How does your memory work? The power of a printed photograph.

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How does your memory work?

“How does your brain lay down and retrieve memories? Your brain is made up of 100 billion neurons. As you grow and develop, these neurons are ‘wired up’ to each other, and communicate through thousands of connections – synapses. Memories are formed when certain connections are strengthened.” ~sciencemuseum.org.uk

Regardless of the times when you talk and think nobody on the planet understands you – humans do remain great communicators.  We use language by way of symbols and words that represent our feelings, ideas, actions, and qualities.  This is complex – and yet our lives are becoming seemingly more complex and the flood of information and memories can get ‘filed’ in rarely recovered folders in our mind.

A photograph has the power to recover memories, increase mood – reminding ourselves of positive times that improve how we feel now. Looking at a printed photograph is valuable – people hold them or look at them in an album or on a wall and reminisce about the past.  What is an experience 20-30+ years ago – and possibly long forgotten can create a “remember this” in your mind and bring stories increasing bonds between people.  A printed photograph can make you remember your daughter bursting with laughter on the floor, the way your son loved to run fast as he could,  completely free, and it can bring back stories of your grandmother and how she would hug you or the smell of fresh-baked bread.  It revives your senses, it re-files your memories putting more pleasant thoughts in the current files of your mind.  It brings you tears at times too – and that is what makes a photograph valuable.

It’s not just a piece of paper.  It is lifetimes of vivid book marks connecting your memories.   A printed photograph is one memory that connects many memories and sorts them in a more pleasant order…. that is what makes one photograph so special.

Think about your favorite few photographs that come to mind and take a minute to reflect on the emotions that those photographs provoke – that is the power of a photograph.

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In honor of all moms out there.

You are a mom, maybe a wife, you are the glue of your family.  You climb mountains for your family – and for that – we thank you.

YOU ARE WONDER WOMAN.

Tell a mom today “Thank you,” I love you, and give her a hug if you can.

Keep in mind mother’s day is coming up soon, but that is only 1 day out of 365 each year that she is working hard because she loves her family.  

Make her feel extra special whenever you can.

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Wonder woman’s job

buy stamps
pay house payments
stock bathroom with toilet paper
stock rooms with tissue
clean sheets
make beds with clean sheets
vacuum carpets
pay water bills
tidy up every room every day
set up play dates
drive kids to music lessons
plan parties and celebrations
notice when you need new clothes
shop for new clothes
recycle old clothes
dust furniture
plan menu for the month
make shopping lists
buy groceries
put groceries away
keep lists of groceries we need
rotate food storage
clean litterbox
clean fishtank
replace shower curtains
sweep and mop floors
pay allowance
take you to library
organize toys and games
pay power and gas bills
put gas in car
pay car insurance bill
schedule dentist and doctor appts.
drive you to doctor appointments
wait with you through doctor appts.
plan fun excursions
make packing lists for trips
buy plane tickets for vacations
sort dirty laundry
wash dirty laundry
dry clean laundry
fold clean laundry
put away clean laundry
fill empty water bottles
turn off lights you’ve left on
open/close windows to keep house cool
plant garden
water garden
weed garden
water lawn
rake leaves
pick fruit from garden
notice when you need new shoes
shop for new shoes for you
recycle your old shoes
organize medicine and first air stuff
buy dental hygiene items
keep memorabilia of your life
take photos of your life
edit and print photos of your life
clean bathrooms
find petsitter when we go away
feed cats

