Of course, I had to photograph my mother and her horse while I was visiting Washington! There are so many things that I miss since I moved from Portland to Athens, Georgia, and my mom is one of them. This woman taught me so much about riding and got me in the saddle before I was even walking. We had lots of fun riding together over the years. For this shoot, we rode into the state park next to her co-op barn, so I got to ride my old mare Fatima, who is now 24 years old, and was my first bay Arabian mare. She took my giant camera bag in stride (though I had to have someone hand it to me as mounting with the extra 15 pounds from the ground was out of the question) and did a mostly fantastic job of not walking in front of my camera while I was shooting. It was so great to be riding her again.The desert is an amazing backdrop for epic photos. I have more to come... this is the first round.
I went out to Tri-Cities, Washington to visit my mom while out on my adventures and had a photoshoot with the lovely Leslie and her handsome guy, Jag. In case you are wondering about the mist at sunset in the desert... It's not mist. It is smoke from nearby brush fires. The state has been battling fires for months. The Athens, Georgia area is lush and lovely, and has the best weather, but I do miss being so close to the desert, ocean and mountains, for all the incredible scenery makes for amazing backdrops for photo shoots.
The Sanstrums and I go back about 4 or 5 years. I met them when I was looking for someone to do a partial lease on Bella to help me keep her in shape. Their daughter, Madeline, hit it off with Bella and over the years, her sister also rode her a bit in 4-H. They gave Bella so much love, and Aleta knitted me so many things to keep me warm that I wanted to give something back, so I gifted them a shoot. The plan was for a family photo shoot, but I got a couple of Madeline with her new horse as well. It was so fun to hang out with them on the farm again while I was back in the Portland area, visiting from my new home in Athens!
Lacey's mom heard I was coming to town and contacted me to photograph her daughter and their three horses. Beautiful day, beautiful daughter, beautiful horses... What could be a better mix? The Medicine Hat Paint is her main show horse so we got plenty of photos of the two of them together. One of my goals as an equine photographer is to capture that special relationship between a rider and their primary horse.
Something that I noticed while back visiting the West Coast, was how opposite the grass is over there. Here in the Athens area, the grass dies and turns yellow in the late fall/winter and is green all summer. But in Oregon, the grass turns yellow and dies in the hottest part of the year but stays green otherwise. In my mind, summer will forever mean golden fields. This golden field was a beautiful setting for an equine photo session, but we did have to move into the shade as the sun got higher.
Summer Chabala and I worked extensively together in real estate. I did all of the photos and marketing for the team she worked on for about 5 years. As the team got busier, I trained her to take over some of my non-photographing duties. We both left the team at about the same time, me to focus on building my real estate photography business, her, to go out on her own. I continued doing some work for her - mostly design oriented. When she heard I was coming back for a visit from my new home in the Athens, Georgia area, we scheduled a family shoot, and went out after for ice cream and to catch up. Seeing my old friends and clients was a highlight of my trip!
After having lived in Athens, Georgia for about a year, I went back to the West Coast to do some adventuring and shooting. Lindsie Feathers needed promo photos for her upcoming tour and just happened to be staying in my hometown. So I drove out to my hometown, Scappoose, about 40 miles from Portland, to photograph her. It was a "trip" making it back to my hometown on this trip! I loved working with Lindsey in this context. She had previously created a video of my band when we needed a promo video, so it was fun to be on the other side of the lens. As a musician myself, I love working with musicians and artists to create promo images that reflect the essence of their art!
I recently photographed Classic City Clydesdales out in Bishop, Georgia for Southern Distinction Magazine (headquartered in Athens, Georgia). All outtakes are here, and I will add in the images that will be used in the magazine after the magazine is published in August. Enjoy these big, beautiful horses and the stunning property! UPDATE: I've added the images the publication used as well and will be posting a PDF of the entire piece as soon as I can get it!
