A Travel (B)log: Changing lanes…

The apex of my circumstances these last few years have usually taken place behind the wheel of a car, or in the seat of an airplane; there is always and of course, the lens of my camera too.
It has been a period of transition, as they say. But luckily,  I believe that we grow the most when placed outside of our regular routine.
(It could be that I believe that because I can’t remember last having one.)
So, in both a blessings wake and what would feel at times like a dare, I traveled from one end of the country to the other; changing as I went, my entire life.

September:  Olympia, Anacortes & the San Juan Islands

If W. Clement Stone was correct , and we are a product of our environment, then I am the product of a small green suitcase with one broken latch. In both the state of our living and all the states that we still have to travel through, I have realized what few items are my desert island five, and how to strategically fit them into the suitcase with one broken latch. It is a shame I think, that I can not sift the salty sea air of Washington and some how steal it away in these last days of September; as summer drags her fingertips across the Sound just one more time.


We have been living in one long narrow room for five weeks. The tenants of a local Olympia hotel while Drew will finish what the military calls his ‘ETS’. It stands for ‘estimated time of separation’, one of the many acronyms that I have learned in the last two years. So to break out of the monotony of working and waiting, Drew & I filled the car with our two dogs, his pack and my little green suitcase and headed almost four hours north to ‘Deception Pass”.

(Named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792… “Feeling that he had been deceived by the nature of the inner waterway… he wrote on his chart ‘Deception Pass’.” )

To cross this amazing channel means that you have finally arrived in Whidbey Island, just the first in a long and beautiful string of Islands in the very north corner of Washington. The plan was to spend the weekend on the shore with family, coaxing mother nature into kind temperatures….


She listened so well that we didn’t leave Anacortes for almost three weeks. Instead we combed the beach and made boats, played pirates and always stayed “just one more day.” One of those rare times in life when we followed only our bliss, while we let the rest sit waiting.



October: ‘Our last gasp’, the I-90 stretch and an early Thanksgiving in Mexico.


We finally left Washington in the early weeks of October with two walkie talkies and a dog in each car to keep us company. It took three days on I-90, which meant time to enjoy the way that the color of the sky changed as we passed through Idaho in the early morning, the moon rise in Montana, and
the density of the dry Wyoming air. For me, it was a welcomed change. Like Colorado was waving hello, and I knew it wouldn’t be long.



We only had two days in Colorado before we hopped a plane to Mexico for an impromptu Thanksgiving with my family. (On October 12th!)
It was just enough time to find an apartment and lock it behind us.

 

What a blessing that we should once again find a reprieve from all the change; with only the shadow of love to fall underneath. It was one early morning on this trip that I stole away to simply sit and give thanks.

 


A few days later the reality of my  ‘best laid plans’ surfaced. Seraphim Fire had a wedding booked at the end of the month, which meant that I had four days to get the sand out of my  suitcase and pack for the next flight.

  

Sasha Gil, a beautiful and long ago friend from my days in New York, works in fashion and now lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Her fiance Wallace is from Greenville, South Carolina. For a chance to capture their southern wedding day, I would head East.

           
           

It was my first time visiting one of the Carolina’s, and turned into one of those magical trips that made me want to (despite all odds!) pick up and move again.
I suppose that is the curse of being malleable. Each place I have been, I have left a small but imaginative piece. One that can exist right there, and maybe never go any other place.


November: Coming home.

On the plane ride home, I imagined clicking my heels together slowly.

Like Dorothy would have.

I immediately pictured myself in Drew’s arms, and I thought of the dogs taking up my side of the bed.
I always thought of myself as a gypsy. Someone who flowered along the roadside. I realize now, that  my home is not defined  by which state line I land within, and it isn’t ‘my next big adventure’ either.

Now, when I picture the future, it always has just those few simple things.

And of course, my camera.

I wish you all the happiest of holiday’s, and I remind those that find themselves absent from my photographs to give me a call.
Because I celebrate life through the lens, you (come one, come all!) are always welcomed.

Please visit http://www.seraphimfire.com for contact information,
and if you enjoyed this blog post, please pass it on…

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A Mission Statement?: Part One

 

“You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backwards” J. Thurber
I love that the beginning of something always feels more like a question. It bends around and then down, and then wouldn’t you know it, there at the bottom you have to make a giant leap!

