Third Space, Second Time Round

They say practice what you preach.
Do it. Just do it.

I know this week I am far from that goal. My intentions of writing here regularly have already been swamped by extra work and family demands. My commitment to writing and doing something I love seems to wane under external pressures. I am not fighting for the right to have me time and pursue something that I know is good for me.

Yet here I am in an awkward before school moment writing. I have been up since five this morning to assist Miss 15 get ready for a school excursion. My brain is on, I feel wired.

But here is the thing – there are competing ideas swirling in my brain and I feel like a kid running around with a net chasing butterflies that continue to escape. Each idea is elusive, close but not really in my grasp.

I am reminded of Dr Adam Fraser’s The Third Space. I have introduced this to my year 12 students and encouraged them to apply the idea. In fact I am sure I have blogged about this before.

Now it is time for me to find that third space.

Having it all Kinda Sucks


 There are mommy blogs, parenting websites, teaching articles and lifestyle writers who clog up your social media feed with pretty pics. I am guilty of following it all. Sometimes it is great inspiration, other times it is eye candy on some days there is a tip worth implementing that saves me stress and time with the kidlets. And then there is an article that literally stops you in your tracks. Put down your coffee cup, stop multitasking and read the article fully. S.L.O.W.L.Y.

Amy Westervelt’s raw and candid article about working from home days after the birth of her second child puts the whole “Work Life Balance Debate” in perspective. Well, at least a new framework for women to ponder. A challenge. A reprimand perhaps. A reflection.

I would really love to know what you think about Amy’s insights. Here is a sneak peak:

Here’s what I think is going on: this whole “having it all” business has been grossly misinterpreted by our society at large. The purpose of all that bra burning back in the 60s was to give women choices. You wanna have sex without getting pregnant? Cool, hit that. You’re pregnant but in no position to raise a baby (or were sexually assaulted and impregnated, or are pregnant with a severely ill or deformed baby, or any number of other scenarios)? No problem, you can choose not to have that baby. You want to go to work? Do it! You want to stay at home and raise kids? Great. You want to do a little bit of both? Groovy. You want to be stylish and wear makeup? Or frumpy and never wash? Hey, you do you.
Doing all of it at the same time was never the idea. By that definition, single working moms have been “having it all” for ages and yet society does not hold the single working mom up as the goal for women everywhere. No, no, that’s just what happens when you’re poor and have no choice. Except actually, that’s what happens to all but the very very rich when you encourage women to work and have children but don’t change any other part of the world they live in.
No woman (or man, for that matter) ever said, hey, you know what would be great? If I could get up at 5am, make breakfast for everyone, then get dressed (with heels, natch), drop my kids off at daycare, go to work for 10 hours, pick the kids up, come home, cook dinner, clean up, put the kids to bed, work in bed ’til midnight so I don’t get behind at work, then do it all again tomorrow on 5 hours sleep.

Even if your life does not look like the rat race described above, you may catch yourself doing crazy stupid things that require great juggle and execution, for NO reason. Well at least no good reason you can recall when you took on that new job, volunteer position, art class, extra study load or the books for the family farm. No good reason.

The truth is we often get ourselves caught up in the extreme sport of family life work balance. We add more and more to the do list, we fail to stop doing anything and then we wonder why we are exhausted, sleep deprived, have no energy for sex, love and an adult conversation. And usually all of things we are doing are GOOD things.

Our capacity to keep giving and keep juggling is limited. But on most days we fail to acknowledge that very fact. Our smartphone out smarts us here. Our smartphone knows what capacity it has – 67% battery life left. It also slows down when we leave too many apps open and occasionally it will glitch and freeze. Me – I am not sure I could tell you how much battery life I have left. I assume I can do it all, always. And then I wonder why I struggle to get out of bed of a morning or why I cannot listen to three conversations at once on the car ride home from school.

Amy Westervelt’s confession about having it all has got me thinking again. About how I can be my best, how I can thrive in the place I have been called to be now. And not succumb to the grand ideas of chasing it all at once when my battery is about to die. How about you?

