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All Things Artsy and Photographicsy!
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.
Last Week, I had the opportunity to attend a three-day workshop
hosted by Kirsten Lewis, an amazing photojournalist. It was intense, passionate, and validating to my soul. I have been observant and passionate about photography since I was a child, and always wanted to portray the people and the world around me in a natural, real, and contextual manner, complete with the emotions present in those moments. I was highly influenced by the LOOK, LIFE, and NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazines I found around the house while I was growing up.
When I wrapped up my college years with studies and degrees in Fine Arts and Child Psychology, I went to work as an early childhood specialist for Orange County, and on the side, I was photo-documenting my family, and working for magazines and newspapers in the field of photojournalism.
I still photo-document my family and do occasional work for publications, but somehow, with the need to make a living and compete, I became sucked into the world of "traditional photography," or in other words, "line-'em-up-and shoot-'em," and then process-the-heck-out-of-them kinds of photography, with completely matching outfits, freshly scrubbed faces, combed hair, and rigid posing.
I will admit that I often did sneak in the photojournalistic moments in pretty much any session that I did. And sometimes, crazily enough, felt guilty for doing so. At Kirsten's seminar, though, I lost all of that guilt as I realized that this is my style of photography.
Actually, it is more than a style. It is a passion, it is innate, it is how I think, it is how I observe. It is my visual poetry of the real world which includes dirty faces, hilarious laughter, temper tantrums, and spontaneous hugs.
Those who know me well, and those who have been my clients have seen that I have been evolving over the past year or two to come back to this place. For those who may be confused, I will elaborate on what this means.
While I am still willing to devote a portion of a family session to a traditional gathering of the bodies for some images of everyone looking at the camera and smiling, it will only be a portion, and only if you request it. The rest of the time, I will be observing you as you interact, do your thing, and I will document you in a Family Documentary Session. If you only want a traditional group family image, I can refer you to those who do these.
I will still make some clothing suggestions, and you are welcome to dress in a color coordinated manner, but I will recommend that people just dress comfortably.
After we do some traditional images, as per your request, we will then just have fun. If in your home, go ahead and do what you ordinarily do, or do some baking together, or take a walk, or go to the beach to fly a kite, or to collect shells, or visit grandparents, or whatever. We can talk about some ideas.
I will direct you to not pay any attention to me so that I can become invisible like a good photojournalist should. I will mostly be taking images of your interactions with each other, or your moments that are to be memorialized. If there is an occasional face looking at my camera, I will take that, too, if I like the expression and the lighting. At first, you may feel like you are too aware that a photographer is pointing a camera in your direction, but eventually, you will start to forget and that is when I will start to capture what will be meaningful to you.
I will also ask you to not try to control your children's behavior so much. I don't want you to say to them, "smile," except for the traditional portion, or to "hold still," and I don't want you to apologize if anyone has a tantrum or a melt-down. Life goes on and we want to document it for your family history and the memories that will be missing some of these details if the only thing you ever get are traditional images. (I have been known to wander off, down the beach, with a young family member who is weary of being told to hold still and smile.)
Also, I will not ask you to clean up your house and redecorate it if I come into your home to take images.
This should do for now. I know that you may have questions, so feel free to ask away. When you ask to book a session, we will, for sure, talk about it still, and come up with a plan that works for your situation. If you want something that I am no longer doing, I have many, good photographer friends to whom I can refer you.
My primary goal for making these changes is to provide you with the kinds of photography that is not being done that much these days. I want you to have the kinds of images that I want for my own family. This is the kind of photography that is the most memorable and most treasured for generations to come. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with traditional images and there is a place for that. I am just offering something in addition to that, something with a richness and texture that is missing in traditional images.
I would just like to conclude this blog by saying that one of the most intense parts of the seminar was as we shared instances wherein we had done photos for families and then, a week later, or six months later, the family experienced the death of one of their members. In these cases the families were most grateful for the documentary kind of images that they had. These stories made me realize how important it is to document our families and loved ones as much as we can.
With my experience in photojournalism, I have the talent, ability and the gear to get the kinds of images that you will want of your families to treasure for many generations.
As I do more of the kind of photography that I was born to do, I will only get better and better!
As I've been saying, I am in the process of getting my biz back to its roots. I started out as a child photographer and then branched into so many other things: weddings, newspaper and magazines, products, stock, commercial, family photography, engagements, etc. These have all been fun adventures that have honed me as a photographer in so many ways.
It has been over 40 years of this, and as I approach retirement age (which will be more about abilities than about an actual age, since I have already passed that "magic number"), my plan has been to return to my roots.
