Thursday, May 31, 2012

Light52: Week 19

I first discovered "A Minor Incident" in a book---Nick Hornby wrote about how the song articulated his feelings about his son, who has autism. Ironically the song was written for the movie, About a Boy, based on Hornby's book, which had nothing to do with his son.




Aidan and I were driving around town, down to the river bed and then up behind Sand Flats, so he could collect rocks for a school project, when this song came on. It was an old CD of favorites, but I hadn't heard this song in at least a year, and I found myself weeping. I've listened to it almost daily since then, and love it more each time.

"There's nothing I could say
to make you try to feel okay
and nothing you could do
to stop me feeling the way I do
and if the chance could happen
that I never see you again
Just remember I'll always love you.

I'd be a better person on the other side I'm sure
You'd find away to help yourself, and find another door
to shrug off minor incidence and make us both feel proud
I just wish I could be there to see you through.

You always were the one to make us stand out in a crowd
though every once upon a while your head was in the clouds
There's nothing you could never do to ever let me down
and remember that I'll always love you."


Light52: Week 18



Much of the light in the past few weeks have come from music. Specifically songs I've loved for a very long time, but which recently sound new to me.

In 1989s, a friend gave me a mix tape with an acoustic version of Don Henley's The Heart of the Matter. It's been a favorite ever since, though I've never found the same version. This video---of him singing it with the Eagles is the closest.

"I got the call today that I didn't wanna hear...but I knew that it would come...
What are these voices outside love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?

...I'm learning to live without you now, but I miss you sometimes.
The more I know,the less I understand.
All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again.

I've been tryin' to get down
to the Heart of the Matter
but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter
but I think it's about forgiveness."


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Population Explosion | Moab Newborn Photography

Let me introduce you to sweet Javier.

And adorable Kyven.


And handsome Jairo.


And delightful Deforrest.

And beautiful Beckett.


May has been a busy month for babies in Moab...or, more accurately, last September was a busy time in Moab!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

201 Dad and Mom with Baby Karen

This has been a rough year. Some of you know my mom passed away in March, after a six year battle with breast cancer.

As the photographer in the family, I was in charge of putting together a DVD slideshow of images from my mom’s life with some of her favorite songs for her wake. I loved doing it and found it very therapeutic. But what I found terribly sad were the lack of photos of my mom as a mom---the above photo of my parents and my sister Karen is the only photograph I found of my mom holding one of her babies.

My mom had nine children. And she loved photography---she took her toddlers to get studio portraits and my mom created gallery walls long before Pinterest made it a fad.  But my mom was usually the one behind the camera. And, like a lot of us, she was critical of her physical appearance and didn’t love being in front of the camera. There are hundreds of photos of her with her grandchildren, but I have maybe five photos of my mom and me and none of just the two of us when I was young.

LtoR: Erin, Karen, John, Elizabeth, Eileen, my mom Betty, Maria on her lap, Deirdre.

LtoR: Erin, Karen, John, Elizabeth, Eileen, my mother Betty, Maria on her lap, and me in 1979.

One of the greatest gifts of this year has been the opportunity to photograph moms with their newborn babies. I can't articulate how witnessing those scenes has filled my heart, and given so much meaning to my work. I can’t help imaging that someday the precious newborn in front of me will be all grown up, and able to look with wonder at his or her own body when they were so small and new to the world. And to see your parents when they just met you? To see the joy, the wonder, the love that met you when you joined the world? I can’t imagine a greater gift.

401 4 s my mom and me copy

I love this photo of my mom and me. It was taken a little over a year ago with a point and shoot---Thelma & Louise style---holding the camera at arms’ length. I’m all for living in the moment, for being fully present, but I do believe our species has this incredible gift of being able to time-travel via our memory and our imagination. Via words and pictures. This photo brings back all kinds of memories of that great visit.

So I’m taking this opportunity to ask you to get out the camera this Sunday. Go for brunch or have breakfast in bed, but ask someone to take your photograph. Use a timer or call a neighbor over. Get out from behind the camera and get in the frame and have a photograph taken of just you and your child. You might be critical of it, you might not like your hair that day, but don’t delete it---print it. Frame it. It sends a powerful message to your child and in ten years, believe me, you’ll think your hair looks fine and you’ll be so happy to have it. Give yourself and your children the gift of capturing a bit of today, and the ability to travel back to this moment, at least in their memory. Until my science-fiction-loving 10-year-old invents a real time-machine, it’s the best we can do!

