Every Spring, for the last few years, my friend Molly has tasked me with helping her create a photograph of the kids in her son’s class. We have always tried for a heart shaped grouping… sounds so simple, right? The first couple of years were hysterical because the kids were so little… we tried to line them up head to toe and I was to take a photo from above them. It was absolutely an exercise in herding cats.
The goal is an art piece for an auction to benefit the school and, each year, this class has gotten a little older and a little easier to direct. It seems the timing is always a challenge and we have had to dance around a lot of rainy weather. It wouldn’t be so bad but the kids like to dress up and invariably we get glittery dresses and muddy shoes added to winter jackets… the whole thing starts to look like it might blow out of control. ;0)
This last year, Molly and I had rescheduled for the umpteenth time and we finally got a dry but cold grey day with a brisk breeze. I met her at the school… she chalked out the heart shape on the edge of the playground and then hauled buckets and buckets of flower petals that she had collected up to the chalk line. We had the kids line up on the chalk and then tossed in this riot of color and textures… the breeze enough to keep it exciting. As they were fluffing the flower petals, I climbed the worn stairs to the second floor to a just emptied classroom. The windows were high and hinged outwards so I grabbed a stool and leaned out as far as I could, trying to clear the big concrete sill and the edge of the glass. Luckily, I was working with my Lumix so I could hold the camera out level and still use the tilt screen for framing and focus. All that planning paid off and the flowers scattered in the Spring breeze.
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
~ Paul Simon
In January I had an email from a bride of mine… she said she was ready to make a wedding album. She said she wanted to make an appointment to come make some image choices. All of which is a very normal sort of email to come across my desk. Except, she got married in 1994. Waaay back in 1994. It was all film, of course, and she and her love got married in one of the darkest churches in town on a January afternoon so there were challenges to start with. She had given away or lost her proof books so the only thing left to work with were her negatives. Lucky for her, I had archived those negatives. It will be a challenge but we have started the process and I will talk about that another time. For now, there is a more important conversation to be had.
Here’s the thing… I’ve archived the negatives and the digital files of all the weddings covered in my career. That means if you got married with me or had a family portrait session, unless you have already gotten them from me, I still have your images.
This winter, one of the bigger projects in my home office has been to get rid of the extra layers of stuff that have accumulated over the years… we’ve had a major shredding festival and have emptied out cabinets and drawers to pare it all down to things we might still need. Pretty soon, that clearing will include client negatives and the large collection of CDs with early digital files on them. Film was from 1985 to 2004 and I always retained the negatives. In digital, my clients didn’t get files until about 2012 or so. It’s just time to free up some space… downsizing in place, I guess.
If your memories are important to you, I’d like to help you connect. Please feel free to get in touch because I can’t keep them forever.
I have a new email, by the way… email@example.com
Drop me a line. ;0)
Maia married her Ben at Cooper Spur Resort on a bright hot August day. For those of you from other parts, Cooper Spur is a rustic resort on the northern flanks of Mt. Hood… the drive out is completely Oregon whether you come over the mountain or up from the Columbia River Gorge.
The guests spent the weekend here… soaking in that relaxing pace. When we drove up, the first ambassador was a pint sized youngster with a pixie face… she ushered me in to meet Maia’s parents. It was a great start to a perfectly Oregon wedding!
Over the next hour or so, you could see people heading to their cabins to clean up and change into their party clothes… DJ Dan Moe was setting up for the ceremony and our intrepid officiant, Melissa Coe was out under the trees doing a mic check.
The ceremony was a marvelous prelude to the party… when everyone walked back to the big lawn, they found all sorts of things to do! Among other things was a DIY photo booth, complete with a selfie stick. You could order a Moscow Mule at the bar and watch a few rounds of Giant Jenga. There were flip flops for anyone tired of shoes. There was a pair of old wooden skis to sign in lieu of a guest book… coloring book and bubbles for the littles.
