Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's pretend I'm not me for awhile.

I don't know about everyone else, but sometimes it is so cool not to be myself. To feel like I'm someone else with someone else's responsbilities. Or not. Sometimes, to be someone else means no responsibilities at all. Being someone else means a shy person can be the biggest, most brazen flirt around. Or the one who cares what other people think of them, can suddenly be free as a bird. Sometimes all it takes to be someone else is a new shirt or some make-up. Or a wig.

I know for me, being someone else is a freeing experience. Sometimes I end up doing things I shouldn't... things I might regret later if I were experiencing it as myself. But, isn't life all about experiencing things and gaining those memories?

To Infinity & Beyond....

I was asked recently why I haven't been talking much about my personal life. I can yap for hours on end about classes I'm taking, portrait shoots, and career goals, but I have left out all the little details (as of late) that actually make up a person's life. Maybe this will shed a little light on that.

2006 was a big year in a lot of ways. It brought me the numbers 28, 5, and 2. (My age, number of classes I've completed since I went back to school, and the number of years Mike and I have been together.) It was the year I realized how much I love graphic design... and how much more I love photography. After months of mulling over career choices and the educational path one must take after deciding on one, it ultimately boiled down to money vs. love. I took a quick detour toward money, but in the end, love won out and I went with photography. After all the confusion, I knew it was the right choice when my brain was suddenly clear and my heart was happy and at peace. And because I don't want to completely give up on having a career and getting out of a dead-end corporate job I hate solely because I am in love with creating art, I decided to take things one step further and go into business for myself. These choices made in 2006 are my reality in 2007. I'm building my portfolio, beginning to take on clients, and learning the ins and outs of what it takes to be a successful artist and business owner in my classes. I have the beginnings of a promising plan for my financial future.

I was able to research all this and really focus on it because I have had such a stable home life. My boyfriend of two+ years is my champion, best friend, confidante, cheerleader, drinking buddy and lover all rolled into one. How lucky I am to have found such a person. One who can see me at my best and hold me close, proud to be with me. One who can see me at my worst and most vulnerable and hold me closer to protect me. Even writing this now makes me teary-eyed; I do know how awesome life can be because we are in this together.

But toward the end of 2006, things changed. One conversation snowballed into every aspect of my life, coloring my perspective of just about everything. Suddenly, things weren't so stable. What I had seen as domesticity, was something else entirely to my partner. Our inside jokes, our "CLP" acronym for each other no longer seemed to apply. How could we talk about forever or say anything was "for life" when we weren't sure if we would make it through another year? At first, I took it really hard. It was a blow to my self-esteem to hear doubts from someone who's opinion I so valued. Was I unwanted? Unloved? Was something about me that undesirable? And then I was confused. How can we talk like this - talk that made it sound like our whole world was being tipped on it's head - and act normal, with nothing changing in our everyday lives? When I say that conversation snowballed, it did. From that one night and every conversation after, I became a woman obsessed, going over every detail both in my head and aloud, trying to find the 'glitch in the matrix' that would make it all right again.

After a few weeks of making us both crazy, I realized there wasn't just one thing. There was no secret ingredient that would fix everything. No magic word that would give me back that same blissful ignorance that came with taking the solid foundation of my relationship for granted. I had to face that I might not ever feel that way again. While the insecurity I feel in the face of such turmoil is undesirable, maybe not being able to go back to the time where I was just floating along isn't so bad.

If it were solely up to me, my future would hold a successful photography business, a little house or loft in the city with a ton of history and character, giggling children of my own, and a devoted, adoring partner - one who will love me for me and not for the hopes that I will someday realize some 'potential.' But isn't this every girl's dream?

