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I just created a photo book for my daughter…
The thought that I needed to make one, and many more was nagging at me throughout the Thanksgiving flurry and all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday hype.
I did not pay attention to the hype, because I was attempting to organize all of my photos of my daughter’s family into folders in order to make either one ginormous book (with about six thousand photos and with a price tag, per book, equal to the cost of a decent compact vehicle) or a series of them to be done over the course of the remainder of my life.
Oh, I have made photo books for her in the past, of course, but not nearly enough, apparently. I am backlogged.
I have been busy with daily life, which seems to me to be a series of interruptions to my creative soul. I mean, I even resent bathroom, food, and sleep breaks. If that is all it takes to make me feel harangued with interruptions, imagine how I feel about things like grocery shopping, putting gas in the car, or visitors.
I worked on the annual Christmas card presentation first, in order to get that out of the way. If it were feasible, I would even have the Christmas shopping, such as it will be, out of the way as well. Although, the majority of my list will be created by myself, in the form of watercolor paper, pencils and paints. That messy stuff and such things as photo books.
But the photo books on my list are what pull at me the most. I know I won’t get as many done as I would like before Christmas, or even before the end of 2017, but the pull is daily present. It could be, in part, due to the needs to: get organized, and to free up space on my computer.
It’s also due to the need to get what I have expressed, photographically, into a form that can be held in one’s hands, to have a visible record, an heirloom for the family and their progeny.
I look at what I have from my ancestors and the treasures are limited to some china, tablecloth, a piece of furniture, and a few boxes of photos that are often blurry in their foggy distance from us.
We are so fortunate to have the technology that we have, which, while it may overwhelm us and overload our computers, makes it possible for us to create heirlooms, to pass down, that are clear, and close-up.
In the photo book that I just made for my daughter, there are images of her babies where one can count their eyelashes. But even more important, one can see their personalities, as they go about their explorations of their lives and cuddle with their parents.
And so, while this particular book was still in the stage of that nagging pull feeling, I did feel that I understood why it was so important, and not just to meet the discount deadline. But it wasn’t until I looked through the online preview of the book that I got a deeper sense of its importance.
Parents of young children are very busy, and it’s often difficult for them to see how significant this time is. It’s crazy significant to the children. And one day, when the nest is empty, the parents might look at such a book and shed a few tears out of missing that time.
They might wish that they had spent more time savoring and being patient, and just being better at the parenting gig, in general. But a book like this ought to make my daughter and her husband realize that while they may tend to take each obstacle in a linear and bloated fashion, when they look back, they need to see how awesome they were at parents, and this book will be the evidence.
They will see how much they loved and cuddled, how much they played, and how much they allowed their free-spirited daughters to be free spirits, within the safety of their arms and hearts.
They will see their daughters as they have grown with their variety of facial expressions and their explorations of the world. They will see the moments when their daughters tried a new food, danced for the joy of it, cuddled each other, focused intently on books or drawings, jumped up and down, and slept curled up as if returning to the womb in hibernation.
They will see the beautiful life which they found and created within the walls of their home.
They will see all the love and intensity held still for their examination, and they will know that it was all good and that the love was amazing and they will want to hold it in their minds, eyes, hands and hearts forever.
And that is why I am pulled to create such a life’s work for all of my children and theirs, forever.
I love putting the images I have taken up on the big screen to convert them from RAW files to jpegs. I love looking at them carefully, seeing what I like about them, or, sometimes what I don't like, and making mental notes about how to improve. I love doing a little bit of editing or none at all. And then I love the reactions of family, friends, and clients, who get to see the images for the first time. Their happiness makes me happy!
Best. Job. On. The. Planet!
I know I am a little bit pricey. But I honestly do try to keep my prices down, taking into consideration my expenses of doing business. I also add into the equation that I have been doing this since 1973. Even longer if you count all of the photography I did that was not paid for in dollars. But 1973 was when I was open for business.
I've been doing this for 42 years. And so much has happened during that time! I have done photography for books, magazines, newspapers, stock agencies, modeling agencies, websites, families, and businesses.
When I first began in this field, my style was very photojournalistic. This was partly due to devouring the copies of LIFE, LOOK, and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC that came to our home on a regular basis while I was growing up. It's also because my first paid job was with a magazine, and soon after that, I did a lot of work for magazines and newspapers and other print media.
Nevertheless, I also did a great deal of child photography, and that was my great love aside from the photojournalism. In any case, the photojournalistic style produces wonderful, natural images of childhood and family life. I have been returning to my roots in this style of photography more and more and loving it even more than I did in the 70s and 80s.
Summer is starting to wind down, and I have been super busy with many projects and a lot of travel. I am seeing that I can work in one or two more sessions pretty soon, so I am opening that up. It's not always easy to find the time, but it's looking like I can get in a couple of sessions between now and 09-15. I may be able to get in one or two more in October and November. If I am sounding tentative at all, it is because, as I write this, I see that possibility, but it may close up quickly.
I am wondering what adventures lie ahead with a few repeating or new clients. Hmmmm.
I have a BFA in Fine Arts from BYU. Since my departure from the university, I have had a wonderful time being passionate about photography, writing, working as an early childhood specialist, etc. I have been "enjoying" a return to my roots as an artist. I say it in quotes because the best part is when I finish a painting and like it! It can take weeks to create one of these, mostly because I do a lot of rough drafts that use up paper and paints and end up in the trash. There comes a point where it clicks, and I have, in some mystical manner, managed to put the puzzle pieces of shapes, colors, lines, and lights and shadows, into the right places. It can be an exhausting and agonizing process, but the end result is a work of art that is unique and that I hope will be treasured for lifetimes.
