I’ve heard the following lines so many times from clients that I finally threw away my tally. “I never look good in photographs. I don’t like my smile/serious face/fill in the body part blank.” I’m pretty sure that’s when I flip the switch in my head. I MUST deliver blistering hotness…I MUST show them what they do not see. To me, it’s like the best triple dog dare I can get. (Now I won’t go all Kumbaya for long here, but in my own small way I think my business exists to pull confidence and beauty out of each person I work with.) I truly, TRULY think of all of my clients as models. This may be why I’d never dipped in to the actual modeling pool before. Well, until the session below.
This was an out-of-box, first time shoot for me. (One of those, “Wait…I have a hair stylist/makeup artist and a model in my t.v. room?”)
If you already have a trickle of drool over Paige’s hair, know that Meghan Peters of Meghan Peters Hair is the magical mastermind. Meghan contacted me a while back about working together, so she set up our model, and the hair/accessory inspiration started flying. I WILL be working with Meghan again. When you find someone that’s as passionate and excited as you are about planning a shoot, you quickly add them to the friend list. THANK YOU Meghan for bringing your mind-blowing talent to the mix! (Not to mention your black lace gloves/masks/etc….OH, and your sister, Amy. Amy was the perfect reflector holder and goat herderThank you as well, Amy.
I had this “genius” idea to spray an old dirty door with a water/vinegar mix to get frozen droplets. It’s simply not as genius in negative wind chills. My droplets became smeared cakes of ice. Funny, I actually think it worked out better this way. This image was taken right when the late day sun went behind a cloud. The final image in this post was when the sun returned. I love both for different reasons.
Thank you again to Meghan, Amy, and to our little muse, Paige. e.-
“Well baby, I guess I better get busy living or get busy dying.” He then walked 400+steps around the condo, pushing his walker the entire way.
That is what my dad said to me a number of weeks ago, right after I gave him a pep talk. He always could remember movie lines, and he yanked the last half of that quote from one of our favorites, Shawshank Redemption. My dad has MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome.) You may be familiar with this after watching Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts battle the same disease. It’s a thing of beauty that she’s coming out on the other side. My dad is right in the middle. I’ve been thinking a lot about that “middle.” There’s a tendency to pay attention to the beginning and end outcome with any story of cancer, unless that person is close to you. But, it’s the MIDDLE, or the guts of the disease that we don’t see as much. I wanted to document that middle for one day.
The above image is the one I’ll never forget. It’s the very last picture I took before driving back to Wisconsin this past Monday, and my dad had no idea that I took it. I’d just gotten done saying my farewells to him after a 5-day stay. It was the kind of send-off where my dad insisted on using the electric recliner to help him in to a standing position. He wanted to hug me standing up. We knew this was a big one. THIS was the day that he’d be admitted to the hospital for five days of chemotherapy and stay for a month of recovery time. He’d then have to gear back up for another round of chemo before heading in to a bone marrow transplant (something that seemed elusive up until this point.) We’d all been waiting so long for this day, and his baby sister (his perfect bone marrow match) was waiting for the news too. I walked out of the door with my camera bag slung over my shoulder…and then I stopped. I wanted to see him again. I needed to see him again. So, with my mom waiting for me in the garage for her own goodbyes, I cracked the door back open. The above picture is what I found. My daddy. My heart.
THREE DAYS BEFORE -
(In the waiting room at the University of Michigan Cancer Center – talking to my sister.) That smile you see? He’s had one for everyone he comes in to contact with throughout this process. Dr.’s, nurses, receptionists, his family – all of us have gotten to see a man stripped down to his center; his very being. And, when you see someone in this state, you truly find out just how they’re put together. My dad still makes everyone laugh. He’s still kind. He isn’t indignant, blustery, or trying to be macho. THAT’S how he’s put together. But, this isn’t that 5-10 minute interlude in most movies where the inspirational music plays and the main character suddenly overcomes their issues in warp speed. This process is like dropping a clock in to a jar of honey. Time is different…slower. It’s a battle that includes moments of depression, gut-checks, family, strength, weakness, a relinquishing of ego, and hope.
(At the Cardiologist appt., wearing his “Team Rog” bracelet.)
My dad has lost around 25-30lbs (depending on the day and the amount of leg/foot swelling that can plague an MDS patient.) His muscle tone has gone south after extended periods in the hospital, but he’s pushing to gain it back. If he needs help getting up from the toilet, I’m there. If he requires a little help getting dressed, I’m there. Funny enough, this reminds me of an early childhood moment where I accidentally walked in on my dad after he’d showered. I’m sure I reacted like most kids that encounter unexpected “parent nakedness” – you book it out of there at breakneck speed and try to think of peppermint sticks and puppy dogs, or ANYTHING that will cover the embarrassment. Cancer removes that embarrassment. I have this need to make him feel comfortable, and a need to give my mom a break when I come to stay. I can be THE FIXER for the small things, but what I really want to fix is the one BIG thing…and I can’t.
