The Magician's Cape with Heather Robinson Giveaway!

THE MAGICIAN'S CAPE WITH HEATHER ROBINSON

Rise and shine!  Wipe the sleep from your eyes.  I know you are tired.  I know this because I am tired too.  I am you.  You are me.  We are mothers.  As we know, a mother’s work is never done.  Even in sleep, we work.  We dream of our greatest works of art, our children.  And sometimes we lie awake at night unable to rest our weary minds.  Worry is a poor bed fellow.  Yet, we keep company with it because we love with such an intensity that we constantly want more.  We want more for our children.  We want to be more for them.  There is a desperate need to give our children all that we never had.  We share our love through bountiful acts of devotion.  Sometimes we are so busy carrying out the multiple roles of motherhood that we overlook one incredible role.  We forget to leave a trail for our children to follow should they become lost one day and need to find their way back home to us.  Every person’s story begins with mother.  

Spotlight on...the students of The Simple Edit with Leah Zawadzki

The Simple Edit Class, over this last year, has become everything I wanted it to be. "Editing" to me is so much more than a throwing a preset on a photo, or spending hours to make an image just right. It's a small bit of a larger picture, from the point the shutter clicks to a final photo, observing and learning and then picking the camera up again. It's a full circle; it's integral to the process of making photographs and our growth as artists. 

I love what one of my students had to say; she got it....

The Simple Edit has taught me more than I can say, from editing to organizing, to simply taking better photos. Leah has helped me shape my photos into what I have held in my mind for so long, but not quite been able to make appear on the page. In this class, I have learned to follow the heart of the image I see in the edit. I now view editing as a way to further the telling of a story instead of viewing it as a correction process. This shift has helped me tremendously in my work. Leah's feedback and warmth have helped me bat away my insecurities and move forward in becoming a better photographer.  Lila Smyth

"I have learned to follow the heart of the image I see in the edit." That's a great line. 

All that said, it's still a Lightroom class, and we learn heaps about how to use the program. I love using Lightroom and teaching it because I am convinced that once we get our workflows down, we have more time for all the good stuff mentioned above. 

So proud of all my students and the work they do during our three weeks together. Here is a sampling of work made during class for the project due at the end of week two. I love that in the time it takes to start learning Lightroom, students also learn so much about themselves and the work they want to make.

 Deb Lamb | Winter 2017

 Deb Lamb | Winter 2017

Anne Marie Inge | Spring 2017

Anne Marie Inge | Spring 2017

Holly Parker | Fall 2017

Holly Parker | Fall 2017

Lila Smyth | Fall 2017

Lila Smyth | Fall 2017

Another favorite assignment is two-fold. First, I have the students take a look at their current body of work and curate to about ten images that represent the kind of work they want to make, re editing images if needed. It's amazing how hard that can be! But editing is not just about the color tone or curve you use in the develop module; it's about being able to differentiate between images and commit to the work you want to make. 

This exercise forces students to do that, at the same time making a grid in the print module. The print module is so much more than about printing! Photo grids for blog posts have never been easier and can all done in the same program. Not saying that learning the print module is easy, it's tricky at first, but with a little practice, it's a great tool to understand. 

Catherine Aldrich | Winter 2017

Catherine Aldrich | Winter 2017

Jessica Murphy | Winter 2017

Jessica Murphy | Winter 2017

Jennifer Chase | Spring 2017

Jennifer Chase | Spring 2017

Amber Pembleton | Fall 2017

Amber Pembleton | Fall 2017

Love my students and so happy that I am able to share some of the great work that is out there!! Hope to see some of you in Winter session! 

xo Leah

The Simple Edit winter session will run for three weeks and starts January 22, 2018.

Registration for this class and all Illuminate Classes opens November 29 and 12 noon EST. 

Seriously Social with Rowe Timson Giveaway!

SERIOUSLY SOCIAL WITH ROWE TIMSON

Most people have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand, we love to connect with friends and like-minded people. It makes us feel good! On the other, it’s a huge time suck and although we hope our social media channels will generate income, we rarely see those connections convert to real clients and sales. What Rowe knows for sure is, social media is an imperative part of owning and running a small business in today's world, so we need to learn how to get the most out of the time we invest online.

 

Street Smart with Jennifer Tonetti Spellman giveaway!

STREET SMART WITH JENNIFER TONETTI SPELLMAN

You don't get more real than street. It is the most challenging yet fulfilling genre of photography in Jennifer's book. You cannot plan for the moments, you cannot predict what you will get, you can walk around for hours and not get a single shot!  All you can do is merely hit the streets, be mindful and present and hold a mirror up to society and see what you presents itself. Easier said than done, you say? Well, welcome to Street Smart.

The number one question Jennifer has received from people who see her work is "how do you get past that fear of shooting strangers?" This class will address that question not only in the written words of the PDF but most important in 'live' recordings of Jenn on the street doing exactly what she suggests to you to combat fear. From composition to what to look for, to what to shoot to how to process to complete the story, she covers all the basics for those looking to dip their toe in the street pool and does it all 'live' on video. Because in street seeing is not only believing but understanding how attainable street photography can be for anyone.

Spotlight on the students of...THE FAMILY HISTORIAN with Heather Robinson

On the first day of my workshop, The Family Historian, I share a quote that I wrote years ago.  The words carry great weight in my motivation to create my own family legacy.  

“none of this was all that extraordinary. just some in between moments that would quickly fade from our memories. yet these moments are the glue that holds us all together as we journey from one remarkable moment to the next.”

Days spent with little ones can linger on like an eternity.   And then one day much sooner than we can fathom they push off leaving us reeling.  It is as if these times never even happened.  

These early days are filled with repetitive acts.  Routines lace up our days.  And no matter how many times we tie a bow, those shoe strings never stay tied.  

We could quite easily spend all these childhood years going through the motions as we count down the minutes until each day is done.  Or we could take our eyes off the clock and instead use our cameras to see the beauty of these everyday moments while there is still time.  

During class, I teach my students how to reflect on what matters most in their everyday.  They learn to see the repetition in a new light.  Using not only dramatic light techniques but also creative compositions, my students begin to reveal the beautiful stories that are constantly unfolding in even the most mundane moments.  

It is my sincerest desire to create a safe space in which the students can feel at ease to share their vulnerabilities.  By opening up and finding their truths, the students learn to pair images of the seemingly unremarkable moments of life with intimate, revelatory narratives.  It is through the writing that we connect the dots to see the bigger picture.  And what a breath taking picture it turns out to be.  

I challenge my students to embrace these vulnerabilities so that they can “show up” in their stories not just through their words but also through their presence in the photographs.  These self-portraits often end up being the most treasured of all the family photographs. 

The students regardless of whether they were active, silent, or alumni dedicated themselves to finding their own unique voices with which to retell their family histories for the rest of their days.  Below is just a sampling of the beautiful “in between” that my students captured for themselves and their families.  

