Archive for 'my life'

Posted on Mar 24, 2016

Dear Diary,

(Side note – I’m starting this post with “dear diary” to indicate I’m about to dump my brain out here with mostly personal thoughts that have little, if anything, to do with photography, so if photos is what you’re here for today, feel free to skip ahead to the next post, k? 🙂 )

Anywho. This afternoon I was laying on the bed while Kate nurse-napped, a little thing we do twice or more each day, and I was thinking again about the same things that had been swirling around my head. My brain has been feeling unsettled lately.

If you read my ramblings on Instagram, you know I’m big on the whole enjoy-every-aspect-of-motherhood-guilt-free-because-time-is-fleeting thing.

But lately some guilt has snuck in. And along with it frustration and pressure.

Feeling guilty because my being guilt-free indulging in motherhood means my husband doesn’t have that same privilege to enjoy fatherhood or personal creative endeavors, having to work and provide for us and all.

Frustrated because I actually do have lofty and exciting goals for my business to not only help provide for us more, but grow my offerings and continually better the artwork I create for my clients. Yet I can barely hold my head above water with editing, fulfilling orders, not to mention marketing, daily tasks and personal projects (and by “barley” I mean not really at all).

And pressure because besides the endless business to dos the household tasks are piling up, the walls are still blank, and so very little gets done, making me feel like succeeding at motherhood means failing at everything else. Not that I’m convinced right now I’m succeeding at motherhood either…

My thoughts for solutions to get more time out of the day ranged from sleep-training Kate so she doesn’t need me by her side to get a good nap (she’s a little ninja and knows the second I try and sneak away) to getting up at 3 or 4am every morning to get my work done while everybody sleeps – a terrible idea really, I’m lucky enough to be a mom who actually gets enough sleep and I want to give it up???

But then I remembered a post I recently read about seasons of life (I really love this term!) and having it all, but not all at the same time. Which is funny because that’s a sentiment I often tout myself, one that played a big role in many of the dreams I realized. And I felt like a hypocrite realizing I’m feeling unsettled because I’m trying to have it all. Right now. All at the same time. How did I, of all people, fall into this trap?

Cue brain fog lifting with a big a-ha moment. We’re in the baby season right now. How much longer will Kate need me by her side to fall and stay asleep? I don’t know, but I know it will end. I don’t want to have regrets later, feeling I rushed through baby season, longing for it to return. So I’m going to tell my lofty business goals to take a backseat. Next to the nicely decorated, always clean house, my artist aspirations and the to do list.

It doesn’t mean I won’t work, or let our house turn into a complete pig stye, or quick my art projects. But I’m going to be ok with however little I get done each day. I’m going to continue the daily nap-nursing sessions and soak them in. And in exchange I’m going to be ok with probably not being able to afford a trip to Switzerland, my favorite photography retreat, that new couch I’d been eyeing, and the backyard pool I’m wanting pretty badly. Because it’s a give and take, and it’s my choice to have this one thing right now. There will be a season for travel, a season for growing the business and allowing my husband freedom from a 9-5 job, a season for house renovations and all those other things. Those seasons will get their turn. I have a feeling baby season will fly by faster than I’d like as it is.

And just now, as if to tell me my feelings are right on track, this beautiful video popped into my inbox. A tiny glimpse into my baby season, into my heart, as seen by my sweet, humble and very talented friend Jennifer of Jennifer Kapala Photography in Calgary. Should I ever have doubts, I’ll just loop this a few dozen times…

Posted on Mar 09, 2016

My dearest little Kate,

One year ago today we found out you existed, and with you my heart’s capacity grew to dimensions I couldn’t have understood.

Through my 366 project, I record your daily life, your rapid growth and subtle changes, the immense personality you’ve had since before you were born.

Through this project I come to terms with time never standing still, as much as I’d like to slow it down, by creating a record of the days passing by to share with you one day.

Here is a glimpse of what your January was like.

