November 7, 2011

Customizing Your Picturess

There are endless possibilities when it comes to personalizing and customizing your pictures. One of the easiest ways is to use a background that allows you to create something extra special in them.

One example of this creative photography idea is to take a picture in front of a chalk board. Whether you have a child who loves to doodle, a student or teacher in the classroom, chalkboards are a blank canvas when it comes to personalizing your backgrounds.

Paper in a photograph is another great example of this. If your child is artistic and you would like to capture that forever you could hang there art work on the wall and take there picture while they stand next to it. You could also capture them creating there work by photographing them while they craft. I like using paper to write the name of my subject on it. Then I draw an arrow that will point to them so that when you look at the picture you don't only see what they look like you know there name now as well.

Sand is perfect for drawing what you want to say or see in your pictures. I was playing in the sandbox with my daughter Lily this summer when I came across this creative photography idea. We were making sand turtles out of these little plastic molds that she had. I placed the mold next to a sand turtle that we had made and then used my finger to draw a heart around both of them. I later added text to my picture that read "ETurtle Love" Get It?

Snow is just like sand but colder. I thought Lily looked adorable one winter when her snow suit was way too big for her. I had to put elastic bands around the hand and feet holes in order for her to stay warm. It was her very first snow fall and she couldn't even crawl yet but she did love lying on the comfortable snow. That was when I decided to use my finger to spell out her name in the snow next to her. I also tried to hide the elastic bands by covering them with snow but you can still see them and I am glad that I can. Now I can look back and remember how tiny she once was.

I have other pictures to take with this creative photography idea but I haven't gotten a chance to capture them yet. That doesn't mean that I cant share them with you now.

I wanted to carve out a pumpkin with the date on it but didn't get around to it. If I had gotten the chance I would have set it up on our front steps all lit up and then I would have taken a family picture with it. There is always next year I guess.

A funny idea that I had was to get a HUGE fake tattoo and apply it to my neck. Then I wanted to take a picture of myself with it and email it to my dad and write... Hi0 Daddy how do you like my new tattoo? Now that I  think about this idea more I may want to rethink it. I would like my dad to be in my life as long as possible and to not die from a heart attack but I could always do that to my older brother.

I am sure that more opportunities like these will come up in the future. I will make sure to share them with you so that you can personalize your pictures with these fun creative photography ideas too.

August 5, 2011

Looking Back on This Past Year

When I look back on what I have achieved this past year I feel proud. Almost a year ago today is when I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer. I had thought it would be fun to document my journey so I made this blog and I remember wondering where my photography would be in one years time.

One year ago today I felt like I had no purpose in life. I have always been creative and in the past I had  tried making a living out of my talents. I would make crafts and then sell them at local craft fairs. Unfortunately crafting is a hard business to compete in . I gave up on my dreams for a while and felt defeated. I also worried that my talents would never go to good use.

I was thinking about how much I love taking pictures and how I always had. I had dreamed about being a photographer for years but I was worried abut my eye sight. I did some research online and found other visually impaired photographers who have succeeded.  I had also checked out other photographers work to see whether or not I could do what they did one day. I believed that I could but knew I needed a new camera in order to do so.

Months passed and then I finally was able to afford the camera of my dreams The Nikon D90. Then I started learning how to take better pictures. The right lighting, angles and learning how to use photo shop really improved my photography.

I also started asking my friends if they wanted to partake in test photo shoots with me and they agreed to. When it came time to take there pictures I was very nervous and had so many thoughts running through my head. "Can I do this?" and  "What if I fail?"

I had been told by other photographer friends that the confidence would come with time and experience. I have done about five photo shoots so far and think that it is true. It does get a little easier for me over time. After I see the pictures and hear that people enjoy my work it  encourages me to keep on going.

I am forever thankful to my friends because of them I have great pictures to display on my new website. That is why I am writing this post today. My photography website is finally finished. When I go to it and see my work I feel great, like I am on my way to reaching my dream and that anything is possible.

I am glad that I have this blog so that one day I can look back on it like I am today. To see my work for what it once was and for what it is now. I believe that there is always room for improvement and that I can always do better but I will never look past what I have done. I am proud of who I am today and thankful for everyone and everything that makes my life what it is today.

May 30, 2011

Managing My Star Guard Disease

I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a photographer almost a year ago.I have always wanted to do what I love, to take pictures but there was something holding me back.

