Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bill, bill, heirloom, bill, ad for chinese food, bill...

Photos of my son. This writing is lengthy and takes a few turns. I think we can all relate to bits of it though.

As I look back and compare my paternal and maternal grandmothers, I realize how different they were. They both may have been born and raised in the same small town clad county. They both came from similar hardworking large families. They both had the same short perm and glasses in the 80s when I was a child. Even with all these similarities, they were each so unique that I learned very different things about what it means to be a woman and mother from each of them.

My dad's mom, Grandma Dode, was like a warm bowl of stew that you couldn't stop eating and once in a while something spicy would kick you in the tastebuds. She was covered in elbow grease and practicality. She defined all that's good about home cooking, I wish I'd appreciated that more as a picky kid. She loved to play card games. She loved everything about nature. She used to hike through parts of the woods as a fragile 80something that I wouldn't even attempt in my early 20s (which tells you as much about my awkwardness as her nimbleness). She had the most amazing garden, filled with edibles and vase-ables. I remember her post-depression frugality coming across in little ways like saving tin foil to reuse over and over and having the same furniture and decor from the time i was born until she died 30 years later. She was unexpectedly hilarious. She and my grandpa acted like they didn't like each other, but I think they secretly did. Also, once you were her family, that was it. There was nothing you could do wrong. I was a lazy and irresponsible teen who she somehow found facts to boast about. Homemade pie crust, wrinkled hands, knee-high pantyhose. She was the quintessential grandmother.

My mom's mom, Grandma Roberts, was like a corner curio cabinet filled with beautiful, personal and interesting trinkets. My best memories of her were before my grandfather died. I remember walking into their bedroom and seeing their perfectly pressed matching outfits laying on the bed, ready for a night of ballroom dancing. Grandma Roberts loved to entertain. She was good at it, making it appear effortless. The entertaining area of their house (that my grandfather built) was about 600 square feet, if I had to guess. I don't ever remember it feeling cramped though. I credit this to her. Twenty+ people eased into the living room in a very loaves and fishes sort of way. She was always very put together... her teased red hair, carefully manicured nails, matching shoes and bag. And she smelled divine. I remember her seeming to be someone who could easy be transplanted into a large sophisticated metropolis instead of the 300 person 'ville she brought so much style to. She was creative and artistic. Her home was always changing and updating. She wrote poems and short stories. She was a social butterfly. My grandfather adored her. She was someone who made everyone fell comfortable and lit up a room.

Our parents help shape us into who we're going to be. Grandparents have this way of doing the same but with an influence that's more subtle based on example. I think they're also so important because we can look at our grandparents and see why and how our parents are the people they are.

I say ALL of that to introduce this... My husband's mother died when I was pregnant with our first son. She never even knew I was pregnant. I talked to her on the phone many times but never actually met her. She was essential to her son. Our kids have other grandparents. Great ones, in fact (you don't want to get me started about the emotions tied to watching my parents grandparent my kids... whom my kids clearly prefer to me, by the way) but there's clearly a grandmother shaped hole. And if you think MY grandmothers were different, Arturo and Umberto's biological grandmothers are an Iowa farm wife and a Panama-born reggae musician from Brooklyn. Easily put, it's an absolute shame that the boys will never get to meet her.

A few weeks ago, we got a package in the mail. My husband's cousin sent us a blanket that his mother made for her daughter 18 years ago to pass on to our youngest, our new arrival. It's beautiful. It's not a color or pattern you'd expect. It's soft. It's warm. It's this connection that we'd never have otherwise. This item exists only from their grandmother's hard work and hours of time. I imagine her, empty nested, working diligently on it every night while watching TV, smoking cigarettes, listening to music. I imagine her laughing loudly with the phone to her ear while continuing to complete it. I imagine her long dreadlocks resting on the completed portion while she accomplishes a little more. I cry because she never imagined that someday it would surround a grandson that she'd never meet.

Much love to you, Maritza. You're a part of our home.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Don't say cheese, I got this.

I haven't posted in awhile. Who-da thunk that a new baby would make one's already mad world a little madder? I haven't even properly photographed little baby Finale. I'll get there. Soon, even.