Work Life Balance

In the last few weeks I have had several conversations with women who find the daily juggle of work and life overwhelming. Some women are too busy to recognise that they are not paying enough attention to their health, their partner, their children. Others are mindful of everything that they are not doing – they are not present with their kids, they are not physically available to help anyone. They have blinkers on, to do lists tattooed to their forehead and very little room for error. But I have experienced this first hand in recent weeks. Sickness, fatigue all conspire to push you over the edge and each ball comes tumbling down. Who thought of this juggling anyway?  

At the same time I know that control quickly, cunningly becomes our idol. We are more interested in staying in control than achieving any meaningful sense of balance. My ability to control ‘life’ is more important than how I love my husband, how I serve my kids, how I help my neighbour. If you cannot let go of all the balls you have in the air, for fear of failure or disappointment then you need to talk to a trusted friend. And this is me, right now, today. Too many balls and tight ropes. Most of which I have contrived to put in place. @#&%&!

Noone achieves  a work life balance. There is no such thing. We are called in this life to be all that we can be for His glory. One ball at a time. One day at a time. For He is in control.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9

Conversations with Creative Women – Danielle Thomas

Danielle Thomas

It has been such a pleasure to be able to interview the very talented Danielle Thomas. I love learning about what drives creative women and how they are able to pursue their passions whilst raising a family. Danielle offers a candid and honest take on how her successful business “Danielle Thomas Photography” has developed and some new ventures that you are sure to want to be a part of, including a blog reader promotion! Read the interview carefully – a fabulous offer awaits you!

What is ‘Danielle Thomas Photography’ ?

Danielle Thomas Photography is candid, true, fresh photography. It’s an experience; it’s a wedding, a family, a moment, a new adventure.
Most importantly it’s real. It’s far from posed or created. It may be enticed or encouraged but never posed.
Danielle Thomas photography is unique and instinctive. Imagine the timeliness of natural lighting combined with sweet, mischievous, honest faces.

I want each of my clients to leave their session feeling the love that sometimes can only been seen by others around us. I also want images that are modern enough to grace the cover of a magazine, timeless enough for to cherish forever and most importantly real. This is all a delicate balance.

Do you remember the first photograph you ever took?

I remember having a Kodak 110 film camera in my late primary days, grade 6 actually. It was pink (totally not me) and mum and dad gave it to me for Christmas. I thought ‘I’ was Christmas with this thing. Its flash would blind you and the noise it made when it was winding onto the next frame was so totally cool! As for the photo I think it was of some goldfish in a pond on our Grade 6 camp.I actually think I still have the picture in print.
The images this gorgeous little snapper took have today’s popular iPhone Instagram appeal to them. When I think back to this camera and actually see the appeal of owning one again, for fun. Your images are not always perfect, far from it but they are TRUE to that moment, very live and instinctive.

Where did you grow up and how did family life and your home influence how you “see” the world?

I grew up in Hamilton. I went to George Street Primary School and Hamilton High School. My parents are both exceptionally hard working which instilled in me an importance of a work ethic. Life for us was about family and fun.

Can you identify a particular moment when you realised that photography was your real passion?

Ooh ooh I love this question I have wanted to be a photographer since I was 6 years old (LOL).I loved photo’s. That’s about it. I loved photographs. If i went to a strangers home and there were albums on a shelf or side table I wouldn’t be able to help myself.

I was given a SLR camera from my husband Troy, it was the first Christmas we shared together. I remember sitting looking at the box with my mouth open, mind spinning “how did he know I would love this, oh how ridiculously expensive, how do i use it, this is crazy…. OMG! I GAVE HIM SHORTS!”

Now to look back on my days at school (all of it) I was not an academic and honestly will admit to only just passing my VCE. I can see myself, laughing, doodling on my pages, staring out the window. Dolly magazine hidden in my school books so I could read it in class. Colour, fashion, trends.
I can now identify myself as being visual and creative, much to the frustration of my teachers and peers back then who didn’t deal well with visual and creative learners. So it comes to no surprise to me that the gift of a camera unlocked the visual and creative me.

