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Daydreaming, and Cancer (It Sucks)

18 Oct

 

Cancer sucks.  No, seriously, it’s the pits.  I lost a few grandparents to it.  One of my parents just fought a battle (and won!!).  I’ve got friends who have already had to face the life changing reality of it.

It.  Just.  Sucks.

But when it happens to a young child, your heart literally breaks.  When that child happens to be the son of a woman you have always loved like a sister, when that child thinks of you as Aunt Shannon….it’s absolutely devastating.

A few weeks ago, my “nephew” had complaints of a stomach ache and began peeing blood.  He was rushed to the emergency room, and after an ultrasound, the doctors expressed that they suspected he had a Wilms tumor on his kidney.  Wilms is one of the more common types of childhood cancer, and you can read a bit more about that here.  He was moved via ambulance to a local children’s hospital, and further tests confirmed that he had stage 4 cancer.

Stage 4.  There was a tumor on his left kidney, and spots on his liver, lungs and in the blood vessels leading to the right kidney.

At this point, my sister-friend and her husband had already been pulling alternating shifts at the hospital, one parent with my nephew and one parent at home with the other kids.  Both my sister-friend and her husband are the exact type of people you would hold up as an example of what parents should be.  They have hearts of gold and chose professions where they get to help people.  They’re honest, kind, funny, stable, intelligent, loving people who have always wanted to be parents.  But cancer doesn’t care about things like that.  It’s doesn’t discriminate.  And now these wonderful people, whom I’ve always called family, are stretched thin.

Grandparents have been enlisted to help.  Siblings are stopping by to support them, and friends have become taxis.  Heck, I went grocery shopping for them because how else would they find the time for basic supplies?

You see, that’s the reality of cancer.  It doesn’t just affect the person who is diagnosed.  It consumes everyone around the person fighting to beat it.  The patient needs extra time, support and care so you give it, because you love them.  The patient’s needs change and you accommodate them, because you want them to thrive.  The patient’s immune system becomes depressed because of treatment, their moods and energy levels fluctuate, their emotional health takes a beating and you do what you can to support them, because you want them to win.  A child still needs to be encouraged to be a child, so you put them on their balance bike and you hope like hell nothing goes wrong, because you know you can’t put them in a bubble…even on days you want to.

But who supports the parents of a child with Wilms?  Parents who can’t work because they need to support their son?  Parents who are struggling to keep their heads on straight for their children?

Well, their family and friends, for one.  A lot of us have tried stepping up, coming up with strategies to help with meal trains so they don’t have to worry about cooking after yet another trip to the hospital, or private fundraisers to help with the long term bills that are sure to pile up.  But it takes a village to raise a child, and now, I’m asking my village for help.

The family has specifically asked that this not be shared on Facebook, social media, etc.  They want to ensure their young son’s privacy.  However, they gave me permission to put this on my own blog.  Therefore, I am asking you for the same consideration.  Please do not share this on Facebook. 

There are so many pressing concerns in the world right now – the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, the wildfires out west, the…well, in essence the ethnic cleansing going on in Myanmar, the escalating tensions with North Korea….  There are a lot of causes out there, and for those of you without the resources to give, I fully understand.  I hope that in lieu of money, you might be able to keep both my nephew and all of those afflicted by cancer in your thoughts.  (My nephew is actually one of two children whose families I am close with that are undergoing treatment for Wilms.)

For those of you with the means though, my second biggest worry after my nephew’s immediate recovery, is the bills.  Insurance helps moderate some of the costs, but not all.  And of course, not working means that given enough time, the rest of the family’s bills – mortgage, utilities, food shopping, etc – will begin piling up.  I would like for them not to have to worry about finances when they should be focusing on their son’s recovery.  So, for those of you who might have a few dollars to spare, you can donate here.

Also, as an aside, I chose to make this post on my photography page – just like a choose to bring up other important topics ranging from environmental concerns to humanitarian crises – because I feel that ART IS POWERFUL.  Because through my photography, I have a voice, and it is everyone’s responsibility to use their voice to make the world a better place.  So for those of you who come by just to say Hi and look at some pretty pictures, I appreciate you!  But for those of you who read all of the way to the end of my longer posts, I am extra grateful.  Any support means the world to me, but if I can inspire someone in a positive way, then I feel as though I’ve truly made a difference. We have, together. ❤

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Feminine :: TN

26 Sep
Feminine :: TN

Feminine :: TN

(Alternate working title: Taken by a WOMAN with a NIKON)

This past week there has been a huge backlash against Nikon for a promotion-gone-wrong regarding their new d850 release. In short, the Nikon-Asia created a team of 32 professional photographers to be the face of their new camera. All male.

