School Violence; It happens in Suburbia Too!

In wake of all of the violence going on, including at our children’s schools, I was interested in doing a photo story on it. I ran into some obstacles, that are finally being cleared out of the way in order for me to complete the story.

This idea sprung from the overwhelming amounts of school violence in the news. I never thought it would hit close to home when last year a women was shot and killed by her estranged “husband” (speculation is not clear whether they were legally married or not) in the school parking lot at the high school I attended nearly a decade ago. I still live in the area, and had hoped that my two boys would continue my husbands and my legacies at our Alma Mater in our home town. It became a further compounded story I wanted to chase when I started noticing the violence leaking into our very suburbia, suburban neighborhood in the way out skirts of town, where we live. I have chased MANY children from my property engaging in acts of violence on one another, ranging from yelling and arguing, to cussing one another out, and just recently one child beating the living tar out of another child.

Being a photojournalist, to tell the accurate story, there needs to be a degree of research done. Searching national databases online, and utilizing data bases available to me through my Press Photographers associations and my college where I am finishing my degree up at, I quickly found some very alarming statistics. The next step in researching though is putting foot to pavement. I didn’t want my story to be the cliche’ look what happens in big inner city schools, we all know those stories all too well. I wanted my story to show that those schools are not the ONLY ones affected by school bullying. I wanted suburbia schools. So I contacted schools in Surprise, Goodyear, Tolleson, Avondale, west Glendale, and West Peoria. This is where I encountered my first obstacles that almost caused me to say never mind.

In a day and age where people fear being exploited, I can understand, to a degree, the hesitation people had when I called these schools and paid them a visit to get information, and permission to photograph any school violence that I may see before, during and after school. Not only did I get the preverbal run around, phone transfer after phone transfer (always to the wrong person and department), but I got hung up on, I got the, “oh we don’t have any school violence, it’s not permitted here.” As well as the, “We don’t condone school violence, and we take appropriate action when and if needed. We aren’t interested in having our students exploited.”

Now, I know my head can be a riddled mess, and sometimes I’m not so elegantly disposed in the composition of my wording on the fly, so I sat down and constructed a dialog I could easily read as I called these schools back again, that didn’t come off as me wanting to exploit them, their schools, or their children. A short simple statement, that basically stated that I just wanted to show America that school violence can happen anywhere, any time, and to any one, not just inner city schools, and the importance of not bullying and always telling a grown up about seeing bullying occurring.

My aim is NOT to exploit these schools, nor their staff, nor their students. My aim is simply to show that inner cities are not the only ones plagued by this. That we as parents, and adults have a say as to what goes on, and that we can prevent this by teaching our children about the consequences of bullying that turns violent all too often. I think once I showed them that my intention was more of a prevention of violent outbreaks in schools all too close to home, they were a little more receptive to the idea.

I have been now granted access to some of these schools to get the story and photograph these instances. I start tomorrow! Ekk! Yep, one school wants me there tomorrow during their D.A.R.E. assembly! Now correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program phased out in the late 90’s? I’m glad and hopeful to see that SOME schools have phased it back in. The school’s definitely NEED it!

So, wish me luck this week and next as I embark on this story that I have been chasing! I look forward to bringing the story to life via images here shortly.

If you suspect your child, or children at your child’s school are being bullied, please contact some National Organizations for help: (See below)

http://www.nccev.org/violence/school.html

http://www.pta.org/content.cfm?ItemNumber=984

http://712educators.about.com/od/schoolviolence/tp/prevent_school_violence.htm

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/school_violence.html

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=49

Thank you so much, and please be sure to check back at the end of two weeks when this project and story comes to life.

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Why Wedding Photographers get a Bad rap! What you as a Bride Needs to know before your BIG day!

Lately in my market here in Phoenix, Arizona and the surrounding areas, I have been gaining the reputation of being a “strict, stern and mean wedding photographer.” Surprisingly this is not from the mouths of the Bride and Groom themselves, but that of their wedding guests. In a business that works best from 80% word of mouth, you find yourself asking why I am not only smiling about this, but why I am gleeful about this! I’m going to break down why this makes me so happy to hear, and it will surprise you as well that it’s not my professionalism, nor my abilities, but the way I approach a wedding.

