My Most Prized Possession

If I bounce around a lot, just bear with me as this is what has been on my mind all morning and is just my thoughts being poured out of me as they come.

Everyone has traits and quirks that just are known and associated with them by everyone that really knows them.  One of mine is Russia; everyone that knows me knows how much of a Russophile I am.  But that’s not the quirk that this post is about.  I’m also very sentimental and nostalgic and when someone gives me something, no matter how small or insignificant, if it is a gift from their heart, it has meaning to me.

5 years ago, we moved across the country from southeast Texas to Seattle.  I’ve always been close to my parents and I have a very close-knit (large) extended family; leaving them was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult.  I think about them constantly and miss them deeply.  It seems like I’ve constantly got thoughts and memories about at least one of them bouncing around my head.  Lately, that person is my precious Daddy.  It seems silly that I would be missing him so much right now given that I just spent a few weeks with him a month ago.  The last time I was down, he sent me home with his old film camera.  My Dad loved photography and shot a few weddings back in the 1970′s (I think that is the correct decade… I suppose it doesn’t really matter as the message is the same.) with this camera.  Remember the aforementioned quirks/traits?  Dad’s just happens to be that he loves a good adrenaline rush; there are countless stories that he and my brothers have told me about their motorcycle, hunting, white water rafting, fishing, scuba diving, etc. escapades with our father.  This camera tagged along on many of those adventures as well.  Most of these were before my time or when I was too small to take part or even care, but their stories have always been magical to me.  Maybe because that was a side of Dad that I never knew?  Don’t get me wrong, I would catch glimpses of it… I’d tag along on the occasional hunting or fishing trip, I rode with him on his motorcycles, and we even went diving – just the two of us – a few times.  I was never exposed to the things that I associate with major adrenaline rushes and death defying acts (although I definitely secretly a bit grateful because I am a chicken and would certainly not love it).  But this camera was there.  See that fraying strap?  It’s the original.  It fascinates me to think of all the things this camera has seen.

Nikon-Pics-e1348163358633(pp_w934_h747)Nikon F2 Photomic

It seems like this would be a fixture in my childhood, right?  Kind of like how my cameras are a fixture in my children’s lives (and oh, how fickle they are… sometimes they love it and sometimes they loathe it), but it wasn’t.  At least, I don’t think it was.  It certainly wasn’t foreign to me, but I don’t have any distinct memories of seeing him whip this camera out.  Maybe because this one is all manual (I am LOVING the rangefinder, by the way) and he had learned to love point and shoots by the time I came around.  In fact, I don’t really remember ever seeing this camera (although I know I must have at some point) in use.  My first clue as to the last time it had been used was the Disney World lens cap when I took it out of its case (the last time my dad was at Disney was when I was about 5).  He handed it to me with an old roll of film still in it (unused, and probably loaded at or right after Disney World).

I’m young (25) and am a child of the digital generation.  By the time I cared about taking photos of anything, film was already on it’s way out the door and almost all of my experiences with film were with a disposable camera.  However, I love old stuff.  And I’ve recently decided to take up film for a couple of reasons.  Primarily, I noticed that I was not taking any snapshots of my kids beyond my iPhone (which is all well and good, but I’d like to have “real” photos as well, especially with a bit more control over the settings and how they look).  That task just felt like work and I would take photos and never do anything with them because going beyond the step of actually snapping the shutter was just too much.  So, I decided film would be the way to go.  I got a Holga for Christmas, broke it before ever being able to use it (it IS a toy camera), and then finally replaced it with a Diana F+ in May-ish.  When I mentioned this to my dad, he decided it was time to “break out the old Nikon.”  And that, my friends, is how this lovely little camera found it’s way into my hands.

Another photo, unedited, taken with the F2… all of these are on 20 year old film!

So, why is it my most prized possession?  Because it is irreplaceable.  The sentimental value, the connection to my father and my family, you an never put a price on that.  Much like a wedding ring or an old family Bible, you can replace them with a duplicate that looks identical, but it is just not the same thing.  I’m kind of weird in that I have a running mental list of “things to grab in the event of a catastrophic emergency” (like a fire, flood, etc.); on this list are my girl’s baby books and their lovies, my computer with all my photos on it, a few other odds and ends, and now this camera.  I would grab the F2 over my 5D Mark II bodies in a heartbeat because those can be replaced.  This precious gift that my father has given me can not, but I am so grateful and so touched to be the recipient that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A Canvas Review

Before I write this post, I have to do the whole disclaimer thing about not being affiliated with either Pixel2Canvas or CG Pro Prints.  I am just a dissatisfied/satisfied customer that wants other photographers to know about this great company I have found.

I have been a brand loyalist to Pixel2Canvas since the beginning.  They had a premium product (at a premium price) and a good reputation.  I loved them and swore that I would never use anyone else.  In fact, I have 6 of their canvases hanging in my home displaying my personal photos.  I’m not sure when I became disenchanted with them.  It may have been when I started noticing my canvas backings getting all wonky or when I saw the photos chipping.  Now, in the interest of honesty, I will say that I am very rough on my canvas samples in toting them to client homes and coffee shops, they do take a beating and I have always just assumed that was why this was happening.  Until I realized it was happening on all of my canvases (and not just the ones that travel).

