photography, Uncategorized, writing

The camera lies

Self Portrait.jpgThe camera lies.

How we look in an image depends on so many things…the angle the photograph was taken, the light in the scene, the lens the photographer uses.  There are subtle changes and distortions in every image, changes that can be more flattering or less complimentary to anyone in front of the lens.

The problem is that the brain accepts that photo as ultimate truth and then we alter our perception of ourselves, and usually NOT for the better.

“Oh God!  When did my face get so fat?”  I remember thinking to myself after letting my daughter play with my camera a few weeks ago.  I took that photograph, taken by a five year old laying on the ground with a $2000 camera she knows nothing about, and made it my reality.

What’s even worse is the camera doesn’t tell the whole story.

My photo shows a face that is heavier and fuller than it was two decades ago.  It shows my gray hair and my thinning bangs.

But it doesn’t show me.  Not the real me, at least, of which I’m most proud.  It doesn’t tell you about the degrees I’ve earned, awards I’ve received or the friends I’ve made.  The camera doesn’t  show the ten wonderful years I’ve had since I met my husband.  It doesn’t show the daunting pregnancy I endured with my daughter.   It doesn’t show the pain I’ve survived, the things I’ve accomplished, the person I was or the person I work to be every single day.

The camera shows the crinkles beginning to form at the edge of my husband eye’s.  But it doesn’t show the sheer infectiousness of his big rollicking laugh that I can pick out three aisles away in a crowded Walmart.

The camera shows the similarity between a mother and her adult son.  But it doesn’t tell the story of how he was born, months early, and the desperate fight and scary moments that young couple went through to raise that tiny baby into adulthood.

The camera shows a soft smile and kind eyes.  But it doesn’t show how that woman put herself through graduate school, started her own successful business, raised two kind and considerate children and became a respected member of her community.

So hate the photographs.  Hate the camera.  Hate having your picture taken.

But love yourself.  Own your story.

We are all more than the camera shows.  We are all beautiful and complicated and joyful and conflicted.  We are brave, smart, foolish and rude.  We are gracious, selfish, arrogant and humble.  We all have a story, and that story is infinitely more perfect than any single snapshot in time ever could be.

Teresa

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family, nature, photography, Uncategorized

Camera-less Camping

Camping-15Outdoor Guy, Wyokiddo and I traded the heat and deer flies of Goshen County for the high country this week.  We spent two and a half days in the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming.  Two days of fishing, eating s’mores, enjoying each other, hiking and watching wildlife.

What I didn’t do much of was pick up my camera.

It was a promise I made to myself, for me and my family, to stop taking photos and just enjoy the moment.  When I’ve got my camera in my hand, my mind is constantly thinking about photography.  Where’s the best light?  What’s in the background?  Can I frame this better?  Is this sharp enough?  Ugh, that’s too dark, better open up my aperture.  

I decided on this trip, I wanted to focus on being a mom and a wife, not a photographer.  And I’m so glad I did.  I got to spend the lazy mountain mornings with my daughter cuddled in my lap, warming up by the fire.  I got to watch my husband and daughter make s’mores and marvel at how many of their mannerisms are the same.  I enjoyed the calm and quiet of our camp, the heady scent of pine and the spongy feel of the wild earth beneath our feet.

I took a few quick shots so Wyokiddo will have something for her scrapbook, and I couldn’t resist a few snaps of the mule deer doe and her two fawns moving through our camp.  But mostly my camera stayed in it’s case, forgotten.

As I laid in our tent our last night in camp listening to the soft snores from Wyokiddo and Outdoor Guy, I promised myself that I would do this more often…put down the camera and pick up my life.

In twenty years, Wyokiddo isn’t going to flip through photos of our time together and go “Uh oh.  Mom blew the focus on this one.  See how my hat’s not sharp?”

She’ll pick up the stack of these images and say “My first camping trip!  I remember how tired my legs were after that two-mile hike we went on and how mom complained about how hard the ground was.”