In the face of all this, a part of me has distanced myself from my personal life, so to speak. I've had to bring back a part of just "Deann" instead of living all the time in "DeannandMike". As a mechanism of self-preservation, I've had to. I'm sad that part of me is no longer able to say "I Love You" as easily as breathing. I'm sad that I feel I sometimes have to hide my more vulnerable parts until they are a little less raw and exposed. I'm sad that I feel like this skin of my existence is a little too confining at times, no longer able to completely enjoy what once was so easy and free. And I'm sad that my brain just won't turn off and let me feel, instead interfering with thoughts of what-if and how and why. But I also think about the apartment I want to get and the studio space I long for. I think about re-establishing my relationships with my girlfriends, craving the natural bond that comes with being women with a shared history. I am looking forward to moving closer to the city - my city - where there is life, and vibrance, and a general urban-ness that I have dearly missed. I especially look forward to reclaiming a piece of me, the one I put on hold to be with the person I love. I just hope that when I am able to get back those missing pieces, he will see me again for who I am and decide he wants to reclaim this - us - too.

So, back to why I haven't been sharing much. I guess I've been censoring myself. I've been confused as to what's been going on and what will happen in the future. Not wanting to be hurt any more than I already have, I've been writing less on what matters to me personally and more on fluff and filler. (Oh, and some pretty pictures too.) Not that everything has been that 'light', but for the most part... I figure I dwell on it enough in my brain; why have to look at it in print too? But, maybe I've been going overboard. Maybe, just maybe, it needs to get out into the open fresh air and have the world take a look.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I heart coffee

Because I was such a good little Mormon girl growing up and was taught that coffee was Satan's nectar and also a gateway drug, I did not start drinking it until way into my 20's. I had tasted coffee-flavored things, like coffee ice cream. I had walked through the coffee aisle in the grocery store a million times, just because I loved the sweet smell. I used to make it for my grandfather, with a teaspoon of cafe vienna because he liked it sweet.

The first time I tried it, I had every intention of going to the Jamba Juice near my house. Instead, I guess I was feeling a little rebellious, and went into the cafe next door and entered the dark, seedy world of the coffee bean. The first time I tried it, I had something sweet - mostly chocolate with a little bit of coffee and a lot of sugar. Over time, I began to appreciate the flavors and preferred it dark and strong. Now, several years later, I take my coffee black and my espresso plain or with a little bit of hazelnut syrup.

But, it's not just about the coffee anymore. It's about comfort and warmth. It's about decadent desserts in a cup. It's about wanting to sit and read a book or visit with a friend somewhere other than home. Starbucks will do in a pinch, but I actually prefer the independent cafes and little mom & pop places. Influx, Krakatoa, and The Living Room all hold a million little memories for me. And each time I get a whiff of that steamy brewed goodness, it reminds me of those times.

In light of this love affair I have with my java, why is it that I never date men who drink the stuff?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Slow as molassssssssessssss

Although I can think of several things I should've done, I did absolutely nothing this weekend. Oh sure, I staged a mini-shoot in my bedroom for 'moi', even going so far as to get dressed up for.. uh.. myself. Then I sat on the couch and watched 3 movies back to back. One chick flick and 2 animated kids films. Oy. Sunday was a little better but not much. At least I went out for some human to human contact.

Oh, I also downloaded a bunch of music, including the new Shins album. Really digging on that right now.

Normally I think I would be a little harder on myself, wasting time like I did. But I think everyone is entitled to a little (or a lot) of downtime every now and then. Right?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I love a rainy night, it's such a beautiful sight, I love to feel the rain on my face...

Five gold stars to whoever can tell me the title of the song. Ten if you can tell me the name of the person who sings it. Because if you're willing to admit that, you deserve a bunch of gold stars. (Obviously I can't make too much fun of you since I not only know who it is, but also every, single, word.)

I did something last night that I have never done before. I continued to do it this afternoon, as I took a quick cat-nap in my car before class.

I dreamt about photography. This is not good.

I tend to get a little obsessive about things I am really interested in. Eye on the prize and that sort of thing. Even things I'm not necessarily interested in, but maybe stressed about, tend to be constantly worried over. Somehow, though, I feel like I can count on myself to tell me when enough is enough. To give me that break from everything and finally have a moment's peace. That, my friends, is what my dreams are for. I leave all the bull-shit behind to fly or have all my teeth fall out or run forever, or suddenly find myself able to speak fluent Spanish. Because, boy, do I have some crazy dreams sometimes.