Heather Robinson | instructor of The Family Historian 

“Sometimes I feel like all I want is to be by myself, to clean and cook, and sleep.  Alone.  All alone.  But when I look at my favorite spot to photograph without my tribe I feel an emptiness. An echo that pricks my heart that I know that life without you all would lack purpose, and would be essentially empty.” image and narrative by Shelli Dame

“Sometimes I feel like all I want is to be by myself, to clean and cook, and sleep.  Alone.  All alone.  But when I look at my favorite spot to photograph without my tribe I feel an emptiness. An echo that pricks my heart that I know that life without you all would lack purpose, and would be essentially empty.”

image and narrative by Shelli Dame

“The play doh "factory" has seen many hours of work in its day. and for once, I didn't hesitate to let you play with it wherever you wanted. and although there were pieces of orange and yellow and green and blue strewn across the floor...and the tables...and the chairs...and the shelves...you took your little orange dust pan and broom and you cleaned up after yourself. but you left your "hummus" on the table as a token of the fun that was had while mom was busy making dinner. and I'll help you clean up any day of the week when you're willing to chip in and do the same.” image and narrative by Megan Millsop

“The play doh "factory" has seen many hours of work in its day. and for once, I didn't hesitate to let you play with it wherever you wanted. and although there were pieces of orange and yellow and green and blue strewn across the floor...and the tables...and the chairs...and the shelves...you took your little orange dust pan and broom and you cleaned up after yourself. but you left your "hummus" on the table as a token of the fun that was had while mom was busy making dinner. and I'll help you clean up any day of the week when you're willing to chip in and do the same.”

image and narrative by Megan Millsop

“it doesn’t happen every time I see your precious belly, but today when you paused your building task to have a peek at your belly button my thoughts went straight to your mom, your China mom, your birth mom, your biological mother. I don't even know exactly what to call her yet. it changes, but we do talk about her. someday you'll even ask me about her. what i know is so very little. but I know about a pink bag, a red coat, and a fancy hotel all evidence of care and concern for you.  evidence of love. my heart is tied to hers just like you were once tethered to her from that very spot that captures your interest in this moment. I wish I could share her with you and you with her. and I cannot. but I will do my best to fill in the missing pieces of your story, but know I cannot fill it all. if I can give you enough that the sadness exists alongside hope, that will be enough. and I will always be there with you even if it is not.” image and narrative by Stephanie Bieniarz 

“it doesn’t happen every time I see your precious belly, but today when you paused your building task to have a peek at your belly button my thoughts went straight to your mom, your China mom, your birth mom, your biological mother. I don't even know exactly what to call her yet. it changes, but we do talk about her. someday you'll even ask me about her. what i know is so very little. but I know about a pink bag, a red coat, and a fancy hotel all evidence of care and concern for you.  evidence of love. my heart is tied to hers just like you were once tethered to her from that very spot that captures your interest in this moment. I wish I could share her with you and you with her. and I cannot. but I will do my best to fill in the missing pieces of your story, but know I cannot fill it all. if I can give you enough that the sadness exists alongside hope, that will be enough. and I will always be there with you even if it is not.”

image and narrative by Stephanie Bieniarz 

“Today you found a dress buried in the closet. It's one of the few that I brought with me here that used to be mine. Before we moved here I went through and found a few things that I wanted you to be able to use when they fit you. You ran to me, and told me about this beautiful dress that you found. In reality its pretty faded, and worn, and smells like it's been in storage, but that didn't change your mind. When I told you that it used to be mine, and that Grandma made it, well that made you even more excited. You told me that you were going to wear it all day, all night, and tomorrow.” image and narrative by Chrissy Gilliland

“Today you found a dress buried in the closet. It's one of the few that I brought with me here that used to be mine. Before we moved here I went through and found a few things that I wanted you to be able to use when they fit you. You ran to me, and told me about this beautiful dress that you found. In reality its pretty faded, and worn, and smells like it's been in storage, but that didn't change your mind. When I told you that it used to be mine, and that Grandma made it, well that made you even more excited. You told me that you were going to wear it all day, all night, and tomorrow.”

image and narrative by Chrissy Gilliland

“Your room is small, I know. Luckily you love being close to each other and have never complained about sharing a space. You will be older one day and each have a room of your own. Will you visit each other in one room sometimes? Will you stay in your room with your doors closed and music up loud? What will your relationship be like when you are teenagers? Right now I enjoy your need for closeness. You orbit around each other throughout the day, interacting with closeness I can't relate to as an only child. I observe with awe and gratitude that you have one another. “ image and narrative by Sara Wright

“Your room is small, I know. Luckily you love being close to each other and have never complained about sharing a space. You will be older one day and each have a room of your own. Will you visit each other in one room sometimes? Will you stay in your room with your doors closed and music up loud? What will your relationship be like when you are teenagers? Right now I enjoy your need for closeness. You orbit around each other throughout the day, interacting with closeness I can't relate to as an only child. I observe with awe and gratitude that you have one another. “

image and narrative by Sara Wright

“You have been missed. The whole of last week whilst you were away on a school trip your little brother has wandered around the house not really knowing what to do with himself. He's been teasing your little sister and bothering your older sister because his pal and playmate was away. The family dynamics completely changed and although you have been a bit of a pain just recently and I thought it might be good for us all to get some space we actually don't function very well without you.  So now you're back the equilibrium is restored and you go straight back to your imaginary star wars games with your brother. I can see he is more relaxed now you are back to show him how to do stuff, playing Star Wars on your own is a lonely business.” image and narrative by Abigail Fahey

“You have been missed. The whole of last week whilst you were away on a school trip your little brother has wandered around the house not really knowing what to do with himself. He's been teasing your little sister and bothering your older sister because his pal and playmate was away. The family dynamics completely changed and although you have been a bit of a pain just recently and I thought it might be good for us all to get some space we actually don't function very well without you.  So now you're back the equilibrium is restored and you go straight back to your imaginary star wars games with your brother. I can see he is more relaxed now you are back to show him how to do stuff, playing Star Wars on your own is a lonely business.”

image and narrative by Abigail Fahey

“We used to eat dinner together every night. That was before daddy and I switched our schedules around so we could have a little more time home with you guys. Now I work a little later at night so I can be home with you in the morning while daddy works in the morning to be home with you in the afternoon. By the time I get home you are done eating and are ready to curl up on the couch and watch TV. You always liked TV more than your sister, who is probably off playing somewhere right now. Your brother is just starting to eat `big people’ food so he eats a little slower. Plus daddy makes sure you two are fed before he feeds your brother. I look forward to the weekends when we all eat together as a family again.” image and narrative by Debbie Deonier  

“We used to eat dinner together every night. That was before daddy and I switched our schedules around so we could have a little more time home with you guys. Now I work a little later at night so I can be home with you in the morning while daddy works in the morning to be home with you in the afternoon. By the time I get home you are done eating and are ready to curl up on the couch and watch TV. You always liked TV more than your sister, who is probably off playing somewhere right now. Your brother is just starting to eat `big people’ food so he eats a little slower. Plus daddy makes sure you two are fed before he feeds your brother. I look forward to the weekends when we all eat together as a family again.”

image and narrative by Debbie Deonier  

“Daddy coming home from work is one of your favorite things ever!  Kissing him with your big open mouth makes you howl with laughter mostly because Daddy can't help but dramatically wipe all your slobber off his face. Even though all Daddy wanted after a long day was to sit down and drink his beer, he happily indulged your games. He knows you need the quality time. It feels like we never see you and your sister anymore. Later tonight, after making it a mere 6 days at home, you big brother is being readmitted to to the hospital. You and your big sister will be back in the loving arms of Grandma who is lovely but, no one plays quite like Daddy.” image and narrative by Heather Barrett

