Family, History and Love

Wanda and I have been discussing, of late, the need to set down in writing some portion of our family history so that in the future our children and grandchildren will have the stories and tales of our lives direct from the source. The technophile that I am, I choose to do this online so that the what we write will be accessible and available for comment to our wider family (though I reserve the right to moderate those comments).

To that end, I have repurposed this blog. In coming posts, we will endeavor to provide an abridged story of our life (hey, everyone has their secrets). We're writing this for our children and their children and those that come later so elements of these tales will be familiar only to our family,

Sunday, July 26, 2009

New Models

I've been interviewing and working with a number of new models lately. As I've built my portfolio with new and various images from my fae project and with other examples of my glamour work, it's been easier to explain my vision to prospective models and engage them in a conversation about potential projects on which we can work together. Last week, I was able to do a test shoot with a young model called Heidi who will be one of two girls posing for my Fire Fairy shoot. We shot under the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland and we were able to get some very nice images along the river and on the steps beneath the bridge.

I did a test shoot with the young lady that cuts my hair yesterday, delivered her some prints today, and I think she is seriously considering shooting with me for the fairy project. At least, she told me she enjoyed our little photo session and wanted to do some more.

This week I'm hoping to do test shoots with two more models who want to be part of my project, and next week with any luck I'll be shooting with 2 more models who want to be fairies as well. This is all good, because I think this project is coming to a temporary close. By this, I mean I hope to have the necessary images completed so that I can begin working on designing the book for which the images are intended. My goal is to pick the final images for processing, layout the book and design the pages, and write the prose to go with each set of images during the winter and early spring. This should allow me to get the book into publication by summer.

Once this is complete, I guess I'll start working on my next project, whatever that might be. I'll need a project, though, because that give purpose to my photography and lets me exercise my creativity in a more purposeful manner.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Post Project Blues

Wanda is feeling kind of antsy this week. I told her it's because her paver project is complete and she doesn't have as much to work on right. I just hope that doesn't send her looking for another big project to do before we go to California near the end of the month. Still, I'm sure she'll find some smaller projects to work on between now and then.

The paver project actually turned out quite well. It was quite a lot of work for both us and the contractor. In the future, though, I think we'll contract for the entire job and forgo the pain and pleasure of doing the grunt work ourselves. We dug up and moved better than 10 yards of river rock and dirt in order to prep for this project. It supposed saved us some money, but I'm not sure it was worth it. We started with this:

We moved all the river rock to a tarp in the driveway and then put an ad on Craig's List offering free to anyone who was willing to haul it away. The first load looked like this:

The pile got much higher before the first person came to get their share, and we moved about 3 more piles even larger than what you see above. Fortunately, we had enough folks willing to take the river rock that we didn't have to haul any away ourselves. Eventually, with the liberal use of shovels and pickaxes, we got the river rock out and the ground looking like this:

Fortunately, it didn't rain that entire week, otherwise it would have been a huge, muddy mess. Unfortunately, the temperature soared into the 90's that week and the heat made a difficult task even harder. On July 3rd and 4th the materials arrived for the project and we took a day off to enjoy the holiday with our family.

Then the contractors started to work. First the gravel went in:

Then Wanda decided on the pattern and the initial blocks were laid. Of course, I had to go get more gravel, then more pavers, and then more sand.....

And then, at long last, it was all done:

The contractors finished up the job while I was out shooting one of my fairy shoots. I was so glad to return home to find the pavers in place. I still had to move everything back out of the garage as well as dig and lay new sod at either end of the house, but it's done and it looks good.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A Muse

I believe I need a Muse. I just don't think I'm creative enough when it comes to my photography or to my writing for that matter, and I need someone who can inspire me to stretch beyond the limits of my existing creative process and who can listen to my proposals, my ideas, and my conceptual theories without initial judgement, or negativity and then help me refine them into feasible shoots. That Muse would also help me execute those concepts, either as a model or as an assistant.

If would be great if such a person were also technically adept in photography, but not essential. It's the creativity that's important--the ability to help me sort the kernels of great ideas from the mundane chaff of mediocrity. More importantly, a Muse would propose her own ideas with a unique perspective and a feminine touch and allow me to mold them into derivative concepts to execute. This would help me to get out of this creative rut that I feel that I've been in for the last year or so, and would perhaps help me to find my own intrinsic vision while infusing me with new enthusiasm.

