For this project I wanted to take my photography a little bit further. I know how to add layers, textures, do double exposure and all the fun things in Photoshop - but I decided I wanted to be able to add to my images in a different way. I decided to print the images out and then play around with the prints themselves as a way to "physically" edit the photo, then retake a picture of the manipulated print to create a whole new image. It was a challenge on many levels. I am not someone who usually thinks all the way through a self portrait. I usually just go take pictures, and then see what fits with what my mood was or what I find appealing. The process of printing and playing requires extra thought because I have to know how I want to change the print before I actually have it printed - there's no "undo" button in real life, especially once you poke a hole in your print. I am currently living in Kosovo without a home printer - which means I have to go to the local print shop and spend quite a bit of money to have a print done or order one from the United States and wait for up to four weeks to get it in person. There is not much room for error. (The local print shop does not print the colors the way that I like - and they always change my saturation, so that also comes into play - but there isn't much I can do about that.)
Each image that I have put together has been thought out and truly intentional, which has been challenging but fun to create. Even with the extra planning, I do not always know what the outcome will be - as sometimes things work out better in our heads than in actual fact. But so far it has been good to be able to play around and create in a more 3-D environment, and I am happy to see my visions take shape. It is allowing me to be creative in my own way and in a new way, and it has been lovely.
"Turning Away - Letting Go - Searching - Reaching"
A mirror added after printing - I then positioned myself so that you could see my eyes and hand (but not the camera) in the reflection of the mirrors, shifted focus, and took the final shot. - background light gifted by Clare Gadsby
"You and Me and Coffee" - coffee textures added after printing, then shot with intentional blur.
"Wishful Thinking" - Embroidered flowers onto the print
"Stuck" - A frozen image.
"A Late Fall Forest" - Findings from the field
"Bubbles for us all" - Balloons added
When we first moved to Ireland I thought that really working on Storytelling Family Self Portraits would be a good thing for our family. I had a new space to play in and I had new light. But utmost I had mostly willing subjects. I will be the first to admit that my son wasn't always excited to help out, but thankfully with some patience, altering of ideas, and sometimes bribery I ended up with images that were more than just your face the camera and smile. I decided to do all of these images in our home, I do have some taken around Ireland of all of us, but this gallery is in our home only, because our home is usually my happy place. I had no idea that 2020 would be a year that we spent almost everyday in our home, but it was, and it allowed me to be more creative with my setups, and also it meant that I got over 52 images for the last year. These images are setup to tell our story, they are set up to show our day to day and our house. We will be moving from this home in 2021, so it is a good reminder to me of our time here and the love that we share.
Fall is still here. We had snow in September, and it scared me. But then we had 80 degree weather in October and even November. And although the weather is getting colder we are still having warm afternoons, where we can go for long walks and play in the trees. The kids and I went out to explore a spot for photos and I am so glad that there are some leaves still holding onto bushes and the sun is just lovely - thankfully no matter the time of year.
We were outside for only 25 minutes or so, but I got some beautiful shots that I adore.
We recently took a trip to our the kids' birth town in Belgium. While we were there we visited our old friends - including the ones at the zoo. The zoo was our weekly spot to visit and was a saving grace for while dealing with two small children. We always took the stroller so this was the first trip I've done with my family without the stroller, it was amazing. It allowed us to go to new places we hadn't been before (the rope walk and to the top of the flower temple). It was well worth the trip and allowed me to capture more documentary style photography, which I enjoyed (since i am pretty sure I already have over 30 pictures of each animal already).
Oh the flag that flies above Bishkek, one of our favorite sites (and sights), due to the mountains that tower behind it. There are days that the smog in the city is so bad that the mountains can't be seen. Unfortunately the day that I wanted to take these family photographs was one of those days. Thankfully when we drove up to the hills (the drive is horrible with potholes and rocks threatening to pop your tires at most every turn) we could see the mountains a bit and the sun was perfect for some pictures. We raced through them at the end as I didn't want to go back down the hill once the sun set. Hopefully this year the poppies will bloom and we can go back up, until then I think we will give our wheels a break.
