I’ve pondered on writing this blog post for Adoramapix. I finally decided that as part of my grieving process it was important for me to let the words and the images spill out and for me to share my experience with members.
Last week, my 82-year-old father passed away. I live in Canada and received the call on a Sunday that it was urgent that I come to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, as my father was dying. As you can imagine, it was a long trip to Wisconsin in winter as images from my father and I filled my head. I remember the time we danced in the basement to Lawrence Welk or the times we went swimming in the summers.
I knew this week would be his last week of life. I knew I wanted to document it in a way that I would remember how I felt, what was going through my mind and most importantly, I wanted this last thread to connect me to him. So I used my iphone to document my grief.
I arrived in time to make it by his bedside. I was the last plane in before 10 inches of snow hit the area and the airport was shut down. I knew my father was waiting for me to arrive, he was hanging on and would not go anywhere without me, my siblings and my mother by his side.
Two days went by, as my family and I were with him, he squeezed our hands letting us know he understood what was happening. We made him laugh in those last 48 hours with tales from growing up. It was a bittersweet moment as I laughed through the tears and watched my mother hang on to him through the stories.
He passed away with dignity. I held his hand as he passed from this life to the next. We headed back to our Iowa farm as we entered the next phase of grief and death and I saw the most beautiful sunset surround our 160 acre farm. We now needed to plan his funeral.
As the sun rose the next morning, I was in charge of all things media related. This included writing his obituary and gathering his pictures. I hammered out 82 years of life into 4 paragraphs. It didn’t seem right as my father was so much more than this. He was a midwest farmer and teacher who was captain of his high school football team, raised a family, loved sports, served in the military, served his community and flew the American Flag every day. He was so much more than those 4 paragraphs.
I started to gather the pictures. The pictures were the most tangible things I had that connected me to him. I laughed at his pictures of him as a child running with horses. I saw what a handsome man he was in high school and university. I saw the young husband looking dashing on his honeymoon with his wife. I saw the proud father of his first born, then his second, then his third, then me. I saw the pride as he worked at his school. I saw the pride he had when he worked in the fields. A rush of memories came flooding back.
Nothing could have prepared me for seeing my father laid to rest. It’s not something one can prepare for or even fathom. I only had my iphone on me to snap a picture of the American Flag being presented to my mother. It was such an emotional time, I was glad I could capture it quietly.
I guess the reason I wrote this post is two fold really. I wanted to first and foremost grieve. I wanted to tell someone my father’s story. Secondly, I wanted people to understand how important it is to get images off your hard drives, your phones, your cds and dvds. You never know how important an image is until you lose someone important to you. Most times the photograph is all you have left of them. I have over 200 images I will be printing through Adoramapix. I am ordering regular prints and metal prints as well as putting together a photo book. I am helping my brothers and sister grieve and my mother. I am making sure my children remember their PaPa with these images. Most importantly, I have something tangible to hold on to with my father’s memory attached to it. A print is more than paper and ink, it’s memories, it’s sadness, it’s happiness, it’s love. It’s all these emotions and so much more. Because in the end, this life is temporary but we can preserve glimpses of a beautiful life through pictures and photo books.
Today is Mother’s Day. It’s no surprise, it comes every year. So why was I surprised, when I was looking through my photos that I could not find one of myself with my children from the past year either on my phone, camera or in print by Adoramapix? Yes, I had let a whole year slip away without one picture of me with both my kids.
When I was talking with member Natascha Lee of Natascha Lee Studios out of Colorado, we talked about not only photographer moms not getting in the pictures, but our clients as well were just wanting the kids in the photos. These are such wasted opportunities. Natascha Lee wrote a sweet article on encouraging moms to get into the picture.
Those who have spoken with me know that I am pretty passionate about photographing moms and dads with their children; not just the children alone but children with their parents as well! How else can you truly capture the love and special connection of a family?
When I get a push back on this (“Oh no, I don’t want to be in the photos — just the kids”), I ask:
What is *your* most cherished childhood photo?
Is it the one of you smiling big on your first day of school? The one where you are holding up your Christmas gift? The one where you are sleeping on the beach? Or is it the one, that includes your parents, playing with you, holding you, just being themselves?
For most of us, our most cherished images include our parents, and show the love we felt for each other. They might not be technically perfect but they are real and they are precious.
I worry that mothers are taking hundreds (thousands?) of images of their kids, and not including themselves in hardly any of them! I want to encourage all those moms who take tons of snapshots of their kids, to make sure that they themselves are in at least some of them.
It’s not hard I promise! Have your spouse or partner take a turn with the camera/phone, ask another parent to snap a few or hold the camera or phone out the way you do when you take pix with your bestie.
That photo where your hair wasn’t perfect but you were having a snow fight with your kids? Or the ones where your smile is a little lopsided and you are still in your pjs cuddling with your kids on the couch? That’ll probably be their favorite.
Thank you Natascha Lee, an important reminder to parents. By the way, I did find a picture of myself and my son together. This is how he sees me and I love it.
Happy Muvrs Day!
Fireworks are a delight to young and old. They evoke a lot of emotion for people as they typically celebrate momentous occasions. According to Wikipedia, they have been around a very long time dating back to 7th century China. It’s no wonder something this beloved has been documented since its origins.
Here are 5 easy steps to get you started on photographing fireworks.
1. Use a Tripod
This is one of the most important features. The key to photographing fireworks is long exposures which means, you will need to keep the camera still while releasing the shutter. Don’t have a tripod? Improvise and put your camera on top of a stable, hard surface such as the top of your cooler or on your vehicle. Remember, you are trying to capture the trails and the movement of the fireworks not the movement of the camera.
2. Turn Your Flash Off
Fireworks are usually fired off meters away from the public to ensure safety. Your flash on your camera will not reach the fireworks. Most on camera flashes only have a reach of a few feet. Turn the Flash off.
3. Manual Mode
Photographing fireworks is a lot of experimentation and trial by error. In order to tweak and get the best results, you’ll need to put your camera on Manual mode. You need to do the thinking for the camera. So where do you start with manual? Well, let’s start with the lowest ISO you can, 100 is ideal. You want a low ISO to have a clean shot. Next your aperture. Generally, you can go from f8 to above and experiment with how wide you want your lens opening. Personally, I stick between F14 and F16. This seems to give me the results I am looking for. Next is shutter speed. This is the tricky part but also the most fun to experiment. I usually start on the “bulb” feature so I can control the trails and look. If you are not comfortable with the “bulb” setting, then try a setting of 30 seconds to begin. You can then adust shutter speed depending on your results and your tastes. It’s ok to chimp and adjust on fireworks shots!
4. Manual Focus
Setting up your shot is important. Remember, you have it on a tripod, trying to change its position after every explosion, will not work. Let a few fireworks go off so you can get a sense of their location in the sky. Next, put your focus on manual mode and set your focus point to those few bursts. This works best as it is hard for most cameras to focus when it’s dark. You’ll need to tell your camera where to focus.
These are general guidelines. It’s ingredients to a recipe. You get to add or subtract how you see fit until you think it’s perfect. Don’t be afraid to use different lenses, change your shutter speed, try a double exposure. It can be fun and rewarding. Plus don’t forget, they happen every year so if your images didn’t turn out the way you had hoped, learn from your experimenting and try again for the next year.