Category Personal Projects

A Day at The Beach – Family Vacation on Kauai

Waaaay back at the end of February, my family and I, along with two other families, met up on the island of Kauai. We had sun, rain, and everything in between over our week’s vacation. The kids learned how to boogie board, and I practiced my sun tanning skills. These images are from our trip.

We hit the beach even when the sky was grey. Telling the kids, “You’ll be wet, or you’ll be wet.” when they questioned why we were going to the beach when it was raining.  As you can see, they caught on quickly and we were prepared with our umbrellas to keep towels dry. We got a super awesome day of sunshine at Tunnels Beach. It took some serious work (not pictured) to wheel our wagon through the sand full of gear for 5 kids and 5 adults to the sweet spot. But it was totally worth it – and a good excuse of a work out to eat extra Doritos and sip a beer once we settled in. The house we rented was within a quick walk into Hanalei. So we made sure to take a few strolls into town. Early morning wanders led us to coffee, mid day for shopping, and afternoon walks for shave ice!
And we were also a quick walk to the beach. We made several spur of the moment, and not really prepared (no swim suits!) trips to the water for sand castle making.  When the rain was too heavy for even the roosters to crow (and oh my goodness did they crow!), we had a sweet house that fit us all. The kids played a few fierce games of monopoly and soaked up a bit of screen time after all the sand and sun. It was so wonderful to be back on the island where my husband and I spent our honeymoon 15 years ago. We even hit up a couple of places that we had been drooling over since that last trip. Don’t pass up the ahi nori wrap at the Mermaids if you are there.

It was so good to have some of my best friends and the kiddos with us for the adventure. It already seems like a life time ago already, so I am glad to have these photos to remind me of all the fun!Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

PS this post is a part of a blog circle. I would love if you hop on over to Staci’s blog to see what beauty she has to share with you this month.