“Daddy coming home from work is one of your favorite things ever!  Kissing him with your big open mouth makes you howl with laughter mostly because Daddy can't help but dramatically wipe all your slobber off his face. Even though all Daddy wanted after a long day was to sit down and drink his beer, he happily indulged your games. He knows you need the quality time. It feels like we never see you and your sister anymore. Later tonight, after making it a mere 6 days at home, you big brother is being readmitted to to the hospital. You and your big sister will be back in the loving arms of Grandma who is lovely but, no one plays quite like Daddy.”

image and narrative by Heather Barrett

“You hate when I change your nappies so I try to trick you with kisses cuddles and lullaby (your favorite one "Ainsi font font") that you don’t feel vulnerable. I love those moments. It s part of the routine and when you are on top of the change table we are at the same level. You sometimes put your little arm around my neck and put your head on my shoulder and I melt… Not this time though you were too busy playing with my necklace.” image and narrative by Nadia Stone

“You hate when I change your nappies so I try to trick you with kisses cuddles and lullaby (your favorite one "Ainsi font font") that you don’t feel vulnerable. I love those moments. It s part of the routine and when you are on top of the change table we are at the same level. You sometimes put your little arm around my neck and put your head on my shoulder and I melt… Not this time though you were too busy playing with my necklace.”

image and narrative by Nadia Stone

"These days have been some of the longest of my life.  I know I'm blessed to be your mama.  To have had two years of post nap wake ups.  But some days are prettier than others.  There are often lots of tears.  And little hands grabbing at my pants or a toddler on my hip as I try to pull dinner together.  I hold on for dear life until I feel hollow from giving or guilty for giving into laundry and choosing to fold instead of play.  More days than I care to admit I blow up Papa's phone, shooting text after text until he finally walks in the door. But. The smell of your hair still damp from sleep.  The weight of your body as you snuggle into me while the sleep drifts from your eyes.  The smoothness of your skin as I tickle your back to soothe your emotional, over-tired nerves.  When I stop, everything falls back into balance. And here I am on the brink of heading back to work.  And I'm scared.  Not of the work.  I'm scared that I missed it, that I didn't soak it in, that I wished these days away. Tell me it isn't so.  Put your little fingers in my hands, snuggle your downy head into my chest, tell me it will be all right.  And let me tickle your back for a few more minutes." image and narrative by Sylvie Grahan

"These days have been some of the longest of my life.  I know I'm blessed to be your mama.  To have had two years of post nap wake ups.  But some days are prettier than others.  There are often lots of tears.  And little hands grabbing at my pants or a toddler on my hip as I try to pull dinner together.  I hold on for dear life until I feel hollow from giving or guilty for giving into laundry and choosing to fold instead of play.  More days than I care to admit I blow up Papa's phone, shooting text after text until he finally walks in the door.

But. The smell of your hair still damp from sleep.  The weight of your body as you snuggle into me while the sleep drifts from your eyes.  The smoothness of your skin as I tickle your back to soothe your emotional, over-tired nerves.  When I stop, everything falls back into balance.

And here I am on the brink of heading back to work.  And I'm scared.  Not of the work.  I'm scared that I missed it, that I didn't soak it in, that I wished these days away.

Tell me it isn't so.  Put your little fingers in my hands, snuggle your downy head into my chest, tell me it will be all right.  And let me tickle your back for a few more minutes."

image and narrative by Sylvie Grahan

This class will be offered this fall. Registration for the next run will open on August 23rd at 12 noon EST right HERE. In the past, the active seats have sold out within minutes so don't hesitate if you are interested.

Spotlight on the students of Embracing Your Inner Artist with Deb Schwedhelm

I often find this class, Embracing Your Inner Artist, difficult to precisely put into words. It’s not a class that revolves around learning a specific hands-on camera or photography technique; but rather a class that pushes each and every artist to grow artistically in a way that they individually need, wish or desire. From discussions on inspiration, style, and creativity to doing research on the masters of photography to making strong photographs in their own unique style, the students are encouraged to quiet the noise and listen to the artist within. 

Throughout the course, a lot of discussion takes place, not only with me but also amongst the students. This is something that I strongly encourage, as I believe that there is so much information and learning to be gained by asking questions, participating in conversations and providing honest feedback on image submissions. And I was blown away by this group of students. Not only did they readily interact and discuss the lesson information, almost every single student participated in every assignment over our three weeks together. 

My heartfelt goal with Embracing Your Inner Artist is to encourage students to recognize and embrace the artist that lies within and gently push them to their next step, in the direction of their own unique path. As each of us embraces all that we uniquely are, we free ourselves from the constraints that are imposed upon us, which allows us to run free in the direction and at a pace that we choose — and that is something to be celebrated.

Today, I celebrate my students from the January 2017 edition of my Embracing Your Inner Artist course, with a small sampling of the work that was produced for the final assignment. For this submission, the students are asked to put everything that was learned and discussed together and share images that embrace their own unique style. Truly, all the students did amazing and I am grateful for their time and commitment to learning.

Deb Schwedhelm | Instructor of Embracing Your Inner Artist and Project Development & Fine Art

All of our classes are currently sold out. We will be opening registration in late August for the fall block of classes. Stay tuned for exact dates coming soon!

SPOTLIGHT ON...THE STUDENTS OF THE FAMILY HISTORIAN WITH HEATHER ROBINSON WINTER 2017

'There is a reason the quote, “Home is where the heart is” has become such a common one.  It is true.  Our homes are the places where we live.  They are more than that though.  A home is an anchor that keeps us securely planted in the big, churning world.  It is where we begin our journeys.  And for many of us, it is where we end them as well.  But all along the way, a home is the backdrop for the hundreds of thousands of stories that we live out alongside our families.  

In my workshop, The Family Historian, I encourage my students to show respect to the places that house their most cherished memories.  I challenge them to seek out the light that comes shining in their windows each day illuminating the moments that help define their family.  Additionally, I inspire my students to see what matters most in their homes - the inhabitants.  After all, it is the relationships and the connections that we make with those we love most that make a house a home.  My students feel a strong desire to not only show the place and the people who they are documenting, but to also leave behind evidence of themselves.  Therefore, my students place themselves into the stories that they tell.  They do this with their words and their photographs.  They do this with utmost love and respect.  They do this because they are family historians.  

