Many people are saying the pandemic is helping us to appreciate the old fashioned pleasures of summer — like sitting with family on the porch, riding bikes in the neighborhood or playing board games. Since most of us are slowing down and hanging out at home rather than jetting off to faraway vacation spots, we feel like we are enjoying a summer from a bye-gone era.
So, yesterday I glanced out the front window to see the little girl next door playing with her dolls. She spread out a blanket in the shade under a tree and was sitting there by herself with three dolls. For me it was a poignant flashback to when my daughters (now in their 30s) played with their dolls. I remember when they arranged a little tea party for the dolls and the dog too.
Seeing little Josephine by herself, letting her imagination provide the morning entertainment, brought me such joy. I ran for my camera and then approached Josephine and her mom for permission to take some photos. I was grateful to capture this special moment. Josephine was surprised to hear that I had three little girls a long time ago. She asked if I still had their dolls. I do.
When travel restrictions keep a photographer at home for months at a stretch, it’s a perfect time to exercise one’s creativity with new ways to process images in the archives. On this sunny day in June, I pulled up one of my favorite images of 2020: my daughter and son-in-law on a dog sled in Wyoming with a stunning background.
I was so happy that my dogsled, traveling just behind Courtney’s sled stopped in an opportune spot for me to frame her sled before tall pines, snow-capped mountains and a happy sky, blue with puffy clouds. And for just one second, Courtney and her husband Scott looked up at me and smiled. The triangular composition gives the scene balance and also offsets the white dogs.
Our winter adventures in Jackson Hole will give us some interesting options for holiday cards this year, and maybe a 2021 calendar. I’m sure your photographs from your family trips bring you joy at this time.
My friend Eliza needed a portrait to publicize upcoming speaking engagements and an upcoming book. As a great admirer (for more than 40 years), I was happy to take the job. I was confidently pleased with the results, but Eliza was worried. Looking at the proofs, she was not enthusiastic about how she looked. It was months before I heard from her about proceeding.
Our dialogue about how to see your own portrait is worth sharing. I shared these thoughts: The purpose of the portrait is to present the author as “friendly, intelligent, interested in you and having wisdom to share.” It is not a beauty contest. It does not aim to make you look 10 or 20 years younger than you really are. The audience for this portrait will ask themselves, “Would she have something interesting to share with me? Is she knowledgeable? Is she a nice person? Do I like her? Is she funny sometimes? Would she be someone I would like to have as a friend?”
In reassuring Eliza, I suggested this: beauty is inside and out. Imagine someone who is not friendly, not smart and not the least bit interested in you. That person is not attractive, all because of what exists inside.
You, on the other hand, have that inner beauty and you are a beautiful woman too! When you look at your photograph, you might be critical of your own face, because you prefer a younger you. But we see you differently. We don’t really care how old you are. We only care about the intangibles, which you have in spades.
Eliza, a specialist in historic preservation, Pittsburgh history and architecture, is writing a book about two intrepid women—her grandmother and great aunt—who led the Suffrage movement and became crusaders against corruption in local government. For more information, Eliza’s website is here.
On Sunday I shot 26 family portraits as a volunteer for a Pittsburgh school for children with disabilities. To protect their privacy, we will keep the names of the school and the family private. This portrait was my favorite, thanks to the loving gesture of the grandfather. As you reflect on the smiles on the parents’ faces, you can tell they are counting their blessings too. These families give me a gift every year, by showing me where true happiness comes from.
Now that this pretty girl in PJs has survived her lung transplant, she has a lot to smile about. Her mom told me that she was never able to go swimming or enjoy many of the activities that healthy kids do, because she was on oxygen her whole life. Now she can.
Meeting this patient was a meaningful experience for me. Our meeting caused me to reflect on what we take for granted, and why we ever feel sorry for ourselves. In these photos, I hope you read inspiration too.
While I devote most of my time to Landscape and Nature Photography, I also practice Portraiture. When possible, I like to tell a story with the portrait, and place the subject in their home environment. My Sewickley friends Kelly and Steve enjoy raising chickens, so they held two of their favorite hens for the shot.
If it’s July, it’s time to shoot family portraits for the remarkable families at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children. For the past six years, I have donated my time to create portraits. This year with my husband assisting, I completed 23.
While I protect the confidentiality of the patients at the school by keeping their photographs private, I can share a portrait of a staff member with her family.
Friday July 7 is a great evening for a one-time photography show in Pittsburgh. The ASMP (American Society of Media Photographers) photographers will be exhibiting their recent personal work in the Cultural Trust Building, 4th floor: 807 Liberty Avenue. We have an annual tradition of putting on this one-night exhibit. Each year the art is diverse and fascinating, and most of the artists are there to talk to. We start at 5:30 pm. Please come meet us and enjoy dinner in the neighborhood.
These five of my prints will be on display and for sale. Hope to see you!