But last night, I dreamt photography. I dreamt of websites, and photo album layouts and business cards and equipment. And then I woke up and kept thinking about it. The last thing I want to do is get burned out on all this, before I even get to go anywhere with it. Maybe it's time to tone down the business side of things and just enjoy shooting again. At least until my dreams go back to their regularly scheduled programming.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It's a small world after all

Now that the song is permanently seared into your brain right now, I have been reflecting on how small the internet world really is. I run into more people that I "know" on-line than in the grocery store near my house. Like today, I checked on the Tara Whitney blog (I'm waiting for her to get her photo website up - I've become a bit obsessive on everybody's unique designs for their on-line homes) and while reading the comments to her latest post, I see this girl. (Her husband is someone who I was friends with in high school.) I tend to read her blog as well. This morning, I posted a big, long, honkin' entry (with pics) and this girl left me a comment. I thought it was very cool considering I had already bookmarked her site as a photographer who's work I admired. I'm constantly running into people who visit the same blogs I do - dooce, for instance. (But she's so popular so it's not too unheard of.) This person is someone I read on a regular basis before she joined myspace (where I have a blog). I still read her posts but she now reads mine as well. And in a case where virtual reality and real reality intermingle, I heard a few days ago that this fellow, one of my photographer idols, is speaking in the Inland Empire tonight, about 30 minutes away from where I live.

It's like seeing all my friends at the virtual neighborhood 7-11.

Sunday Hijinks in Old Town, San Diego

A week or so ago I had implored my friend, Devlynn, and her boyfriend, Chris, to let me use them as guinea pigs for my portfolio. Besides being able to showcase a wider range of people besides my immediate family, I want to learn how to better interface with people I am not related to. I want to be more comfortable in directing a shoot and learning how to relax people in front of a camera. I also would like to break out of traditional poses and use more non-traditional approaches to protrait photography. One of my biggest influences is "The Image is Found." They are so successful at making every session they have seem so fresh and full of new creative ideas.

Anyway, as I made my way down from Temecula to Old Town, San Diego, I started feeling a little uneasy. The sunshine filled skies of Riverside County turned ominously dark and grey the further south I drove. Couple that with pretty strong winds and a 4:00pm meet-up time and I was starting to get worried that we would have enough light and fair weather to even do this at all. Luckily, the skies held and the light was nice and diffused, if not a little grey. Devlynn & Chris were a pleasure to work with and were completely willing to try out my ideas, no matter how silly they seemed.

Thanks, guys!

To see the entire slideshow, click here!

Getting Serious

This semester I am taking a class called, "Photo Operations." Essentially, it is a business class geared toward those who would like to eventually be self-employed. The nice thing about this particular class is that it talks specifically about starting your own photography business. I'm sure it's good advice for anyone wanting to strike out on their own, but I like that it deals with exactly what I am up against.

Since the class is just starting I can't tell you all the invaluable things I have learned just yet. But I can say that one of the things addressed at the very first class was, as I'm going to call it, "getting out there."

The teacher asked, assuming that we are all taking the class with hopes of starting our own phototography businesses, what we have done so far that would put us on that track. Do we have a website? Business cards? Where have we shown our work? Who have we told and how did we do it? What is our focus? What was discovered is that a lot of us love photography - no doubt about it. But we tend to take pictures of whatever interests us at the time, develop/proof them, and then put them away, never to be seen again. Prints get put into archival boxes and stored. Digital negatives get archived onto a cd and stored. How is this helping us at all?

So, my goal has been to ramp up what I have been doing. If I like a print I've done, I'm going to have it printed and put it up at home. I am going to friend's parties and lugging my camera along, posting the images on flickr and getting the word out about what I do and how I do it. I'm soliciting friends to "sit" for me, helping me build my portfolio and my confidence in exchange for some family portraits. I finally got a website up. Next up is business cards.

The focus in the class is that in 1-3 years, we should be making money at this. I'm shooting for a year. I'm already ahead of a lot of the people in my class, as far as getting this off the ground. I have a focus. I'm doing some self-promotion. And I have people interested in my service. It's a good start, if you ask me.

