Life is full of surprises. We know this. This isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes surprises can be pretty great. It’s a mixed bag, I’d say. How did Gump’s mother put it? A box of chocolates. There’s always that oddly flavored fruit/nut chocolate that no one wants to eat. So, this week I had a few surprises (of the mixed bag variety) and one in particular caused this week to feel extra…long. It’s crazy how something like that can happen. Out of the blue something strikes and next thing you know two days have felt like seven and all the things you did earlier in the week feel like ages ago.
I Now Pronounce Myself Terrified
My week pretty much started with a surprise. I got a call late last week about booking a couples session for a couple in vacation from Chicago. What I initially thought was going to be a typical couples shoot on the beach turned into anything but. In fact, it was one of those surprises that gave me a sudden and intense case of pure anxiety. There, in the parking lot, walking right towards me and waving to get my attention, was a man in a full blown tuxedo. My initial thought was, “Maybe he and his wife are going to a play,” for we were in Sarasota and that wouldn’t be uncommon; but as he got closer I knew in my gut that that was not the case.
He told me we were waiting on his wife, who was changing, and that’s when he let me know they were on their Honeymoon and that she was indeed wearing a wedding dress. Now, I’m going to give you more of this story later this week when I post their portfolio, but to say that I was in a bit of panic mode is an understatement. I had the best time with them, and I truly love their portfolio, but that is just not something I was prepared for, and I had to think quick on my toes because everything I had planned for them would not have worked in her dress.
In many ways though, I’m truly grateful for the surprise of it all. As a perfectionist of sorts, I tend to overthink a lot of things, and so having no real time to process and or stress about the ‘wedding’ aspect of their shoot was good for me. It helped me get out of my head and, upon reflection, helped me to truly understand that this is not only something I love to do, but is also something I’m truly capable of doing. Having a few weddings already scheduled for later this year (and a courthouse wedding under my belt), I needed this boost to my confidence. I can’t wait to share more from their session with you, but if you want, pop over to our Instagram feed to see a few sneak-peeks from that night on the beach.
It’s All In the Details
I know that I have another surprise to tell you about, but we’ll get to that shortly.
First, I figured I’d talk a little bit about some of the things I’m trying to work on with my daily portraits of the kids. Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m using this 365 Photo Challenge as an excuse to photography my kids every day, and while that doesn’t seem like a huge task, it kind of is when you think about it. As I mentioned above, I’m an over thinker, and so I’m often trying to figure out new and interesting ways to take their pictures because, let’s be honest, 365 pictures of my kid’s faces is going to get quite boring to the average peruser of my Instagram feed.
One of the things I want to do in order to keep their portraits fresh and inspired is focus on details more. Sure, detail is always a good thing, but sometimes it’s nice to have a focal point in a picture that is more precise, and by playing with focal depth, it can really make those smaller details feel grand and catching. I’ve become obsessed with ‘faceless portraits’, and have been wanting to experiment more with them. At the park last week I caught a few candids of the kids playing, with my lens firmly focused on their hands, and I loved the results. It made me want to zoom in close even more.
We’ve also been chasing light around the house, finding the pockets that stream in through the various windows and waiting for the right moments, where the sun is streaming in just right and their faces are illuminated in the soft glow of that ‘low light’. We’ve been having some extreme (for Florida) temperature drops and so our living room window was covered in condensation, which gave us not only a neat portrait opportunity but also a nice breakup to an otherwise stressful day (I’ve been having a few of those lately) to take a timeout and explain the process of condensation to my curious kids.
My obsession with details only grew when I took the kids to Disney on Friday. Yes, we were just there but it’s Disney and, as I noted previously, it’s our happy place. We went to Epcot for the Arts Festival, but what really struck me were the Pixar Shorts. Yes, we went to Disney and watched Disney movies, but they were in 3D and that makes all the difference (it actually works beautifully in this instance, and I’m no advocate for 3D film). What I noticed throughout was the beautiful way they played with focal depth. This is something that I’ve been fascinated with for a while, my eye becoming more and more drawn to it as I experiment with my photography. What I thought was so interesting, especially say in Pixar’s Piper, is that so much attention to the depth perception was given in every frame. Our eye being drawn to the shells on the beach as Piper, our protagonist, is draped in a gorgeous blur. I think this struck me so much because it was entirely intentional, the animators understanding that natural camera play can create such a pleasing image. I mean, in Feast they even create bokeh. In looking at my portraits, I find myself drawn to the ones that are slightly imperfect, my eye finding the spots that the camera focused in on and tracing the lines to the soft focus. I love how that soft focus can take an otherwise average portrait and make it feel like something special.
The Weekend That Never Ends
And this brings me to surprise #2. While at Disney I noticed that my eldest was ferociously scratching her scalp. I knew in that moment we were in trouble. Upon arriving home from Disney, it was discovered that not just the eldest, but all three of our kids had lice. I feel squeamish just typing it. Lice is no joke. Not only are they the most irritating little buggers (I don’t know from experience, but my kids were miserable), but they are also nearly indestructible and whenever you think you’re in the clear and that you have eradicated them all (after HOURS bent over a child’s head picking and picking at their hair), you find more.
The boy got his first buzz cut. I think that’s a right of passage for a young boy, anyways, so I was kind of excited about that. He was not. To make him feel better, I went ahead and buzzed all my hair off too, and it was cute to see how quickly that made it all better. He’s adorable, by the way, and so he has nothing to worry about (although he is convinced that he looks weird), but that was kind of a give-in.
The girls weren’t as fortunate. They had to have their hair poked, prodded and pulled for three days now. I swear it felt like an eternity. Disney feels like it was a week ago, the wedding shoot on the beach over a month. I feel like I’ve been in the bathroom forever. It was also suggested to us to dye their hair, as lice apparently can’t survive in the ammonia. So, despite the fact that they have both asked on multiple occasions and have met with a resounding, “NO!,” from their mother and I, our daughter’s dyed their hair this past weekend.
Now, all three of my kids look so different. It’s kind of crazy to see, honestly. They are so happy with their new looks (although the boy still asks when his hair will grow back), and as I was watching them check themselves out I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of sadness over the change. They are growing up. My eldest is ten, going on seventeen it feels, and the boy is now so clearly a boy, not a baby. He’s a kid, through and through. I have always been one to embrace this change, though. I try not to dwell on the sad aspect of time passing because there is so much good to focus on. My children may not be the same kids they were a year or two ago, but as they grow up and discover who they are, they are only giving me more reasons to love them.
Song of the Week: The Good Side
This week has been a great week for music. Betty Who dropped another single, which is 80’s Pop infused deliciousness, and Glen Hansard gave us an entire album of pub worthy ballads, but it was Troye Sivan who takes the cake for best song of the week with his weepy The Good Side. This Simon and Garfunkel inspired lament to an ex-lover is not only beautifully composed musically, but it is so powerfully written. Each word is perfectly poised to speak to the listener. The mourning is clear, but never burdened, and the impact is immediate. It’s a gorgeous song that has been playing in my head for days now.