Category Archives: Family

Things that pertain to our family, and might be useful for others.

A Fall Day At The Beach: family portraits

There is something beautiful about a fall day in Seattle. Though it’s usually overcast this time of year with a layer of gray clouds, it’s rather beautiful in a quiet serene sort of way.That’s why I was actually a bit excited when the day of our family portrait session was overcast, because I think it provides the best light for a fall feel and the colors really stand out.

LeonardEdits_HolliMargell 1The Leonard family has a growing soon to be 2-year-old who loves to RUN! Thankfully Jack Block park provided lots of space for him to explore between takes trying to capture a family portrait.

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I have to say, it’s truly an honor to photograph a family year after year – to be a part of capturing their family tree as it grows is pretty neat.We brought umbrellas just in case the clouds decided to open up and downpour, but instead the sun came out. But, the wee lad had been so eager to use them, we let him try it out just for fun!

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Looking Back To Move Forward

Almost 16 years ago to this day, I accompanied my Grandma to Bolivia as she was taking a sort of reunion trip. Her family had lived there during her teen years as missionaries. I don’t remember what church they were serving under, but do remember that her time there left a lasting impression. She had the heart of an adventurer, and after 50 years spent working and raising 5 children of her own she wanted to go back to explore and remember.
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As I looked through the old disposable camera photos of that trip, I smile inside and out.  I learned a lot more about her, about poverty and about how missionaries from various church groups try to help even when they can’t agree on how to work together back home.

I remember the redhead on our flight to Bolivia who was going to meet a guy she clicked with during his weeklong holiday in the states. How they were going to meet up in Argentina, and wondering at 16-years-old myself if that was such a good idea. So, I just listened to her as she excitedly told me about how amazing he was and excited she was to finally have found a guy like him.

I remember there was the restaurant in La Paz where we ate lunch. She couldn’t read the menu except for a few words here and there. I ordered what amounted to a pile of rice with veggies and a meat sauce. She ordered something that smelled like dirty socks. I kid you not. It was a yogurt like cold soup. Being the stubborn, frugal woman that she was, she finished it, holding her breath to as not to taste it as much.

I remember how after trying in vain to find her family’s old apartment in Cochabamba, my Grandma found us a Taxi that took us to a main Plaza. From there, she found her way home on foot or “shanks pony” as she called it. I was impressed at the memory her body held that her head could not as the walk took us straight there when street names were too fuzzy to recall.

I promised myself then that I would return some day and help out. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I would somehow. Well, I have finally found the how and now is the when. You see, I’m rather intuitive when it comes to my relationships in life, but I am also very practical and rely on logic for my business. I’ve decided to start following my heart instead of my head and I’m excited to see where that takes me. First up is Bolivia!

Will you help me get there? I am raising funds through Indiegogo, and offer two deals on portraits through the campaign. You get a jump start on Christmas card photos and I get to fulfill a promise I made to myself.

UPDATE:

Not the kind of update I had hoped to give!

The workshop may be postponed until spring 2015. So, I have decided to put my fundraising efforts on hold until a decision is made (they chose Sept. 1st to make the final call). I am dedicated to attending no matter when it happens.

Thank you so much for your support this far!

Dreaming big, and asking for help

When I was 20, my entrepreneurial Uncle Ron took me, and my cousin (his son) to a big business conference in Portland, Oregon. We heard from many leaders and successful business people about what it takes to succeed. The only part that really sticks out in my mind was a spot that Goldie Hawn filled. All of the speakers spoke to their climb to success and what guided them. She said something about how, when she was about 13, someone asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up, and she said, “Make people happy.” That was it. At the time she was studying Ballet, and was doing really well at that, but her drive was to make people happy. And with that simple intention she has succeeded.

So, as I have been trying to find my way in my own photography business, I have often asked myself, what do I want to do? I see beauty everywhere. I notice details many become immune to seeing. From fine art nature photography to weddings, these traits serve me well, but I’m still not succeeding in a way that can help me contribute to my family. Part of this is time, that’s certainly true, but part of it, I think, is that I’ve been holding back. I haven’t been completely honest with myself. What I have always done is help people.

