A Song and a Self Portrait

“I wanna be the boy who lived
But never have no trust to give
I must admit through busted lips
I’ve sunken ships and rusted bridges
Cut slow to the quick
And lost myself to split decisions
Multiply by my divisions
Round down for the placement
Who’s he?
Just me
Alone in that basement
Why don’t you tell ’em about the loneliness?”

-Flobots

 

 

 

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I’ve seen fear-mongering in action. And I’ve seen how well it works.

The media uses fear to control the population everyday. (like you didn’t already know that)

And with that idea ruminating around in my brain I thought I’d give fear-mongering a try. Because #suicideisstupid and if these awful, ugly images can stay your hand for even a day, then I will be happy.

Suicide is not beautiful. It’s not poetic. ITS UGLY. It’s coughing, and snot and blood and loss of respect. It’s split flesh. It’s stains on the floor. It’s the cold side of the bed that used to be warm. Its pissing on yourself.

It’s how you will be remembered.

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#suicideisstupid

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I confer a lot with my twelve year old on what’s hip, and what’s not.

Did you know that fresh actually means cool?

And did you know that tide pods actually taste like candy?

I sure didn’t.

So I asked my three daughters if they wanted to jump on the bandwagon of craft store photoshoots and they squealed with ear piercing glee.

Huh, who knew following the latest trends would make me the “Cool Mom”. 

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So off we went to Joann craft store.

I can see the allure of this type of shoot, and why the idea went viral. The lighting inside these giant craft stores are utterly terrible: fluorescent, flickering, dull, rage inducing. So the challenge is high to get shots that are exposed correctly, sharp focused, etc.

It’s also fun to “steal” these floral backdrops for a few minutes and then leave the store without actually buying anything. 

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I paid my twelve year old the sum of $5 to follow me around with my backup Nikon so I could clip together some shaky, yet useable, footage of this shoot.

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Enjoy Peons.

And here are the rest of the edited shots from this shoot:

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This is a birth story.

But this is NOT a story about giving birth.

We’ve all read a million blogs telling first hand accounts of their birth story’s. Contractions. Water breaks. Contractions. Pushing. Pushing. Contractions. Fart. Hemorrhoid. Baby. Tears. 

This is not one of THOSE birth story’s.

I mean, yes, all of that did happen……technically. But this story is a first hand account of birth from the other side (which I found much more enjoyable to be honest).

It all started the day before Katherine went into labor. We squeezed a short maternity shoot into our hectic schedules. We laughed through the whole shoot, and even harder and longer at the “unusables“. We laughed for over an hour.

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I still maintain that Katty laughed herself into labor because she went into active labor the next day.

I met her at her house around three where she was laboring at home for as long as she could. She kept saying  “I don’t think this is really it. You should go home

But I knew. I knew from the way she breathed, the white knuckled grip, the arching back; I wouldn’t be going home.

So I meandered around her house for the next seven hours, we ate beef stew and played dominoes. (I told her in a few hours she would be enjoying the stew again via vomit).

I encouraged Katty to walk around her house, to enjoy the quiet, the tidiness, the peace. Because her house would never again feel so empty.

She disappeared for a while, likely overwhelmed by the rush of emotions. There is always a moment when it feels like your world is crumbling around you. You know your whole life is about to be different. You know it’s too late to go back. It’s scary. And it’s overwhelming. But it’s also necessary. And when she needed a moment alone, to wrap herself in the realization that THIS was actually it, we left her alone.

Let’s fast forward to 10:00pm when Katherine decided it was time to head to the hospital.  I got lost on the way. I do that. When I showed up Katty was dilated to a 5.

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There is such a different atmosphere in birthing rooms, such a stark difference to the aura of sadness and anxiety that envelopes the rest of the hospital. Birthing rooms buzz with excitement and promise. I walked into Katherine’s room and a flood of memories washed through me. This was familiar. I’d done this before (Three times), and this time I didn’t have to be in pain. Can I get a Hallelujah?!

 

Still, as familiar as I was with the whole process, I had never experienced it from the other side before. I wasn’t prepared to be knocked on my ass by humility. I wasn’t prepared to feel frightened and inspired by Katherine’s pain. I wasn’t prepared to discover a whole new definition for “Awe”. But indeed I did.

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It was almost like a car accident. You want to turn away but you don’t want to miss anything.

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It was hard to watch. We all breathed with her during contractions and, in fact, I clenched with her as rode out the waves of pain. I started getting cramps before I realized what I was doing and mentally kicked myself in the shin.

Katherine rode the Pain Train for hour after hour. Andrew alternated between rubbing her back and letting her hang on him for support. Such a lovely team.

Although, we all kept wondering how Andrew could look so damn perfect and be so damn chipper.

He was practically vibrating with excitement.

Katherine….not so much.

