Photography helps mom beat postpartum depression

From Joel Robison to Jackson Stack, we’ve shared many stories about the support and influence the Flickr community provides to photographers. But none compare to Rachel Devine’s story.

“I’ve always loved photography but never dreamed it would be something that I could turn into a successful career,” she tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “Flickr really made that happen; it completely changed my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.”

Known on Flickr as sesame ellis, Rachel started taking pictures as a teenager and never really stopped. After college, she got into taking portfolio shots for kid models and did editorial work for magazines. From there, Rachel kept building her profile and officially went into business in 1995.

tallulah and her new friends she likes princesses

“I noticed Flickr as a way to share my personal images in 2004, as I was expecting my first child,” Rachel says. “I was a bit too uncertain about my digital photography skills to start posting, so I started to follow some people — specifically new mothers. I found it to be a great comfort as we had a lot in common.”

When Rachel gave birth to her daughter, Gemma, she developed postpartum depression (PPD) which nearly stopped her love of photography all together.

“My experience with PPD put me in a really dark place,” Rachel admits. “It was more than just the baby blues. It was something sinister. I lost the joy in life. Nothing inspired me to take photos. I’d go to the studio and do my work for kid models, but photography became ‘just my job.’”

baby necks the harsh reality is, infants do not have snooze buttons.

Rachel felt completely alone, but unexpectedly, Flickr became a source of support.

“I was following some parents on Flickr with kids the same age as my new baby,” Rachel says. “These people were sharing daily life photographs, but really well done. They weren’t just random snapshots, but these parents were working on taking better pictures of their kids. Additionally, they were sharing their lives and were open to creating online friendships. Over time, it was their inspiration and support [that] helped me start seeing the beauty in life again.”

Rachel finally got the courage to post her own photos in early 2005. She joined different Flickr groups, made more friends, and they all challenged each other to take photographs and share personal stories.

Rachel says these new friendships helped her to focus on something other than the way she was or wasn’t feeling. After a couple months, Rachel’s PPD started to lift and she got better.

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“I had unwittingly created for myself a support group of like-minded people all over the world,” Rachel says. “I was inspired by them, and we all helped each other get better and refine our own work.”

“People kept asking on Flickr when Gemma would be a big sister,” Rachel says. “At the time, I was going through many miscarriages and fertility struggles. One day after a loss, I thought, either I really open up and show people what is going on or I get off Flickr altogether. I made the choice to show them what we were going through. Being out there and open about our life and desire to have another child meant that the ‘perfect life’ they saw online had a deeper meaning… showing the real stuff, the dirty dishes and the sadness… that had meaning.”

“This was the real moment that I began to see how sharing my life so openly not only helped me, but helped others,” Rachel says. “The engagement was extremely powerful and rewarding; my viewers felt connected to me. They could see themselves in my shots. My series of images called Details, which documents my struggle with and ultimate success over secondary fertility, generated so many letters from women who said my honesty and openness gave them hope. They said it made them feel less alone. Eventually when my twins were born, there were 600 people saying ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Welcome to the world’ on their birth-announcement photo… It blew me away.”

36 weeks.  47 inches around.

gemma and her new sidekicks...i think they make a great team.  gemma does not know it yet, but clover is the boss.

Rachel says she instantly found her sub-passion via her time on Flickr: helping regular people share their stories through great photographs. Her Flickr page became so popular (posting/sharing photos) that she created her own blog called Sesame Ellis — thanks to Flickr, it now receives 100,000+ views per month.

Rachel’s greatest accomplishment was an idea for a book, aimed at the many people uploading family photos daily. She wanted to put together something that would help regular people (without a photography background) take beautiful photos of their own lives. After writing a book proposal, Rachel got an offer from Random House and today “Beyond Snapshots” is out in stores.

Looking back on her life today, Rachel, an expatriate living in Australia with her family, feels both bewilderment and gratitude.

“Flickr showed me that visual storytelling is powerful on a global level,” Rachel says. “It connected me to like-minded people around the world, who inspire me still to this day. Flickr didn’t just kick-start this part of my career, but it saved my love of daily life photography… and I will be forever grateful.”

who am i kidding?  i am no newborn photographer and well, these are my kids...so here you have it, the announcement photo.

Visit Rachel’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Previous episode: Sleep-paralysis sufferer depicts his nightmares via photography

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Vote for The Weekly Flickr at the Webby Awards

webby_vote

You may have already heard that The Weekly Flickr is nominated for a Webby Award in the category of Online Film & Video Reality, and it’s your chance to cast your vote.

