Tuesday, October 26, 2010

creative diversions

I've been burnt out lately. There. I said it.

The summer months were insanely busy and while I am more grateful than I can adequately describe for the immeasurable blessings that God has bestowed upon me in many areas of my life, my photography included, I got sucked up into the whirlwind pace that happens when life, work, school, photography, life and more life and more work and more photography are all happening at once. And frankly, I'm not one to take good care of myself. I will run at full blast until death. It's a fault. Thank God for my husband reigning me in and forcing me to take a breath once in a blue moon.

I've been thinking a lot about the direction my art and photography are taking me and whether my current path still jives with what I originally intended when I was dreaming this all up. I'll get into that more at a later time, but in the mean time, wanted to quickly share a much-needed diversion.

My recent portfolio (due tonight) challenged us to play with a scanner and create art by using unique objects and ideas to scan pictures that were later edited in Photoshop. See my two submissions: HERE.

The second part of our portfolio was a technical assignment. It challenged us to really explore textures, layers and blending in Photoshop by creating a collage of several images. At first, I found this to be incredibly overwhelming. Being a Lightroom junkie, Photoshop and I are not exactly good friends. On most days, we aren't even on speaking terms. I've been learning a lot in class, but I was terrified at the thought of doing some sort of graphic design that far outreached my comfort zone with a good JPEG from my trusty camera.

After a few panic attacks, a host of torn up magazines and a good old-fashioned tantrum, I called a good friend who is far smarter than me. And she tutored me. Bless her. And once I got the hang of it, I realized something. I was actually enjoying myself.

My point is this:

Sometimes you need a creative diversion. Something that is outside your normal expertise or maybe even something that you are an expert at, but differs from the genre you find yourself in most. Sometimes taking a break, taking a breath (thanks Jeff), switching gears...it can go a long way.

I still have some changes and ideas rolling around in my head for what I really want to be as I continue in this adventure that is my photography and all else. But in the short term, I feel refreshed a bit.

Here are my two submissions for collage:

A little explanation is required here, I'm sure. For one, when I said I wanted a creative diversion, I meant it. I went far from my newborn babies, happy brides and playful families and entertained my dark side for a bit. I wanted to do a comparison between heaven and hell. And this is what I ended up with. Yes, it's dark and maybe a little creepy. Or a lot creepy. But it's a creative expression and an outpouring of my thoughts at the time. And I'm proud of them!

PLEASE NOTE: These images were created to complete a technical assignment for a college classroom environment only. They are not for sale, nor do I claim rights or credit for any of the images used. They were appropriated from various internet engines for use in completing the assignment only. They are not a part of my professional portfolio, will not ever be for sale, and will not be used in any promotional or otherwise published pieces or with any connection or association to any business or professional pursuit. Full credit and rights are due to the original artists (who rock!) and in no way, shape or form would I ever demean their creations by any misuse. Beyond this blog post and my teacher's drop box (give me an A!), they will never be seen or used again!

Monday, October 25, 2010

hayrides, chili and sunshine

Could there be a better combination than that? Yes! Add some amazing kids who deserve a day of play, far from the stress of the real world, a brief escape to where friendship, laughter, good food and good music reign. And you have the perfect autumn day.

Homeless 2 Housing celebrated their Fall Festival yesterday, and since I just can't get enough of these kids, their unique personalities and special hearts, I just had to tag along.

Enjoy a few of my favorite snapshots and keep them in your hearts as you continue in prayerful encouragement for better days ahead for these young minds.

PS. You will see my brilliant tiny assistant, Miss Emily, happily featured here as well. She is becoming a welcome friend to all of the kids and was thrilled to chase chickens with them around the petting zoo. She managed to grab one to cuddle with!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tender heart. Brilliant Mind.

Just a quick note about Homeless 2 Housing tonight. Before getting started, I asked each kid to tell me their name (I am working hard to tackle this...there are so many of them and just the one of me!) and why they like photography. Most giggled through their explanations..."I like colors. It's fun. I like playing with the camera. I don't know!" The responses you expect from most kids when put on the spot and asked to dig deep. I laughed along with them and cheered them for answering my question.

