Last week photo session on a lonely Oahu beach. Embracing the sad side of the snow princess with my favorite model.
Are you a mom and feeling creative? Find an old princess dress or superhero costume, play dress up with your kids, make up new stories or spin offs of old stories and take a lot of photos. This is so much fun.
One day about a week ago I decided to leave my computer desk and let my eyes rest on something other than editing software on my computer screen. I went to a small botanical garden with my friend, and then she showed me an isolated buddhist temple not far from there – a gem hidden from tourists’ eyes. My break from editing photos resulted in even more photos, but that’s just the way we people with cameras roll. I still don’t know the name of this place.
One thing that stopped me in my clicking tracks was a beautiful pink lotus flower in a little pond in the middle of the temple grounds. I was bewitched by the beauty of the flower and I kept going back to it in my thoughts, and it is not my habit to reflect on appearance and meaning of plants. What I learned afterwards is that a lotus flower is representative of creation, enlightenment and purity, and the pink flower is a supreme lotus that symbolizes Buddha, his history and legends. And now a poetic and meaningful part: a lotus flower emerges slowly from dirty muddy ponds over a period of a few days, yet still remains clean and undeniably beautiful. It rises and blooms above the murk to achieve enlightenment, teaching us the highest goal of existence and a path to take. The mud being the world that we are coming from, we should choose the right path over the easy one and by our inner strength and values come out pure and beautiful.
I was raving about the lotus flower for about a day and then I forgot about it and came back to an ordinary and a little bit colorless course of my week. And then I read this book by Victor Frankl: “Man’s search for meaning” – a book that I heard about and always wanted to read and finally got it at the library. The author describes his experience in concentration camps in Auschwitz and Dachau and his psychiatric theory focused on the importance of a meaning that we attribute to our life. According to him, prisoners of death camps had better chance of survival if they were able to find a meaning in their suffering, a purpose of their life, whether the purpose was fulfilled in the past by loving a child or a spouse, or was still to be fulfilled in the future by writing a book, treating patients, etc. By attributing a meaning to our existence, we have the freedom to change at any instant and choose our behavior or at least our attitude towards things that happen to us. Human beings have the capacity to rise above biological, psychological or sociological conditions and grow beyond them. These prisoners who were liberated and able to restore their health, families, happiness and position in society after the horrors of camps, aren’t they like a lotus flower emerging from dirt?
Maybe the buddhist meaning of a pink flower I spotted by the temple and the words of a book are the case of synchronicity and the world telling me a secret I need to hear and decipher, maybe I miss some kind of magic inside me these days and I am looking for it outside, and maybe I suffer from apophenia – spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena. Whatever it is, it reminded me to take a deep breath and marvel at things.
It was a hot September day, tropical sun shining strong and bright on the grass area of the ceremony. Lauren and Syd intentionally chose this particular location for their wedding, for it was the same exact place were they met and fell in love, and the same spot where later Syd proposed to Lauren. Charged with a special and emotional meaning, filled with loving family and dear friends, the location by the Haleiwa beach house became a silent witness of the celebration of aloha and the union of the couple.
The ceremony was conducted by Kelvin Ho, a kind and gentle officiant from Kauai, who made the event a truly spiritual, deep and unique experience and embraced the couple and their ohana with warm aloha. Many Hawaiian wedding customs and traditions filled the air with mystique energy and it was a true honor to be a part of the ceremony as a wedding photographer. I will always be grateful to Lauren, an incredibly warm and beautiful person, for trusting in me enough to invite me into her life for this very special day.
Many thank you to the coordinator Kylee Mar who made formal photos quick and easy, and was always helpful and kind, no matter how busy she was at the moment.
Ho’okahi naau, Ho’okahi mana o’lana,
Ho’okahi malamalama, Ho’okahi ‘oiai’o,
Ho’okahi ola, Ho’okahi ‘oli ‘oli,
E kahe pu ana, e ulu pu ana,
Mai ke kumu ho’okahi mai.
One heart, One hope,
One light, One truth,
One life, One joy,
Flowing together, growing together,
From a single source.
Who doesn’t like fairy tales? I do, especially “The Little Mermaid”. I loved Hans Christian Andersen’s tale as a child – it was beautiful, soulful and sad (so Eastern Europe, right?). Then came the milder, colorful version of Walt Disney, stripped of the lessons of the original, but visuals tipped the scale and little Marta (aka me) fell in love with the movie.
For these reasons, when I saw the little mermaid outfit for 6-month-old Emma, my inner child jumped for joy. I have a proof right here that sometimes Pinterest obsession can not only result in cute and fun images, but also remind us about childhood’s infatuation with magical creatures…
Do you remember the first lines of “The Descendants”, this slow-paced movie with George Clooney based on a book by Kaui Hart Hemmings? It goes like this: “My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation. We’re all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane?” I can identify with these words completely, the initial excitement of coming here wore off long time ago and my grouchy side came to the surface making me stay at my air-conditioned home, hiding from the heat, humidity and tourists. It is hot and sticky, walks on the beach become tricky when jellyfish decide to have a party at the shore, and art galleries are filled with kitschy paintings of plumeria flowers – not something that would make my european soul sing. Imagine Grumpy Cat in a hula skirt – it’s me.
