Monday, October 24, 2011

Post-Camp Post: an attempt

I've had a few people email me and ask about Camp Shutter Sisters, and those I've met in person have all asked. So maybe it's about time I try to put my feelings into words about this experience. Which is hard because the feelings run deep and strong, and I find myself at a loss for words (which is very, very rare for me).

The easy way to answer, "What was it?" is to say that it was a women's photography workshop. But that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface.

I can't remember now what I expected before I went. I'm not sure I had even set up any hard expectations as I was extremely busy with work in the months leading up to it, and found that I hadn't thought about it much at all before beginning to pack a few days before. I was so caught up in work and Zoe and planning for a new home (and all the other stuff that pops up in daily life) that I would find myself pleasantly surprised to remember, "I get to go to that thing!"

We have a private Facebook page for the Campers, set up so we could "meet" each other before arriving at Asilomar. We had lots of fun there, and plans were made for pick-ups and rides and sharing rental cars and finding rooms in Monterey the night before Camp officially started. But it's one thing to communicate on-line via an open forum and another to actually meet people live, face-to-face (and in our case, lens-to-lens).

I considered getting into the details of my trip (I arrived at this time, and was picked up at this time, etc.), but that's really not important compared to what happened at a much deeper level.

And that's what I'm struggling to put into words.


I went into this with a completely open heart and willing spirit. It turns out that every single one of my fellow Campers did the same. As a result, we were all welcoming and welcomed, loving and loved, seeing and seen. It sounds crazy, but it was like being suddenly plunked down into the middle of 70 (yes, seventy - 7dash0) of the best friends you'll ever have. Instafamily.

I tried my hardest to absorb every single second of my time there. It was magical. I felt every atom of my being vibrating with energy and connection. I learned so much, far more than I contributed, and gained not only hard photography knowledge but a new way of seeing the world. We spoke about shooting through a lens of gratitude, of looking with love. We shared stories and lenses and tips and tricks and everything we had. It was the best sort of community - one that felt like it was created specifically for me.

Several of my Camp sisters have done a far better job of explaining this.  I should just shut up and link to their posts. There are many out there now, and more continue to be posted each day, but for brevity I'll ask you to read this one.  I first read this in the car Friday night on the way to our friends' wedding in Indianapolis. I bawled. When I finally got myself together, I read it to M. I wondered how he would take it. It's hard to tell your husband that while you absolutely love your life as a mother and as a wife, it's not enough. He listened quietly, and even though I choked up while reading it, I got through it and waited anxiously to hear his response.

"Wow," he said reverently. "When is the next Camp?"

And I burst into tears all over. I had just essentially opened my soul to him and he not only fully accepted me, but encouraged me to continue pursing whatever it is I need to feel fully alive.

This experience is not something that ended Wednesday, October 19 at 11:05 a.m. when I went wheels up over Monterey. This is something that continues to grow, to flourish, to change how I view myself, my relationships, my photography. I am forever a different person, and in good way.

In keeping with the spirit of Camp and the idea of putting things out there into the universe and trusting the process, I share what I'm truly feeling. It feels a bit like I'm standing here naked, but I'm learning that with stretching boundaries and the accompanying uncomfortable feelings, comes power.

Me, seen by the amazing Cyndy Bresden

I struggle with permission to be truly myself. I struggle with the idea that it's okay to take time for myself. It feels selfish. I'm not sure if that's from my innate desire to please others or if it's part of my essential femaleness (so many of us fall into this trap) or if it's this sense that what I need simply doesn't matter compared to what others need. But perhaps the most important thing I learned at Camp is that not only is it okay to be truly myself and make time for what makes me feel alive (photography), it's required. In other words, if I don't ensure that I have ample time to look for, create, and process images, I will not be all the way alive. I will be a shadow of myself. I do not want my daughter to be mothered by a shadow, nor my husband to be married to one. I want them both to see me as 100% me, and in turn feel okay to be 100% themselves.

