Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Artful Arranging of Coffee {and Giveaway}


While I am not a camera phone photographer, I am enamored of the beautiful images on Instagram. Especially, I am drawn to the simplicity of compositions in creative coffee arrangements.


I set out to practice taking pictures of coffee and its accoutrements (with a few images of tea thrown in for good measure) and discovered the Zen of coffee arranging.


The word Zen has become part of the English language, but what exactly does it mean? It’s much easier to answer the question, “When is Zen?”, for that answer would have to be “Now!”.


I became totally involved in the taking of these pictures.  Each moment seemed filled with a profound peace and clarity as I carefully attended to each detail.  Zen exhorts one to “Come to your senses!” And that is just what I experienced. Senses alive with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. . . the sight of shapes and lines and colors. . . the sound of quiet. . . and the feel of muscles holding the camera ever so still for each frame. . . mindfully dwelling in the present moment. I became the activity. What a relief to let go of the worries of my daily life, the baggage of past mistakes, and the uncertainty of the future.


As we immerse ourselves in the sensory experience of arranging and taking pictures, the process becomes one of meditation and contemplation. And as we get lost in our work, we find our true nature, and often the freedom to be our best selves.  



Truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of coffee or tea. Mostly, I'm a fan of cream and sugar. So taking these pictures wasn't a tribute to coffee, but rather a way to unearth those peaceful moments that are infinitely precious.


I'm linking up with Kim Klassen and my Friday Find is the calmness that comes with careful study and thoughtful work. I'm giving away my props for the first photo in today's post, the little burgundy colored teapot and the cup and saucer.  Leave a comment for a chance to win. I'll announce the winner next Friday. Good Luck!



38 comments:

  1. The shot I like best is the one of you taking the photographs! The others are lovely....all beautifully arranged and photographed - with an autumnal feel......

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  2. I too admire those coffee images on IG. You've definitely captured some gorgeous shots here. My favorite though is the photo of you! Oh, what we'll do to get a good photo!

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  3. How fun to see you taking that first shot. I find myself in all sorts of funny spots "to get the shot". A recent moment was when I braved debris, and perfect rattlesnake habitat, to shoot the inside of a culvert at sunset. People who are drawn to the picture seem to understand why it looks different--they would take a snap from a safe distance and call it done. What you describe in finding the Zen in preparing to shoot coffee makes so much sense. One of those, "yes, that describes it perfectly" moments. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Susan, I know just what you mean. I've twisted, turned, leaned and scrunched down to get that shot, too - on a ledge, alongside a rock wall, and occasionally in a ditch. So glad we both survived unscathed!

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    2. The shots are worth it in the end--thought there is a favorite sweater that will never be the same. lol

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  4. Totally love the behind the scenes shot of you! You found Zen for sure. I love tea, I try coffee every five years or so and I still don't like it. Which is kind of funny since I write the Coffee Shop Chronicles but then that is about the shop not the coffee :) I am constantly back and forth between my Canon and my iPhone but truthfully I use my iPhone more. It is just so handy, but then those are the kind of shots I take, popping in and out of the car for quick snaps of country barns and abandoned school houses and old paper mills. You take magazine quality work that cries out for your dslr. I adore Instagram!

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    1. Sarah, Do you like Chai Tea Lattes? They are my favorites. Yes, I can see how the iPhone is perfect for the shots you take to complement your writing, and I may well join the iPhone crowd - just not yet. I did get a new compact camera, Fuji X30 for quick everyday shots, and I LOVE it!

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  5. What a beautiful series of shots. Love the pic of you snapping the from above photo. And I'm with you on the coffee--I like milk with a touch of coffee and a whole lot of the flavored syrups!

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  6. Thanks for the behind the photo scene of you taking the picture. It is a help to us newbies to see the process not only the beautiful finished products.

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  7. Oh Donna!! I want a coffee table book of your coffee and tea photos! These are just so beautiful! Love the behind the scenes and you on the chair! It was really fun to "see" yesterday on camera!

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    1. Beverly. I so enjoyed the Connect with Kim and all of you, my photo friends. But, it really is eye-opening to see oneself on camera! Oh well, I'm not going to let concern over my appearance keep me from meeting you all. Learning so much - wish we could take pictures together - I'll steady the chair for you as you take a "from above" picture, and you could do the same for me.

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  8. I've seen you in action as you masterfully arrange a table at Starbucks from a mess of wrappers and plates to an artful shot. And I was amazed at how fast you did it--seconds, people! But I understand the Zen of going deep into your work, where only you and the work matter and the world falls away. It's what every creative person means when they say the process is more important than the end product. Yes, we want to be published or recognized, but the feeling that comes with being at one with the work doesn't have a price.

    I have two favorite photos--the one of you at work on your porch, mainly because I've sat on that wonderful stool as we've chatted--and also the one of the two pumpkins and the tulips because those are things you don't think of as going together, and also I'm envious of the way the tulips take center stage and the pumpkins are shyly receding into the background. Kind of the way they behave in real life.

