Why Teens are the Best

Ok, I’ll be honest with you. There was a time when I was afraid of teenagers. It was actually just about the time I really WAS a teenager. I was all fear and insecurity and self consciousness and I had all the confidence of an incontinent cocker spaniel. Cute, but utterly hopeless.

Brush Back Girl

This girl is not a model.

I get what it’s like to be a teenager. It’s all smoke and mirrors, bluffing your way through the insecure, wondering what everyone’s thinking and hoping no one figures out that inside, you’re a crazy, screaming mess. The part that I never got, never really understood until I was no longer in the craziness of teenager-ness, was that EVERY SINGLE TEEN FEELS THE SAME WAY at some point or another. Yeah, it’s true. You’re just about to die of embarrassment because the Worst Possible Thing happened. You look in the mirror and today is the day, the most important day, and your skin looks like the surface of mars. What gives? Why me? Why today?? You feel EVERYTHING deeply, thoroughly, completely. Every high. Every low. Every rock in your show and bump in the road. That song! That guy! That teacher’s stare! Everything is so strong, so loud, so intense. I wished when I was a teenager that I’d had an outlet, a way to boost my confidence so that people could see the ME who was screaming inside, the real one who was inside wishing to escape her self-made prison. The side of myself who I was when I was alone, contemplating all the other aspects of life.

Amber in the Garden

She rocks the world with her unique style

Which brings me to why Teens are the Best. They are pure awesome when it comes to taking pictures. They’re in touch with fashion; the high definition of fashion. The self-made fashion. The band-inspired fashion. Whatever clothes, styles, make-up, accessories calls out to you and helps you tell the story of who you are – that is your fashion, your uniqueness and the YOU which I want to find. There’s something about modeling, no matter who you are or what you’re like, I can help find the amazing girl (or guy!) waiting in the fringes just waiting to come out. Which is why Lily & Daisy Photography has made the bold decision to specialize in Teens and Senior Photography. You’re beautiful and amazing and I want to show you JUST HOW PURE AWESOME YOU ARE!

A Life in Pictures

As a photographer and an artist, I am keenly aware of the impact an image can have on the viewer, on the memory of an event. On one’s life.

Last week was a beautiful, but mixed emotional time for me, as well as many around me.

I spent Thursday afternoon at a funeral for a friend. I hadn’t seen him or his family in quite some time, and to me, his passing was unexpected. I was in a little bit of shock during the whole process, but I was glad I was able to be there to say farewell.

The funeral hall was crowded, hardly an open seat anywhere to be had in the room. There were friends, relatives, children and loved ones all with a single person on their mind. There were thoughts and prayers, books and candles, flowers and stories, but as with any occasion, I was drawn to the photographs. The display, the book, the images all laid out for the friends and family to see. A way of saying, “I was here. I mattered. I was loved.”  We see the smiles, the silliness, the serious moments.

We see a life.

When all is said and done, when the flowers are dust and mourners have all cried their last tear, the stories preserved in photographs are the stories of our lives.

Which brings me to another occasion I attended this week: the wedding of my dear clients. I took their engagement photos and when it became clear the whiz-bang cousin with the LA photography gig was not going to pony up his time for the sweet couple, I asked if I could be their photographer. They agreed and over the last few months leading up to the wedding, I’ve gotten to know them and I’ve enjoyed seeing how dear they are to each other.

My love for photography came coupled with my love for telling a story. The photo below has a story, as most really good moments in life do.

The bride’s family is from Minnesota. The weather this year has been especially hard on the northern states and even though May is upon us, a terrible snow storm descended on the state, killing several calves at the home farm. Dad didn’t think he could make the wedding. Changing his flight was an impossibility so he was going to forfeit the cost and stay home.

The bride was devastated. Not having her father at the wedding to give her away was more than she could bear. So many little problems had come up in the planning of the wedding, so many little problems had been solved, overcome, or worked around. Why in the world was this happening now, at the 11th hour?

In an act of love, absolute and sweet beyond words, the groom could not accept seeing his beautiful bride in such sadness. He picked up the phone, spoke with her father, then called the airlines and booked Dad a flight. Cost be damned, his bride’s happiness was the only thing he considered. It was the only thing that mattered.

In spite of terrible airline schedules, the flight came in on time. In spite of bad weather, the plane made it with time to spare. In spite of all the odds stacked against the couple, everything worked out fine and her dad arrived on time.

…and I got this picture. Dad seeing his beautiful daughter in her wedding gown for the first time. The bride seeing her dad and knowing how difficult it had been for him to leave the homestead and make the journey to Arizona.

Seeing Dad

There are no words. There is only this picture. And in the end, it is all we have.

