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More! Pictures! (Seriously.)



Breakfast Inspiration

 11.365 55mm f5.6 1/15 ISO 720

Two thoughts come to mind when I see this picture: 

a) The color of a kiwi is one of the reasons I can almost never bring myself to shoot black and white (though if I'm honest B&W completely intimidates me, so that's probably a bigger reason, but still!  Look at that green!)

b) I'm going to have to break down and buy a macro lens.  I think Mies Van Der Rohe had it right with that whole "God is in the details" thing.  I know they say that it's about the photographer, not the equipment, but damn, sometimes I just want to be able to get closer.

One of the pieces of advice I read about successfully getting through a 365 project was to give yourself little rewards for every month you get through, and then a big reward at the end.  Macro lens is moving higher on the wish list for Big Rewards.


Constant Improvements

10.365 10.5mm f5.6 1/160

There are so many things I love about the school Ezra attends - the teachers and staff, the Montessori curriculum, the bilingual environment, the diverse student body, the fact that this miraculous place is situated within walking distance of our house - but the thing I've been appreciating lately is just how determined everyone who works there is to constantly improve the place. 

Late this summer the teachers revealed that the existing playground, a small space set in the middle of the school's parking lot and populated with tatty but perfectly adequate plastic jungle gyms, was about to be torn out and renovated.  They had determined that a larger, more natural environment would benefit the kids and reinforce their Montessori philosophy.  (Apparently in the world of playground design, jungle gyms are soooo 20th century and more imaginative spaces are catching on.)  These things cost money though, and this is an Early Head Start after all, but these women were undeterred and found grant money to fund the project.

First of all, how cool is that?

And then, when I saw there was a labryinth in the design I got a little thrill.  I know my toddler is not likely to be walking in meditation through this maze (though I do have a suspicion that he is a little Buddha) but I can not get over the joy I feel when I see the kids interact with this space.  They ride tricycles through the maze.  They run at top speeds through the maze.  And I like to imagine that every time they enter it they get in touch a little bit more with their path.

The labyrinth won't look like this for long as they'll soon plant low hedges inside, but I've been dying to take this picture for weeks now.  Ezra's teacher was kind enough to let her son (a champion tricycler) be my model and I dove into Photoshop to merge the three images in order to visualize him moving through the space.  I don't know a thing about Photoshop, but this little exercise makes me want to learn more.  When I do, I'll come back and smooth this out but in the meantime I'm just happy to be on the path.


On Being a Creative (and Being Creative)

 9.365 10.5mm f8 1/4 ISO320

With the exception of that $6.25/hour gig I had as a secretary for a landscaping firm when I got out of college, I've pretty much spent my entire adult life working in the media.  I've worked with amazing people, gone to some very cool places, and been lucky enough - every now and then - to get involved in projects that get noticed by the general public.  It's the kind of job that people (mistakenly) think of as sexy so I always have good small talk to contribute at cocktail parties.

I guess I was already "a creative" by the time I first heard of Richard Florida's work, but his ideas reinforced my hunch I was in the right place.  His economic model describes a small group of workers he calls the Super-Creative Core who "fully engage in the creative process” in innovative ways in their jobs.  He observes that they usually don't have to wear business attire to work, that they often set their own hours, that they thrive in areas known for tolerance and what he calls "Street Level Culture," basically meaning places where there is lots of cool stuff to do.  Ummm, yes please.  Sign me up.

But here's the catch: clients.  I know, right?  I know they hire us to create this stuff so ultimately they're the boss.  But if I had a nickel for everytime my colleagues and I sat in a room bemoaning how the client  Just. Doesn't. Get. It.  Let's just say I'd still have to work, but I would have a really sweet new pair of powder skis this winter.  What I've learned is that there's a point on every project where you have to let go and accept that it's the client's baby, and no matter how they're sucking the life out of it, they get to do with it what they want. 

That is my experience of being "a creative."  And lately it has occurred to me (sometimes I'm a little slow on the uptake) that it's not the same thing as being creative.  Yes, every day looks like Casual Friday at my office, but what I apply my energy to there has very little to do with what I have to say in the world.  Or often what I even find interesting. 

Don't get me wrong, it's good work if you can get it.  But when I'm done for the day I'm going to go take some pictures of that Street Level Culture.


Morning Commute

8.365 55mm f5.6 1/250 ISO 200

My friend Kelly is an artist and something of spiritual advisor, especially with regard to matters of fearlessness.  So when I e-mailed her to tell her I was going to start a blog and included the caveat that you know I've never considered myself an artist but... she gave me a stern talking to.  She said, I don't think you know how you look when you're taking pictures.  We artists have a thing we call The Flow, and when you take pictures you look like you're in it. 

Yesterday morning we woke up to the first frost of the season.  On my drive to work I saw the fog rising off a stream running through the silvery lawn of a city park so I stopped and pulled out my camera and trekked off across the cold grass in my loafers.  I worked the stream and the fog for a couple minutes but it wasn't until I physically laid down on the ground that I started to frame up compositions that felt good.

Is being on your belly in the first frost in your work clothes what it looks like to be in The Flow?  Maybe so.  Or maybe that's what it looks like to be a crazy person.  Either way, my dry cleaner is going to love this project.


The Linguistics of Friendship

7.365 34mm f6.3 1/10 ISO200

When you look up encouragement on Google the first definition it suggests is:

en·cour·age·ment ( n-kûr j-m nt, -k r -). n.  the expression of approval and support

I have never had any reason to quibble with Google on this one but in the past week, with the arrival of a heartening number of e-mails, calls, texts and comments commending this blog undertaking, I've been thinking a lot about the nature of encouragement.  This lovely community of supportive friends and family I have nurtured over the years is just as kind as I could have imagined - perhaps moreso - about what sometimes feels to me like a brazen display of electronic exhibitionism.

You see, here's the thing about the experience of conceiving this blog and committing to put some piece of work out there, on the internet, where just anyone could see it (read: judge me)...  Let's just say I was in a cold sweat for the better part of last week.  To be totally honest, it took me two whole weeks - TWO WEEKS - to screw up the nerve to go into a public place with my camera and take the picture for the first post.  People, this is fear.

So this encouragement feels waaaay beyond a simple expression of approval and support.  Rather it is a literal collective lending of courage:

cour·age (kûrj, kr-). n.  the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

If anything resembling self-possession or confidence materializes in this space, it will be because when a girl knows she is drawing from a deep well of love and support she can feel safer trying all manner of brazen acts and attempting to see things in new ways.