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

"You should smile more..."

Backlight

Sometimes I receive comments on the photos that I share on a social media photosharing website from well-intentioned, kind, concerned people who says things like, "You should smile more often in your photos." Or, "Why do you always look so sad?"  Or even, "Are you okay?  I am worried about your mental health."  I have been asked to post photos in color so that the person would know that I was doing okay.  The same people make similar comments about my "evident" sadness when I am the model for another photographer, my sweetie, when he is the creative director who asks me to strike a certain pose or have a certain expression in a photo.   

And while I appreciate the concern from friends, I have to say that these comments bother me a bit too.  My photos, while they represent a capacity I have to feel and express certain emotions, they are not a daily journal of my current emotional state.  They are designed to evoke a mood or a memory, created to tell a story, to arouse emotion in the viewer.  When done right, the photo can be haunting or piercing, questioning, or pensive.  It can express longing, loneliness, grief, melancholy.  Sometimes it just portrays a state of being deep in thought, of daydreaming.  It also seems some people have a hard time detecting the subtle nuances in expressions captured in photos.  They notice the lack of a smile but not the softness around the eyes or mouth.  It is as if they lump portraits into two simplistic categories:  happy and sad, missing all the variety of emotion in between.  If a photo makes a person a bit uncomfortable, in my opinion, that's good!  It means I have done my job as an artist, which is to give rise to an emotion.  If a photo makes us feel something, then it is a piece of art.  Art is supposed to make us feel.  

I happen to be someone who is drawn to music that is achingly sad, soft, melodic.  I adore Chopin as much as I adore Lisa Hannigan or Great Lake Swimmers.  The photographic art that moves me is usually in black and white and very atmospheric, highly emotional.  It's often filled with melancholy.  I like books that explore love and loss.  There is poetry and beauty in the shadows.  We need them as much as we need the light.

Lost in Translation

When I create a photo, for the purpose of story-telling or giving a visual expression to an emotion, I am playing a role.  I put on a costume, style my hair in a certain way, I pose a certain way, in order to bring a character, a story, to life.  It's acting.  Art is supposed to be dramatic!  Most of the time I have an image in my head for the photo I want to make before I set up the scene or even step in front of the camera.  These photos are planned and composed in my imagination ahead of time.  They are researched and fine-tuned.  They are not "selfies" which is another comment that annoys me, but that is a post for another time.  

Longing for your return

 

When a photographer makes self-portraits, viewers project many things onto the photographer/model, perhaps more so than in other art media.  Other artists who make self-portraits have told me they experience the same genre of comments on their work.  We make self-portraits for a variety of reasons.  Often times it is simply because when we have time to shoot, we are always available, when another model is not. And so we put ourselves into the scene, we write ourselves into the story.  Ansel Adams said that every photo is, in reality, a self-portrait.  Something to think about.  

 As part of my growth process as an artist, I need to remind myself that their projections are theirs, and I do not have to let their discomfort make me uncomfortable.  There are those who understand what I do, and they appreciate it.  Those who don't get it, well, I need to allow them that and not allow it to bother me.  All of this touches on the vulnerability and risk of judgment that comes from making art and putting it/yourself "out there."  This journey is not for the faint of heart.   

 

I would like the thank my friend, Chrystal, for suggesting that I write about this subject and for being a huge source of both support and inspiration.  She is an exceptional photographer and a beautiful soul.  Please do yourself a favor and check out her exceptionally evocative, work.  Her plays with light and shadow, pose and texture are endlessly fascinating.   

You can find some of Chrystal's work here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/cris717/with/29518870025/.  

Thanks for reading.  Until next time...

