Friday, April 4, 2014

Talking Pictures

As much as I wish my photographs would speak for themselves, they often do not.  The old adage “A picture speaks a thousand words" is not always so. Words matter.

The truth is that I am obsessed with making pictures. I work at it in some form every day. I love to share my work with anyone and everyone. It’s not that I am looking for praise or recognition. It’s that creativity is a collaborative process, and I need connection. Creating artful photographs all by myself is a lot like hitting a tennis ball against a wall.  It’s good practice, but it’s never as much fun as responding to the kinetic energy of another human being. I really need someone to return my volley.

Sometimes I’m disappointed when I share a picture with someone and they just don’t seem to get it. And then I remember that people are often most interested in my personal story – where the picture was taken, how it was made, what I was thinking when I pressed the shutter, what went right or more often what went wrong.

In Show Your Work, Austin Kleon says “Pictures can say whatever we want them to say.”

I’ll have to learn to tell a good story, because my pictures want to talk.

Tractor Picture

 


It was the dust that stirred me up. Driving along Route 3, on the way home from a visit with my Mom, my head swiveled side to side. When I drive, I always scour the landscape for pictures, clicking the imaginary shutter in my mind. As the tractor plowed the field, the dust swirled making its own foggy cloud. I’m always drawn to farm images. I am sure this is because I love food.

I passed the tractor and circled back using the next turnaround, scouting for a safe place to pull over the car. Two loops later, the car safely parked roadside, I navigated to the median. From my vantage point, I watched the tractor complete a lap and took a few test shots. As the tractor approached, I searched for the best view. I waved to the farmer from the highway’s edge and held up my camera, and he waved back. This is the universal sign for “Yes, it’s okay to take my picture.” If not for interrupting his work, I’d have asked what he would be planting and when the harvest would begin and could I come back again and take more pictures and eat some food. But sometimes, a cloud of dust is the best discovery of the day.

Opp Shop

 


Don’t let an opportunity pass you by – or vice versa.   This church thrift shop has very limited hours of operation, only 3 days a week for a few hours. It never seems to be open when I pass by, but I always look over, wondering what treasures it might hold. Toys and dressers and fans and bicycles overflow on the front porch. Cars full of people zip by without realizing what they are missing.

Swings on Monroe Bay Creek

 


I pass this old abandoned house often. There is something sad and lonely about the two empty and rickety swings, but also something kind of inviting. I imagine swinging face to face is so much more fun than side by side – you don’t have to crick your neck to look at your partner. I push, and we swing. Now you push, and we swing. Over and over again, until the movement is effortless and the rhythm creates a space where we both relax. The symmetry of the trees creates a frame for the scene. The triangles of the swing create a second frame for the idyllic view on Monroe Bay Creek.  I could stay here all day long.

Two old Galvanized Tubs Hanging on a Shed 

 


I took this picture in honor of my Mom.  She has a thing for galvanized tubs.  For more than 40 years of her life, she worked in the family restaurant, Parker’s Crab Shore. They used galvanized tubs as giant mixing bowls for homemade coleslaw and potato salad. She loves to tell the story of my father up to his elbows in cabbage and carrots and still proclaims he made the best coleslaw she’s ever eaten. I can’t see one of these tubs without thinking of her. Plus, this composition makes a nice study in shapes and texture and negative space.  And they have those cool numbers on the bottom. Can you see the 3 and 2?  I’m all about typography.

Wildlife

 

My husband accompanied me to Wakefield to take a few pictures of our 3 year-old nephew and his Mom. The Park Ranger stopped by for a chat and made us feel right at home. Seeing my camera, he kindly directed us to photo opportunities. Pointing out, not one, but two eagles roosting on the property, he enthusiastically encouraged me to take this picture. My husband loves wildlife and couldn’t wait to see the eagle pictures when we got home. He insisted I edit this photo and it's one of his favorites.


Honestly, all I was thinking was let me hurry up and take this picture of the eagle so I can get back to taking pictures of this cute little boy.



I love wildlife, too.  Just a different kind.

