PARALLELS - December

Month 12 of Parallels is here! I can't believe how quickly this year and project went.  And because Laura and I aren't eager for our partnership to end, we've been discussing joint projects for 2017 as well, so stay tuned!

For December, we decided on the theme One, with each of us only sharing one image from our month.  So much pressure to share the "perfect image", right?  The month was really busy at my house and I didn't often feel like I was able to shoot with this project in mind, so when I sat down to cull through my pictures from the month, it dawned on me that I did not, in fact, have a "perfect image" to share. 

Except then I also kept coming back to this picture, because this one picture manages to capture everything about my life at this moment: boys that are growing fast and almost as tall as the Christmas trees we've bought at this little neighborhood garden center since they were just babies; their strong bond that usually overcomes the fighting and arguing that's been creeping into their relationship as they gain more independence and their own sets of friends; my interest in playing with layering and color in my photography.

I end the year feeling thankful.  Thankful for the opportunity to photograph the things that are meaningful to me, and thankful to have a friend and photographer to join me on my journey to grow as an artist.  I can't wait to see what the future brings for Laura and myself, both as individuals and project partners.  We started this project to see if we had as much in common as we thought, and to get to know each other better.  I have loved seeing the similarities and differences in our lives, and am proud to call Laura my friend.

Visit Laura's website to experience her December, and we'll see you in a month as we reveal our next project!

PARALLELS - November

All of a sudden, it's November and there is just one month left on this year long project with my dear friend Laura.  Like any project, there have been ups and downs for us both, but I count on this project each month, just like I count on her friendship.  We're starting to talk about how to evolve our project in the upcoming new year, so stay tuned on that front!  We're not even close to sick of each other. <3

On to our November theme....maybe predictable, but Thankful nonetheless. :)  I feel extremely thankful this month, not only because I was able to spend time with my family in the city I love, but I was able to take my first solo vacation in nearly 20 years to Canmore, Alberta, Canada (near Calgary and Banff National Park), to get some much needed alone time as well as inhale my first photography conference.  I left that experience a much better mother and artist - completely win-win.  I can't wait to pursue some of the projects that are starting to percolate in my head and heart.

Be sure to visit Laura's page to see what she was thankful for in November!


Do you ever finish a project and look at it and just think "well that turned out to be a load of crap"?

That's the reaction I'm feeling this month about our theme Movement.  When Laura and I selected this theme, it felt like a cake walk.  I have boys.  Boys who move.  I have a dog.  Who moves.  My life consists of rushing from one place to the next.  Constant motion.  So much opportunity!

Maybe it was feeling the imbalance of work and life this month, but somewhere along the way, I forgot that this project was, in part, about trying new things and pushing myself creatively because I ended up focusing on freezing movement and forgot to try all the other cool things you can do (slow shutter speed anyone???).  And while I'm not loving my collection of images this month, it does serve as a great reminder that you're going to fail, you're going to hit the mark 8 times out of 10 but those 2 things you missed might really matter to the message you're trying to convey in the image, and you WILL press on.  And that's the beauty of having a creative side and can always try again.  And should.  So I guess in the end I can't be mad.  I can just accept it is what it is and move on.

And with that introduction, LOL, here are October's images! I'm going to wonder over to Laura's page to see how she captured her month next - you should too!

PARALLELS - September

This month's theme really invigorated me, in an unexpected way.  Laura and I chose Reflections for September, and a lovely weekend trip to Madison, WI ended up being the perfect outlet to create the majority of my images.

Of course, it's easier to feel inspired when you're on a vacation, freeing yourself from responsibilities and exploring an environment other than your usual.  But for me, this theme really brought out one of the things I love most about photography: the importance of observation.  Photography is all about observation, and reflections help me to see things differently.  Or to notice things I might not at all.

As I culled my images for this theme, I also noticed a strong self-portrait theme emerging, and it has me considering another self-portrait project, like the one I completed 2 years ago.

As an artist, it's easy to see all the flaws in your work, or feel really down in periods of growth, so when you have a month where you look back through your images and you feel excitement? Yes, please.  More of that.

Head over to Laura's blog post next to see her month of Reflections!


