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the most beautiful home birth I almost saw…

If you asked me how my home birth was, you would not hear me say, “My home birth was beautiful.”

Instead I very honestly would tell you, “It was extremely long, incredibly painful and very, very messy. I can understand why drugs were invented and why people take them.”

Between endless hours of back-breaking contractions, I kept repeating, “This is ridiculous. How can there be 7 billion people on the planet.”

I couldn’t see why anyone would voluntarily choose to do this more than once in their lifetime, let alone 7 billion times.

People told me eventually I would forget and the hormones would win again, but I refused to believe that I could ever forget what that day felt like. And I announced that I was quite happy with one.

Yet here I am, one year and 5 months later, just like everyone said, wondering… if, maybe, should we?

So I was excited when Rose sent me an email asking if I would photograph the birth of their second baby girl, who would be born at home some time in March. It would be a good test. How would it feel to see someone else go through labor? And what was a home birth like the second time around?

I was also excited because I have never seen a human being born. I have seen cows, sheep, and dogs… but not a human (I had my eyes closed the whole time during HAH’s birth.)

And I got a small taste of what it must feel like for doctors and midwives. For once in my life, I had my cell phone almost always charged and I almost always knew where it was. And at gatherings with friends, I would announce, “I can’t drink tonight, I’m on call.”

But then it didn’t happen. The due date came and went. I started filling up my calendar. I had photo shoots scheduled every day. Arann got sick, so I was working all day and on solo parenting duty at night. Until finally at the end of day two of photographing flowers in SF, I got the texts:

4:12pm “I think we are in early labor, midwife is coming over. Will text again.”

4:57 “Come now!!”

I was in San Francisco.

The family was in Oakland.

For those of you not from the Bay Area, 5pm on a Thursday means… Fat chance.

I only had to drive 10.5 miles.

It took me one hour.

When I finally arrived at the house, Rose’s mother let me in and said, “The baby was just born, come on in.”

And this is what I saw…

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While I was disappointed to have missed the birth, it was probably for the best because I got to experience all of the joy and none of the work. Which means I can confidently say that it was the most beautiful home birth, I almost saw.

Thank you, Rose and Jonathan, for inviting me to be a part of this amazing moment in your lives. It was such an incredible honor and I am so excited for your family. And, as Rose said to me after the birth of HAH, “Have fun falling in love.”

the best present ever…

After spending the month of November buying a house, remodeling, moving, photographing families and sending out photos for other people’s Christmas presents… it was time for me to think about my own Christmas presents.

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But I was feeling unmotivated, broke and out of time (we only had 18 days in our new home before our annual Christmas pilgrimage to Carbondale, Illinois.)

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But there is no place under my Grandfather’s Christmas tree for excuses.

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My Grandfather purchased and wrapped 100 gifts this year, so I had to get my act together quickly.

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Luckily my family likes my photos, so often times prints become my default gift. But this year I wanted to be more creative.

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And then it occurred to me… my mom gave me a baby book after Harper was born, which she very sweetly (and repetitively) encouraged me to use, reminding me that these days go so fast and that if I don’t write these memories down I will forget.

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But the baby book, although super cute and exactly the one I chose, was not inspiring me. Every time I sat down to work on it I would get stuck on family history I didn’t know or on an irrelevant question that I didn’t care about.

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And the thought of making one more scrapbook (I was a scrapbooking fool in high school, before scrapbooking was a verb) that would fall apart in 10 years… did not appeal to me.

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So I decided to make my own baby book that I would give to our parents and to Arann. Several 4:30am nights and 240 pages later, here it is…

 

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/3167637/da0665459db77ed5cf1ff47b5a47d0d53f054431?ce=blurb_ew&utm_source=widget

 

Watching my mom and Arann open their copies and flip through the pages on Christmas was the best present ever.

it is all about people…

I may photograph food, products, events, and flowers… but for me, it is all about the people. So I get excited when family portrait season comes around and families invite me in to their homes for an hour, or even better, for an afternoon, and I get to play…

I enjoy it so much that every time I am at a family photo shoot I usually have to remind myself that it is time to put down the camera and go home. And when I do eventually leave, I feel honored to have been invited in to the homes of these families and to document what their lives are like at this moment… and I can’t believe that I am lucky enough to call this my job.

Homage…

I am excited to kick off a creative new year with a group photography show at Toby’s Feed Barn in Point Reyes Station…

Each photographer was asked to pay “homage” to something and I chose to pay “homage” to the amazing women I have been lucky to photograph.

We would love for you to come celebrate with us this Sunday….

