Writer, photographer, father, friend…
Today is Father’s Day and I wish I could call him to say it and hear him grumble about a silly holiday… all the while hearing his smile under the grumble.
A life too short… 1925 – 1990
Head shots… seems like just about everybody needs one sooner or later. I enjoy the challenge of it… as a photographer, you have to be mindful of how the image will be used. Are we talking about a very conservative banker or do we have an actor in need of a fresh look? It’s important to match the personality with the look. I am pleased to see people pushing the edges as it suits them… head shots are now varied and much more interesting than in years past. These are all professional people in their own right. Considering the sheer volume of connecting we do these days, it seems to me that we should put on a fresh face when we have outgrown the old one. I’d be happy to talk to you about a session if you are in the market.
The mustard yellow dumpster is gone now. It has been parked in Helene’s driveway for a few days, slowly filling with her life. The tall, pink roses on the south wall have been cut down and the tomato plant tossed out. One of her couches is hoping for a home.
She died in her sleep on July 12th… 4:00 on a Sunday morning. In someone else’s place.
I took my pruning shears over to her house the day she died and cut a branch of her rose bush for myself. It had one bloom and several buds on it. By the time her funeral came along, most of the buds had opened. I took the vase to a counter where I could take a picture and several of the blooms flew apart. I saved all of the petals as they fell and will take them with me when I go to visit her grave.
I will miss her.
“Babies are such a nice way to start people.”
Kate is traveling rapidly to the shores of adulthood. This photo was taken in October of 2004… she was 9 at the time. Her parents had me come take pictures every few years so I have had the pleasure of seeing her grow up through the lens of my camera… we started when she was a tiny and spunky red head, maybe 9 months old. She has blossomed into this level eyed, sharp young lady and I hope I get to see where she goes from here. Of course, I am getting older just like she is, like we all are, but time moves differently for each of us and I don’t think anyone ever gets used to how fast it goes.
Most of my baby sessions are done at my client’s home… I offer that service because I think it’s important to be able to look back and get a sense of where you grew up.
My folks did that for me… I can go through all the old California pictures and see the rental house in Alameda with the fake leopard skin chair or Grandpa’s ranch in Gilroy where my sister and I finger painted on the patio. There was the paradise 1/4 acre in Santa Rosa with the little house and cabin connected by two bridges over the creek… deer and skunks and hummingbirds in the honeysuckle.
When I do babies I also include the parents as much as possible. Think about it… many years later your kids get to see how good you looked in your younger skins. It frosts me to realize how many of the pictures of me and my sister have just the arms or knees of an otherwise whole and beautiful parent.
So, this is what I am after: working at your house and trying to make the session as comfortable and natural as possible… the goal being images that live beyond the years. Images that look like your life.
What follows is a sizable folio of different kids… mostly on location but a few in studio settings.
I hope you enjoy the parade.
Babies don’t need a vacation but I still see them at the beach. I’ll go over to them and say, “What are you doing here, you’ve never worked a day in your life!” —Stephen Wright
“Spread the diaper in the position of the diamond with you at bat. Then fold second base down to home and set the baby on the pitcher’s mound. Put first base and third together, bring up home plate and pin the three together. Of course, in case of rain, you gotta call the game and start all over again.” —Jimmy Piersal
My talented friend Francoise Weeks came by yesterday to pick small figs from my tree for some of her arrangements this weekend. She always brings me flowers when she shows up… it is such a gracious and old world thing to do and it always makes my day. Her elegant mixes of texture and color are so beyond anything I could ever muster, no matter how much I study them… she just has the touch.
I have worked with Francoise for years. It has been wonderful to watch her style evolve as she gently leads her clients into new worlds. I have decided that she has discovered a sort of faerie place… something you might find in good children’s books. You might imagine yourself very small and wandering through the quiet woods on the coast… encountering these very amazing plants. You’d have to be small enough to step under leaves or peer up into the flowers…
You can bet that I will be looking closer the next time I take a walk in the woods.
My friend Helene has been in the hospital for a week now… she is about to move to a rehab clinic so I haven’t gotten to talk to her for a couple of days. She has lived across the street from me for the last 28 years.
