sometimes i still make photographs

there was a time when the camera rarely left my hands. when the kids were little, i wanted to capture every moment, every activity, document how they grew and changed seemingly overnight. as they got older, there was less to photograph. by the time henry was in high school, the only pictures i took of him were at swim meets; around the same time, harper started to refuse the camera altogether. and then the camera was replaced by the phone, because it was faster and more accessible.

during that time, i've also shot fewer clients. i still have the occasional family ...


and a few seniors every summer and fall, but i no longer advertise. last summer, as covid took away proms and graduations, i put out a notice to a local high school parent group that i would donate graduate photos to families, in exchange for a donation to the local food shelf. in the end, i shot about 20 kiddos and raised more than $300 for the food shelf over the course of a month.

that felt good.


i still love the camera. i still love capturing who people are without them even noticing. and i still love documenting how my kids have grown and changed, even though i know those days are numbered.

before henry headed back to college for his junior year this past august, i got him and harper to humor me with their time and cooperation. they were awkward at first, then started to loosen up and have fun. then they were goofballs, and i adored what i was getting from them.


and then henry spun harper around in a bear hug, she fell on her bum, and that was the end of the fun.

we've seen henry only twice since then, and over thanksgiving i set up the camera on the dining table and took a family photo for the holiday cards. once a year, i manage to get a family photo. sometimes it even turns out.



i'm glad i was able to capture him with his new mop of long, pandemic curls and face full of scruff, and harper letting herself be snuggled up by him.

since then, the camera has stayed quiet. then harper turned 16 two weeks ago, and i asked her to please let me do a little birthday photo shoot with her. she complied - amazingly - and gave me about 30 minutes of patience and cooperation. afterward, i was amazed that she looked so relaxed. without going into too much personal detail, the past year has been full of many challenges with her, not the least of which she hasn't stepped foot into a classroom for more than a year, and hasn't seen any friends in person since october, when her completely strange high school swim season ended. however, the one huge positive to come out of all the pain of the first semester of distance learning is that we explored other school options, and found an arts charter school 20 minutes from home. she has attended virtually for a quarter, and should be able to start in-person school two days a week by the end of next week. she has LOVED the teachers, the classes, getting to know classmates over virtual classrooms, finding that they are all a little like her in all the best ways. maybe that renewed sense of confidence and hope is what showed up in her face while i photographed her, because for the first time in many, many months, she looked happy with and in herself.

and, apparently, when you take a girl out of her hoodie, jammie pants, and ponytail, she suddenly also looks so 16.


the next day, though, we had to do an addendum shoot. all she asked for for her birthday was a haircut for the first time in more than a year, and maybe add some color ... something a little fun. so that's what we did, and she suddenly looked even MORE 16, if that's possible.


ugh. she's gorgeous. i can't handle it.

i'm still trying to decide if i get back in the game or if the camera takes on hobby status. on one hand, i truly love making photos and giving people gorgeous glimpses of their family or child ... especially those seniors. on the other hand, as my nest inches toward empty, marc and i are making plans to travel more, try on new places, perhaps live abroad at some point, and maybe my photography is just a hobby ... or maybe i try selling art prints? i don't know. options are there.

i have zero love for the business side, and am admittedly terrible at that aspect, but as marc says, "you can't do something for nothing." i just like giving people joy; them giving me money feels extremely awkward. then there's the whole conversation about monetizing a passion: should we? should we not? if not, what do i do with the rest of my life?

this all feels way bigger than "i take pictures." once again, i'm reminded that therapy would probably be a good idea, but i digress.

anyway, there are still photographs to make, and i like making them.

