Monday, November 3, 2014

Why would someone want to hire a Birth Photographer?

As I was sitting in a waiting room today, waiting...oddly enough, I picked up a Parenting Magazine.  At the end of the magazine was one of those pro/con articles where they told both sides of a story.

The title was 'Would you hire a Birth Photographer?'

The first part was from a Mother of 2 who said, 'Hell no'.
She said she would basically rather die than have someone in her face with a camera yelling, 'Say CHEESE!' during a contraction.  Or worse, a close-up shot of her vagina as the baby's head is crowning.

As a Photographer and a Mother of 3, I was writhing in my seat.  I mean, this woman went on and on about how having a birth photographer would be such an invasion on her privacy and what sort of sadistic person would want to 'get in there and see everything'? Obviously visions of paparazzi selling her pics to the highest bidder were abounding. 


So that's what made me think there may be a slight misunderstanding among the masses.  And I would like to set the record straight.  Please bear with me.

First of all, a Birthing Photographer is not looking to 'go in for the money shot' like the misinformed Mama claimed.  True...we, as Photographers, are usually positioning you and telling you where to stand and when to smile.  That much is true.  However, a Birthing Photographer is something entirely different.

We are there to capture a story, create a 'baby book' of pictures.  Picture the first image, Mom's belly a couple of months ahead of D-day.  A picture of the nursery ready and waiting...Daddy sitting in the rocking chair 'reading' a book to the soon-to-be baby.  The due date circled on the calendar!  If the birth is in a hospital or birthing clinic, a picture of the outside of the building or the sign announcing the name.  A moment capturing the strength of Mom experiencing a contraction while Dad holds tight to her hand.  A kiss on her forehead.  The clock on the wall showing the late hour, hopefully not a sign that the baby will be a night owl.  And then, the first expression on the baby's face as he/she is held up to Mom's face.

I didn't even realize I was holding my breath till I let it out at the thought of the baby's safe entrance into the world.  Can you see it? Can you feel the excitement?

Oh and I almost forgot, we are not in your face saying, 'cheese!'  A Birthing Photographer blends into the background.  We get the candids.  We don't wait for the smile.  We get the crucial moments.  And if we do our job right, you won't even know we are there.

I've been there done that, three times over.

The drives to the hospital.  The pain and struggle.  The long walks down the hall to speed things up.  The loved ones in the 'waiting room' falling asleep.  And the final gentle plump of the baby resting on my chest and looking up into my eyes for the first time.

And you know what?  Every single time, the camera sat unattended on a nearby table, waiting patiently for someone to remember it.  Oh, and we did.  But always much later.  And by the time we did remember, the baby had already changed in its looks from first glance.  The transformation from birth to one hour is amazing.  And if you don't have a photograph to prove it...your mind will change with it.  And you will forget what happened.  I find the birth of a baby is a whirl of excitement and activity, much like a wedding.  Everyone is present, there is crying and cheering, kissing and cake...and before you know it, it's all over and you have a blur of memories...and a baby. Okay, so maybe it's not the exact same thing.

If I could go back, knowing what I know now....I would have hired someone not related to me to take pictures.  Why not related to you?  Because if you are emotionally attached to the situation, you may get caught up in the flurry and forget all about that contraption in your hand.  It is hard to get a good clear photo if your hands are shaking and you're crying.  Believe me, I've tried that too.

So in conclusion, there are not many moments in your life that change you forever.  Not ones that you want to remember anyway.  Your first kiss as Husband and Wife.  The first time you look into the eyes of that baby you've been nurturing and loving for 9 months.

These are the moments you want to hold on to.  This is why it is worth the cost of hiring a professional.  This is why I love what I do.

Oh and p.s. the other side of the article was written also by a Mother of 2, but she was a Birth Photographer....

~for the moments there are no words, let the photographs speak for you~

Friday, September 19, 2014

it's true...we have all lost someone

A Parent, Grandparent, a Friend, a Child...a Pet. Whether old or young, someone you love has no doubt already crossed over to the other side.  
Of course they are happy, free of illness, free of of anything bad.
But what does that mean for us?
The ones left behind.
I have lost both of my Parents, all of my Grandparents, many cherished Pets and dear Friends.  As hard as it is to say goodbye I have to believe that they have gone back to where we have all come from. Their struggles and lessons they came here to deal with are through.  And when ours are done as well, they will be waiting for us to come home...with open loving arms...or paws.

