the remarkable everyday… christmas preparations…

We are busy gearing up for Christmas and between holiday shows, our Elf ‘Buddy’ and my workshop wrapping up I’ve been busy! Today I edited 2 weeks worth of my 365 images.  I’m taking them… Oh… I’m taking them.  I have a lot of images.  I haven’t gotten them together to post, though… until today.  I know as 2014 begins I will have much more time on my hands.

So… I love white Christmas lights. I think they make a Christmas tree look incredibly classy and beautiful.  However, I remember the magic of coming out of my bedroom on Christmas morning and gazing at an amazingly colorful Christmas tree and my childhood heart fell in love, every year.  We had a really wonderful (though difficult for my mom) tradition.  Her and my dad would put our tree up on Christmas Eve.  They got the lights on (which was often frustrating as one string would always go out… or all of them…).  Following the tree, we’d head to church only to come home and admire the shining and colorful tree some more.  We were whisked to bed not long after, with a few of the hundreds of chocolate chip cookies made, in our bellies.  Santa, that night, would decorate the tree to perfection.  What a magical experience that was to wake up to.  All of our cherished ornaments, the twinkling garland and angel on top with bundles of wrapped gifts beneath. This was my favorite Christmas tradition… and while I don’t wait until Christmas Eve (mostly because I know how stressed out my mom and dad would end up on Christmas Eve orchestrating all of it) I am holding tight on the colored lights, for my babies.  To experience the colorful childhood that I remember.  We even mixed tiny bulbs and big bulbs this year.  One day they won’t care any more and I can class up this tree to my heart’s content.

Click Away…. (Post 1)

Look at me… about to get super wordy again.  Two blog posts in a row!! How do I sum up my 5 day experience at Click Away? It’s taken me a week to fully think through this experience and put it into words.  Finally, after years of growing, learning and working with the amazing women of Clickin Moms I came to meet the very same girls that I interact with on a daily basis.  We’ve shared more than photography – we share our lives and this forum is a safe place… a haven.  I was a bundle of nerves.  Leaving my babies in their first few weeks of school, handing my responsibilities over to, luckily, trusting and loving grandparents.  My husband was so very busy at work and was only able to help take on the chauffeuring, grooming, loving and feeding responsibilities sparatically.  To say I’m thankful for a family that will allow me to go off on an adventure with the peace of mind that the kids are ok, is an understatement.

So I show up at Click Away and immediately, I mean IMMEDIATELY begin hugging people like we have met a million times in the past.  There’s simply a warm love between us that required zero ‘warming-up’.  It was a run and hug type of event that lasted through the entire five days in Salt Lake City.  I would eye someone that I ‘knew’ from across the room only to RUN and hug like long lost friends.  Multiple times per day.  I worked the registration desk – voluntarily – we had ‘staffing’ times, but when I was free I hurried to that desk as my own sort of mecca to chat, talk, interact and connect.  Connect I did.  I came home with new friends.  Most everyone was enormously friendly and opening.  I ate dinner with a new group of ladies every single evening and laughed until my sides hurt each evening.  I was even whisked away on a college-esque adventure the last evening.

Here are a couple of iPhone shots…

I was also pushed.  Pushed out of my comfort zone, nudged, thrown… if you will.  I’m a teacher by nature, I’m comfortable speaking in front of people – but filming me… with visual proof to remember my every move… yikes.  I’m not going to lie I almost didn’t leave my hotel room on Thursday morning for the body wrenching fear I was experiencing.  The filming was coming and what if I have no idea what I’m doing…. what if I fall… what if no one shows… what if… what if… what the flip if…. I was scared.  I picked myself up – got dressed and headed out the door.  I did it.  I did not let my deep seated fear hold me back (with a few phone calls to my husband and mom in between).