 

First of all, I approach weddings as if they are some what traditional; before the big bad boom of technology. When I first started doing weddings, cell phones did not even have cameras on them. Digital photography was about to break through in a big way, but NOT yet, FILM was still in the height of it’s glory days! People RESPECTED wedding photographers, knowing that film was NOT cheap and sometimes you only got one chance to get a candid shot. People went out of their way to avoid getting into the cameras view. Wedding guests were there to ENJOY the wedding, and not trying to capture, “work” or prove to the bride and groom that they didn’t need to pay for this “ultra expensive” wedding photographer.

These days, post digital and technology boom, wedding photography has hit it’s all time low. Wedding guests NO LONGER respect the wedding photographer, wedding guests want to sometimes up show the wedding photographer up, by attempting to do their job. People in general are so instant gratified these days that they want their ceremony shots up on a slide show during the reception now! What? back up, what did I just say? Yep, you got it. It’s the new “fad” in wedding photography. Now some might argue that I just refuse to get with the times, or that I just can’t or don’t want to do this. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much “up with the times” and I very much HAVE done this at a few weddings. However, I no longer offer this. Why? Easy, it takes the MAGIC of my job away! It puts stress on me and my second shooter and we MISS, yep, we MISS candid shots from between the ceremony to the reception! No, you are not PAYING me to make a slide show for the reception, you are paying me for pictures of your big day and everything that involves! I am a traditionalist in that sense, and I will hold fast to that. No, you can not see the shots NOR the back of my camera until I present your photos to you, which in most cases is AFTER your honeymoon!

Brides, stop stressing, and enjoy YOUR day! You ONLY get ONE wedding day! That’s why I am there! That’s WHY you are PAYING ME, to capture these images, and I can’t do that if you are constantly worried about what I am doing! Don’t worry, I’ve already showed you my portfolio, we have already had a consultation about what you wanted, what you didn’t want, and what style/s you want! Trust me, since you already hired me! (And if you have hired me, you KNOW I NEVER disappoint! My work speaks for itself!)

Below you will find examples of why I do what I do. Some of these images are mine from weddings I have shot, and some of them are from photographer friends of mine, that they are allowing me to use. See, we as wedding photographers, we share and talk, so keep that in mind.

 

This first shot shows the most obvious! See that GLARING white flash? Yep, that one, now look at the face of the bride and her father walking her down the aisle. Washed out, almost to nearly IMPOSSIBLE to fix, further more if I even CHOSE to crop in to get rid of that flash, and fix the coloring of the faces post processing, wouldn’t be able to, because flash does this ugly warp thing, where it distorts things really nasty. No bride will want that photo, nor should any bride pay for that photo. Now look at the color all around, look at her dress, it looks yellow doesn’t it? Well that’s because my camera was set up to white balance for the ambient light. That flash through the color balance off, since I do not use flash photography, being that I know how to properly take a photo out of auto without a flash. The next this I would like to point out, you see how people look blurred? Well when panning, it’s IMPORTANT to keep a constant light, to avoid distorted blurring, this sort of blurring as you can see is not aesthetically pleasing to the eye. That flash ruined the affect by changing the light source, the camera got confused as to what it was suppose to be doing. This is a hard blur, at a wedding you want a soft blur when doing a pan of the bride walking down. The last thing wrong with this photo, is look right past the nose of the father walking his daughter down the aisle. Yep, see her? With her CAMERA PHONE! She not only stood up, but she is not awkwardly placed in the photo and if your eye is not already distracted by the camera flash, or the bad blur, or the nasty white flash cast on the faces of the two most important at the moment, you are distracted by this women in the background! Thus the photo is now more about her, and not the bride! Just stay seated and enjoy the wedding, I promise you there will be pictures later, amazing, beautifully DONE pictures. Yes, a LOT of this can be fixed post production in LR and in PS, however, once you start manipulating a photo, you start messing with it’s data, and when you do that, you start losing clarity and crispness, which means the end result is a poorly executed looking image.Image