I want to send a special thank you to: Michael for bringing us all together, Jude for hanging my photographs while my family and I were crossing the country, Mary and Nicole Fassbinder for the amazing frames, Sean at Light Waves for facillitating the printing, Tyler for the awesome postcard, and Arann for everything else.

Thank you,

Why Am I Doing This Again… (Best of 2011)…

Once again I feel so incredibly lucky because 2011 was another very good photography year for me.

Not only were two books with my photography published this year…


(Harvesting Color by Rebecca Burgess.)

(Cooking My Way Back Home by Mitchell Rosenthall.)

But I also started work on my third book

And I had two photographs published in The New York Times.

(Fibershed made it in the New York Times on July 7th, 2011.)

(A photo of my grandparents in The Lives They Loved)

I was hired for the first time by biggies like Nike…


and William Sonoma.

And by some cool local companies like Stemple Creek Ranch

Nest Architecture Studio

And Susan Hayes Handwovens


I also met and photographed so many inspiring individuals (especially women) who are doing inspiring things…

…Jean Near.


…Leslie Santos.

…Elizabeth Boothby.

And then there was this guy called George Lucas.

And 12 amazing weddings…

And 14…

…very…

…cute…

…families.

But as I was running around documenting other people’s lives, I was also making a little life of my own…

And now 2.5 months later, this crazy little person I created is constantly reminding me how fast everything can change in just a matter of seconds let alone a whole year.

Which leads me to the one photo from 2011 that makes my heart swell like I never knew it could…

I love this photo of my grandfather and my son not because it was published in any magazine or because it is of anyone famous. I love this photo because it helps remind me that in the end none of that fancy stuff really matters. This one photo reminds me that life is too short, we never know what is going to happen next and there are some moments we just need to hold on to.

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for helping make 2011 a wonderful year. I look forward to seeing what lessons life brings in 2012.

Introducing… Harper Albi Harris

Born at our home on October 14th at 12:20 am.

Named after my most favorite grandparents, who taught me the importance and value of family.

(photo taken by the talented Jude Mooney.)

He is only three weeks old and I am still completely blown away by it all…

By the fact that he was once inside of me.

By how absolutely amazing women are.

By seeing my son bundled in my husband’s arms.

By the love we have received from our incredible community.

By the multitude of faces…

…one creature can make…

…in a matter of seconds.


By my mom.

By my dog, who sat quietly with me during the whole (very long) birth.

And by this new person…

…who is making me fall in love…

…a little bit more…

….every day.

Photography Lessons: by lil’ Margaux…

(click on the photo for a closer look)

A year ago in May, I received this email from Abby:

Paige – we love your work! It would be awesome to have you document lil’ Margaux.

We were thinking of doing three short photo sessions spaced out through the year. We want to get some nice shots of her as she grows. (Everyday is something new!). I’d like to do the first session after she can hold her head up (3 mos or so) as she’ll be a more sensational model at that point. And we’d like to do this outside, earth baby style.

Thanks!
Abby

I was excited about the opportunity to document a little one’s first year of life, and so over the next 16 months I was able to photograph Margaux at…

…3 months…

…7 months…

…and 19 months.

Each time I arrived at their house, it was fun to see (and experience) the differences a few months can have on a little person. And I learned a lot from Margaux about how to be better prepared to photograph the very different stages. These are the valuable lessons that lil’ Margaux taught me about photographing a child’s first year:

At three months you have to work really fast before your model falls asleep… again.

Seven months is so dreamy… a few funny noises and a mirror is all it takes to get a good smile.

And 19 months… watch out. You better have eaten a good lunch, done some stretching and have a bunny up your sleeve, because not only do you have to move fast to keep up with your model, but you also have to have some tricks to keep her entertained. Ladders, chairs, agile parents, and using your body as a blockade works too…

But as I looked back to compare the photos from each of our photo shoots, I was pleased to discover some similarities as well…

Thank you, Abby, Nate and Margaux, for letting me document your first year together and for teaching me how to be a better photographer for all ages.

And I can’t wait to see what lessons Margaux has to share after lil’ Margaux becomes big sister Margaux.

Just the two of us, and Michigan…

When our friends Sarah and James announced that they were getting married this summer in Michigan, I immediately said we’d be there.

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan was a very important part of Arann’s (pre-Paige) life and yet in the eight years we have been together I still had never been there… so we decided to make a trip out of it. We decided to actually take a vacation.

That statement is misleading because we do take lots of wonderful vacations, but usually the trips we take are with my family because I live thousands of miles away from them, so we happily spend our free time with them. But every once and awhile it is nice to get away alone, just the two of us, so we decided July 2011 it was Michigan or bust.

