Thursday, June 30, 2011

Share Your View: Thresholds (2nd Edition)

Leaving the gazebo
Leaving the Gazebo by Dizzy Dress

Have you been enjoying Exploring with a Camera: Thresholds this week? Have you seen any threshold images? I loved this image from the Exploring with a Camera Flickr pool. Doesn't it just look like a magical window into a beautiful spring day? It could be any season, but cross through this threshold and it's spring. I love the feeling here and in the image below too. You can link your images (new or archive) on the exploration topic of Thresholds in below and put them in the Flickr pool, if you would like the opportunity to be featured on the blog next week.

Portal by Marty's Fiber Musings

Tomorrow is the big day! I cross my own "threshold," as we fly from Italy and start our new adventure back in Oregon. I expected to feel more sad and bittersweet at this moment, but to be honest, what I feel is relief. All of the planning and packing and getting ready is finally at an end. Our container is already on its way to Oregon, we just have to get ourselves plus eight suitcases, three backpacks, a cat and a bike box home at this point. Actually, I'm more worried about getting it all from the rental car parking to the check in desk, but we'll manage. At 4am. Ouch.

One other thing I wanted to let you know about before heading off... I'm giving away two spaces in my upcoming Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey class through Ashley Sisk's Rambling and Musings this week! If you are interested in getting in on that action visit her blog here to see how you can win one of these spaces. A big huge thank you goes to Ashley and all of her Scavenger Hunters for particpating in Exploring with a Camera on a regular basis. I'm so happy to have you all here!

Be sure to check back tomorrow too, when I have a great announcement of something really cool for you to do this summer. If you subscribe to my newsletter, you got a hint of it last weekend. Tomorrow is the big reveal!

FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Letter from Marji

On Repatriating

I remember how I felt when I settled into my seat on the non-stop from Vancouver, BC to Beijing – utterly exhausted but at the same time totally exhilarated. My husband and I toasted each other with a glass of complimentary champagne – we were on to a new chapter. We were headed for our third overseas assignment, back to Asia for the second time. Our two dogs were safe in their crates in the cargo section of the plane and we were headed for a new adventure. We landed on my 40th birthday.

Living in Beijing was a remarkable experience. We were there during the SARS epidemic and the ramp up to the upcoming Olympics. The people, the lifestyle, the cultural differences and the language were my teachers for the two+ years we were there. We settled in, made friends, travelled and became comfortable… then opportunity rang. A call came to return home. It was time to return, to repatriate back to sleepy Spokane, WA.

I was sad. I didn’t want to leave. Life was fun, exciting and interesting. We had met wonderful friends from all over the world. It was sad to repatriate again. Leaving a life where every day was an adventure and returning to a sleepy town just didn’t seem appealing. I loved living the life where I felt special and each day held some new exciting experience for me. Travel to exotic places was at our fingertips, fabulous shopping at our doorstep and incredible foods on our table. What were we returning to? Back to what? Back to the same old place – the place we thought we were leaving forever.

When I was away, I had forgotten the great comfort of returning home. It was like slipping on that old pair of worn in shoes - the comfortable ones from the back of the closet – the pair I had not worn for a while. I knew my way around. I could understand the conversations around me. I could read the newspaper. I could be understood. There was so much that I took for granted. After returning from living overseas, once again, I gained a new appreciation for these simple things that make home comfortable. It’s easy to overlook these daily pleasures. Maybe life wasn’t as exciting and the smells, foods, people and culture were the same as they had been for my lifetime – but our old friends were closer, our families and things were familiar. Enjoy the familiar – its nice.

There are some lesser things to repatriating, too. It’s not easy for everyone. The shock of returning home doesn’t seem to hit until after the boxes are unpacked. A few months down the road you realize that life isn’t quite as exciting and special as it seemed when living the expat life. New friends don’t come as easily as they do in the expat circle. No one really cares or wants to hear about the adventures you had. They don’t really want to see photos nor hear your stories. It’s not that they don’t care about you – but they really can’t relate to your experiences. Your perspective is worldlier and you long for World news. You’ve been to places and experienced things that most people never have the opportunity to do in a lifetime. It’s hard to grasp that seeing the world and actually living in a different country really changes you – immensely and forever.

My advice – enjoy where you are now in life. Live in the moment and bloom where you are planted. Find the excitement and joy of what we take for granted each day. You will hold the memories of a special time in your life and carry them in your heart forever. The beautiful photographs and treasures you came home with will be the reminders of that enchanting chapter in your life.

I wish I had sage wisdom and a step by step guide to repatriation. For you, Kat, it will be easier because you are stepping back into your work. For your husband and your son, it may be different. For me, I loved China so much that I started an import business in order to keep my ties to a place I loved. I kept up my language classes so I would not forget what I had learned. To this day, I continue to keep in touch with my China friends. I have found ways to keep a tie to a place that I love for as long as I need. You will find that over time you will move forward and settle in comfortably, no matter where you are in the world. Where you have been will always hold a special place in your heart.

