Thursday, May 31, 2012

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times . . .

and it all happened in the den.

So the other night, we had one of those family nights I was really digging.  It all felt good.  The offspring were forced to unplug from their various spots and assemble in the den for a 'family movie night.'  (We didn't necessarily have a family movie in hand, but it just seemed like time to gather together.)  Summer is awesome, with no bed times and no worries about what's due tomorrow; but often it seems that everyone quietly spreads out when night falls.  It's fun to have nights with all of us home and hanging out, busying around doing this and that.  I'm noticing, though, that everyone being home doesn't necessarily mean that we are all doing the same thing.  I miss that.

If you spend days and nights looking at your twelve year old hooked up to earphones plugged into the large screen computer with her mouth hanging somewhat agape as she mouth breathes, you begin to wish for a bit of forced family time.  And so we called for that the other night.  "Everybody come in the den - we're going to watch a movie."  (I even got in the floor with no photographs to edit, showing my adherence to the family time.  Of that the kids took notice.)  Then we remembered we didn't exactly have a movie.

Luckily, I spent twenty dollars at a 'going out of business sale' in Toccoa, Georgia a few years ago.  Luckily, also, the movies that seemed most interesting to me were not the least bit interesting to anyone else in the Toccoa area.  And maybe best of all, each of my movie choices was a dollar!  In keeping with how things go in this busy world of ours, we've never even glanced at the large stack of movies - but the other night we did.

We settled on Emmanuel's Gift.  It's the amazing story of a Emmanuel, born in Ghana to a world that didn't understand him.  He was born with a physical disorder which left him without the bottom portion of one leg.  Where he is from, folks born 'different' are considered unworthy of anything at all.  They are destined to a life on the streets, a life of begging and being shunned from the rest of society.  His mother saw it differently.  His father left immediately after seeing his son.  Emmanuel tells his story, the story of how he set out to show others that he was as 'whole' as anyone else and that his brothers and sisters with similar stories were to be valued.  You must see this movie and you must have your children see it.  After you watch the movie, you'll find yourself out of excuses for just about anything and everything.  It is heart-warming, up-lifting and amazing.  See it.

That was the 'best of times' part of the post.  It was one of those moments - you know, when you're surrounded by those you love and you have experienced something meaningful together.  Ahhhhhhh.

Last night, in that very same square room of preciousness where we cuddled together to watch the story of an amazing human, I decided that Tim and I should participate in the nightly 'Just Dance' on the WII.  The kids were excited - they enjoy laughing at us.  They loudly discussed which songs we should do.  They fought over who would dance with each of us, how they could 'get the most stars' and aided us in the favored way to hold the controller.

I did my first dance.  It was lovely, I am sure.  I'm happy for those who got to watch the flailing from behind.  Tim took his turn and I enjoyed my time to hoot and holler from behind.  Then the un-lovely part ensued.  The eldest child screamed to the middle child, "Why do you keep choosing those old slow songs for Mama and Daddy?"  (I had not been aware of their slowness, and I was dripping sweat.)

And then the real special words came . . . the words that make you know that you've made the right decision to stop and play with the little precious people -

The song-chooser yelled out forcefully, "because we're trying to keep them both from dying of a heart attack!  You got a problem with that?"


The best of times.  The worst of times.  All of it right there in the very same space.  I love a varied life.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mother, Daughter, Love and Laughs

You all know I love my job.  To follow are a few reasons why . . .

It's special to spend time with good people - sometimes people you've known a long time - and capture some of their fun and love to preserve forever.  What a time I had with these two . . . an awesome Mama and her daughter home from college.  I've watched Madelyn grow up and photographing the beautiful young woman she has become was a delight.

I'll post a few of the beautiful photos and I'm making a point to include some of the craziness, the tenderness, the laughs and the touches, too.  Those are some of the best parts!  I love to look for the hand holding and one looking into the other's eyes and those devilish looks when they are having fun together.

I hope these photos will serve as a remembrance for both of them of the incredibly special bond they share.

Feeling thankful for good people, good times and the ever-practicing eye of a photographer . . .

(And . . . did I mention the little run-in with the goose family?) 
I think you can see from the following few photos that Madelyn and Mother Goose 
weren't happy to see each other!  You just must love location surprises!

The get-away shot had to be included!

Here's to Mamas and their babies and to enjoying the moment!

