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!!
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...
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.
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.
let yourself be open and life will be easier. a spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. a spoon of salt in a lake goes unnoticed. [buddha]
beyond grateful for my week in minnesota and all that it offered me...
questions & answers regarding my underwater shooting:
Q: do you use a waterproof camera? A: i don't use a waterproof camera (refer to next Q & A).
Q: what underwater housing do you use? A: i first purchased an equinox housing, but it was way too big and heavy, for the type of photography i was doing. i later purchased an SPL housing, which is what i am currently using.
Q: what are you able to adjust once your camera is in the housing? A: i'm able to adjust aperture and shutter speed, once my camera is in the housing.
Q: were you able to stand while shooting the lake photos? A: i was able to stand some of the time. other times i was doggy-paddling or floating in a tube (so not easy).
Q: are you wearing any special gear or clothing during the shoot? A: no special clothing; i wear a bikini and sometimes a rash guard. if i'm shooting in the pool and need to stay underwater, i sometimes wear a diver's weight belt (refer to next Q & A)
Q: how do you stay down? do you use weights in shallow water? A: if i'm shooting underwater, in a pool, i sometimes use a diver's weight belt. if i don't, i'm pretty quickly floating back to the surface. when i'm shooting in the ocean or lake, no weights with me.
Q: do you use the lensbaby or filters on these shots? A: i cannot use any other camera or lens in my housing except D700 and 35mm. and no filters.
Q: how do you keep things so sharp? A: same principles apply as regular shooting (out of the water).
Q: do you do much to your photographs post-shooting? A: no, i don't do much to my underwater photographs in post-shooting. basically just standard post-processing, similar to my regular (out-of-water) photographs. i never add any additional blur, textures, etc.
Q: my questions are a little different as i'm interested in how you fell into this - if you are open to sharing the images that sparked the idea, any thoughts around the creative experience - roadblocks or challenges you found along the way and how you worked through those to these today. A: i'm not exactly sure what initially sparked my interest in underwater photography, but i do know that it wasn't images. i think it really was just something i wanted to try. my first attempt with underwater photography took place about four years ago when i lived in san diego. i rented housing to do underwater maternity photos of a friend. while it was definitely challenging, it was at that moment that i fell in love with underwater photography. even back then, i dreamt of shooting underwater in tampa.
it didn't take long for me to purchase underwater housing here in tampa, since we have a pool in our backyard, we're surrounded by water and it's hot as shit half of the year. and i quickly confirmed that underwater photography is not easy!! but i continued to experiment in the water -- shooting of my kids and friends in my backyard pool. recently, i moved into the ocean and then last week, i had the opportunity to shoot in a lake. i've come to prefer the ocean and lake, to shooting within the constraints of a pool.
some of the challenges / roadblocks with underwater shooting -- it's a bit challenging to adjust settings and things on the camera are hard to see. a lot of patience is required. i also have a problem with the 35mm lens i'm using, and when the problem occurs, i have to take apart my housing to reset the lens (very frustrating!). the simple task of getting someone to the ocean or a lake, to shoot, is not exactly easy (i'm about 50 minutes from the ocean). and my dreads. :-) they take forever to dry, so getting them wet often can be a bit problematic.
regarding the creative experience -- for me, the creative process is the same; i shoot no differently in the water than i do out of the water (martha can attest to that, as she was with me the entire week, while at the lake in MN). it's what's in me. it's how i shoot. it's what i see. and...it's difficult to explain.
if you look at my underwater work over the past year, it's definitely evolving and growing -- and i'm trusting. it will be interesting to see how things feel when i get back in the pool. it will be interesting to see how things continue to progress. one thing i know is that i absolutely LOVE shooting in the water. i can't help but feel it's exactly where i'm meant to be!!
i'm not sure where the water will take me, but i'm sure enjoying the ride and oh-so-grateful! you can see more of my recent water images HERE.
Q: I would love to know if you are ever worried about water leaking in? A: the first time i put my housing and camera in the water, i was a bit nervous, as i ever-so-slowly submerged it under water. but now, i do a quick initial dunk, check if any water leaked in -- and start shooting.
if you're interested in purchasing underwater housing, i highly recommend renting one before purchasing, as many are custom-made, not returnable and NOT cheap (around $2000). or maybe even play with an underwater disposable camera, point & shoot or casing for your phone first. for a very casual underwater shooter, i'm not sure expensive underwater housing is the answer. just my honest two cents.
i'm not sure where the water will take me, but i'm sure having fun and enjoying the ride! you can see more of my in-the-water photographs HERE.
