Defining Moments – Giving Up The Gold

Defining Moments

Having found a box and bought packing supplies, I found it slightly ironic that when I began to pack up most of my photography equipment to send off to sell, ‘Defining Moments,’ were the words that came to mind.

Perhaps it was a subtle whisper from the ghost of Alfred Eisenstadet.

While not a picture perfect moment, it was a defining one for me. I’ve been holding on to an idea of who I am that no longer fits me. I wrote about this in detail a few weeks ago when I gave you a look at some of the images from weddings I’ve photographed in the past.

Wedding photography as a career no longer suits my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean leaving it behind is painless and it’s about more than the just the idea of losing money on expensive equipment.

I love the energy of a wedding day shoot and the private access it gives me to the stories of the people involved. There’s a thrill that comes from knowing you have an almost open invitation to discreetly document the moments they might not remember until later when they see your work.

I may miss the excitement of wedding day drama, but the business side of it leaves me cold and life passes too quickly to waste time doing things that don’t give back enough to support your passion. I always hated when potential clients wanted haggle over my fees as if we were at the corner market buying and selling fruit. It felt demeaning to us both.

As I was going through my camera gear making decisions about what needed to go, I had everything laid out on a low table in our living room and could see just how much I’d invested over the years. I mentally added up the cost of certain pieces as I picked up a camera with my favorite lens still attached, but it was the weighty feel of it in my hands rather than the money that made me pause as I considered how once it was gone, I was unlikely to ever hold one so substantial again.

I took off the lens cap and looked through the viewfinder and had a serious heart pang at the thought of letting it all go. It’s a lot of money I thought, maybe I should just hang on to this one camera and lens, maybe I could use it for …

After loads of internal dialogue, I replayed the logical reasons why I didn’t need this equipment if I wasn’t doing professional work, but it was the memory of a story I’d heard that reassured me that I was doing the right thing by selling it all now.

Hoarding Your Gold

Most of us have things like this in our lives, they hang around taking up space long after we’ve moved on. I told John that seeing the money-making tools my photography life laid out for me to touch felt a bit like the story of the miser who kept his gold under the floorboards of his house. I can’t remember the details, but what came to mind was the image of the miser up late at night when everyone was asleep, taking out his gold and counting it while admiring its beauty and imagining all the things he could buy with his fortune.

The problem was he never spent it, never shared it, and died with it still hidden under floor.

My camera equipment has been like that for a while … safely tucked away, but not being used. While it was here, there was room for ambiguity about the future, at least with regard to one area of my life. Giving up ‘my gold’ may seem like I’m closing a door on photography, but I’ve got another idea more suited to the life I’m constantly creating.

I’ve been using a camera for over forty years and that’s not going to change. I like shooting on the fly so my gear will likely stay small from now on. It’s funny to see echos of my current style in this playground snap taken when I was ten. It’s one of the few pictures I still have taken with my first camera.

I do love the action shot!

Speaking of action shots, I took this one a few minutes ago. With the exception of a few items, that’s my professional photo life all wrapped up tight and tidy in a box … next stop MPB Photographic. Here’s hoping someone out there finds a good use for my gear.

I’ve still got what I need for now.

“The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to SEE “

Ernst Haas

Pure Charity Or Sweet Tooth

Charity shops and fundraising are huge here in the UK. Pubs have quiz nights where everyone contributes a pound or two to play and the money goes to a different charity. We have auctions to support our parish church and there’s always outdoor activities like the big cookout we have every year with donated burgers from our village pub to raise money for cancer research. I have to say that despite living in such a giving country, I’d not seen a fundraising coffee shop until we went to Jersey last week.

John and I were walking through the Central Market in St Helier when we spotted a place I wanted to have a quick bite of lunch. It was bright and clean with fresh flowers and a menu that was so reasonable in price I was a bit surprised.

Click to Enlarge

I’d like to say that it was the information cards that talked about charities, CLIC Sargent and Jersey Hospice Care that the café supports with its proceeds or the name of the coffee shop, Pure Charity that drew me in, but …

Peanut Butter & Jelly & Red Velvet Cupcakes

… if I’m really honest, I’d have to say it was the cupcakes that caught my eye and that I only became aware of the charity component at the counter when ordering. Once I realized that it was for charity, it seemed only right to order a second cupcake.

I’m sure you would have done the same,” I mean it’s for charity, right?”