I am insanely proud of the heart and soul that the students from the January 2017 run of my workshop showed each day that we spent together.  It is a wonderful honor to be able to call these women my friends.  Here is a sampling of the beauty that they found at home. '

Heather Robinson | Instructor of The Family Historian

“1057 square feet is what they give us to live in, here. Student family housing, two years, and a collective 10 months of Minnesota winter. The top floor of our apartment provides just enough room for beds and clothes. It's reserved for sleeping, changing, using the bathroom, and not much else. So we actually spend 80% of our day in half of that 1057 sq feet: 528 square feet of kitchen and living room. Our kitchen is part dining area, part art studio, part preschool, part office. We eat, we paint, we study, and we play games around this table. For four people, it's not a lot of space. But it's not permanent, either, and we make it work. It's not uncommon to scoot aside a half-finished puzzle or art project in order to make enough room for lunch. Inevitably there are crumbs mingled with beads on the floor. The corner is piled high with preschool lessons/mountains of coloring masterpieces that we can't yet throw away. Daddy's laptop sits next to the flowers he recently brought home for Mommy, while a half-finished lunch lingers, nearby. In a couple hours, the entire table scape will change, based on the need of the next moment. My life runneth over. It's tight. It's messy. It's madness. Some days I wish I had just a small place of my own to keep clean and run to. But then, I remind myself, I'd miss the ever present closeness of you---you pieces of my heart that I share this small space with. We truly live together, here. Together, beside, and on top of each other's lives in one big tangled mess of love. Maybe some day I'll look back on this time as a heroic adventure. Likely I'll cringe at how short my patience so easily got with everything/one under foot. Hopefully I'll remember these simple, packed days when we have little, learn much, and always try to love more.” Image and narrative by Annie Mangelson

“1057 square feet is what they give us to live in, here. Student family housing, two years, and a collective 10 months of Minnesota winter. The top floor of our apartment provides just enough room for beds and clothes. It's reserved for sleeping, changing, using the bathroom, and not much else. So we actually spend 80% of our day in half of that 1057 sq feet: 528 square feet of kitchen and living room.

Our kitchen is part dining area, part art studio, part preschool, part office. We eat, we paint, we study, and we play games around this table. For four people, it's not a lot of space. But it's not permanent, either, and we make it work. It's not uncommon to scoot aside a half-finished puzzle or art project in order to make enough room for lunch. Inevitably there are crumbs mingled with beads on the floor. The corner is piled high with preschool lessons/mountains of coloring masterpieces that we can't yet throw away. Daddy's laptop sits next to the flowers he recently brought home for Mommy, while a half-finished lunch lingers, nearby. In a couple hours, the entire table scape will change, based on the need of the next moment.

My life runneth over. It's tight. It's messy. It's madness.

Some days I wish I had just a small place of my own to keep clean and run to. But then, I remind myself, I'd miss the ever present closeness of you---you pieces of my heart that I share this small space with. We truly live together, here. Together, beside, and on top of each other's lives in one big tangled mess of love.

Maybe some day I'll look back on this time as a heroic adventure. Likely I'll cringe at how short my patience so easily got with everything/one under foot. Hopefully I'll remember these simple, packed days when we have little, learn much, and always try to love more.”

Image and narrative by Annie Mangelson

“The sink full of dishes is a clear sign that your overly tidy mama is tired from a week without Daddy. It speaks louder than the lack of the fourth spoon. The Thomas bowl that used to be your sister's but is now yours rests near the teacup that is yours but was used to steep the teabag that soothed her fever blister. A cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix...always a cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix. And, sitting on the counter top, is the egg carton sister made with a friend to hold the eggs her family shares with ours. We are not an overly materialistic family but that is not to say that we do not value, even revere objects. Little love worn bowls, cardboard covered in glitter glue, eggs the palest shade of blue green, paintbrushes used so often that the soaking never quite does the trick - my how we love these things. Objects of your work, your play, your hurts, your love left behind when the day is done. These things I carefully tuck into cabinets with a smile or pause to celebrate before loading the dishwasher and wiping the counter clean.” Image and narrative by Sarah Scott

“The sink full of dishes is a clear sign that your overly tidy mama is tired from a week without Daddy. It speaks louder than the lack of the fourth spoon. The Thomas bowl that used to be your sister's but is now yours rests near the teacup that is yours but was used to steep the teabag that soothed her fever blister. A cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix...always a cup of soaking paintbrushes in the mix. And, sitting on the counter top, is the egg carton sister made with a friend to hold the eggs her family shares with ours. We are not an overly materialistic family but that is not to say that we do not value, even revere objects. Little love worn bowls, cardboard covered in glitter glue, eggs the palest shade of blue green, paintbrushes used so often that the soaking never quite does the trick - my how we love these things. Objects of your work, your play, your hurts, your love left behind when the day is done. These things I carefully tuck into cabinets with a smile or pause to celebrate before loading the dishwasher and wiping the counter clean.”

Image and narrative by Sarah Scott

“this has been a long few days for both of us sweet girl.  you are so exhausted today.  you were awake last night with a never ending cough that would not relent.  i had to take you outside so that you could breath better.  today is a better day.  you have been off playing with your dolls or coming to momma for a snuggle while sister is at her ice skating lessons with daddy.  i want nothing more than to be here comforting you, but part of my heart hurts a bit that i am not there to see sissy ice skating.  the wonder and pain of motherhood... the inability to be in two places at once.” Image and narrative by Kristin Rutherford

“this has been a long few days for both of us sweet girl.  you are so exhausted today.  you were awake last night with a never ending cough that would not relent.  i had to take you outside so that you could breath better.  today is a better day.  you have been off playing with your dolls or coming to momma for a snuggle while sister is at her ice skating lessons with daddy.  i want nothing more than to be here comforting you, but part of my heart hurts a bit that i am not there to see sissy ice skating.  the wonder and pain of motherhood... the inability to be in two places at once.”

Image and narrative by Kristin Rutherford

“The living room, in our new home.  The room with the window I always dreamt of.  We have lazy mornings sometimes and spend far too many hours in our pajamas.  This blanket has seen as much of the earth as you.  A necklace today, courtesy of that broken seam. And that hair that I can’t quite figure out.  Should we cut bangs? Lucy is always under foot and always watching the squirrels, quivering with excitement for hours each day. You'd never know she's a geriatric.” image and narrative by Sara Stiller

“The living room, in our new home.  The room with the window I always dreamt of.  We have lazy mornings sometimes and spend far too many hours in our pajamas.  This blanket has seen as much of the earth as you.  A necklace today, courtesy of that broken seam. And that hair that I can’t quite figure out.  Should we cut bangs? Lucy is always under foot and always watching the squirrels, quivering with excitement for hours each day. You'd never know she's a geriatric.”

image and narrative by Sara Stiller

"every morning around 6 am, I hear you tip toe into my bedroom and stand quietly by my bedside. I always know you are there even though you don't say a word, and I open my eyes to see you wrapped in your pink blanket, round bare belly sticking out, sleepy eyes, as though your first thought upon waking is always to find me. sometimes I tell you momma needs more sleep, or you climb in and cuddle with me, whispering strangely deep thoughts as though you are still half dreaming, like me. You touch my face with your little dimpled hands so gently, you tell me how hungry you are, how much you love me, you always find a way to get me up. you never ever stop talking. The other morning though, when I felt your presence and opened my eyes, you said to me "momma, sometimes I stand here looking at you while you're sleeping and think how beautiful you are." Your words took my breath away. Your love takes my breath away. I took you in my arms and hugged you. I hoped you felt my love too." Image and narrative by Melissa Lazuka

"every morning around 6 am, I hear you tip toe into my bedroom and stand quietly by my bedside. I always know you are there even though you don't say a word, and I open my eyes to see you wrapped in your pink blanket, round bare belly sticking out, sleepy eyes, as though your first thought upon waking is always to find me. sometimes I tell you momma needs more sleep, or you climb in and cuddle with me, whispering strangely deep thoughts as though you are still half dreaming, like me. You touch my face with your little dimpled hands so gently, you tell me how hungry you are, how much you love me, you always find a way to get me up. you never ever stop talking. The other morning though, when I felt your presence and opened my eyes, you said to me "momma, sometimes I stand here looking at you while you're sleeping and think how beautiful you are." Your words took my breath away. Your love takes my breath away. I took you in my arms and hugged you. I hoped you felt my love too."

