August is the best month of summer in many ways. Everyone is back from the 2-weeks they took for the 4th of July and everyone still wants to grill out. It’s hot enough to be outside and the nights are cool enough to enjoy. Ocean water is warm enough to swim in, finally. Even though the mosquitoes are the size of cessnas, evenings on the patio are still perfection.

August light is gorgeous. There is no comparison to the easy golds and hazy muted purples in an August sky at sunset. The leaves and grass all glow deeply in that long side-eye from the sun we get right now. Sometimes, on clear nights in Minnesota, some Northern Lights dance with a fuschia and green you don’t find many other places.

In Dallas the cicadas sigh in the Live Oaks and drown out all the traffic noise. In Los Angeles the hummingbirds flit from pine to pine looking for honeysuckle and vine flowers to drink from – impatiently chirping dimensions to their turf.

The fireflies have been de-populated by the birds, but they still appear. Crickets sing and chirp after having spent the entire day eating the garden to shreds. Lilies are dwindling, petunias are leggy and, by now, the wildflowers have gone to seed. Preparations for fall are starting – and not just that holiday and back-to-school creep you see in the stores. Momma earth is settling into a corner of her sofa and deciding what to binge-watch for 6 months. It’s now you can see the progress and the distance between April and August. The kids and the trees are taller.

Below is what’s been playing most of July and this first couple of weeks of August. Caity Copley is favorite. There are a few bands I am revisiting – The National (they just finished a tour) and Adele because I like to sing in the car, and she too is on tour.


 

Summer goes too quickly as it is, no matter who you are or your age. Seemingly we get 5 minutes of beautiful weather and then it is back to the other seasons. Don’t get me wrong here, I like fall colors and some crunchy winter snow from time to time. I even love the pollen-thick joys of spring flowers. The thing is: I LOVE SUMMER MOST. The bright sun, warmth and the lazy breezes are easier for me to connect with and remember.

Days like today, for instance, when it’s 75 and sunny with puffy clouds dotting the horizon and going by at the pace of a grazing horse are heaven to me. I prefer the warmth of 85, but complaining at this point seems rude. Right now I can see the wildflowers and prairie grasses bending to the breeze and the sun – relaxing one way and then the other – with birds overhead swooping to catch mosquitoes in mid-air. The meadowlark is out there in the grass, singing and defining his turf. His annual return is the mark of spring, his silence the mark of summer’s true start. Once the baby barn swallows are fledged I know I have 4 weeks left of these lazy lounge-chair afternoons before the nights get too cold for the garden to make tomatoes. Then, it will be fall.

All this has a soundtrack of it’s own, but when I am not here, these are the songs that remind me of the love and power and energy of what it is to see these things and feel them. Enjoy. I give you summer:


 

I’ve recommended Bride To Be Consignment for a long time to anyone who prefers to do some of the design and coordination of their events themselves. Bride to Be has it all. The formula for Bride to Be is pretty simple: she’s selective and looks for items that are on-trend. She keeps a variety of gowns for all kinds of occasions. I’ve seen everything from Prom Dresses to pageant couture. Her bridal selection is really impressive.

Here’s a tidbit of trivia: 60% of the gowns are brand new, in the bag – with the tags on.

And, if you wonder, there’s a huge assortment of Wraps. Dresses. Jewelry. Chair swags. Shoes. Decor. Vases. Veils. to choose from. The list goes on. You have to see the new location to really know what I mean. It is a wall-to-wall resource for anyone planning an event or attending one.

And – before you think she’s only got dresses, she has Tuxedos, too.

The shop is no-fuss and not a typical “Bridal Salon” so please, don’t expect or bring champagne. This stop on your bridal planning list is for after brunch-time mimosas. Be prepared for a lot of choices, lots of items on display. It can be crowded, it’s no longer the well-kept secret in town. Come early, come prepared.

No appointment needed to enjoy shopping with the commission free and knowledgeably staff, but note their hours:

Monday-Friday: 10:00am – 8:00pm Saturday: 10:00am – 6:00pm Sunday: 10:00am-4:00pm

BRIDE TO BE CONSIGNMENT 8925 Penn Ave S Bloomington, MN 55431 12-267-4004

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Minnesota Wedding Dresses

This month I started a Facebook Group. It’s for the women I know to share 52 Selfies over a year and tell us something about herself she loves in each one. The group isn’t something outsiders can see, but you can join. We support each other and we encourage one another. It’s a lot of fun, it’s also hard. I completely adore the kindness and bravery in that group. I look at these women I know and I think, “Wow!” not only because of what I see, but because of what they share in the caption. It’s been great to catch up and have a quiet place for us to be a little less than Facebook-perfect.

