If you follow this blog, you know that I’m what some may call a ‘stay at home dad’.  I have been for about six years now, and while it certainly has it’s moments, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I do work from home, but my schedule is flexible enough at the moment to where I get to have many adventures with my littles, and I’m so grateful for this opportunity.  I drive my kids about as crazy as they drive me, so it balances itself out.  I make them pose for me and then humiliate them with all the pictures I post of them that they for some reason think look awful (ok, only my eldest does this to me) and then they freak out and complain every afternoon they don’t have plans to get out of the house.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the focus of this blog and even of this company.  It’s grown so much over the past year, and while this is such a blessing, sometimes we need to reexamine and understand our focus more.  Why is it that we started things in the first place and where do we really want them to go.  Sometimes things progress naturally and we think that because it was a natural progression that it’s where it’s supposed to be, but that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes we have to stop, realign, and push things in the direction we know they are supposed to go.

I’ll have more to say about that soon enough, but for now I’m simply going to refocus these blog posts to discuss what I think is most important; the way my photography passions coincide with the faces who inspire me to pick up my camera every day.

I See You

I don’t often get in front of the camera.  I’m the one holding it.  Even before I started holding a camera that could take good photos, I was the one with my phone in hand ready to capture every moment before it passed.  I took more selfies with my kids before the days of cameras so large and lenses so long selfies were nearly impossible, but for the most part it was my kids and my kids alone.  After some internet pressure, I finally caved and did self portraits with my kids this past week.  Well, I’m not sure if counts as a legit self portrait since Jon actually took the picture after I set the settings and told him where to stand.  Regardless, it was a whim and one I’m glad I acted on, because I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.  I just love how each of these portraits tell the story of my relationship with each of my heartbeats.

My eldest is my feeler.  She has a heart like no one I know, and it feels so deeply that it’s proven to be a blessing and a curse.  She loves like no one else, with such compassion and understanding.  To know her is to be her friend and have her utmost love and affection.  But, this feeling has it’s downside, as she is very emotional and tends to take things very personally.  When her love and affection is not met, it can be crushing to her.  Thankfully, she is always willing to talk her feelings out, and I try as hard as I can to always be there to listen.  This picture sums up our relationship perfectly, and I don’t see it changing.

My youngest daughter is less of an open book.  She’s far more carefree and she doesn’t express herself as openly.  In fact, I usually have to try and coax out her feelings because she seems to try and bottle them up.  She surprises me the most of all my kids, though, I think mostly because of this trait.  She’ll say something or do something and I’m taken aback by her sweetness or her concern or in some cases her sadness because she’s often so hard to read.  I like to think she knows, even if she rarely acknowledges, that I’m always there for her, even when her attention is elsewhere.

My boy; well what can be said.  He’s off his rocker, honestly.  We make eye contact in a room and next thing I know he’s charging at me with this insane look in his eyes and his war cry sounding out, fists outward as he punches me in the gut.  I sit down and he makes a beeline for me as he proceeds to climb onto my face (no wonder I have back and neck problems), and as frustrating as the whole thing can be, especially when I’m tired or stressed, I try and just let it happen because he’s only this little once and soon he won’t fit on my shoulders the way he does now, although I’m convinced he’ll still try.  For him, life is all fun and games, and I hope it stays that way for a long time to come.

I feel strongly that my work arrangement has afforded me the chance to really know my kids in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise.  Sometimes I do think we spend too much time together (I know, internet parents are ready to crucify me for that statement, but be honest with yourself…you know exactly what I’m talking about), but I would much rather spend too much time than too little.  I know that this is something my wife is currently struggling with, as she’s gone back to work recently after over a decade of being a stay at home mother.  Thankfully her work schedule has lightened in the last few months, and I look forward to the day when she can come back to being a stay at home mother again.

The ever changing fluidity of life.  You just have to roll with the punches and hope the next time the swings miss.

Taking Advantage of the Here and Now

I have talked a lot about my 365 Portrait Project with the kids.  Sometimes we have themes or ideas that I specifically want to work on, and other times we take advantage of the day to come up with something together.  Case in point, this week we took portraits using face masks they got from Target, and that morning light flooding the living room made for great portraits.  I also loved how each mask, different as they were, made for insteresting colors and textures and set each picture apart.

