If you would like to set up a photography session, or have any questions, contact me via email: betsy@betsyjophotography.com. Thank you!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sneak Peek

I'm supposed to be leaving for school, but I just had to put this sneak peek up really quickly...

"Hello, my name is John, and I'm so adorable it's ridiculous!" :)

And this is Allie, John's big sister, who is as cute and girly as they come...

More to come tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Day 13

Things are getting very busy here, with lots of requests for photo sessions now that the beautiful greenery and warm weather are upon us! If you are hoping to book a session for later this spring or summer, now is definitely the time to do so. I just checked my Google Calendar (lifesaver for me, by the way), and when I clicked to the months of May and June, I had to blink! Sessions are filling up very quickly. You can email me- betsyphoto1@gmail.com to book a date. 'Lots going on around here; stay tuned!

So, I am continuing with my 365 Project, and love the one I'm putting up today. The book 'Year of Mornings' inspired me to capture my day in a unique, un-posed way. I can't photograph just the mornings, though, because simple little moments all day long catch my eye. Lately, I've been having clients schedule portrait sessions for the evenings. Why? One word answer: LIGHT. There's something so beautiful about late evening light, how it makes shadows get longer, and flatters the subject, giving an ethereal, dreamy look.

Day 13-

This picture simply makes me happy, with the boys just doing their thing. I like how you can see the light reflecting off of the little bugs high in the air, and how the boys are all interacting in a random way... The little one is holding back his big brother because he wants to see what's going on in the backyard, and the big brother has a tennis ball in his hand, just thinking about letting it fly. Joel's laughing about something, and his younger cousin has the perfect mixture of happiness and glee in his eye. I love how there's a glimpse in the background of a certain little boy ready to pick up the handle of the wagon and take them for a ride. The shadow of the trees, the warm light, and a late spring evening all combine for a sweet little moment. It may not be perfect; the clothes aren't coordinated, and they're not all looking at the camera, but it just makes me happy. I think I see some hint of future years when these boys become young men and just enjoy each others' company hanging out in their grandparent's backyard. I love it. And them.

"But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?"

-William Shakespeare, English poet & playwright


Monday, April 27, 2009

Beauty: (n) the quality present in a thing or person that gives deep satisfaction to the mind.

Saturday was a beautifully warm day, perfect for documenting the lives of two people who are very special to their family. Marcy had requested a session to capture the personality and love of her grandmother, and we had such a nice time doing so.

There are 55 years of history behind these images; and Willie and Marge's marriage has been blessed with the love of many children and grandchildren.

I enjoyed watching how he gently brought her along with him, watching for any rough patches that could slow her down. His faithfulness to her needs is remarkable. She looked at him with eyes full of joy, seeing him as no other person can see him. And even though her memory has dimmed, there is no question that she knows the man she married over a half a century ago. She didn't give in to the frustration or strain of confusion, but was still happily the Marge that they've known and loved--giving compliments and always seeing the good in others. She loved watching as I took some pictures of her two grandaughters, remarking how beautiful they were, and how kind, even though she may have not known just exactly who they were. It really was a sight to see, and I'm so thankful to have been there. It makes me rethink our 'social' definition of beauty- youth and strength, vigor and perfect hair and teeth. Beauty is so much deeper and stronger than the fleeting years of youth and vitality. Instead, it's the culmination of 55 years together, working for the happiness of others, even when life isn't exactly as we expect. And I was so privileged to have seen it on Saturday.

And some of her beautiful grandaughters...

Marcy, who asked to have a portrait session of her grandmother:

Lydia came to help out, as well:

"Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century."

~Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wrap: (v) to surround, envelop, shroud

I've been waiting for this new product with great anticipation- a gallery wrap for our wall. This is something I've been thinking about purchasing for awhile, and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

So last night around 11:00 pm, long after I returned home from school, I asked my dear husband (who is so patient with me) to help me move the shelf and put up the canvas. And he did. I love it. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I think the subjects on the canvas are absolutely the sweetest, most lovable kids in the world. Not that I would have any sort of bias or anything.