 

 

One might ask what is wrong with this image. You see, my friend had to turn this image black and white just to save it. The flashes going off completely ruined it in color. If you continue to look at this image you suddenly become distracted by the women holding the phone then further down the line, by the other women, (ps she’s not the wedding photographer, just a friend with a “fancy” camera) and her dslr. I’m not trying to be rude, and maybe this women is a professional photographer, although I doubt it, because professional photographers RESPECT other working photographers, and wouldn’t do this sort of thing, unless they were hired to do so. That being said, it becomes distracting. It takes away from the over all mood of the picture. The bride WANTS TO SEE pictures of EVERYONE looking at HER, their faces lighting up at seeing her beautiful dress, make up and hair! She doesn’t want to see people taking her picture, she wants to see you admiring her as the most beautiful bride to have walked down the aisle! Me personally? I would have just chucked this photo, or done some post production magic to get rid of the two distractions. Nothing I would have done though, would have fixed the color balance issue with all of the flashing going off. Just can’t do it. Image

 

 

 

This one is obvious, right? I hope so. See, when I’m at the end of an aisle (ps I was the second shooter for this photog, so yes, this is their image they own, but this happens to be one I shot) I’m trying to shoot the bride and her father walking down and the expressions on the grooms face as well as that of the bridal party. I’m attempting to get some key shots, like wedding vow exchanges, and the BIG kiss! This more times than not, is what happens. You step into the aisle, or someone pokes an arm out with a bright LCD screen as I’m snapping the shot, and guess what…. the camera re focuses on that as I’m snapping! Now, I’ve got a blaring obvious photo of you being impatient, and not the big moments going on. Guests, the wedding is about the BRIDE and her GROOM! Not you. Image

 

Now, I hope THIS one is obvious? See to my lower left side? Yeah, that’s NOT a wedding photographer, that’s the brides cousin with her “fancy” camera she bought three weeks before the wedding and decided to try her hand out at wedding photography! She thought it would be an easy buck! She stepped RIGHT into my shot. Every where I went that day, there she was. I think I have her in more shots than not. Now look right past the brides right shoulder (our left, her right). Do you see it? That guy’s flash through off the white balance the ENTIRE ceremony! I think his flashing was MORE obnoxious than the women getting into every shot. Image

 

 

Although I think you might be getting it by now, but just for arguments sake. Seems harmless right? Well, guess what, the Bride and Groom were TRYING to make their way DOWN the aisle when EVERYONE with whatever camera device they had, decided to step in their way to get some candid shots. Now mind you this is a friends image, he told me that he was at the respectful place down the aisle to get these shots, and this is what he got instead, every single shot down the aisle. Not a single good full body shot. Not a single shot he could use in color with all of the flashing going off. This is the best shot he got. Sad huh? Brides get mad about this! They do! Trust me I’ve had SEVERAL of them almost refuse to pay me, and have taken some to court because of non payment, in which then I was paid. That is why I have gone to explaining these things in great details to the wedding couple, and included these things with provisions in the contracts they sign with me. Image

 

Obvious right? Distraction, distraction, distraction. Makes it hard to get some of the shots.Image

I can’t tell you HOW many things are wrong in this photo! You can see them though! ImageImage

 

Yes I have resorted to using signs like this! Silly me and my traditional views on weddings! As you can see, I have a reason for that!

 

Image

 

 

 

Image You are likely wondering what is wrong with this last image. See the hard shadow? Brides don’t like those, I don’t like those, they are distracting and not at all pleasing in an image. See the harsh flash from someone elses camera? That is what is causing it. Along with throwing off the white balance of the image, as well as taken detail out of the faces, that can’t be fixed. Hints why the image is in black and white, highly contrasted, and darker in some areas than others. Thank you on camera flash of a guest.

 

Just don’t be that person that ruins someone’s wedding photos, re-frame from it. Respect your wedding photographer. Trust me when I say, when it comes time for you to marry, or for you to have a vow renewal, photographers, we talk, and we pass info along, including images to show off and tell about, you might not find someone willing to photograph your wedding without increasing their prices. Happens more than you think.