I went to the Good Horseman's Show at the Georgia International Horse Show in Conyers, Georgia, just to practice horse show photography. And, of course, to see highly trained, beautiful horses prancing around an arena! I love watching (and doing) dressage. Even though these days I mainly ride Western, I trained my mare to be a Western Pleasure horse using basic dressage principles, because they work for any kind of training that requires flexibility, coordination and collection. Enjoy these lovely horses doing horse ballet!
I got to do some interior photography recently, one of my favorite kinds of shoots. I usually would photograph a kitchen with the lights off, but after talking it over with the client, we decided lights on would be best - in part because the house was located inside a grove of trees with almost no natural light, and in part because the lighting was designed to accentuate the kitchen. I could tell from the rest of the house that this kitchen remodel really opened things up! We also photographed two of the bathrooms they had remodeled in the same house. I loved what Jessica Webber did with the staging!
New work for Alexa Stevenson. This home was featured in Athens Street of Dreams.
This image features one of my fine art prints replacing the television above the fireplace. Print was selected by the interior designer.
Congratulations to Jennifer for her winning bid on the certificate I donated to the University of Georgia Poultry Science Club! We had our shoot last week and it was a blast. Aussie is a funny horse - very obstinate - and Jennifer seems to be the only person who can get her to do whatever. This lovely couple has been together for a number of years and they have done all kinds of fun things - shows, drill team, trail riding. As a horse portrait photographer, I love capturing all of the quirks of a human-horse friendship!
Got to see JD McPherson and his band at the Georgia Theater the other day. I met them at Pickathon and hit it off with the keyboard player, Ray. So it was really nice to see them again and hang out with Ray on this side of the country. Enjoy the photos below!
Shooting for interior designers is one of my favorite things in the world. Together we get to geek out over every detail of the shot, moving this, turning that, until every element is in exactly the right spot in the shot. The best, for me, is when I get to shoot for a designer or decorator whose work uses bright color and carefully selected elements to create a space that I would love to inhabit. Alexa Stevenson is one of those designers whose work I appreciate so much that I would gladly inhabit any of her spaces. I could cozy up on that couch with a book and a cup of tea for hours! Check out more of her work on her website.
Every once in a while I get a shoot that makes me feel I am giving someone more than just a valuable service. The photos I am taking are not just so that they can sell their product, restaurant, service or magazine. Yes, my portrait images are important, meaningful images that will be treasured for the rest of someone's life, and passed down in the family. Daughters, sons, granddaughters, grandsons, and great grandchildren will all look at these images, hang them on their walls, see their own eyes in the eyes of their relatives, the shape of their face, the size of their hands, and remember their relative in their element, with their beloved horse - another family member that perhaps they know from distant, foggy childhood memories, and perhaps they didn't know at all.
But sometimes a shoot goes even beyond that. A shoot like this reminds me of just how valuable photography is in our lives. Yes, we all take photos, but there are times when we need not just photos we took, but photos that someone else took of us together, that are works of art worthy of hanging on our walls. And that time is when our beloved family members, animals or human, pass from this world and travel the rainbow bridge.
I had an urgent request from a client in Maryland last week. Her horse was at the UGA Large Animal Vet Hospital in Athens, Georgia, and things were not looking good. A sudden, unidentified mysterious illness was taking its toll on Deville. The vets and his owner had decided it was not in his best interest to keep him alive - at 18 he had already lived a full and happy horse life - and with no knowledge of the illness, they had no way to treat him. He was in pain, and he was getting worse daily.
Georgiana realized that she had few good photos of herself and Deville, who had carried her through the show rings in the days of his prime, and whom she loved enough to retire and continue paying for his keep. Of course, I made this shoot a priority in my schedule. How could I not?
I could tell from their interactions that they had a connection built on mutual trust and respect, that had been forged during hours upon hours of learning to communicate silently with one another, merging into one being when she sat in the saddle. Perhaps his mane had caught her tears at some point, and she knew just where to scratch him to make his lip stick out sideways.
