August 8, 2016
July 28, 2016
"HG: You are known as a great defender of the nineteenth-century, particularly the words of Dickens and Thomas Hardy. What virtues do you find there that you feel are missing in contemporary fiction, and which contemporary novelists do you think fulfill -- or come closest to fulling -- these virtues?
JI: Thomas Hardy insisted that a novel had to be a better story than something you might happen upon in a newspaper. He meant "better" in every way: bigger, more complex, more connected, and also having a kind of symmetry or closure -- even achieving a kind of justice, or at least an inevitability, in the end.
George Eliot, too -- and of course Dickens. Their novels were *designed*. David Copperfield once remarked that he found real life a whole lot messier than he expected to find it. Modernism in literature upholds the theory that a novel can be a patternless mess (without a plot) because real life is like that. Well, good novels, in my view, are better made than real life.
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier - oh my. This has hooked me in the very first chapter. Can we say Haunting, Foreboding, Boldly Foreshadowing?!??? Daphne du Maurier is best-known for her gothic Cornish novel, Rebecca; and I dare to suggest that My Cousin Rachel is every bit as good as, and perhaps the superior to, Rebecca. The toxicity of jealousy, the power of love to blind (for "the heart controls the body. and the mind."), the lies we tell ourselves to justify our beliefs/actions, the arrogance of youth ... it's all here. And it's sooooo good.
The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma - I'm not a non-fiction reader. It's just not my preferred genre. Like John Irving brilliantly put-words-to (top of this post), I like my stories to be better than newspaper accounts; I like a book to be bigger, better, more complex, with symmetry and closure ... architecture! But, if you don't have this hang-up like I do, and you like sweet, well-told memoirs written by someone with whom you have no acquaintance (but feel like you "know" by the end of the book), then The Reading Promise may totally delight you. As a bonus, the battle cry of this book is: "... a promise to remember the power of the printed word, to take time to cherish it, to protect it at all costs ... the life-changing ability literature can have ..."
A Widow for One Year by John Irving - It used to be that I always gave a book the benefit of doubt and read to the end even if it started kinda "icky". As I've gotten older, I have less patience (and more discernment, I like to think) with books. I will often abandon a book 50-100 pages in (if not poorly written), or even just a mere chapter in (if poorly written). Then there's this book and this conundrum: it definitely starts icky and quickly gets ickier. As a reader, I hope that the "icky" is merely the background against which the narrative will play. But, no; the icky remains. And the whole atmosphere feels so completely morally bankrupt. But. John Irving is a fantastic writer. In some ways, he seems to me like a modern-day "classic novelist" akin to Dickens or Eliot or Hardy. He can definitely vividly develop a story and a place and people it with non-cardboard characters. Which leaves me wanting to know where he's taking the icky and whether there's going to be anything redeemable about the lives of his book's people or the story. I didn't quit this one. But I probably should have. Despite the last 6-ish lines being genius, I really kind of felt like I needed to wash my brain out from the rest.
July 26, 2016
I have not the words to adequately describe the awe and mystery and wonder and sleep-deprivation and love-that-explodes-from-every-fiber-of-your-being that accompanies your first days with a baby…
“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.” ~James 1:17-18
June 30, 2016
This session well represents what my heart loves to photographically document: an authentic moment in life. To my dear brother & sister-in-law, I know you guys are “in the trenches” – that every single day you’re pulled in dozens of different directions all at the same time and that you probably juggle loads of guilt and feel like you are constantly inadequately meeting the needs of someone or something (be that spouse, child, friend, parent, client, business, education), despite giving the best effort that you are able to give. Please let these images show you that your intentional choices and your deep love and your best efforts and your faith are totally-completely-awesomely yielding fruit in your five little humans!!! May this simple gift of mine nicely complement C.S. Lewis’ (and bees’) wisdom: “It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.”
Notes from the heart of the photographer: A few days ago I posted the following thoughts on Facebook regarding these images above … “There are about a million gabillion reasons why I don't like to pose -- and I'm not too prideful to admit that one reason is that it's simply not my strength-- but the integral and more important reasons largely boil down to this one big truth for me: I want ... I CRAVE ... authenticity. I want real body language and real expression and real activity and real emotion. I'm passionate about my images really truly looking and feeling like the precious individuals in front of my lens. If there's sibling cuddles, I want those cuddles (and the resulting expressions) to be self-initiated, and not be directed by me. If there's climbing on rocks, I want it to be because you wanted to climb on a rock, and not because I told you to. If you want to show me the mud cake you're so proud of, I want to see it and celebrate it with you. Authenticity captured makes me deeply, soulfully, satisfied.” I don’t need a spotless house. I don’t need stylized, coordinating clothing. I don’t need hair + make-up artfully applied. I don’t need boo-boos to be healed or extra weight to be shed. I just need you to show me your world. And I promise, I will see the beauty.
Techy notes to my geeky fellow photographers: I shot this whole session with my 24-105 f/4 and 35 f/2 lenses, Canon 5dM3 camera. Shot for 2.5 hours and netted nearly 500 keeper images.