Now this has taken many shapes, and provided many opportunities. I remember my first real job as a courtesy clerk (bagging groceries), I always kept busy and one time offered to take out the trash for the floral vendor who put together bouquets on site. She was grateful and a week later offered me a part time job. What she didn’t know is that I really wanted to work for her!

As life moved me around, I found myself oddly offered jobs literally helping others: from tutoring to baking to landscaping to wedding photography to an Internet start up to writing and a few odd jobs sprinkled in there. When I started a family, I decided to pour my heart into it, and I have learned so much more.

As our family started to grow, I could see room for me to help contribute to the family. That’s when I decided to use my photography in a way that could brighten someone’s day and fit into my full time mommy life, fine art nature photography. Two and half years into it, and tax season showed me it’s not the right direction. This has been my year of transition. I’ve taken a class on posing, a class on studio lighting, and attended a creative challenges class. All of it is leading me to the realization that I have never spoken about how I want to fulfill the desire to simply help people.

So, I’m going to put this out here on the Internet so it’s never forgotten: I want to use my photography to help people. At first I thought that it could be achieved to help capture a family’s life in an annual photo session. Then, I thought I could do it through modern portraits of women where they can see how beautiful they really are. And now I’m getting even more specific: I want to help non-profits through photography. My dream business involve doing part non-profit work traveling internationally and partly portraiture in Seattle.

In October, I will join Workshops With A Purpose in Bolivia to learn more about the Little Ones Project. Basically, it’s a work and learn opportunity: tell their story through photography while learning how to use photography to help non-profits around the world. Most other photography workshops are held in comfy retreats around the United States, and this one appealed to me because we are actually learning in the field and giving while learning.

Why Bolivia?

As their promotional video starts, “Bolivia has the second highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere.” Food for the Hungry is working to provide a solution to this through the Little Ones Project – teaching mothers nutrition and proper care to grow healthy kids.

As many of you already know, feeding kids well is one of my passions. And, while I have no idea what this program teaches, I’m sure we won’t be talking Paleo and Gluten Free. It will probably be basic, and my job will be to simply help them continue to do the work. Photographs will help tell the story and gather support.

And, Bolivia holds a special place in my heart. My grandma’s parents were missionaries in Cochabamba when she was teenager. She wanted to revisit her old stomping grounds about 50 years later, and chose me as her traveling companion when I was 16 (probably because I had street smarts and was young enough to not have a family of my own yet). Ever since that trip, I have wanted to go back. It was the first time I had ever seen real poverty. I promised myself then, that I would return someday to help. Guess which city the Little Ones Project is operating out of? Yes, Cochabamba.

Why now?

The timing is sudden for someone like me who likes to plan ahead and save. I had always held this dream in the back of my mind as something I couldn’t do until I was in my retirement years and the kids were all grown up. I assumed I would have to work first to build a successful photography business, then go on trips to donate my photography services.

Now I’m learning that you can do this as a way to make a living, and the only way to see if it’s really a dream I want to keep following is to experience it. Since my photography business is already taking a turn toward portraits and away from fine art, why not explore what I really want to do? Why wait and do it the traditional way I had envisioned?

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Shout out to Studio 3 Cubed for capturing this image of me in action.

I am going to be honest. For my business, I’ve put every penny earned back into it, and this year I’m close to having a positive balance of just over $40. My biggest block is marketing and promoting myself.

So, I want to break through that block, and earn my way into this Workshop. Every photo session and every art photograph I sell between now and September will go toward my tuition and traveling costs. Not everyone can afford a photo session or needs a fine art print, and I get that. So, I’m asking you to help me book 16 photo sessions in the next two months. And, I’ll be adding a bunch of art prints to my Etsy shop to help me raise the funds ($6,000.00 will cover tuition and airfare) by September 10th.

As a thank you I will send a postcard from Bolivia to anyone who either purchases a session or  is able to refer and help me book a session or sell something from my Etsy shop.

