Conceptual Photography Feed

Never Ready, Never Done

Bowl on table

This morning, I listened to a "Love Letter" from Meghan Genge, cohost along with Jamie Ridler, of Love Letters, a series of 32 messages on creativity and more. I have to confess that I've gotten really picky about these free events, since way too many of them end up promoting what they have to sell more than anything else. Jamie is a different story...she generously shares so much good stuff.

Meghan's video chat drew me in immediately; her message one that I've heard many a time in one form or another. But, it never hurts to hear it again, to be reminded of what I know, but I too often forget. 

"You're never ready; you're never done."

I can be the master of excuses at putting creativity off. My mind has so many tabs open: photography, writing, slow stitch, mixed media. I can't begin to tell you how much I've created - in my mind that is. I wake during the night composing a blog entry, working out a photo, and more. Trouble is I'm way too good at finding reasons that I'm not ready. I need my dslr, not my phone. I need my "To Do List" to disappear, because what's on there is way too important and really should be done first, done before I sit down to create. I get in my own way. 

Never done. I do this one well. I love to learn, to research, to explore. As I finish up something, another idea pops into my too many tabs opened mind. It might be a "better" way to do what I've done. It might be something brand new. I'm not idea challenged, but when I sit down to write, the little gremlin, aka inner critic, whispers, "Really? Why bother?" and then gives me a laundry list of why I shouldn't bother, and oh, yeah, remember all that stuff you need to do? Like laundry?

Meghan's advice: Just begin. Just take one step. Then, take another. Yeah, I know this, but again, it's just good to hear it, to be reminded.

I've been working through a mindful photography course with Julie Fischer MeCarter, whose work never fails to inspire. One assignment this week asked us to take a meaningful object and photography it outside of its normal surroundings. I chose my mother's blue bowl, aka the "Cookie Bowl."

Bowl on path

Julie asked us to go with whatever popped into our heads, that it would be the right choice. 

And I thought, that cookie bowl is too big to be lugging around. Besides, it's too cold to go outside.

Sigh. That damn inner critic.

So, yesterday, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the most beautiful light outside my window. Out I went in a fuzzy blue art making stained bathrobe, my phone, a pair of slippers, and at the very last minute grabbed the bowl. 

Exiting through our back room door, I stopped dead. 

Well, crap, it's morning rush hour and I live immediately off of one of Virginia's busiest roads. Not only are there thousands of commuters driving by, but the middle school busses passed by as well.

And, I was the crazy lady in her bathrobe making photos of a bowl. Well, if nothing else, I'd provide a bit of conversation for a lot of folks. 

Bowl in leaves

It's not pretty outside right now, not unless you happen to love brown. I happen not to, finding it a pretty depressing color. Looking around I spotted a grungy looking moose (dog toy), also brown. A few tennis balls, the toy car the twits drive, but not one thing I could see to do with the bowl.

I wanted my dslr (never ready!) but knew if I went back inside, I probably wouldn't come out. I knew I'd get some great shots if I laid flat on the ground...uhm, no. Not going to happen. Virginia's commuters and middle schoolers already had enough to talk about. Besides, that ground is cold!

Leaves. I had lots and lots of leaves. I also had a meandering stone path that would make for great leading lines. 

I went for both, and quickly at that. When I'm shivering, it's hard to get things focused the way I like.

In the end, despite the not readys, I ended up with some cool shots. I can only imagine what my mom would be thinking. You filled the cookie bowl with dead leaves? Girl, you need to see the doctor. 

I love this bowl; it holds memories more than leaves. 

I love my shots; I know what I'd like to try next (never done!), and it will involve lying on the ground and my big girl camera. 

I love how I learned to look at the bowl differently; placing it out of context does that.

I love the stories my photos tell.

I like that I did some thinking "outside the box." 

Most of all, I like that I didn't just write this in my head.


Morning Light

Basket5 copy

The light dances across my bedroom floor later and later each day, slanting in at a different angle, and teasing me to take notice. Before I know it, its time with me each day dwindles to almost nothing.

It stopped me in my tracks this morning, lighting up this mundane laundry basket. Shadows and light tangoed back and forth in a seductive performance.

As I type, I'm thinking that if I had one of those oh so stylish blogs, my dirty laundry would repose in a hand woven wicker basket, maybe even one made of sweet grass. I'd artfully strew things alongside,  some freshly picked flowers from my non existent gardens. My beautifully arranged dirt laundry  might even be basking on some delightfully rumpled linen.

If I had any inclination to set up this delightful scene, the light would be long gone. I'd have to have arranged everything the night before and hope to heavens that Phil would not trip over it in the middle of the night.

Truth be told, I'd need to go buy that awesome basket and delightfully rumpled laundry.

So, no, what you see is a rather ordinary, cheap white laundry basket, most likely from Target or Walmart. It serves its purpose admirably, has done so for quite some time now, and hopefully will do so for quite some more time.

Cheap and ordinary though it might be, I've photographed it frequently. The light through the opens creates wonderful patterns, and I enjoy playing with my simple Iphone shots, hoping I managed to capture a bit of ordinary magic.

Capturing light keeps me engrossed for hours.

Some time ago, I would have told you that light is light is light. Not so.

Soft morning light.

The harsh midday light.

Dusky muted light.

Light dancing through tree leaves.

Light that leaves me squinting.

The light of the golden hours.

October light.

October light makes me smile, maybe more so than any other light. It brings with it soft golden magic, muted yet strong. I struggle to define what makes October light special, but any photographer knows it and knows its magic.

