The Why.

I was challenged this week to articulate the 'why'.  Why am I photographer?  Why am I sitting here on too few hours of sleep after a long day at a full-time job, knowing that I have a long night of processing ahead of me and a very full day at work tomorrow?  Why is it that I am not in bed, even though I've been looking forward to bedtime since I got up this morning?

Because I simply have to make this photography thing work.  It is me.  

I spent several years trying to figure out what to do with my life.  After more school and more degrees than most people really need, I discovered that what I thought I wanted to do was not the right path.  I wandered and waited patiently.  I knew IT would arrive.  I knew that when I found IT, I would recognize it and pour my whole self into making a career of it.  A few years ago, photography came along and here we are.

Since at least junior high, if not before, I wanted to be an archaeologist.  No, not a paleontologist (though that's pretty cool, too!), an archaeologist.  If you look at the yearbook from my senior year of high school, there is a little 'what do you want to be when you grow up?' section.  My entry reads: Archaeologist with PhD.  BAM.  17 years old and ready to embark on the long path to a PhD.  

In college, I started taking archaeology and anthropology classes right away and never doubted my path.  I was fortunate that my mediocre AP exam scores from high school allowed me to place out of most of the general education requirements, so my schedule was almost completely free for me to take whatever I wanted and explore a variety of fields.  I came out with an Honors BA in Anthropological Archaeology and a BA in Studio Art.  

Graduate school.  I spent three years working on a Master's in Anthropological Archaeology and a certificate in Museum Studies.  I came out of grad school positively knowing a couple things: 

1 - Although I LOVE archaeology, the baggage that comes with life in academia (i.e., the politics and publish or perish mentality) was just too much for me.

2 - Although I LOVE archaeology, it is detached from the world in a way because its existence is based on the past.  There is no interaction with people.  Yes, the fieldwork is fantastic, but when you get back, you spend night and day alone in a lab.  I stated to think that cultural anthropology would be a better fit because it would allow me to interact with people on a much deeper level.

3 - Although I LOVE archaeology, it's a luxury field (proven recently by The Powers That Be at FSU who are dismantling the department I got my MA from) and doesn't benefit most people.  I do think it is important and that there are situations when the archaeological record and proper decoding of it is hugely beneficial for a small group, but for most people it's a 'hey, that's cool' moment and nothing more.  I wanted to do something with my life that touched people.  That gave them something.

When I finished my master's degree, I left the field.  Bye bye PhD.  I spent a couple years teaching English in Czech Republic, I started a job here in Gainesville, Florida at a very cool startup tech company, and just patiently waited for 'IT' to show itself.

And now here we are.  I have found photography.  It is an art (one degree, check!).  It is an opportunity to meet the people in my community, to tell stories, and document moments in people's lives.  In this way it is anthropology.  It gives people the opportunity to appreciate each other and simply being together, and it gives them a permanent reminder of the moments they share.  It touches people.

It is amazing that something like this even exists, something that allows me to combine these different parts of myself.  So why am I doing this?  Because I have to.  It is me.  I am an anthropological artist.  I am a photographer.

Ethel Weaver.  Taken in her home in early 2009.  She was 96.


The Great Outdoors Restaurant Catering | High Springs Photography

The ever-so-famous Great Outdoors Restaurant catered Amy & Jesse's wedding.  The food looked GORGEOUS!  We didn't have any because we were working, but I'll just let you guess where we stopped for dinner on the way home. ;)


And for good measure, here is the one of the owners, Karen, putting the finishing touches on the Mississippi Mud ice cream wedding cake. :)


Beginner Mind | Florida Photography

My boyfriend is also my assistant.  When I'm photographing a wedding or doing a portrait shoot, he is always there to support me and ensure I have whatever I need, whether it's a lens, a piece of lighting equipment or some water.  I usually don't even have to ask - he's on it before the words come out.  THAT is a fantastic thing.  I couldn't do what I do without him.

We were talking about a recent wedding and how it all went, and I mentioned that I always get compliments on what a great guy he is.  People always make a point of telling me that they enjoyed meeting him and that he is very friendly and polite.  Frequently the ladies will add in 'and he's cute too!'  Trust me, I know. ;)  As we were talking more about his role as my assistant, it came out that he was interested in shooting, too.

