Do you spend time waiting in the bleachers (or the parking lot) at practices, pre-game warm-up’s, between tournament games, etc.? You know you do 😉 Today I’m letting my geek out, and doing a little crafting that’s perfect for those hurry-up-and-wait moments. It’s small, only a few pieces, light weight, and doesn’t take an engineering degree to figure out. A couple of years ago I saw this Rubik’s Cube Tissue Box cover on an episode of The Big Bang Theory and knew I had to make one for myself. It took a while to get around to it and figure out the correct sizing, but it’s finally done. I made a few mistakes along the way, but here’s my take on how to make a Rubik’s Cube tissue box cover.
- plastic canvas – enough for 5 pieces measuring approx. 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (my piece was 13 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches, enough to have some left over if I made a mistake)
- yarn – red, yellow, orange, blue, green, and white, approx. 4 feet for each color block (up to 36 feet per color)
- yarn – black approx. 40 feet
- needle – large-gauge blunt
You will need to cut the canvas into five pieces. Each piece will be 37 lines x 37 lines (or 36 open squares), they will be just under 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. This means each color block will be 12 open squares. For the fifth piece (the top) you will need to cut a hole in the middle for the tissues. Measure in 13 lines from each side.
To make it easier to get the multi-stranded yarn threaded through the needle eyelet, put a little piece of tape on the end. Snip off the tape before you start pulling the yarn through the plastic canvas.
With my first square I tried “covering” only the outside (the part you see) of the canvas with the yarn, but this lead to two problems. First, the plastic canvas showed through the strands of yarn more than I liked.
Second, it made the piece curl up. I had to take it all out, and start over.
When you start each color block, leave about 1 1/2 inches of yarn to tie the ends together.
Once you’ve stitched the color block, pull the yarn underneath, and tie the ends together. Next, stitch between the color blocks with the black yarn, covering the plastic canvas. When you have completed all five sides of the cube, use the remaining black yarn to “sew” all the pieces together. It’s that simple 🙂
This next step is completely optional.
Tissue boxes are not square, but Rubik’s cubes are. The Rubik’s cube tissue box cover will be bigger than your tissue box. When the cover was finished, it felt a little bit floppy because of the size difference, so I grabbed some black foam core that I had left over from another project.
To “firm up” the cover, cut two pieces of foam core to 5 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches, and two others to 5 x 5 1/4.
Assemble with your trusty duct tape, and slip it inside your awesome new tissue box cover.
And Bazinga! you’re done! When you create your own Rubik’s Cube tissue box cover, I’d love to see it. Please stop by and post a pic of it on my FB page. Until next time.
play hard, and have fun,
p.s. Don’t feel like you need to follow my pattern, but I would strongly suggest creating your pattern from an actual Rubik’s Cube. The first “pattern” I created, while pretty to look at, turned out to not be possible on the cube itself.
p.p.s. A piece of plastic canvas, and enough yarn to complete the color blocks, fit neatly inside a waterproof quart size ziplock bag. 😉
Over the years, I’ve been blessed to meet some pretty amazing photographers. Their personal stories never fail to inspire me, and that gave me an idea. If they inspire me, maybe their stories would inspire you! So today I would like to introduce all of you to the amazing, Sara Arrigoni, of The Blessed Everyday. I first met Sara a few years ago when she and her infant son were models for a workshop I attended. After the workshop ended, she got in touch with me to see if I had any more images of her and her son. Who knew it would be the start of a friendship? 😉 Go grab a cuppa’ something to drink, and enjoy my interview with Sara!
Welcome Sara! Please tell us a little about yourself…
I’m Sara of The Blessed Everyday, based south of Seattle, WA. I’m the mom of three kids (ages 1, 3, and 5), and we stay busy learning at home, hiking on one of the area’s many great trails, and exploring the area. I keep myself busy with homeschooling, my Project 365 project, reading, and seem to constantly have ideas and projects floating around in my head. 🙂
What do you shoot primarily/specialty? (families, kids, weddings, etc…)
My specialty is photographing families, specifically family day-in-the-life sessions and birth photography, as well as married couples. Each of these have a special place in my heart, but they all boil down to really specializing in photographing love and family connection.
What three words have been used to describe your photography?
authentic, connected, loving
What do you think makes your photography special? Why does it stand out from the pack?
