Category Street Photography

4 in 24: Vanessa Simpson | From the Archives

This post was originally written and photographed by me for the Mortal Muses blog, part of a new series called, From the Archives. For this entry, I was being interviewed by the amazing Holly Clark.  Source: 4 in 24: Vanessa Simpson | Mortal Muses

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In the spirit of this month’s theme, Collaborations, I’m excited to be introducing a new guest feature here on Mortal Muses where we challenge a guest to shoot 4 images within 24 hours and share their story here.

Our first guest, Vanessa Simpson, is a geographer by training and trade, and a photographer, artist and mother at heart…oh yeah, she’s also a yogini and runner too! Photography is a passion for her she told me, “I need it, I have to do it.” She still owns her very first camera, a Kodak/Fisher Price 110, that she received as a birthday gift at the ripe age of 7-years old. When I asked Vanessa to share four photos taken within twenty-four hours, she requested to share images from a special roll of film taken on a  trip taken last year.

What film cameras do you shoot with? Do you have a favorite?
I have a silly number of old cameras; I take them in like abandoned puppies. But, the ones I shoot with most often are my Polaroid 100, Minolta SRT100, and my grandfather’s Yashica TLR. The pull apart Fuji film for the Polaroid is fairly inexpensive and I am particularly smitten with the color film, it is rich and vibrant and crisp.  I have promised myself to learn how to use the Yashica TLR that I inherited. It’s a beautiful piece of family history that I am honored to shoot with, it’s just a little intimidating and so different than what I am used to. The photos I am sharing today were a first roll from the Minolta (affectionately known as “Mini”) while on a visit to San Francisco last December.

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8:30am, Early morning in a beautiful bed and breakfast. The sun peeking through a small window and lighting the room perfectly. I was obsessed with that wall paper pattern. I took several self-portraits in this same spot as my husband showered and got ready for the day.

What do you love most about film?
There is something very magical about film. It happens during the waiting, the point where you hold your breath and hope that you got it all right. The moment the image starts to happen-whether it’s waiting for the film to come back from the lab or the seconds before shapes start to form on the blank paper bathing in the chemicals in the dark room. The magic and the anticipation are what I love. When I shoot with the Polaroid, I get almost instant gratification, but there is still the possibility of a light leak or streaking–these imperfections that we try to mimic with digital photography are what make film, film.

Minotla_SF-310am, Walking and wandering from our bed and breakfast to Union Square. We took a path less traveled through an alleyway filled with fantastic street art.

What/Who inspires you?
Oh man, this is a really hard question to answer. I have so many inspirations–many of them I have found over the years via blogs and Flickr. Some of my favorite film shooters are Andrea Jenkins (girlhula) she is the master of Polaroid photography, and I was lucky enough to take a Polaroid class with her a couple of years ago. Kristen Perman, (acukiki) is another amazing Polaroid shooter–her images are haunting and lovely. Laura DeAngelis (lauralani) is an amazing film photographer and self-portraiture master. She has a way with space and color and repetition that blow my mind.  I love portraiture work that Lisa Macintosh (lisamac) has been putting out these past few months, and I can’t forget the master minds behind the NOW YOU Workshops, Meredith Winn (Camerashymomma) and  Kristin Zecchinelli(Mainemomma)–these two women have helped me grow and stretch in ways I didn’t know I could when it comes to my self portraiture work.

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11am, I love looking into windows and imagining the worlds, stories and lives going on behind the glass.

What was your happiest/worst photographic moment & why?
That moment when you realize you don’t have your memory card in the camera–or that you didn’t load that film properly–yup, those moments suck. There are days when you don’t feel “it”. When you wonder why you keep taking frame after frame, the inspiration isn’t there, or your confidence has totally flopped because you are comparing yourself to other artists. Those are the worst moments. But, it is also the time when I find myself growing the most… I keep shooting, keep seeking the light and the patterns and the lines… and I find it all again, the NEED to photograph. There is a certain feeling when I get ‘the shot’. You know it, you feel it. You might take a few more, you know, just in case. But when you get home and sift through the images and you see what you knew all along–you got the image you had planned in your head and that is an amazing feeling.

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1:30 pm, We had walked all over, visited the SFMOMA and were on our way back to our hotel. I made him stop and go in for a drink at a random bar. I love the way the light hits the highball glasses and reflects off the mirror.

Final thoughts or advice for our readers?

  • Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more. Leave the camera at home sometimes, breathe in the world, see it outside of the view finder. It’s going to drive you crazy and make you feel like you have left your right arm laying on the bedroom floor, but be okay with it’s absence. Take notes in a journal, draw (even if you can’t draw) what you want to photograph.
  • Don’t hit the shutter of the camera for anyone else, do it for you. Break the rules, use the rules. Read your camera’s manual, seriously, there is good stuff in there. Challenge yourself with horrible light situations. Take your camera out of automatic mode.
  • Stop and turn around when you see ‘the moment’ or the “the light” flash by in the car window.
  • TURN AROUND, STOP, ASK
  • You see something and you feel the pull of it–honor that pull. Don’t worry about who is watching or what they are thinking about you while you shoot. Don’t worry about the equipment you have or don’t have–the best camera is the one with you.
  • Shoot, shoot, shoot, and then shoot some more.

 

Keep Chasing that light,

Vanessa~

And so, We Marched

Yesterday, like so many others, I marched. I could have gone north to Seattle and joined the 120-130K that showed up there (WAY TO GO SEATTLE!!), but I decided to go south. I headed to the state’s capitol of Olympia where I marched with 10,000+ other people. I got lost in a see of pink hats and rain jackets and it was powerful and beautiful.