stopping by the woods


Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   
My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   
He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
- Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost
it wasn't a snowy evening, but rather a snowy sunday.
seven or eight beautiful, fluffy inches fell through the morning, and then the sun came out and warmed the day to sparkling brilliance.
overnight, the temperature fell, fog formed, and when i woke this morning at 6:30, there was a glorious layer of rime ice on everything.
i got harper off to school, threw on clothes, boots, hat, scarf, gloves and coat, grabbed my camera, and went for a walk through my neighborhood in the brisk 5° air.
it was quiet, the trees were magical, and i took an hour to just be silent in the world.
my nostrils froze, my legs burned from the cold, my fingertips needed to be warmed after every shot, but it was all just what i needed to start this week in a much better head space.
sometimes, even when everything is awful, the universe reminds you that life is beautiful, and this world is full of amazing things.
we need to appreciate it, soak it in, and fight like hell to keep it that way.

sooo ... THAT didn't go as planned

remember how i got all excited about fall? i was going to Get Stuff Done? couldn't wait?

yeaaaahhhhh ...

we DID get the gallery wall up in the great room. still need to shoot pix of that. (i KNOW, jen.) however, right now there is too much glare. why, you ask? because i was going to finally get around to having the curtains hemmed (oh. we also finally put up curtains.), but wanted to have them cleaned first since the bottom 7" were covered with mario fur. but when i took them to the cleaner, they had a bad reaction to the dry cleaning and turned yellow.

how does white linen turn yellow when cleaned?? why did linen have to be dry cleaned in the first place?! but it did. so i called the manufacturer, they are sending us replacements, THEN i'll get them hemmed, THEN i'll take pix of the gallery wall.

however, once the gallery wall was done and i was ready to move on to other fallish things, i got busy with this:

and this:

and this and this and this (parts 1 and 2):

and suddenly, it's the last week of october, and i've done nothing but edit photos for a month. and go to st augustine, florida for a weekend for one of my oldest and dearest friend's 40th birthday slumber party ...

and marc and harper were in indy for a weekend for his dad's 70th birthday ... and henry had a swim meet and a science project ... and marc traveled ... and henry got bronchitis then a double ear infection then gave it to me ... and marc's parents stopped by for 36 hours on their way from denver to chicago ... and literally nine hours later, his sister and her family stopped by for about two hours on their way to a conference ... and our neighbors had a halloween party, wherein marc dressed as a skeevy girls' basketball coach and i was a knocked-up player ...

and this week, marc's gone a night, then he turns 40 has a birthday, then halloween. and maybe we'll carve the pumpkins we bought two weeks ago, when we combined Hit The Orchard with Celebrate Our Anniversary. (17th = Year of the Apple Cider Mini-Donut, FYI.)

(yes, my children are that tall. yes, henry is this close to the 6' mark.)

so perhaps i shall Get Stuff Done in November.

then again, maybe i should stop assuming i will ever get anything done. that seems safer.


why i take pictures

i have a very distinct memory from my childhood. i was probably nine or 10 and had one of those little kodak 110 cameras with the flash stick. i was at some 4-H-type event ... there were horses and kids and snow cones, and i had my camera. and i walked around looking for things to photograph. i remember seeing sunlight on a horse's back and taking a photo of the way the light glinted on that shiny hair. i remember seeing flowers on the ground and taking a photo of the dew on the petals. i remember getting my photos back from the developer and being shocked to see what had printed was in no way what i had shot.

fast forward to high school. i went in for my senior pictures and became smitten with the photographer, watching her set lights and work behind the medium-format camera. i thought, "this would be an amazing job."

and then i promptly signed up to be an english major.

after college i worked in newspaper ... then magazine ... and each time i needed to work with a photographer on a story, i would get a vision of the shot i wanted captured. i was illustrating and writing in my head simultaneously.

and that's how i approach photography now.

when i was finally able to hold a good camera in my hands - one that i could control and manipulate to get the desired final outcome - i found that i was always looking for that certain "something" ... that flash of underlying feeling or mood, or that angle that shows just the slightest difference than the expected. i was illustrating the story of what was around me.

i've done a handful of weddings, strictly favor-only or word of mouth, and haven't decided if i want to actively pursue them. truth be told: i adore weddings, and i'm terrified of them. here's why: i love finding that unexpected, i love telling the story, but the story i see may not be the same one the bride and groom want, and hence my hesitation.