Every Friday, TWF showcases interesting, intriguing and beautiful photos and the Flickr members behind them here on FlickrBlog to to amaze and inspire you.

Since its launch in December 2012, TWF has posted over 70 episodes documenting the work of talented Flickr photographers from around the world. We feel very honored that TWF is nominated and need you to win.

Head over to the Webby Awards website and cast your vote!


Here’s a quick rundown of our most popular episodes to date:

Joel Robison – Young Photographer Lands Dream Job

 

Rosie Hardy – Maroon 5 Discovers Young Photographer

 

Whitney & Dave Tuttle – Whitney + David = Flickr Love Story

 

Christian Hopkins – “Photography was a form of therapy; probably saved my life.”

 

If you want to be featured on TWF, send a tweet to @flickr and @theweeklyflickr or submit your photos here: https://www.flickr.com/groups/yahoo-studios-the-weekly-flickr-photos/

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Combining old and new with tintypes

“Surreal time travel” is how many Flickr members describe Dinah DiNova’s photography. Dinah, known as knitbone on Flickr, masterfully combines the old and the new in a set of unique tintype photographs.

“My photographs really blurs the lines between the modern day and the past in this very confusing but beautiful way,” Dinah tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “I love it when people can’t figure out right away who these people are or what they’re doing. You have to sit with a photograph for some time and really let it sink in.”

Tintype photography was the first mainstream photographic process in the United States. Before 1850, photography was very expensive; available only to the very elite. Tintypes — which consisted of creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of cheap iron, coated with collodion (no tin involved whatsoever) — made the process very affordable; allowing a huge range of people to have their photographs taken.

Mardi Love Untitled

Suddenly tintype portraits were made by photographers working in booths or the open air at fairs and carnivals. Because the lacquered iron support was resilient and did not need drying, a tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken.

“It was this huge turning point in the history of photography, because all of a sudden, so many people could afford to have their photographs taken,” Dinah says. “And because they’re on metal, they have lasted for a long time, leaving us this very rich, beautiful lineage of different classes, races, genders, and people that otherwise would have really fallen through the cracks. Now [because of this process] we get to hold on to them and still have them in our cultural identity.”

Clara & Cosey Mo having their portrait taken on the coldest day of the year, Lower 9th Ward New Orleans

Growing up, Dinah was always drawn to the aesthetics from the 1800s and early 1900s. As a teenager, she remembers pawing through photography books being particularly fascinated by the old ones.

“What attracted me to tintype photography was this extreme ethereal, ghostly aesthetic that you get from these photographs,” Dinah explains. “In a way, it’s kind of running away from digital photography, running backwards to this handmade art.”

“To do one of these shoots, it really is a production,” Dinah admits. “It’s very involved, it’s very complicated, and you get one shot. So if the exposure is off, there’s a light leak in the camera, or if somebody moves too much and they’re not in focus, you just start over again. Typically a shoot day can be very long. Each photograph can take at least 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish, I generally do one at a time. You could probably do three or four an hour, maybe more.”

Dinah loves that this process allows her subjects to step back in time, giving people an appreciation for what people had to do 150 years ago, just to have one photograph taken.

“Today we can just take selfies all the time, and it’s so simple,” Dinah says. “But [back then] it was really your one shot and you really earned that picture when you took it because you’d sit there for a long time. So I like to tell people [I photograph] to really put yourself into that position of ‘if this is the only photograph I’m ever going to have taken, how do I want to present myself? How do I want to be remembered?’”

The long-term project Dinah has been working is called Tin Sin & KinShip — a tintype documentation of artists, musicians, travelers, and people who live outside of normal social boundaries.

”Everybody wants to know the lineage of their identity,” Dinah says. “Whether it’s your family lineage, if you’re kind of an outcast, you want to know the lineage of the outcasts that came before you. I think we don’t have a lot of that because you couldn’t be gay, you just didn’t have a lot of opportunity to express yourself, unless it was in hiding and in secret. It’s not that something people could be very open about, and it’s not something that you really had a chance to document.”

Abi & Shoog in realtree

“This project is really looking to say this community and these people are so beautiful and so important. We’ve always been here, we’ll always be here, and I want to leave a record of this for the future.”

Dinah started tintype photography six years ago and today admits she can’t stop. “It’s an obsession,” she says.

“There’s a huge amount of love and dedication that I put into this work; it’s a labor of love. I can only hope that that comes across, people see the magic that goes into it, and the heart that everybody puts into making one of these photographs.”

