Happy Thanksgiving from Norah

Thanksgiving is a time of year to reflect on family, friends and other elements of life for which we are grateful. While I believe strongly that striving for gratitude should be a daily practice, I will certainly not pass on the opportunity to express my thanks today.

It is difficult for me to make a separation from my personal and professional life because they are so closely linked to one another. This is actually a good thing for me.  And so, my list of thanks reflects both.
A few items of thanks:
  • My family–both furry and non-furry members.
  • Having a passion for my work; I can't imagine not pressing the shutter when I see something beautiful through the viewfinder.
  • The opportunity to work and experience community in two incredible cities–Santa Fe and Austin.
  • My clients who invite me into their lives to creatively capture what is most important to them.
  • A husband who encourages me to grow both personally and professionally and does the same for himself.
  • Mature and new relationships and the experience of connection and joy they both bring.
  • Inspiring projects that expose me to new perspectives and opportunities.
  • Oh, and let me not forget: trailer eateries, cheese, laughter, color, red wine and sunshine. (Not necessarily in that order).
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. May you squeeze everyone extra tightly, just because.

The Value of Self-Nurturing

We all have important roles and responsibilities in our lives that we maintain on a daily basis. For some that role is primarily in the home and for others it may extend beyond. Regardless of your type of role, it most likely involves giving a significant amount of your time and energy to other people. Sometimes you may be engaged in activities that seem to take away energy rather than restore it. While I agree there is a need for these types of commitments I urge you to consider for a moment what it would be like to participate in your role as "self-nurturer." Nurture |ˈnər ch ər| is defined as: "the process of caring for and encouraging the growth or development of someone or something." You and I probably nurture many people in our lives each day. My question is,  why should we leave ourselves out of this process?  I'll answer my own question: Uh, we shouldn't! Self-nourishment is vital to our roles as parents, sons and daughters, spouses and partners, siblings, teachers, professionals–everything. I'm not asking you to leave your roles and obligations behind and run free (although it sounds nice  for a couple of days, doesn't it?). I'm asking you to spend some time thinking about what it is that you feeds you. We're not talking marshmallows and almond butter here... I'm talking about what is it that makes you feel inspired and re-energized. What nourishes you beyond your daily roles? I know that if I pay attention to what nourishes and feeds me and I take action to do these things, even for a short time, I am able to better fulfill my daily roles as spouse, daughter, sister, mother to 5 furry children, household-maintainer, business owner, friend, artist and photographer. It is undoubtedly an effort to take time out of our lives and routines to spend time on ourselves, but it is imperative to growth and balance.

So, I'll tell you a little bit about what I've done to feed myself. As I've mentioned, I grew up loving art and enjoyed painting and dance and in high school fell in love with photography. As the years have gone by I've been fortunate to focus on my photography and my business associated with it, but I realized I'd left painting and dance in the wings. I think I haven't spent much time painting or dancing because I've always convinced myself that it didn't have a "purpose" since I felt I needed to apply all of my time and energy to my photography business. I've come to realize and accept that there is indeed a "purpose" in my painting and dancing and that purpose goes beyond productivity in the practical sense and extends to the self-nurturing concept I mentioned above. My love for painting and dance never went anywhere. I'm happy to say that I've started to paint a little and that I'm taking a dance class. As I've given myself permission to feed myself with these passions I've realized how much of a hole I've had without them. The feeling of applying a spot of alizarin crimson on a canvas with a brush or a palette knife totally excites me. Reminding my body how to pirouette on the smooth dance floor brings me incredible joy (after the dizziness subsides). I strongly believe that this kind of self-nurtering is helping me in my photography, my business and my relationships.


In addition to inviting dance and painting out of the wings and back into my life I've started to enjoy some exercise outdoors. While I can't say I am a "runner" I've been heading out on jogs to enjoy a break from my computer screen. As this is my first spring in Austin, TX. I've really found loved taking notice of the nature and delicate changes. I found it relaxing to take some images with my camera phone during a run the other day...

Whether your passion is art, gardening, building, cooking, fishing, sports, boating, knitting, etc. I hope you can give yourself the permission to self-nurter and explore one of your passions. I've learned that it's not something that just happens, however, we have to schedule this time for ourselves and stick to it!

What do you dream about spending time doing for yourself?



"Back in Your Own Backyard" Austin Portrait Session Part 2

It is valuable for me to know as little about who I am photographing before I meet them. I want to know as much as I can about interests, loves and personalities before I photograph anyone. While it isn’t a recipe for guaranteed success in a session, it certainly helps to establish an initial connection. This connection is imperative to creating any portrait-whether this portrait is of a 6-year-old girl, a 10-year-old poodle, or a 78-year-old man. I’d love to share a little more from my session with the three siblings here in Austin, Texas. The mother from my previous posting, “Back in Your Own Backyard Part 1” wanted photographs that had a casual, playful feel. She wanted something that told the story of her children at this special time in their lives. She expressed that her daughter had recently lost her two front teeth and that she wanted to capture her adorable smile and lively character. She talked about her sweet boys and that her middle child didn’t like to be photographed very much, but that he was just such a darling child with tremendous personality. I asked about oldest and Sandra painted a lovely picture of a helpful and adoring boy who I was very excited to meet.

When I am choosing a time to photograph children it most often revolves around when the children are the happiest and have the most energy. Of course, lighting is a vital part to creating strong imagery, but it doesn’t matter how gorgeous the light is if you’ve got a miserable child in front of your lens. Sandra and I decided to schedule the session for the morning hours after the children had rested and been fed their breakfast. The light in the backyard was dappled-meaning that spots of light were coming in through the trees. This can be difficult light to work with, but not impossible. With three children, I had to find ways to keep them from having large spots of light on their faces and bodies especially while photographing them together as Sandra had wanted.  One of the ways to work in this light was that Sandra cheerfully stepped in as my assistant and held a light diffuser to help with the spotty light.

When I had walked around the backyard with Sandra a week earlier I visualized some areas where I had wanted to photograph the children together. I thought the hammock would be really fun but on the day of the session realized it was difficult to get the children to stay focused as they tipped and turned in the hammock. I tried sitting on it with two of the kids and agreed with them that it was hard! They had a good laugh at me then. The ground below the hammock was muddy and their feet were quickly a nice shade of dark brown. After one round of unsuccessfully cleaning I thought, “let’s just embrace this mud,” and I asked the children to lift up their legs in the hammock as I clicked my shutter.

During most of my sessions I start with a vision or a few ideas. That vision and those ideas change and morph organically during the actual session. This happens for several reasons. Sometimes there are aspects of a location I couldn’t have anticipated, the light changes, the weather changes, or a child or pet isn’t in the mood for being photographed a certain way or in a specific location. Although I sometimes think it would be fantastic if all of my plans and visions were easily realized (why not?), I’m most often thankful for the need to be adaptable because other opportunities and visions arise.

Hopefully these images remind you of the warmth, inhibition and play of childhood. Perhaps it reminds you of your own “backyard” and of the unique memories that were created there by you and your family.

I’m happy to share some of the images that arose from this unique trio of children as they expressed their distinctive personalities, in their own backyard.