Big Fat News

I have something to share with everyone. Watch around 8:00 p.m. for something wonderful :)

Call for Models

Needed: models of all shapes, sizes, ages, colours, and quantities for special project.  Serious inquiries only to h dot walls at shaw dot ca with "The White Underwear Project" in the subject line.

pictureLOVE: my inner magpie

I'm taking my passion for photography in a whole new direction.

I remember the day I got my first camera. I was 8, and it was under the Christmas tree. I actually cried happy tears when I opened the box containing a used Kodak Instamatic, and I took to it like a fish to water, squirming with delight at all the pictures I could take... my family, the things I love, the places I visited... I longed for an SLR before I even knew what one was - my ultimate dream was to own one of those scary-looking cameras that would let me make things blurry in the background. I shot anything and everything that caught my eye - I was a magpie with a recording instrument.

I remember the day I got my got my first SLR. It was a Pentax K1000 I bought off an old guy at the flea market who gave me the best advice I ever got about operating a camera: learn to understand light. I lived with that thing, and learned every possible thing I could, mostly by trial and error, and within months had amassed a collection of lenses, filters, and other peripherals that put a serious dent in my pocketbook. But, I got pretty good - good enough to get asked to take pictures of other people - and so I started taking a few pictures here and there for other people, charging just enough to cover my expenses. It became the hobby that paid for itself.

I remember the day I got my first DSLR. It was a Pentax D*ist, and I took a picture of my Dad with it at sunset, a picture that would be used later that same year for his funeral. I was reluctant to make the shift from film - I was pretty hardcore about film being superior, which it still was back then. Within a year, though, the first DSLR cameras started appearing on the market that exceeded anything even a large format film camera would be capable of, surpassing in leaps and bounds the picture quality of scanned negatives, and sounding off the official end of the film industry. I had to take pictures for more and more people to support my habit and before I knew it, I was over my head.

~~~

Fast forward a few more years and I can tell you all about the beautiful bokeh my 200mm f2.8 makes and how it sucks they don't make a tilt-shift for the Pentax and there was a glitch that made the Nikon 50mm f1.8 not work on the D60, but I can't quite seem to remember what it was like to walk around with a camera and be a magpie with a recording instrument.

In the past 3 years I've hung up my camera twice, swearing it was becoming too much of a beast, and failing miserably both times - meeting new people plus reconnecting with families a few times a year as their families grew plus the earning potential plus the circle of fellow camera geeks plus the desire to complete my collection of lenses... far too enticing. And yet I always felt like there was something tugging me in another direction, because there are so many things about this industry that just don't sit right. I became more and more angry about the cattiness, the competitiveness, the greed, the inconsistencies... People complaining about the market being saturated, people charging obscene amounts of money, people trying to justify price fixing, people trying to scare people into thinking that social services was going to take their child away from them and their kids would get beat up in school if they didn't get "real" professional pictures done (read: not a department store, a peer, a colleague, or any other competitor who might actually be able to do the same job: take a picture. News Flash - I started taking pictures when I was 8, which is nothing compared to my daughter who's been shooting since she was 3 - who are YOU to say she's a bad risk?) I won't get deep into the administrative headaches - business licenses, taxes, external hard-drives, regularly upgraded software and hardware... it's all very time consuming.

~~~

On April 14th, 2011, a beautiful 16 year old young woman was killed in a car accident. This young woman was someone I had been very close to - her Mom and I went through our first pregnancies together and our children practically grew up as siblings until junior high hit. Now, I could blame the onset of adolescence for our families growing apart, but frankly, that isn't true. Around the same time our first-borns hit puberty, I dove into the photography thing, her Mom dove into her own business, and we just plain got ourselves too busy to have time together, usually relying on illness or tragedy as our only excuse to get together.

At her funeral there were stacks and stacks of pictures. We flipped through them and reminisced about all the times we had gotten together, which usually wasn't a good time until someone was injured - stitches, broken bones, bee stings, sunburns, rugburns, sprained backs, frostbite, and even a trip to emerg with a monkey bite... never a dull moment. And I wanted to ask, "What happened to us?" But the answer was pretty obvious - we got all busy being grown up and buying cars and running businesses and not remembering what it was like feeling connected to one another because we were too occupied...

~~~

It's no secret that I've been disenchanted for quite some time now. The lies I've told myself about this - they're all as plain to me now as the nose on my face. I have no regrets, but officially, as of today, I'm "retiring" so I can take my passion for photography in a whole new direction: backwards. To the time when my camera was an extension of my body and all I needed to do was wait for juicy moments to shoot one the many facets of my amazingly boring, completely perfect little life - my family, my friends, my dogs, my feet, my garden... Back to being a magpie. Back to being me: mom, wife, gardener, shoe fetishist, and sometimes photographer. I understand light: Light shone through those many amazingly boring, completely perfect facets makes my life sparkle. I. Am. Magpie. So, without further ado