Nevertheless, I decide to take time for myself now and then, look at this beautiful island with fresh eyes and marvel at the beauty around me. The truth is that I am pretty lucky to experience life here, in beautiful surroundings of a tropical island, and although I didn’t find my place in the world here (great place for vacations though!), I appreciate where I got to live for few years.
Studio photography is not usually something I am drawn to and the reason is quite simple and a little bit embarrassing: my knowledge of studio lighting is limited at most. This is my weakness now, but I am pretty confident that there will come a day when I’ll decide to tackle the subject with determination and vigor. Meanwhile, I live in Hawaii and dull backdrops and technical aspects of studio lighting is not on my priority list.
However, I did a studio photo session this week and look at the results. Who cares about the background when you work with such a beautiful model!
Katie is an amazing, genuine and radiant woman. Until recently, she worked as a hair stylist and she was great at it, but please don’t contact her in this subject, she “retired”. She is also a blogger and you can follow her hawaiian adventures at http://marriedtoredwhiteandblue.blogspot.com/. You can learn a lot about different places on Oahu and beyond there, this girl is an uncontrollable explorer.
Katie is also a mom of a tiny little girl Emma, soon to be 6-months-old, who joined her excursions around the island. And her glamour photo session too.
The beginning of school and a random question from my daughter reminded me about a book that I read few years back in Poland. It was a book by a German educator, Eva Zoller, and it focused on kids’ natural tendency to philosophize – ask questions, doubt, marvel and investigate problems. The author argued that by leading philosophical discussions with our kids we raise people who can think independently with courage, empathy, and care. I am aware that having a philosophical conversation with children might seem a rather daunting task for a lot of parents exhausted by daily responsibilities, but you can do it in a fun, easy, and light-hearted way, I promise! What’s more, I believe you can do it by dealing with these hard to answer devilish questions asked by your cherubs in the middle of family chaos.
Let’s think about it then. How to answer tough questions from children in a wise AND easy way?
1. Say: “And what do YOU think?”
Easy, right? I use it and it works, seriously. It doesn’t matter if the answer is correct from a scientific standpoint. What’s important is that a child gives or finds meaning in a problem. When your little one asks why it rains and you start talking about warm air, vapor, clouds, cold air and so on and so on, is it a satisfactory answer? Or maybe you just face another “But why”? Children want meaning, not science, and they can make sense of things on their own, if only allowed. And sometimes they already have an answer before they ask a question.
2. Give a funny hypothesis and ask your kid about an opinion.
It works best with matters involving magical creatures, but you don’t have to limit yourself to a fantasy world. Use “maybe” and find a lot of possible explanations together, brainstorm with your kid. Warning: it might get really absurd after a while, but it’s certainly fun.
3. Find the answer together.
This one requires a little bit of effort, depending on child’s age and the difficulty of the question. Most of us are not polymaths and there is more that we don’t know that we do know, but this is the occasion to learn something together. You have to use this method answering the questions of “how does it work” type: tell what you know and send your child to a book or google it together.
These simple methods do not only answer your kids’ tough questions, they also teach reflection and intellectual freedom; they encourage your kids to form their own opinions and come to their own conclusions and, by doing so, they can proceed through life in a conscious and responsible way. Tiny bits of parental wisdom in our rushed and technology driven lives.
And if you are worried that your kids won’t learn facts and won’t know “real” answers, don’t: the school is there to stuff their little heads with “correct” answers and dry information, we are here to raise human beings.
Now homework for you: try it at home and share results. 😉
Last week I had the pleasure to spend some time in a beautiful plumeria grove in Koko Crater Botanical Garden and photograph two sisters amongst blossoming trees. Flowers in bloom evoke certain joyful quality of childhood and were the perfect frame for girls’ youth and radiance.
Note to myself: next time bring an insect repellent.
This Friday my daughter is starting 2nd grade. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that I am a mom of a second grader, it is just one of these inexplicable mysteries of the universe, like dark matter or fermi bubbles…
Anyway, for the occasion of the start of school year, I took some photos of my little student that I would like to share with you.
I would also like to go back in time for a moment and think about what the first day in school meant for the little me (who is probably getting ready for school at this very moment in some parallel universe, smelling her new textbooks and leafing through them, excited for all new things that she will learn). I remember how fun it was to get school supplies: pencils, pens, erasers, paints, crayons – all these new colorful things just for me! How exciting it was to have textbooks full of information and readings, literature, notes, numbers, images. And how proud the little me felt to be a second grader, to be a year older, smarter, ready to learn and understand even more. Seeing my school friends again, meeting new teachers, learn new subjects – these were things that I was still looking forward as a child.
It was this special time of year that still smells like first days of school in Poland: when the days are getting colder and the autumn wardrobe is being pulled out of the closet and dusted off. Chilly wind, warm sun and colorful leaves in parks and alleys were the background for the excitement of the start of school time. The weather we call Polish Golden Fall – maybe the most picturesque time of year that I have yet to photograph.
I am wondering how my daughter will remember beginnings of the school year. We are now living in hot tropical weather, fighter aircrafts are buzzing above our heads, pigeons walk around in open classrooms and our go to footwear are flip flops. Quite different from my childhood experience…
How about you? How do you remember your first days of school year? Go ahead, leave a comment and share your school experience.