Category Archives: black and white photography

There is something …

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about hands that has the capacity to make my mouth water.  Tonight, as I sat by a  friend as he played a song on the piano, I was mesmerized; as much by his hands as by the music they made.  They rolled effortlessly across the keys, without thought or direction … simply playing.  I couldn’t look away and wished for my tripod and a light.  I wanted to capture that moment, but I didn’t want it enough to risk losing the magic. I was surrounded by those powerful notes, feeling them touch my skin as they were absorbed into my blood, my bones, my thoughts; that is not something I would risk losing, even for a photograph.

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The hands of an artist are mysterious and intriguing.  My art teacher has the ability to practically breathe an image onto a page.  Each time I go to class, I stop and stare at a portrait he drew. The realism of it makes me shudder as it evokes precise images of a very frightening movie.  I fully expect the portrait to come to life and say, in a menacing, crazy-man’s voice, “Heeere’s Johnny!”.  But, I digress.  The hands.  The permanent ink spot on the finger, the darker shade on the pinkie edge, the way one lies flat on the table while the other draws; I sometimes find myself distracted by his hands and forget to pay as close attention as I mean to.  I want to photograph those hands, but it isn’t the time.  There will come a time.  I need to.  And I will.  When it’s time.

The hands that hold the hammer are strong and sure, yet gentle enough to bottle-feed a newborn lamb.  Those hands would belong to my Daddy.  He and I didn’t see eye to eye for way too much of my life.  I was too soft-hearted to hold my own against such a strong personality and sense of self.  I perplexed him, I think, more than anything.  At some point in my adult life, we became close; close the way I always wished it would be.  It was then that I started noticing his hands.  More often than not they were cut and bleeding, the fingers and palms thick with callouses from years of hard work.  I have taken many photographs of his hands, have managed to fade in to the background and work, unnoticed, as he does what he does.  Working, praying, fishing, gardening.  I have hundreds and each time I look at one, I am reminded of the love and strength in them.

fishermanhands                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There are others’ I wish to see, to photograph.  Some of them are musicians, others not. I do find, though, that the musicians and artists have a greater pull to me as their hands are a part of what they create.  Just as my eyes are  essential instruments to my photography, so are their hands in the paintings they paint and symphonies they play.

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Photographing hands is an ethereal experience for me.  It is sometimes heartbreaking, the emotion that they invoke.  Knowing that I am close enough to that which I seek, to see it clearly through the lens of my camera, is the kind of moment I hope for.  I know, when I no longer notice that there is a body attached to the hands, then it is time.

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If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men ~ Romans 12:18

As our Gracie grows …

I find that watching her is one of my most wonderful blessings.  The years seem to have flown by and now, she is just a couple of months shy of her fifth birthday.  She can do whatever she tries to do, follows her sister wherever she goes and can hold her own (especially in the ones she starts), in a good old fashioned wrestle.  She has learned that pouting works with everyone but me and doesn’t even bother anymore.  She just points her finger at me and says things that I’m almost glad I can’t understand.  She has her own mind, her own will and her own ambitions.  She has her own way of doing things and is pretty set on doing it HER way.  Having to share everything and everyone with a sister who is cut from the same cloth makes like interesting, to say the least.

sistersrunning2012

When Gracie first came into the world, she was early.  Very early.  And she was almost immediately diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.  She won our hearts so quickly, we didn’t really have a chance to absorb the fact that she had Down’s.  We prayed and God answered; she would touch our lives in a way that none of us, not even us optimists, could ever imagine.

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gracy_buddywalk2012

While she says many things that are amusing, there are two phrases she says that melt me like warm chocolate.  “Hi Nini” and “Love you, too, Nini”.  I’ve never once called when Gracie was around that she didn’t pick up the phone and say “Hi Nini”, whether she knew it was me or not.  I love that.  It makes me feel good inside to know that I am part of this beautiful child’s life.  I’m not the only one, though.  Ask anyone who has had the pleasure of being around her; she has a gift.  A gift of encouragement and light.  She never fails to bring joy to anyone who sees her.  It is rather awesome to watch.  She has a special light around her; one that makes everyone want to be near her … makes me want to be near her.  A light that makes even the worst of days insignificant when she puts those little arms around my neck.