I lost my Echo cat last summer, three weeks before moving across the country. I spent days looking through photo books and my iphone, of pictures that I had taken of her from kittenhood when I was 18 until even just the day before, photos that my husband had taken of her and I together. I framed one of them and it sits on my vanity, where I can see her every day and remember what an important friend she was in my life.
This is how we have come to grieve for our loves these days: looking through photos, grasping wildly at whatever is left of their presence as their self drifts slowly away after their physical body was laid to rest. And this is how we remember them when they are gone.
The prints have been ordered, as has the special box that will house the prints and the memories. And I hope that they will comfort Georgiana as the weeks and months pass and she remembers the tall, handsome bay Thoroughbred that was her trusted friend for so many years.
In 4th grade I was taken to an after school thing where we got to play with musical instruments and pick one to learn. The adults asked "What do you want to play?"
I said, "I want to play the violin."
"We don't have a violin program," responded the adults, "you'll have to pick something else."
I picked the flute, but never got over my desire to play the violin. I love the sounds of the fiddle so much that I even dreamed, literally, like dreamed during my sleep, that I was playing it. But it always seemed so impossible. One day I was messing around with Michael's mandolin, and started playing along with a record. "Whoa," I said, "this makes so much sense." I continued playing the mandolin for the next few years and occasionally picked up another person's violin and made some game attempts to play. The bowing came fairly naturally, once I was shown how to do it, and since the mandolin and the violin are tuned the same, I could manage with the left hand.
One day, I decided to just go ahead and start playing the violin. I mentioned this to our fiddle player, and she loaned me a violin she had sitting around. I loved that fiddle, but since it wasn't mine, I had to give it back after a few months. I started looking around for a fiddle of my own, and remembered that when I had met my family on my dad's side while my grandmother was in the hospital, they had told me of a violin that had belonged to my great-grandfather, Tony Sneath, who had taught violin and piano lessons, played in an orchestra, and owned a piano store. It was tucked away in someone's attic, and had been since he had passed away the year of my birth.
I made some phone calls, and found that my cousin Liz, whose attic it was in, was delighted at the prospect that it would be played again. She met me the next day to give it to me.
After sitting for 30 years in the attic, it needed a little work. I took it to the fiddle doctor, and he quickly got it in working order. When I picked it up, I asked him to tell me what he could about it.
"This violin is a mystery," he said. "I can't tell when it was made. In some ways it looks hand made. In others, it looks factory made. It has been repaired a number of times. There is a mark inside indicating that it went to auction at some point, and the tag inside was taken out of another violin. There is only one thing that I can tell you for sure."
"What is that?"
"Your great-grandfather loved this fiddle very much," he said, holding it in his hands and looking down upon it.
Hog of the Forsaken is a song by Michael Hurley with a prominent fiddle line. I fell in love with the song on the back porch at Shady Grove, and decided to learn it on the fiddle. So I asked Michael Hurley to teach me. He showed me how, and then I played along with the record. I wanted to sing it, too, but it is in a most awkward key for me, hitting notes that are too low. So, I just jam on it instead. A little recording is below, so that my family can hear my great-grandfathers fiddle being played once again.
Every once in a while, I set out to create a photo, get to the right place at the right time, and some extra special magic happens.
With my upcoming move to Georgia, I was going about my life in Portland saying goodbye to all of the places, people and things that I had loved over the years. The Willamette Week asked if I could squeeze in one more project before I left, and I obliged, in part because it would force me to create time to venture to a few final places that I wanted to see before my departure.
The assignment was to visit each of the parts of town and photograph a place that speaks about the entire area. For North Portland, I went to The Bluffs, a popular destination on summer nights for sunset and people watching. I headed out with my husband, planning to follow up the sunset with a little cider drinking on the grass. We had just laid out our blanket and I had pulled out my camera when I looked up and saw this bicycle, and of course, the girl. "Whoa," I said, "That is exactly like my old bike. I have to photograph her."
I walked over and introduced myself. "I couldn't help but notice your bike. I had the exact same magenta Schwinn Suburban for 9 years and rode it all over town."
