Category Archives: Photo Projects

Folks, The Struggle Is Real! Keeping up with a Photo Project

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I have good intentions; I really do. I promise myself that I WILL follow through on my photo-a-day project, or I will complete this on-line photography class that I paid good money for, or I will commit to taking a photograph of “something” each week.

I get a week or so into the project, and then LIFE happens. Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that happens to interrupt the routine—sickness, car trouble, appointments. You get the idea. The photography routine is interrupted, and it’s hard to pick it up again especially if the photo-a-day has not become a habit.

I’ve tried variations:  52 projects: ONE photo-a-week. Again, I do well the first couple of weeks, and then, LIFE happens.

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I started my May “Picture Spring” project on May 1. I missed one day of photographing, but that’s okay. I took the time to go into my archives and search for something to represent that day. But as I looked at last week’s photographs, I see a rut beginning to form. Flowers, blossoms, green things. . . You see where I’m going? I know the saying “April showers bring May flowers,” but honestly, flowers are not spring has to offer. I need HELP! So I anxiously wait for Tracey Clark’s class to start next Monday.

And I spent the last half hour looking at Pinterest and Google Images, looking for spring and May challenges. And I printed off a few, using my little 4 by 6 photo printer (Canon Selphy). I am going to tuck them into my May photo book as a reference.

So, how to you keep the inspiration to complete a photo-a-day project?

Jim Goldstein has a list of eleven ways to keep the momentum going in an article on the Digital Photography School website. His second tip is a good one: Always have a camera with you. Now, I tend to use my “big girl camera,” The Canon 7D with the battery grip attached (you would be amazed what people have to say about me carrying that thing around!) Most of our cell phones and smart phones have decent cameras these days, and, as you know, the best camera is the one you have with you. So, when you see something that “would make a good picture,” use that camera to make the image.

Nancy Messieh recommends taking the interesting shot. If it catches your eye, make the image. Keep your eyes open to possibilities. In addition, she advises photographers to look for inspiration from favorite photographers, from online photo galleries like Life or National Geographic, Flickr Explore, Tumblr, and other similar sites. Sometimes, trying to emulate another photographer’s techniques can project inspiration to keep going.

Here’s one I hadn’t thought of! Karthika Gupta advises photographers to be honest about why you want to do a 365 project in the first place. Having a goal will help keep you inspired. Is your goal to improve your photography? Is it to document your everyday life and routines (as well as those big events)? Having a clear goal in mind helps keep the purpose in mind.

Bethadilly offers two tips: Join a community, and share on social media. There are a LOT of 365 groups out there. A search of Flickr, Instagram, and Facebook will give you plenty of groups to choose from. Now, when I do this, I get overwhelmed! Seriously, there are thousands of 365 communities out there! Being part of a community holds you accountable, as does committing to share on social media, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Tumblr or Flickr. (There is a drawback to sharing: I get caught up in looking for “likes,” and if I don’t have any, then I wonder how I “failed” with that image.)

Bethadilly suggests one more thing: Use your daily photography to practice a skill or technique or to use a specific piece of gear. I admit that I am “gear crazy.” I love to mess with lenses and new camera gadgets. In fact, you may be like me; you have a piece of camera gear in your bag right now that you rarely, if ever use. I love my Lensbaby Composer Pro with the sweet 35 optic and the double optic. I have the macro kits—the filters as well as the attachments. I even have the wide angle attachments for the Lensbaby, which I have not used. Maybe it’s time to practice.

My December 2013 Instagram challenge was popular so I thought I'd make one for May 2014 - feel free to share/repost. IG: ladydyhanara:

Several writers suggest making inspiration lists. You can download and print lists to tuck into your camera bag, or you can write your own. The thing is they recommend having a “plan” of some sort.

Right now, I’m finding “Spring” is a bit broad. I am going to look at my lists and these tips to see how I can push myself further both in terms of subject, storytelling, and technique to keep up my short-term photo-a-day project. Oh, having my little mini-album already made is helping as well as keeping it “front and center.” When I pick it up to page through it, I can see the blank pages that need to be filled.

