Dear Academics…

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I have a message for you.  A serious message – illustrated by a serious, intent baby.  Please do not steal my blog posts or photos.

You see, I have this nifty little gadget from WordPress that allows me to check how people got to my blog.  And if suddenly I start getting large amounts of views from a website titled “Alternative Photography 2015” then I’m going to be suspicious and click on that link to go see what you’re up to.

To be completely honest, I’m not very happy about you copy/pasting large chunks of my blog posts for your cyanotype syllabii.  Granted, I’m happy you included a link to my cyanotype tutorials so that your students can read up on my trials and errors.  I am NOT happy to see my work used instead of you getting off your arse and actually, you know, doing the job that you’re PAID to do and creating your own course work.

To be brutally blunt, I’m appalled.  Universities are the last bastion against plagiarism.  Professors spend an inordinate amount of time checking their students’ work for plagiarism.  And to turn around and blatantly steal my work?  You should be ashamed.  I’m ashamed for you.  What a bad example you set!

To your students: I’m glad you’re here.  Poke around, check things out, and feel free to message me if you have questions about my work.  I can’t promise I’ll swiftly reply, but I’ll do my best.  I really hope that my work can challenge you, intrigue you, or inspire you to do better than me.   Good luck with your projects and remember that sometimes, alternative photography is a series of interesting mistakes.  Run with it!

Sincerely,

me.

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Sorry, I don’t want to talk about my pain

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Low tide

There are two main news stories right now about students enacting change on campus, and I won’t get mired down in details or opinions. One comment a student made stuck in my head though, and I’ve been mulling it over, along with thoughts about the campus situations and the conversations about race going on in our country right now.  Go to this Atlantic article for a thoughtful look at the Yale story that began with an administrative admonition about potentially offensive Halloween costumes.

Specifically, the student (unnamed in the article, although I’m sure you can find them named elsewhere) wrote “I don’t want to debate.  I want to talk about my pain.”

I began my adult life as a naive idiot.  I’ve learned a lot along the way.  I’ve been through a lot, including a lot of heartbreaking things.  Not as bad as some people have it, for sure, but enough to state that yes, I’ve known pain.  Mental, emotional, and even physical pain.  Some of it was bearable, some of it was heartbreaking, and some of it I still deal with to this day.

I could be a rare bird or whatever, but in my experience, the more people hurt, the less they want to say about it.  I rarely hear someone say “let’s talk about how I’m feeling” after experiencing the death of a loved one.  One of my own painful experiences – multiple miscarriages – is not something I ever hear talked about in casual conversation.

That said, it’s purely anecdotal and a massive generalization. Take my opinion for what it is.

I don’t want to talk about my pain.  I don’t want YOU talking about my pain.  Bringing this kind of thing up makes everyone uncomfortable: they don’t know what to say, or how to relate, or even to how to be compassionate or empathetic.  I want to suffer through it without your well-meaning, clumsy comments that only inflict more pain. Later, when I’m better able to cope, perhaps I’ll tell you a little about it if I know you really well and I feel emotionally stable enough to do it.

Perhaps this isn’t a healthy way to live.  It reeks of paranoia and privacy.  It can go overboard to internalizing issues instead of dealing with them.  I don’t know.

All I know is this: in my experience, people who say “I want to talk about my pain” are one of two things.  Either they’re extraordinarily strong emotionally, or drumming up angst to make themselves feel important.

So how does this relate in any way to the image in this post?  I gravitate towards photographing things that stand alone.  Alone.  That’s the most I feel like saying.

Deal with it and move on

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It’s been said 20 zillion times, but photographs truly have the power of transfixing a moment.  When I look at certain photographs of my kids I can remember all the details of that day or moment.  Mostly the good ones, but sometimes the bad ones too.  One picture of Corbin that we used for a Christmas card (baby in the snow, smiling and laughing) brings back horrible memories of fear and panic – because that photo shoot happened the morning of the day he ended up in the hospital with symptoms no doctor could explain.

This is one of the good ones.  I look at this photo and I can feel the wind in my face, the cool crisp day, and hear the laughter of a delighted 2-year-old trying to drive a push cart.  This picture makes me smile.