The name of the song that is playing in the video is 'When I Get Where I'm Going' by Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton. Definitely one of my favorite songs.

I made this video for all of those that have left make you smile or shed a tear.  But mostly to remember, when we meet again there will be only happy tears.

One of the last things my Dad said to me
was how much he was looking forward to being with my Mom again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My new office

Okay, so it's not a 'new' office.  I re-arranged my office furniture to create a new 'space'.
It seemed like a huge undertaking while I was planning it. But all in all took less than 2 hours.

Our upstairs 'loft' bedroom is large enough to have my office at the opposite end of our sleeping area. Plus we have a bathroom.  A tiny bathroom that I can't stand up straight in.  But who stands up straight in the bathroom?  So, essentially, I can work, take a nap, pee, wash my hands and get right back to work again.  The only reason I need to come downstairs is to re-fill by mug with tea. And grab a chocolate chip cookie warm out of the oven.  What? no cookies?  How can that be? Everything else is perfect.

Working at home, as you can see, has its abundance of advantages.  I can get laundry done, housework, no commute, faithful companion sitting on the top step keeping a watchful eye out for creepy passers-by.

I love to write.  If I could write all day long and get paid for it...that would be my dream life.  Sometimes I worry that I would run out of thing to write about.  But then I laugh...I have never run out of things to TALK how could I not have something to write about?

Yesterday, we were at a hockey game.  My husband, Goose, oldest son, Jake and myself.  Not long after being in the cold air of the arena, my nose started to run. I mentioned it to Goose.  A conversation ensued that included an idea of a nose literally running around the arena up and down the steps.  From that moment on, there were many instances where I burst out laughing and could not stop...for no apparent reason to the other hockey fans.  They kept looking back and forth between me and the ice to see if there were any correlation.  And there, sadly, was not.

And that...just made me laugh all the more.

See?  There is no shortage of topics for this Lassie to discuss.  I find humour in absolutely everything.
Now..where was I?  Ahh..yes, the other direction my mind goes...'humour' and 'completely lost'.

I would love to say it has come with age.  That while talking to someone, or not even talking to someone....that I will blurt out something I am thinking about.  Be it a word or person I was trying desperately to place in an earlier conversation ....a completely new topic that I just thought of and had to share.  I would love to blame it on age...however, I have always been this way.  And I don't mind it.  It keeps me interesting...if even in my own eyes inclusively.

Tea mug empty - be right back.  Talk amongst yourselves.

Well, as you can see by my long delay in short trips usually find a way to becoming a 'Family Circus' adventure trail.  Anyone else remember those?
I was leaving the kitchen with my hands wrapped around my warm mug. I noticed that the washing machine had ended it's cycle.  Putting down my mug and picking up the laundry basket I proceeded to transport the clothes outside onto the line.  Faithful companion accompanying me of course...which turned into a squirrel hunt as she inched her way off of the back deck.  Wrangling her back in, letting the squirrel off with a warning...we headed back into the house.  My hot tea is now warm.  I pass by the livingroom window and see that I left the garage door open.  Now I realize I'm wasting valuable writing time, so I run outside all the way to the garage...grab the door and am overcome with the smell of my Dad.  He's been 'hanging around' the garage for weeks now, helping Goose with the final touches of truck rehabilitation.  I stop and absorb that feeling for a moment.  And I smile.
I get back inside, kick off my crocs, grab my tea and realize I have to go to the bathroom.

It's cold out today... my nose is running again.  And now my tea is cold.

What was I saying? my office.  Ah, yes.  Before my desk was facing a wall and I would have to turn my head a full 90 degrees to the right to see out my window.  Now my desk is facing a corner and I turn my head a grand 45 degrees to see out my window.  Great job. Cut. Print. The end.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fighting the Dragon

By now most of you have heard we've lost Robin Williams.
Another great man that we never truly realized how much he touched our lives, until he was gone.

And thanks to the media we are aware of the brutal details.  I honestly don't know how these people sleep at night.  Or the people that make the decisions that allow it.

I was shocked and saddened to hear he was gone.  Somehow it hurt even worse knowing that he was so troubled that he thought taking his own life was the only way to escape.

I know all too well about fighting the dragon.  I watched my Father do it my entire life.  Possibly his entire life.  He too, had an amazing sense of humour.  Which he used constantly to hide his pain.  I do it as well.  Now we know Robin did.  Other comedians as well, including Jim Carrey.