Here are some images from my filmed sessions, “When the Golden Hour Isn’t Practical“.  (This is available for purchasing and watching by clicking the link!) We shot around the convention center  starting at 1:45pm in the afternoon.  Finding light that will work in mid-day sun is a challenge, for sure!  In true Melissa fashion, I was so busy chatting with the 50 participants following me around about the light that in some shots I, ahem, didn’t watch or warn my subjects that I was taking a shot all of the time ;).  My mind wasn’t 100% behind the camera like it is at a regular shoot (without an audience!) – my nerves wore off quickly, but my head was focused on the filming and the participants.  It was quite the juggling act.  I’m going to show all of these images with a brief explanation of what my ‘goal’ was with the light… but know these are far from ‘perfect’ or ideal;)

Below is an example of when I needed my stool that I always have… I would have been more above them and shooting down avoiding any bright light.  This is what I got while making it work at 5 feet 1 inches tall;)

Ordinarily, there wouldn’t be 50 people in the reflection!!!

This shot, below, ended up as a happy accident.  Behind them is a wall – and I was showing how it wouldn’t work because their skin is so much darker than the wall.  Turns out, it acted much more like a bright window and I was able to completely blow out the background, isolating them!

I spy a member of the film crew!

Here is another example of a shot that I desperately needed my stool to get up above them and cut out the bright spots behind when using this small patch of light!

One of the big lessons I learned is that while I’m a photographer… I’m so much more of a ‘connector’.  I had a hard time shooting throughout this whole trip.  At first, I was so sad I wasn’t coming up with amazing images of the locations and people in the evening, during the golden hour, etc.  However, when I thought further, I was having an amazing time connecting, chatting, LAUGHING.  I photograph to show connections between people, but only when I am quiet and an observer.  I didn’t want to observe here, I wanted to connect.  And connect I did.  I made a LOT of time to take some posed selfies with amazing women!

I went on a selfie rampage during my ‘connecting’ and forced myself to take some shot with just some of the amazing women I had the opportunity to meet and chat with!

Christmas Morning Tips…

I occasionally post on Clickin Mom’s blog with tips, tricks, and fun posts about me…
This was on their blog just a few days ago – so I wanted to share with my clients, as well.
I shared this slideshow after Christmas last year, so if it feels like a repeat… it’s because it is ;)!
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Christmas morning.  Everyone is looking top notch, straight out of bed, right? Well, not so much, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth remembering!

I typically spend my morning behind the camera watching my two kids open their presents through the viewfinder while missing out on the memories because I’m so busy trying to preserve them.   I’m not even in the pictures — so no one knows I’m there, but my poor husband is front and center for the whole event.

Last year, when going through my camera settings, I decided to explore the ‘interval timer’ further.   The heavens opened and I realized I didn’t need to take pictures during the upcoming Christmas morning, the camera could do the work for me with just a bit of guidance.

So I set my camera up in the corner (on a coffee table with books piled underneath my 24-70mm lens to keep it propped up where I needed it) and I set the interval times to take an image once every 30 seconds.  These images are by no means perfect.  They are noisy, the light gets harsh in the middle and there is a golden yellow lamp glow.  You know what they are, though?  Real life.  Our morning.

Christmas Morning

CHRISTMAS-MORNING-1

thankful | of love, light and film

Last summer I was looking for a new photographic outlet.  I was hoping for something to help me slow down and think more about the images I was taking.
Digital photography, while amazing and advanced, can be overkill.  You test your light 4 times, take practice shot after practice shot and end up with 10 throw away shots right off the bat.

Through slowing down, taking less images and truly thinking about each click, while forcing myself to take in all of the light, the composition, and the moment, I can begin to train myself to do this with digital imagery.

I shot two whole rolls and then digital crept back in and stuck.  I’m ready to pick my film camera up again and start a new project with some wonderfully talented ladies.

Our theme for this month is thankful…
My list of things in my life that I am thankful for is a mile long.
However, to say that I’m thankful for photography would be a tremendous understatement.
Photography is my “me” thing… my time to myself, even when I’m with others.
It allows me to continue being “Melissa” while capturing my life and memories.
I have learned and grown so much through photography, had opportunities, traveled, and made wonderful friends… all because I picked up a camera to ‘remember’.

Here I’m sharing some imperfect images from a 35 year old Canon AE-1 Program camera
The film I ran through was Ilford Delta Pro 3200, the camera needs some repairs… but the images still warm my heart.