Image and narrative by Melissa Lazuka

“Today I bought myself flowers.  Today I gave in and bought myself my favorite cookies.  I came home from the grocery store with flowers and cookies in hand and you just smiled at me.Between the exhaustion, mild case of depression that is now over and extreme nausea life has felt blurry. Days have ran together. But you my dear, have gone above and beyond for me. When did the boy I meet in high school turn into a man? It must have happened right before my eyes.” Image and narrative by Chloe Rosser  

“Today I bought myself flowers.  Today I gave in and bought myself my favorite cookies.  I came home from the grocery store with flowers and cookies in hand and you just smiled at me.Between the exhaustion, mild case of depression that is now over and extreme nausea life has felt blurry. Days have ran together. But you my dear, have gone above and beyond for me. When did the boy I meet in high school turn into a man? It must have happened right before my eyes.”

Image and narrative by Chloe Rosser

 

"I could lay out your clothes from the night before out for you. I could ask your daddy or your grandmother to dress you. I huff and puff whenever I cannot get to you in the morning on time and you're still dressed in pijamas by the time we're eating breakfast. I huff about why does no one else can pick out the right clothes and dress you, they can see I am busy making breakfast...does not one else care? Truth is, subconsciously I might be sabotaging anyone else's attempts to dress you because I want it all for myself. Sure, it's nice when once in a blue moon you emerge from your bedroom all made up. You even make attempts in dressing your little sister right after you have dressed yourself. I love when that happens. It's no wonder you know exactly which pair of pants goes with which shirt and sweater - you watch me like a hawk and you absorb everything I do with incredible speed. Often it worries me that together with the good you also absorb the bad. Like my bossy tone of voice when I just want everyone to behave so I can get stuff done. You order your little sister in the same tone of voice when she's ruining one of your games. I ask you to speak to her nicely, but then I remember who taught you this and I get mortified. Your little eyes and ears leave nothing out, you see me whole, as I am and you see me worthy of aspiring to. It is a beautiful feeling, yet I am ashamed of myself when I catch myself not being the best example for you. I am sorry, mom is not perfect, I want you to know that. I know now how the nucleus effect works, so I am trying hard to show you that change can happen if one put's her mind to it. I am ashamed of some of the behaviors I've taught you, but what encourages me even more is the opportunity to show you my transformation...no matter how slow and painful it might be. And you, my darling, teach me every day the most important lesson of all - how to be vulnerable again. You've pried my heart open when you were born and you make sure it will never be closed again." Image and narrative by Mukarram Dadajonova

"I could lay out your clothes from the night before out for you. I could ask your daddy or your grandmother to dress you. I huff and puff whenever I cannot get to you in the morning on time and you're still dressed in pijamas by the time we're eating breakfast. I huff about why does no one else can pick out the right clothes and dress you, they can see I am busy making breakfast...does not one else care?

Truth is, subconsciously I might be sabotaging anyone else's attempts to dress you because I want it all for myself. Sure, it's nice when once in a blue moon you emerge from your bedroom all made up. You even make attempts in dressing your little sister right after you have dressed yourself. I love when that happens. It's no wonder you know exactly which pair of pants goes with which shirt and sweater - you watch me like a hawk and you absorb everything I do with incredible speed. Often it worries me that together with the good you also absorb the bad. Like my bossy tone of voice when I just want everyone to behave so I can get stuff done. You order your little sister in the same tone of voice when she's ruining one of your games. I ask you to speak to her nicely, but then I remember who taught you this and I get mortified. Your little eyes and ears leave nothing out, you see me whole, as I am and you see me worthy of aspiring to. It is a beautiful feeling, yet I am ashamed of myself when I catch myself not being the best example for you. I am sorry, mom is not perfect, I want you to know that. I know now how the nucleus effect works, so I am trying hard to show you that change can happen if one put's her mind to it. I am ashamed of some of the behaviors I've taught you, but what encourages me even more is the opportunity to show you my transformation...no matter how slow and painful it might be.

And you, my darling, teach me every day the most important lesson of all - how to be vulnerable again. You've pried my heart open when you were born and you make sure it will never be closed again."

Image and narrative by Mukarram Dadajonova

“This moment.  This is the moment that brings me home to myself each day, in the midst of the morning hustle. I get up before the sun, before the birds, before the streetlights so that I can arrive in this moment, wholeheartedly, without feeling the need to rush you. I want you to ease into your day softly, with the warm touch of my hand on your back, and the cozy safety of my lap to rub the sleep and dreams from your eyes. The touch of your small hand on my hand makes my heart skip a beat. The weight of your tiny body nestled into mine is sweet perfection. I don’t know how long you will allow me to hold you in my arms like this, so I drink up this moment, and savor its sweetness.  I don’t ever want this feeling to end. As I have made the transition from being a full time Mama, to becoming a working Mama, the clocks feel like they are in overdrive. All of the days that once felt slow and infinite, are now fast and breathtakingly short.  The times we share together now are the book- ends of my day, rather than the pages. This is hard for me. Leaving you each day makes my heartache. I would give anything to sleep in and snuggle with you in bed and spend all day painting and sword fighting and snacking and hunting for ladybugs in the garden. But now that I must kiss you goodbye first thing in the morning and collect you at the end of the day after both of us are tired and spent, I lean into the moments that I do have with you with everything I’ve got; because I want you to feel my love surrounding and elevating you across the span of the long hours that we are apart from one another. In these quiet moments in the semi-darkness of the early morning that I share with you, I can exhale and return, if only for a moment, to those simpler days that we used to share and hold onto you being little for just a little while longer.” Image and narrative by Chelsea Feldman

“This moment.  This is the moment that brings me home to myself each day, in the midst of the morning hustle. I get up before the sun, before the birds, before the streetlights so that I can arrive in this moment, wholeheartedly, without feeling the need to rush you. I want you to ease into your day softly, with the warm touch of my hand on your back, and the cozy safety of my lap to rub the sleep and dreams from your eyes. The touch of your small hand on my hand makes my heart skip a beat. The weight of your tiny body nestled into mine is sweet perfection. I don’t know how long you will allow me to hold you in my arms like this, so I drink up this moment, and savor its sweetness.  I don’t ever want this feeling to end.