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By the way, the noisy birds fighting over space at the feeders inspired today’s “Picture Spring” photo. I haven’t downloaded them yet.

How will you kick your 365 project up a notch this week?

Spring Has Sprung—Weekend Wrapup

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Definitely spring has sprung in South Carolina. Thankfully, the worst of the pollen season has passed, although there is still a lot of pollen in the air. The May flowers are beginning to bloom. Mornings are still cool, often cool enough or light sweaters and shawls, but the afternoons are beginning to predict the summer heat to come. Days of sunshine and white clouds follow days of gray. Birds serenade me in the mornings; flashes of color streak by the living room window.  And the good old Southern humidity is beginning to rear its head.

Spring has sprung.

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(Week 1 Picture Spring Collage, made with the Collage Maker app at www.befunky.com)

My intention photographically for May and into June is to “Picture Spring.” Later in the month, I will be following along with Tracey Clark in her signature Picture Spring course, but I wanted to get a head start—to prime the pump as it were, to jumpstart creativity again. After the business of Aaron’s wedding in April and the long weeks of bronchitis and recovery from that, I had not felt creative at all, and it was showing, not only in my photography, but also in other areas. However, setting this intention over the past weekend, getting out the camera to discover that I had ONE bar left on the battery supply icon (and my chargers were nowhere to be found. . . . ). I managed to get through most of the week on that one bar! Thankfully, the new dual battery chargers arrived on Thursday, and I am good to go now! Fully charged, and as my young politician says, “fired up”.

In addition to making the photographs, I am also printing some out and collecting them in a handmade album. Thanks to the advice from one of the wonderful ladies who work for Michaels, I made the cover from a thin piece of mat board. The pages of the signatures are kraft cardstock, and I used the coptic binding stitch to put the books together. I covered the matboard with patterned scrapboook paper that I had in my stash and embellished with die cuts from my Cricut. I am using a variety of papers and tags and lace and whatever is in my stash to embellish the pages. Each page is dated (I will not say whether I actually made the image on that day or not. . . . ). At the end of the course, I will have a record of Spring 2017.untitleduntitled-3untitled-11untitled-13untitled-14untitled-15untitled-16untitled-17untitled-18untitled-19

Thursday Thanksgiving—Picture Spring

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There are some days that are just made for giving thanks, and today is one of them. The meteorologists in our area are calling today an Alert Day because we will probably have some kind of severe weather this afternoon. Right now, it’s breezy and partly cloudy. The sun peeps out every once and a while, just to let me know it’s still there behind the light gray clouds.

I ran outside this morning for just a little bit to get some images of some of the wild things blooming. I think I am resigned to the fact that I am not a gardener. It’s not that I have brown or black thumbs; I certainly don’t kill everything I plant, but I have no sense of gardening. But I do love beautiful flower gardens. I could (almost) live in a botanical garden—if it weren’t for this thing called pollen.

Saturday, I stopped at a newly relocated, reopened garden shop and bought some tomato, pepper, and herb plants as well as some flowers to put in my planter by the bird feeders—red ones, orange, dark blue. I can look out my living room window and see them, bright and colorful, joyfully bobbing their heads in the wind.

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I wonder how many children today can boast that they sucked the honey out of honeysuckle flowers. I know I did when I was a child, and I showed my own children how to do that as well. I wonder what the health professionals would say about doing that. What kind of diseases did I open myself up to by sipping that sweet nectar? I remember standing before those vines with my cousins Virginia, Franklin, and Janet, and my sister Elaine, picking the flowers, pinching off the ends, and sucking the nectar. I almost pulled a few this morning to do that very thing. I hope I haven’t gotten too old to enjoy simple pleasures.

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This morning, one of my sons sent me a face book message early with good news. It is always such a joy to know that my children still want to share their news with me.

During this month, my project is to make images of spring. I will be sharing these images off and on. I am also collecting prints in a handmade journal. I will probably be posting some images of the journal and describing the techniques I used later on. I’m still in the assembling stage.

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Picture Spring

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What does spring look like in your part of the Northern Hemisphere? I have to be careful because I have friends in various social media groups who live in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s winter there.