It wasn't until a few days after Robin's death, I learned there were people ...sick sick people attacking his family.  Saying horrible things, posting falsified photos...which have no other possible reason, other than to hurt these poor people.  People who have just lost their father, their husband..their friend.

I am so tired of celebrities being treated like trash.  Just because you don't like something they said...or didn't care for a movie or TV show they were in.  This does NOT give you the right to harm them physically, emotionally or otherwise.

They are just people.  They are normal people that get out of bed in the morning.  They eat their breakfast, they kiss their husband or wife and they go to work.  The only difference is their job happens to be on television.  Their reason for being there is to entertain YOU.  This does not mean you own them.  Although I do realize it gives us the feeling of knowing them, having them in our livingroom for an hour or two.  But they are still their own person.  With thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams.  And sometimes nightmares.

All I could think of was Robin's poor daughter...not even being allowed the right to grieve.  How dare these people?  What kind of person cannot open up their hearts to another human being in distress and offer support, compassion even love?

Not the kind of person I want to be around.

Then I heard a voice in my head.
It said, 'they did that to you..'

And in an instant I was walking into the room where my Father's 'funeral' would take place.  The room was full of my family and loved ones.  I had just lost my Father.  We all had.

But they had each other.
There were people in that room I had grown up with, played with, looked up to and given my heart.

During a time of loss....people say it is best to surround yourself with loved ones.  Or at least others that knew the deceased.  So you can share your memories, thoughts and stories.

I honestly did not know what to expect when I walked into that room.  But I had to go.  For my Father's sake.  And for my own.

When the ones I had been closest with throughout my life, turned their back as if they did not know me.  No, that is not right.  Even people I did not know came up to me to hug me and give their support.  They didn't care who I was.  They only knew I had lost my best friend.

Members of my own family turned away as if they hated me.  I will never understand what I could possibly have done to deserve that.  My mind has tried for years to fathom what a person could possibly do to have lost an entire family.  And no answer has ever appeared.

That's when I realized.  There is cruelty in this world.
Great cruelty.
And I should not be shocked by it.  Maybe it was because I am now used to it.  And I was shocked that it could happen to someone else.
But I should never be used to something like this.  No one should.

My Father fought this dragon for most of his life.  I tried to be there for him every chance I could.  It was not easy.  At one point I had to move away because it hurt so badly to see him struggle.  But I could not help him.  Even when I called every day to make him smile or laugh.  I still had no idea what he went through for those other 23 hours.

I sit here tonight typing to you on his computer.  I look through his pictures and try to keep as many settings the way he had.  It still says, 'Hello Mel' when I sign in.  I cannot change this.  How could I?

I found pictures, hundreds of them that he took of himself.
Many of them looked like this.  A few were happy.

This breaks my heart to think of what he went through when I was not around.
He spoke to me of the Dragon.  The dragon that lived inside that wanted him miserable, alone...or dead.  He said it was a never-ending struggle each and every day to survive.  Many times I thought it was a lead into a funny anecdote.  Or I would make a joke myself to try and lighten the mood.

He never gave in to the dragon.  He never pulled that trigger he so often referred to.  And for that I am so very proud of him.
I still lost him.  And I miss him every day.  I cannot imagine the thought of having lost him to that dragon.

Robin Williams family deserves their right to grieve.  They deserve their privacy.  And they also need to preserve their happiest moments and memories of their Dad.  Their Dad who worked hard to make so many other people laugh.  To maybe make their struggle with the dragon a little easier.

I know he helped my Dad.  I know he's helped me.  No, I don't have the dragon inside of me.
But I do live in this world.  I see the pain and suffering.  I see that we all need to try a little harder to reach out to others. 

I make a point of smiling and saying hello to every person I meet...every person that enters my personal space.  People ask me why sometimes. 
'Why are you so happy?'
And I say because I choose to be. (I really have no other choice)

And why is it so important to me that I smile at everyone I see?
Because my smile might be the only one they see that day.

My Dad had an amazing sense of humour.  Everyone that knows him will agree.
It is the most important thing he passed on to me.

And for that I am forever grateful.

Smile at someone.

Help fight the dragon.

