“You’re going to meet many people with domineering personalities: the loud, the obnoxious, those that noisily stake their claims in your territory and everywhere else they set foot on. This is the blueprint of a predator. Predators prey on gentleness, peace, calmness, sweetness and any positivity that they sniff out as weakness. Anything that is happy and at peace they mistake for weakness. It’s not your job to change these people, but it’s your job to show them that your peace and gentleness do not equate to weakness. I have always appeared to be fragile and delicate but the thing is, I am not fragile and I am not delicate. I am very gentle but I can show you that the gentle also possess a poison. I compare myself to silk. People mistake silk to be weak but a silk handkerchief can protect the wearer from a gunshot. There are many people who will want to befriend you if you fit the description of what they think is weak; predators want to have friends that they can dominate over because that makes them feel strong and important. The truth is that predators have no strength and no courage. It is you who are strong, and it is you who has courage. I have lost many a friend over the fact that when they attempt to rip me, they can’t. They accuse me of being deceiving; I am not deceiving, I am just made of silk. It is they who are stupid and wrongly take gentleness and fairness for weakness. There are many more predators in this world, so I want you to be made of silk. You are silk.” 

(C. JoyBell C.) 

Not the whisperer….

I belong to several photography forums and one of the things I have noticed is that when photographers talk about getting negative email, 99% of the time it ends up being from someone they know. Whether the person is jealous of their work or them in general, who knows. But I see it talked about quite frequently anyway.

I received a nasty email the other day. It had nothing to do with my photography and it was from someone I dated over 25 years ago. Clearly, someone has not moved on with their life. After I finished laughing, I tried to muster up enough compassion to at least feel sorry for the guy and I was actually surprised to find out that I had none left for him. You see, I only cut people out of my life if they deserve it. I give people chance after chance and then when they have proven over and over again who they really are….well, then it’s time to move forward and never look back.

So photographers, artists, writers…whatever you do….just remember that there are going to be people out there who want to say mean things to you. They will want to try to hurt your feelings and belittle you, but they only have power if you give it to them. So don’t.

I have an amazing life. I have a the best husband, kids and grand-daughter in the world. I have a career that I love and it is thriving. In fact, I am awaiting confirmation of my images being used in a book and featured in a magazine. I was recently contacted by a stylist in Los Angeles area who wants me to collaborate with a fashion photographer from Nova Scotia on a shoot. These are the things I wake up and are grateful for each and every morning. I am surrounded by creative, artistic and phenomenal people. I have people around me who love me, flaws and all, and I love them right back. I’m not stuck in a dead end job or a dead end marriage and I refuse to let anyone make me unhappy.

Each day you have choices. You can let someone else define your day with their vile behavior or you can define it yourself and one your own terms. Don’t ever let anyone stand between you and what you want for your life. Life is too short, so get out there with your camera or paint or whatever you are doing and just reach for the stars. There’s no telling what you will accomplish.

My awesome and wonderful friend Vicki sent this to me and everyone should remember this. There are going to be people out there who are jealous or mean or just hateful, pathetic losers. You don’t need their approval in your life. Move forward and be happy. Make that choice.

I did.

Birth Photography {And why you should consider doing it!}

I am surprised that birth photography is becoming more widespread and more popular. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t something that most photographers offered. I have been doing birth photography for people..well, since before I became a “professional” photographer.

I worked on labor and delivery for a long time. I was a doula for about 14 years. I attended home births and hospital births, and even water births. One of the things I always did was have the parents show me their camera before the baby was born so that I could take photos for them after the baby had arrived and they could just be “in the moment”. I felt that this enabled them to have those first bonding moments worry free and that their images would contain their family unit, not just mom holding the baby!

When I tell people that I do birth photography, it usually elicits one of two responses. The first is “Wow, that is so cool. I bet you have lots of great stories”. The second response is usually “Eeeewwww”. Yes, eeewww. (Some people don’t like anything medical!). The first time I heard that I was shocked. When I think of birth I don’t think of anything gross. Body fluids and blood don’t bother me, I have a pretty strong stomach.