Q: I am wondering what else you need besides the housing for the camera. Do you need specific rings? What if you want to use a different lens. Is it possible? Are you happy with your housing? Have you ever heard of Sea and Sea? I
i don't need anything else besides my housing. if i wanted to use a different lens, i would have to buy a different front piece for the housing, which would cost about $700. i cannot use a different camera, as my housing is designed to fit only the D700. yes, i'm happy with my housing. i have never heard of sea and sea.
last weekend, our dear friends asked us if we'd like to go out on their boat with them. we absolutely love spending time with the skubins, so of course, our answer was an overwhelming yes, yes, YES!! having not shot underwater for quite a while, i decided to bring my D700 and underwater housing with me. it was different than what i'm used to (shooting in my pool) but i loved it just as much. there's something about shooting in the water that so resonates with and speaks to me. i don't think i could ever get enough of it (except for dealing with my wet dreads). lucky for me, we're headed to MN for a week -- to a cabin on a lake, where i'm connecting with the amazing martha (of i see the moon photography). martha and i dream and talk about lots of shooting together, including underwater. :-) and i so cannot wait!!! here's a few of my favorites from our amazing evening together just off of our (almost) private island...
ETA: nothing like just finding out that tropical storm debby is continuing to leave her mark in the pinellas county waters. the pinellas health department just issued a health advisory declaring that the waters at five popular beaches are a potential health risk because of high bacteria counts. why? because of...
FECAL MATTER that was washed from the land into the gulf.
OMG, how gross! of course, the waters we were in is one of the affected areas. yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck!
inspired by this on pinterest,
i made this pot a couple weeks ago. and shot this photo of sky yesterday. the photo isn't quite as i envisioned so i'll be trying again another day, but i'm excited how the pot turned out and wanted to share -- especially since i have such a ridiculously magenta thumb.
where has february gone? it seems to have just flown by. but i guess, really, every month seems to feel that way. here's a bit of what our everyday-kind-of-days in february
looks looked like...
as with every month, four trips to the horse farm / petting zoo. always a new friend or two. and many old friends.
the new barn kitten had an eye infection, but my kids loved all over him anyways. and a rat got loose but didn't go far from his hairless friend.
fighting for attention.
falling off the new horse.
and bravely getting right back on.
the reptile room -- one of his favorites.
tire swing at the farm.
his new walking path.
dirty feet -- more often than not.
boat ride with friends.
seeing dolphin along the way.
our almost-private island.
a visit with jen.
and shooting with jen.
one minute up | the next minute upside-down.
sky and ryder with my camera.
few quick photos during our shoot.
trip to the state fair.
building the snail a home of shells.
which ended with the boy yelling in the girl's ear and the girl giving a throat punch.
portraits with my new lens.
chicken, for the school 'moosical'.
his first speaking line -- "but others are boiled and made into chicken soup...buccbuuuuuuk."
the gift she made her best friend, using the separation of cool and warm colors.
there’s a circle of 12 photographers participating in this what ____ looks like monthly project. i hope you’ll check them all out [clicking link to link]. next up… chubby cheek photography | child photographer.
we don't stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing. [michael prichard]
i think there is nothing better than a great laugh. and to be honest, i wish i had a better sense of humor, was funnier and laughed more than i do. don't ever ask me to tell a joke because it would be rather painful. maybe that's why i'm so drawn to capturing a true, honest great laugh so much -- which is often a tough thing to do for someone who is not funny.
inevitably, we WILL grow old, but may we never stop laughing as we do...
to say that this past weekend was incredible and inspiring would be an understatement -- i had the awesome opportunity to spend the weekend with jock sturges in palm neach, where he was there teaching at FOTOfusion. we arrived saturday afternoon. my kids were modeling for his ‘the meaningful portrait’ demonstration shoot. it was wonderful to hear his thoughts on shooting people and so great to see him in action. one thing that i really grasped onto is jock’s deep respect for the people he shoots. he also stressed the importance of getting to know your subjects – something that i’ve always believed as an essential part of making a great photograph.
my kids and i also had the opportunity to visit the ‘full of grace’ exhibit at the palm beach photographic center, with jock. the exhibition was so well put together and it was incredible to hear jock’s knowledge and thoughts on much of the displayed photographs. he also took the time to teach and inspire my kids, who are now asking to visit museums here in tampa. if you happen to live in florida and can make the trip to palm beach, i so highly recommend the ‘full of grace’ exhibition. i guarantee you will not be disappointed.
on sunday, jock and i spent hours talking about painters and their influences, not only on one another, but also on various photographers. we began with cave paintings and journeyed through time – discussing artists such as sandro botitcelli, hieronymus bosch, jan vermeer, eugene delacroix, van gogh, picasso, piet mondrian and mark rothko. it was fascinating and something i plan to engross myself in, in the coming months.
we [my kids and i] then watched a slideshow of jock’s work, from the time he was a child through last summer’s work, sharing his thoughts and stories along the way. it was impressive that jock knew every person’s name and many of them, he’s photographed for generations.
throughout the weekend, we laughed and shared. he took the time to teach my kids – not only about photography and art, but also a few magic tricks, which of course, they thought was the best thing ever. we left palm beach sunday evening and the first thing my kids said was, we really like him; when are we going to see him again.