Get it?

Well, It feels that way because that is exactly what it is. In essence you are asking yourself whether you accept the challenge of starting, which inevitably means moving forward. It is not a question of can you? But, will you? Certainly you can choose to dig your heels in and stay put, or….You can leap. Therein creating something new, something out of nothing, which is different from, say…telling about it later. (Although good writers have, for years, taken the act of retelling and made something out of nothing. Heh.)
For me the two acts ended up running smack into each other. My desire to share is strong. Stronger sometimes than my delicacy

With school 400 days passed me, I have to say I have been delighted; so much freedom to choose where my camera falls!

While within the institution, my work changed drastically, either due to serious focus or an obsessive need to explain why. 
“…And why, Ms. Beisenherz, did you chose to photograph a wine glass full of old spoons?”
You have no idea the looks you will get when you respond with…” um, well…,” palms sweating as I realized how I was about to sound…
“because I thought it was beautiful…” And I really did.
But I could never explain it beyond that. I started to think of it as ethereal, but I think my teachers saw it more as impetuous. What I should have said was, “I love the way it makes me feel.” But it took me awhile to get there.

As my work took shape (just like life) I wound up shooting subject matter that I had spent most days fighting against. I couldn’t really see myself spending summer months shooting the wedding circuit, or imagine that I would talk in soft and slow whispers to new parents in the hospitals of two major cities. Admittedly though, when I did, I would leave the hospital always smiling with this warm light of accomplishment beaming from inside. The truth is, children are so fun to photograph. They are small and new, yes. The socks are adorable, but no matter what strange and unique quality that I saw that day, those new parents could see 10. And I watched love multiply.


I really enjoyed being apart of that. I loved the fact that my time was spent doing exactly what I wanted to do, take pictures. Better yet, it would end up being just as special to whoever loved that child. It would continue to multiply. I might not be saving the world, but I am capturing it and, almost literally, holding on to it forever. On those particular mornings that I was tired or cranky, (or sometimes too broke to even get to the hospital to shoot that day) those bad feelings would eventually wash out leaving this realization behind.

Despite everything, life is beautiful.
I am learning that there are rules to shooting delicate moments. Recipes that can be handled any number of ways, some with supplemental ingredients; but there are those few that cannot change. Passion, of course, is one of them. But another is that unnamable feeling that I used to create my images of antique spoons, or crab shells in the sand, or cut up fruit from a Saturday morning breakfast. Over the past year I realized that I wanted to grow up with these people, to shoot with them each year, and grow along side them. Not just the babies, but the families that I have watched begin in matrimony.


The trouble is that when you make the choice to do anything that you really love, you have to work much harder to keep it alive. That is something that people (mostly optimists) always over-look in the hour that they make that crucial decision to leap. To become an artist, or a soldier, or even a mother…It is hard work to keep your inspiration alive. (And the pay can be lousy.) More importantly however, the self-discipline is excruciating. How do you take something you love and make money at it, without turning it into a job?
With this question I sat. I sat for days….But you can’t just look at the big picture all of the time. If you do you can lose focus and things get fuzzy. I needed a few small details to guide me, like the color of the fish underneath a big ocean, or the reflection in the water.

Part of the problem was that I felt stinted, like I was falling behind this ever-growing profession. I had left Denver and no longer had my teachers and peers there pushing me. (I have to give a very sincere shout out to Michelle, Lindsey, Megan, Jake, and Todd right here.) For those of you still in school, take it from me, find your ’round table’. By that I mean, there are always at least three people, colleagues, that will help you keep your eyes open and looking forward. Those special few have the quality to challenge you with positivity and genuine interest and intelligent criticism. They will help you feel it when you have a really good growth spurt, and they know all the vocabulary.

And then my life lessons intersected. During the month of September, we took time and traveled around visiting family & friends that Drew had gone nearly a year without seeing because of the deployment. It was amazing.
My dad had a birthday, I played golf and went surfing for the first time ever, albeit very clumsily. But the best part was the amount of love in any one room. It was literally audible. So much laughter…
I started thinking while on that trip that our gypsy lifestyle was making the same point as my passion to grow as a photographer. I loved the adventure, and I was getting so much out of it. But each new place meant leaving something else, not necessarily ‘moving on’, but still letting go in a way. It was making me stronger, but also it was making me work a lot harder at my relationships; to try and stay connected even when I was busy with other things and other realizations. Growth feels funny sometimes. It can be uncomfortable, but then suddenly, you can reach a little higher.
“So…” I thought, “that is what I have to do. Reach higher.”
How simple.