Love,

your Mami

Project 366 January - Maui Family Photography

Posted on Jan 02, 2016
Posted in my life, personal

This time last year, I embarked on a personal project 52 with a group of fellow photographers. We picked 52 themes and made a plan to take one themed photo each week of the year, which we shared with each other in a private Facebook group.

We each had different goals with this, some wanted to hone certain camera skills, many, like me, wanted to record more of their personal daily life, something us photographers often forget or “don’t get around to” with doing photos for other families as our job keeping us busy.

Up until that point, I had mostly only iPhone snapshots of our life and adventures. It’s one thing to remember to take photos of your own kids, but when it’s just you, or just the two of you, it can be more challenging to photograph your life. I put a lot of pressure on myself to make each photo meaningful, and almost gave up come February when the theme “cake” stumped me. Then one morning, a friend showed up with birthday cake she baked for herself, and we shared it over tea and good conversation, which made me I realized that these little moments are exactly what I wanted to remember. I’m so thankful now that I didn’t give up when things got hard.

Never really having done personal projects before, I didn’t realize their power.

Without this project, I would not have this beautiful collection of images, telling the story of what turned into a very exciting year, with small and big moments alike.

I wouldn’t have pushed myself to try out new and rediscover old techniques. Like freelensing, which became one of my favorite things to do, and reignited my joy for creating more artistic images.

I wouldn’t have gotten to know and grown close to a group of photographers I mostly only know online. Working from home can get lonely and they are my co-workers, my community and my support group, there for me when I needed them and giving more meaning to my day by supporting them through their challenges.

Needless to say I’m hooked, and added a couple more personal projects to my list for 2016, including  a 365 (actually 366) project which I am tackling together with my dear friend Jennifer in Calgary (jenniferkapalaphotography.com). I can’t wait to experience this year with a photo every day! We will be sharing more of this soon through our Life Entwined project, so stay tuned, but for now, I present to you a summary of my 2015 🙂

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Posted on Nov 24, 2015

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Well here she is. The little girl, who everyone (and I mean everyone – including strangers at costco and a bus driver on Oahu) but me was convinced was a boy, made her arrival into the world the morning of October 29th and immediately stole our hearts.

She is perfect in every way, and this thing called motherhood is every bit as amazing as it’s cracked up to be. People keep telling me how time flies and to enjoy every moment, so that’s exactly what we’re doing. I look at our little family and still wonder – how did I win the jackpot in this game called life?

It’s the week of Thanksgiving and I couldn’t be more thankful for all I have, including all you kind clients and supporters who make my business possible. I hope you get to count your own blessings with those you love.

Here’s a few phone photos of Kate’s first weeks, I’ll be sharing more soon but meanwhile feel free to join us on Instagram for your daily dose of Kate 🙂

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Posted on Sep 15, 2015
Posted in my life, personal, surfing

Today is our first anniversary. As I sit here, paging through our wedding album, and tell our little one the story of how his/her mom and dad married each other on surfboards out in the ocean, feel free to join us and have a peek at the pages that represent the best day of our life so far.

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We are both simple people. We had always said, when we get married one day, we don’t want it to be a big showy affair. Just simple like us and about our love. So when the stars aligned and the time was just right one day in early September, Jarret proposed the idea of getting married and we decided to just go for it.

For our very first date, we went surfing. Well, Jarret was surfing, I was mostly paddling around trying to catch waves and standing up (with emphasis on “trying”). In-between sets we sat and talked, and that was the beginning of ever after for us, as we became pretty much inseparable ever since that day. We always spent our weekends surfing or otherwise playing in the ocean together, so we thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could get married on our surfboards, in the ocean, the place that means so much to us? Turns out, we could. We planned it in a week, told no one except these photographers I had just met who recently moved here from Australia and seemed spontaneous and into this kind of thing, and on September 15, 2014 we found ourselves paddling out into the waves at one of our favorite and most frequented surf spots, followed by our adventurous officiant.