As I have made the transition from being a full time Mama, to becoming a working Mama, the clocks feel like they are in overdrive. All of the days that once felt slow and infinite, are now fast and breathtakingly short.  The times we share together now are the book- ends of my day, rather than the pages. This is hard for me. Leaving you each day makes my heartache. I would give anything to sleep in and snuggle with you in bed and spend all day painting and sword fighting and snacking and hunting for ladybugs in the garden. But now that I must kiss you goodbye first thing in the morning and collect you at the end of the day after both of us are tired and spent, I lean into the moments that I do have with you with everything I’ve got; because I want you to feel my love surrounding and elevating you across the span of the long hours that we are apart from one another. In these quiet moments in the semi-darkness of the early morning that I share with you, I can exhale and return, if only for a moment, to those simpler days that we used to share and hold onto you being little for just a little while longer.”

Image and narrative by Chelsea Feldman


The Family Historian with Heather Robinson is one of our most popular classes and is all sold out for the spring run. This class will be offered again sometime in the fall. If you want to be notified when registration for the next class will open, sign up for our newsletter HERE.


Editing for Artists with Roxanne Bryant Giveaway!

EDITING FOR ARTISTS WITH ROXANNE BRYANT

The power of color leaves a deep and lasting impression on our imagery. The key to confident editing is understanding why color behaves the way it does. In this intensive class, you will gain insight on how color theory creates richness and depth, conveys mood, illuminates focal points and composition, and directly communicates your story.  Learn subtle color control through the mindset of a painter, working with the HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminance) panel as your palette.  Utilize color theory in LIGHTROOM to correct color casts, analyze color relationships, and separate colors for more sensitive and dynamic color range in your work.  Perfect the "Art of Seeing" through deep self-critique to push your own personal boundaries and confidence with editing.  Finally, embrace a no-short-cut approach to editing - one that will bring greater understanding of every image as a singular work of art.  Be prepared to take risks, try different approaches, and bravely reinvent color in new ways. 

Written & Illustrated with Amy Grace Giveaway!

WRITTEN & ILLUSTRATED WITH AMY GRACE

We are only as close as parallel lines. 
Art makes our own skin a suit others can slip into.
Find your way to the letter you need to write yourself,
Print the photographs to slide into the envelope,
Send it out to the world.

All writing is memoir, some wrapped in imagination.
In every photograph you will find the photographer.
Memory is alive in pictures in our heads. 
Pictures in our heads only make it out alive in the blood of words we wrestle out.

We are the architects of our stories.
We are the meaning makers.
It is up to us to find the parentheses that the flow of real life leaves out.

Say it new. 
Make it yours.
Use truth as noun, verb, and adjective.
Make poetry a prompt for image.
Make images an inspiration for narrative.

Let it mix together, ask the questions, answer them.
Tell us what happens when we reach the edge of the frame.
Give us the story of what came before it, and what comes after.
Show it with something we can see clearly, hold in our hungry hands.
Lace the visceral with truth, rim it with the glitter and glow and clarity of hindsight.
Say the risky things you knew and couldn’t the first time around.

By learning to pay attention to intersections in art and life,
We focus on the space in which more than one medium or concept come together.
Making bridges to our own histories
Telling stories with pictures.
Making pictures with words.

Everything starts with paying attention, in this wildly imperfect, fighting-through-it life right now, all of us living it in our own way. Love is art for me, and all art comes from the same place - our most pure and stripped away truth. 

This class is about diving into that truth with every pore open, every tool sharpened.

The Business of Photography With Jennifer Tonetti Spellman Giveaway!

THE BUSINESS OF PHOTOGRAPHY WITH JENNIFER TONETTI SPELLMAN

Are you ready to jump start your business or are you in dire need to resuscitate it?  Looking for a no nonsense, straight to the point class that can lay it all out for you step by step?  The Business of Photography is a class I developed to hone in on the key factors of business that need to be addressed in order to run a successful photography business. Having a career for over a decade in advertising and marketing for some of the biggest brands in the world (Oraph, People, Seventeen) helped me to jump start my photography business in near record time back in 2009. Through my guidance, candid sharing of missteps I made, and my knowledge of the importance of marketing and branding, I aim to set every student on the right path to loving their brand, their business and truly recognizing the unique gift we all can offer to clients.  The gift of a timeless image that will be shared and passed down for decades to come.

Point of View: Documentary Photography with Lindsey Bergstrom giveaway

 

POINT OF VIEW: DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY WITH LINDSEY BERGSTROM

 

Stories live behind closed doors, inside hearts, on street corners, in nursing homes, in children’s hands, at kitchen sinks, in the shuffles of running feet, in screams and quiet prayers. It seems that humans are becoming more and more disconnected from our shared story of humanity.  We retreat to our homes and into our social media circles but, honestly, stories are what connect and bind us to each other.  Stories, even the smallest of stories, allow for empathy and for the space to recognize shared values, experiences, and hopes.  Coming together to understand each other’s stories is more important than ever.  Documentary photography is the slow intimate way of capturing a person’s truth, life, and legacy.  So join me in this workshop and start a project that pushes you to explore and connect with the world around you.  

We will learn how to research ideas, formulate a project, communicate with subjects and contacts, and make critical edits. We will talk about picking the right project and also discuss what “success” means in terms of our own personal journeys and in relation to our projects. We will examine the work of notable photographers to learn about the history of documentary photography but also study their different approaches to photo-based story work. In addition, each participant will present their idea and a plan for a project that they will in turn initiate...just little baby steps to get going and face their fears whatever they may be. We will also do a lot of sharing and discussion. Sharing hopes, fears, and our dreams...our big dreams for our projects. 

Spotlight on...the students of Inside the Frame with Rebecca Conway

Awareness and intention are two of the most influential tools in framing an effective composition. Whether you are drawn to the visual and graphic nature of a scene or are an emotionally driven shooter, knowing how to arrange those elements is crucial in conveying your intended message to the viewer. My first run of the Inside The Frame here at Illuminate was wonderful, challenging and inspiring. Each week of the three-week class builds through daily lessons and offers exercises and weekly assignments to have students practicing each technique or concept. I was inspired while watching the students push and challenge themselves to put the new lessons to practice with a better understanding and fresh approach to the topics they were already familiar with.  
 

Not all assignments in the class were related to shooting new images, but exploring the value of studying your own imagery as a whole to develop more insight to your own innate way of seeing. Recognizing what draws you and drives you to frame a scene is the foundation for developing your eye for more dynamic composition. 

Conversation and question is key to gaining knowledge. The dialogue with the students and myself about lessons, along with the feedback on critiques I gave on assignments and exercises had them questioning their intent and evaluating their own images in ways they had been overlooking, unaware of, or possibly forgotten over the course of their journey of learning. So much insight was gained from not only their own personal critique, but reading and following the other questions and feedback in the class. 

A big thank you to the students of this class for challenging your mind and eye to see things in a new or different way. I am grateful for the chance to share and continue growing as a teacher. Can’t wait until my next class in a few months! 
xo, 
Rebecca Conway | Instructor of Inside the Frame

Spotlight on..the students of the Simple Edit with Leah Zawadzki

The Simple Edit is not about image processing as much as about the process itself, about the role post production plays in making photographs. This first class of students was amazing, eager to learn and so full of potential. In our two weeks together it was all about unraveling that potential, exploring it in their work and bringing it to life with their edits.

Beyond the mechanics of learning the Lightroom program, during the first week of class we took a look at student work by editing images. In this process, not only did they get a first-hand look at how Lightroom worked, but also gained insight on “seeing” edits and what we can learn from our images in post processing. Here are a few photographs from that exercise.