I always look at my life in terms of chapters in a book. Each one unfolds itself as I move through my life’s journey. For me, the end of one chapter and the start of another are exciting and joyful. They build upon each other and the story gets richer and deeper. I am always anxious to read on and find out what’s next. I hope you and your family feel this way too.

I wish you the best with settling in to your newest and most exciting chapter yet.

[Today's letter is from Marji, aka Rain City Girl on Flickr and the author of the blog Sun Breaks in the Forecast. She now lives in Seattle, WA. You can see all "Letters to Kat" posts here.]

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Letter from Jamie

Rio de Janeiro

Watching Kat as she's been packing up and moving home, has brought back a slew of memories for me.  When Kat asked if I would share a bit of my experience as an expat and then returning home, it was the perfect excuse to organize some of the thoughts buzzing around in my head.  

A little background: I spent 2 years living and working in Rio de Janeiro, followed by 2 years in New Delhi. I was then able to eased my way home with a 10 month stop in Kentucky before making it all the way home to Salt Lake City late last year - but my stop at home is temporary.  I know I'm headed abroad again - I just don't know when or where yet.  It's a very good thing I actually enjoy a bit of ambiguity in my life! 

My move home brought a wide range of emotions:  joy at being closer to my family and loved ones, a sense of relief that I didn’t have to worry about language or cultural differences, melancholy at leaving behind new friends, and sadness at missing out on the daily adventures of life abroad.  But more than anything my move home taught me just how much living abroad had changed me.

Some are little changes.  When I read the news instead of looking at US news first, I now look at global news.  Before I left I was living in Seattle where I tended to dress in dark monotone colors, after my time in Brazil and especially India I find myself gravitating to brightly colored clothing and I haven’t bought anything made of fleece in years.   My views on immigration have softened, having been the person who went into another country to take a job and who struggled (and failed) to learn a new language; I’m much more sympathetic to what immigrants go through.  I also now have a network of friends around the world – which means the odds of finding a couch to sleep on when I travel is much greater.

Some changes are bigger and truly life changing.  I’ve always been fiercely independent and hated asking for help.  I quickly learned that I needed help to survive in these countries, and I learned to ask for and receive help graciously. The biggest change is my self confidence.  If I can move to a foreign country, where I don’t speak the language, in a new job for a new company on my own, with two weeks’ notice and not only survive, but thrive, I know I can do anything.  The power of that life lesson will never leave me.

Taj Mahal Framed 3

My time back at home has also taught me a few things.  Life didn't stop for my friends and family while I was gone - they've grown and changed too - which means I've had to reset a few expectations.   The level of customer service in the US really can't be touched.  But most importantly, I've learned that my expanded capacity for daily challenges and growth opportunities must be fed.  I find that if I don't deliberately set goals to keep me moving forward I struggle emotionally.  

After time abroad, you adapt to living a life full of small daily challenges: picking something to eat off a menu you can't read, figuring out how to get hooked up to the internet, finding someone to cut your hair who speaks your language.  To suddenly have a life without those challenges left me feeling a bit lost.  The best solution I've found is to keep striving to learn new things and to find adventures that challenge me at home.

I'm sure Kat will love being home again, and she'll find many new adventures as she adapts back into life in Portland.  For those of you dreaming of life abroad - I say go for it.  Nothing in my life has been as challenging or rewarding as experiencing life in another culture.

[Today's letter is from Jamie, author of the blog Lyrical Journey. She now lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. You can see all "Letters to Kat" posts here.]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Letter from Amy + Favorites: Primarily Color

Primarily Color
Burano, Italy, 2010

In addition to posting some favorite images as I move from Italy to the US, I'm also posting some letters from friends. These friends are former ex-pats, who have lived abroad and moved home. I've asked them to write a "letter" to me, telling me about their experience returning home to give me an idea of what I'm headed for. I thought you might also like to hear the experience of returning ex-pats. Who knows, it just might help you relate if you ever have family or friends returning from living abroad.

This first letter is from Amy Peyton, a friend in Oregon. I first met her a few years ago through a mutual friend, as she returned from her most recent experience living abroad. I look forward to seeing her again, very soon!

Home:  The World (but fairly happy for the time being in Forest Grove, Oregon)

Expat-dom: 4 years in Japan, 1 year in Romania, 1 year in France, 6 months each in Korea/Australia, 4 months in South Africa

Country Count: 44 (Top 3: Croatia, Slovenia, Japan)

Hey KatJ.  I’m not a blogger, but I’m a fairly talented rambler, so here goes.

Ugh, coming home.  Coming home from overseas bites.  It reminds me of the “Sludge Test” in high school when the H.S. chemistry teacher would give you this black, oily, hairy blob and then (through a series of tests you’ve studied all term), you would come up with all 17 ingredients (motor oil, bubble bath, sand, etc.) .  “Reverse culture shock” has all these hidden emotions that eventually burble up to the surface….