Andrew

Visit Dinah’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Check out a previous episode: Photographer crafts scenes of iconic Americana

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

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Extreme sport of bull racing in India

We’ve seen a lot of extreme-sports photos posted on Flickr, but they’re nothing like photographer Anoop Negi’s Indian bull racing shots.

“How often do you see people engaging in bull racing — men literally in the mud at the mercy of running bulls?” he asks The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “The mere thought may sound crazy but it’s just one of the things I’m so happy to have been able to capture and share on Flickr.”

Anoop came across this event randomly a few years ago while traveling throughout Southern India.

The Race Track with bulls going great guns.

“Bull racing is a rural sport in Kerala,” Anoop says. “It’s held every year in the post-harvest season — roughly within the months of August and September. It coincides during the period of Onam, which is a religious festival in Kerala. People from in and around the area gather for the event; it’s probably the most exciting thing that happens during this period.”

“This is not an organized sport by any means,” Anoop says. “All the jockeys are farmers, who specialize in bull racing on the side. The bulls are specially bred and trained for such races and are prized possessions of the farmers.”

Instead of a track, the event (called Maramady) takes place in flooded rice fields — about six to twelve inches deep — which makes it extremely entertaining for the crowds watching from the sidelines.

“Oh there is mud everywhere!” Anoop explains. ”I myself was taking photographs initially from a different angle, and I was thigh deep in it, and it took me about ten minutes to extricate myself from the mud.

The rules are simple: A pair of bulls are sent charging down the football-sized rice paddy soaked field, while the jockeys hang onto wooden planks or harnesses and slide through the mud. Often times, as seen in Anoops photos, it’s hard to even spot the jockey because he’s doused by all the wet mud — almost as if he’s surfing and consumed by the waves. Alongside the bulls are two men guiding them in the right direction. Like the professional jockeys, these runners are also well trained and are experts in managing the bulls. Nearly 30 teams participate in the race, which starts at noon and continues up to dusk. The team with the fastest time wins.

“The sport is fairly dangerous,” Anoop says, “because it is almost impossible to control two bulls who are racing down. They’ve been bred for racing. So the moment they start, you can’t really control them.”

“What makes photographing bull races exhilarating is it’s an experience in itself,” Anoop says. “The fact that there’s a huge crowd [of people] who are cheering and shouting, and there’s no place to shoot [photos] from. If you are lucky, you are in the front shooting photos. Sometimes you’re shooting through the legs of the crowd, and you don’t know when the bulls will come crashing straight or onto you; you have to dive.”

Anoop is motivated the most by his quest to capture traditional/cultural Indian activities before they’re forgotten.

“I love to take pictures of festivals and fairs that are going on in the country, which may slowly go away,” Anoop explains.”Take the example of the bull races. There have been problems — people have been saying that it should be shut down or it isn’t economical. So, in time, bull races may just go away.”

“I wasn’t even aware, until the time I started doing photography, that these events were slowly going away or a whole tribal culture was disappearing. After having photographed them, it set me thinking about why people are not aware of such activities. And it was only then I realized that in this fast pace of change India is undergoing — whole sets of culture, way of life, people — they were vanishing forever from centuries of our Indian roots to a daily urban grind of existence.“

At the end of the day, Anoop says he hopes the reactions he receives from viewers is sheer amazement.

“[I’d like them to feel] amazement at the fact that there are still sights that people have not been able to see or feel,” Anoop says. “Perhaps that kind of a photograph ignites wanderlust, which I think is at [the] core of human growth and existence. If it can [encourage]… travel, come and see the country, I think my job is done.”

Visit Anoop’s photostream to see more of his photography.

Previous episode: Photographer captures the dangerous lives of rodeo cowboys.

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Girl’s Disney dream comes true

Have you ever had that moment when you see a child’s face light up with pure joy… but realize you forgot your camera? San Diego’s Angela Bonser has dedicated much of her photography to make sure her child’s moments of bliss are captured in a special way. The mom of two has taken hundreds of heartwarming photos of her youngest daughter, Haylie, dressed like a princess at Disneyland, and Angela handmade her daughter’s costumes, making Haylie’s experience even more memorable!

“It’s every little girl’s dream to dress up and play princess for [the] day,” she tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “And the fact that I’ve ‘literally’ had a hand in making it happen for my daughter is everything to me.”

Ironically, Angela never liked to sew. But during her motherhood, she discovered that dressing her oldest daughter, Ashlie, in pretty dresses and taking photos of her was becoming overly expensive!