Growth occurs in the process of making choices about our work. The better we understand our own work and the direction we want to take it, the easier the choices become. From choosing color temperature to image contrast, to which photos to show in a session or in our portfolio’s or even with our personal work, making choices helps define us as artists. By shooting and editing and making more work, it’s in this process that we all have the opportunity to make better work. 

By the beginning of the second week students are asked to look at their own work and select 6-10 of their top images. These images begin to define the kind of work they want to make. It’s amazing how many of us have a hard time, for whatever reason, making these decisions. But once we push ourselves to make hard choices, the result begins to tell us not only about our work but about ourselves.  

Over the weekend, students are asked to make work using the process presented in class. Part of the exercise is about using Lightroom, so if questions arise, they do so during class. More importantly, it’s about making new work and to practice making choices in post-production. Here are a few images students submitted, and I was so impressed with the progress in just a little over a week.

It was so much fun to see the growth and discovery unfold before my eyes. By the time class was over I had fallen in love with my student’s hearts and each one’s desire to make meaningful work. It was such a pleasure!! xo

Leah Zawadzki | Instructor of the Simple Edit

Spotlight on....the students of Magic of Light with Summer Murdock

"I have been teaching the Magic of Light workshop going on four years now and every class I feel so incredibly honored and humbled that these talented photographers saw something in my work that made them want to spend their time with me in class. It is amazing to see significant growth in these artists in such a short amount of time. I was able to witness many "aha" moments. Nothing makes me happier than to see photographers begin to gain the tools and knowledge that will help them bring to life the images that have been previously stuck inside their heads. Or even seeing them begin to develop the confidence that they can walk into any lighting situation and know how to create the images they want with intention vs by "happy accident." I saw a lot of that during this last class. The Magic of Light workshop is more than just learning technique though, it's about slowing down and seeing all the beauty around us, being inspired by it, and then using your camera to capture it deliberately and with intent. It's about trusting in your own creative vision, no longer being a slave to your camera, and creating cool images in whatever light is available. All light is not equal but you really can create good images in any kind of light. It's also about having an open and safe space to learn and grow…

These are some of the images that the talented and inspiring photographers created during the last run of the workshop…"

Summer Murdock | Instructor of The Magic of Light

Yan Liu

Yan Liu

Becky Amshoff

Becky Amshoff

Sarah Pogorzelski

Sarah Pogorzelski

Rewind 2.0 with Jennifer Tonetti Spellman Giveaway

"3 years ago I wrote an article called Get Out of Your Own Way.  That article sparked an intense reaction from many photographers who felt it spoke directly to them, their fear of failure and what crippled them creatively.  The response was so moving I felt compelled to create a class called Rewind.  Rewind urged students to take the necessary time to work on themselves, to address insecurities and target what they needed to do to move forward on their personal creative path.  After amazing feedback from the community I revamped the class into Rewind 2.0 to reflect what former 'rewinders' wanted to see more of as they tackled their issues head on."

Jennifer Tonetti Spellman | Rewind 2.0

Embracing Your Inner Artist with Deb Schwedhelm Giveaway

"Recognizing and embracing the artistry in your photography is what will eventually separate your work from the work of other photographers – it is what will make your photographs special, compelling and uniquely yours. In this course, Embracing Your Inner Artist, students will will begin to explore the relationship with their individual creativity and artistry more deeply. Students will reflect and critically think about their photography and who they are as an artist."

Deb Schwedhelm | Embracing Your Inner Artist

Film-Making with Hailey Bartholomew Giveaway

 

 

"This course is for people who have had a bit of a play with filming. You have been experimenting with making short films and videos but want to take it to the next level. Maybe you want feedback on your films? You want to know how another film-maker makes it work - bringing a personal or commercial project together. You are ready to dive in a bit deeper and understand more about your settings and how to tell a story. If this is you, join in and come along!."

Hailey Bartholomew | Film-Making

Spotlight on...the students of The Family Historian with Heather Robinson

There is a popular saying, “A picture paints a thousand words.”  Isn’t this why so many people take photographs?  We need these mementos to help us remember the past.  Because without them we forget.  But the truth is even with them we forget.  This is because our brains aren’t capable of retrieving all the specifics that make up actual stories.  With the passing of time the story lines become twisted.  If the who, what, when, where, and why never get answered, what becomes of the story?  The answers can only come from those who lived the stories.  And if these answers never get recorded, the photograph is merely a piece of paper with some people’s images printed in ink. It is through the narratives that we attach to these pictures that our stories live on long after we are gone.  

In The Family Historian, I challenge my students to search their souls for what is most sacred to them and therefore must be preserved.  I encourage them to let down their guards and document their families with honesty.  

During the first week of class, I show the students how to capture what matters most in their family stories while using creative light and composition.  I believe that you can document your everyday authentically and artistically. 

Image by Francesca Russell  
Image by Kristin Wahls  

Image by Kristin Wahls  

Image by Sonja Stich

Image by Sonja Stich

In order to leave behind a rich, authentic family history, I encourage the students to capture not only the good but also the bad.  I was so proud of all of the students who allowed themselves to be vulnerable. They embraced the mess and chaos of raising children and captured it not only accurately but also beautifully.   

A major goal of mine when teaching this workshop is to not only embolden students to step into the frame with their families, but also to write themselves into the story by photographing themselves in real everyday moments with their children.  I want them to take self-portraits that show connection.  These photos might one day be all that our children have of us.  Shouldn’t they show them who we really were and how intensely we loved them?

Image by Renee Jansen

Image by Renee Jansen

Image by Jessica Gyoda  

Image by Jessica Gyoda  

The final assignment required the students to put everything they learned about light, composition, authenticity, and writing narratives together to document an important part of their family history.  This is when all those important questions get answered.  The narratives connect the dots.  They bolster the photographs.  Together they tell the stories that make up a family legacy.  

Perhaps there should be a new saying, “A picture inspires a thousand words.”  

“Look at you, Honeybear.  Holes in the knees of pants that have suddenly become an inch too short.  You look at me and whisper, "I'm so tired", and boy do I believe you.  Growing makes us ache.  You have started asking to hold my hand on our morning outings while baby sleeps.  You hand is still so tiny and soft and warm and it makes me remember when it was just you and me, Daddy too of course but mostly just us wandering the days away.  I miss that time with you.  When I was the witness of every wonder you had for the world.  When I didn't have to share you.  When you didn't have to share me.” Image and words by Kendra Knaggs  

“Look at you, Honeybear.  Holes in the knees of pants that have suddenly become an inch too short.  You look at me and whisper, "I'm so tired", and boy do I believe you.  Growing makes us ache.  You have started asking to hold my hand on our morning outings while baby sleeps.  You hand is still so tiny and soft and warm and it makes me remember when it was just you and me, Daddy too of course but mostly just us wandering the days away.  I miss that time with you.  When I was the witness of every wonder you had for the world.  When I didn't have to share you.  When you didn't have to share me.”