 

So, what do I do to over come these issues? Why am I known as the mean wedding photographer by the guests, at least until the images arrive?

1) I have a sign telling, not asking, but telling people to place ALL electronic devices with any sort of camera and or flash OFF. Yes, this is written in my contract with brides and grooms. They really do make their guests aware of this. In fact some brides take it a step further than I do, which I’m seriously thinking about doing permanently! I like it! They place cubbies, boxes, tubs, tables, OUTSIDE of the ceremony where people are instructed to place all electronic devices in/on, and if they do not comply they ushers do not let them in. (I don’t do this currently, however, I am seriously thinking of doing it! These brides were amazingly smart and got some amazing shots with NO issues!)

2) I instruct and write in the contract that brides and grooms need to make guest aware that they are not permitted to enter the aisle even with a pinky at any given point. If they want to go into the aisle, they must do so once the reception has started and the wedding party, ALL of the wedding party has made their way back down the aisle and to the TAPED off, yes, go to number three and read, taped off area for their professional session.

3) At my professional session away from ALL guests and distractions the wedding party and their parents are then taken to a TAPED off area, where no others have access to, and ushers are standing by the tape to keep visitors out. The ushers hold the buckets I take with ALL, yes ALL electronic devices FROM EVERYONE involved in the wedding party, in the formal professional session. I have taken my 30-45 min sessions from combating these issues down to all of 15 mins, and in those 15 mins I am able to get about 100 more creative fun shots in than ever before! Brides LOVE this! They don’t have to worry about awkward photos from family and friends attempting to photograph what I am doing, or poor images being instantly uploaded before they get to view them, and bonus! They don’t have to deal with the, yeah I saw that one already, from friends and family when they get their session CD’s and print images back! They get to re-live their fantasy day all over with friends and family once they get the images back, when done my way.

4) I stage things before they happen, away from family and friends. I have the cater take he cake to a private secluded place where I can get great shots of them “cutting” the cake. All of the beautiful glamor shots. I have dad step in and take the first dance shots (this all before guests are allowed into the reception, while they are doing the cocktail hour thing.) Don’t worry, just for good measure I do come back around during these events at the reception to get the candid shots.

5) I tell, notice I say tell, and not ask or just deal with it, I TELL people to move out of my shot. I have a second shooter, that I will silently message/gestter to get people out of my shot, and if my second shooter is busy, that’s what my assistant is for. In the time it takes me to be nice and ask if someone would be kind enough to get out of my shot, I lost that moment, I lost that photo, and Brides ask why it’s not there, well, you can thank Uncle Bob who was hard of hearing and wouldn’t move out of the shot.

 

So yes, I may be known as mean mean mean to the wedding guests, but that’s why Brides and Grooms pay me the big bucks. I know what will happen, and I have created work around’s to prevent them from happening and to cut down on production and post production time. I have made contracts that brides sign, which they love, and I have come up with creative solutions; which is what photography is all about.

 

Ask any Bride that I have had the pleasure to shoot at, NONE of them are disappointed with how I work, and NONE of them as disappointed in their images and final products! Which is why they refer me to all of their guests time after time, after time. Their guests warm up to me once they realize why I do what I do, and in return, hire me to photograph their wedding!

See, being a traditionalist is not such a BAD thing, you just have to have a little patience and PUT DOWN your technology and enjoy the hard work, and LOVE these couples go through in their weddings!

Today I caught a child beating the bloody pulp out of another child in my front yard! Parents Teach your kids RESPECT!

Sometimes I think I’m just becoming an old crotchety women, and sometimes I don’t think it’s me at all, but the social changes.

