Finding an Artist's Perspective.

Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Absolutely, without a doubt, my favorite place in all of the Twin Cities. It is the place where I have most connected with the concept of art and imagined what vision and life the artist held as they created so many lovely things. It is where I first realized that I am an artist, illustrating my own view of the world with my camera and design. I find myself there often, sometimes with my children, sometimes by myself, simply wandering… checking on my favorite pieces - like members of my own family.

I encourage you to click in the images to visit the MIA website and read more about the artist, inspiration for the pieces and other amazing pieces that inspire you to visit yourself.

PENITENT MAGDELENE
C. 1650–65 by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

I have always called this the Joan of Arc painting to my kids because it reminded me of a moment I once saw in the movie “Messenger”.

This is my favorite piece in all of art. I can’t tell you why. But, when I am old and grey and likely have Alzheimer’s that encourages me to wander, you will find me here… standing in front of this painting for hours, simply wondering. Art breeds curiosity.

PORTRAIT OF CATHERINE COUSTARD, MARQUISE OF CASTELNAUE, WIFE OF CHARLES-LEONOR AUBRY WITH HER SON LEONOR
c 1700 by Nicolas de Largillière

This painting inspires me to appreciate technique. This image does not do it justice! The blue and rich rust color of their garments is breath-taking in person and I could stare at Leonor’s hand for hours.

FRANK
c. 1969 by Chuck Close

Frank is a sexy beast.

The most tragic change I have observed from MIA is when they moved my beloved Frank to a new location in a corner room. Until then, you could see Frank from a broad distance through many door ways. Until you got close did you realize this perfect photo was actually a painting with painstaking detail. It has taught me you need to look closer at many things to get the true answer.

CARCASS OF BEEF
c. 1925 by Chaim Soutine

I was 19 the very first time someone brought me to MIA and this is the painting that I first branded to my memory and carried with me. I became vegetarian as a teen and looking at this, I wondered what the artist’s reasoning was for painting this. To this day, I feel a physical reaction every time I look at it. Art has purpose and does influence and affect us.

MIGRANT MOTHER, NIPOMO, CALIFORNIA
c. 1936 by Dorothea Lange; Depicted: Florence Owens Thompson

I do not think there is a photographer in the world that does not know this photograph. Nor do I think there is a photographer that doesn’t pray that they have the skill to capture the world as purely and honestly. Art can be truthful and it can be more beautiful for its honesty. When I capture subjects, I pray that they realize that perfection is not the goal, but rather sincerity.

PERIOD ROOM: THE STUDIO OF GRATIFYING DISCOURSE
c. 1797 by Unknown Artist, China

The highlight of every visit taken with my children (and always the first stop) is a tour through all of the period rooms. (Yes, there are many!) These tours allow me to imagine and realize that our interpretation of the world is shaped not by the world itself, but first by the place we call home.

VEILED LADY
c. 1860 by Raffaelo Monti

Gaze upon this sculpture in person and you swear that the lady beneath the veil is living, waiting glance upon you. This piece drives us to excel in our techniques and go beyond what we think is possible. A translucent veil made of marble? Impossible, yet true!

COLLAGE IX: LANDSCAPE
c. 1974 by George Morrison

Amazing. Simply amazing how people can see art from a cluster of pieces. No rhyme, no reason, until an artist creates it. Art is everywhere, if you just look for it.

THE DENIAL OF ST. PETER
c. 1623 by Gerrit Van Honthorst

Again… website photos do not do this painting justice. When you walk past this painting, you will swear the light glows as the artist paints so beautifully. As a devout Christian, I take this painting closely to heart as it reminds me the truth in the art we create and the legacy it will create for others long after we are gone.

Beauty Through Another's Eyes

If you are a woman today (actually ever), each day you look in the mirror and wish for something. Wish you were skinnier, your hair longer, your lips fuller, your eyes brighter… it is a never ending list that goes on and on. Then you walk through a moment and a random stranger stops to tell you what beautiful hair you have, or you over hear someone saying something sweet about you.

We often can’t see how beautiful we are through our own eyes. We have to see ourselves through another’s eyes.

I love this campaign by Dove. It is a perfect example of why I insist the moms I photograph get in the photos with their children… to exist in photographs - no matter what they look like. Your children, partners and family only see YOU! They don’t care if your hair isn’t perfect, or your outfit not pristine. They only know that they love you and you are amazing!

Beautiful Maya

We all know her works Phenomenal Woman or Still I Rise. But, until you've watched the sparkle in her eyes and the glow of her smile as she speaks these works, you just don't truly get it the magic of them.  (Or, at least, I didn't!).

Maya was with me today as I worked through my day... making me smile and filling my heart. Ladies, tomorrow, when you sit at your desk working yet another day... let her do the same for you!

Artist Spotlight: Niko Giovanni Coniglio

Often, I can't help but wander the world of the internet in search of things that inspire me.  Sometimes I find them, other times they find me.  I don't know what it is about this photographer's work that engages me so, but I could help but stop and stare at each image, wondering aloud what was truly captured in each moment.

The following article accompanied the photos on Lens Culture's website.