When I’ve come home from long sojourns overseas, I feel ___.  No, it’s not frustration.  It’s not hatred (although I have felt that a fair bit in the past).  It’s not exactly shame (but I have felt that, too).  It’s like someone made you swallow a bubble and that bubble is pumped up inside of you, right up under your skin.  And the littlest things just make you want to explode sometimes from the inside out: consumerism, materialism, indulgence, grandiosity (the SIZES of everything), superficiality, political ignorance, geographical stupidity (Australia versus Austria, among others), etc. etc.  When you mix all of this with homesickness, wistfulness, and desire to be “anywhere but here,” it’s pretty heady stuff.  At least it was for me.

One breakdown I had in particular was when I returned to the States from Japan.  My friend dropped me off at Safeway to grab some shampoo while he waited outside in the car.  After 20 or so minutes, I emerged, with nothing in hand, except tears and (probably) snot from a fairly colossal meltdown in the shampoo aisle.  SO many kinds, sizes, flavors, colors…do I have oily hair?Normal?Dry?Blended?Colored treated?Curly?Straight?Flyaway?Small bottle?Big bottle?With attached conditioning pack?Without attached conditioning pack?Hairmasque?Dandruffcontrol?  In my neighborhood store in Fukuoka, Japan, there were maybe 6-7 choices, none of which I could read anyway, so who cared?  In Romania, I bought whatever was *there*.   So, in this situation, the balloon was pumped up and all it took was a choice between PertorSuaveorHeadandShouldersorAussieorTresSemmeorPaulMitchellorInsfusiumorPantene orNexxusorVidalSassoonorWhiteRainorSt.IvesorVo5 to set it off.

It’s also a challenge to be one of the only people you know who travel.  People asked me all the time:  “So how was it?  Did you have fun?”  And my mouth would slightly hang open, and I would be thinking: “Ummm, yeah. I was in the middle of South Africa where nobody had apparently gotten the news that Mandela had been elected and the townships still had curfews and black taxis/white taxis.  *Yeah, I had fun*.”  It chokes you up when this magnanimous experience you’ve just had is whittled down to a couple of polite sentences to a disinterested few.  Your family and true friends will save you—the ones that really want to know how you drank tuica and played Uno with school principals and how the Japanese customs officials bowed and excused themselves out of the room when they discovered your trove of feminine products.  (Ha!!)  When you return home from overseas, those who really know and love you will envelope you like a blanketJ. 

And this especially includes Patrick and Brandon—what a gift to be able to give each other “reverse culture shock” therapy at a moment’s notice.  I did 99% of my traveling/living overseas by myself, so maybe these words are streaked with a bit more spit and fire than most people, who knows.

I did manage to find solace….  I talked with other expats, joined language conversation groups, and made new friends with people who had the same obsessions.  I planned my next overseas trip almost as soon as the plane skidded along the tarmac.  When I got homesick for Japan, I went to Uwajimaya and ate Udon, when I was homesick for Romania, I sang to my Romanian rock CDs and made ciorba while making care packages for those I left behind.  I kept busy with work.  I had purpose and a whole list of plans. 

So, there are my two cents.  Just get together with lots of friends and lean on your familyJ.

I’ll be thinking of you,

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Favorites: Painting the Night

Painting the Night
Venice, Italy, 2009

[Note: I'm in the midst of moving from Italy to the US right now, so instead of letting my blog sit idle I'm sharing some of my favorite images from the last two years of living in Italy and traveling in Europe. If you like them, you can vote for my portfolio in the One Life 2011 photography contest.]

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Favorites: For the Love of Pink

For the Love of Pink
Burano, Italy, 2010

[Note: I'm in the midst of moving from Italy to the US right now, so instead of letting my blog sit idle I'm sharing some of my favorite images from the last two years of living in Italy and traveling in Europe. If you like them, you can vote for my portfolio in the One Life 2011 photography contest.]

Friday, June 24, 2011

Favorites: Quiet Night

Quiet Night
Venice, Italy, 2009

A week from today we'll be on a plane bound for the US, our time as residents of Italy will be over. This weekend I'm off to Venice, one last hurrah before all of the final appointments to cancel, close and dismantle our lives here. A last hurrah before we clean and hand over the keys, driving away from our apartment a final time.

Since I'm going to be a little bit overwhelmed for normal blogging, I've decided to share some of my favorite images from the last two years of living in Italy and traveling in Europe.  These are the pictures that make my heart sing. They are the ones that helped me discover that I'm an artist. They led me to find my eye, and showed me I could help you Find Your Eye too. The One Life 2011 photography contest inspired me to look closely and find my best work, and I thought it would be nice to share with you here too.

I hope you enjoy my little trip down photographic memory lane over the next week. I'll start my favorites off this weekend with a Venice theme, since that's where we are right now.

I'll pop in with new stuff when I can. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exploring with a Camera: Thresholds (2nd edition)

[Author's Note: Through the summer months Exploring with a Camera will be "Second Edition" postings of previous explorations with some new images. You will find a new link up at the end of this post to share your photos, and your photos are also welcome in the Flickr pool for the opportunity to be featured here on the blog. I hope that you will join in!]

