The catalyst was my mother’s 75th birthday trip to Paris. To mark the occasion, my husband gave me my first digital camera- an Olympus EPL1. In January 2011 I took my first lessons – me and my Olympus. I remember being the only micro 4/3 in the room. I took every DSLR class and every Lightroom class. Some, I even took twice. As I learned my interest grew and as it grew I wanted to learn more. Shortly thereafter I started taking private lessons.In retrospect, those early pictures are not great photos. They lack exposure, composition, focus and depth. That said, I treasure them as I do the memory of the trip and hope that I will soon return with her to collect more memories and better photos.This photo was taken outside the Place des Vosges as we toasted our first afternoon in the city of lights. The effervescence of the champagne matched my anticipation and excitement at the adventure before us.
This photo was one of the first I was proud enough to print. I was impressed by the clarity of the glasses, the movement of the strolling man. I remember my astonishment at the photo itself, having no idea how I had achieved it. It was simply luck and intuition. Today, I still like the composition, the memory of my neophyte photographic self and pride at the progress made since I took it. Today I could frame this shot with purpose and a knowledge of the outcome born of practice and experience.
She rested on the couch in the living room to not miss any of the life energy of the house. It was as though that fueled her recovery. Her reserves had been tapped by surgery, chemo and radiation. This was merely a year after our visit to Paris and serves as a constant reminder to live each day to its fullest. All of 2012 was devoted to getting her well. In early 2013, on the first anniversary of her diagnosis, I entered my first photo challenge with this photo. To my surprise the photo was selected for a story on Interpretations of Love by Cheri Lucas Rowlands on February 14, 2013. Now when I look at the photo I don’t remember the fear that struck each day. I remember her strength. She was a warrior and this photo is our trophy.
During one of our early sessions – while I was still shooting with the Olympus – Peter recommended a Lensbaby as an extension of my creative boundaries. This photo is one of my favorites from a series using this combination. I was sitting in the front seat of my car after a mid morning rain when a man in a yellow slicker walked by. I love the arc and movement of the raindrops, the colors, and the mystery surrounding the scene. This is a photo I go back and visit occasionally. It has stood the test of time.
This photo is of my Grandmother who, at 97, had her first Cosmopolitan. It was a remarkable set of circumstances that brought us together in June of 2012 for a celebration of life – my Mother’s and my Mimi. To this day I consider this the best photo I ever took. This photo inspired me to be more present in my life. As a result of this visit I began my first blog, www.projectmimi.com. I learned the ecosystem, celebrated my grandmother, and reconnected with my values. A much more powerful cocktail than the one she is sipping! The camera plus months and months of practice and tutoring triggered a response that caught this moment perfectly. In a fluid gesture, I grabbed the Nikon, pulled it to my face and pushed the shutter. Each time I look at this photo I remember how much I adored her, how she shaped me and how she, to her last days, taught me about life.
The Rolleiflex is a work of art. Initially I was intrigued with the notion of film and Twin Lens Reflex Cameras after a chance meeting with the Irish Photographer John Minihan. I never shot using film but had a deep curiosity fueled by some of John’s accomplishments over his shooting life. This became a big experiment for me and one where Peter counseled me brilliantly – including sourcing the camera. I can’t go out with this camera without being stopped and asked about its origins. The shooting is like nothing I have ever experienced. Through the viewfinder images are squared and reversed and really alters one’s perspective. I shot with film, produced the negatives and digitally shot the negatives on a light box. The digital inverse photograph I would then work with in Lightroom for the desired effect. I learned a lot – not the least of which is that having projects produces lessons that impact all aspects of your photographic journey.
I don’t shoot as much in film but I do love taking that Rolleiflex out for a spin. In my house I have a wall of photographs of my favorite outputs from this project – including this photo of a bathtub from our holiday. I like black and white film photography but my undeveloped knowledge and skills made me uncomfortable with the reliance on someone else to bring my vision to life. My film journey led to photos that lacked the depth and dimension I desired. I became frustrated by its limitations and ultimately bought the Leica Monochrome to give me greater satisfaction in black and white.
When my Dad turned 80 the only thing left on his bucket list was to go to Alaska. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the only state he hadn’t visited. And so we embarked on a 10 day adventure, just the two of us. Turn of time and events would make this trip one year later an impossibility and I am eternally grateful to have had this experience with him. I was unprepared for the depth of blue on a glacier and the clear and sparkling water that flows between the crevices. I will always remember how broadly my Dad smiled as the helicopter departed and then landed atop the Herbert Glacier and then later at the Mendenhall Glacier – all part of the Juneau ice field. The memory is priceless.
If the measure of what is important to you lies in the number of times it is the subject of a photograph, then, for me, food wins. I am always taking shots of my meal. As a matter of course, when Peter and I sit down to review my photos during our evening sessions, we both end up hungry. Long before Instagram and Facebook there was my friend Daniel. The walls of his dining room were covered with photographs of his favorite meals with friends and family. It was charming. And memorable. It’s funny, but I can recall nearly every meal I have photographed. Even funnier – there was a study that indicated turnover in restaurants has slowed with the onset of social sites and Yelp. I believe it and am sure to be one of the culprits. This photograph was taken at a gastro pub we frequent in Corona del Mar that is as good with charcuterie as it is with a classic hamburger – the former a more interesting photo.
