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The Saxophonist

'Mary had a little lamb' never looked this good!

'Mary had a little lamb' never looked this good!

 

The sweetest sounds

The sweetest sounds

I simply love backlighting. And window light. Combine the two and I’m in photographic heaven!

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Picturing my Precious

img_14463The best thing about this time of year is that I can work on my own projects and spend as much time as I want doing whatever I like to them in Photoshop. No brief to follow, no colour scheme to match, no models who don’t pitch. Just me and the pictures I have in my head.
The Cape Town School of Photography is having a teachers’ exhibition this month, the theme being Memories/Nostalgia, which has kept me awake at night, in a good way, of course, as picture ideas crowd my head.
I might submit one or two of these. Or I might just shoot some new ones today. And then reshoot the day after. What is most likely to happen is that I will never be quite satisfied with what I’ve produced and end up missing the exhibtion entirely!
These were all shot with window light and using a tripod. Shutter speeds were pretty low, with some of them around 1.3″.

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ABR: Ask, believe, receive

Dreamboard 2008

Dreamboard 2008

New Year’s Eve, 2008. Time to squeeze in a little retrospection and some wishing and dreaming for 2009 before the revelry starts. It’s the time to, at worst, make some New Year’s resolutions and, at best, set some clear goals for the coming year.
At the beginning of this year I created my dreamboard – a poster of magazine cut-outs, illustrating my hopes and intentions for 2008 and beyond. I stuck it up on the wall of my workspace-garret, so that I could see it every time I glanced up – usually in an eye-rolling, exasperated kind of way.
In my blah moments, I kick myself and mutter about having achieved nothing – nothing! – this year, about being a dismal, talentless, no-hoper failure. But after a stiff cup of Earl Grey I come to my senses and reconsider. The dreamboard pokes at the optimist in me, jogs her good memories department, and tells the pessimist to shut the hell up.

Okay, so some things didn’t happen. I didn’t become a world-famous photographer, nor did I get a new camera. But I did move into an awesome studio and I did start teaching photography. I didn’t travel the world this year. But I did so much last year, that staying put wasn’t such a bad thing. I relived my trips to London, Mauritius, Japan and Peru through my journals and photographs, and came to some firm decisions about how travel will happen in the future. I didn’t jump out of an aeroplane – but will for my daughter’s birthday in February – and I’m not driving a sexy new car. And, speaking of sexy: sadly, that fabulously toned, bikini-worthy body didn’t materialise. Well, not on me, anyhow. Maybe I helped to manifest that intention in some other awesome woman. And I wasn’t always joyful and full of love, and I didn’t always feel like cooking. And my finances and my clutter didn’t really get sorted out. Not so very much.

BUT! I grew a garden. I grew roses and herbs and lawn, and every time I step through the gate onto my property, I get that ‘Aaaahhhhhh …!’ feeling. It has a long way to go, but it just feels so wonderful to stand in the middle of the teeny space in the early morning, barefoot, cup of tea in one hand, hose in the other, and feed my soul. I breathe in the cool morning air and peer at every little bud, urging it to bloom. It’s a scratch and sniff garden – everything is selected for its fragrance. Jasmine, brunfelschia, roses, salvia and herbs all vie for attention as one brushes past them.

And I ripped out my kitchen. Really. Single-handedly. I stormed in, screwdriver and hammer in hand and ripped out every single ugly melamine cupboard that’s been existing in my space for the last six years. And then I went to the hardware store and bought workbenches, assembled them, whitewashed and varnished them, and painted the walls lime green. And, just for added buzz, I painted the diningroom wall red – from the lounge the two colours sit next to each other, and I get an absolute kick out of looking at them! It makes me smile every time.

I ate more healthily and exercised more. Not as much as I would have liked (else I would be wearing that fab (instead of flab) body around about now), but certainly enough to get me through the 50 km route of the Big Walk.