Time for another exploration! This time of a subject: Thresholds. By "threshold" I'm not referring to any technical term, but a physical place. A place where you cross over, from one locale to another, whether real or imagined. Threshold images are not merely images of doors or gates, but they are of portals that transport you to somplace different in your imagination.

The photo above is an example of the type of "threshold" I am talking about. This image is from the Roman Arena in Verona. When I look at it, I get a sense of time travel. In my imagination, if I walk through that curtain, I will be transported back to Roman times. There is a magical quality of the unknown on the other side of that curtain. It beckons me to come through.

Here is another, of a gate to Parco di Monza near my home. This image gives me the feeling of looking into another world, some sort of magical winter wonderland. The gate is merely the portal, the threshold to this place. I want to explore down that path.

And here is a threshold that I captured that has become sort of an anti-threshold to me. One that I don't plan to pass through. You see, later this year [2010] I turn 40 years old and I started looking for places with the address 40 to capture my threshold. This image is from the island of Murano in the Venetian lagoon, one of my favorite places on earth to photograph, but this is one of the most depressing images I have photographed there. After I reviewed and edited it, I realized that is not my 40 threshold at all - there is no hope, no happiness, no creativity in this threshold. It's pretty bleak and closed off. It showed me that I have no problem with turning 40, that I reject the idea that this milestone is a bleak thing. So there is power in that too - I began to imagine what my internal 40 threshold looks like and it's nothing like this.

To capture a special threshold image, here are some tips:

1. Look for doors or gates that have some contrast in what is behind versus what is part of the wall or structure the opening is in. This could be a contrast in light or in scenery. The greater the contrast, the greater the opportunity for the "threshold" feeling.

2. Try getting in close to the threshold. By cropping in close on the opening so you don't see what is surrounding it, you create more opportunity for creative story telling because there is not as much physical "place" presented to distract the imagination with reality.

3. Look for openings that are not fully open, that just give a hint of what is behind them. This will give a tantalizing, magical feeling. In this case, the imagination is not distracted by the reality of what is on the other side of the threshold, but is allowed to go wild.

4. Look for thresholds that have meaning to you, whether it's the address number or the physical place or the imagery you find there. Later, take some time to examine that image to see what meaning you find. Does the image match your imagination or feelings? Why or why not? Can this threshold be useful to you to learn something about yourself?

Photography, like any art, is symbolic. The images we capture have meaning, whether or not we know it at the time. Explore the world around you with the idea that there are magical thresholds available to you all the time, and share what you find!

Update: I am always capturing images of doors, but capturing a threshold is a different and special thing. The lead-in image is from the Do What You Love retreat I attended in May, and for me it embodies the magical feeling of creative safety and warmth found at the retreat. 

I also want to share another special threshold image I captured later in 2010, after I wrote this original post. You see, I found my "40" threshold. In a small village in the English countryside, this threshold is similar to the image I created in my head for my "40" threshold: A cozy, welcoming cottage with a gate and rose garden out front. Amazing, huh?

FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Changing the View

Blowing Buttercups
Blowing Buttercups by Dorian Susan

Flowers are clearly a popular subject, and I was so happy to see so many beautiful images shared as part of Exploring with a Camera: From a Flower's Point of View. Today's images from the Flickr pool are great examples of the interesting point of view you can get when you take a picture without looking through the viewfinder. I hope you will continue to explore the world with this technique. It especially helps when you are feeling a bit stuck!

Today is our official "moving" day, the movers come and take everything that is going in our container shipment. After this it will just be bare bones in the apartment, living with the furniture that was here when we arrived and what we are bringing in our suitcases. It will be a good reminder of what we learned when we moved here:  There is very little we actually need for day-to-day living. I will miss my desktop computer though!

Don't worry, thanks to the beauty of scheduling, tomorrow I will post another second edition Exploring with a Camera! Come back to see what we'll be exploring for the next couple of weeks.

From A Flowers Point Of View
From a Flowers Point of View by cathyhubmann

Day 292
Day 292 by darlenedw

Monday, June 20, 2011

Orange Power

Imagine my joy: On Saturday, while wandering the streets of Milan for a last time, I found another image for my market/wheels series. And not only that, but the scooter is my "power color" - Orange! What luck!  I find orange to be an energetic color, full of life. For some reason, when I use the color orange, in my art, on my blog or in my clothes, it gives me courage. Courage to be different, to stand out, to be myself. Courage to share the "Kat Eye View." This discovery has sort of happened organically over the last year, and now I love anything orange. So I couldn't help but enjoy this scene immensely. Thank you, Italy, for another wonderful gift.

How about you? Do you have a power color? How did it come about? I would love to hear your story too!

Love Letter from Italy

"You have entered my life and colored it with amazing colors I did not know before..."

This is a rough translation of one line of the love graffiti found on the path in Parco di Monza Saturday. Isn't it beautiful? I captured this image of the graffiti for the interest in the photograph but when I looked at it on the computer, I fell in love with that line.  I could take that quote for myself, to describe my time in Italy. Or the beauty and peace I find in Parco di Monza. Or the relationships with my husband and son, also pictured in the distance. So many interpretations in one simple line. 