The weather couldn’t have been more daunting – snow, wind and sleet the entire week I was in NY. Every step a cautious one – navigating ice and slush at each intersection. Each day misery and each return to the hotel a relief. This photo was taken out my hotel window at a slow shutter speed – the camera propped on an ice bucket with the lens against the glass. One can almost feel the comfort of being inside….
We had taken a few days holiday in Scottsdale and one afternoon took advantage of light and shadows and went out shooting. My husband was my scout – pointing as we walked by things of interest. The shadow of this cactus caught his eye for looking like an absurd cross between a duck and an ostrich. The subject made me giggle a bit as I stood there framing the shot. Most of all, I liked that we were both having fun. In the end, it was the composition of the rocks and gravel and the way the shadow fell in the photo.
This photo was taken in the kitchen of my house. I always keep fresh flowers on the counter and on this morning I was struck by the reflection of the flowers on the island. It was the perfect light for creating mirror images. The vertical lines of the backyard fence and the window mullion helped to create an interesting composition. This photo was taken right after I bought my Leica M240 – a serious heavyweight known for street photography and stills. I shot this at an ISO of 200 1/15 at f/2.8. The camera was resting on the island. I love the clarity of the vase and the flowers and the overall composition. This was one of the first photos with the Leica where I felt I was beginning to understand its magic.
This photo was taken in Bishop Arts. I find I am oddly attracted to aging cottages. There is a beauty to the way they begin to shrink into the landscape and neighborhood where they once stood welcoming and new. Wearing their age with a graceful beauty as they begin the slide into obscurity. Christian Morganstern said, “A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” Through my viewfinder I see love and dreams.
It is great having a really good friend that shares your passions. Mine is SW and he lives in Singapore. Our personal relationship was founded on a shared passion for photography but has expanded far beyond that. We see each other – if lucky – twice a year – once on his home turf, and once on mine. But when he can’t be with me, his hat is. The Kangol cap is legendary. Each time his American friends get together we bring along his hat and it is almost – not quite – like he is there. Photography is the foundation for some of my most inspired relationships and each week we share stories and photos, tips and tricks. Those are things I love about this endeavor – the sharing and the community.
My friend PC is a very handsome man. More than that, he is very talented, a wonderful father and a good friend. Each day I am fortunate to be inspired by his creativity. He willingly subjected himself to an afternoon studio shoot – my first. The trust that exists between us is reflected in the photos of that day. He is open and vulnerable and there is beauty in that. Our professional life is collaborative but photography is personal and the studio experience intimate. To craft an inspired portrait, there has to be trust and belief. I am touched that he would place his confidence in me and I am touched by the honesty and vulnerability reflected.
I was honored when Peter asked me to pull together some of my favorite images spanning the last 3 years of our learning agenda. I scoured my images, including those that he would appreciate and would visually communicate the growth I have experienced under his tutelage. If he were to pick, I think this would be one of them. The slow shutter speed that captures the guy as he moves to the sea, the colors in the setting sky, and the crowd of people enjoying the last day of summer. To me, this is a more experienced and advanced photograph of the one featured in Boys on the Beach – purposeful and intentional in it’s execution.
It is ironic today the role photography plays in my life. My husband and I eloped over 20 years ago and there is only one photo of us together with the Justice of the Peace. Now both of us capture moments; he with his phone and I with whatever equipment is at my fingertips. I love what Annie Leibowitz says… “the best camera is the one you have with you.” On this day I had a pretty good one. He was in the fitting room when I snapped this shot. We were shopping and I was playing with my new baby, the Leica monochrome.
Bring your work to life. I mentioned earlier the importance of projects in pushing your boundaries and learning new skills. There is nothing better than seeing your work bigger than life and to touch it. The excitement I get seeing a piece printed – whether a print or a book – gives me goose bumps EVERY time. To make it even better – giving it to someone is a personal expression of an experience shared.
I collected all the photographs from my trips and have made treasures for friends and loved ones. Most dear to me is the book from the Alaska tour with my Dad. He passed away this year but I have but to look at the book to be back in that cabin aboard the Silversea with him. I know he is not here for us to turn pages together as we did when I was young. That makes me sad – the book helps transcend that.
Photography has helped me capture meaning in my life.
WHAT WE DO AT DCP
Since our first test classes were offered at the (then) Spot Studio in 2009 we have had more than 1600 unique clients come to us for photography training. The feedback and reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and we are expanding to offer a full range of classes from basic camera operation to immersive, 6-day workshops with nationally recognized photographers and teachers.
HOW YOU FIT IN
If you're just getting started, consider the DSLR Evening Classes or Beginner Full Day Workshop. If you're already comfortable with the basics and want to advance your photography, look into one-on-one tutoring, a multi-day workshop, software or other specialty classes. Join us for a movie night or attend a lunch talk or gallery show. We look forward to meeting you at the studio.