Our monthly theme for August seemed, I dare say, "easy" when Laura and I picked it, given the time of year and other events going on in our lives.  I immediately started my mental list of all the things coming up that would be just perfect for this theme.  But as the month progressed and I ultimately curated my images, it was actually really difficult for me to pull together a collection that fit the theme and that I loved.

The truth for me, I'm realizing, is that I am at my own beginning.  Or rather another small beginning or reinvention of myself when it comes to my photography.  I'm realizing more and more what I'm drawn to photograph and what I'm not drawn to photograph. I'm experiencing my usual subjects not being available to be photographed as their social lives pick up and needing to improvise if I want to shoot at all.  I'm also striving to be present more and choosing to leave my camera at home at times.  Maybe the biggest a-ha: I'm shooting in my old ways and it's just not working for me quite the same way anymore.

It's mind boggling how a theme can seem easy and then suddenly not be, but that's one of the reasons that I love this project and it's such great reminder about how personal growth feels - all over the place. :)

This month, I'm sharing a much smaller number of images and just snippets of our month - all represent the concept of "Beginnings."  I'm still very thankful this project is going strong - I look forward to seeing Laura's images probably more than my own!  Be sure to see what Beginnings her family created this month!


This month, Laura and I selected Blue for our monthly theme.  You would think that mothers of boys would have an easy time capturing blue but this was much harder than I expected.  I quickly realized that my boys a) don't wear a lot of blue, and b) don't surround themselves by a lot of blue.  Once I stopped trying to force it (Hey, don't you want to wear a blue shirt today???), it seemed to appear a bit more, but about half way through the month, I took it as a sign.  A sign that it would be a refreshing change to photograph subjects other than my children.  Subjects that made me fall in love with photography to begin with.  I am one of those moms who actually loves photographing subjects that have nothing to do with her kids, after all. :)

So this month is mostly about blue in my environment, with a bit of my boys thrown in for good measure. :)  I can't wait to see what Laura captured for our theme!  Go show her some love!


June marks the half-way on this project! I hope you've enjoyed the parallels between Laura's life and mine. I must say, as fun as it is to look at the images she makes that really resonate with me, I'm equally thrilled when I learn something about her life that I never anticipated. :)

This month, we chose the theme Water - and I'm grateful that the June weather in Minnesota cooperated because we spent some really lovely days enjoying the waters of our neighborhood pool, Lake Harriett, and Minnehaha Falls.

Run and check out Laura's June images - see you next month!


This month, Laura and I chose the theme of "Relaxation" for May's images.  I have to laugh now, because either my family is not very good at the traditional form of relaxation, or we have a fairly hyper way to unwind.  Not to mention, lately my boys are just so busy playing with the neighbor kids, that I have a hard time keeping up! :)

The best part of this month to me, was that Laura and her family struggled to relax as well!  Maybe this is just the way it is with raising boys.  I'm telling you....parallel lives!

Now, please head over to see Laura's relaxing month. :)  And be sure to come back next month to catch our June theme reveal!


Here we are, already at the end of 4 months on this collaboration with my fabulous friend Laura. This project is, indeed, one of the highlights of my personal photography journey.  Not only does it stir my creative juices, but I just feel like I've somehow gotten this peek into Laura's life with her family, and she has become one of my closest pals.  We've texted through some pretty major life events and all the small ones, too.  Feeling very grateful for my connection with her. <3

Okay, enough of my sappiness. :)  Our April theme was "Outside" and boy did my boys get out there.  Spring started to really come in full force and there were moments that felt more like Summer.  I love that their schedule is fairly light right now and they have time to run around the neighborhood the way I did when I was a kid.

Be sure to visit Laura's page when you're done here - see you in May!


Welcome to this month's installment of a year long journey I'm taking with Laura Hutchason Photography as we explore our perceived parallels and deepen our friendship in the process!  We chose "Spring Break" for our March theme, so when you're finished here, be sure to check out her Spring Break in images!  It is very much a parallel close to my heart as she explored a city that my own family has a history with.