I would say the emotional “realness” of my images is probably what makes me stand out the most. I work very hard to bring out the best in my clients during a photo shoot–not just the best aesthetics, but actually the best person, and I think it shows in my work. I work very intentionally to foster moments that allow for real connection between my clients, too, and to maintain a relaxed, open atmosphere.
What part of being a photographer challenges you the most?
Honestly, the most challenging thing for me is probably that photography is an expensive profession! Sometimes my “vision” for what I want necessitates equipment I don’t have, like special lighting. And as the kids are getting older and starting sports, I find I am wanting a new sports lens, but those are pricey, too. Still, I love learning how to maximize what I already have.
What was your very first camera?
My first camera was a Nikon D80, which I used for a couple of years before upgrading to a Nikon D7000. The D7000 was like “home” to me, and when I purchased a D600 (when I started shooting more births), it was an easy transition as they are very similar cameras. But while cameras are just tools for me, I get a lot more excited about lenses! That’s where the magic happens for me.
What is your best piece of advice for people trying to get great pictures of their own families?
I would say, start with bringing the camera out only a limited amount of time, but spend a lot of mental prep work ahead of time so that you know what you envision before the camera ever comes out. Typically my DSLR comes out only for “micro mini sessions,” 5 minutes at a time, to avoid my kids getting “camera fatigue.” Kids have a short attention span, and dragging things out past that tends to result in uncooperative kids and a cranky mom.
How has your photography changed over time?
I think I started out, like a lot of people do, with trying to copy favorite Pinterest poses and images I had seen before. More and more, though, I am getting energized by leaving behind the idea of trying to “recreate” and instead focusing on creating something new. I am okay now with the fact that my images won’t be for everyone or for every family–not everyone is really okay with seeing themselves or their family unveiled on a deeper level–and that’s okay! I know that my unposed, “homey” style isn’t for everyone, but I love attempting to show how beautiful our lives are just as they are, without manipulating scenes or forcing poses and expressions.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Moments of connection inspire me–seeing the small ways people show their love to one another. I am also very inspired by colors (which is funny since a lot of my work is black & white!). I have an unhealthy love for paint chips from the hardware store and fabric, even though I can only sew squares 🙂 I tend to be inspired by things of the past as well, like old classic books (I one day want to do an “Anne of Green Gables” shoot) and old movies (I have seen probably 5 current movies in the last 2 years, but I love oldies like Hitchcock).
What’s in your camera bag?
In my full kit, a Nikon D600 and D7000 (backup), a speedlite, and several lenses (17-35, 28-70, 50 mm f/1.4, and 85 f/1.8). For typical portrait sessions, though, I am bringing my D600, 50 and 85 prime lenses, and 17-35, while the rest stays at home. I also love to use reflectors.
If you could have only one lens, what would it be and why?
I grew into photography using my D7000 and 50 mm almost exclusively. I still love the 50, but because I’ve switched to a full-frame camera now, I am leaning more toward the 85 mm focal length. I love these two lenses because they work great for portraits, and they help me create beautiful bokeh. (Note from Beth: Bokeh is the soft, blurry, out-of-focus portion of a photo)
Have you ever thought of giving up photography? Why?
Photography, no; a photography business, sometimes. I actually find myself getting more excited about photography and various projects all the time, but the business side can wear me down at times.
What are some of the best learning resources you recommend?
Digital Photography School is one of the best online sites I’ve seen, with a wealth of information. I love almost any book by David du Chemin as well. And of course, nothing beats actually talking with other photographers and learning from each other, in real life.
Natural light, studio light, or both?
I am primarily a natural light photographer, though I do occasionally use speedlites indoors.
How do you keep all your personal photographs organized, both digital and printed?
I use Lightroom for digital organization. I rarely print photos unless I have a specific need, but I do print yearly photo books for our family through Blurb. These are probably my most prized possession!
When you take a family trip, what camera gear do you take, and why?
Ha! With three kids between 1 and 5, family vacations have been few. I would probably take my camera plus an 85 lens and my 17-35. I don’t have any longer lenses right now, but would be wishing for that. In the old days, I used to love the D7000+ 18-200mm lens combo for travel because it was a great “walkabout” lens, but that lens isn’t compatible with my current camera.