L’Etacquerel Fort – Not As Good As My Imagination, But …

I have a very busy imagination which sometimes leads to disappointment when the truth is revealed. Such is the case with L’Etacquerel Fort. Seeing it from a distance, I’d created a much grander story than the truth as we walked the along the coast path in Jersey.

Researching its history gave me an idea though after I discovered that it is available to rent along with several other properties such as one originally named after Queen Elizabeth’s favorite, the Earl of Leicester. We’re looking for places to gather in September when John has a big birthday ending in 0 and I think this one would be great! Fort Leicester has things L’Etacquerel Fort doesn’t have like running water, flushing toilets and beds.

 While John was taking this shot of some posted information about Fort Leicester …

 … I was taking one of him with the top of Fort L visible over his head and later I snapped the one below showing Fort Leicester from a distance.

I think it would be a grand place to stay for a week and an almost perfect place to celebrate a big birthday. It would be best if the weather was good on the day as none of the interior rooms are connected. John was a bit skeptical when I shared my discovery with him so we’ll have to see how it goes. It is his birthday as I keep reminding myself and I MUST listen to what he wants versus what I think he should want.

Getting back to the reason for this post, the orange blob in the photo above is me advancing on the Fort. John decided to stay back and take photos as I went closer for a look around.

I was disappointed to see it locked up tight as I crossed a wooden footbridge, but after discovering it is available for rent, I understand why it is closed to the public. I can’t say I like it, but I do understand.

I have to admit that it was kind of scary tripping across the wooden link from the hillside to the Fort.

Having served as an outpost for soldiers, I could almost hear their boots scraping against the stones as they walked back and forth watching the sea for intruders.

This close-up image from the information plaque below that was posted near the coast path.

While it was not the romantic place I’d envisioned, it does offer possibilities for future fun.

Eating, Sleeping, & Walking On A Jersey Holiday

I’m back with a bit more about our trip to Jersey. Due to John’s daughter having moved last year, we stayed in a B & B this visit. Rachel has a loft/attic room that will eventually be added space she can use for company, but given she’s moved to a seaside location, I think a slightly smaller home is a good tradeoff for being steps from the sand.

The photos just above and below are pictures of Undercliff, the B & B where despite having the best bed ever, I managed to have busy dreams each night. John and I agreed that it was great value for the money. Our room very clean and spacious and only a short walk to the sea. With a tasty breakfast each morning and strong and plentiful coffee, we felt so well looked after by Ida and Richard Huson that we’d recommend Undercliff without hesitation.

Here’s a shot John took from a hill nearby of Undercliff now. It looks as if it’s grown some since the black and while photos below were taken. We had breakfast everyday in the room with the big fireplace shown in the bottom left photo of the four below.

These black and white photos were a series of framed photographs showing Undercliff during or shortly after WWII. As Jersey was occupied by the German military during WWII, John and I decided the terms below for staying at Undercliff were probably after the war because people were not coming to Jersey on holiday when it was occupied. Ration cards are mentioned in the terms below and John said they were using ration cards for some things as late as 1954 in Britain. We stopped rationing in the US in 1946.

This is what you see when you follow a path near Undercliff. It takes you right by the sea and onto the coast path.

John was standing on a rock trying to take a similar picture to the one I snapped just above this one.

There are steps in some places to help along the coast path, but sometimes they seem to go on and on making you wonder if you’ll ever reach the top.

If you look closely at this photo, you can see something that looks like a castle on the piece jutting out near the broken off looking point on the left. We explored the area on our walk and I’ll have close-up images of what we discovered in tomorrow’s post.

We walked about two and half miles to meet Rachel and Jersey Baby Girl for lunch in Rozel which is home to the famous Hungry Man! The food is great and mostly fattening, but a trip to Jersey is not complete without a visit here for lunch.

The best part of lunch was not the yummy bacon-burger I enjoyed, but having a chance to cuddle the little sweetie below.

Squeezing The Jersey Girls

Remember last summer when I was trapped in the US and moaning about all the excitement I was missing with John … I wanted in particular to get my hands on the little darling in the picture above. That finally happened when we went away last week.

We left for Jersey on Monday crossing the English Channel by ferry arriving just in time to keep me from realizing the full effect of a rainy day at sea. I was a bit green when we arrived, but managed to maintain better control over my breakfast than some of the other passengers. John has a cast-iron tummy and ate a prawn sandwich with no problem at all while I counted the minutes to when I could get back on dry land.