"I started photographing my mother to learn how to use a camera; I continued doing so in order to spend some time with her. I’m still photographing her to witness and tell our story.

Photography is a sort of bridge in our relationship—it helps me to know her. With this statement, I don’t mean that photography can fill the communication gap between us. Spending more time with my mother, I have realized that our relationship is charged with life’s difficulties and contradictions. What I mean to say is that photography is one of the very few moments where we connect and discuss things; in fact, it has been the main one for several years now.

The project is called “Daniela: Portrait of My Mother,” but it’s not only my mother’s portrait. In this work I represent her life’s situations and events, the ones that directly impact me, and my own family experiences. Sometimes the situations I stage become real: a memory and an experience that I witness in the very moment I shoot them.

“Of course, some painful cracks developed in my soul, and I lived away from reality for who knows how long.” This is one of the sentences my mother wrote in her diary. It offers an important reference point for this work.

—Niko Giovanni Coniglio

Coniglio’s project was recognized by LensCulture Portrait Awards 2017 and
published by Vogue Italia.  You can follow Coniglio’s work on his personal website.

Love and Happiness is Often Unscripted!

When I first started in photography, I specialized in children and families.  After a couple of crazy Christmas seasons I quit all together because the stress of families getting that perfect Christmas Card photo became too much.  It didn't matter what it took to get that perfect shot, it was all about the presentation to the world of who they were.

In recent years, I have revisited family sessions on occasion in support of my giving campaigns to adoption, police and military. It was scary the though of doing it again until I realized that my purpose had changed.  No longer, was it my goal to capture that perfectly posed family portrait.  Instead, now, it is about telling the story of a family or capturing the personality of its members.

This was an unscripted quick capture moment.  I was changing lenses, looked up and saw this natural moment happening.  THIS is a family and THIS is joy!

 

Suddenly, I have found so much joy in these sessions - simply encouraging families to embrace who they are and capture these special moments for no one else but themselves!  I see joy, playfulness and happiness in these moments and I enjoy them because no longer do I worry about shot lists and posing.  Instead it is simply about following THEIR journey and documenting who they are together.

Sometimes, a single perfect portrait of a child simply does not capture how wonderfully adorable they are!  Instead - let them BE and simply watch.  This time passes so quickly!

Frank is a Sexy Beast

Every time I visit my favorite museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, I must always take a visit to see my favorite painting by Chuck Close called 'Frank'.  If you have ever been there, I promise you have seen it.  It is a large painting that is seen through many hallways appearing as a photograph, until you inspect it closer and realize it is a painting.

Chuck close is not only one of my favorite artists for his paintings, but also his realistic approach to photography.  A style that strips down the facade and simply shows a connection between the soul of the subject and the eye of the photographer.

#thisbody was made to shine through

I have been a big girl for many years.  It rarely seems to matter in my world. I live a rich beautiful life full of love, success and happiness.  Yes, it would be fun to be smaller and healthier, but I have never let this body stop me from doing anything and everything I wanted to do and be.

I really like this ad campaign if for no other reason it shows us that the body is only a shell for all the magic, passion and life that we are destined to be.

It is the simple joys!

Find your joy and live freely in it!

Lately, I am delighted with a world full of wonderfully awesome and eccentric people.  Those who smile, laugh and dance freely, simply embracing the human spirit and moments of joy.  It is a wonderfully colorful world! Whenever I need a smile, I simply revisit these videos and I am instantly elevated and ready to dance and smile.

Okay, this one is a commercial, but still!  I LOVE IT!

Don't Take Life So Seriously!

No matter where life takes you, it is always such a great thing when you can sit back and simply laugh.  Enjoy your success but remember that you weren't always so polished and perfect!

I adore it when people like Tom Hanks or Keven Bacon simply go with it!  Remembering why we fell in love with them and why it is efforts like we see below that continue to make us do so.

Enjoy!

I Understand What Men See

Have you ever heard a man say he prefers to see you in the morning?  Often before you have had the chance to put on your makeup, do your hair, etc.  If you are a woman, then you most definitely have and, if you are like me, you looked at him like 'are you crazy'?  My makeup makes me beautiful.

Watching this video today, I get it.  Seeing these women look so natural and free, it was like seeing the real them.  Yes, they were all beautiful all made up.  But when they stripped away the makeup, false lashes and hair, I realized I could see THEM.  Each uniquely beautiful with flaws and character that made them so much more engaging.

I hope that I can learn to see that in myself and not hide behind the facade of what beauty really is.  Relish in the things that what people see in you, what they like in you, rarely has to do with the makeup on your face!

The Last Time

From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before, 
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.

The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.

So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.

-Author Unknown-

To my beloved kiddos who have given me so many beautiful last times.

You will always bring beautiful chaos, loud voices, messy rooms, and wonderful imperfections that make you all so absolutely perfect.

6 Photographers, 1 Man, 6 Perspectives

'A photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it.'

 

I love this idea.  Though in truth we as photographers always try to capture the essence of the people we photograph, the reality is that we all bring a bit of ourselves and our perspectives to every shoot we do.  

I saw this video today and instantly fell in love as it so freely reflects the way the things my clients tell me affect the way in which I capture them and what results in their final images.