I am going to go back to making the major focus, ahem, of my work, kids. I love to shoot babies and kids. Shortly after graduating from BYU with a BFA in fine art, and with all of the necessary credits for a BA in psychology with my emphasis in child psychology (my guidance counselor advised that I just start the grad level in that field, as I would be accepted). I did graduate work in the field and also started working in the field as an early childhood specialist.
I was doing that work at the same time that I was building my child photography business and always, gratefully, marveled at how the two came together: the fine arts and childhood. I was even able to combine the two in my job when we made a documentary about mainstreaming special needs children into educational programs. My stills appear in the documentary.
Just as I always found working with special needs children in early childhood educational settings to be challenging and totally rewarding, I have also found the same for child photography. I know many photographers who refuse to do babies and kids, but I love it. I always have. I have a special love and understanding of kids. My husband says it is because I am one of them. I love to capture their fleeting images. Every second in a child's life is especially fleeting and precious.
My emphasis will be, as it always has been, on play and spontaneity, and of course, those little faces, their expressions, those chubby little hands and feet, the things that they get into, and those eyes!
As I am working on my new informational brochure and price list, I will be answering your questions and having a contest for a kick-off session!
Here are a few questions, that some of you have been asking, for starters:
Q-Can I still get a family session from you?
A- Yes, you can, but my emphasis will be on individual portraits for the most part, so I will be breaking down any family sessions into smaller sections as we go along. Also, I will only do small families as individual families, no family reunion group shots. There are those who specialize in those and I can refer you.
Q- Can I still get an engagement session?
A- Yes, I will still do couples, happily.
Q- I would like a portrait session for each of my kids and all of them together, can you do that?
A- Yes, but keep in mind that I am not going to be producing stiffly posed images, as a rule. I will be doing playful images for the most part.
Q- I want a portrait of my little girl in our garden. How would you go about that?
A-Depending on her age, I might want you to be doing stuff in your kitchen (once she is comfortable with me), or, you might be standing near me, if she needs that. I might want to begin with playing with her, whether that means she is jumping on her bed or showing me her dolls, to warm her up, and then we might go play in the garden a bit. We would plan the session in advance so that we have the details in place.
Q- What is the difference between a photojournalism session and a concept session?
A- A photojournalism session is where I come to your home, or we go somewhere together, and I photograph your child and/or your family just doing the things that you want to be doing on a day together. Let's say you all go and pick berries somewhere. I photograph that process, including the berry stained faces and hands, and then, when you go home to make berry pie, I photograph the family doing that, too, and possibly eating the pie, as well. I would use the kinds of lenses that I used when doing photojournalistic work so that the focus is the emphasis, and with many spontaneous expressions and details. A photojournalism session can range from two hours to all day.
A concept session is when we find an image in a magazine, or museum, or in our minds and wish to create something like that. We create or collect the props ahead of time, and the clothing and hair, etc. to create a theme or concept. These are fun, and the end product is often an image that agencies may even be interested in, with your permission.
Q- Would a birth session be a photojournalism or newborn session?
A-It would be a photojournalism session since I am mostly getting images of action as it is taking place, according to your wishes.
Q- How do you like to pose newborns and babies?
A-I am not that much into contrived poses for newborns and babies. I know that they can be cute and moms want some, but I have such a reverence for newborns and their sweet stage of development, that I just can't squish them into tight spaces, fold their arms into poses that they would never ordinarily do, or hang them in sacs or anything (I know that when people have done this they have taken precautions). I will post them in baskets, beds, on textured blankets and in any clothes that the parents choose, or none at all. I will turn them or naturally pose them, but mostly I like babies and kids to be photographed more naturally doing what they would naturally be doing at that stage of development.
Q- Will you still do our annual family Christmas card photo?
A- I will, but not necessarily in a traditional fashion. I have done too many stiff family portraits in order to make a living in the past. I will want to do something that is not so traditional. We can share example photos until we find a style that we both like, or I will refer you to someone who is good at doing traditional sessions.
Q- What happens after a session? How do I get my images?
A- Due to popular demand, I have pretty much switched to delivering your images via cloud technology these days. I put your images into a gallery and give you a passcode so that you can have access. You can order prints (and photo cards) directly from your gallery. I will also make it possible for you to download digital files. If you wish to order prints directly from me, or a DVD, I will make those still available to those who want them. Also, photo books and such products as photo boxes, and more will be available.
Q- Do you still offer watercolors or other fine art portraits from a session photo?
A- Yes, I do, and there are two different ways to get one of those. Details will be forthcoming.
Any more questions? The new information is in process, appearing here soon!