Photography

Fragile Things: Part Three - A Broken Egg by Leslie Fandrich

Part Three of my Fragile Things series is here!  Part One is herePart Two is here. This is the final part of the series featuring my photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. Working on this project has been enlightening and I really appreciate these final thoughts about the nature of fragile things.

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Finding Strength by Leslie Fandrich

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There is nothing more soothing for me than taking out my camera and looking for things to photograph. This week all the trees are blooming and my favorite are the magnolias. I found one today with a very deep shade of pink, it was so pretty.

Nearby were also some horses, so I went to say hello, because, why not? I stood by the fence calling at them while they ate grass and they happily ignored me until all of a sudden they both rushed up to the fence and sniffed at me. I put out my hand and the black one let me touch him, even though I think he was disappointed that I didn't have a  carrot. Horses are awesome.

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Nothing can make you feel better than an animal blissfully unaware and unconcerned with our human condition. You can look deep into an animal's eyes and what is reflected back at you is so simple. So easy. Eat, drink, run. The same with flowers. It's just pure, uncomplicated. They bloom, they die. Done.

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I was afraid I had missed this, while I was in Canada with my Mom. it would have been fine if I had, I took pictures last year and I will take pictures next year, but I was really glad that I didn't miss it, that after the departure of my mother, I am still able to experience the arrival of spring. Together, it is somehow more bearable for me. All is not lost. There is still spring.

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I'm doing fine, by the way. Happy to be home and sorting through my Mom's things that I got to keep. I've got her sewing kit, some of her jewelry and a bunch of personal papers, plus all the notes and message that she's given me over the years. I pulled off five voicemails from my phone (three cheers for an iPhone that saves every message for as long as you have the phone!) and I was so comforted by the fact that each one started exactly the same, "Hi sweetheart, it's Mum." Every single one. So consistent, so dependable. 

Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened. ― Dr. Seuss

The books I am reading tell me that I am looking for her. It's a normal part of the process. Actually, almost everything is a normal part of the process. We all grieve so differently. Cry, don't cry. Talk, don't talk. Pretty much whatever you need to do, it's ok to do it. I've been reading two books by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross that I really like. On Death and Dying was written in 1969 and is still one of the best books out there on the topic. Her book On Grief and Grieving was written while she herself was dying in 2004. Her co-author experienced her death before completing the book in 2007.

For something that each of us will experience multiple time in our lives, to those that we love and to our own selves, death is not something people like to talk about. Our brains are so good at tricking us into thinking that death is not possible, that it will not happen to us. We deny this truth our entire lives and it leaves us woefully unprepared to deal with loss and to face our own demise. Think about it, plan for it, accept that someday, it will happen.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Facing death allows us to live our lives more fully. Accepting death as a part of life makes our time here sweeter and more precious. I'm not saying this is easy. It's not. I will miss my Mom every single day for the rest of my life, but this isn't going to break me. Life must go on. And it must go on even better than before. It must go on with even more love and more living. She would want that, as I think all of those leaving us do.

Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing... ― Elizabeth Gilbert

My greatest assets during this time has been my independence and my willingness to accept change. If you can draw on those things when you are facing something like this, it will be easier. If you realize that despite all our loving relationships, we are really the only constant in our lives. Also, when things like this happen, it's not about mourning and then moving on, it's about integrating the experience into our lives, letting it change us and growing stronger and more capable.

Some people, they can't just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me... I don't know. I didn't want to fix it, to forget. It wasn't something that was broken. It's just...something that happened. And like that hole, I'm just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. ― Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Have you experienced loss in your life? Have you faced death yourself? I'd love to hear about how you have coped with it and what you have learned.

xo

Arrival and Departure by Leslie Fandrich

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The weather was gorgeous today in New York. I didn't wear a jacket, the air smelled like grass and dirt and the sunshine was warm on my skin. When my Mom first entered Hospice it was still cold outside and she told my sister she wanted to see spring blossom one last time. I took these pictures last year and they are for her.

I'm heading back to Canada tomorrow. My Mom has been holding steady for the last 3 weeks, but they increased her pain medication last weekend (she's now getting up to 20mls of Dilaudid an hour) and the confusion, anxiety and hallucinations also increased so they have been giving her an anti-anxiety medication called Versed. It's a sedative that allows her to relax, sleep and feel less stressed out about what's going on. In the last three days, if she wakes up and the Versed has worn off, she is very upset and doesn't know what to do with herself. Unfortunately, she is getting to the point where she needs to be fully sedated and with that will come a catheter, a cessation of eating and reduced mobility. I don't think it will be long after that.

