The story of a life

Our lives are made up of a thousand passages across the seas of birth and death, playing out again and again, in endless motion, like the movement of the hands of the clock, like the comings and goings of the seasons.  Each winter gives way to a new spring, each ending, a new beginning.  And so it goes.

There is poetry in the progression, magic in the emergence and calm in the senescence.  

 

Last fall I gathered some fresh crabapples, bitter, nearly inedible fruit, to use in some photos.  Their colors speaking to me of the brighter days of autumn.  I stuck them in a paper sac, along with other treasures gleaned from walks along the banks of the Seine near my home.  And there the sat, during the long, grey, Parisian winter.  

Spring came, as it always does, and with its return, the crabapples blossomed once again, pale pink blossoms, luscious crimson buds.  Wanting to capture and safeguard some of their essence, I snipped a few branches and brought them home to photograph.  

It was then that I remembered the fruits I had collected last fall.  The paper sac was still on top of my armoire, thankfully undisturbed by our curious, height-seeking kitten.  She had left my sac of treasures alone.  I pulled the crabapples out and they were completely shriveled on the stems, but, to my pleasant surprise, well-preserved.  And as you can see, a photo series was born.  

Life story, part I:  Waiting "It is at the edge of the petal that love waits."  ~William Carlos Williams

Life story, part I:  Waiting

"It is at the edge of the petal that love waits."  ~William Carlos Williams

Life story, part II:  Opening "My body's been touched a thousand or more times, but I am craving something so much deeper than that.  I desire to be felt, right down to the core of my soul and the corners of my heart.  That's what love is all about, isn't it?  Cracking yourself open to the possibility that it could change your life."  ~ Nikki Rowe "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."  ~ Anais Nin  

Life story, part II:  Opening

"My body's been touched a thousand or more times, but I am craving something so much deeper than that.  I desire to be felt, right down to the core of my soul and the corners of my heart.  That's what love is all about, isn't it?  Cracking yourself open to the possibility that it could change your life."  ~ Nikki Rowe

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom."  ~ Anais Nin

 

Life story, part III:  Sensual decay “Decline is also a form of voluptuousness, just like growth. Autumn is just as sensual as springtime. There is as much greatness in dying as in procreation.”  ― Iwan Goll  

Life story, part III:  Sensual decay

“Decline is also a form of voluptuousness, just like growth. Autumn is just as sensual as springtime. There is as much greatness in dying as in procreation.” 
― Iwan Goll

 

In this season of growth and promise and abundance, I am reminded of the fact that the wheels are forever in motion.  This prompts me to slow down and savor.  And photography gives me a vehicle for preserving the character of the moment.

Until next time,

Anne

When Angels Fall (Part II)

We fall and yet we rise again.

Grief comes in like the tide, waves knocking us down, washing over us, sometimes drowning us with their intensity.  We feel the pull of the undertow.   We hold our breath with each bombardment and wait for the waters to rescind.  Once they have gone, we lay spread out on the sand, drenched, salt water mingled with tears.  

We begin again to feel the breath in our lungs.  We wiggle our toes and fingers, joyous at discovering that we still have the capacity to move them.  The sun appears through parted clouds and warms our weary bodies.  Each breath in helps us recover the connection to ourselves.  Slowly, our strength returns.  Our confidence returns, and with it, our desire to begin anew.  

 

We fall and yet we rise again

Until next time...

Anne

The 12.12 Project

I am very honored to be among the twelve talented women participating in this year's 12.12 Project (http://www.the1212project.com/), a collective of women's instant photography.  The project was started by photographer Penny Felts three years ago as a way to creatively challenge herself, to motivate and inspire both herself and other photographers.  

The concept is simple:  There are twelve photographers, who propose twelve themes, for the twelve months of the year.  At the end of the month, we share our creations for that month and that particular theme.  There is also a men's project that follows the same premise.

The first month's theme is an introduction with a self-portrait.

