Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Our Guest - Sarah Huizenga

by Dotti

This month I'm delighted to welcome long-time FOL follower, Sarah Huizenga to our pages. Sarah resides in western Michigan with her husband {who was also her high school sweetheart}, their college-aged daughter and two Golden Retrievers. An avid photographer, blogger and writer, Sarah quit work in fall 2011 to focus on her interests. You can find her blog at Paisley Rain Boots and I promise you won't be disappointed when you visit.

We challenged Sarah to take an inspiration photograph and create her own photo. Let’s see what happened.

A Still Life Leads to a Memory

I don't consider myself a still life photographer. Oh don't get me wrong I think I am good enough at it. Ideally though I would rather be out exploring back roads and abandoned buildings, shooting decay in its full rusty, peeling paint and moldy glory. This winter has had other plans for me though, more than a hundred inches of snow, polar vortexes with single digit temperatures and below zero wind chills. These conditions have forced me to stay inside and get creative with my photography.

I am half way through my first 365 project, after many failed attempts in years past, this time it stuck. The trick is to start in July or September, not in January. I was not going to let winter keep me from being successful on this project. So I have been stalking Pinterest and building my Still Life Photography board, which you can find here, to fill my homebound world with creative ideas.

I ran across this pin a few months ago and something about the simplicity of it really called to me.




I love to print out pins that really appeal to me and put them on the bulletin board that is in my art room. The more I looked at that photo, the more it reminded me of a similar basket of clothespins that my grandmother had had on her 1950's vintage Westinghouse clothes dryer. Of course when I was little we would have just called it old, not vintage. Her washer and dryer were squeezed into her half bathroom with the beautiful patterned frosted glass window that was located off of the kitchen in her two story white clapboard house. Since that bathroom was located off the kitchen and the frosted window fascinated me, I used that bathroom a lot when I was at her house.



So inspired by the Pinterest Pin and memories of my grandmother's house I set out to recreate the basket and clothespins.



First of all, do you know how hard it is to find peg style clothespins these days? The grocery store doesn't sell them, Target doesn't sell them, and Lowe's doesn't sell them, so I moved on the craft stores. I found two packages of these at JoAnn's Fabric and thought I had won the lottery.



But when you open the package and look at them, they are missing a key ingredient, the beautiful tapered end of the originals and also the staining of weather and time.



Fortunately I found a jar of vintage peg style clothespins at the Antique store located in our downtown. I didn't really need the jar, but I did need the clothespins, so I got another glass jar as a bonus.



Part of the thrill of Still Life Photography for me, is the thrill of the hunt. I had found the perfect clothespins, now on to the basket.



I have had this basket since the last house we lived in where I used it in the main bathroom to hold extra  washcloths. I would roll them up and stand them on end in the basket. This basket has been living in our storage room for the past ten years but every time I clean things out I can never bear to part with it.  See, there was a reason why, it now has a purpose.



I found this baby blanket at my local Antique Mall for $4. It seems slightly wrong to pay $4 for a baby blanket with stains on it, but in reality it was perfect.



With all the parts and pieces gathered it was time to set the scene. This is my still life photography area, our bedroom, it has great north window light and the bed works great to drape a piece of flannel over the end to create a backdrop for my photographs.



The original inspiration…


And my interpretation...



I had to use some of the JoAnn's bought pegs in the bottom of the basket to help fill the basket up and I didn't have as many layers of old blankets. I put the musical stuffed Snoopy in the basket and chose his eyes to be my focus point. The Snoopy was my Grandmother's, I would wind him up at night when I slept over at her house and I would fall asleep listening to the tune he played.



So for me this still life photo was about more than just recreating the photo, it was about recreating a memory.


20 comments:

Snap said...

This was fun. I think Snoopy is my favorite part! ;) What memories -- super post.

Barb Brookbank said...

Great post, Sarah. Thanks for the step-by-step on how you went about capturing this sweet still life.

Robyn Greenhouse said...