Twirling Auroras

“One Christmas, when Ashlie was a one-year-old, my mom went out and bought me a sewing machine and said, ‘It’s time. You’re going to learn how to sew,’” Angela recalls. “I did NOT want to learn how to sew, but I decided, ‘Okay this is the time, I’ll just do it.’ So I went out, bought all the supplies I needed and made my first dress. From then on, shockingly, I was hooked!”

Angela immediately began sewing all the time.

“I couldn’t stop sewing!” Angela says. “I sewed mainly dresses for my daughter. I loved taking her out on photography sessions, so I could record her cuteness and also my creations. When I found out in 2002 I was pregnant with my second daughter, Haylie, I was so excited knowing I had another child I could sew for!”

In 2009, Angela and her family moved to San Diego. And a few months later, they took their first trip to Disneyland.

“One of the things I noticed was the amount of little girls running around dressed like Disney princesses,” Angela recalls. “I thought that looked like so much fun, so I convinced my youngest, Haylie, to be Snow White for Halloween that year. I had always wanted to make that costume, but now I was extra determined — thinking she could wear it at Disneyland and have even more fun with it.”

When Angela returned to Disneyland a few months later with Haylie dressed in her Snow White costume, the response was overwhelming.

“Everywhere we went, people were dying to know where she got that dress,” Angela says. “Most people thought I must have paid hundreds of dollars to have it custom made, or that a grandma had made it! I guess I didn’t look like someone who knew how to sew. People were always shocked when they found out I made the dress.”

Angela recalls the Disney cast members loved seeing Haylie in costume. Many of them played along acting as if she was a really princess. In return, Haylie too loved playing along with the characters. Angela described it as an incredible moment.

“My daughter had so much fun on that trip, and I just thought, ‘We can keep doing this, and I can keep creating. It’s like getting to sew costumes all the time, which was my favorite kind of sewing anyway’”, Angela says. “I also thought it was such a fun way [for Haylie] to experience childhood — given the reaction of the cast members and everyone at Disneyland… so I decided to keep doing it!”

Angela drew inspiration for making the costumes from many different places. At times, it was from the beautiful fabrics she’d find while out shopping. Other times, she’d pick her favorite characters either she or Haylie would come across at Disneyland.

“I’ve done Alice, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Aurora, Jedi, Giselle from Enchanted — you name it,” Angela says. “By far, the most challenging dress I ever made was the green Ariel park dress. Finding the fabrics was very difficult, but I remember scouring online, and I actually found the exact same trim that Ariel used on her dress. It was so great to see it come together.”

Angela’s favorite costume she ever made happened to be Haylie’s as well – Mary Poppins.

“I remember when we got to the park. We hadn’t even entered yet, but the reaction of all the other people in line was just overwhelming,” Angela remembers. “No one else had ever seen a little tiny Mary Poppins before. That’s not something you can buy. People were just blown away.”

“[When] we got into the park, we looked over and saw Burt coming with this big huge smile on his face,” Angela says. “Haylie ran up to him and gave him a huge hug and those two danced like she was really Mary Poppins!”

“When Mary Poppins finally came out, the look on her face was just precious,” Angela recalls beaming.” She was so excited, and they just bonded instantly!”

The most memorable moment for Angela was when Mary Poppins and Burt took Haylie on the carousel. Haylie got to ride Mary Poppins’ very own horse, Jingles — who’s infamous at Disneyland.

Throughout the years, Angela has received many requests to sew costumes for other children for money. However she’s refused every single time.

“That’s not something I ever wanted to do,” Angela says. “I never wanted to make it a job. I just enjoyed my daughter being the only one with that costume — something that’s uniquely her own.”

Today, Angela looks back on her “Disneyland Years” photos fondly — mainly seeing Haylie’s face filled with such joy.

“Haylie had so much fun immersing herself in the characters and making so many friends, both characters and park guests,” Angela says. ”For her, it was years of magical and wonderful Disneyland memories that she will never forget. I think she will always remember her mom running backwards, trying not to fall off a curb, or not to run into someone, snapping pictures like a crazy woman not wanting to miss any of these amazing moments!”

“I’m just shocked at the joy that my photos and my costumes have brought to other people,” Angela admits. “I really thought it was going to just be something personal for me and my family, but it seems like they truly have spread joy to so many people.”

Visit Angela’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Previous episode: Mom turns baby’s naptime into magical adventures

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Mother’s storybook photos become viral sensation

When we first spotted Elena Shumilova’s photostream, her photos instantly took our breath away. The Russian photographer transports her viewers into a beautiful world that revolves around her two little sons and their adorable pets — scenes literally out of a storybook. Elena’s use of natural light, colors, and her enchanting rural surroundings have not only made her photography both cozy and heartwarming, but also has received around 50 million views on Flickr.