 

feed fish
buy birthday gifts for you and others
wrap gifts
make jam
clip your nails
make desserts
make dinner
make breakfast
make lunch
clean up after meals
set the table
make bread or rolls
take you to the beach
help you take care of your body
renew your library books
work in the office
pay cable bills
pay phone bills
reserve campgrounds for you
notice when you need new pillow
buy you a new pillow (or mattress cover)
find a babysitter for you
write thank you notes on your behalf
put money into your college savings acct.
email your teachers
help you write talks
help you with homework
help out in your school classroom
organize and maintain 72-hour kits
make cookies
take you shopping to spend your money
remove wallpaper/paint rooms
make vacation books
reserve rental car for vacations
notice when you need new backpack
buy you a new backpack/lunchbox/etc.
read books to you
take trash out
put in new garbage bag
pack lunches
prepare after school snack
walk you to school
pick you up school
pay preschool tuition
pay health insurance bill
pay dental insurance bill
buy new cat/fish food and litter
run errands
mend your clothes/blankets
take pets to vet annually
help you plan Halloween costume
prepare Christmas lists
print Christmas cards
write and mail Christmas cards
put money in savings every month
keep your bedroom organized
sort through and donate things
reduce reuse and recycle
take you to playgrounds
arrange for you to visit museums
chaperone your field trips

 

After this she may also work a regular job too.

 

This is the short list to be honest… 

 

 

Photography forward project. Happy Camera Monsters 1.0

THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF SOMETHING GREAT.

My mind was a jumble of thoughts on my way home from the studio one afternoon.  I had a million ideas in my head.  One of which was some art that our very own “Jenny” had posted about a friend of hers.  Now, she has told me over and over how talented her friend was… and sometimes it takes the right time and place for that to connect to you personally or professionally.

Back to the drive home…. I had one of those awh haaaa moments when if I didn’t tell someone I would bust so called Ms Jenny to bounce some things off of her – particularly about her friend Karen’s art.

So it begins the Photography forward project.

FEBRUARY 14TH, 2013… yes, we are starting this on Valentines Day.  10 custom created pieces of “domino art” will be dropped off at various locations in Denver & surrounding areas.  This each piece of art is called “Happy Camera Monster.”  Each piece of art is a little different, a very custom piece of art – and I have to say – they alone should make you smile.  They will all be numbered and will be attached to a card with exact details and information too.

In a nutshell.  On February 14th, 2013 I’ll post some hints to locations where they will be… or an un-suspecting person may just happen upon one.  If you’re watching our blog and facebook pages you may just get a jump on being the first to get to a location.

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YOUR BONUS: If you are one that finds or is gifted one of our Happy Camera Monster dominos, call us at (720)566-9770 or e-mail jennyb@fototails.com and you will get a free 1 hour studio portrait session at our Denver, CO studio.  Catch is… to get the session you have to bring the domino to your portrait session so we can take one image with the domino.

CHILDREN’S TREE HOUSE BONUS:  If you choose to purchase any prints from your session, with your first online print order we will donate $10 to Children’s Treehouse Foundation of Denver.  To learn more about Children’s Treehouse Foundation please click here to find out what an amazing organization they are in helping families dealing with cancer.

THE PAY IT FORWARD BONUS.  At your portrait session we will take one image of you with the Happy Monster Art that you have.  Now… after your session, we will put that piece of art on a new card for you to pass along to anyone you know for them to use for a free portrait session.  The catch?  It always has to be someone new, you can’t use a Happy Camera Monster more than once yourself – but you can pass it to whomever you see or know that would love a portrait session for them or their families.

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Over the coming year we will be keeping track of our Happy Camera Monster dominos and are hoping that they make their way all around the Denver area or maybe even to people just visiting.

As you can see our Happy Camera Monster Art is currently in progress with the very talented hands of Karen Windness!  I can not WAIT until they are all complete with their cards, and I’m even more excited to start dropping them off at locations in a few weeks.

Every time we get one of our Happy Camera Monsters pass through the studio we will share a photo and blog post too!

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karenslittlemonsterslogo

Children’s Treehouse Foundation

We will be working closely with Children’s Treehouse Foundation in the coming months.  I wanted to take a minute to tell you a little about their foundation.  Please feel free to visit their website for more information as well at Childrenstreehousefdn.org

The Children’s Treehouse Foundation’s psychosocial intervention programming is unique because of its special focus and delivery system.
It’s About The Children
It’s a given. Cancer affects the entire family. Yet in too many situations, the undeniable psychosocial impact on the children whose parent has cancer goes unattended.This may lead to ongoing stress and anxiety for the children, evolving into maladaptive behavior throughout life. Our mission is to redress this critical oversight.
 