My goal when I take these images is to capture those first few moments after the baby is born and to capture the welcoming of the new baby into their family. No matter how many babies I have witnessed being born, each birth has been unique. To me, that means something huge! That means that no two births I photograph will be the same. I might use some of the same concepts, but they won’t be the same. As an artist, that means I have to keep thinking and coming up with new ideas! Birth photography is a wonderful art. You are not posing people, you are not creating a stage to showcase them…it is life and it is unfolding before your very eyes. What could be more wonderful to capture?

Once I show some of the birth images to the people who said “Eeeewwwww” I usually get a great response. They usually get so wrapped up in seeing the newborn that their mind goes from the medical part of it all to the baby and family component, and that makes me smile!  I view birth as an event, not a medical procedure! It’s a celebration.

I usually only show black and white images on my website, because some people can’t take the sight of blood or anything like that. I also think it draws the attention to the subject of the image more. It conveys the day and it stirs emotions. No distracting colors, just straight and simple. I do give the parents the images in color and in black and white. Some images I love in color and might show a few that way too. It all just depends on the birth, the baby and how it all looks!

If you are thinking about birth photography,  I can tell you that it is a wonderful experience. The hours can be long, but the end result is amazing! There is no time table you can chart for how long you will be at a birth so you should make sure it is something you can commit to before jumping in. You will need to make sure you can clear your schedule fairly easy two weeks before the due date and two weeks after (they don’t like to come according to the schedule we give them!), make sure you have child care lined up for your own children, and if you work another job, you might need to be off work. You can also be working into the wee hours of the morning, so be prepared for whatever gets thrown your way!

Before the big day (just like shooting a wedding or any other important event), you should discuss ahead of time what images the parents might really want. Discuss what happens in the event that your client have a cesarean. The anesthesiologist is usually the one who decides who can go in the OR and who can’t. Make sure you have a back up plan for your client in the event you are not able to go back with them.

There are times that birth doesn’t go as planned and things happen. As photographers, we must be sensitive to the families and to the mother as things change. No one likes to think about those things, but as a birth photographer you should talk to your client ahead of time about the “what ifs”, but not in a scary way.  You can also take cues from them by watching their body language. You will be able to tell if something is making them uncomfortable. And sometimes, they do need private moments together. Don’t be afraid to give them that space.

The most important thing for you to realize that the day isn’t about you or what you envision for the shoot. Don’t drag lights in the room. Don’t use your flash. Crank up your ISO and let the moments happen. (I really love those grainy BW shots, because I know they were taken in low light and that it was the best light for Mom to relax and then once baby is born, it is what gets them to open up their eyes!). Take the “fly on the wall” approach. (I have seen photographers NOT do this and it makes everyone very uncomfortable when they start making the day about them and what they have done or their own births!) Remember that these images are about a precious newborn, and once that newborn has arrived, make sure you capture all the sweetness of him or her. Tiny little fingers and toes, little bitty ears, tufts of wispy hair on their head, big sleepy yawns, eyes opening and closing and taking in their new world, first cries, and those moments of being held for the first time by mom, dad, grandma and other family members. If you have children, you can probably remember almost everything about that day. As a birth photographer, I watched the events unfold and I can recall them just like they were yesterday.

Birth photography is one of the most special things you can offer a family. You are witnessing one of the most pivotal and life changing moments they will have. Honor those moments with respect, grace, compassion and love. Not only are those moments life changing for the family, but they will be for you as well. You will no longer just be the observer of the day, you become the storyteller for the family and for that child’s birth. It becomes an amazing gift for the child, the family and for you as well.

Here are just a few samples of some birth photography I have done. I love these images!

(I have to say I love the black and white one where mom is staring at her son. She had a cesarean and even though she couldn’t hold him or touch him, he was her focus.She was very in tune to him and where he was and what he was doing. Dad brought him over for her to give kisses and love to immediately. Precious moment!)

Street Photography….and shopping.

I was surprised to find out that not a lot of people knew about Cherokee Antique Row. I just assumed that people knew about it and had been there at least once. Nope. It’s one of those places that I tell people to check out  if they are just looking to spend an afternoon walking around and doing a bit of shopping.

(Remember to support your small businesses, people!)

There are lots of places to drop in, find some goodies, grab some coffee and even sit and people watch.

I spent the afternoon recently there with my daughter and snapped a few pics while I was there.

Whether I am shooting portraits or just walking around, I love finding new ways to create art!