 In the 5th grade I was diagnosed with Stargardt's disease. This is an inherited form of juvenile macular degeneration. I can not see very well and there is no cure for it but that's OK because I can still see and I have figured out a way to achieve my dreams.

When I decided to go for it, to become a photographer I was not going to tell anyone about my condition. I wanted to be judged on my work and my work alone. However  I was thinking about all of the doubts that I had when I first started pursuing my dream. I was worried that I would not be able to take professional quality photos because of my limited vision.

I came across a video online of other visually impaired photographers and that gave me the hope that I needed. If I don't share my story than I will never be able to inspire anyone else who feels like they cannot do what they love because of a disability. I would like to share my tips for how I accomplish my photography.

School classes have always been very hard for me because I can not see the teacher's expressions, the boards or the books. I wanted to learn about photography but I would not benefit from taking a class. The way that I learned about photography was all online,  watching videos on a large computer screen.

 All you have to do is go to your web browser and type in what you would like to learn about. For example I wanted to learn about a particular kind of lighting so I typed in, What is the best lighting for men,s portrait photography and I found many helpful videos on that exact subject.

When I decided to purchase a new camera I had a few specific features that I needed. I wanted to make sure that I would be able to see through the view finder so I went to several stores to try them out. I also wanted the biggest LCD screen available and one that could take many pictures at one time.

I have a hard time seeing facial expressions so I made sure to find a camera that would let me take a burst of pictures all at once. This way I would have a better chance of capturing the picture that I wanted. After taking the pictures I view the them on my large screen computer and sort through them.

As far as I know, there are no cameras big enough for me to see all of the controls. There are so many buttons and settings on each camera and when you have a hard time seeing it makes it even harder to set.

On the bright side, high quality cameras usually have an automatic setting that can take great pictures for you. Also I am very lucky to have my boyfriend Justin who will set my camera when necessary. Thanks Justin!

Overcoming some of these obstacles can be frustrating at times but I don't let  that stop me because I absolutely LOVE taking pictures. When someone tells me that they like my work it means so much to me. I really do appreciate everyone's kind words. Thank you to everyone who supports me. You all  help drive me to keep on doing what I love. I hope that I can pass that on someday to someone who needs it.

April 5, 2011

Secure Your Pictures With an External Hard Drive

If something should ever happen to your home  have you ever thought about what you would save? For me it would be my family and pets first and then my external hard drive. I store all of my photos and home movies on it. However if my house was on fire, running  into flames is not something I  would like to do so I keep my hard drive in a fire proof box. 

Storing all of your digital photos on your computer alone may turn out to be a big mistake. Something as simple as a power surge can wipe your computer clean and you would lose everything. That is why it is so important to back up your files on other devices. I decided to write this because just last week we had a power surge and my mom lost everything on her computer.

Luckily at the time my computer was o shut off so it was unaffected. Luckily my mom was using her new lap top that my family and I had just given her for her birthday. She had only had it for about a week so she didn’t lose too much. For her next gift I would like to find an external hard drive so that all of her files will be safe in the future.

Why Is It Important to Own an External Hard Drive When You Have Digital Photos?

When I switched to digital photography I was excited about not having to develop film. I was also amazed with how many pictures I could download off of my camera at once. In no time at all I had hundreds of pictures stored on my computer.

One day I trekked out into my yard to take some pictures of the big snow storm we had the night before. The snow was more than 2 feet deep and was difficult to get through but I got all the pictures I wanted. I also got a great one of my uncle Dave shoveling his drive way. He has a long beard that caught all of the snow flakes. He looked like the abominable snowman in that picture and it was one of my favorites.

Sadly I only have memories of those pictures because our computer was infected with a virus and it erased all of my photos from that day. Since then I have learned my lesson, to keep all of my irreplaceable pictures backed up on a external hard drive.

My boyfriend Justin is good at researching products online. He always finds me exactly what I am looking for. So he was the man I went to when I was wanted to buy an external hard drive. I didn’t want to spend too much but also wanted one that was good quality and big enough so that I could be assured that all of my pictures were safe. 
The Western Digital WD Elements is a great choice. When I first heard about external hard drives I thought they would be big and heavy but this hard drive is about the size of a paperback book and weighs just over 2 pounds. That means it could easily fit into a fire proof box or in almost any drawer. 