The highlight of our five days away was seeing ‘the girls.’ It was the first time I had been to John’s youngest daughter’s new home and over a year since I’d been able to give his eldest granddaughter, Jersey Girl, a big squeeze.

 It was tough to get all three looking at the camera at the same time, but here’s one I managed with John’s new camera.

Some things you never forget such as how to feed a baby, but I didn’t remember how they’re likely to blow bits of whatever they’re eating back at you with every cough, sneeze, or head shake. By the end of her meal, I looked as if I needed to be wearing a bib too.

No one makes JBG giggle like her big sister and they had a splash-a-thon later in the bath of epic proportions. JBG was splashing like she was kin to Shamu at SeaWorld and I got soaked! That’s Clive, he’s JBG’s other grandpa and John is in the background wearing Jane’s fox collar. Jane is JBG’s other grandmother. John was pretending to be a lion a few minutes before I took this photo. There were some others with the fur that I snapped and then forgot about where he was making a series of funny faces. When I asked him why he had such odd expressions on his face, he said, ‘ I was growling!’

I’m not sure what kind of lion he was supposed to be here, but I did ask him to strike a pose.

John and I managed to have a few adventures on our own minus the children which I’ll share over the next few days. I’ll leave you with this rainy day shot of Jersey for now … and hope to see you back here tomorrow.

Ghostly Dreams And Bad Fashion Choices

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had vivid dreams. I’ve been able to do a bit of lucid dreaming and once in a great while I’m able to fly. While I don’t remember every part of my dreams, I can usually recall a fair amount of them when I wake.

Sometimes someone will show up in my dreams who I know is dead. I know you’re probably thinking, “ Dead people, really Elizabeth, hasn’t that been done, “ but it’s true.

I always look forward to those and they don’t happen enough to suit me.

I can’t remember ever having more than one family member or friend show up at a time, but last night was a party. It’s too bad I didn’t know any of the ghosts … oops,  I mean guests.

In my dream, I was looking at my reflection in a large waist-high mirror in the corner of a big room that was fairly dark in the beginning except for the lighting in this one area. I was wearing a dress that appeared to be vintage and I was thinking this was a look I needed to always wear as design suited me so well.

Suddenly, I saw the reflection of a middle-aged woman who was older looking than I am now and she was standing behind me with hair and clothing that looked as if it was from the forties.

Peach was the prominent color. I was wearing it which is something I would never do and she had on a belted peach-colored day dress with tiny flowers on it. She was nodding her head like she was agreeing me about my dress choice and when I turned around she wasn’t there. When I turned back to the mirror she was visible to me again, smiling and nodding like we were old friends.

I had no idea who this woman was in the dream. Normally, I’m calm when ghosts show up in my sleep, but having a stranger made it seem a bit scary and all of sudden I found myself unable to speak and everything I said came out garbled. I felt a bit like Whoopi Goldberg’s character in ‘Ghosts’ when she first hears Sam talking to her and realizes that she’s really hearing from someone dead after years of faking it.

It took me a few minutes to find my voice in my dream and after that it was like ghosts on parade. It was almost as if I had stumbled into a ballroom-sized old garage of some kind where they popped in and out like they were visiting old friends. Sometimes they spoke to me and sometimes they just clustered around each other.

After watching them move a few vintage cars in an unusual way, I found I had the ability to levitate a few myself. Having done that trick, I wondered if I could move myself in a similar way and as quickly as I had the thought, I floated up and across the room as gently as if I was floating on my back in pool of water.

One of the best parts of the dream had to be the dogs. Some of the ghosts had their dogs with them and when I asked, they said they found each other after death.

I wasn’t scared at all after the first sighting and no one seemed bothered by me. My level of comfort did make me consider if I might have been one of them in the dream.

You know, as in dead.

This thought came to me as I was writing this morning and I can say without hesitation that I would not like to spend eternity in a peach-colored party dress in a garage full of cars, dogs, and people I don’t know.

I might could handle jeans and wellies, but that party dress has got to go.

Finding The Right Medicine

I’ve been taking this cough medicine every night hoping if I take enough I can stop coughing long enough to get to sleep before 3:00 AM. Added to that, I’ve been in the guest room for the last week so John can sleep. He didn’t ask, but there was no way I was going to torture him with what sounded as if I were coughing up a lung.