it's paramount to keep in mind what they want ... it IS their day after all ... but i find all the portraits and family shots to be tedious and then i get sidetracked from what i want to SEE and get stuck on what i need to DO.

so i need to figure this out.

sometimes, i manage to make everyone happy.

last month i got to shoot a wedding in maine for one of the most fun-loving, sweet, adorable, in love couples i know. and it was a great time. i got to find my shots as well as theirs. the location was amazing - a camp, a beach wedding, a boat; and the weather was not - drizzle, then full-on pouring, then freezing. and it all made for a wonderful experience.

while the girls were getting ready, the weather was constant in the background, even though no one paid any attention to it.


halfway through the preparations, the groom had a letter delivered to his bride. one that was so sentimental and sweet that everyone got teary-eyed. and then the bridesmaids stole it to read at the reception. (so much for the groom's "tough guy" image.)


the mother and godmother of the bride ... both were delightful ladies.


the groom arrived at the ceremony via zip line across the lake ... complete with superman's theme song.

and then that confident entrance faded into pure emotion.

no sooner did they arrive at the reception tent and the sky broke open. luckily, there was a break long enough to get in some photos.

loved that the group waited for a clear moment while standing next to a bin marked "sunshine."


we even managed to find the couple's wedding date on the kayak racks: 10.11

speaking of boats ...

dan and jen - i hope i did your wedding justice. i hope your photos are what you were hoping for. i hope i managed to create the story as well as grab all the memories you wanted to keep. and i hope the rest of your lives is as full of love and laughter as that day was.

i'm alive.

we moved in last sunday, worked our collective butts off all week long, i flew to maine on friday morning, shot a wedding all day saturday, flew home sunday ... and marc left yesterday morning for the week, i'm dealing with the moving company's repair guy trying to fix all the things the movers, let's say "tweaked", during the move, as well as landscapers dumping a literal ton of boulders in the backyard and moving them around all yesterday, still waiting for some countertops, etc. etc.

when i think about it, i'm not sure i've had a decent, relaxing day or good night's sleep or comforting meal in two weeks.

and i took many pix of the house on the day we closed, but they are all on a file server that my computer has decided to be estranged from since the move. so, no pix. yet. someday. fingers crossed.

i WILL share this one, from the wedding, of the groom zip lining to the ceremony from across the lake ...

it was a fun, happy, full-of-love day. and right now i'm tired, cranky, lonely, overwhelmed, and wishing for the day when our days can be fun and happy and not exhausting.

but the view out the back of the house is stunning, with all the changing leaves, and i hope to take the kids out this evening in the golden light and take some photos of them. because if we wait for marc to get home, the weather will change to rain and the light won't be nearly magical.

here's to hoping they cooperate with me. because i need it today.

but at least i'm alive. just maybe not kicking.

i'll get back to you on that.

just a quiet little weekend.

let's see ...

we unloaded all of the packed boxes in the house and all of the garage, filling up four temporary storage containers with about one-third of all of our earthly belongings. (little unpaid plug: if you need to move or get stuff out of your house for awhile, door to door storage is amazing! we used them the last time we moved, and knew we would do business again with them for this move. they drop off the bins, you fill them, they pick them up and store them in a secure, climate controlled warehouse, and then when you need your stuff back, they return it to you at the location of your choice. awesome.)

i had a photo shoot friday afternoon.*

we met with our builder rep and got the bid for the house.**

we sent marc to vegas.

i took the kids shopping for new sneakers. my six-year-old wears a 1.5, my 11-year-old wears a 9/9.5. in mens. yikes.

henry got his hairs cut.

we ate leftovers and watched spring wipeout. then harper went to bed and henry and i watched survivor.

all in all, pretty boring weekend.


*remember this beautiful belly?


on friday i got to spend some time with the final product, miss z:

she's super cute and super happy.

except when you put her in her easter dress.