We had a beautiful weekend spent doing a few last, favorite things around our home in Italy before the dismantling of our lives this week. It's a weird feeling, this dismantling. Taking apart piece by piece the life we've built here. What seemed so exotic a couple of years ago has become so normal. When did that happen? There was no exact moment in time, I know, but a gradual adjustment that just now becomes obvious as we shake things up again.

Beyond my move, there is quite a bit going on around here, I want to share with you too...

- I am featured today in Beth Nicholl's "Shared Stories" on the Do What You Love blog. Please come by and say hi! There are also lots of wonderful stories in Beth's archive, if you want to look around a bit.

- Exploring with a Camera: From a Flower's Point of View continues for another day, link up by the end of the day tomorrow if you are participating. I am loving the entries for this theme!

- Will you share what interesting new sites you have found in the Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap? Yesterday I shared the link list and asked you to share your favorites in the comments. There are so many wonderful artists participating! Please come by and let us know who you've found by leaving a comment on yesterday's post.

- I did something crazy this weekend and entered a photo contest, my first ever. I've looked at a number of contests over time, but for some reason this one felt like it "fit." Would you come by and vote for me for the "people's choice" award? (This is an example of me feeling the fear - both of putting myself out there in a new place and asking people to vote for me - and moving ahead anyway.)

Whew. And I'm moving internationally in the midst of all of this. Doesn't that sound a bit crazy? But for some reason, it's all working out just fine.

I hope you have a wonderful, creative Monday! I am linking in to Creative Every Day and The Creative Exchange today.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Looking Around

This is my cat, Stevie, and the view I see of him on my lap and the living room from my "spot" on the couch.  This picture is a fun little memory to take home with me in Italy, of all of the times I sat in this spot and journaled or read books, with a purring cat on my lap. It's funny, Stevie will only sit on my lap if I'm in this spot, with a comforter on and my legs up on footstool. Sometimes, after a vacation when he's very needy, I have to go sit there with the comforter on (even if it's hot, and I have a gazillion things to do) because he just wants to be petted but won't allow it anywhere else. Picky cat! I love him though, and am glad we brought him with us to Italy, even with all of the hassles of paperwork and transport.

So while I'm looking around my apartment and my neighborhood for the last few times, how about looking around some more at the links from fellow participants in the swap? I'm so excited about how many people are participating, and I really want to encourage new connections. I had wanted to do a Scavenger Hunt amongst the links, with prizes and everything, but have run out of time with all that I need to do to get ready to move.

I thought maybe you could help me! Can you visit a link or two and then come back and comment here with what you found at your links? Maybe you found someone participating across the world, or who has an art form you haven't seen before. Maybe you found someone who loves the same medium you do. Let's look around together and find something new! Share the link and what you discovered in the comments below.

Links added since the last blog update:

Shaking the Tree
Life's Rich Pattern
Studio K8 and Me
small matters
studio mod

All the links!
How to Feather an Empty Nest
Learning as I Go
Paloma Chaffinch
Ashley Sisk's Ramblings and Photos
Jenny Shih
Life @ RuffHaven
Here and Now
Living in a Still Life
Donna Did It
Left in Front of Right
The Red Tin
Altered Muse Art
Dreams and Whispers
Maddy's Stitching Corner
Simply Life Photographs
Pointy Pix
Kristin Dudish
Natasha May
The Vintage Artist
Digital Experiments by Carolyn
WJC's Digital Designs
Creating my Life
i wanna be me when i grow up
Giddy-Up Let's Ride
The Creative Identity
Elizabeth GLZ
Jofabi Photo
A New Day, A Different Way
A Rural Journal
Alchemy of Art
Picturing the Year
Hounds in Heaven
BleuOiseau Photography
Aquarel Rivers
The Wright Stuff
The Mrs.
Urban Muser
{Furi Kuri}Travels
A Little Blue Sky
carola bARTz
Same Day: Thirty Years Apart
Cottage 960
Nomadic Notebook
Well of Creations
CindyLew's Studio
Hysong Designs
The Weekend Photo Warrior
Tina's Tree
The Studio 56
Kristen Walker
Rosie Grey
This Life through the Lens
Not Everyone Has Film
Sloane Solanto: A Colorful Life
Ravenous Rae
My Midlife Creativities
Tracy Swartz, Whimsical Gourd Art
One Thousand Paintings
One Little Promise
Amber Leigh Jacobs
Marie Z. Johanson
The Queen of Creativity
Expressive World
Random Thoughts Do or "Di"
Lyrical Journey
Karen Koch, Life Needs Art
My Sweet Prairie
dye~ing to be yours
my heart art
Crafty Creativity
Jenna Kannas Inspirations
Going a Little Coastal
Starry Blue Sky
Quilting, Calle and other things
Matthew and Larissa
Studio Mailbox
Poetic Mapping
Simple Mansion
By Jen
Paper Bird
Musings of a Hennaphile
She Dreams of the Sea
The Little Things...
Tangerine Meg
amaze, surprise & delight
love PEAS
Kristen Laudick Photography
Grandma's Recipe Box
Heartwork Photography
Dixon Hill
Just me and my Art
Mia Makes...
Cosrard & Penpen
I miei due bambini
Special Moments in Time
Such stuff as dreams are made on
Darlene Cunnup Photography
Peach Coglo
One Woman, Reinvented
Creative Explorer
Bren's Bright Corner
Jillsy Girl Studio
Today is a Gift
My Consuming Passions
Marie Otero
Shelley Shockley
Brain Angles - Invisible Ink
Mosey Along
April Cole's Studio
Jo Murray - Art
With Renewed Eyes
Zentangles & Stuff
Fleeting Moments
Journaling through Photos
Stefanie Renee
Alison Behn
Gramma's Little Corner
The Whimzy
Moon's Musings