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At this point we were all exhausted (except for Andrew who couldn’t sit still). It’s actually extremely hard to watch someone go through so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. Katherine’s mom, my aunt Teresa, had a grimace of pain in every picture. It made me wonder if I would be the same way if I were in her position and it was MY daughter giving birth. Teresa was there when I was born, helping my mother the same way she helped Katherine. I’d never seen my Auntie so quiet, offering the comfort and assistance that she couldn’t verbally. It was beautiful to watch; A night of action, not words.

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Things went from 0-60 real quick after the nurse told us that Katherine was fully dilated. Suddenly our weary bones perked up, the exhaustion left and it was time to rock and roll.

Thinking back to my own births, I didn’t remember being such a bad-ass. I mean, I’m sure I was, but I wasn’t concentrating on anything else but getting the damn parasite out of me. Looking at Katherine, gathering her remaining strength to push over and over and over, made me realize the strength of us women. We are awesome! We were built for this purpose, our bodies know how to take us through to the end.

As Spock would say “Fascinating”.

I wasn’t silent for the whole thing. My mantra for the night was “Katty stop holding your breath”. I may have said that 52 times that night. And then I shut up. Because she didn’t need me anymore, or Andrew or her Mom. I watched Katherine’s instincts take over, watched her body flow through the moves that billions of women had done before her. She had this.

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There were a lot of firsts that night, and I stood there humbled as we all experienced them together, in our own way. My plan was to take a picture of the clock on the wall, the minute Prestyn was born. But as I panned over I caught Andrews first moment seeing his daughter’s face.

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I often told Katty that there is no pain like the pain of pushing out your baby…..

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……and there is no moment quite like the moment you first see your baby. You only get to experience it once. The moment of awe.

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And the “We did it” moment.

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And all of a sudden, our family was a little bigger. 6lbs 11 ounces bigger. And Prestyn was just there, like she’d always been there. She wailed a hearty cry, covered in goo and sporting fiery red hair. And she was perfect.

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In some ways it was kind of terrible being the photographer in this particular scenario. I was the silent observer, trying with all my might to melt into the shadows, to keep my shutter clicks from bothering Katty. I didn’t help her rough through her contractions even though I wanted to. I could’t cry when Prestyn came out because then I wouldn’t be able to see through my lens. I feel like I missed out a little bit on the whole experience.

BUT (and this is a huge but), I got something priceless in return. Not only did I get to watch this beautiful little girl take her first breath, I got to photograph it.

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This little human who was brand new to the world had never EVER had her picture taken before. I was the first. That’s special. I will always have that.

As a photographer there is no greater honor.

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How quickly you forget how tiny they can be, how precious. And just how different your world feels afterward. 

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I went home to my own children with renewed vigor and the memory of what I went through to bring them into this world. I never knew how bad ass I was. I did this three times! and yet I didn’t fully appreciate it until I watched it from the other side.

I learned so much about Katherine and myself and life that night. But out of all the things I learned and forgot about my own births, I remembered THIS moment clearly:

Joy.

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2018 Photography Bucket List

A lot of my blog posts are fueled by anger. I usually sit my indignant ass down and let righteous anger fuel my fingers. Sometimes I even smell smoke.

Those posts are full of emotion. They’re funny. They’re meaningful.

Not this one. 

This one is just a list. 

A BADASS LIST!

But still….just a list.

JAKE SHOOTS PEOPLE 2018 BUCKET LIST:

  • 12 SELF PORTRAITS
  • WIN ONE CONTEST
  • WORK WITH MIKE GUASTELLA
  • PHOTOGRAPH A WILD ANIMAL
  • 3 BLOG POSTS PER MONTH (AT LEAST)
  • PHOTOSHOOT WITH PAINT
  • TAKE PHOTOSHOP CLASS AT VVC
  • GET PAID $100 IN BLOG ADS
  • MINIMUM 8 YOUTUBE VIDEOS
  • START SAVING FOR TAMRON 70-200
  • MINIMUM 8 INTERESTING PEOPLE INTERVIEWS
  • NEW BUSINESS CARDS
  • LEARN 5 NEW PHOTOSHOP TECHNIQUES
  • HAVE A POST GO VIRAL
  • GET PUBLISHED

I’ll keep updating this list as things get crossed off, or if I add to it.

Wish me luck Peons!

Your Overlord,

Jake

 

A Song and a Self Portrait

“What of the pious, the pure of heart, the peaceful?
What of the meek, the mourning, and the merciful?
What of the righteous?
What of the charitable?
What of the truthful, the dutiful, the decent?

Fin

Doomed are the poor
Doomed are the peaceful
Doomed are the meek
Doomed are the merciful
For the word is now death
And the word is now without light”

-APC-

Guess what I did today??

I used my manicured nails to scrape $12 from the bottom of my bank account and bought a few Photoshop Action. PS actions, and PS in general is all new to me. I’m SO not used to having a handy dandy “easy” button set up to do my editing for me. So you can understand my excitement at having a time saver at my finger tips. Worth the $12 in my book! Which is the only book that matters.