For more inspiration, check out Rebecca Cooper’s list of 50 Photos to take of you and your kids and Embrace the Camera.




Monday, May 7, 2012

Light52: Week 17



"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy---the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light."

-Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

12 for 2012: May Check-in

Sometimes you’ve just got to climb back on the horse, no matter how awkward or uncertain it may be.  I debated dividing this into 12 separate posts, but I want it written and posted before June 1st.

2012 has been unpredictable, in good and terrible ways. Actually, the terrible has been mostly predictable and the good has come as a total surprise. I love lists and goals partly because they give me the illusion of a roadmap on this journey. Here’s the current progress on the goals I set for this year:

1. Take at least one family portrait a month.

We didn’t in February…I was sure we would on Valentine’s Day and then, just like that, it was February 15th.

However, on March 4th, we took this:

web our family in march

Again issues with back lighting and harsh sun from the right (see the flare on Bri’s hands), and Nolie is making an alien face because he’s just been warned not to close his eyes like he did in the one just previous to this. And still, I love it…because Sean is laughing (probably at Nolie) and Aidan has his newest “cool” smile on, and I’d forgotten about those flowers in the background. I love it even more when I compare it to the one a friend took of us  in April, on Easter Sunday:

web2012 04 08_Easter_1742

But it is one more photo of all 5 of us, so I’m grateful for it too.

I’m so used to it now, I had forgotten, until looking back at my last 12 for 2012 post, that Brian shaved his beard right at the end of February. Despite the fact that he now looks younger than me, I love it.

2. Adopt and train a puppy.

2012 04 21 Duke on the deck

What was I thinking?

Duke has made his way into our hearts, and I know he is not going anywhere. In all honesty, though, if I could go back in time and talk to myself in January, I would say, “Wait.”

Maybe that’s why we don’t have roadmaps, maybe it’s for the best that we get ourselves into things we would have said no thanks to if we knew just how much they would unravel us. Maybe I’ll be able to tell you in a year or so, when the second half of this goal has been accomplished.

He’s an incredibly good dog, and I hope I can learn to be as good a caretaker.

2012 04 21_2082 bri and duke 12 wks old

3. Prepare our family for our next trip to Chicago.

Just typing that made me cry. In August, I wasn’t sure if my mom would live to see September. After a visit in October, I felt she’d outlive us all. In November, leaving at Thanksgiving, I thought I was saying goodbye, but come January, I felt sure Mom would make it till summer. She had been sick for so long, but in the end, the end itself came very fast.

When I first added this to my 2012 list, I was thinking about finances, knowing we’d most likely be flying all five of us to Chicago at some point. In the end, we drove. I was also thinking about clothes. Yes, how crazy is that? But my mom loved clothes. I have lived too much of my life oblivious to how I was dressed and to my physical appearance in general, perhaps as an act of rebellion. But, before any visit to my mother, I have always planned every outfit as well as my children’s. One of her many instructions to me regarding her funeral services was making sure my younger brother had a sports coat.

Mainly I was thinking about how to prepare our boys.  Our pastor gave me a copy of Leo Buscaglia’s The Fall of Fredding the Leaf last fall and I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t share it with the boys. It’s more about death in general than about the loss of a loved one. I’m trying to remember when my boys last talked to Mom. Possibly the 3rd of March, when I called to hear how the party she had hosted (yes, hosted!) had gone on the first. By Aidan’s and Nolan’s birthdays, the 9th and 12th, she was too sick to talk to them. I realize now there is no way to prepare, but I’m glad we had the conversations we did.

4. Learn the basics of my sewing machine and complete at least two projects.

I loved the sewing class I took in February, but February was insanely busy. I completed Nolie’s birthday shirt in class, as well as some superhero cloth napkins for the boys’ lunchboxes. I’ve only set up the machine once since the class, just last week in order to finish Sean’s birthday shirt. It looks a bit Frankenstein-ish but he loved it all the same.

5. Submit two resumes

Submit two resumes was code for “start the lengthy process of updating my resume and  applying to teach at our extension university.” It was not code for start my own small business. I’ve been free-lancing from home off and on since I left my teaching position eight years ago, but I was ready to start thinking about something more.

A suggestion from my friend Emily, a photo shoot of a friend’s newborn, a hike with my friend Amy, a brave email to a labor&delivery nurse, encouragement from Angie, and a few “Would it be crazy if…” conversations with Brian, and the next thing I know, DOK Photography is born.   No, it wasn’t the next thing. There were hurdles and hoops to jump through and lots of paperwork, but, as Rumi wrote,"When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy."