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I'm not going back to take care of her, the team of nurses that she has at the Hospice facility are doing a great job of that, but my presence may bring her some comfort. I am mostly going for myself and for my sister and Dad. They need my support and I need to bear witness to this. I can't stay away. As hard as it will be to see her like this, I know I need to be there. To share in the grief, to be part of the process, to see her out in the same way that she saw me in. With love.

I'm trying to be really zen about this you guys, and it works sometimes, but I've also had this nagging headache for two days and the feeling of dread about what's to come. In a perfect world everything would be serene and peaceful and beautiful, but that's not reality. At least not all the time. I hope there will be beautiful moments, but this is also the hardest, most stressful time in my life and this is a difficult process. She's angry, she's emotional, she doesn't understand what she needs to do. How does a person die?

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I try to remind myself that death is like birth. It's a transition. It's a changing of states. It's traumatic and you have to labor at it. The body does strange things. You need to accept the process and ride the waves. Eventually, at the end of all the work, there is a release and things change forever. Her and I have been through this together before, and we can go through it together again. I can do this for her. I am ready.

It's a strange duality, spring blossoming and my Mom dying. But I am grateful for the warm sun and the new flowers to bring a little beauty to the world while this is happening. It's the way she wanted it.

Finding Beauty in a Cemetery and in Death by Leslie Fandrich

Last year when I was posting my Photo Walk series, I did a photo walk by myself in our local cemetery.

I felt uncomfortable posting the pictures. At the time, I was worried people would find them morbid or disturbing and not see the beauty in them that I did. Now, I don't care as much, but I'm also more preoccupied with death than I was before and I'm finding it difficult to contemplate anything else. It's time to post these pictures for one reason:

Death doesn't have to be faced with fear. It can beautiful and tell us valuable things about life.

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Fragile Things: Part Two - A Heart by Leslie Fandrich

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Part Two of my Fragile Things series is here!  Part One is here. This is a three part series featuring photographs of fragile things, with hand-lettered text from Neil Gaiman's book of short stories, Fragile Things, overlaid on top. These photo illustrations explore the nature of fragile things. I myself am going through a fragile time right now, my Mom is dying of cancer, and I have found working on this project to be a great way to meditate on what I am going through and what it all means.

From the Introduction:

Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

From the story Strange Little GIrls:

The view changes from where you are standing. Words can wound, and wounds can heal. All of these things are true.

From the story How To Talk To Girls At Parties:

We wrapped our dreams in words and patterned the words so that they would live forever, unforgettable.

Hearts may break, but they are tough. It's something I need to remember right now. Resilience, perspective and a legacy. That is what Neil Gaiman's words mean to me. It's why I write and make art. Writing and making art make me stronger, give me perspective and hopefully, it will build up into a legacy that I can leave to my family.

Part Three is coming in the following weeks! Stay tuned for that.

Fragile Things: Part One - Feathers by Leslie Fandrich

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A few months ago I was inspired to photograph objects that are considered fragile. As I was working on the shots, I remembered that Neil Gaiman published a collection of short stories called Fragile Things. It was a book I didn't remember reading, so I picked it up from the library and I found that I was familiar with many of the stories from other sources. There are some good ones in there. Some of them are creepy, but still so good. Gaiman is such an amazing story teller.

I came across so many great quotes that I decided to hand letter the ones that were specifically related to fragile things and overlay the illustrated text onto the images. This is the first image of a three part series and I'll post the next two separately in the following weeks. 

From the story Strange Little Girls:

She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon.
You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.

From the story Instructions:

Do not lose hope—what you seek will be found.
Trust ghosts.
Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.
Trust dreams.
Trust your heart, and trust your story. 

I've really enjoyed working on this project and it's given me new insights into fragile things. I love these sentiments about identity and trust. You need focus and passion. You need to trust dreams, hearts and stories. It's about knowing and trusting yourself. And above all, do not lose hope. Ever. What you seek will be found. For a seeker like me, that statement makes me feel so good. It assures me to just keep at it. I will get there eventually, I will find what I am looking for.

The short story Instructions, became a lovely book of it's own illustrated by Charles Vess. I bought it for my kids and this story/poem is pure magic. It's all the best advice from fairy tales. Your kid's adventures and imaginations will most surely be inspired by reading it.

