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.

working together

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

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

 

the wait is over

the hardest thing about shooting editorial work is the wait.  but the magazine is finally out -- babiekins magazine's exciting first issue in print -- now available at barnes n noble and books-a-million.  so many congratulations to you, priscilla!!

 

and so now, after six months of patiently waiting, i can share some of my favorite photos from the two editorial shoots i did for this issue.

first up is gina, a regular writing contributor for babiekins magazine.  she is also one of the sweetest people you'll ever meet!  outside of babiekins magazine, you can find her writings and blog here.

and a model shoot in san diego.  three separate locations.  four outfit changes.  this little girl (and her mom) were absolutely amazing.

i always try and get a few shots for the mom too...

grow great minds

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

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

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

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

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

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

meeting sally mann

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

+++

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thank goodness for the water

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

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

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

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

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

what _____ looks like | month twelve

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

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

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

with the cousins

my animal lover

izzy and her walking stick, on our hike

at the top

and back down again

the 1989 van

hands off

sky & great grandma mary

guitar practice

morning

TAHOE lake stop

our hotel in SAN FRANCISCO

cool paintings that filled the walls of an entire alley way

overnight at alpana's

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

back home in TAMPA & boating with our besties

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

sometimes, but not often, cheering up was necessary

with daddy

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

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

cabin break

paint by number

soul sisters

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

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

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

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...

...be 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.

rideTZ | day seven

day seven began with a visit to an incredible orphanage, irente children's home, which is run by simon's grandmother, sister enna (simon is the 16-year-old TFFT student, who was selected to ride this year).  irente children's home is not only a most-beautiful, loving orphanage, it also manages an incredible training program for young women, who are interested in becoming matrons of orphanages. the orphanage was followed by a visit to simon's grandfather's house. simon's grandfather was a tanzania hospital administrator for over 30 years.  he's now almost blind and sadly, battling cancer. before we left, simon's grandfather gave such a moving speech about the gift that TFFT has given to his grandson.

the riders experienced lots of ups and downs this day, as they cycled through the heart of the mountain -- ending the day's ride at mkuzu creek resort.

sister enna not only provided us with a tour of her orphanage, she also served us a delicious mid-morning snack (samosas, popcorn, banana, water and tea).

we then proceeded on to visit simon's grandfather's house, where we had lunch.

the guys preparing our lunch.

most of the rest of the ride was beautiful, lush and green -- down the mountain.

 

our campsite at mkuzu creek resort.

 

 

remembering max

most who read my blog already know about my journey with max and his family.  the mikulak family graced and touched my life more than i could ever express. i do my best to continue to photograph the mikulak family in san diego every year. and this year, our session took place a few weeks ago...

and when our session was done, there stood hannah just like this...

with the light beaming through max's urn and hannah. and it was in that moment that i was so perfectly and beautifully reminded that max was right there with us!!

i feel so very blessed to have the mikulak family as part of my life.

and don't ever forget to live life to the max!!

my very first photograph of max, captured december 2007.

open your heart

i wish you that you will open your heat to all these presents [light, water...] and let them flow through you that everyone that you meet on this day will be blessed by you just by your eyes by our smile by your touch just by your presence let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you then it will really be a good day. - happiness revealed | louie schwartz

such a wonderful video. please -- just keep watching...

so grateful to gorete, who not only hosted our workshop a couple weeks ago, in san francisco; but also, so graciously opened her heart and home to me the following days.  i cannot thank you and your family enough!!