Parents In a Crisis
Many parents dealing with cancer acknowledge they don’t know how to talk to their children about their cancer. This breakdown in communication not only heightens the stress and fears of the children, but also isolates them and precludes them from being an active member of the family. We are committed to help fill this need.
 
Enhancing Hospital Services
Hospitals are clearly the haven in treating the parent with cancer. Yet even as they know the parent’s treatment proceeds best when their concerns of their children are diminished, far too few provide adequate emotional support for the children involved. Our emotional, group-support programming for children bridges this gap.
 
Training the Facilitators
Enlightened, trained, professional facilitators at cancer centers are the keys to assuaging the fears and anxieties of children whose parents have cancer. Clearly, social workers, nurses, clergy, life center specialists, or others, when armed with new insights into the children’s psyche, and provided with the proper tools, are uniquely qualified to help the children in their new unsettled environment.
 
Closing the Caring Loop
Finally, they all come together: Fearful children, anxious parents, a healing facility, and caring, thoughtful professionals. And almost like magic, the children learn how to cope with their feelings, parents become aware of richly improved family communications, and facilitators know, in their heart of hearts, that the trauma and travails of the family are measurably reduced. We’ve closed the caring loop.
Our Role, and Benefits
  • Professional Training: The Children’s Treehouse Foundation provides cancer centers and hospitals with professional training to enable them to launch support programs for the children whose parents have cancer so they are better able to cope in that unsettling, frightening, and stressful environment. 

    They receive training and program manuals, a power point presentation, a DVD, and children’s activity material developed by the Foundation’s CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) program, funded in part by the Avon Foundation.
     

  • Family Support: By providing group-support programming, the family burden of dealing with cancer, and the inevitable stress, is significantly reduced. Parents need support and help in communicating with their children.
    They tell us: 
    • “I don’t want to alarm my children, but I don’t know want to lie to them either. How much should I tell them?”
    • “I think my child understands, but I don’t know. He never says anything to me about my cancer.”
    • “What should I answer when my daughter asks, ‘Are you going to die?’
  • Children need support because they tend to 
    • imagine the worst
    • experience intense feelings of shock, disbelief, denial, fear and anxiety
    • mistakenly believe they caused their parent’s illness
    • act out their feelings, displaying behavioral problems

    Here’s what children tell us during the CLIMB support program: 
    “I really don’t feel like playing.” 
    “I wish this NEVER happened.” 
    “It feels like it’s your fault.” 
    “I want to BEAT SOMEONE UP!” 
    “I’m afraid of going to an orphanage.” 
    “You don’t feel safe.” 
    “You feel like you want to help a lot.” 

What little lady can pass up a tutu?

A few weeks ago we posted on facebook that we were doing one day of “tutu” sessions for little girls, their families & friends.  One day quickly turned into three and it couldn’t have been more fun!  Absolutely in love with hundreds of images from those shoots!  Dizzie Izzie pedi-skirts and some fantastic tutus from Kimber… then add some cupcakes from Anything But Vanilla and some accessories and it makes for some pretty fun filled days of photography.

Check out some of the images on these little videos!

TUTUS: Vol 1

TUTUS: Vol 2

TUTUS: Vol 3

A letter on my door step: waves formation.

I’ve decided to continue on with 3 more posts on “A letter on my door step.”  This will be post 3 of 5 total before the end of this blog heading. I feel like after the mass distribution and hundreds of thousands that have graced the pages, e-mailed me, and all of the amazing stories that I’ve had the chance to read, that I need to follow through for all that have started following my blog because of the post.  In case you’ve missed any up until now, here is the order or far and what to expect coming up.