After dinner and toasts, pie was served and the dance floor filled up… off to the side, a shotski was raised. That was a first for me. ;0)
And in one corner of the tent, a table was set for making your own S’Mores… a perfect way to wind down in that twilight of mountain air.
Blogging is something you have to have the time to do if you want to do it well. Apparently, I ran out of time in June. ;0)
Don’t get me wrong, I have a mountain of cool weddings and sweet family work to write about… 2017 was a good year for great clients and it was well paced which should have given me the time, right? Looking back, I’m realizing that there were some dark forces getting in my way… not just the daily run of the mill stuff, either. My husband faced down a major surgery in June… the results were excellent but the early parts of that ride were scary. Ongoing for a couple of years now, my only sister is caught in the rabbit hole that is dementia. We aren’t sure which kind it is yet but it is becoming increasingly evident that she is in trouble… a very bitter pill to swallow considering that she has always been confident, articulate and artistic. Losing those parts of her is heartbreaking and she lives too far away for me to help much. Probably the biggest daily obstacle, though, has been my inability to tear myself away from the headlines this year. The train wreck in our nation’s capitol has been and still is banging around inside my brain and it leaves me no choice but to stay informed and involved.
Life goes on. People are still getting married and having beautiful babies, lawns are still getting mowed and the moon rises and sets on her perfect schedule. I plan to blog several weddings in the next month or so… I don’t want any of you to think I have walked away from this work. It’s too much fun to be a part of it.
Say goodbye to 2017 and let’s put our best selves out there for the coming year, ok?
Miles is nine. His mom was getting married and he was to have a tuxedo for the very important job as a member of the wedding. His excitement ran high that April afternoon, including wanting to get dressed many hours too early… when it was time, his mom steered him through the special buttons and the always cool cuff links. His tux fit very well… something that doesn’t always happen with the young guys. He wore it with style and confidence… the very definition of élan. He wore it like he was born to it.
The day started to roll and this kid, the only one at the wedding, was the epitome of a perfect guest. I was happy to watch him engage with everyone like a grownup… he kept up his end in a way that I would love to see more often.
During the toasts, his was solid and emotional and heartfelt enough to bring some tears around the room. Later, as the dancing ramped up, he was invited to run a song with a stint at the dj’s table… happy as could be, disco lights vibrating all around him.
It’s true that Opera Boy and I save most of the bread heels. We freeze them and when the freezer gets too full, we have a perfect excuse to go to the beach. He gets a kick out of chumming for sea gulls. To his credit, he tries to do this away from the crowds. ;0)
If the beach of choice is Lincoln City, his first order of business is to buy taffy (alledgedly for the guys at work) and then we feed the gulls… enjoying the drama. After that we head to one of the places where we can fly our kites. Sometimes we get skunked… there are calm days at the coast more often than I knew before I had the kite habit.
When it’s calm, we walk. Watching the crazy-happy dogs and the slow progression of people weaving over the sand and sitting on the driftwood makes me happy. There are rock cairns and sand castles, feathers and shells and sea grasses. And sometimes, there are palm trees underfoot, right? Life is better with beaches in it.
Spring Fever is turned up high at my house and most everyone I know is wondering when the Vernal Lady will make her usually spectacular appearance here in the Pacific Northwest. We have had two months in a row of record breaking rain… even my die-hard pluviophile friends are beginning to crack. Today is no exception. It is pouring as I write… but there were geese flying northwest over my back deck this morning so maybe it’s almost time. ;0)
So, in hopes of spreading a little cheer, I am posting a photograph from a past Spring wedding… Jenkin’s Estate has this lovely teahouse behind the elegant main house and on this fresh April day, everyone was happy to be standing in the early sun watching two wonderful people make it real.