And so this is my profile photo.  It was made with a Polaroid sx-70 sonar camera.  This is an excellent SLR camera with which I fell instantly in love.  It is now difficult for me to bring out any other camera when I am shooting!  The dream-like quality of the images and the imprecise focus takes me out of the hard edges of everyday life into a place where all is soft, fluid, supple.  The dried hydrangea blooms were added to the exterior of the photo to reinforce the romantic quality, to add depth, and to speak of the passage of time.  

I invite you to follow along on facebook :  https://www.facebook.com/The1212Project/ or Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/the12.12project/.  

There is so much talent among these woman, I cannot overstate how thrilled I am to be among them.  These are the very photographers who inspired me to get into instant photography in the first place!  I feel like a little kid at the big kids' table, but I am holding my own.  

Stay tuned for more instant photos and musings.  Until next time...

Anne

The curve of her shoulder

The arc of the back of her neck, the little hollow just beneath the line of her jaw...

Her hair pulled loosely into a chignon, she leaned forward on the bed. I stood in the doorway behind her, watching the way the light fell on her shoulder, noticing how her velvet skin stood  against the texture of the lace chemise she was wearing.  Despite the mirror across from her, she did not yet know I was there, swimming in the depths of a reverie of her own.  I tiptoed across the parquet and breathed into her ear, "I want to kiss you as softly as this light falling on your skin. May I?"  

"You can try," she replied, "but I'm not confident you'll succeed.  The late afternoon light is so faint, I can barely feel it."

I leaned in even closer, exhaling slowly as my lips approached her neck, she shivered.  I lingered there, grazing her skin with my lips, losing myself in her scent and the heat that was radiating from her body.  Not wanting to break the spell, neither of us spoke, neither of us moved....

Until next time...

Anne

Polaroids

It's been awhile since my last post, and for that I apologize.  Thank you for your patience and your fidelity.  I appreciate you, dear Reader.  Communication requires a sender and a receiver.  Thanks for being on the receiving end of my musings.

For my birthday this year, I received a polaroid spectra camera.  Yes, a polaroid... from the 1980's.  It has been refurbished, and happily, when polaroid stopped manufacturing film for its many cameras, other companies, such as the Impossible Project, stepped in to fill that void.  I had done a lot of research on the different models of old polaroids that are available.  They are like guitars in some ways; each individual camera is somewhat different.  Despite basic similarities, there are subtle differences and nuances in the images they take.  Mine seems to have a signature pale blurring of the sides of the photos and some great vignetting.  And every pack of film produces different results too.  When you begin to shoot with expired film, the effects can be extraordinary!  I haven't yet tried expired film, but for polaroid shooters, it is the holy grail.  Some day soon, I'll find some online and eagerly try it out.  

All of this is to say that when shooting with a polaroid, as compared to a digital single lens reflex camera, the photographer has much less technical control, but the results straight out of the camera are much more artistic.  One can not achieve the exact same effects with software or photo manipulation.  It is just not possible.  I love the vintage look, the colors, the ghosts of the past that seem to appear on the film.  And I love that I can hold these photos in my hands.  They seem more real somehow than images on a computer screen.

Tulips

The colors are soft and dreamy.  The focus is soft too, there are not a lot of details, but I love that effect.

On the sofa

The black and white photos have warm undertones.  This film too, produces a general softness and vintage look that makes me swoon.

This has been a real learning experience for me.  I have ruined many images in the past two months since shooting polaroids.  There have been many failures as I learn the boundaries of my frame.  For self-portraits, you have to know the limits of your field of view.  It's easier when shooting someone or something else.  I am also learning how to work with the 10 second timer (compared to a remote control I use for my digital camera which fixes the focus point very precisely).  This is also not an easy thing to do, to set the timer, get into position, and assume a pose that is correct, all within 10 seconds.  It's a sprint.

Bouquet of weeds

A fine example of a lack of understanding the boundaries of my frame is the photo above, a double exposure, where my hand is visible in the bottom leftIt was supposed to be outside of the frame.  I love the effect of the double exposure, however.  The softness is an invitation to reverie. 

