Something universal…

I often find myself deeply moved by the writings of photographers I admire, as well as their photography. I copied this quote from Kim Manley Ort, photographer, teacher, writer and fellow explorer, when I read it, and I wanted to share it with others, who I think will also appreciate it.

Irises

My mission in life is to fully experience and embrace life with my whole self – mind, body, and heart – to really see. I’ve found that photography helps me to do this through fully connecting with and being transformed by ordinary moments. Something universal resonates deep inside – and I feel tender, hopeful, transparent, connected, and present. It is magical and opens me up to how everything (including me) belongs. I hope that when others look at my photography, they see that every moment is worthy in and of itself.

Kim Manley Ort

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A look back at 2014, Part 2

I will remember 2014 as the year I embraced monochrome photography. Much as I love colour, I have become totally enchanted with black and white pictures.

Light, lines and moments —  I found myself shooting those a lot this year, consciously and unconsciously — and black and white is ideal for bringing out the best of those kinds of images.

I have also started studying some of the masters recently, and was lucky enough to receive a signed print by famous Magnum photographer, Elliott Erwitt, which now hangs proudly on my wall, and which I will cherish forever.

I joined a few groups that share black and white photography and have been so inspired by the work posted there.

I have a feeling 2015 will also be a black and white kind of year!

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August break, Day 29

hydrangea in bottle

Today’s prompt  for the August Break is “nature,” and I today I offer a little piece of it that I brought indoors — a hydrangea, one of my favorite flowers.

I feel so fortunate that blogging and photography have introduced me to so many fascinating and talented people across Canada and the United States — and even further afield.

One woman I very much admire is Laurie MacBride — a passionate environmentalist and wonderful photographer — who lives on the other side of the country from me on one of the Gulf Islands near Vancouver, British Columbia. (I have to admit I am a bit envious that she lives on an island, since I’m an island girl at heart.)

Laurie spent much of her career heading up the Georgia Strait Alliance, which is a conservation group working to protect the Strait and its adjacent waters.

These days she communicates her love and concern for nature largely through her photography. The images she shares of B.C.’s amazing and intricate coastline — from her boat and her kayak — are incredibly compelling. So compelling in fact that I fell in love with one of her mounted prints, and it now has a place of honour in my dining room.

Laurie has exhibited her work over the last few years — and she made a slide show video of one of those exhibits called Reflections on the Coast. It is well worth watching not only to enjoy her gorgeous land and seascapes  but to also hear her poetically describe the environment she is so intimate with. Watching the show you can see that Laurie is as adept at capturing large natural vistas as the small, telling details.

Laurie has a beautiful portfolio, as well as a Flickr photostream and a great photoblog. I have a feeling Laurie is out with her camera in her boat right now creating new images of more natural wonders. Can’t wait to see them!

 

 

August break, Day 23

Taken at Great Guana Cay, Bahamas, in April 2014.

I really want to thank Susan Licht for giving me the impetus to do more black and white photography. It is one of my favorite forms and yet I don’t do enough of it. Participating in the Life in Black and White group on Facebook has been a great motivator.

A talented image-maker with such an affinity for light, Susan has the perfect name for a photographer — it is pronounced “light”. When I first saw her images on Flickr, I immediately resonated with her choice of subject matter, and her approach, which exudes warmth. Few days have gone by since then that she has not shared a new image that has both astonished and delighted. I have learned a huge amount from observing her artistic development.

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Susan used to be a teacher and I can tell she would have been an excellent one, because she is a born encourager of others. She fairly bubbles over with enthusiasm for the art and craft of photography — her own and her tribe’s. Her own work and her contributions to others have won her many friends and admirers. I am quite in awe of how she manages to keep it all up.

Susan blogs at Licht Years, she has a very popular Flickrstream and she sells her images   through Getty Images. You can see one of my very favorite images of hers above. If you aren’t already a huge fan, I think you will become one.