I live literally less than half a mile from the house I grew up in. Different community, but the same area. I get my groceries from the same Fry’s Marketplace, that we did when I was a kid. I take my kids to the same McDonalds and Burger King for treats that I was taken to as a kid, I get my gas from the same Circle K (that used to be an On the Run Mobile Gas station). I can remember a time when I was 10 and we (my siblings and all of our friends that lived in the community) could just hop on our bikes and ride ALL over out here, around the neighborhoods, out into the river bottom, onto the neighboring farms that we knew the children of the parents and grandparents that owned those farms. The closet entertainment was either 15 miles East of us, or 15 miles North of us. The loop 101 was STILL under construction to be finished, and the I-10 was barely a notch above a dirt two lane highway.

Point is, when I was a kid, my friends and I NEVER stole from our neighbors, or others in the neighborhood, we NEVER even thought about walking or riding out bikes through their driveways, yards, and rocks. We were taught that that was rude, and that you never went onto another persons property unless you were invited to do so, or you were walking up to their front door to fetch your friend; furthermore, when you did, you did so respectfully and walked on the drive way to the sidewalk, and not through their grass or landscaped yard.

Today, I am CONSTANTLY chasing the neighborhood children OFF of my property, I am constantly getting after them to stop throwing the rocks in my yard at one another, and to stop climbing the tree in my front yard! The bus stop is directly in front of my house, which I don’t mind, but man! Show some respect! What these children are doing today would have constituted as getting a nice warm switching from my grandmother when I got home; which meant I had to pick my own switch from one of our many trees in the back yard. After which I would be sentenced to the table to write sentences upwards in the thousands of not disrespecting our neighbors, followed by a march over with a firm grip on my shoulder to apologize to that neighbor, and if I were lucky that would be the end of it, but more times than not, I would be sent to my room for the remainder of the night after dinner. Betcha I never did that more than once! No sir- I did not.

It drives me nuts! I don’t think parents are properly keeping tabs on their children, and disciplining them appropriately and respectfully in a timely manner. Now I understand that this is not fair to lump ALL parents in on, but a good majority, yes. I have gone as far as to walking these little disrespecting toads home to their parents, to talk to their parents. 8 times out of 10, the parents are not HOME! Who goes off and leaves their children wondering the neighborhood alone? Really? Especially in these times? IF I should get lucky to encounter a parent who is actually home, I’M the one that gets the scalding! That poor little Johnny or Suzy couldn’t have POSSIBLY been so rude, or that I should tease them by having a nice tree or rocks in my yard! Excuse me? No your little Johnny pushed little Tommy into my hard and proceeded to pound his head into the rocks in my front yard. After which he whistled to his little buddies to join in with him! When I noticed and came out and chased them off, I watched poor little Tommy walk home, and he was cursing me out, saying I had no business getting into their business! Excuse me? Their will not be any violence or blood shed on my front yard! Take that crap somewhere else! Like back down to the Ghetto in Phoenix! This is Suburbia! Not the ghetto projects! Take your wanna be “thug” life and wanna be “gangster” life back into the ghetto, it is not wanted here!

 

I seriously can not believe my eyes, or my ears when it comes to these children in my neighborhood. It drives me bonkers! So is it me? No, I think it’s just society these days! People are not respecting people and their properties, thus they are not teaching their children these values, which leads us to these very young, and disrespecting children today! By the way, those children nearly beating to  death one another in my front yard, are no older than 10 years old. Really! I even went as far as to report it to the bus driver, and she told me, “Sorry, I don’t have time to sit at every stop and make sure these kids go home, they don’t pay me enough to care about what happens once they get off of the bus.” So I took it up with the school, and you know what the school told me, “If we police the actions of these children after they are on their way home we would have to increase the budget and lay off more teachers. It just can’t happen.”

If I ever catch my boys engaging into ANY of this behavior, so help me God, I will strike the fear of God in them like they have never before seen! My boys will not disrespect persons, property, things, and/or people! They dang well wont be left home along to roam the neighborhood at ANY age, and furthermore they wont be allowed to roam the neighborhood alone, EVER! Yes, I might be a “little over protective” however, it’s not to protect them so much, as it is to teach them morals, good and bad, respect, and good caring character in this otherwise negative, nasty and evil society around us!

 

Parents, teach your kids to show respect!

Photojouranlisim: Risking it all in search of the truth!