We kicked off our Spring Break with a road trip from Minneapolis to Madison (WI) to see my hubby's MFA show and celebrate his opening reception.  SIDE NOTE: we are SO PROUD of him and everything he has accomplished during his 3 years in his program.  It wasn't easy to have him gone, but seeing his personal and artistic growth has made it completely worth it.  But we're even more excited to have him home for good in just 6 weeks!  Wish I could say I was excited about giving him his half of the closet back. :O

After the MFA reception, we got our waterparking on in Wisconsin Dells with my sister and her family for a few days!  My kids love to spend time with their cousins and when you throw in hotel and waterpark fun, not to mention bonfire roasted Peeps, we all went to bed exhausted each night.  All those Wisconsin cocktails may have had something to do with that, too. ;)  We left for home on my sister's birthday, so of course a stop at the Norske Nook for pie was imperative.  Happy Birthday to my baby sis!  At least you'll always be younger! <3

Thanks for looking at my Spring Break - stay tuned for April!

PARALLELS - February

Last month, I introduced you to the awesome project that I'm collaborating with Laura on - and let me first say that I loved looking through her January images!  Not only were there synergies like I suspected there would be, but I really felt like I got to see her life through the images she selected.  And her images were fantastic - I hope you had a chance to check them out, too!

This month, we chose the theme "While Dad's Away."  For my family, Dad is always away - 4 hours away at grad school to be exact and only home about every 4 -6 weeks for a much too short weekend.  Therefore, I really could have posted any images taken in February to fit with the theme, but I wanted to be more thoughtful about telling my family's story.  So my images started as a tribute to either how we cope when Dad's away, how we go without when Dad isn't around to make his special lemon glaze, my abundant use of cilantro (aka "devil weed" according to Dad), things that I let the boys get away with that would make him give me the evil eye (I love you honey!), and all the pinching, biting and kicking these boys do to each other lately that I either photograph or ignore because I'm too exhausted to deal. :)

But maybe the best part about our February is that when Dad called to say he wouldn't be able to come home for his birthday, we decided to take the party to him and make it a big surprise.  That change of scenery did a world of good for us all.  We jumped on hotel beds, ate deliciously toxic candy, swam in the pool, surprised Dad at a restaurant (thanks to some clever planning by Dad's good friend Brian), visited Dad's and Brian's studios, created our own art, and ate at our favorite place in Madison (Ella's Deli) before road tripping back home.

Thanks for looking at my February! Now be sure to visit Laura's project page to see what her family was up to while their Dad was away!  And come back next month for our March theme reveal!


Artists featured:

Brian Bartlett & Chris Rowley, 3rd year MFA candidates, UW-Madison

More information linked here for their upcoming MFA Exhibitions dates.

PARALLELS (introduction) - January

One of the best things about being a photographer is connecting with other photographers, whether it's in person or via the online community.  I feel so fortunate to have become great friends with a fantastic photographer, Laura of Laura Hutchason Photography.  We met a little over a year ago in an online workshop and quickly mutually noticed how much we seemed to have in common.  Photographers, wives, mothers, mothers to 2 boys, urban dwellers (she lives in the Washington DC area and I am in Minneapolis).  It seemed like one of us was constantly remarking "I did that too!" when we'd recap our weekends or look at each other's images.

As 2015 began to wrap up, we started to talk about doing a photography project together and it didn't take long for our idea to surface: test our theory that we are soul sisters leading parallel lives by getting to know each other better through a year of monthly themes to see if we have as much in common as we think.  I can't wait to peek into her life and see what happens as we journey through this project together.  I keep wondering "What if we actually have very little in common???" but the truth is that it won't really matter anyway. <3

On to our first month's theme: Saturday Mornings! This was SUCH a fun theme for January - we are homebodies in the winter, so we really enjoyed sleeping in a little, hanging out together, and eating our very favorite Saturday morning breakfast of pancakes.  Pretty much every Saturday morning on repeat! In fact, I bet these images seem like they could have taken place all on the same morning, with a few little exceptions. :)

When you're done viewing my images, hop on over to Laura's page to see how she spent her Saturday mornings, and see if she and I shared any Saturday morning activities! I can't wait to look myself. <3