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She has come a long way, our Gracie.  From barely hanging on to thriving and living in a world she feels safe in and isn’t afraid to explore.  She reminds me what I want to be when I grow up.  Yes, she is truly a blessing in my life, but by far, not the only one; not by a longshot. (If you haven’t read Watching Gracie Grow, read it here http://wp.me/p1CqmN-m )

mygirls_beach2012

Psalms 100 ~  1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord; all ye lands.  2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing.  3 Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Being a greeting card designer …

was never  in my plans; it wasn’t even in the back of my mind.  A thought not yet thought, a dream not yet dreampt.  It never really occurred to me that I could design greeting cards until one day, four years ago, when I was looking for a place to make a birthday card for my friend Len.  I wanted to use a photograph of our Great Pyrenees dogs to upload to a card in order to wish a happy birthday to my dog-loving friend.  I had looked up such sites before, but could find none that would allow me to upload my own photographs onto the card.  And then, out of the blue (always a sure sign that a blessing is in the midst), I found Greeting Card Universe.  It was exactly what I had been looking for and the site said that I could upload my photographs and make cards out of them and actually make money off of them.   I had an overwhelming urge to do just that, caring about the photography and not really expecting to make any money from what came out my heart and head.  The site said that it could take several months to sell a card and it could be years before any revenue was made.

My husband, who was still living at the time, encouraged me to make more.  To put the words in my heart with the photographs that I had been given.  I had to come up with a name for the store and because I give God all the glory for what I see through the lens of my camera, Through the Eyes of the Spirit just popped into my mind.  Jim was one of my biggest fans and a sounding board for new ideas and thoughts.  He was brutally honest and I appreciated that, as honesty is very important to me.  I began to put words to the photographs I had taken and created cards that I could scarcely imagine that anyone would want. I was at a crossroads.  A place where I had two choices; share what I had been given or cowardly hide it away because I couldn’t fathom that anyone would want anything that I had created.

So I did it. I took the leap of faith and uploaded a card with my own photograph and my own verse and prepared to wait for months or even years for anyone to take an interest.  Eleven days later, I sold my first greeting card.  The feeling was one of jubilation, honor,  humbleness and, quite honestly, disbelief.  I simply could not believe that there were people who had an interest in the words I had to say, words that were given to me, those not my own, but placed in my heart by a faithful God.

I immediately considered the first sale a fluke and then more came.  And more after that.  It seemed that I had a knack for coming up with the words that people wanted to say, but didn’t quite know how.  I made card after card, the verses rolling off my tongue as though they were native to me.  What inspiration and joy I had from each one and every time I had a sale, I was thankful and gave thanks to the Lord who had given such a wonderful thing to me.  It became a ministry.  One of encouragement to the downtrodden and suffering.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  Many times I cried over the verses for they were born of life experiences and hardships that I would never have dreamed could ever be anything more than a burden.

It has been four years since I joined the world of greeting card design and more than 20,000 cards have sold.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Twenty thousand.  I am stunned.  I continue to be stunned.  And with each sale, whether it be for one card or 500 cards, I feel the same as I did when the very first one sold.  The thrill and exhilaration has not faded.  Each time I get a notification, I first thank God, for it is all for His glory.  My name will fade from the mind only moments after hearing it, but His name will still be on the lips of His people until the end of time.  I am  honored that He has chosen me to be a part of His ministry through something that I love as much as my life itself.

In my heart of hearts, I am a photographer.  I see things differently and that, in itself, is a blessing.  I would love to be able to thank every single person, from all fifty states and thirty different countries for their support.  It isn’t possible.  I  don’t know who buys my cards.  All I am privy to is the location from which the card was purchased, but that doesn’t impede my desire to pray when I sell a card for “loss of mother” or “college graduate” or “thank you from bride to father”.  I am grateful for each one and feel a sense of gratitude and humbleness that out of  hundreds of thousand of cards, someone picked mine.

I don’t take this blessing lightly as it has had a profound influence on my life.  And I am, as I said, very grateful.  I am blessed beyond what I have the words to say and at times when I am feeling low, He lifts me by using the talents and gifts He gave to me to bring joy that would otherwise be absent.  I am in love with Jesus and take great pleasure in knowing that He loves me more than I can ever love Him.  Although life has a way of kicking me down from time to time, it cannot compete with what lives inside of me.  Life will go on whether I am a part of it or not, but how wonderful to know, that through the gifts given to me, that I am able to bring joy and encouragement to others.  That, without doubt or reservation, makes my life worth living and for that, I am grateful beyond words that I can say.

So again I say, to everyone who has ever purchased a card from Through the Eyes of the Spirit, I hope you got even a tenth of the joy from receiving the card as I got from creating it.

