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,



girl on a bicycle said...

Your writing puts me right in the middle of your day...I can feel all of it...you are a grreat storyteller, Elizabeth. Thank you so much for sharing these amazing experiences!

Mourning Dove Farm said...

I loved this. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story - part one and two. I can't wait to buy the book!

Brenda said...

Love this post and your prayers and patience did pay off. Lovely shot!

Tina said...

Patience is but one of your many virtues. Your post made me "glisten" just reading it! Hugs!

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

Wow what a day! And it turned out beautifully, go figure. Some times I think God has a great sense of humor, don't you? Love the photos. I had preordered it and Amazon let me know this morning that it is on its way!!!!!So excited! I don't even quilt. BUT I love you so much that how could I not get this fabulous book? I'm sure besides the gorgeous photography, I'll learn something too. And I'll bet this is just the beginning of the books you will be photographing either:)Love following your adventures, Elizabeth:) You always make my day.
~Debra xxx
Capers of the vintage vixens

Anne Lorys said...

I'm so glad you decided to share the behind the scene stories of these gorgeous images! I love the way that just roll with it, follow His lead...you have a level of trust that I still struggle with, control freak that I am.

Having read this, I actually feel as though I spent the day with you and shared in all the ups and downs. That's the mark of a wonderful writer, and I can't think of another friend I'd rather spend the day with. :-)

Sending big love your way,

Charmaine said...

I love your work, Elizabeth! Would you consider selling large prints of this picture? The picture and your story behind it speak to me and I want to hang it on my wall so I can see it all the time.

Margo@Legacy of a single girl said...

What an incredible day! I'm reading from my phone so I dill have to go home and get the larger view but those photos of that gorgeous old building are fabulous! I am constantly amazed at what is produced through the eye of the lens . When we see something like that in "real" we don't always see it's real beauty. Kind of like how God sees us i suppose. He sees past the broken and shattered to the real beauty that is there. Beautifully done Elizabeth!
Hugs, Margo

Jillayne said...

What a day and what a shot. I have never really thought about how wonderful shots like these are achieved, how much work goes into something that looks as simple as can be.
I can't buy any book, be it cookbook or quilting book unless it has wonderful photography - and now I am looking at them with fresh eyes and new-found appreciation.
these past two posts are among my favourite ever!

Margo @ Legacy of a Single Girl said...

Oh my gosh, I just spooned me a bowl of yogurt (Greek plain with a pinch of strawberry jelly and some Trivia) and sat down to read your post again, take it all in on the big screen here and it's hilarious! I really couldn't get the big picture on my phone! What a faithful God we have huh?! I have GOT to meet you Elizabeth! You sound so much like me in your frustrations and murmurings!!! If you get to Arizona come and get me!
Hugs! Margo

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Everyone!

Thank you so much for writing and leaving such lovely comments. I will be visiting your blogs to visit with each of you personally but wanted you to know how much it means to me that you stopped by.

It makes me so happy that you took time to drop a line - makes my day.

Big hug to you all,

Whimsy said...

Thanks for sharing...
You really did an AMAZING job with the photography. I am not a huge fan of colorful quilts but you really changed my perspective on color mixed with vintage! I think you can make anything look amazing though!!! You have a great eye - I can't wait to buy the book:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth
Thank you so much for this post. God teaches me through you. I'm thankful that you are a good listener when He speaks.
Your post is just what I needed this week. I plan on reading it again and agin

Mz V said...

Elizabeth, your generosity in sharing your art with all of us continues to amaze me! No one but you knows how hard you work to create something that looks SO beautiful and easy. I just love your narrative (the barking dog was my favorite!) about this challenging day.
Now, will you do me a favor? The next time you have a deadline like this, pick up the phone and call me. I'll drive you. And I'll bring a ladder, a cooler stocked with healthy food and icy cold drinks, a second stocked toolbox, money with which to bribe or cajole help or bail money, and my second pair of hands. Plus I'm the world's best carrier/slogger/hammerer/wiper/holder-of-stuff/picker-up. And my husband tells me I have curiously strong upper body strength for moving furniture.