Image and words by Kendra Knaggs  

“Just another ordinary day. Up at the crack of dawn, eating your favorite breakfast-- peanut butter roll-ups (today they are in the "taco" shape) and b-meanas. You've called them b-meanas for as long as I can remember. My heart will be sad the day that they become, 'bananas'. Grace, you are flipping through a year's worth of pictures on your digital camera-- the camera that we bought you for your third birthday. You are getting more and more excited with each picture you find. I love flipping through your camera and seeing through your eyes. There are so many pictures of me. I once read somewhere that we photograph what we fear losing. Mine is you. I'm glad yours is me. Eloise, you were so mad at me this morning because I moved your chair. The two of you usually sit on the end of the table so that you aren't touching, but today your mama needed to play with the light. You keep asking Grace to show you the pictures, she does, and then takes a picture of the two of you together. I hope you are always together, side by side, thick as thieves.” Image and words by Jennifer Vidonish

“Just another ordinary day. Up at the crack of dawn, eating your favorite breakfast-- peanut butter roll-ups (today they are in the "taco" shape) and b-meanas. You've called them b-meanas for as long as I can remember. My heart will be sad the day that they become, 'bananas'. Grace, you are flipping through a year's worth of pictures on your digital camera-- the camera that we bought you for your third birthday. You are getting more and more excited with each picture you find. I love flipping through your camera and seeing through your eyes. There are so many pictures of me. I once read somewhere that we photograph what we fear losing. Mine is you. I'm glad yours is me. Eloise, you were so mad at me this morning because I moved your chair. The two of you usually sit on the end of the table so that you aren't touching, but today your mama needed to play with the light. You keep asking Grace to show you the pictures, she does, and then takes a picture of the two of you together. I hope you are always together, side by side, thick as thieves.”

Image and words by Jennifer Vidonish

“It has been approximately two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) since I have slept through the night. Pregnancy nights were filled with endless trips to the bathroom to pee, hip pain, hunger then nausea and inability to turn myself over without Dad’s gentle push to help my aching body. Newborn to 18 month nights were filled with round the clock feedings, blistered and bleeding nipples, the dreaded light-blanket at home jaundice care, kids up screaming just for no reason, and an anxious mind that questioned everything. Then until now nights have been filled with need for water, bedhead in the shadows and sleep filled eyes looking for a body to wrap yourselves around, labored breathing from the croup or plain old wakefulness. When I first got pregnant, I think a million people said to me, “Oh night time is my favorite. Enjoy it while you can. They won’t be little forever. This time goes by too fast.” Each time it was said to me I wanted to punch them in the face. But two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) later, I can see a glimmer of beauty in the night time work. There are faint shadows of moments moving through my mind of the joy instead of the pain. Hands on my tummy feeling you move, the warmth of your breath on my neck and the pressure of your tiny fingers wrapped around mine, the relief that comes over your body when I carry you back to bed after a bad dream, the sound of your sweet voice saying, “I love you too, mom.” Time can indeed heal and the gift of those memories is this kind of closeness with you.” Image and words by Rachel Wheeler  

“It has been approximately two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) since I have slept through the night. Pregnancy nights were filled with endless trips to the bathroom to pee, hip pain, hunger then nausea and inability to turn myself over without Dad’s gentle push to help my aching body. Newborn to 18 month nights were filled with round the clock feedings, blistered and bleeding nipples, the dreaded light-blanket at home jaundice care, kids up screaming just for no reason, and an anxious mind that questioned everything. Then until now nights have been filled with need for water, bedhead in the shadows and sleep filled eyes looking for a body to wrap yourselves around, labored breathing from the croup or plain old wakefulness.

When I first got pregnant, I think a million people said to me, “Oh night time is my favorite. Enjoy it while you can. They won’t be little forever. This time goes by too fast.” Each time it was said to me I wanted to punch them in the face.

But two-thousand-seven-hundred and 1 days (give or take a handful) later, I can see a glimmer of beauty in the night time work. There are faint shadows of moments moving through my mind of the joy instead of the pain. Hands on my tummy feeling you move, the warmth of your breath on my neck and the pressure of your tiny fingers wrapped around mine, the relief that comes over your body when I carry you back to bed after a bad dream, the sound of your sweet voice saying, “I love you too, mom.” Time can indeed heal and the gift of those memories is this kind of closeness with you.”

Image and words by Rachel Wheeler  

Over the course of two weeks, I quickly became enamored with the beautiful voices who came together to share their stories, their hopes and fears, and their hearts.  I look forward to keeping in touch with these students and hopefully getting peeks from time to time at the lovely stories that they are writing for themselves and those they love most.

XO,
Heather Robinson | Instructor of The Family Historian

Spotlight on...the students of Project Development & Fine Art with Deb Schwedhelm

Where do I start? What an incredible two weeks we had together and I was absolutely blown away by the dedication of these students and all that they accomplished. 

This was my first, but definitely not my last, Project Development & Fine Art course here at Illuminate. It was a jam-packed two weeks of information, sharing, learning and growing but the Illuminate platform made it so easy to follow along, discuss and ask questions. The students asked incredible questions, which sparked even deeper discussions on each day's topics. 

Towards the end of the course, the students were asked to share an assignment that they had been working on since day one, but remember it’s a two week course so they had started only 10 days prior. The series of images that the students produced inspired me on so many levels. Seriously, did I mention that I was blown away? I was! I offered each student honest and heartfelt feedback and critique -- but what impressed me so much was how dedicated they all were to working on the assignment. They were SERIOUS about this class, which made my heart so happy. So today, I want to feature a few of the students projects (but they really were all so good). Each student started working on a concept at the beginning of class and this was their resulting series, 10 days later...

Lauri Tripaldi | IMPRESSIONS OF SELF

Lauri TripaldiIMPRESSIONS OF SELF

Tricia Ramsay | FINDING HOPE

Tricia Ramsay | FINDING HOPE

Yasmeen Strang | THE TUB DIARIES

Yasmeen Strang | THE TUB DIARIES

Cindy Alvarez | RESCUE DOGS

Cindy Alvarez | RESCUE DOGS

Melissa Hogan  | THE CRACKS THAT LET LIGHT IN

Melissa Hogan  | THE CRACKS THAT LET LIGHT IN

I wanted to share a special note about Melissa and her workshop journey, which I am sharing with her permission. She emailed me on day two or three and said that she didn’t know if she could continue on, as it was just too much. We talked a bit about what was going on and strategies in moving forward. I told her that I knew she could do it, if her heart was in it. Well, she not only continued on, she did so fiercely and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Sometimes it just takes a little support and encouragement and I’m grateful that was there for her, to urge her on. 

I am absolutely honored to be able to teach, guide, share and inspire and I take my role as a teacher and mentor very seriously — each and every time. To all my students, thank you of entrusting me with your time, energy, hearts and minds; I am beyond grateful for the opportunity. I look forward to the next time!

xo,

Deb Schwedhelm | instructor of Project Development & Fine Art

Spotlight on... the students of Coming Home.

It's one thing to film documentary and lifestyle images in your own home, in a space where you feel comfortable, where you know the light inside and out and where the subjects are always readily around when an image presents itself. It's quite another thing however to walk into another person's home, not know the subjects as well, have to get familiar with the layout and light (fast) and capture that same unrehearsed, candid vibe.

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