Also, in the last month the summer has booked up with events, weddings and engagements. I think I might have 6 weekend days left between now and September that don’t have anything on them. I won’t dare say I want free time. Because I don’t. I want to be working because it means making things for all of you. It’s what I was meant to do.

This week I made some wonderful prints for clients, wedding albums for a couple and a magazine. It’s been busy, but like I said – I love it.

This weekend I’ll be in the studio with a family who has a fabulous story and lots of laughter. Some of my favorite kids will be here this weekend and I can’t contain my excitement over it. More on that later.

How can you capture all the images people snap at your wedding with their phones? It’s easy. And, you can make a book with them to share, too. Pricing for the books I am suggesting here is found on THIS PAGE.

1. Make a Facebook group for your wedding, add your invited ceremony and reception guests to the group. Then, create a photo album called “From Your Phones”. Make sure the group settings allow others to upload to that album.

2. Get married!! HECKYEAH!!

3. Get people to put photos they take into the group album. Give folks a deadline!

4. Download Mosaic to your own phone or upload images with your computer from the group album to the Mixbook site
Mosaic:http://www.mixbook.com/mosaic/
Mixbook:http://www.mixbook.com/

5. Make your book using all those wonderfully fun and candid things people photographed at your event and wedding. It’s fun to see what they saw!

6. ENJOY! And, ‪#‎liveinphotos‬

This is a screenshot of http://www.mixbook.com/everyday-photo-books This is a screenshot of http://www.mixbook.com/everyday-photo-books

(I don’t receive compensation from Mixbook in any way, I just think they are the easiest to use)

The New York Times has an Image Morgue

Why not take in the sights? You can see the backs of the photos, too – which is my favorite thing sometimes. View HERE.

See 100 artists in their studios

Understanding what an artist surrounds themselves with sometimes informs you as to how they created. Enjoy HERE.

Books are Art

2016 Non-Fiction is previewed here. Find yourself some Fiction off this list.  Reading is good for you.

Music is a HUGE part of how I process my thoughts, so when I am in the car or the studio I am listening to something. Everything. Anything. The things that stick make my playlist. The playlist becomes the backdrop to my work. My work changes with my thoughts, my backdrop evolves, too. So, what I put in these playlists is what I was listening to while working the month or two before. Usually about two months before.

This year started out with some heavy emotions and some surprises. In a nutshell, my feels are all over the damn place. That happens in the off-season I think, especially when you are exploring your process and working on a project. So this playlist has plenty of upbeat sound, but it is generally disjointed. January meant the loss of Bowie – that was no fun. Playing his voice in the car or in the studio was not something I was able to do. There are lots of reasons for that – and I suspect when Willie Nelson passes I will be much the same. That’s all I have to say about that.

JANUARY 2016 PLAYLIST

I bet February will be about Funk. Figuratively, emotionally and creatively February has a tradition with me of being R&B and Funk. I have no idea how that came to be, but my guess is it started because every stupid romantic playlist out there has Marvin Gaye and Barry Manilow on them. But I need a little less commercialism than that! So, I headed over to the bins in the corner at Bill’s to dig into the beginnings of those “smash commercial hits”.  Which is how I came to love protest rock.  February being Black History Month means I’ll have been playing some of that, too. Some of the best funk came from protest rock, but we can get into that next month. But I’m listening to it now. So, you can expect some Darondo, Primus (Yes, they are funk.),  Zapp and Roger, Tower of Power, Greg Osby and some other things along these lines. And Lee, rest assured: Prince will be featured. Now, if you would like to join me NOW, head on over to Secret Stash Records and do some homework. I’m about 26 years ahead of you.

Being the eclectic mess I am, I enjoy all kinds of art.

I love sculpture, oil and watercolor paintings and I love photography. I find that the quirkiest of minds create the things I like most. In my last feature I discussed what I like about Edward Hopper’s paintings. For instance, what I love most (sometimes) is his inclusion of things in ways that were not necessarily apparent to other people when the painted scene was compared to the real-life site. Today I am adding on to that idea with the artist I’ve chosen to share.

