Sunday, March 12, 2017


I signed up for Vivienne McMaster's year long self-portrait photography class Body Peace 2017 when it was first advertised last fall. The first class started January 1st and ran for 15 days, then we had a 15 day break before the second one started February 1st. In my mind this was an ideal schedule; 15 days on, 15 days off to catch up on the few lessons I may have fallen behind on.

I started out strong, as I always do with on-line classes, obediently working on each day's prompt.

The class is intended to help us, especially women, to be more accepting of the body we have right now. Always the rebel in a group, I also choose to use the prompts as starting points for well-thought out, creative self-portraits. Now don't think that I don't have body issues I need to deal with because I do, but for me it is about becoming a better self-portrait photographer as well. It is amazing the details you pay attention to when you are the subject of your photograph.

My self-portrait creative perfectionism meant that I could only shoot with my Canon dSLR, no iPhone allowed. That perfectionism carried me for about three days, after that life got in the way, as it always does. I no longer had an hour each day to set up the perfect vignette. So instead of loosening my criteria and adapting to what life was at the moment, I quit. I didn't do any more lessons for January, and in February when life got even crazier, I didn't even start.

But here's the thing, I'm not a quitter. So when March 1st came around, I opened my Morning Pages journal and did some soul searching:

  • I paid for this year long class, so stop wasting the money
  • I enjoy the prompts - they make my creative mind start working again
  • I love the community and sharing with other classmates
  • I need to find a way to adapt
So I slid off my creative high-horse and I got out my iPhone, my GorillaPod tripod for my phone and my remote shutter release and set about doing the daily prompts.

When I was having my weekly Skype conversation with my friend Leon of Sea Blue Lens, I was lamenting to her about lowering my standards but at least getting it done. I also said, the ones I really like I can go back and take with my Canon. Then she said "It sounds like you're doing sketches with your phone". There is was! The artistic term that I needed to make it alright to shoot with my iPhone. I am an artist and I understand things in artistic terms, the term "sketches" made it creative. Thank you Lee, you are a Godsend, in so many ways.

So now I happily get my iPhone out almost every day, some days I have to do a couple prompts to catch up, but I am keeping up. When I have extra time I do get out my dSLR, making vignettes like the one above that actually made Flickr's In Explore, which surprised me to say the least.

But my favorite one thus far is this one, taken with my iPhone while messing around with the grand puppy. There is no way I would have been able to take this with my big camera.

The takeaway - If you need to give something a different name to make it work for you, do it! The most important part is not to quit. You will be creatively blessed by staying the course.


  1. Sketches - that's a great way to look at it. I tend to want to take my more serious or artistic photos with my "big girl camera", but you're right, that last photo would have been nearly impossible to set up. This is a capture the moment type of photo, and it tells of the joy you're feeling with your adorable grandpuppy. You're an artist - always finding creative moments - it's okay to allow yourself this, even if it's not with your most serious tool. The 15 days on 15 days off is great for catching up - because, let's face it, sometimes life just gets in the way. I love your portraits so far - can't wait to see more!

  2. Your words of wisdom always make me smile. The bullet points on continuing to make progress in a class sounds like the little voice that is talking in my head.

  3. Love this as I can totally relate to starting gung ho.......and fizzling out. But, like you, with my new class, I am determined to stick with it & make my project begin - make it happen & remember I am an artist, which is an automatic to "creative license" in renaming it to be whatever will keep me engaged!

  4. I too can relate . . .
    Gung ho . . . fizzle . . . me . . .
    A self sabotage of sorts . . .

    I liked thinking 'sketches' . . .
    And love the face, nose . . . in hand
    And resting feet . . .
    Yes . . . to the artist in you . . .

  5. I think we are always learning and learning is so much easier to grasp when it "works" for us....and like you, my phone is what works for me most days, so I applaud you for being honest and doing what works for you. We've come way too far to feel like we have to do something exactly the way we're told we should be doing something. YOU GO GIRL!

  6. Sarah, my friend, you are a Godsend to me, too. I'm glad my remark lit a spark for you. That is a lesson for me...for those moments when I get to thinking I have no purpose in life. :-) You know how much I love your creative self portraits - those feet are a perfect example. But that one of you and Findley might be one of my favorites ever. There's such sweetness in that pose, and the relaxed, pure joy on your face is priceless.

  7. Classes are always a challenge to finish, but I'm like you if I paid for it I will finish it! Love the last photo of you and Findley!

  8. I love the last photo here too.
    Glad you got back to it. It sounds like a great class, and I think that "sketches" is a great way to look at it.
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

  9. Doing self portraits is a challenge as it is (well, at least to me!) so I think you have chosen the best way of going about things for you. The results are natural looking and fun! Well done!

  10. I have to LOL because for a moment there I thought you were talking about me. I'm a great one for starting strong and soon because as you say, life happens, I pitter off. I love Vivienne McMaster, I've taken a couple of classes with her. I love the word "Sketches" congratulations for sticking with it.

  11. I always start off strong in an eclass with the best intentions, then fall a little behind, and then I am embarrassed to keep participating because I am so far behind. Good for you to keep going. I love the word Sketches to explain using the iphone for images. I think there is a time and place for our big camera and our little ones, either way we are still getting our shot and they all don't need to be masterpieces. Although I think you have a few masterpieces here. :)

  12. YES!! Sketches! She was asking why when I have my big girl came that sometimes I use I use my cell phone first.I was trying to explain to my daughter that in the days before digital, people used polaroids to see if the layout worked or the get a sneak peak of the final photo will look like. Since I still am not a camera pro, I know I can pull out my phone and at least get a good shot. So, I LOVE the term. I love lightbulb moments! Great thought provoking post Sarah.

  13. These are good...self portraits are difficult, and yes, very time-consuming. Even if you didn't finish the class, you definitely got something out of it...and that's what matters.

  14. This is wonderful. I admire you for working through this and sharing with us. I love the puppy and hand photo.

  15. Good lessons here, Sarah. I have to practise loosening my perfectionism too and shooting with the phone. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but at least I have the pic. Your self-portraits are all great -- big and little camera.

  16. ALWAYS love your posts and your creativity Sarah, and good for you for taking this class and catching back up. Bet this would be a really good class to take.Love your shots, and keep up the good work!

  17. I am so glad that you got back to the class. I have been in this place where I pay for a yearlong class, am full of enthusiasm and then life gets in the way, I only work sporadically on the class (because I don't like to quit) and feel guilty at the same time. "Sketches" is a great term, and it really works. Artists need to sketch.
    I once did a self-portrait class with Vivienne McMaster, and it was the first time that I took this seriously. I usually don't like to take pictures of myself, and her approach was quite helpful. Accepting our bodies - so easily said...

  18. I love this post ... how you describe your avoidance and the reason why. But most of all I love how you found a way to make it work. Your pose with Findley on your shoulder is my favorite pose with Kobi. You've done a very nice job here, Sarah.


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)