Today is a kind of stormy looking day. I do hear a bit of thunder now and again, but so far, the day is just cloudy. The jasmine has bloomed, as have the blackberries. I see the honeysuckle, though. My roses are blooming as well. The trumpet vine is not as colorful as it was two weeks ago. Everything is green.

It sounds kind of funny to start a Picture Spring project in May, but that’s going to be my focus this month in my personal photography. I want to look more closely at what spring looks like here in my corner of the world.

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I will be doing some of my own prompts while I take on this project, but I will also be following Tracey Clark’s Picture Spring class. I have taken Tracey’s classes before when she taught through Big Picture Classes, and she is inspiring. I am looking forward to starting on May 15.

It has been hard to get out to photography this past month. It has been incredibly busy as we had Aaron’s wedding on April 1. I still have to go through the CDs of pictures they sent me and choose the ones I want to use in an album so I can show my beautiful daughter and handsome son. Then, no sooner than I get home from the wedding, I get sick with bronchitis and sinusitis. I am still coughing, and having some issues, so getting out with the camera to walk has not been easy.

Hopefully, May will be better. I will go out and start to photograph spring. And, of course, I will mess around with Photoshop and Topaz and the various textures and overlays that I’ve accumulated. It will be a time to create more art.

I will also be putting together a new course on Teachable.com that combines writing and photography. Look for more information about it in the coming weeks.

Words on Wednesday

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I struggle with “branding.” I struggle with naming things. I took the easy way out when I had a photography business. I just used my first and middle given names, partly as tributes to my two grandmothers for whom I am named. Mama and Daddy gave me my grandmothers’ middle names.

Then I had to name my blog. And I thought and thought. I ended up with Telling Stories because I believe that our stories need to be told—the good ones, the bad ones, the funny ones, the embarrassing ones, and even the tragic ones. We have to tell our stories.

I use words and images.

Whether it’s because I am in the last year of my fiftieth decade (next year I will be sixty), or whether it’s because people I always believed would be around forever are passing away, or what, I am thinking about stories. Every so often I purchase one month of Ancestry.com to dig more into my family’s history. I have discovered through the stories my parents have told me, and my grandparents, that I have great-great-great-great-etc.-grandparents and –uncles who fought in the American Revolution, the War between the States (aka the War of Northern Aggression), and every war through the Vietnam war. My father is a World War II veteran who was drafted near the end of the war and trained to serve in the Pacific theater. However, a week before he graduated boot camp the Japanese surrenders, and his ordered changed. He was sent to serve in occupation Germany with the peace-keeping forces. My mother’s younger brothers were drafted during the Vietnam era, but neither of them went to Vietnam. Uncle Lee served in Spain.

While I was poking around in Ancestry.com Sunday night, I found the family tree that my first cousin is putting together. I asked if I could access her tree, and she graciously invited me in. She had uploaded the most wonderful picture of my maternal grandmother.

Gramma Wessinger when she was really young!

Grandma, Georgia Olivia Helmley Wessinger, was born in Rincon, Georgia, the thirteenth of thirteen children. She had nephews older than she was! (Can you imagine that in happening in 2017?) She learned to make tatting when she was six years old from the school teacher who boarded with her family. Grandma tatted until she could not longer see the fine thread and knots she made with her shuttle. Her work was gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful! When I was growing up, my sister, and later my brother, and I would spend a week with Gramma and Granddaddy. During those summer weeks, I don’t think I ever saw her wear anything but cotton print shirtwaist dresses, even when she went out to work in the garden in the mornings. And she never wore blue jeans! My other grandmother wore long pants and pedal pushers when she worked out in the yard, just like my mama. But never Granma!

So, who is that pretty young lady in the picture? That is my grandmother when she was single, living in Rincon, in the 1920’s. One of the stories told about her is that she drove the car for her pastor because both he and his wife were elderly. One day, he wanted to take his brothers and sisters to Tybee Beach in Savannah. His nephew had driven his aunts and uncles to visit their brother. When it came time to go to Tybee, the pastor, as was his habit, asked Georgia to drive one of the cars as there were too many to fit in one vehicle. Well, Frank Wessinger was one put-out young man. He fussed about his uncle inviting “that old girl” to drive!