Nowadays, our primary form of family trips is hiking, and I have taken to using solely an iPhone. It is impossible for me to wear a baby on my back AND take care of my camera gear at the same time, plus many of the places we go are dusty, muddy, and wet… none of which are good for a DSLR.
Who are some of your favorite photographers?
I try to stay away from photography blogs for the most part, but there are a few that I check in on from time to time, for various reasons: I love Marianne Taylor and Jonas Peterson for their lovely wedding work, Catherine Giroux does beautiful day-in-the-life sessions; Wildflowers Photos has a very warm style that I find appealing; and I love the way Documenting Delight photographs her own family so beautifully.
For your personal pictures, how much shooting do you do with your “big camera” vs. your smartphone?
For personal pictures, I usually use my DSLR no more than once a week, if that. Nearly all of my Project 365 photos this year have been taken with my iPhone. I have found that shooting with my iPhone and dealing with its limitations has helped me in my “real” photography as well.
What drew you to specialize in birth photography?
I believe birth can be very powerful for a woman, and for couples. Birth can be so transforming and empowering, and I strongly believe that the way a woman is treated during her labor and delivery process can affect her long-term. And birth is also so unfiltered and real; there is no faking it. And then there are all the “firsts”–the first breath, first cry, the first moments when a couple meets their little one. I love being a part of all that and capturing those moments is very special to me. They are moments that can never be repeated again, and I love that, too.
You have been working on a “Blessed Strength” project. Tell us a little about it, and why it’s important to you.
Blessed Strength is an ongoing personal project. I hope to photograph moms of all different kinds, who exemplify all the types of strength that we embody as mothers. My Blessed Strength sessions capture mothers in their element, not in posed portrait sessions. I have high hopes for eventually growing this project into a Blessed Strength photo exhibit as well! It is really important to me to celebrate motherhood and moms in their regular life, which can feel very unglamorous to us as mothers, but which is fulfilling such a major role in the lives of our families.
What are your 5 favorite tips for parents who want to get a great picture of their newborn?
–take lots of pictures they first few days. You may feel crummy and be tired, but those little details are going to change so quickly. The difference between a 1-week-old and a 3-week old is tremendous!
–focus on the details: eyelashes, toes, lips
–pay attention to angles. Angles are perhaps even more important with newborns than adults. Just like “up the nose” shots are unflattering for us, they are unflattering for babies, too. This tends to be one of the #1 mistakes people make.
–get baby naked! A diaper is okay, too, or a beautiful swaddle blanket… but babies, especially newborns, can be overwhelmed by too much fabric. Often newborns’ clothes don’t fit them well anyway, and they end up looking like they are swimming in fabric and baggy clothes.
–involve mom and dad. I know, I know–mom, you are not feeling up to pictures right now. But years later, you’ll be happy for them. Sweep your hair up in a simple ponytail or messy bun, put on a clean shirt, and have dad photograph a few of you with your newborn (and dad, please put forth a good effort on this one–not the half-hearted, distracted attempts a lot of us moms are used to!). And mom, do the same for dad. Your new little one represents a new phase of life for your marriage; celebrate these moments!
You are a new “sports mom”. What did you learn as a first timer? What advice do you have for other parents who are about to step into the world of youth sports?
I grew up in a big sports family. My dad coached throughout our childhood, and my brother is coaching baseball at the local high school now, too. It was very hard for me to switch into parent mode from looking at things from a player or coach standpoint. My analytical side really kicks in, and it’s hard for me to just enjoy a 5-year-old game of basketball or other sports without analyzing a lot. I can definitely stand to just relax a bit. I would say my biggest piece of advice for parents is that, particularly for the young ones, the most important thing is to foster a love for sports and activity at that age–not to get hung up on the technicalities and competition. My 5-year-old came away from her first season with a love for basketball and playing with others, and that was by far the most valuable part of the season, and hopefully something that will continue.
Your daughter just finished her first season of basketball, what are your favorite tips for other basketball parents, who are trying to get great pictures of their kids?
I’ll be honest; remember that most frustrating part of photography bit? Shooting sports this season definitely caused some of those equipment frustrations! With nothing over 85 mm [lens] in my kit right now, that was a definite challenge shooting basketball! Plus I always have two smaller ones to wrangle… I don’t have any magic, but here are some things that did help me:
1. Bring along someone to corral other children so you can shoot.
2. Go where the action is. In basketball, most parents sit on the sidelines. I mix it up and instead go nearer the hoop, experimenting with angles to get great action shots. I’m careful not to interfere with referees or coaches, though.
