Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Easter Bunnies go to Stop 'n Shop

In keeping with tradition, James and I gathered up a wide range of edibles that contained virtually no nutritional value at the store yesterday. Last night we assembled our kids' Easter baskets and I expect it will distract them contentedly for a day at least. This year it was no presents, no money, no perks. Just an assortment of candy, gum, chocolates and their own bag of Flavor Blasted Goldfish.  (and please don't think of ill of us for bringing this junk into the house- I stand guilty as charged.)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thoughts from the Garden

A beautiful Saturday afternoon and my husband, James, and I head out for a visit to the New York Botanical Garden without any of our offspring (who plead indifference, or boredom at the prospect of an outing with Mom and Dad). It's a bittersweet era in this current chapter of parenthood- our children are pretty reluctant to do any thing with us besides go out to dinner, go shopping, or go on vacation. But I digress.

We made our way to the Bronx and immediately upon entering the garden's beautiful grounds, the spectacle of documentation was everywhere. Since the advent of digital cameras, and phones with excellent capture ability, this picturesque locale means being surrounded by people photographing the horticulture, the outdoor sculpture installation, one another, and the fascinating orchids on display in the conservatory.

It's clear that it is no longer enough to merely see. There's an urgency to make memorable images as a record of the time spent. And I, although fascinated by the amazing installation of tropical flowers, was more in awe of the relentless documentation happening all around me. I once thought that Americans were a people of doers and achievers, and now I feel we have become a nation obsessed with committing to digital memory everything and anything that happens. Watching and recording has surpassed engagement as the pinnacle of existence.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another Rescue from the Goodwill

I'd like to think that we all have drives and desires in us that we don't really understand-but are hopefully leading us down roads worth going. I have long been able to enjoy poking through a Goodwill, a yard sale, a flea market while surveying the offerings and discards of others. Sometimes I see something so special and somehow abandoned, that I have a need to rescue it, and bring it home where it will appreciated and tended.  So there I was in the Goodwill, with Sarah and her friend, looking for shirts for Max's next project, and I wandered the bric-a-brac and housewares aisles chock-a-block with a diverse assortment of items. And there they were. A pile of classic porcelain china dishes made in Denmark with some vaguely recognizable manufacturer's mark marked at $6.99 for the set. They had to come home with me. Upon returning I researched and learned about them, cleaned them up and found them a place in the cupboards. Along with the uneasy feeling of why certain objects beckon to me in a way I don't really understand.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Way back When (from the archive)

Michele and Laura 1982

A parent with their baby is a subject that never fails to yield a flood of feelings- and years later serves as a powerful memento for all involved.

Friday, March 22, 2013


My son Jacob is one of my most reluctant subjects and this week brought a new challenge- he needed to create a short film for French class in which he prepared fondue while narrating the recipe en Fran├žais. After a little frustration on my end and an editing session with the same production assistant after dinner, his film is done. Another school project sails out the door.

(Not really. I followed up with Jacob after school and the whole thing was never uploaded correctly to YouTube which is going to affect his grade which has pi**ed him off  and it's Friday night so he's staying out with his friends. Another disgruntled member of our family.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What a difference 25 years make

Mercedes is my goddaughter and before my own darling children came along- she was one of my favorite subjects. Now that she is a mother herself, I took a minute to find some photos of her from her toddler days. In contrast to Mercedes all grown up, I am fascinated once again by the ability of images to tell stories without the use of words.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm Hoping

We had an unexpected and awful slushy snow the other day. It started around dinner and came down fast and furious. Definitely inches stuck to the ground. Another 2 hour school delay for my delighted children as well as snow shoveling for all including mom. March has been mostly cold, grey unrelenting days of wintry weather and I am ready for some signs of spring and seeing if any or all of the 250  bulbs that I purchased ( priced at least 50% off) and James planted in a new place in the yard come up. I'm ready to see actual flowers again. This image is a token hope that that is the last snow I see coming down outside my window until this December at the earliest.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