DEFINITION OF PHOTOSHOP ACTION: An Action is a recording of a series of Commands in Photoshop to which you apply a name. Later on, you can play that recording back on a different file and have Photoshop do your work for you.

JAKE’S DEFINITION OF PHOTOSHOP ACTION: Woooooooooooo! A time saver! Lawd have mercy, a time saver! 

For those of you who know me understand how precious time is to me. By the time my head hits the pillow at night I am usually negative time. (Ah shit! I was supposed to give the kids a bath! I knew I forgot something…) So I usually get all giddy and swollen and out of breath when I discover something that saves me time. Can you imagine how excited I was when I discovered that crockpots were a thingFugetaboudit!

Remember a post I did a few months ago about Horse Photography? I spoke longingly about merging my two greatest loves in Photography: Horses and Fine art. I’m pretty good at my normal (read: boring) shoots, i.e. Maternity, family etc. But the money is really what gets my ass to sit down and edit.

When I do a Fine Art shoot everything is different. There is excitement, makeup artists, weeks of planning, models, sets, elaborate outfits and so so so much inspiration. And when I do these kinds of shoots I am dying to sit down and edit them. My studio/office calls to me throughout the day until I finally give in (and usually abandon an important project or chore. Meh). 

I went off topic (I’m harebrained. Sue me). My point is that PS actions might be that thing that will help me merge my two photography niches!

I asked my friend Julia to model for me (For more about Julia, scratch and sniff here), and her horse Pluto. She obliged because she is awesome and because old fisherman tell tales about my awesome editing skills in old, stinky bars by the sea. It’s true.

My vision was of a powerful sorcerous and her trusty steed, calm and collected, while she holds a ball of flaming magic.

HOT DAMN! We got the shot almost immediately!

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I wanna throw in a disclaimer real quick: I DID NOT just throw the photoshop action on top of this photo (as gorgeous as it is). I worked on this photo for days using several different editing programs. And then when I was 100% happy with it, I added the action. absolutely don’t want to become reliant on the ease of using actions (I used BOLD and italicize to provide emphasis Peons. Did you feel it?)

Now that that is out of the way, allow me to present you with the final piece.

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Damn I’m good!

My plan now is to recruit a few other horse owners and convince them to let me turn them into scenes from a fantasy story book.

Editing is life Peons! Learn it!

 

 

 

 

I’ve often said that I use my art to heal and to cope with the struggles of life.

I’ve also been knows to say that photography has taught me many a life lesson.

Welllllll….for this post I’m combining the two and using my art (and this blog) to teach a lesson and to cope with a life struggle.

Folks, I’m quitting smoking. 

Don’t get too excited. I’m not. I love smoking. I’ve always had this romantic notion about the harsh pull, the smoke hitting the bottom of my lungs and the beauty of the smoke’s floating tendrils.

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I’ll miss it. I’ll miss sitting outside on the porch swing with friends having deep conversations.

I’ll miss getting FIVE FREAKING MINUTES TO MYSELF WHEN MY CHILDREN ARE DRIVING ME UP THE WALLS. 

I’ll miss using it as an excuse to have secret conversations.

I’ll miss all of it.

But my time has come and gone and since I’m thirty now I don’t heal from ailments the way I used to. My back hurts when I sit for too long. My knees ache. I don’t recover from a cold as fast as I used to. I can only imagine what my lungs look like. 

So here are some facts (facts help me see the reality and the danger of smoking):

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  • More than 20 million Americans have died because of smoking since 1964, including approximately 2.5 million deaths due to exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • On average, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers.

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  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, and 90% of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80% of lung cancer deaths among women are due to smoking.
  • Smoking causes many other types of cancer, including cancers of the throat, mouth, nasal cavity, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.
  • Urea, a chemical compound that is a major component in urine, is used to add “flavor” to cigarettes.

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  • Smokers tend to develop more lines on their face at an earlier age than non-smokers. This often makes smokers look older than they really are.
  • Cigarettes contain arsenic, formaldehyde, lead, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia and 43 known carcinogens.
  • Smoking affects how the immune system functions by causing oxidative stress. This in turn causes DNA mutation, setting the stage for cancer and heart disease. Oxidative stress is also thought to be a contributor to the aging process. Antioxidants are nature’s way of combating the damage oxidative stress causes to the body’s cells. Smokers have less antioxidants in their blood than nonsmokers.

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  • COPD-related deaths are also primarily caused by smoking, with 90% of these deaths traced back to cigarettes.
  • Smoking can cause and is strongly correlated with emphysema, bronchitis, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer of the mouth, larynx and esophagus.

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Wish me luck peons. I go about this level headed but still holding to the romantic notion of smoking.

It may take me a while to completely quit, BUT for the first time since I started smoking I actually want to quit. And for me that is a HUGE step. I want to be around for a long time. I have the most amazing life; The most coveted man, the best, most well behaved children, an awesome job, top notch friends, my farm, my blog and my garden. I am too selfish to give it all up.

Good luck to all who are fighting the good fight as well.