Taking a Step Back

I have been thinking a lot about when I first began playing with social media. It was well over a decade a ago, when my long dormant love of photography was fed, watered, and shown the light of day. While searching for knitting patterns online, I stumbled across blog after blog of yarn enthusiast. From there I found out that bloggers used a site called Flickr  to host and share their photography.  I was enamored and jumped in to the fun. I photographed and shared daily. First, using a small point and shoot camera Sony Cybershot, and eventually upgrading to my first DSLR. I lugged my Canon 30D around with me every day. I didn’t have children yet, but I did have light and shadow to chase, friends and events to document. And the knitting projects I was working through, oh and cooking.  Blogging gave me a place to not only share my photography, but a place to write. I have always loved to write and have kept a journal for a very long time. Now, I was able to include photos and illustrate what I was up to! I would hop from blog to blog, leaving comments on new pages. I would and gather inspiration and ideas and then share my own hoping to do the same for my followers. I made contacts and connections. Here were all these people interested in similar things as me – photography, knitting, sewing, cooking and eventually, motherhood. It was magic.  Slowly and quietly though, the social media I used started to shift. Clicks and comments on my blog and Flickr page began to fade. I couldn’t figure it out until I caught wind of where all the cool kids were hanging out these days. They were down the street at a place called Instagram. I was sharing an iPod with my husband at the time and began to snag it at almost every chance I had. We still didn’t have smart phones, so the iPod was my tool. I started to snap fuzzy images on the device and ran them through funky filters within the app before sharing them on my new Instagram feed. It was fun, and no one took themselves too seriously out there back then. You couldn’t upload images from other cameras and so it was a level playing field. My blog was still around, and I actually expanded to write on two other community blogs as well. But at some point, I didn’t feel like I had content to share for both the other blogs and my own. I realize I was ignoring my own corner of web and life, but I had a mobile app that was faster and quicker and didn’t require me to sit down and upload images anywhere and then write. The blog’s long hand form wasn’t as appealing at that point – I was a new mom and exhausted most of the time. Quick and easy was good.I could snap a photo with my (now upgraded) iPhone, run it through a couple of apps and BOOM, out to the web with a few hashtags and a witty comment. I was still connecting with photographers, and foodies as well as creatives of all sorts. New friendships were made, restaurants and yoga studios found. There was inspiration at every scroll. But recently, things have started to feel different, actually not only feel, but were different on Instagram (and social media in general).  Instagram wasn’t so instant anymore, with the inclusion of algorithms posts would appear out of order throwing me into a social media time warp of sorts… And then there are the advertisements. Adds started to pop up every third or four image driving me crazy. Scrolling through started to feel like a chore…And then there was the fact that my blog, this very website that you are reading now, it has been sitting neglected. Yet, words and stories and images were floating around in my head asking to be let out and put down in some form or another. I regularly write poems in my mind as I drive to and from work. I love to watch the light dance around and sing to me as I drive down the street. I wondering about the stories the people at each bus stop have to tell, and where the man on the corner with his shopping cart had slept at the wet night before. But I wasn’t sharing any of this. Maybe sometimes on my Instagram feed, but usually the words would be lost and forgotten as I parked the car at the office and started my day.
I attended events and parties and photographed them. I walked and hiked and camped and traveled with my family, photographing them as we went. Still documenting adventures and everyday life which in the past would have been written down and illustrated with my photographs out here on the blog. But I often dismissed these as unworthy because, “my clients don’t want to see that” or “these doesn’t fit into my business plan”…  I started to edit myself and my life to fit into what I thought others wanted to see.I started to change how I shared. And that was okay. I know I don’t need to share every moment (but I sort of was over on Instagram). What has been stirring in my mind is the fact that I have stopped telling stories.And that was okay…. but it also wasn’t.
Because you know what? I have missed having a place to come to and write. I have missed sharing little and BIG moments, even if I can’t categorize them into client based work for my photography business. I am ready to start sharing here again.  Share not only client stories- your stories, but also our stories as well. Maybe some of you will stick around for this, and maybe you won’t. Perhaps no one will read what I write and see what I see, but it really isn’t about that.  It’s about finding my voice again, finding my eye again. Finding rhythm in my own thoughts and creativity.  Will I still share client work? heck yes! but what I also want to do is share my work. Share what makes me light up. This could mean images and stories of my children. It might be images of my yoga practice (did you know I teach twice a week?),  or what I cooked last night for dinner. It might be the light out my office window or my best friend laughing with her daughter. But I wan’t to come back to this slow paced way of sharing. Will you join me?

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa~

A day in the life – 12 in 12

We are shaking things up again, for the new year. We tossed around ideas of a new photo project and decided on a monthly “Day in the Life”. Twelve images in roughly twelve hours. Who is this “we” I speak about? It’s the amazing group of women that I participate in a blog circle with. So when you are done here on my post, click on over to Small Roots to see what one of her days looked like.

I have to say that I had a hard time getting going on this prompt. I have done these type of challenges before, but couldn’t seem to get going. I was overthinking things and feeling like the darkness of the winter in the Pacific Northwest was not helping me out in my efforts. What I did have on my side is a new camera that I have been learning how to use and the fact that I started off with a really fantastic image on my first go, sometimes (most times), its’ the getting started that is the most difficult.

Ready to see how a typical day unfolds for me?5:20am I am up with the dog and the cat. They get let out to do their business, I start the coffee and unroll my mat to practice yoga.  6:20am I remember the full moon and step out in the blue hour to see it’s beautiful bright face.7:20am Showered, and dressed. I say goodbye and head out the car. The fog is burning off, blurring the edges of the tree branches and tops. 7:35am My commute is short, a quick up and over the hill. I love the downhill view as I make my way to cross the Foss Waterway and over to the tide flats.8:15am The fog has lifted and the golden light dances off the buildings uptown and across the waterway to my office. I don’t know if I will ever get tired of this every changing view…

9:30am Meetings and note taking. 11:45pm I return emails, document projects I am working on, answer questions and mentor my team.

