What I Learned Shooting the Solar Eclipse

Woke up the morning of the August 21st, unsure whether or not I was going to pull this off. But willing to try. Optimistic. Terrified of letting myself down.

I had done a bit of research for shooting the eclipse, had learned I wouldn’t need a special pair of lenses because I was only going to shoot during totality, had even thought about buying a fancy tripod that would support the heavy camera. My goal sounded simple enough out loud: snap a decent shot of totality with my Rolleiflex. I didn’t want to “test it out” with digital. I didn’t even want to try another camera. My Rolleiflex and I have gotten quite attached, and this was going to be a special day for us both.

Yes, I talk about my camera like it’s a person. Don’t you?

It was going to be impossible, I was sure. Continue reading

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That Time We Drove Ten Hours to Cedar Point, Then Turned Around and Drove Back

We’ve been getting Goo excited over our trip to Cedar Point since, well, February-ish when we first booked our hotel. As the date got closer, her excitement rose higher than the Top Thrill Dragster, until she was asking every day how many days left and jumping up and down with giggles when we’d give her the answer.

Sometimes the universe has other plans, though, right?

Sometimes the universe just sucks. Continue reading

Lessons Learned at the Zoo

Winter here was a bust. Two snowfalls, neither amounting to much of anything. Goo got to use her brand-new sled only twice, and the only snowman she was able to build was no taller than her shin. Though she and Chris had a blast, the dry, brown winter has left me in desperate need of a vacation.

Still, our trip to Cedar Point isn’t for another few months, and money is tight. So we went to the zoo instead. Perhaps surrounding ourselves in exotic animals–despite the sixty degree temps–would jolt us back to life. Continue reading

My Childhood Is the Color Blue

When I think about my childhood, I’m often consumed with images of blue skies and crisp mornings. While our parents worked, my brother and I spent our summer days at our great-grandma’s house. It was an adorable little thing with blue siding and white shutters. The backyard was wooded with oaks and mulberry trees, of which we’d pick clean, and the limbs above always seemed to be alive with birds, the cheerup cheerup of robins and cardinals in the morning and the scream of jays in the afternoon. Hummingbirds buzzed by to take sips of the nectar Grandma hung for them on the porch. And the grass below was always filled with treasures: the powdery blue shells of robins’ eggs, bird feathers, pine cones still sticky with sap, and more mulberries. My brother and I would stain our hands purple and red as we popped the ripest ones into our mouths.

And when I look back on it all, I see the color blue. Blue eggs and blue skies and blue flowers and blue birds and the blue siding of her quaint little house. Continue reading

Lifestyle Practice with the 50mm

It was a cold day yesterday. Nothing like the beautiful, spring-like weather we’ve been experiencing lately. Not wanting this flu thing to relapse (again), I spent most of the afternoon indoors. I’d thrown some chicken into the slow cooker earlier because I knew I wouldn’t feel like doing anything elaborate for dinner, and while I boiled some noodles to go with it, I figured I’d get some indoor practice with the new 50mm.

I never actually planned on sharing any of these, so I didn’t mind the “character” of our seriously lived-in house. The dead rose on the kitchen sink, the wilting flowers my husband gave me for our anniversary on the dining room table. Continue reading

I Don’t Always Bring a Camera and That’s Okay

One thing I’ve been trying to work on is to live in the moment and to stop planning for that “someday…” I’ve always had a “big project” and when I don’t have a big project, I have a “big hobby” which is usually part of some “big project.” But I had an epiphany shortly before starting this blog: it’s okay to not have anything “big” going on. I don’t have to be immersed in a “what if” career. I don’t have to trudge toward a future that may never come to be. I don’t have to work on anything other than being a better me, a better mother and wife, a better person in general.

Still, that little voice in my head has been saying: you didn’t take pictures today. You didn’t blog. You’re slacking off.

In the past, that voice terrified me. If I didn’t work on my revision, or didn’t think a book plot was strong enough, or didn’t think my photography would ever “get there,” that little voice would tighten around my heart like a fist and squeeze. Anxiety attacks and feeling like a failure were part of my daily ritual. I was always irritable. I got lost in my own head.

But ever since I realized that “progress” comes in many forms, it’s been easier to brush the voice aside and widen my eyes at the vast, colorful, exciting world around me. I don’t always pull out my phone to take a picture of Goo at the park, and I don’t always take my camera with me on hikes, and that’s okay. Sometimes I just want to bring a book, or a journal. Sometimes, I really really just want my hands to be empty for a change. What a freeing feeling!

Leaving my camera behind has taught me a few things. I’ve learned that avoiding the shutter release gives me a newfound appreciation for the photos I go out of my way to take. I’ve learned that not carting around a giant DSLR and three lenses makes me about ten pounds lighter and allows me to hold more hands. Without a camera, I’m forced to take mental pictures instead of storing them onto an SD card so I can look at them later. By then the moment is gone, and I have to ask myself these days if I really enjoyed that moment, or if I just thought it would make a good picture.

No amount of cropping and sharpening can give me that moment back.

So, I don’t always snap selfies of us at the zoo. I don’t always have a good picture to show for our bike ride. I don’t always grab my camera when Goo starts making funny faces at the table. And that’s okay! Because it means I’m creating actual memories.

They’re blinks. They’re Haikus. They’re Polaroids. And they’re so fleeting that they could be already gone by the time I get the right aperture.

These two are the most important people in my life. They are everything to me. And not only do I want to have more hands-free mind-free experiences with them, I also don’t want to be behind a camera every single time they remember our best days.

Images © Lina Forrester

Continue reading

Hello, Bonjour, and All That Jazz

What better time to start a photography blog than on Friday the 13th, during a full moon cycle, as an ice storm approaches outside? I’m sure I’ll be at my back window with my camera when the thundersleet arrives.

I decided to start this blog because I’ve reached something of a milestone. I’m turning thirty in a few weeks (maybe less, I’ve stopped counting) and after spending my entire twenties pursuing a traditional career as an author, I’ve finally had enough of plotting, revising, writer’s block, and empty goals. This same “epiphany” happened around three years ago when Goo was 8 months old and I closed my writing program for two years.

But I still love to write, and I love photography. I’ve always toyed with combining the two. I think this will keep me in the present and remind me of the real legacy I’m creating. Because, if I’m being honest with myself, my books are not the greatest thing I will leave behind.

Life is short. It’s gotten even shorter, it seems, since Goo was born, and I can’t spend it working tirelessly on a dream that may never arrive. But I can celebrate life with this blog, and with this blog I can also celebrate my family, and myself.

Have a good Friday! To those stuck in this storm: stay safe and warm.