I think that Bo with a camera is a fantastic idea.  True, he has no experience operating an SLR.  True, he is not at all familiar with such things as ISO and f-stop.  But I know that he has an eye, I know that he has a distinct stylistic sense.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

This past weekend we started working on some of the basics of photography.  It's amazing all the small things that you don't even realize you know until you have to explain them.  It was refreshing to start from the beginning.  It inspired me to go out and shoot with a beginner's mind... in a way that I haven't done in a while.  When I first got my camera, I would shoot whatever I could on my walk home from work.  I almost never do that anymore.  Yesterday I went out with Beginner Mind and shot whatever caught my attention.  Maybe some shots aren't perfect, but that's ok.  That wasn't the point.

The first few images are some of the first ever created by Bo with an SLR.  The rest are the first I've created with Beginner Mind in two and a half years.



Robert Henri on 'The Artist'

"Nature reveals to him, and, seeing and feeling intensely, he paints, and whether he wills it or not each brush stroke is an exact record of such as he was at the exact moment the stroke was made."

What a true and beautiful sentiment: the work itself is a record of who the author was at the moment they created it.  Anyone can look back through their own body of work and be reminded of who they were at the moment each piece was made.  Your body of work is your history.


Day 1 of my "It's time to start taking care of myself, Damnit!" plan

I have been really busy recently... between working at Prioria, trying to build my photography business, and getting all of my letterpress stuff together to begin selling at Textures Handmade Market in Tallahassee.  I'm just wiped.  Wiped and REALLY out of shape.  Embarrassingly out of shape, actually.  I work so much that I don't get enough sleep, and then if I'm not getting enough sleep, I'm not exercising or feeling like I have the energy to actually cook a decent meal, and yes, I admit that I even overlook flossing when I'm exhausted.  Then I'm tired all weekend, which doesn't make me a great girlfriend to my incredibly understanding and thoughtful boyfriend Bo, because I just want to try to take naps (I'm actually really bad at napping) and be even more indecisive than usual.  Not to mention the fact that I haven't spent quality time with friends in ages because I just feel like I have too much to do.

So this past weekend I said enough is enough!  My health, my happiness, and my relationships are suffering, and that just ain't right.  So my new plan - starting yesterday - was to change all this.  Here is how it went:

1 - Go do something good for me.  Check!  Yoga at 5.30
2 - Eat healthy food in reasonable proportions.  Check! Check!  Salad w/tempeh for lunch and a dinner with fresh veggies.  No cookies. :)
3 - Make a list of a few things to do during the week for my photo business and add new tasks to NEXT week's list.  Check!  Even knocked off a couple of things last night.
4 - Get to bed at a reasonable hour.  FAIL.  I looked up from editing while the webinar I was listening to was coming to an end.  11pm.  Great, I thought, I'll just finish this group of photos and head to bed.  11pm is earlier than I've been getting to bed for quite a while.  I finish my group of photos and suddenly it's 11.56.  Noooo!!!!  So yet another post-midnight bedtime.  Not to mention my neighbor was being all loud and playing with a dog on the porch in the middle of the night.  I closed the window near him and his noise on the front porch and what does he do?  MOVE TO THE OTHER PORCH.  Gah!  Yesterday he woke me up at 7am to ask about some ideas he had for plants and things outside... he wanted to check with me to be a considerate neighbor.  For the record, knocking on someone's door at 7am isn't considerate. :) 

Anyway, wish me luck for sticking to my limited to-do list and getting to bed at a reasonable hour tonight.  I'm excited about bedtime already and it's not even 9am!

And because it's lovely, here's a shot of some soft winter grass from Pennsylvania that I took on my last drive home to Rochester, NY. :)


Sneak Peek: Natalie Nicole Green with Little Bit More | Florida Photography

This photo shoot contained many firsts!

It was the first shoot I ever did of a band
It was the first shoot this band has had together with their new lead, Miss Green
It was the first time my car drove through a field with cow patties (gotta say, it's a great car!)
It was the first time I got to have a real photo shoot in a hay barn
It was the first time I got to have a photo shoot with a beat up old truck (love it!)
It was not, however, the first time I swore at my STE2 setup outdoors

In any case, it was a lot of fun and I think we got some great shots for these guys!

Here's the sneak peek, look for a few more shots in a couple weeks.  And how great are those boots at the end?  Natalie rocked 'em!


Amy & Jesse - Married! Sneak Peek... | High Springs Wedding Photography

Just a couple from Amy and Jesse's lovely outdoor wedding at the groom's family's home near High Springs.  A gorgeous day and a couple so clearly and beautifully in love.. almost every shot is spectacular because their love was just so honest and out there.  Simply wonderful!