And then it was Iquez's turn. Iquez is a shining star in my class. He is tiny, but feisty. His eyes are bright, his mind is quick. He has always sat front and center each week, always involved, asking questions, commenting, listening. On any given day, he can repeat word for word some of my stories and lessons. He is present. And I love him for it.

But tonight Iquez gave me a gift beyond comprehension. How it made me feel...well, words can't do it justice. I was touched in the very core of my spirit. When asked why he liked photography, Iquez answered:

"I like photography, because when I see your pictures, when I look at them, I feel something inside me. I feel something that says I can be this one day. That maybe if I can't play football forever, I can be a photographer."

Even now, reading it and hearing his quiet voice and thinking of his sweet face and hopeful eyes, I am moved.

Tonight the kids were asked to take five portrait pictures of their teachers. Their only rule was that they had to communicate with the teacher and tell them what they wanted, help to pose them, interact with their "client." They could create traditional portraits, abstract, different emotions, it was entirely up to them. All they had to do was create a vision and explain it to someone else. Most of the kids took some fun pictures, but struggled with the depth of their creativity. These are Iquez's photos:

PS. Just as a final smile...I was having trouble closing one of the cameras up as the latch was acting funky. Iquez said "Here. Give it to me. I will close it for you." And as he started to walk away with it, he turned back, smiled and tapped my arm. "You need to get some muscles." Ha!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

He read her a poem...He promised her forever...

Reasons why my last big wedding of the season was in a word: AWESOME. (Otherwise known as, reasons why Ashley & Alex are cool.)

1. Red hair
2. Nintendo
3. Pumpkins
4. Tenacious D
5. Sega Genesis
6. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
7. Queen
8. Friendship
9. Billy Idol
10. Super Mario Brothers
11. Zelda (They're gamers...can ya tell? These are my kind of people. Yes, while I don't have much time on my hands, I love video games. And while I'm increasingly less and less talented at said video games, I used to be pretty darn amazing. I would kill to have my old Nintendo system back. Kill.)
12. Michael Jackson

The list goes on and on. Everything about their wedding fascinated me. It was a beautiful display of everything good about people: their unique eccentricities, their sense of humor, their deep-seeded loyal friendship to each other. I learned a lot from Ashley and Alex and their guests. I found myself dazzled by their genuine happiness and delight in each other. Frankly, these people know how to have a good time.

So you get it. Ashley and Alex are fun. Unique. Playful. But most importantly, they are absolutely destined for each other. The way they look at each other sometimes...well, it took my breath away. They so obviously adore each other and it's sweet. Not to sound cliche, but I can't think of a better word that adequately describes them. They just make me smile and thankful to be married to the love of my life.

Ashley and Alex wrote their vows. Alex especially touched my heart. His tears when Ashley walked down the aisle (Sorry, Alex! Busted!) were pure and when he started his vows, he declared that he loved Ashley from the moment he first saw her and "knew that she must be mine." And then he read her a poem. I didn't breathe. It was one of those moments.

Ashley and Alex, you rocked my world. I have no doubt that the life ahead of you will be exciting, full of laughter and video games, and I am grateful to know you. Thank you for being so generous as to share your happiness with me. It meant a lot.

Monday, October 4, 2010

He loves the color green.

He is a loner. Quiet, with a fierce attitude, he sits stonily in his chair, faced away from me, sending me the message loud and clear that he would rather be anywhere else on the planet than in my class. I admit it, he's overwhelmed me a bit. Scared me even. But intrigued me at the same time. What will get this kid engaged? What's going on in his life?

I started out with my life story, sharing about my father's drug addiction, my fight to rise to the top, putting myself through college, picking up my first camera. Nothing. Hmmm...I continue on. Rise above, you can do it, be strong, express yourself! A call to arms! And nothing. Ok, I think. Maybe this kid isn't the one. Or better yet, maybe I'm not the one for him. Ok.

Moving on, I ask the kids whether they want to look at wedding pictures or more abstract stuff (PS. Abstract for this particular class is defined right now as anything that is unconventional and looks at life from a different angle). "Abstract!" he yells out. Surprised, I immediately agree and jump on the glimmer of interest. I start flipping through and I notice his chair has turned and he's tipping his head so he can see the screen just out of the corner of his eyes. And then Melody picks up her camera to snap a few shots and his hand comes up over his face. The wall is back.

