Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"The peonies are getting ready to break my heart"

Wild and Perfect Peonies, May 2016

 Peonies: A Poem By Mary Oliver

"This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers
and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,
boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away
to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
the flowers bend their bright bodies,
and tip their fragrance to the air,
and rise,
their red stems holding
all that dampness and recklessness
gladly and lightly,
and there it is again —
beauty the brave, the exemplary,
blazing open.

Do you love this world?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?
Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?
Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden,
and softly,
and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers,
with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling,
their eagerness
to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are
nothing, forever?"

from New And Selected Poems by Mary Oliver

You Are Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible, March 2016
How can one resist an early morning bouquet of peonies that are hand delivered by a kind and generous neighbor?  I cannot.

I had packed up all my photography studio equipment four days ago because I was totally convinced that I had created everything I wanted to create with the flowers I had on hand.

But early in the morning I got a telephone call from my neighbor Sarah  saying she had peonies she wanted to share with me.  They were in full bloom which meant they were drooping and were going to be laying on the ground soon. She couldn't bring them in her own home because her cat, Rocky, eats everything in sight, including her flowers.  I was helping her out by accepting the flowers.

Needless to say, I accepted the flowers with much gratitude and appreciation.

I quickly pulled my posing table and table top mirror into action, posed the flowers in a vase as fast as possible and captured these simply irresistible peonies on my mobile device and ran off to work.

They are simply irresistible. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Business Bouquet

The Business Bouquet, March 2016
Two main things about this floral portrait prompts me to title it "The Business Bouquet."

The vase was painted at a Do It Yourself ceramic studio in N.E. Mpls. when my co-workers and I went all together for an afternoon outing that was a "business outing" so to speak.  I was taught the "painting with bubbles" technique and it was very fun, very creative and was the perfect style for me since I'm not a painter, really.

Tomorrow is the 19th annual Women In Business awards luncheon and expo hosted by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (my employer) and it seemed appropriate that, since I was going to bring a vase and flowers anyway, I bring this vase filled with flowers from our garden.

Now, all I have to do is pack it up and try to safely deliver it to the venue without ruining the flowers.  Wish me luck.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Still Life On White

Still Life On White, March 2016

Still Life on White is another extraordinary collaboration with a little help from my friends.

It's funny because when I started this floral still life project ten years ago I was usually working alone.  It was just me, the sun and the objects being photographed.  I was able to pull things together pretty well with available props in my environment plus artifacts that my husband or I had collected.

Now it's quite the opposite. The portraits that I love the most have been created with the help of, usually, one of the neighbors on either side of my home.  Sometimes even guests who stop by for dinner gift me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers or something.  So unbeknownst to them, they are my co-collaborators on the portrait.

This portrait On White was partially pre-planned with the background ironed for 15 minutes to remove most of the wrinkles and hung up the day before.  I actually had planned it for a new business head shot to update my previous one that is over two years old.  But I was gifted with everything seen in the portrait so I felt compelled to put them all together in a portrait. 

Thanks to Sharon for the bridal wreath flowers in the vase, Sarah for the fresh onion bun and goat cheese rolled in dill and Patrick for the limoncello liqueur.

Headshot will be postponed for a couple of weeks, I guess.




Monday, May 16, 2016

Sweet Lilacs

Sweet Lilacs, May 2016
Lilacs, oh sweet lilacs, how I love the sight and smell of you every spring.
But oh,  how I hate how quickly your petals turn brown and drop.

The day prior to this photo session I made a mental note to myself that if I was going to photograph the lilacs from my garden it would have to be tomorrow afternoon. I couldn't predict the exact time or the quality of the light at sunset but I was going to start getting prepared.

I set up a background using a deep rich red throw for my couch and spent ten minutes removing the worst of the cat hair that still remained after washing and drying it.  Animal lovers understand, I'm sure.

Did a quick pre-visualization of the various flowers I was going to pull fresh from the garden tomorrow: lilac, bleeding hearts, bridal wreath and wildflowers. Next I set down a purple vase and also my deep purple infinity scarf that worked so well one other time.

Lastly, I set down my two brand new books that I had recently purchased.

I was as prepared as I could be since it was difficult for me to know what the light was actually going to be like 24 hours from now.  Now, all I could do was wait and see.

And so 20 plus hours later, the Sunday still life photo session began.

I filled the purple glass vase with water and went outside with scissors in hand to clip the flowers that would be placed in the vase.  My neighbor on the north side gave me permission to snip one branch from his lilac bush to fill in a gap that needed to be filled.  Thank you, Patrick.

Once the arrangement was designed to my satisfaction I knew I'd have 1 - 2 hours to play with various set elements before I lost the magic light at sunset.

This day was changes a go-go.  I hated the red throw as my background because it looked too orange in today's light. After five photos I looked around and saw a similar fabric in a light soft tan color. I decided to try that one and took about 15 pictures but wasn't in love with that either. The sun was just too high and too bright. It simply blasted out every bit of color and texture in the fabric.  I took down that second throw and looked at the base fabric which is actually simply a light blocker. But that didn't work either because it was again, too red.

Then I started to get nervous.

I looked at the flower arrangement for some inspiration and instruction.  Something told me to look through my inventory of shawls to find one with complimentary colors. Eureka, I found a beautiful shawl that worked perfect and clipped it at mid-height to the light blocking background.  A couple test photos revealed it was a good fit but it had a fold that was unacceptable and just had to be straightened. I raced downstairs to get my hand held iron and an extension cord and got to work. It only took 3 - 4 minutes for the iron to heat up and I ironed the shawl while it was hanging up.

Then, what next?  Something else was needed,  but what?  I did the typical liquor in a fancy glass but that was boring and cliche. Not today. I thought it would be fun to add my favorite set of Royal Albert polka dot coffee mugs which always make me happy.  How can polka dots not make one smile?

Outside for one last flower clipping, my neighbor Lori surprised me by shouting over to me "Do you want a couple of cookies, I made too many?"   I thought for a moment and then asked "What kind of cookies?" thinking I should say no (too many calories). She said "chocolate chip cookies."  So of course, I weakened and said "Yes, I'll give them to my husband.":  Sweet Lori walked over with a small plastic bag containing two cookies that I immediately brought inside and put on my husband's dinner plate telling him the cookies were for him.

But within minutes, I realized that was a terrible mistake.  That would have been the finishing touch to the portrait - flowers, vase, books, coffee and COOKIES!  What was I going to do? I couldn't take back the cookies from my husband.

Well, I did the only logical thing. I walked over to Lori's house and rang the door bell. She greeted me by saying "Oh good, you want more cookies, right?"  Sheepishly I said, "yes, actually, could I have three or four cookies that I'll photograph and return to you after I'm done?"  Honestly, she was delighted that I was  removing these oh-so-tempting cookies from her house.

Because time was now of the essence, I ran back in the house, dashed down the basement to get my tiny little dessert plates which would be perfect to hold the cookies and placed the final sweet addition to today's "Sweet Lilacs" still life portrait.

I find it delightfully amazing and wonderful how each of  my still life sessions evolve into their own little adventure story of how they are created "with a little help from my <sweet>  friends."

Each one is a gift that I give myself and, of course,  I gift my friend with a reproduction as well.

Sweet! .