A few months ago, a group of local photographers started talking about this other canvas vendor that they had discovered at WPPI.  I didn’t really pay much attention until I saw one at one of our meetups; everyone was instructed to bring a canvas from all the different vendors that we used.  Off the top of my head, I know there were canvases from all the main vendors (Pixel2Canvas, Simply Canvas, CG Pro Prints, and a few others); we also had some Costco, H&H Lab, and I think a few others that I can’t remember.  The point is, we had a lot of canvases to compare their build quality, color, and price to.  One canvas stood out leaps and bounds beyond the others and that was CG Pro Prints… so I decided to order a sample.

Meanwhile, I had a client order to place and still had credit with Pixel2Canvas.  After about two weeks, I still had not received my canvas and had a client (moving out of state so I was on a deadline) waiting on this order.  I checked my account and it said the package was untraceable; upon calling Pixel2Canvas, we discovered that FedEx had indeed delivered it and left the box on the side of my house next to my recycling.  Of course, this is not Pixel2Canvas’s fault and their packaging is actually what saved this canvas since it had been raining for like a week straight at this point.  I immediately opened it and discovered that the photo was, at first glimpse, unharmed and happy but the backing was all kinds of wrinkled and messed up.  I emailed iPhone photos of this to Pixel2Canvas at their request so they definitely saw it and agreed it was a problem.
Initially, I attributed this to the whole box-left-in-the-rain issue, but a couple days after the phone call it dawned on me that the photo was totally unharmed by the rain since it was wrapped very tightly in plastic.  At most, it might have been affected by a little humidity, but I really don’t even think that happened since the issues that I saw do not appear to be caused by humidity.  Thus, I attribute all this to just being an inferior product.

Really, the biggest issue I have with Pixel2Canvas at this point is their customer service (although their shoddy work sure doesn’t help my views on them).  When they saw the photo on the left, the response was “Do you have a JoAnn’s or a Michael’s near you?  Take it to them and ask if they will fix the back for you.”  Really?!  Thinking this sounded a little off, I called our local JoAnn’s and they laughed at me when I asked if they could do this.  I emailed Pixel2Canvas to let them know the response and was told “Okay, we will send you another backing and you can reattach it.”  The backing comes in and I nervously get ready to transplant this sucker when it occurs to me that the hanging wire is screwed into the back of the canvas.  Terrified that I would mess up the canvas, frame, or somehow cause it to come undone, I emailed Pixel2Canvas again and told them of my concerns: “The hardware is easily removed with a star screw driver…”  Not knowing what else to do, I went to a local framer and asked for help.  He told me that I shouldn’t even bother with that because reattaching the current backing would lend a better result than trying to undo the hardware and so on and so forth.  So, he kindly did his best to fix it for me.  The backing, although smoothed out, was just – for lack of a better word – crappy.   Now, I already told you I am hard on my samples… but this was not a sample and had been carefully tucked away in my office.  It wasn’t until I had this canvas in the daylight, right outside the framer’s, that I noticed the chipping on the corners.


Ok, I’ve complained enough.  It’s time to get to the good stuff; now I get to tell you why CG Pro Prints is so awesome-sauce!  Their corners are the tightest and flattest that I have ever seen.  Every canvas is finished off with a clear acrylic coating, providing a very scratch resistant protective layer with a satin luster.  And, this is the one that really sold me, their finished solid backing; you can knock on the center of the canvas, that is how well these things are built!  Oh, and did I mention that they are less than 1/4 of the cost of Pixel2Canvas?!  So, to recap: better build quality, more durable, and less expensive!  I think that is a dream combo right there.  My singular critique would be that I wish the wrap depth was 1.5 inches instead of 1.25 inches, but they are still new and I have hope that there will be more options like this in the future.  But all in all, AMAZING product!

If you’ve stuck around this long and read my extreme praise for CG Pro Prints, you probably want to try them out for yourself.  It just so happens that the wonderful people over at CG Pro Prints have offered a discount to all y’all!  Go, order some inexpensive and amazing canvases, and tell them I sent ya!  Then head on over to my Facebook page and tell me what you thought.

Queen Elizabeth | Seattle Concept Photographer

I’ve been looking forward to this Seattle children’s concept session for quite some time.  The images mostly speak for themselves, so I will just say this: I was really inspired by the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age and wanted to explore the idea of a young Queen Elizabeth I.  I contacted SINchling by SINched and had her make me this GORGEOUS child-size Elizabethan gown.  I wanted to evoke the feeling of a bold and mischievous little princess; I imagined her in this setting with a governess forcing her to learn while she would rather daydream and play… sort of like an Elizabethan Alice In Wonderland… but decidedly royal as well.  Enjoy!