Photos should document our lives.  Not consume them.

Happy not-clicking!

Teresa

Uncategorized, writing

Don’t Sell Your Saddle

Graphic.jpgEarlier this month, I went legit and officially created my own business, Dirt Road Wife Photography LLC.  I have an tax ID number, official looking paperwork from the Secretary of State and a business checking account.  Heck, I’ve even got business cards.

Except sometimes I don’t feel legit as a photographer.

I will encounter a new situation and don’t know exactly how to tackle it in the moment.  Or I get home, start editing my images and am crestfallen because what felt good in the moment and looked good on my LCD screen isn’t wowing me after the fact.

Sometimes, it’s other photographers who undermine my self-confidence.  Long-time pros who make snarky remarks about all the wannabe mom-tographers devaluing the industry and undermine their pricing.

“Is that what I’m doing?” I ask myself.  “Pretending to be a photographer?  Am I a joke?”

I compare my work to the work of the professionals I admire and it feels woefully inadequate.  Tara Bolgiano, Janelle Rose, Cassie Madden…real women, wonderful people and phenomenal photographers who seem to ooze beautiful images and confidence out their pores.  And I work and practice and study, but I still can’t quite get there…

Those are the days I think about selling my saddle.

It would be easy to quit.  Walk away.  I’ve had different offers for work, who’s to know I chose it over my secret goal of being a professional photographer?

I would.  I would know that I took the easy way out.  That I was afraid to grow, to risk.  And I would regret it.

So I’m going to tackle this new goal like the others I’ve set for myself.  I’m going to continue to work and study and practice.  I’m going to hustle.  Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t.  But I do know I’ll never ride that horse to the finish line if I sell my saddle now.

 

Teresa

*”Don’t Sell Your Saddle” is a poem written by Don Bilup.  The above photo is mine, copyright Dirt Road Wife Photography LLC.

Uncategorized, writing

Strong is the New Pretty

Grasshoppers-44I saw a book advertised on http://www.amightygirl.com today called “Strong is the New Pretty – A Celebration of Girls Being Themselves.”

Strong is the New Pretty.  What an awesome message to send little girls.  As I edited some photos from Wyokiddo’s final Pee Wee soccer game, I realized how far we’ve come, as women, in terms of how we view ourselves and how was ask others to view us.

I grew up a tomboy.  My favorite sport was soccer.  Across a league of more than 100 kids in my grade level, I’d say there were less than 10 girls in the league.  My best friend and I were two of them.  We played with boys and were coached by men.  Always men.  Same with baseball and basketball.  The girls were often treated as second-class citizens, usually plunked on the bench to wait for the boys to run up the score or shoved in the outfield because they boys had the infield covered.

I once asked a soccer coach if I could please play offense in one game.  He told me something like “I have to have girls on my team.  I don’t have to let you lose the game for us.”

Never mind that some of us were, GASP, actually talented, or HORROR OF HORRORS, actually better than the boys.

I knew I was facing an uphill battle.  I had wonderfully supportive parents that never forced their square peg daughter into the round mold society tried to dictate.  But my dad was upfront with me, telling me things like “A lot of men my age aren’t used to tough little girls that like sports.  They don’t think you can do it.  Keep working and prove them wrong.”

At first, the uphill battle didn’t bother me so much.  But after years of going to every practice, working my butt off and still not getting a chance, I sort of lost heart.  I knew I wasn’t as good as a lot of the boys.  But I also knew I was better than a lot of them, too.

Luckily, I found horses.  I had a strong, independent woman as a riding coach that didn’t take anybody’s grief.  In her and the other girls I rode with, I found my tribe.  I think that’s one of the reasons I loved riding and showing horses so much.  It didn’t matter if I was a girl.  I was judged on my abilities and performance, not my genes.  And everywhere I turned in the horse show world were encouraging, supportive, kind women and men.  We competed, but we were all a family, too.

