pocket full of sunshine

so i'm in this amazing facebook group- i've talked about it before, the one where the focus is on finding different kinds of light- and the new theme for this month is pockets of light.  this theme is awesome and i love it.  shooting using pockets of light creates really dramatically lit images with gorgeous contrast that i can't get enough of.  plus, when you're shooting documentary, it's a really fun challenge to find ways to get your subject into the pocket.  sometimes it means moving yourself until you get the right angle, sometimes it's setting up your shot and waiting until your subject moves into the light, or maybe it's baiting your three year old by placing a brownie in the light pocket on the kitchen counter at 7 am (i mean, what?  i would never do that.  i'm an excellent mother).

i would also never, ever let my kids watch netflix on my phone at the end of our morning park excursion because of a cool bench and well-placed light.  

honestly though, i had so much fun light hunting today.  i've enjoyed every theme that's been presented since i joined the finding the light group, but i think this is one that will really occupy my brain.  everywhere we went today i was noticing pockets of light and trying to be sneaky and creative in photographing them.

here's to a month full of pockets that are full of sunshine.  happy june :)

day in the life- self portrait style

starting last year, when my little turned a year old, i decided that birthdays were the perfect occasion to shoot day in the life sessions of the people in my family.  i've done one for each kiddo so far, although i admittedly skipped my husband's birthday this year.  it fell on a weekday, so 9 hours of his day would be missing from the photos (and following him to work with the kids and my camera is oddly frowned upon ;) ).  so, when my 30th birthday rolled around, i thought- LIZ.  this is a GREAT opportunity to do a day in the life session of yourself.  you should totally do it girl.

except then i chickened out.  i was way too intimidated by the idea of setting my camera up every time i went to do something, especially with two kids around and no one to help me referee.  but then, 2 weeks later, someone in one of the groups i'm in posted asking if anyone would be down for shooting a self-portrait day in the life along with her.  i couldn't ignore it.  i should have done it on my birthday, but this was the perfect opportunity to make it up to myself.  so, yesterday i set up my camera all day long and captured what a day looks like from my perspective.

a few disclaimers before i share- first, i started the day off really optimistically, with a twinkle in my eye and a spring in my step.  there are lots of morning pictures.  by the time nap time ended, my energy had all but fizzled.  there are not as many afternoon/evening pictures.  also, many of these photos are not stunning examples of beautifully executed photography.  i was moving fast whenever i set my camera up, both in regards to my settings and with getting my camera balanced on whatever shelf/object i was perching it on (i had left my tripod in the car, and my husband happened to take my car to work that day, so i had to get creative- as seen with the shopping cart pictures... the trunk of my husband's car has a deceptively steep slant).  normally when i shoot, i make every effort to get it close to perfect in camera so i don't have much post-processing work to do.  with these, i was making every effort to make sure i caught the moments without disrupting our routine too much, so more of these than i care to admit were saved in post (especially the bedtime ones... you'll see what i mean).  oh, and there are lots of head/limb/body chops.  it's hard to compose when you can't see where you'll be in the frame ahead of time- and i just didn't have the option of running back and forth to the camera to fix positioning with two kids to look after.  and lastly, i usually do posts like these with pictures and words.  not this time.  this is it for the words.  i'm going to post the pictures chronologically and let them tell the story.

enjoy :)

farmers markets and nap refusals

this week, i've been rejoicing over the return of shooting full time with my dslr- so much so that i've had 150+ pictures to sift through every evening since sunday.  most of the images have gotten deleted without a second thought, especially since i've been doing a lot of experimenting for this week's out of focus theme which means i end up with a lot of junk.  and on top of that, much of my shooting has been kind of random and spur of the moment, so i haven't ended up with a cohesive set to share.

today isn't much different, but i did end up with a few that i like enough to warrant a blog post, even though they're all off prompt.  can't win them all right?

this morning, to combat our 17,859th day of rain in a row, i decided to venture out with the kids to an indoor farmer's market about 20 minutes away.  which coincidentally is juuuuuust long enough for both of them to pass out in the back seat.  at 9:30 in the morning.  which means they were both a little... grouchy... when i woke them up upon our arrival.  oh, and remember how i said it was indoors?  apparently "indoors" is a pretty loose term in the world of farmer's markets, and includes, but is not limited to, areas that are covered with a roof but not surrounded by walls.  but i'm new to the world of farmer's markets, and didn't know about this subtlety, so we didn't have jackets.  the point being: our trip was not the relaxing saunter through rows of fresh produce and flowers and cute knick knacks that i was expecting.  it was crowded and cold and windy with melty, whiney kids and not many opportunities to take photos without stoking the three year old shaped fire from smoldering ashes to a full blown, bonfire sized tantrum.

there were a few good moments though.  like when we bought some apples for mega cheap and pulled over for a "please Lord let this improve their moods" snack.