1. A letter on my door step: Portraits are more than paper

2. A letter on my door step: The follow-up

3. A letter on my door step: Waves formation (the post you are on right now)

4. A letter on my door step: Picture the results (coming soon)

5. A letter on my door step: Family (coming soon)

So obviously I’m sure to most that have been reading my recent posts and seeing the mass response – my personal view of what has happened is best described as a wave formation.  Lovely description of such a thing in nature can be found at Action Sports Maui.  I have personally had such extreme highs and lows the past 3 days – but I stand strong in the fact that I believe I did the right thing by posting the letter.  The stories/experiences/feelings that came pouring in to me are overwhelming, while giving me such renewed faith in human nature and the the value of family, love and the healing power a photograph can give to them.

Emotions that have been expressed mostly by communications to me from viewers: Belonging – Love – Sorrow – Pride – Calm – Gratitude/Thanks – Empathy – Will… and that is just to start.

Call to action was what amazed me the most.  I’ve had so many people telling me they picked up their cameras to photograph their loved ones immediately.

I guess from here, I would love to share a few images from my readers out there.  If you happen to have picked up your camera and have taken a shot of a family member because of reading this post – or if you had some images taken at a portrait session, please share.  Feel free to e-mail them to me at my gmail account: fototails@gmail.com.  I of course can’t post everything everyone sends, so don’t feel slighted if I don’t post yours – but would love to post a few on my next post.  I’ll just take the first 6 or 7 images I receive.  Please – if you send something that a professional photographer took, also send a release with it and if you are the photographer, please include a logo on your image so you get credit.  Only rated “G” photos please!  If you have a little paragraph to go with an image about you or how this impacted you – I would love to add a little about it too.

Jeanine Thurston Photography

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A letter on my door step: The follow-up

Ok – honestly, I had absolutely no idea what would happen over the last 24 hours.  Although I’ve been in professional photography for around 24 years – I did not set out to post something that would be passed along to so many people.  Today, my e-mail, blog & twitter were turned upside down with mass communication beyond comprehension.  95% of the voices I heard through Facebook, Twitter, E-mail as well as blog posts were a grouping of similar stories, people who could really relate, and thankful people that loved the reminder to give a little more love an attention to those that you love around you.  About 3% were questions about me, about the family, and about photography.  That left a very small 2% that found the blog post offensive and questioned my integrity in doing so.  Looking at the percentages – I will say that there will always be a few nay sayers and negative people, but the astonishing positive and thankful feedback actually has left me in tears over half the past day.  So I went to the studio with no make-up, hair in a mess and nice big puffy eyes – and am grateful for all of the stories shared from all corners of the globe.

Just because everyone isn’t rosy and positive doesn’t mean they don’t have a valid perspective, so I feel like I should address some questions in today’s post.  These are answers to only questions I’ve received up until now – and I apologize if I’ve missed something from any of you, and will try to go through and e-mail some people directly as well.

** Were you blocking a lot of negative comments so far?

Actually no. I have currently only “unapproved” 5 posts so far… all of which contained either foul language or I felt were bashing the feelings of sincere people that posted comments on my blog.  I e-mailed a response to each person that I “unapproved” explaining exactly why I had done so, as well as addressing their concerns or harsh words.

** Is Karen still alive? Can you post photos of her and her family?

Sorry to say that she has passed.  I do have images from past sessions and wedding; however I and the family do not feel it is the right place to put faces to her words – as her words speak for themselves.  They prefer not to be recognized, or contacted – especially with young children involved.  Morning and dealing with a sever loss is really a personal matter – and it is a very fragile situation.

** Was the post a marketing ploy or hoax?

No.  The only benefit I feel from this is that others can bond and feel some greater picture.  I have my own family, a full-time business and want to pass along how important loving relationships are or can be to my children.  Cancer has hit close to home in my family as well – and it was a very awakening experience for me.  A reminder of how quickly life passes, and how even I put off photos with my children.  As photographers, we are behind the camera – and the nudge that this letter provided me was to do more portraits with my husband and children…. and ME in the photograph.  It’s about setting aside the thought of a few extra wrinkles, or couple extra pound because you don’t feel like you look perfect and getting in front of the camera for sentiment sake.  Unfortunately I don’t think I could possibly convince some people of this – but I felt like I still needed to try to explain my actual intent.  I by no means believe this was her last “wish” as one so un-kindly put either.  I know her and I also know that she probably sat down and wrote a number of letters to people because that is the kind of person she was.  Loving.

