Last weekend our daughter Grace graduated from CSU Chico with a B.A. in English and a minor in History. She had a wonderful four-year experience that included a lot of hard work, many new friends, and an unforgettable junior year studying abroad in England. We are very, very proud of her.
I knew I wanted to get some special portraits to mark the day. But I also knew that I wanted to be in the moment when all the graduation excitement was happening. With hundreds of students crossing the stage on Sunday morning, there was chaos and confusion and laughter and, yes, a few misty-eyed moments for the mother. This was the time for Grace to enjoy the hugs and squeals from her friends. It wasn’t the time to pull her aside for a photo. (Okay, we did take a few with proud parents and grandmother.)
So, what to do?
Grace and I spent some quality time together on Saturday afternoon, the day before her ceremony. She put on her cap and gown and we took a leisurely stroll around campus, capturing her in some of her favorite spots. Thankfully, both of my girls are used to me taking pictures of them. They are always patient, and often they get into the fun of it. Grace was into it this time.
Grace was so excited to be graduating. I really wanted to capture her genuine joy. And the rose garden is beautiful right now.
We also took a few straight-up portraits.
And then, because I really can’t help it, I had to get close to those eyes.
Grace, you are beautiful inside and out — smart, talented, funny and kind. Congratulations on all you have achieved. We love you.
The first time I visited the pasture was in the early hours of a cloudy morning. Spring was in the air and the horses were bursting with energy. This time it was at the end of a sky-blue day. The horses had moved to a different pasture and they were content to relax and enjoy grazing on the lush grass and wildflowers. I still couldn’t believe I was able to just walk among them. That feeling of awe hadn’t changed.
Mostly, it was the light that was different. It was challenging and fun to find ways to convey this kind of beauty.
Pam and Dexter met me at the bottom of the hill at 5:30. They had spent the afternoon together on the trails. As the sun lowered in the sky, Dexter led us up the hill in search of the rest of the herd.
Well before I could see or hear them, Dexter knew his buddies were near enough to hear him call them. He neighed and whinnied and shook his head. From a distance I heard them answer. We walked on and on until eventually we were on one ridge looking across a valley to another ridge where the herd waited for us. Pam turned to me and asked, “Would you like to see a horse fly?” She took off Dexter’s bridle and off he went, just like they say. Running like the wind.
I don’t know why this thrills me so, this peek into a world with few humans. Since the horses were calmer I could be a bit more bold. For me. They seemed curious and funny and friendly this time. And the light added a touch of magic.
I didn’t want to stop, but Pam and I knew we had to get down the hill and back to our cars before it got too dark. So we bid Dexter and his buddies good night.
My two-visit pass to the pasture has expired now, so I won’t be going back any time soon. But I’ll never forget it. Thanks, Pam.
One of my many resolutions is to get to know San Francisco better. I have lived in the Bay Area my whole life and I just don’t take advantage of living near this world-class city. Exploring with a pal is always more fun. I also find that exploring with a camera in hand helps me see better. Lucky for me, my niece Caitlin was able to join me.
We started at Ft. Mason, walked along Marina Green, and ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts. Caitlin agreed to be part of my photography project. I set myself a few challenges. My inclination is always to draw in very close when I’m taking pictures of people. I just love to see their eyes. But this time I wanted to pull back a little and incorporate the person and the vista. And let’s face it, most scenery shots are much more interesting when there is a person in them to show scale and provide a focal point. Like this one of a bandshell-type structure made of old car hoods and mother boards at Ft. Mason:
Or a suggestion of the Palace of Fine Arts:
But Caitlin is so lovely, and we were having such a good time together, that I kept getting closer and closer:
With portrait sessions, I always set myself a secret goal. I love the fun shots, and the silly shots, and the model/fashion shots if my subject is into that. But among all that, I always hope to catch that one unguarded, authentic moment when my subject is just herself. Caitlin, this one breaks my heart.
Thank you, dear Caitlin, for your time and your patience and your company. What a gift! I can’t wait to do it again.
Next Sunday is Mother’s Day and I’m headed down to Santa Barbara. Hilary, I’m looking at you. Goleta Pier at sunset, baby! Good times.