Friday, June 17, 2011

Summertime in the 'Hood

I've always love the number of bicycles you see here in Italy. I love seeing old ladies in their skirts on bicycles, with the basket full of groceries. I love seeing people riding in the rain, holding their umbrellas. I see people riding while talking on cell phones every day. Bicycles are a normal form of transport here. Just another way to get around the busy streets.

And, on summer time weekends, wow. Bicycles galore. I captured this last summer in Milan, on a summer Saturday when the bicycles were out in force. We see a lot of bicycles by our house on the weekend, since we live right near Parco di Monza. Without much green space in the greater Milan area, a day spent biking and picniking in Parco di Monza is a nice treat. The park is packed on summer weekends, the paths clogged with bicycles and strollers and rented carrozellas (a multi-person pedal-powered cart sort of vehicle/bicycle that a family can fit in - I'm not sure what they are called in English).

This weekend we are going to visit a few haunts a last time. Brave the crowds and rent a carrozella in Parco di Monza, pick up some of the chicken strips that Brandon loves at the Saturday market, head into Milan to climb the Duomo and explore the countryside by Lake Como. One last look around, close to our home for the last two years, before the movers come on Wednesday to pack up our household goods.

And next weekend, our last weekend as residents of Italy, what will we do? Visit Venice. I can't leave Italy without a last trip to my beloved Venetian lagoon. There are two places on earth so far that never fail to inspire me photographically: Venice and the Oregon Coast. (Well, maybe I should add Parco di Monza too, given how often I share photos of the park here.) It's amazing how completely different these places are and yet they are so inspiring to me. Thankfully, I'm headed back to one of my photographic loves as I move. I have no doubt I will find more places too.

How about you, do you have a favorite place? One that never fails to inspire you in your art?

Welcome Home

This light says to me, "Welcome home." It doesn't matter that I wasn't actually staying at this hotel in Inverness, Scotland, I still found myself welcomed by the warm light shining out into the evening. This is a favorite time of day for photographs for me, with the contrast of cool blue outdoor light and warm yellow indoor light. It always makes me feel like there is a warm, safe place to go.

Yesterday I was on Mortal Muses, with a companion "square format" version of this same door, asking the question, "What light welcomes you home?"

I would love to hear your answer today.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Share Your View: From a Flower's Point of View (2nd ed)

From a flowers point of view
From a flowers point of view by leavesnbloomphotography

Isn't it interesting to see the world From a Flower's Point of View? I'm enjoying all of the images that you've already linked on this topic and put in the Flickr pool. Keep them coming!

In addition to the wonderful images, I've also enjoyed your stories of exploration. Ms. Becky got some un-asked for points of view while she was capturing her images, Jenny encouraged others to try something new and Gina pondered how different points of view might help us get along better. Photography is never just about images, it's a reflection of ourselves -- and I love to see that linked in to Exploring with a Camera too!

We have another week here exploring the Flower's Point of View. If you haven't gone out to capture this point of view, you still can! I can't wait to see what else you share.

snow on the mountain
snow on the mountain by Deborah T

FYI - Links will be moderated. Please use a permalink, ensure that your linked image is on topic, and include a link back to this site in your post through the Exploring with a Camera button (available here) or a text link. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I've Found my Eye, how about you?

Here it is, a quintessentially Kat image. It's got color, texture and is a scene that shares the spirit of place. It's the beauty that exists in the everyday world around us with no intervention. This image is from the port of Fira, on Santorini island in Greece. It's at the bottom of the long path that the donkeys and their handlers take, carrying people up and down the steep hillside between the town and the port. It's where the handlers sit and chat, but they were elsewhere at this moment. Perfect for me.

So many good things have come out of my time in Italy, and one of the absolute best has been finding my "eye" or photographic style. I was never so empowered as when I finally cried, "Yes, this is me!" I realized I am an artist, I have a voice and a vision to share with the world through my photographs.

I believe we all have a voice and unique vision to share with the world in our photography, and I want to help you find yours. I've developed the Find Your Eye class series to do just that! Registration for the next class series will start in early July and the first course will start late July. Today I'm giving you the details on the first two classes below, and the same information is available here. If you want to be notified when registration opens, I'll announce it here on the blog or you can sign up for my newsletter to have it direct to your inbox. I hope you'll join me in taking the next step in your photography, to Find Your Eye(And if you're not interested, no worries! My blog, Exploring with a Camera and all of my normal stuff will continue on as usual. The Kat Eye View of the World will not become a forum for incessant advertising for my classes. I have too much other good stuff to share!)