He even suggested I see a doctor when the cough became worse saying he thought I might need an antibiotic and if you knew how he feels about even taking an aspirin, you’ll have an idea of how bad I sounded.

Last night I accepted an invitation to a girl’s night out with some women who live in the village. I was so excited to be asked that I mustered up some energy and went. The hostess knows I’m a light weight when it comes to alcohol and that I rarely drink. Last night she decided to change that up a bit for me.

I think I had five Gin & Tonic’s over the five hours we were all out together. I arrived home feeling sober and relaxed and slept without coughing for the first time in almost two weeks. I woke feeling refreshed with not even a twinge of headache leading me to believe that perhaps the best medicine for a bad cough, might be the one below.

Internet Image

I think we may need to add some Tanqueray to the medicine chest.

Proper dosing might be a bit tricky, I think I can work it out.

Bottoms Up!

Ditching A Plan That No Longer Works

How many times have you made a decision and after investing time and serious money to support your plans, later changed your mind? Did you let go and move on with ease or was it a struggle?

I’ve been wrestling with one that I couldn’t seem to make. For more than three years, I’ve let my indecision suck energy from me and felt loads of remorse over my apathetic attitude towards what I once considered a perfect career.

When I lived in the US, this vision of my future fit well into my business plan for a creative life. I invested in equipment and training designed to cover both the technical and business aspects and paid for quality in both areas.

When I felt ready to deliver a good product, I put myself into situations to prove to myself that this was a good fit. I photographed weddings, PR events, family portraits, and even a red carpet event in Times Square while in New York.

And it was good, for a while.

After a weekend workshop with Denis Reggie, who the New York Times called ” A Storyteller with a Camera,” and who Oprah Winfrey said was ” The Best in the Business, ” I set up my Linked In account and identified myself as the owner of Elizabeth Harper Photographers.

Denis Reggie advised that by using the word photographers instead of photographer or photography, I would leave room to include other photographers who might shoot weddings with me.

During a workshop with Liana Lehman Hall that focused on the business of photography, we did a bit of writing as well and Liana told me that she could see me doing something similar to Jasmine Star, a photographer who incorporates words and story into her blog posts and client images. I knew then that I could write and that I was good at encouraging people to share their stories and after a look at Jasmine Star’s website, I thought it was indeed the kind of thing I had thought of doing to use both skills. The combination seemed as if it might satisfy my desire to write while earning a living as a wedding photographer.

This might have worked had I stayed in Georgia and not met John. Moving to the UK changed many things for me one of which was my desire to work as a wedding photographer. I still love weddings and I enjoy getting the shot that defines the day or a documents a special moment, I’ve just decided that I don’t want to do it for a living.

The rhythm of days spent writing has the strongest pull now and after worrying that I was throwing away money spent on training and camera equipment by not building a career in the UK as a photographer, I decided to end my ambiguity and sell my gear.

My decision to close the door on one career path is an opportunity for someone else who may have been dreaming of something as big as a new direction, or just adding more equipment to their camera bag.

Here are few images from some of the weddings I’ve photographed along with two of a mother and child.

    

 

 

Now that I’ve made peace with redefining how I see myself, I’ll be heading over to “Linked In” to change how the Linked In community sees me.

I’ve contacted a business in the UK that is well-regarded for buying and selling used photography equipment and they’ve given me a quote. As is the way with companies like this one, the price is a good bit lower than can be gained by selling it myself.

Before I decide to sell it on Ebay or Amazon or make use of the company I contacted, I wanted to share it here. I am including a list of the items in case any of my readers wish to add to their gear.

Please consider forwarding this post on to anyone you know who might be interested in well cared for camera equipment.

(2) Nikon D200 Bodies
Nikon Lens ED AF-S VR-NIKKOr 70-200 2.8,
Nikon Lens AF 50 1.4,
Nikon DX AF-S NIKKOR 18-200 3.5-5.6 ED,
Nikon DX ED Fisheye,
Nikon DX AF-S 17-55 2.8 G ED
(2) Nikon Speedlights SB-600,
Nikon Speedlight SB-800
Manfrotto 3021BPRO
Manfrotto Head 3265
Quantum Turbo 2×2 Battery Pack,
4 camera batteries
1 Extreme IV Sandisk 8.0GB
1 Extreme IV Sandisk 4.0GB
(3) 4.0 Sandisk
(2) Sandisk Ultra II 1.0GB
(2) Sandisk 1.0 GB
1 Sandisk Ultra II 2.0 GB
Never Used
UV 77mm Crystal Optics Filter
C PL 77mm Crystal Optics Filter
DIgital Circular PLD 77mm
USED
Quantaray 72mm C-PL
Quantaray 77mm QMC-UV
FLD 77mm Crystal Optics

I’m happy to provide photos of the items and answer any questions. Thanks for helping me move on and I hope this ending is a new beginning for you or someone you know.   