DOK logo w grad

I felt that river when I got the final signature to sign off on my business application, when the logo came together, when the website went live, and when I made my first sale. Now that the reality of trying to balance child-care, basketball season that turns into soccer season that is now baseball season, a puppy, a house that never stays “kept”, and life in general with work that is mostly NOT outside the home---I feel the river a bit less. There weren’t extra hours in my week at the start, so I’m not sure when I thought I’d fit in all the work that goes on after a photo session, which is the majority of the work. But I’m learning, I’m getting to witness beautiful scenes of family joy and love, and getting to hold newborn babies without having to bring them home.

I still plan to work on that second resume. I have no illusions that in a town of 5000, with a tourist-based economy, no cities nearby and few people with discretionary income, custom photography is going to become a trend. I love Brene Brown’s description of slash-careers, which “integrate and fully express the multiple passions, talents, and interests that a single career cannot accommodate.” I believe that, but I also believe she left out the mortgage, childcare, and food bills that a single job cannot pay.

Five years ago, when I agreed to design our church’s website, I couldn’t have predicted that would lead to my work for Sego Lily last summer, nor that I’d be making my own this year. All those hours reading everything I could about photography now seem full of intention, but I didn’t know it at the time. “Don’t push the river” quotes Karen Maezen Miller in Momma Zen, “let the future come to you.” Because it will, and I know enough to know it won’t look the way I imagine it.

6. Start every month with a clean desk.

The most I have done, since the beautifully clean desk of February 3rd, is take a photo of just how not clean my current desk is. All I want for Mother’s Day, besides a photo with my boys, is time to clean my office.

7. Lose and keep off 12 pounds.

I lost 5 fast, and another 5 not so fast. Then I chose to cope with all of the stress of this spring by consuming as much sugar and carbs as possible. I gained all 10 back incredibly quickly.

It’s May 1st, a clean new calendar page. Okay, not so clean, it’s already packed full but it is new. I’m back on the MWF gym routine and forswearing any soda. I started calling Brian “Bobbie Brown” as he seemed to delight in pouring me a coke and getting to add Pepsi to our grocery list. For the past two years, I’ve refused to buy it. No more hot chai while at the grocery store either. I’m trying to find a balance between all and nothing---aiming for five sugar-free days and weekends allowing moderate sugar/carbs. Tracking on MFP. Small steps.

8. Create a home binder. 

Pinning other people’s organization binders on Pinterest doesn’t count? Didn’t think so.

 9. Grow herbs inside my kitchen.

I did, and I have the photo somewhere to prove it. Looking at the dweebly seedlings on my window sill and the lush ones for sale at the market right now though, I'm thinking of dumping them and buying starters. Don’t judge.

10. Create a Shutterfly book of 12on12 layouts.

Not giving up on this one. Just haven’t done any more 12on12 since January. If I don’t have progress by June 1st, it will be time to re-evaluate.

11. Go to a concert at the Red Rocks!

The Red Rocks beat out Telluride and Zion once I saw that Brandi Carlile and Ingrid Michaelson were performing. Angie and Mary Alice are meeting me for a 21-Years-of-Friendship girls-weekend celebration and music under the Colorado stars in July. I plan to print my ticket and paste it on the fridge to get me through Brian’s first wildfire assignment.

12. 52 Weeks of Light

I’m two behind, but okay with that. There have been few posts other than the 52 and that is what I hope changes.

Other notes: I lost my laptop hard drive in April. Not fun, but everything was recovered (ie: $$$+hours and hours). I’m now subscribing to Crash Plan and feel better already.

I don’t want to add any other goals to our year, but I do want to work on getting my oldest sister Karen out to Moab, as well as my dad. The main goals I want to work on for May are #10, 7, and 6.

And I now realize even 12 is too many. For 2013, I think six should be the max!




Baby Seren | Moab Newborn Photographer

I'm thinking the girls will be outnumbering the boys in the future of Moab!

Introducing the latest lovely little girl, Seren Aria.


She was not interested in the camera. She had her priorities straight and just wanted her mama and milk. But she still let me get a few shots with her dad.


I love the juxtaposition of a fragile newborn's head in the strong hands of her dad.


Hard to believe those little toes will be running in a year, and climbing the red rocks of Moab in no time!


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