When we returned home it was work and routine; A complete alternative to the past few weeks. I gave myself a few guidelines and wrote them down. Hoping that the visibility of my scrawled out mission would be a motivator. Even if it was just a post-it note.
I would get up when Drew did everyday (usually before sunrise) and force myself to sit down at the computer. Working from a home office is not an easy task, especially for someone like me. What an amazing use of my self-discipline it has been. Even if I do chose to spend the sleepy hours of the early morning puttering, I can have  the dishes done and the laundry spinning in the dryer before nine thirty rolls around. On those days, with my third cup of coffee, I am forced to sit down in the small bay window of our living room and edit or write, or explore new software & equipment. My best days contain all three, but I admit the writing everyday has been my biggest challenge.

I have seen during this time though that when we open up the doors of ourselves for experience to come in, it rushes.

“The Beautiful Summer.”

Overnight

If I count up all of the times that I have moved in my life, it comes out roughly, (give or take the small six-month periods of homelessness here and there) to 19. That is to say that I have lived in 19 different houses, but only six area codes. I have used trucks to carry all the things that I own across thousands of miles between Texas and Colorado, Colorado and Brooklyn, and now once more to Olympia, Washington. The sunshine is cooler in Washington when you are sitting directly in it. My lips do not beg for moisture as often as they did in the Mile High City, (Unless of course it is the moisture from the lips of the man I love best) and I have noticed that people in the North West like the variations of blue and green mixed into the paint of their houses, not just the bottoms of their boats or backyards. I have also noticed that in each place there is a separate culture, and even with all of our similarities, we are also so very different. 

It has been a real pleasure to see it, and know how much more I have ahead of me.
I have noticed that each time that I move, I do so in the same way, but my process has evolved. I unpack very quickly. I establish a relationship with the things that already exist there, and then show my appreciation for the things that I can make my own. I almost always paint a room or two; three of my houses have had at least one red room.  

(Two have had a yellow one, but we will get back to that.)

I am fond of seeing a chair in the sunny corner of my bedroom, and although prone to throwing my dirty laundry on the floor, I try to avoid it as it seems to imitate more of a mess than it actually is. That, and a turned down bed can lure you into a nap, even if you are not the least bit tired.

Those are the visual comfort foods of moving to me. Necessary. With high impact and very little effort. When I first arrived back in Washington I had about two weeks to get unpacked and prepare for Drew’s homecoming. The house could have been covered in unpacked boxes, barely cleaned, and he would have appreciated those small efforts, made by me to welcome him back. Hot showers and fresh fruit were his only real requests. “I haven’t seen an ice cube in six months.” He would tell me during a phone conversation wherein I asked him to make a list of grocery store items that he wanted. This would be my second time back to Washington, but my first real summer here. It was also my first real chance to settle into life with someone that I love so completely.

Needless to say, my joy started building on the first mile due North West and the arrow of my internal compass began to spin wildly, not just the literal one on the necklace that I always wear around my neck.

Sometimes a song can set me off like a gun firing. Other times there is a visual element. The color yellow, for example, is a joyful one of those elements. In printed images, yellow is a dominant color in our skin. It is the color of time when papers have been stained by it, and it is the cast that my living room turns to around three o’clock everyday. It sets me at ease, this color, and the way it feels warm, even when it isn’t.  I love to watch it change while the day gets older, and as I check back in with the people and jobs that I have put aside it seems to keep me from getting overwhelmed; takes my hand and focuses it with colored light.  

With that, I have to confess that I have not sat down to my computer in ten days. I have looked at emails in the few minutes of the morning, and have answered the really important ones. I have taken only a few calls, but still, a few. And then this morning, after plenty of little chores that could have waited, I finally created a space for myself at our breakfast table. With a cup of coffee, a pitcher of water, an empty glass, some pasta salad and my vitamins (that I have also been neglecting) I found the most wonderful thing just sitting idle among the unimportant junk of my digital mailbox.