For many years, Wanda was my Muse. For the last 33 years, she has been my model and my inspiration for many ideas. She has borne my experiments with good grace and cheer, and has often put herself in precarious situations so I could achieve a particular shot. She has climbed trees and rocks, stood in ice-cold rushing water, stood nude in snow banks and blizzards, walked on ice, and generally has done whatever I've asked of her for my shoots.

Unfortunately, as my passion for photography, and my technical skills have grown, Wanda's interest in my work has waned. I can hardly fault her for that. Over the years, I've taken literally tens of thousands of photos of her, and today she is far more interested in her own hobbies and interests, and the extent of her interest in my photography is the images I make of our grandchildren and of family events so she can create her wonderful scrapbooks. She still supports my photographic projects, but she has no enthusiasm for them, and I can understand that.

It's unlikely I'll find a new Muse. While it's not difficult to find models, a Muse is a more personal relationship, and platonic though it may be, there does have to be some emotional and creative connection in place. There has to be friendship as well as a working relationship. It sure would be nice though.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I Lost My Arbor

Wanda has yet another project going on this year. Now that the living room is completely refurnished, she wants all the river rock dug out from the side of the house and pavers put in place and a walkway added to the deck. Okay, I want to get rid of the river rock myself. The previous owners had put it in because they used that side of the house as a run for their dog, but we don't have a dog and the rock is a real pain in the rear when I'm trying to get the lawn mower from the front yard to the back and vice versa. Besides that, any attempt to walk on that surface without sturdy shoes is a exercise in masochism resulting in bruised soles and stubbed toes.

Once again, Wanda has done weeks of research, picked out the paver colors and patterns, and has dragged me to several landscaping suppliers to look at the difference between Appian, Boston, Camino, Roca, Arena, Octo, Holland and many, many other styles of stone. I've also had to look at Basketweave, Herringbone, Linen, Muster K, Step Running Bond, and Running Bond patterns using the various types of stones. This is not a simple project.

We looked at doing the job ourselves, but we simply don't have the expertise (or the backs) for that kind of labor, so she's had 4 or 5 contractors come out to bid on the job, and on Saturday she chose the guy who spent the most time explaining to her what the job entailed and how the various patterns would look - in other words, he spent more than 20 minutes measuring the area and simply providing her with a quote.

As part of the contract, we agreed that we would take out the existing river rock and provide him with a clean dirt area to level and fill before setting the gravel, sand and pavers. We thought, "Hey, a little manual labor will be good for us." Five yards of loose gravel and strained muscles later we're thinking, "Hey, we aren't as young as we once were!" The loose gravel came out, if not easily, at least without heroic effort. There is, however, the matter of the gravel that has been packed down into the dirt for the last 18 years. It's kicking our ass!

So, given that we want the project to start Monday after the 4th of July weekend, as well as realizing that if we want to keep our bodies relatively whole and not sore during the holiday weekend, we've hired some young labor to help remove the remainder of the gravel. I think at $10/hr it's a relative bargain, though I suspect it will take most of two 8 hour days to get the job done. Sometime, near the end of next week though, the side yard will have had a very large face-lift and will be suitable for the grandkids as a play area.

Unfortunately, as part of the project, I lost my vine covered arbor that divided the side yard from the backyard and which provided me with a lovely photographic prop. I put the arbor in over 11 years ago and had been carefully training the ivy to grow up one side, across the top, then down the other side. It was really looking good too.

I had thought we could simply lift it out of the ground with the vine still attached and move it to the side and out of the way during the construction process, since the lead runner was so thick and long. Alas, the posts of the arbor had dry rotted and all four broke off when we attempted to move it. Also, during the process of attempting to untangle the vine from the lattice work, the main runner broke (Wanda did it - not me!).

Removing the arbor does make the area look more open, but darn I'm going to miss it. It make a great background for photos. Just take a look for yourself:

Christine as a schoolgirl:

Holly from behind:

I'm really, really going to miss that vine covered piece of painted wood.