"Did you used to live in an apartment on Colfax?" she asked.
"OH MY GOD IT'S MY OLD BIKE!" It was like running into an old friend.
We laughed and I admired the lights she had added to it. "I always wanted to decorate it with lights but never got around to it." I told her. "You have to let me photograph you!"
We went to the edge of the bluffs, overlooking the Willamette, and I placed them just under this tree so I could get the sun peeking through. And so I said goodbye to my old bike, my old friend, my trusty steed who carried me over all quadrants of Portland with nary a flat tire or broken chain, but I took an image that I will always be able to carry with me.
As part of the #abundantartshow, I'm supposed to post a behind the scenes of a work in progress. So that got me thinking. How does a photographer show a work in progress? I am not in the habit of showing un-edited digital photos, and to be honest, I'm not working on a shoot at the moment. My film photos involve me going to places, taking film images, sending them off for development and then getting them scanned, returned and looking at them, and deciding what to share. So how am I supposed to complete this assignment? This week, it's the end of the year, and I shot a lot of photos. I just happen to also have some portfolio showings in January, so I decided to update my physical portfolio with this year's photos.
So here you have it. Behind the scenes, working in Adobe Lightroom!
What a task. 1,409 five star photos in my editorial catalog alone! (The five stars are the one I consider for submission to the client.) And I've also got 3 architectural catalogs, a commercial catalog, a portrait catalog and an equine catalog. I like to keep different types of photos in different catalogs, and archive them at the end of the year, creating a new catalog for each type of photography every year. Sometimes, if I fill a catalog, I will archive it early, which I did 3 times for architecture. And, holy wow, I shot a LOT in 2016!
Of course, most of the photos in my physical portfolio will match my website, since those have already been selected as the awesomest, but finding them on my various hard drives and exporting the selected photos at print resolution is a time consuming job. And of course the indecision doesn't help - I inevitably find at least 3 more photos from the project that I think would also work quite nicely, so then I end up exporting all of them. Fortunately, my favorite art director/husband will be helping me select the final images tonight. He is quite good at choosing the images that speak the loudest.
You'd think a Virgo would enjoy this more, but I must admit, it is not nearly as fun as pixel peeping and editing my images into perfection, then flipping back and forth between the original file and the edited version and patting myself on the back. Anyway, I am quite effectively procrastinating by writing this post and should probably get back to work!
From 2008-2009, I lived in St. Petersburg, Russia. In doing so, I gained insight into what it is like to live in a "kleptocratic authoritarian" society - a society that is ruled by Putin and all of the wealthy men of Russia, who were forced to buy their way into office or face exile, jail, and their wealth or businesses taken away. Corruption rules in this country, there are few industry regulations and even fewer safety nets.
Wait a second, this is starting to sound little familiar... For years, Republicans have been crying for less regulation on industry, and to privatize social security and medicare. Now that Trump has been elected, they seem to be on a path to making those things happen. Trump's appointments thus far have been wealthy men who stand to profit greatly from their positions, while the American people stand to see fewer regulations protecting the environment and the economy from industry practices that bring lots of money to the people at the top, but at the expense of everyone else.
And Republicans in Congress are making plans to cut social security and medicaid benefits, and entirely repeal Obamacare. What does it look like in a country that has few safety nets? Take a look:
Babushki (old women) are everywhere. Some may get a small pension, but it is not enough to live on. So they spend the last years of their life walking the streets, begging for money or busking. This particular woman had very advanced glaucoma - totally treatable, but the treatment was not available to her. My host mother told me that there are many more old women than men, because so many boys died during the war.
This is what a de-regulated environment looks like. Mmm, can't you just smell the fresh air? Hope you don't have asthma...
Lack of building codes means that the exteriors of buildings are allowed to crumble and fall off. The netting is to prevent it from hitting the people walking on the sidewalks below. My host mother told me that one time a balcony fell off the side of a building right in front of her as she was going about her business, walking on the sidewalk!