Are you planning a wedding? Have you taken into account all of the possible flavors of weather you might encounter? I ask because, lately, our tried and true local weather has become less predictable. Portland’s longtime favorite wedding month of August is now likely to bake you right out of your mind. Maybe it’s time to move some of these events over into the shoulder seasons of early Summer or late Fall or to at least consider venues with indoor/outdoor options.
Oops, gotta run… sun is out now and I have a little yard work to do before it rains again! ;0)
Take some time to catch the moments. The littles in your life will change faster than you can imagine and the history of your family will depend on how often you train a camera and a mindful eye on your day to day life. Yes, there is always another load of laundry to do and I’m sure the dog needs a bath but that will be ongoing… your children will be differently little every day. There are some dear friends on Facebook who are on it. They post charming snippets of their kids and will no doubt have photographs to share with them later in their lives. Get your pictures off of your devices and put them in a safe place… you don’t get a Do-Over. That is incredibly important.
If you can, you should hire a pro every now and then to cover your family in a way that you can’t. I love it when my phone rings for a family session. It could be a walkabout in the Pearl District with an ice cream cone or it could be an hour or two spent hanging out at your home… the goal is to put real people in front of my camera and catch what happens. Let me sit on the floor and get to know the kids well enough that they are just themselves when the camera is out… the less direction from me or from you, the better.
I was lucky to have parents who took lots of pictures. The photographs from my childhood were rarely posed. Instead, I can look back through them and remember the houses we lived in, the cats and dog who were part of our tribe and even some pictures of my parents when they were young and beautiful, before time wore into them. That was a gift to me. ;0)
If you’d like to see more pictures of people, young and old, this will take you to my Studio portfolio. Let’s make some history! ;0)
2016 has been a strange year… you may have already come to that conclusion and skipped ahead. I’ve had a chance to sit and reflect on the last few months and I’m still shaking my head.
In August, a group that I have blogged with since 2009 decided we would relax our policy of one post per week per member… we took it down to one post per month. Apparently it was a discipline I needed to maintain my own blog.
The wedding season that usually rules my summer was nicely spaced until I got to September… that’s where it started to ball up. Partly due to the workload but there was also a Tuesday towards the end of the month where I was the one getting married. Even though Opera Boy and I kept it small and very casual, it still required an inordinate amount of work and stalwart friends to pull it off. We had a fine time and I got a new look at what weddings entail. ;0)
The beginning of October brought a honeymoon… a visit to a town where I used to live. The French Quarter of New Orleans is a special kind of place in my head and a lot of it was still there. The thing that had changed the most was me. The week was spent walking all over the Quarter with a couple of cameras at hand trying to catch a few glimpses of the old magic. The French Quarter I was looking for can be glimpsed in my personal portfolio. It was the early ’70’s and I was a part of the place instead of being a visitor. Opera Boy gets the credit for knowing how much it meant to visit again.
Home again to all of the catching up… between that and the looming political storm, I barely got my head up. November and December were all that and more. As sabbaticals go, I wouldn’t call it restorative.
And now we are in 2017 for better or for worse.
Keep the faith, people.
One of the best things about this job is the chance to look back, to look in the rear view mirror. Many of my wedding clients go on to make scrumptious families and I get to watch them grow. It’s a slow process and if I work with someone fairly often, it isn’t as evident to me until I start putting pictures from the different times side by side.
Stephanie and Lee have been a favorite couple of mine… there is such an easy grace to their relationship. I saw it on the wedding day and in the planning beforehand and it continues as they raise their two rambunctious daughters.
The first one laid the groundwork for a couple of years before the second one came along. This latest session was a fine example of fully present parents and charming children with just enough wild in them to make life good.
If you haven’t considered keeping your favorite photographer on hand to document your family every now and then, you might want to think about it. I know this blog has been wedding-centric since it started in 2009 but in 2017, I plan on posting more of the other work here, too. Families and babies, sure, but also head shots and senior portraits and the like. People photography. ;0)
Onward to the New Year… it’s time to leave 2016 in the rear view mirror!