At first glance, you’d assume Elena’s been taking photographs for years. Her foray into photography, however, began nearly two years ago.

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“I started taking photographs a year and a half ago [after] I borrowed my parents’ DSLR camera,” Elena says. “I just started playing around with it, taking photos every day. I spent six months learning photography. And after awhile, I bought a new camera. [Soon] photography became an integrated part of my life.”

Elena’s inspiration are her two sons, Yaroslav, 5, and Vanya, 2. She began taking pictures during her free time, which was generally on long walks with her boys in the gorgeous outskirts of Andreapol, Russia.

White rabbit

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“When I go walking with the kids, I always grab my camera with me,” Elena says. “When you deal with children, all your pictures come out quite spontaneously. I do tend to have some preliminary photo ideas in my head, so I will sometimes direct my children to ‘do this’ or ‘do that,’ all while playing. The dog and animals that you see in photos are all our animals, so there are no special props.”

Elena is very specific and particular when it comes to her photography. For one, she prefers to use natural light — both inside and outside.

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“I love all sorts of light conditions — street lights, candle light, fog, smoke, rain and snow — everything that gives visual and emotional depth to the image,” Elena explains. “I feel it really sets the mood I want to convey.”

“It takes me quite a long time to come up with the right angle and composition,” Elena says. “I tend to make a series of shots and to sort them out later to find the perfect one. I largely trust my intuition and inspiration when I compose my photos. I get inspired mainly by desire to express something I feel, though I usually predict [at the time] what that is.”

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/75571860@N06/8224011949/

Elena’s favorite image is Foggy Day, mainly because she says everything (light, angle, composition, etc.) in the photo spontaneously came together all at once.

Elena never expected her photos to become so popular. From the very beginning, photography was just a hobby and her photos were just for her and her family. A few weeks after she uploaded them to Flickr, the reactions and positive feedback were overwhelming. People all over the world are enamored with her magical photos.

“I feel puzzled over my head-spinning success online and over the fact that my pictures have gone viral with millions of clicks, views, likes and shares,” Elena admits. “All I do is try my best in photography, and I know that tastes differ. My pictures represent the way I see the world. And I’m pleased with the fact that so many people like them too!”

One winter night

Visit Elena’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Previous episode: Photographer’s dog stars in adorable photos.

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Photographer’s inspiring selfies project

No one can deny the popularity of a selfie. We’ve seen it trending everywhere: at the Oscars, between world leaders, among celebrities — you name it! But long before it became a phenomenon, Elaine Adolfo was taking them for nearly a decade, showcasing her photos in a Flickr series called The 10 Year Project.

“Most people take photos of themselves on trips or some place special,” Elaine tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “But I felt that it was important to photograph myself in front of things that I’m doing every day. I wanted to document those simple moments because that’s what makes up your life.”

Elaine joined Flickr when it first launched in 2004. At the time, she was drawn to the site because she says there’s was nothing quite like it.

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“Back in 2004, sharing your photos was not an easy process,” Elaine remembers. “You would email huge files to people, and there was no organization about it. There were sites that you could upload your photos, buy mugs with your photos on them… but it was not focused on sharing with your friends and Flickr offered that.”

Elaine’s selfie project came about in 2006 after a trip to the eyeglass store. She was trying on new glasses and took a picture of herself with a new pair. The next day she took a picture in her regular glasses to compare looks. Over the next few days Elaine took several pictures of herself and unconsciously began taking more.

“Finally, the 30th day comes, I’m taking more pictures of myself and said, ‘Oh, this is interesting! I’ve pretty much documented my life for a month. Let me just put them all in a folder and see what happens.’ I was thinking maybe I’d call it a 30-day project but then I thought, no let’s do a 10-year project. And that’s how my personal selfie project started. I just picked a random number and said, ‘Let’s see how far this goes.’”

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In the beginning, it was a bit uncomfortable for Elaine as the concept of a selfie was unheard of.

“It wasn’t normal,” Elaine says. “You wouldn’t see people taking photos of themselves.”

Back in 2006, Elaine didn’t have a smartphone with a camera. Instead, she took photos of herself with a regular camera, which resulted in a lot of strange looks from people passing by.

“I’d be in front of a frozen yogurt place, and people behind the counter would say, ‘Seriously? You find this fascinating?’ and I would say, ‘Yeah, thank you!’” Elaine says laughing.