The other thing I'm gonna throw out here is gratitude. Thank you to Tracey Clark and the Shutter Sisters, and thank you to my Camp sisters for creating a whole new universe and way of seeing for me. Thank you to my family for supporting my desire to continue to grow and learn and find myself. Thank you to my friends for accepting me, flaws and all.

I am so incredibly lucky to be alive in the very best world: mine.

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wedding weekend

Road trip to Indy to celebrate the wedding of an old friend. Congratulations Chris and Ann!

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing,
the world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and
the sweet confinement of your
aloneness to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

-David Whyte from "The House of Belonging"


First full day of Camp

Today was so full, and so incredible, that it will take me a long time to process it and share it.  Or maybe I will never share it.  Not all of it, anyway.  Some things are just meant to be taken in, digested, and then tucked away in the heart forever.

Lots of photography, in addition to all the touchy-feely warm & fuzzies.

I keep thinking how lucky I am to be here, and how lucky I am to have an awesome husband who encouraged me to go, gave me his frequent flyer miles to get here, arranged my travel, re-arranged my travel, and is single-parenting for a few days without complaint.  I get these little e-mails from him daily with a photograph of him and Zoe and a few words expressing love.  My heart sings!

Tomorrow promises another busy day, and it starts with a 6:30 a.m. trip to the beach to catch the gorgeous morning light.  I hope the fog rolls back out before then.  And I hope I get enough sleep before then!

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Saturday, October 15, 2011


45-minute flight up the coast in a weensy plane.
My first glimpse of the Pacific this trip. Love!

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Waiting to leave STL

It's a photography trip, so we're all documenting our journey to meet. It's awesome to think of all these like-minded women coming together. So very cool.

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Why it's so hard to leave

I'm not sure which one of us was more upset at the airport. I couldn't help but think, "What the f*ck am I doing?!"
I told her that when she gets older, she'll go with me on trips like this. I can only hope she'll still want to.

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And...I'm off!

I'm packed (mostly) and my gear is stowed (all of it) and I'm getting ready to leave for the airport in about an hour.  I'm going here, to do this.

It's 70 women photographers, many of us mothers, converging in one location to photograph and learn and share.  It sold out in less than 15 minutes, so I feel incredibly fortunate to have one of the slots.  This is the first year for it, and I think while all of us are extremely excited, none of us know exactly what to expect.

The organizers were wise and created a private Facebook page for us to get to know each other before camp.  We've had so much fun sharing there that I can't wait to meet all my new friends in person.  Women who have never met before in person have arranged to meet up at airports, share rental cars, pick strangers up and take them to camp.  Ten years ago I'd be completely freaked about doing something like this.  I'd have most likely passed up an incredible opportunity and just stayed home.  Now, I can't wait to meet the two women who are picking me up at the Monterey airport tonight.  We're going to dinner, then crashing at a local motel with a lot of the other campers as the event doesn't formally start until tomorrow afternoon.

While I'm thrilled to go, there is a part of me that is anxious.  It's so hard to leave my little family, even for a few days.  Zozer and I are getting in some last-minute snuggles, which I tell myself will last for the next four days until I see her again but which I know is not true.  Nothing replaces the feeling of being with your child.

So I'm off, and I'll definitely be making iPhone photographs and hopefully remembering to post them here. And since I'm taking the laptop and the facility offers wifi, I just might get in some "real" blogging time.

Then again, I just may be having too much fun to write.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Emma waits

New photography software + insomnia = lots of blog posts

Am so in love with my new Lightroom software that why don't I marry it.  Blissed out at the iMac tonight. Or rather, this morning.

Got this image of my niece Emma while we were waiting for her big brother to come by in his school parade.  She kept hearing the sirens of the fire engine, and at one point just started ambling down the sidewalk by herself. The pink shirt against the fall leaves...I couldn't resist.

Must go to sleep to avoid zombieness in the morning.  Too late, probably, but I should at least attempt it.

