The Blog

2015-06-02_0001
Before it’s too late.

We are reminded of this precept in so many places. Register for the class before it’s too late. Put down a deposit before it’s too late. Travel the world before it’s too late. Cook that chicken before it’s too late. Say I love you. Before it’s too late. I’m typically of the mind that it’s NEVER too late, but sometimes the universe has other plans.

Recently, my next-door neighbor passed away after a brief, unexpected illness. In the two years prior to her death, her family had been trying to arrange a photo shoot with me so that I could document four generations of their family, the oldest of which was my neighbor. There was always something that prevented the entire group from getting together; a work meeting, a fussy baby, a lacrosse tournament. The pictures were never taken. And then, without warning the opportunity was gone, and it was too late.

Certainly not all missed opportunities for photography are so heartbreaking. Sometimes people don’t want to schedule something until their kid gets his braces off. Or until the baby is sitting up. Or until they lose that last 10 pounds. And then, a few years later, I hear these same folks lament that they can’t believe how quickly the kids are growing and why oh why didn’t they get photos done BEFORE IT WAS TOO LATE?

Capture your family, your love, your life. As you are right now.

Laurie and Dave contacted me recently; even though we had done a family shoot back in the fall, Laurie wanted to know if I would be willing to photograph her two girls with the family dog, Orlagh. Orlagh is a super-beautiful golden retriever who, in past years, was thought of as a little too energetic to be in our shoots. Recently, however, Orlagh was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer which is difficult to treat. In the midst of all of the vet appointments and chemotherapy, Laurie and Dave knew that they really wanted to capture the relationship that Charlie and Annabel have with their sweet pet. So, we made room in our schedules and went out into the fields and just played. And when I sent Laurie her gallery, her response just said everything:

“One word…AH-MAZING! I am beyond thrilled with how these photos turned out. As I scrolled through the gallery the first time, I had tears in my eyes yet a smile on my face because you captured “it.” From Orlagh’s spirit (and golden smile), to Charlie’s love for Orlagh, to Annabel’s devious little grins, each photo speaks volumes to who these girls are and what they mean to us and to each other. I will treasure each of these images.

I’m so glad I was able to do this for my cherished clients. Enjoy the love!

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This will be my fifth End of the Year slideshow (see 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010) and possibly my most emotional. I like to use this space each December to thank all of my clients for being loyal and fun and for bringing all of these smiles into my life. This year, in addition, I need to somehow express how doing this job — being a photographer and being able to grasp these glimpses into your families, your accomplishments, your LOVE — has truly saved my own life. The connections I make when I create these images not only put food on my table and keep a roof over my head, they also fill the empty spaces that too often appear. They give me purpose. They give me reason. They give *me* love. They are more valuable than I can ever express.

If you are a part of this montage, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to share in your life, no matter how briefly, this year. I am so grateful.

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You might notice that things look a little different around here. If you’re really paying attention, you might notice that some of the changes don’t quite make any sense yet. All the recent news about teaching kids to code is BRILLIANT. If I knew how to code, this site would be smoking hot. I do not, however, know how to code, so my choices during this update were to go dark, which is never really good for business, or to beg your patience and ask for some creative-update-leniency while I figure out how to make all of the bells and whistles work. I promise, once I’m done, things will be much easier to manage. And there will still be plenty of pretty pictures.

Thanks for your support!

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One of my favorite projects each year as the ordering and shipping frenzy comes to an end is putting together my annual end of the year slideshow; going back through all of my photos from the year, revisiting clients, remembering each shoot and all of the fun I get to have doing my job. Seeing all of these faces in one place, in one presentation, always makes me feel so blessed that I have the opportunity to bring joy to the people I work with.

