And I was able to spend time with and photograph these beautiful people.
I also want to send a big THANK YOU to Keller Street CoWork, who generously donated the space for the photo shoots, and to Elizabeth Mori, who volunteered to assist during the photo shoots.
It feels really good to live in a community that cares so much about others and strives to make the world better, especially when the world feels upside down.
And when the world feels upside down, I feel very lucky to be able to use my photography to help in the way I know how. When I get discouraged that what I can do doesn’t feel like much, I remember my middle school motto: Together We Can.
Thank you for supporting my photography and women’s rights. While this fundraiser has finished, I guarantee there will be more fundraisers in the future. So let me know your photo needs and stay tuned for future photo fundraisers. Happy Giving Tuesday!
To see the Celebrating Family exhibit grab a map and scavenger hunt form at Copperfields or the Petaluma Arts Center and head downtown Petaluma. Share your thoughts about the exhibit and your favorite photos on social media with #celebratingfamilypetaluma
During the summer of 2020, at the peak of the racial reckoning across the United States, I photographed a protest in my town after the murder of George Floyd and other unarmed Black people by police. At that protest I met Maude and her five-year-old boy, who was the same age as my son. I couldn’t escape the significance that her Black son was leading protesters in chants as we marched down the street, while my white son watched quietly by my side.
Shortly after that protest Maude’s family found someone had written the N-word on their car in front of their Petaluma home.
Heartbroken by that news, I reached out to Maude and asked her if I could photograph her family, as a gift to honor their love and humanity. She accepted my offer and we scheduled our photo shoot. When I arrived, her son raced to greet me and gave me the first non-family hug I had received in three months since Covid lockdown. That hug dissolved my heart.
After that photo shoot I reached out to a couple of other Black and biracial families in my community and offered family portraits. I was unsure of what, if anything, I would do with the photos, but I felt compelled to do something and this is what I could do.
Three months later, as I was speaking with Faith Ross, the president of Petaluma Blacks for Community Development, I learned that the national theme for Black History month in 2021 was going to be Celebrating Family. I told Faith I had started this portrait project and would love to contribute portraits for her annual Black History exhibit. She was excited about the idea but told me she wanted to include all families, not just Black families, because PBCD has always been open to all families since they started in 1978. And because the Petaluma History Museum, the home of the annual Black History month exhibit, was likely going to be closed due to Covid, we needed to find another way to display the photos. Faith suggested we use the vacant buildings downtown, while I wondered why not all the businesses downtown. With our plan in place, now we just needed more families.
Knowing I wanted to reach as many families as possible, but unsure how to photograph multiple families efficiently and safely, especially during a pandemic, I reached out to Kinyatta, an inspiring community leader and activist, for advice. She gave me the good idea of picking a date and location and allowing families to sign up for photo shoot slots, while also asking them for quotes about what family means to them. That plan worked perfectly until the stay-at-home order was put in place. But with permission from the health department and with very careful Covid restrictions established, the photo shoots continued.
After days and days of scheduling, emailing, and texting families, I held six all-day photo shoots, with the help of generous volunteers, who graciously gave up their weekends to stand in the cold parking lot with me at the wonderful Maria Do Ceu’s Outwest Garage.
And after several editing all-nighters, and multiple calls and trips to Bill, the patient printer at The Digital Grange, and after very careful planning of which portraits should go where and at what size, with the museum problem solving master Heather Fordham, only to have to ditch that plan and start over many more times during the week of hanging enormous paper prints in the rain with Molly Best, my superhero business outreach manager, and her talented installation expert husband, Danial Moorehouse, and the friends, who answered my last minute desperate call for more installers, the Celebrating Family exhibit is finally up in over 46 businesses in downtown Petaluma for the month of February.
To see the Celebrating Family exhibit grab a map and scavenger hunt form at Copperfields or the Petaluma Vistor Center and head downtown Petaluma. Share your thoughts about the exhibit and your favorite photos on social media with #celebratingfamilypetaluma
Thank you to…
• Faith Ross and Gloria Robinson for all you have done in this community for 43 years. You are an inspiration.
• The uber talented Christine Walker at The Design Guild, who jumped in and took on the whole design process, creating a beautiful logo, map, scavenger hunt, posters and website with enthusiasm.
• The City of Petaluma for believing in and sponsoring this project.
• All the businesses who generously allowed us to fill their valuable window space for this exhibit.
• All the community members who donated, showed up, offered their time, talents and words of encouragement.
• My family, my reason for being.
And finally, a HUGE thank you to all the families who trusted me, during a pandemic, to take their portrait and share their family stories.