Daffodils in Milk of Magnesia Bottles

 

Really, for such a beautiful flower, daffodils are awfully hard to photograph. The delicately rippled edges make a well-defined focus point tricky. Yellow is one of those colors digital cameras have trouble with – too saturated, blown out highlights, weird shades of yellow.  I was thinking the combination of the blue, a complimentary color, might balance things out a little.  The backlighting might give shadows and definition to the petals. Not sure I succeeded.  Still working on this one . . .


I’ll end with another quote from Show Your Work by Austin Kleon –

Or imagine something simpler and just as satisfying:  spending the majority of your time, energy, and attention practicing a craft, learning a trade, or running a business, while also allowing for the possibility that your work might attract a group of people who share your interests. 

All you have to do is show your work.


I’m linking up with Kim Klassen today, and my Friday Finds are these stories behind the photos I take and the work I do. I am so grateful for this group of people who share my interests.

35 comments:

  1. This was such an inspiring post! Many thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs and the stories behind them.

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    1. Diane, What a great start to the day - visiting with a friend like you. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  2. Your photos *are* telling stories--they don't have to tell us their stories, but let us tell our own stories. The tractor picture took me right back to my days of plowing the garden with my stepfather (my book Tractor Day is about spring plowing). I rode in his lap with I was little and then stood behind the fender when I was older. Yes, people cringe, but *all* country kids do this. From the look of the field and harrow the farmer was dragging, he's going to plant corn.

    The washtub picture came with its own story and I could see your father up to his elbows in shredded cabbage and carrots. My second favorite image. Of course I'm in awe of the eagle shot--no hopes of ever getting more than a speck with my camera, but I can enjoy yours. My favorite image, of course. The swing has lots of stories--all we have to do is wait . . . and listen. So glad you showed this work!

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    1. Candice, Stories are part of who we are - some of us are just more in tune to them - like you. What I love best about pictures is the part where you pass the picture to a friend and tell the tale that goes along with the image. Thanks for the virtual sharing this morning.

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  3. What wonderful stories and images! Love the dust from the tractor and the eagle. Yes, there is a story behind every image we create. Sometimes I get too attached to the story and can't look at the photo subjectively to tell if it is a real 'keeper' or not.
    I scan the landscape for pictures while driving too, my husband keeps telling me to keep my eyes on the road, he doesn't get it. :)
    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Michelle, You make me laugh. My husband says the same thing! At least we get each other! I understand about being attaching to your pictures and not being objective. The emotions we feel about what we create are powerful. If you love it, keep it! I bet I'd love it, too.

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  4. Yes, I agree. I want my photography to connect to someone/people. Your shots are great and that horse is gorgeous!

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    1. Sarah, I popped over to visit you today and was delighted to see you shared a link for 30 free handwriting fonts. I'm so overwhelmed by font choices! I am planning an upcoming blog post on fonts - but your link from Spoon Graphics is wonderful. I'm definitely wishing that Kim would host a retreat and we all could meet!

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  5. Connection that is what it's all about . A lovely group of photos and I agree with you about daffodils though I still can't help photographing them.

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    1. Viv, You had much better luck with your forsythia than I did with the daffodils. You did inspire me with an idea - I have some little jars and I may try to collect a variety of small flower buds for a picture. Thanks for the ideas and the encouragement.

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  6. I am thinking that we might be twins (not identical) separated at birth. You are speaking to me in everything you said! Totally agree about needing that feedback, not for praise, but I am always curious what other people see in my photographs. And the stories are so important! I loved every one of yours!!!

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    1. Sarah, I ordered the Shooting with Soul book today - a little inspiration will go a long way - I hope. And I've been giving your comments about Ugly Clothes a lot of thought. I agree and find myself in the same place in life. Think it's time for a fresh outlook on my wardrobe so that my clothes reflect my most beautiful self. Thanks so much for your writing and photos that help me to think differently.

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  7. especially love the flowers in the vintage bottles

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    1. I know that we are both in the de-cluttering phase of life, but I do hope we both still have room for a few special treasures like vintage bottles to hold fresh flowers. Always a pleasure to visit you!

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  8. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this post, Donna! With or without the words your pictures tell a story - your words are just icing on the cake!