In January 1930, Georgia Olivia Helmley became Mrs. James Franklin Wessinger. Frank married “that old girl,” and they lived happily for almost fifty-one years. Granddaddy passed away in January 1981, a few days before their fifty-first anniversary. Those fifty years were not without sadness. They lost their second child, a boy named Henry, who had been born with hydrocephalus. Granddaddy was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1979. He was in remission when he died.

I wish now that I knew more stories about the young Georgia.

This is why it is so important to tell the stories. I hope that you will discover the stories of your family. You might find an unexpected flapper in your family!

ReFrame: The Thin Places

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Last week, I was reminded of the Celtic spiritual practice of abiding in thin places where heaven and Earth feel closer. I felt a tugging, and then a pull, and finally a yank that left my eyes spinning in my head. I spent the weekend researching thin places and started digging into the Celtic Christian tradition (such a very different expression of faith from the American tradition, I have to say), and the research is nowhere near complete.

Then, I opened my big mouth, or rather let my fingers run away with themselves before I could put the brakes on, and suggested to one of my favorite Facebook groups that there should be a curriculum developed around the theme of thin places. One of the members told me to “go for it.”

Gulp.  That was not the expected response. I wanted someone else to say, “sure, I’ll do that” or “I’ll be glad to help you.”

Be careful when you choose a word for the year. You might be asking for more than you planned.

Here I was—practically DARED to write the course. So, I began. I took notes on my reading. I drew little cluster maps. I drafted. And I researched more.

I am ready to say that I am launching the draft today in a closed Facebook group called ReFrame: The Thin Places. The plan is to issue invitations each week during February with some kind of reflection on the theme of thin places and the sense of place along with an invitation to creative response, whether it is photography or writing or something else. Based on the feedback, I am hoping to create a more “permanent” kind of course that could be marketed (something else I have to learn).

But for now, I am living the dare. And that’s what’s important.

Photo Project Update

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I am not a 365 person. . . . I can do a P52, though, so I’m modifying my goals to a P52. I can pick up the camera for at least one day of photography.

I have a couple of things I am working on—Kim Manley Ort’s “Adventures in Seeing—The Book” and Emma Davies’ “A Year with My Camera.” These are guiding some of the technical aspects of my photography. In addition, I draw prompts from Katrina Kennedy’s CY365 and Denise Love’s P52 prompt list. As you can see, I pick and choose. By establishing these guidelines for myself, I take the pressure off. Committing to at least one day of photography a week is doable, and it removes the “guilt” when I miss a day. Being open to a number of ideas also takes away guilt.

In addition, I’m committing to a “theme” this year. At first, I planned to focus on a year around the ponds here behind the house, but yesterday, while walking through Dreher Island State Park, I decided that perhaps I can expand the idea to “Beside the Waters”—not just the waters of the ponds, but to other places where water is important: Lake Murray, the coastal creeks around the Bennetts Point area, mountain creeks, Broad River. You get the idea. (I wonder if this fascination with water and the affinity with it is because I was born under the sign of Pisces?)

A question people often have about photo projects is what to do with the photographs. I have been a scrapbooker for a good many years, but have gotten out of the habit. I don’t make elaborate layouts as I did when the boys were at home and I was keeping a family scrapbook. Now, I tend to make mini-albums. And I am created one for the month of Janusary. I have a Canon Selphy 1200 printer to print out 4 by 6 prints here at home. It’s a wireless printer, which makes it portable. And, IF my phone would connect to WiFi (It’s supposed to, and it did “once upon a time”), I could even print images taken with my camera phone. I use the BeFunky online photo editor and collage maker to make photo collages. Sometimes I use the 4 by 6 print, and sometimes, I cut the collage into smaller pieces. Then I simply glue them into my January mini-album. I’m working on dating each page of photographs. At some point I will add some journaling, whether I write directly on the page or use a tag or journaling card to tuck into one of the envelopes I created when I made the album.

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While some of my pages are “daily”, for the most part, I’ve kept to the P52 idea (at least one photograph a week). When I finish this book, I will start one for February.