My sweet friend Michelle had sent me a video, made by and for Vanessa Bruno entitled ‘Le bel ‘te’.
The video features Lou Dillon, a French model frequently associated with Vanessa Bruno, and beautiful piano music by Gonzalez.  (Not to be confused with the also impressive Jose Gonzalez; this Gonzalez is a Canadian musician who currently lives in Paris.)
I admit that I do not make a habit of sharing much media except for my own. It is not an act of rebellion against anyone, or frustration with what is being put out there, although I suppose sometimes it is. I have watched it now about a dozen times, and in the curve of Lou Dillon’s shoulder and the extreme change in tempo, the dip of piano keys against some kind of chaos in the hidden glee of washed out video, I might have found the words that I was almost certain would be lost to me somewhere in all the time and space that it took me to get set up.

It is an overwhelming feeling trying to capture happiness in something as simple as words and pictures. But to capture it in the promotion of a shoe or a silk knit top? It was in the moment of first seeing this that I felt somewhat understood, and less ashamed of all these days that I could only tuck the way I am feeling into the lining of my own garments, and hide from the outside world with such resolve. (I would put my giddiness in the giddy up of my nightshirt and ride off into the sunset of my sleeping dreams. The reality of my waking life and the wide-open pasture of those dreams had begun to blur together.) I found myself in a love coma, my only release, a few engagement shoots that I could use as a catalyst to discuss my school girl frame of mind.

It was then that I discovered the translation of  ‘Le bel ‘te’   ……………

“The Beautiful Summer.”

Yes, It really is.

The connection between love and lightning bolts….

It takes a lifetime to discover the delicate nature of things….
We each find, at different times, that our parents are just regular people. That magical quality of theirs, although very real, is mostly the light of unconditional love.  
That is their gift.

We find that friendships are not obligations, but contracts. Entered into freely, we may participate as long as we like. The weight of those relationships however will grow as the number of connections begin to lessen, and the value of seeing someone change over time becomes a tiny and visible miracle caught in so many album pages.
We all, at some point, get to say: “I use to know them when…”

We see that as people age they protect themselves more & more, and maybe that’s the reason that we hesitate in letting go of old bonds. It’s not the adding up of years, but the lost days between us that become so important. A laundry list of imaginary numbers.

We learn that anger and resentment are toxins, the kind that bear down on us, and eventually end our lives; whether we actually die or not. With experience (and some common sense) shedding the bad feelings is learned, and they are replaced with the wisdom of forgiveness.              
To me, that is real freedom.
Freedom from feeling badly over the things that we can not control; a difficult task to master.

My favorite lesson (so far) has been realizing that my happiness is in my own control. It is this lesson that has given me the chance to stop dancing around certain difficult issues and just sit down with them.
I spent years trying, like a little steam engine, to look  into the eyes of the people that I would meet, and really understand  them. I did this so fervently that over the years I created a sort of super power. There was not a person in my path that I could not admire, in everyone there was something to love.
There were the stubborn ones that could not listen, but oh what resolve! I had to respect their design. There were the ever so smart ones that, although sometimes arrogant, always had something to teach me. There were the elegant and beautiful ones that did not use their voices and they struggled to connect in substantial ways. But I loved to admire them, and because they craved that admiration, I was able to give something back.
Then, there were the terribly naughty ones that had nothing to give, but would thrive on the negative energy created by their attitudes. But I eventually loved what they gave me… perspective.  

The hardest of these universal lessons is the one of patience, and the long standing joke is that we never actually learn it. We go on trying to wait patiently for the waiting to seem less taxing. Much like the long lists of ‘Honey Do’s’ always on the kitchen counter, there is also always something to wait on. I thought that I understood this lesson, even thought that in admitting my disability on the subject of patience, the Gods would some how smile down on me; spare me, in a manner of speaking.

And then I fell in love with a soldier.  

Gone away nearly six months, we have found new ways to connect,
and it has been during this time that I have seen the connection between love and lightning bolts.