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    1. June, I can't tell you how much your words mean to me. In general, I have been much too concerned with pleasing others in my life. But for some reason that I cannot explain, I feel perfectly comfortable expressing myself in this blog. This is the one place where I am truly myself and kind of fearless, and it feels wonderful. But, your reinforcement is still such a kindness. Thank you!

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  9. ok...where do I begin...first - thanks for commenting on my blog - I enjoy that connection as well. second - Austin Kleon - I love him...he's in Seattle tonight talking about his new book - I can't make it :( but he speaks the truth! third - you have a great eye and your pics tell a story without explanation. fourth - its all about the images and what they mean to people and sharing with others what your view of the world is...thanks so much...I'll be back!

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    1. Amy, I am fascinated by how much this group of Kim's friends have in common. I feel such a kinship with you! I will tell you that I have a bad case of west coast envy. Seriously, every cool photographer or author or cook or artist that I look up lately seems to live in Seattle or Portland or Vancouver. Guess I'll have to bring a little west coast vibe to Virginia! Looking forward to your next post.

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    2. truth be told Donna...we are seriously looking at moving to the east coast - will take the month of June to travel and visit family - Charlottesville, VA, Athens,GA and St Pete,FL are the contenders at this point...

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    3. Amy, I'm rooting for Charlottesville, VA - only about 2 hours from my home. I would welcome you with open arms and make a date for artful adventures with you! Best wishes in your search for a new home.

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  10. Love those blue vintage bottles! but all your shots are beautiful!

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    1. Barb, Your trio of visual triangles images are gorgeous. I learn so much from your photo compositions and love hearing all about your adventures.

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  11. Love you photos and your stories!

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  12. I came over from KK and it was that tractor that drew me and I kept on reading . Your such an inspiration. I think the same way you do.. at time. I really loved your post and all the photos.
    Thanks for a reminder that it is just that easy to speak though photos. You did.

    Lisa

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    1. Lisa, I am so drawn to your spiritual nature and your grace. It's very easy to see how deeply you feel for others through your pictures and poetry. I'll look forward to getting to know you better.

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    2. Thank you so much..thank you. I will be back and forth here also.

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  13. That eagle, is so very regal. wow.

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  14. So so so lovely pictures from you again Donna!
    I am so in love with your pics. Hey, and your daffodils in these old bottles....my heart is jumping!
    These little cute boy reminds me on my sun, when we lived in the states seven years ago. He looks like mine.
    I am really moved by the pictures...thanks for this post! Really really gorgeous!
    Many hugs, Brigitte

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  15. oh Donna..... your photos are extraordinary.....but, ....I love your words..... I feel your heart... as you share.... so beautifully....
    that tractor image....is a story telling photo for sure....
    and those blue bottles!! GASP.... are you kidding me....... Oh my....Yes please....

    always so happy to stop by....
    and THANK you for the Rough Linen tip....I love that you bought the pinafore....and tea towel too.... we are so on the same page!!! Imagine the fun we could have in real life. :)

    xo

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    1. Kim, I would never have reached out to this circle of friends were it not for you. You are a hostess with a heart of gold. May all your days be blessed with linen and good books and soothing tea and the quiet reassurance of friendship. If you planned a retreat, where we could all meet and learn together, I know you'd be sold out in no time!

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  16. Donna, I so love your photos and the stories behind them !
    What an interesting and inspiring post !
    The tractor photo is amazing ... and what a cute boy your nephew is !
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    Sylvia

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    1. Sylvia, I wish you lived nearby. I'm about to try some flower photos this afternoon, and I would ask you over to show me how to edit so soft and lovely as you do. And then we would sit on the front porch in the sunshine and share a cup of tea. Enjoy your weekend . . .

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  17. Hi Donna, your blog is so lovely...your words are as beautiful as your photos. They are both filled with heart and soul. It's nice to meet a fellow Virginian...I'm so happy you commented on my blog post, which led me to you. Have a great Sunday!

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  18. Love the dust cloud and tractor, I've noticed quite a few around here lately too. I really like the daffier with the blue bottles very much. Great post and awesome photos.

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  19. Thank you so much for stopping.. Happy you did. I added you to my following.. Cant wait for updates from you . Happy Sunday

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