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  • Are you plucking blackberries?

    Are you missing the beauty that is right in front of you? This isn’t just for photographers; we all need the inspiration that is available to us if we really pay attention! When I go out to capture photographs, I find unexpected beauty in my surroundings all the time!

    Ship Bow #492

    I recently read a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning that struck me as analogous to how I see and work with my abstract photography.

    Earth’s crammed with heaven, 

    And every common bush afire with God, 

    But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

    The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.

    ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    (From Aurora Leigh, Book 7 L. 812-826)

    While I love the intended biblical reference of this quote, I immediately repurposed it to draw a connection to my photography. (Sorry, Elizabeth, but I DO come back to your point!)

    When I pay attention to the details of the world around me, I find striking evidence of a creative intelligence at work. I feel reverence and joy in the beauty that is there to see if you are looking for it. When I pause to take a picture, that’s the experience I attempt to recreate so that I can share it with anyone who is open to it.

    Palm #18b

    When I go out to take pictures, I am looking for the underlying design – the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures and their relationships to each other. And I examine every common object in my surroundings for surprise perceptions. I focus on what attracts me in the present moment, what triggers my imagination and wonder, and feelings.  

    Blue Metal #9

    As gratitude and reverence for what I see rises, so does apprehension of God’s amazing attention to detail in our world. This brings me joy and a sense of relaxation that, somehow, all the uncertainties of this world will work themselves out for the good. There are forces greater than me at work. We are in God’s hands, and He pays attention to the smallest details.

    Rust #110

    I come to capture beauty, and I remain to “take off my shoes” in honor of the creator of this incredible world. And when I produce a successful image, I share it as an invitation to viewers to also “take off their shoes”.

    As for “plucking blackberries”, I confess, I try to take off my shoes AND enjoy the blackberries!



  • Giving a photography gift

    I was just looking for a birthday gift for a family member who likes to be “surprised” and doesn’t want “stuff”, he wants “experiences”. LOL. I get it! I love surprises too! And, Lord knows that I don’t need more things!

    Sometimes it is hard to buy gifts for someone. I think I had a great find this morning, though! This person has taken some really nice photos on his various adventures, and doesn’t want to carry a lot of “stuff”, so he uses his iPhone.

    Paint #1641

    And as a veteran member of the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento, I saw an upcoming workshop in July for learning about iPhone photography! EUREKA!

    1. A short class or workshop on photography is surprising, and interesting
    2. It isn’t stuff
    3. The knowledge goes along with all kinds of adventures or experiences
    4. It is a common interest I share with my gift recipient
    5. I love helping other people find their photographic “sweet spot”!

    My next thought was, what if he can’t make the date? So I broadened my search looking for other iPhone photography classes in Northern California, and I found one right away being held on a different date at Point Reyes National Seashore! My conclusion was to give him a birthday card (made with my own photo) that offered him a choice of photography workshops.

    Rust #1435

    My take-away

    Don’t forget to think about photography classes and workshops as gifts for special people in your life if they like taking pictures even if it’s only for social media!

    By signing up for a workshop or class, you are helping support artists and artist organizations at the same time as giving a gift! It’s a Two-For-One!

    And who knows, maybe you will decide to go along too!

    Note: Both images in this post were taken with an iPhone 11 Pro.

  • A Perilous Journey

    Sitting on my patio, I can see the silky thread of a spider web floating by in the gentle stirring of air near the garden. Another thin, shining thread stretches across from one plant to another. It is the beginning of a creation of beautiful symmetry and geometry created by simple garden creatures.

    Does that represent creativity and the risk/rewards of it? I can draw a parallel.

    Botanical #36

    The untethered, delicate strand of spider web that floats by me represents the ideas that come into my head. Things I could do, ways of approaching a problem, and the occasional lightbulb flash are examples of what frequently floats through my head.

    The tethered, single threads stretching between plants remind me of the beginning of action upon my ideas. The perils at this point are that if I share my ideas too soon, or plan them too rigidly, they are too easy to become untethered and blown away. Facing criticism and distraction, and failure isn’t for the faint-hearted. When I see a tiny spider making a trek across a barely attached glistening lifeline stretched four feet across the garden path, I admire the courage of that journey and the risk the creature takes one tiny step at a time. There are many failures, but eventually a web is developed.

    It’s the same with my own life. If I start small with an idea and see how it connects to other ideas, and then build it up with a combination of intuition and a one “strand” at a time attitude… and if I give myself permission to change, my creative results start to morph into a more mature, robust, and intricate “spider web”.

