2017 books so far...

Evening light through branches in Lincoln, Nebraska

My overly ambitious photo project of 2017 was to take a photo to accompany each of the 52 books I planned to read this year. I read the first book, took a photo. The next book I read was a business book, and I was stumped on matching a photo to the book without being ridiculously literal. By the end of January, after reading five books, I realized I would be abandoning the photo project. I have never been overly excited about photos based on specific prompts, and this was incredibly prompt-ariffic (I could not think of a descriptive word there). 

Instead, here is a mini-review of each of the books I have read so far this year though. I will keep them numbered, so I can track where I am towards reaching my numeric reading goal.

Green cup of tea by a stack of books.

1-- All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood. Definitely five stars. A book I couldn't put down- but disturbing and graphic. You are reading and thinking, are we really going to go there? Is a romantic relationship going to develop between these two characters? And I am going to root for them in the end? Yes.

2-- Turning Pro, Steven Pressfield. Not as good as The War of Art, which I read last year. I finished it, which is saying something (we will get to my abandoned books shortly). 

3-- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Zevin. This book was so good. It made me so happy. 

4-- A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman. It took me a little while to get into this one, but by the time I read about a third of it, I could see what the fuss was about. I would read another book by this author. 

5-- The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster. I read this out loud to my girls at bedtime. It is not an ideal read aloud book, because there are plays on words that you can't really get from hearing the book read out loud vs. seeing the words on a page. The girls were still excited to hear more every night. 

I know that this number is "on track" to enable me to reach my reading goal, but this number seems very small to me. I started the book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, and I slogged through it for over a week before realizing that it was destroying my progress. My husband was listening to the audiobook, I think at my request, after something happened that I don't remember. A child had a tantrum, or something. Whatever that thing was made me feel like I had to read a parenting book. As my husband listened to the audiobook, he started to stare at me strangely whenever I would talk to our children (he will deny this, but it is true). So I started to read it. And in summary, the book advises that you respect your children's feelings and truly listen to them. Got it. This is what can happen to me sometimes- I will really get into a habit of reading, and then I will start some kind of book that I don't enjoy, and in trying to get through the book I get stuck and stop reading altogether.

Then we have Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance. I started it and it just didn't ring at all true for me, so it is sitting on my desk. Everyone loves the book, so how can I not love it? I don't know. I usually love memoirs. And The Power of Off, also sitting on my desk. I have read over half of it. It was so good, and then it started repeating itself over and over. I made the mistake of reading the Goodreads reviews as soon as my doubts about the book started, and that has led me to a possible plan for abandoning it. A lot of reviews said that many books cover the same topic better, and I will look for alternatives. I feel bad for starting and then not finishing books, especially after reading so much of them, but there you have it. 

Little girl reading book on a living room couch.

Finally, and also related to reading, I made the decision not to take any photography workshops online this year. I want to diversify the photography that I am exposing myself to. If most of my photography peers take the same workshops and follow the same people, then a lot of the photography starts to look the same, same, same. My plan is to study a book featuring a different photographer each month, and I have started with Sam Abell. 


Hopefully my next reading update will be more substantial. And my photos will soon feature SPRING. I can't believe it. 




Back at it.

frozen red berries encased in ice in Lincoln, Nebraska, winter 2017

I have had "write blog post" on my list of things to do for weeks, and weeks, and weeks. The longer you put something off, the harder it is to do it, as I am sure you all know. 

This is my first blog post on my new Squarespace site. I had to move from my hobbyist photography website to a site that could accomodate my photography business. I decided to move to Squarespace from Wordpress (ProPhoto) so that I would not be dependent on anyone else when I needed to make changes to my site. I was able to design the site myself, but I have had to have help with some other parts of it. And that has honestly really sucked, because sometimes people are so incredibly non-responsive. It is just really, really frustrating. Maybe it is my Nebraska/ Midwesterner thing, but I would never just disregard people who had paid me money to provide a service for them. I am very seriously considering a new project that will help other photographers find trustworthy people in the industry that provide the many things we all shell out money for- branding, website design, SEO work, editing photos, workshops, mentoring, and on and on and on. Be kind. Keep your word. We need that now more than ever, seriously. 

I was going to do a personal project this year where as I fulfilled my goal of reading 52 books, I would write a blog post related to each book, and take a photo related to that book. I realized after reading the third book or so that no, not gonna be able to do. Or rather, I don't want to do it, I guess. I am happily reading many books, and am planning to do a monthly post recapping what I read, but creating an image for each book, no. 

I am picking up my camera on most days- although at the moment my Nikon is on a visit to the repair facility. Photography friends- maybe don't use FoCal? I used it years ago with my Canon. When I used it with my Nikon last week, it made my camera freeze on Error mode and it wouldn't unfreeze no matter what I tried. FoCal says that is not possible. It is. 

The end of winter is in sight. I guess we are getting through it pretty well, and as of this writing the forecast predicts highs of 60's for the next little while. We are working on a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, I am drinking a lot of hot beverages, I have started getting a decent amount of sleep, and I am doing some yoga at home. 

hot tea and jigsaw puzzles

I am not going to talk about politics. I am pretty consumed with all of that, as many of us are. I am now trying to limit my political information intake to Pod Save America, and sometimes The New York Times. I have become fairly obsessed with the idea of limiting my social media/ iPhone use after listening to a serious wake-up call podcast about technology addiction. My next book will be Nancy Colier's The Power of Off, which I am really excited to read after hearing that interview. I am using the Freedom app to shut off access to social media and news during the day, although sometimes I will check in quickly on some Facebook groups that I admin. I know I am not alone in struggling with this. For all of the great things about social media, at the end of my life, I don't want to look back and realize how much time I missed with my kids and the books I didn't read and the stuff I didn't make because I chose to scroll mindlessly through Facebook constantly.

Well, that is depressing. What else can I talk about? My kids are awesome. They are unbelievably funny. I am glad we are getting outside a little bit. We have stayed relatively healthy this winter, although we just had a weekend of stomach flu. 

I will be back soon to share some photos from some recent-ish client sessions, and to tell you more about the books that I have been reading, and of course to post some images of my crew. 

THIRTY FOUR DAYS until SPRING. Totally doable. 

Sky and treelike with a sunburst in Lincoln, Nebraska, College View

Week 52 | 2016

We said goodbye to Meadow this week. I am happy that we had a chance to spend some time with her and say goodbye, and that she was mostly comfortable. We are still in shock that she is gone. Sometimes we think we see her, or hear the sounds of her tags. For two days in a row, we have forgotten to turn off our house alarm in the morning- we have always turned it off when we would let her out to go to the bathroom.

We had Christmas, and now we are heading into our New Year’s Eve celebration with kids- lots of garbage food from Trader Joe’s, board games, staying up to watch the ball drop. Like pretty much everyone else I know, we are ready to move on from 2016. Seems like it wasn’t a great year for most people. I am relieved and happy to be done with the obligation of daily shooting, and incredibly excited to start all of the new things I have planned.

Here are more than seven photos from the last week. I wanted to include more of Meadow, since as soon as I publish this I will be printing my entire Wordpress blog into a book and moving to Squarespace. Yes, Lida has makeup on in the photo where she is reading to Meadow. She had been playing dress up earlier in the day. Lida learned how to make coffee this week, and Milena learned how to make tea. They ask us over and over all day if they can get us a cup of either. The answer is usually yes.

Love and light for 2017…