Wednesday, October 1, 2014

True You

by Leigh


Have you ever had one of those friends who not only supports you as a friend does, but also encourages you and pushes you to do things you would never have thought of or done otherwise?  Have you ever had one of those friends who will plant a seed that makes you think outside the box?  Have you ever had one of those friends who looks you straight in the eye and tells you things about yourself that you would have never thought?

I do and her name is Jamie Csizmadia.  Jamie has built an amazing business for herself called Olthia, An Urban Prairie Garden Design Company.  She has the ability to not only come up with amazing ideas, but to develop and bring them to fruition.  She follows her heart and stays true to who she is at all times.  I aspire to be more like her!

Not only does Jamie plant seeds of beautiful indigenous wildflowers in her pocket prairie gardens, but she also plants seeds of ideas. As we sat enjoying a cup of coffee one day she said, "you should do a photo shoot for women entrepreneurs who need photos of themselves"  She went on to explain the importance of putting a face to a business so people would know who they were dealing with. There needed to be that feeling of familiarity even before the first contact.  She encouraged me to let that idea mull around in my head for awhile and then if I felt like talking more about it to let her know.  After a couple of months the thought popped into my head again….she might just be on to something!  I thought about how much I hated having my photo taken because I was so critical of myself.  I wanted to give these women something they could be proud of.  I wanted them to look at these photos and see themselves as the strong, beautiful and creative women that they are.  I called up Jamie and told her I was ready to move forward with this idea.  Now that the seed had started to sprout it was time to nurture it.  She did what she does best….she took the concept and fully developed it.  The True You photo shoot was born! 

Jesslynn, one of the True You women

I felt honored and humbled that these amazing women were willing to stand in front of my camera and be vulnerable to my lens.  We all know how hard it is as women to be photographed.  It's just not in our DNA to put the focus on ourselves so part of me wondered if anyone would even sign up for the shoot.   As word got out, the spots filled quickly. On a beautiful Sunday morning the shoot went smoothly and everything just flowed naturally like it was supposed to.  After we packed it up and called it a day, Jamie stopped me and told me how what I just did was important…..that I was giving these women something that they needed.  I realized that not only did they need it professionally, but they needed to see themselves the way others see them.  Beforehand I asked the women what they loved about their jobs. I could feel the passion these women had for what they did in the words they wrote to me.  There were interior designers, an energy worker, yoga instructor, masseuse, dog kennel owners, realtor, and skincare consultant.  Each one expressed how nervous they were and that this shoot was a huge personal challenge for them.  But they also told me that they wanted to be seen as relateable, genuine, trustworthy, and real.  In retrospect, Jamie and these women gave me what I was hoping to give them.  The self confidence to know that they are relateable, genuine, trustworthy and real.  Now I find myself the nervous one….anxiously waiting to hear their reactions to their photographs.  I hope that they feel the photos show who they are….their true selves. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Stitching Together Moments

by Kim

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship,
stories are the thing we need most in the world."
-Philip Pullman

We are all storytellers, all of us, in one way or another. It may be passing on family legends, or sharing our own experiences like Cathy shared with us. We use spoken words, written and with music, interpretation through art and sculptures and even with our cameras to relate these stories.

Stories help to define who we are and the world we live in and its been going on since the dawn of time. The way in which we tell these stories may change over time, but I think our purpose will always remain the pass on traditions, to entertain us, and by sharing our own experiences hopefully to help us understand each other and ourselves better.

I've mentioned here before that for the past several years I've had the privilege to be on the sidelines at the high school football games. Not just to tell their story through my lens, but to be part of it.

I no longer feel like the awkward stranger on the field with a camera. The players have incorporated me into their story even though I'm not in it visually. . .with high fives and sweaty hugs, and they graciously make room for me and my lens when I need to be in just the right spot.

My goal isn't to just capture a contact sport. . .

Because football is much more than touchdowns and tackles,

much more than a win or a loss.

Football is being part of a team whether you are a player, coach, fan, the band or the dance team. And it goes without saying that it takes a whole lot of volunteers even though they may not always be seen as characters in the story.

Stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, and for a Friday night football game that relates to about 5 fast and furious hours. And trust me, divert your eyes for just a second and you will miss something spectacular (like your sons tackle.)

With 5 seconds left in the game, tied at 44 we kicked a 37 yard field goal for the win! That would be why you see one of the offensive coaches on the ground (above) tackled at the end of the game.

In the image above I combined two images to help me tell a story. The boy not in uniform is a student trainer and just recently went through treatments for leukemia. The team dedicated the game to him and wore gold laces in his honor. 

I'm not sure I've ever considered myself a storyteller, either verbally or visually. But each week I find myself trying to find ways to tell the story better. New perspectives and fresh eyes to capture and relate the tell the stories about the people I know, doing the things they love.

And I'm honored that they allow me to share in their story!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Assume the Position

by Carol

"When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, LEAP!"
                                                                         Cynthia Heimel

The Pack-Rat
The Prayer

The Stalker

The Zombie

The Crouch

The Ninja

The Bum-mer

The Squat

The Tree-Huggers

The Dreamer

The Turtle

The Herder

The Sleeper

"Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive."
                                                                                  Elbert Hubbard

© Focusing On Life