Melody, in all her brilliance, calls him out in the sweetest way possible. "Hey! I see you don't like to get your picture taken. You usually put your hand over your face. I know you don't like getting your picture taken, and you know what, it's totally ok. Don't worry! I don't mind and it's ok you don't like it." And she puts down her camera. And he smiles. "Photography's not really my thing," he says, "But I really love video."

Grab it! Run! I hear in my head. Melody and I both instinctively pounce on this. Affirming his contribution in all its glory, we tell him that videography is just photography of the "new age," and that what he loves is what we do...just in motion. And if he tackles that, he'll far outshine Melody and I in the smarts category, because we're totally clueless about videography, but if he sticks with us on the photography, we'll share all we know to help get him started and ready for what he truly loves.

And we've got him. The door swings open, his face lights up. And he's ours. From that moment on, he leaned towards me, hanging over the computer. He tells me he sees patterns. And light. He finds things the other kids miss. Deep things. Real things. I show him my favorite showpiece from art class last year and ask him if he knows what intimate means. He says "I hear it a lot, because I watch a lot of movies, and I know what it means, but I can't explain it. It means, just two people. It means, personal. Personal, it means, personal. Right?"

What I saw tonight was hope. Promise. Life. Again, I'm overwhelmed. Moved. I am gleaning the class down to a few select kids that really have interest in taking this to the next level. And tonight, I picked my first three boys. Never in a million years did I expect that this kid, who loves the color green, and videography, that he would be one of them. The one. In the most unlikely places...

And since Melody took some awesome pics that I am sure I will get to share later, and I of course, didn't even touch my camera as I was too excited and overwhelmed to even think about shooting (thank God for Melody!!!!), I am going to post some old faves and tell you what the kids saw. And let me tell you what. They would give my classmates a run for their money at my critique tomorrow night...

She's just so beautiful.
Why? How do you know? You can't see the rest of her face, I ask.
The red of her lips. The curves. You know she's beautiful. The picture tells me.
You know, that could be a dude.
(To which I responded, you are right. You just introduced a different perspective into our conversation, which is exactly what every artist is striving to do. Spark conversation about their piece. Well done! And props for standing out and stating a different idea!)

They must be boyfriend and girlfriend. You can tell they like each other.
I see the rusty fence. It looks like they might be hiding somewhere to sneak time together.
The sun is behind them, I like how it makes the rocks look glowy. I can tell by the shadows where the light is.
Could you make her shoes green? I like the color green.
(If you didn't guess....this was the picture we talked about the word intimate, and what it means to take a portrait picture and tell a story without showing somebody's face.)

These are bottles. And you shot them from the top, because you told us sometimes it's neat to look at something from a different place and you liked the shapes from the top of the bottle because you could see the circles and look down into the bottle. I see circles, and rectangles. I love the shapes.
(This was said by the smallest kid in the bunch. He is maybe...7 years old. I showed him a similar picture last week and he remembered word for word what I said. I was stunned.)

You have focused on just the one leaf, and it's sharpened and the rest are made blurry so that it pops out.
I see the star shape! I couldn't see that if all the leaves were in focus. You want me just to see that one leaf and its star shape.
(Some of the other kids giggled when he said it was sharpened. We praised him wholeheartedly for pulling a real photography term into the discussion!)

I could go on forever!!!!!! Keep these kids in your hearts. They are a special bunch!

Oh and ps. I got hugged today. It was glorious to feel loved in that way. To know they were happy to see me.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

And then the rain stopped...

It rained the day before...it rained the day after. But not on their day. Their wedding day. It was almost as if the very skies paid homage to the celebration of a deep and true love. They are a simple couple. They love their families. They love to laugh. They love to be near to each other. Watching them move in tandem...it's effortless. Breathless. Divine. These two were absolutely made for each other. And even the rain stopped to make way for them. The sun shone. The sky was blue. The clouds gentle. The breeze cool.

Kim & Scott, you were pure joy. I don't even have to wish you a long life of happy memories, blissful marriage and more. They are already yours. Thank you for sharing your day with me. And thanks for bringing us some sunshine. If only for a day!

And yes...they sailed away from their reception into the sun on a boat! Perfect!!
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