Check the gallery page on my website for the complete set of photographs:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Remembering to Crop in the Real World

It hit me this weekend.  It clicked with me that an important step in photography is important in the rest of life, too.

Photography is a multi-stepped process.  The stages a shot goes through from composition and the press of the shutter to final image is a long one.  I spend a lot of time in that process, and it's an interesting one.  It did not take long for me to decide on my favorite step - the one that makes an enormous difference, puts the image and all of its meaning into perspective.

I love the cropping stage.  It's not just that it's neat and tidy.  It is that, but I love the cropping step more for the beauty and meaning and clarity it brings to a photograph, a moment, a memory.  In cropping a photograph, the unneeded part is cut away, the image is put in its best light and the photograph suddenly comes to life.   For me, it is always the most amazing part of the journey.

Cropping a photo is an intentional way to create something more meaningful.

Cropping makes this photo . . .

become this image.

And this one . . .

become this . . . 

And this one . . . 

become this.

Cropping helps the photographer/editor focus on what's really important.  It helps us point the energy and call attention in a certain direction.

Cropping gets rid of the negative or unneeded parts of the photo.

Cropping puts a border on the junk that snuck into the photo.

Often cropping takes a snapshot and makes art.

Cropping is intentional.  Cropping takes time.  It takes thought and direction, and it makes the editor decide on what is the most vital part of the piece.

I've been wondering over the last few days about the way I should use what I know about cropping in the other parts of my world.  I've been running through the steps in my mind's eye and it seems to be a good tool to use . . . all of the time . . . not just with important photos.

How do you see it?

Friday, May 25, 2012

List 20 . . . Ten Bumper Stickers I love

You know by now that I am a fan of good stuff, like t-shirts, fun pins and bumper stickers.  I love it when I see something that throws me into a laughing fit or stops me in my tracks and gets me thinking.  I dig creative, clever people!

The bumper sticker on an old truck in a parking lot earlier this week helped me decide on this week's list.  It was a good one . . .

You know these lists aren't complete - I must always reserve the right to add to at any time, and I adore hearing your additions to the lists!

  1. Normal People Worry Me!
  2. God Hates Hate
  3. Please don't take your organs to heaven - Lord knows, we need them here!
  4. Don't believe everything you think!
  5. I'm not really interested in your stick figure family!
  6. I try not to laugh at my own jokes, but we all know I'm hilarious!
  7. Less Judgement - More Curiosity.
  8. An Artist says a Hard Thing in a Simple Way.
  9. What if the Hokey Pokey is really what it's all about?
  10. The Best Things in Life Aren't Things.
All right, friends - I'm ready to hear yours!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Truth . . . Everything Can't be 'Photoshopped'

Photoshop and I are good friends.  We still have much to learn about each other, and I imagine that we'll be working on our friendship for a long, long time.  There is so much that my pal, Photoshop, can do.  I ask a great deal.  We spend a lot of time together, either in my blue chair in the den or at the desk by the window.  We are close.

I spend so much time altering bits and pixels with my buddy, PS, I sometimes forget that life itself cannot be 'photoshopped'.  I guess it's like kids who spend so much time with video games or dumb television that they begin to actually think the world is one big game, that problems get worked out in thirty minutes, reality is what you want it to be and the people who have the most digital paraphernalia have the most control over their lives.

I find myself looking at the reality of a messy room or cluttered shelf in my home, and something in my subconscious imagine my right hand reaching for the actions and layers palettes on PS.  I actually have a few seconds of dreaming that a button can be pressed, an action chosen or a quick set of manipulated choices can be called upon to digitally 'fix' my real world problem.  It's strange, really.

As a photographer, I hear a lot of statements from clients about what they'd like me to do with PS, which make me believe that all of us have a little of that mentality.  We've been conditioned to think that there is a button somewhere to clear it all up, solve the problems, make things just the way we want them.  That makes me sort of sad.  We are certainly getting used to the quick fix, and I'm as guilty as the rest of the world.

We're also conditioned to imagine that however we are, it's not good enough.  However we look, we should look different.  We 'should' be more of something or less of something else.  I got this today from another photographer, and it made me laugh.  I've heard it all - the list rings true, for sure.

The list makes me laugh, and I don't really mind hearing all of that.  The parts where folks are asking to be magically changed into someone else, though, made me take notice.  They made me think.  

Why does everybody want to be something else?  Someone else?  What's the deal?  