note the tear on his cheek.  he may have dropped his half eaten apple on the ground and then lost it when i told him we had to throw it away.  to soothe the beast, i did the unthinkable and (gasp) let him eat from the side that didn't touch the floor.  it's all about survival, people.

the best part of the morning was when we saw the cows.  i don't know if i've ever seen my big so incredibly excited while simultaneously being thoroughly terrified.

after that excitement wore off, we headed home and i stuffed both kids full of lunch, which seemed to improve all three of our moods.  we played for awhile and then headed up for nap time.  but, since they both took power naps in the car on our way to this morning's field trip, getting them to sleep was enough to make me wish we were back outside at the farmer's market, because at least then i would have been surrounded by other humans who could share in my misery.  instead, i endured a long hour of wiggling, tired-but-not-tired-enough children while trying not to bang my head against a wall.  by the time i got out, all i could do was this:

and then, to add insult to injury, they fell asleep so late in the afternoon after all their nap fighting that i had to wake them up if i wanted any shot of getting them to bed at a decent hour tonight.  fortunately, my big woke up in a really great mood, and even obliged in letting me take a few shots of his silly little self.  it was a great reminder that a bad moment (or morning) doesn't have to define the day.

and there you have it.  the best of today.  i wish i'd been able to take more photos, but i'm grateful for what i did get, and for the turn around in our day.  i'm still praying for sunshine soon though :)


day 102

this week's theme is {us}, which means i need to make an effort to include myself in the frame since i'm a part of "us".  it's still april though, and i'm wickedly stubborn, so i'm still making myself shoot with my iphone.  i cannot say emphatically enough how thankful i am the the lens kit i got for christmas also came with a little iphone holder and tripod set up.  so.  thankful.  taking a self portrait is challenging enough with a regular camera, but trying to set up a phone and take a picture with a 10 second timer one frame at a time is... well, let's just say i'm going to get plenty of exercise this week.  if i didn't have the little tripod guy, i'd probably also end up getting a new phone by the end of the week too.  as it is, my kids are (so far) enjoying watching me run back and forth from my phone to wherever they are and then pretending like they don't see the camera (or in some cases, cheesing so hard that i could stick them on a plate of crackers and serve them at a party).  i was feeling dissatisfied with much of what i got today, so i have 2 sets.

set 1: this is where you'll find us on a typical weekday afternoon around 2:30- on the couch, watching tv, eating snack, and generally trying to wake up and gear up for the second half of the day.

and set 2: when we start to get restless, you'll find us in the kitchen looking for creative ways to eat our way out of our boredom.  today we made 3 ingredient microwave cakes- 1 banana, 1 egg, 1 tbsp cocoa powder.  bam.  yummy afternoon boredom killer.

and one more unrelated to this week's theme- because when you put away a set of toys for several weeks and then pull them back out, it's like they're brand new and even more captivating than they were the first time around, and that's something to share and celebrate :)

day 35

i've been very distracted this week.  i've had a difficult time focusing on photography, let alone anything else.  sometimes life just gets big and real and hard to handle, and it's easy to overlook all the small, good things.  i've let myself slip into a place of worry and what-ifs and trying to rely on my own understanding and the truth is, that's an unsustainable way to live.  so today, i decided to re-focus a little bit.  i'm working on realigning my priorities and remembering that i am not alone, and that there is a perfect, beautiful plan for my life.

in my weakness, i am strong.

God is good, all the time.

day 8

it's been a challenging few photography days.  i've been way overshooting only to delete the vast majority of images i take, but i just can't seem to take any photos that i'm actually happy with.  today i didn't even pick up my camera until mid-afternoon, although i'm willing to partially blame that on our marathon of errands this morning.  as the light started stubbornly dimming around 2:30, as it does in the winter, i reluctantly pulled my camera out and figured i'd log one more "me" photo before the theme closes out tomorrow.

my most genuine smiles always happen when i'm watching my kiddos play :)

i wasn't going to set up for this one because i've taken so many photos of us on our couch that look just like this.  the only way they really differ is what we're doing on the couch (eating? sleeping?  throwing toys at our brothers?) and what items are cluttering the ledge behind.  but the truth is, a lot of our life happens on that couch.  it's where the kids wake up in the morning, and from naps in the afternoon.  it's where i drink my coffee at 5 am, and where my husband and i catch an hour of tv time together in the evenings.  it's where i spent countless hours nursing both my babies after we brought them home.  it's where we get them dressed and tie shoes, eat snack and read books.  this couch appears over and over in my photographs because it is used over and over in our lives.  it is the centerpiece of our home, and one day when it's gone, i'll look back on these images and smile as i remember all the love that was contained in it.

and, aside from all that lovely sentimental stuff above, i'm glad i set it up because shortly after i took that first solo selfie, this happened:

me, in my happiest of places.

i mean, what's not to love about that?