Here is what I was a part of…. 
I sang, I walked, I wore my pussy hat, and a t-shirt with an image of Princess Leia and the words, “A woman’s place is in the resistance”. I watched as people helped one another pin buttons, make last minute signs, locate a lost friend. I read sign after sign after amazing sing that made me laugh, made me think, and made my heart fill with hope. I am NOT alone in this fight- I am far from alone!

And now I wondering (and maybe you are too), NOW WHAT??

We MARCHED, we showed up. And that is super duper awesome sauce, but yesterday was just the BEGINNING.

It was the warm up. It was the first step in our metaphorical couch to 5K (more like couch to infinity and beyond) and I am not quite sure what my training plan needs to be. How are we going to continue to flex our peaceful muscles and show that we are NOT going to be QUIET. it’s time to, as J-Lo says, “LET’S GET LOUD”!

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I have been doing some research and happen to have an amazing band of woman on line who have been passing along links and ideas and plans. I thought I would share them with you if you are also in search of your, Now What? If you have links and ideas to share on how to carry the momentum and the energy forward, I ask you to share with me (us) here in the comments!! Ready? here ya go….

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  • Keep showing up (again, and again, and again, and again) – Gang, if you are a local Tacoma or Seattle person you probably know about the “Sonics Guy”. Kris is THE biggest Seattle Sonics fan you have ever met and he has been sporting his Sonics gear, carrying a sign and BELIEVING in his cause (to bring home the Sonics) for a very long time. I loved his open letter yesterday that he posted on twitter. While the movement we are in might not have a uniform (other than our pussy hats) that we can wear everyday, what Kris says is important, “KEEP SHOWING UP”!
  • Take Action – if you aren’t sure how, here ya go.
  • Get involved – here is a good page for that and so is this one
  • Gather – get together with others. Create art, create good food. Create good conversation and a local action plan – if you can’t find what you are looking for in your community, this is YOUR answer! YOU need to make what you need, fill that gap!

Keep chasing that light and – FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

Vanessa

Wandering In Georgetown Seattle

I am very lucky to have a some wonderful new friends in the Seattle area who also happen to be photographers. Last week I met up with two of those women in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle. We had an amazing lunch, wandered around while taking photos, and chatted over a cup of tea. The best part about being around other photographers is that they understand when you lag behind a little bit as you wander.

Want to take a walk with me? Fantastic, let’s go!

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Characters on the Street

How often do we see someone that is seriously asking to have their photograph taken, and we then we pass it up because we are too shy to ask or are afraid of being told, “no.” Today, I am sharing images from a time when I was brave enough to just start taking photos and I truly love the results.

Click on over to Mortal Muses for more photos and words about this Seattle-ite.

 

Keep Chasing the Light,

Vanessa

Following the Flowers

As we walked through the market last Friday,  I followed the flowers.  I watched them being prepped and trimmed and carefully selected by the vendors. The ends clipped and the stems adjusted, sorted and arranged just so.  I saw people carrying arms full of color throughout the day.  As they headed back to their cars or to a bus. As they played tourist down alley ways, or as they waited on the street corners patiently watching the flashing red hand to signal and change to the blinking white shape of person, giving the okay to step from the sidewalk’s corner.

I wondered if the bright bundles would decorate an Easter brunch table? Or perhaps be delivered to a hostess who was lovingly preparing ham, scalloped potatoes, and green beans for dinner.  Perhaps the flowers would brighten a corner in their home, or be passed along to friend who needed cheering up. Where ever these flowers were heading, I am sure they are sitting beautifully, and making someone smile.

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Keep chasing the light, Vanessa

Tacoma Daffodil Parade | Street Photography

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Last year I was pretty darn scared to ask a stranger if I could take their photo. But after doing several interviews for the Creative Coalition of Midtown  and shooting several weddings, the fear has turned to a creative adrenalin rush of sorts. I have learned how to approach people with my camera in hand. I no longer ask, but simply state, “I am going to take your photograph.”  And then go for it when the moment is there, not over thinking, just pressing down my shutter button to capture the moment.
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Carl has been attending the Tacoma Daffodil Parade for the past 40 years. He is involved in his community and sits on the South Tacoma Neighborhood Committee. He was full of great advise about where to find local events that are free to the public.

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On Saturday we headed to downtown Tacoma to watch the Daffodil Parade. People watching is always a favorite and I am quickly falling in love with the natural light and lack of shadows that the cloudy skies allow. These two factors combined, resulted in some really fun images of the event and the people attending the event.
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I didn’t catch this man’s name, but he was passing out flyers about the Renaissance  Festival that happens each summer. He had such a great smile and his costume was fantastic!

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Getting to know our city and the people who live, work and play here is such a great adventure. Tacoma, I sure am enjoying you so far!

Saturday Market

Today, I will share a few of my favorite street shots from last weekend. We left Ross Alley and headed off to lunch. On the way, weaved in and out of the crowded sidewalks of a market area.

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The produce and boxed goods provided great colors and some fantastic repetition. There were all ages of people going about their every day activities- shopping, selling, checking for winning lottery numbers…
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I was hoping to not be too invasive with my camera as the locals went about their Saturday shopping, so most of these shots were taken blindly. I honestly wasn’t sure what I would get as I clicked off frame after frame.
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Street photography like this is addictive. I can’t wait to get out and shoot like this again.