~~~

I QUIT.

~~~

Join me right here over the coming months as I explore several different visual themes, as well as reclaim my love for writing, and indulge a few long-forgotten past-times. I have several commitments to fulfill, but even more fun and entertaining projects coming up that feed my soul and appease my magpie-ness. Thanks for the good times. See you on the flip side!

Why I Relay...

I have so much to write.  And so much to share.  And I've been procrastinating because it's never easy to write the Relay for Life posts.  ~sigh~


Once upon a time I met this crazy lady named Tammy, who introduced me to some of her amazing friends, and even though I was an idiot and tried to break up with her once she wouldn't let me and even though she probably regrets it sometimes, I am forever grateful for her friendship, support, and positive outlook on life - I think if you looked up "effervescent" in the dictionary her picture might be beside it.  She's a photographer now, too.  But anyways.  One of the ladies in our group of friends received the news that her sister had cancer and within a few weeks she had passed away.  There was a discussion about buying her flowers, but flowers die, too, and so we decided to start a team at the Relay for Life in honour of her sister. We Relayed for a couple of years, and of course, I took a crapload of pictures, which I started giving to the Relay people.

[HWP164.jpg]

My Dad came out to the Relay to visit us.  Every year for as long as I can remember, my Dad raised money and shaved his head in honour of my cousin John, who lost a foot to cancer when he was still a kid, and he was so proud of us for doing the Relay - it meant as much to him as it did us.  He and my stepmom showed up at some obscene hour of the night with coffee and tunafish sandwiches with dill pickles and cheese cut up in them.  My father died of a heart attack shortly after our second Relay, and I knew in my heart that I would be doing it for a very long time.  My kids look forward to it every year, too - it's become a part of their lives as much as mine.


In the third year, my Auntie lost her battle with cancer and a friend of mine's 6 year old son was diagnosed with cancer.  Stacie felt that the Ride to Conquer Cancer was more in the spirit of her sister, and she has since gone off to run a hugely successful team called the Melan Heads, and around the same time it was asked if I would be willing to formally organize a group of photographers to take team photos.  I started bringing my workshoppers to the Relay with me, and that was the official birth of Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt.


In the 4th year, my best friend's Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In the 5th year, my Uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer and my best friend's Mom was declared cancer free.  They are both holding strong but I was reminded that life is fragile, and cancer is never far away, which was sent to me like a punch in the face this year several times over.  In this, our 6th year, a different Uncle lost his lengthy battle with cancer.  A very talented former member of Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt began slaying her own dragon: breast cancer.  A very dear friend and colleague of mine's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  And a workshopper of mine asked me to do some urgent family portraits, because this ugly beast has already stolen a member of their family and haunts them still.


While it would be nice to say we've eradicated cancer and are all retiring, that simply isn't the case.  But I'm pleased, in a bittersweet sort of way, to say we've started a trend - photographers across Canada have started bringing their cameras with them and donating their images back to the Canadian Cancer Society.  Former Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt members have even gone on to start their own teams in their own towns, and we're slowly pulling ourselves together as a network.


As a photographer, I feel that what I do is both priceless and invaluable.  I am invited to some pretty pivotal moments in people's lives - births, weddings, graduations, and other important milestones - as well as asked to document an annual progression of families as they grow and change.  The pictures we have after our loved ones leave, whether it's off to college, a new job in a different city, a military assignment overseas, or because they pass away, the value of the photographs that we have become magnified.


So for those of you who don't know much about it, there are several parts to the Relay for Life.  It's more than just a bunch of crazy people who come out, rain, shine, or snow (and sometimes in ballet slippers) to walk a track for 12 hours...


The Celebrate ceremony is the first part of the event, during which people who are winning their battle with cancer have the opportunity to provide inspiration and hope.


The second part is the Remember ceremony, during which caregivers, family, and friends light luminaries lining the track in honour of those who have lost or continue to fight their battle with cancer.


The third part is the Fight Back ceremony, during which we acknowledge cancer still doesn't have a cure, and make a pledge to not give up hope.


Imagine, if you will, the following scenarios.  A woman is declared cancer free after undergoing something called the Whipple procedure, followed by one kidney and two heart transplants to manage the damage the chemotherapy, meds, and subsequent immunodeficiency infections did to her system.  After 3 years cancer free, the cancer returns and she now sits on death row, preparing to leave behind her husband, 7 children, and 3 stepchildren.  A young family expecting their second child is robbed of a father because a backache that turns out to be cancer.  A 25 year old woman goes to the doctor for what she thinks is a vicious case of bronchitis and goes home with only one lung.  A grandfather of 6 dies just days before the birth of grandbaby number 7.