I have been experimenting a bit with double exposures, which is the reason why I selected this particular model in the first place.  It easily makes double exposures, providing an infinite number of creative possibilities.

Coming and going

Abundance

So, in my absence from posting here, I have been learning a new skill, flexing my photographic muscles.  This new adventure in photography has been exhilarating.  

I am so grateful for those who have contributed to the cause and bought film for me, like my mom and my sweetie, Santa Claus.  On Instagram there is a hashtag, "staybrokeshootfilm," and that about sums up the life of an instant photographer.  

Needless to say, I am already hooked and looking at other models of polaroids, looking at old film cameras that support a polaroid back, searching for expired packs of film...  The possibilities are endless.

Stay tuned for more polaroid love in the coming weeks.  Until next time...

Anne

Self-Help

We hold all the answers to the questions that keep us awake in the middle of the night.  We know what we need to do:  

We need to take ourselves by the hand, gently, reassuringly, and lead ourselves through the darkness,

down the heavily forested path,

past the green briars and the rambling roses,

past the ancient shagbark hickory that regularly sheds its skin,

past the carpet of moss, thick as a mattress warm and soft in the dappled sunlight....  

to the clear waters of the creek.

 Standing there.... as the shallow waters roll over and around us,

as they caress our tired, bare feet,

as the songs of the forest birds fill our ears...

there we can breathe again.  

With every breath a wave of healing washes over us,

every exhale affirms what we need to know.  

Take my hand

Trust yourself.  In the quiet moments, your heart is open, waiting for you to dive in and recover the treasures hidden in the deep.

"“Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths.” 
― Jalaluddin Rumi

Until next time...

Anne

Petticoats

A photographic study of body language.... 

and innocence...

and sensuality.

Waiting for your return

The spaces in between light and shadow

The waltz of my wandering imagination

Discretion?

We have the ability to communicate so much, while saying so little.

I notice that I am typically drawn to the same themes again and again in my work.  Perhaps you have noticed that too (I am sure you have, perceptive reader).  Body language, particularly the way we speak with our legs fascinates me.  Typically one thinks of legs in terms of the actions they perform, walking, running, climbing stairs, dancing, crossing and uncrossing as we sit, stretching out as we lie down.  In each of these movements, in the way they are executed, in the deliberate movements and pauses, in the contracting of muscles, in the angles of the body, there is communication.  Sometimes we express a need for movement, a need for space, a need to get something done.  Other times, we express a need to be touched, a need for tenderness, a need for connection in the form of gentle invitation.

These photos also explore an innocent material, white cotton lace, and play up the sensuality of this timeless, ultimately feminine material against bare skin.  And legs, with their long lines, their musculature, their graceful curves, are inherently sensual.  Both sexes fall a pair of lovely legs.  In these photos, deliberate use of light and shadow along with processing in black and white, heavily vignetted and contrasted, serve to reinforce the femininity and the sensuality of the poses, while adding a little dose of mystery.

Sometimes the most effective way to communicate is to simply say nothing at all. 

Until next time...

Anne

 

When Angels Fall

 Perhaps it is the time of the year.  The grey skies, the rainy days, the leaves blowing across the landscape... Autumn always puts me into a reflective, introspective mood.  October 31 is also the birthday of my son, who died eight years ago, and so inevitably this time of year, my thoughts turn a little more somber.

Last week I began creating a new series entitled, "When Angels Fall."  I wanted to convey some emotions I have relating to life and death, change and rebirth, grief.  There are, as always in my more intimate photos, bits of vulnerability and love thrown into the mix as well.  There are things we hold onto, things we cling to desperately when change is forced upon us.  We resist what is happening, for it is simply too much to bear.  This resistance is natural for a time, and is what grief is really all about.  In the process of grieving, we move through this resistance, and finally we come to acceptance.  These photos provide tiny glimpses of that process. 

Eight years later, many losses and changes later, I am still making sense of it all.  I have come to accept what has happened and learned to live with them, incorporating them into my being, but I notice that the way I relate to these losses now is very different than it was in the beginning.  We grieve at so many levels, and our relationship to grief over time.  The things that were prominent or very important at the beginning become diminished later on, and new things come to the fore.  