This hard drive could be the right answer for simple, reliable storage. It is really easy to add pictures onto it too. Just plug it into a USB port on your computer and start saving your photos, music, videos, documents and you can even back up your whole operating system.
I have also scanned my grandmother’s old photos onto my computer and saved them onto my hard drive as well. They were kept in old photo albums with sticky pages. I have heard that if pictures are kept in albums like these the acid used in the glue will eventually ruin the pictures.

Sadly some of her pictures were already damaged and there was nothing I could do to save them. We could not bear to lose any more of them so I scanned them into my computer to be assured that we would all have them forever.

All of my pictures have been safe and secure ever since. I’m glad I decided to find an affordable external hard drive because I sleep much better at night knowing that my photos are as safe as they can be.

March 23, 2011

Picture Postcards

It doesn’t have to cost much in order to brighten up someone’s day. In this article I will share with you how I have been surprising the ones I love by sending them unexpected envelopes of happiness in the mail.

When most people take a vacation they send postcards back home to show everyone where they have been. This makes me wonder, why doesn’t anyone send postcards to share everyday life or memories with someone?

My brother & Me 2009
Just about everyone has pictures lying around just waiting to be looked at. I was going through some of my old family photos when I came across one of me and my brother Jon that really made me laugh. The picture was taken few summers ago when my brother and I had an unexpected good time together. We started off that night thinking it was going to be boring because we had no where fun to go. It ended up being a great night. We hung out with my boyfriend Justin and our friend Bj on our back porch. We all had some beers and good laughs. As soon as I saw that picture It reminded me of all the good times me and Jon have shared over the years. Back then we lived together but now he has his own apartment. I have missed Jon lately and I wanted to share these great memories with him. So I wrote a note on the back of that picture about how much fun that night was and mailed it to him. I think receiving that picture really made his day and let him know that he was still on my mind. This picture was taken with a Nikon Cool Pix Camera

I also send picture postcards of my daughter Lily. We have relatives who love seeing pictures of her. I print out pictures of her on my photo printer and write a note on the back of the picture for them. Yesterday I sent one of Lily biting my nose and wrote about how this is Lily’s favorite way to give me kisses. My photo printer makes it very easy to send pictures whenever I‘d like. I don’t have to go to the store or wait for them to be developed. I have the picture of my choice in seconds. I have also scanned my grandmother’s old photos into my computer so now I can surprise my family with pictures that they haven’t seen in years. This picture was taken with a Nikon D90

The possibilities for these postcards are endless, anyone can make them. If you have a picture that someone will like then you have a picture postcard. Just write a letter on the back with the fond memories that you have about the picture and it will surly brighten up someone’s day. One stamp, one picture, one story, priceless memories.

March 21, 2011

I Love My Digital Picture Frame!

A Digital Picture Frame can display sideshows of your photos, play videos, be used as a calendar, alarm clock and much more. I would recommend these frames to my family and friends because they allow you to view all of the pictures you love on one frame. With a frame like this you could get rid of some of those old frames that collect dust around the house but still enjoy the photos that are in them. Plus it is a great way to back up your pictures. If anything should happen to your original photos you can still have them stored safely on a frame like this. You can click the picture below to see an example of one of the frames.

March 19, 2011

My Homemade Personalized Photo Gifts

I always try to give personal gifts to the ones I love. I think that gifts like this show someone how much you care. I have found a way to make gifts that are easy, cheap and fun by making homemade personalized photo gifts. With a little creativity you can never run out of great gift ideas.

Clay Girl 2001

I used to like to craft so I would use my hobby to make gifts for people. I would make figurines out of polymer clay and hand paint things like signs and mailboxes. These projects were time consuming and I wanted to find a way to make personalized gifts faster and easier but I still wanted them to show someone how much I love and care for them.

I have been making handmade cards ever since I can remember.My family and friends have always loved receiving them. Over the last couple of years I have added photos to my handmade cards. Adding pictures make my cards makes them instantly personalized. Everyone favorite kind of cards seem to be the funny ones.

My grandmother 2002
Last summer I made a thank you card for my mom. She has always kept our swimming pool clean for everyone to enjoy and I wanted to let her know how much I appreciated it. I took a picture of her floating in our pool with a dorky smile on her face. I found some scrapbook paper that looks like water and I pasted her picture on the front of the card. You should have seen her face when she opened the envelope and saw herself and then we always pass the card around the table and everyone gets a good laugh. Inside the card I said how much a appreciate her and she really loved that. I wrote the whole family has such a great time swimming in it and its all because of you, Thank you. Plus she got a good laugh out of the card which is always a good thing.

