Category : B&W

I’m still playing catch-up here at Life Refocused, working my way through our summer adventures to share with you. A few short days after returning from the Tribe retreat, Tony and I headed off to Spain and France for three weeks! I had been accepted to present my research at a conference in Paris, and as we had just been to the City of Light in 2012, we were very excited to return to one of our favorite cities on the planet. My motto is if you’re going to travel that far and spend that much money to get there, you may as well stay for as long as you can and get the most bang for your proverbial Euro. That’s where Spain came in.

We flew into Madrid, but only spent 24 hours there before heading south to Sevilla. I won’t even go into the massive debacle that unfolded for our traveling companions. Suffice it to say, your passport actually expires, for all intents and purposes, six months PRIOR to the printed expiration date. Given the distractions of how to get our friend’s passport issues sorted and agonizing about how this would effect our travel plans, very few photos got taken in Madrid. Thankfully, the passport dilemma got solved with help from the literal powers that be, our friend arrived in Madrid with only 24 hours delay, and off to Sevilla we went.

I have many friends who have traveled to Sevilla, and all of them simply rave about this town. Having never been there myself, I was very much looking forward to seeing what all the hype was about. It is a charming place, particularly the old town which is where we spent our three days.

We visited the Alcázar of Seville, where I found one of the loveliest sitting spots…

Seville Bench_rs

and on to the famous and immense Plaza de España…

Plaza Espana_rsAs recommended by the New York Times, La Azotea was our favorite dinner spot…

Tony Mike Azotea_rsIt’s a small space, but we quickly befriended everyone at the bar and enjoyed a bottle of wine and olives as we waited for a table…

Wine-Bottle-Azotea_rsAnd chef/owner Juan Antonio Gómez made us feel welcome in addition to serving us incredible food…

Azotea Chef_rsLast, the beauty of the city isn’t just captured on film…

Woman Sketching_Seville_rsOur time in Sevilla was a great kick-off to the trip. Next up, Barcelona.

All images shot using my Canon AE-1 camera on Tri-X 400 film, scanned by Indie Film Lab. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger format.


Monday, September 15th, 2014 0
Posted in: B&W, Canon AE-1, Film, Travel

In my last post, I shared my new love affair with black and white film. The affair is still in full bloom with no signs of fading. I also hinted about a photo shoot with my Tribe sister, Melissa. For her amazing, year-long Project Adventure, Melissa decided she wanted portraits of herself taken in an intimate photo shoot. I was flattered and humbled when she asked me to be the photographer behind the lens. Before meeting up in Oregon for our retreat and the backdrop for this photo shoot, we compared notes about ideas for shots and made our respective packing lists: Melissa’s for wardrobe and mine for photo gear. I knew I wanted to primarily shoot film for these photos of Melissa, so I brought along three film cameras — Polaroid 195, Polaroid SLR680, and Canon AE-1 — and lots of film for each.

Rather than do the photo shoot all at one time, Melissa and I found ourselves allowing some space and freedom for these photos to emerge over the few days we had together. This gave us room to experiment with different locations, various lighting, and divergent moods. It also let us have some fun with costume changes. More importantly, giving ourselves the time to spread the shoot over a few days let us learn that pushing or forcing a photo session when something feels off or isn’t quite vibe-ing does not make for good portraits.

Fuji3000b_Melissa_Free-People_rsSince I’ve been immersed in self-portraiture for the past year, taking portraits of Melissa also let me hone skills I haven’t used in quite some time. I got to work through posing Melissa and positioning myself for good angles. This included working collaboratively to find the sweet spot of what I wanted as a photographer and what felt good to Melissa in her body.

Fuji3000b_Melissa_Bed1_rsI practiced how to talk with Melissa during the photo shoot. This might sound odd — she’s one of my best friends, after all — but making someone feel at ease while having her portrait taken is harder than it seems. It’s especially hard when using a rangefinder or other manually-focused cameras, as the process of shooting a photo becomes more of an ordeal, taking longer to get proper focus. Additionally, I became more aware of my own discomfort when taking the time to focus properly with these old-school cameras. I noticed how I start to rush myself out of concern that the person I’m shooting is getting annoyed or uncomfortable waiting for me to get my focus and position settled. This rushing is definitely not good for my process, and I was able to recognize and begin to work it out during our time together.

Fuji3000b_Melissa_Hotel Chair_rsBest of all, I learned how totally fun a portrait session can be! I’m so used to shooting self-portraits and being alone during the process, I had forgotten the joy it brings me to create photos of someone else who is equally invested and into the session. Despite me being behind the lens and she in front of it, Melissa and I felt like a team. I think that collaborative spirit comes through in these images and makes these photos that much better.

Fuji3000b_Melissa_Curtain_rsMelissa was so open, so vulnerable, allowing me to really see her. I feel like I was able to capture her beauty — inside and out — in an authentic way. I hope she feels the same. I’m so grateful Melissa wanted to do a portrait session and that she selected me from the many talented photographers with whom she works in the wedding and film industry. It was truly my pleasure and honor.

All of the photos shown here were shot with my Polaroid 195 camera and Fuji 3000B film. This last photo makes me swoon. Shooting this film and seeing these portrait results breaks my heart that this film was recently discontinued. Melissa is sharing many more photos and her experience of being on the other side of the lens over at The Long Haul Project. Check it out HERE.


