Some of the Best Memories Are Made at theBeach

Summer finally made it to southern California and we've been spending the long days at the beach and lounging around the pool.  A few weeks ago I got a new camera because I wanted something light and small for summer days where only the essentials are necessary. After doing some research I was set on getting a Fuji XT-2 and I LOVE it.Its great autofocus and weighing next to nothing always comes in handy. The trendy vintage look is also an awesome plus! It was exactly what I was looking for. It fits in the smallest of my purses, and takes so much weight off of my shoulders. Since I have previously used only Cannon cameras, all my Lensbaby lenses were for those. So the next step for me was to purchase the Fujifilm compatible Lensbaby Trio 28 lens. This lens has the Sweet, Velvet, and the Twist all in one which makes my camera bags even lighter. Now I just have to carry one lens that has the effect of carrying three. This duo is absolutely perfect for summer and I've been having a blast using them. Here are the pictures that took using the two of them.

This blog post is part of the blog circle I joined in January. We are a group of Lensbaby enthusiasts from all around the world. Each month we share a blog post of Lensbaby images. Every blog in the circle will end with a link to the next member. Please continue your journey and head over to John's blog. Thanks for reading and see you soon again with more stories!


Let's meet in real life

When I started participating in this blog circle at the beginning of the year, I had no idea how it would effect my life and photography. When you drop a pebble in the water, ripples keep circling on and on. Every post, every photographer in our circle is just like that: having an impact on how I see the world. Last month I spent three weeks in Germany (I'm actually still sitting in my mother in laws beautiful backyard in the city of Wolfsburg) and had a chance to meet Katrin Bechold- one of our blog circle members - in real life. I'm not a big fan of blind dates, but somehow I felt like I knew her already, just from her posts and pictures. But it still came as a surprise to me how easy talking to her felt. We immediately connected over coffee, art and life.

Snapchat fun with Katrin in Bonn, Germany.

Snapchat fun with Katrin in Bonn, Germany.

After our morning coffee we grabbed our cameras and started exploring the city of Bonn together. We talked a lot about the why behind our photos. For me it's often a certain color combination that makes me reach for my camera. Katrin on the other hand loves to see in black in white. And with that I'm sure we created two very different sets of pictures from the same walk.

At the end of the day, I left knowing I made a new friend. Even though we live in different countries, we have a lot in common and I'm thankful for how the internet gave us the chance to connect. Given my German background, it wasn't too difficult for us to find common ground. But this get-together made me also dream about a bigger event, like a blog circle meeting for all our members. Any takers? Let me know what you think about my crazy idea.

This blog post is part of the blog circle I joined in January. We are a group of Lensbaby enthusiasts from all around the world. Each month we share a blog post of Lensbaby images. Every blog in the circle will end with a link to the next member. I hope you enjoyed reading about my meet up in real life with Katrin. Please continue your journey and head over to Melita'sblog. Thanks for reading and see you soon again with more stories!


How to See in a New Way and Find Inspiration

Once a month I attend a local photography class, where we work on a yearlong project. It's a great way to commit to an idea and create work that needs more time to develop. I really love the monthly check ins where we evaluate our progress and readjust directions if needed. The one thing that I like best about this group is how it keeps me on track as an artist.

As a mother of three kids ranging in age between 13 and 21 it's still not always easy to focus on my creative work. Between organizing family life and being the designated chauffeur of our youngest there seems to be a shortcut that leads me right back into a life of never-ending appointments and to do lists. Once I'm in this busy world it can be very difficult to remember that I'm not only a loving wife and mother but also a creative person. I picture the creative part of my soul multicolored, bright and vibrant, like a kaleidoscope of ideas.

So, today, I want to show you five ways to keep the creative juices flowingwhen you're not feeling inspired:

  1. Exhibitions

    ...are the first things that come to my mind when I need to find inspiration. It honestly doesn't matter what kind of exhibition it is. To see other people's work never fails to spark something in me. I often follow up by reading biographies. Stories of likeminded humans who had to face challenges give me orientation and courage. If they can do it, I can do it!

  2. Music

    ...is like magic. I have playlists for all kind of occasions. My morning typically start with my daughter's music on our way to school, followed by classical music for my trip to the gym. At the gym I listen to today's hits because that kind of music keeps me going while I'm running on the treadmill. Then, there is music for working at the computer which is again mellow and quiet like Mozart or Jean-Michel Jarre so I can focus. Around dinner time I switch it up again. My all time favorite is Sam Smith, Cigarettes after Sex or Angus and Julia Stone for when I cook. These are various examples of what works for me, but you can obviously pick and choose the genres that work best for your needs. Ultimately, find some music to keep you going and motivated.

  3. Books

    I love all kind of books, old and new ones, romances, crime scenes and of course books about art and artists. Audible is my best friend during my long daily commutes around LA.

  4. Do new things 

    The same old routine might give you comfort, but will bore you long term. I found that having new experiences really got me out of my shell and excited to see the world in a new way.

  5. Friends

    Even though it's my last point on this list, I think it is one of the most important ones. When I feel down there is nothing better than to go and meet a friend. Share stories over a cup of coffee or glass of wine and go back home to see the world through different eyes.