Please check out my friend Tara Stallings and her “Thankful” film share for this month.

july in my corner of the world

This is the seventh month of a year-long blog circle I am participating in with about a dozen women from around the world… at the end of the post is a link to the next blog and a view of their world in July.
Should you complete the circle you will come back to my blog again…

View January-June’s My Corner of the World Posts”

July has been hot… really hot. We’ve worked hard at staying indoors and sneaking out to the pool occasionally.
Staying inside forces me to watch the kids and how they can find an adventure in any tiny day.
For this month, I have decided to capture one ordinary July day in it’s entirety.
I wanted as many details as I could muster and the addition of our mess as the day progresses.
My hope is that next summer I will glance back and notice how different yet the same things are…

This is an untidy glimpse into our July.
The day: Friday, July 19th
Weather: 92 degrees and sunny with lots of haze

Note: Some of the pictures are from my iPhone simply because I have an irrational
fear of taking my camera anywhere out of the ordinary where people might look at me and judge. . . an issue I need to seek help for:)

8:07am Our morning begins…. nice and lazy!

9:00am The breakfast grind… and playtime… and coffee… vaccuming & other cleaning (with a little Kelly & Michael on the side)

10:30am While the kids play I shoot some macros for a Clickinmoms project…

12:00pm Laundry time in our 100% not clean basement.
Today’s lunch menu: Peanut Butter and Jelly Crackers
And Owen cries because I asked him to get his shoes (Owen cries… a lot….)

1:45pm We head out to drop Abby at her summer Spanish camp at the local Gymboree. The return home for a nap and mom’s quiet (computer) time.

4:00pm It’s time to pick Abby up! We go next to the YMCA – I work out and the kids go to the childcare there for an hour.
(These are all iPhone pictures…)

5:30pm Snack time with Sophia the First and Clif Z Bars.
7:15pm Dad gets home and it’s Friday so we are grabbing food at our favorite Mexican Restaurant followed by a trip to the ‘beer store’

8:30pm Return home… we look at a talking birthday card that Owen got a few weeks ago and has been sitting in our car ever since
Kids help unload the beer (their favorite ritual….)
I get in some pictures!
It’s Daddy’s night for putting the kiddos to be
Abby says she isn’t tired and asks to read books with her light on.

9:15pm time for t.v…. we are currently watching “Orange is the New Black”

Thank for checking me out this month! Please continue through the circle by visiting my friend Rebecca Spencer and see what her corner of the world looks like in July!

may in my corner of the world

This is the fifth month of a year-long blog circle I am participating in with about a dozen women from around the world… at the end of the post is  a link to the next blog and a view of their world in May.
Should you complete the circle you will come back to my blog again…

View January-April’s “My Corner of the World Posts”

This month has really picked up… school shows & weekend day trips being a few things filling our calendar.
Almost too busy. Not much time to sit still and be us.  I am looking towards June and the quiet and fun it will hopefully bring.

I have been working on a special new project, so I’ve been a bit quiet while keeping my head down and working lots.
More information on this to follow in the next few weeks:)

Here is Abby’s preschool show… to the tune of “Oh Susanna”
She did not preform for the last act with the rest of her class.  Tears began and she stepped down.
She was concerned because they mentioned “Water Ice” (what our corner of the world calls “Italian Ice”) and she didn’t know if she would like it or not.
It was plaguing her through the whole performance.

We took a tour of Lancaster on the Strasburg Railroad after a picnic lunch.  Owen was mesmerized!

And even in the busy midst of my writing and deadlines I still had time to develop a new personal project… Taking macro images of the kids….

Thank for checking me out this month! Visit my friend Jaime Profeta to continue on May’s Blog Circle.

april in my corner of the world

This is the fourth month of a year-long blog circle I am participating in with about a dozen women from around the world… at the end of the post is  a link to the next blog and a view of their world in April.
Should you complete the circle you will come back to my blog again…

What a change April brought to us…

The weather is warmer
The colors are popping from the ground
The Earth, again, has begun to grow once more
Life exists outdoors instead of in…

delaware-family-photographer

My husband and I also had the pleasure of a 5 day trip to ourselves.
This was the first time we have been alone for more than 1 night since we had kids…
For two days, I took a photography workshop and the other three we spent traveling southern California’s coast…

melissa-stottmann-photographer

Please continue the circle to see what April looks like in other areas of our world.
Next up, please visit my friend, Rebecca Spencer, from Buckinghamshire, England for her take on “April In My Corner of the World”

march in my corner of the world….