2:30pm The day has flown by, I get my coworkers to go out for a walk with me to clear my head and get some fresh air. It isn’t raining, so it time to soak up some sunshine! (apparently I have a thing about power lines, but gang, the sky is showing it’s pretty blue and I have to document it!)4:30pm When I come out of the office for the day, I smile as the the paper mill stacks pump out cotton candy into the evening sky. I could watch that magic at this time of night for a very long time if it lasted. 5:45pm Taco night. The cheese is grated, lettuce chopped and the turkey has been browned. 6:20pm Diner is over and the evening antics have begun.  7:45pm She’s practicing and working hard on her reading, but it’s time to wrap things up for bed time. 8:30pm Kids are in bed and it’s time to turn off the phone, sip on my tea, snuggle into bed, and back into my book.

It was a busy but beautiful day. Having the sun out was helpful, but the fog also added so much to my early morning start, photographically. I tried to not let one bad image stop me in the path for the rest of the day. I looked for little details, slices of light. I am still learning my new camera (it’s a Fuji x100f mirrorless, and I love it!).

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa

November (Yellow) Fave 5 on 5

Last month we all went red, this month we decided on yellow. What am I talking about? It’s the monthly blog post where I get to share a few of my favorite images from the previous month- with a twist of a yellow theme.

When you are all finished here, head on over to Small Roots to see where she found pops of color during her month.

November my family and I traveled almost every weekend. I was able to squeeze in both personal and a bit of client work while back in Nevada for the holiday week and that is where these images were taken.  I might be stretching our theme a little bit, but here is where I saw yellow and gold in November…

Golden afternoon light on these kiddos


And more of that autumn evening glow on this sweet family

Yellow hills above Reno during an awesome 7 mile hike that we did with the kids and some dear friends.

Yup, November gave me so much to be grateful for!

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa

September 2017 – Five on Five

Whoa! has it really, truly been since May that I did a Five on Five post? I guess that is what happens when you travel for almost a month straight during the summer, and then jump right back into life when you return. I am so glad that the lovely ladies who participate in this blog circle are jumping back into the fun and the rhythm of posting monthly. I know I have so much to share from our summer (and I might shamelessly post Jamaica vacation pictures when it gets really cold, damp, and dark here in the PNW) so stay tuned… And because I have taken so many months off with this, I am sharing more than the usual five images, I can’t help myself!

September is a really special month around our house. It’s a month when we have two birthdays in three days (yes, the kids are almost two years apart to the day, it’s nutty with celebration!). It’s the start of a new school year, and when the light and the energy of the summer start to wind down. The air gets crisp and the light turns golden and pink. I love summer, but autumn really has a huge piece of my heart.

 

The kids started school, 1st and 4th grade… 

We went to the Oregon Coast and camped at Cannon Beach for the first time. (we fell in love with the area and my Goonie heart was so happy). And because I am excited to share these galleries soon…  a few images of client work. I photographed a wedding in Seattle and senior portraits in downtown Tacoma.  I think I might have a thing for lines in my work lately because I was so drawn to these shapes on both days…It was a great month for personal and client work! Now head on over to see what Adriana has had cooking this summer…

Keep chasing that light,

Vanessa-

A Look Back, A Look Forward | From The Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, and part of a new series of posts I am calling, “From the Archives”. 

Source: A look back, a look forward | Mortal Muses

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I have been talking film with some local photographers over the past week or two, not just on line, but across the room. We were talking about the magic of developing your own roll of film and photo. We were talking about the intoxicating smell of fixer, the way you used to have to burn and dodge and fix dust spots. We tried to explain to a fellow photographer what it’s like when you first see the image emerge under the red glow of the darkroom light. We laughed about how it didn’t really matter how bad that first photograph was, you had made it- from the rolling of the film into the canister all the way to the drying racks. These conversations got me thinking about the giant box of photographs, contact sheets, 8x10s and negatives that have been sitting in the garage for the past year. So I did what anyone would do at that point, I lugged the giant, over sized Tupperware box out and started digging around. It is so interesting to see how far I have come, but also to see the hints and trends in the way I shoot now and have always shot my images.

