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archived posts


A Thousand Words


Defiance.  Sadness.  The tiniest smile.  Hope. 

I have no idea what this girl was thinking when I snapped this picture, but I recognize the contours of my own soul in those oceans of eyes, in the way she sees into me with boldness and calm.  I have thought of her a hundred times since then, wondering what she wanted to tell me, wondering why the headmistress would not translate for her, when so many other girls were given their say.


Sometimes our pictures capture a moment, other times an emotion.  This picture captures the proverbial thousand words.  I am waiting for the day when that look can become an honest exchange between two human beings who share so many things.   I am waiting for the day when my own thousand words convey in her own language how much she stays with me, how much my heart is changed every day by the things she could not say.


What photo this Friday focuses on the eyes, the window to some dear one's soul?  Let us see your shots and sit in the beauty of everything left unsaid.


Love Thursday: For Real

Shot during the Shutter Sister Photo Walk this past weekend, San Francisco, California.


Conversation earlier this week in the car after picking Alex up from school:

Alex: Mom?
Me: Child?
Alex: Manish doesn't like me.
Me: Why do you think he doesn't like you?
Alex: Because he's mean to me and he tells lies to me and he's not nice to me.
Me: Hm. Well, you know what, Al?
Alex: What, Mom?
Me: Sometimes, people aren't very nice because they feel like people don't love them. So they're mean because they figure that if no one loves them, they might as well be mean.
Alex: That's why they're mean?
Me: Yup. And sometimes, the best thing you can do to a mean person is love them. You just love them and love them and love them, and then they don't have any choice but to be nice.


Alex: Mom?
Me: Yeah, kid?
Alex: I'm going to love Manish tomorrow.
Me: Al, I think that's a great idea.
Alex: Because, Mom? You know what, Mom? You know what?
Me: What's that?
Alex: I'm going to love Manish because love is the coolest thing ever.
Me: That's great, Alex. I think so, too.
Alex: For real.

* * * * * * *

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your links to your images of love in the comments section below, and be sure to check out the great images left by Ivy R and ~anjie for inspiration.

And may you take the time to love someone today.  For real


(Full disclosure:  this post was also cross-posted at my personal site.)


passing the time


Nine days ago, I was on a plane reading A New Earth. The author talks about the illusions of the past and future, and about how happiness is always found in the moment. At one point, he used a quotation from the Bible, “This too, shall pass.” I’d always heard that scripture in reference to painful events…when people lost a loved one, or went through difficulties. He introduced it as a way of perceiving everything. When a baby is born, when you’re laughing with friends around dinner...this too shall pass. All of a sudden, that temporary space in time, takes on more importance.


Three days ago, I was on vacation looking out of this window, surrounded by my family who rarely gets to be together. When the anticipated days finally come, I feel like everything should be monumental. Then I get up to the actual moment and realize my expectations were my imagination (again). And that what’s real is even better (again). And even the grandest of events, are just made up of lots of Sweet Ordinary. A trip to the grocery store together, a good movie, a laugh and a story here and there. What’s grand, is what’s ordinary. And that’s why it’s easy to overlook.


Today I sit here a little melancholy and homesick for my family. Distance between people that love each other, always feels like a waste. It’s like having a million dollars, but not being able to access it. Or maybe it feels  worse. But even in the sadness, I feel a certain contentment because I know I was paying attention while the time was passing. And that's all anyone can ever really do, anyway.


How are you passing the time these days? 


Picture and words by Maile.



pardon our glitches

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in need of practice

Photographing kids is simply a matter of rapidfire optimism. I’m fine with kids, not self-conscious as a photographer because they’re not self-conscious of themselves. I don’t have to tell kids what to do with their hands.
But when it comes to adults—here I am, and you may take my picture, and please don’t make me regret it, and where do you want me to stand?—I’d rather shoot incognito from behind a bush. Pervy, I know. But otherwise, I clam up.

The gorgeously ripening Bon asked me to take maternity portraits of her at nearly 29 weeks (given her moody diva of a cervix, this is a fabulous accomplishment achieved thanks to many months of strict bedrest) and when she did, I balked a little.

Inside I was thinking GOD yes! I’d LOVE to! Every time I’m with you my trigger finger’s twitching for want of my camera, but I’m too shy to ask.

When the day came I knew what I wanted—more her than the belly, notsomuch the typical, something un-contrived and non-cutesy—but was amazed at how much it felt like juggling.

I’ve got to go all-manual instead of aperture priority because I need to trick the camera into over and underexposing because that’s what I want, but how do you do that again? I need to hold down the +/- button and click the clicker at the same time, then hang on, now that’s going to be too much, let me check… <click>


She says Oh, have we started? I think I blinked  and I stammer sorry, just checking my settings, you can sit for a bit… and then it occurs to me: adults need guidance, reassurance, chit-chat. When you look through your lens and think to yourself that’s perfect!  you need to say it, tell her how lovely she looks by the windowlight.

All that and I hadn't yet considered composition. So busy thinking of rapport and focus and exposure, I cut off her arm for fifty frames in a row—visually speaking—and the angle of it draws energy straight off the edge. Her face, expression? The light? Dreamy. But the damn arm, the arm! GAH! How could I have not seen that? Even drastic cropping can’t seem to reinvent this creative stumble.

Fascinating, though, and I want to do more, much more.

Sisters, I need your help. What are your principles for taking great portraits—intentional ones, not candid—of adults? How do you keep all the balls in the air?