Why I Do What I Do …

I wanted to take a moment to write about what it is I do here and why it is I do it. I sometimes wonder if it’s lost on others why it is photographers photograph. And sometimes I think it may be therapeutic for me just to write it out anyway.

Recently I worked for a client photographing in a medium I don’t typically photograph. I was a little out of my comfort zone but because I had known this person for some time and I’m always up for trying new things, I thought I would give it a try. The one thing that made me the most worried about the gig was that I was going to be doing a lot of work inside and at night and I’m a photographer that works primarily with natural light. So in an effort not to ruin the photographs of the client, I studied up on lighting and I purchased a pretty sweet (translation – not cheap) flash for my camera.

Soon it came time for the gig. In an effort to make sure that I was able to capture all the moments the client wanted to capture, I even went to the client’s venue the night before the big event so that I would be as comfortable as possible with my new flash and so that I would have an idea as to what I would be working with. It took only an extra hour of my time (minus travel, etc.) and it was well worth the trip …

I’m always nervous just before I arrive to meet a client to take photographs. When I’m photographing strangers, it’s always cause for a few butterflies. In the end the event went off without a hitch and when I had a chance to get home and look over the photos I took at the event and the reception (overall, 5 hours worth of photographing) I was pleased with most of the pictures I was able to capture. It seemed I was able to get the most important moments, and that made me happy.

Because I knew my client from long ago, I wasn’t a real stickler on payment and in the back of my mind I thought – will this come back to bite me in the ass? But I didn’t really think it would. The client seemed pleased with my work and I thought it was understood that payment should be forthcoming.

I’m not writing this to bad mouth my client – I promise. What I am doing is writing this to explain why it is I do what I do … I photograph not to earn a living (unfortunately). I photograph for the love of it. I photograph because I love capturing the happiness and expressions of people – usually when they least expect it. I photograph because life moves so quickly and sometimes it’s moving so quickly that we can forget those little moments that happen – unless we see a picture that may have captured that moment perfectly. So when you’re considering hiring a photographer – whether it be for a wedding, a family portrait, a first day of school, a birthday party, a special occasion, or for whatever moment you’re hoping to capture, please keep in mind that the photographer you’re hiring – and I’d love for it to be ME!! – isn’t there to overcharge you and put you in debt … but instead they’re charging you just for their time. Because the chances are they’re taking the time away from their loved ones, from a first soccer practice, from a dinner table discussion, from any little thing that they normally wouldn’t be missing – to spend it with you and your loved ones. And they may even be working toward paying back that flash they bought for the occasion.

I photograph because I love capturing the moments in life that matter. Sometimes when I’m not compensated for the hard work that goes into that work, it makes me not want to work toward that passion anymore … and is there anything sadder than walking away from something about which you’re passionate??


Photographing Facebook – What’s The Weather for the Weekend Going to Be?

When I was in 7th grade, my friend Dana Evans (another Facebook friend, to be photographed later, of course) and I devised a plan for me to transfer the school at which she was going – Sts. Peter and Paul School – instead of going to school at the public middle school in the town in which we lived. It didn’t take much convincing of my parents that this was a good idea. And starting in September 1986, my Catholic school career began. It was definitely one of the best moves I made – perhaps academically, definitely socially. Some of my dearest friends today are the ones I made during grade school and high school at Sts. Peter and Paul School.

My friend MacNeil Lyons was in my class starting that September in 1986. You see, Sts. Peter and Paul (SSPP) was a small (SMALL) school and there were about 20 kids in my class. We were a tight-knit group and we spent every day, every class, all day – together.

MacNeil’s job in 7th grade was to report the weekend weather. Each Friday our teacher Mr. Fellows had MacNeil stand in front of the class and report the weather. We even had a song that we would sing in unison before MacNeil would give us the weather report. And I still remember it today – after all these years:  “what’s the weather for the weekend going to be? Will it be hot? Cold? Rain? Snow? Only MacNeil. Knows!” Neil would then proceed to give us an in-depth weather report. It was great.

Something happened, though,and Neil started missing school quite a bit. No one really knew why, but we all knew Neil wasn’t there like he always was. Eventually we found out that he had been diagnosed with cancer – T-Cell Lymphoma. The doctor had found a tumor around his esophagus the size of a book and had informed Neil that if he had waited only 5 more days, he would no longer be able to breathe. [editor’s note – the type of cancer has been updated from esphogeal to T-Cell Lymphoma.Sorry about that Neil!]

I remember the day Neil stood in front of the class and told us like it happened yesterday. It shook me to the core. That kind of stuff doesn’t happen to 7th graders. And it doesn’t happen to 7th graders who are my friends.

After intensive chemotherapy, MacNeil was declared cancer-free in 9th grade. And just like that, Neil was back to being Neil again (to this gal, anyway).

Neil and I have always had similar interests that have fueled – and maintained – our friendship. For instance, we both love music … while in college, Neil and our friend – Adam (Riddleberger, my boyfriend in kindergarten! Weird, right?!?) – drove down to Lexington to drive to Cleveland with my friend Erin and I for a Grateful Dead show. The number of mix tapes we’ve made for each other is countless. I wish I knew where those were. They’d be awesome to listen to now …

Nowadays Neil is a successful nature guide at Yellowstone National Park in Montana … and he’s a dad. And a husband. He’s an amazing photographer (http://www.macneillyonsimages.com/). And he’s my friend. Still.