**the meeting with our rep went well ... we were with her nearly two hours at a model home on a parade of homes day. luckily, it was friday at dinnertime, so traffic through the house was pretty slow. and the kids did great just playing gameboys and staying out of our hair. the next-to-final plan looks good, the bids on everything came back about where marc and i expected. we're right on the edge of being able to get the loan without being contingent on selling our house first, so we're really hoping that we can squeak it in there. if we have to wait to start the build until the house is sold, i'll throw up. (as it is, getting in the house before school starts is going to be iffy.) otherwise, we have to make hard decisions: finish the basement later? back out on going with geothermal? give up having tongue and groove ceilings in the main level? oh wait ... i already had to do that. they were going to cost 17k. uh, no. so now it's all paperwork and approvals and meetings and permits and review boards and blah blah blah, and THEN we can start digging. i swear, if we hit may and there isn't a hole in the ground yet, i will be out there with my shovel. (THIS is the stressful party to me. all that building and decision-making stuff? ha. piece of cake compared to the WAITING.)

anyway, it was a good meeting.

then we went out for tacos.

today i met with the contact at the carpet/tile/wood floor/shingle/doorknob/everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-literally place, and we went over what carpet and tile and wood floor and shingle, etc. were within our builder's allowance. i think we'll have no problem staying at or near budget on carpet (though, really, ick ... is there anything uglier than a carpet sample? NONE of them looked like something i would want on 1500 sq feet of floor.). tile will be close ... there are a couple of tile selections i'm willing to go over to get, but those are in very small doses, so that's good. that marble hex tile i was thinking for the fireplace surround? for whatever reason, this supplier doesn't have marble hex. or little marble subways. they have big marble subways. so, i'll have to ponder that. it might look okay, playing off the white subway tile backsplash in the kitchen, but with the grayish striations in the marble to work with the, coughcough, sofas. and maybe the scale of the larger subway will be better, given the scale of the, again, sofas. (when did i start designing a house around a friggin' piece of furniture that, up until a month ago, i had never given a moment's thought?!) and there were a couple of options for the master bath that could be worked in subtly and in small quantities to give the room a higher-end feel without a high-end price tag. we'll keep it simple and standard in the other bathrooms.

it did feel good, when she pulled out the granite samples, to say, "no, my friend. we won't be needing those." soapstone has been procured, and stainless has been bid and comes in - drumroll - UNDER ALLOWANCE!!! i'm saving us, like, a bunch of money by going stainless on the island! well, maybe not "a bunch," but enough that i did a little happy dance when i found out. it almost pays for two piano windows, let's just put it that way. and depending on how big the soapstone slab is, there may be leftover rock that can be used for a vanity top in one of the bathrooms ... that would be thrifty!

as the lady and i talked, she remarked that i seem quite well prepared and not at all intimidated by the selection process. she has no idea, does she? i think i could sign on the dotted line right now for pretty much everything, from light fixtures to paint colors to stinkin' doorknobs, if it would make this thing happen faster.

later this week i will do the same thing at the appliance place ... i have a feeling THAT is where the allowance budget goes bye-bye. and we just keep plugging away on our house and get it ready for market. it would be nice if the insurance-supplied contractor would call to schedule when they will start the work; that kinda needs to happen before we can put the sign in the yard.

and the clock's a tickin'.

finally sharing ...

these. at length. because it's been three weeks and baby zoey entered the world yesterday.

daddy was in sweden, mom rachael teaches at cooks of crocus hill in st paul, which is where we shot these. amazing, amazing kitchen and store. marc and i took a class here a couple of years ago for fun and had a BLAST.

rachael is a total kate walsh lookalike, just brunette. statuesque and gorgeous, even eight months pregnant.

i'd hate her if i didn't like her so much.

congrats, j & r!! and little z, can't wait to meet you!

i am woefully behind

project 365/52? ugh. don't even remind me. i lost that back in september. maybe i'll have to pull together six weeks' worth of "shots i never shared."

laundry? i was mostly caught up. then henry came home. now the mountain is as tall as harper.