Daily I hear folks asking if I can 'make' them skinny, 'make' them younger, or erase some of the years from their faces.  I understand, I do.  I've felt the same way.  It makes sense to me that we like to look our best, that erasing a few of the extra wrinkles around our eyes or smoothing out the skin on our faces is beneficial.  

I do that every day for folks, and I do it for myself.  I'm completely against altering a person's looks, but I'm always happy to smooth things out, to help them portray their best selves.  That's not the part that worries me.  

The worrying comes in when I see and hear (and imagine myself) that we need to press a button, or a combination of them, to make all of the messiness go away.  That's when I realize that we are leaning too much on this awesome photography tool or anything like it.  Do we actually want to let someone else make us completely different?  Is that what we want the young people around us to see?

I'm coming to an understanding that I want the young people I love to see me being happy with what and who I am.  I want them to see that because I want them to feel that way about themselves.  I don't want the next generation to waste all of this energy on pretending to be something else.  I'm figuring out that doing that wastes more time than I want to give.  

I want to have pictures of myself that I like.  I love being in the business of helping folks preserve moments and memories.  I want them to love their photos.  I want them to love the whole experience.  What I've learned so far, though, is that folks love the photos where they are being real and having fun.  

I'm afraid we've let technology help us stray too far from reality.  We've forgotten a lot.  We've lost sight of the fact that some wrinkles show us stories of life well-lived.  Sometimes those lines around our mouths let other people know how very much we have laughed.   And, hey, most of us aren't the size we see in our mind's eye.   

I'd like to offer this.  Often what the world sees is how very much we care, what an awesome time we were having or just how much we love the people beside us.  I'm all about clearing up skin, completely erasing a pesky zit or giving the sky a richer look.  But let's don't use the Photoshops in our lives to erase the parts that show that we are authentic, living, breathing and feeling human beings.  Let's don't push a button to make it all different.  

Do we really want to live in a video game?  Do we really want our children to grow up into adults who dislike their reality?  

I'll continue my daily love/hate relationship with Photoshop, and I'll keep being thankful that folks were smart enough to invent something so powerful.  I want to keep reminding myself, though, that much of the messiness of this life is the good stuff.  I want to give that to my children and to my friends.  

We're not perfect.  We know that.  And now we're all smart enough to know that the people who look perfect, really aren't!  Let's keep on with the tools that help, but I hope we don't let them take over.  

I want to look back at pictures of this time and see dirt on the hands that have worked in the soil, I want to see the lines on the forehead of the wisest I know, and I want to remind myself that photographs and memories are for remembering feelings, moments and realities.  Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not.  

I want to keep letting the photos tell their stories and leave a little of the stuff that makes us real people.
How about you?  

Found this from another friend right after I began thinking about writing this.  I think it was meant to be shared here today!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Have you seen this woman?

I'm finding that this 'life' thing calls us (often) to experiences, chores, events we might not have considered even yesterday.  It happens to me quite frequently.  How about you?

Do you have a bathroom?  Do children enter that bathroom?

I enjoy my children.  I don't enjoy my children's bathroom.   I have nothing against bathrooms, in general.  I don't, however, frequent the water closet of my offspring.

Apparently, children can completely destroy a bathroom in well under a minute.  It is messy.  There is toothpaste everywhere; even if the counters have just been cleaned. They also have different ideas about when it's time to empty the trashcan.  In their world, it makes sense to continue filling the trashcan, even after the trash at the top is taller than the trashcan below.

A children's bathroom with girls brings many bottles of very smelly substances which are a 'must-have' at every dollar store visit.  None of these bottles have tops, all are half full and each of them has spilled a bit.  The counter in a children's bathroom is very sticky.  And usually the dental floss, from the one time in the last year that they've flossed, is laying atop other restroom debris.

My children don't have a grand excuse for the mess, as we (at their insistence) employ the 'family bathroom.'  Apparently, the shower in our bathroom is better, our mirror is bigger, and it's more fun to throw the towels on the floor in our bathroom than in theirs.  That said, there is very little activity in my children's bathroom - very little.  It should be spotless.

My ultra-crafty children did figure out a good use for their empty toilet paper rolls - each time they don't put a new roll on the fixture, they just toss the old empty roll in the tub.  I mean, that makes perfect sense, right?  No one is bathing in it.

The problem arises when we have visitors, as this children's bathroom is the one the lucky guests of Chez Graham must share with said children.  And I blame the entire disrepair on them - except for one part.

