Feb 23, 2012

One Hot Day...Creating with The Creator Part 2

It looks so pretty, doesn't it? I keep pinching myself that it really has happened...the photo that I styled and shot is finally in a for real book! Quilts from The House of Tula Pink, to be exact. Welcome to part two of my story telling of how this photo shoot of this book took place and how someone so much bigger and better than me had a very large part in it. If you have no clue what I am talking about, you can catch up on the previous posts here and then click here.  


On this particular day of shooting, it was August, about 1000 degrees outside, and I intended to shoot a completely different setup inside the abandoned building, as it was finally sunny! For those who don't live in the Midwest, or maybe forgot, but August was the month from hell, as we had tornado after tornado, and one moment it was sunny, and then out of nowhere, it would cloud up, rain and wind storms. It seemed, that no matter how sunny it was when I left for my shoot, by the time I arrived (an hour and twenty minute drive) nine out of ten times, it would rain by the time I set up my equipment!

I arrived for my shoot, and planned to shoot this setup:

This is actually a small and very narrow room, dark, and with only one window, and gets only the north light. I NEED light. I had tried for over a week to shoot this idea, but everyday, it clouded up and rained on me. So finally! I arrived at my destination, and not a cloud in the sky and it was still early in the day and I was so happy...hot...but happy.

Not a Happy Camper...

However, due to some unplanned, very unforeseen situations that could not be avoided, I could not get inside my building!! Let's say it was being "inspected" of some sorts and I won't go into details, but just know I could not go in or near it for some time. I was just livid. I was told that this just never "happens" and I was just stuck. I drove around for some time, waiting it out, and after a while, it became apparent that I would not be able to do my shoot as planned. I became even more livid as I sweated out the unbearable day. I am very hot, very tired, on a deadline, and I must get something shot that day.

As I drive around town, I am thinking and pondering what to do...what to do....as I am cussing in my head, and starving, and cursing my bad luck....what to do???

I suddenly come across this "compound" as I call it in my head. A very, very cute compound right in the middle of town. I jumped out of my car and ran up to the front door of the adorable home and began to knock. Now, you have to understand, I look like a wreck because I thought I was going to be alone in an abandoned building all day, in the heat, and in dirt...so I dress accordingly. I have really gross cut-off jeans that I found at Goodwill that I love because it has this huge side pocket that holds my cell phone. I wear my orange paint shirt (a man's cotton shirt), and I wear, now get this, a SLEEVE from a t-shirt on my head as a head wrap! It works great...cut off the short sleeve of a man's t-shirt, and stretch it over your head (if you have a pea head like I do) and because I was working in triple digits for weeks, I would soak the thing in ice water and wear it to keep cool. Oh, and this one just happens to be a bright orange. I have on old work boots to protect my feet from the dirt and glass in the building and not a stitch of make-up on.  

Someone Knocking at the Door...Do Me A Favor...

And now, here I am, knocking on this beautiful door...but I did have sense enough to bring a business card with me. Well, I was so tired, and probably dehydrated, I was knocking this steady, slow knock, as I looked around the street for another location, as it seemed nobody was home. I didn't realize I was standing there, knocking steady, thinking in my own thoughts, knocking, knocking, knocking, scoping out the neighbor's yard across the street, knocking, knocking, thinking, thinking, for about five minutes, lost in my thoughts, when suddenly the door opens and scares me half to death!

And I am sure, I scared her once she took a gander at me...

I introduced myself, and laughed, telling her I hadn't realized I was knocking so long, but she laughed and said, "No problem." I asked if I could use one of her buildings to shoot, and just like that, she said, "Sure, go ahead." And that was that. Below are some test shots I took in a hurry to decided what I was going to do, and to test the sun, the movement of the sun's location, the time of day and how long it would take me to figure out what I was going to do and where the sun would be by the time I set up...

I was in such a rush, having lost about three hours by now, that I didn't even think to take a photo of her cute home. And, I had no idea what I was even going to do. However, I did know I was going to shoot chapter one's opening photo as the publishers gave me complete freedom with that shot. They said I could do anything I want, use as many quilts as I want and do whatever I want with that chapter as it is called "Tula's Techniques."

I really liked this building, but wasn't sure where the sun would be, when I finally around to shooting it, see the shadow? And I would have to angle my camera away from the toys in the background:

I walked around some more and began to really sweat it out...from the heat, from the pressure, and not having hardly anything with me at all. I walked around some more to study the sun....

I really loved this little shed and all the elements. I was thinking how I could use the door and so on...I had a few quilts in the car, but some were still in the abandoned building. But I looked at the sun, trying to figure out how it is going to move and the window on the shed reflected the toys and the home behind me very badly....so I walked around the shed to the side of it...

Creative Help Just When I Needed It...