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“When I started the project there wasn’t really a grand plan,” Elaine explains. “It was just to see what I looked like every day. But as it progressed, I started noticing different changes going on in my face. You know, you’d get a little fat here, get a little sad here, some days you’re really happy… but I realized I’m actually documenting my aging. It’s subtle but really powerful because all those changes — the lines on your face, etc. It speaks to a story of what happened to your life at that moment… and that’s something I find really precious.”

As the years went by, Flickr evolved into a community of photographers, and Elaine began to receive many positive comments about her project. Most people found her work to be fascinating and very introspective. Every once in awhile, however, Elaine would receive negative feedback; accusations that the series made her seem “too vain.”

“I’ll admit, it hurt,” Elaine says. “At the same time I was like, ‘I can show you 300 photos where I’m not looking beautiful at all!’ But I think it’s important that you love the days when you’re not looking so great, because those are the moments something amazing is happening.”

“On those ugly, dark days, that’s when you’re the strongest and you need to cherish those moments,” Elaine says. “So when I take a picture of myself and it’s not looking particularly great… that’s a wonderful experience to go through and I’m glad that I have a photo to remember that really challenging day.”

To date, Elaine is 8 years into her project with nearly 3,000 selfies. She describes her series as a “weird journal” of her life — documenting the highs and lows throughout the years.

“I think when I’m 75 [years old] looking back on these photos, I think I’m going to be really, really joyful,” Elaine says. “It’s just going to make me so happy to look through all the images and remember that time I had that great meal with my friends, [or] that time I was exhausted after 10 hours of dance. I’m just going to have a rush of memories that’s going to give me so much happiness, and I look forward to that day.”

Yountville + Berkeley Awesomeness

Visit Elaine’s photostream to see more of her photography.

Previous episode: ‘Big Me, Little Me’: Hilarious Self-Portraits

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Magical photography with soap bubbles

“At first glance, some people think my images are from space — you know, planets, stars and what not,” says photographer Richard Heeks. “Others have mistaken them for cells or microorganisms… something you’d see in a microscope.”

“But when they find out they’re actually bubbles,” he tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video, “they’re both baffled and amazed that something so small and ordinary can be so beautiful!”

Richard’s love of capturing images of bubbles happened randomly in 2007, at a time when he was obsessed with taking photographs of eyes.

Leaves, and a Bubble

“I began noticing just how beautiful eyes were,” Richard explains. “I tried to take really close-up photographs of my wife’s eyes… I noticed that I could see my own reflection in her eye, and the landscape around us. It was stunning.”

“At the time my nieces, who were only 5 and 7 years-old, were blowing bubbles, and I noticed how they had such weird reflections,” Richard remembers. “Using my experience from photographing eyes, I tried to photograph the bubbles and their internal reflections. I got some OK shots, but later I looked up other bubble photos on Flickr, and I realized that I was doing pretty well. Within a few weeks, I was hooked!”

From that point on, Richard put together photo shoots on nice sunny days when the air was still at his home in Saltaire, England. He’d spend hours blowing bubbles, concocting different soap mixtures and photographing the results.

“One day a bubble accidentally burst as I was trying to photograph it,” Richard says. “I looked at the photograph carefully and realized that I had photographed something that I had never seen before; something that you could not see with your naked eye. I realized that I might be able to capture the process of a bubble bursting.”

Richard asked his wife to help pop bubbles with her finger while he photographed them. Richard said it was very hit or miss, but after a day’s worth of shooting, he captured some really clear and beautiful shots of the bubbles mid-burst.

“From then on, I became obsessed,” Richard admits. “I began doing more and more photo shoots, trying to get something different every time. In 2010, I started playing around a bit, getting closer and closer [to the bubbles], capturing macro bubbles. Later that year, I also photographed bubbles inside bubbles. I watched a few YouTube videos and saw how easily you could just blow on a bubble, which would create a smaller bubble within it! So I tried it myself and got some beautiful results.”

In 2011, Richard bought a special mixture from a bubble shop in London that allowed him to make Zubbles — colored soap bubbles. After a couple attempts, Richard’s bubbles ended up being blue and definitely had a different look to them. Their reflections, which were a bit clearer and more shiny — became popular on his Flickr page.

Despite always coming up with new ideas to form new and beautiful photographs, Richard admits there’s no guarantee it will actually work out.

“I would say that much of what I do is serendipitous,” Richard says. “Bubbles are extremely complex, and I’m often surprised by the outcomes. Luck plays a big part. I have to wait and rely on the weather. The light can do weird and beautiful things, such as influencing the colors and creating beautiful flares – but it can also be distracting. I can seek out beautiful places to take the photos. I can also choose particular camera settings or which bubble mixture I take along, but I can only capture what the bubble gives me at a particular moment in time.”

