columbia county fair - the portraits

Henri Cartier-Bresson once said, ""The most difficult thing for me is a portrait. You have to try and put your camera between the skin of a person and his shirt."  And so it is a tricky matter - for a successful portrait for me is all about trust, openness and a reverent connection.

Girl Spinning Wool | 2014 Columbia County Fair

it's an indescribable give and take of exchange and when i say i'm moved, i'm not exaggerating - i'm shaken to the core in a good way, in a grateful way; a heart swollen with tears that find their way to the surface. as i'm sensitive, i feel what's given and each experience changes me. so at the fair, what i looked for more than anything else were portraits of people that interested me. here's a sampling of those i found compelling.

at the seashore

how is it that three months can pass in what feels like one breath....i always shake my head and sigh at this time of year. realizing how easily i shrug off each day early on in june and into the high season of july - days that seem to linger on into the next that forge an attitude of "i'll get to the beach next week" until mid-august arrives and i find myself in a near panic of holy shit - it's almost over. maybe this is the year i'll finally awaken to the wisdom of taking in each day. and maybe next year i'll be a bit more assertive in marketing the love i have for beach documentary portraits.

quinn | august, 2013

quinn | august, 2013


of late, life's felt like one big punch in the face - another in the gut - then a whallop over the head for good measure. what most people might experience over a longer stretch of time has landed all at once: a reduced income, a home situation nearing the finality of clarification, and a car totaled by a driver who was on their phone and of course, it was the five year old car with less than 20,000 miles on it, not the car that's in the shop again with 90,000 miles on it. all this in the middle of summer - the time of year i long for. a time when i'm usually out and about -  not inside hiding my eyes and crying finally opening them for a few days of blessed ocean peace only to crash into the next wave.

morgan | 2014

morgan | 2014

about a month ago, the day of the freakish tornado, one of the larger branches on a tree next to our house sort of cascaded off and remained nestled/stuck inside the other wild branches. this was a tree that was full and bushy and filled with little birds. it offered a sense of privacy and enclosure and felt enchanted - like a little part of the woods in our back yard. that was until the branch was stuck and the city came out to cut the branches out. 

what i was not prepared for, was the hack job that ensued  - one that left a beauty of a tree looking ravaged and scarred and dangerously lopsided. so when it rained heavily a few days ago and the leaves got wet, the tree had not choice but to let go of the other half of it's branches ....which also took out the entire fence line on our yard. no more privacy or shelter or woods in back yard. the hold left behind in the tree now only means more than likely the city will now cut it down.

at first i laughed. actually had a rather good laugh - and then that familiar feeling of despair descended; particularly when i looked at the tree realizing i felt how it looked - torn apart, opened up, severed. it hasn't helped that all the little birds that used to live inside the tree have been gathering on the tilted fence looking up - like wtf happened here? where's our little place to play. more than anything else, i feel really exposed; an emotion that can quickly descend to shame if permitted access.

this time around though, instead of hiding, i'm seeing there's a different route one can take which is the point:

life isn't so much what happens to me, to you or to any of us. it's what we do with it.

right now, at this moment, i'm considering options and alternatives - a different head space that feels a little more peaceful. while i believe that tears are there for a reason (and sometimes i need to cry them all out), while i may not always like the lemons life throws my way, i do have a choice with what to do with them. and today, i can add a little sugar to sweeten and a little water to lighten.

set of threes

three weeks ago i took this picture filled with the gifts of summer - the heat in the air tinged with the scent of the sea. the stretch of days laid out before. a time that clears the system in ways that's as simple and uncomplicated as the wonderment and joy children find in water sprinklers. but then it all shifted into a series of annoying pokes that gurgled and sputtered before erupting into a wild and unconstrained blow.

boston common | july, 2014

as i'm prone to a mercurial persuasion, i can fall into a hole of shadow mirrors ... that of sadness and futility, of complaints (all i don't have & don't get to do), of a longing to be like others who's lives are illuminated into a blissfully artful arrangement with ample opportunities to create and be inspired with beautiful soulful children.

it's a dangerous place to slide for complaints and comparisons are like a rip tide holding me hostage while tearing my being into shreds.

yet it is precisely at times like these that i discover what i'm made of.

it's easy to be inspired and create and go further when life is uncomplicated, when i'm surrounded by beautiful people, when my needs of health, income, and stability are met. but when life cracks at the seams and begins to fall apart, times when ideas are evasive and opportunities dry up that my mind can get tangled.

in talking to a close friend who's in a similar paradigm, i was asked to consider the micro mirroring the macro. that the world has gone mad and in ways, my connection to it is showing up the way it is.

i was also asked what i'm not noticing ... what opportunity this presents.

so i'll leave it at that for now, three weeks later.

a particular portrait

i took this photo a few years ago and it's still in my portfolio as one of the best portraits i've ever taken. while the composition is a study of shapes (the rectangle of the whiteboard, the square of the stool, the oval of her posture), the story runs a little deeper. at this age, two defining aspects of this little one's life are present; first, the hands on the hips and second, those "h" letters on the board. i liked that she was looking off to the side, as if she's trying to catch a though (tho at this age, that's anyone guess) and i also liked the pattern of lines on her shirt ...sort of like rays that point to her face.  then there's the wisps of curls makes me want to touch her hair and the lines of the floor tiles that take you to the markings on the board.

sasha, age 2 | 2011

now - did i think of all THAT when i photographed? no. not all. i knew sasha was into "h" letters and that she liked to stand with her hands on her hips. so at this moment, when she turned around, i saw the story in a good composition.