I begin by using photos as references, and I study the photo. I analyze it. And then, I break it into its parts and begin to create sketches. Once I have some sketches that I like, I begin with shading for highlights and shadows within the shapes that have been arranged. Then, there is a kind of craziness that begins to take place. I start to render with color in the form of paint, pencil, etc. I find myself grabbing whatever materials seem appropriate for which ever part of the image I am working on, so there may be wet watercolor pencils being applied over already painted areas (actually a common method), or there may be dabs of dry brush paint being applied to other areas. I often use cotton swabs, in addition to paint brushes and pencils, and even my fingers to rub in a subtle shading, for example.
Once I have a painting that I don't want to throw away, I let it dry, and spray it with fixative. And then, you may wish to matte and frame your portrait as you wish, unless you have asked me to do it. I mostly do the work at around 8x10 or 8.5x11-ish. This has been a convenient size for me, as I am limited in space. However, I have done larger works and would be willing to discuss a larger work.
My prices begin at 300.00 for one subject, one painting. Let me know if you would like one of these at an unheard of discount for a limited time. If you missed out on the 50% off offer, but would still like a portrait, let me know and we can start talking about yours.
I wrote this probably about thirty years ago. My children are all grown now with their own little cherubs. I searched for this online, and found it, since it has been published, a long time ago. At this busy time of the year, I wanted to get back in touch with the things that matter, amidst the hurrying and scurrying and our expectations. I share this with anyone who might find some inspiration therein:
I must have been daydreaming. I saw myself in a gingham apron surrounded by worshipful, apple-cheeked children and the aroma of bread and cinnamon.
It’s those women’s magazines. The Christmas issues get to me every time! All those lavish gingerbread houses, and the Christmas decorations painstakingly fashioned from discarded milk jugs and juice cans that have been saved, supposedly, all year long just for Christmas.
I succumb to their lure only once a year when Christmas baking, decorations, parties, and even clever gift wrapping become equated with love (in my mind or the magazines,’ I’m not sure which but I have my suspicions).
So I pore over those Christmas issues like a college freshman opening brand-new geology and sociology text books, with a mixture of dread and excitement.
Oh no. They won’t get me to stay up till midnight finishing a Victorian gingerbread house just because I love my kids. One of them would probably sit on it, anyway.
And I am not interested in putting together that wreath with 28,300 gum wrappers folded into intricate patterns and spray-painted gold, even though I could surely come up with the correct number of gum wrappers by cleaning the boys’ room. That’s not love, that’s obsession.
But the daydream persists. It is, after all, Christmas; and these are, after all, little children. I am responsible for their memories! Do I want them to tell my grandchildren about how I stopped off at the bakery on Christmas Eve? Are you kidding? I want them to wax poetic as they reminisce about the smells of evergreen and cloves and the taste of homemade goodies. These are warm manifestations of their mother’s love, right?
The daydream returns. I see a patient, sweet mother in the kitchen with her children. They are making Christmas cookies together. One apple-cheeked boy has a smudge of flour on his button nose. Dad comes home and the scene before him fills his heart with joy. Now isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
In an attempt to play the daydream out in real life I announce, “We’re going to make Christmas cookies!”
My number one son says, “Aw, Mom, I want to go to Roger’s; he’s got video games.”
The rest of the children shout, “Goodie!” with so much glee that I wonder if they shouldn’t be locked out of the kitchen.
I get out the flour. I get Christopher out of the flour. I get the flour out of Christopher’s hands. I ask Michael to get the flour off the floor.
I get out the cookie cutters. I wash the playdough off the cookie cutters. Jason gets the rolling pin from the sandbox.
Finally we have the dough mixed. Half of it, however, has “mysteriously” disappeared.
Christopher holds up a gob of dough, “Can I eat this?”
I sigh, “You may as well.”
He says, “Why?”
Jason rolls the dough. I answer the phone.
Christopher asks, “Why do I have to eat this?”
Michael says, “Mom, he’s not letting me have a turn!”
The baby cries. I go to change her.
In the kitchen, I hear the kind of commotion that makes mothers want to slip out of the back door.
I take a deep breath and go back.
I see raw cookies everywhere. Some are even on the cookie sheet, a few even cut with cookie cutters. Apparently that wasn’t creative enough—the remainder have been formed my hand into oddly shaped monstrosities.
“This is a snake!”
“This is a monster!”
“This is Jabba the Hut!”
And I was going to wrap these gifts from our kitchen in gold foil and merrily deliver them to the neighbors.
I abandon all plans except for making it through the evening.
Frosting time has arrived and I’m gone again, putting the baby to bed. My three-year-old is following me around with that original piece of dough, “Is it good for me if I eat this?”
I decide that if I take out my contact lenses it will soften the shock of what I’ll see when I return to the kitchen. I take another deep breath and plunge back in. When I left we had mixed several colors of frosting. Now all of the cookies were being frosted with one color—a grayish green—which is, I am informed, “what you get when they’re all mixed together.”
I am weary of well-doing. I rush the kids off to their beds and clean up.
Oh well, I can always stay up until midnight making banana bread for the neighbors.
Finally it’s quiet. I look at those magazines again. Obviously their test kitchens don’t include children. That would be a real test kitchen.
Three-year-old Christopher calls from the darkness. He wants a drink. I bring him into the kitchen. He puts his arms around my neck and asks, “Did you see my cookies?”
I tiredly nod, “Yes.”
He says, “My Mary?”
I look at the grayish blobs where he points.
“I made Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus.”
I look again and begin to see the forms shaped by his pudgy hands.
“Yes, I see, Christopher…they’re wonderful.”
We give each other a goodnight hug.
I put him to bed and come back out and throw out those magazines.
© 1987 Kathleen “Casey” Null (Petersen) Bookcraft, Inc.
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