This is the kind of smile that comes from hearing a Dr. say, “This is the BEST I’ve seen you since you’ve been coming to me, Roger.” (There was a Rog high-five and a fist pump mixed in there as well.)
Waiting for the Hematologist/Oncologist
(A blood draw before going to a platelet appointment.) His platelets are incredibly low. He now gets them every other day. We live with a bit of fear of him falling, a fear of a simple nose bleed, a fear that the blood from even the smallest of paper cuts might not clot.
I know these hands like my own. My dad has ALWAYS held my hand (and my sister and brother’s too.) Age hasn’t mattered, cancer hasn’t mattered – he was and is always searching for our hands. Even through sleep, and hospital stays, and the little bouts of “med-head lucidity moments” (where the smoke alarm light becomes, “a bug that won’t crawl away,” and there’s a “matrix-like grid” on the ceiling that he’s trying to connect) I see his fingers rooting around in the sheets for a hand to hold.
He sleeps. We were about six hours in to our day at the cancer center by this point. This was the last stop. Right now, his bone marrow is not reproducing, and he has a build up of scar tissue within his marrow. The platelet and blood transfusions keep him going.
(Back at the condo after a long day.) I took this image of my dad’s feet with a grin on my face. I found it endearing that my mom had written “Fin” on my dad’s socks. I had to smile. I’m not sure if she thought there was going to be a run on hospital socks and she HAD to stake the Finlan claim on these, but it was sweet. It was my mom. It made me think back to all of the “mom moments” where I just didn’t quite get it. Those moments where endearing didn’t enter my mind. We pull elements of our parents with us. I definitely have. She’s the utmost hero in this story as well. She has this aura of grace about her…always has. There has never been a “woe is me” moment from her lips. If I thought she had strength before my dad’s cancer (which I absolutely did) she has solidified that fact throughout the journey. I’m proud of her. I’ve always been proud of her. The eternal optimist; my smarter-than-smart, strong, lovely momma.
This was supposed to be the final image. Sequentially, it was. But, I again go back to where I started, because this moment was where the cancer curtain floated slowly to the floor in my head. For the longest time my dad and I have talked on the phone at least every other day…if not more. We talk movies, books, politics, and life. He has this way of telling stories, and connecting the dots where they seemed impossibly jumbled before. We always end our conversations with the same words. “I love you…see ya.” He doesn’t like the finality of the way goodbye sounds, and neither do I. So with us, it’s always, “see ya.” Over the years there have been a few times where he accidentally hung up by saying the former. I’d wait a few beats and my phone would ring again. “Not goodbye…see ya, baby,” I’d hear on the other end of the phone. So, this is “see ya, daddy.” In the meantime, GET BUSY LIVIN’, and I’ll be there soon. I love you. Erinn-
“I don’t know if you remember me…”
I get a lot of emails that start like that, and Sara had NOTHING to worry about. I’d already scoped she and Jeremy out at one of my 2011 weddings. (I tend to notice a couple on the dance floor that just has “it.”)
Here’s the part that I didn’t know; they recently married in Vegas, and operated under time constraints with Jeremy’s visa in order to make the wedding happen. (Don’t go to the “romantic comedy place.” It wasn’t a green card wedding.) Curious? He’s from France. And, allow me to city drop…PARIS, France. I admit it, things suddenly got a whole lot more hip. I’ll start everything out with how I remember them at Brianna and Tyler’s wedding.
See what I mean? IT! I deserve zero credit for their posing during this image. I just “let em go!” (However, I could use an AMEN for that book page wall!)
This location was dreamy. I think that’s the only word I could possibly use. The best part was that it was just across the street from our farm. So, when my husband built a 15-foot contraption for hanging these frames, we only needed to head to my neighbor’s long driveway to pull off this series.
Have you ever seen a woman tackle a grown man at five paces? Then you missed out, because my buddy was getting ready to clean the glass on these windows when I struck. I consider the dirt like frosting, and who takes off cake frosting? Certainly not me.
Here was the dilemma of the day: Sara told me that Jeremy didn’t normally smile for pictures, but she usually did. So, I considered myself LUCKY to grab this candid shot on the right! I say, if you’re only going to pull out the toothy grin a few times, THIS is the way to do it. Right.On.Jeremy.
