In high school I thought I might become a writer. I read books, kept up a journal, and had a small paper fortress of collected quotes on my dresser; this never-forgotten quote lingers, “Selection depends upon purpose.”
As a photographer trained originally as a photojournalist, I have experience in rushing back from an assignment, and preparing images on deadline. However, my newspaper work now is like a dear neighbor that I have moved away from years ago. I’ve moved towards portraiture, weddings, hospitals, non-profits, the arts, magazine work, and food/still lifes. I've self-assigned personal documentary projects on #StrongWomen #livingthelifeofriley. And I've never stopped pushing myself in search of what I felt was missing in my work. I can only describe it as a need to get closer, inspire and connect people with my photographs in a more meaningful way (does this sound familiar? INSPIRE and CONNECT are the very two words in our mission statement). Photography affords the light-writer the chance to select for a specific purpose: technique, composition, perspective, and the list continues. But perhaps, most of all, it allows a person to show up to every assignment "heartfully aware" in anticipation of engaging the viewer’s senses. This is precisely how photography has changed for me for it means more than simply conveying what a piece of cake looks like in a visually creative way, but rather how a slice of chocolate cake might taste, or how "that couple’s" laughter sounds in the moment, or how smooth a piece of clothing might be to touch. Sounds easy, but this is no small task: to move the viewer so they can be inspired to act, to linger, to share, or to appreciate an image. That's a tall order I don't mention to even my students---too much information. :)
For many years, I've had to make peace with the bumpiness of what was missing. Glimpses of this started coming to me over 15 years ago, and you can see some of my earlier visual thinking here. About 5 years ago, I seriously committed to creating macro images at every assignment. I received very positive feedback, and developed a mini "stock photography collection" of details including both abstract and straight-forward images. What that exercise did for me over time was to help get my visual thinking to where it is now. I've simply added in the idea that I photograph deliberately how something tastes, feels, or sounds up close using feeling, texture, exposure techniques, light, focus, etc.... A good example of this might be in this picture I shot where you can see "steam from the steak." Can you taste it? The images also on thephotomakery details page are also a small sampling to show how simple objects can inspire the viewer to purchase, to dream, to linger.
Here is an experiment with dried roses; they have that “built-in” texture and color. I shot them loose, tight, with the light over my shoulder, and cross-lit. My objective: to see if I could create a a poetic thought about the trash-like bunching of the rose leaves. Let me know what you think? This is my purpose: to shoot details as they have the power to transport, to engage, and to clarify. This is photomakery style.
When I was very young my Mom would take the time on cold, snowy mornings to get out a simple loaf of bread, lay several pieces on a cookie sheet, and bake it with butter, sugar and cinnamon. It was such a simple act, but I am reminded of her toast anytime I smell cinnamon and sugar baking. Though, she did not have time on school days to cut the bread into heart-shaped Valentine's like I did today, I smiled inside remembering those breakfasts, and so I decided it might be fun to take the cinnamon toast idea and incorporate it into a spoon bread recipe.
Here is the result, and below is the recipe. Happy Valentine's Day!
Cinnamon Toast Spoon Bread
Supplies: Heart-shaped cookie cutters (large and a small), bowl, wooden spoon, 10x10 glass pan
1 loaf of Klosterman White Bread, cooking spray, cinnamon, butter, sugar, vanilla,
milk, eggs, walnuts, brown sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
1. Cut out 10 pieces of bread with the large heart-shaped cutter and 6 pieces of bread with the small heart-shaped cutter and set aside. Melt or soften 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), and combine 1/2 cup of sugar with 1 t. cinnamon. Take two of the heart pieces and put butter and cinnamon-sugar mixture on both sides and pinch the bread closed as pictured top left. Spray bottom of 10x10 glass pan with cooking spray and artfully arrange your cute heart-shaped cinnamon sugar sandwiches. Suggestion: four large hearts on the bottom and one large heart on the top; add in the three small hearts randomly. You will have the remainder bread from your cut outs so you can freeze this for good use later.
2. In a medium-sized bowl thoroughly combine three eggs, 3/4 c. of milk, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 t. vanilla extract, and 1 t. cinnamon.
3. Pour the liquid mixture over the heart-shaped sandwiches and set aside. Combine 1/4 - 1/2 c. walnuts with 1/2 c. packed brown sugar, and drizzle on the very top of the bread/liquid mixture.
4. Place the pan in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes. After you take the cooked bread out, you can add ice cream, or a little bit of milk. Mmmmmmmmm.
When we meet with couples over coffee for a wedding consultation, it is understandably a bit difficult to bring all the handmade items of thephotomakery so I am hoping the above images highlight those details, and what was featured in our booth at the #CincinnatiWeddingShowcase. Everything on display from the canvases on our pallet display wall to the small photo tags (pictured in the center) to the silk photo pillow and the images printed on vintage book pages were created using the images that we have photographed at weddings. The application of those images on fabric, paper craft, canvas or traditional images blends our love for photography and creating unique gifts. Additionally, we make photo cards, and photo transfers on wood and metal.
We treat our customers using The Golden Rule as we would want others to treat us. Let us know if there is a creative, handmade photomakery detail you would like to see. We can be reached via e-mail:
Valentine's Day has got to be one of my favorite holidays ever because it celebrates love which is what God is...God is love.
To make this #DIYPHOTOHOLDER, you just need a little time and patience (also required for love), and a few supplies: a medium size branch, a power mitre saw or table saw or hand saw, a hobby wood burner, pencil, cookie sheet.
1. My husband cut a fairly thick branch into small mini logs; he varied the sizes so I could play. I highly recommend experimenting with size & the wood burning technique. The wood was wet so I put the freshly cut logs onto an inexpensive cookie sheet, and baked them at 200 degrees for 1 hour. I stayed in the kitchen and did other things while the logs baked. And yes, they came out dry!
2. The next day, I practiced with my wood burning tool called a Hobby Woodburner (my husband ran out and got it for me at Harbor Freight for about $10---did I mention how truly caring he is?). First, I drew with pencil on the wood, and then I selected a "wood burning nib" to start burning my heart of my initial drawing. It was a little tricky at first because a) the wood is textured with rings and b) somewhat uneven for drawing & burning. My solution was to burn several small holes close together. See the picture on the left at the bottom. I literally held the wood burning tool straight up and down which allowed me to focus on the placement and the size of each hole. This is where the patience part comes in and I took some breaks so that my wood burning would be as neat as possible. Coffee is always a plus.
3. Next, I worked carefully to cut a 1/4" groove in the top of the log with a handsaw. This is key because you want the photo to set in there both easily and snug.
4. Speaking of the photo, I used a 4x6 matte finish print that I mounted onto red card stock with spray mount so it would be stiff. Here are the results below...I couldn't resist doing one of our dog, Bear, as well. He's the mascot for Weddings by Lyons Photography, and our best bud.
Engagement session shot in #NashvilleTennessee @EllingtonAgriculturalCenter. Photo: Cathy Lyons/Lyons Photography, Inc. thephotomakery.com
"My husband and I can not give enough praise to Weddings by Lyons Photography! Not only were the pictures taken for our wedding unbelievably beautiful, but they make having your picture taken enjoyable as well! Cathy and Mark make an incredible team."
"Cathy and Mark Lyons were the perfect photographers at our wedding. Not only did they take artistic and beautiful photographs, they also worked closely with my mother to accommodate her wishes. They were discreet at the ceremony, and during the group pictures afterwards, they had such a knack for working with the entire family to enjoy themselves as they efficiently shot many amazing photos. Their work ethic is exemplary!"