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I might not have been hitting the shutter with a very good understanding of aperture, shutter speed and lenses, but what I did know was how certain films developed (colors and tones, contrast and richness). I also could “see” how light played and made shadows and pretty sunsets, but I wasn’t (and am still not always) sure how to use those attributes to my best advantage. As I sifted through things searching for my images from when I was in Madrid, Spain and then London, Dublin and Scotland- I pulled out two envelops from a college field trip. The class was pretty tight, we would spend one hour a week together doing ‘labs’ and then 4 hours every Friday out in the field. We collected and then memorized the Latin and common names of various plants (by the way, mormonus teaus is NOT the Latin name for the Mormon Tea plant, no matter what some prankster had jokingly renamed it in the study hall and you had naively memorized and put down on a test as an answer…) That semester we learned about the bio-geography of the region. The final trip, when I took these images, we all drove from Reno, NV to the Alabama Hills and Yosemite, CA. I remember a great game of dominoes around the campfire with my classmates, saving dinner from the flames of an overly zealous fire maker, I remember having no clue how to set up my tent and one hell of an awesome professor leading the adventure.

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But I don’t really remember taking any of these photos. Let’s face it, this weekend trip was 16 years ago. I am trying to remember what film camera I had at the time. I know it was one of my two Pentax, and I have absolutely no clue what film (probably kodak 200, if I had to guess since that was quick and easy to pick up at the grocery store). Most of these are simply snapshots, but I think that is what I like about them (now). There was no flickr, there was no instagram. I had the photo department at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a handful of dear family friends who were photographers to inspire me and teach me. I remember getting these images back from the lab and being a little bit bummed. It was so much more beautiful in real life (isn’t it usually when it comes to places like Yosemite and Alabama Hills?)  I hadn’t even come close to nailing the shots like I had hoped. I am not sure what I expected, but at the time, these results weren’t it.

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Today, I look at these and I see something different then what I saw then. I see moments in time. I see people who I haven’t talked since this class ended and have forgotten their names.  I see a group of college kids taking in their surroundings, each in their own unique way. I see the fascinating way in which people space themselves with one another and the world around them. I see body language and silent, frozen conversations taking place. Tiny still frames burned into the light sensitive film and in those moments, time was stopped.

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Those things alone (and maybe the way the light hits the rocks in the late afternoon), make me realize that I had the photo (and the film shooting) bug all those years ago. I might not have known what I know now about the craft, but the seeds were planted deep down in the soil of my creative garden. These moments are what have helped them grow from a dream into a reality. We all have to start somewhere. As  I dug through the past stored neatly in a big plastic bin, I was able to see one of those beginning steps of becoming a lover of film and a photographer.

Happy Film Friday.

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

May 2017 – Five on Five

June! We are here, here we are.  Two weeks away from the last day of school and the first official day of summer. I’m still wondering how it all keeps going by so quickly- but it just does.

May was full of activity and play. It was also full of lots of time at home enjoying the sunshine (finally!) and being out in our yard. Photographically, it was a mix of iphone, instax and digital photography – I love each medium for different reasons.

Make sure to visit Adriana’s post today after you are done here.

And, here we go!

Fueling up for the Color Run. I love that their school does something active and fun as a fund raiser!
We set up the pool in the back yard. It was a little too cold to jump in this particular afternoon, but O had a lot of fun setting up an obstacle course for his hot wheels.
14 years of marriage with this guy. We were able to sneak away to our favorite local tap room for a beer to celebrate.
Beautiful Snoqualimie Falls. Our first camp trip of the season. Our camp site is about a 10-15 minute drive away from here so I talked the gang into the drive over. They thanked me after seeing this awesome view!
A typical afternoon. Hanging out, probably looking at an ipad or maybe the new fidget spinner. But being friends and sitting for a second so I could test the light for a photo with my Instax.