Years ago, in an effort to attain and maintain the utmost sparkly clean, I poured a whole bunch of something very strong.  I'm unable to remember exactly what it was, but it did irreparable damage to this toilet already destined for a miserable life in the children's bathroom.  At first glance, one would assume that the toilet is a bit stained and unclean.  Upon further investigation, however, you notice that the discoloration is nothing more than the large patches where my attempt at cleanliness stripped the bowl of it's bright white shiny paint and left amoeba-like patches a nice shade of light brown.  (Just so you know, that is the color of your toilet when the paint is not on it.)

So, here we are.  We are left with a bathroom only inhabited by my ever-so-tidy children and our poor, unsuspecting guests.

As much as I'm against it with every fiber of my being, sometimes it must be cleaned.  Many times I pretend that I actually believe that what my children deem clean really is and I let it go.  Other times, though, for the well-being of loved ones like Pop and Baba; I must dare to go where I oft-times consider way out of my comfort zone.  From time to time, I must enter.  I must wage war on the long, skinny room in the very center of our home, carrying any instruments of aide and every liquid in a spray bottle.  I have to rise up, be an adult, breathe from my mouth (allowing no stray germs to enter my bloodstream through my nasal passages) and go in.  I have to do it.  I signed on for this.

Sunday was just such a day.  The trip in was a necessity.  I was the one.  I had to go.  I found myself wondering what you all look like when you enter your children's bathroom, after I used a t-shirt tied around my head to ward off any strange smells.  I rushed past the mirror and did enjoy a tee hee at the sight of the circumspect individual vowing to cleanse the bathroom.

It was when I had to complete the suit of armor, though, that I decided the look must be preserved for posterity (or maybe just until my children have children or get a job as a bathroom attendant at the airport).

I had just returned from a quick trip to the Dollar General for cheap cleaning supplies and was quite eager to employ them in my quest for clean.  Unfortunately, I neglected to review the directions for using the lemon-scented ammonia.  I really went for it, wanting all I could get to assist me, and I poured out half of the bottle over the counter top, sinks, and toilet area.  (I guess I didn't glean much from the incident a few years ago when I caused the stripping of the toilet finish.)

If you are familiar with the side-effects of ammonia, you may already know where this is leading.  If you've been in my home and know that there is no window in my children's bathroom, you may  realize that it was bad.  The air was filled with the most evil fumes I've smelled in recent memory.  My eyes watered, my throat stung.  I was in it, though.  There was no turning back.  I couldn't walk away and pretend I hadn't noticed that no living thing could survive if they entered the bathroom.  I couldn't poison my children.  I had to finish the cleaning.

So, my friends, I grabbed the swim goggles I found on the side of the tub in my bathroom, armored myself and went in. I wanted you to see how to dress if you find yourself in a similar situation.  I want this blog to be a help for you.  I want to be a source of home-maker help.

If you ever have to wage war on the space called a children's bathroom or if you ever pour out half of a bottle of ammonia (lemon scent doesn't seem to help with the fumes), I have two pieces of advice.

Never stop singing, "I am Woman, Hear me Roar," and dress like this:

And now for the news on who won the WHAT IS IT? contest yesterday!

This was the photograph:

And this is what it was:

The winner, chosen at random from among the correct guesses is Adrianne I.
Way to go - let me know when you are ready for your session - I can't wait!  

As usual, one of the most interesting things about the mystery photo contest was the guesses - all of the incorrect guesses were the same  All of the people who guessed incorrectly guessed that the photo was a picture of a safety pin bracelet.  That's so interesting.  Apparently, right or wrong, our eyes do a lot of the same things!

Thanks for playing everyone - plan to try again next Monday.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Morning WHAT IS IT?

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

Are you ready to take a guess at the mystery photo for this week?

If you'd like to play, here's what you do:

  • Make sure you have liked Deana Graham Photography on facebook (if you're on fb).
  • Check out the photo and try to guess what it is.
  • Send your guess by email ( or message me on fb with your guess.  Hey, I'm nice - just keep guessing all day!
  • Check in tomorrow to see who won!  The winner will be chosen at random ( from the correct guesses.
  • The winner will receive a free photo session - that's a savings of $150!  
  • Go for it!  No one sees your answers but me, so take a stab at it and spread the word!

