What Film Has Taught Me

I grew up with film, with disposable cameras and Polaroids, with waiting for my photos to be developed and grinning at the snapshots I got of my new kitten, of my bike, of the roses in the backyard beside the driveway.

But it wasn’t until around April of this year that film became a serious part of my photography career, when I learned that I didn’t need a darkroom to develop my own film. Since then I’ve been trying out all different kinds of films, cameras, and techniques, and I’ve learned just how different film is than digital. No longer could I just snap a thousand pictures and take them home to look at them right away on the computer. I had to wait. I had to think. I had to reflect on what I’d accomplished, without knowing whether I’d accomplished anything. At first it was really difficult to make such a change, but now I embrace it, and I embrace the way film has changed me as a photographer. Continue reading

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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

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

I Went Monochrome for the Entire Month of April. Here Is What I Learned

Monochrome for a Month was a challenge I gave myself so that I would be forced to overlook color when shooting. I love black and white photography and it used to be my go-to edit, but during 2016 I went through a color phase. B&W became something mundane and drab. I shrugged at photos that used to invoke inspiration, and I ignored most of the Lightroom presets I’d made the previous year and instead created a whole list of new ones with cool-toned hues and mattes.

Then, at the end of March, I went to the zoo and decided to shoot in monochrome when I reached the zebras. Seeing their stripes and tweaking the settings to make them the most invasive pattern on the LCD display, I began to experiment with the other animals and their unique textures and patterns. I spent the entire day shooting in monochrome and my love for black and white was rekindled.

So, I decided to forgo color for the entire month of April to re-acquaint (hopefully) myself with what drew me to B&W photography in the first place. Continue reading

Monochrome for a Month: Lost in the Wilderness During Week 3

Snickering and making married-couple jokes, Chris and I should have expected an adventure, but I wasn’t aware just how elaborate some of the trails were at the nearby hiking ground. It had been raining all week, and I was looking forward to the fresh air, to getting some good cave shots for my cave series, some woodsy stuff, maybe even a group of tiny white flowers to add to my “flowers in the dark” series. We already knew one cave was closed–the bats are nesting–but the other was only a short walk away from where its trail began. I was planning on climbing out of the car and heading right up.

First time we went here as a family, we had no trouble at all finding the right parking lot and heading up (then again, we had no end in mind that day). This time, however, we had to pull a few u-turns before finding the right parking lot–still snickering and poking fun and marveling at the speckles of rain on the windshield.

“A little rain never hurt anyone,” I said. Goo excitedly announced from the back seat that she was going to splash in puddles. Howl licked at his closed window. Chris parked (finally) in the right lot. 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

Woke Early and Made a Discovery

Goo normally wakes up around 8:30am, and then we go downstairs at around 9 for breakfast. Yesterday, however, Goo woke up at 8:00am and so we headed for the stairs at 8:30. As I was gathering my things–Kindle, phone, journal, etc.–Goo asked: “what’s that?” I entered the hall and followed her tiny little finger with my eyes. She was pointing at the wall, where the sunrise drifting through the blinds had created a pattern. Apparently, sometime between 8:30am and 9, the sun is in just the right spot to draw lines on the wall.

I said: “hey, want to take some cool pictures?”

“And then I can have cereal?”

“Yes. And then you can have cereal.”

Naturally, she made her silly faces, which I don’t mind because it’s just who she is. Most of the time I bite my tongue when I feel like asking her to “smile” or “look at me.”

Thirty minutes, I realized, was all it took for those lines to come and go. We’ve been missing them this entire time. It makes me wonder what else I haven’t discovered because I’m so fixed on routine, or because I’m busy with other things. Luckily, I have Goo’s curious eyes to show me things I’ve been overlooking for years.

Images © Lina Forrester

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.