 

 

let the season begin

super excited that the season for underwater shooting is about to begin. i actually was already underwater with cheryl jacobs during her film inspires! workshop.  but this shot -- mostly above water -- happens to be my favorite from the afternoon.

but how i love this one too.  red-haired CJ with her ziploc-bagged holga.

and a couple of my holga shots from the workshop, taken while walking around the neighborhood where the workshop was held.  hopefully more fun film shooting in the near future.  maybe even some home-developing too.

p.s. more exciting raffles being announced very soon!!

breaking the mold with deb & leah | coming soon

i'm super excited to share that i'll be teaching a breaking the mold online mini-workshop with my best friend and incredibly talented photographer, leah zawadzki -- march 12th - 26th.  registration opens this monday! see below for all the details...

some topics that will be discussed:

inspiration creativity thinking outside the box finding your style creating great images shooting with a lensbaby editing simplified building a strong portfolio

participants will receive the following: an honest and intimate look at both deb and leah's photography styles three assignments followed by feedback an inspirational e-book lensbaby and lilyblue actions discount codes and a a few special giveaways

registration details:

1. this workshop is for bloom forum members only. if interested in registering for this mini-workshop, but not a yet a member -- you can join the forum (for 3, 6 or 12 months), by clicking the bloom logo below... The Bloom Forum 2. once a bloom member, you can then register for the workshop in the 'mini-workshops information' section, found here.  registration will open this monday morning. 3. the workshop will run from monday, march 12th – monday, march 26th, with posts and interaction daily. 4. active seats are $200.00 per seat. 5. silent/read-a-long seats are $150.00 per seat. 6. the private mini-workshop information will be available for one month after the workshop ends. 7. there is also a private forum section for all past breaking the mold participants, to continue  interacting and sharing with one another. 8. registration opens this monday -- february 27th.  seats are limited!

we hope to see you there!

photos copyright deb schwedhelm & leah zawadzki

be present

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

19-jan-12-11-Edit

i received the above quote in an email the other day, from hands & voices, a non-profit deaf | hard-of-hearing organization.  and it basically stopped me in my tracks. i read it. and re-read it. and read it again. and it's had me thinking ever since. i long to be present -- i mean REALLY present -- in my life, in the lives of those i love and care about, and in all that i do. i think being truly present is such a gift. and something i will be vigorously striving for in 2012.

are you present?

lensbaby | interview and info

so fun to see my lensbaby interview reposted on the lensbaby blog yesterday.  not sure if i ever shared the interview here...

i get asked a lot of questions regarding shooting with a lensbaby (i've actually received five emails over the past couple days).  most often, it's inquiring about my favorite lensbaby products or which products i'd recommend. so i thought i'd share a bit about that here (lensbaby makes for a great christmas gift).

first, you need a lens.  i have both the composer and composer pro lenses. the composer pro is definitely more solid / sturdy feeling.  and for a $50 difference, i'd go with the pro.

then you need an optic (or two or three...). i started using a lensbaby years ago, with the double glass optic. some are discouraged by the fact that with the double glass optic, you have to internally swap aperture rings.  however, honestly...i rarely swap the ring. most of the time i'm shooting with with the f/4 ring in.

not long ago, lensbaby released the sweet 35 optic, which is awesome because you can adjust the aperture on the outside [versus having to insert a new aperture ring in the optic].  the sweet 35 is an awesome optic; however, for me personally, i've become so used to my double glass optic (some habits are hard to break) and i seem to be more of a 50mm shooter than a 35mm shooter.  so i still seem to default much of the time to using the double glass optic.

i have almost all the optics and wish i could share more thoughts on the other optics but i haven't shot with any others -- YET!! it's definitely one of my 2012 goals; experimenting and playing with the other lensbaby optics.  anyone want to model for me?

here's a few of my favorite lensbaby photos shot in 2011...

and i'm so honored to have this shot grace lensbaby's sweet 35 optic box.

it's that time of year

...to finish and upload my family's annual book. makes me teary as i look through our family photos from this past year and put together our book. and i so love that my kids look through the books over and over again, giggling as they flip through the previous years' books.  they just happened to be flipping through the books today -- showing me all the pages that bring back memories or simply make them laugh. :-) mmmm...i treasure these books more than i can even express. worth every bit of time it takes to make them!! not to mention, they make fabulous christmas gifts too.

here's this year's layout...

[larger version HERE]

and here's a few of my favorite page spreads...

makes my heart so very happy!!!