Friday, September 30, 2011

From confusion and self doubt, clarity and focus

It came to me in the shower today. What makes my photography what it is. What is makes my sessions "mine".

So I had to write it down.

The four words I chose as my tagline for MbyM are: Fun. Fresh. Real. Memorable. That's where I started.

All my sessions are designed to be fun. We all look best when we're happy, don't we? So doing something you enjoy is the best place to start. I want to know: where do you (and your family) feel most comfortable being yourself? That's where we'll shoot. Doesn't matter if it's the park, the pizza parlor, or the local farmer's market. One client once told me that a session with me was like taking a walk in the park with friends. Yeah, like that.

It's the style of my photography, from concept to final editing. I like bright, happy colors, clean lines and clean light. Think about a basket of fresh fruit on a warm, summer's day. Yummy.

Although my sessions can run the gamut from staged and carefully-planned to completely loose and carefree, the goal is always to set you and your family up to capture real emotions and personalities. Often, I've found, these happen in the moments between moments. Sometimes we show up with a plan and your children are just not into it. It happens. We ditch the plan and we go with the flow. Whatever works. We'll get the shot. Promise.

It's in the title, so I should hope so! Everything from the session to the final photos should be something you remember fondly. I take time to bond with you, to get to know you, to make your session unique. Then, I edit your photos with that uniqueness in mind. There's no formula -  although there's always that MbyM "freshness". Finally, all my print products are delivered on high-quality professional printed, coated, and mounted photographic paper, ensuring that those memories last for generations. I have photos on my wall of my grandparents that I completely cherish. Back then photos were printed on some sturdy card-stock. We kind of got away from that with our inkjet printers and cheap WalMart prints that fade and whither all-too quickly. Let's save WalMart for vacation snapshots and capture something real, fresh, and memorable that lasts.

Sound good?


This now resides here.

Me happy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A creative condundrum

Yesterday I posted a request for feedback on Facebook, to help me choose 3-4 of my favorite photos to produce as samples both for client demonstration and a couple of events I am attending.

What came back was a bit of a surprise. Despite me being a big fan of color and really wanting to define myself as a "colorful photographer", the most popular images were black and white. One friend even went as far as to say that I should choose just black and white images to help me stand-apart.


I'll be honest... my heart sank. I don't want to be identified by my black-and-white images, or as the "black-and-white" photographer. Granted, these are just opinions and I am the ultimate decision-maker in how I define my work but it was a little jarring to realize that people connect more with my black and whites. Since I create images for other people, I cannot completely ignore what this is telling me.

There could be some logical reasons for this, of course.

First, I will readily admit that some images have a particular emotional pull for me and that, in many of these cases, I choose to edit those images as black and white because the color can distract from the emotion. So, maybe what people are reacting to is this relationship my black-and-white choices have to the emotionality of the images?

Secondly, maybe people, in general, prefer black and white images. Maybe I am alone in loving the beauty of color.

Lastly, of course, it could be that the way I process color images is not appealing. 

Hmmmm. Again.

Although I want to personally define how I creatively process images, I am interested in hearing YOUR constructive opinions here. 

What do you think is behind this? Is there something about my color images that is lacking for you? If so what? Or am I totally overanalyzing this?

If you need some reference point, I invite you to visit my website: and click on Portfolio, or visit my Flickr Stream at

What think you?


Friday, September 16, 2011

It's been a while...

... since I messed with of the I Heart Faces Fix it Fridays. But I loved this photo of this beautiful little girl so much, I was compelled to participate this week. Sometimes it's just so fun to edit someone else's image because you have no attathment to it, except for the aesthetic.

Since I'm keeping a tighter reign on the content of my Memories by Michelle blog these days, experimenting stuff will now come to Ms. Ranty Pants.

BEFORE / Straight out of Camera

AFTER / My edit

Fix It Friday 9.16.11 edit

See more cool edits over at I Heart Faces

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The knee post

As opposed to the hip posts of yore.

Sigh... yes... now knee problems.

And yes, my hip bone is connected to my thigh bone which is, in turn, connected to my knee bone. Hence, it's all connected.

More sighing.

As you know (and are no doubt tired of hearing at this point if you're friends with me on the Face Book) my right knee has been hurting, getting progressively more painful over the last few weeks. It started with some pain in my kneecap whenever I lunged during my workouts. So I backed-off for a bit, only to find that, without my regular PT workout (which includes lunges) my back began to hurt. The pain in my knee came back during certain lunges, however. Crap.

Then, all of a sudden, about a few weeks ago, it began to hurt walking up stairs also. Given I live in a 2 story home with an office and bedroom upstairs, this is a problem. Despite trying to stay away from aggravating activities, icing, and taking supplements like crazy, the pain progressed to a point where I had to crawl up the stairs yesterday.

Meanwhile, of course, my back is upset because it wants me to do my exercises that make IT happy.

Insolent little joints!