Anne

 

 

Riverside

Riverside

Lyrics by Agnes Obel

Down by the river by the boats
Where everybody goes to be alone
Where you won't see any rising sun
Down to the river we will run

When by the water we drink to the dregs
Look at the stones on the river bed
I can tell from your eyes
You've never been by the riverside

Down by the water the riverbed
Somebody calls you somebody says
Swim with the current and float away
Down by the river everyday

Oh my God I see how everything is torn in the river deep
And I don't know why I go the way
Down by the riverside

When that old river runs pass your eyes
To wash off the dirt on the riverside
Go to the water so very near
The river will be your eyes and ears

I walk to the borders on my own
To fall in the water just like a stone
Chilled to the marrow in them bones
Why do I go here all alone

Oh my God I see how everything is torn in the river deep
And I don't know why I go the way
Down by the riverside

 

Beneath the Weeping Willow Tree

Both photos were taken with a 50mm lens on the banks of the Seine near my home.  They were not created with the song in mind, but the song fits the photos so well.

Photography and music go hand in hand.  Agnes Obel, Riverside.

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

A fine mess

Yes, that's what we humans are, a fine mess.  Fine, as in delicate, elegant, beautiful, high-quality.  Think of diamonds or jewelry or china or crystal.  Think of wine and dining.  A mess, as in this tangle of experiences, of emotions, of desires, of fears, all thrown into a melting pot of language and culture, heredity and personality, that makes us who we are.  What a recipe for complexity!   If you tug gently on one of the threads, the entire being resonates.  Vibrations travel along the filaments, setting off those nearby.   The breezes blow and we rock and sway, either singing or howling, depending on the ferocity of the wind and the direction from which it comes.  Echoes of the past, present and future collide.  

Sometimes, though, in this state of unbridled messiness, we are drenched in luminosity, dangling and vulnerable though we may be, when seen in the right light, from the right perspective, through the right lens, we are a treasure to behold.

Speaking of lenses, for my birthday, my chéri gave me a real macro lens (100 mm f/2,8 for those who are interested) for my camera.  Macro lenses have the ability to focus on tiny details, to amplify them, to allow us to appreciate the beauty that lies in the ordinary or the overlooked.  This photo was taken with that lens.  The tiny, tangled web was only about an inch in diameter as it hung from the tree branch in the yard.   What we see and how we see really it depends on the lens we use, how we set the focus, how much light we let in, how quickly we look (or how quickly we look away).  Photography has taught me to see the world around me much differently, how to observe subtle changes that occur, how to look for details and focus on what is most important.

And so, while humans are messy creatures, and life is a messy endeavor, there is an inherent beauty in the authentic messes.  I'm not talking about the ones that are created with ill intent.  I'm talking about the seeming contradictions like the tears and smiles that come at the exact same moment, the simultaneous hellos and goodbyes, the ability to retain optimism when things are bleak, how separation can make the heart grow fonder and bolder.  These are the types of messes I honor here in this photo.

Until next time...

Anne

 

 

 

Gratitude

The letter

This photo was taken at Oscar Wilde's grave at the Cimetière Pere Lachaise in Paris.  We visited the cemetery on November 1, All Saint's Day.  In France, this is the day when people go to the graves of loved ones to pay tribute and to pay respects.  The cemetery was strewn with flowers.  Oscar Wilde's grave is encased in a wall of glass to protect it, and an admirer had thrown a letter and a bouquet of flowers over the glass wall.  The letter is written in English, in the second person point-of-view, by what appears to be a woman's hand.   I was touched by this gesture.  Flowers and hand-written letters certainly appeal to the romantic in me.  But this was a letter of gratitude, written to someone not known in person, yet who had enough of an impact on her that she chose to write to him.

Emily Dickinson said that, "Hope is the thing with wings that perches in the soul-- and sings the tunes without words and never stops at all..."  While hope may give us the wings that we need, gratitude provides us with roots.  Once we invite gratitude to rest awhile, we connect with what is.  We are centered, grounded, stable, providing a strong base for our hopes to take flight.  Our worries fade away; we are present.  We feel lighter, freer, and filled with possibility.  Hope and gratitude are will get us through.