How much do you think a person's photographs together with their loved ones are worth to them?

Priceless.  Invaluable.


These are not hypothetical stories.  They are in fact stories of people I know. Real people who participate in the Relay for Life.  There are so many more - each one as heartbreaking, inspiring, and bittersweet as the next - and during the Relay, THESE are the people we are photographing.  Survivors, fighters, caregivers, children, parents, friends... each and every one of their lives irrevocably changed by cancer, which long after you've been declared cancer free or your loved one has died sticks to your shoe like the smell of dog shit long after the shit's been wiped off.  It's so easy, when cancer is someone else's problem, to ignore the stench.  And then it comes close, close, closer, and takes one of yours and it becomes personal.  Very Personally.  And those of us who now take it Very Personally convene at the Relay for Life, to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back.


We're not heroes - we're just photographers - but the stories we hear, the images of those moments that are so bittersweet, the experiences we share throughout the course of one evening a year knit the fabric of our lives together.  Looking back, I doubt any one of us can imagine what a profound effect this event has, and continues to have, on our lives.  And so year after year, we show up, cameras in hand, to record it, because it's what we do.


Above is my friend and esteemed colleague Christine Hopaluk at the 2011 Leduc Relay for Life.  Some members of the Edmonton Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt totally crashed it, snow and all, to support her team.  I'd like you all to check out her story here.


Sadly, it's a story you're entering in the middle - this family's fight is ongoing - but like the folks we meet on the track, the stories we swap connect us to one another.


Please visit the zoomphoto site to view and purchase images from the 2011 Edmonton Relay for Life (all proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society) and consider registering your own team next year here.



All images in this post are copyrighted to the Canadian Cancer Society.

This year's photographers on Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt:

Ali & Sahar
Angie
Deanna
Hayley
Heather
Helena
Jennifer
Kaylee
Laura Jane
Me... you're already here :)
Tinsa
Trina & Sons


  
  
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

~Emily Dickinson

Why I Relay...

I have so much to write.  And so much to share.  And I've been procrastinating because it's never easy to write the Relay for Life posts.  ~sigh~


Once upon a time I met this crazy lady named Tammy, who introduced me to some of her amazing friends, and even though I was an idiot and tried to break up with her once she wouldn't let me and even though she probably regrets it sometimes, I am forever grateful for her friendship, support, and positive outlook on life - I think if you looked up "effervescent" in the dictionary her picture might be beside it.  She's a photographer now, too.  But anyways.  One of the ladies in our group of friends received the news that her sister had cancer and within a few weeks she had passed away.  There was a discussion about buying her flowers, but flowers die, too, and so we decided to start a team at the Relay for Life in honour of her sister. We Relayed for a couple of years, and of course, I took a crapload of pictures, which I started giving to the Relay people.

[HWP164.jpg]

My Dad came out to the Relay to visit us.  Every year for as long as I can remember, my Dad raised money and shaved his head in honour of my cousin John, who lost a foot to cancer when he was still a kid, and he was so proud of us for doing the Relay - it meant as much to him as it did us.  He and my stepmom showed up at some obscene hour of the night with coffee and tunafish sandwiches with dill pickles and cheese cut up in them.  My father died of a heart attack shortly after our second Relay, and I knew in my heart that I would be doing it for a very long time.  My kids look forward to it every year, too - it's become a part of their lives as much as mine.


In the third year, my Auntie lost her battle with cancer and a friend of mine's 6 year old son was diagnosed with cancer.  Stacie felt that the Ride to Conquer Cancer was more in the spirit of her sister, and she has since gone off to run a hugely successful team called the Melan Heads, and around the same time it was asked if I would be willing to formally organize a group of photographers to take team photos.  I started bringing my workshoppers to the Relay with me, and that was the official birth of Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt.


In the 4th year, my best friend's Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  In the 5th year, my Uncle was diagnosed with prostate cancer and my best friend's Mom was declared cancer free.  They are both holding strong but I was reminded that life is fragile, and cancer is never far away, which was sent to me like a punch in the face this year several times over.  In this, our 6th year, a different Uncle lost his lengthy battle with cancer.  A very talented former member of Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt began slaying her own dragon: breast cancer.  A very dear friend and colleague of mine's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  And a workshopper of mine asked me to do some urgent family portraits, because this ugly beast has already stolen a member of their family and haunts them still.