Photos seem almost second nature to us, there’s not a place we can go today without being bombarded by imagery. However, there are very few that can not only take a technically awesome photograph, but they can do it risking their very life to bring the truth out in a story. As most of my followers know, I have a HUGE heart for photojournalism. It’s my ultimate passion, and one day I hope it will be my ultimate destiny, if life be so inclined to see me reach my goal.

We all know my top favorites, such as Steve McCurry, Nick Ut, etc. However, some that I have yet to mention that have always interested me, and I have followed their work a great deal is those of Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington and Christopher Michael Brown.

Spring of 2011 these three men along with many other photojournalist and journalist alike convoyed their way through Libya. Tim, Chris and Christopher were a tight nit group, they constantly traveled together, collaborated together, and documented together, Tim often was the leader of this close group.

Two years ago tomorrow, they were out convoying and stopped at Misurata to photograph the scene there. During which they got spilt up due to several explosions and enemy gunfire. Two of the three men in this powerhouse group lost their lives that day on April 20, 2011; Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington.

I remember sitting in front of the TV late one night nursing my young son, he was 7 months old and knocked out in a milk coma. I couldn’t help but to weep. These men risked everything they had including their lives to bring the truth photographically to the public. We all know that photojournalism is sometimes a dangerous gig, but no one wakes up one morning and says, “Oh, well I shouldn’t go and photograph today, I shouldn’t do my job and photographically report these stories, because it wont matter, I’m going to die today.” No one does that. These men were fearful, they were cautious, they went with people that knew the areas, that had Intel, they went in a large enough group to be considered safe. Libya for the most part always left journalist alone to do their jobs. For whatever reason, someone felt that they were getting to close to whatever the truth was. This was the first time in Libya’s history that foreign journalist had been attacked and killed.

The costs are great and sometimes you pay the ultimate price in this gig, but I have to say I am very thankful and grateful for the men and women, like myself, who would risk it all just to get the truth told. Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, your legacies live on through your life’s work! You two are amazing, and your work touched my heart! I can’t say how many times I searched your pages for your uploads, or how many times I looked to see if it was one of your images on TIME, LIFE, the local Newspaper or the New York Times! You are among the very few that swallow your fear and get the job done phenomenally! So thank you for risking it all, and paying the worst price imaginable! You are truly Hero’s of our profession!

Image Tim Hetherington DOD: April 20th, 2011

Image Chris Hondros DOD: April 20th, 2011

 

 

Join me in a moment of silence tomorrow at noon in memory of these two men that lost their lives, Chris Hondros, and Tim Herthington. Thank you so much.

Moment of truth….

Tonight my project is due for class, that I’m also using in the MonOrchid Gallery summer show. I struggled over color usage; full color, b&w, sepia, cross process, etc. I ultimately decided to go with this grungy hint of green. It was intentional, although I’m now wondering if my instructor will think it was intentional or an “opps” moment during printing? Either way, I sort of love it a lot, and I’m wildly proud of it! I’m not going to show it off just yet, I want the impact of it to be at the gallery showing.

 

So tonight, here goes my moment of truth. I will be very open to suggestions, feedback and comments! I will take into consideration what those comments are and make adjustments if necessary; since this will be my first gallery show, I want it as close to perfect as perfect can be.

So, yes, am I nervous? More than you could ever believe!!! Am I determined? More than ever before! If it fails, meh, it fails, I can always go back to the drawing bored. This whole process is about learning, growing, experimenting. I think I have done that a great deal with this project. I’ve been slightly micro obsessed about it! Nit picky if you will. I thought I would share with you my artist statement for this project. (See below)

 

 

Artist Statement for MonOrchid Call to Artists PHX Heat: Summer Group Show

 