During the last couple of weeks, I found inspiration in using a long forgotten lens (my Lensbaby Composer Pro Sweet50). I call it my diva lens because it is so difficult to handle, yet a lot of fun. Like all Lensbaby lenses, it is a manual lens that allows you to set the focus point by twisting the lens. I took it to Beyond the Streets in Los Angeles, which is an annual exhibition about the global street art movement. That was a great combination of all the things that keep me going.

Here are some of the pictures that I created while being inspired by other peoples' works:

By bending the lens I created the areas of softness in the top of the picture.

By bending the lens I created the areas of softness in the top of the picture.

Slick’s take on the LA fingers made famous in a photo by Estevan Oriol.

Slick’s take on the LA fingers made famous in a photo by Estevan Oriol.

Another example for how you choose your focus point: while bending the lens to the right the left part of the picture falls into softness.

Another example for how you choose your focus point: while bending the lens to the right the left part of the picture falls into softness.

To work with a manual lens isn't always giving you tack sharp pictures. Especially not when the subject is moving. But I often fall for these kind of photos because of the feel. The lack of sharpness can create a fairy tale like story. Like in this picture where you don't know where this guy is coming from or heading to.

To work with a manual lens isn't always giving you tack sharp pictures. Especially not when the subject is moving. But I often fall for these kind of photos because of the feel. The lack of sharpness can create a fairy tale like story. Like in this picture where you don't know where this guy is coming from or heading to.

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Now I want to challenge you to find your own five things that get you inspired and working on the things you love!!!

This blog post is part of the blog circle I joined in January. We are a group of Lensbaby enthusiasts from all around the world. Each month we share a blog post of Lensbaby images. Every blog in the circle will end with a link to the next member. I hope you enjoyed reading about my take on finding inspiration. Please continue your journey and head over to Jools' blog. Thanks for reading and see you soon again with more stories!


Photography as Therapy

Three years ago I moved from Michigan to Southern California. Like with every other move in my life, I did this with my family, for my husband’s career. And while I was extremely busy for the next two years, trying to help our kids adjust in their new environments, I hit an inspirational wall like I have never experienced before in my life.

While I’ve struggled before to see some of my dreams not come true, this experience was different.

After being busy like everybody else around me, raising kids and running the family show for the last 20 years, things changed when my sons left home at the age of 18 to go to college. I thought things would improve. With more time at my hands I would be free to do what I always had wanted. But honestly, that was not even close to what happened next; I started to be unhappy all the time. And I didn’t even know why. The kids were healthy and on the right path, I was married to a great guy, and I finally had time to live my dreams but all I wanted was to stay home and hide under a blanket on the sofa with a book.

The more I did that the more depleted I felt. My mind became a madhouse of accusations: Get up, do something. You can’t stay here. You are useless. Nobody wants to see you like this. You’re lazy!

To compensate I ate chocolate. At least that made me feel good for a second or two. I even tried to have a little more wine at night, which served me heavy headaches the next morning and an even bigger desire to hide under that blanket. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. And I felt heavier and heavier, on so many levels. The woman that I met when I looked into the mirror had nothing to do with the creative mind that used to run my life. So I tried to avoid the mirror, but that didn’t work. Mirrors and reflections are everywhere. Especially when you look at the world from the perspective of a photographer.

All I knew was something needed to change and that quickly! I could not longer stand that feeling of being left behind, empty like a deflated balloon. What had happened to my dreams? I will tell you what had happened. They did not die. They were still there. But they were hidden under a thick layer of stress and neglect. That was a shocking discovery.

I’m sharing this first part of my long story of self rediscovery after raising children and facing the empty nest because I could not have done it without my network of strong independent women. It took me a long time before I realized that I’m not alone in this. We all suffer from the same kind of inner darkness when left alone and unsupported. And only when we are able to open up and share our emotions with other humans we can see the path to healing.
Photography was the other important tool that allowed me to face my sadness. I started to go for long walks. Just accompanied by my camera. Many of the tears that I needed to cry turned into pictures of broken branches, lonely leaves, and single droplets. Later my photos became more colorful and eventually I felt the sadness fading away.

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When I look back at these pictures, I remember how I felt so lost and sad in this world full of beauty.

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These days I use an entire skill set that helps me to stay mentally and physically healthy. Workouts, a healthy diet, nurturing meaningful relationships and journaling are now part of my daily routine.

Recently I’m drawing a lot of inspiration about how to lead a better life from the book “Unfu*k Yourself” by Gary John Bishop. I love how he keeps reminding the reader about how important it is to get out of our head and into our life. That we need to stop dreaming about all the good things that we could do in do them instead. So I’m sitting here and I’m writing this blog post for you. I have wanted to write about this forever, but never felt like I would find the right words. Now I know, there will never be a better time to realize my dreams than right now.