The possibility's are endless with personalized photo gifts like these. I have also printed pictures of my Dad as a child for his birthday cards. My dad loves to see pictures that he hasnt seen in years. I have printed pictures of my late grandfather for my grandmother's cards. He passed away years ago so she is always happy to see his face. Everyone has special memories tied to pictures so why not use them in one of your cards. You could even paste one into a store bought card to add a personal touch.

I own a photo printer and it allows me to easily make personalized gifts. Whenever I need a card I just search my computer to find a good photo that fits,hit print and then I have a picture in seconds. I have printed pictures for so many e.g. cards,frames,scrapbooks,lost cat posters, pictures to send to my relatives overseas and more. It is easy, fun and very convenient to have a photo printer.

My Paper Jewel Cards 2009
I would really like to get a large format printer like the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 This printer delivers stunning black and white or color images. It can also print pictures up to 17" x 22", that is big! I could make bigger cards, frame bigger pictures and have more options for homemade personalized photo gifts. I will just have to add that one to my Christmas list this year.

All of these pictures were taken with a Nikon Cool Pix Camera

March 4, 2011

Off Road Photography

When I was sixteen years old I found out that I would never be able to drive due to my poor eye sight. I was sad because I had been looking forward to driving and buying a car so badly. I felt discouraged and trapped but then came a cross another way to get around.

 It was hard for me to see all of my friends getting their licensees and driving around but I  was lucky enough to have been with my boyfriend Justin back then. He was nice enough to bring me to the places I needed and wanted to go. (he still does actually). I remember the day when he showed me his dirt bike in his backyard I asked if I could ride it. He was hesitant at first but ended up teaching me how to ride and I loved it.

Thanks Daddy! June 2002
My dad is an amazing guy he has always tried giving me all I have ever wanted in life. I called him one day and asked if he would lend me the money to buy a dirt bike and I would pay him back. I was too young at the time for a loan and he agreed. I got the bike I really wanted a Yamaha TTR 250. It was white, blue and in my opinion beautiful. I made sure to take a picture of me and my dad with the bike so that I could remember how happy I was.

Justin, West Meadows. Wb Mass 2006
Justin and I would ride everywhere train tracks, sand dunes and so many other exciting places. I would make sure to bring my camera because there was no telling what awesome things we would find. In the middle of nowhere we found the frame of an old dirk bike  that had been stripped of all its parts. Justin was wearing a yellow sweatshirt that day that matched the paint job on that bike. So I asked him to hop on the bike so that  I could take his picture. I  really like that picture because at first you may think hes  riding the bike but look closer and you'll see that the bike has been stripped.

When winter came around Justin would put screws into our tires so that we could ride in the snow. We rented a cabin in Maine with some friends one time and road for hours down the trails behind the place. There was also a giant frozen pond right outside our backdoor. We had the crazy idea to tie a snow tube on a rope and tow it with our bikes. We road on the ice while towing someone on the tube. I had such a great time while being towed but when we would rode along the shore near the I felt like a giant toy for a bear or mountain lion.  I took a picture while on the tube it is of Justin's back on his bike and you can see the rope that was pulling me.

Me in our back woods. Jan 200
We took an early morning bike ride one time down the train tracks next to where I live and I packed breakfast for us too. I brought a Camping Cook Set that had a little pan and everything we needed to make a little fire to cook the food I had brought for breakfast. I found a big flat rock that was perfect and safe to make a little fire on top of.  It was winter at the time so we had to clear away the snow. I had an  idea to have my picture taken next to our pot of coffee that was boiling. I used the newspaper I had brought to start the fire I held it upside down while I leaned against the rock. Then I acted like I was reading the paper (which for me is pretty much impossible). I think its funny when you notice that the paper is upside down and that we are randomly having coffee in the woods.

Me. May 2010
When I was pregnant I decided o sell my bike to my brother Jon. It was hard for me to let go but I was making way for my new baby, Lily. I thought that I should sell it and use the money to prepare for her. I was glad to of sold it to my brother because I can see now how happy he is to have it. He also lets me and Justin ride it whenever we want. I asked Justin to take my picture while I was riding. I wasn't dressed to be riding at all that day because it was a spontaneous ride in our back yard and I have my "mom" clothes on in the picture . I also took a picture of Justin on  the bike while holding Lily. The bike was parked we would never ride with a baby we are not  crazy.

