Monday, July 21, 2014

Surf's Up

I spent the last two weeks at the beach. No, we weren't on vacation. At least not properly. We slept in our own beds every night, but seven or eight hours of every day were spent at or traveling to and from the beach. You can do that in The Ocean State. Especially during surf camp.

Surf Camp - Flotsam of the Mind

Surf camp is one of many opportunities my kids have that I'm sure they do not appreciate sufficiently. It is such a rare opportunity. It is so cool. It is so much better than anything their parents did when they were ten years old (or six in the case of the smallest of our group).

Littlest Surfer - Flotsam of the Mind

Camp lasts only three hours, four days per week, but we are in for the long haul. We did surf camp with two other families and, once surf camp ended and lunch was inhaled, it was time for hours of boogie boarding, sand castle building, and dam construction. Six kids can create a lot of fun at the beach while their mothers constantly head count to six.

Paddling Out - Flotsam of the Mind

Getting Out - Flotsam of the Mind

This was the second year my son participated. After one week last summer and two this summer, he's starting to look like he knows what he's doing. Some of his friends are even better.

Big Waves - Flotsam of the Mind

Of the eight days of camp, only one qualified as a true "beach day." I don't think I took off my sweatshirt the first week, and I stood in the drizzling rain for four hours on one day. All that rotten sunbathing weather made for some great waves, which was all the kids cared about. All those clouds also made for better photography, which kept me occupied amid the head counts.

Rainy Day at the Beach - Flotsam of the Mind

Waiting to Surf - Flotsam of the Mind

A few months ago, I discovered that the lens attached to my film camera also fit my DSLR. It had been gathering dust in my bedroom closet for seven years, but now it's in the rotation. It is a longer lens than any other I have, so I hoped it would be good for soccer games and swim meets. Surf camp was the first I'd tried it, and I was very pleased with the results. There's no way I would have been able to capture any of it with one of my smaller (favorite) portrait lenses.

Waiting for a Wave - Flotsam of the Mind

Riding the Waves - Flotsam of the Mind

The hazy days also presented a great editing challenge for me. I really had to tweak the contrast on each one to make the surfer pop. Otherwise, each would have been lost in the fog.

Wave Crashing - Flotsam of the Mind

After two weeks of packing, unpacking, driving, laundering, and repeated head counts, I'm ready for something new. After two weeks of seven- to eight-hour days in the ocean, my kids were exhausted and ready for a change.

No one did much of anything the last couple weekends, and we went to bed early every night for a couple weeks. The kids have been pretty crabby when not at the beach, and I'm sure I've been lacking patience. But it was worth it--a great time spent with friends learning something special, with a few new photos to boot.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

In Photography As in Life: I'm a People Person

"I've never seen you so animated," she said. Coming from a woman with whom I've shared a few cocktails and a lot of laughs, this was something. "You're so happy. You look like a kid." I must have been smiling a lot, because my face hurt by the time I was done.

I was doing a new type of photo shoot, and my smile was mostly hidden behind my camera. My friend Cat is an acupuncturist, and she asked me to take photos for her business website. She needed shots of the office, of her with a patient, and head shots. We got it all and then some. And it was fun.

In one of my early photography classes, the instructor asked each of us what we enjoyed photographing and what we hoped to do with our photography. I answered that I preferred inanimate objects as subjects--buildings, signs, the occasional landscape--and was a hesitant hobbyist. How things can change in a short time.

It's fair to say that I've found a passion. I love photography. More than that, I've learned that I love photographing people. You can't turn a building just the right way to capture the light. You can't make a sign smile. A landscape won't thank you for capturing its beauty.

I'm a people person after all.

At this shoot, the inanimate objects were as interesting as the person because they were an extension of her. Cat's office decor shares the relaxing aesthetic of her patient interaction. The decor was merely more of the same.

Cat's husband had admonished her not to look too serious in the photos, which I took as a personal challenge. We captured the professional photos of her at work and secured the necessary head shots, but I wanted more. I wanted to capture her personality because, while she is a gorgeous woman, her personality is what makes her shine.

Most of the people I've photographed are children. Kids present their own challenges, but they are rarely hesitant to be in front of the camera. They are not awkward. Their personalities shine through everything they do because they haven't yet developed the face to present to the world.

Making an adult comfortable with me and with having her photograph taken is a different beast, but one I've found I enjoy. I love making a personal connection and ensuring that who I see on the back of the camera is the same person I see in front of it.

I have learned so much in the last few years, not only about photography but about myself. Creating images like this brings me joy, and my goal is to make my subjects feel the same joy both during the shoot and when they see the results.

Everyone should see their own beauty, and I love making it happen.

To learn more about Cat's acupuncture practice, see her website or business Facebook page