Sunflower Field Shenanigans Part One : Lightly Posed Photography

Posed portraits certainly have their place in Photography. But there is a little known secret that children are naturally good at posing. I like to give them light prompts , and these are some examples of the results.

By keeping posing to a minimum, we make the entire process less stressful for the people we are photographing. This is especially important to consider when photographing children.

Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Children are Literal creatures. I adored the song Bridge Over Troubled Water for years, from at least age 7, long before I understood the meaning and story behind it.

When you listen to the lyrics literally, especially the beginning, it sounds like a beautiful, loyal friendship.

“When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.”

It sounds like a lovely sentiment.

Isn’t that the kid of friend we all want? It appealed to me as an 8 year old, and I still find it appeals at 34.

I remember telling various adults in my life how meaningful I found this song.

And then they set me straight…

That complicated matters a bit.

According to the popular lore of my childhood , Simon and Garfunkel wrote it as satire, and that it chronicles a struggle with alcohol. Or perhaps even heroin ( referencing the” Silver Girl “ line.)

This was a widely accepted story that was oft-repeated.

If we read the lyrics with a skeptical view , now Alcohol is the narrator, instead of a friend.

Alcohol lying to us, seducing us, saying it will comfort us when friends can’t be found ?

Well that flips the entire song, the entire meaning , completely on its head.

Hardly the comforting , soulful tune I first thought it was. I still found the tune haunting, the lyrics hopeful. But it was hard to ignore the dark underbelly of meaning.

Until.

We live in the age of Information.

Because of this easily accessible information superhighway, I’ve read a handful of interviews about the story behind the song.

It was written by Paul Simon (performed as a solo by Art Garfunkel) , in 1969, during a period of political unrest , much like our own time.

According to Mr. Simon himself , the song is in fact about providing comfort to someone in their time of need. It’s about comfort, hope,protection.

Whew. Big sigh of relief.

That means the childlike , innocent, and literal interpretation wins this round over the skeptical, sarcastic and jaded.

It’s not often that this is the case.

Too often adults art is jaded. It’s sarcastic. It’s laughing up our sleeve at every Pollyanna we encounter. Why is that? Why on earth would we consistently create art out of our bitterness and then display it for all to see?

What would our culture look like if we applauded the Brave Hopeful for making art , instead of the Sarcastic Sophisticate?

What if we created art, genuinely good art, the celebrated friendship, loyalty, and carrying one another’s burdens?

And then, when the next generation comments on the meaning of our songs, we can joyfully tell them that yes, the song really is about unity and brotherhood .

And maybe we ourselves could become that bridge?

Seeing the Beauty that’s within

“No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Can you point out unconditional love to me? Will you hold up some grace? Dig some hope out of your bottom drawer?

These are absurd questions, of course. Hope, love, grace are generally intangible qualities.

Self sacrifice, perseverance, and honesty , while of upmost importance are all similar in that it’s hard to grasp them, hold them.

So why in earth do we insist on judging people by their appearance?

If we can’t see the things that matter the most , then why do we think we are able to perceive who someone is by the way they look?

It’s appalling , really.

The way we demean and discount each other. As if we could assaign worth to a infinitly valuable soul .

Our misplaced motives show up in the way we’re jealous of the thin, young and beautiful. The way we’re dismissive of the old, flabby and infirm.

The way we destroy each other’s lives and well being , with malicious gossip and seemingly innocent passive aggressive comments.

The way we hunt each others spouses for sport, because we can.

Yes, I’ve born witness to this.

The way we turn the knife in the wound. The way we say the thing that we know that we know that we know is triggering to them.

Yes, it’s important to be healthy and to have a healthy sense of self worth.

But this should never come at the price of putting others down to build ourselves up.

Because we have the same exact basis of worth.

Humanity.

Prairie Flowers in the Summertime

I’m going to be candid with you- these photos were taken at the wrong time, in the wrong light, because of an impending storm. I had to hike through snake infested grass ( I almost stepped on large snake of indeterminate origin, and did step on a baby snake.) My model was hot, complaining and uncomfortable.