The plan for our 10 days in Michigan… was not to plan. Or so I thought.

As far as I knew, the only thing on our schedule was that we had to be in Cross Village by Thursday for pre-wedding prep. Other than that we had no reservations, no route marked on a map, and no prearranged accommodations… except for two nights with friends of friends in Detroit… because I definitely wanted to go to Detroit.

From all of the media hype over the last few years, it sounded to me like Detroit was becoming the renewed frontier. It is the place to be for artists and farmers because old industry is gone and land is once again cheap, so if you can make your own job and grow your own food then you can have a pretty good life in Detroit.

Unfortunately we weren’t there long enough to say if all that is really true, but in the 48 hours we were there we did see lots of big beautiful houses for sale and lots of wide open vacant lots, we met lots of very friendly people and we went to the largest and most crowded farmers’ market that I have ever been to.

So I can say that Detroit made a good first impression on me and I would love to go back and spend more time getting to know the communities and the people who are making it work in this new version of an old city.

After Detroit, we headed north-east along Lake Huron, at what I thought was going to be a leisurely pace… but this is when Arann started to get antsy. I soon discovered that while I was thinking we had all the time in the world to wander and explore this big beautiful state… the only thing Arann could think about was getting to The UP.

So we hurriedly passed through several very random small American towns…

Stopping only to succumb to basic needs, but happy to discover that the Cheese Capitol of Michigan was one of those stops…

…and we had a cheese picnic, of course.

When we finally made it to The (one-and-only) UP, Arann immediately ate his first pasty and slowly started to breathe normally again.

And when we arrived in Marquette, I finally understood the reason for Arann’s anxious behavior. It turns out that Arann knows a wonderful community of people from when he lived there 10 years ago. Word spread quickly that “Arann Harris was back in town,” so we spent the next 24 hours reminiscing with his long-lost friends.

On our memory lane tour, I finally saw the log cabin that Arann “helped” build.

We met Russel, the crow.

We reunited with more friends, and their children who really loved Russel…


…although I can’t say that Russel really loved meeting them.

And then finally… we made it to the place of many legends, The Huron Mountain Club…

aka: the place where Arann Harris found his calling in life…

Arann likes to tell people that he is a professional camp counselor, and now I can happily say that I got to see The Bridge where it all began so many years ago… and now the new generation of campers can say that the original Pizza Man really does exist.

We were only there for 48 hours but we managed to do a little bit of everything… including donate a significant amount of blood to the local mosquito population.


And after serious exploring and serious relaxing, we were on the move again…

This time we headed south-west to meet our California friends who had descended upon Cross Village, on Lake Michigan, my third Great Lake of the trip, where we…

Skipped rocks.

Tasted the local cuisine.

Helped our dear friends get married and celebrated by playing a whole lot of very cut-throat lawn games.


It was the perfect ending to a well-balanced and carefully planned trip.

And just the kind of recharging we needed before we start our next big adventure…

…as just the three of us.



A Photographer’s Wedding…

Klea and Dave got married at the Westerbeke Ranch in Sonoma on July 23, 2011.

Klea and Dave’s wedding may have been one of the easiest and one of the hardest weddings that I have ever photographed.

It was one of the easiest weddings that I have photographed because Klea is also a photographer so she knew how to create a beautiful wedding… She picked a photogenic location with amazing light and carefully planned all of the details.

It was one of the hardest weddings because Klea is also a photographer so naturally she has high expectations of the photographs of her own wedding. With Klea’s high expectations weighing heavily on my mind, I may have been a bit more nervous than I normally am before I photograph a wedding. But I had to remind myself that she hired me for a reason and that my job was to stay calm and to do what I always do… except with more film. Because like every good photographer, Klea loves film and she wanted me to document each part of the day with my film camera as well as with my digital camera.

So to make sure I had every moment covered, I hired Annika Erickson, another talented photographer, to be the second photographer… and here is our story of Klea and Dave’s wedding...

See if you can tell which photographs are digital and which photographs are film…









Congratulations, Klea and Dave, and thank you for trusting me to document your very photogenic and love-filled day.

To see more photos of Klea and Dave’s wedding and to find out which photos are film click here.

You tell me… (contest below)

I often get asked, “What is the difference between film and digital.”

So I have a series of descriptive words that I use to try and convey why I love film so much.

But it is hard… so I need help.

I’d love for you tell me what you think the difference is.

So… this is film.

And… this (click here) is digital.

Now you tell me what you think, by Friday the 18th, and I will pick one person to win a surprise film print.

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