3. Push the ISO up rather than slowing down shutter speed. A grainy shot is better than an out-of-focus shot. Pay attention to your shutter speed in sports (unless you are purposefully trying to blur for effect). Typically for high school athletes I keep it at least at 1/400 sec; smaller kids like my 5-year-old don’t move as fast so I can slow it to 1/200.
4. Anticipate where the action will go. It is far easier to shoot sports you are familiar with, because you learn where action will most likely go. If you are clueless about your kid’s sport, take some time to educate yourself and watch a bit before you dive in.
5. Get your photos near the beginning of the game, and then let yourself enjoy the game as a spectator and fan of your child. Don’t be behind the camera all game, or every game during the season. You probably only need to bring your camera to one or two games a season to capture your child’s season, and then just enjoy the rest!
6. *bonus tip* Take pictures of other kids on the team, too, as an act of goodwill toward other parents!
What tips would you share with other parents about supporting your kids in athletics?
–be willing to put the time in. Some of my most precious memories of my childhood are of the times my brothers and I spent in the backyard with my dad. My older brother was 11 years older than me, so he would supervise duels of Homerun Derby between my little brother and I. My dad spent hours sitting on a yellow Little Tykes chair as our catcher while we pitched to him. And I first started to love football because my dad would have us run pass routes in the backyard. These are all precious memories I am very thankful to have. The time helped us to grow in our sports, but more than that, it helped us to grow as a family.
–don’t air your difference with the coach to your kids. It is confusing, especially for younger athletes, to have their parents berating the coach…and it doesn’t do anything to help them learn conflict resolution either. Take your complaints directly to the coach and try to work things out directly.
–be prepared to be a listening ear and voice of reason during times of trial. Sports provides a lot of “teachable moments” for young athletes, but they may need help processing these moments. Sports teaches a lot of lessons about winning and losing, not always getting what you want, working within a team, and other great values that are difficult even for many adults to accept; don’t be surprised if your young athlete struggles, too.
–focus your praise more on the process and the attitudes than on the outcome. If your young athlete putting in the work and having a good attitude? Praise the good work ethic and the way he or she conducts himself during competition; those are traits that will endure far longer than today’s shooting percentage or race time.
As a sports mom with young players, what are the 5 things you always take to a game (besides your camera)?
–sunscreen for everyone
–post-game treats What can I say? My oldest is 5. Treats are a must-have at this age.
–something to distract the younger kids so I can watch the game, preferably a grandparent 😉
–a good attitude Even with my 5-year-old in a church-based league, you see bad attitudes from players AND parents. A positive attitude is a must! Remember you are there to support all the kids who are participating, not just your own child.
As a busy mom, what do you do to recharge?
Ha! I am perhaps the last person that should be answering this, because I honestly kind of stink at this! It is a constant challenge for me to give myself the space and time I need to recharge. There are things I enjoy, such as spin classes, reading, and journaling, that have been sort of put on hold the past few years as babies and work have crowded them out, but I would like that to change. My husband and I are now trying to implement a scheduled weekly time for me to get away to the local coffee shop for a few hours.
I want to give a huge thank you to Sara for sharing her personal story with us. Please leave a comment here for her, and if you would like to see more of Sara’s work, please visit her website and blog at The Blessed Everyday. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time,
play hard, and have fun,
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Go get something warm to drink…find a comfortable chair… I’m going down memory lane, so this is going to take a couple of minutes.
Things are changing. That’s normal, right? They say the only constant is change, right? But, it’s happening too fast. Where did the time go? We haven’t had all the talks about all the cool things, yet. We haven’t gone to all the cool places to see all the cool things. We haven’t seen all the cool movies, read all the cool books…
Next week my baby girl graduates from high school, and a couple of (very short) months later, she will leave for college. This feels final, in a way that nothing ever has before. I’m stuck in this whirlpool of beautiful memories, regrets, hopes, fears, excitement for her future, overwhelming pride in the person she has become, and pain for the loss of no longer having this amazing person in my life every day. That last part is completely selfish, and I’m both ashamed to admit it, and completely accepting of it.