Monday, September 8th, 2014 15

I have so much to share about summer that does not include near-death experiences and losing photos. Where to begin… June brought our annual Tribe retreat and travel to my favorite place on the planet. This year’s gathering, our fourth, brought with it inevitable life circumstances that kept two of our sisters from joining us. Turns out, you can’t plan around arrivals of babies and new jobs. We held these sisters in spirit during our time together, much like we did the year previous when a death in the family kept another sister away from our sacred time. I imagine that this will be how our years together get marked, with the life events, the ebbs and flows, that etch our memories.

Manzanita_rsAs always, we engaged in deep conversations, catching one another up on the big events and the smaller whispers that had transpired since we last gathered. Although we keep in regular contact throughout the year, many parts of our lives — our longings, the risks we’ve taken, the transitions we’ve weathered — need to be shared with one another in person with more time and space to hold our stories. Connecting and being together in this way on retreat is such a gift. And with that, the documenting of our time in photos and video took a backseat.

Footprints_rsThe only real photography plans I had for the trip was a photo shoot Melissa and I had been scheming — much more on that later. These plans, however, did encourage me to pack along some black and white film to shoot with my Canon AE-1. I adore the look and feel of black and white photography, but had only really shot true B&W film with my Polaroids cameras.

Rebecca_rsLet’s just say, I have a new love. I think I’ve fallen down the black and white film rabbit hole. And that is totally okay with me.

Melissa Beach2_rsAll images shot using Tri-X 400, scanned by Indie Film Lab. As always, you can click on each image to see a larger format.


Monday, September 1st, 2014 8

It’s the 10th, and while our group missed last month, we’re riffing again. Rather than a photo to prompt our riffing this round, we decided to use a word to get our creative juices flowing. The wicked funny Cherish (hey — wait a second — she got to pick our photo to riff from last time!) chose the word “go” for us to get our riff on.

I had a number of ideas swimming around when Cherish first selected “go.” And then, time seemed to go, literally slipping out of my hands as I went to Colorado for a week to work on my book, and then had a crazed work-week when I returned. Now I’m off again to Oregon, my happy place. Seems that my version of “go” is me — I’m on the GO. You know why? Because SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER!

Processed with VSCOcam with x3 presetAnd with that, I’m gonna GO!

Hop over to Corrina’s site to see her version of GO. It’s a sweet and profound one.


Tuesday, June 10th, 2014 5

I’ve been a bit stingy in revealing my photographs from 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits. As many of you likely know, I’m working on a book that includes this body of work. Because I want the book to showcase these self-portraits, I’ve been reluctant to share them all here on my website. It feels like it would ruin the surprise of the book. At the same time, I do want you and others to be interested in the book and wanting to see the rest. I’ve got to pique your interest, right?

In that vein, I decided to share two new self-portraits for Day 4 of ‘Roid Week. These are some of my very favorite photos that I’ve been holding back…

PX70_CP_Day174_Open Road Full Body_rs

600 BW_Day301_Queen_rsSharing more of my work from 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits makes me more and more excited to work on my ideas for the book, and to get it out there. And I really hope it piques your interest and leaves you wanting that book!


For Day 2 of ‘Roid Week, I decided to share two self-portraits. I selected one color photo and one black and white, and also chose two images shot with two different cameras.

First, I unveiled a new photo from my 365 Impossible Self-Portraits project. Although I did share this image a few weeks ago here at Life Refocused for a photo riff, I hadn’t shared it on Flickr, making it acceptable for ‘Roid Week. This is one of those photos that I like more and more as time goes by.

600-BW_Hide-Eyes_Inverted_rsNext, I shared a double exposure that I shot with my “new” baby, the Polaroid 195 camera. The lilacs were in full bloom a few weeks ago and I jumped at the chance to try a double exposed self-portrait with those lilacs and the brilliant Fuji 100C film.

Fuji100C_Double-Exp-Lilacs-Self_rsThe Flickr pool is already filled with so many stunning photos. I hope you do click over and check out the amazing images from the instant photography community.


Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 3

It’s ‘Roid Week 2014, friends! All week (which I hear is the first of two for this year!), instant photographers around the globe share in their love of this photography medium. All the action takes place over on Flickr where photographers are allowed to post two photos per day to the group pool for this extravaganza of instant film worship. Many people have “saved up” photos just for this very week because everything that gets posted during ‘Roid Week has to be never-before-shared photographs. The images that photographers post in this community are truly is a feast for the eyes. The pool has only been open for a few hours, and I am already blown away by what my fellow instant photographers are sharing.

Here are my first two instant photographs to share for this year’s ‘Roid Week. First, a portrait of the incredible Corinna from my trip to Tofino with my photography sisters

PX600_blackframe_Corinna_rsAnd second, a dreamy scene from The Fat Radish in NYC from my visit there a few weeks ago…

Exp600_Fat-Radish-Vingette_rsIf you’re sharing your photos for ‘Roid Week 2014, I’d love to see them. Please share links to your photos in the comments! WOOT! Happy ‘Roid Week, friends! xoxo


Monday, May 19th, 2014 0

It’s the 10th of the month and it’s time for some photo riffing! This month, the talented and wicked funny Cherish Bryck gave us our photo prompt, challenging us to riff off the following image she recently shot…

Cherish RiffGiven I’m in the very last days of shooting my 365 IMPOSSIBLE Self-Portraits, I knew I would riff in a self-portrait. I actually had already developed a similar idea to this photo that I wanted to shoot, so Cherish’s photo prompt gave me the exact push to execute the following photo…

600-BW_Hide-Eyes_Inverted_rsThe “original” image is actual inverted, but I fell more in love with it when I rotated it 180 degrees. Sometimes a turn in perspective is just what a photo — and ourselves — needs.

Head on over to Tamar’s site to see her version of this month’s photo riffing.