What is your favorite fragile thing or fairy tale?

Part Two - A Heart is here.

New Prints & My Art Featured at Inward Facing Girl by Leslie Fandrich

Melanie at Inward Facing Girl is featuring my photography and studio in her Art I Heart series today and I couldn't be more flattered and honored. 

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The turquoise supplies were photographed at Uppercase Magazine while I was visiting last summer. The office is so lovely that I didn't move a thing when I was taking pictures. Although Janine did "tszuj" a little as I was shooting. See more pictures from the visit.

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The dripped coffee was shot last spring at the Blue Bottle Coffee stand on the High Line in New York City. Isn't the swan neck kettle gorgeous? The High Line is one of my favorite places to visit in the city. I took this picture at the end of a wonderful day of street photography with Sandra.

From the interview with Melanie:

I'm a very intuitive worker. I try not to plan too much and I let my mood and circumstances tell me what I should be working on. Sometimes it's just about sorting through a box of old things.
I have a list of ideas and concepts that I revisit constantly to see if anything stands out to me or feels like I have more to add to it.
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Read more over at Inward Facing Girl and get a peek at the first photos of my newly organized studio! I've been working on cleaning up my space for MONTHS and it's finally starting to come together. If there is anything you would like to know about my creative process or my studio, ask questions in the comments and I would be happy to answer them! Here's one secret, while the pictures show a perfectly arranged studio, behind the camera and just out of frame is a complete disaster of everything ELSE. It's true. Remember: Nothing is perfect.

Book Launch Event: Bébé Day by Day by Pamela Druckermann by Leslie Fandrich

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I was thrilled to photograph the New York book launch party for Pamela Druckermann's new book Bébé Day by Day. Go Mighty hosted the event with Penguin Press at Pasanella and Son in New York and the evening was a delight. Pamela is charming, smart and has lots of great tips about how to relax as a parent, raise thoughtful, respectful children and to let go of the guilt and over-scheduling and really enjoy the time that we have with them.

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Throughout the space were chalkboards highlighting some of the tips from the book, like "Tell Your Baby the Truth" and "Let Them Eat Cake" along with delicious food from Elizabeth Stark and Brian Campbell of Brooklyn Supper, art from Laura Trevey and Caravan Shoppe, and chocolate from Mast Brothers.

My favorite tips from the book are these:

  • Calm is Better for the Baby
  • Tell Your Baby the Truth
  • Let Kids Cook
  • Back Off at the Playground
  • Give Kids Lots of Chances to Practice Waiting
  • Give Kids Meaningful Chores
  • Show Kids You Have a Life Apart from Them
  • Say "Yes" as Often as You Can

Of course, with any parenting book, you have to choose what works for you and focus on that. Not everything in this book was for me. My feelings and choices about sleep in our family are still pretty in line with attachment parenting principles, but overall I found these keys to French parenting are focused on finding balance, calm and mutual respect with your children. All wonderful things to strive for in a family.

To see the rest of the pictures from the evening, visit the Go Mighty Flickr stream and to order Pamela's book, visit Amazon.

Winter Weekend by Leslie Fandrich

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I hope everyone in the Northeast who got a perfect dumping of snow on Friday enjoyed it. We did. Here's a short video to give you a sense of what it was like on Friday while it was still snowing and a bunch of pictures from the weekend. We shoveled, went sledding, played hockey, drank hot chocolate and warmed up by the fire. I even found a snow heart at the end of the day.

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I love how the light changes so much from Friday to Saturday and as the sun goes down. I'm also so happy that we have amazing neighbors that carve tracks out for sledding and shovel the snow off the lake for skating. We are very lucky to live where we do.

Did you get hit with the storm? Do you love winter?

Limited Edition Print for ALT by Leslie Fandrich

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I made a limited edition print of "Nothing is Perfect" to give to anyone who asks to see my Portfolio book (printed thanks to Blurb!) at Alt Summit this week. It's the image I chose for the cover of the book. The prints are four inches square with a border and you can put it on your bulletin board to remind yourself to stop looking for perfection. Nothing is perfect. In fact, the beauty is in the imperfections, like the amazingly gorgeous rust pattern on an old iron furnace door I found at an antique shop.

I'm so happy with how my book turned out! I opted to upgrade to the lustre paper and it looks and feels amazing. I divided the book into six sections to match the Creative Work galleries on this site. Each section has ten images from each gallery. While it's lovely to view images on screen, there is something wonderful about holding a real book in your hands. I can't wait for you to see it for yourself.