(My own) Six Degrees of Separation

I've had the opportunity to photograph a wide range of subjects under all kinds of conditions. Sometimes I am the director, sometimes I am the observer. When I was asked to photograph Riverkeeper's annual Shadfest at Boscobel one year, I didn't know that the rainy conditions would force me under the tent with my camera to photograph the Bacon Brothers. Standing on the side, I waited patiently for Kevin Bacon to acknowledge me behind the lens. Some images are worth the wait.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

About Andrea

I have added a new feature on the lower right hand column of my blog (I pasted what it looks like here below) as I wanted to assemble my posts about Andrea Lekberg and The Artist Baker and put them all in one spot. The first time I met Andrea, I knew she was a uniquely talented individual. I always have fun documenting her in action with my camera. And her culinary efforts are always lovely to behold and delicious to eat!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dior Amour (a trip down memory lane)

Back in the day, I photographed a lot of parts models. That's what they are called- as in a model whose signature feature is her hands. or her feet, or her legs. Often times, when the work was done they would agree to stick around so we could play in front of the camera. The shape of my model's Liza's nails in the image above is kind of scary, looking at it now. She had the most perfectly tended hands and nails and I appreciated her exquisite care that kept them in pristine condition. I never once saw a hand model manage a phone with her fingers. They wore the best gloves and you always wanted to check out their hand cream.

(I fell in love with Christian Dior nail polish in the 70's and to this day I have a fascination with nail polish as a medium. Sort of amazes me.)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Less is more

I had a long stretch of complete uninterrupted bliss at my desk and was able to get a few items posted on Ebay. The other day, in a moment of retail weakness, I bought a used table while thrifting with my daughter. It called to me and was priced so ridiculously low, I had to bring it home. I guess I don't need simplification as much as I thought.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

RTW, Harriet and Me

Before the kids were born I got to travel some for work- and one of my favorite clients, Janyce McMenamin, was located in Charleston, South Carolina. I made quite a few trips there to make photographs for her amazing store RTW located on King Street. RTW is a perennial favorite as Janyce assembles all the makings for a fabulous wardrobe. King Street itself is an absolute destination for visitors to the area to wander through interesting emporiums, soak in the period architecture, and eat savory, southern dining in an area that oozes charm.

My favorite model was a young woman named Harriet whose mother was a favorite customers of Janyces'.  Harriet was fun to be with, had perfect deportment on camera and she looked lovely on film. I loved zipping around Charleston taking Harriet everywhere I imagined an independent and fashionable young lady might go, from the beaches of Sullivan's Island, to The Battery, to a minor league baseball game.

It's fun to examine these images anew. Location work, a great subject, a vehicle and a camera!! Yes!!!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Interval with Her Royal Highness #2

My husband and I are nesting this weekend. Feeling frugal, no plans to carry us away. We curl up and enjoy the comforts of home. My daughter Sarah has a lot of forward momentum at 16 and is usually going out and about. Waiting for her evening to begin, she joins us in the living room- our beauty that is blossoming in front of our eyes.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thoughts on my Mom

Mom and Dad circa 1978

Liz Gumbinner of Mom 101 wrote a really beautiful post about facing her mother's medical issue whose procedure ended in the best of all possible ways- her mother's cancer scare was only that- and her mother is sure to enjoy many more years of good health. Very tender and lovely to realize the depth of feeling between mother and daughter and the good will that exists. In moments like this, you find yourself reflecting on your own life. My mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 79. There were no good byes, no lingering moments. I did make every effort to tell always my mother how much I loved her and I know she loved me in return. But, she was not an easy mother. She didn't thrive on nurturing us. Not her thing. She loved us, she was proud of all of her five children, but I don't remember a lot of tenderness. As her unforeseen demise took her from us by surprise, we were all in a state of shock. Our focus became our father and keeping him going after her death. They were a devoted couple, and we were terrified that he would follow her shortly to the great beyond. As my mother died when my eldest was 6 weeks old, she never saw my children as winsome toddlers, or attended a recital, or took them out to lunch, much less regale her grandchildren with stories of her own life. So, a loss all around. (Although, in retrospect she had an amazing death in that the moment she sat in her favorite chair, with a novel and a cup of tea at 1 in the morning because she couldn't sleep, she had no idea in the middle of turning the page that that was the last mystery novel she was ever going to read. A really remarkable way to go.) There are many things I never got to share with my witty, brilliant and complicated mother. They weren't all good- as we all experience things imperfectly growing up- and in that way I am far from unique. Do I miss my mother? Frequently. Do I talk to her in my head and wish she were still here? Absolutely. I'm not sure if I am lucky or not that I didn't have to watch my mother suffer, wither, lose her ability to captain her own ship, much less watch my mother watch my father suffer (he also dropped dead bringing in the groceries at the age of 96- he managed to survive her for 10 years but suffered from the infirmities and pain of the elderly.) So, for all of you grown sons and daughters who have parents who continue to thrive and with whom you feel a connection of love, respect and affection, I am happy for you. More than you'll ever know.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Winter Wonder in Sleepy Hollow