I didn't see the vision at first. All I saw was the shadow and all the sun in front of me and the heat bearing down on my head. That day was one of the hottest days, about 104 degrees. What you can't really see is behind that little cute wire fence is a long patch of mud. You can see some of splashed up onto the wall. MUD...Glares from the roof, shaded wall, and wires, mud, and I now have lost a lot of time.

I stand there, staring, sweat dripping down my face, hand on my chin, just staring. I talk to God all the time...I remember saying..."Please God...help me figure this out...." I just didn't see it. Such a plain wall. I had nothing with me...

I stood in silence.

My Creative partner shoved me closer to get a better look as I wiped sweat off my eyes. I took my camera off my neck and wiped the sweat off my neck and the sounds of the loud locusts was just deafening. I set the camera down and walked closer.

Nothing. What? What am I looking for?

"Please God, show me what to do...."

He pushed me closer and I could feel the crunch of the dry grass under my shoes as I went right up to the walls and looked around...and in fact, I went so close, just so I could get up in that little patch of shade to protect my head from the beating sun.

And I shaded my eyes to look up...I looked up!! I looked up and saw something I didn't see before...rafters!

Working Together...go figure...

The vision came to me! Actually, God showed me to the vision, it just took me a while to see it. And not only were there rafters, but there were ten of them! Tula's book had ten quilts! I run to my car, drive it around to the side of the street I am working, and I always carry my toolbox with me wherever I go and I get it out, look at its contents, and yes, I have just enough wire to work with! Go figure...

I have NO ladder, but my toolbox is barely, and I mean barely tall enough for me to stand on and lift the quilts over my head and tie the wire around the rafters. Go figure... These quilts are very heavy, and I am hot, tired, and my hand is shaking as I lift with one arm, tie with the other and I have little, short fingers, and so when I gather the quilt up in one hand, I can barely hold onto it...so I am praying, "Please God, do not let me drop this into the mud below!" Never dropped a one...go figure...

While I am working on lifting, tying, and arranging, the quilts, I had called a friend who had access to the building and asked if she could get in and go get the other three that were in there and bring them to me? "Getting the quilts" isn't as easy as it sounds. You have to lift these heavy things, make sure they don't fall on the filthy floor, fold them into plastic bags and haul them down the steps. A lot of effort. 

I am working like a mad dog, as the day is slipping by. I have my camera out, tripod, lenses, toolbox, and I just so happened to have my two old doors in my car as well! Yes, believe it or not, these doors have been in my car for weeks. I have been wanting to use them in a shoot, but I wasn't about to drag them up the steps unless I knew exactly how I was going to use them. I hadn't come up with a vignette that involved them yet, so in the car they stayed. I don't haul a thing up lots of steps unless I know I am going to use it. And now, here they are, perfect for this setup.

Go figure...!

Just enough wire and just enough faith that my Creator will keep this creation from falling down into a what could be disaster...

My tool box...my step stool...my lifesaver. See the mud?? I had to reach over the little fence, as it was a mud pile directly beneath the rafters...I am not very tall!

MAD DOG 20/20

 No, I didn't resort to drinking, but should have...and that is 20/20 not 20-20! See the picture above...not all the quilts hung yet? Notice something? No sun! Clouds are coming in....AGAIN! Sometimes clouds are good and sometimes they are bad...when they come and go constantly as it was the case that day. They are floating by in seconds of each other and the shadows are maddening as well as the damn DOG that is across the street that has been BARKING nonstop since I have arrived hours earlier and will continue until I pack up and leave hours later!

That dog was a yippy little dog with a LOUD bark:

Yap, yap, yap
Yap, yap
Yap, yap, yap
Yap, yap
Yap, yap, yap
Yap, yap

That was the pattern, nonstop, for five hours!!

Every now and then, an old lady would come out and barely "yell" what I think was "Stella...hush.." And then go back inside. And then come out an hour later and say it again, go back inside...over and over again. OMG...the heat, the bugs, the clouds, the barking...what next?

Then two very old men, one with a ZZ Top beard rode by on their old bikes, and stopped and watched me for a bit, commenting, and asked questions and then asked if they could help. But I realized they were two sheets to the wind and I said, that is fine. I believe they were on their way to bingo or some card game? They wobbled away and I wish I had gotten their photo...but then again, had I pointed my camera at them, they would have loved it and would have stayed even longer and insisted on "helping." I was running out of time.

So, the quilts are up, and I am now waiting for the shadow to hit the shed just right....it is a waiting game with the clouds. You can see the shadow on the ground compared to the first photo I took with no quilts just how long the day took. See my wait below with my test shots for sun:

Yes, the above is blurry. I was sitting and held up my camera, too tired to stand...You can see, I am getting frustrated...

Over exposed, but still too bright of a shadow now at this angle...