I am inspired by the seasons of life; the way it moves against us, with us, for us and around us. I am mostly inspired by how we move through life, and the journey taken. I started my photographic career as a scrapbook keeper with a 110 Kodak camera in 1993 after the passing of my inspirational scrapbook keeper; and great grandmother, Iris Haller. Photography is the medium that I use to explore, re-invent, escape from, and re-kindle life through my lens. “Stripped Down” is a sub project of a broader project, “Discovering Me,” as well as my interpretation of PHX Heat adding a play on “summer love” flings. Following a tragic year of losses, including my mother who lost her battle to cancer, I was paralyzed with grief in which I laid my camera down and reverted to the heartless safety of my head. 2013 is about re-discovering life and the love of life through my lens; including re-sparking the iconic movie magic inspired love affair with my husband and my love of photography. Normally I prefer to watch people through my lens; to go along with my photo journalistic stories. However this year, 2013 I’m turning the lens inward towards myself in a soul searching journey; which will continue in another sub series this summer on an Ansel Adams inspired road trip.

 

 

 

So, as they say in show business, “Time to go Break a leg!”

 

Ansel Adams Inspired Summer Vacation Road Trip

My husband landed his dream job that he starts this week with, and so will be leaving his old job of almost ten years in pursing his music production dream. With that comes the postponement of our family summer vacation to Disneyland with our children due to the fact that he will have no vacation time to use. SO, I have talked my husband into allowing me to take some fellow photography friends on an Ansel Adams Inspired Summer Vacation Road Trip.

2012 was an incredibly difficult year for me. I had a very difficult pregnancy while dealing with my mother constant sick and ailing from her cancer; which ended with me being induced early with my second son in May 5th, 2012. Two months later my mom would lose her long drawn out battle to cancer on July 7th, 2012. Before I could finish crying over saying goodbye to my mother one of my best guy friends, who was like a brother to me, Ron was killed by a drunk driver on August 27th, 2012. Two weeks following that my Grandma Coni (dad’s step mom) would pass from liver disease. My mind and heart had already begun to shut down emotionally. September 26th, 2012 was my oldest son’s second birthday; not his party, but his actual birthday. My Paw paw (mom’s dad) passed away that night. Of course that took us right into the holiday season, and my fall semester in college. I was in robotic mode.

It was very difficult and sometimes still very difficult to grasp the amount of loss and hardships I endure I endured during 2012. I put down my camera because documenting life almost felt surreal, and I had this thought that if I didn’t photographically document it, then it wasn’t really happening and it couldn’t be true. The only time I really picked up my camera was for school assignments, and or commercial work I was getting as an extra source of income in our family. I became very dis enchanted with life, love, and photography. I was detached from all things I loved and cherished.

As the holiday season died down and I finalized my Spring semester at college I was starting to see the ramifications of the previous year. I felt dried up, used up, uninspired, and burned out in life completely, but more so in my passion of photography. A change in instructor staff would surprisingly help me re-kindle that love affair I once had. With help from some of my instructors like Kim, William “Bill”, Jose and pass instructor/department head Jennifer I pushed myself to be better, to be more constructive, to grow in my fine art and work through my emotions, thoughts, and feelings with my camera.

Typically I would call myself a photojournalist, that’s my forte, it’s my passion, it’s what I love most and best about photography; my inspirational esteemed professionals in the field are among the likes of Steve McCurry, Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, Nick Ut, Timothy O’Sullivan, Matthew Brady, and Alfred Eisenstaedt just to name a few. I’m rather comfortable behind the lens and exploring the right moments in life to capture and document. Inadvertently I created several mini projects housed under an originating project title “Rediscovering Me” A process of learning to love again, learning to be passionate again, learning how to live again, and learning who I truly am at the core of myself. I turned the camera lens from people around me and events in life, to me, to my life, to my struggles, to my emotions and feelings.

In doing this, I’ve decided that an Ansel Adams inspired summer vacation road trip with fellow photog friends is just the right amount of inspiration I need to re-kindle that movie magic love affair with photography. Of course it will continue to document myself in my “Rediscovering Me” project, but it will also allow me to draw inspiration from some of the greats I love so much!

It will be so hard to leave my home, my children, and my husband for a two week period, but the perspective I will gain, the insight I will achieve is going to be well worth it!