When I moved to this house in 1981, it was Spring…. just like now. Rhododendrons blazing and camellias almost spent from the rains… everything very green. Helene had just lost her husband to ALS. I never got to meet Bill but he was everything to her and she talked about him often. In the later years she complained about the amazing leaf fall from the maple he planted for her… it is now the most handsome tree on the street. She dutifully raked that yard for two months straight every year and sometimes threatened to have the tree taken down but she didn’t mean it. It was good exercise and she knew it.
We have been through a few things together over the years… she was the one person I worried about the most when I divorced my husband of 22 years. I knew she liked him… Glenn was a good man in a lot of ways and, in the neighborhood, he was always a willing hand. I was afraid she might think I had been the bad guy in that transition but she took my hand during my late telling and said she thought he had left me on my own too much. You know, his lack of participation the last 7 or 8 years of our marriage was exactly the reason I ended it. I guess she could see that from across the street. When he moved on, I was the one she called to help change out the light bulbs or hang a plant. We have buried a beloved dog and we have shared tomato crops for several summers.
She is 91 now and her body is wispy and frail. I think she is having trouble eating though the doctors haven’t found anything to point a finger at…. I think her brain is just messing with her. Her long term memory is fine but she is having trouble with the yesterday stuff. You need to know that this is a fiercely independent woman… her mind is completely set on living in her home until it’s done. Right now, that road is barred and I know she is chafing at the barriers in front of her. I don’t think she will get to come home. I am afraid she will spend the rest of her days in someone else’s space and I can’t help her.
Two weeks ago, I went over to her house to reseat her new tomato plant… we had to do a little soil amendment so that it would thrive. When we were done, we stood at her garden gate to chat for minute… the light was very soft in the early evening and I noticed her smile and the pink sweater against the rose bush and lilies on her south wall. I made a concerted effort to take the picture in my mind. I could have gone to get my camera but I knew she hadn’t made it to her salon that week and I also knew that the camera would change the whole thing so it will always be in my head… that last real glimpse before the fear and the confusion. I hope she goes easy.
This is a photograph of Helene taken by her friend Mary T. in the Spring of 2007….
Just a heartfelt thanks to a colleague who is becoming a good friend.
Randy Kepple is a fine photographer in my local circle…his work speaks for itself but I am here to talk about his willingness to help other photographers.
In terms of professional camaraderie, Portland has been an unusually chummy town as far as I can tell. For at least 15 years, the best and brightest have been on a social cruise….yes, there are ebbs and flows within our circles, some people hang out more than others and some just skim the edges but, mostly, we all feel pretty free asking questions, sharing technological details, and just providing moral support for each other. I don’t know too many other cities with this sort of long term dynamic. One of the most important things to come out of this group is professional back up. I doubt many brides give it much thought but I always have the ‘if I get hit by a bus’ conversation with mine. The clients need to know that if something happens to me, there is a group of professionals out there who will figure out how to get her wedding covered at her original agreement without sacrificing the style of work she was hoping for.
Randy Kepple and JP of AJ’s Studio joined Craig Mitchelldyer to forge a communal blog for 24 of Portland’s best wedding photographers. I believe these guys slept standing up for at least two weeks. The result is a great blog called My Portland Photographer…. check it out. It launched at the beginning of March and has been going gang busters ever since. We have a great pool of talent in this town! These people are passionate and professional…these are not your weekend warriors… these are not your Craig’s list newbies.
Back to Randy. I had recently taken on the task of updating my ancient web site…a daunting task especially for a non geek like myself. I was doing pretty well with my template and advice from many of my colleagues…. pretty well, that is, until I started to look at the blog set up. My brain froze. I called Randy as he is one of about 3 gurus I can ask about the complex stuff and he basically held my hand for a week and a half to get this thing set up. He was in new territory for parts of it and he just kept plowing forward. I would most certainly be blogless if he hadn’t helped. He may not realize how much help and advice he made available. I know he has a life of his own and a business to feed…if I can ever return the favor of his time, I will… no questions asked.