The wrap comes ready for hanging:

The corners are tightly and neatly wrapped, with felt pads on the back to protect the wall:

I am thrilled with the job that my pro developer did. These products are available to any clients who have an interest in custom photography artwork for their home. And I'm thinking this someday won't be the only gallery wrap in the Hany household...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you. 'Just letting you know it came yesterday. He was rather surprised, and quite happy with it. Not that he wanted to admit it or anything. Like any 9 year old boy, it was imperative to him that he not show too much emotion. But if you look closely, you can see he was trying so hard not to burst into a huge smile as he read your reply. Of course, the whole thing brought a torrent of questions:

"Mom! Is that really his signature?!" -

'Um, probably a copy, buddy.'

"Wow! Do you think he addressed the outside of the envelope, though??"

'Um, no. Most likely not.' -

"But it's handwritten... Hey! Maybe Mrs. Obama did!"

-'Well... not exactly, Joel, although I guess it's a very remote possibility. 'Probably a secretary. Or an intern or something.'

"What's an intern? What do you mean, remote? Like far away?"

-'No, meaning it's highly unlikely.'-

"But it could be, right? I mean, technically, Mrs. Obama could have, though!"

-'Technically, though extremely unlikely, I guess that it's slightly possible, Joel.'

"Yeah. I know. Probably. Maybe she did. Wicked cool!"

Oh, the audacity of hope. But you did make his day. So thank you, Mr. President.

"The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams."

-Elizabeth Gilbert, Connecticut-born, best-selling author

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 10

'Nothing quite like a little boy running into the kitchen to bring me a little bouquet of 'flowers'. Like any biased mother, I think it's one of the most gorgeous arrangements I've received.

"Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, American poet, essayist and philosopher (1803-1882)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 8

"Friendship, I fancy, means one heart between two."
-George Meredith, author

Friday, April 17, 2009

Inspire: (v) to give rise to, bring about, cause, etc.

I was recently reading a recommendation from very talented photographer (and mother) Davina Fear about a wonderful, inspiring book called 'A Year of Mornings.' Written by Maria Vettesse and Stephanie Barnes, it follows the two women as they have a 'photo conversation' 3, 191 miles apart. One lives in Portland, Oregon and the other in Portland, Maine. Every day before noon, they would take a picture to document the life they lived, and upload it to a shared blog. Their work became the book, and it's an inspiring way to look at everyday items in life as beautiful art.

So, with that recognition and inspiration, I have begun my own little year of mornings project, and from time to time, I'll share some on my site.

DAY 4:

"The rich, sweet smell of the hayricks rose to his chamber window; the hundred perfumes of the little flower-garden beneath scented the air around; the deep-green meadows shone in the morning dew that glistened on every leaf as it trembled in the gentle air: and the birds sang as if every sparkling drop were a fountain of inspiration to them."

-Charles Dickens, author
from 'The Pickwick Papers'

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Endearing: (adj.) manifesting or invoking affection.

So, yes, it's time to announce the winner of the free photo session. I learned a lesson with this one: it's hard to choose only one person. But I had to. Of course, it helped that I had a few people to help me out with the decision. Thanks to all who entered and shared their hopes for a photo session to capture treasured memories!

As soon as I read the winner's request, I felt an immediate connection to the idea. So, Marcy B, thanks for entering. And congratulations! Your reason for wanting a session was poignant and sweet, and makes so much sense. Here's why:

Grandparents are a gift, an integral part of a child's upbringing, someone who loves unconditionally with depth and understanding. I have been blessed to know 5 grandparents, one of them a great grandparent. 3 are still living. Our children have 9 living grandparents, 5 of them great-grandparents! I tell them often how fortunate they are. I know this because I have beautiful memories of a very special great grandmother, who had a beautiful influence on our family. My daughter's named for her, after all.