Spare yourself some stress. None of us want you to crater.

Mz V

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Tracy!

Thank you for the lovely comment...especially coming from someone with so much talent. I loved my day with you and will remember it always.

Big hug
Elizabeth :-)

Elizabeth Maxson said...


You are so sweet to have said that and I believe I learn something from each of my readers. You have no idea what these comments do for me. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to write me.

Big hug

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Mz V

You crack me up and touch my heart. I was JUST telling a good friend how I just couldn't imagine putting a friend through what I put myself through....I would feel so amazingly guilty! But I laughed at your husband's description at your "curiously strong upper body strength" which made me rethink my guilt...I really love upper body strength and that won me over! :-) I love my gal pals to death...but they have girly arms! (They already know this...so I am not hurting their feelings.) So, I would love to have a "curiously strong" gal pal...! :-) Thanks for the offer...!!

Big curiously strong hug
Elizabeth ;-))

Anonymous said...

That is such an amazing story! I love it. Do you have an expected date for the book to be released, because I am so excited I can hardly stand it!


Anonymous said...

I would like mine autographed. I think it will make such a great shower gift for Karri!


Elizabeth Maxson said...


Would LOVE to sign a book for Karri! Cannot believe she is getting married!! Please email me and we can get together. Would love to see you - been years! Click on Tula Pink's website or order it off Amazon - yes it is available! :-)

Big hug

Burlap Luxe said...

Elizabeth amazing reading over here and the amazement you create in all your photos!!

I want to live in your words taking in your thoughts and VISION/INSIGHT !

Come visit me and see my new find and my new creation!
I think you will like it, be honest tell me whay you think even if I need to make a change to it.

lots of love to you my visionary insightful friend.
Many bleassings

Nella Miller said...

Elizabeth I am so happy this has happened for you...I can feel the excitement and genuine thankfulness in your writing, that this event has had on your spirit, especially your creative soul. Know one deserves it more! Your joy and sense of great accomplishment is evident in the beautiful finished product. Worth every effort! N.xo

Low Tide High Style said...

Such a great post and oh how I can relate. It's wonderful that you learned that patience, like you I don't always have enough. And it truly paid off as your image is beautiful! If only people knew what photogs go through to get that perfect shot, your post has given people a glimpse!

Kat :)

zooperson said...

Wonderful, wonderful shot! But, then how could you fail with such an Assistant. I used to be patient, but seem to have lost the virtue. Thank you for the reminder that we are where we are suppose to be if we just listen.

Rachel said...

Reading Part I and Part II of your AWESOME story has been the best part of my day. I am inspired by your honesty, your amazing talent and most of all your open beautiful way of giving God all the glory and creative kudos. Wow, wow, wow! Our Creator worked through your talent and heart in such an awesome way. Thanks for sharing!!!

Karen Piehl said...

inspiring! i loved hearing your whole creative process. it is so like childbirth, really gut wrenching at times. you are a wonder to have pulled it off. lovely photography, many many thanks, karen

PCovi said...

That story came full circle :)
I've been noticing how God takes bad things, turns them into wonderful things and then...
MULTIPLIES THEM for His glory...awesome!!
That is such a beautiful scene ...those quilts hanging that way!

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

OK, I have the book and can I tell you, I LOVE IT? The quilts are beautiful but the way you have them displayed and photographed - purely artistic!!!! I have a feeling that you will be very busy photographing for lots of other publications and you know I will be getting every one of them:) Congratulations on a masterpiece:)
~Debra xxx
Capers of the vintage vixens

martha said...

Your accounts of creating with the Creator has brought me so much joy! I would like to return the favor by making you aware of our own venture:
I worship with a great group of artists, and we patch together our talents the night before Easter.
Nothing fills my artist soul like this service does. This year it's filled with visual arts, a 40ft icon, 5 original 3x5ft paintings, some amazing dramatic theater pieces, beautiful choral, gospel, folk, and rock music, newly composed music, ballet and hip-hop dancing, beat-boxing, liturgy and deeply meaningful celebration. Inspirational! It's 27 miles west of Chicago: churchrez.org has details

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