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  9. Each and every shot is marvelous, Donna! :)
    I love both coffee and tea, and I really like the wonderful additions in each photo. The one with the wee cactus and the one with the vintage camera are my favorite. Oh, and the one with the tulips would be just the perfect spring card! :))
    Thank you for including the behind the scenes image too. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  10. Yay you Donna! I enjoyed every bit of this Zen experience with you. Great still life compositions and behind the scenes too.

    xoxo

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  11. Love this Donna as always, you write so well and make things so easy to understand in your writing. As a IG coffee bean and tea leaf collaboration with my niece on Sundays, I loved seeing these. All are really wonderful to look at and so well presented. Love the header also Donna, such a beautiful array of images.

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  12. Donna I'm blown away what a wonderful selection of images. I know what you mean by the Zen of photography it is a truly relaxing and contemplative pastime. I have only one cup of coffee a day now and I really savour it....

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  13. I too am bowled over by your images! wow wow and wow! all so carefully thought out and beautifully arranged. I adore that photo of you! so much more after having "met" you yesterday. I love your porch and the beautifully framed photos on the wall. Oh my ... so much going on here ... going back for another read!

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  14. Your photos are so wonderful. I went back to the very beginning of your blog and read it all. I'm so impressed. thanks for the chance to win!!! Have a great weekend.

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    1. Jo, When I click on your name and head to your Blogger Profile I do not see an email or blog address. So please send your email (if you don't mind) - just in case you win!

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  15. Lovely photos. I particularly like the fire coloured tulips and the wonderful pumpkin. Great images, all of them. I often stand on chairs and tables to get the distance from my subject as well. My next door neighbour thinks I'm a bit bonkers: she's probably right! All the best, Bonny

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  16. These are wonderful, Donna. I admire those of you who can pull off these beautiful still shots. The lighting in my house would never allow it, and then I came to your last picture, lol! Love what you did with the old window frame. I also really liked the orange tulips and pumpkins - great pairing. Really fabulous all around! Have a blessed week!

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  17. thoughtful and provocative...in that you make us think about the process and the product...there is a zen to it all...it shows through your images...and I agree with others - the last shot of you is the best - gives me an idea for shooting here at home...
    and I love IG - so creatively uplifting for me -would love to follow you - username?

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  18. Such a great series of coffee & tea shots, love the one of you taking a shot :)

    aenee/Lily

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  19. Such beautiful photos and lovely subject. Love the coloring of the photo with the tulips and pumpkin. Beautifully done.
    Donna
    aka Extremely Fickle

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  20. what a beautiful series of shots Donna! hard to make a choice... but I would say... the pumpkin and the tulips, great shot, well-balanced picture, autumn and spring together on the same picture... so warming tones, and indeed seeing you on the stool for your "from above" shot is so funny... because we all have experienced the same acrobatic situation! I'm glad I could see a little more of you in the last connect with Kim... you look so joyful, so enthusiastic... from my little place in France, I'm so happy and honored to learn from Kim besides women like you and Kim and so many other wonderful women...

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  21. Oh my, these are wonderful! I love the pear image that you shot from above! You get such great depth in your above shots. Mine just seem so flat!

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  22. As I was admiring each photo, I was saying "wow" ! I love each and every one. I had to laugh when you said you're not a fan of tea or coffee, but you are a fan of cream and sugar ! As a Brit, I love my cup of tea of course ;))

    It was so nice to see you on Connect yesterday !

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  23. You are to cute and so sweet...a giveaway ...and a photo of yourself standing on the chair just doing your photography...both make me smile..plus all the really good photo's in between there...
    Have a beautiful weekend...your a good person...

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  24. Stunning, each and everyone of these! Thanks for the inspiration and creative ideas. And providing the shot of the set up :)

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  25. I so enjoy reading your posts! It is so wonderful to be able to focus peacefully on an activity you love and block out all the other distractions. I love your photos and seeing the one of you standing on the chair to get the shot makes me think I have to get myself a sturdy chair that I am not afraid of falling off of!

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  26. I love Instagram images too, Donna, such an inspiration !
    Your photos are just wonderful, gorgeous combinations !
    So nice to see the behind the scenes ...
    Enjoy the weekend,
    Sylvia

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  27. stunning - your images continue to amaze me. and I especially love that last one! Makes me think I am a lazy photographer : )

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  28. I love your photos and especially like seeing how you photograph from above. I need a steadier ladder!

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  29. Donna...all of these are just stunning! And why is it that you're taking Kim's class? :) I haven't read other comments here...but I'm sure they must be saying that the last photo is priceless!! It shows us so much about you! Thank you for giving me an idea on what to do with a small handled cup like you show with the succulent planted in it! That is so adorable! Growing up on the farm, we had a spring and I have the cup that hung above so we could get a drink anytime we wanted. It has so many memories...and now you have given me a wonderful creative idea on how to use it besides just hanging with my other pots and pans! Fabulous post! So glad I found your site!

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  30. I wholeheartedly agree! I adore that last tulip shot. Mostly the tone plus the shot of you playing.

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  31. It was so nice to "meet" you last week Donna!

    I completely agree that the process of taking photos can be a Zen experience ...and you describe this so well! Love these photos and you have inspired me to get out my big camera and practice some more still life photos tomorrow:)

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