obscure photo of a boy looking into the distance


When’s the Last Time You Created Something Magical?

Creative Portraits + Photography Class

All the Things

I knew it was going to be a good month. I signed up for a class with my favorite family photographer/artist Yan Palmer. I put myself in one of the four “hot seats” to ensure I would follow through with all the things. (The hot seat people work a bit more directly with her which means staying on the top of the work so that both of us look good!)(I didn’t want to invest in another class that I start strong but never finish.) So, I’ve been working hard, thinking new thoughts. And I’ve been trying to ensure some of the new stays in my regular routine so that I keep growing. Basically, my mind has been blown wide open.

(If you like Maggie Rogers, cue “Light On” since that is one of the main songs I’ve been listening to over the past month.)

I love taking family photos. Love it. But the photography that makes me feel something deep inside of me is typically not family photography. It is the later work of Robert Frank, my very favorite photographer (Favorite enough that when I was 22 I actually drove from Maryland to Ottawa, Canada to see a big exhibit of his and then drove from Ottawa to Mabou, Nova Scotia to check out the terrain he soaked up daily.)(Yan, don’t worry-you will not see me driving up and down your block!) It is the work of the Alchemistress and Ian Ruther, who both use old-fashioned photography techniques to make portraits and landscapes that are timeless and luminous and achingly beautiful.

Making Art

So Yan points out that I love textures and layers and repetition, and to go make some photos that with textures and layers and repetition. Duh. My brain is turning. There are several Boulder and Longmont locations I’ve always wanted to use as a backdrop to a photo shoot. I need a male model. And a 1980s-style beach chair. And a mirror and paint. Within two days, I head into Boulder with my props, pick up my male model on a cold evening, and head to the woods.

And I fail. It’s not that I am failing. It’s that I feel frustrated. I am not getting the photos that glorify lush texture, that have 10 ethereal layers in one image, and it’s freaking cold out. And my male model is getting cold. So I am frustrated.

But I like some of the photos. They are a good starting point. And, hey, didn’t Robert Frank alter the images after taking them by grouping them in different ways, scratching words on the surface, tweaking? Didn’t he turn the images into art, sometimes after the fact?

I can do that. I can take photos, print them (imagine that!), and play and explore by using my intuition and feelings. Make space for happy accidents. That’s what’s been missing for me with photography…the magic. This step that explores tangible layers and tactile objects to help create emotion or beauty. Mind blow, thanks Yan.

And now the scary part begins. What’s next?

Keep scrolling for this latest photography/art work.

add a comment

  1. Kara says:

    Love this! And love Yan! That 80s lawn chair is perfect.

  2. Jennifer K says:

    Aw HELL YEAH! This is awesome — creative energy, experimentation, learning… ART. I’ve been feeling some of this magic lately too (had a similar post last week!) and it is exhilarating. Cheers to the hot seat!

  3. Lauren says:

    I love these SO much! It’s so fun (and great for the soul) to be creative and bring our visions to life. Amazing job!!

  4. Kaela says:

    These are SO great, and I LOVE Yan! I tried to get into her class when I went to Photo Native in 2018. Way to get out of your comfort zone to push yourself!

  5. Valeria says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing. This has inspired me to be think more about what I want to accomplish creatively!

  6. Jennie Crate says:

    So cool to see you stretching yourself creatively and artistically! These are abstractly cool!

  7. CliftonMarie says:

    It’s so great that you are making creativity a priority!

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I've been photographing families professionally since 2006. I am a wife, mama to 2 boys, companion to 2 cats who are named after members of the royal British family, a former preschool teacher. I love running, hiking 14ers, sparkly clothes, the band Phish, river float trips, St. John USVI, farm CSAs, and Colorado blue skies.