daily fieldnotes

Photographing hands & babies 0

My first love in photography was babies and hands. I first got a real camera in college, a hand-me-down Pentax K1000 from my boyfriend’s mother. It came with a bag of old lenses, a little grainy but still working. I would take my nieces, then toddlers, to play in the park, for walks near my parents’ house, or out to the beach and snap away. The love of photographing hands started with my parents, both of whom work with their hands and have for their whole lives.

Taking this series of pictures recently, of friends and my husband’s hands, and my beautiful friend’s baby, made me think about my college photography days, and about how important art used to be in my life. Photography and pottery were a huge part of the end of high school and most of college for me. At one point I even considered being an art major. I dreamed of opening a studio on the coast of Northern California, with a darkroom and pottery studio.

I like where my life has taken me, but I miss doing creative work. My mother is with us for three nights this week. She has made a living with her creativity, making and selling all kinds of dolls. Whenever I am around her and her work, I am struck by how much space she occupies, spreading out in an explosion of color and sewing materials. There are piles of cotton knit doll bodies on our table right now, and bags of old sweaters sit next to a suitcase full of doll clothes in front of my desk. Crocheted hair pieces are spread out on the couch, blacks, reds, blonds, and pink for mermaids, the mohair yarn leaving hairs spread across the taupe corduroy cushions. A blue quilted, velvet mermaid tail lies on our couch, and rolls of yarn roll about on the floor. I get edgy by the disarray that seems to surround her, and found myself breathing a sigh of relief when she left for the day this morning. But I am deeply respectful of the fact that the messiness accompanies an inspiring creativity. She has built an incredible business with her creativity, making all kinds of dolls and even clothes, mixing colors and materials in ways no one has done before.

It makes me think about drawing again, doing more with my photos, or taking a pottery class. Perhaps I’ll start with a series of hands. After all my parents’ hands were one of my first inspirations in photography. Let it be messy at first, take many pictures, and see where it takes me.


How were you creative in the past? How does that connect to who you are today?

Windy Self Portrait Series 1

After three days of still heat, a once-or-twice-a-year heat spell in SF, the wind rushes over the hills this evening, tearing into treetops and bringing cool ocean air to my nostrils.  I sit outside reading a colleague’s paper for class, trying to concentrate on organizational theory and school district reform. Instead, the wind whips my hair and I am inspired to take pictures. It’s strange how self conscious I feel doing self portraits.Do I really look like that when I’m alone? But like blogging, I find creativity in it, possibility in seeing these angles of myself, unfiltered, risky.

Earlier, I did the last of the laundry from the weekend, turning socks inside out and looking wistfully at the Grand Canyon dirt still crushed in their threads, already missing the trails, the sudden views of the canyon, the happiness I feel in nature. I hope they stain, that spots of red dirt remain ground in their fibers, a reminder to go outside, hike more often.

Now the sun has fallen behind the peaks and the night air sets in. I come inside, cold now, my skin tingling and alive from the wind and cool fall air.