With thanks to my friend, Amanda F., here is today's mystery photo:

Friday, May 18, 2012

List 19 . . . Seventeen Country Songs I'm Soon to Write

Friends, you have to see it when you look at me.  I would be a grand country singer.

For today's list I thought I'd shower you with a few of the country songs I might soon write.

Chart-toppers, to be sure - be on the listen:

  1. Babies, if Mama Could Find the Keys, We'd sure 'nough go to Ride
  2. Sometimes I Feel Like Crying When the Laundry Piles up High
  3. Once I went to Mexico and they didn't have no Cheese Dip
  4. Lord, How Did All These Dirty Socks Get All Over my Floor?
  5. The Back Yard Looks Like a Tornada Done Ripped Right Through
  6. When I Opened the Pantry Door, Some Loose Spaghetti Noodles Hit Me 'Tween the Eyes
  7. Ain't Nothin' Purtier than a Silver Mini-van
  8. Honey, We'd Have Some Comp'ny if I Could Find the Dining Room Table
  9. Summer's A Comin' Soon, 'Cause I Can Hear the Skeeter Truck
  10. Don't You Ever Get to Thinkin' You Wish Your Dog Could Talk?
  11. At Times I Feel Embarrassed Without a Cornhole Set
  12. Sleepin' to the Squeak of the Trampoline Springs
  13. Bubba Done Put His Goggles on and Got Back in the Tub
  14. Grandma Never Had to Worry About all these Couponin' Rules
  15. Are all the Armadillas Dead Out on the Bypass?
  16. Wal-mart's Always Easier if You Go In Through the Garden Door
  17. All My Friends are Talking 'Bout Drinking that Aldi Wine
And that's just a few of the country diddles I could write.  Reckon I just need somebody to help me put 'em to music.  

You fixin' to write any?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Feeling a tad bit better . . .

A few truths I must share  . . .

  1. From time to time my trusty minivan (sexy bastion of coolness that it is) has been known to be a bit messy.
  2. Often I find rare relics of petrified food that I remember we had long, long ago.  
  3. Some of my children's friends jumped into the way back seat a couple of days back and shrieked at the leftover corner of an Egg McMuffin.  (They simply tossed it out, affording neighborhood birds a dandy, cheese-filled treat.)
  4. Once we were driving down the road, ran into my oldest daughter's best friend and invited her to come along with us to dinner.  She was barefoot, so she couldn't go.  'Problem?' you ask.  No problem - we found a pair of her shoes in the backseat!  
  5. Many times I can find just the art supplies a friend in need needs, just by opening up the back hatch.

And one more thing:  I believe one should not use the plight of others to feel better; that it is wrong to put others down in an effort to build one's self up.

However, I will now do just that. 

I offer my apologies in advance.

The photograph below makes me feel better.  It does.

Recently I exited the local QT, and this is what I saw.  I stood still, mouth agape.  I stared in amazement.  

I stood taller.  I felt better.  I circled the car.  I looked into all of the windows.  And I waited to see who returned to the car.  I even felt like such a maven of car cleanliness that I stood to take a photo.  I couldn't pass it up.  I just couldn't.  

I never saw the person who owned the car, but I did notice that there wasn't much room for a driver.  There was, however, just about anything else any human could ever want - perhaps in an entire lifetime.  

In an effort to protect the as yet unknown identity of the car owner, I have cropped the photo close.  That's the least I could do.  

The he or she who drives this car gave me a great gift.  

Since this sighting, I have sat up straighter in the driver's seat, I have (mostly) ridded the car of some debris (every few days) and I am confident that as of this writing, there are no rock hard french fries in the floorboard of our van.  

Life is good, though I do worry a bit that we won't have what we need in a pinch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Two boys, one barn and tons of fun . . .

Stare into those big blues and you'll see one of the reasons I adore what I do!  

This was a super fun shoot with two special guys I've had the pleasure of knowing for a good bit of their lives.  Meeting a couple of boys and their mother at a friend's farm makes for big fun, wondrous eyes and lots to look at and investigate!

We were just in time to watch the horses get fed, and that made for long, dreamy looks . . .

and a few conversations!

I love this look!

The hay pile was a big favorite and led to lots of slip sliding fun!

A couple more blues . . .

It just keeps getting better!

I loved this one and wonder what they were talking about as they strolled.

The more stuff to climb, the better!


Sweet, sweet boys.

And, locating the tractor at the end of our time, was the perfect surprise!

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

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