Today was my P.T. appointment. I'm not sure how many physical therapists this is for me now since 2005 but off the top of my head I can think of 5. I'd love to go back to my last PT who quite literally gave me my life back from S.I. joint and back pain, but the reality is that my insurance doesn't cover them and at $60 a time, I just can't do that right now.  Fortunately, I found another good therapist, Felicia, and she quickly put me through my paces.

The lamen's diagnosis is that my knee joint is a train that keeps veering off the tracks and, where it's crossing the line, there is friction and, therefore, pain. A more in-depth explanation is that my continued issues with a tight I.T. band (which extend back to before my hip surgery in '08), which connects from my glutes (which are, coinkidentally attached to my S.I. joint) mean my knee is being coaxed off the tracks. I also have a bit of a strained A.C.L., thankfully not torn but definitely causing destablization and exacerbating the problem. My knee, when I flex my quad muscle, is therefore being pulled up and out, to the side, causing the cartilage in the joint to rub and, potentially over time, degenerate.

Here's a pic to help those of you out who aren't big on anatomy (which I wasn't either until I started to hurt it.)

In the pic below you're seeing the front of the thigh. The tensor fascia lata on the left, connected to your glutes (butt muscles) at your hip and then turns into the I.T. band (Iliotibial tract) which then connects to the knee (patellar) and knee ligament. Fascinating, huh? (Or... not.)

In short: there's no doubt about it. I'm not making it to my grave able-bodied.

The good news is that she does not think I need surgery. Hallelujah because I really thought this was another kind of impingement that would require more people cutting into me, more recovery, more P.T. and back on that whole cycle again. No way. NO. WAY.

The bad news is that I have to add a whole new set of exercises to my P.T. repertoire to stretch my I.T. band, strengthen my glutes, and coax my knee back onto the tracks. Seriously, I could make doing my P.T. exercises a full time job at this point. There's the neck and shoulder exercises, the lower back and hip exercises, and now the knee exercises. All told, I can work out for 90 minutes just on this stuff alone. And many of the exercises should be done >1x a day!

Felicia also conceded that the hip surgery likely had something to do with all this. Since I had the surgery, whenever I lay down at night, my leg turns outward - I just can't stop it - and this is because my I.T. band is tight. It was tight before the surgery, likely pissed off by the traction during the surgery, and never really released after the surgery.

And so back to P.T. I go, 2x a week for 3 weeks. Because, you know, I have nothing better to do on my lunch hour.

I'll keep you posted. (I know, the suspense will kill you.)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Random Thursday night thoughts...

On Thursday nights I get a night off of bedtime duty. It's just an extra 30 minutes in my day but I'll take every extra second I can get these days.

So, on Thursday night, I have thoughts.

Random, adult thoughts. (Gasp.)

And so, for your pleasure, and in no particular order, here they are:

  1. There are not enough teenage vampire TV shows in the world. I am SOOOOO excited for the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries, it's embarrassing. All hail September and new shows!
  2. Two year olds are a force of nature. At what point in our lives do we lose that kind of power? Yeah, yeah, I know, if we all behaved like toddlers all the time, the world would come to a very ugly and untimely end. But what I'm thinking about is the energy, the power, the sense that you can bend the world around you to your will. I hope there is some way to bring Daisy up as a productive citizen without having her lose this spirit because, correctly channeled, it is powerful and empowering. She sure is a daily inspiration (and challenge) to me!
  3. I am having SO. MUCH. FUN. with Memories by Michelle, it should be illegal. Working on the website, the branding, the new materials... it's just hitting all my creative and strategic hot-buttons. Unveiling the new website ( was like giving birth to a second child. I also have a Google ad campaign working out there, am looking into other online advertising opportunities, and am working on promotional materials for grass-roots promotions. I am LOVING all of this. Yes, I love the photography most of all but the fact that I get to make my own decisions on marketing, design, copywriting after 15 years in the corporate world... LIBERATING and EXHILERATING. Yep. 
  4. I AM REALLY TIRED OF MY BROKEN BODY. My knee pain is know knees pain and getting worse. WTF!?  Bad knees mean I can't do my other P.T. exercises for my back which equals... bad back Gimmeabreak!
  6. I am ridonkulously excited about having joined a new gym. Yup, I took the plunge. I joined Rollingwood Raquet Club, just a quick 15 minute walk or 5 minute bike-ride from my house. It's so close, trying to form an excuse as to why I can't make it would be pathetic. Plus, my mum joined with me and we're going to go together 2 days a week. After trying the at-home workout-video path and being stuck with #4 and a general sense of lethargy and boredom, I signed-up for a 7-day pass, fully expecting to "fail" at this routine also. But something funny happened. I got into that gym and I felt myself be "myself" for the first time in a long time. I grabbed some dumbells, stood in front of a mirror, and felt just a little bit giddy. I remembered my former self, when I was strong, fit, and powerful and I saw remnants of that "me" in the mirror; I wanted more. I'm excited to start a new routine beginning tomorrow!
  7. I am seriously depressed that I have not even been able to find the time to see the final Harry Potter movie. I've been DYING to get to the theater since it came out. FAIL.
Alrighty then. Ending on an odd number and heading to bed to torture myself with a travel essay or two.

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