The rest, as they say, is history – see the album pages below 🙂 Neither one of us has yet regretted getting married like this for one second, and I know we never will, because I don’t think you can go wrong by following your heart. For us, that meant to get married in the most intimate way we could imagine – in a simple way that was about nothing but our love for each other and for the ocean surrounding us.

For our little baby, our other future children, and anyone reading this, I wish for you to follow your heart like we did, in all areas of life. May you have the courage to choose the path that is right for you. There is never only one single right way of doing things, no matter what people and society may try and tell you, and only you know which path is perfect for you.

Thank you Love & Water Photography for readily agreeing to photograph our unconventional elopement, the amazing photos, and the friendship that has followed since that day a year ago. You’ve given us a beautiful gift!

And on the note of photos – please people, print your photos, get books and albums, and hang them on your walls (I don’t care if you order it from your photographer or do it yourself – just do it!). We have looked through this album countless times and can’t wait to watch our children page through it, and one day our grandkids. There is just something about holding it in your hands, and seeing photos on paper instead of a screen. As my husband said when we first got the album, “wow, I thought the photos were impressive before, but seeing them printed is amazing!”.

We will cherish this day and these memories until the end of days, when we’re old and gray, and hopefully still surfing 🙂

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Posted on Jul 17, 2015

Life often feels much like the ocean. Sometimes it’s calm seas, glassy water and smooth sailings. Other times it’s a perfect storm of crashing waves, rip tides and coming up for air just to get sucked right back under.

Between a backlog of photos to edit, moving into our new house, and getting ready for our baby’s arrival, it’s been mostly the latter for me. Yesterday however I went for a quick swim to test out some camera settings, and remembered how much the ocean tends to balance me.

So while I use my renewed energy to catch up on editing, enjoy these hues of blue, and dream of calm oceans. (I used these hues to inspire paint colors for the house but that project will have to wait!)

Oh and don’t mind the little update of my fast-growing belly at the end 🙂

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Posted on May 14, 2015
Posted in my life, personal

Given my fascination with childhood and family connection, I’m sure it doesn’t exactly come as a surprise that motherhood has been on the top of my dream list for a long time (basically since I played “babies” with my dolls).

Every Mother’s Day, I make a compilation blog post featuring some of my favorite motherhood moments from photo sessions that year, and then daydream for a bit about what it must be like to have this special connection only mothers and their children share. I see it with my eyes and heart as I observe and photograph it so often, I can feel it between them, and I know what the child end of it feels like from my own mom. But there’s that mystery left, of how this unconditional love for a child affects your heart as a mother, that only a mother herself can know. That feeling is what I’ve been longing to feel.

This Mother’s Day was different. I now know I’ll get to experience that unconditional love. I was even told I should be celebrating Mother’s Day, despite the fact that our child is only about the size of an avocado (why they compare growing babies to fruits and vegetables is beyond me, but I regress) 🙂

Already overwhelmed by the love I feel for this baby I haven’t met yet, I am beyond excited for my journey into motherhood. I’ve had the fortune to witness much about motherhood through my work, by observing children and families, and I can’t wait to implement what I’ve learned from all these mothers I’m lucky to call my clients and friends. And I’m curious to see how experiencing motherhood will change me as a photographer, and of course as a person.

I’ll be sharing more as time goes on but for now, please excuse me while I go daydreaming about holding our baby in my arms.

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Posted on Apr 06, 2015

5 minutes. That’s all it takes to soak in the salty ocean air, the early morning quietness, and the pastel light of dawn.

And in my case, to realize how lucky I am.

So here you go, soak it in vicariously through me, or get outside and soak in your “ocean”.

Where do you like to enjoy 5 quiet minutes? Feel free to share with me in the comments.

Maui Hawaii Ocean Photography On a side note – I took these photos for an assignment for the NAPCP Photography Retreat I participated in this past January. The assignment was to photograph 5 minutes of our life in a documentary style (I have blogged about the 5 Minute Project before, you can see my previous post and submission to the project here, and visit the 5 Minute Project site for current projects).

