Saturday, July 9, 2011

L-O-V-E

This blog is meant to give insight into the experiences of Foxtree Photography.  I am Foxtree.  Even though I am Foxtree I've strayed from adding personal experiences.  I'm a professionally minded person which has kept me from sharing those personal experiences of my life.  I've told myself if I were going to do that then I would create a personal blog.  I'm breaking my rules to share who I am and in turn who Foxtree is to the very core.  I urge you to please read the entire post.  I am bearing my soul to you.  When I say the word you I hope that means every color, creed, sexual orientation, and political persuasion.  I just finished a documentary...the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  It has made me think.  It opened my eyes more.  I'm filled with so much emotion I'm struggling to find words through my tears.

The past year or so of my life has been a reflective one.  Every turn I've taken I've learned another lesson.  A lesson about my life, why I am the way I am, the world outside of my little sphere, and most recently the love of Christ.  I was born into a Christian family.  I've never experienced anything else.  As a result I think sometimes..well most times I lack gratitude for being saved from my sins.  Stories of the Bible and Jesus can be recited often with little emotion.  In fact growing up I think I had a harsh view of God.  I won't share my recent discoveries of His love because that's not the direction I want to go in today.  All I want to say is I have discovered a deeper level of God's love for me.  I am learning every day what love is.  In John 13:34 it says

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.


I can read that and understand but I ask myself what is love?  According to Merriam-Webster's just a few meanings of the word love are as follows.  Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, warm attachment, enthusiasm,  or devotion, unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for others.

To jump to the real reason of this post I must ask a series of questions.  If you are a follower of Christ do you exhibit these words (unselfish loyal concern for others, strong affection, warm attachment)?  Do you daily share love with one another.  Several weeks back, maybe more than a month ago I put a CD in my vehicle stereo.  Something you must know about me is I'm a news junkie to my very core.  I love to read and I love to learn.  I'm a sponge when it comes to hearing about other's experiences and what is going on in the world that is out of my reach and sight.  So when I'm in the car you will find me tuned into one of a few radio stations unless Gary is with me.  He hates news.  Anyway, several weeks back I decided to make a change.  I was in a desperate place in my life.  A place of extreme pain and confusion.  I was grasping at straws to find peace.  Listening to the news only deepened my pain as I am a very empathetic person and can make anyone's situation my own with just a thought.  In my pain and desperation I turned to the Bible.  We have the Bible read by Alexander Scourby on CD.  The Book of Matthew has been in my CD player since, only removed once to listen to a music CD.  Something that kept touching something deep inside me was Matthew 5:44-48.  It touched me so much I kept kicking the track back to hear it again.  I believe that things sometimes happen in life to prepare us for what is to come.  I believe this passage was a preparation for tonight.  In the King James Version it reads as follows...

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye ? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only,what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even asyour Father which is in heaven is perfect.


Even when I understand a word I like to go to the dictionary to hear each meaning of it.  It gives a broader picture.  The word salute according to Merriam-Webster means to address with expressions of kind wishes, courtesy, or honor. To give a sign of respect, courtesy or goodwill.  To show respect and recognition to.  Again I ask of you. Do you show these things to others on a daily basis?  Do you smile at and say hello, thank you, or please to complete strangers you pass by?  To get more to my point of this whole post, do you show respect, share kind wishes, honor the homeless man/woman on the street?  When Jesus was speaking to his disciples in Matthew he said anyone can be kind, respectful and courteous to the ones they love but we must show it to those we don't know.  I believe there are groups of Christians that give Christians a very bad name.  We forget that God is a God of love.  Remember when those cheesy bracelets "WWJD (What Would Jesus do) were all the Christian rage?  It's so easy to throw out a line like that but do we really do what Jesus would do?  Let me ask this.  Did Jesus only rub shoulders with the wealthy, educated people?  Was he loved by all men?  Did he live the "good life" or did he live a low, humble life?  In Matthew 9:12 it says,  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.  He was not accepted by his own people.  He loved the poor and the needy.  He loved the broken and the sick.  He loved and cared for the ones that were already dead.  He loved them so much he stopped what he was doing to go bring them back to life.  So I ask you do you love like Jesus?  Like I said before Christians often give Christians a bad name.  Instead of giving love and mercy to others we judge, scorn and give death instead of life.  We think we're too good to do as Jesus did and help those less fortunate or those who don't believe as we do.  In Matthew 5 Jesus said among other things to love those who hate and persecute you.  I believe He would want us to show love, mercy and grace to those who don't believe the same as us.  Instead of casting judgement on others who aren't Christian or who have lifestyles unlike your own show them love.  Not love on the condition that they believe as you or change their ways.  Pure simple love.  Love because your Savior told you to love.  Love because no matter where they are and what they believe they deserve your love and respect as a human being.  There is a "church" (yeah the one that has signs of hate and protest funerals of fallen soldiers) that I won't waste my breath in naming that lives on ignorance and hate.  They spew so much venom that I fear the non Christian people who don't know of Jesus' love think the rest of us Christians believe.  I am here to tell you I love people of all faiths.  I love people of every color and nationality.  I love every straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender.  I love every Republican, Democrat, Communist, you name it.  I love them all because I believe they were made in the likeness and image of my Creator and Lord.  To me it doesn't matter if we agree or not.  They are still worthy of my love, affection, respect, unselfish loyalty, concern, courtesy, goodwill and so much more!  So I am writing to challenge all of you whether you be Christian or not to love one another.  Love with your whole heart.  Give of yourself.  Respect one another with every inch of your being.  Get beyond your differences.  Stop trying to prove your side and what you believe is right.  Get down to the basics.  We are all human.  We all deserve love and respect.  Treat others as you wish to be treated.  So I end this unique post where I have bared my soul and all I have learned.  Most likely I will never cross into personal territory again.  I hope that through my words you have examined how you view and treat others.  I hope you feel my love for you, exactly the way you are.  


