Guilt {from vision to voice}


If you have any questions, or if there is a particular image you’d like me to discuss next time, let me know! Comments and discussion here or on my Facebook Page are always welcome! This image... Oh, is it personal and near to my heart. A lot of thought went into creating this image, and I feel a bit naked sharing it here. I took it while in the middle of a "5 images a day for 5 days" challenge - you may have seen it going around Facebook. The idea is to capture your everyday moments. To bring attention to the little things, to bridge the many miles that separate many of us who have developed strong friendships online based on photography. While in the middle of it, I was having SO much fun editing everything in color, and thinking about what my life actually looks like from my eyes. It felt free and real and just fun. But on the last day, I wanted to capture bath and bedtime, and in the midst of my lighthearted images, this one came to me.


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I was in the bathroom, giving my girls a bath. The baby, Anna, kept standing up and reaching for me, and her normally sweet sister, Ella, kept pushing her down. I rolled my eyes, like the wonderful mother I am, and kept telling Ella to knock it off. I was tired. Not sad tired, but just end of the day tired. And I saw a look, for just a moment, in my oldest child's eyes. A look that made me think of when it was just her and I. When I rarely yelled, when I was patient, when I felt like there was plenty of me to go around.

And then the guilt hit me - the guilt that I have wrestled with for the last year. I know that giving Ella a sister is one of the best things we could have done for her. And Anna completes our little family in a way that I can't describe. But still, there is that guilt. That there is only one of me, but two of them. That the baby tends to scream louder, and therefore often gets my attention before Ella does. That they both need me in their own ways, but that I am only human and there are so many days I fail.

And in all that, I found this image. I wanted to take a picture that showed that small sense of guilt I have, underneath the overwhelming feelings of being blessed and so full and content my heart can hardly stand it.  The conflicting emotions of motherhood.

My bathroom is small and narrow, but it has good light and a mirror that with some angling and post-editing work, I can usually work with pretty nicely. I shot this image purposely underexposed, I wanted the highlights on the baby to catch your eye, and tell you that she was important. I also wanted there to be elements in the frame that lead you just as strongly to Ella in the background. When I edited this image, I purposely kept the frame on the left a diagonal, to match the diagonal that the baby legs create, that point you right down to Ella. Those diagonals also create a strong triangle in this image. Both those strong diagonals, and the bright highlights on the baby, should fight for your eye equally well - representing how both girls take my attention. It should create a bit of tension. You want to stay looking at the baby, who is in focus and appears to be the primary subject, but yet those strong diagonals should keep you looking down at Ella, who is darker and smaller and out of focus, yet is actually the primary subject.


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A little editing, mostly dodging and burning to help lead your eye, and you have an image that should speak of the end of a tired, happy day, but also of the guilt so many of us mothers feel:


Don’t underestimate the power of having a vision, and understanding the visual language of photographs, and how you can manipulate those things, with intention, to SAY something with your work. Having an understanding of not just how to compose an image, or use light, or movement, but how to manipulate those things as a tool for communication? That is when photographs are elevated to something deeper and more meaningful.


Many photographers are drawn to the craft as a means to express their creativity and artistic vision, but are unsure as to what their photographic voice is, or how it comes across to viewers of their work. In my workshop, Voice & Visual Intent, we’ll spend time learning techniques to identify and manipulate photographic devices and elements, and help you build confidence in yourself as an artist. You’ll come out of the workshop with a better understanding of how to strengthen the creative and emotional intent of your work. I’d love for you to join us during the next run!