Not only was this a great learning experience from a photography standpoint, but it reminded me how important it is not to just appreciate our life and our surroundings, but record them every once in a while. One day in the future when life will be too hectic and I won’t be able to walk to the ocean for 5 minutes pre-sunrise, these images will take me back to how peaceful life felt this morning.

Posted on Jan 31, 2015
Posted in my life, personal, surfing

I’d like to introduce you to this really cool project called the 5 minute project (http://5minuteproject.com). It was started by my friend Dana Pugh (an awesome photographer in the Calgary area), and features some amazing artists, who all document their life 5 minutes at a time, sharing something that matters to them. Because we all can spare 5 minutes, right?

I gave this concept a try for the first time a few weeks ago, and loved it! And was so excited when they decided to feature my photos on the 5 minute project website. This is my favorite photo from it, you can see the whole series here – http://5minuteproject.com/5-minutes-with-barb-toyama/ – and while you’re there I would highly recommend to check out some of the other projects featured.

Below a few words about why I took these photos though I’m pretty sure they mostly speak for themselves 🙂

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We have this little routine that I love – on weeknights after work, whenever possible, we like to grab our boards, walk over to the ocean, and paddle out in the hope of catching a few waves while watching the sun set. Sometimes with friends, sometimes just the two of us, it has quickly become my favorite time of day.

We have this belief that even on a flat day, right around sunset, the ocean sends a few sets of waves towards the shore (we call these the sunset sets – clever I know). Sometimes they happen right at sunset, and other times we sit under the orange sky in the last lingering light and wait a while.

Every single time I’m mesmerized by how beautiful the water looks, glassy and smooth with tones of pink and orange reflecting from the clouds in the sky, the way the setting sun shines through breaking waves, the black silhouette of my love, sitting on his surfboard, hoping for a good wave. And I think, I need to bring my camera and take pictures of this. I don’t ever want to forget this time in our life. I want to remember these days. I want to look at photos and feel the sun on my face and the salt on my lips.

So finally one night I popped my iPhone into its waterproof housing and brought it along, and spent 5 minutes taking photos before surfing a few sunset sets. I love having this memory.

This is my roundabout way to tell you – document your life. Take just 5 minutes here and there to record it. The iPhone will do just fine, if you don’t want to bust out a bigger camera. The main point is, just do it.

What would a 5 minute slice of your life look like? I’d love if you shared with me!

Posted on Dec 31, 2014

Maui Family PhotographerEditing this session on the last day of 2014, I came upon this photo and stopped in my tracks, realizing while technically flawed on many levels, it so perfectly represents my mood today. I’m longing for some time to just be still and reflect on the year that flew by. The year that feels like a blurry whirlwind of constant motion. The year I don’t want to quite let go of yet. The year I got married, the year I grew leaps and bounds both professionally and personally, the year I had the deepest doubts as an artist, yet figured out who I am and what art I need to continue creating going forward, the year I got to meet and connect with fellow photographers who made my little business feel part of a community. If only I could stop time, just for a little bit. In a few short hours 2015 will be here and I’ll need to dive in, ready or not. There’s so much I’ve been wanting to say, to share, many blog posts that were written in my head, and never made it out.

So as time is running out for last words of 2014, I will keep it simple and send out a THANK YOU. Thank you to all my clients, who have trusted me in 2014 and years past, to create photos for them, who blindly trusted my vision without ever meeting me before, who fearlessly let me see their true selves, just they way they were. Thank you to my photography peers, for so much support, encouragement and inspiration. Thank you to my husband, my constant rock of support, who believes in me more than I believe in myself. And thank you to all of you, for reading this, for telling your friends about  my work, for your “likes” and kind words and support.

I am wishing us all a wonderful new year, may it be filled with joy and laughter, may we all remember what matters, be as kind as we can, love a little more, and support those around us. Happy 2015!