I probably say this at LEAST ONCE during every shoot that I do…”You guys are going to be sending me a dry cleaning bill, aren’t ya?” Truthfully, I’m always willing to risk it. See, I like pushing for first-rate pictures. BUT, it’s the dirty, tough places to get to that make for some of my favorites. So, the fact that this farmer moved his sheep out of his field for us, AND that Sara wore combat boots to save her sexy heels from poop, AND that my husband hauled this couch in a trailer behind a four-wheeler, made it a necessity to get the money shots. We did; ohhhh, did we ever. Thank you to everyone involved!
You know how you see an image and you think, “Now THAT should be in a magazine?” Sare & Jer (we’re close enough that I can start shortening your names, right?) I think these two images look editorial, and MADE for a magazine. You know what that means, you two? That means it’s time to lick the tip of your pinky and pointer finger and smooth your eyebrows, cause THAT’S big time.
Pretend. Pretend that Sara and I PLANNED that her little ballerina skirt would perfectly match some of the brick in this wall. NOW, I have a question to pose to Sara…”If I can lose a 7th grader by August, can I borrow your skirt?”
Outside of a movie theatre where the French film THE ARTIST was playing. Too perfect, right? Edna, the ticket taker, fled so she wouldn’t have to be in the picture. So, this one’s for you, Edna.
Late-day sun. When you can catch that color, you know you’ve got something.
I absolutely cut Sara off MID-SENTENCE to stop them for these middle-of-the-crosswalk images. If you check out the color version above you’ll see that a perfect ray of sun hit them when we were crossing the street. (When you have the combo of a storefront of chandeliers AND that too good to be true ray, you cut your client off and apologize later. Sara? After seeing these…I’m still not sorry. You understand, right?)
Orange poppies cut from the side of our barn just minutes before the shoot. What’s not to love?
This seemed like the only way to end this one.
What Jeremy doesn’t know is that I’ve officially chosen my two favorite things that he said that day. (You KNOW you do that too when you’re around someone with a cool accent.) Ready? He said….”Mac-n-Cheese and Ramen.” (You’d think I’d choose something in french, or something with a Parisian flair. Nope. I chose the two CHEAPEST american meals as my fave Jeremy lines.) Sara, I hope you know that it’s not that our Wisconsin accents don’t, “fall off the tongue with buttery loveliness,” but, THE KID’S FROM PARIS, and I couldn’t help myself. Thanks to you both for making my job NOT a job. I won’t soon forget this one! e.-
I was THIS CLOSE to renewing my wedding vows last week. My husband came downstairs wearing a vintage tee with a pic. of Lionel Richie and the caption, “Easy like Sunday morning.” It’s the little surprise things that make me hold my stomach, cross my legs, and try not to pee. But, that’s when it really, REALLY hit me; it was a Tuesday morning, and he wasn’t in a shirt, tie, or dress shoes. After 16 1/2 years of the corporate life, the kid MORE than found his cool…he walked away five months ago, and started working to find his passion. That’s the kind of bravery that gives me the “newlywed butterflies,” after almost 12 years of marriage. Well, it’s the bravery AND the Lionel tee. (Seriously, a pinch of round-the-bend crazy goes a long way in the book of ‘e.’) We’re definitely getting back to the basics in every facet of our lives. What is that worth? Everything. To us, it’s worth everything.
How ’bout I start connecting the dots here?
THE CHALLENGE: One full year of second hand madness. I’m only buying clothing for my family from a vintage, second hand, or consignment shop. FOR.ONE.YEAR. Want to join me? I’ve been dabbling for years, and it’s time to go ALL IN!
So, let’s make way for my second hand collection/obsession. I’ve never been much of a mall shopper. In fact, I’ve never been much of a shopper at all. BUT, you throw me in a second hand shop, and I come alive. I’ll say it…I’m BLUE-RIBBON good at finding low cost things that I can use for photo sessions, or for simply clothing my family. Of course it’s not the ONLY answer to staying on budget these days, but it does take the bite out of clothes shopping. I may not turn all of you to the “second hand side,” and I’m content with that. But, I’ll show you a portion of my collection that started out as a high school hang-up with vintage coats. Now it covers furniture, children’s clothing, hats, accessories, and it recently blossomed in to our family challenge. Here’s a peek inside my second hand world, starting with all things coats.
I’ve worn them all, and obviously channeled a few 1970′s cop shows while doing it. Might I blow your mind? I paid $3-$9 for each of these leather coats. (And that’s something of which even Starsky and Hutch would approve.)
Furs for $4-$15. Really. Man-oh-man; what’s better than buying things with a little more than the change you find in your couch cushions? (Maybe a sleeve of Double Stuff Oreos, but it’s a toss-up.)
30+scarves and 60+hats didn’t make it in to this image. But, trust me when I say that I can come up with a season full of outfits for the amount spent on one family meal at Applebee’s. Crazy, right? (I’ll save the dresses, skirts, shirts and shoes for another time.) Whew, I’ve got the FEVER!