Justin & Lily May 2010

I'm glad I brought my camera on all those trips because now I can look back on them and remember all the good times we had on our bikes. I may get another bike one day and maybe one for Lily too. Ill be sure to bring a camera along for those times too so that she'll be able to look back on the good times she will have.

(All of these pictures were taken with a Nikon Coolpix S4000 )

March 3, 2011

The Forgetful Packer

I have always loved canoeing when I was a kid my parents would take me and my brother Jon out. Now that we are older we continue to take canoe trips together. For the first time in the summer of '09 we went down the Taunton River. It is over forty miles long and it runs through eleven towns. A few miles down river we found an awesome campsite that was in the middle of nowhere.

In order to reach the site we had to go some pretty scary sections of the river. There were a few old bridges that had rough water running under them and some fallen trees that made crossing difficult. So we would carefully have to navigate around them. I have a fear of spiders and when we would row under a branch I would freak out because they would fall into the canoe. I found myself trapped in a boat with one of my biggest fears. I don't believe in killing bugs so I had to sit very still and wait for someone to come get the scary little guys away from me . I was happy to have made it to the campsite in one piece.

I like to brag about my packing skills. I'm the person who gives you an extra pair of socks when you fall in the water or an umbrella when it starts to rain. I thought I had brought everything but I had forgotten something very important to me, my camera I had left it in the car. I was heart broken and all my friends felt bad for me because they know that I can't function with out a camera. Then I hear this sweet little voice coming out of my friend Jill " I have a camera Emily but it's only a little disposable one."  Disposable or not I didn't care it was music to my ears.

We took some memorable pictures that day. Jill asked me to take everyone's picture while they climbed a tree that hung out over the water. I couldn't climb it at the time because I was three months pregnant. Which was also my excuse as to how I managed to forget my precious camera. In case you didn't know pregnancy makes you absent minded. Being the great packer I am I had brought prepared spaghetti dinners for everyone. I even brought a Camping Cook Set that had a frying pan, a spatula and silverware. But because I was so forgetful (I mean pregnant) I had forgotten to bring the plates.  I had to eat out of my frying pan and my friend Jill did not hesitate taking my picture as I did so but I didn't care, I was hungry.

Have you ever been camping in the middle of nowhere? Its freaking scary! It didn't help that we were camping in the middle of the Hockomock Swamp which is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the United States. I felt safe knowing that my brother Jon had bought along his "big bad" pellet gun. We got a picture of him early one morning when he was using it to shoot at what he had thought to be a threat but it was just the wind. If it had been an actual threat Jon would have used his weapon to protect all of us. Or more likely he would have shot and made whatever it was even more pissed. But then I would have just used my frying pan to hit it over the head. I'm sure my friend Jill would have gotten a picture me doing so.

It was a good trip and now that I'm not pregnant anymore I am back to my old self knowing and remembering everything. (wink).

March 2, 2011

Littered With Pictures

Ok I just got home from a taking a walk. I am out of breath but very excited! You may think I'm weird for what I just did but I think its pretty cool. I will tell you all about  it in this article.

I can't drive at times I get frustrated because I can't really get out of my house. In the warmer months I can go out in the yard and take pictures but there is too much snow right now. I would love to go for walks down my street but it's kinda busy and since most of my time is spent watching my daughter Lily she would have to come with me.  I wouldn't want to chance getting hit by a car with her, but my big butt could probably take it.

Today Lily's dad, Justin was watching her so I went for a quick walk with my camera. I walked about half a mile down to the street to the train tracks. I could not find anything that inspired me take take a picture. The snow piled up along the side of the road is all brown and looks like cookie dough ice cream. There are no leaves on the trees so everywhere looks bare and depressing. I kept walking with the hopes of finding something interesting. After reaching the tracks I turned around to head home.

The only thing that had stood out to me was the litter on the side of the road. I thought to myself, "Why don't I take picture of each piece that I see" I was just having fun at first but then was getting pretty excited with every new piece I found and unfortunately it wasn't hard to find. Every few steps I took I saw a new piece of trash.