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Isiah 41:10 ~ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Birthdays …

the good, the bad and the indifferent.  Birthdays have always been a very cool thing to me, whether it is mine or someone else’s, I just feel happy.  Most of the time.  This year, my birthday came and went. There was cake and ice-cream, family, friends, co-workers; all the usual birthday suspects.  It was different, though.  This month started out with a fairly serious facial injury and mid-way through, adding insult (and injury) to injury, I fairly seriously injured my shoulder and cracked a couple of ribs.   Now it is no secret to the people who know me well that my mind, in the best of times, is a scary place to be.  During the worst of times, I walk around with a bio-hazard sign flashing above my head.

But, as I so often do, digress.  I can chalk part of it up to the end of October, that which I both long for and dread.  I have a love/hate relationship with that month and it nearly always makes me high.  November, however, is a month of coming to terms with the oncoming winter, saying goodbye to the leaves, hello to the bare sentries of winter and getting ready to be cold more often than not.  And my birthday is this month and that always makes me feel extremely special.  That was not to be this year.  With each new event, there were melancholic thoughts of days past, days that I didn’t care that much for when they were the present.  I thought much of my late husband and felt guilty, at times, that I was ready to let him be at peace and begin the process of getting on with my solitary (as that is how I like it) life.

I don’t discount the many blessings of the last year.  That would be wrong on so many levels.  The blessings have been numerous and I am thankful for each one.  Blessings sometimes get lost in the fray of life, though. I have family suffering from the loss of a loved one, dear friends that I am unable to account for and dealing with turning 45.  Any of these would be like turning a page during normal times, but when they all happen at once, well, it weighs on the mind.

Did it make my birthday less happy?  Yes.  Life has a way of doing what it wants.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be happy today, or tomorrow or the next day.  It doesn’t mean that I am beyond hope.  Unhappiness is a part of living and if there is anyone who has lived their entire life saying they have never experienced it, then you have seen, up close and personal, a liar.

November is nearly over and the round of Christmas parties, Band concerts, Christmas plays and a thousand other things that I will be trying hard to find a place to fit will present themselves, (at the last minute, always at the last minute), and at the same time, working diligently to keep my sanity (a fine line at best).  While it is true that I’m closer to fifty than I was only a couple of days ago, that is the furthest thing on my mind.  I am happier now than I have ever been.  Free, so to speak, with a daughter in college and myself on my own.  But there are times, as everyone knows, when it would be nice just to have someone put their arms around me, saying nothing as I cry until the tears were gone.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is not a sign of weakness, but proof of humanness; it is life.  It can be, at times discouraging, but in that moment that we find ourselves, unless we make it our mission, will not last forever.  I am already looking forward to doing it better and with more enthusiasm in the next year; whatever “it” may be.  I am a survivor and no matter what comes at me, I can depend on the Jesus to which I cling to lift me when my wings are too broken to fly on my own.  I am truly, humbly, honorable and indescribably blessed and that, I don’t want to forget.

Looking at the here and now can sometimes be overwhelming … but the here and now will be the there and then tomorrow, so don’t let it break you.  Let it get you down, cry when you need to, throw things if it suits you (my favorite thing to do in a crisis), but at the end of the day, realize that our life, our thoughts, our fears are part of what makes us who we are and without them, we wouldn’t really be anyone in particular, but like everyone else.  I like being different, even when it’s painful.  Though I have many regrets, there isn’t anything I would change because if I were to change them, my ability to relate and empathize would become obsolete.  An easy life is no challenge, but rising above the odds and making the best of the worst situations takes us to a whole new level.  It is my goal to serve my Lord and be the best that I can be for Him.   Be encouraged, my friends, for nothing lasts forever.  Nothing.

Lightning over Big Moccasin

Psalms 28:7 ~ The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart is trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will praise him.

Light’s Little Surprises

Light.  A photographer’s best friend and worst enemy at the same time.  I think it is safe to say I spend much of my time chasing the light, hoping to beat it to the punch and be there waiting for it when it decides to bring out the beauty of whatever it is that I have come to see.  Sometimes, though, light throws me a bone and lets me see it in ways that I wouldn’t have imagined.  One of those times happened here.  This shot was and continues to be one of my favorites and it was a complete surprise.  I got some curious glances, but they weren’t the first and likely will not be the last.  Thankfully, I never go anywhere without my camera … not even the bathroom, which is where this glorious image was found.  I’m grateful for every shot, but I always feel a little like I’ve won the lottery when I get a great shot that I wasn’t expecting and didn’t have to work for.