And, yes, I offer gift certificates. I’m also thinking of doing a fundraising mini-session day so those with tighter budgets can get portraits too!

Childhood inspiration

The other day, my kids had made a mess of legos on their bedroom floor just before bedtime. Instead of scolding them, I took a moment and saw the wonderland they had created. That made a light-bulb go off above my head: childhood is full of inspiration. You never know what experiences you provide a child will blossom later in life.

Snacking in my Grandma's garden.
Snacking in my Grandma’s garden.

When I found this photograph of myself eating a strawberry in my Grandma’s garden, I smiled. She always had a garden, whether with raised beds in the city or on a few acres in the country during her retirement. Those first memories of fresh strawberries and Lemon Balm are still with me, and inspire me to garden myself.

I wish she could see me today, and come wander our community garden where I am trying to grow some of my own vegetables and give my own kids the experience of watching nature bloom. Or that my photography is inspired by nature: capturing people in their natural beauty. She really was my second photography fan, and I always think of her when I smell Lemon Balm!

So, remember that even just providing experiences for children can inspire you or them days and years down the road!

Film Friday: Mount Hood

This photograph is part of a long, rambling story of a day when my sister and I had to drive from La Grande, Oregon to Portland to pick someone up from the airport. I took along my Grandfather’s vintage Olympus Pen F Half-Frame camera (on standard 35mm film, it took only half the frame so that you could take 2 photographs on one frame and get these double prints)…

Mount Hood on sepia 35mm film.
Mount Hood on sepia 35mm film.

The short version: Forest fires turned the normally 4-hour drive into an over 8-hour adventure. We had to take a small Highway around Mount Hood, driving with detour traffic. It was a gorgeous summer day despite the smoke and danger.

I had to stop to snap a few photographs of the mountain in the beautiful evening sunshine, and the trees growing alongside the road on the mountainside.

My sister was reading the Little House on the Pairie series, and read an entire book to me while we drove. It remains one of my favorite memories.

p.s. I sold the camera on Ebay later that summer to someone in Japan. Sometimes, I wish I had not done so.

 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

I discovered something fantastic and am so pleased to share this with you: My new favorite portrait package! After doing some architectural photography, I was inspired to combine it with my love of photojournalism, and am now offering a life style portrait session.

How It Works:

This new package is perfect for the family who has a new home, a recent renovation, a life style blogger, or an amazing garden they wish to capture and remember for generations.

We will have a consultation visit for about 30 minutes to talk about the spaces you want photographed, and the best daylight timing. And, I love to offer suggestions for how to stage furniture or treasures so that your space will shine. Then, our photo session lasts up to 2 hours so that we can capture your home and a handful of portraits in your favorite spaces.

The package looks something like this, delivered in a box with prints and digital files:
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The session lasts up to 2 hours, and includes up to 3 traditional portraits in your favorite spaces. Includes 20-30 Proof prints, 3- 8x10s in an archival box, $295
I am now booking sessions for the New Year! Please don’t hesitate to contact me for more details.
Xo,
Holli

Overcoming the time excuse

I used to say I didn’t have any time for Photography. Last week I sorted through my Photograph archives from the past 10 years. I captured thousands of images. The only thing I didn’t make time for was doing the kind of Photography I wanted. I’ve never stopped taking photographs, but I have let time stand in my way of using a lens to capture the things that strike me as beautiful.

This was captured with my purse camera while playing at the park with my kids, and is one of my most popular prints!

Now, don’t get be wrong here. I really enjoy photographing my son’s birthday party or a picnic with friends, but I’m usually pulling double duty – snapping some photos and serving a salad. But, what I really love is being totally focused on capturing beauty be it a Bride’s face when she first see’s her Groom, or a vividly colored Fall leaf on the ground.

As my life has grown, the things I wanted to photograph 7 years ago has expanded. Now it includes nature, and details and above all beauty I see every day. The sunlight touching a fresh new Fern is as stunning as the glimmer in a New Born’s eyes.

How to you make time?