Fortunately I have photography to help me continue to make sense of my experiences.

You were here... Once

Fallen

Vestiges

Vestiges II

The sleep of angels

Sam Beam, songwriter and frontman for the band Iron and Wine is someone whose writing I find to be gripping, compelling, profoundly moving. in his song "Over the Mountain."  He writes, "Mother, remember when I breathed through your body..."  Yes, I do remember.

As the series develops further, I will be sharing more of the photos here.

Until next time...

Anne

Vulnerability and Surrender

A lot has been written about vulnerability and the strength it requires to allow oneself to be open, exposed, vulnerable.  Researcher Brené Brown has an excellent TED talk on the subject.  The older I get, the more this resonates with me.  When I was in my twenties, striking out as a young adult, a young wife, a mother of two, an undergraduate and then graduate student in social work, a volunteer for a women's crisis center.... all of those things seemed to me to require a certain stoic strength of me.  It was hard to admit when the world was too much to bear, though there were definitely moments when those feelings arose.  I never had a hard time allowing myself to cry, but I did so mostly when watching movies or listening to music that stirred my soul.  I had hardened myself to a certain extent, as a form of self-protection.  Early experiences had taught me that the world was not exactly a safe place, and so I was often guarded and unsure of others at first.  It took me awhile to let others in.    

Twenty years later, I have certainly learned a lot!  I have known losses and loves, joys and sorrows, that cracked me wide open, shaking me to the core of my being.  Sometimes in this life there are things that happen to us over which we have no control.  Losing my son was one of those things.  These losses make us vulnerable, and there is no escape from the intensity of feeling.

Surrender

 

 I now see that as a good thing.  Rumi said, "The wound is the place where the light enters you." When I allowed myself to be vulnerable, I allowed that crack to burst wide open, and the light came flowing in, bringing with it a deeper capacity for love, love of self and love of others.  

To Lay Me Down

Perimenopause, a state which I now find myself to be in, brings a new and different level of vulnerability to the table.  Waves of emotions can arise from nowhere and bowl us over.  It also forces us to confront that we are growing older, to ponder questions about our femininity, our desirability.  It is a time of dramatic change for a woman, one which leaves us exposed to the forces of nature.  Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice said, "Time is contagious; everybody's getting older."  So true, Damien.  Sometimes we are more aware of that fact than others.

Being an artist requires a certain level of vulnerability too.  It requires of us to embrace the risks that people won't like what we do, that they won't understand what we do.  We risk judgment, criticism, and in the worst cases, contempt.  

Driven by the need to express emotions, dreams, impressions, bits of self, I continue to make art.  And in doing so, I continue to embrace my vulnerability.  It's not always comfortable, not is it always easy, but it is authentic and honest.  To me, that is far more important.  Making art helps me traverse these strange waters, it is my lifejacket when they seem to want to overtake me.

Thank you for being there to help me through this process.  If you feel inclined, please drop me a note, letting me know how you navigate this territory.  Together, we can help and perhaps inspire each other. 

Until next time...

Anne

The Unbearable....

lightness of being a woman.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Woman

Taken with a 50mm lens, at f/1.8, the focus here is on the bouquet of dried roses, with the body of a woman in the blur.  The image speaks of the process of aging, of staying vital and beautiful as the years mount.  There is such pressure on women to look a certain way, to conform to a certain standard of beauty.  And even though we age, the arbitrary standard never does.  It is always young and firm, bouncy and round, supple and sinuous.   

Unlike a good wine, with humans, aging is complicated.  We continue to get better in certain ways, and yet we decline in others.  There is a give and take that occurs.  What we gain in wisdom, we lose in elasticity.  I had a friend who was in her 90's and she said that when she randomly caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, she wondered for a second who that old woman was, the one looking back at her.  When asked how old she felt on the inside, she said, "I feel about 25, maybe 30."  And then she smiled, and I could see her as the ten year old girl she had once been.  Her eyes still had that twinkle, that spark, even though her face bore the marks of the passing of the years.   There was a lightness in her spirit. 

