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Remembering a Place Called “Home”: Do’s and Dont’s of a Family Photo Shoot

21 Oct

A little tale from which you might glean sound advice but is really more a recount of my family’s head-butting preparatory measures of welcoming someone into our house to capture our final moments in this  place we call “home.”

As our move date to Minnesota gets closer, I have become more steadfast in my attempts to capture moments spent in our home.  Therefore, I thought that it would be a great–scratch that– PHENOMENAL idea to hire a photographer to come to the house for some candid family shots.  After all, the hubster and I (along with many family members) have worked tirelessly on our 1907 house since Day 1.   We have spent too much money, gotten too little sleep, and have had too many backaches not to properly capture the essence of what this house has become and to have tangible evidence of our efforts and memories .   This entire event was beautifully choreographed in my head, yet I knew that bringing it to fruition would be another matter entirely.  Here is what I learned in the process of just trying to!

DO use bribes. Convince your otherwise-resistant-to-ever-being-photographed hubby that this is a good idea.  You want to capture happy faces on film?  Then have Dairy Queen on standy-by and shave your legs, girls, you’ve got some work to do.  I texted a friend of mine about the inevitable grumpiness that I would be enduring with this photo shoot.   She replied that I should “… Bribe them.  Ice Cream?”  Bribe, huh?  Yes, ice cream would work for the little one, but it would take a lot more than scrumptious dairy products to convince my husband that he should allow someone to point a camera at him. A second text came through from my friend, “Ice cream for the kiddo.  You-Know-What  for the other.”

And a happy family we were.

DO hire a professional photographer.  And not just any photographer.  Hire someone who shares your vision.  In my case, I desired a candid aesthetic.  I was lucky here.  I happen to know someone whose work I admire and who was quite open to some of the quirky suggestions that I had—Truchon Photography, headed by Ashli Truchon.  For some reason, I really wanted to hold a bright red bird cage while sitting on the floor in my attic.  Ashli didn’t flinch.  Before I knew it she was placing the red cage in my hands and climbing on top of a rickety old side table so that she could get the perfect shot.  When we decided that we weren’t getting the desired affect, she quickly set up another great shot which included the bird cage, a mirror on an old buck horn dresser, and me sitting atop that same rickety old side table that Ashli had just perched herself upon.  Voila!  She made it happen.

DON’T, even for a second, assume that your choice of attire for your spouse will be anything close to what he agrees to wear. 

I buy him this,

thinking that he will look like this (but with a complete face)

And for some inexplicable reason,  he thinks he will look like this.

  A few swear words and over-articulated hand gestures later, and we both agree on this.

DON’T allow your child to handle, go near, look at, or think about sharp objects for at least one week before the big shoot.  Otherwise, it is inevitable that she will get scratched.  While that scratch will be completely harmless, it will be on a part of the body that you cannot easily hide….her face!  P.S.  This advice applies to little finger nails as well as I am pretty sure that this is where her scratch came from.

DO think outside the box.  You don’t always have to look into the camera and “pose.”  Act natural, use props, play, and get creative.   The resulting photos will look more like moments have been captured rather than composed.


Here are more of my favorite shots that Ashli masterfully captured.


Happy Family Memories, everyone!

Click here for more information about Truchon Photography.

Those of you with little ones should know that Ashli works great with kids.  Our spawn was quite hyper that day, yet Ashli remained calm and just snapped away.  Thanks to her tenacity and patience, these shots portray a true representation of our little girl’s personality.

Folks on the East Coast had better book her quickly, though.  She is soon off to Pheonix, Arizona for a new job!


Drawing for Inspiration

11 Oct

BOOK: Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim

I keep running across the book Drawing Lab for Mixed-Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun (Lab Series) by Carla Sonheim and I am just itching to try it out.  Basically, Sonheim guides the reader through 52 projects, or “labs” as she calls them,  and offers techniques for creating playful and spontaneous drawings.  I love to draw and paint, but often feel confined by thinking I have to control every line of the pencil or stroke of the brush. I think these activities will be a great way to re-energize my creativity, hone my skills, and glean some new ones.

I picked the book up at my local library last week and got started.  At first I had to scramble for art supplies as I have already put most of them in storage in anticipation of our move.  But what I thought was a glitch turned out to be a blessing as I just have to work with what I’ve got instead of over-thinking it with myriad choices.  I still have an accessible box of watercolors and gouache paints.  I really don’t know where my sketchbooks are packed away so I went to the bookstore and got one on sale.  While I was at it, I allowed my 3 year-old to pick out a mini-sketchbook for herself.  It is now her new favorite accessory.  And so, with only my watercolors, some sharpie markers,  my sketchbook, and my kiddo, I have been taking some time to create.

I started with the book’s first assignment of drawing a cat…actually about 30 cats…and have also been inspired to draw some other creatures.  I have been creating birds and owls for years, but with the suggestions and techniques of Sonheim, I was able to break free of the fear that everything needs to be oober-controlled.  In fact, one of her suggestions is to draw with your weaker hand to loosen up the drawings.  Since last week, I have created with only my left hand!  It is quite liberating and I am yielding results that I have always desired in my work but had been trying to force.

I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fit these “labs” into my schedule, but I have found that it is just the opposite. The first assignment actually instructs the artist to draw “while sitting or lying in bed.”  So, I take some time at night, right before bed, and draw.  Or, in between cooking dinner or cleaning up the dishes, I run over to where my sketchbook sits open, draw a few characters, clear my mind, and then get back to the task at hand.  I have had so much fun with and extending the first lesson, that I am not yet ready to move onto the second.

What I really love is that I have been doing a lot of this drawing while spending time with my daughter.  (Mommy-hood side note confession: I don’t play well.  It’s not that I don’t like to play, but when it comes to playing with my three-year old, it can be brutal on one’s mental stamina.  Her attention span is either very short and we go from activity to activity or it is repetitive, and we are stuck on the same thing for such.a.long.time!!!!  Tea party for two, anyone?  Pull up a chair.  You’ll be here for, oh, about three hours or so!  When we play, I am often daydreaming about the other things that I should be doing or could be doing or want to be doing.  Sounds terrible but I know that I am not the only Mommy out there feeling this way!)  BUT, she has really taken to her little sketchbook we have just been spending great time drawing together.  She gets very involved in what she has been doing and I get lost in my own creations.  We stop every once in a while and check out the other one’s work and make comments, and then we get back to it.

Here is what I produced from that first “lab.”  I am also working on a project that combines what I have learned from this assignment with some of the drawings that I have been doing over the past few years.  Stay tuned for those.  As I move along, I will post my work.  I also have some plans for my daughter’s work, but that will come in time as well.

Cat sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

Owl sketches (and a stray cat), watercolor and sharpie.

Pig sketches, watercolor and sharpie.

It would be interesting to hear from others who might have  taken one of Carla Sonheim’s  online classes or used one of her books.  Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts on the subject.

You can follow Carla’s blog here.

All images (c) Sneezing in Windy Places, 2012, unless otherwise noted.