jock sturges is one of the most kind, caring, giving people i have ever met. he selflessly shared so much time, knowledge and information, asking for absolutely nothing in return. to think he’s a master photographer pretty much blows my mind. he inspired me and encouraged me. i'm not sure how i got so lucky, but i am beyond grateful. he shared with me that he sees something special in my work and well, i’m not taking that lightly. he had some recommendations for me, which i am going to see through. one thing for sure, i’m going to make his time and energy spent worth it – i will not disappoint!
jock -- i can’t thank you enough for your friendship and the gift you have given me. i feel more than blessed and i will make you proud. my children and i thank you for a most-magical weekend -- a weekend we will never forget.
and a few photos from the weekend...
|where are you? what are you doing? do you know what you want? are you listening? pay attention. stay focused. stop looking at your phone and computer. turn them off. put them away. be here. now. in the present. be with who you're with. talk with them. live with them. take some time. think. do you understand who you are? what you were called to do? pause. take it all in. what is your community? who is your community? what does local mean to you? do you have a presence? if you left your community, would you leave a mark? lead in the place you're called to. don't worry about the past. the future will come later. it's all about now. here. go all in. be rooted. when you're home, be home. focus. look at the big picture. be present. - adapted from a 'catalyst' mailer||
are you present?
one of the best changes i made with my photography in 2011 was to take more everyday photos of my kids. i plan on doing even better in 2012.
let's be honest... i had a rough couple of weeks. beyond my husband being gone, a bathroom renovation that is going anything but smoothly, and a re-roofing that left me saying "i really just hate that" [although they are fixing it]...my photography journey had me in tears [more times than once].
wondering... where i'm at. where i'm going. just trying to make sense of it all. of anything really.
but it's like trying to make sense of things in the midst of a tornado. the eye -- the center of the storm -- is there. you know it. but you can't get there. you can't even see it. you can't get to that bit of clarity...that bit that makes sense. it's all just swirling. that's how things have been and felt lately.
but today, my friend sent this to me, prefaced by...
saw this today and thought about you.
don't dilute your inner voice by soliciting the opinions of others, heeding them over its counsel. why ask mere mortals for advice when you're guided by sacred wisdom? treasure your sixth sense. treat it like gold. wear it close to your heart, and don't allow anyone to rob you of its power. -sonia choquette
can't even begin to share how much this quote speaks to me. so much about this photography journey is trusting yourself. allowing yourself to just be. and learn. and grow. but trusting, and listening to that inner wisdom, along the way. and not being influenced by the craziness that surrounds you. and well, there's a lot of craziness going on in this industry right now.
with that being said, another wise, inspirational friend emailed me last week and shared how i need to just be patient. there's so much i still don't know. i'm still not educated on. instead of focusing on what isn't happening at this moment, i need to embrace and be grateful for what IS happening. words of wisdom from someone who has been there and done that.
no, i didn't see her cape but i secretly think that kristin is superwoman. five kids, ages one to 12. all so well behaved, kind and polite. her husband often away for work. she home schools. and who looks this amazing after five kids, with the youngest just turning one? yep, superwoman, i say. i was supposed to photograph the young family a month ago, but it was rained out. they were driving from gainesville and we just couldn't take a chance with the weather we were having at the time. well...it just so happened that her ten-year-old had a football game in clearwater this past friday, so we did a session with kristin and the kids on saturday. and i'm super excited to be photographing the whole family in the spring, when kristin's husband is done traveling for a bit.
kristin is an awesome photographer, who recently moved from california to gainesville. and while i'm so honored each and every time i'm commissioned by my peers, it also adds some added stress and pressure [self-imposed, of course].
what if i don't live up to her expectations? what if she's disappointed? what if... what if... what if...
but i'm happy to say that this is what kristin shared after seeing some of her photos...
at loss of words...really (and i can talk.) loveeverysingleoneofthem. (as in, have the huge urge to take down every single photo in my house and just put these up instead.)
love them, love, them. LOVE LOVE LOVE them.
cannot thank you enough, deb. from the very bottom of my heart....k
and with that said, my heart is SO, SO happy!! again kristin, i can't thank you enough for entrusting me with your family's photographs!!
here's a few of my favorites...
for the past few days (as i shared yesterday), i've been in a funk. the dark place, my head sometimes takes me. feeling paralyzed. not wanting to pick up my camera...for anything. yesterday, one of my photographer friends said, GO UNDER WATER! yea, maybe. whatever. we'll see...
...were my thoughts.
but i forced myself to get out there. my kids were playing in the pool. i picked up my camera, put my housing together, jumped in the pool and shot. and i'm so grateful i did. i'm not completely out of that dark place i was in, but i'm surely seeing the flickering of the light now. sometimes forcing yourself to pick up your camera is exactly what it takes.
i'm just so excited about my upcoming underwater adventures. it's hard. really hard. there's so many new / different things to think about and factor in. but like everything in photography, it takes passion, time, dedication, practice and patience. today, i hope to try again (providing i have some willing subjects). i have ideas. i'm excited. i do believe it's a direction i'm meant to be heading and i can't wait to see where it takes me. i know i have tons to learn and so much to explore, but i'm welcoming it all with open arms.