It may seem weird but I was excited to see what I could find next. It was mostly soda and beer cans but there were some out of the ordinary things too. I saw a full bottle of car wash that looked like it was a hundred years old and a brown glass beer bottle that was stuck in a tiny tree.

 I was amazed that the bottle was stuck in such a small little tree and I thought it made for a cool picture too. There were tons of cigarette packs and scratch tickets which were bright and colorful against the snow. My favorite find was at the very end of my walk. It was a heart shaped Valentines day chocolate box on the side of the road. When I walked a little further I even found the top of the box, that made for a good picture.

I walked home but went right back out again  because I had such a good time, weird? maybe. This time I brought along a plastic bag and gloves.  I took pictures of the trash on the way down the street and picked it all up on the way home. I feel pretty good about myself not only did I get exercise, I got some interesting pictures, a story and made the world a little cleaner.

I got over fifty different pictures just by taking a half a mile walk. I was also a little upset to see how much litter there was. I'll admit it, when I was younger and my parents weren't looking I would throw stuff out the car windows. Now I know that littering is not harmless, that it hurts the environment and the last thing I want to do is hurt the world my daughter will grow up in. Some people may think that I am a queer tree huger and that's fine with me because I know that I'm a better person for not littering anymore. I woke up today with nothing to write about and I am happy to have gone for that walk.

March 1, 2011

"Smile, I Can't See You"

I was inspired one day when I came across a video online. The video related to me because it was about photographers who are visually impaired, like me. It came to me at a time in my life when I was doubtful and insecure about my goals of becoming a photographer. The people and there stories in that video helped me realize that even with my disability I too could one day become a professional photographer.

I was able to see normally up until the fifth grade. I remember sitting at my desk at school and not being able to see the chalkboard one day. Then the day came when everyone would have there eyes and ears checked, I was worried. Even though I didn't want to I had to take the test I was scared at the thought of having to wear glasses.

I tried as hard as I could to see the letters on the chart but knew I failed the exam. I couldn't see any of them and the woman administering the test gave me a look of concern. A few days later my mom received a call from my school telling her about my results soon after that she brought me to the optometrist.

I was brought to at least one eye appointment every week for the next five years. This period in my life was one of the toughest times I have ever had to go through. Some of my friends, teachers and even a few of my family thought that I was making my problems up in order to get attention.  I remember a teacher denying my request to sit at the front of the room because she said I only wanted to move to be closer to my friends. She left me in the back of the room unsympathetic to the fact I could not see the board or the lessons. At more than a few of my appointments when the doctors could diagnose me with anything the reason I could not see was because I wasn't "trying" hard enough to read the eye charts.

As a result of everyone's disbelief I even started to doubt if I had a problem. I asked myself the question "Am I just making this up to get attention?". I would struggle and try as hard as I could but it didn't matter my eyes just would not work. I couldn't understand what was  wrong with me and neither could my mom. I'm so thankful to her because she always believed that I had a problem. Even after hearing doctor's tell her that nothing was wrong with my vision she never doubted me. Without her support I would have never gotten the help I needed.

In the tenth grade my mom told me that we were going into Boston for another eye exam. But  by then I'd had enough, I didn't want to go to anymore tests. I gave my mom a hard time whenever we had to go to an appointment that she had taken the time to make for me.

Whenever I had to be excused from school in the middle of a class I would hear people making comments in rude tones like "what's wrong with her" and other hurtful things and I wished I had an answer to give them.

My appointment was at Mass Eye and Ear in Boston, it is one of the best specialty hospitals in the country. The test lasted about five hours and it wasn't fun at all. They would put drops into my eyes that would dilate my pupils. It stung my eyes and made my vision even worse than it already was. Then they would shine bright lights into my eyes and have me look into all these strange machines. In the middle of the test I would have to sit blind folded for an half an hour in the waiting room. After that they injected my arm with an iodine needed, it was hard to go through.

After the tests were done I remember sitting in the waiting room for the doctor to come in and give us the results. I  thought that the doctor was just going to tell us the same old thing, that everything was fine. The doctor finally came in. He said " She is legally blind." It shocked my mom and believe it or not I was relieved. Then I expected him to say that that I needed glasses. Instead he said, " She has an incurable eye disease called Stargardt's". He explained that it was a form of macular dystrophy he told me there is no cure and I will not be able to drive. My mom said nothing I was happy, happy to know that I wasn't making it up that there really was something wrong with me and that someone finally figured it out. I now could go back to everyone who doubted me and say "I'm not crazy!"