I also made a protective sleeve for the book out of a linen bag and a red felt pocket I had that happily matches the spine of my book. I tend to collect packaging remnants like these and it was fantastic to combine them together to make a new item. The book and limited edition prints fit in them just right.

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Will you be one of the lucky 50 to get a limited edition print? I hope so. Remember, ask to see my Portfolio and you can take your print out of the red pocket! They are all signed, numbered and dated on the back. Which number will you be?

See you at ALT! I can't wait for the internet to come alive! It's slightly freaking me out, but I'm trying to follow my own advice: Don't freak out!

xo

PS. If you won't be attending ALT, you can view my Portfolio Book online at Blurb.

From Above by Leslie Fandrich

I love the way things look from above. It's objective, it's distanced. You aren't in it, you are above it. It's the big picture. The shot below was taken from a plane when I was landing in Phoenix. That's not snow, it's the desert.

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Aerial shots of Earth are my most recent inspiration. Have you seen the post office's new stamps? I love the colors and patterns so much. 

One of my all time favorite large format books is The Earth From Above. I can spend hours looking at the images in it. It's so mezmerising to see things we are familar with from such a different point of view. Everyday landscapes are transformed into patterns, shapes and fascinating arrangements. Even hearts.

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Have you tried looking at things from a different point of view recently? 

2012: Year in Pictures by Leslie Fandrich

I'm back a few days early with my best shots and most notable moments from 2012. Some pictures you will probably remember from blog posts, but many of these were never published. I hope you enjoy them! Going back through my year was enlightening. Life isn't always easy but I love trying to find the beauty in every moment. Have a happy New Year and all the best wishes for 2013.

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Animated Family Portrait (with 10 tips!) by Leslie Fandrich

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Happy Holidays everyone! We are all very excited about tomorrow being the last day of school, some time in NYC to see the holiday fun this weekend and Christmas next week. I can't wait for downtime with family by a warm fire, reading books and good food. We are so lucky and grateful for all that we have.

Do you like our animated jumping picture? It was so fun to make. I have a few tips for you if you want to take great family pictures of your own that include everyone. 

  1. Use a tripod. You might be tempted to telescope out all the legs so the tripod is as tall as you. Don't do it. For a full body shot with a 70 mm lens, keep your camera low, maybe two feet off the ground.
  2. If you are using a tripod, you will also need to use a wireless shutter release. It cuts down on having to run back and forth between the camera and the spot you need to stand in. Have the release set to give you a few seconds to compose yourself and hide the hand the release is in. There is a maximum distance that the release will work in, if it's not working, try standing a bit closer to the camera and make sure you have a direct line to the infrared sensor.
  3. Go outside if the weather permits, the light is better and you will have more room to set up.
  4. Find a spot that has a simple background and stand way far in front of it so the background is at least slightly blurry. We chose trees here, but you could also find a wall, the side of a house or barn, a view, or even a cool old truck or huge set of stairs.
  5. Find the sun and face it. I have also found the sun and shot into it, but that is trickier and you have to watch your exposure (expose for the face) and sun flares (use a lens hood and make sure the sun is not hitting your lens directly.) You want diffused light, so hope for a slightly overcast day, or find a shadier spot under a tree or near a house. You don't want deep shade, but you also don't want extremely direct light.
  6. Watch for shadows on faces and avoid them, especially if your slightly shady spot is from trees, like ours. There is a shadow on my face in the shot below of me standing with my hands on my hips because the sunlight was filtering through the trees, but it was diffused enough that you (hopefully) don't notice it very much.
  7. Check your focus. Take a test shot, zoom in on someone's face and make sure it is sharp. Ask your family to stay in position. Once you set the camera to receive the remote shutter signal, the focus might be locked.
  8. Take a decent number of shots. For this shoot I took about 20-25. I did about 4 or 5 warm-up test shots. Quinn was not coorperating at first and he had his back turned to the camera (he is cheeky, that one). I let him do what he wants for the first few shots and after he warms up, we get serious about getting a "straight" shot. After I feel like I have at least three good straight shots, we do "fun" shots. We get to jump and make goofy faces and it's like a reward for the kids. They love that part. This year, the "fun" shots turned out so great that one made it to the back of our holiday cards and are featured here!
  9. For use in a holiday card, take the picture well before December. We shot these on Thanksgiving day because we were already dressed up, but you could also pick any day in October or November to have a fun shoot somewhere.
  10. Dress in clothes that coordinate, but don't perfectly match. Matchy-matchy can be cute/ironic if that is what you are going for, but I prefer to see outfits that are from two or three related color families. This year we did blue, orange and dark neutrals. Milo and Quinn are wearing tops from Gymboree.
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I will be taking a blogging break over the holidays, but you can still check in and see what I am up to on Twitter and Flickr! Hope you have a fantastic break with your family and that you rest and enjoy the season. I'll be back here on January 2nd with lots more creative goodness. Until then my friends.