Where does Russia beat America? Education. Russia's primary and secondary education are completely free, and college is mostly free. They have the world's second highest rate of college grads and their higher education system is ranked 3rd in the world by Bloomberg. Not only is education highly prized culturally, but especially during the Cold War, the government wanted as many educated people as possible making technological advances. Here in America, college student go dramatically into debt (after paying for some medical expenses not covered by my health insurance and with accrued interest, I am in over $100,000 for my college education.
And the Republicans in the Senate have been talking about voucherizing and charterizing the entire education system for years. Not only that, but they think the solution to paying for higher education is to create savings plans. Okay, well, my mom managed to save... I think it was $2000... for my college education, and she started saving when I was in first grade. Savings plan do less than nothing for poor people, because when it comes down to it, are you going to put that $20 in your savings plan this month or are you going to buy some food for your kids, or pay for rent or heating? Doesn't take a genius to figure that one out.
Unless the Republicans are planning on putting money into the college savings plans for poor kids, it will be just another way to keep poor people poor and too distracted by daily concerns to put up a fight.
So, as an American I say we take care of one another, provide health care to everyone in our society and make sure that people of retirement age can be sure they will have enough money to make it. Let's not become friends with a Russian dictator and change our country to be more like them. Okay? I like the protections that Democratic leaders have instituted over the years... Social Security, Medicaid, Obamacare, the EPA (which solved the silent spring and acid rain problems). Let's keep our air and water clean and do everything we can to mitigate global climate change. Let's make sure everyone gets an education and is prepared to make a living in the 21st century. Let's look to a future where we all lift one another up... because if we go back now, we will be talking about the days that we used to have an educated population, health care for the most needy, social security for those ready to retire, drinkable water and breathable air as the good old days.
Today I am giving thanks. I am so grateful for the role that horses have played in my life, and especially to my mom, who enabled me to ride throughout my life.
Thanks to my mom, who got me in the saddle before I was born by riding while she was pregnant with me. She taught me to ride, hauled me to lessons and 4-H practice and shows, bought me my pony, my first Arabian, and gave me the horse she bred out of her mare. When I was in college and couldn't afford a horse, she hauled her two horses to meet me in downtown Portland (and parallel parked a 4 horse slant) and pick me up to take me riding while she had drill team practice.
Thanks to Honey, the solid chestnut Appaloosa mare who was the first horse to teach me to ride when I was a toddler, and took such good care of me.
Thanks to Blue, my grulla Quarter Pony, who did whatever he wanted, pretty much when he wanted. He taught me how to convince an equine that it wants to do what I want to do. He taught me to get back on after falling off and made me a confident rider.
Thanks to Subiah, my first Arabian mare, whom I loved more dearly than anything in my early teens. She taught me how to train a horse and just how deep a friendship can be. She also taught me that sometimes you just have to say goodbye.
Thanks to Fatima, who taught me how to start a horse from scratch, how to safely handle and calm a nervous, high strung horse, how to keep my seat when the horse suddenly moves sideways, and most importantly, she taught me patience.
And last but certainly not least, thanks to Bella, pictured here, who has taught me that unshakable trust between a horse and rider will overcome fear any day. She taught me that the adoration between a horse and rider can be completely mutual. She gives me friendship and love every day, and has helped immensely to cure my depression. She has shown me that horses are incredibly intelligent animals, who know when they are in a dangerous situation and will be forever grateful if you help them out. I call her my angel pony and often wonder - did I save her, or did she save me?
These are not all of the horses I have ridden or leased, and am thankful also for each and every horse who made me a better rider, a better horsewoman, and a more patient, kind and thoughtful person.
What are you thankful for in your equestrian life?
The Willamette Week Finder was released a couple of weeks ago and I was very excited to get my copy in the mail yesterday! Why would I need a guide for Portland when I just moved to Georgia? Because a bunch of my photos are in it! Many of my street style images made it into specific neighborhoods, as well as many images of bars and food that I shot over the last year or so. But my favorites were the full 2 page intro spreads to each quadrant. Some of my favorites are below.