But you don’t see that in these images.

You just see the Prairie Flowers in the Summer Sun.

If I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t be picturing snakes right now. (Sorry about that .)

Our lives can be like that. We can wear masks when interacting with others. We can post the highlight reel of our lives to social media. Sometimes we can even start to believe our own hype.

What would it take for us to be authentic?

I’m not encouraging you to post photos of your messy house or the like.

I’m asking you to consider sharing your messy heart.

I’m also asking you to be careful when you do.

Because I think one of the reason that many of us are afraid to go deep, afraid to be real, afraid to show up as our true authentic selves is precisely because we have been burned.

We have had our deepest confidences shared indiscriminately with the group. We have had friendships fail, we have had our dark confessions repeated back to us word for word.

And it hurts .

But we can’t let that stop us from trying again . We can’t stop being real and vulnerable and authentic because people in our pasts haven’t been able to handle us.

We’ve been told that we are too much. We’ve been told we are not enough .

What if today, we just , be?

What if we accept our flaws- our snake filled underbelly, if you will? What if we live authenticity , not apologizing for things that are simply our personality?

What if we only felt guilty around our actual sin, the wrong things we do that hurt others ?

And if it wasn’t morally wrong, we just, didn’t apologize?

And maybe , just maybe we could then cultivate the same in our family and friends. Maybe we could create a safe space for others to come to us with their fears, failures, frustrations. Maybe we will stop judging the less than perfect aspects of our loved ones.

Maybe we can all just be together and enjoy the sun.

Fine Art Style Portraits

Fine Art Style portraits are a fun alternative to the traditional back to school portraits that we are all familiar with.

They are different than the Dark and Moody photos you have born witness to in the glossy Destination Wedding magazines , but there is some crossover. You might say they are cousins , because in Fine Art Style portraits we often use light dramatically, and can employ a black background.

Fine Art Style portraits of your children are relatively easy to take, and fun to play around with.

Some simple tips to start:

1) If you are in Manual mode, the lowest ISO that you possibly can, while still lighting your subject.

2) Aperture: Use your f stop as low as you can while still maintaining the overall image integrity.

3) Search out a shaded spot . This photo ( below) was taken on a summer afternoon around four pm, which is not the ideal light at all. However, by searching out deep shade, and positioning Bella so that her face was toward the light, I was able to capture some fun results.

(As a technical aside. I should have had her remove her glasses and I wouldn’t have ended up with the purple glare on her glasses .)

Summer Remnants

What mementos of Summer will you carry with you into the fall? The tangible and the intangible. Will you keep the rocks you collected from that hike, the ticket from the concert you didn’t know would happen? Will you remember the peach fuzz beginning to form on his cheek, the popsicle grin on her mouth?

I’ll carry the memory of the first job and driving lessons for my eldest, my second born leaning in to more decisions and leadership, my youngest son learning to be brave and taking on more responsibility , and my daughter becoming her own unique self- , unapologetic about her different way of seeing the world.

I’ll carry the rocks they bring for me to inspect , the designs they sketch, the paintings they paint for me…. I’ll carry the difficult conversations, and the wise things they say that stop me in my tracks .

I’ll remember how the middle two cooperated together, the youngest anew obsession with baking, and how the oldest thanks me when I drop him off at work, or run him to the store for Oreos.

It hasn’t been everything we dreamed of during those dark winter days, and it hasn’t looked like we thought. But it has changed us. Summer has held us, as we are people who are in a constant state of Becoming.

Pop Culture god versus the God of the Bible

Attributes of God are His character qualities. This is how Christians discuss Gods personality, if you will.

Many attributes in Christian theology what God is not, or what He does not do, as a means to knowing and understanding Him. For example, God does not lie, God does not change, …

I write this with much trepidation. However, I would like to compare and contrast the idea we find of God in pop culture, with Who He has revealed Himself to be in His word.

Physically, pop culture usually points us to an old white guy with along beard in a white toga. If you are picturing an angry , vengeful Santa then you are picturing the many cartoon versions we have all witnessed .