While it would be nice to say we've eradicated cancer and are all retiring, that simply isn't the case.  But I'm pleased, in a bittersweet sort of way, to say we've started a trend - photographers across Canada have started bringing their cameras with them and donating their images back to the Canadian Cancer Society.  Former Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt members have even gone on to start their own teams in their own towns, and we're slowly pulling ourselves together as a network.


As a photographer, I feel that what I do is both priceless and invaluable.  I am invited to some pretty pivotal moments in people's lives - births, weddings, graduations, and other important milestones - as well as asked to document an annual progression of families as they grow and change.  The pictures we have after our loved ones leave, whether it's off to college, a new job in a different city, a military assignment overseas, or because they pass away, the value of the photographs that we have become magnified.


So for those of you who don't know much about it, there are several parts to the Relay for Life.  It's more than just a bunch of crazy people who come out, rain, shine, or snow (and sometimes in ballet slippers) to walk a track for 12 hours...


The Celebrate ceremony is the first part of the event, during which people who are winning their battle with cancer have the opportunity to provide inspiration and hope.


The second part is the Remember ceremony, during which caregivers, family, and friends light luminaries lining the track in honour of those who have lost or continue to fight their battle with cancer.


The third part is the Fight Back ceremony, during which we acknowledge cancer still doesn't have a cure, and make a pledge to not give up hope.


Imagine, if you will, the following scenarios.  A woman is declared cancer free after undergoing something called the Whipple procedure, followed by one kidney and two heart transplants to manage the damage the chemotherapy, meds, and subsequent immunodeficiency infections did to her system.  After 3 years cancer free, the cancer returns and she now sits on death row, preparing to leave behind her husband, 7 children, and 3 stepchildren.  A young family expecting their second child is robbed of a father because a backache that turns out to be cancer.  A 25 year old woman goes to the doctor for what she thinks is a vicious case of bronchitis and goes home with only one lung.  A grandfather of 6 dies just days before the birth of grandbaby number 7.



How much do you think a person's photographs together with their loved ones are worth to them?

Priceless.  Invaluable.


These are not hypothetical stories.  They are in fact stories of people I know. Real people who participate in the Relay for Life.  There are so many more - each one as heartbreaking, inspiring, and bittersweet as the next - and during the Relay, THESE are the people we are photographing.  Survivors, fighters, caregivers, children, parents, friends... each and every one of their lives irrevocably changed by cancer, which long after you've been declared cancer free or your loved one has died sticks to your shoe like the smell of dog shit long after the shit's been wiped off.  It's so easy, when cancer is someone else's problem, to ignore the stench.  And then it comes close, close, closer, and takes one of yours and it becomes personal.  Very Personally.  And those of us who now take it Very Personally convene at the Relay for Life, to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back.


We're not heroes - we're just photographers - but the stories we hear, the images of those moments that are so bittersweet, the experiences we share throughout the course of one evening a year knit the fabric of our lives together.  Looking back, I doubt any one of us can imagine what a profound effect this event has, and continues to have, on our lives.  And so year after year, we show up, cameras in hand, to record it, because it's what we do.


Above is my friend and esteemed colleague Christine Hopaluk at the 2011 Leduc Relay for Life.  Some members of the Edmonton Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt totally crashed it, snow and all, to support her team.  I'd like you all to check out her story here.


Sadly, it's a story you're entering in the middle - this family's fight is ongoing - but like the folks we meet on the track, the stories we swap connect us to one another.


Please visit the zoomphoto site to view and purchase images from the 2011 Edmonton Relay for Life (all proceeds to the Canadian Cancer Society) and consider registering your own team next year here.



All images in this post are copyrighted to the Canadian Cancer Society.

This year's photographers on Team Clickin' Cancer's Butt:

Ali & Sahar
Angie
Deanna
Hayley
Heather
Helena
Jennifer
Kaylee
Laura Jane
Me... you're already here :)
Tinsa
Trina & Sons


  
  
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

~Emily Dickinson

babyLOVE: so delicious... so very delicious...

Mr. K is just plain edible. Everything about him is edible.  I fell instantly in love with Mom & Dad (who golfed pumpkins on our first photography date what seems like about a bazillion years ago) and then their entire family when we travelled to the Dominican (which also seems like about a bazillion years ago) so it wasn't a stretch to know I'd fall instantly in love with your baby.  Although I must say, I'm still disappointed you didn't name him Luke since he was born on may the 4th, but I guess "Pegasus" will be OK instead.
















~snicker snicker~
...poor tormented furbabies...