I'm becoming obsessed with weddings. Shooting them. I'd like to be a photographer who's exclusively weddings one day. Some day. My most recent wedding was beautiful. Traditional (in the midwestern American sense). Lovely. As I scroll through the photos, there are a lot of portraits. That's important. Family often only gathers for events like weddings and (ahem) the other one. And as important as portraits are, they are NOT why I love shooting weddings. I like grabbing little pieces of the day. Expressions. The recently-shot day did not disappoint. A gathering of friends and family were captured... whether they wanted to be or not.

Cheers to the candid!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie... photograph it.

I had a thought today.

I got an email that an adorable couple that I recently met with had decided to book me for their wedding this summer. I squealed with glee. I met them and LIKE them. Do you know how much more FUN that makes photographing someone's wedding? When I, as a photographer, connect with a couple, the shots are always more heartfelt, creative, fun, etc. What I enjoy even more than shooting the wedding is the engagement session. This is where I spend an hour or so with two people who love each other enough to make a commitment in front of friends, family, and, most importantly, TO each other. And I think that being photographed together is a bit of an amazing experience. It's like a date on film. It's where a couple decides what VERSION of their relationship they want to "catch." It tends to start out awkward and end in love, fun and hilarity. I will tell you this: whether you like the WAY you look laughing/kanoodling/p.d.a.-ing with your partner or not, you'll like the feeling it gives your to see it captured in a still shot. It's... confirming. It's amore.

So here's my thought. (you assumed I tangented into the land of forget, didn't you?) Engagement sessions, which for decades were just a quick headshot and are now a photojournalistic/fashion-shoot-like EXPERIENCE, have become a "norm" in the I'm-getting-married process. They're fun to do, share, and look back at. So, why just engagements? How FRICKING FRACKING FANTASTIC would anniversary shoots be? Hush, I'm serious. I think that would be even superior... the "Hey, we made it 15 years, 3 kids, 2 health scares, 2 homes, 4 jobs, 4,293 fights and 4,344 make-ups -you read right ;-)-" photo session. I WANT to shoot these. You and your honey should want to star in these. Relationships aren't easy. They're work. They're also worth celebrating. Remember why you picked him/her.

So today... I like love.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Girls (and boys) next door

Due to a hefty handful of reasons, my family has one vehicle. It's a minivan. It's grey. You're jealous. It's also not always in my possession... many days the hubs has it. If you've been an ang-blog-follower, you know that a goal of mine is to "get out there" and shoot without letting excuses get in my way. This last week I stopped making an excuse out of lack of studio or even transportation to and from locations. While I certainly don't want to photograph everyone who hires me in the same spot, exploring the 4 block radius surrounding my wee bitty duplex worked out alright. Not too shabby. I shot a sisters shoot and another family both steps from my abode. It also makes me want to do more at-clinets'-home shoots. Think outside the "pretty picture box." You don't need Minnehaha Falls or the Rose Garden. All you need is love (or was it strawberry fields forever? I think the first).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

True love, mutual respect, and kettlebells

Since 2005 I have shot dozens of weddings. I feel lucky to be able to say that there are few "types" left unphotographed by yours truly. If you promise to keep a secret, I have something to tell you though... I have a favorite type. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! You heard me. There is something magical about a couple who decides to wed without months of planning and searching for the "perfect" _____________ or ______________. They've decided that the reason BEHIND committing themselves to one another is perfection enough.

On Saturday morning I woke and found a message in my inbox from a friend of a friend. She heard I shot weddings and submitted a last minute "Excuse me, what are you doing this afternoon?" plea. My gut instinct was to turn it down as I already had plans. But what's this? My shutter button finger sometimes itches and twitches and won't relent until I photograph something... or more accurate someONE. So I happily rearranged my day.

A and B were married at a fantastic, small fitness/wellness studio in the Kingfield neighborhood of Minneapolis. The guests were few, the cuisine was potluck, the intentions were noble, and I heard the bride utter more than once concerning layout and decor... "Whatever you think, I'm sure it will be beautiful." And it definitely was.