Have you walked through a warren of alleys, turned a corner and been startled by a cacophony of color, light and pattern? Visuals so loud and discordant that you had to blink three times to tone it down?
This happened to me in an outdoor market in Northern Thailand. I’d stumbled into hat makers alley. A place where ladies surrounded by gaily colored fabric, sewed ribbons of bubbles and baubles on to hats, aprons and vests. They draped themselves with vibrantly patterned scarves with no apparent concern for color harmony. The laughed and chattered among themselves, ignoring the tourist fidgeting with her camera and trying to isolate a shot.
Later when I uploaded my photos I ignored all of these photos. I had liked one but decided that the frame was too full with color and pattern. It was hard see the subject against the distraction of background.
Fast forward to years later. I’m searching through my catalog looking for interesting B&W portraits. I find this old photo and casually flick it to B&W. What a difference.
The moral of this story? Never discard photos that you like. Maybe your eye saw something your brain did not. Time will tell.
The Fancy Shawl dance is the most flamboyant and energetic of all Pow Wow women’s events. Performers skip and jump through the air while swirling their shawls in large sweeping gestures.
The category is a relatively new one, different from the more conservative styles of the Jingle and Traditional Women’s dance. Some say its origins lie in mimicking the transformation of a butterfly from a cocoon. Others say that it was created by women wanting to duplicate the complex foot work of the Men’s Fancy dance.
Saga says that the first time a woman (her friend) competed, she disguised herself as a man and entered the Men’s Fancy dance. Unexpectedly, she won! The judges decided it was time for change and they a created brand new dance category for women.
I especially liked these shots of Saga in her Fancy Shawl regalia. I thought the strong colors and striking poses looked powerful. That’s representative of the dance’s origins in both cases, don’t you think?
For more explanation of the different styles of Pow Wow dances I refer you to this article. Although dated, the post is comprehensive and complete. It is very informative and great prep for your next Pow Wow visit.
The very first time I went to a Native American Pow Wow, I remember walking through the grounds and being followed by a symphony of bells and wind chimes. When I looked around I was surprised to see a dancer in her Jingle dress right behind me.
The Jingle dress dance is a simple one. It is a ladies event and they jump up and down with their hands placed on their hips. It is mesmerizing to watch and so easy to get lost in the rhythm of the drums and metallic clink of the bells.
Saga (my model) says that each bell is hand made and sewn individually to the dress. There can be up to three hundred and sixty five bells, one for each day of the year. It’s extremely heavy! Imagine jumping around with all that metal on a hot summer day. Even so, Saga says that once she gets going, she slips in to a zone where all the discomfort disappears.
The Jingle dance is associated with healing qualities. The story goes that at the very first dance there was a sick little girl. The magic of the jingle dance roused her from her sickness and she awoke refreshed and cured.
For more history on the Jingle Dress, have a look at this documentary by PBS and produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
The Jingle Dress Dance is a popular and powerful tradition that has spread throughout America’s Native communities. Ojibwe elders offer stories of its beginnings and its healing powers, and musicians demonstrate the unique songs and rhythms of the dance. Produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
A new year is a good time to try something different.
After my less than illustrious foray into flash photography, I’ve been shy about doing studio shoots. However when Hubby arranged a session with a model in Native American dress, I was more than happy to tag along.
The difference between studio and street photography is light. In a studio, you have full control of light, in street you don’t. In street, you chase the light. In studio, you make it. There’s a lot of technical knowledge involved in getting light to perform. Know-how and Gear and Set-up. For this session I was glad to rely on Hubby’s expertise. My focus was on getting a few good shots.
Here’s my first set. I kept them in dramatic B&W to emphasize the shape and movement of the fancy shawl.
Saga our model had some spectacular outfits. They were all handmade with fine details and gorgeous colors. She also had an interesting tale about the origins of the Fancy Shawl dance event in Pow Wows … but you can read more about that in my next post.
It’s that time of year when we look back and think about the past twelve months. Things done. Lessons learned. It’s good to look back and wonder. For isn’t that what makes everything worthwhile? The wonder.
For my 2017 Favorite, I chose a photo which represented the start of doing something different. I started to capture visual stories.
Previously I’d been focused on taking one shot photos of people and scenes. Single, opportunistic shots which captured the essence of a place or a person. With my Bagan Monks collection, I aimed for a sequence of shots to document an important part of their day: collecting alms. To make the photo’s interesting, I used a combination of angles and crops. Individually, the photos were o.k but collectively they gave context and intimacy to the ritual.
Of course, I still take one-shot photos. But sometimes I think ahead and plan out multiple frames in a story. The shoots then become more anecdotal and less opportunistic. It’s a different way of approaching photography.
Have you ever had a photo that frustrated you with its lost potential? A picture where the image captured wasn’t the one you saw?
This photo (the one below) is one of mine. It’s too far, too bright and too exposed. It doesn’t capture the muffled sound of the surf or the silent flight of sea birds. It doesn’t hint at the rough texture of the sand or the whisper of salt in the breeze. It doesn’t show the serene splendor of the Pacific Rim.
I was ready to launch this in to the trash heap but then thought what if. What if this wasn’t a photo. What if it is was just a picture, a rendered line drawing that captured the highlights and textures. A digital editor could do that.
And so there it is. My featured photo and reclamation of a lost shot.