Amber



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Propology: Newborn prop on a budget

I have a little boy running circles around me getting into everything so hopefully I can present this in a way that shares my experience.
I would say on average the majority of outsiders don't understand what goes into sessions and how much work and planning takes place.  As a result, I've decided to start making posts here and there that shows what goes on behind the scenes from props to editing.  This post will be devoted to a new newborn prop.  Props can truly make or break a photo session.  The appropriate placing, size, color and texture all come into play.  Props for newborn shoots include blankets as back drops, hats and other hair pieces and something for the baby to lie on.  For the past year I've been using a Boppy pillow.  While it was better than nothing my hands were really tied when it came to posing.  I did some research and found the ultimate newborn prop.  It's called the newborn posing beanbag or newborn posing ottoman.  Basically, a glorified, flat top bean bag with a price tag of $95 pre beans and $107 post beans, neither with shipping included into the price.  It allows you to have a better viewing field of the newborn.  It also allows you to manipulate the beans that are within bags to help get those super cool little poses.  I wasn't completely sold on this prop, having never used one and had other things I'd rather drop $100+ on.  Soooo, I decided to venture out on a DIY newborn posing beanbag with the smallest amount of funds possible.  My intention was to take photos along the way detailing this journey but things got a little hairy and no photos were taken.  I am a hands on learning.  Written instructions don't reach me like giving me a picture to follow.  I read the details of this posing beanbag and cogitated while making sketches.  Below is a list of what I hoped to create.

A flat top, round prop to be as close to the "real" thing as possible
2 bags inside filled with beans
Zipper in the side or bottom so the "sleeve" can be removed and washed

Something you must know before I get much further into this, is I am not a seamstress.  I can sew and make basic things, but beyond that I'm out.   I went to our new JoAnn's Fabric store in Clarksville and purchased two yards of black woven cotton fabric.  It was the most sturdy cotton I could find.  There I also bought a zipper.  I then went to Miejers and purchased a bag of beanbag beans.  I went home and got to work.  I'm such a perfectionist that I mulled over several different ways to cut out my circle but opted for the longest way possible to insure a perfect circle.  Here is my sketch paper. Not wanting to get my DSLR out while chasing after my little one, I took pictures with my pocket camera (Canon Powershot) so the quality isn't the greatest.  **click to enlarge**

These drawings show a skeleton plan for making the bag, how it will be used and the access it would give me to the bambino/bambina.





After I cut the two circles, I then cut the rectangle that would connect the circles.  I then set out to sew it all together.  About 5-10% into the sewing part of the project, my sewing machine broke.  Not wanting to abandon the project I continued to hand sew the bag for the next two nights.  As I neared the end of the sewing, I decided I'd wait to add the zipper until I once again had a working sewing machine.  I grabbed two (clean) trash bags and started the annoying process of filling it with beans.  I took extreme measures to insure these beans that are a major chocking hazard wouldn't escape but they still did.  Needless to say I ended up on all fours searching for any rogue beans so Jude wouldn't get them the next day and try to munch on them.  Once I placed the first bag in I knew I didn't have enough beans.  As I mentioned before I wanted this to remain as cheap as humanly possible so I didn't go get more beans.  I left it as is and just bunched up the excess fabric.  I'll tear apart what I hand sewed and will resew it once I can use the sewing machine.  There's no way I'm redoing this by hand again!!  To quickly sum this up I'll share less details.  IT WORKED!!  Below is a pull back image, along with what the actual photo looked like from my newborn shoot with Serenity.

My life is full of pro and con lists.  So here is my pro and con list for this project.  

Cons

- It took too many hours to mention without a dose of embarrassment.  It would've taken less time had my sewing machine not broke.
- It does not have a leather or suede "sleeve" like the real one does.
- It's not perfect due to me making it haha!

Pros

- Cost: $25 (Savings of $82- does not count shipping costs)
- It worked!!
- Did I mention how much I saved?!

Overall I would say my DIY project was a success.  I wish it looked better but I'm still pleased with how it turned out considering my lack of sewing skills.  Will I one day want to buy the "real" thing?  Probably so, but until then, I'll get as much use out of my posing bean bag as possible.  To view the entire album where I used the posing bag cut and paste the link below into your address bar.  You can also go back a few posts (S is for Serenity) to view the post.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.215893585116783.53784.100000884290765&l=7d281bd4d4

Keep an eye out for more prop posts to get an inside view of photography.  Believe me, it's always more than just holding a camera and snapping pictures!  

Amber



Updated images using this posing bag.







































Please check out other Propology DIY posts!


**I recently started a prop shop & boutique, Foxtree Prop Shop & Boutique.  At FPSB you will find affordable goodies (pixie bonnets, crowns, headbands and more) to affordably stock your prop collection.  Please check out the Facebook page and click the "like" button. www.facebook.com/foxtreepropshopandboutique I just recently surpassed my first 100 fans and will be having a multivendor giveaway.  Details coming soon so jump on board so you don't miss out!**