My Grandma Nora Gibbons McBrierty (Gramma 'Mac' as we called her) was quiet and perceptive, full of wisdom and love for her family. No matter what we did, she would always tell us, "You're all good kids, and I'm proud of ya." We laugh about it now, because sometimes we had done things that she shouldn't have been too proud of. She was a sweet and protective Irish grandmother who loved with fierceness.

I look back and wish I had asked her more questions, had learned more about her journey from Ireland to America. She was only 17 years old in 1915 when she came alone on the Lusitania from her hometown of Glennamaddy, Ireland. Her journey took place on the Lusitania's last voyage before it was bombed by a German U-boat on its way back to Liverpool. How did she feel when she heard the news of the ship's demise? And what was it like for her to be traveling across the Atlantic exactly 3 years to the day after the Titanic sank? If only I had asked her. I wish I had asked her about Grandpa McBrierty, what it was like to fall in love with the gardener of the family whom she was nanny for. There are so many questions I have that will always go unanswered.

I remember going to visit at Aunt Kit's house for Gramma Mac's birthday one year, and watching as she pinched out the fire on the candles with her thumb and forefinger. I was an 8 year old girl in complete awe of her bravery! (And I still can't bring myself to attempt that technique for extinguishing candles.) She loved that I played the piano, and every time we'd go to see her she always checked to be sure I was practicing, letting me know she was so happy that I was still playing. I always felt like she loved me, that I was her favorite. The thing is, she made everyone feel that way. She had this funny habit of clapping her hands in a snapping sound when she was pleased with something we said or did. The clapping was always accompanied by, "Hot diggity!" -and even though it may not sound like it, there was something sweet and feminine about how she did it. I love picturing her like that. Just last week I was on the phone with one of my sisters and we were lamenting the fact that we longed for a little chocolate bunny from Munson's with 5 dollar bill attached. Every year, even when she was failing, she made sure that all the great grandkids got our little Easter treat. Something tells me that Aunt Kit had something to do with that. And, though I will admit to Munson's being my favorite chocolatier, I think the longing for the bunny had more to do with our love for Gramma Mac than any desire for chocolate. I miss her wrinkly, fair face and her white, white hair. It's not that she had a show-stopping beauty by the standards of society. But she was beautiful to us. I wish I had appreciated her more when I had her, that I had taken pictures of her. I wish the one picture I do have was accompanied by so many, many more. I was a teenager when she died; I had time. I just took it for granted.

I have one picture of her with all of my sisters and my parents. It sits on my nightstand, and is something I keep there all the time. It was taken at her surprise 90th birthday. The photo isn't the best quality; it's just a snapshot that someone got of all of us, but I don't care about the lighting or the flash that washed our faces out. I just care that it's my Gramma who I loved, surrounded by us girls and my parents. For her 90th, the whole family got together, making a big deal out of her. 'Not her style to be the center of attention, she was somewhat nonplussed with the idea. But I think she secretly liked the effort that everyone had put in. There is no question that she loved deeply, caring so much for my Dad and his brother and cousins. It was no secret that her grandsons, especially, could do no wrong.

Recently I was able to research and find the manifest from the last arrival of the Lusitania, and I found my Gramma Mac's name listed on Line #6. -Detailing in old-fashioned cursive all that was known of Nora Gibbons: her age, single status, that she was a 'domestic' and had $25 dollars on her person at the time of arrival to Ellis Island. It lists her departure from County Galway, and her destination of St. Louis. I remember when it came in the mail from the Ellis Island Museum, my eyes got blurry with tears, and I felt such a connection to her.