Lightning is caused (very simply) by the difference in energy between the air, in the sky and on the ground. Most people struck by it can survive, however none are ever the same. Sometimes in the form of explosions in the sky or as warm Texas rain, the goal of the bolt is to strike ground; regardless of what it must go through to get there.
It can be relentless, but it will light everything around it;

making things much clearer, even in the darkness.

“You manifest that which is before you.”

Nameless guilt & lazy sunshine

Clancy,

No matter how many apartments we have lived in alone, or together, I have never really felt ‘on my own’.
I suppose it’s because of all the space you and D seemed to take up in my day, even if we only had one real conversation a week.
I have made the right decisions though, so this is a long time coming.

(The sun just forced it’s way through the depth of rain and cloud cover. I can’t see it, but just enough light is getting through and it’s changed the color cast of my living room. It is almost four o’clock in the afternoon.
I sleep more here. Something I should be grateful for, but instead I have guilt.
I picture you smiling at me now, rolling your eyes at nameless guilt, all over a little lazy sunlight.)

I talked to our girl last night. She called me late, after the babies were asleep, and sounded misplaced.
She talked about all the boxes everywhere and her blank walls. I thought about our talk this morning, and how you called me a ‘blank canvas’, and all I feel like is one of those blank walls in her apartment. Waiting for something to cover me.
I couldn’t say it back to you though. Not when you told me that I am living the dream.
I hate it when you’re right.
But I want you to know that I see it that way because of your love and support.

The sun just came out completely.
I’ll write more tomorrow.

Endlessly,
r.

Seraphim Fire Photography: Continuing the letter’s in an attempt to bridge the gap.

Greetings to all!

October in Washington...

As most of you know, I have just recently moved (yet again!) to the colorful state of Washington.

Most of my years have been spent in Colorado, with a three-year stint in Brooklyn N.Y. that forced me as a photographer to make some decisions about where my work would or should be going. At the end of September I graduated with a second degree in photography from the Art Institute of Colorado. Now I find myself, true to form, in a completely new place. And my explorations of this new scene have left me feeling grateful for the Fall season, and engulfed in everything fresh and strange and exciting.

Exploring the state... Olympia, Seattle & Northgate

After shooting under the extreme eye of higher education, and my amazing peers, I have started and continued projects that were born on late nights when I couldn’t sleep. Selfishly, I held them close to heart, and focused on the expectations and parameters of finishing my degree. I knew that a time would come when, properly nurtured over time, my personal projects would become full-grown.

One of my favorite of these ideas, thought up over the last two years, is a book of ‘Love Letters’.

It contains 11 images coupled with corresponding letters. All these letters have been written to real people over time; my friends or family, but never mailed. These letters have never been discarded. (Either from severe pack rat disorder, or a faith that eventually they would find a way out of my desk drawer.)  My first volume of this book made its debut at my graduation presentation, and then again at a gallery show hosted by Myself and a dear friend and colleague, Michelle Knudsen. The show took place at The Grant Street Mansion and displayed 11 of the 16 graduates from the Summer 2009 session at the Art Institute of Colorado. Our turn out for the show was spectacular, and the response concerning the ‘letters’ was extremely positive. My pride over these very personal expressions gave me the faith to keep it going. It created in me a deep desire to continue sharing.

Elsa Darling

ElsaDarling_letterI have begun to settle into my new home, and found that there is a natural space between graduation and a comfortable routine here. I must learn my way around the area, make new friends, and commit to an amazing new chapter, and it occurs to me that there will always be letters to write, people that I am missing, and stories that need to be told. I am blessed to have people who love me scattered across the country and some flung much further. ….

My desire is to use the letters to bring me closer to those that I am longing for, and to make my images available in the everyday. This is my attempt to shorten the distance.

Slowed down for a time_letter

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I am going to take tomorrow.” Imogen Cunningham

Slowed down for a time...

(Comments and questions about the work are welcome. Any input will be addressed, and as my client base grows here I will share not only my letters, but a full gamut of imagery. I am a portrait photographer dealing in editorial and Fine Art, new-born photography, and scenic captures.)For my company website please visit http://www.seraphimfire.com and thank you for your time and attention.Keep checking http://www.seraphimfirephotography.wordpress.com for new work;

the next letter could be to you…

SFP_Stamp

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All Images & writing copyright Seraphim Fire Photography & Regan Beisenherz