Creative Processing

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.

#jackson, #jacksonhole, #thingstodo, #winter, #winterfun, #dogsled, #topaz, #adobe, #sonyalpha, #stayathome, #processing, #photography, #family, #creativity
Processed in Photoshop and Topaz Simplify, this photograph gained a painterly effect. I believe that the viewer can more easily place themselves in the scene when the faces are modified. I hope you agree that this image is more than just a family photo now.

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.

Liking Your Own Portrait

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?”

#portrait,#blackandwhite, #headshot, #author, #speaker, #pittsburgh, #purpose
Eliza’s eyes are wide open and her smile looks spontaneous and natural. To me, she looks intelligent, interesting and also interested in me. I think she looks friendly, and I’d like to be her friend — if I weren’t already. I think this facial expression is perfect for the goals of the portrait.

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.

Van Gogh Self Portrait

Van Gogh’s Self Portrait was recreated in flowers at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory. The strong shapes and colors in his portrait allowed the Pittsburgh artists to make a remarkable piece.

Do you recognize Van Gogh with his piercing eyes, red beard and straw hat? The choice of plants in the portrait even reflect the different dots of color found in the background and the jacket. Find this recreation of the Self Portrait at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

The current flower show features rooms inspired by other Van Gogh paintings such as Starry Night, the bar with the pool table, and a Provencal house.

My previous blog featured a landscape photo with clearly defined shapes that are different colors. Do these two compositions inspire your work?

All You Need Is Love

This child is blessed with a loving family. Grandpa showed us how he feels.

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.

A Girl in PJs

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.

Clear skies ahead for this brave girl who looks forward to life with a new pair of lungs.
The miracles of modern medicine have given this young girl a better life. She is looking forward to a happy future.

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.

Innocence of age two

Recently, I photographed this little boy at Children’s Hospital. Whenever I volunteer, I remember how much I love shooting portraits.

A two-year-old thinks he can disappear when he covers his eyes. But he can’t help peaking at you!
“I see you!” How fun is that game? The grown ups can’t help but smile from ear to ear.
Oh my, how I wish you didn’t have to grow up. Toddlers are so irresistible.

Environmental Portraits

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.

#environmentalportrait, #familyportrait, #portrait, #chickens, #hens, #freerange, #coop, #farm, #fall, #story
Kelly and Steve are happiest home on the farm where they raise hens, bees and vegetables.

Annual Giving: My Portrait Project

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.

#portraits, #studio, #portablestudio, #schoolforblind, #pittsburgh, #pennsylvania, #volunteer
The portrait of seven staff members at the Western PA School for Blind Children.

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.

#smiles, #family, #portrait, #familyportrait, #volunteer, #blackandwhite, #school, #familyday, #pittsburgh
Smiles were abundant on Family Day for the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children.

Pittsburgh Gallery Crawl

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!

#white, #flowers, #may, #spring, #bluesky, #icm, #unique, #art, #nature
White dogwood in bloom on a perfect Spring day.

#pinkandgreen, #abstract, #design, #mosaic, #murano, #photography, #inspired, #VIDA, #shopvida
Murano mosaic, my new silk scarf design. Will these colors work with your summer fashion?

#newborn, #portrait, #blackandwhite, #motherandchild, #borntoday, #joy, #pride
Just a few hours after giving birth, my daughter admires her newborn baby girl. (Not for sale.)

#pittsburgh, #skyline, #mountwashington, #circular, #art, #print, #sunnyday, #photograpy
My own artistic interpretation of the Pittsburgh skyline, as seen from Mount Washington. Want a print?

#icm, #nikon, #flower, #blueandgreen, #composite
Creative shooting and processing are behind this unique image that features a peach colored flower.

Beautiful mothers

As I continue to process the portraits I made at Childrens Hospital last week, I find myself gazing into the eyes of the brave hearted children and their beautiful mothers. These mothers are exceptional because they have risen to the challenge to inspire calm in their children as they hold fast to enduring hope for better days ahead.

#flashesofhope, #love, #mother, #cancer
Mother and son.

They hold firmly onto their dreams for a bright future for their children, even as they balance private worries they dare not speak. In their eyes, you can read the strength they embody.

#portrait, #flashesofhope, #mother, #cancer, #love
Their eyes.

The mother, the father, the grandmother, the visiting uncle, the little sister — the intensity of their love is a big part of the cure.