 

August break, Day 21

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My mother, circa 1958, in Singapore by Norman Galey

My mother, circa 1958, in Singapore

The prompt for Day 21 is “Treasure” and this is one of my most cherished treasures — my father’s first “serious” camera — a Rollieflex, twin lens reflex — given to him by my mother in the late 1950’s. He used it to take some of his best images — and there were many of those. I particularly prize his black and whites.

He was passionate about photography and he passed that on to me and my sister, Elena. I know we both feel very connected to him when we’re out with our cameras making images — a connection that transcends this dimension of space and time.

August Break, Day 17, Abstracts

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driving in the rain

For me, one of the wonderful gifts of photography is the sheer delight of playing with lines, shapes and colours.

An image doesn’t have to have an identifiable subject to fascinate or move me. It doesn’t even have to have a relatable subject. It doesn’t even have to capture my imagination, although I love photographs that do that as well.

It just has to speak to me on some unconscious level through lines and shapes and colours. It can be distilled down to pure perception.

For me, the same has always been true of painting, so I guess this makes some sense. I’ve always loved the non-representational. I’m a huge fan of abstract artists like Lawren Harris, Wassily Kandinky and Mark Rothko, to name only a few.

I was thrilled to discover that I could make my own abstracts with photography, and I always wonder why I don’t do it more. I guess I get caught up in using photography to record and represent my observable reality in a way that is more or less recognizable. And let’s face it, that is what photography is most associated with.

But then from time to time, I get startled out of this mode and I’m able to see things in a more abstract way. The other night we were driving in the rain. It was very dark and the world outside looked mysterious. The colourful lights of the other cars and of the passing city made striking patterns on the windshield. The wipers left tracks on the windshield on top of the blurry lights. I woke up and grabbed my camera.

I recently stumbled upon a young photographer whose work also has the effect of waking me up. Her name is Felicia Simion and she actually started taking pictures at 13. Now only 20, she has developed an utterly incredible body of work and received many awards and accolades.

I love that Felicia has not become super-specialized in only one genre of photography — she does portraits as well as landscapes as well as surreal dreamscapes as well as street photography and on and on. She says: “I was never able to stick to one genre of photography. I had to know about and experience them all. The world is too vast to fit into a landscape or a portrait. It needs to be painted with so much light that it would lead the sun towards eternal blindness.”

You can find her work on her website and on Facebook. She is one to watch.

 

 

 

 

August break, Day 11

girl

The prompt for the August Break today is handwriting — and I was all set to go in that direction — until I spotted this beautiful face and exquisite face-painting at a puppet festival in town. I thought it was appropriate.

How’s that you say? It reminded me of Japanese flower painting, which reminded me of calligraphy, which is a form of handwriting, so that’s how I made the association…(my mind is weird that way…)

Now for another treat. I just discovered the work of Elle Bruce, a Canadian photographer, through 500px. When I entered her site, I immediately knew this was someone whose photography I wanted to see more of.

I have started to dip into her blog and am thoroughly enjoying her posts. Too many landscapes these days are way overdone in my opinion — contrived and over-processed. Elle’s are quiet and subtle, but they get under your skin.

Have a look at her portfolio  if you have a chance. You can also follow her on Facebook.

 

August Break, Day 9

daisies

For anybody wondering if they have a recognizable photographic style or worrying that they don’t, have a look at this great article by Guy Tal. He has a very different view of the issue than you find on mainstream photography blogs.

“A word of advice: stop searching. Forget vision; forget personal style; forget unique voice. These are not goals, they are by-products. The most meaningful art you can make should not be about visual effects but about the way you respond to and interpret the world.”

A few years ago I took a course from Kat Sloma on Finding Your Style. I didn’t find my style but what I did find out about my own preferences and leanings was quite eye-opening and worth the effort.

Both Tal and Sloma agree that a style is actually a moving target.