My friend was a lot like this bouquet of flowers.  When I look at them, they are dried, wrinkled, crispy, and yet I see beauty there in the creases, evidence of having lived.  I see perfection in their imperfections.  I keep them around because of the memories associated with them.  They remind me of one of the happiest occasions of my life.  I see beyond the dessication.     

There are other photos in this series, which I will be sharing and writing about soon.  Please stay tuned for more.

Until next time...

Anne 

Les souvenirs...

Les souvenirs de ton toucher s'attardent toujours....

L'amour est comme ça.  On se perd délicieusement dans les moments de la passion. Le temps disparaît, le monde extérieur se fane.  Il n'y a que deux êtres seuls qui existent.  Toi et moi.   Et puis après, c'est là où on s'y retrouve dans nos pensées, dans nos rêveries, les souvenirs d'une nuit blanche, qu'on a passé embrouillé dans les draps blancs et nos bras et jambes, l'un et l'autre.  Tes baisers restent sur mes lèvres, la chaleur de ta main sur mon ventre, la douceur de ton souffle dans mon oreille....

 

Memories of your touch linger still.

Love is like that.  We lose ourselves deliciously in moments of passion.  Time disappears, the outside world fades away.  There are only two beings who exist.... you and me.  And afterwards, it is there where we find ourselves there again in our thoughts, in our daydreams, memories of a white night spent in a tangle of limbs and white sheets.  Your kisses remain on my lips, the heat of hand on my belly, the softness of your breath in my ear...

À la prochaine....  (Until next time...)

Anne

Everything is illuminated

Sometimes the world feels heavy.  The news on the television is too much to take with my morning coffee and toasted fig bread.  Today was one of those days.  There is so much violence in the world, so much hatred and misunderstanding... and fear.  It's hard to not allow the fear to overtake us.  If we don't fight against it, it will swallow us whole, and there will be nothing left of who or what we once were.  

These times feel epic, cinematic, where forces of darkness stand against forces of light, a classic battle of good and evil.  But there is no superhero who will swoop down from on high to save the planet from destroying itself.  Our only weapons are compassion and love, peace and understanding.    

We need to scatter them like seeds across the landscape and in the hearts of those whom we touch in our daily lives.  Love is the antidote, compassion and understanding, the treatment for what ails the human race.  

Illuminé

Art is a way of healing individuals and the world.  It reaches people in a way that words cannot, going deeper.  In words, in deeds, in images.... I hope that I am doing my part to make the world a more loving place.  And I encourage you to do the same.  Peace.  Namasté.  

Until next time....

Anne

Parisian Windows

Eyes may be windows to the soul; but windows are the eyes and soul of a building.  The character of the architecture is defined largely by the type and style of windows that are used in its construction.  Paris is a city of filled with wonderful windows, French windows as they are called in English, where the frames swing inward, allowing one to pass through to a balcony suspended above the tree tops, allowing in light and breezes to refresh interior spaces.  

Windows permit one to see into the heart of a building, to glimpse what is going on beyond the panes of glass, hinting at the lives lived behind the walls.  And they permit one to see out, to view the world and all its happenings through a frame of glass and wood.   Windows allow for an exchange of elements and energy, giving life and vitality to a space.  Uncovered windows are welcoming, inviting.  They draw us in.  And they draw out.   

In homage to my love of windows, I have created a series of photos, "Parisian Windows," exploiting the notion of a frame within the frame.  The photos are inherently voyeuristic.  They invite the viewer to look, to examine, unabashedly, shamelessly.  They reveal different moods, each one inviting the viewer to imagine a back story.  

An archive of longing

Recognition

Anticipation

In light and in shadow

Desolée

There she goes

Perhaps

With reflections upon the glass and the play of light and shadow, the photos are soft, dream-like, contemplative, evoking the same feelings an an autumn rain or a classical nocturne, poetry borne of glass and wood.    

Until next time...

Anne