This past year, her Senior year, has been full of lasts. It’s been a thrill to see all she has accomplished. A little over a week ago two things that have been a major part of my daughters’ life, and therefore mine, came to an abrupt end. On Wednesday, the Lady Bowmen Lacrosse team lost their 2nd round State play-off game; then Thursday, was the District track meet, the last meet of the season. And just like that, my roles as “lacrosse mom” and “track mom”, came to an abrupt, and unceremonious, end. It felt like there should have been marching bands. A parade would have been nice. At least a kazoo…
Didn’t the Universe understand what just happened?!
In the moments that my mind wanders down memory lane, I find myself remembering the way as a baby, her red curls bounced as she rocked herself back-and-forth on her hands and knees, gaining momentum before setting off on her speed-crawling. Years later as I waited anxiously on the sidelines of a cross country race, I would look for that same red hair and the tell-tale pony-tail swing, that identifies her from a hundred yards away… I remember the year she decided to learn how to play the trombone, and watching her carry around an instrument that was nearly as big as she was. The memories float around in my mind, and sometimes I can grasp them, but others slip just out of my reach. I try desperately to remember the details.
But, I can’t. No one can. It’s a painful truth.
It’s a human failing. We think we will remember every moment of our kids lives, but we don’t. Random phone numbers from my early childhood, those are etched in freakin’ stone!; but when she lost her first tooth… not so much. I wish I’d spent more time jotting down notes from our conversations. Talks about the Universe, God, Santa Claus… When I consider the stresses of those early years with my babies, it’s not particularly surprising I don’t remember much, but it’s still upsetting. Even more upsetting, our odd brains hold on to, and recall bad memories, far more easily than good. That seems like a cheat.
Personal foul, Memory: 15 yard penalty. 1st down, MOM.
Needless to say, I’ve been spending more time going through old photos lately. I’m still playing catch-up from the fire, getting photos reprinted and into photo albums (hey, it took me 40+ years to accumulate those photos, it’s going to take more than a couple of years to get them redone…!), thank you PL. * Going through those pictures helps me recall some of the things (and more importantly, feelings) that my less-than-perfect memory has allowed to fade. My favorite photos weren’t taken by professional photographers. They aren’t the everyone-look-at-the-camera-and-say-cheese pictures either. My favorite pictures are the images of our everyday life. The pictures of a toddler eating dirt. The pictures from family game night. The pictures of my babies giving each other a spontaneous hug on the beach. The moments where their personality comes bursting through. The moments of proud accomplishment and the moments of defeat. The crazy moments and the quiet moments.
Take beautiful photos of the everyday. Pictures of your kids running though the sprinklers. The giant load of laundry, because it holds a weeks worth of sports practice and game jerseys.
As I get older, the giant everyone-look-at-the-camera-and-smile portrait, holds little appeal to me. I believe the typical mantel portrait is more a societal pressure than personal choice. If you had your druthers, and didn’t think you would be judged, that picture of your kid eating dirt, would hang proudly over the mantle instead. I know, because I have one of those pictures, and I smile every time I see it. 😉 Don’t get me wrong, there is a time for professional photographers (I need to hire one again soon…), after all, how else would you get everyone in front of the camera? But, it’s the everyday, the beautiful everyday, that brings me joy. Those are the photos I have on my walls. People, I have a photo of thumbs on my wall. THUMBS!
The Universe has a funny sense of humor. Now that my babies have finally reached an age where they don’t try to stick inappropriate items into electric sockets, they are moving to the other side of the world! Okay, I know Alaska and Mississippi aren’t the other side of the world, but they might as well be. They certainly aren’t at the end of the hall…
Yesterday, she was afraid to take the training wheels off. Today she’s getting her driver’s license. It happened just like that. True story…
I love my children with a ferocity that both terrifies and amazes me. And I am so thankful for the strong, funny, smart, beautiful, interesting, special, AMAZING children that I’m blessed to have call me mom; thankful for daughters that I not just love, but like.
As things continue to change, one thing that will never fade from my memory, the overwhelmingly joy my amazing daughter brings me.
play hard, and have fun,
*if you want to know about my favorite (time friendly) way to get photos into albums, check out Becky Higgins and Project Life, here.
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“I don’t have time for…” How often do we hear these words? How often do we say these words? The words “I don’t have time for…” reflect the things we place value on, not time.