Amazing how one photo can lead to so many memories! The basket is perfect for the photo and well worth the ten year wait to find its purpose!

Cathy H. said...

Great post, Sarah!! Snoopy in the basket is the perfect touch. I love that you found a memory connection to the still life you wanted to recreate!

Kim Stevens said...

I love that on your inspiration page they call them dolly pegs! I can't tell you how many times I've gotten rid of something (or somewhat pressured) ;) and wished I still had it. Earlier in January as I took down some tea cups and saucers to find a certain tea cup the stack that sat there on the counter inspired even more ideas...and it was so fun like you said, because it brought back so many great memories of my grandmother. Wonderful post Sarah!

Linda said...

I think the memories are the best part of the still life. I rarely set up still life's but it would be so much more fun if they were filled with sweet memories like yours! Thanks for sharing this with us!

seabluelens said...

Very creative, Sarah! I'm impressed by the effort you put into this project - from your original inspiration to gathering all the ingredients to setting up and then editing and processing your image. You had a goal and you accomplished it beautifully.

Barbara said...

A delightful photography setup Sarah and post. Loved hearing about your grandmother and especially about Snoopy. So cute and such memories.

Katie said...

sarah, this is wonderful, and now i want to go explore antique and thrift stores! thanks for a great post!

terriporter said...

This is so much fun, Sarah! Sounds like something would do -- have an idea and then spend as much time as necessary to make it happen! I don't take a lot of still lifes and don't have the winter weather issues that I think necessitates shooting indoors but I recently had the prompt "jars" in a Flickr group I'm in. I didn't have any interesting jars but had seen an old aqua Ball jar at an antique store while visiting my mom. I knew that was going to be my "jar" and so I went about shooting it in many different ways and along the way studied up on the Ball jar's history. So much fun! I'm glad you found those antique Dolly pegs as they have so much more personality! And I can see why you never wanted to part with that basket. Thanks for sharing with us today, Sarah!

Dotti said...

Such a wonderful post, Sarah! And thank you for all the time and effort you took to bring it to us. It's always so rewarding to find ways to use our keepsakes and the best part is being able to share them with our online photography friends! Like Katie, I find myself wanting to haunt the lovely antique markets we have around town.

leigh said...

I loved what you said about recreating a memory. This is such a cool idea to find something that inspires you and then recreating it in your own way. You have inspired me to try this! Thanks Sarah!

Sarah Huizenga said...

Thank you for all the kind comments. I want to thank Dotti and all the gals at Focusing on Life for the opportunity to guest post on their collaborative blog. This assignment really made me look at my still life photography differently. A way to incorporate my writing with my photography in a whole new and exciting way.

Ahayes1225 said...

Hi Sarah, Great post and welcome back! I am hopping on over to check out your pinterest board for some inspiration.

Carol said...

I love that you have a board to hang pictures you like on (as well as Pinterest). I am usually inspired by words and stories and have never cut out a picture idea before - I think I'll start!

gina said...

Hi Sarah! What fun to see your steps in creating a still life. I love how it came out! You've inspired me to use Pinterest for photography, up to now I've only used it for gardening. Congrats on being a guest blogger.

heyjudephotography said...

Sarah, like you, I'm not really a "still life" kinda girl. However, like you, this winter and my 365 project has forced me to find things to shoot that aren't in the great outdoors (which, also like you, is where I'd prefer to be and shoot!). Loved the story behind your recreation, and love your spin on it. It's nice to recreate, but put our own personality and stories into the photo. Great job. So glad to have you as a guest poster today.

Roxi -Coppercurls Designs said...

Great post Sarah, I really like the processing on the 4th photo. dreamy.

Michelle B said...

Great post! I like seeing step by step instructions for photos, especially the pictures of how a still life is set up. Your end photo is wonderful and that snoopy is too, gotta love him.

Viv@within the Frame said...

Fantastic Sarah you are a whiz at still life. A great post x

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