For now, I'll enjoy these last days of summer light, watching it shift each and every day.

I'll watch it, catalog it, photograph it.

I'll store it in my head, calling it back when I need it the most during winter's long days.

Light is magic, you know.




Gathering the snippets of brightly colored threads

the pieces of my life...


Feathers dancing

across pine needle

carpeted forest floors


Snuggling a pansy's roots

down into the deep rich soil

that gives it life


Scents of spring rain

and soup

simmering on the stove


Catching the night's sounds

through open bedroom windows

weaving them into a

dream catcher's web

to hang above me


Listening to winter stripped trees

whispering my stories

and asking for their voices to be heard


Grandmother wisdom

drawing close the

laughter and kisses

of those I love

building a nest in my soul.


Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees


The flakes began falling here just about 2 hours ago, and I can see them through my studio window. Such tiny delicate things; it's difficult to imagine the havoc they're going to wreck, but for now, I'm simply enjoying this quiet time. It's time to hunker down and to just be. Whether it's reading, editing photos, or putting the jigsaw puzzle together with twit 1, everything is slowing down.

The plow just rumbled by, jolting the quiet with the scrape of its blade along the pavement. I don't think I'll hear that much longer; the snow is accumulating rapidly. Mother Nature means business this weekend; she's taunted us so many times with the promises of inches and inches, but at the last minute she fails to follow through. She can be quite the tease.

But today? Oh, today she's strutting her stuff and showing what she's made of. My favorite nickname for this storm is "SnowYou'reReallySerious!"

Phil's downstairs is what's been dubbed the drying room, that name a whole story in itself. He's computing away for the U.S. Government and happily engrossed in building a share website and watching the snow on radar.

Twit #1's engrossed in "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," happily enjoying the tv while we still have power. With any great luck, we just might get to keep it, but the betting odds aren't great on that one. So, the firewood is stacked in the laundry room, and ready for service.

This DC Metro area does not do snow well; not at all. Two nights ago, we painfully and slowly crawled home on streets covered with ice after watching Twit #2. Flurries had been predicted, and temperatures have not been above freezing for several days now. Throw in the fact that that said flakes decided to appear during rush hour...well, the games commenced. With everyone focused on this weekend's storm, no one much considered Wednesday's "flurries," which decided to hang around for awhile and produce about an inch. No one saw the forest for the trees.

A good many people living in this area just don't know what to do with snow, let alone ice, and ice it became. Hills that looked like nothing caused folks to begin an ice skating production. Everyone seemed to be slip sliding away. The ratio, if you the traffic gods smile upon you, seemed to be that what normally takes 1 minute took about 20 to 30. On air government officials tap danced their way trying not to answer why roads had not been pre-treated; these flakes were not a surprise. News headlines dubbed the evening "Carmageddon," a pretty accurate description. The good Lord only knows what 30-30 inches will do, but I pretty much think the nation's capital will be effectively shut down. No one is going anywhere for a few days.

We had just a few things to do as far as snowstorm prep work goes. Our house is generally fairly well stocked at any given point; it may not be what our little hearts desire, but we're not going to starve. Phil and I picked up a few things over the weekend and then some coffee a few nights ago. Even then, I just stood and gaped at some very empty shelves in Trader Joe's. Phil hauled in firewood in case we lose power; I arranged for Twit #1 to arrive early for our weekend visit so that no one had to drive him once the festivities began. Last night, we visited a favorite used book store and hauled home two tote bags full of loot. I love, love, love a good used bookstore. This particular one is huge having once been a big boxed store. It's a bit of a jaunt, so we always make it worth our while. I rarely have to pay cash, since I always have books to turn in, even if it's just the ones from our last visit. I said a few thank you prayers as we drove by food chain parking lots with drivers circling the grounds hoping for a slot. Lines at gas stations sometimes stretched for blocks. All the naysayers that loudly pronounced that "We wouldn't get a thing" now were madly trying to get themselves ready for Armaggedon.

The remaining laundry is tumbling away downstairs just in case we lose power later. Twit #1 came packed with plenty of clothes. There is peanut butter in the kitchen, wine in the closet...and some bourbon!...and cell phones are charged. We are generally ignoring the doom and gloom folks on tv, radio, and the internet. We all know it's snowing. We all know that it's going to snow a lot.

For now, I'll edit photos, do a bit of reading and writing, and just enjoy the show. It's going to be a good one, I think!

Note: The photo above is part of an assignment from the on line class I'm taking in conceptual photography. We had to create an "alternative space." Creating it can become as easy or as difficult and intricate a job as you like. I began with a whole different idea, but I ran into the inability to hang a large piece of white or muslin colored cloth for my backdrop. Well, I could hang it, but it wouldn't stay up! Couple that with my figuring out how to try to focus the camera while using a self timer, and I decided to go to Plan B. Plan A will be revisited once I get a background support system. Nothing fancy, just something that will keep the cloth from repeatedly tumbling down as I tried to get what was in my head to come out of the camera.

I had picked up a lovely vintage apron to be used for Plan A. Plan B became hanging the apron over the rod in our bedroom. Convert it all to black and white, and I think I have a lovely study in light and dark.  It's fun to push the envelope a bit, to try one more thing to see what happens. So much of what I try ends up not working, but when it does, I just grin, and then think...but what if I tried...?

P.S. The snow is getting heavier and falling more quickly; Mother Nature is not pulling her punches!