I tend to remember the glorious days that rarely happen like this one.  That’s because they’re pretty rare around here.  I have good days and bad days, and we try to take advantage of the good ones when I can.

I’m not someone who likes to whine or complain (although my husband would contest that statement!) so it’s hard to open up and talk about personal health issues.  After all, that’s MY business, right?  Not yours – especially since you probably don’t care and would promptly forget it anyway.  So why bother?

Today I’m tired.  My reflux kiddo was up a lot last night.  My hips are killing me.  My meds are off or something, and I can really tell.  So, since this is what’s on my mind, you get to hear about it.  Sorry!

I have 2 autoimmune diseases, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and Vitiligo.  The first one is a doozy, but can be managed.  The second one is mostly cosmetic and is incurable.  I have a heel spur, a partially torn hip tendon, and the beginnings of arthritis.  Add that to migraines and a permanently tight IT band on my leg and that’s a recipe for a mess.  Right now my body is all messed up – despite taking my meds I’m not converting them the way I should.  In other words, I might as well not be taking anything.

What does that really mean?  It means I am in constant pain.  I have no energy.  I feel defeated, unmotivated, and constantly tired.  Small tasks like doing the laundry seem like insurmountable mountains.  Getting out of the bed in the morning is an act of will.  People looking at me think I’m just lazy because there’s no obvious disability.

Looking at a picture like this gives me a ray of hope.  It’s not all bad.  I can rise above the ocean of defeat at times and celebrate a good day.  It reminds me that I don’t really have it that bad, and to stop whining and push past the problems to accomplish something.  Even something as minor as a blog post.

So let’s hear it for all those who live in pain, for those who take life one day at a time, for those who feel defeated and worn out.   Because sometimes, a little glimpse of happiness is enough to keep us going.

Watching for fins

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Here’s a sobering thought – someone caught an 8 foot Bull shark in the Potomac river this summer.  Not the part really close to the bay, but further in.  The Washington Post ran an article about it a few weeks ago and it caught my eye because it was only a few miles down river from our favorite spot.  So on top of other obvious worries when I take my kids to “the beach” (Leesylvania State Park) I’ll be worrying about sharks too!  Because drowning, accidental sand ingestion, and weird little spiky seeds that puncture feet like needles in a balloon aren’t enough.

Other than worrying about shark attacks, LSP is one of our favorite places to go.  The kids love playing in the sand and water, and I think it’s one of the best photo shoot locations we’ve found.  On a lovely day in the summer you’re likely to see white sails floating out on the water, and the beach is pounded by boat-created waves.  The kids’ favorite place to play is right beside the marina, so they get to see speed boats, sail boats, and jet skis zooming around.  I prefer this spot to the area closer to the fishing pier, after finding a few large fish hooks in the sand.

It’s quite a pretty spot.  We’ve seen seagulls and eagles (yes, I promise, American eagles!) in this beautiful park right outside of DC. It’s rarely busy except on the crazy summer weekend days.  On our last visit right after the schools went back into session we had the whole place to ourselves.  When I’m planning a photo shoot it has two of the main components that I need – distractions and no crowds.

I know I’ve blogged quite a log about the challenges of doing a succesful photo shoot with my kids.  As they get older the challenges are still there, but they’ve changed.  Now I’m hearing “mom, no pictures!” from my 4-year-old and “no camera!” from my 2-year-old.  They absolutely refuse to pose for the camera, and in fact, getting a minimum of 2 out of 3 kids to simply look at the camera automatically makes the shot a keeper.  Forget smiling, or even looking pleasant.  I’ll settle for calm faces, with no crazy expressions and open mouths (from talking non-stop.)

As my kids finally get old enough to survive a few minutes without constant hovering (the stories I could tell!  it’s amazing we don’t go to the ER more often) I’m slowly starting to ramp up my own photography again.  C happened to be in this shot and it made the image stronger, but I didn’t point the camera in his direction just to get a picture of him.

He did think it was quite funny that “his” picture won a ribbon at the county fair this year.

Meet Anarah

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Hullo blogging world

Meet the newest addition to the family – Anarah.  She decided to wait until her exact due date, and she weighed exactly the same as her older brother when he was born.  Go figure!  We’re glad to have her here – me especially! pregnancy with a toddler in tow is no picnic.