When I am feeling sad, anxious, irritated, down.... gratitude is the answer.  I say out loud the things, people, experiences for which I am grateful.  Sometimes I even state these things in both French and in English for added emphasis. Yes, it's silly, I know, but I do it anyway.  There is something inherently soothing in connecting with gratitude.  It quiets the worried mind.  It shines light into the dark, scary places and shows us the path away from them.  It keeps us from drowning in that well of sadness, giving us air so that we rise to the top.  

And so, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, 4000 miles from the US, I am expressing my gratitude.  I am grateful for my friends and family, both close and far away; I am thankful for the love that I give and receive; I am thankful for the magical, golden light in this part of France.  I am grateful for the love that brought me here and for the past three months that I have been fortunate enough to spend here.  I am grateful for poetry and art and music and for the purr of a happy cat on my lap.  I am grateful for laughter.  I am grateful for mystery and magic and intimacy.  I am thankful for those people who take time to read what I have written, to look at the photos I have taken, and for those who take the time to comment.  

Thank you.

Until next time....

Anne

 

 

 

Impermanence

Impermanence

Autumn is a season of change.  The verdant landscape of summer becomes a blaze of maize, carnelian, rust.  Leaves drop and collect on the ground, crunching beneath our feet on the sidewalks.  Heavy shadows once created by the full canopy of trees are gone.  The paradox is that in areas with deciduous trees, there is actually more light as the days shorten.  Eventually there is nothing but silhouetted trees against grey and darkening skies.  Autumn teaches us lessons in impermanence and acceptance.  Change is constantly happening all around us and to us.  We are powerless to stop this forward momentum completely.  Like the ticking of the second hand on the clock, the march continues forever onward.

Photographers who work with natural light are especially aware of seasonal changes.  One minute the light that bathes your subject is sparkling, golden, the next minute the sun has dipped too far behind the buildings and trees on the other side of the road to produce this kind of luminosity.  Even when you find yourself moving to another little pool of sunshine, the magic is gone.  All the elements that produced this alchemy of light and shadow exist no longer.  There are just some scenes that never be exactly replicated.  

Our lives are like that too.  Some scenes from our memories seem to be encased in an aura of gold.  These, too, are singular events.  We can gather together the same people, the same circumstances, have everyone say the same words, but the feeling is not the same.  Magic is rare, elusive, fleeting.  Perhaps if it were ever-present, it would lose its power, becoming just... ordinary.

Photography is one way of capturing a bit of magic.  Photos are more permanent and longer- lived than memories.  I am letting this photo serve as a reminder to stay present as changes occur, the remain grateful for the moments of luminosity, to remember that the death and slumber of late autumn and winter are what give rise to the rebirth of spring.  

Until next time...

Anne

On sensuality and romanticism and art and...

Preparations...  (Préparatifs...)

Sensuality is defined as the expression or suggestion of physical pleasures, not specifically sexual ones.  Although related to sexuality, sensuality is distinctly different from it.  As the sensual person I now know myself to be, I crave things that stimulate and excite the senses, those things that invite us to savor the moment:  listening to the rain; listening to romantic, classical music; eating gourmet food; drinking good wine; walking in the woods; taking long, hot baths; putting a nourishing cream on my skin; smelling coffee in the morning; feeling quality sheets against my skin...  These are not sexual pleasures, but they are indeed sensuous ones.  And there is a certain romance to approaching life this way.

My photography is often described as sensual, soft, romantic, feminine.   Even the botanical photos I create are described in these terms.  One friend, a fellow photographer, said recently that this proclivity toward sensuality is just something that comes naturally to me; there is truth in her words.  When I envision a photo that I want to create, the mood I want to convey, the ambiance I desire, the point of view, the depth of field, those qualities always seem to come through.  