For those of you to whom I’ve casually mentioned the challenges of landscape photography’s boys club to… this is very visible example of what I meant. Time and again, I’ve come across gender bias in the genre of landscape photography, and in the cross-genre work I’ve done. The stats on things like brand ambassadors, speakers at conferences, juries at shows, etc simply aren’t reflective of the actual percentages of women working every day in the industry. I personally have been overlooked or lost opportunities because I was female. Women I am close with have been harassed and belittled, their skills as a photographer dismissed or questioned because they are female. Marketing, book sales and travel all come with an asterisk – a need to proceed cautiously because I’m female. Hopefully, our genre of photography continues to evolve, but the first step is education. One of the best things about our species is our capacity for critical thought, for introspection, and conscious evolution. I know WE CAN DO BETTER.

Nikon has since said they will strive to be better in the future. Hopefully more major brands follow their lead. There is an incredibly talented community of female photographers out there (I have a list of at least 270+ in landscape photography alone) who’s work is diverse, interesting and impactful. Isn’t it time you discovered some new artists? 😊

Big thanks to all of those supportive men already in the photography community. I’m blessed to call a lot of you friends, and you give me hope things will keep moving in the right direction.

In reality, gender bias is not the only issue we flawed humans face and in my mind, denying that these problems exist is illogical, especially when you can see tons of examples around the world of sexism, racism, homophobia, etc.  Much like this particular issue with Nikon, I believe humans as a whole have opportunities every single day to do better, to be better, to grow and have empathy and understanding.  After all, our variety IS our strength.  The human race is a beautiful tapestry made up of vastly different experiences, cultures, sexes, nationalities, religions and ways of expressing love.  To insulate yourself with only a small segment of the population is like reading just the first page of your favorite novel.  You’ll never see the richness and depth around you. Choose love. ❤

Ok, hopping off the soapbox now.  If you read this far, this is a quiet spot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  A huge thank you to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around their stomping grounds while we were visiting.  They’re great guys, and if you are looking for workshops in that area, I urge you to check them out! Here’s a little bonus shot of Zach, who is shooting a year of film, using his large format rig during this stop. 🙂

Newest Article is Published

28 Jul

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If you’re an iPhone or iPad user and you don’t have the Light & Landscape App….you’re missing out!  Check out my latest article about the power of thoughtful feedback FOR FREE in the most recent issue. 🙂

FREE PRINT :: SPREAD THE LOVE CAMPAIGN

13 Jul

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FREE PRINT :: SPREAD THE LOVE, TELL A FRIEND!

I’m giving away an 11×16 version of this Nubble Light sunrise. To qualify, you need to go do something nice for your fellow humans and send me a picture. Free hugs, bring some donuts to your local police department, compliment a stranger, defend someone who needs you to stand up for them….help and love, those are the objectives. Send your story and photo to me at seespotsphoto@yahoo.com

With all of the terrible, divisive things going on in our country, I keep asking myself, “What can I do to help? To foster love and respect between people? To help heal? WHAT CAN I DO?” (It’s an important question, one that I hope we all can ask ourselves.)

Last week, my friend Mike (http://www.mikemezphotography.com/) put this idea together, and I loved it. Please, help spread the love by telling friends and sharing this post. Lets make this world a better place together. If you’re a local photographer or business, I encourage you to do something within your means to also foster love with whatever tools you have at your disposal too. 🙂

 

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

9 Feb

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Last year, over the summer, I explored this place and I told myself that I would make it back here on a snowy, windless day to get some reflections on the reservoir.

I went back on Friday for sunset…sort’ve a boring sky, but I thought it might still work because the snow-pines-reflection combo was pretty rad. Then I got close enough to see the “new improved paint job”.

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Pretty much the exact opposite of “leave no trace”.  It’s up to all of us to respect and protect our shared spaces.  This isn’t just a photographer’s perspective, though this did call for some adjustments to my original plan (see the new composition with a totally different angle and unfortunately no snowy pines above!).  This is a human perspective.  This is a long-term planner’s perspective. This is a “what mess are we leaving for the next generation” perspective…the generation, I might add, that will be taking care of us in our old age, so it’s probably in everyone’s best interest not to ruin all of the pretty, peaceful spots before they have a chance to enjoy them too! ;-p

 

Photography. DUH.