Last weekend my daughter invited me to go out with her and take some pictures. Even though I felt tired I agreed. Soon my old friend, doubt, joined in and convinced me that I wasn’t prepared for this photo shoot, that I would probably produce only mediocre work and that I should better leave my camera in the car instead. But like Gary John Bishop says in his book, we need to train good habits like any other muscle. So I grabbed my camera instead of giving up, and I started working. The first few pictures were really bad. But to my surprise (yes, it still surprises me when the magic happens), my muscles warmed up and the camera felt good in my hands. Soon, my daughter and I were laughing together, while having a great time and taking pictures that we both love.

My hope for this post is that it will inspire you and that my happiness is contagious enough to get you out of your comfy chair and start your path to happiness. If that’s not the case, get the book and read it! I’m sure you will love it. And don’t forget to let me know what kind of reaction it sparked in you.

 


Treasure Hunt in Lübeck, Northern Germany

Have you ever heard about the city of Lübeck? It's a picturesque small town in northern Germany listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, home of the German author Thomas Mann and many of my childhood memories. My aunt and uncle have lived there most of their lives and I try to fly back to visit them, as well as other relatives, once a year. Much of the old town has kept a medieval appearance with old buildings and narrow streets, which adds another layer of German Gemütlichkeit.

After 12 years in the US, going back to Germany always makes me think and wonder about where I came from, who I am now, and how to define home. With my German accent and taste I will never be a true American, but due to the many years in other countries I am also no longer a real German. And so every trip is a little bit like homecoming while at the same time I feel I discover an unknown universe. 

Part of the unknown universe this year was an afternoon at the Schatz Café (Treasure Coffee Store). When my aunt suggested to go out for coffee and cake, I had no expectations. The place is hidden in a quiet neigborhood and only open two days a week. They are famous for their homemade cakes that often sell out within two hours after opening. 

 

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But let me tell you, there is so much more to this place than their truly delicious cake. The moment you enter the courtyard from the street, you have just crossed into another world. What awaits you is an incredible collection of gorgeous, yet strange impressions, antiques, friendliness, and all things belonging to the past. 

One of the many cozy corners that make you want to hang out a little longer and order another cup of coffee while dreaming and time traveling.

One of the many cozy corners that make you want to hang out a little longer and order another cup of coffee while dreaming and time traveling.

Looking up into a world of all things music.

Looking up into a world of all things music.

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After looking around for what felt like hours I needed to find out who created this magical space. And so I was introduced to Imke, who, together with her husband Jan, first rented and later bought the property. Over the last years they turned it into a world of their own. 

Imke Dürken, a master of many trades, soul and owner of the café is also working in the back of the place as a carpenter.

Imke Dürken, a master of many trades, soul and owner of the café is also working in the back of the place as a carpenter.

A look into her kitchen where coffee and cake are prepared for customers

A look into her kitchen where coffee and cake are prepared for customers

A little touch of color that adds to the overall feel of being welcome is found everywhere

A little touch of color that adds to the overall feel of being welcome is found everywhere

Past and present in multiple frames

Past and present in multiple frames

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Reserved emergency seating for Hubertus. Who is Hubertus? I did not meet him, but sure loved the sign. Maybe next time...

Reserved emergency seating for Hubertus. Who is Hubertus? I did not meet him, but sure loved the sign. Maybe next time...

And who is this moose?

And who is this moose?

To help digest the cake I went outside where Jan's universe, the Schatzkammer - in many ways also the other half of Imke's world - waited for me to be explored. 

Jan and his Schatzkammer is a great resource for anything related to the past. From antique dolls to random knick-knacks, you can literally spend hours in his kingdom of forgotten treasures.

Jan and his Schatzkammer is a great resource for anything related to the past. From antique dolls to random knick-knacks, you can literally spend hours in his kingdom of forgotten treasures.

Big red barn doors welcoming you into the Schatzkammer (House of Treasures)

Big red barn doors welcoming you into the Schatzkammer (House of Treasures)

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Collection of signs from all over the world

Collection of signs from all over the world

Everything you see is for sale; even the bike hanging from the ceiling.

Everything you see is for sale; even the bike hanging from the ceiling.

If only this bear could tell his story.

If only this bear could tell his story.

Once loved.

Once loved.

These guys are ready to report for work!

These guys are ready to report for work!

Thinking about why I felt so at home at this place of random connections, I realized that it looks a lot how I feel: a good mixture of cultures, decades, and colors. Welcoming in its strangeness, and at the same time a little odd in a world of order and rules. I think this sums up how it feels to come back home once a year and realizing it no longer is home, but still a place where I feel very comfortable. 

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Thank you Imke and Jan for a wonderful afternoon. I hope to come back one day and enjoy more of your art of welcoming strangers and all things odd!

So long, Germany, it's time for me to go. Leaving the old and known behind, returning to  my home far away from home. 

 

This blog post is part of the blog circle I joined in January. We are a group of Lensbaby enthusiasts from all around the world. Each month we share a blog post of Lensbaby images. Every blog in the circle will end with a link to the next member. I hope you enjoyed reading about my Lübeck adventure with the Lensbaby Burnside 35. Please continue your journey and head over to Keri's blog "Walking with the Burnside" at Keri's photo adventures. Thanks for reading and see you soon again with more stories from my upcoming trip to the Turks and Caicos!