NIC NICOSIA

Meet, Nic Nicosia. This guy blew me away back in the day with his surreal concepts and the shots he’d design around an idea, a thought or a moment he’d only envisioned – possibly a fleeting second or two he saw. One of my favorite memories is watching him set up his shot for this.  The little girl looking back at the camera is the younger sister of a girlfriend of mine from TAG Magnet and Cary Middle School. Nicosia lived next door. His daughters and these girls knew each other well. I think it makes perfect sense that LC (I am not going to place her name on the Internet without her permission) is looking so sure she’s doing something wrong, but unsure what it might be.

Mr. Nicosia has long been a source of inspiration for me because I knew that he got his ideas from his own curiosities. I have no shortage of those. What I have yet to learn is how to single one out at a time to explore with depth and sure clarity.  Someday, when I can do that with any measure of success, I may actually make things I have to explain. Which will be nice. Portraiture is my first love, but like love, sometimes I like my portraits to be a little less surface-level. I like to show emotions that are behind the eyes, under the image of “self”.

Over the decades (and through many life changes for he and his family) he’s managed to really hit a stride with his projects. He explores his curiosities so completely. It’s a lot of fun to see.  An image that I have done a few derivative works because of is “Domestic Dramas“.  When I first saw that image I felt as though I could hear and feel the sense of “family” and that a soundbite of “domesticity” was actually being layered over the narrative in my own mind while I inventoried the details in the picture. Work that shares that much is interesting to me.

The three photos I’ve made (that have that sense to me) are of bikes and tricycles dumped at the edge of a playground, of a dining room turned kid’s playroom and a collection of creations made by a four year old boy. I’m still deciding on how I want to package these. I think they’ll end up here soon.  That I made them at all is a wonder as I am not a mother. Understanding fully what the noises and scenes were took time. In fact, I am still sitting with them as I have not fully explored my own experiences in making them.

At any rate, I’m looking forward to the next things from Nic Nicosia. If the world must be without David Bowie, Lou Reed, B.B. King, Yogi Berra,  Wes Craven and Natalie Cole then I hope to be able to enjoy art and artists that explore life as differently as they all did.

If any of you won the lottery you may celebrate my birthday by gifting me one of his works. And Nic, if  you are reading this, I hope you are well.

*note: images of the artist’s works were provided via e-mail on 1/14/2016. Re-use and redistribution permission should not be assumed. Images are credited to Mr. Nicosia. 

I promised to let you know what music has been swirling around my mind all month and here it is. I also promised no Chipmunk Christmas and I did not disappoint. Most of what’s here has a very calming feel. That’s because I am in a mini-mester class and working full-time and still shooting sessions (and traveling to do it) at the same time. I could use some calm around here. And some beach. But I digress. I hope this gives you a relaxing background to enjoy the start of the new year with. 

See you in 2016!

How do you want to be remembered in photos?

The folks I photograph know without a doubt just how important I believe it is to live in photos, to live with photos and to enjoy them.  I love capturing the people that mean most to you, so that you can have that moment with them forever. When you are not here, after you can’t be anymore, those images will your legacy.

When I ask how you want to be photographed, I am asking what you want me to preserve for you. I’m asking you who you want to share it with. Ultimately, I am asking you what you love about your life, as it is now.

Lori and Lauren wanted to share a mother daughter session because they have a fun and loving relationship they enjoy very much. They’d be besties even if they weren’t related.

When I look at this photo I am reminded that I don’t have one of my own with my mother, my grandmothers, or even my great-grandmothers. My family lived all over the place when I was young and now most of them are gone. I have a few old prints, but none of me and the person in the photo together. I have always wished I could change that.

Two summers ago I was able to gather my brother’s family and we got a great group photo of us all in Dallas. That was a huge treat. I printed and framed it 16×20, and it maintains pride of place in one of my favorite rooms in the house.

Loving family histories as I do, I can’t help but be passionate about making these images – they get me where I live. So, I encourage you to be in each other’s photos. And I encourage you to think about how you want to be remembered and who you would like photographed with you – sharing your moments.  Remember, these moments mean something – they’ll be here forever as a comfort, a gift, a memory, a sound, a laugh and a smile. They are you and they are loved.