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Entries in practice (14)


Where I've Been

There are days when I look and everything around me seems so fragile.  The dried veins of fallen leaves browning, crackling under my feet.  Everything changing rapidly and not for the easier.  This is the season, it seems, of white knuckling and holding on tight and praying please please please let me get through this one alright.  With any shred of grace, dear Universe, please and thank you please and thank you please and thank you.

Work is consuming in a way that is as predictable as the calendar, and yet here I am wondering how I will make it through and if past success is any guarantee of future performance.  Some of my most sacred relationships seem on the brink of disintegrating like the autumn leaves and I don't know how to stay present to that when running away or lashing out seem more satisfying.  This season of thanksgiving and richness leaves me feeling scared and humbled.

I have been gone from here partly because time has been scarce and partly because I couldn't think of anything nice, or at least well-put, to say.  This is a loss for me, this space sitting dormant, and more broadly the connections I share here and the satisfaction of putting words together in a way that pleases me.  I trust the path to my computer and this place will open again and I will find my way back.

In the meantime I give myself one gift, even though it doesn't always feel like one: I'm back to a picture a day.  I promised myself that I wouldn't put pressure to blog it, so you can find it here if you're so inclined.  In this season of scarce light and attention I try not to get hung up on the questions that plague me, like what do I shoot? and is that good enough? and can't you think of anything besides Ezra to take a picture of?  I hope that when this time of scarcity and transition passes I'll have more space to address these questions.  In the meantime, I shoot, and not always artfully.  But I know that owning this practice will ultimately help me move through this hard part.  If there is to be a shred of grace on the other side of this, I know the practice is what will help me maintain contact.



Affirmations on the High Line in NYC this summerExcuse the radio silence.

It's just that when I chose cultivate as my word for the year I imagined turning the soil and planting things and weeding and tending and seeing things grow before my very eyes.  I thought I would have lots of inspired or insipiring things to report here.

I forgot about all the waiting.

There seems to be a state of suspended animation involved in cultivation - or at least I'm trying to have faith that that's the case, because it would be worse to believe that nothing is happening at all.  I'm not even sure what I'm waiting for, to be frank, which is where the faith comes in.  And you probably know by now that faith is not precisely my native space.

What is more comfortable for me is practice, and sharing, and connection and just the right amount of too-much-to-do to push me forward.  Plus the downhill slide of summer, some upcoming adventures, and the urgent pull to dust myself off and start again, exactly where I am, right now.


Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge

The rattlesnake stirs at my house around 7:00am these days.  Well he is Ezra when he wakes up, sprawled naked across his bed (our recent hot snap having turned pajamas into a corporal punishment analog), but shortly afterward he declares in a small voice I'm a rattlesnake and sheds the first person for the rest of the morning. 

From there on out it's all

the rattlesnake is cold


the rattlesnake wants mango

and in fidelity to his character he slithers around on his naked belly (while I cringe at the prospect of the splinters he could pick up from our century-old hardwood floors) and insists on a straw in his morning smoothie since rattlesnakes don't have hands to hold a cup.  The rattlesnake's logic is unassailable. 

Today he broke out of his snake physicality only long enough to hold the rattlesnake's favorite artifact, a wooden apple.  It's getting positively biblical around here in the mornings.


I'm not sure I've quite deciphered the rattlesnake's appearance in our family ecology, but he tends to emerge on hard mornings and his timid little third person voice makes me wonder if he turns up when Ezra feels particularly vulnerable. 

When Will and Ezra dropped me at the airport last week Will asked Ez Are you sad because Mama left? and Ezra replied No, I'm happy because I'm a rattlesnake.

Maybe the serpent in my garden knows something I don't about deflecting fear and doubt.


I thought if lots of people told me I am awesome I would start to believe it.

Apparently it doesn't work that way.

(I mean, it's nice to hear, so you should tell someone they're awesome if you think that's true, but it's not the kind of thing that's easy to internalize.  Or at least not for me anyway.)

I think what works is doing lots of work, lots of writing, lots of making pictures, lots of tinkering to develop a style.  So this is me, back to the drawing board, trying to hitchhike out of Kansas.  I'm going to pick up a fierce power animal along the way too, just in case I need to slip her on to deflect the scariest stuff.


Make A Wish

I started the year with an intention to learn to shoot video.  I thought it would be easy for me, since I've spent the better part of my career around professional videographers, watching their raw tape, and sitting in edit rooms.  I actually, in my downtime over the holiday break, attempted to shoot, only to realize that it's harder than it looks.

Me, to a friend who is a Director of Photography: Wow.  I've watched you shoot video for all these years and you make it look so easy.  But shit!  It's actually hard!

Him: Ummmm, yeah.  Asshole.

(He didn't say that last part, but I bet he was thinking it.)

So I stopped, after shooting approximately 4.5 minutes of mediocre video, because I thought I couldn't do it.  This is true, even though I understand as I type it that it sounds - and is - absurd.  But through a string of recent encounters and ideas and side projects the notion to shoot for myself has again arisen, this time with the understanding that oh yeah, I could actually practice that.  It sounds like an idea that would come easily to a person who devoted herself to taking a picture every single day in an effort to, you know, learn how to take pictures.  Instead it hit me like a complete novelty, a revolution in creative thinking. 

Here's what I'm thinking: I'll shoot video and put it together in a series of vignettes or sketches and post it here with some regularity.  Right now I'm thinking of them as video love letters, but I may just be stuck in that mode because the first one was a love letter to my new bike and a lost friend.  Sometimes they may be stories, sometimes just a collection of images set to some music that I like.  But always they will be practice, yet another opportunity for me to stretch my own personal creative muscles and work through the fear of sharing imperfect things. 

Thanks for being my test audience.

(And p.s. Thanks, Meghan Davidson, for your willingness to make a cameo.  Beware, other friends who cross my path.  You may be next.)


Staring at the Sun

I notice that you shoot into the sun a lot, he said after we finished the portrait session.  I mean, more than I probably would if I was shooting.

Here's a dirty little secret about me: there's part of me that still craves everyone's approval and doesn't trust my own insticts.  He didn't mean it as a criticism, just an observation.  But I found myself stammering.

Er, uh, yeah.  I dunno.  It looks nice?

This is one of my least favorite things about myself these days, this craving to be approved or ordained as credible, instead of trusting from the inside what I know or that I am enough.  I feel so strongly that my work right now is (among other things) to step into confidence.

When I uploaded the pictures from my SD card I saw these.  And I thought, yeah.  I like to shoot into the sun.  I have to find a better way to talk about that.

So this is me, practicing:

I like to shoot into the sun because I love the way it can blow out the edges between the subject and the world.  I like to shoot into the sun because I can stretch bubbles of light across the frame.  I like to shoot into the sun because it offers so many opportunities to play with light and shadow.  I like to shoot into the sun because I tend to like images that are overexposed and dripping in light.  I like to shoot into the sun because it can drench every frame in a dreamy, hazy mood. 

And also, I like to shoot into the sun because, er, it looks nice.