** Do I expect people to spend thousands on photography?

That is quite a personal decision and really – with my own family and trying to support them on a photographer’s budget I have to tighten my belt too.   I am all to familiar with paycheck to paycheck.  So in short… NO… that isn’t something I would demand or expect – or force anyone into.  Many seem to be un-aware that photographers are small business owners – we are no different than anyone else with a job (except we rarely get a steady paycheck).  We have lots of bills, many of us have families, we pay our own insurance –  if we are pros and we also have increasingly large over head expenses with continually upgrading equipment & computers.  We work all hours day and night too.  It is as far from a 9-5 job as most will ever understand.  Many photographers (myself included) have actually lowered our rates or offer payment options or packages to make it easier if a client chooses to hire us for their memories.

I want to make it abundantly clear that at least 90% off all my photographs of my family and children are “candid” on the fly and “in the moment.”  And yes – these are prized by me just as much as the professional looking images.

** Guilt trip?

Well – I guess you can call it what you would like.  Some people have called it a real awakening, some have said thank you for the reminder, and some have said I was a awful person too.

Here is my opinion.. or view I guess you can say:

“Call it whatever you want!  I LOVE MY FAMILY.  I know now more than ever that there are hundreds of thousands of people that feel love for their families and friends.  If yesterday’s post made just ONE of you pick up your camera and take a family photo or a few extra shots of your children or parents/grandparents then that 2% that are disgusted with me, don’t matter – my love and concern is with those that the post touched in a positive way.  I would love to photograph as many people as possible in my lifetime, but it makes me happy just to know that others out there do see value in what a photograph IS.  It is beautiful memories of past lives, the building blocks of who you are today and who you will be tomorrow, and it is stories for  children and generations to come.”

I am very proud to be a professional photographer

I am proud to be in a profession that touches so many people in an amazing – astounding way for generations behind and ahead of me.

I am proud that I can see beauty in everyone…. EVERYONE.

For all photographers out there – professional or not – be proud that you record our history, love and our lives.  For clients or potential clients… we photograph people because we love the spirit and uniqueness of every person.

I wish everyone a beautiful and heart-felt 2012!!!!  My many thanks to everyone that has and will post about their experiences.  I enjoy reading and hearing about all of the amazing connections out there and have had many e-mails and posts stating how much they appreciate everyone posting and seeing all of the love and kindness!

Here is the link to the post that this follow-up refers to as well:

https://fototails.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/a-letter-on-my-doorstep-portraits-are-more-than-paper/

A letter on my door step. portraits are more than paper.

There will be no portrait photos in this post.  This letter wasn’t mailed – it was at my doorstep when I got home a couple months ago.  I read it, I cried, and read it again – probably a hundred times by now.  It wasn’t easy to read – and honestly, as much as it validates what I do for a living – I wasn’t sure I was going to share it either.  If you choose to read through the letter, you will know why I’ve finally chosen to share it.

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.

The first couple weeks.

It’s 3 a.m., they’re all asleep,
and no-one’s here to see.
As we rock slowly back and forth,
My baby boy and me.

His little hand is feather light
Tucked up against my chin.
I hold his tiny hand in mine,
and stroke his baby skin.

The house about us creaks and groans,
The clock hands creep around.
He snuggles closer to me still,
And makes his baby sounds.

I love these quiet hours so much,
And cherish every one.
Store memories up inside my heart
For lonely nights to come.

All too soon he’ll be grown up,
His need for mama gone.
But until then I still have time
For kisses and for song.

Time for quiet hours like this
With him cuddled in my arms,
Where I wish he’d always stay
Protected, safe and warm.

And yet I know the day will come
When his tiny little hand,
will be bigger than my own.
He’ll grow to be a man.

But until then he’s mine to love
With no one here to see.
As we rock slowly back and forth,
My baby and me.
~Author Unknown
Jeanine Thurston's Newborn Photography