The reactions Richard has received has been overwhelming positive.

“Bubbles are familiar and simple, in that lots of people played with bubbles when they were children,” Richard says. “So everyone appreciates them. I often get requests from scientist, who are interested in the bubbles’ spheres and natural forms. They’ve used my photographs in journals, magazines and presentations. I’ve also been approached by bubble performers — people who are experts in working with bubbles in shows, etc. We’ve collaborated together on what mixtures work well, etc. It’s great to share ideas with these people.”

Richard has been blowing bubbles for over five years and confesses he never gets bored of them. He has no plans to stop and knows there are different kinds of bubbles (forms, shapes, colors) to capture.

“Blowing the bubbles is a nice tactile experience,” Richard says. “Watching bubbles fly around in the wind is beautiful. It’s just a very pleasant thing to do and to watch. And if I can photograph the things that I can see and experience, then that’s pretty cool. I love to get caught up in the experience of running around after bubbles, and just enjoying the experience of being in the moment.”

Visit Richard’s photostream to see more of his photography.

Previous episode: Tiny worlds in drops of water

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Hilarious milk shots make a splash

We’ve profiled a lot of photographers who have used various props in their photos — but no one quite like Alexander JE Bradley. Rather than using costumes, toys or even animals, Alexander brings gallons of milk to his photo shoots. It sounds strange but the result is one hilarious photo.

“Nobody believes me when I tell them that I throw milk on people for a living,” Alexander tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “But of course when they look at my photos, their reactions are priceless… lots of smiles, laughs and bewilderment. And I think, that’s probably why I keep doing it!”

The idea behind Alexander’s milking series came about on a trip to his native Australia in 2011. At the time, he was planning a party for some of his friends and randomly wanted an image of someone having milk thrown on them.

Anne So Os - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

“I searched the internet for the image I had in my head, but I couldn’t find it anywhere,” Alexander explains. “Because I didn’t want to live in this kind of depressing milkless world, I took the initiative and decided to shoot one myself. My friends and I grabbed some milk, asked a friend if he would be cool if we threw milk on him, he said yes, and the rest is history. It was fun and everyone got a kick out of it.”

“The irony though?,” Alexander adds, “I’m lactose intolerant, so I don’t even drink milk!”

Margot Simonney- Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

When Alexander returned home to Paris and decided to make a series called, “Le Grand Spectacle du Lait” (The Great Spectacle of the Milking). He gathered a team together — including extremely eager subjects — and began taking photos. Shoots were usually long with up to 10 people getting milk splashed repeatedly on them. At the end of the day, however, Alexander said everyone had fun watching each other’s reactions.

“Typically I burst shoot my photographs, so often I have six photos where the milk is in different stages of flight and contact,” Alexander says. “It can be quite challenging to choose which exact instance is the best. I think over the course of the series I have got most of the moments: the anticipation and terror before the milk hits, the initial shock upon impact and usually the hilarity that ensues after the fact! I try to just take a close look at the expressions of the individual and see which one looks the most interesting.”

Auto-Lait - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // Self Milking - The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Auto-Lait - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // Self Milking - The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Alexander never offers his subjects any advice — opting to capture the spontaneity of the moment — although he does try to make sure people keep their eyes open.

“Eyes are such an important part of photography,” Alexander says. “That’s why I really like this image of Emily Farley. You can see she kept her eyes [open] the entire way. She didn’t flinch once, and you can see the milk cascading down her eyeballs. It’s pretty gross if you look at it quite close, but I think it’s what makes it one of my favorite images.”

Ruth Mac Kenna - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Zion Ama Dio - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Another one of Alexander’s favorite photos is Cookie Man.

“It was one of the early photographs I shot,” Alexander says. “There was something just so sweet and innocent about the image, the expression and the scenario that I love. Plus, the form from the milk was fantastic.”

Apollo Garcia - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Alexander admits the best reactions come from random people who walk by and unexpectedly witness his shoots.

“I remember being amazed when a group of children with their parents walked past,” Alexander recalls. “They just stopped to see what we were doing. And as soon as we launched our milk they turned excitedly to their parents screaming, ‘Can we do it! Can we do it! Can we! Can we!’ I was really surprised when their parents responded, ‘Now just go and ask the nice photographer man and see if he’ll let you do it.’ Of course I did and that picture was hilarious.”

Benjamin Gallen - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Nicolas Zielinski - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Overall, Alexander says the responses to series are pleasantly divided.

