I’ve been to a lot of places in this world, but I’ve never been to a place that I felt so out of place as when I visited this widow and her family in the Rakai district of Uganda.
We were working on a video project to help the Celebrate Hope ministry, and we were interviewing this woman who lost her husband last November. He was to have been sponsored to be a coffee farmer thru Celebrate Hope, but he died before the plants were given, and left his widow with 5 young children.
The good news is that this coming September, she will plant about 300 coffee seedlings, and in about 4-5 years, she will be able to make $2500 a year on her coffee crop. You may not think that’s much, but the average family in this area lives on about $500 a year!
Why did I feel out of place? Well, for one thing, I was wearing clothes that were brand new, and the boys in this family may have no other clothes than what you see in this portrait. I may have been one of only a handful of white people they have ever seen in their life, and I held in my hand a camera that would cost this family 6 years of their total income.
Personally, I think feeling out of place like this was a good thing…a very good thing.
Slap me next time I whine about anything
After traveling to Peru last summer, I have more questions than answers about what poverty really is. This image is of a squatter’s slum on a hillside above the city of Lima. While I visited with a couple in the main room of one of these “houses”, I noticed a teenage boy watching Youtube in the room next door.
I’m not making any judgment on this scene, but I also don’t know what to think. What can I make of this family who has internet, but barely has food?
Regardless of the things that confuse me, I do know this: poverty breaks God’s heart. And poverty is of the soul as much as it is of the body.
I’ve started to ask God to break my heart for the things that break His.
I wonder if you’ve been on a journey like mine? What is your passion? How do you act on it? If you need something to jump start your heart, you might want to check out Operation World, whose link is posted on the sidebar.
I’d love to hear from you.
I love the session we just did of the Mark and Monica Fuller family. They live in Santa Rosa valley, which is perfect for their daughter Madison, who loves riding. The portrait is especially important to the Fullers. The experienced first hand that when our kids head off to college, it takes a little more effort to get the whole family together.
Mark worked at the Norton Simon Museum, and the Fullers have an amazing collection of artwork in their home. You can imagine what n honor it is that we will be making a painting for them.
Here is another image from the sample portraits we’ve been doing. This one is of Brianna Reid. Both April and I were inspired by how Brianna’s blonde hair so beautifully contrasted with her blue blouse. I love the illustrative feeling to this painting.
Mark mentioned in his last blog that we’ve been doing some experimenting with close up portraits of individuals, and last week he photographed Malina Coto. She is stunning, and a perfect model for the project. I thought it would be fun to post a quick sketch I’ve made from Mark’s camera study. Malina and her mother Yadi are coming to the studio today to see all the images, and I’ll be sure to post the painting when I complete it in a month or two.
Remember film? Back in the olden days, I was a wedding photographer when there were no easy-to-use digital cameras. The challenges were completely different, and few people dared to be photographers. We typically shot between 180-200 images at an entire 9 hour wedding. We had to plan ahead, to think carefully and to know before we even clicked the shutter exactly what the end result would be. Things were so different then
Those years of experience shooting weddings launched me into what I hope is a lifelong career in portraiture. From the very beginning I’ve been blessed. I’ve had incredible opportunities to create innumerable portraits of people all over the world.
And, I get to do what I love most. My passion is for families: especially families with grandparents, little children and everyone in between.
I also love the equestrian world that has welcomed me so graciously. I’m experiencing an intensely creative time of doing individual portraits. Some of these are young children and “soon-to-be adult” young men and women. I’m collaborating with April in painted portraiture.
It’s a time of great experimentation that’s based on years of experience with you, my kind and trusting clients.
It may be time for you to update your portrait. Heather Hawkins and her family came back last year and we created this gorgeous portrait. Wouldn’t it be fun for you to have something equally interesting – and beautiful – made this year? I hope to hear from you soon.
April and I went to see The Artist, which is a wonderful contemporary silent film in black and white. It’s true that a picture says a thousand words, and this silent film reminded me of why I love what I do: Thanks to my clients, I get to tell the visual stories of their lives. Exciting things await in 2012!
Wow, what a year! Mark and I got to talking about 2011, and came away with an incredible sense of gratitude. God has blessed us through countless people, and especially through our clients.
In 2011, we saw many of you come back to update your portraits. What a compliment that is! Mark’s commissions have been more diverse than ever: under scruffy beach bridges, in crowded urban settings, at gorgeous estates from Montecito to Newport Beach, and at our studio property in Calabasas. We even photographed my 90 year old dad’s wedding! On top of that, Mark published a book for RideOn Therapeutic Horsemanship, and we helped raise thousands of dollars for many other charities as well.
It means the world to us that so many people continue to seek us out, and then come back again and again. You enable us to do what we love most: tell visual stories. We can’t thank you all enough. If we haven’t heard from you in awhile, we’d love to reconnect.
We wish you peace and joy this Christmas season and in the coming year.
April and Mark
A couple of years back, Mark and I thought it would be interesting to create a family portrait for our (then) pregnant daughter Kelly and her husband Andrew Harman, at the crowded Balboa Pier in Newport Beach. Everyone who we know loves the images, which hang as a gallery in her home.
Now that Luke has come along, they need a new portrait. I thought it would be fun for Mark to take them to the Grove in LA. It didn’t occur to me that a Sunday afternoon would be an insane time to do a portrait there. Nevertheless, everyone was up for the idea.
As usual, Mark pulled it off beautifully. The portraits will make another wonderful grouping for Kelly, and it will be a very special gift that she’ll enjoy for a long time!
I’m so proud of Mark – it takes a bit of nerve to shoot in some of the locations we’ve been visiting lately.
Ah, the digital age.
When digital imaging was first introduced, the color wasn’t exactly great. Actually, it seemed improbable that digital images could ever measure up to traditional printing methods. I can’t tell you how many times Mark rejected work from the lab because the people looked grey. As in dead.
But, boy, things have changed.
Those of us who’ve been doing this for a long time have been stretched, we’ve complained, and (finally!) we discovered something new about ourselves as artists.
Change is good.
Here are some images from a session we did with Andrew and Frances Bransby and their family. Both Mark and I love the dramatic role that design and color play in the top one, which Andrew and Frances ordered as a 48” image.
I also love that Mark understands classic portraiture and lighting, and that we’ve been doing this long enough to know that they really art pieces our clients love for decades. So, we have come to love both the happy innovation of the seemingly impromptu portrait, and yet we also know that classic portraiture will endure all the passing trends.
What an incredible time we live in, don’t you think?.