We compare this with God revealing Himself as Spirit.

Jesus had a body, and He is God, the second member of the trinity. But God the Father is invisible.

Colossians tells us that Jesus is in fact the image of the invisible God.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation:”
Colossians 1:15 NASB

The second attribute of God that we are going to look at is that hmHe is eternal. God has no beginning, He has always been. Psalm 90:2 reminds us that …

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
Psalm 90:2 – NASB

Whether or not you subscribe to the theory of evolution, our basic experience tells us that everything has a beginning.

But this is the material view of the matter, and not the metaphysical.

God is good and Holy.

God is in fact the very standard of good.

God is unable to do wrong. Holiness means that He is set apart. God cannot “look on” evil, which means essentially that he cannot condone sun, or call good what is not good.

We can compare this to the angry God portrayed in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

We often hear about the angry Old Testament God, but are not often provided with the proper context . Nahum 1:2 for example does say that God is vengeful, but against whom? Against ruthless people who are preying on the innocent.

We are unfamiliar with the culture of those days, worth the precedence of child sacrifice as a way to please the barbaric false gods. This very practice was something the God of the Bible detested.

The God of the Bible is also Immanent. His Immanence means that He is present in the world that He created. That he is actively working things for good. He grants us free will, which unfortunately have led to sin and sickness and death. But He is Immanuel, God with us.

This is in direct contrast to the disinterested God of pop culture. The picture we get from pop culture is of a god who may have created the world but set it spinning and then generally doesn’t care. Or worse- one who takes perverse pleasure in the pain of humans.

The God of the Bible is Omnipotent. this means that He is all powerful. A God who certainly is capable of wiping all of humanity off the face fo the planet, but who stays His hand because of His great love and patience.

Thai is contrasted by the impotent god of pop culture who is limited in his power and influence. His scope is limited. Otherwise, we demand, if he ain’t impotent then why doesn’t he show himself? Why is evil so prevalent in the world? He must be pretty powerless, the reasoning goes. We get a glimpse of this good in the show Supernatural.

The God of the Bible is Omnipresent. He is present everywhere. He is outside of time. He transcends time and space, he isn’t bound by the same limitations we humans are .

We contrast this to the god of pop culture, Joan of Arcadia style , who is limited. He’s present but not super helpful or loving. Or even kind.

I hope these contrasts and comparisons have been helpful to you. Thank you for reading.

Evidence of A God Who Cares for You Personally

If you want to get to know someone , what do you do? You spend time with them. You listen to them, to what they see, watch what they do. You Laurent to what others say about them.

God is Spirit, Invisible. However, He left us clues about His nature and his personality. Clues in creation, clues in His book- the Bible.

God loves you personally.

God helps you. Isaiah 43:2 and Psalm 40:17

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Isaiah 43:2 NIV

God provides you with Strength for the difficult situations you are going through. Isaiah 41 :10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10 NIV

God protects you from disasters. Isaiah 43:2

God will teach you. Psalm 32:8!

I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will advise you with My eye upon you.
Psalm 32:8 NASB

He will be gentle with you. Isaiah 40:13

For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand, Who says to you, ‘ Do not fear, I will help you.’
Isaiah 41:13 – NASB

And Isaiah 40:11

Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in the fold of His robe; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.
Isaiah 40:11 NASB

He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 – NASB

He won’t abandon you. Hebrew 13:5

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “ I will never desert you, nor will I ever abandon you,”
Hebrews 13:5 – NASB

He limited himself, he came to earth specifically for you. John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 – NASB

He calls you his friend. John 15:15

15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
John 15:15 – NASB

He wants to comfort you. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – NASB

He came so you could live your best life! Abundant life!

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.
John 10:10 – NASB

Young Love is a Grand Thing

I was honored to be able to take photos of my brother Jesse and his girlfriend, Evelyn. They are such an adorable couple, and their genuine love and friendship is palpable.

We planned to do a Sunset Session, however the clouds that showed up had other plans. Overall, even though it wasn’t the exact setting we had planned, we had a very enjoyable session.