The Journey to Find Your Eye

Maybe you've been photographing for a while and you love it, but you wonder if you have a "style" to your photography. Maybe you see glimpses of your "eye" in your images, but find it elusive. You read interviews with photographers saying you have to find your own style. But how? The Find Your Eye: Journey is here to help! Instead of teaching you the technical basics of your camera or photo processing, this course series enhances the personal expression and creative connection you find in your artistic practice with photography.

We start the series off with the two week Starting the Journey foundation class where I'll introduce you to the basic tools and exercises used throughout the course series. You'll set up the tools of photojournal and inspiration file, then use them for the photojournal prompts and eye development exercises which help you look within as well as explore the world around you. By the end of this short course, you'll have a good start on recognizing your eye and you'll have the foundation you need to take any of the other courses in the series. Starting the Journey is a low time and money commitment, why not try it out and see if you want to continue the journey to Find Your Eye?

Find Your Eye: Starting the Journey
Duration: 2 weeks
Dates: July 24 - August 6, 2011
Lesson Frequency: 2 per week
Cost: $29
Registration will open in early July. See FAQ for logistics information.

Once you've started the journey, you are ready to explore new horizons and deepen the understanding of your style. The four week Find Your Eye: Journey of Recognition class continues with photojournal prompts and eye development exercises, all designed to help you dive more deeply into experiencing the environment around you as well as understanding what calls to you. By the end of the four weeks you will have developed a much greater sense of your own unique photographic style. Along the way you'll have a fun, nurturing community of classmates from around the world to help you learn, share and grow your creative expression. 

Find Your Eye: Journey of Recognition
Duration: 4 weeks
Dates: August 14 - September 10, 2011
Lesson Frequency: 2 per week
Prerequisite: Starting the Journey
Cost: $69
Registration will open in early July. See FAQ for logistics information.

You will be able to register for both Starting the Journey and Journey of Recognition together for $83. That's a 15% savings over registering for each course individually.

Your registration gives back! 10% of all registration fees will be donated to a great cause. I'm excited to once again support Nest, which has the wonderful mission of helping women in countries around the world make a living wage through traditional arts and crafts. Not only do you get to learn something new, you get to support others. How great is that!

Have questions? Drop me a note kat [at] and I'll answer them for you.

Here's what past students, just like you, have said about the Find Your Eye course:
I really enjoyed this course so much! There was a convivial, friendly tone that made it easy to feel a part of the group and to share photos, knowing there would be no negative judgment. Instead, there was such kind, positive support. In addition to your photographic expertise, […] what stands out for me in this course is your accessibility and personal interest in each of your students.-- Christianna Pierce
I felt like I was face-to-face even though we were all miles apart. Your course was of high quality and you engaged with your participants so we were encouraged to participate and could learn from each other. It was a like a real classroom not online material we had to muddle through on our own. -- Terrill Welch  
It’s a fantastic, amazing, beautiful, enlightening process… [The photojournal prompts] gave me a lot to think about in regards to my work. I loved the eye development exercises. They really broadened my view of what I see through the lens and life in general. -- Annie Kelleher
I loved the photojournal prompt section. It was enjoyable looking at everyone's different perspectives and styles and made me think more about why I take photos and what I look for when I aim my camera. The eye development exercises were a great opportunity to consider the way I see the world through my lens. I liked that I could work through exercises at my own pace and alter them however I want to.-- Stephanie Sadler
[The photojournal prompts are] not something I would have done on my own, but now it’s something I look forward to doing. I think journaling and writing is an important part of learning about ourselves as artists. I liked how [the eye development exercises] got us looking at different things and trying new subjects. I can tell a lot of effort went into this on your end. It was well thought out and well structured. -- Marji T.
My favorite thing about the course was seeing the photos and reading the words of teacher and participants. It was helpful to see different styles, interests, perspectives… and to know a bit about the photographer (at this time in her life/photo journey). I felt encouraged… never ignored… even though my experience was limited and my equipment less advanced than others. -- Sharon B.
Sign up for the blog newsletter (on the sidebar) to be the first notified when registration opens! 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Creeping Along

I found this snail on a windowsill in Ravenna, creeping along going nowhere. He made me smile, with his fake flowers happily blooming regardless of the weather. I also liked the repetition of shape, in the tea pot just barely visible in the window. Have you ever noticed the similarity in shape between a teapot and a snail? I hadn't, until this photo. Thanks to my camera and the awareness it gives me, I now have this little tidbit filed away in my brain. As of today, you do too.

Yesterday's post, I noticed, was my 600th post on my blog! Wow. I don't know why that number strikes me, it just seems BIG. So I decided to celebrate that milestone by posting a photo of a snail planter full of fake flowers. The appropriate celebration of 600 posts, don't you know. All the blogging milestone books say so.