My motivation for this project was to build relationships and strengthen community. And my hope is that together we heal, together we close the divide, together we celebrate differences and together we make Petaluma a safe, welcoming place for ALL families to live and thrive.
He was the perfect family dog. Not once did he growl or complain about his role in life as the trampoline, the step stool, the pillow, the bucking bronco, the hot wheel launch pad, or the stick wrestling opponent. He was never happier than when he was in the middle. He would put on the brakes if someone other than a family member tried to walk him, yet he would jump the fence and walk himself to visit houses he knew might have food left out (twice he got himself stuck in houses after cleaning out their cat bowls.)
It was impossible to imagine our family without Arlo in the middle. And then, on September 14th, 2020, one week before our 11th Arloversary, in the middle of a global pandemic, with CA skies full of wildfire smoke, a national reckoning with racism and our democracy in limbo, my mask wearing children and I learned in the emergency vet’s office that Arlo’s swollen belly was the cause of an aggressive cancer and even surgery couldn’t save him. Within hours, and with the help of friends, I found an incredible vet who came to our house to let us say goodbye to him in our home while eating dog treats. Arlo is now buried in our yard, where he can still be in the middle of everything.
To say we have a hole in our hearts is an understatement, but we are grateful to have shared a life with Arlo for 11 of our most important years. We do still have sweet little Billy, but even he seems sad and lost, like Robin without Batman.
…so you don’t hear the whining and fighting from the 5.75 and 3 year-old boys who were tagging along on our last-minute Fourth of July escape to Mendocino County.
My hope is that these peaceful and calm photos (with my patented no whining kid filter) will eventually reshape our memories, so we remember ourselves as the perfect family, and we will remember this trip as the perfect summer getaway with the right balance of culture and quiet…
If anyone has tips on how to travel successfully with children, so instead of whining they sweetly thank you for the enrichment you are providing their lives, I would love to hear them.
In case you are curious to learn more about the places in the photos above, this is where we went:
Here is some of what happened the day after Donald Trump was inaugurated president of the United States, after winning the electoral vote, but losing the popular vote by close to three million votes, because of his campaign promises to make America sexist, racist, homophobic, and full of hate again:City officials estimate that 500,000 people participated in the main march in Washington, DC.250,000 in Chicago.250,000 people in Boston.200,000 more in Denver.
In New York, the estimate ranges from 200,000-500,000.
This is not about democrats vs republicans. Or conservatives vs liberals. This is about human rights and decency. This is about love vs hate. To find out what you can do to make your voice heard after the march click here: www.womensmarch.com/100
As photographers, we spend so much time working hard all by ourselves.
So I wanted to create a space where photographers can create, share, learn and play together.
And in 2013 we hosted our first Farm Photo Workshop.After two successful years of providing space for other people to play and learn,I realized that I wasn’t creating space for myself to play and learn as well, because I was too busy hosting.
This year I wanted to play and learn too.So I changed it up.
Instead of hosting a workshop… I hosted a playshop.
Instead of one person teaching: we were all teaching and we were all learning. It was tricky hosting and photographing, there are definitely things I would do better next year. But it was really fun.
And I am more inspired than ever to try new things… To collaborate…And to play.
I hope I always make time to play.
BIG love and HUGE thanks to:
Mimi Luebbermann for creating and generously sharing her inspiring Windrush Farm.
Laura Schneider for her endless drive and motivation (without Laura this Farm Photo (Play)shop absolutely would not have happened.)
Mike Byrne, Blake Farrington (of Samy’s,) Mike Fischer, Adrian Hallauer and Hubert Kang for sharing their lighting wisdom and resources.
Alysia Andriola, Alexis Scarborough and Eliza Mauer for sharing their enviable style and bountiful props.
Arann Harris for holding up the fort and the dough.
All of our beautiful models and their family members who drove them.
Juilliard trained opera singer and florist, Betany Coffland, often uses music as inspiration in her floral creations. Her business, Chloris Floral exclusively uses local and seasonal flowers grown with organic practices. For our photo shoot, Betany wanted to create photo stories for two special operas. Here is how that happened…
The first bouquet will be inspired by “Ah Chloris” by Reynaldo Hahn, the piece that inspired the name Chloris Floral. Completely romantic, rich and full. Here’s me singing the song with guitar:
The second bouquet will be inspired by Pierrot Lunaire- it’s piece I’m performing this week. Themes are puppets, commedia dell’arte, moon inspiration. I want to be elegant here and not so literal, but still a bit off kilter. Here’s a link to the crazy music:
It feels like magic when a group of people come together for the first time, share their talents and create art. We are so in love with the results and we’re ready to do more. Thank you to the incredibly talented team: