Today I had to pinch myself!
Okay, okay...I didn't really have to pinch myself. That would just be silly. But today I am feeling especially grateful for all the places my photography has taken me. And I don't just mean that metaphorically. My next photo-adventure is taking me back to my hometown in southern Arizona--the place that raised me on salsa and sand washes and taught me to love a little dust on my boots. In just a few days, I will have the privilege of photographing a wedding for a woman whom I have known since we were both just little girls with dirt on our faces, running barefoot up and down the same small town street. The journey home is always a special one, but this trip will be filled with just a bit more joy as I watch two people take this enormous leap of faith and step out into their new life together
Over the past 8 years, I have photographed lots of awesome (see definition of awesome --not to be confused with the more commonly known "awesome") moments: first steps, first kisses, joyous celebrations and final goodbyes. My camera has taken me inside the Pentagon, to the sands of the coasts, through the doors of sacred places, and into lots and lots of hearts. I think that that is the most important place to be when you are photographing someone--wherever you are, you must first be inside their heart--at least a little. When you making someone's portrait (doesn't making sound so much more pleasant that taking), the background and the scenery aren't nearly as important as the connection that you are experiencing with the person in front of your lens. There is something that happens in the eyes, a softening, that tells you, "Yes. I have put down my walls. I am vulnerable. I have let you in." That something is the thing that makes all the difference in the image.
In many ways, this wedding may be one of the easiest assignments I have ever had. The bride has already let me in--a long, long time ago. Wait! That might be too many longs--just a long time ago. ;) And the connection she has with this man--this love of her life--is strong enough to knock down any of the walls that might try to stand in the way of capturing the moments of their joy-filled-crazy-love celebration.
Here's to you Sandra and Lael!
(I'm gonna need to rest up for this)
Winter time is convention time for photographers. Business during the first few months of the year is slow, but education is in full swing. This year, I was thrilled to be able to attend two of my favorite gatherings of photographic hearts and minds: Imaging USA and North Carolina's Professional Photographers' convention. It is such a great time to share knowledge with other photographers, catch up with old friends, and learn all that is new and noteworthy in the industry. One of the best classes I attended this year was a class on digital photo restoration. Wow! At a time when fewer photographs are being printed, it was such a thrill to be able to take a collection of peeling and fading portraits and give them a new lease on life.
Of course, learning this new skill was exciting to me as another possible service that I can offer to my clients, but this particular skill appealed to me on a deeply personal level as well. You see, my grandparents loved photography almost as much as I do. And I inherited that love, in the form of boxes and trunks and drawers full of photographs and negatives and slides. Some of those photographs were neatly labeled with dates and names to go with the faces. Most were not. Some were carefully stored, away from the elements, and in good condition. Many were not. In fact one entire trunk of especially delicate portraits was completely unsalvagable. The trunk had been stored in a safe place: beneath a stairwell...in an unfinished basement...directly under leaking copper pipes. Ick. By the time I came across this treasure, the trunk was falling away in rotten, moldy, wet chunks.
So there we sat, a room full of photographers in front of our computers, learning the art of restoring what was once beautiful to scratched, dull, and torn photographs. We crammed as much learning as we possibly could cram into one day of convention. Our instructor was amazingly generous with her time, energy, and information. As the class was wrapping up, I overheard her saying something that stopped me in my tracks. She said that with all of the photos being created today (did you know that we create more photos EVERY TWO MINUTES than were created in all of the 1880s?), her biggest fear was that an entire generation of images would simply be lost.
Wait...What? Lost? Why?
Because so few of those amazing, wonderful, touching, precious photos are being printed. An entire childhood of photographs might be lost to a power surge or a DVD that fails. Heartbreak!
With that in mind, today's blog post has been written to encourage you to print some of your photo-worthy moments. Print them GIANT...print them small. Put them in albums and frames and hang them on walls (sorry for that little rhyme). Just PRINT. And back up your data.
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I was involved in all kinds of school activities as a child: drama, chorus, cheerleading, track, tennis. But one thing I never knew very much about was band. To offer full and complete disclosure, I did sign up for band in the 6th grade. My instrument of choice was the flute, I imagined myself becoming the world's greatest flute player before leaving middle school. I proudly carried that shiny silver instrument around for almost two entire weeks. But by the end of week two, when I hadn't been invited to join the symphony, I returned my flute to the band director and skipped off to join the chorus.
Though I loved being a part of the chorus and had a wonderful teacher in that class, I have always regretted that I never learned to play an instrument. Only as a parent have I realized what an amazing opportunity it is for our children to be able to explore music in school. For many, many children it is the only chance they will ever get to have such exposure. And school funding, in general, but especially for the arts, is diminishing more and more each year.
My oldest child has been playing the flute for several years. She began taking lessons before they were offered through our school, and when she joined the band in middle school, we started to learn about the mechanics of a school band program. I was floored to learn that the budget allotted for band for the year was $100. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS? I asked the director how she was even able to purchase music for the class on that budget. But it was a fact that she had, sadly, grown used to.
Now we have two excited musicians in our home and a wildly enthusiastic, creative, passionate band director at our school. But no instruments. What? How do we have a band, if there are no instruments? The students who are able, provide their own. But in an effort to make sure that all students who want to participate can, our middle school is sharing the rest of the insturments with the local high school--a school that is miles away. Parents have generously volunteered to drive the instruments back and forth between the schools, and band directors have generously arranged their schedules, so that they middle school will be able to continue to offer a band program. It takes a whole lot of effort, coordination, and kindness of spirit to make this whole thing happen. But it does. And I want to do whatever I can to help.
That is why, for the month of March, I am "Marching with the Band." No. I am not going to pick up an insturment and bring down the quality of the music by playing beside these talented musicians. But I am going to use my talents to help raise money for the schools. For the month of March, I will be collecting donations for school band programs instead of session fees. Your donation** of $50 or more gives you, not only, a warm feeling that comes from doing good, but also a custom portrait session for your family.
Please, spread the word. Geneva Hawthorne Photography is "Marching with the Band!" And I hope you will too.
**Donations are non-refundable and must be collected during the month of March, 2013. Sessions must be photographed before July 1, 2013
New Year's Resolutions are tricky beasts. We want to resolve to do something important each year, in order to improve ourselves or push ourselves or simply because we feel guilty if we don't. This year I wanted to to really address the first two of those motivators (the pushing and the improving) and move far, far away from that big "G" word. There is already enough of that floating around.
So my New Year's resolution was to start blogging. I have been the owner of this blog for nearly half a year, and there it sat. Just sitting. Blank page, day after day. The biggest hurdle was just deciding what to blog about. So after much contemplation and procrastination, I decided that I really wanted to use my blog as a way to share the love. I want to reach out to my clients about what is going on in my business, of course. But I want to share other information with them as well. If there is a great event happening or a great business that I am excited about, I plan to spread the word on this blog.
It may not have been a resolution, exactly, but I also want to use my voice as a professional photographer to encourage my clients to start printing more of their own photographs. I fear that so many beautiful moments are lying still on hard drives--hard drives that are about to crash and that haven't been backed up...ever--just waiting to be printed. And that brings up another point. Back that stuff up! Uploading images to photo printing labs is one way to do that. Just check their policies about how long they will keep them and if you will be able to download them in the event that your...um...hard drive crashes.
Now back to printing. Please let me say this as LOUDLY as I can. Do not trust your treasured photos to be printed solely on your home printer. I have a friend who printed all of the photos of her newborn triplets on her home printer. Not long after they were printed, the photos began to yellow. Eventually they were completely unrecognizable as the photos she had hope to preserve. She no longer had the original files. No backups. No more baby pictures. Professional photo printing labs spend crazy money on amazing photo printers. Take advantage of their big budgets and let them do the printing.
So in that spirit, I am passing on some Valentine's Day love. Today through Feb. 20th you can save 20% off all orders from Shutterfly.com by clicking on the link below. So have some chocolate, drink some bubbly, then go forth and PRINT!
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