A few requests/solicitations have resulted in small photoshoots. As they start to trickle in, I'll showcase them on the blog. If you're interested in checking out what I do, how I do it, and what the end result may be, stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Finding that happy place

Anyone who chooses to live in one place for an extended period of time does so for a reason. They may complain to anyone who'll listen about the terrible weather, the annoying people, the suffocating, small-town atmosphere - but if it was THAT bad, you know they would've found a way out by now. I am one of those people.

I have long talked about leaving california and finding my rightful home, somewhere amongst all the greenery that makes up the Pacific Northwest. I mean, the girl from Alaska? How does she adapt to the so-cal summer heat?

I guess over the years my blood has thinned because the opportunities to leave this southern region have presented themselves time and again and I keep refusing to heed the call. Part of it is a teensy fear of change. The other part? Because there are actually places here that I like.

One of those places is Balboa Park. When I moved from La Mesa, I decided to forgo the beach as the end-all be-all ultimate new home locale and instead move to within a 30-minute walk of Balboa Park. I've spent many afternoons exploring the museums, watching the dogs in the dog park, lolling on the grass with my book, and taking pottery classes in the Spanish Village. The zoo is there, with it's niche of ferns and waterfalls that I love. The buildings are old and the festivals are fun. Why wouldn't I want to be there?

It's one of the places I really get to missing, living an hour away. Since starting a new school semester, I've found myself in close proximity again. On an evening I knew I would have some time before class, I remembered to bring my camera and tripod and spent it happily snapping photos in the park.

If you get a chance to drop in, I highly recommend it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Monday, Monday... {la la la da da da}

I got ready for work this morning in the middle of a downpour - the kind not usually seen by southern california folk who are accustomed to living in the land of never-ending sunshine. Throughout my morning routine I heard the steady drip drop of the rain outside my window (left open a sliver so I could hear and smell all the stormy goodness!) and the white noise that is the water wooshing through the gutters and into the storm drains. I love when it rains - the scent, the sound, the sense of renewal that it brings. I love it more when it rains and I get to stay home.

Today is not one of those days.

Since I stayed out late the night before (note to self: next time you are invited out on a Sunday evening, remember how much you don't like partying on a 'school night'.) I stopped at the Starbucks to get the requisite cup of help-me-through-this-hellish-too-early-monday-morning with an extra shot of espresso. As I pulled up to the window to pay for my beverage (yes, I drove through... it was raining, remember??) the window opens and my favorite barista hands me my coffee, saying, "This one's on us." Puzzled, I tried again to give her the money. She shook her head and said, "Coffee gets expensive... we're helping your budget." Who knew you could get financial advice and a latte at the same place? Besides giving me free coffee and a welcome smile, this girl is my favorite barista because she has a quick wit and remembers not only what I order, but what I say. At this point (I'm a fairly frequent customer) she remembers jokes we've made, that neither of us like too-sweet coffee, and that I'm lamenting the ages it will take to bring back the pumpkin spice latte (on hiatus until next fall). She's friendly and nice and so genuine... I look forward to seeing her in the mornings. This morning, as I drove off to sit in the rain and traffic, I reflected about this girl and how if I ever win the lottery? I would totally give her a check for a cool million. Probably put into a little Starbucks giftcard envelope and passed through the drive-through window.

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's here! It's here!!

Wow... can't believe I finally got my website up! It's only taken, oh... months upon months. I've had to rely on my flickr stream to show people my style and my portfolio. I've felt so unprofessional and lacking because of it. How could I be serious about something like this, trying transition from hobbyist to professional, without web presence? I mean, I don't even patronize companies without websites!

So, it's simple. It's clean. It may still be a bit buggy... what can I say? I'm more focused on my pictures these days than learning more about html, css, and proper cross-platform standards. (Which are, seriously, a pain in the a**. Now I am more sure than ever that I'm not interested in web design. It would take lifetimes to figure all that stuff out.) But it's up for your viewing pleasure. And all my info (should you need to contact me) is all in one handy-dandy little place! Tell your friends!

deann b. photography

C'mon, tomorrow's Friday...

