Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dark Katy Rides Again!

If you've been following me at all, you know I have a dark side. I tend to be overly cynical, suspicious and sometimes, I'd even admit to being a bit mischievous and plotting. Who knows...maybe it's my OCD, maybe it's my life experiences, or maybe I'm just inherently evil. Ha! In any event, here are two of my great loves. Black and white photography and dead flowers.

Yup, dead flowers. (Or other dead stuff. More to come on that later...it's a secret!) There is something about what a flower looks like all shriveled up, petals creased and edges brittle. I'm the person that visits the rose garden and skips the bright colors and beautiful blooms and hunts down the dead plant. Cheerful, huh?

Honestly, it's all part of the inspiration I find in the beauty of the mundane. Looking at something that is usually overlooked and seeing something completely different. I look at these dead flowers and it's almost like I can watch the process in my mind, like those slow-moving features on National Geographic that show the seed growing into a tree. Somehow, by seeing the flowers in death, I am awed by the intricacy of creation. Which probably means, I'm in awe at life. So...maybe I'm not that dark after all.

(Ironically, as I'm writing this blog, The Execution by Paul Cantelon from The Other Boleyn Girl is playing on my Pandora station. This is a great piece. I have a thing for the Boleyns, that whole time period of Queens and Kings. I know, more pieces to my weird puzzle. I love asparagus too.)

Black and white photography to me freezes time. It marks a moment. It is photojournalistic by nature, foundational, historical, classic. Earthy. Grainy. Get your hands dirty good. There's no hiding in a black and white photograph. It is what it is. Bare. Honest. Brutal. I love it.

This was the first in what I hope will become the many, play times I have awarded myself. I have promised myself that I will carve time for play. Time to simply get quiet, explore and see what I find. And while I am sure shooting dead flowers is not high on a lot of other people's to do list, I found it truly cathartic. Wait until you see my next project.

Oh, and I didn't go all black and white this go around. There were some rain droplets that caught my fancy and then some dead stuff that held it's own. So I left them be.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Let There be Light!

When I ask you "Does your home get great natural light?" THIS is what I'm talkin' about!

Katherine & Pete are near and dear to my heart for lots of reasons. She was one of my very first brides, her Mama is the sweetest woman ever and a fantastically talented florist (send me a note if you want her info, she's awesomely old school!), and Katherine has continued to support and encourage me long since our first meeting. She's a beautiful person inside and out. She gets art in that artsy way and therefore gets me. She's always been the first to say "Good for you!" and I appreciate that. A lot.

Now we share something else in common. We both have wonderfully, amazingly beautiful children that were welcomed into this world extra early. Being a mommy to a preemie is a very special thing. To say it's scary doesn't even begin to adequately describe what it means to have a child (or in my case, two) in the NICU that gets left behind when you go home. But on the flip side of that fear, guilt, a whole gamut of emotions...there is the miracle of life. These little bodies are such fighters. To see them overcome obstacles and champion through milestones with such heart and gumption...it's indescribable.

Looking at my 'lil 'dids now, I can't even see one tiny trace of being preemies on their chunky butts. As they smile, laugh, crash and crawl, I am overjoyed. Holding tiny Eleanor for the first time, I was shocked to remember that my guys used to be smaller than she was! It seems impossible! I find myself in awe. And very, very grateful.

Welcome to the world, tiny little firecracker, Eleanor! You have awesome parents. And a really cool dog. I know you're going to have that same spirit your Mama has and I can't wait to see you grow up! I love your photos, because the light spilling onto your tiny features reminds me that you are truly a miracle and God's smiling down on you every second of every day with His beautiful light!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This is going to be that post that makes perfect sense to some and seems strangely out of the blue for others. For those that are surprised, I hope it will serve as another piece of the puzzle in our relationship and that it brings you to an even better understanding of my heart and why I love what I do, even when the going gets tough. For those that this post makes total sense to, one of two hopeful things will happen. You will either A. be encouraged that you're not alone or B. be thoughtful of your part in this and consider where you have room to grow. Either way, it's not often I am moved to write in this way, but here we are.

I confess. I am not perfect.

OMG. *gasps* *babies crying* *mothers fainting*

I have to fight to be inspired. I rarely feel as if I'm being truly creative. And despite my cheerful disposition, I am inherently dark, cynical and sarcastic, and often would much prefer isolating myself in my own little world, never speaking to another person again and turning inside myself. And 99.9% of the time, I am absolutely insecure about my art and am terrified to share it, let alone admit I made it, and a lot of the time, as my own worst critic, I hate what I'm looking at and I shred myself. My good friends call me Dark Katy when I happen to let the cat out of the bag and let my smile fade for a bit. It's all in good fun, but in reality, they know me well enough to know that every day is a struggle for me as an artist and as a person. I work hard to stay joyful. And I work hard to be kind.

It just doesn't come naturally to me. I am sure this is a shock to some, because I do a VERY good job of always presenting myself as perfectly put together, unfathomably strong, untouchable even, always in control, and I know there are those who are frustrated by my seemingly good fortune and confidence. In truth, I've never been popular, I've often been teased and there are probably a lot of people laughing at this right now because they have no idea who the heck I am. (Although considering they don't know who I am, it's doubtful they are reading this, right?)