Monday, July 28, 2014

~Autumn in July

I know, I's been a long time since my last post.  I have no excuse other than working.
When my kids were little I had time to bake fresh bread and have cookies in the jar often.  Although then my full-time job was being a Mom and a housekeeper.

Now that the kids are all grown, you would think I would have more time.  But I have a full-time grown up job.  Which mainly means that when I'm not working, I'm tired from working.  I have money from my job so that I can help Goose pay the bills (for the house that we don't have time to enjoy and the vehicles that take us to our work).

My thoughts on that?

If we didn't have the house and car and all the things in between....we wouldn't need to work to pay for them. So then...we would have all kinds of time to 'play' with the things we no longer have.
There seems to be a vicious circle called 'Life' that is sucking it all out of us.

My perfect world would consist of a small wooden cottage out in the middle of nowhere.  We would have water close by, so that we could use our boat.  Not a large boat, even a canoe I would be happy with.  Something to glide over the water on an early morning while listening to nothing but the birds waking up.

We would have solar panels to power everything we need.  No obligation to the hydro companies and all their huge paychecks and severance packages.  A big garden to grow all of our own veggies.  No worries about what the big corporations are putting into our foods or listening for recalls on our daily sustenance.

An internet connection so that I can upload my latest writing pieces to my publisher and they can deposit my checks into my banking account...without ever leaving my loft.
Lots of trees for shade and shelter, grass and wildflowers...a stone path leading to our little pond.  With fish blowing bubbles up at me as I pass by.

The air is cooler in the last few days.  I am sitting at my desk with my sweater on and a warm blanket over my legs.  Why not just close the windows you ask?
Because then I would not hear the birds chatting on the tree outside.  Nor the tiny raindrops landing on the awning over the window.  There's something about a cool breeze like today.
It makes me want to buy school supplies and pick apples....bake pies.

So when I went into town today, I bought a turkey.  The smells that are wafting upstairs to my office right now are making it difficult to concentrate on working.
I broke up the bread and rubbed the sage and butter on.  And yes, making a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings is alot of work for one meal.  Which is probably why we only do this twice a year.

What makes it worth it?
The smell of a turkey roasting in the oven evokes memories of Christmases long past....Thanksgivings with the grandparents and cousins all sitting at the same table, everyone happy and excited, talking all at once.  Going outside after and playing in the leaves, enjoying the brisk breeze.  Feeling the air that promises a new beginning...a new season, a new adventure.  Fall has always been my favorite time of the year.
Having that smell ....bring all that back for an entire day.  And seeing the look on Goose's face when he comes home and the memories proceed to puncture his work day.  All the stresses float away out the open windows.

That is why it is worth it.
I think our Mothers knew it as well.

So ...tomorrow it may be summer again with blistering heat and shade seekers abound.  But today, just for will be my Autumn.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

~My Healing Retreat

A most extremely strange thing just happened...while digging in the garden, cleaning up and preparing for the new season...I noticed an injured bee. I hoped it wasn't me with my little hand rake that had hurt him...but who knows? He was sideways and couldn't get up. Buzzing his little wings, but unable to fly
I said, 'are you ok?'
and he extended a leg (that was at a very bad angle compared to his other legs) straight up and out against his back. I wasn't sure what to do, so I offered the end of my rake to him and he latched on with his remaining good legs.
I looked at him, struggling...wondering what I should do. I briefly considered putting him out of his misery. Then quickly dismissed it since he had obviously trusted me to help him.
Then I looked over at my newly constructed Faerie Retreat.
'I may not know what to do, but I know a great place you can stay!' so I carefully transported him to the Faerie cottage and gently set him down on the stone path, upside-down. With our combined efforts we quickly uprighted him.
Getting down on one knee I decided to get a good close-up look at a often do we get that chance? He scanned the scenery, apparently quite at home. He started walking around...then he decided to try out his wings again. They got him to the other side of the path. Then he did it again flying further, to the post next to the Faerie door. As he climbed to the top of it, I realized his 'hurt leg' was now pointed in the correct direction and functioning properly. As I was wondering when that happened, he flew away.
Leaving me sitting there, with my earth-crusted hands on my a stupor.
'Did I.....?'
'Did he....?'
Finally I got a clear thought...'Did I just heal that bee...? with my Faerie Retreat?'

As I attempted to get up, still in the bee that was almost dead a few moments before....I thought, 'Maybe he read the book..'

all I know is...I want to spend more time there!