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.

When Peace like a River

One of my all time Favorite hymns begins with the line , “ When Peace like a river attendith my way, when sorrow like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul.”

It’s a lovely hymn, made more meaningful by the fact that the author , Horatio G. Spafford ,wrote it shortly after loosing his four daughters suddenly in the sinking of S.S. Ville du Havre.

Over time, this song has defined different challenges in my life. It has been in the background, at my stepfathers funeral in 1995. It has been in the forefront of my mind, when my brother and sister in law experienced a miscarriage. I have sang this song in quiet country chapels, in crowded mega church’s , and in my own laundry room. I have sang it’s words happy and triumphantly, and also while sobbing and wallowing in the pit of despair.

My feelings around this song transcend the lyrics. It seems to me now, that the layers of story and experiences have woven this song into the very fabric of my life.

I think sometimes I miss the meaning. Yes, I realize he is saying that it is well with his soul in the face of insurmountable loss. However, when I stop to consider that first line about rivers, I am undone. “When peace like a river” …. meaning pulsing , rushing water that easily overwhelms, water that can easily drown, damage and destroy. Peace like a river.

Peace like a river in the midst of calamity, in the midst of a global pandemic, drug abuse, job loss, sorrow and death and abuse of power. Peace has been attending my life like a river . You too? I cannot help but think of peace in terms of community, because what good is our individual peace , if collectively peace is absent?

And so dear reader , are you facing any rivers today? I would love to hear about them. Is there anything I can pray for you about today? I would be honored. Leave a comment, send an email, drop a line. I would be honored to remember you in prayer today.

Adventures in the Middle of a Worldwide Pandemic

I find that most people are a strange mix of consistency and whim, of routine and variety, of predictably and chaos.

We often establish our schedules and routines… and then we tire of them. Our habits work beautifully, until they bore us. We carry our routines out predictably until one day, we wake up and are desperately seeking a change.

This is usually punctuated by googling vacation spots and dreaming about getting away from it all. But the reality is, that jet setting is not attainable for the most of us. And while we dream of a cabin in the woods or an exciting vacation, the closest we are getting to an international trip is a stroll down the “ethnic food” isle at the grocery store,

We then start trying to introduce variety where we can. Perhaps we get a haircut, drive a new way to work, change our our playlists, try a bold new lipstick, get takeout from somewhere new.

We go on little excursions and call them adventures.

This just got personal.

I’ve been taking my children to the park, the botanical garden, the local zoo, the state park, for years and calling it an adventure. There’s no daring quest, no real peril, but in the early years it was enough of an adventure to get out of our usual surroundings .

Perhaps the same is true for you. Because, this is our life after all. And most of us cannot afford to travel far from home, even if we weren’t currently in a global pandemic. We call day trips adventures, and you know what? They are. If we keep our eyes open and our wits about us , we might just encounter the Truly Majestic Beauty that our souls long to experience.

I implore you not to discount the times when you choose to do something that makes you feel truly alive.

We need outings and trips and adventures. Covid-19 has robbed us of so much. But it hasn’t been able to eradicate our hope. It hasn’t robbed us of our ability to be spontaneous.

There are hidden gems, I want you to look for them. Near me, near you, all around us there are beautiful scenes. There are lonely haunts and side trails, and places where people seldom tread.

We are all a bit soul weary, a bit worn down. Life’s losses tend to pile up while we are busy keeping calm and carrying on. The isolation we have all experienced lately, is ironically universal. In that aspect, at least there is solidarity and common ground.

So this weekend, walk your woods , your parks, hike your trails, bike the scenic pathways. Let the sense of adventure you used to feel at the start of a school vacation fill your sense completely. As you feel hope re enter your bones, let it boost your spirit and feed your soul. Happy adventures!

Document your days

With the advent of social media, we are no longer strangers to taking photos that once might have been considered strange. You have witnessed someone standing on their chair in a restaurant, right? Social media influencers have certainly changed the pictorial status quo. And while some of it is admittedly ridiculous, some of it is rather inspiring. On a related note, I am glad that we now have decent cameras with us wherever we go, making capturing those timeless moments much easier.

We love to see pretty photos on Instagram, and we even zoom in to see what our favorite beauty guru is using, or what is on the counter behind our favorite home decorator. We are interested in the brand of candles they are using, the new holy grail face cream, and the croissant they ate for lunch.

But what about the rest of us ? Are our lives worthy of documentation? My answer is Yes. You may not be jet setting to Fiji, but your life is worthy of noticing and remembering, and of preserving through meaningful photographs.

Now, I’m not advocating for you to whip out your phone at inopportune times, or to prioritize documentation to the exclusion of everything else. (And I strongly doubt that you would be tempted to do so. )

However, I would encourage you to take photos of your everyday life. Consider for a moment your age, stage of life, and who you spend your time with . Whatever you may be currently living will be interesting to your future self. The truth is , our daily lives can alter dramatically from year to year, sometimes even from season to season. Consider how different your life is now , from five years ago. Think back, are there people from high school or college that you wish you had photos of?

Taking the time to take photos of what matters can help us experience less regret later on.

I want to encourage you to take the photos you might have judged unnecessary before . Snap pictures of your skin care routine, of you fixing dinner with your spouse , of story time with your little ones. These are the special little moments that make up our lives!

One area that I personally worked on last year was getting in the frame. I love taking photos of my kids, and yet I realized that I have very few photos of me with my children. I spend my days with them, loving them, teaching them, caring for them.. .and yet there is very little photo evidence of this fact. This is especially true of when they were small. I vowed to change this, and I have. Setting aside insecurities about how I look , I have been using my timer to take photos of my children and I reading together, hiking, baking, and all manner of activities. I am so glad that I am doing this , even if I always like how my hair looks. 😉

  • To get started :
  • Reading – a new book, your favorite book, stacks of books
  • What you wore / your favorite outfit / your child’s favorite outfit
  • That book your child asks you to read over and over
  • a weeknight dinner
  • your family snuggled together on the couch
  • your pets
  • your car
  • your favorite restaurant
  • your desk or work area