And I started saving more and spending less. But less said about that, the better. Suffice to say that intention features on my 2009 dreamboard again.

I danced. I started pole dancing and I started Nia. Whoo-hoo! Dancing features strongly on this year’s dreamboard too. There’s nothing like dancing to wipe out stress – at least for a while. You simply can’t think about deadlines and debt while you’re twirling around a pole!

There was more time. It didn’t always feel like it, as deadlines and kids often clash quite spectacularly. I spent way, way too much time haring around in my car, having my life’s precious minutes burn up along with the petrol. But there was more time, especially in this last month, when work pretty much dried up entirely. It works that way for me every year, but this year I allowed myself to appreciate the time, rather than panic about the possibility of never, ever working again.

And I wrote! I wrote! Not just my daily pages, which I’ve been doing for years, but real writing. I went to Anne Schuster’s wonderful writing workshops for women, and I hauled out my journals and reordered my ramblings into blogs. Blogs that people actually read, as it turns out. MyNazca lines blog has been read almost 1 000 times! I committed to one month of writing through NaNoWriMo and reached (and exceeded) the 50 000-word mark. Oh, what a feeling!

And so here I sit on the eve of 2009. What will I do with the time it brings? More laughter, more love. More time with family and friends, sharing food, wine and music. More exercise. More dance, more photography, more writing, more creativity. More earning, more saving. And more road trips, because road trips bring new perspectives, new friends, inspiration, exercise and creativity.

I wish you all a most splediferous year. May your dreamboards come to life in joyous technicolour!

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Season’s greetings

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Picture your fantasy

A portrait of yourself doesn’t always have to be a formal pic to be stapled to your cv. Maybe live a little dangerously.

Be a bit of a Madonna …
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Family portrait

I decided to gather my family in the studio. I don’t know what came over me. I think I’m going soft.
I do family shoots for other people so often, and very rarely have pictures of my own family. Let’s be honest – I don’t even have photos of my own wedding!
It could have been something from the Annie Leibovitz movie that settled in my subconscious, or it could just be that my kids are growing up too fast, with no way that I can slow them down, but I wanted everyone who is close to me to be in one pic together.
Chaos reigned. I did have to lose my blob with my own offspring (funny how your own kids get up your nose so much more than other people’s?) and a bottle of bubbles did topple over to create a large, soapy mess on the floor and the balloons did all pop before they could be of any use. The ages ranged from one to eighty, but everyone manged to connect with one another. I think it’s something every family should do. Things change so very quickly … children grow up, leave home, parents become ill or pass on. And although we have snappies taken on cellphones and on digital, and stored on various hard drives, how many of us have a pic that includes everyone … one that our kids can look at one day when they’re grown and say ‘Look … there’s Grumpy Eddie, there’s the Granny … look what you were wearing …!’
And, not least, the experience reminded me how blessed I am to have all these people to love (even if we all drive each other batty at times!).
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Women of a certain age

Our society is youth obsessed. But we know this … no news there. Most of us want to photograph a pretty young girl. Your pictures are almost guaranteed of being a success, no matter what you do. How many poor photographs have you seen of Katherine Heigl or Angelina Jolie? Even when the paparazzi have caught them grocery shopping, without make-up and having a bad hair day, they look good.

Photographing the beauty of an older woman who is not a movie star presents a whole different challenge, and a wonderful avenue for creativity.

An older woman is aware of the laughter lines, the greying hair, and the bits that are no longer the same size or in the same place as they used to be. Being a woman of a certain age myself, I understand entirely the push-pull of having the self-assurance that comes with maturity, as well as an awareness of time’s skidmarks across ones face.

Creating images of an older woman has a bit to do with make-up and lighting … it has a whole lot more to do with understanding who she is, and timing the shot just right to capture her personality and confidence.  (And the teensiest bit of Gaussian Blur doesn’t do any harm at all!)

Glamming it up

Glamming it up

Intelligent, witty, beautiful

Intelligent, witty, beautiful

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