From my son looking like a Bond villain (or is it an Austin Powers’ villain?) to my eldest looking like Leatherface and my younger daughter giving me Russell Crowe in Gladiator vibes (and, she wins the day), I was pleasantly surprised how something so simple could result in such fun portraits.

A lot of what I do during the week sparks from a whim of creativity, and that was the case when I brought the kids into the garage and made them stand on stacks of boxes so their faces were caught by the sliver of window light.  Well, actually it was sparked by the very talented Cami Turpin (if you are ever in Utah, you must look her up), who happened to mention a class she was taking and about Inverse Square Law, which inspired me to watch a 20-minute YouTube video about this, and while it’s a law I’ve used very often (it basically is the understanding of light falloff and placement of subject in order to utilize light as desired) I couldn’t wait to get them in the garage and test this law yet again.

This was one of those days where I could have justified posting a SOOC and been more than pleased with it.  Obviously, I couldn’t do that because I can’t resist the urge to make the photos better, sharper and more visually striking, but using the light in such a focused and direct way really made for some beautiful portraits.  I’m a sucker for that milky black, so throwing these in Lightroom and making them that much more cloaked in darkness was certainly in order.

Continuing the trend of using what’s at hand, I took advantage of rainy season and a broken mower to take pictures of my kids in our lawn.  First off, it looks much prettier in pictures than in did in real life (I mowed it about 5 minutes after snapping these pictures).  It was patchy and truly ugly and my neighbors were starting to sneer at me, so it was time.  It was also infested with bugs, which really rushed this session (my kids were troopers, but they couldn’t hear that click fast enough).  That being said, I’m so in love with these portraits.  Someone mentioned to me recently that they feel like they see my kids so clearly in each of their portraits, and I take that as such a huge compliment because that is what I want to capture.  I’ve trained them well, and they are 100% themselves in these pictures, and I feel like I’ve learned to understand them well enough to know how to coax honesty out of them with each click of the shutter.

Out for the Count

Friday night the family went to see Incredibles 2 (we should talk about that, but not now).  My son has been talking of nothing else for about 6 months now.  He heard on one of his crazy YouTube ‘toy opening shows’ (seriously, we should talk about this addiction, too) that it was coming out June 15th and he has reminded us of this every day.  So, he was ecstatic; literally losing his mind on Friday when we were getting ready to leave.  Unfortunately, I woke up Friday with what I thought was cold, which revealed itself (as we are pulling into the theater parking lot, mind you) to be the beginnings of strep.  Yes, I spent the evening in a theater that everyone was complaining was overly hot with chills, freezing to the bone and almost deliriously sick (at one point I got up to blow my nose and almost stumbled, drunk like, down the stairs); and my throat felt like I was continually swallowing razorblades.  My head was pounding, and I think I fell asleep during part of the movie, and then I had to drive myself home because we had met my wife at the theater after she got out of work and so we had both vehicles out.  I got home and crashed on the couch in about ten minutes and don’t remember when I woke up.  I slept most of the next day (well, after getting up and going to the doctor) and I’m finally feeling better.  I’m still not great (appears on top of it all I also had a sinus infection, so yay), but I’m better.

I was just happy that this happened after my remote shutter control arrived so I could still keep up my 365.

Yes, I know that I’m way too OCD for my own good sometimes.

Cuddle pictures are great, but I like that we can get back out and explore now!

Song of the Week: Just Thought You Should Know

Betty Who x’s 1000!  It’s funny because Friday morning when her EP dropped, I told Jon that I was almost hesitant to listen to it.  I mean, I really liked Ignore, but her singles so far this year have just been too ‘studio generic pop’ and lacked all of the 80’s influenced brilliance that made me love her in the first place.  That being said, Just Thought You Should Know is absolute perfection and sounds like something off her debut album (which is still her greatest effort).  It’s like someone made Madonna relevant again!  You don’t need to listen to anything else this week, just listen to this song on repeat and thank me later.

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