Tag Archives: photography

perspective

A few days ago, I met a friend for a long overdue visit.  I have been in awe of this woman since the day we met almost nine years ago.  I adore her.  We gave each other the Cole’s notes version of what has happened in our lives since our last get together, and I think every single time she tells me what she’s been up to, she continues to amaze me.  She inspires me to be a better person simply by being who she is.  She is the woman I most admire, hands down.  It isn’t because she has won the Nobel prize, or has a triple PhD.  It’s because she is completely and entirely comfortable in her own skin.  She is confident, composed, calm.  Not only that, she inspires the same in others without having any expectations other than to just be the best version of yourself that you can be, because that is what she is also trying to do.

As we sat and talked, the topic of trees came up.  Without the context, it may seem irrelevant to speak of trees, so just trust me that it had great weight in the conversation.  Two days prior, we had a storm that downed many trees in the area.  One happened to be in my neighbor’s front yard that fell into my house.  It caused some relatively minor damage and certainly an ounce of inconvenience since I could not access my front entrance very well, and had to walk around my garage to make it to my house, but nothing unmanageable.  That night, after coming home from my regular Wednesday night meeting and coffee with fellow photographers, the sun was still out and the weather shifted to become a rather welcoming late evening.  I decided to take the dog for a walk and assess the damage to the neighborhood.  Walking down residential streets and the trails, the sounds of chainsaws echoed throughout the community as neighbors cleaned the fallen trees and branches in their yards.

After our walk, I came up to the tree laying heavily on my front steps and took a good close look at her.  She was beautiful.  Even though the blooms had not been ready to open, I examined the clusters of buds on the tree top; the ones too high to be able to see when she was standing tall.  But here, she was at eye level in all her beauty.  I grabbed my camera because I felt compelled to capture this glimpse of her life before it was taken away forever.  At this point, the sun was starting to set above the rooftops.  I realized how beautiful the sunset was in behind the tree, and in several shots I was able to capture that as well.

What struck me most is how much beauty there was in the destruction that occurred mere hours before.  How this perfectly imperfect tree could still be so beautiful laying on her side, how the day could turn itself around from the hundred kilometer an hour winds and driving rains to the gorgeous burnt orange sunset I could see amongst her branches.

There is beauty despite the damage.

It seems somewhat like a metaphor that can be used in so many ways.  Many of us are like that tree or like that storm.  Perfectly imperfect, damaged but still with immeasurable beauty.  Perhaps it is in how you view your environment.  Some would surely say the tree was a nuisance, but I am glad that I took the time to thank Mother Nature for the gift she gave me, even if it was fleeting.

The tree is gone now, but I have some memories of her and some beautiful photographs with a story that needed telling.  I am grateful for my friend who saw the value of my story for many may not have understood what I was feeling.  I thank the Universe for her timely fashion in bringing us together when she did.  Long overdue, yet perfectly on time.

the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.

it’s not personal, it’s just business

Listening in on a conversation amongst “professional” photographers, I have to say I have been quite discouraged.  And when I say “professional”, read that with air quotes.  As in, people who charge others for the pictures they take, however, there is no membership within photography guilds, associations, or even any certificates from courses taken from reputable sources.  So not professional by any standard.

However, as I listened in to this conversation, one individual was complaining that a client was cancelling their wedding, giving all vendors nearly six months notice, claiming that the reason was a serious illness for a close family member.  The discussion became less about the client’s amount of notice, but whether the individual should or should not return the client’s deposit.  It became about whether the client was lying about the reason or not.  And I discovered as I listened in on this conversation that there was absolutely no compassion to be found amongst these individuals.

Have we lost our humanity for the sake of the almighty dollar?  Was that few hundred dollars worth it when likely the date can be filled with another potential client?  Where did our compassion go, and if it’s gone, should we really be working in a field where we work with people as our clients and as our subjects?  Perhaps some inward reflection would be a good idea for situations like this.

I do not want to be like these people.  I do not want to lose my compassion for my fellow humans.  To feel that the money is worth more than the stress the client is undergoing.  I am not a professional photographer.  My photography is purely for enjoyment, and perhaps this is why I feel differently than these others.  Its times like these where I feel I need to disconnect from these types of photographers.  But don’t worry, it isn’t personal if it’s just business…

ode to my grandfather

My grandfather was a very special person in my life.  Both my grandmother and my grandfather were key people in my early years.  I loved both my grandparents dearly.  My grandfather was quite an individual though.  Things I had not known about him I have been finding out so many years later.  My grandfather passed away ten years ago, and I thought I knew so much about him then.  He was an avid model train enthusiast.  He liked to garden.  He tried out new things, and even in his elder years, bought himself a computer and tried learning how to use it.  He did quite well at keeping up with lifelong learning.  An inspiration for me.

It wasn’t until recently when I went home to visit my parents that my mother told me how much my grandfather also enjoyed photography.  She told me about how he had his own darkroom set up in their tiny post-war house, and how he was always to be found with his camera.  Why hadn’t I known this when I was 15 and spending days in the school darkroom developing roll after roll of film?  I would have had something else to ask my grandfather about when we had those summerlong stays at their house.  Oh how much could I have learned from him then!

Still, knowing these things about him post mortem is so keenly interesting.  To know that somewhere in the genes, there was the key to that hidden door.  The one that opens up to the passions I have in life.

And I like to think my grandfather is watching me.  My spirit guide, watching over me.  I am sure he is smiling.  My grandfather was nicknamed ‘Bear’, I think by my father.  It is one of the ways I fondly remember him.  While out on the Worldwide Photo Walk yesterday, I happened upon this stone bear statue.  I have seen it before, but yesterday it seemed to take on a whole different presence.  It needed to be photographed.  And as I have been thinking of my grandfather so much over these past few weeks, the image spoke to me so very much.

So, The Stone Bear, the image featured this week, is dedicated to one of the absolute most important men in my life.  My grandfather.