Friday evening our family went down to Ala-Too Square after dinner and our timing couldn't have been more perfect in regards to lighting. The square, an obvious hangout for families, was glowing and due to this amazing weather was perfect for documenting more of our time here. The kids had fun wandering around, the fountains and light were beautiful and it allowed for a cherished memory from our time here. Here are a few of my favorites from that night, although really I am sure I could have chosen every photo we took.
Last week was a bit cooler so I was able to take the kids outside to the little patch of grass for two short sessions where I could capture some of our favorite things right now.
It is melon season. Melon season in Kyrgyzstan lasts for a few months - there are green, orange, yellow, and red melons - all of them are amazing. Wesley isn't a fan of the watermelon, which means that the rest of us get to gorge ourselves a little more.
The kids have also been enjoying playing on the climbing bars - and the sun hits them perfectly right after dinner. There was one point that Emme insisted on jumping down to give Wesley courage - it was so cute and I love their relationship so much.
School starts next week - so we will see how it all goes.
I have started this post many times over the past three and a half months, but figure it is time to actually post about life here. We have learned most of the ropes to surviving here - thankfully there weren't too many and although it isn't our beloved Belgium it is starting to feel like home.
We have gone on a family vacation up to Kazakhstan and finally have our car so we can attempt to drive to more sites. Before the car was here we walked and used taxis, which has been an experience in itself.
The people here speak Kyrgyz and Russian. I have had Russian lessons for the last couple of months, and can now read the letters and know some vocabulary to help with the day to day life.
The kids are doing well, we are getting used to living in an apartment, and we are thankful for the parks in the area. We can sill get Kinder eggs and ice cream is cheap enough that it has become a more common staple during these hot months. We all miss our friends, but we are slowly getting a base of people that we can depend on, which i am thankful for.
We are 13 hours ahead of the West Coast, which makes talking to family both easy and hard at the same time.
Dominic's work is going well and he is enjoying it, which I am thankful for. The Ambassador retired this month, so we are waiting to see if and when that position will get filled, but until it is, work continues as before.
We have enjoyed wandering around and seeing the sites of Bishkek and the mountains that are to the south of the city. Here are some pictures of the last few months, the first three collages are Bishkek itself, the last one is around the area.
We have now been in our new apartment about 2 weeks. I am learning about the light and space of our apartment and realizing that after running around like a mad woman for the past year I am having difficulty transitioning to just being at home all day every day with 2 kids and not having any specific place that we have to be.
Living in an a two bedroom furnished apartment is an adjustment and then to add being on the 17th floor to the mix - it makes life a little more difficult and less homey. Our once spacious backyard has now transformed into a small deck and the kids who each had their own rooms are now dealing with waking each other up at night, in the middle of the night, and in the morning.
Last Friday we unexpectedly had to put our dear greyhound to sleep. She had been a member of this family for over 8 years and it was a great blow to add on top of everything else.
But life continues on.
We have received the list of possible destinations for our family and although many places scare me I see possibility for growth and beauty in each one. We are enjoying having closets again and the metro, Starbucks, and Chipotle are just a block away.
We went downtown last week and the kids loved the museums, so after the mass of people go back to their homes we will venture out again and allow the kids to see our Nation's Capital before we move on to some other Capital city someplace else in the world.
On the 5th of January our family started a new adventure. We have been in limbo for weeks now and actually moving forward (out of our house, hotel, and into another hotel) has all be a bit hectic. Starting a new adventure required leaving the country that the kids were born in, leaving our home, our friends, my clients, and the place that we have grown to love over the past 6 years. It meant heartbreak for me. I know that there are going to be many good things ahead, but change is always hard and leaving so much has been very difficult. I know that God has a plan for us, and that it was time to leave but it doesn't make it any easier.
We are now located in the DC Metro area for the next 6 or so months while we wait and see where we are going to be stationed next. So stayed tuned and in February I will be announcing where we will be headed - but in the mean time I will do my best to post some of our every day.
Here we are at the airport waiting to board our flight.