 

So here you are, My thoroughly researched road map of my Ansel Adams inspired Summer vacation road trip. By the way, you will be surprised to learn that NO one, and I do mean NO one has thought to map these places out? It took weeks of researching his images and writing down what ever information I could find and then mapping it all out. Mind you these are not ALL of the places he has been to photograph, just the ones that fit into my little expedition. I’m not even sure if we will hit all of them! I will be live blogging here on wordpress the entire trip!

 

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Mr. President Could you show more concern?

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Mr President, your advisers show more concern than you do. I get that this is a National crisis and just like prior presidents dealing with these same atrocities, they all showed a great deal of grief, and a great deal of concern, while remaining remarkably professional. You show next to no concern. I WILL give you the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps the white house photographer missed the right shot, or chose the wrong shot to publish, but then again that would be saying that the White House Photographer is incompetent. Either could be true, either could be untrue, but the fact remains, this is the chosen photo for publishing concerning the Bombings at the Boston Marathon today. Could you have at least shown a little more dignified concern? Viewers are going to see this as a non-issue because they are taking cues from you. This is a HUGE issue. Yet congress wants to boldly ban our guns and change our second amendment rights, does this NOT prove the other side right? (My side) That even IF you are successful in doing so, it wont stop people from hurting people, there are things like bombs, that are easy to make and just as effective.

 

Incredible images from the tragedy that occurred today near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Taken from the TIME.com Blog

http://nation.time.com/2013/04/15/boston-marathon-explosion-gallery/photo/explosion-at-the-117th-boston-marathon-boston-america-15-apr-2013/

 

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Winslow Townson / AP

An unidentified Boston Marathon runner leaves the course crying near Copley Square following an explosion in Boston, April 15, 2013.

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David L. Ryan / Boston Globe / Getty Images

Two explosions went off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013

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David L. Ryan / Boston Globe / Getty Images

A person who was injured in an explosion near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon is taken away from the scene in a wheelchair.

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John Tlumacki / Boston Globe / Getty Images

Police officers draw their weapons after hearing a second explosion near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.

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Alex Trautwig / Getty Images

A runner embraces another woman on the marathon route near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston.

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John Tlumacki / Boston Globe / Getty Images

A man comforts a victim on the sidewalk at the scene of the first explosion near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013.

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Charles Krupa / AP

Medical workers aid injured people at the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon following an explosion in Boston, April 15, 2013.

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Charles Krupa / AP

People aid a man injured by the explosion in Boston.

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Dan Lampariello / DobsonAgency / Rex USA

An explosion goes off near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013.

 

 

Wow, words can not express my deepest sorrow, or my inability to comprehend why others would want to harm innocent persons. My heart, thoughts and prayers will be going out to the victims and their families.

 

 

Ironic beauty

Sometimes the mouth can’t say what the heart desperately wants to; no matter what that does not change reality.

 

Some days I’d rather live in my head, it’s a complicated mess in my head, but it’s an ironically beautiful place.

Diamonds? Who needs diamonds when you have these!!!

My husband is a sweet sweet man and he loves to spoil the tar out of me! =)

He got a list of vintage cameras that I have been wanting from my wish list and then he went on a hunt to get them for me! =) My birthday isn’t for another month. However my husband gave me my birthday gift early. =) He says there’s a part two closer to my birthday next month. =)

Check out these seriously cool vintage cameras! I’m totally going to rekindle my photography love affair this summer using the brownie Hawkeye since I’ve been feeling slightly burned out, uninspired, and uncreative lately.

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This last photo is really cool, because unknowing what my husband was doing for me for my birthday, I picked these up last week on my weekly antique store hopping. =)

 

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Anyways, enjoy some vintage fun! I know I will be this summer! Diamonds? Who needs diamonds when you have these????!!!! Diamonds are not ALWAYS a girls best friend, sometimes vintage cameras are better! How stinking cool are these!

 

Stay with me this summer as I journal my way through finding my love of photography and how I get my groove back! =) Thinking of making an Ansel Adams trip down back roads and the route 66, as well as some Dorothea Lange inspired work, and maybe if I’m lucky enough capture a heartbreaking image such as Steve Curry or Nick Ut this summer!