Have a little fun!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Imagination will Solve what Intellect Cannot

"Imagination will solve what intellect cannot. So those flights of fancy you take this afternoon? Well, they're more lucrative and productive than any number of errands you could run." - the horoscope for Cancer on 2/7/07, according to the Union Tribune.

Though I had planned on a turkey sandwich at Influx after dropping Mike off at the airport, the call of
Krakatoa, it's 3 Fingered Jack and the tastiest red potato salad around was too tempting to resist. Why do I always make the excuse to spend a little extra time in Golden Hills? There are plenty of nice little hole-in-the-wall cafes in San Diego - why do I always make my beeline to places like Krakatoa or Influx for lunch and dinner when I am in the downtown area?

It's because, when I'm in Golden Hills, I feel like I'm returning home after an absence way too long. Despite some of the hardships surrounding my brief residency in the neighborhood, for a brief year, I felt like myself.
Golden Hills is a throwback to an era somewhere in the 1920's with it's mix of ornate and stately Victorians and boxy Spanish casitas. It's coffee shops where lingering over your Iced Vietnamese and Powerbook (or newspaper for you Luddites) is overlooked, if not encouraged. It's Mexican markets that sell exotic produce, liquor stores where the proprietor calls you "Sweetie", and divey bars that don't start jumpin' until way after 10:00pm. The people here are young: DINKS, college kids, new graduates, newlyweds, and those who are struggling with the transition from carefree youth to the inevitable responsibility of family and suburbia. They are liberal, independent, artistic and think they can change the world. Thier wardrobes are thrifted, handmade, altered, and swapped. They prefer not to drive, as skateboarding, walking, and bicycling are preferred methods of transportation. They knit on the bus and buy organic foods. They are hipsters, punk rockers, rockabilly-ers... anything but mainstream. English vies with Spanish as the most predominant language spoken in the area. The girl who works at the best taco shop around smiles when you come in, affectionately calling you "Guera."

I love the diversity of Golden Hills and it's proximity to everywhere I need to go. And now that I am *officially* apartment hunting, it's not surprise that it's the first place I'm looking.
(Since I've been day-dreaming all day about finding the perfect place, maybe my horoscope is onto something here....)

Thursday, February 01, 2007


It's getting late. I have so much to do.. things that pop into my head throughout the day, waiting only until I am done with the daily grind and can head home to be on my own time. And what happens? I am right back on the computer, working on pictures. Tonight I set up a mini photo-session, inspired by some of the SP's by my flickr contacts. Not the same as theirs, but a little different... and I'm okay with that. If you guys could see some of the ways I jerry-rig to get my camera to point and focus where it's supposed to... This one is propped up on the corner of my frog tank, precariously perched on the very edge so the lens can still auto-focus. {sigh} The things we do for our art. Since I was laying on my bed in the picture, I started thinking about bed-related things to talk about. Well, besides the obvious anyway... I googled the word, "lullaby" and one of the results that came back was the song, "Lullaby" by Billy Joel.

Anyone who knows me, or at least has driven with me, knows how much I like to sing. Out loud. I was in choir in high school and really enjoyed it. I learned how to sight-read music a little bit, but other than that it was a great way to make friends with a bunch of fairly open-minded kids. A rarity in adolescence for sure. But it takes guts to get on-stage and sing a song... I think we all had more self-confidence than we were supposed to at that age. Besides the choir thing, I have been a big "Piano Man" fan since day 1. My mom had every one of his tapes and while in the car, we would listen to them instead of the radio. Since my dad was over-saturated with his music by this time, it was really the only chance she got to immerse herself in something she loved. Luckily, my brothers and I enjoyed it as well. The lyrics to nearly every one of his songs are deeply embedded in my brain and probably always will be there. Like this "Lullaby" song.

The thing is, while I sing for myself, I rarely sing to anyone else. I did it a long time ago - including this one song - but it's never really felt the same since.