of brainstorming, we decided on a fabulous photo project:  two friends living oceans apart. sharing 30 days of images, inspired each day by one word.

Without further ado, the first photograph from our joint project...


© deb schwedhelm

© rowe timson

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.

who knows what tomorrow will bring

Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.— eckhart tolle

this past friday, september 13th, one of the most amazing men to walk this earth unexpectedly died. i called him my "adopted dad". he wasn't really my dad, but he treated me like i was his own child. my kids called him "opa" and they truly believed that he was their grandpa.

we lived in the same city (san diego) as opa for four years. like so many, both oma and opa didn't like their picture taken. so i never forced them, thinking that someday i would get a photo of them with my kids. sadly, that someday is gone and i don't have a single photo of my kids with their opa richard. gratefully i do have some recent photos of richard, from when i photographed their son's wedding.

i share this because i don't want this to happen to you. there is no perfect time, as i shared years ago in this post. and you truly do not know what tomorrow has in store. one day, richard was healthy. the next, at the young age of 64, richard's pulse was gone.

live in the present. celebrate today. make memories. cherish every minute. take photographs. be in the photographs. do it now!! stop waiting for the perfect moment. it will never arrive. there are no perfect moments sweetheart. we choose our moments and i want you to start choosing yours and start choosing now. time will not wait for you and i don’t want you to miss out on your life because you’ve been patiently waiting on the sidelines thinking you have to stay there. you don’t have to sit this life out, your life out. you have a whole field in front of you for you to discover and run around in. it is there for you, let your feet press down on the earth and then start running, start discovering, and never stop. — acoustic imagery

richard truly was one of the kindest, most caring, loving people i have ever met. he gave for the simple love of giving, never expecting anything in return. he was an admired and greatly respected doctor and educator. he could tell a story like no other and listened with the patience of a saint. he loved a good glass of wine and was gifted at completing crosswords. he was a gourmet cook and a skilled craftsman (no project around the house was too big). he touched the lives of all who crossed his path and as a pediatrician, that was A LOT. i wish i had more time with him but i am so lucky and blessed to have had the time that i did. and so i celebrate all the goodness that richard was. i wish you all got to meet him. richard parker walls, thank you for loving me and my family. i celebrate you...

the last photo i took of richard. photographed them while they were relaxing on their back patio, may 2012.

i decided to bring this beautiful comment into the blog post b/c THIS is the kind of man richard was. look at how he affected his patients...

Dr. Walls, as we knew him, was so much more than our 3 children's pediatrician. He was a friend, a teacher, and a coach. Since our daughter's first visit with him 5 years ago, we have grown to love Dr. Walls. He has always taken the time to listen and educate. As back then, I was a first-time new mom, he would answer every question I had, no matter how small or silly they were. He never made me feel dumb for asking, he never rushed me along, and he seemed to truly know everything - but wasn't the least bit arrogant. He taught me so much, not just about the medical aspects of raising children, but their emotional and psychological well-being as well. We went on to have two more children, now 2 1/2 and just 7 weeks old. We just saw Dr. Walls 3 weeks ago and were scheduled to see him next week for our newest angels 2 month check-up. I will never forget that every time he'd leave the room after our visits, he'd say, "keep it up, mom, you're doing a great job." Even though I'm sure he told that to every mom, he was so sincere and those words always meant so much coming from him.

I learned of Dr. Walls passing on Tuesday when I had called the office with a question and I have been in shock and in an endless flow of tears ever since. It just doesn't make sense. He was completely fine and now he is gone. The cruel irony was that when I had to tell my oldest daughter (6) of his passing on Tuesday evening, my first thought was, I wish I could ask Dr. Walls how to go about explaining death to her - as this is her first loss of a loved one. Seeing the shock and sadness on her little face when I told her Dr. Walls went to Heaven and we won't get to see him again, will never leave my mind. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to tell her. I told her that just like whenever she wasn't feeling well before and we'd go see Dr. Walls and he'd help her feel better, now she can pray to him when she isn't feeling well and he'll help. I have absolute faith that he will hear her prayers.

I am so sad that I will never get to tell him just how much he meant to our much my children looked forward to seeing him. I'll never get to thank him for all that he taught me. I'll never get to ask the still pending list of questions that now, as a third-time new mom, I have for him. He was such an integral part of our "team" in raising our children and his loss is tremendous. I already feel so lost without his guidance, his calming, reassuring voice and comforting, supportive words. I still can't believe that I'll never get to see him again.