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Can't I edit

Thought I'd work on a few photos since my eyes won't stay closed.

Zozer and I went to my nephew's school carnival last weekend.  I always love the bright gaudiness of a carnival.  It's like the whole world pops in hyper-saturation, and even amidst all the chaos, there is order...patterns.  And you know how I loves me some good patterns.  Or patterens as Zoe calls them.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A state of readiness

I was on fire today.  No, not literally.  None of my body parts was physically engulfed in flames.  I just mean I was on fire.  Highly productive.

I woke up to an iPhone jammed with increasingly frantic e-mails bouncing between Lenexa, KS, New York, and France over an industry publication article that was hitting the press shortly and was rife with errors.  Oh, boy.

I hit the ground running at about 6:45 and didn't really stop until I left the house at 4:40 to walk up to Zozer's school.  Yes, I worked from home. That's what happens when you forget to bathe and apply make-up.

It was a very good day in that I got a lot done, and a lot crossed off the ol' task list that is never-ending.  I also managed to think ahead enough to realize that I would have no time to shop for a wedding gift for the blessed event that is taking place a week from Saturday in Indianapolis (road trip!) and that I better get that done now.  Like, today. So my busy work day bled into a busy evening with a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond (who managed to mess up our transaction so bad that they ended up ordering our gift and giving us free shipping to have it sent directly to the bride and groom - good people, those BB&Bers) and Wal-Mart because Zoe asked plaintively this morning, "Mommy?  Can we please go get me some more toothpaste today?"  Apparently she's fed up with having to ask me for assistance in getting the last little bit out of the tube twice daily.

It was also a good day in that my child made the most awesome artwork...a portrait of our very own Hootie Jefferson.

She wrote his full name on the back, sounding it out herself.  Apparently I've been spelling "Jefferson" wrong all these months. It's actually Gefrsen.  That's his middle name, by the way.  He shares our family name.

My California trip approaches (I leave Saturday morning), and I'm working my ass off to make sure that when my plane's wheels leave the tarmac, I'm able to also leave all my normal, everyday worries and anxieties and task lists behind on the ground.  Because this trip is a chance of a lifetime, a bucket list check-off, and I want to enjoy every. single. second.  So the bills have been paid, Zoe's school stuff wrapped up with a neat, tidy bow, laundry is scheduled to be completed Thursday night/Friday, the wedding gift purchased, all events have been RSVPd, soccer photos edited and uploaded...I'm getting there.

This explains why I've been rather absent from Latent Images lately.  With my regards, I offer you this.  Read, and be enlightened. (This is where M clicks the link, smacks his head, and says, "Where did I find you?")

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011


My very first computer was an Apple IIe.  I got it in high school and it was The Shit.  I could play games on it, and write my homework papers on it.  And I could shove a big ol' giant five-inch floppy disk in the drive and save my stuff forever.

Because so many computers can read a five-inch floppy these days.

In college, once I transitioned from the pc-engineering life into the j-school, I went back to Apple.  Macs, to be specific.  The World's Finest School of Journalism offered its students the "Mac Lab."  Countless hours spent there doing homework I couldn't finish on my good ol' 486 pc.

Then I entered The Working World, where everyone but designers and photographers used a pc.  I got used to the Blue Screen of Death.  I got used to freezes and computers that wouldn't turn off until you unplugged the damn things.  I got used to big, bulky, black or cream-colored behemoths that looked like some old and crusty computer crank put it together.

A decade later, I was back into photography, and I had gone to the Dark Side (digital).  Which meant I needed a computer.  After years and years of growing comfortable with pc, with learning the systems inside and out, with knowing how to trouble-shoot and problem-solve on my own, I demanded a return to Mac.

My trusty Mac G5 tower served me faithfully.  Sometimes I'd overload it with a giant image file or it'd hit a webpage it didn't like and the little color wheel would spin round, but it happened so rarely that I didn't think anything of it.  I loved my Mac.