    It is emotionally risky to reveal our innermost selves in front of others in the way that making art does. As an example, I just launched my new website, and then felt sort of exposed to put something so personal out there into the ether. However, I’d speculate that maybe too much protection might hamper creativity. Maybe the risk is really important for stimulating creative thinking, new ideas, critical thinking and learning in general. I guess the perilous journey really applies to living a meaningful life, not just doing artwork!

    Takeaways for me

    1. Slow down and set aside specific times to give myself space for ruminating, exploring, and experimenting.
    2. Come from a place of sharing art, of giving. Whether or not I sell what I make, it turns out better if I feel a connection to it and a desire to not keep it to myself.
    3. Spend time on the things that are most important in my life.
    4. Reflect on this pretty much daily to stay on track.
    5. Screw fear. If I am doing it firstly for me, it is easier to take the risks of creativity.

    Join me on this daily perilous journey of living more creatively and meaningfully! How do you see creativity in your daily life? Why do you do what you do? Who is it for?

    Succulent #78

  • Seeing photographs

    I decide what to photograph any old way I want to, but if I had to categorize what is going on in my head and heart, here are 7 attitudes I try to keep as I take photographs (but may toss out on any given day!):

    1. No Mistakes
    2. No Rules
    3. Feel the connection
    4. Be Present
    5. Honor intuition
    6. Lose expectations
    7. Be grateful
    Leaves #1563

    No Mistakes

    There are no mistakes. I have found with my abstract photography, that I can often work with an image that was a “mistake”. Countless times, when I come back to my catalog of images, I find one that didn’t capture what I thought I wanted from it, but upon reflection, there is something there that I want to work with. Sometimes it inspires me in a new creative way, and sometimes it forces me to learn a new post-processing technique. Of course, if it has insurmountable technical challenges… I delete it eventually. But I give myself time to be sure that it doesn’t speak to me in a new way.

    No Rules
    There are no rules. I don’t limit myself when I look at things. I don’t follow an “assignment” unless I’ve imposed it upon myself (and I break my assignment freely).
    It is helpful to at least know what are some generally agreed upon rules of good photography and how people see. I know that they actually represent some great guidance. But I don’t let them control what I see and like. I just let them inform my choices at more of a subconscious level.
    Note: As a beginner, following some basic rules just until you understand them is a good learning tool.

    Feel the Connection
    I ask myself what attracts me, and I focus on that. For my type of photography, that means color, form, texture, shapes, patterns, mystery and light. I am so in love with color, so I feel an emotional connection to that usually first… and I love to play make-believe. So I will look at a scene to see if it triggers my imagination in some way. Is there more than one way of looking at it? Does it inspire awe at the intricacy or the patterns or natural balance of forms?

    Be Present
    I seek to apprehend the world around me as it is. I notice what is in the visual details, all of my other senses, and where I am emotionally in that moment too. If I’m sad, mad or glad I notice different things in the moment. That’s exactly where I am. I go with it. I let it flow by. I’m not thinking about an assignment, or what other people are doing, or feeling like I “have” to produce a masterpiece. I’m not thinking about my to-do list, either. Photographing is a type of meditation, and the results reflect “where I am” in the present.

    Leaves #1418

    Honor Intuition
    I have a background awareness of art elements, and art history that influences what I’m attracted to, and what I see as the “star” of the possible image. I allow my intuition to operate as I explore. If I have a nudge, I budge.

    Lose Expectations
    I don’t overthink. I don’t have to find anything. There’s always another day, another opportunity. If I’m excited… I let myself be excited. If I’m bored, I look more closely or just let it go.

    Find Gratitude
    I enjoy myself, and I feel gratitude for so many interesting visual details around me. I can’t help but wonder at a “master” creator at work when I see the amazing complexities and patterns and vivid harmonious colors in the natural world. Even the works of humankind degrade in a beautiful way due the effects of nature upon them.

    All I can share is how it works for me. And just maybe, my process of seeing will trigger some new insights for you too!

  • intro

    Anne Miller 2021 at Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden with Camera

    I am just introducing myself today with this first post on my new blog.

    My name is Anne Miller. My education was (is it ever in the past tense?) in Art, Music, and Software Engineering. My careers have included performing and teaching music, running a home beer & wine-making supplies and equipment business, writing software and designing databases, and owning my fine art photography business specializing in abstract images. I’m tired just reading this. But truthfully, it was just one thing at a time.

    Currently, I am retired from Music and Engineering and Beer-making, and focused on Photography and leading a soulful and creative life. I am fascinated with how we tap into our creativity, and I can get a little philosophical about that.

    Things I love:

    • Creative thinking and having fun
    • Music
    • Art
    • Problem-solving
    • Sharing things that mean something
    • Lifelong Learning
    • Becoming a person who lives by spiritual principles

    There are so many other interests that belong on the list, but I’ll save them for another time.

    Until next time,