xo

This post is sponsored by Gymboree. Bring a friend to a Gymboree store and sign up for GymboreeRewards together and you'll both SAVE 25% off an in-store purchase. 

Letting the Kids Trim the Tree by Leslie Fandrich

Last week I posted pictures of my family Christmas Tree shopping and I promised to show you pictures of us trimming it. This year I let the kids do most of the decorating and the tree is a beautiful mess of colorful, handmade ornaments.

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We don't usually get too fancy with our tree and this year I was more relaxed than ever when we were decorating it. Decorating the tree can sometimes be stressful for me, the ornament boxes get opened faster than I can blink and before I know it all the decorations are covering the floor and the ones that have made it onto the tree are all front and center in one spot. It totally offends my sense of calm and order, but this year I tried to relax about it, because the kids were having fun discovering all the decorations again and whatever, I need to just let them enjoy it because it's about them, isn't it?

Chris put five strings of lights on the tree, which has to happen before anything else. I like the lights to go in nice and deep so they sparkle when you walk by. We have these fantastic globe lights that give the all white, incandescent lights some variety and those go on last. I love the kid's crafty, handmade ornaments and we also have a fun collection of colorful felt ornaments and feathery birds. I didn't even bother with balls or garland this year, I liked the idea of keeping it simple.

I'll tell you a little secret though, and it's something that I'm very proud of my husband for. In that last picture there? Right behind me and Milo there is a giant vacuum cleaner! Just a little tip for those of you that are taking pictures at home, you don't always have to clean up perfectly as long as you shoot at angles that hide the stuff you don't want to see! Well done Chris, for composing this frame so perfectly.

I've got one more post for you this week and then I will be taking time off from blogging over the Christmas break. Stay tuned for a fun twist on our holiday family portrait and then I will see you back here on January 2nd.

xo

Portraits of Some Mighty Women by Leslie Fandrich

Nothing makes me happier than taking pictures of people who are often unhappy with pictures of themselves, and having them love what I have captured. Ladies, I hope that you see what I see: Beautiful, amazing, energetic women who shine.

The awesome Melanie, of  Inward Facing Girl , asked me to take her portrait and she's using one my shots on her  About page .

The awesome Melanie, of Inward Facing Girl, asked me to take her portrait and she's using one my shots on her About page.

Sheri Silver  wanted a portrait in front of the iconic Ace Hotel sign, she is such a rock star.

Sheri Silver wanted a portrait in front of the iconic Ace Hotel sign, she is such a rock star.

Kari Adams  had on her life list that she wanted a current picture of herself that she liked. I volunteered to help her and got this beautiful shot of her. What a bold, colorful girl.

Kari Adams had on her life list that she wanted a current picture of herself that she liked. I volunteered to help her and got this beautiful shot of her. What a bold, colorful girl.

Kari and her friend Becca Jarrell.

Kari and her friend Becca Jarrell.

Emily Perez  wanted a picture with the "E" for her name. I love this!

Emily Perez wanted a picture with the "E" for her name. I love this!

I loved that Melanie matched the paint wall.

I loved that Melanie matched the paint wall.

Emily really started to sparkle when I asked her to jump. This picture makes me smile, there is so much joy and just a little mischievousness!

Emily really started to sparkle when I asked her to jump. This picture makes me smile, there is so much joy and just a little mischievousness!

Of course Kari and Becca wanted in on the jumping action. People look so happy when they are jumping!

Of course Kari and Becca wanted in on the jumping action. People look so happy when they are jumping!

Sheri looking super cool in denim.

Sheri looking super cool in denim.

Life List: Set Up an Online Store by Leslie Fandrich

In preparation for Camp Mighty (I fly out TOMORROW!) I am sharing the five goals I will be selecting from my Life List to complete this year. Goal #1 is to write a book, goal #2 is to become an American Citizen and goal #3 is that I want to sell my photographs in an online store.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

Bicycle in Nolita, New York City.