We had taken the train that day and on the ride home I thought about my diagnosis. The only thing really bothering me was not being able to drive. I was sixteen at that time and like most teenagers was excited to get my drivers license. Even though I was sad the thought of finally knowing what was wrong and that my mom and I could stop searching was good news.

The doctor had told my mom to write a letter to all of my teachers telling them to not ask me to read out of the books or off the chalkboard. He said I would just have to sit in class and to try and keep up but I was already used to it. Now that I knew what was wrong I talked to my mom about being tutored at home she agreed.

Then I finally started being able to learn in the way I needed to. My text books were the size of a newspaper, about twenty four inches tall and twelve inches wide . I didn't miss having to see my rude insensitive teachers or struggling to find my classrooms or school buses I was becoming a happier person.

A lot of people now say that they forget that I can't see well, that I seem normal. I have learned to adapt to my conditions and how to use my eyes the best way I know how. Glasses cannot correct my problem because the center of my vision is gone there is nothing there to correct. My peripheral vision is better for me than looking straight on. I can see blurry shapes but no details for example I would be able to see you walking up to me but I would not know who you are. My vision is sort of like a kids coloring book, very simple with no details.

Me in  my studio 2011
I had thought for years that because of my sight I wouldn't be able to become a photographer. Then I came across that video and it gave me hope. I was comforted to know that there are others out there who despite their disability became successful. It gave me reassurance that if they can do it so can I. I knew that I would have a harder time than most people but I was determined to pursue my dream.

 I have to take many pictures to ensure that I have gotten one that is in focus. I found a camera with a big screen and large view finder, the Nikon D90 I also have a twenty three inch computer screen that allows me to review my pictures. I still sometimes need help seeing which ones are clear. I am better at taking pictures of landscapes and things that don't move as opposed to people. With people it is hard for me to see their facial expression but people are my favorite things to takes pictures of so I try as hard as I can and I use what I've got.

I have decided to not always share my disease when talking about my photography. Because I don't want my work to be judged based upon the fact that I am legally blind. I would like to be judged for my work alone. But if this article could one day inspire someone else like that video did for me, it would really make my day.

February 28, 2011

The Stove Depot

The Old Stove Depot 1982
My dad, Bill Hawkins  started his own business called The Stove Depot Hearth and Home.  He would sell all kinds of fireplaces, stoves, accessories, outdoor furniture and so much more. At one time it was the biggest stove shop in all of New England but this week was the last days  of the store. In this article I will share with you some of my fond memories I have from the Stove depot.

 My dad started his own business about thirty years ago. He bought a little shop in Canton, Ma. I can remember the train tracks running right next to the store.
Whenever a train passed, bells would ring and  the shop would start to rumble and shake. It was kinda scary and I remember feeling relieved with the sound of the train going further and further away. We used to put pennies on the tracks the train would run over them and squish them flat. 

My Dad kept this picture on his desk
   A few years later my dad bought a much bigger store in Canton. My favorite part of this store was the the show room. It was a huge room filled with working fireplaces and stoves. As a small kid the ceilings seemed to be a hundred stories high. All of the grills and patio furniture was set up in the middle of the room.  I would have a great time testing out all the new patio furniture like the reclining chairs, benches, the swings but my favorite were the hammocks.

My dad even sold things like water fountains and colorful outdoor flags. There were artificial tress all around the furniture and a big warehouse door that would let  the summer breeze in. It was like sitting outside when you were really indoors. Sometimes it would even feel like I was on  vacation.

 Sometimes my dad would take me and my brother Jon into work with him. I would use one of the small glass patio tables as my desk. I would stamp endless amounts of paper work with the Stove Depot's logo and I loved polishing up the stoves. I was a weird kid, still am actually. My dad is a great salesman I can remember sitting in the lawn chairs and listening to him sell the stoves.He would bring me and my brother out to lunch at a restaurant down the street. My dad was good friends with one of the waitresses there she would bring paper and crayons especially for me and Jon. After lunch it was time to go back to "work."

The Stove Depot 2011
There was a big back warehouse where there was a mountain of big bags of wood pellets stacked up. Me and  Jon would climb up the bags and sit at the top. Sometimes the guy who worked i the warehouse would even arrange the bags so we would have a little fort to play in.