“Half will ask me from what depths of the devil’s reach did I find these ludicrous people who purposely chose to be submitted to such horrific acts,” Alexander says. “And then the other half will ask me how much did they have to pay me to get them to take part in this series!”

“Every now and again I will see…a comment under my photo reading ‘What a waste of milk’,” Alexander admits. “But I am not wasting anything, I am creating something. Do you think anyone went up to Leonardo da Vinci and told him he was wasting paint? It is the same idea. As a visual artist, anything I put into my photography is a tool of my trade. And in this case, it is milk. It is my creativity, and I don’t consider that to be a waste at all.”

Eve Bourggnn - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

Paul Remay - Le Grand Spectacle du Lait // The Grand Spectacle of the Milking

When asked about the objective for his milking series, Alexander says, “If it makes people smile, then that’s good enough for me. Most of my work is pretty crazy, this is probably a reflection of myself as a fairly offbeat person. And as an Australian, I think I have a rather rye sense of humor and will find something absolutely hilarious that others might just think is a bit odd. But it’s all fun.”

Visit Alexander’s photostream to see more of his photography.

Previous episode: Photographer puts childhood icons in unfamiliar scenes

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Illusion self-portrait goes viral

It’s not every day a photographer can make you look twice at a photo and seriously marvel at it. But for 18-year-old Laura Williams, nearly 200,000 people viewed Laura’s self-portrait in awe and bewilderment — making it a viral sensation.

“I like the idea of creating an image that’s perhaps a little less obvious, like an illusion,” Laura tells The Weekly Flickr in the accompanying video. “One that really intrigues the viewer and tries to trick the eye. It’s something I strive to do, and I love it!”

It’s hard for Laura to pinpoint the inspiration behind her conceptual photography. Like many artists, she’s influenced by her surroundings.

Invisible

“I’m inspired by so many things like dreams, nature and other photographers,” Laura explains. “I find that inspiration can come at any time. And often when I find it, I’m not specifically looking for it… it just sort of comes to me.”

Laura admits to having vivid dreams, which is why she keeps a dream journal in which she records memories and details from her imagination.

“When I read dreams that I had a year ago, I can remember quite a lot about how I felt at the time, which I then try and translate into my photography,” Laura says. “Your subconscious can be very powerful. A lot of times my dreams are sort of foggy and desaturated. That’s probably why many of my images are; it’s an aspect in photography I really like.”

Laura’s Invisible series came about after discovering a mirror in her aunt’s house. Admiring it’s simplicity and the shape, she saw its potential to be a prop in her upcoming work.

“I originally envisioned something that gave the illusion of being or feeling invisible, and using the frame to suggest this,” Laura explains. “I wanted to create something that felt quite eerie and really capture the viewer’s intention.”

Laura used the mirror to make it seem as if her torso disappeared.

“It was a challenging shoot to do, as I was by myself and getting the focus right was not easy,” Laura admits. “I would reset and sit back down repeatedly, literally going back and forth! The post production was really fun and that’s when the image really came together for me. It allowed to really play with the illusion and create the mood that I wanted… which is the feeling we all have of not being heard. Perhaps it stems from our youth, but I think it’s something we can all relate to.”

When Laura first uploaded her photos online, she thought nothing of it. Weeks later, when she came home from college in Cambridge, England, she was amazed to see how popular they became.

“It was so awesome to have my work being seen by so many people and have it intrigue them as well,” Laura says. “I love reading other people’s comments and their theories on how I thought I did it. One person actually drew up some kind of mathematical, scientific algorithm of some sort of how it wasn’t possible!”

“I mainly just want to interest the viewers and draw them into my work,” Laura says about her photos. “I like the idea of them looking at my work and being intrigued by it… maybe create their own meaning for it, that’s maybe personal to them.”

The popularity of her series encouraged Laura to pursue photography as a profession. She now dreams of becoming a freelance photographer, shooting and editing album covers on her own.

“I feel really proud of my work,” Laura says. “This entire experience has defined who I am. [I can't] go a whole week without shooting. It’s like an addiction now. It’s been so exciting, and I’ve had so many new opportunities come my way. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Visit Laura’s photostream to see more of her photos.

Previous episode: ‘Strange worlds’ photographer aims to trick the eye

WeeklyFlickr LogoDo you want to be featured on The Weekly Flickr? We are looking for your photos that amaze, excite, delight and inspire. Share them with us in the The Weekly Flickr Group, or tweet us at @TheWeeklyFlickr.

Posted by Ameya Pendse
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