Now, some thirty years later, Wyokiddo is playing soccer.  She has a team of six, and four of them are girls.  Her coach this year is a woman, and she is awesome.  Coach Kaitlyn has helped the kids improve some basic skills and introduced them to concepts like offense and defense and making stops.

I know there will come a point in time where Wyokiddo will be told “Girls can’t do that!” or not treated the same because she isn’t a boy.  But I love that her introduction to sports is filled with girls and women alike showing the world that yes, yes we can.  And that strong really is the new pretty.

Teresa

photography, Uncategorized, weddings, writing

Mr. & Mrs.

Storyboard.jpg

I had the wonderful honor of photographing the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends yesterday.

Sara and Brad were married in Sundance, Wyoming, where the couple met.  She was a beautiful bride.  He was an adorable groom.  They were surrounded by their family and several close friends. The whole affair was simple, understated and tasteful.

I loved photographing the details of the details of the day, from Sara’s vintage inspired lace dress and gold-toned hair comb to the bouquet of spring blooms and yellow roses put together by Serendipity Floral and Gifts in Sundance.

But my favorite part of the day was seeing how Sara’s children were involved, not just the during ceremony, but in the entire event.  Her 9-year old daughter made the wedding cake and the cupcakes.  Her son gave her away.  And Brad’s vows talked about how he wanted to be a role model and positive influence in their lives.  I know the smile he wore wasn’t just for his bride, but for the entire family he was gaining in the process.

Sara and I have been friends since college.  As such, I’ve known her as many things…a cohort in crime, a gambling partner and a best friend.  I watched her become a wife and a new mom.   Life threw a few curves at her, but Sara tackled them with her usual tenacity and steadfast commitment to her values and ideals.  She created a new normal and a new life for her children as a single mom.  It was a full life, filled with love and laughter.

And now Brad joins that life, making it richer and perhaps even a little bit stronger.  I don’t know him well, but I can see how that he softens Sara.  Where she is structured, he is smooth.  Where she is by-the-book, Brad is more spontaneous.  They are not opposites so much as complements, rounding each other out and setting off the other’s personality in wonderful ways.

Life is beautiful.  It is also messy and hard.  That duality can leave some of us beaten and bitter.  It takes courage to rise up from the mess, to dare to imagine yourself as something different.

I’m so proud of my friend for believing in herself, for rising up and finding happiness again.  I am excited to see where this new partnership leads, and what new roles Sara will take on as she, Brad, Madeline and Jameson begin their new journey together as a family.

Take care of her, Brad.  She is a treasure, now and for always.

Teresa

family, Kids, Uncategorized

Gifts from Little People

emily-flowers-drw

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Mama. Sorry they’re dead. But uh, it’s winter, so…”

Wyokiddo @ 4  years old.  If I’m being honest, I’ve received far less thoughtful gifts from far less cuter humans.

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Show the world how big your heart is today, and every day.

Teresa

country life, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

The Theatre, The Theatre

wyo-theater-drw

…what’s happened to the theatre?”

I can’t speak for Danny Kaye, but this Goshen County photographer thinks our movie theater here is pretty alright.  Every time I drive by this grand old building at night, I am struck by it’s beauty.  Last night, I finally stopped to capture that beauty in a photograph.  The Wyoming Theater in Torrington, Wyoming.

Teresa

nature, photography, Uncategorized, weather

Winter’

snowflakes

Freezing rain and snow
Folks falling on their butts now
Mother Nature laughs.

My contribution to WPC – Repurpose…Mother nature is the ultimate upcycler…from water to snow to water again…

This is my first attempt at snowflake macro work.  And haiku, for that matter.  I should probably just stick to photography.

Teresa

country life, photography, Uncategorized, Wyoming

The Blue Beast

main-street-yoder-6

I went out to shoot geese and wound up shooting this beautiful beast instead.  This old guy hangs out just off main street in our small town.  I’ve driven by him a dozen times, but he’s never looked as magnificent as he did this day, blanketed in snow.