The Cat, The Turkey Neck, & A Change In My Direction

Alfie, is a neighbor’s cat who comes over almost daily to have his ears scratched and to see what food he can scrounge. At Christmas he found his way up to the temporary bird table John built to feed the birds over the winter after an older one fell apart.

It always amazes me what John thinks the birds will enjoy and I’m surprised to see them eat things at times that I thought they would never go for. Take for instance, the cooked turkey neck hanging in the top right of the photograph.

The birds would not touch it, but Alfie … he seemed to really want it!

I photographed him through the sliding glass door while standing behind the Christmas tree thinking I might see him leap into action.

He came back for several days. He’d leap up three feet onto the bird table and then he stare at at the turkey neck and look around like he was thinking about the best way to reach it.

I really wanted him to take a chance and go after it, but he never did. I waited, hiding behind the tree with my camera hoping to see him jump to get it or climb up and reach down from the boards above, but he always seemed a bit unsure and afterwards I labeled his hesitation and lack of follow through as a failure.

After a few days, John took the turkey neck down and threw it out.

Seeing these photos made me consider a big decision I made the other day. It was something I had thought about for a while, but just could not move forward for a number of reasons. I was kind of like Alfie, part way there but not all the way and I had to wonder what was holding me back.

My biggest obstacle was me and my sometimes screwy way of thinking that things can only be seen one of two ways such as good or bad, black or white, and almost always, as a success or failure. This kind of thinking leaves no room for changing your mind or choosing another path which is clearly what I have needed to do for a while.

Choosing ‘Daily’ as my word for 2012 felt big when I did it and loaded with practicality. I did not imagine it would help me make such a big decision so soon, but when I used the daily five to break it down, the answer was simple and instead of angst, I felt relief.

I need a day or two to get a photograph together and I’ll be happy to share this change in direction with you then.

Coughing, Sleeping, And Glorious Soup Eating

As you can see by my title, my activities have been a bit limited this week. I’ve been fighting a nasty bug that has taken me out of action in a way I’ve not experienced since meeting John and moving to England. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I felt this bad for so long.

The progression of symptoms has been interesting in the six days since I began to feel ill. In the beginning I felt as if I had one of my blog friend’s big dogs sitting on my chest. That’s how I described to John anyway and it was the first symptom I felt. No cough or even a runny nose, just a heavy feeling of weight on my chest. Everything else came later with the cough being the worst of it.

Being waylaid by a bug can be a time of discovery and now that I think I may be approaching the end of it (I’ve heard this one comes and goes) I can share a couple of things I’ve learned.

John is an excellent caregiver, bless him.

I’ve not had a lingering week-long illness before with him and he has been steadfast in making sure I was taken care of. When you’re used to taking care of yourself it can be difficult to allow someone to care for you. I’ve been learning how to do just that this week as I was too poorly to do much more than cough, complain, and sleep.

Next discovery, the right soup can be lovely anytime when you’re ill, even for breakfast.

I’ve been living on some delicious soup for the last few days. It tasted so good that I imagined it must have loads of fat and calories and once I was feeling a little better, I had a look at the new soup John brought home for me.

Glorious Skinny Soup Photo From Glorious Website.

To my delight, I discovered it was a Skinny Soup made by Glorious foods and it’s the best tasting soup I’ve had in a long time. It’s only sold at Sainsbury’s and even though we have to drive into town to shop there, we’ll be picking some more up tomorrow.

I’ve also been drinking loads of water and lemon-ginger tea to stay hydrated and I’ve tried to sleep as much as possible by napping in the daytime to make up what I miss while I’m coughing my way through the night.

A last thought is how true it is what they say about good health.

I can’t imagine feeling this poorly all the time. I know many people are living with illness and disease far worse than my brief bout and I’m grateful for what feels like the approaching end to this miserable flu.

Check out the Glorious Foods selections if you live in the UK and I wish you good health as we move into the new year.