Which brings me back to why it was so clear to me that I had to choose Marcy as the winner. Here's her entry:

"For a while I have been thinking that I would love to give my grandma Marge a session with you for a gift for mother's day. It has been a very long time since she has been photographed, and I know you would get some great photos of her! She is such a special woman and can put a smile on anyone' face. So, as for why I would like the free photo shoot is so that we call can remember her special smile for years to come... Marcy"

Maybe part of me wants to make myself feel better for neglecting the very thing that Marcy has the wisdom to see as valuable. The request spoke to my heart, the selfless way that Marcy can see the beauty and love in her Grandma's eyes, even when they dim sometimes with the confusion of age and time. I have had the privilege of photographing those who are seniors in age, and I feel so honored when the opportunity arises. The sessions remind me of how important that photo on my nightstand is. And how I would love to give that gift to someone else, over and over again.

Marcy, you can email me to schedule a date for the session.

Here's a closer image of the photo. Yes, all 5 of us girls were fashionistas, can't you tell? Oh, I'm the one on the right with the mullet. Yep, that's me. (I did ask my mother what she was thinking...!)

This pretty much sums up the feeling of receiving the ship's manifest:

"I feel as if I had opened a book and found roses of yesterday, sweet and beloved, between its leaves."

-Anne Shirley, of the book 'Anne of Green Gables' by Lucy Maud Montgomery

*Soon to come: inspiration from a new book and a photography project I'm working on...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Calm: (adj) placid, peaceful, serene.

'Just a quick post from our family, wishing all a happy Easter weekend full of remembrance, thanks, and blessing.

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow them.

-Louisa May Alcott, author; famous for her enduring book, 'Little Women'

*Remember to enter the contest here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Happy: (adj) characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.

*Be sure to look for the giveaway below, in honor of this being my 50th post.*

We had an eventful, exciting weekend, as April is a busy month for Ryan family birthdays!

Connor and Nora invited one friend each to come over for lunch on Saturday afternoon. Brandon and Lois were great additions to our birthday fun, and added a little extra zest to the table time!

I told the kids they could all act silly once I got a group shot. It was so funny to see how the boys reacted vs. the girls! Lois and Nora weren't quite sure what to think.
Twinkle in his eye, as always-
Speaking of eyes, they really are this blue, and her hair really is this light. Oh, and she really is this sweet!

Brandon dared Connor to kiss Nora. Connor says, "Who cares?! She's my twin, for 'gunnessake!'" It was rather funny as he planted a wet one on her!

Paul's photography debut... Methinks he could be my second shooter!

I love this shot; there is another one of both Nora and Connor looking, but I love how Connor is just enthralled by the fact that U.Kev and A.Kate got him a GLOVE!

Connor's football cake, being spit on... lovingly and unintentionally, of course. Nora had a butterfly cake, which looked... well, endangered. :)

Sunday was their actual birthday, so after church Paul and I and Joel gave Connor and Nora their presents from us. They also found more gifts when we got home, as U. Pete and A. Kelly had made a little delivery. They are enjoying the art sets and sidewalk chalk immensely; thank you, Kelly!

The sign reappears... I like how it looks against our kitchen wall colors; I think I may just get rid of the "Birthday" and leave the "Happy" up for awhile. (I'm serious.) Any thoughts?

Joel helped Connor get the wire off of his figurines-

Nora was quite excited about getting her very own sleeping bag for when we go camping to Cape Cod in the summers...

In fact, she was so excited, that this is how I found her at bedtime when I went to check on her! It hasn't left her bed since.

Connor's loving his Cowboy and Indian set. They are also being enjoyed by a certain big brother!

I really like this shot-
But this is the one that makes me laugh, how Nora's trying so hard to get her arm around him to boost herself up, just a little. ( Good luck, Squeak! Something tells me he'll always be taller than you...)

"It's your birthday, we wish you many more, health and wealth, and friends by the score! Cut the cake and let's eat some more; Happy Birthday to You!"