This children’s wall could have been a city block in length, and I may have JUST been able to squeeze in everything I’ve found over the years. I’m not a “label snob,” (heck, the $1.50, 1960′s purse I just bought can give any Coach bag a run for it’s money…in my starry-eyed view.) BUT, I wanted to make sure that all of my momma/daddy fans knew that there’s Abercrombie, Gap, Lacoste, and Ralph Lauren just DRIPPING from this children’s wall. So, quality clothing for $1-$5.00. My personal faves are the decades-old finds for kids. PLEASE check out the tan London Fog coat with the fur collar and matching hat. There’s a 3-4 year-old boy that WILL be wearing that while riding on the vintage tricycle that’s in the right corner. I’ll be there with my camera and a grin, because that coat has history…AND, it was mine for $3.00.
Yet, I digress. Where are my manners? I don’t believe you’ve been formally introduced to one of my dearest, local loves. Fans, meet Value Village. Value Village, meet my fans. Below is one of my top ALL-TIME spots for feeding the second hand need.
There are two locations in Milwaukee, one in St. Francis, and one in Racine. (I’ll be expecting an update…or an invite if you plan on stopping by THE VILLAGE!) I’ll definitely keep you posted on our family challenge. In the meantime, will anyone be joining me in my year long quest? Do you have images of the treasures you’ve found? Send me your pix and your story; I LOVE to hear thrift details and get ideas for my own vintage neurosis. (However, I’m counting on the fact that there’s no cure for the second hand disease.)
I’m pretty sure my family’s counting on that as well. e.-
I feel like walking through Tonight Show curtains with a high-hat cymbal playing in the background. I’m excited. A new site has been an obsession of mine for quite some time. Thank you for making a pit stop in to my world of photography. You’ll get behind-the-scenes questions answered, details fleshed out, wedding and portrait images to take a gander through, and let’s face it…a WHOLE LOTTA e.
Lori and I have a mutual preoccupation with black tulle skirts. She was one of my 2011 brides, and only had to send me a link with an image, and I knew we had something. AND, I also knew we could center an entire shoot around a skirt that was put together with staples, duct tape, and was previously worn by my nine-year-old. I originally wanted snow for this session. You know, that soft, stick your tongue out and run kind of snow. I envisioned red lips, a huge black skirt, lashes, and Norman Rockwell flakes drifting around us. In reality, I was covered in burs, and missing my left eyebrow by the end of this one. (I tend to sweat through makeup on my “camera eye” when it’s above 65 degrees…really, it’s like Ru Paul in a rainstorm.) But, THIS was worth it. (Taken with a 16-35mm lens, F2.8, 1/500)
Lori and I moved a truck cap from under this trailer in order to shoot here. We’re a coupla industrial-strength broads when a shot is at stake.
You know that look a six-month-old baby gets when you lightly blow on their face? (The one where they tip their head back, smile, and bat their lashes?) I’m doing that right now. This is just fresh, airy, and simple, and Lori is beautiful!
Photographer’s tip O’ the day: ASK. Armed with an iPad and a business card, I walked in to Dime a Dance for the first time. I quickly announced to the mother/daughter team from this beautiful store that I would be bringing my sleeping bag with me the next time. There’s art and passion in their presentation. I kept thinking I’d stepped in to every movie that has a huge old Victorian house, a grandma, and an attic FULL of vintage clothing. I wanted to BE that movie granddaughter that tried on everything, touched everything, and could visit whenever she wanted. So, I ASKED. Long story short? Lori and I got to do a clothing and accessories pull, and we had the cheetah coat, short gloves, hair fascinators, and TONS of other things to prove it. I get lots of questions concerning my locations, props and accessories…JUST ASK! You MUST stop by this shop if you’re in the area. Thank you Mary and Murial!
This is when I knew Lori was a bit of a daredevil. These are two separate, early 1900′s dressers that we lined up and stacked on top of each other. She climbed up a ladder and plopped down. I shot quickly, because a lean to the right, and we would have had toppling tulle, broken bones, and a kick-in of my liability insurance. Amen, and holy crap, Lori!
Thank you to Vintage View Farms for allowing us to shoot on their property. JUST ASK, right? If you’d like to see a behind-the-scenes “attempt” at having Lori lead a horse across that stable opening, click HERE. (It’s worth a look!)
What a way to go out, Lori! I really, really, REALLY love this image. And, I’m REALLY glad Lori’s trek in that skirt produced this show stopper, and many others. We may have played stylists, set designers, prop movers, and makeup artists, but we sure did have a good time doing it. Now, lick the end of your pen and write this down…you haven’t seen the LAST of us working together. (A special thank you to Eileen Weins for saying, “What color, and what size,” when I asked to bum fabric!) Finally, thanks so much to all of YOU for tuning in, e.-