I remind you again, my friends. Take good pictures. Take bad pictures. Just take them. Oh, and get a few printed. Your children will thank you one day.

Tap, Tap — Hello!

Business is booming here at Lily & Daisy Photography, so for all my loyal readers I apologize for the radio silence as of late. I am seriously humbled by the wonderful clients I’ve had lately and overjoyed and delighted with some of the images I’ve been able to capture.

Here is just a small sample of some of the pictures I’ve taken, but I have a wedding on Saturday so I’m excited to see what I get then!

Just checking in for now and I promise to write more soon. I have some blog ideas rattling around my brain, I just need a few minutes to put pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard. Until then, keep clickin’!

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L&D Web (12 of 1) L&D Web (13 of 1)

Don’t Fight the Waterfall

A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. “I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.”

Photography at its core is exactly like the waterfall. If you fight your subject, you drown and you lose. Unless you’re photographing flowers or landscapes, you’re probably taking pictures of something with a brain. We humans are programmed from birth to form an attachment and fascination with faces, so photographing people or animals are popular choices. While we love them, these subjects often have a mind of their own when it comes to sitting still while you click the shutter incessantly in their direction.

I recently took pictures of a beautiful family. The older girls, two wonderful, sweet preteens, were visiting during Spring Break and because they were going home soon, their parents wanted to get a family picture taken.

All went well with the family pictures. The two youngest members of the family were a little nervous, but played along with a little coaxing. As soon as the family pictures were done, I did what I typically do during a session: I broke the family into smaller groups, first the siblings, then the parents and so on.

The youngest member of the group was the only brother, a spunky, but somewhat shy, 2-year-old. He reluctantly sat for the family pictures, but as soon as his mom moved out of the shot, he became nervous and overwhelmed by the lights, the distractions and just plain being in an unfamiliar environment. At this point he did what young guys usually do: he started to cry and dug in his heels, refusing to sit in front of the backdrop with his sisters. Mom started to get tense, Dad started to bargain with him, the older sisters tried to coax him back to sit with them, but he refused. His mini-tantrum began to translate to the rest of the family and if you try to take pictures under these conditions, you see it written in giant slanted script as anxiety and irritation on everyone’s face. So, rather than contribute to the melt down, I took his mom and dad aside and told them not to worry. We would get what we could in the studio, then let him run around outside while I took his picture. I saw mom visibly relax because she was not longer under pressure to try to calm the little guy down and he was able to plunk away happily on our piano. All the while, the girls happily gave me relaxed and beautiful smiles.

With everyone happy, we went outside where I got, in my opinion, some of the best images of the whole day! As a photographer, I only have so much control over any situation and this actually suits me just fine. Part of what I love about photography is people being who they are, letting their personality and character sparkle and shine. In letting go, I am rewarded with beautiful images!

The Last Dance

“Hello?” the sweet, searching voice on the phone asked. “Is this Lily and Daisy Photography?” The soft, slightly German-accented voice sounded both hopeful and sad.

“Yes,” I answered. “What can I do for you?”

The voice on the other end of the telephone asked if I had been the one with the camera at the Knights of Columbus Valentine’s dance the year before. Indeed, I was. I had accompanied my husband and his band, Desert Swing to capture some images for their website, when a woman who worked for the Knights of Columbus approached me and asked if I minded taking some pictures of the guests at the event for them. I had a great  time meeting the attendees and chatting with the folks enjoying the music and the good food. I never imagined I might be capturing a last image for someone.

The woman on the phone introduced herself and told me I’d taken a picture of her and her partner together. The picture, it turns out, was the last one ever captured of him. He’d been sick, you see, with cancer. He’d been battling a long time, but on the night of the Valentine’s dance he had felt better than he had in the months before or in the days following. He died shortly afterward.

I didn’t know what to say. The lump in my throat grew as the conversation continued. I tried not to cry; I could only imagine the pain this sweet lady was feeling and wanted to do anything I could to make the sadness a little less for her.

She asked if she could buy copies of the images I had taken of her and her friend. “Of course not,” I blurted out, before thinking it through. She sounded crestfallen. I added quickly, “You tell me the pictures you want and in what size, and I’ll give them to you.”

“Oh, thank you!” she replied, then tried to talk me out of giving them to her, but I insisted. How could I possibly take money from this sweet lady when she’d already been through so much?

Smiling during dinner

We live in a small town and I actually saw this sweet lady over the weekend. She was smiling again and seems happy now. Time, I think, has healed her wounds and it’s wonderful to see. You don’t always know the impact you’ll have on someone’s life, however small. You never know when you might be the spectator to the last dance.

Last Dance