As I sat down to work on this task yesterday, though, I found that the things I normally grapple with (which image is the best? which song should I use?) were grossly overshadowed by the heart wrenching struggle I am having making sense of the tragedy which occurred in Connecticut last week. I’ve seen the faces of each of the victims on television in a very different kind of slideshow, and like many of the friends I’ve spoken with in the past few days, I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what the parents of those children are going through. Just as those chance glances of someone we love walking up the street, running down the field, or waving from the window of the bus seem so precious, so too are the moments frozen by a camera. Do those images help with healing, or are they painful reminders of a loss? I couldn’t see through my tears to finish, so I closed the files and left my office.

A few hours later, I got an email from a friend here in town. She asked if I would be willing to help her with a quick photo project. One of her high school friends is the mother of one of the first-graders who died at Sandy Hook. Friday morning, before he went to school, this woman’s 6-year-old son wrote “I love you” in the frost that had formed over the windshield of their car. The mother snapped a quick photo of it with her iPhone. It was the last photo she ever took of her child. My friend sent me the digital image and asked if there was anything I could do to improve the quality of the resolution, fix the exposure, etc. It was the most painful edit I have ever done, and yet it was also the most wonderful. Seeing that little boy’s happy grin, knowing that he was, in that moment, everything that his parents ever dreamed he could be — well, it practically brought me to my knees. There is a quote, unattributed, that photographers like to use: “You don’t take a photograph. You ask, quietly, to borrow it.” Today I know what that means.

Thank you, for allowing me to borrow all of you for a little while. My world is larger and richer and more beautiful for your kindness.

(now, turn up your speakers and enjoy!)

[powerpress]http://www.lisagilbertphotography.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/2012-EOY-slideshow-Medium1.m4v[/powerpress]

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If you had the misfortune to witness me lying in the middle of the road last week, deflated and ardently willing an errant meteor to target my limp and frazzled being, I apologize. It wasn’t pretty. If you were privy to my bleating at the poor Genius Bar guys when they delivered the bad news, I apologize. Again, not pretty. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but when it fails, it fails big. My hard drive crashed last week, taking it with it a giant chunk of my peace on earth. All of a sudden, my screen went blank, and that was the beginning of forever’s worth of frenzied phone calls, trips to the Apple Store, desperate pleas for help from the Gods of External Back-Up-Drives.The dust has settled somewhat; I am the owner of a new and eerily empty computer, and the hard drive with practically my entire life on it is making a trip across the country to see if anything can be salvaged. The good news is that I do back up all of my RAW files as soon as I get home from a shoot, so none of my client’s images were lost. I do, (mostly, almost always, 99% of the time), back up the rest of my files pertaining to Lisa Gilbert Photography. The bad news is that the 1% of the time I didn’t was in the past two months, so I lost hours and hours and HOURS of edits. If you’re a photographer and you’re reading this, I’m sorry I just made you throw up a little bit. If you’re not a photographer, then just believe me when I tell you that once you’ve edited crumbs and milk mustaches off of the same kid’s face fourteen times, you really don’t want to have to go back in there and do it again. Plus: over 8000 mp3 files, all of my 2012 invoicing, my Photoshop actions (thank GOD for my amazing photo posse who helped with that), templates, and GASP! My divorce agreement. Sometimes: small favors.

If you’re a recent LGP client, then I’m hoping you got the email that explained what is happening with your files. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have such patient, flexible, and supportive people in my corner. I especially want to thank Calder and Erik, both of whom had not a snowball’s chance in hell at doing anything right as far as I was concerned last week. For their Teflon souls, I am eternally grateful.

And Charlie? YOU are the sunshine that I get to come back to after all of this gloom, and nothing could be better than that. There’s ALWAYS a rainbow after the rain.

I’ve been photographing Charlie since she was just a few days old and posed in the bookcase for me. She has always been a little treasure, and this past shoot was no exception. At the time of the shoot, Charlie’s mom Laurie and her dad Dave were expecting their second baby. I just heard this week that little Annie has made her appearance, so hopefully you’ll get to see her soon here on the blog. In the meantime, enjoy Charlie in all of her awesomeness. And don’t forget to back up.