Here is how I’ve allowed myself to “find the time” for photography…

1) Got a Camera?  I carry a camera with me all the time. I do not own an iPhone. Anyone who does, has no excuse not to take photographs on their lunch break. My phone camera is made by Microsof, ‘nuf said. So, I carry a Canon Coolpix in my purse every day.

2) Anytime, anywhere! Use your camera every day. I find some times at home to pull out my Cannon Rebel, and capture something staged in about 5 minutes to highlight a particular subject. The camera in my purse captures wonderful images, too, but is sometimes lagging. The point is to shoot often, and keep at it. You never know when you’ll walk into a stunning scene.

3) Schedule an appointment with your camera. Sometimes you really need more time with the camera to get into a groove or set up something ornate. I have found that just an hour is plenty of time for me to capture at least one or two images that make me smile.

4) Make time when it appears. I leave uploading images and editing to my spurts of free time – whenever I have it to spare, I use it on Photographs. Sometimes it is hard to wait for that window of free time, but usually I’m so busy with life stuff and kids that I have no trouble waiting a day or two.

So, what is standing in your way? Is it thinking about how little time you have to spare? Stop. I was there, and it didn’t help me find any time at all. I just had to start making time where ever the opportunity presented itself, then after getting into that mindset, the time became more abundant.

A Homemaker’s role is ever changing.

Dahlia Burst by Holli Margell

“I get antsy when I consume more than I create.”  – Tom Music.

Tom was my husband’s inspiring friend. His words resonate with me, even now that he is gone and I never really got to know him. I find these words fit perfectly with the way we chose to live – cooking and baking from scratch and not from boxes or cans. As an artist, I appreciate the words even more.

When I chose to become a Homemaker, it coincided with becoming a mother. One of the first things I gave up in the scurry-hurry of new parenthood was painting. Then, crafting, drawing and photography started to get little more than a daydreaming sigh from time to time. I was complaining about two years into parenthood about the restlessness I felt to my cousin, another young Mom. She asked me specifically what I really wanted to do. I wanted to paint, to create something. So, she suggested that I set up a spot where I could do just that for however long possible (5 min, 2 hours, whatever) and then leave it. It sounded so obvious, but I needed her to say it.

As I have found little bits of time to do certain creative projects, I get more inspiration for others. Once I figure out how to do one thing, the constraints of my time has made me even more creative. And, to my surprise, as I’ve embraced the Homemaker role, I have found even more creative outlets, like with cooking and baking. It has opened a whole new world of opportunities. Now that I’m about 5 1/2 years into my Homemaking career, I’m finally finding my stride. It’s really the longest “job” I’ve ever had. And, just when I start to think I’ve got it down, something changes, and I have that feeling like being on a roller-coaster just as it is about to get to the top before a deep drop.

This is our first full-time school year, with our son in Kindergarten. After the last 2 1/2 weeks, we have still not found our new rhythm yet. I know we will find it. But, for now, it’s kinda like having growing pains. While I look forward to another week of experience, I am really looking for that groove. The one where we all aren’t exhausted, and can actually get up in the morning without being in such a frantic hurry.

Despite the changes, we’re having fun and trying to celebrate all that this new phase of life offers. And, I look forward to more time for writing! I’ll be over at Scratchtreehouse.com more often than there. So, come on over and take a look!

Introducing Scratch Treehouse

Okay kids, here it is, the day I’m launching ScratchTreehouse.com – check it out. I’m finally embracing the fact that I love food, making things from scratch and photography.

Confession: I started holliwithani.com as a way to pursue my passion for photography. But, I didn’t have any photos to share beyond the ones I was taking of food. So, I started sharing recipes, what life was teaching me and basically finding my voice, a clearer picture of my passions. Now, I can say that I honestly love sharing recipes, reviews and most anything Home Making related. But, I’m also reviving my Photography passion.  Since figuring this out, I’ve decided to launch Scratchtreehouse.com as the venue for Home Making goodness. I can hardly wait to share new recipes there!

This blog will focus more on photography. It needs a little revamping, and it will look a little different. So, if you want more of what you’ve seen around here beside pretty pictures, please head over to Scratch Treehouse.

Thanks for reading along!