When Past and Present Collide | Photo Story Friday

When I was 10 years old my mother sent me, on my own, from South Dakota to California to visit my paternal grandmother for a month.  I often joke about my experiences during that time, comparing them to the Griswold’s adventures from National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation.  We visited several Southern California landmarks without ever going IN them – including Knott’s Berry Farm. 

However, there were several places we did visit , some of which no longer exist, like Lion Country Safari and Marineland of the Pacific. One of our excursions that held a fond place in my memories over the years is the Los Angeles Arboretum. I never forgot the gorgeous house that I wanted to go inside of or the placards along different paths depicting where the first Tarzan movie was made as well as other classic movies, I was fascinated with the history of it all.

Within a year after visiting the Aboretum a new TV show aired featuring the Queen Anne house in it’s opening sequence – the show was Fantasy Island.  I loved that show, and more so, I was THRILLED that I had been to that very house!

Yup, that’s me, the skinny kid in the lime-green shirt and pigtails.   Queen Anne House077And the little tiny thing I’m looking down at in the picture? {who was quite cute}… the bane of my existence for four weeks.  She was five years old and got into all kinds of mischief, I was 10 years old and was constantly being blamed for said mischief.

Crazy, to this day I clearly remember getting in trouble for squashing berry-type pods that had fallen from the trees and lay on the path where we walked. She stomped on them over and over and somehow I took the fall for it.  I was impassioned with the injustice of it all, “she’s only five - she isn’t stomping on all those berries, let alone on purpose”. WHAT!?!      Oh, she was good…

And so. 37 years after my first visit, 26 years of living in Los Angeles, I finally returned – with The Boy willingly in tow.  All I kept asking myself was, “Why did I wait so long to return?”  It is truly a beautiful, peaceful place to wander through; and although place-markers denoting where various classic movie moments were filmed are all but gone now, it still felt like stepping back in time - for me – if only briefly. 

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As we walked through the welcome building and into the gardens, I felt that little girl in me twitch as a wave a familiarity washed over me, a taste of the past welled up in my mouth. Like a tide that suddenly rushes in, then receding as fast as it had appeared; 1976 and 2013 intertwined. 

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I am always amazed when my past memories bubble to the surface and collide with my present, I can feel it – like a Sci-fi movie, all I have to do is take a step to the left and I would find myself staring the 10-year-old me in the face, surrounded by family members long since gone. 

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However, that wave passes quickly and I am here standing with my eight-year-old boy who taking in the whole experience with a calm joy. He comments, “It’s so quiet and peaceful here, I’m jealous of the people who live here!” As we listened to the birds singing and crickets chirping; the two of us were in heaven.

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Toward the end of our stay, as Harrison ran ahead of me on the paved path, I briefly glanced down and noticed a couple berry-type pods laying on the road; I smiled… and STOMPED on them!

On Purpose!

Life is good.

 

Give me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | The Value of the Printed Image

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I have a storage bin of old family albums and pictures. Sound familiar? That's not including the miscellaneous albums from my teens, young adult life and right up into my early years of marriage.

And then the digital age hit. Now I have external hard drives with tons of personal pictures living on them. They may not get dusty but no one can enjoy them if I don't take the time to post them on social media or through blogging (which doesn't always happen).

The value of those hundreds of images in that storage bin are truly priceless to me because for the most part, they are the tangible memories of the people no longer physically here with me in my life. I pull out pictures from my past on a regular basis. I've put them in frames on my walls, scanned them, posted them on Facebook and in blogs.

In the face of a disaster, I would go for that bin.

So why am I telling you this? I realize that I am not alone in my dislike for being in front of the camera. As a photographer, I have conversations regularly with moms  about how they view themselves in pictures; they feel they look fat, they hate their arms, their nose, their sagging eyelids, their crooked teeth, the list goes on and on. I hate pictures of myself for the so many of those reasons, too.

But my son doesn't.

Let me repeat that again, my son doesn’t hate how I look in pictures.

When I was putting together my wedding and wanting to honor my mother and grandmother, who had each passed away in the years and months before the ceremony, I realized that I had very few pictures of the two of them together and even fewer of the three of us and I only had one portrait of me and my mom together.

One.

circa 1979And it was one of those horrible 1980's studio portraits taken during my "awkward" years when the Farrah Fawcett flip was all the rage.          

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But I will NEVER get rid of it.

 

Then I had an epiphany one day recently. I haven't had a decent family portrait done since before my son was born! And I'm a photographer! Plus, the last {non-snapshot} picture of him and I together was over four years ago when he was still technically a toddler. He's in second grade now.

