Sunday, April 19, 2009

photography and me

Mary Nanna keeps asking about how I learned to take photos, and I wasn't being cagey in not answering, but I have been thinking about how I would answer.

Well, OK, here it comes. I was a professional transfer student during my undergrad years. I have plotted my five various schools on a Google Map, which took me to both coasts and in the middle too. Along the way I studied Russian language and literature (but I never actually really wanted to go there) and also art. I did two years at the #3 spot on my map (Greenfield Community College), which had a lovely and small and really good art department, and got all my foundation courses out of the way. During this time, I took some photography classes and liked telling visual stories. But I really loved woodblock printmaking.

After this wonderful start, I went on to School of the Art Institute of Chicago to continue with my printmaking interests. Art school (at both schools) was great---so amazing to be surrounded by all that talent! But during the year I was there, I took a 3-D design class and a performance art class that sort of cemented what I already knew from the previous two years of art school: that words were always part of my best work. My work was always narrative and incorporated words.

(And then, the best surprise: In the spring, I became pregnant with Jonas and DIDN'T HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN THE FALL. It was what I had always wanted all along.)

Much as I was happy to learn things (officially and about myself) along the way, I always knew that really, I needed to be a mom before I would know my direction. This was not really in the program for me (white, middle class, daughter of educated parents) though and I felt a little pushed to just go someplace and study anything. Which I did. But I always tell my story to parents because I think it's important that they encourage their children to consider other options like travel or internships or just plain old work, before college.

So back to Mary Anna's question: Where did I learn how to take pictures?

Part of it is all that art training. Part of it is that I am observant to the world around me. And inspired by beauty and good light. Part of it is that I read your blogs that have photos that inspire me and give me ideas for composition and lighting. And part of it is that I am taking many more photos now, with this blog, and through practice there are necesarily more pictures that are good ones. So this blog has, without me realizing it, become a place for me to express myself through the photographic medium as well.

My camera is a Sony Cybershot H-10, if you care. I like it a lot, especially the "action" setting (good for boys who are fast-moving) and the macro setting (good for close-ups).

(Um, if you're wondering about these photos: I took them in the reflection of the window through the winterizing plastic that was covering it.)


  1. Thanks Iris.. I do love your photography, it's so inspiring, and very beautiful.

  2. Ha! Good to read that I'm not the only one wondering what I shall become when I grow up (uhm - I'll be forty next year). As my 'about' indicates, I have an undergraduate art education, I am a certified massage therapist, and hold a Master in religious studies. Right. The perfect match, wouldn't you say? ;)
    I earn my living as a massage therapist (running a clinic with my husband, who is an acupuncturist); miss my university days, as diving into intellectual analyzis is such a big part of who I am; and am happy that I didn't make it to 'The Big Art School'. Creativity is in all aspects of my life anyway, and that makes me content.
    Btw, I really like those photos!

  3. Oh my gosh, you punked me!

    I thought you took those photos and then made them all blurry in photoshop or some such thing, but no...

    You gotta love the low-tech!

    Lovely photos, Iris.



  4. Any interest in uploading to Flickr? There are so many users and groups there in which to participate or simply observe, something of a virtual photography club, in my mind. I learn a little more each day by visiting and studying what photographers do with color, composition and subject. I've used it to keep track of all my sewing and cooking blog images, but now a friend has convinced me to try 365, a photo a day. Feels hard for me at times because I have a quiet life and no children. But, I like the challenge. Anyway, just a thought! You've so much to contribute. But, it has to feel comfortable.


  5. about the camera ... i used to catch great expressions on my kids with our old camera (now broken). Current digital way too slow. how's your new one in that dept.

  6. My new one is pretty quick, but it is not an SLR. As I said, when hoping to capture those in-motion shots, like the one I took of Sylvan jumping in this post:, I use the action setting and have great success when outdoors (where the action usually happens!)

    I checked into a Consumer Reports edition about digital cameras, and since my price range was not SLR, I looked hard for the specific term to describe the lag-time factor. The term was "shutter lag" or "shutter response time."

    Hope this helps!