Thursday, October 30, 2014


by Linda

"You too, my mother, read my rhymes
  For love of unforgotten times,
  And you may chance to hear once more
  The little feet along the floor."
  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

A photography tip I learned in Kim Klassen's Be Still class is about being still and contemplative as I prepare for a shot and as I look through the viewfinder. I find this practice also applies in other ways in life.

The internet has helped to bring us all a little closer together. We no longer have to wait for a letter in the snail mail or a telephone conversation, we can send out an email, text message, tweet, facebook or blog post. Instant communication. It's really wonderful to be able to reach out in so many ways in such a speedy manner.

Words are powerful. They can be filled with emotion. Filled with love or filled with animosity. Words can be felt by the listener and by the reader.

For me, the problem with all this lightning quick communication lies in the fact that the written word can take on different meanings. Meanings based on the emotion or situation of the reader. The message that is interpreted by the reader may sometimes be entirely different than the intent of the writer. Without a voice to place proper emphasis and emotion within the text, the reader is free to place the emphasis and emotion where they will and to define the message as they relate to the readers knowledge or place in life. Sometimes entirely not what the writer intended. And sometimes a degradation between parties can occur. The reader may feel insulted, abused or hurt by these words. If that was the intent of the writer, shame on then for hiding behind a computer to intentionally hurt another person.

But then, this is exactly why poetry is so wonderfully timeless and personal. We are free to make each verse our own. We are free to claim any emotion we feel as we read it. We can define the verse to our own experiences. If you have ever been to a poetry reading, and heard one of your favorite verses read, you may have come away with a different feeling other than the one you had when you read it yourself.

I think we all know how powerful spoken words can be. A parent knows well that their words can make a tremendous impact on a child. We know to calm down before speaking and choose our words carefully. And we know to say the most powerful words "I love you" and "you're so smart! beautiful! talented!" often and with meaning to our children.

As powerful as written and spoken words are, even so are the words that are not spoken. Imagine thinking back over your own life and not having a memory of ever hearing those most powerful words from your own parent.

Even a "thank you" every now and then is a really nice thing to say, to write or to hear.

So think a moment before you speak. Stop a moment before you send out a tweet, an email or text message, a facebook or blog post.

Are these the words you really want someone to feel?


Can you believe October is almost over! Don't forget to add your twilight shots to the gallery!

And have a happy and spooky Halloween!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Words Necessary

by Leigh

By now I'm sure you are all familiar with the fact that we all met up in Galveston a couple weeks ago.  And I'm sure you heard about what a wonderful time we had.  My fellow FOL'ers have done such a beautiful job summing up the experience so really what else can I add?  I guess I could tell you about all the laughs…..all the tears….all the gear talk….the post processing chit chats….and the mosquitoes.  I could definitely tell you about the mosquitoes and there is still evidence on my legs!  
………BUT……I bet you wouldn't expect me to talk about the silence.  Yes, you heard me right….silence.  No noise.  No laughter.  No talking.  Just stillness.

At this point you are probably thinking to yourselves…what the heck is Leigh talking about?  You expect me to believe that with a group of 10 women that there were any moments of silence?  But there were.
We gathered together early one morning at the beach led by our sunrise leader Kim.  Everyone found their own spot along the beach as we waited for the first glimpse of the sun.  We chatted as we set up our tripods and discussed our settings and then it was time for the show.  As the first sight of pink along the horizon the chit chat stopped and all that could be heard were the waves rolling in and out.  We stood there witnessing an amazing sunrise.  There were really no words that could have been spoken to make the experience any more grander than it was.  As the sun continued to rise and shine through the clouds the world started to wake up.  The birds began to fly in as they sang their morning songs.  The seagulls flew low along the water waiting for their first catch of the day.  It was a mediative moment for me...a time to breathe in everything around me and just be still and witness the amazing world that we live in.  Joy filled my soul when I realized that everyone else felt the same way and there were no interruptions.  We were all there for the same purpose and stood in silence together.  No words were necessary.

One evening we found a spot to watch the sunset.  We must have caused quite a stir because cars kept slowing down and people asked "what's going on out there?  What are you looking at?  Is there something out there?"  Yes, the sunset we would reply and the people just shrugged their shoulders, rolled up their windows and continued on their way.  I guess it's just a photographer thing.  That beautiful golden hour light makes us slow down and focus on what's happening in the here and now.  The sunset was pretty that evening, but it was the golden glow that really stole the show.  

We returned back to our beach house and realized that there was a spectacular view just across the street.  As you can see….we all did our own thing….totally in our element.  And it was quiet.  And still.  And peaceful.  No words necessary. 

Our last evening in Galveston was spent on the west end of the island where we found a perfect viewing place along a pier.  At one point Kelly and I both stopped shooting and just took it all in.  It was no longer a time for shooting, but a time for reflection.  I'm pretty sure there were tears in both of our eyes.  No words were necessary.

This is what we were watching.  How could you see this and not stop, be quiet and pause for a moment? Watching a sunset never gets old especially when you have this view! 

"It's almost impossible to see a sunset and not dream" 

Thank you to my FOL sisters.  Not only for the laughter and the tears, but thank you for those moments of silence together.  They were truly special.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The art of getting lost . . .

by Kim

"There is an art to wandering. If I have a destination, a plan-an objective-I've
lost the ability to find serendipity. I've become too focused, too single-minded.
I am on a quest, not a ramble. I search for the Holy Grail of particularity, and
miss the chalice freely offered, filled full to overflowing."

- Cathy Johnson

For me, there is nothing more satisfying than to stumble across or into something enchanting, that was unplanned. With . . . or without my camera.

No expectations, no disappointments.

To be in the right place at just the right time, via the universe.

Sometimes it's being lost in a place, sometimes it's being lost in a moment.

Instead of searching, receiving.

And sometimes, it's just allowing myself to be in the stillness of a space with out a plan, and that absolute feeling of delight when something or someone unexpectedly crosses it.

Because it seems Murphy's law says, the more we chase things, the less likely we are to find them.
Because in the chase, often times the very things we are looking for, cross the very path where we were too impatient to wait. (Even if we were unsure of what it was we were waiting for)

( Our own Kelly, lost in a moment at sunset in Galveston before she thought she was in my way - are you kidding - for me it was total serendipity!)

© Focusing On Life