-John McCutcheon, vocal artist extraordinaire

*So speaking of gifts and being happy, this is a great time to announce an opportunity to win a FREE portrait session with me. In honor of this being my 50th blog post, I will be picking a winner to receive a free 2-hour full portrait session, which includes 'sitting' fee, outfit changes, props, and multiple locations! Prints can be purchased by the winner. In the comment box, leave your name and the story of why you would love a free portrait session. Note to my readers in Central IL: Feel free to enter the drawing, as I plan on being out there in June. This contest is for new shoots only, and does not apply to currently-booked sessions.

I will be announcing the winner here on April 15th. (And to family: sorry, but you can't win. I luv ya', tho'!)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thirties: (n) the numbers, years, degrees, or the like, from 30 through 39, as in referring to numbered items, indicating the years of a lifetime

So, this is a post that has been long-awaited. Since it had to be a surprise, no mention of this event could be made. Amazingly, we pulled it off and surprised our 'big' sister Katie last night!

The birthday celebration was held at the beautiful home of my sister Kara and her husband Matthew. Good thing, because back in February when I emailed the Ryan clan about a surprise for Katie, I suggested just meeting up at New England Pizza! Let's say it was so nice to have the birthday party in Kara's home, and the fare was far more elegant than food at a pizza joint!

Kara and I had a great time emailing and i-ming back and forth with my mother, my sister Colleen and my sister, Melinda. We decided it would be so enjoyable to 'go all out'-- planning all sorts of extra things to make the night memorable. The little details were pretty much 'do-it-yourself,' and we ended up making signs and invitations, floral arrangements and displays. We really had a lot of fun getting it all done. Even with all the planning and details, I will admit there was one huge thing missing, and we all knew it, even though she was 'there' via web-cam-- Minna, we thought of you, and talked about you, and just plain wished you were here. We love you!

Katie was shocked; which is quite a feat, since she's such a very effective communicator. We all receive phone calls multiple times in a day from her. It was very hard to keep it a secret, but the mission was successfully accomplished, as you can see in some of these shots.

We enjoyed a delicious meal and great conversation, with lots of laughter and lighthearted events being remembered. It was a wonderful evening. Happy 30th, Katie Lynn! You know we love you!

Back in the day:

The invitation:

My adorable mom, on the lookout: (she's gonna' have my head for putting this up here...)

Colleen, Lookout #2: (Note the dual cameras!)

My hands were shaking when I took these next two- a little anxious to make sure she didn't have a clue... I told Matt before Katie arrived, "I'm hoping for 'shock and awe' when she gets here." And that's pretty much what it was like.

In walks the birthday beauty: At first, she thought it was just our family surprising her:

And then, Kevin said, "Look who's here, hon'!" - A room full of her friends- thus the reaction in this shot:

Kara's pretty orchids:

I know enough not to put my Dad on this blog, but I will put up a picture of his lovely hand-thrown pottery dishes: (Hi, Dad! ;)

The birthday banner, which saw more use later on for Connor and Nora's birthday party:

Kara's great napkin idea: (courtesy of her dear friend Martha, of course.)

The hostess hard at work, surveying the group to make sure everyone's got what they need. (They did). Colleen on the right in the background, feverishly drying dishes. Oh, and on the left? That's me, feverishly testing the chocolate fondue. Yeah. Important. (Thanks for the fountain, Bethany! ;)

above image courtesy of Heidi L. :)

I found these cardboard 'cake' pieces on www.etsy.com, from seller 'daisysanddots.' Find her shop here. We used them as favor boxes for the candy buffet.

The popular candy buffet- not that Katie likes candy or anything, but it seemed that a good time was had by all in this location:

And one more of the tables:

Katie's friends added so much to the evening, but I promised them that they wouldn't find themselves on the Internet via anything of my doing, so thus I keep my word. But they really made it a very nice time. Lots and lots of memories and camaraderie. Thank you all.

And knowing how Katie feels about growing up, I had to add this:

"Thirty was so strange for me. I've really had to come to terms with the fact that I am now a walking and talking adult."

-Clyve Staples Lewis, author

Oh, and one point of clarification: Katie is my older sister. Just thought that was an important addendum to this post.