In Memory of Francis "Ray" Stanley, My Grandfather

Grandpa Ray with my son (November 2016).

Grandpa Ray with my son (November 2016).

It’s disconcerting to have a one-year-old right now. You see, my grandfather just died and my world feels a bit off kilter. But my son doesn’t understand a giant puzzle piece is missing. He knows that his toys are waiting for him to play with them, the sun is shining, and he’s hungry. So—despite a deep desire to hide under the covers—I’m down on the floor with a train set, and going for walks around the neighborhood, and making little lunches. And if my grandpa were here he’d tell me that’s exactly what I should be doing. My grandpa believed in giving, and laughing, and being with your family. 

My grandpa wasn’t a religious man. In fact, if you asked him about religion you’d probably hear a number of slightly off-putting remarks (he wasn’t a PC-type of guy either). But he was one of the most Christian people I knew. Often he’d start a story with, “I was talking to this bum…” (remember he wasn’t the PC type). And I’d learn that instead of giving money to a person down on hard times, he’d given them a ride to McDonald’s and had lunch with them. That’s how he was. I have no idea how many times this happened, but I suspect it was quite a lot over the years given the number of stories he told me.

After I grew up and called home my grandpa always wanted to know if I had enough to eat and if there was anything I needed. Always. He spent his childhood in the wake of the Great Depression and carried an acute awareness of scarcity. Even after I was in my thirties, owning my own home, and caring for my own child. He asked: do you have enough? Can I get you anything? And, genuinely, he would have dropped everything to provide for me if I had listed a need.

And, Dear Lord, the man had a sense of humor. When I was in middle school we took a large family trip to Hawaii. I remember riding the hotel elevator when a fellow rider complimented his bucket hat. He looked them straight in the eye and told them, “Well… this hat serves two purposes: it protects me from the sun and ... [he took it off his head and turned it over in his hands so it looked like a basket] it helps me pay for this trip.” And he reached the upside-down hat toward the fellow passenger as if asking them to put money in it. At the time, I thought he was downright nuts, but 20 years later I still laugh so hard I cry when I tell that story.  

When I was little, he used to carry me around and tell me, in a the silliest voices, tall tales. In my memories, a billy goat was often involved. I found myself reading billy goat stories to my son this week. And when he gets older I’ll tell him Grandpa Ray loved telling stories about billy goats. And when he asks me about Grandpa Ray I’ll tell him he was the silliest, most generous man around. And he loved him before he met him. And that we are all so lucky to have been loved by Francis “Ray” Stanley.

Summer Fever

Summer makes me explode with creativity. I completely eat up the sun, the flowers, and the beach settings around Lake Michigan. Now that I have more room in my brain I'm starting to play much more with my landscape work. I'm bracketing my shots and layering in clouds in post-production when necessary. I feel like for the first time in a long time my work feels like me. Hallelujah!

Mother's Day 2017

Some say this was my first Mother's Day, although I've felt like a mama since we brought Marv home in 2013. This was my first Mother's Day with both my boys, though. And when my husband asked what I wanted to do for it I told him that I wanted to get a family picture with me actually in the picture. Sounds easy enough, but as the family photographer it's amazing how often I look back on events and find that I wasn't pictured in my own life's events. So, we traipsed out to the backyard and, with my sister's help, got a few images. They aren't perfect. But, this is life with a silly dog and a nearly one-year-old. I love them.

A super cooperative model

Marvin digs his modeling responsibilities. Often, all I ask of him is that he lay down in a cozy spot while I fiddle around with my camera and then he gets a treat. And repeat. It's a sweet job for a happy dog. And, to be honest, he's far more cooperative about my fiddling than his brother right now. I'll be using him as I experiment with new techniques this summer. 

Details: ISO 100, f/18, 1/1000 second

Flower Lady

Back in the day ... if our mom asked us to do any sort of gardening on summer weekends, my sister and I were totally annoyed. There was absolutely nothing appealing about spending our days with plants. 

Nowadays ... I'm a gardening mama. I hop on out to my plants during nap time to weed and water and give them some general love. Isn't funny how life comes around like that?

Details: ISO 100, f/2.2, 1/4000 seconds

I wonder what if ...

Looking at our fire last night (yes we still have a fire going in May), I wondered what the flames would look like with a slow shutter speed. So, here they are at 2 seconds. While, not a particularly momentous occasion for most photographers, for me it was one more way in which I feel as if my muscles are flexing back into creative shape.

I can't wait to get out and work on images of Lake Michigan with a slow shutter speed. I have plans to make a photo trip next week!

Details: ISO 100, f/14, 2 second shutter

Hey there!

First things first, if you're looking to consult with me on web content or small business items, hop on over to Shorewood Studio. That's the home for my consulting work. 

This website is my new creative incubator. I do a lot of fun, creative work over at Shorewood, but I also have other irons in the fire and I want to display those projects as I go along. I also need a place to connect with other creatives. 

In November 2015 two really huge things happened to me: 1) after a careful review of my business, I decided to stop taking photography clients and, instead, focus my business only on web content consulting, and 2) I found out I was pregnant. These two happenings were a double whammy on my creativity. I wasn't getting out and stretching myself creatively with clients anymore, and I really struggled with foggy pregnancy brain. I felt like it took a HUGE amount of effort to focus on the essentials of my consulting business and I didn't have the energy or inspiration for personal photography. 

I took a lot of time off. And I don't regret it. Taking a step back from photography allowed me to more clearly see the role it played in my life. After my son was born, I obviously wanted to document his life, but most of my clicks were just snapshots. And then, slowly, my inspiration started to come back. I started to look at light again and see something new and interesting. I started wishing I had my camera on me when we took walks around neighborhood. I couldn't wait to get back to the beach (my favorite place to photograph). 

I've also started writing again. Often, I associate my photos with a small essay or group of thoughts in my head. I needed a space to record all of this new energy. So, here it is. 

I'm wear many hats these days: mom, wife, artist, entrepreneur, family, friend, mentor, neighbor, random person on the internet, etc. I plan to take on and off those hats here without worrying that I'm not consistently "branding" myself. I want to weave in and out of thought as I move through seasons of my own life. 

Here we go.