day 2

i had no real intention of writing a blog post today, but my kids are sleeping soundly (hooray!) and i have a pile of chores that needs to be procrastinated on a little longer before i can tackle them properly, so here i am.

the sun is shining with a brilliant brilliance today (see image 1 for proof), and it's appearance for the first time in 800 years (<--- only a slight exaggeration) has renewed my desire to be behind the lens.  

image 1: stuffed dinosaur, basking in the early morning sunshine

this is sort of ironic considering my interpretation of this week's theme involves me being in front of the lens (hello practice with the shutter remote), but at least i didn't have to force myself to pry my camera out of its bag this morning.  in fact, i had my camera set up in at least 5 different places this morning as we went about our normal saturday business.  it was nice to have some dramatic light to work with again, and it added an extra layer of (very welcome) challenge to the task of getting a documentary style image that included me.  

below is the most real, accurate, and honest photo i took this morning- that i came very close to not sharing because it's a photo of me first thing in the morning and, well, yikes.  buuuuut, this is what documentary photography is all about.  

this is me, as soon as i get downstairs, every morning.

in 20 years, my kids are going to look at this photo and (hopefully) laugh and say "oh yeah, remember how mom would always make her coffee as soon as we got downstairs every morning?"  and i'll look at it and say "oh my gosh, what was i thinking with those glasses?" and we'll remember.  we'll remember these mornings and these days of little sleep and lots of running feet and laughs and screams at 6 am like they were yesterday.  this photo will bring us back to what it was really like, and we'll smile as we look back and we'll be grateful for all we had when it was taken.  this photo is real life, and it's my life, and i'm thankful for it, even when it means messy hair and tired eyes and begging the coffee the brew just a little bit faster.

here's a few more documentary images from this morning that are a good representation of how my littlest has been glued to me since he weaned 10 days ago.  at one point after i stopped taking photos, i got up to use the bathroom and he had a full on meltdown.  i'm loving the extra snuggles with him, but i feel badly that he's having as much trouble with the transition as i am.

i also took a series of not-so documentary photos while i was taking advantage of the sunshine today, and even though only one of them turned out, i'm really glad i took it.

i asked my big to jump in the frame with me.  of course, he would only do it if i let him click the remote, but that made for a fun few minutes with him, and i'm fairly pleased with the result.  i don't have too many recent images of us together since he's not been much for snuggles lately, so having this one means a lot to me.

happy saturday everyone!


project 365.2, day 1

happy new year everyone!  welcome to my new little corner of the internet.  this space is (and let's be honest, will remain) a work in progress.  it took me a long time to decide that i even wanted to create this website to collect and display my work instead of remaining over at my original blog. but, a lot of prayer, soul-searching, and persuasion from those close to me helped me realize it was time to move onward and upward, so here i am :)

before i share any images, let me explain my plan for this year.  i've been kicking around for awhile how i wanted to proceed once i wrapped up my first project 365 following the bethadilly challenge.  while she's continuing on with new prompts this year, i've known for awhile now that i wanted to break away from doing a daily prompt.  while they were great last year to keep me focused and motivated, i want to have the freedom to start shooting whatever moves me so that i can work specifically on improving my documentary photography and shooting to tell a story.  the good news is, i'm not the only one who feels that way!  

over the course of the bethadilly challenge last year, this incredible community of women started to form over on instagram.  we created a facebook group to make communicating and staying in touch with one another a little more simple, and we quickly became one another's inspiration, motivation, and support system.  a few weeks ago,  a discussion started about how many members found daily shooting to be too difficult to maintain with day to day life, and so we formed our own project 52 for 2016.  one of our wonderful members took suggestions from the group and then created a list of 52 prompts- one for every week of the year- to help guide us as we continue shooting now that 2015 is over.  while many members have made it their goal to shoot at least one image a week, i have decided to continue shooting daily.  not only has it become habit for me to shoot every day, i also saw so much improvement within myself in so many different areas last year that i want to continue to use taking a photo a day as a tool for learning and growing as a photographer.

so, i'll be using our list of 52 prompts as my daily photography anchor this year.  i may occasionally wander over to bethadilly's prompts on days when inspiration is low, i'll be following along with the themes in my favorite facebook group that focuses on using different types of light when shooting, and i may even refer back to my own blog last year to re-take old prompts, but my starting point will always be our project 52.  my goal is to shoot and edit everyday, to share at least 1 image a day to my facebook page (because i have one of those now!) and instagram, and to blog here at least 3 times a week.

so, now that all that is out of the way, onto project 365, version 2.0 :)  the theme for week 1 is "me", so i'm using this as an opportunity to work on using my new remote instead of relying on the self-timer function.  i'm hoping to really improve on nailing focus (when i'm trying to achiever sharp focus, anyway!) and i'm looking forward to capturing some truly honest moments with my kids this week.