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Guess what? My son doesn't care what I look like in pictures, he just wants pictures of us together because simply loves me.

In truth, the pictures we take with our children and families right now really are not for ourselves, they are for our children, their children and their children's children.

I'm not going to wait until I lose more weight or have a the perfect haircut before I get into pictures with my child, I'm going to take advantage of every time I can be in front of the camera with him and then I'm going to make sure they are printed in some format, because some day I'll be gone and I want him to have those images, see the happy moments we captured together, smile with joyful memories.

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{This is our “group hug” we took this shortly after I wrote this post – a special family moment I didn't want to miss documenting.}

I'm starting to move digital images from the past four years into printed photo books. I have enough images to make an album per year. It's probably going to take some time as I work on it in my free time, but well worth it.

I believe making pictures has always been about printing, displaying and cherishing tangible art as well as capturing our lives to remember.

Posting images on social media is a bonus in today's age - but should not become the end all. Images are meant to be shared, on walls, in albums, through cards... What ever it is, make the pictures you have taken and stored on hard drives, CD's or flash drives concrete beyond the confines of the monitor, cell or tablet.

Our pictures tell our story.

Share your story, give your future generations something palpable, something they can hold, touch, consider and imagine what you were like during this time in your lives.

So forget about the extra 20 pounds or thinning hairline, get into the pictures with your children and then display those pictures on walls, tabletop frames or coffee table books. Just do it.

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{A family “self portrait” set up and taken by Harrison with the self timer – do I love how I look? Heck no! does the Boy love this picture? Oh yes! }

 

You will never regret it and neither will your children.

Redondo Beach Child Photographer | Seeing Red {or “how I won’t get the Best Mom Ever award for 2013”}

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Don’t you love those days when everything works out perfectly, when the stars perfectly align in the sky and all is well in the world. 
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That wasn’t yesterday - or the day before for that matter.  It was one of those “pouring orange juice on the cereal” kind of days. I tried to pull out of it but I was a hot mess and the stars were just, plain out of alignment – or so it felt). 
…and then I realized we don’t have the Valentine cards for school – I needed 30 Valentine cards – STAT!
 
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Last year I started early and was even able to accommodate for a change.  Unfortunately, Harrison got sick and missed Valentines day at school. 
This year – I completely dropped the ball… and I was Seeing Red (you know. When you’re grumpy, agitated, cranky, in a bad mood for no good reason).  A deadly combination. When he got home from school, I reminded Harrison that we still needed to take pictures to make cards. I was greeted with the all-too-common-lately Moans and Groans – the seven-year-old version of weeping and gnashing of teeth – and I Am Seeing Red {not conducive for “Best Mom Ever” awards}.  I walk away.
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The G.I.D. stepped up and took Harrison to the store to get basic, boring cookie-cutter V-cards. 
Slam-Dunk Done – Fine. 20 minutes later he calls, “We’ve struck out at three different places, all that’s left is Bob The Builder.” 
Back to square one.  More battles, more Red, more Gnashing of Teeth – all around. 
Fast forward to 4:40 pm, the day before they are due.  We get to the park, camera and prop in hand, it’s cold, the sun is quickly moving lower in the sky. We walk over to the entrance – and it’s closed. 
Seriously? Closed?
Okay. No problem.
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We’ll roll with the punches, the parking lot will do. We are on mission! After all, there will be NO pre-fab Valentine cards, not after last year’s offering.  It just didn’t feel right in my bones. However, we’re in a hurry, it’s getting colder, he’s making more goofy faces then nice smiles and my vision is just not panning out.  Deep breath. Move on.
I get home, upload and view my images, smash my forehead into my palm, … Now it’s 5:30pm. The hubby gets pizza, I eat, go choose favorites, edit a photo and create a Valentine. 6:00pm – the computer freezes up and I have to restart.  6:30 – hubby takes Harrison to his Awana’s group, I upload to Costco to print and pick up in an hour before picking up H. 8pm – before I hit “send” I see that Costco’s local photo center is down.  7pm, more research, everything is closing (and time is closing in on me). 7:10 - I upload to the local Walmart photo center out of shear desperation.  7:40 I get the message that the pictures were ready at 7:25.  I pick up H at 8pm, we run over to Walmart, no one is in the photo department.  I find someone, they can’t find my order… or the order of the person now standing next to me, or the person who approached after that. Great, I am officially in Valentine making hell. 40 minutes and three people later, a manager picks up a pile of prints off the machine and asks another guy, “what are these?”  “Those are Mine!” I say, seeing red and green.  “Oh, I didn’t think they were it because they didn’t have anything attached”  YA COULD HAVE ASKED ME! 8:50 – we are heading home. PHEW!
9:30 – Harrison has signed all Valentines and is in bed by 9:35pm.
He looks at me and says, “That was fun!” 
Finished Valentine Card
We filled bags with chocolates (no guilt this year!), folded the 4x6’s in half and stapled them closed. 
Done – just in the knick of time!
Okay, I may not get the Best Mom Ever award but at least stars are back in alignment – just in time for Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day!

