It’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures just for fun. Her are a few from today’s walk through one of our state parks.
My blog has evolved, and I don’t like it.
In the past, I shared many of the events in my life, both happy and sad, and I shared thousands of pictures, both good and not so good. I gained a lot from the feedback from the blogging community: First, I got support, affirmation, encouragement, and advice when I wrote about my life, and second, I received valuable feedback on my images, either through direct comments or through “likes.”
I took note of the pictures that got attention and those that didn’t, and I used that feedback to critique my own work. I went to the blogs of those who’d “liked” my work, and I studied their images; I also rambled around WordPress, lingering here and there when an image, poem, or piece of writing caught my attention. Sometimes, I challenged myself to duplicate images or use the images as catalysts for my own creations.
However, I am now slowly (and painfully) crossing over from passionate amateur hobbyist photographer into passionate photographer who makes some money with her camera.
My blog address is on my business card. Without realizing it, I set it up so that those few letters in small type on a card have shifted the entire perspective of my blog.
Now, I am reluctant to post my images, feeling that everything must look “professional.” I am also reluctant to write about my struggles with getting an image. For example, last week I did a family portrait shoot. Previously I would have posted a few images, talked about the difficulties, asked for advice, and learned from the experience. Now, I don’t think I will do that. (By the way, the sunset image came out of that shoot; we had a glorious sky as the backdrop.)
I have made friends through my blog (meeting one in person) and I want to keep it that way. I want my blog to be a place where I can continue to talk about what’s going on with me and where I can feel free to post a flawed image and talk about it.
Perhaps the solution is to have two blogs. One will contain my best images, while this one remains the place where I can hang out and chat. What do you think?
Do you want to take better pictures? This is the perfect resource for you, whether you have been shooting for several years or have just picked up a camera.
Sometimes, how-to books and guides are difficult to follow because the instructions are complicated, or the writing style is dry.
Not this one: Youn’s Guide to Mastering Digital Photography is written in a friendly, conversational tone that is easy to understand, but don’t let this fool you. He knows his stuff and he knows how to teach it. I agree with the book description: “Youn perfectly merges the science, art, history, and joy of photography.”
Click here to learn more about Jason Youn’s Essential Guide to Mastering Digital Photography, in both Kindle and paperback format at Amazon.com. Also available at Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository Co in the UK.
I had set a goal for myself to enter some photographs in the State Fair. To begin with, I was pretty darn pleased with myself when I sealed the package to send the pictures to the competition.
I was even more pleased today when I trekked to the fair to check out the photo exhibit, giggling inside when I saw that my image of a teahouse in the Yuyuan Garden in Old Shanghai had won 2nd place the black & white category. I just stood there with a silly grin plastered on my face, staring at the red ribbon on my picture, and stopping random strangers to tell them, “That one is mine!”
My grin grew bigger as I made my way through the other displays to the large color prints. Wow! All of my submitted photos are on display, which is an honor in itself because only those pictures awarded a certain score are exhibited. My grin broke into a huge smile when I saw the Big Blue Ribbon on my cityscape that indicates that the picture sold.
The reflection of trees in water was hung upside down, but I think I like it like that. The old shoes, one of my favorites, earned a respectable score.
It’s fun, it’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting.
My past two weekends have been absorbed by weddings, and I think I’m hooked.
On October 5th, I shot my first solo wedding. There were challenges: I did not have an assistant and I was battling mid-day Arizona sun with a tight time schedule (one hour for ceremony and pictures). However, what has impressed me as I’ve spent time with the images is the love between the bride and groom that is apparent in the images that my camera captured.
This past weekend, I assisted at a wedding. It was a long day, with bride before-wedding shots at noon and the last dance at 10 PM, but the relaxed time to take the family and bridal party pictures made a world of difference. In addition, I had the opportunity to work with two talented and experienced wedding photographers.
I’ve been away, visiting my family in Southern Indiana. During a family reunion, I slipped away from the crowds to breathe in the clean country air and allow my soul to rest in the glory of nature. This is my home. Trees. Corn Fields. Light. Green. You may not notice him, but there is a small boy in the picture, taking a rest from the loving noise of the family, just as I was.
I have been captivated, to the point of losing sleep, by The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the autobiography of Zhu Xiao-Mei, a pianist who was born in Shanghai in 1949, the year Mao declared the People’s Republic of China. Because her family had wealth and education, they were stripped of employment, home, and possessions by the new PRC. They moved to Beijing, living in a tiny 2-room dirt-floor apartment in a siheyuan, once home to honored citizens in in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 A.D.), now slums in the 1950s. (I took these pictures in 2011of the outside walls of a siheyuan in Beijing’s hutong area, which has been revitalized in the past few decades.)
Zhu Xiao-Mei begins her story when the piano was brought into their cramped living quarters when she was three years old. She speaks of the thrill she experienced in making the piano “talk” under her mother’s tutelage. She tells, without romanticizing, of her family’s sufferings and of her experiences at the conservatory where she was formed into an accomplished pianist by age 10, but where she was also mistreated (to the point of abuse) because she came from a “bad” family (i.e., bourgeois — educated and prosperous even though they had lived in abject poverty for years).
She tells, in straight-forward narration, of her horrific experiences at the labor camps during the Cultural Revolution and her transformation into a Revolutionary who revered Chairman Mao and denounced her bourgeois family. (This is as far as I’ve read.)
This short video shows Zhu Xiao-Mei playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations. (There are longer videos on YouTube if you wish to experience more of her genius.)
When I made my first trip to China in 2011, I was fearful and apprehensive. I toured the ancient sites of Beijing, including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. The huge visage of Chairman Mao, which overlooks the square, was an unsettling sight for me because of the stories surrounding the man and the horrific treatment of the Chinese people for decades as he rose to power. Over the next two summers as I worked and lived in China, my fear and distrust was replaced by a genuine admiration for and love of the Chinese people.
I am now drawn to historical novels of 19th and 20th century China and to historical accounts of the PRC, the Cultural Revolution, and Chairman Mao. Lisa See’s historical novels (Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy) and her nonfiction narrative of her ancestors, On Gold Mountain, introduced me to the lives of the Chinese people over the last 200 years (including the turbulence of the last half of the 20th century). Zhu Xiao-Mei’s autobiography now deepens my understanding of the strength and grace of the people who survived the Cultural Revolution.
If you are interested in reading more, here is a list of historical fiction about China.