These pictures that you've posted are beautiful and I can't thank you enough for giving me the chance to see his warm smile once again. I only pray that somehow he knows how amazing we all think he was - how incredibly grateful we all are for the privilege of having him in our lives. Though my heart is broken for my own family's loss, I can't imagine the pain of his wife and sons. Absolutely devastating to lose Richard from this earth. I still can't stop the tears... I will keep you all in my prayers. God bless.

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.

lessons from grandma

today, i want to celebrate the life of grandma mary, who passed away in her sleep this morning.grandma was a woman who: was a woman of faith embraced life did not fear death felt blessed was happy, positive, optimistic, gracious and proud was strong and wise was practical and down-to-earth had a lot of common sense was organized was grateful was compassionate and thoughtful respected and was respected admired mother nature and father time loved the colors of nature graduated from college at 61 saw the world and traveled until 81

you can grasp a bit of the beauty that grandma mary was, when reading her final requests and wishes:

She wanted to be treated with kindness and cheerfulness, not sadness. She asked that her time of dying and death be used as a time of personal growth, for the family as well as her. She wished to be forgiven, for any time she hurt or offended her family, friends, or others. If you must bury something, let it be her faults, weaknesses and all prejudices against her fellow man. Lastly, if you wish to remember her, do it with a kind word or deed to someone who needs it.

i feel that if everyone had just the tiniest bit of grandma mary in them, this world would be a better place.

i'm so grateful that we were able to visit grandma a few weeks ago. while we were there, i asked her what's the secret to a long, happy life and she replied, "always have a pleasant disposition".

so here's to embracing life with a pleasant disposition.  rest in peace grandma!

working on me

last year was my year to try and take a photo every day. for no other reason than wanting to. this year, my goal is to get in front of the camera more -- something i greatly struggle with and want to change. i don't like photos of me. i always find a way to rip myself apart. but i know in 5-10 years, i will love these photos. and i know that my kids will love these photos in 10 5 years. i know that they will love photos of me NOW! and i really do ache to be part of my family's photographs. so my goal, for the remainder of this year, is to take at least one photograph every week that includes myself.  me with one or more of my kids. me with my husband. just me. i guess this is my own personal learn-to-be-in-front-of-the-camera-and-like-it therapy. so here i am. today. nothing fancy. dreads tied in a knot (always one sticking out). leftover makeup from the day before. not smiling (because unless it's authentic , i don't like it). here i am. just me.


have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully. - norton juster i've been quiet the past few months.  i needed to.  last year was amazing but i needed to digest all that happened and reflect. i needed to do some soul-searching. i needed a break. i needed to focus on my family. i needed to bring balance back into my life. i simply needed some quiet.

yes, i've been quiet... but i am here, striving to be present, fully present, each and every day!

and i wanted to share this incredibly beautiful video and the story behind it. took my breath away...

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

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...

what _____ looks like | month fourteen

a bit different than my typical monthly post because this past month was  just that -- a bit different.  it was a month largely filled with dealing with a negligent roof job, city roof inspections, hiring an attorney, hiring a formal roof inspection (who found 143 issues with our roof), dealing with roofer's insurance and ours, and applying to an HGTV show (we made it to the next casting round and should find out if we're going to be on their new show in a couple weeks). ETA:  i just heard from HGTV and we've made it to the NEXT round. our video has been forwarded from the casting team to the network. so we're now waiting to hear if the network approves our family to be on the show, which could "take a while" (per the casting team).  holding onto every bit of hope i have to hold onto!!

but, in celebrating having a roof over our heads (even if it's a shitty, leaky one) and the comfort, love, warmth and charm of our home, this month i share... what my house looks like.

the front of our 1927, 1600 square foot house

living room

kids' messy bedrooms

our bedroom, which has endured a bulk of the interior damage from our negligent, leaky roof .  :-(

office, which is a little cubby area on the side of our bedroom

dining area, with cut-out view of kitchen

galley-style kitchen

spare bathroom, which steve did an awesome job completely redoing this past year





i've also been working a lot on our annual family book this past month, so i also share... what our 2012 family book looks like.

the full book spread ( larger image HERE)

and a few of my favorite single pages and page-spreads from the book...

front cover

back cover

opening page


if interested, you an see 2011's book layout here and 2010's here

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 christy williams | sarasota, florida photographer.


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.

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...