Where Have all His Ghoul Friends Gone?

Did you ever meet Harrison’s Ghoulish Friend?  If not, you can meet him here it’s worth it. 

Well, had we ever wondered  what became of him after the Blue Light Special was over we now have our answer.

I stumbled upon him at the Rose Bowl Flea Market- literally.

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I had a Mom’s day out at the Rose Bowl Flea Market a few months back. {I love going up there whenever I can; which is only about once a year}  As I was rounding a corner in the far end of the farthest end of the flea market, there he was! 
Of course, I had to snap a picture for Harrison.

Headless Harry sat on the ground still holding his head as if nursing a permanent headache.
I can’t say that I blame him based on his current condition.

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Poor Headless Harry. 

Now he’s body-less too.

Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | All Grown Up

If I dug deep enough I know I could find some images of her five-year-old self; one of the last few times I saw her.

I got married and moved away; soon after, her family moved away. 
And then time ticks by in leaps and bounds.

However, with today’s technology, her mom and I are only a Facebook update away from each other now days and when my dear friend asked me if I would take her daughter’s Senior portraits I was THRILLED to accommodate – even drive out to Temecula for the honor.
  
I had NO idea that there were so many vineyards in that area.  We drove around on a Sunday afternoon to find just the right vineyard to shoot at; being a gorgeous late-Spring day, the vineyards were bursting with people out for a day of music and wine-tasting. Lucky for us we found a little piece of heaven hidden off the road.

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It’s hard to believe I was a Bride’s Maid in her mom’s wedding, it doesn’t seem like that long ago and now she has a high school graduate. And what a beautiful mother and daughter they are.
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Linked In | Memories on the Shelf

Growing up, my mom had a lot of nick-nacks, on Ah. Lot. of shelves. 

And as soon as I was old enough, it was my job to dust them – All. Once or twice a week, I would take EVERYTHING off those shelves one by one, dust the shelf and the trinket and put them all back.

I hated it.

Yet I unwittingly fed into this curio collection by buying little things are yard sales in the neighborhood, coming home and joyously presenting them to my mom.  She in turn proudly added each one to a display on a shelf and I began the process of dusting yet another useless piece of junk found treasure

20100802-IMG_0247 (My most cherished find for my mom. I still remember when and where she came from.)

After my mom passed I was tasked with cleaning out her home. All the years of tchotchke collecting stared me in the face. Wooden Buda's and elephants from Thailand and India, porcelain dogs and figurines from England,  a trio of nuns that wound up to play a tune, vintage Avon bottles shaped like Victorian women a collection of brass piggybank 1920’s style cars from a bank, little cottages and don’t forget all those little add-ons from my childhood yard sale days – plus SO much more.  They all has sentimental value. I couldn’t discard them, but I didn’t want all of them either.

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I was conflicted.

Thank goodness for shows like Clean House and Clean Sweep, though!
I loved watching these shows any chance I got and I learned a few things.  Two things I gleaned: 1) I kept what I loved and what meant the most to me (all the vintage books and most of the china) and 2) I took pictures of the rest for memory’s sake then lightened the load.

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Now days I still have Tchotchkes; what can I say, I am my mom’s daughter.

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But I have a lot less of them and
They are VERY dusty any given day.

And we won’t talk about my obsession with vintage Asian bobble-head dolls and globes!

Go visit other “Link-In” memories with Jenn,Heather, Tracey, Stacey, Andrea, Amanda, HeatherJanet, JeanKristi,Carla, Rose, Tracy, Heidi, Kristin, Hanne, Liza and Rhonda.

Redondo Beach Portrait Photographer | Wordless Wednesday | Portraits in Black and White

Sometimes I need to put everything aside and be creative.

Sometimes “being creative” is just spending time on an image in the “digital darkroom”.

Converting to black & white and color tones or adding texture and grain, like my film days.

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I forget just how passionate I am about black and white images.
…and how powerful they can be.

Want some REAL B&W inspiration? check out this link, eight famous black and white photographers.

More Wordless Wednesday here and here.

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