Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Tip of the Hat

by Kelly

Four years.

Almost four years to the date since I took this photo with my (then) new DSLR Canon camera.

To some, it might seem kind of odd or sappy to acknowledge this date every year.  But for me, what it represents is a turning point in my life.  I didn’t know it at the time, but photography would change everything.  It would change the way I saw my life.  It would change the way I saw myself. 

And it has made all the difference.

Like any creative pursuit, photography is very much a journey.  And while the first step was mine alone…it has not been a solo journey.  Far from it actually.  That’s why today, I wanted to stop and take this moment to tip my hat, so to speak.  Acknowledge the photographers who have helped me and inspired me along the way.   

To start, it was in my original photography group that I became familiar with the work of Barbara Carroll.  

Right away I was drawn to Barbara’s colorful images and beautiful compositions.  And once I understood more about exposure, that’s when I really started to appreciate Barbara’s talent for creating brilliantly sharp and exquisitely focused photographs.  With her technical expertise, in combination with her eye for detail and beauty, Barbara creates images that both delight and inspire.  And in addition, I have first-hand experience with how incredibly kind and generous she is with her talent and knowledge. 

Once I finally started getting comfortable behind the lens…once I sort of found my voice, if you will…I began the process of refining my style.  Really figuring out how I wanted my photographs to look and feel.  So I started exploring the various Flickr groups I was a part of.  And it was through this process that I discovered a few other photographers whose work has had a direct influence on my personal style of photography. 

It was in the Shutter Sisters 365 Flickr group where I discovered the work of Valerie, or as she is more commonly known, anydirectflight.  

I was immediately drawn to the way she captured such lovely vignettes of her daily life.  Coffee and tea.  Books and flowers.  Simple little still life shots with beautiful light.  The thing, though, that really stood out to me was her style – the finished look of her photographs.  It was a softness…a vintage feel.  A timeless look.  And it was Valerie’s photography that inspired me to dig deep into post-processing.   Amazed at the how a few simple curve adjustments can transform the look and feel of photograph, I started reading and learning everything I could about Photoshop and Lightroom.  And so in addition to photography, post-processing has turned out to be a creative element, a personal expression that I just love.

It was also through Shutter Sisters that I discovered the work of MelissaTalbert.  

One of the things I love about her photography (well her and so many of the other wonderful photographers that I follow on Flickr) is that I know one of her photographs the minute it see it….Melissa has such a distinctive style.  Part of that I think is due to the Kentucky landscape– verdant meadows and rolling hills.  But it also the way Melissa captures the magic in her rural life with her husband and her four adorable children.  The stories that she tells through her lens.  There is a dramatic (yet unpretentious) mood to her shots that I just adore.  But there is also such a sweetness in her images.  An honesty.  A vulnerability in her work which inspires me to be authentic in my own photography.

Most recently, I was introduced to Summer Kellogg through ‘The Art of Composition’ at BPC with Tracey Clark.  

Summer has such a talent for capturing natural, yet poignant, expressions in her three beautiful children.  There is a certain quality in their eyes – a knowing.  They seem to look right through the computer screen and capture your attention.  Summer also has a way of creating stunning compositions with her children in the countryside where they live.  Beautiful vistas. Big skies.  Rolling hills.  I adore how Summer captures her children exploring and playing in their natural environment.  And on a personal level, I love the way Summer captures motherhood in photographs.  The joy and wonder for sure.  But also the imperfections and frustrations.  Even though my daughter is grown and in college, I can totally relate.

Finally, as most of you all probably know by now, many of us here at FOL met in the ‘Picture’ series of classes with Tracey Clark over at Big Picture Classes.   And the impact of these special friends on my life cannot be underestimated.   These women taught me how to interpret a photo prompt.  They taught me how to shoot from the heart.  They taught me how to find the light.  But most importantly, they taught me how to ‘see’. 

My friends in my original photography group are a very big part of what I love about photography.  Honestly, had it not been for them, my photography would have probably turned into just another phase…another stop in a long string of hobbies.  Certainly not the passion and the way of life that it has become.  And if not for them, I would certainly would not be here sharing the joy that photography has brought into my life. 

I would just like to close here by expressing my sincere appreciation.  Thank you all, from the very bottom of my heart, for the inspiration and encouragement that you have shared with me over the past four years – for every comment…for every kind word.  Also, thank you for so generously sharing your art.  Your talent.  Your knowlege.  It has made all the difference in my life.  And I am eternally and profoundly grateful. 

With love,


Monday, July 28, 2014


by Dotti


verb (used with object), sim·pli·fied, sim·pli·fy·ing.
to make less complex or complicated; make plainer or easier: to simplify a problem.

                                                                                                 ~ Dictionary.com

Have you enjoyed this month's theme as much as I have? It's the perfect theme for summer ... when the living is easy.

We've gone from 'finding simplicity' ... to 'simplifying our photography' ... to 'simply said' ... to 'simple joys' ... and 'simple story' ... right up to 'simply stunning'. And let's not forget ... 'easy reading'. Gosh, how many ways we can simplify our lives if we just try hard enough.

Ahhhh! That's the rub, isn't it? Simplify is a lot harder than it sounds. Maybe that's one reason why some of us never seem to manage it. We find it so hard to let go of  'stuff'. You know, stuff we don't really need but have grown attached to. 

The concept of 'simplicity' is near and dear to my heart. In fact, it's my 'word' this year. True confession time: I am lousy at this word thing. I don't even know why I attempt it each January. Maybe because I hear everybody else talking about it and I don't want to be left out. Well, true to form, I've been a dismal failure this year at putting 'my' word into action.

All those closets, drawers, cupboards that I was going to clean? Uh, no ... didn't happen. All those useless little knick knacks {not even good enough to be thought of as photo props} are still hanging around, if not on table tops and shelves then in the aforementioned closets, drawers and cupboards. 

But that didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying the theme and posts and photos this month! Really, they have just resonated with me. Even though I haven't accomplished that nirvana called 'simplicity' doesn't mean I can't think about it and dream about it happening.

Why, who knows? Maybe this fall all those closets, drawers and cupboards will get the idea and simplify on their own, without my assistance.

{Now ... wouldn't that be grand?}

PS - There is still one more week for you to show us your beautiful photos of simplicity. The Flickr gallery and IG photostream have been exquisite but there's always room for more.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Focus on Phoneography

we are wrapping our month of simplicity and, as usual, our photo stream was filled with beautiful images.

this week's collection celebrates simplicity in b&w. it's really a perfect way to simplify, don't you think? stripping the color from a photo puts the focus on the little details that often get overlooked. b&w photography puts the emphasis on shape, form, and line. b&w is elegant and timeless. 

above is just a small sample of this week's beauty. 
@prairiegirlstudio @javavenus @brmarincel 
@coppercurls55 @littlestorystudio @mhplinda 
@lynnejay @gabrielabout @anniestril 

thank you all for continuing to share your beautiful art with us!

© Focusing On Life