I've been waffling on this goal for months and it's time to do it. The two big service contenders are Etsy and Big Cartel, but before I set up a shop and start uploading my pictures, I need to figure out the work flow. I need to know what I will do when an order comes in for a print, I need to decide how much to price prints at, I need to figure out where I will get it printed, on what kind of paper and how will it be framed, if at all.

The easy part is figuring out where I will sell it, the hard part is figuring out the rest. I wish there were a place that did all the printing, framing and shipping for me, but I guess if there were I would get a much smaller cut of the profit. I'm also wondering whether I should invest in a good printer and print them myself, although my gut is telling me that route might prove to be an expensive initial investment.

I think what would help is if I got a few test prints done, got a few things framed to see how it looks and how long it takes. I have to approach this as if I am making art for your walls. If I can test out a few things and see what I like, then I can have the confidence in what I am selling.

Can I ask you for advice?

If you sell things online, can you share with me what you have learned? What is the most difficult part of the process? Do you use Etsy or Big Cartel? Is there another place I should be thinking about?

If you think you might be interested in purchasing my photographs, can you tell me what you are looking for? Do you want prints framed or do you want to frame them yourselves? What are your price points? What sizes are you looking for?

Help a girl out? Please leave a comment below, or send me a message. Thanks!

AFP & GTO play NYC's Webster Hall by Leslie

Earlier this week I shared the photos of Amanda Palmer's epic crowd surfing moment and I'm back with the rest of the pictures from the NYC show at Webster Hall! You can check them all out on Flickr, but here are a few of my favorites.

The show was a perfect amalgamation of everything I've ever seen AFP do. It had some Cabaret flair and a similar entrance to the acoustic show we saw at Momenta Gallery for the Kickstarter art package. There were moments of both deafening, screaming sounds and quiet words spoken gently. The lighting was excellent and each song had it's own mood and color palette. Almost everything on stage was white. Costumes, props and sets were still slightly DIY, while feeling just a little richer and more produced. Screens onstage showed pictures that audience members had submitted or video close-ups of hands playing instruments. Amanda had four variations in her costumes and I loved how she was just basically striping off her clothes as the show went on to reveal different looks. The piece that she put on, rather than take off, was the custom made jacket by Kambriel for the Bottomfeeder crowd surf. It had an amazingly long train made out of three different colors of chiffon. Just look at how it's like a giant bubble skirt flowing behind her on the sea of people. Brilliant.

So, as you've heard me say already a hundred times: go SEE the show and GET the record. You can pay what you want for it, nothing if you are broke, or up to $20 if you want to support the effort. It's amazing, inspiring stuff. What Amanda Palmer is doing to the business of music is nothing short of revolutionary. She's changing the game, right in front of our eyes. It's upsetting to some and thrilling for others. This week she was at opposite ends of the spectrum, pissing off professional musicians and thier unions everywhere by asking for volunteers to play her shows and at the same time, crashing into the Billboard 200 music chart yesterday at NUMBER TEN. (Ukuleles rained down on the world when that happened and today Amanda and team have decided to pay all musicians on tour with them by pulling money from video budgets. I applaud her for this, it's the right thing to do.) I don't think there has ever been, in the history of music, a crowd funded, independent record in the top ten. It's really remarkable. She's a perfect example of doing it yourself, without corporate sponsorship, thinking on your feet and adapting to a changing landscape. You can stay in control of your music/art career, produce material on your own, and be successful doing it. It CAN be done. It's not easy of course, you have to build an audience authentically and organically and create something that people actually want, but it CAN be done. What's really exciting is that this model is true for pretty much any artist, be it musician, writer, painter, illustrator, inventor, etc. Creative people need to pay attention to what she is doing, what she is saying and what she believes in because it really can be the future of everything. WE ARE THE MEDIA. You and me.

Check out the rest of the photos on FLICKR!

A Beautiful LGBT Farm Wedding: Kate and Marty by Leslie

I was very honored to serve as a second shooter for my friend, photographer Amber Marlow, at a beautiful summer wedding at Red Gate Farm in Ashfield, Massachusetts last July for Kate and Marty. Amber's specialty is elopements and weddings in and around New York City, often for the LGBT community, and it's a very special privilege to be able to capture the love and excitement that happens when people are given the legal right to marry whomever they wish. 