There was a a little silver bell that the salesmen would ring when they needed something from the warehouse. I loved ringing that bell but I don't think the workers did they would come into showroom and see that it was just me again smiling at them, sorry guys.  After the day was done we would all have some fun out in the parking lot. We had a small Go Cart back then that we loved to drive around in circles. I have so many great memories of being there.

Lily and her PaPa Bill 2011
My dad sold his business ten years ago I was sad to see it go but happy to know he would still own the building.  Since then the shop was never felt the same. The new owner split the big showroom it into two small rooms and lowered the ceiling down to about 8 feet high. He no longer sold any of the fun patio furniture and accessories just stoves. It no longer felt like a vacation resort to me. 

Now the owner is downsizing to an even smaller building that is miles and miles away. Last week was the last days of the Stove Depot as I remember. Now  it is a big empty building waiting to be sold. It is a little sad for me but I will always have those memories and I feel like there are only more good times to come. After all, it's not the shop that meant so much to me, it was being able to share those times with my dad and brother. Without them it would have just been another day at work.

February 27, 2011

My Picture of Peace

I am setting a new photography goal for myself. I have always felt the need to help people and  I want to take pictures of things that mean the most to me love, peace, happiness and change. In this article I will share the stories of a few meaningful pictures of mine.

This was taken in my scanner
This is a little surreal for me to be writing because not long ago in 2007 I was depressed. There was a time in my life where I was too afraid to even leave my house. My low self esteem and anxiety took over my life until the day I decided to fix myself. I started counsoling and I found out who I was. A good person who would sometimes let people take advantage of me. I learned how to take control and I gained confidence and I took my life back.

I don't understand why some people think that they have life all figured out or how they fell they are the right way to be. In my opinion there is no way to know. To me this world is a fairytale and it all comes down to what you believe in. That no one has the answer to whats right for everyone else. Something I truly believe in is equal rights for all.

The Boston Globe 2009
Three years ago I met a good friend of mine, Sarah. I was so happy to have found her because she was the kind of friend I was looking for. Sarah was kind, caring, smart and open minded. I had mentioned the idea of going to a rally together and in no time she found one for us. It was a Peace Rally in Boston that was honoring the soldiers who had fallen in the Iraq war. I love to craft so when I heard about this rally I made two big sparkling peace signs for us to hold. They must have made a statement because we made Boston's news paper, The Globe. I was proud of us that day. I felt like we had helped spread the word of peace.

My boyfriend Justin and I love to go walking. We especially like going to the Blue hills because there are no mountains where we live so that is where the highest point you can reach with your feet is. One day we made it the top. It was awesome up there, we could even see Boston. We were both having a great time until I saw something that really boiled my blood. It was a big red swastika painted on the rocks. It was also dated from ten years ago. It bothered me knowing that this sign of hatred had been seen for that long. So the next time we went walking there I brought along my paint and painted something I truly believe in over it. A peace sign big enough for everyone to see, even the planes going by.

I have always been inspired by the ones who use there career to help themselves along with others. This is my new goal, to find a way to put more meaning into my work.These pictures were taken with a Nikon Cool Pix Camera

February 26, 2011

Thankful For You

Dear Justin,
I was thinking about you today when I was putting Lily down for a nap. About how lucky I am to have you and I wanted to tell you.....

Thank you for chasing me years ago when I didn't want to be caught. Thank you for catching me. Than you for giving me over a decade of happy times. Thank you for giving me our daughter.Thank you for letting me sleep when I am tired. Than you for saying the words I need to here when I needed them the most.

Thank you for trying to make your self even better than you already are.Thank you for always doing what I ask of you when I take your picture. Thank you for your support that I need to chase my dreams.Thank you for always believing in me and thank you for everything that you do.

Sometimes when I lie in bed at night next to you I look over while you are sleeping and I think that without you I would not be as happy as I am today.You have given me my best friend, my daughter and hundreds of happy memories. For this and for so much more I am forever thankful.
Thankful for you.

February 25, 2011


Sometimes I get a little discouraged. Sometimes I feel like I stink. Sometimes I feel like I cant do this. But then I start believing and I keep on going. Photography is a very opinionated profession. Everyone seems to have things they like and dislike about your work. No matter how hard you try you will never be able to please everyone. At the end of the day you just have to be proud of what you have done and when you overcome the fear of failure that's when you'll succeed.