It’s unfortunate that Neil doesn’t make it home too often anymore. He and his wife Lucy have a beautiful daughter Kaia and a busy life far away from the Land of Pleasant Living. But it’s funny – when they do make it back east, we seem to find the time to see each other. We’ve gone to a show at the 9:30 Club. We’ve gone out for beers – legally! – in Easton with all of our old friends … and what’s so great is that when we’re all together, it’s like we’ve never stopped hanging out. The laughter has never stopped.

This photograph was taken 1 year ago – in November 2012. It’s the last time I saw MacNeil and Lucy while they were home. We all met for drinks in Easton. I captured this photograph as they were walking out the door – I like to think they’re not saying goodbye, they’re just saying “catch ya later!”


Photographing Facebook (finally!)

DSC_0481Earlier this year I set out to photograph ALL of my Facebook friends. I took a break from working on this for some reason. Today – I’m feeling inspired, and that’s probably because this Facebook friend inspires me. A LOT.

When I first met Jennifer Holdgreve, I didn’t know much about Type 1 diabetes. Today, I’m much more informed. I’m much more aware. And I’m much more sympathetic.

Jennifer’s family lives with Type 1 diabetes every day. Nine-year-old Allison Holdgreve was diagnosed with the disease when she was in kindergarten. And instead of allowing this disease to take over their lives, they educated themselves and have set about educating everyone else with whom they come into contact.

What’s so great about the Holdgreves is that they also live their lives. Allison, Samantha, and Ryan are happy, active children with fulfilling lives. Instead of allowing this diagnosis to ruin their happiness, they’ve embraced it and done whatever they can to help others with the disease. Diabetes isn’t a dirty word. It’s a disease that can allow one to live a life without letting it take you down.allie.throwin

Of course, there are days when Jennifer, her husband Chris, and Allison all want to throw in the towel. Allison has to think about everything she’s eating. She has to ask her parents if it’s ok for her to have a snack. And she has to stop her normal 3rd-grade life to prick her finger multiple times a day. She has to take breaks from the fun the other kids are having to ensure she stays alive. That’s pretty scary shit. And for a 3rd grader to have that responsibility is daunting. But Allison? She does it. And she does it well. And sometimes, she does it with a smile on her face even.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and I wore to work a ribbon to commemorate given to me by the Holdgreves. I was stopped multiple times and asked about my ribbon. And it was refreshing to talk to someone about the disease, and why I’m wearing that ribbon. And all the knowledge I had came from my friend Jennifer and her daughter Allison. And I love that. Instead of hiding behind it, they are out there helping others to understand. And that’s amazing.

Jennifer and I are very close friends. I would probably go crazy without her companionship. She keeps me sane. She keeps me laughing. And sometimes she keeps me drunk. Just like a very good friend should do.
The picture I’ve chosen of Jennifer and her husband Chris (NOT on Facebook, but still my friend) is one of my favorites. Their laughter is so real. Their happiness is so real. And that’s so refreshing.

KES Fun Fair = FUN!!

Recently I took pictures at the Kennard Elementary School Fun Fair – a fund-raiser for the KES PTA. The week had been a rainy one, and the hope was that the rain would end – or at least hold off – on Friday from 5 until 6:30 p.m. Alas, it wasn’t to be. Since the event was rain or shine,  the Fun Fair moved inside to the gymnasium. There were a LOT of people in that gymnasium. But it was FUN nonetheless! The dunk tank and the duck toss were outside … and even the rain couldn’t deter the students from trying to get their favorite teachers wet!
Thanks to the KES PTA for the opportunity! And thanks to everyone for the smiles!


For more pictures to purchase click on the link below. Password may be obtained by e-mailing picturesworth1000words@outlook.com

KES Fun Fair


Photographing Facebook – Soccer Moms, Part I (and the first of many Jens)

When Andrew was going into 1st grade, we learned at around the same time that his teacher was going to be Ms. Coursey and his soccer coach was going to be Chris Holdgreve. The only thing we knew about Ms. Coursey was that she had taught my neighbors’ daughter and we didn’t know ANYTHING about Chris Holdgreve. It didn’t really matter – we were looking forward to the start of both.

The day after learning who was coaching and teaching Andrew, we ran into a woman in the Acme parking lot. She had with her her daughter named Caitlyn, and as it turned out, she and Andrew were in the same class AND on the same soccer team. So was my first meeting with Jen Rath.

It wasn’t until the start of the next soccer season that my friendship with Jen Rath truly started to blossom. It was during this season that Jen Rath was Andrew’s head coach (Coach Chris took on the role as assistant). Caitlyn and Andrew were together on the soccer field again, and it was great. It was during that second season that I found out how much I had in common with Jen Rath – well, kinda. 😉

We’re both a little (A LITTLE) on the competitive side. We both have children in the same grade. And I’m awesome. So there’s always that.

After that second soccer season we started a social club – “Mom’s Who Like to Drink and Swear”. We try to meet monthly. We typically succeed. Our husbands are pretty understanding – and probably pretty jealous. Rath is a Jersey girl and she keeps it in check as much as she can. But sometimes she just can’t help to let it out.

I am lucky to have found in that Acme parking lot a mom who is my confidant; my Jersey authority; and my good friend. And I’m lucky that Andrew has landed on a soccer team that allows him to play competitively and learn the game.

Let’s start planning the next outing, Rath!