What I loved the most about this wedding was how down to earth it was. First of all, having a wedding on a working farm naturally means farm animals and practical shoes (white sandles for Kate and blue chucks for Marty), but there also seemed to be no pretenses about what a wedding *should* be. There was no wedding cake for example, and the couple made choices that seemed to perfectly reflect their humor, love and friendships. Their friends served as justice of the peace and DJ, there were giant beer mugs with mustaches on them and at the head table was an illustration of two frogs kissing. There were also plenty of enthusiastic references to their rugby teams and colleges. It was the perfect mix of irreverence and tradition and I really got a sense about who Marty and Kate were and how much love and support surrounded them from family and friends. 

Check out the complete set of pictures on Flickr!

What a totally awesome group of people! I had so much fun shooting this wedding. As second shooter, I was focusing mostly on the guests and the details of the wedding. Amber did all the portraits of the couple and her shots of the wedding are incredible. I loved my first experience as a wedding photographer, thank you so much Amber, and I hope I will get the opportunity to shoot another one!

Best of luck to Kate and Marty! If your wedding is any indication, you will have a long and happy life together filled with beautiful people who love you endlessly. Congratulations.

Vintage Photographs of my Grandma by Leslie

I love this photograph of my Grandma on the left, holding my Aunt Denyse and standing next to a train with her good friend Gwen. It's such a classic shot from another era.

Today is my Grandma's funeral, and while it's a very sombre day and saying good bye is hard, it's also been wonderful to be with the family, tell stories and look back at vintage family photographs. My Grandma told me that whenever I mentioned her here on my blog, she felt famous.

So today, she is the star.

Grandma is in the bathing suit in the photo on the left and on the right she is holding her first baby, my Dad. In the photograph above of the amazing ladies playing hockey, my Grandma is on the right.

On the left is my Great Great Grandma Ethel (my Grandma's Grandma) and on the right is my Great Grandpa Denys, my Grandma's Dad, who was in the Calgary Highlanders.

 

Above on the left is my Grandma and Grandpa shortly after they were married, and the formal portrait on the right is from the same year. I simply love her hairstyle.

Today, as we honor my Grandma, pay tribute to her wonderful life, and say goodbye, please think of your own family and hug those that you love a little closer. Our time is so short.

Power, Pride and Inclusivity at BlogHer 2012 by Leslie

My favorite event at the 8th annual BlogHer conference was the Fashion Show. I had never been to a BlogHer event before, and I had a fairly limited experience with the community website, so I had no real expectations and I wanted to just see what would unfold. I knew it was large event, this year there were over five thousand people at the Hilton in NYC, but what I didn't realize was that the huge scope means that this is an incredibly INCLUSIVE community. I don't think there is a cap on how many tickets are sold and the organizers intentionally ensure that speakers are new each year. I heard that if you speak at BlogHer, you cannot speak again for three years. That may seem like a strange rule, but what it does is keep the content and speakers fresh and allow more opportunities for a variety of bloggers to present their knowledge. I really appreciate the inclusiveness, it was refreshing and comforting and some of the strange anxiety I get from exclusive groups and communities was not there at all.

The diversity and inclusiveness was on full display on Saturday night at the fashion show. And what a *show* it was. The runway was taken over by an incredible group of women who embraced and showed off their power and pride in themselves and in their bodies. These ladies owned their beauty and it was exhilarating to watch.

A typical fashion show can be a very homogenous, stylized look at what being a women means, but the BlogHer fashion show was the exact opposite. In appropriating this often exclusive and unrealistic platform, these women took over, showing us what it REALLY means to be beautiful. We are all different and unique, we all deserve to be seen and to show ourselves and when we give ourselves the chance to strut our stuff, we can rise to the occasion and be totally awesome doing it. These women exuded confidence and more than body type, color of skin or style of clothes, CONFIDENCE is what it takes to feel beautiful and BE beautiful. Love yourself and your body, and others will too.


So, what do you think of the ladies of the BlogHer Fashion show? Pretty magnificent, don't you think? Please leave a comment telling me when YOU have felt your most confident and beautiful. To see the full set of pictures from the show and a few other events that I attended, check out my Flickr set! You can read more about a few of the bloggers in the fashion show on Elle.com and also check out Christine Koh's conversation with her daughter on Boston Mamas after being in the fashion show and Erin Kotecki Vest's challenge with embracing her new body.