Checking out what’s in mom’s tummy!

In the middle of the shoot, a lightning storm sent us running for shelter under someone’s porch. Once it passed, we went back to the beach where things were a little bit charged up!

I just love her face in these…

The real electricity, however, came in the form of perfect, perfect light, and a rainbow made just for us. Charlie definitely approved.

Thanks for hanging in there while things were a bit quiet on the blog. I promise not to lie in the road any more. Happy weekend!

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I’m strangely obsessed with this song — maybe it’s the way the straightforward, brutal chorus just punches me in the heart. Everybody likes that, don’t they?

The video is a little creepy, but give it a shot.

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This (J) must be the saddest song ever written.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEa6mUyJYok&feature=related

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prana |ˈpränə|
noun: Hinduism
breath, considered as a life-giving force.
ORIGIN: Sanskrit.

There’s a technique that my Yin teacher uses to help us wage gentle battle against the aches and pains that arise while holding postures for a particularly long time. She urges us to use ujjayi breathing to “wash the area with fresh prana” — in other words, breathe deeply into the sensation to fill it with energy and openness. As with most things Zen, you have to draw upon your imagination and faith a bit to accomplish this; sweeping your breath past the biological limits of your lungs and down through your body to your lower back or hips or whichever spot is making noise. The art of pranayama means “extension of the prana or breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force.” Pretty deep when it works. Unsettling when it doesn’t.

For the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to breathe correctly. It’s not noticeable all the time, and it’s not like I’m wheezing or struggling to fill my lungs. There’s just a hitch. A hitch in the path between taking a breath and breathing. I can’t get past my chest, I can’t get that fresh prana into my head. It’s like there’s a bubble between my throat and my lungs, and I can only fill that particular bubble. I can’t bring fresh breath — clean, open, healing breath — to any of the parts of me that really need it, like my heart. The nature of this problem is obviously not physiological; it’s a big honking obstacle in my brain, in my attitude, in my cosmic balance. You don’t need to be on the lookout for a metaphor to see the situation for what it is: I can’t get out of my own head. I’m suffocating myself.

A series of disappointments in my personal life have undoubtedly been the catalyst for this, but it’s also possible that since I took all of my love advice from Jody Watley in 1987, I’m looking at things the wrong way. I think I become so certain about who I was, and who others were, and it blinded me. Another version of reality came knocking on the door, and I didn’t want to accept it. Photography allows me to create things as I see them, writing stories lets me have everyone saying what I want them to, but life? Not so much. Life tells you that it’s unattractive to be so querulous; don’t seek to straighten out everyone else, do a harder thing instead, and straighten out yourself. One of those things I’m hesitant to admit because I don’t like the way it sounds. Not very charitable of me, huh?

I’m working on it. I received some kindness last week from a place I never expected. It shook me up and spit me out and made me look at things from two or three degrees over. Not a complete sea change, but just enough to make me willing to sit and try to breathe past that hitch today. And tomorrow. And that’s far enough for now.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

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I closed my eyes and put this on repeat — over and over — until I could pretend I was passing through a spiritual barrier; pretend that I could, by some force of logic, fix it. The past weekend’s sugar overload added a pernicious, monkey-mind undercurrent, but I let the voice penetrate, permeate, untangle the mess of inscrutability I can’t seem to find a way out of, and for a few precious minutes, I didn’t care so much.

I like this live version better than the official video, (even though they both feature the amazing Hannah Peel), but to really get the full effect, you need to download the mp3 and turn all the lights off. Get some angst. It builds up slow, comes in with energy at about 4:30, and then drips with all his pain at 5:22. A friend of mine saw him sing this live in a parking lot after a show one night, and she said there wasn’t a dry eye. David Ford is simply amazing.

MP3: I Don’t Care What You Call Me (right click to download file.)

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I love it when Ryan climbs into my head and writes songs just for me.

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