It was a great visit to Swift Current for Christmas. I hadn't been there since Thanksgiving of 2014. Fiona was a delight and melted hearts each day. Only one run-in with Santa upset her. More on him, in a minute.
As is often the case, the paper and boxes were as exciting as the gifts. For awhile, anyway. It wasn't too long before we broke into the shopping cart full of groceries and bag full of other food that grandma and grandpa had bought her to go with her new kitchen. The tea set had to stay in the box, though. She wanted it out but with all the little pieces we wanted to make sure everything made it home. Sometimes, though, the best things are free. In the first photo of Fiona you can see a gift bag that she was just enthralled with and really enjoyed carrying it around, heading to the door and saying "buh-bye!" I guess she was going shopping for that last-minute gift before bed on Christmas Eve.
Santa did stop in for a visit, and she was fine to observe him and try to figure out who this man in red was. Grandpa picked her up to come over and say hello and that was little too much. She was definitely upset about that but I sure was glad to see Santa because he brought me three, 4 foot fluorescent light fixtures. We picked them up from his garage on Boxing Day.
The one thing that I have wanted with my recent ultraviolet light portraits has been more light. I have been pushing the image quality to the limits on my camera. It is a stellar machine but definitely aimed at studio work, not a pitch black garage with a cobbled together selection of ultraviolet light sources. Now I have plenty, and expect the next shoot to have the image quality I really want. That's not to say the first shoots did not have great images. I was really happy with everyone's work. But when I look at the full resolution images I know what is possible and now can see that it will be what I have come to expect.
Regarding hard work, anyone who believes being a model or artist is easy should really give it a try. Taking the time for makeup, enduring the tedious downtime between actual creating, the physical strength it takes to play a large instrument or hold that pose for "just one more shot" is not to be dismissed. A significant number of people have put in hard work for my benefit, and I recognize and appreciate it. Sometimes it was mutually beneficial, other times it was completely selfless and all for my benefit. The very brisk weather conditions I asked young Olivia and my assistant, Rae, to endure for a sunrise session is a prime example. Those photos will be coming, soon.
The hard work put into this toybox by Fiona's grandfather can be seen in the meticulousness and the details. That same grandfather has spent so much time coming up with and building solutions for me. Those solutions could be adaptations to make things easier for me to use or they could be custom tables and supports to hold up prop for a photo that's very important to me. A photo that I needed to make last year, following the most stressful time of my life. That photo and the related post may or may not be coming, soon. I have lots to say and it needs to be said, just right.
I recognize the generosity and hard work of Santa (Dennis) who, without hesitation, offered me as many of his spare light fixtures as I needed. They were designed to be mounted to the ceiling and when he knew what I was going to use them for, quickly offered enough cord to wire them up to be plugged into a typical household socket.
Countless people have assisted me on shoots and made many of the images you see possible. That self-portrait from last summer, took me four days to put together. Had Angie been here I bet you would've been three hours, tops. It was nice to accomplish it independently but it made me appreciate any and all help I have received over my entire life.
This is not a sob story. I am reasonably strong at administrative and organizational work. Bruce has been the one to do so much of the legwork for Help-Portrait the last few years, but I'm quite happy to be on top of communications, curating lists of volunteer information and doing whatever I am strongest at. That's the way it should be in any project, regardless of disability.
I know it's not about keeping score, but whenever I have the opportunity to help out in whatever way I am able to, I don't usually take long to make the time to help out, well. Often it's through education, experience or information, which I'm always happy to communicate as clearly as I am able so that the one I am helping can accomplish their objective, efficiently.
The number of times that my parents-in-law have looked after Fiona so that we can go out together, or Angie can go out with the girls, is so greatly appreciated. We have a very good daughter and she is very easy on us (though, it looks like she's getting her eyeteeth and is one hurting little girl who should have been sleeping almost 2 hours ago) but a little bit of time and space makes us appreciate her spunky personality and impromptu dance parties, all the more.
They may not look all that similar, but she has her cousin, Will's, energy and drive to entertain. With her giggles, exploration, dancing and general performing I think they will get along very well as they grow up together. He may have a pretty big head start on her, but I'm thinking there might be a few stories to come between these two.
For me, 2015 started with great difficulty. I know that a degree of faith, determination and hard fighting made a turnaround at the halfway point. From there the year has gotten better and better, and it continues in full momentum with me having the time and opportunities to do what I love. For others, it was an entirely difficult year, with significant loss, bad news and trials like I cannot imagine. I was not exaggerating when I said it started as the most stressful time in my life, but contrasted to so much of the personal anguish that some of the people I care about of had to face this past year, it pales.
For those who I refer to reading this, if my way to return the help you gave me is to be an ear to listen or simply a distraction, contact me. I can do that for you.