The sun and shadow are just way out of control...so I wait...and wait...until you see the below photo with the help of God. He gave me the patience to wait.

Thank you God for helping me learn about patience. Something I fall very short of so many times. I was so angry that day, cursing  how MY plan fell short. I was angry because of what I wanted to do didn't go MY way. I was short tempered because how MY idea for MY schedule got so screwed up.

Then you came along and decided that YOUR idea was better. You gave me a lot to contend with. Heat, no ladder, a barking dog, no food (couldn't leave my quilts or equipment out), clouds, sun, and I had to just wait. 

But while waiting under the shade tree, I stopped cursing the dog, stopped cursing the heat and I drank my water and looked at the beautiful image on the barn that I knew was about to happen at the right moment. I appreciate all that you did for me that day. And I appreciate that I got the chance to show others just how beautiful Tula's quilts are. 

But mainly, I am so happy you were with me that day, you didn't give up on me, you gave me a generous place to work, a safe place to work, got me home safely, and kept Tula's beautiful quilts safe. I am so fortunate and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate that day and how much I appreciate You for being there with me and for me.

Tula's Techniques is the first chapter of her book, but in my world, it is the first chapter for me in really learning to trust God and to be patient for His vision for what He has in mind for me, in His time.

Thank you so much for allowing me to share my day with you. I just wanted to share how creating with The Best Creator ever, is so awesome.

from my house to your house,


Feb 8, 2012

creating with The Creator part 1


I hope this post is finding you all well. I wanted to thank you so much for all the kind emails and comments that came my way due to my announcing my first book that I photographed and styled, Quilts From the House of Tula  Pink, due out soon. The well wishes I received made me feel so happy.If you missed that announcement and have no idea what I am talking about you can catch up by clicking here.

As I said in my prior post, I would spend the next couple of posts doing a little story telling about this shoot and share a few amazing stories, as well as some behind the scenes photos and photos that were not used. I did receive a very nice email from the creative designer who said she wished the book could have been longer because there were so many photographs from which to choose and selecting which photographs was very difficult. Getting that email made my day.

In trying to keep the stories somewhat succinct (yeah, right, cough) I will quickly tell you that I got the offer to do the job in April, signed the contract late April or early May (can't remember), and had to have the cover shot by late May. 

The Email:

I was so excited to get the assignment. I had never met any of the team members before. I had no idea who Tula Pink was and no, I am not a quilter. I just opened my email one day and there it was, an email from the publisher, asking if I would be interested in the project and if she could call me. She had seen my work, of all places, on my blog, and she loved what she saw...I couldn't believe it! This is what I have been working for all this time and now, I am staring at my email, and a publisher wants me to call her...I don't even remember what I was thinking...I just emailed her back that I would love for her to call me and just gave her my phone number and we spoke the next day.

The Vision

So we connect on the phone, and immediately, I realize that this is more a "professional" call than I had been used to in a while...meaning more "buttoned-up and panty-hose" as my Texan girlfriend used to say when she was referring to corporate. The publisher was very polite, but professional. Not that I am not, I am just more, let's say, casual. The publisher is trying to give me the vision of the book, and the "feel" they think they want and is trying really hard to connect the dots for me as I listen, but I am quick thinker and soon, I sort of lose my "buttons and panty hose" and resort to my old self and here is how the conversation goes on our very first phone call:

After some struggle of visionary discussion...


We just want a really different sort of book, sort of edgy...


May I interrupt for a moment?


Of course...


Well, let me tell you what I think you want, and if I am way out in left field, then I will be quiet and you can keep telling me what you think you want, but I think I know what you are trying to say, but aren't really saying it...


Sure, go ahead...


I think you want Shabby Chic, but not really Shabby Chic.
I think you want industrial, but not really.
I think you want it urban, but not really.
I think you want it feel homey, but not really in a home.
I think you want it to be rustic, but not really country.
I think you want it really unique, really Tula, but not so far out there that the readers' can't relate.
I think you want it to be edgy without it being hard.
I think you want each quilt to have their own personality, but they all are related.
Am I getting close to what you are trying to say?


That is exactly what we want!

Crazy Time

We talked a little more and hung up shortly after that, and then I realized that I somehow said a whole lot of something without really saying anything! Is that crazy talk, or what? At the time, it made sense to me, but as soon as I hung up, I thought, "What the hell did I just say?" Now what do I do? And never mind I had never met Tula Pink or even seen her website or even seen one single quilt of hers. But I tell you what, I give the publishers and Tula a whole lotta credit for turning over their babies (quilts) to a total stranger and just letting me do whatever I wanted. We did email a few times after that call of course, and I emailed them a few ideas, but they never once saw my location, or styling until I shot the assignment and turned in the shots. Now that is pretty trusting. 