Guy Tal, whose landscape work is quite magnificent, points to the fact that some of the greatest artists in history did not begin and end their careers with one style that never changed. In fact they are known for distinct periods in their work. He says that what many photographers have these days is a “trademark” look designed for saleability, not a unique personal style.

“The only way to find a style, once and for all, is to stop evolving as a person. When you change, your style should change with you. Allow yourself to explore, to follow your inklings, to experiment, to adapt with new knowledge, skills and experiences.”

If your goal is truly developing yourself, Kat Sloma offers some direction:

“Create more opportunities to explore the parts of photography with which you truly resonate. When you find those interests, follow them but never stop testing them. Explore new things in your photography, both variations on what you already enjoy and completely new directions.
Continue to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And as you do, ask yourself – is this still where I want to be? Does this direction resonate with me? When you answer yes or no, you refine your path. You hone the edge of your style by continually challenging it. You either gain clarity on your current path or you change your direction, forging an even deeper connection with your images.”

The way I see it, if we follow this advice, we can quit worrying. We can relax, enjoy the process of exploration and our images will reflect who we are and then who we are becoming.

August break, Day 7

everything better

“Today is…” a kick-back-and-appreciate-life kinda day on my August Break…

And a cuppa tea or coffee (take your pick!) always makes everything better, don’t you think?

And another thing that makes everything better is spending a little quality online time with Dotti Rinehart and Terri Porter and the rest of the remarkable women behind the Focusing on Life blog: Judy, Kim, Carol, Leigh, Linda, Kelly, Susan, Cathy and Deanna.

I always find something to delight me — or inform me — or challenge me — or sometimes even comfort me — on this collective blog. And oh the visual treats! They just keep on coming.

And while each contributing photographer/writer has her own aesthetic and voice, they all blend and complement each other beautifully on the blog.

This past winter Dotti invited me to contribute a guest post. It was quite a thrill to be included in such an accomplished group.

If I were ever to meet Dotti (and you never know, maybe some day I will!), I’m sure she would serve me tea in one of her huge assortment of mugs and we would have a grand old chat about books and granddaughters — and photography, of course. We would sit on her porch and then she would show me her garden. I would be in heaven. I am such a fan of the magic Dotti makes with her phone and her DSLR.

I also feel very fortunate to own an actual piece of FOL herstory. Last year I entered their giveaway and emerged the lucky winner of one of Terri’s collage posters — a striking collection of colourful barrio doors. It is now mounted and hangs on my wall for my ongoing viewing pleasure. (I do so love pictures of doors and windows!)

Here are some recent FOL posts I’ve particularly enjoyed and admired, both for their insights and their imagery.

I want to mention Carol Hart here too because she is a former member of the group whose photography chops are also impressive. As is her garden!

So if you’re inspired by women who talk about the joys and frustrations of their creative lives — and all the rest of their lives — with candor and courage and compassion, and take splendid pictures to boot — then stop in at Focusing on Life for a wee while. You can also join in by adding your photos to their flickr pool and participating in their monthly themes.

 

 

 

August Break, Day 6

green pepper

August Break, Day 6, Gift from the Garden

Today is Day 6 of the August Break and we’ve been out in the garden cutting peppers and pulling beets.

So my image for today is a “gift from the garden”.

Another gift from the garden is captured in this impressionistic — almost abstract — image by Barbara Hurst, who is a supremely talented American photographer I’ve been following for some time now. Would that not look dramatic framed in large format on a wall?

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Image by Barbara Hurst Photography. Used with permission.

It seems to me that Barbara’s creativity has been on fire lately. Every time I’ve looked at her blog in recent days, I’ve marvelled at the sheer number of exceptional images she manages to take, process and post in even a very short time. This woman is prolific!

Barbara calls her new site a “visual journal” because she prefers pictures to words when telling the stories of her days — and of her passions. But she doesn’t need a lot of words because she is such a gifted visual story teller.

She is also a master of the perfectly composed collage.

Be prepared to swoon at her nature shots, her still lifes and don’t miss her lensbaby images.