cleaning? i had a good handle on that, too ... then we got the floors redone and everything from the dining room moved into the sun room. then we got the sun room painted, and everything from the sun room moved into the dining room. on top of that, we got some drywall repairs done, so there's a fine dust everywhere.

kitchen? i was on top of it, then painting and drywalling occurred. and henry and marc both left, so harper and i ate grilled cheese, then i had to get a ... um ... procedure yesterday, so i didn't eat at all for 36 hours. the kitchen got ignored.

groceries? see above. also? i should probably make a grocery list for thanksgiving. also? i really need to reserve a turkey.

editing photos and burning cds? yup. behind on that, too. where has my motivation gone this month??

however, i DID get an article up on andie smith designs, using her new calendar brushes. that was pretty sweet.


now ...

i'm helping henry catch up on a week's worth of math homework and trying to teach him how to divide fractions (ie blind leading blind).

i'm getting ready to repaint a wall in the dining room, small spots in the hallway, and two re-patched areas in harper's room. that's four colors of paint i need to find. sigh.

i need to clean the fridge, do the laundry, crack the whip on the kids to clean up legos and barbies so next week i can vacuum.

i need to get my body back in full swing from my ... um ... procedure yesterday.

i need to ... just ... breathe.


here starts that craziness i mentioned earlier.

a new arrival

my baby. my photography.

i've decided the time has come to be legit and be a grown-up and start building a business versus just building a portfolio and shooting sporadically as i get word-of-mouth queries.

i'm currently building a website (will let you know when it launches), and i made the leap into a facebook page for my business (see left-hand column ... be a fan!!). there are plans afoot for the new house ... a studio space. i'm already planning robin's egg blue floors, white walls, one big feature wall, lots of natural light ... and lots of fun, bright, lovely things to use with newborns through the first year. my love is still natural light, natural habitat, but some people don't have natural light or don't want to use their home. that's where the studio space will come in handy for the littlest birds.

so this is me, sharing with you, and feeling very vulnerable, like an imposter. but i heard a quote from jamie lee curtis (my own personal goddess) the other day that resonated with me. she said, "i refuse to be humble about the things i'm frickin' good at." i've convinced myself for too long that i'm not good at anything, but darn it ... a magazine hired me to be on their scrappy design team, so i must be good at that. and i wrote a book for them, so i must be good at that. and i have fantastic kids, so i must be good at that.

and i'm good at taking pictures. i won't be scared of that anymore.

check it out ... i just grew a pair, right in front of you. ;o)

365/52 week 36

(if today being day 253 is correct, that means there are 112 days left in the year. does someone want to do the math for me? did i keep up or am i off by a week? or three?)

we've had so. much. rain. holy cats and dogs. south of us an hour or less, they got 10+ inches of rain in the past 24 hours. 10 miles from us, they are watching the river and predicting it to be above flood stage. craziness.

and people say our climate is totally fine and normal.

okey doke.

pix from the past week ... tomorrow, i swear, i'll write about something more interesting. though i have coffee with 5th grade moms in the morning, harper to and from school, laundry, reservations for wine with a friend ... maybe i'll write on saturday.

anyway ...


two months ago, marc surprised me: tickets to "wicked"!! he scored some major points. it *almost* gets him back in the black from forgetting my birthday less than three months after our wedding ...


harper attended a birthday party "spa" day at scoops. bless my sheltered daughter's heart ... every time they brought out a new pampering thingy, she just looked at it like, "wha ... ?" she asked if the nail file would hurt. she was reticent to let the lady put the pedicure do-hickey between her toes. i've failed as a mother.


two of my favorite girls came to town, kimber and summer. we ate sushi, drank some beverages, talked scrappy, and giggled with our adorable pocket-sized waiter.


seriously, have you ever seen so much pink?!


junior high math = more homework x less time for anything else


a fluffy old bee has decided to winter in my hollyhocks.


school picture day. and apparently i told him to go stand in the rain.