When we had Corbin, I decided to do a monthly photo shoot with him documenting his growth for the first year because they grow so quickly at first.  We’re doing the same thing this go around with Anarah, although I’m having difficulty hitting the exact month schedule.  This image is Anarah at  about 5 weeks instead of a month.  We’re a lot more casual about things with the second kiddo, but I’m astounded by how quickly she seems to be doing some developmental things – like reaching for her image in a mirror and holding her head up.

 

I can already see that my next big cyanotype project will be a set of images of my kids when they were little – I tend to like the more conceptual images in black and white while the family prefers the color shots.  Both are good to have, but the conceptual ones will make a good series.  I might, if things go well, get this series done by the time they’re teenagers.  We live in hope!

Seriously though, I’m tearing my hair out trying to tend to the needs of both children without neglecting either of them.  Bedtime is a much appreciated milestone in our day – the parents, not the kids, duh!  I shouldn’t complain really – Anarah is truly a happy, well-adjusted baby who sleeps well, and I’m so blessed to have two wonderful children.

 

About the image:  shot indoors, with natural light and a pretty hefty ISO. Basic darkroom edits only – like I have time to manipulate images these days!

Moving on

We’re headed out!  We’re finally going to Washington DC, and I won’t be able to post for a while (like I’ve been posting all that much!) because my computer will be in storage until the housing situation is finalized.  Life has been hectic lately with illness, move details, and house hunting.  I always seem to have some excuse or another.

I’m going to miss living in NY – we’ve been here long enough to put down roots.  Pulling up those roots always hurts, even though we’re excited to see what’s in store for us in DC.  Hopefully a new house without issues, a dog for Corbin, and a lovely new back yard for both Corbin and dog.  We’ll see!

So even though this image is symbolic and all that conceptual jazz, I have to say it’s from our recent trip to Long Island NY.  It’s the lighthouse passage from the tiny stone house nestled at its foot to the entrance of the lighthouse itself.  Because it was super hot and Corbin wasn’t allowed up the lighthouse stairs on the tour, that’s as far as we went.  And, I have to say, my new lens is awesome!  Let’s hear it for wide angles!
Hopefully my next post will be full of DC iconic images  – so much history there.  I’m super excited to try and catch the DC cherry trees in flower next spring.  Here’s hoping for the best!

 

A full year

It’s been a long year, and I’m really sorry that I’ve neglected this blog. I can’t truly say that I had much choice because when it comes to my work or taking care of Corbin, it’s a pretty easy decision who wins.  And look at that super cute face – who could argue that I made the wrong choice?

Corbin is a year old, and looking back over the last year, frankly, I’m surprised that we made it.  We spent way more time in hospitals and doctor’s offices than I care to remember, but at the end of the year he’s doing pretty good.  Actually, he’s constantly on the move.  A bundle of energy.  And I, who never had all that much energy in the first place, end up crashing into bed at the end of the day exhausted from trying to keep up with one small boy.  I’m rather scared that things will only get more crazy now that he’s so close to walking on his own!

In terms of photography, it’s also been interesting.  Shooting baby pictures are challenging.  Really challenging.  Professional photographers have my sympathy.  In the beginning, it wasn’t easy trying to get interesting pictures of a tiny squirmy baby that slept most of the time and spent all of his photo shoot lying in one place.  As Corbin began to move and wiggle more, the challenge was how to get a good, interesting photograph that didn’t blur into a mess because I was trying to keep up with him.

Now, as Corbin crawls and tries to walk, the challenge is taking photographs while trying to keep him from knocking his teeth out in a nasty fall, or crawling toward  a pond, stopping only to ingest a small rock or whatever stick/piece of trash/flower petal that catches his fancy.  He’s definitely my child – forget looking at all the interesting stuff around him, he’s only interested in the visually arresting white styrofoam cup lying on the black asphalt parking lot.  There are certainly times that I wish someone else was holding him so I could capture the times he runs up and down the sidewalk brandishing a dandelion at the passing cars.  Or when he stops dead in his tracks and yells “Og!” at a passing dog on a walk.

And at the end of the year, I really wish I could report better news.  It certainly appears that he has no more hair now than he did in the first picture I posted of him.