Last week I was talking with a friend and told her a little about the value I place on time, my time in particular. I place an extremely high value on time…it is the most precious thing I have to give. If I give you my time, you are special; your cause, your presence, your feelings, those things are important to me. When we say we “I don’t have time for…” what we are really saying is that we don’t care. That whatever that: thing, person, cause; it is not important to us.
Why do I view time as my most precious commodity?
Each of us have a finite amount of time on this Earth. We don’t get to choose how much, but we do get a voice in the quality of that time.
Maybe one of the reasons time means so much to me, is because I’ve seen how fleeting it is. I have attended more funerals than I care to think about, and lately, I’ve needed to skip a few. Not because that person didn’t matter to me, but because of all the pain, and memories it brings up of the others before it. Sometimes it’s a bit too much. Right now, I’m lucky enough that my 85 year-old father (86 next month) is still around, but many members of my immediate family are not. Cancer took my mother, a drunk driver my brother, and suicide my sister. I don’t tell you this for sympathy, I tell you because it’s important you understand how much value I place on “time“. None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow.
My days are full, and I know yours are too, but do the things we spend our valuable time on, reflect what we truly value? How much time do you give FB, Pinterest, Twitter, TV? How much time do you spend talking with (face-to-face) the loved ones in your life? When you go to your child’s sports games and practices, are you watching and encouraging them, or are you watching your phone and “communicating” with it? Your kid looks to those sidelines to see if you’re watching…are you? When you go out to dinner with your spouse or friend, are you really giving them your time and attention, or are you checking your phone or watch?
A couple of months ago a relationship that I had put a lot of time and energy into, ended. This person had a lot on their plate, by their own choice. And during a conversation with them, the words “I don’t have time for you…” were uttered. This person may not have meant to be hurtful, but to me, who values time so highly, it was the ultimate dismissal. I was not valuable to them. I was not important enough, valuable enough, fun enough…
The next time you hear yourself say “I don’t have time for…” STOP! Take a moment to think about what that really means. Do you really not have the time, or do you not place value on that person or task?
play hard, and have fun,
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Over the years, I’ve been blessed to meet some pretty amazing photographers. Their personal stories never fail to inspire me, and that gave me an idea. If they inspire me, maybe their stories would inspire others. So today I would like to introduce you all the amazing Laura Swift, of Laura Swift Photography. Laura came to photography later in her life,. She spent 25 years working as a labor and delivery nurse, but holding her newborn grandson spurred something inside her. We all have dreams, some people choose to follow them. Enjoy this interview with Laura Swift, and if you have a newborn, she shares her five tips for getting great shots of your newborn. 😉
Laura, tell us a little about yourself.
I am a retired labor and delivery nurse, living in a log home in southwest Virginia. A wife happily married to the same man for 33 years, a mom of three grown kids, and a very young grandma. 😉 Two dogs and a cat remind me daily that it is good to laugh often. I am one of the women certified to teach Me Ra Koh photography workshops.
How long have you been a photographer, and how did you get started in photography?
I became our family photographer when I was eight years old. My dad said, “Here, you seem to be the most interested in this thing”, as he handed me a brownie camera. I have always been our family’s photographer and at age 50, (that was 7 years ago now), I made it a full-time career choice.
Why is photography important to you?
My passion for photography began with my mom’s diagnosis of stage 4, terminal cancer. Together, we celebrated her story by documenting her final days. As she shared her memories and important life moments, my daughter and I wrote and took photos of her. This time of listening and learning with her was priceless for both me and my daughter. Celebrating our stories through photography has become an amazing way for my family to leave a legacy for our kids, passing down our family history. I feel that we all have a creative voice and a story to tell. I love that I get to give this same gift to others.
What do you shoot primarily?
Maternity, births, and families.
What/who are your inspirations?
My son, Taylor Swift, is definitely an inspiration. He follows his heart and his dreams, and invites others to come along. It has caused me to look at my heart and see what it longs to do and then, to go and do it.
Mera Koh is a female photographer that I just love. She is a storyteller with a camera who has taken the time to find healing for herself after traumatic events occurred to her. Now, she shares her story and encourages others to move ahead in confidence to follow their dreams. There is so much power and life in her ability to do that and by sharing her story, she empowers others.
What is the craziest/funniest thing that has ever happened at a shoot?