Let me be clear first and foremost that I am immeasurably blessed. I have the most beautiful family in the whole wide world, have a wonderful career, a stable home with friends and family that love and support me, and a powerful God who loves every aspect of me just as I am.

But I've definitely known some dark days. I have wounds that go very deep. And by choosing to be an artist, whether I'm playing the piano, developing a collage or picking up a camera, I've chosen to wear my heart on my sleeve, however scary. And lately, I've been feeling stagnant. Desperately stagnant. So I went and did something about it.

I don't believe myself to be the best, and I certainly don't believe others to be the worst. Because in reality, in my heart, there is no best. There is no worst. There is no accomplished. There is no beginner. There is only this. Art. And no matter what we think, how we perceive others, what they do or what is said, at the core we are all artists. And we have no place commenting on what is right or wrong, what life experiences have shaped others and who we think shouldn't be allowed on the playground. Yes, we all have opinions and reactions. To each his own. We are all inspired (or insulted) differently. But remember this...

Before you choose to attack, ask yourself:

What purpose is served with your words? What outcome are you seeking?

And be honest with yourself. Because if you are seeking to hurt or destroy, you have no place as an artist. But if you are truly seeking to correct or encourage, deliver your message with grace and dignity, and it will surely be well received. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. I'm not concerned with "the haters," because frankly, I don't care one bit what you think. I've never been popular, or even well-known, and it's not on my to do list. My only goal is to encourage others to be honest about the struggles we face as artists, to support each other in the dark moments when we've all felt stagnant and uninspired and to come together as a collective body of creatives. No one has done anything wrong. No past efforts, fortes and triumphs are being trampled or disrespected. But the day we forget that we can always be better and stop striving for that one step further, the day we all need to put down our mediums and walk away. And I'm just not there yet. I know I can be better. And I'm pushing myself to do so. And drawing from others who have gone the way before me. If this true heart of the matter was misinterpreted as aggressive, I truly apologize. See it for what it is. And put down your damn pitchfork and torch.

Friday, June 15, 2012

a good dose of my own medicine

I go on and on in my photography classes about knowing when to call in the pros, knowing when to be in the memories and not capturing them, knowing when you're out of your league, etc. etc. etc. And yeah, I bit it hard core this past weekend thinking I could shoot the boys' 1st year cake smash session. (Yes! Holy cow they are almost 1 year old!!!!!!) A big, gigantic fiery crash and burn.

First, apparently my kids don't like cake. Or frosting. Ummm...hello? Whose kids are you?!

Second, Jake suffers from separation anxiety. Which results in him clamoring for Mama, wherever she may be, by speed crawling, frosting covered, to me, with my incredibly expensive, unfrosted and I'd like to stay that way, camera.

Third, Ben suffers from separation anxiety too. Which results in him crying bloody murder, all by himself on his little island of loneliness, until someone, preferably Mama, rescues his frosted butt. Well, in his case, his frosted toes. Because that was the only part of him he let touch the cake. His toes.

All in all a good time. Memorable, yes. Priceless, yes. Photographically mind-blowing. A big, fat no.

So, lesson learned. Big dose of sticky, icky medicine downed right here by me. I should have called in the pros. Do you believe me now?!

PS. The amazing banner (that you can only see part of because I never even had a chance to properly compose myself) was made by Trendy Baby. She totally rocks at personalizing super cute baby stuff. I'll be sharing more about her excellent talent after the boys' birthday party, but if you need something creative made for your kiddos, she's your gal!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Chosen Few: Kate & Tom

The word adoration doesn't adequately describe how Tom feels about Kate. As I was sorting through their photographs, one thing was crystal clear. Tom couldn't take his eyes off of her. As she danced and laughed and enjoyed every second of their wedding day, he looked at her with absolute awe. He was mesmerized. And rightly so. Kate is a character. She is sharp, beautiful, bright, witty. She's one of those people that is loved by everyone. She knows how to have fun, she's sweet, she's passionate, she can be silly and classic at the same time. She's Kate.

Tom & Kate, thank you so much for letting me tag along on your special day. When Tom grabbed the microphone out of the blue and suddenly said "I just need to say a few words. Kate, I am so in love with you and could not be any happier in this moment and can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you," I thought to myself, "More people need to love like that."

You're going to have an amazing life together and I am so happy to have had the opportunity to celebrate with you both. Things I loved about your day: you both value family in a very special way. Seeing all of the tiny details in how you celebrated your heritage and those who had gone before you was really honest, classic and gracious. Tom, you're a man in uniform. I respect and admire you and your comrades in a very big way. You guys love rock music. Seriously. I loved watching you dance and sing. And Kate, your blue shoes. Amen, sista.

One last thing...your wine box. Truly unique. Truly you. I'm rarely surprised and that one got me good. Can't wait to feature you on the Hampton Roads Creative! Until then...it's my little secret!

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