day in and day out

There is a sameness to summer days when we turn with languid movements from one task to the next. It would be easy enough to stay indoors in the cool air conditioning, to surrender to the heat. Instead, we choose long walks in the early and late hours of the day when the sun caresses gently.

Summer is the perfect time to pause and film is the perfect medium for picture-taking.

My daily photography journey takes me to the shore along the Rappahannock River, the tennis courts of Kenmore Park, the front porches of Caroline Street, the coffee shop, the library and the side streets of homes marked mostly by optimism.   

Pictures like these seem to stand as visual metaphors for slow living . . . where life is simple and sweet and safe. They make me want to breathe deeply and hold on, even when I know I will need to let go.

{film practice}

 front porch

front porch

 breakfast

breakfast

 Rose of Sharon

Rose of Sharon

 mail boxes on fence

mail boxes on fence

 tennis player

tennis player

 life jackets

life jackets

 mint green VW

mint green VW

 cake and book

cake and book

Thanks to my friends, Kim and Chuck O'Brien, for developing the film and making the scans.

quoting David duChemin

I share quotes from David duChemin often. Really often. As I read his posts, I find myself nodding my head in agreement - often. And many times, I find his thinking out loud makes me question and reconsider my assumptions, biases, and previously held notions. The guy has a gift - not only for creating images that matter but also for bringing out the best in his fellow photographers. His perspective rings true for me and reminds me of a simple but profound lesson I learned as child about letting my light shine.

We do not give our gift—whatever it is—into the world to validate us, to tell the world how good, how bright, talented, or relevant, we are. We give it as a gift. And as is so often the case with a gift we do not know how the recipient will receive it. But there’s a good chance they need it; that there are souls that have been waiting for this moment to hear from you, to give them the nudge forward that they need to find the courage to stand on the edge of their own chasm and relax the white-knuckled death-grip they have on their own art and give that, too, to the world.

We do not give our gift as barter. I do not give my art in the promise that you (or anyone at all) will reciprocate. I give it because the gift has to keep moving. I give it because light travels in a line, not a circle. Does that make sense? We pour what we have and who we are into the stream and it moves on. To do otherwise, to expect it to come around, is to put our art into a cistern, not a stream. There’s no surer way to stagnate as an artist than to do it for the reward, or to hold back from putting it out there for fear of never getting one.
Coneflowers_MorningLight_0004.jpg

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 Justin | Darbytown | Fredericksburg, Virginia | July 2018

Justin | Darbytown | Fredericksburg, Virginia | July 2018

Notes on portraits from Pursue Pictures -

Steve McCurry says a good portrait says something about the human condition. That each picture of a person is capturing their humanity and we connect to portraits because the viewer sees something in the picture he sees in himself. He’s talking about connectivity, or the emotional core behind the picture. And this isn’t specific to portraiture. Capturing any picture that has true longevity and power means not only capturing the image, but the emotional moment behind the image. In this case, the “human factor” behind the portrait. People are such interesting individuals, with specific tastes, styles, and personalities. A good portrait should of course be technically strong, but above that it should aim to connect the viewer with the core elements of the person being photographed. This is that unteachable element of photography that comes with talent and time. A great portrait communicates volumes, and should aim to expose something special, but universal, about its subject. As Minor White once said: “All photographs are self-portraits.” Food for thought.

I would have willingly spent all morning photographing this young man.

I watched him from afar handling the ball as though an extension of his body, much as my camera is for me. He worked intensely, a fine mist of perspiration covering his body on this nearly 100 degree day. And yet, even in deep concentration, he willingly stopped to pose for this portrait.

I waited all day to upload the picture to my computer, trying to let go of the image itself, trying to be satisfied with the memory of this moment.

Sometimes you get lucky. Today was one of those really lucky days. I love this portrait with all my heart.

Justin_portrait_0002.jpg

feature on cardthartic

There are a few regrets I cannot abide – that  I might pass on, holding onto grudges or resentments or anger, or that I might leave words of kindness and gratitude left unsaid, either through neglect or some false assumption that they need not be said.

There is no wrong way to reach out and share your heart, but I hold letter and card-writing to be the dearest means of communication and correspondence.  

From the stack of mail on my desk, awaiting replies . . .

Dear Donna, I’m back in London . . . our anniversary is tomorrow, so we’re heading to the Cotswolds for a week. I’m looking forward to seeing the country and a slower pace. I hope you enjoy this tea.  Hugs, Karen

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This card is a reminder that you are the best thing on the planet. Just sayin’, Joni

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Hello, Donna! I’m settling back into writing snail mail again. Finding this vintage postcard last week in the Outer Banks spurred me on.  Paula

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Dear Donna,
I was recently strolling in a bookshop and I noticed a stand displaying a small number of black and white post cards by some famous photographers. This one, by Willy Ronis, immediately caught my eyes and I thought, “Oh! Donna could have made this one!”
I’m glad to send it to you and thus re-activate our friendship which has been quite still these last months. Yet I know our friendship is only asleep but still present in the bottom of our hearts.
I wish you and your dear ones a sunny, creative and happy summer! Odile

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Considering my desire for connection, it should come as no surprise that I might contribute to the making of greeting cards.

And I have done just that.

I am honored to be a part of the Cardthartic community.

  Others see the rain . . . you help me spot the rainbows.

Others see the rain . . . you help me spot the rainbows.

I protect my photography and writing practice with fierceness. To continue a practice without the expectation of fame or fortune is a humbling act. And yet it would be false to say that I make pictures and write these words for only myself. Showing and sharing my work is a part of the process, a kind of engagement that both widens and deepens my art.

I am suspect of many photography related business ventures, but when I spotted the rack of Cardthartic cards at one of my favorite stationery and gift shops, Mongrel in Richmond, Virginia, I found myself admiring the cards and wondering if I might be a worthy contributor.

From my very first communications with Cardthartic’s creative team of Jodee Stevens and Liz Biswell, I felt as though I’d found a home. Their philosophy of “no pressure, just pleasure,” fit me to a T.  

Dedicated to real-life messages that are true and touching, Cardthartic creates cards that serve to reinforce the goodness and grace of life.

Perhaps there is someone in your life, wanting and waiting to read words like these.

"Thank you for walking beside me, for being a part of my story. Your understanding and encouragement are written on every page."

Photo Credit:  Thanks to Raymie Chapman for taking the photo of this card exchange between me and a new photography friend.