 

 

Five on Five – April

And, here we are again. All the way into May, which means I get to share with you my favorite shots from April.
I have continued the daily practice of shooting an instax a day. There is something so satisfying and challenging about working with this film camera. I have really started to understand the settings, how the lens and film react in various situations and how to push it just a little bit further to get what I am after. There have definitely been days/weeks where I am beyond thrilled with the results, and then others where I am frustrated and disappointed in the images. Pushing myself, being okay with failing- it’s the practice – and i am so glad I jumped into the new year with this challenge.
The iPhone is always there as well. Handy and quick. I can snap those every day moments of the kids, of my food, of the city. Capturing childhood and the moments between my babies together and apart, it keeps me sane. It fills me up. I love having a visual document of  our adventures as well as our slow days around the house.
Don’t forget, when you are done rolling through my images for April to click on through to Small Roots to see what Adriana’s April looked like!

115/365
Sister houses
108/365
burger and a shake
106/365
Dinner and drinks
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Fifi and the walrus
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food not lawns

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa

Five on Five – February 2017

On the fifth day of each month, I get together with a group of talented female photographers. We each share our five favorite images from the previous month. It’s a blog circle! Make sure to follow the link and head over to Adriana’s blog when you are done seeing what February was like over here.I did two really fun sessions last month. One was a family session with an adorable family. We traveled out to the summer camp where they met as camp counselors. It was really fun to have them take me around camp and photograph them with there little dude. I love when clients pick locations with such special meaning.The other session I did is for a new blog article I am writing for Experience Tacoma. The article is called, Take Five. This is such a fun chance for me to get to know more people and places in the community and a great excuse to pull out my camera.I had the great honor of sitting for the amazing Catherine Just and her “Breathing Camera” (that’s what I call this 4×5 beauty). Catherine has been traveling all over the world for her Capturing Breath on Film project, if you have a chance to participate it is an incredible experience. One I am still processing and watching unfold in my own life. It is part portrait session, part prayer, part magic. And finally, a little film photography of my own… I have been continuing on with my 365 Rectangles project, I love this black and white shot I took of my husband and his birthday cake.

Keep chasing that light my friends!

Vanessa

Five on Five – Januarys 2017

On the fifth day of each month, I get together with a group of talented female photographers. We each share our five favorite images from the previous month.
It’s a blog circle!
Make sure to follow the link and head over to Adriana’s blog when you are done here.

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January was a roller coaster. But there have been a few constants in my every day that I not only am loving, but looking to as a way to keep my mind at ease. One has nothing to do with photography. I have been getting up every morning and practicing yoga or meditating for 10-30 minutes. I found an app called Cody and it’s been a game changer – I should stop right there and say I have no affiliation with this app, other than it has been a key in helping me solidify a daily practice. Something that has eluded me ever since I stepped on  my mat 12 years ago. The other constant has everything to do with photography. I decided to take on a 365 this year (again) but this year I would use my Fuji Instax-mini 90 to do the job. A challenge, a test in patience and in failing so I can learn and strengthen my composition skills and better understand the limits of this little camera. I thought I would share five of my favorite images so far from this series. If you want to see the whole body of work so far, and follow along as it unfolds, check out @365_rectangles on Instagram.


Playing with lower light. I love that this looks like a double exposure and that you can see the transition from being serious to silly.
The world is your playground. Taken during a day out exploring down town Tacoma with friends. 
Date night. Our friend Nick pulls beers at a favorite haunt. 
Morning on the Foss Waterway. Sometimes, I am late to work because it’s just too pretty outside to go indoors. This was one of those mornings. 
Hilltop neighborhood in Tacoma. This is next door to my favorite Pho spot. I have loved this signage since the first time I drove along this street (and oh how I wish this place was still open so I could drop off my rolls of film!)

 

Keep chasing that light, Vanessa