13 Jul
Light The Sky :: Maine

Light The Sky :: Maine

“The lens hood not appropriate for all situations, but for landscapes, it will probably help your images and editing workflow to some degree…unless you like extra work in post cloning out lens flares. Or your name is J.J. Abrams and lens flare is kind of your thing.”

 

Photography. DUH. …….yeah, that’s REALLY what we named our book. haha

Photography. DUH. is a firsthand account of the landscape photography mistakes you shouldn’t make!  Why?  Because mistakes are embarassing.  And costly.  Inconvenient.  Frustrating…..  You get the idea.

So why make mistakes if you don’t have to??  This book is an opportunity to learn from our mistakes instead.  And possibly laugh at our expense.  (Probably both.)

Not sold yet?  Fine.  I’ve included incredibly accurate review by photographer Derek Kind, and a few images from the book, to give you an idea of what you’re getting yourself into. 🙂  When you’re done with that, head on over to the book store HERE and make your purchase.  For a limited time only, the book is ON SALE!  So…you know…chop chop!  Get a move on!  Vamanos!

Photography. DUH is a collection of downright useful common sense knowledge presented with an engaging brand of humor that will keep you entertained as well as enlightened. Filled with the type of good solid advice that would have saved me much trouble if only they’d had the decency to write it a few years earlier, Shannon and David lay out all the stuff budding landscape photographers ought to know and probably don’t. Two thumbs up, five stars, +1 and a Like for a thoroughly recommended book.” – Derek Kind

Choose Life, Choose Love

18 Jun
Emerge :: VT

Emerge :: VT

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – MLK, Jr.

 

The Charleston shooting is horrifying and tragic on so many levels.  I find most violence difficult to swallow, and this even more so because the victims were spending their energy on prayer.  It is just one of many world-wide incidents that continue to sadden and frustrate me.

 

It saddens me that one human can feel so filled with hate, fear, a need to feel power over another, etc that he or she can feel justified in taking the lives of another living being.  At what point do we sit down and have a talk with our children about the root causes of violence?  At what point do we address the fear and the hate, regardless of its source, that we hold in our own hearts?  At what point do we encourage love instead?  At what point do we take and expect personal accountability for our actions?  At what point do we acknowledge the wrongs done to us personally, and accept that one incident doesn’t need to define us OR our interactions with people who weren’t involved?  At what point do we base our assessment of a fellow human on their character and actions alone?  At what point do we ask our fellow citizens to take a look at themselves and do the same?

 

It frustrates me that these continued acts of violence are polarizing our country, when the only way to bring about equality for every human is through unified purpose.  There is only one race.  No matter where you were raised, your gender, what circumstances you were born into, what religion you embrace or whom you fall in love with, we are all brothers and sisters.  You don’t have to like your siblings to respect their rights to live, to choose, to opportunity and to peace.

 

I am afraid for our country and our world.  I think a lot about the brave, vocal leaders our world has seen who have worked tirelessly to advocate for their fellow man.  Beacons of love, equality, education, acceptance and understanding like MLK, Ghandi and Mother Theresa have been bright lights in the dark and violent history of mankind.  When do we take it upon ourselves to light our own candles?  When do we put aside our differences and embrace civility?

 

The path to peace is built on equality, and paved with both determination and hard work.  The cost of living in a society is responsibility.  On a personal level, you are responsible for your thoughts, your actions and your willingness to work towards a better life.  But there is more to it than that.  Ultimately, choosing to live in a society means you are part of a whole.  There must be an understanding that your choices affect the people around you.  If you choose to live in a way that negatively impacts the people around you, including encouraging hate and fear in others (including your children), what incentive is there for society to continue to support you?  Even if you choose not to actively raise other people up, you have a responsibility not to tear them down.

 

Our actions now will shape the future.  There is no need to drag around the choking weight of hatred, misunderstanding and intolerance…they only serve to poison your life.  You can acknowledge and respect our collective history while still choosing to rise above unhealthy fears.  You will find the world to be a brighter place when you are working towards a better tomorrow.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of all of these sort of tragic events around the world.  #PrayersForCharleston