My very first real, professional family portrait session was at my house. I helped the family of eight kids and the parents, sit on a long tree branch. Looking through my camera, as I started to back up to get them all in the photo, I fell over a large rock! I wasn’t hurt at all, but their faces were all afraid. As soon as they realized I was okay, they started to laugh and since I was still holding my camera safely, I started taking photos while still lying flat on my back on the ground! The photos turned out great.
What is the best advice about photography that you have received?
There will always be more gifted photographers than myself, but there will never be another “me”. Therefore, it is important for me to be myself behind the camera and not try to copy someone else’s style. Also, be better than you were yesterday.
Have you ever thought of giving up photography?
Yes, but only the business side of it. I would still do it as a hobby and gift to others.
What camera and lens did you start with?
I bought my son’s used Nikon D90 with a kit lens. It has been my favorite by far because I was so familiar with how it worked that I could hold it without looking through the eyepiece and know what I was taking a photo of. I really could shoot from the hip and love the outcome. I wore it out, literally.
You’re a busy lady, who just moved into a new house. What do you do to recharge?
- Swinging on the front porch. I lowered the swing as low as it will go so that my three-legged golden retriever can get up and join me. He loves it and so do I.
- Walks in the woods enjoying the quiet and no sounds of traffic. Sometimes, I bring my camera along or two dogs, but not both!
- Put down the camera and do something else for a while, such as writing, painting, drawing, and visit a favorite museum. Be creative some other way than photography.
- Take a fresh look at my calendar. Have I allowed time for rest from work? Down time for me is refreshing. When I am not on someone else’s schedule, I can get all kinds of things done or nothing at all and be okay with both.
- Driving with no destination in mind and no time restraint, just for the fun of it!
What book have you read in the last year that you would recommend, and why?
Two books help me when I am feeling a creative block: The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron and Visual Poetry, by Chris Orwig.
The Artist’s Way gives me all kinds of ideas for refueling my creative tank. It is so important to balance work and play and family and rest and responsibilities. This book gives exercises that give me important skills so I can always feel refreshed and full of the ability to create.
I met Chris Orwig at my son’s graduation from photography school. His book, Visual Poetry is an amazing resource of ideas and exercises to keep my creativity flowing. He talks of all kinds of projects to stimulate artistic flow.
Being a grandma of five really young kids, do you have any tips for fostering creativity in children?
- Make the time to create.
- Have the supplies. Set the example. Go to museums, explore new places, have real experiences like walking on a beach, swimming in a lake, fishing, cooking (the fish you just caught), hiking, and rock hunting.
- Read good books together. Then let them draw, tell, or recreate something about the adventure.
- Show them that creativity is important to you and explain what it means. Unscheduled time is a big deal these days because we are so scheduled with our work. For me, unscheduled and unstructured time allows me to relax, refresh, regroup; it energizes me. I begin to get all kinds of ideas for projects and photos to create.
What drew you to birth photography?
I love photojournalistic styled photography and I was a labor and delivery nurse for 25 years. It feels right to be back in the delivery room and it is so much easier as the photographer instead of the nurse.
What are your 5 favorite tips for parents who want to get a great picture of their newborn?
- Get in close and then when you think you are close enough, get a little closer.
- Show the baby’s size by finding something to include in your photo to compare how small the baby is such as: parents’ hands, a favorite storybook, or a cell phone.
- Take lots of photos the first two weeks. Changes happen overnight in your new little one.
- Document the firsts: first time holding the baby, first bath, first feeding, first visitors, first time siblings meet the baby, first smiles, first bed, etc.
- Take photos of the everyday stuff: baby’s room, favorite toys, the house you currently live in, playroom, his yard outside. He/she will love seeing these photos when he is older.
You recently had your work displayed as an artist-in-residence. How did you decide which of your photographs to display?
I had to decide what my goal was for participating in this event. I wanted people to get to know me. It was not about selling my art, but unveiling me, who I am. It was a scary process for me and I admit that I was expecting negative feedback. But, you know what, I got none! Even if I had gotten criticism, it was a good process for me to go through and I was pleased with my work because I am often my own worst critic!
A huge thank you to Laura for sharing her personal story with us. Please leave a comment here for Laura. If you would like to see more of Laura’s work, please visit her website and blog at LauraSwiftPhotography.com
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