Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What to Do With all Those Photographs

Family photos are truly heirlooms that can't be replaced. It's wise to care for them as such.

Creative Memories and other companies (no, I'm not a dealer and don't hold stock in any company) offer a line of products to display and preserve those memories. As I look at old albums of fading color photographs of my children, I wish the scientists who developed these archival products had done so long ago!

I'm rather appalled at the lack of care given my grandfather's priceless photographs and have spent many hours restoring some of them.
It's never too late. Get your old photos out of those albums, off the glue and out from under the PVC covering that eat away at the archival properties of your photographs! Do it soon before any further degeneration occurs. Put them away in a shoe box in a dry, dark place at least for the time being. And store all your precious photographs in one easy to get to place so in the event of a fire, flood, tornado or hurricane you can grab them on the fly and take them with you. Let's face it, clothing, furniture and dishes can be replaced. Photographs cannot. Sentimental junk is just that. Photographs are living memories.

Remember the days of film, when you took countless photos of places you visited and most of them were pretty horrible but you could never bear to throw them out because of the investment in processing and printing? That's my story anyway. Thank God for digital! I no longer have that problem. I still take a thousand or more pictures on every journey but now I download them into my computer and discard those that are junk without any guilt at all. Those images don't cost me a thing if I don't print them.

But what about the ones that are good enough to print? What should we do with them? Well I'll tell you what I do with mine, as well as all the old prints that are good shots. I use them to create greeting cards for my friends and family. Why not bless others with your lovely images?

You can buy blank card stock with envelopes at any craft store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Or you can be really creative and make your own cards from cover stock which can be purchased in a variety of colors and hues from paper stores or office supply retailers. Most greeting card stores end up with lots of envelopes of various sizes leftover which they sell in bundles for little money.

I write my own verses, use Scripture or favorite quotes for the inside of the cards to bless those I'm writing to. It's also fun to add embellishments to the photo on the cover or inside the card that match the theme. For instance for a beautiful mountain scene I'll glue some small dried pressed wildflowers in a corner to add dimension. Sometimes I used stickers with phrases or applicable decorations that go with the occasion or the image. Be sure to use approved photo safe glues, stickers and papers that are acid and lignin free. There's a good article on the subject here.

Another way to use that boxful of old scenic photos is to create your own coffee table book out of scrapbooking materials. So much better than what you order online for thirty or forty dollars! Be creative!

How about using the old images as postcards?

Some photos may have only an element or two that are worth keeping. Perhaps it was a terribly bright day and everything is washed out but there's a great flower or building in the shadows that's redeemable. Cut it out and use it for an embellishment in your memory album or card.

With all my talk about old photos on this rainy day, I'm just itching to go rifle through some!

Happy Crafting,

Friday, May 22, 2009

LIfe Happens

It's a journey we hear. It's not the destination but the journey that matters. Really.


As I took off to find a new spot (for me) to shoot spring wildflowers in the rain (or at the very least, a good overcast sky,) I was suddenly stricken with an overwhelming sense of dread. "Don't go there," said that still small voice within.

Now we can speculate until the end of time about that voice. We all hear it. I don't know what yours sounds like. Mine sounds very much like my own voice, but with a softness to it that doesn't sound like me at all. It has a genteel quality that I lack. There is a smoothness to it, a confidence, a buttery richness that isn't me at all. And yet it is. So where does it come from? Who speaks? Why?
Ah, those deep questions of faith.

Because this is my blog and I can write whatever I want, I'm going to share my view about the voice from within. You don't have to agree. It's just what I believe. I call it the Holy Spirit. Anyone who's a Christian will get this. Those lacking Christian faith will not get it the way I mean it, so this requires some explanation on my part.

A Christian believes what Jesus said when He was here on earth. He told us three things (among lots of others.) Three that are specifically pertinent to this message. One, He said He is God. Whoa, that's powerful. But it's a fact, He said it. If you want to know when and where, get your hands on a Bible and read John 8:57-59, 10:30-33, 12:44-46 and most critical of all, John 14:6-9. So that's first. I believe Jesus is God. This is important because why else would I believe anything else He ever said?

Next, He said when He left earth He would send us a counselor to take His place (John 14:16.) He was referring to the Holy Spirit.

The third thing is that the Holy Spirit's purpose is to guide and direct according to truth (John 16:13.) This is absolutely key for me because I sure don't want to put my faith in a lie, or the dream of some confused fourteen year old, or the musings of a guru on a Himalayan peak. Whatever I put my faith in, there has to be strong history and archeology to back it up. The Bible works for me. It is tested historical documentation with abundant archeological proof.

So when I'm driving down the road and I get an overwhelming sense that I'm not supposed to do what I'm about to do, I sit up and take notice. I believe God is speaking directly to me through the Holy Spirit. Yesterday, I decided to change my plans.

Suppose I hadn't? Had I gone ahead to Green Mountain, what would have happened? I don't know. Maybe an accident was ahead of me. Perhaps I might have hit something in the road that would have caused a blowout. Or it might not have been anything that was going to happen but rather a divine appointment I was supposed to have that I'd have missed if I had gone on. I had a number of encounters in my journey yesterday that wouldn't have occurred had I gone to Green Mountain. Whatever the case, I learned some valuable lessons, grew spiritually in my discussion with Steve about it, and all this because of that still small voice.

So what does that have to do with photography? In my world, everything. You see, everything I do is intricately connected with God's plans for my life: the images I capture, the words I write, the people I meet along the way.

So, you want to hear something really funny? I'm a nature lover. I spend a lot of time outdoors, tromping through the woods in search of the perfect image. Despite this, I've never recognized poison ivy. Friends have told me absolute horror stories about this stuff. Perhaps you've heard the cute little sayings, "leaves of three, leave it be," or "rosy leaves of three are a danger to thee." I've seen many plants that fit the descriptions, always steering clear, but have never known for sure if any of them were actually poison ivy.
On my diversion trip along a lakeside at South Platte Park yesterday, I overheard some workers talking, one of them warning against a patch of poison ivy. So I wandered over and asked her to show me. Naturally, I snapped a picture for future reference. It looks so harmless. Even lovely. Ever seen poison ivy? Now you have. The slightly shiney red tinged leaves are the offender.

I don't think the Holy Spirit changed my plans just so I could get a glimpse of poison ivy. The point is, it's good to pay attention to signals. We do have an innate sense of things if we pay attention. Human beings are a complex creation and we have been given amazing abilities. There are some things that can only be seen with the soul.

May your focus today be on what matters most, eternal matters.

Lock, load, shoot. There is so much beauty to capture!