We woke up to falling snow, coating the trees with a heavy white icing and draping the neighborhood in its steady cascade. How do you not create images of this?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

From the mouths of babes

When you are a photographer, for whatever reason, you are often thinking about the next image you want to take. Even if you have no idea what that will be, it hovers there, in some kind of tantalizing fashion. It's as though the yet to be created will be that much better realized than any thing you have ever photographed before. One of my daughters, eyeing the binders of negatives, the flat files of prints, and the albums of photo c.d.'s suggested that I probably didn't need to take any more photos- I might have generated enough photographs to occupy me for the rest of my life. It was a kind of unsettling comment, because most of my life I have been paid to create images for others- to create what does not exist but is needed in some tangible visible form. So, in the spirit of entertaining her insight, I've been looking backwards some instead of hurtling myself onward with a camera in hand. My present, past and future are woven in some kind of simultaneous cross section of existence, mapping a different kind of exploration.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Every Object tells a Story

With my eldest off on her adventure, the house is a lot quieter and my ability to concentrate returns.
Something about the kids, the pets, the coming and going that makes it hard for me to buckle down.
I've got a few resolutions of my own these days, including simplifying our world and selling 100 objects on Ebay. In the course of getting my odd collectibles listed, I get to research each item before I write its description. This cocktail pitcher, while unmarked, bears the design hallmarks (especially her spout and handle style) of Dorothy Thorpe, a designer who worked in the 1930's-1950's and is very popular with those who love mid-century. What's unique about this piece is the bamboo style ribbing in the glass that makes it so contemporary and retro at the same time. When I was a child, I thought that everything, animate and inanimate had feelings. I used to apologize to the clothes that I didn't wear, as I believed they felt neglected. Looking back, I see that my sensitivity to "the thingness of things" was a useful attribute when it came to creating images and imbuing ordinary moments and objects with emotional traits. Keeps life interesting for sure.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stopping to enjoy what is

I'm sharpening my focus and working my to-do list. There is always much left undone, ways I could work harder (at least in my imagination) or better (at least in my aspirations.) The importance of seeing the beauty in the day to day is an effort working making, considering our three children, rapidly becoming young adults who are stealthily taking copious notes on the whys and wherefores of us, their parents, in all our moments good and bad. So, there's nothing like pausing a moment to enjoy the sunset with my daughter Sarah on the way home from the store and having something lovely to share.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Keeping it Simple

I wish I was spending the weekend in pursuit of solving profound scientific questions, or hammering away at a compromise in Washington regarding the budget cuts, but instead I am seeking the satisfaction of creating order, meditating on where life is leading us, and leaning on my son to finish his project due in English class tomorrow. There isn't a lot of excitement to be had around here as I write, and I'm trying to see that as a good thing.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The W Question

Lately I'm wondering why I blog, feeling awkward in my own skin, and ambivalent in seeking to share myself with others in this way. So many people creating so much content- it feels like the ultimate egotism to keep crafting blog posts, especially when the focus isn't the next greatest place to eat dinner, the next important cause that we all must support, or a dire event (condition, location) that no one knows about and should. I don't live an especially extraordinary life (although I am reasonably skilled with a camera). I am for all intents and purposes devoted to my family and do what I can for the world at large. Like many, I could do more and aspire to do more, do better which seems to be the essence of our common humanity. So why blog? I'm working on that one. Forgive my bout of self reflection. Must come with the territory of the introvert craving an extroverted guise.