The Caress of Morning Light (La caresse de la lumière matinale)

For years I denied these parts of myself, and when they did surface, I felt the need to apologize for being too.... I'm not even sure what adjective to use... too romantic, too sensual, too sensitive.  It makes some people uncomfortable.  There is a rawness, an intimacy, a sense of being exposed which makes them squirm.  I realize that this is their problem, and not mine, but it has taken awhile to feel confident enough to not allow that to inhibit my creative voice.  The contradiction I have observed is that, while somewhat hidden or hushed, there is a general desire for a quiet, feminine sensuality.  Men and women alike relate to the tenderness that is evoked by this genre of art, regardless of whether it be words or images or music.

As an aside, I have not noticed this with the French people I know.  The French in general know how to savor, to indulge the senses-- with great food, fine wine, and sweet seduction.  The pursuit of these needs is viewed as completely natural, with no judgment and no apologies for desiring that these needs be met.  

Over the years, the more I get to know myself, the more I evolve as a person and as an artist, the more I allow these parts of myself to surface.  I give voice to them now, risking the vulnerability that comes with authenticity.  To make art, to write, to create in general is to plunge head-first into a sea of vulnerability.  I take a deep breath and count to three before diving in.  There are always people who do not like or appreciate or comprehend what we do.  But when someone does understand or is touched in a profound way or is inspired by something that you've created, there is really nothing better for an artist.  Art is about communication, and communication, at its essence is about connection, the giving and receiving of information.  As social beings, connection is what we crave.  

Douceur  (Softness)

Art is also about expression, ultimately revealing who we are.  Henry Ward Beecher said, "Every artist dips his brush into his soul and paints his own nature into his pictures."  When we make authentic art, this is exactly what we do.  

And so, embracing the risk, embracing the vulnerability, I create these photos and this blog post, providing little glimpses of soul for those who care (and dare) to look.

Until next time....

Anne 

Falling leaves, falling softly

Falling softly

Twirling, tumbling, turning cartwheels in the air, leaves rode on the breeze as we walked down the allée of trees at the park that early October day.

Being a couple of passionate photographers, my partner and I, we always tote our cameras with us when we walk.  That morning we tried to capture falling leaves in mid-air, tried to freeze the moment before they landed, to memorialize and honor their journey.  We shot photo after photo after photo.... to no avail.  The wind was simply too strong, our ability to focus our cameras too slow, and they touched the ground too quickly, landing in pools of golden sunshine.  We laughed with each failed effort.  And since then, each time we see leaves raining downward, he says to me in English with that charming French accent, "Look... photo, photo..."  

The progression of autumn is different here in France.  The leaves lose their chlorophyll gradually, lingering on the trees much longer than where I lived in the U.S., the soft Parisian light making them glow like paper lanterns at sunset.   Each day, I walk along the banks of the Seine, across the street from our apartment, observing the season's progress.  The crabapple tree in the flower bed is laden with fruit harmoniously colored to match its leaves, a tapestry of persimmon, olive and chartreuse.  The chestnut trees are nearly bare, curled, crunchy brown leaves carpeting the promenade beneath them.  The linden trees that form the allée have revealed a thick blanket of moss coating their sturdy limbs, now visible since most of their yellowed leaves are gone.  The maple trees, perhaps the stars of autumn everywhere, are starting to blaze with color, their brilliant leaves dropping reluctantly, unwilling to let go and step out of the limelight.  I kick the piles of leaves as I walk, having always loved the sound they make beneath my feet.  The air smells of autumn-- of leaves and desiccation and the coming rains on the wind.

When people talk of falling in love, they often talk of falling "hard" for someone or something.  In my case, I fell softly.  It was a quick tumble, a head-over-heels kind of fall, a turning-somersaults-in-mid-air kind of fall, but a gentle one.  Like the swirling leaves we were trying to photograph at the park that day, I was free-falling, an inaudible and inevitable drift toward luminosity, compelled by the forces of gravity and the chemistry that exists between us.  After cascading downward, silently, softly, I landed in the grass.   And when I opened my eyes, there was my photographer, smiling, with his camera in hand. 

Until next time...

Anne