This is the third month of a blog circle I am participating in with about a dozen women from around the world… at the end of the post is  a link to the next blog and a view of their world in March.
Should you complete the circle you will come back to my blog again…

March has been full of wanting to be outside.
Usually there are a few surprise warm days thrown into the otherwise chilly average temperatures, but this year it has been colder than cold.

This month’s post is about the day we visited the “Natural History Museum”  in Wilmington, Delaware.  It was a spur of the moment outing, as we had a free Saturday and  Abby has been asking questions about dinosaurs for awhile.

march-circle-1-delaware-museum

March-Circle-Wilmington-Delaware

Please continue the circle to see what March looks like in other areas of our world.
Next up, please visit my friend, Zemya Photography, a Bay Area Photographer,  for her take on “March In My Corner of the World”

my photo displays….

Today, I am going to show you my home and how I display photos.

In addition, I joined up with a group of fabulous photographer’s that are also graciously giving you a peek into their homes for you to see how they display their photos.

The hope is that some inspiration will come your (and my!) way and help you to display your photographs in a way that makes your heart sing!

(Sidenote: Please forgive the various hands, toys, & dogs that pop into these pictures- real life on a Sunday morning)

First up is my office area: 

On top of the shelves: 8×10 prints framed in 11×14 frames with mat’s
On the shelf: Mounted 10×10′s on easels
Over the couch: 20×30 Print in a 30×40 frame

office

Albums (these live on the shelves)

First 3 pictures below: 10×10 Photographic Album with Pictures from our spring photo session with Pastel Photography last year
Final 4 pictures below: 12×12 Peel and Stick Album – I print 12×12 prints in a scrapbook style once every six months with family events

The Dining Room

2- 20×24 Gallery Wrap Canvases
2- 11×14 Prints in 11×14 Frames

The Kitchen

Various sizes, various pictures… it’s a work in progress.
It’s meant for my children’s art- and I recently cleaned them up and put fabric in all of the frames for a unified look.
(Ignore the hallway… my husband is painting it while I’m taking pictures…)

The Living Room

Above the Fireplace: 20×24 Print in a 24×28 Frame (custom size)
11×14 Gallery Wrap Canvas
5×5 Prints in the small frames

Above the Couch: Gallery Wrap Canvases in Sizes shown on first image

For more inspiration check out the home & displays of  Misty Dawn  of Misty Dawn Photography

February In My Corner of the World

This is the second month of a blog circle, I am participating in, with about a dozen women from around the world… at the end of the post is  a link to the next blog.
Should you complete the circle you will come back to my blog again…

Oh, February.  We are so ready to be outside again… so many small snow’s leaving just a dusting of whiteness.
The light is starting to sneak back during the evenings and the days are finally waking out of their darkness.
The buds have been poking through in the front bed of our home.

Abigail had her first Valentine’s Day party at school.
Together, we worked on ‘Shrinky Dink’ cards.  How she adored watching them shrink & flip in the oven.
Our entire beginning of February was dedicated to Valentines Day, and rightfully so, we showed our love for one another beautifully…

A short interview with Abby:

Q: Why is Valentine’s Day your favorite holiday?
A: Because… I get to write purple, red & pink hearts. Any kind of color. And that’s all- that’s why I love Valentine’s Day so much.

Q: Who is your Valentine?
A: My Valentine is my mommy.  Because she is my favorite person and I love her.

Q: Who is Owen’s Valentine?
A: I think it’s me- because I’m his big sister.  Wait… I think it’s you (mom).

Some quotes while making the Valentines:

“Mom, can I tie these ribbons on however I want?  I don’t  want to listen to rules.”
“This is not as easy as I thought it would be- I thought this was just coloring cards”

There was one day that touched 50 degrees…  We worked our way outdoors for a mere 20 minutes before we lost the sun.
Owen started walking in early December, I learned that, while he has mastered indoor walking, he does not have an affinity for outdoor walking just yet.
He also seems to have forgotten how to play outdoors, at all.  He certainly did not enjoy our short lived adventure… maybe soon?

Please continue the circle to see what February looks like in other areas of our world.
Next up, please visit my friend, Bay Area Photographer, Ava Hristova from Zemya Photography for her take on “February In My Corner of the World”