Now that I got the assignment, I just have to figure out if my camera will handle their format requirements and if my computer programs are up to par.

I suddenly felt like all eyes were pointing in my direction. I had signed on the dotted line...and this was a do or die situation for me. All that I had done had led up to this moment. Except I didn't know this at the time. Little did I know that all those years of working so hard were about to pay off...but I had no idea after that one phone call what adventures I was about to have. No idea at all.

So Much To Learn

I learned very quickly that I didn't have the right lens, nor could I afford one. So...I learned to rent lenses. I did not have the updated computer programs to convert my files into files for print format for the required format for books. So, within 36 hours, I had to upgrade my computer, take a class and relearn a very hard program. I learn just enough to squeak by. I learned new ways to work my camera because I demanded new things from it that I never knew I could do. 

Help from Above

But actually, I have that backwards...I demanded new things from myself that I never knew I could do. And for that I have to thank God. And for me, my God is Christ. I have absolutely no doubt that on this assignment, Jesus was there every single day, every step, every computer click, every click of the camera, every mile I drove, every time I picked up someone's precious prop that I borrowed and never broke it. That is why in my first post I didn't thank Him, I wanted to save this post for that. I wanted this post to be about Him, not me.

God was such an important part of the success of my shoot and styling that I have now put Him on my business card...He is my Creative partner. Without Him, this would have never happened. After the shoot, I designed new cards and put my new partner on the card with me, take a look:

Too Good

Let me just paint a brief picture for you, if I may. This shoot took place in an abandoned building, on the top floor, in the summer heat of triple digits. I had to drive an hour and twenty minutes to get there. I had ten very heavy quilts to haul up the flight of stairs, props, furniture, and many items did not belong to me. I rented expensive equipment, and many times, spent up to 10 hours in the heat, with ice packs in the ice-chest to keep me cool. I had to climb ladders to hang up chandeliers, or tie umbrellas to the ceiling. At any time, I could have tripped, fallen over cords, fallen down the stairs, dropped the quilts in the dirt or mud. I could have fallen off the ladder, dropped someone's precious prop, lost an item, or even wrecked my car while driving back and forth on farm roads. I could have had computer issues, missed my deadline, or even gotten sick or had a week's worth of migraines. This was also during the horrible tornadoes we endured and I could have easily gotten caught in one of them while shooting or driving home (we had over 200 in our area during August and September). 

And if this isn't enough to convince you, I haven't even begun to tell you the stories that even a non-believer will at least have to scratch his/her head and have to  admit that someone was helping me out.

Now, please understand that I am not trying to convince, convert, or conclude anything for anyone. But I do wish it to be clear that while I am so happy about this book, the very hard work that went into it, and all the creative energy from the entire team and all the enormous amount of creative trust between us...I just want to pay my full respect to the greatest Creator I have ever had the pleasure to work with...Christ. If I had the influence, I wish I could respectfully get Him to be known as "CC" for short(Creative Christ) because He does create some amazing things.

I will never forget my first shoot after I turned in my cover shots. It was late at night when I finally got home, about 11PM. I downloaded all my photos while I took a shower. Randy was in bed already and I got something to eat. My computer was clicking away and I was rubbing my neck with my eyes closed and then I heard the little bing!

I yawned and opened my eyes and clicked my mouse and then I just stared at my computer...I couldn't believe what I shot. I hadn't even cropped, or straightened any photos yet and I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew right then, I was not alone in this project. I just remember slowly scrolling through all my photos and quietly whispering, with a lump in my throat:

Thank you God for not letting me do this alone. I know You had a hand in this. There is no way I did this on my own. Thank you so much for helping me today.

And below was the first photo I saw that first night...sitting in my office, in the dark, with only the light of the computer screen illuminating the room. 

As I stared at my photos in my office...I knew I wasn't alone while I clicked through them, one by one.

The funny thing is...I have never been alone in any of my projects, but for some reason, God chose to be very present in this project. I have always been aware of Him in one sense or another and more at some times in my life than at others. But during this entire assignment, He seriously had a vested interest and I was so grateful to have Him on board. 

Well, I thought I was going to tell the barn story of the quilts, but this is already getting long. So the next story is funny and amazing....it is about how this...

...finally made it to this:

Thank you dear readers for allowing me to share my adventures. I so enjoy sharing and having you in my life to share them with. It makes my adventures all the more exciting. Thank you so much for sharing in my joyful days as well as in my days of hardship. You mean very much to me and I feel extremely blessed to have such great readers who take time out of their busy lives to stop over now and again for a visit.

Until then, if so inclined, my Creative business partner is not on an exclusive contract...He is free to work with anyone who has a need for His services. Just call out His name...no waiting, and no automated operator to put you on hold either. (I hate those things!) I would be happy to give Him a wonderful recommendation... :-)

from my house to your house,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...