But seriously, instead, how about giving away a few things today? That seems appropriate too! Here are the winners of my LAST giveaway from Italy. There were 49 entries, and numbers were drawn by using the random number generator from
#13 - Kristen of K. Laudick Photos wins the lens cleaning cloth from Ravenna
#48 - Pam from Utah wins one of the sets of notecards from Florence
#20 - Diana of Diana Mulder Mixed Media Artist wins the other set of notecards from Florence
#23 - Jo of Jo Murray - Art wins the postcards
I'll be contacting you all for your addresses. Give your congrats to all of them!

Thanks so much for all of your support and participation here at The Kat Eye View of the World. Who knew that this little blog that I started to keep family updated about what was going on with us in Italy would end up with 600 posts. Well, 601 today. Amazing.

A Night at La Scala (An iPhoneographic Essay)

A warm summer evening. A ticket to see the orchestra in Milan. A last item checked off of the "To Do" list.

Last night, I made my second visit to Teatro all Scala, the world famous opera house, to listen to the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra. Conducted by Nicola Luisotti, they performed Tchaikovsky's Concerto No. 1 in B flat min. Op. 23 with Alexander Toradze on piano, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 in B flat maj. Op. 100.

I stressed a bit about what to wear, even though I know people show up in everything from jeans to floor length formal gowns. I settled on a skirt, digging out some nylons and my spikiest of heels. It is Milan, after all.

I found my seat on the main floor, fifth row, on the right.

I watched the boxes slowly fill, and captured some of the details of this historic opera house.

As the orchestra took the stage, I watched as they chatted and warmed up. But when the conductor and the soloist arrived, that's when I put my camera away and closed my eyes.

I traveled with the music, letting it take me where it willed. From colored ribbons of music that dance together to images of something real, I felt the music resonate in my body and let it guide my imagery. I saw a sunrise, a stormy sea, a stream dancing through a beautiful glade. I soared to great heights over a landscape, and watched dancers swirling around at a fancy ball. This is how I experience music. When my eyes are open, I get easily distracted with watching and thinking. When my eyes are closed, I am fully in the moment. The amazing experience of live orchestral music, and how I respond, is something I have discovered during my time in Italy. One more beautiful thing to take home with me.

The orchestra completed, and after much applause, the patrons spilled out into the warm summer night. I looked around, trying to take it all in. Already a beautiful memory, the evening for me at La Scala. 

I'm linking in to Creative Every DayThe Creative Exchange and Phoneography this week. Thanks for coming by!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Latest Obsession and the LAST giveaway from Italy!

At first I thought it was a Greek-inspired theme, the capture of door handles and locks. But my latest obsession continued in Scotland. I have a weakness for doors, that is nothing new. Lately that interest has been specifically focused on colorful, old doors with interesting keyholes or locks. This one is from a church in Inverness, and isn't it cool how you can see the architectural element brought through to the door detail? I also liked how the dustiness reflects the light differently, highlighting the form of the details.

Thank you so much for the many comments on yesterday's post. It is good to know that being real and true to my heart resonates with other people. I appreciated all of the encouragement and support for my transition back to the US. There is truly a wealth of generosity and positive support to be found here on the internet. I am always surprised when I hear people say that things like blogs, Facebook, twitter, etc. are a waste of time. I guess they can be, but they can also be a source of genuine connection and I love that.

As I start sorting things into piles for my move (what to ship, what to give away, what to take on the flight, etc.), I've realized that I have some more things to give away, and time is running short. So today I'm launching my LAST giveaway from Italy. Of course I'll do more in the future, but this will be your last opportunity to get mail from me in Italy

I'm giving away four items and there will be four different winners!  I have a lens cleaning cloth printed with the mosaics from Ravenna (great for glasses or camera lenses), two sets of note cards from Florence, and a set of 5 random postcards of my images that I happen to have left (time to order more!).

You can have up to three entries:
1. Just leave a comment and say hi!
2. If you are a newsletter subscriber, leave a separate comment. (The newsletter is coming out tomorrow with some sneak peek info on my upcoming classes. Why not subscribe today? The form is on the left sidebar of the blog.)
3. If you follow me anywhere, leave a separate comment. By follow I mean through google, facebook, twitter, networked blogs, or rss feed. 
Please leave separate comments for each entry. I'm going to do a random drawing based on the total number of comments, so if you write it all in one comment you will still only have one entry.

You can leave comments through around 9pm PST Monday, June 13. I'll pick the winners on Tuesday morning when I wake up. Please make sure there is a way for me to contact you if you win - either a link back to a website, email, your name (if I know you personally), something along those lines. If I can't figure out how to contact you, I'll just re-draw for your item.

[Update: Giveaway has closed. See Tuesday's post for the winners!]

Along with this giveaway, I just want to give a public thank you to my husband Patrick, for all his help with these giveaways since I've started them. He's the one that goes to the post office and waits in line to mail them while I'm working my day job. Here in Italy, this can sometimes take hours or even multiple trips to get things mailed. If you've ever won anything or received mail from me, he's had a part in mailing it. If you want to visit his blog and leave a note of thanks, he would love it.

Enjoy your weekend!