I loved it so much that I filled it up.  Plum ran out of memory.  We went to look at inserting more memory, learned just how "vintage" it was, and I upgraded to a gorgeous huge iMac.  On which I type now.  Next to me sits my iPhone4, which is such an integral part of everyday life that I have sworn that I will never, ever not have an iPhone if I can help it.  In my backpack is stowed a Macbook that my work purchased for me upon request (because my company is that cool).  Basically, I have an Apple product at my side nearly every moment of every day.

I think that what Apple has done, besides all the innovation (did you know Apple invented the first mouse?) and cool gadgetry, is taught us that technology can be beautiful.  That form is just as important as, and maybe even contributes to, function.  If you have to be surrounded by, and use, something every single day, isn't it better when it's elegant?  And just freakin' works?

Apple said today, "The world is immeasurably better because of Steve."


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Monday, October 03, 2011

Highs...and one low-down dirty move

Holy weekend fun!  We had a photo walk, a photography garage sale, a football game, and a bonfire / hayride - and that was just Saturday.  (Somehow in there I managed to also get the house vacuumed, although the vacuum still lingers in the hallway so I suppose that project isn't quite completely finished.)  Sunday brought mass, a trip to the pumpkin patch, a soccer game, and a roast beef/potato pancake dinner.  (Somehow in there M managed to also get some work done for the Christmas display - we're quite industrious!)

The camera went with me for all this, but I obviously haven't had time to process all the images.  I did get Zoe's game shots done, including this one:

Zozer had possession of the ball on a breakaway, and was trucking down the field while our sidelines went crazy.  "Go Zo Go Zo Go Zo Goooooooo!"  The girl was on a mission, and she was getting ready to make her shot when #7 from the other team took. her. down.

Holy crap.  Her shoe came off and she was pulled down and then #7 mowed her over.

I like to think of myself as an open-minded, Christian woman.  I try to not judge others, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt.  I'm reading a book on kindness right now that is seriously changing my view of the world.  At this moment, though, seeing my girl prone on the field, missing a shoe, I was seriously ready to lose my shit on a kindergartner.

I snapped off a couple more frames, and then lowered the camera to watch my husband kneel over my daughter.  He scooped her up and turned to face us.  I ditched the camera and ran across the field, taking a sobbing Zoe and her shoe in my arms.  I needed to get her off the field, both for her sake and the team's.

The ref saw everything, or at least saw the fury on M's face, and I noticed while comforting Zo that her team was lining up for a penalty kick.  We flubbed it, but I didn't care - I just liked that the unnecessary roughness was acknowledged and the other team penalized.

I had to explain what a penalty kick was, and why they were doing it.  "Mommy, did someone from the orange team pull me down?  Or was it someone on our team?"  "It was the orange team, honey, and she shouldn't have done that.  That's why our team gets a penalty kick."  "Oh.  That was rude!"  I can think of a few other words for it, but yeah, let's go with rude.

I got Zoe calmed down and we were getting her shoe back on when M returned.  "Is she ready to go?"  And off she went.  I'm proud that she shook it off and got right back in the game, and was laughing again within minutes.  All in all, it was a great game.  Our girls are really starting to play soccer (as opposed to just running around on the field chasing a ball and doing cartwheels, although rest assured there was still some of that) and have fun doing it.  M said later that instead of having six girls all asking for a sub, this game he had girls refusing to leave the field to give others a chance to play.  And he said he's starting to hear chatter on the field.  Game-related chatter ("Go Anna!") as opposed to non-game ("Hey!  Look at all the different color ponytail holders I have!").

When we scored our first goal - Ava G. on a breakaway - I was so excited that not only did I not photograph it, I burst into tears.  I am so proud of our girls, all of them.  They've been working so hard and this goal was a long time in coming and hard fought.

This weekend was amazing on so many different levels.  Friends and family and love and memories.  Really, how could it get any better?

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