Lisbon and Making Art

I just finished listening to the author Neil Gaiman address the 2012 graduating class of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  His speech which dispenses wisdom on being a creative is fantastic.  And funny. And strangely, it fit perfectly into the half-baked idea I had for his post. If you choose to listen to him, I hope you enjoy it.

Last weekend, I spent a few days in Lisbon. It was only a weekend away, but I took a whole suitcase full of photographic equipment. The non-photographers didn’t really understand this exercise in weighing myself down.  But in Lisbon, I wanted to do something different than I do every day.  I wanted to reconnect with POSSIBILITIES in the light, the details or the shape of something. I wanted to, as Neil says, make art.

I had fun in this little project.  It is very different from my usual work and you may or may not think it is art.  But it is a non-traditional glimpse of Lisbon.

Have you tried doing what YOU do differently? Have you tried making your art with a different tool, a different subject, a different process?  I’d love to know…


A Perfect Present for Dad {a child portrait session}

A few weeks ago, I received an email asking if I could help arrange a secret portrait session for a 1-year old and her mum.  I was thrilled as I love shooting children at this age, and more than happy to help (I just ADORE surprises!).  So one cloudy weekday morning, with dad away, I snuck over to their home.  Our rain dance antics kept things dry long enough for some gorgeous shots in the lane.  When the downpour finally started, we went inside for snacks and a bit of dress-up in the bedroom. Little V was a star and gave us so many beautiful shots.

Mum kept Dad in the dark until he arrived at my house for the viewing session.  Boy was he surprised!  Even though he said he normally didn’t like surprises, he loved seeing these portraits of his gorgeous wife and daughter.

Father’s Day will be here soon.  Do you have a Dad who needs a nice surprise? Give me a call. I’d love to help arrange a secret portrait session for you and the kids…or for the entire family.

Mushrooms and Child Portraits

Mushrooms:  Brown. Boring? And every so slightly covered in dirt.  I must admit, I have never before photographed a mushroom before.  But yesterday, something made me do it…Just before I popped them into the chicken stew (which was yummy, by the way.)

And though I appreciate a pretty mushroom photo, full of bokeh from the rain-spattered window, I appreciate even more the photo that it helped me to get.  And the reminder that sometimes, the best way to take a photo of your child is to NOT take it.

You see, as I was cooking (and being photographically inspired by fungi), Phoebe was eating her snack at the side counter. I told her I was going to photograph the mushrooms.  She watched me do it…and then watched me put the camera down.  Suddenly, she said, ‘Look at me Mama! Take my photo.’ And voila:

Another mushroom photo lead to more Phoebe posing:

(though I’m not sure Harry was too pleased to be included…)

So how can you get your children excited by your camera? This may sound over-simple but…Involve them, and don’t TRY to take their photo.

1. Ask them what you should photograph. Pick an object in the room and set up a still life shot.  It doesn’t really matter what it is: coffee cup, apple, flower, stuffed toy.  Let your child place it somewhere and take a few shots of it. Make this a game and do it often.

2. Show them the images on the back of the camera.  (Kids love to see what you are creating. Dads love this too!)

3. Let your child press the shutter. Phoebe has one of my old point-and-shoot cameras.  She takes lots of photos of the floor and the ceiling.  And sometimes some of half my face. She loves it.

4. Be excited by what you are doing…or at least, don’t keep your enthusiasm to yourself.  Enthusiasm is infectious.

5.  Ask.  Always ask your child if you can take his picture.  If he says no, then respect the answer.  Sometimes, you will get a yes.  :)

Do you have any other suggestions or ideas that have worked for you?  Please share them in the comments below.

Here’s to mushrooms and children.  Have a wonderful weekend!

ps…it’s actually sunny here! Who-hoo! :)



Misguided Camping and a Pair of Wellies…

Finally, after ten years in the UK, I am the proud owner of a pair of Hunter wellies. They are black, glossy and impervious to rain and all kinds of mud and muck. How I love them! How I can’t believe it took a camping trip to make me buy them!

But after living through the UK’s wettest April in history, I wasn’t prepared to risk anything.  And I’m glad I didn’t.  The dire forecast did come true on our camping weekend.  We saw the sun only on our arrival and as we were packing up to leave.  We were soaked, frozen and tossed by the wind.  Luckily we chose Featherdown camping…and so…we had fun.

PS. If you’ve never tried Featherdown, I highly recommend it.  Cooking on a wood stove. Spending the evening in candlelight. Sleeping in a real bed.  Lots of animals to meet and feed…Perfect for kids.  Comfy for adults.  What more can you want??….oh yes, the sun!!

A Baby Boy and his Dad: A Newborn Portrait Session

Fathers and his sons.  They always have special relationships.  But this Dad and Baby G have an extra-special bond:  Baby G arrived so quickly that Dad had to deliver him.  On his own. At home. In the middle of the night. The story sounded quite intense but Dad looked so very proud telling it…

I very much enjoyed getting to know this family.  Even at two weeks, Baby G had decided that sleeping just wasn’t for him.  We got lots of open-eyed shots and great expressions…

Here’s to fathers and all that they do for their children.