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.
Apologies to my loyal followers and friends for the 6 week gap in blog posts. I have needed a healthy dose of personal time away since my mother’s death on July 17. There was not only grieving, but also the time consuming job of sorting Mom’s belongings as we had to vacate her apartment in record time.
Today, I’m back to processing photos and back to blogging too. I finished processing 26 family portraits I made as a volunteer at a local non-profit.
These brave parents love raising children, as they have seven!
Next week, I’ll be back to landscape photography, as we will fly off to Calgary and explore the Canadian Rockies: Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff. Stay tuned!
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.
“Okay, perfect. Now, stand up straight with one foot in front of the other, step into the sunlight, look at me, and hold it right there.” Snap!
If only a wild bird would follow directions like that! If only a beautiful roseate spoonbill would show up when you go out with your camera hoping to capture something interesting. In the wild, the photographer shows up often and prepared with know how and good equipment hoping that the birds and the events will happen someday.
When it is time to process a digital image, some experience with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom comes in handy. I was grateful to be prepared when this Roseate Spoonbill and I met at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
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.
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.
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.
The mother, the father, the grandmother, the visiting uncle, the little sister — the intensity of their love is a big part of the cure.
Sometimes when you are four, you don’t want your picture taken. Maybe you are just shy around strangers. Maybe you are tired or not feeling great. What’s the big fuss?
Little Emily is shy, and she might not feel 100%. The last night her Mom brought her to a photographer, she didn’t want any part of it. She refused to smile.
When Emily and I met, I could tell she was shy, so first we let her watch another child have a portrait session. Then, we just talked. Emily had fun and got a few photos taken with no pressure. You know what? Her favorite color is purple, and her favorite movie is Frozen. She can also sing her ABCs, very quietly.
Most of us call it “Happy Hour,” but for Jenny, an athletic young Canadian, the best way to relax before supper is to waterski on the lake. I had just arrived at my friends’ cottage on Morrison Lake, having driven nearly eight hours from home, when my hosts said they were going out for a quick ski before the sun set.
“You don’t have to come,” they assured me, knowing I was tired. When I smiled and told them I was coming along, they added, “Bring your camera.”
The light was quite low, and I knew I needed to freeze action with a fast shutter speed. I set my ISO to 1600, and set the lens to f/2.8. The skier would stay about the same distance from me, which helped for quick focus, but depth of field would be shallow, so I worked on focusing and refocusing as I shot. I tried to line up the splash against the dark trees for contrast.
I chose this image of Jenny to share, because I liked the right angle between her body and the water curling under her ski. It’s no surprise that she and her cousin Ian waterski for Canada and competed in international competition last month. Go Jenny!