The power of photography has never ceased to amaze me. The ability to fit a couple’s love story within a single frame, a family adventure stopped in time to be relived forever, to shape the way we see one another, see ourselves; it’s quite a magical thing.

At what point did you know that you wanted to work as a professional photographer?

I started shooting everything that I could initially: birds, shoes, fences, nails, holidays.I read my manual cover to cover. The manual for all my lenses, flashes and so on. I read blogs, tutorials, posted in forums, pimped my lack of ability to anyone on the web who was willing to help.I watched you tube tutorials until all hours of the night, photoshop, light room, depth of field, f/stops, iso, light, histograms. I was obsessed because it was finally something that could power my brain like nothing before it. It was so mentally satisfying.
I would read. Shoot. watch. Shoot. listen. Shoot

I would get a lot of feedback on my images. Then I started to look at what I was doing with my images and that it was not just taking a picture on Auto, I was aware of composition and exposure. I would ask what people ‘didn’t like about my images rather than what they did like. I would work on it day and night until I had it right.

So to answer this, I will be really honest and say that it ‘just happened’, I didn’t set out to be a professional photographer. I didn’t see it coming.
The day came when I was asked to photograph a wedding by my sister- in -laws Aunty who knew me and liked what she saw. I did. It all clicked. The ‘ah ha’ moment. 

As a working mother how do you balance family life with a hectic schedule dealing with client photo shoots?

Balance is a very tricky thing to describe. What is one mother’s balance is another mother’s worst nightmare…lol
Troy, Zane and Rubi are number one. All else follows along.
I answer emails and do little tasks throughout the day whilst searching for missing jigsaw puzzles or rescuing a lego man’s head before its eaten for lunch my the Rubi monster.We play, farm, adventure, all the regular things that happen in a busy house.
Once they are in bed at night then I start my day as a photographer. Email, blog, edit, confirm, marketing, create until about 10.30 – 11pm.
When it comes to weddings we have plenty of warning and Troy the super dad steps in there. Shoots for families are usually weekends and my mum is fabulous, if Super dad is away.
Our little farm also takes up some time, it’s on top of everything so it demands attention from Troy so I am fortunate to also have our fabulous neighbour, who provides private care, who we adore and she is my saviour for anything through the week. I do get asked a lot ‘how do you find the time’ and have felt judged on few occasions which is a horrible feeling, and something that one mum should never do to another. Balance between career and family life is not an easy thing, but there is a middle ground, not too much and not too little.
I love being a stay at home mum… but I also love to do it my way (of course).

How do you engage your clients to capture them at their best?

I have one hard and fast rule I follow with portraits and weddings. IF IT’S NOT HAPPENING, DONT TRY TO CREATE IT! My style of photography is candid. Photojournalistic. It’s raw and needs to just be happening in front of me. Weddings fit this really well. Portrait sessions can be a little more work in that you need a bit more time. You need to give families space, distance and a few moments to be themselves. I have games and tricks I use to help little people relax and they are usually at the expense of the parents.

Do you have a ‘niche’ market that you are targeting with your photographic style and business ethos?

I have not really set out to target a ‘niche’ so to speak. I have very much let my client base lead me in a direction.

Last wedding season has seen big growth for me, word of mouth and some selective marketing see’s me going into the coming season very close to fully booked (yes, every weekend). I have had a lot of demand from Melbourne and Geelong brides for Winter weddings for 2013 so that will see the treasured 3-4 month winter break being invaded which is very exciting (maybe not for super dad)

Portraits are again a selective market. I am predominantly a natural light photographer. I have a strong regular family base which is great and I love seeing them come back again.

Have you ever had a seriously funny or embarrassing moment trying to get a great shot?

Touch wood not yet. But I am sure like everything my time will come…. I have witnessed some pretty hilarious moments on the other side of the camera, I guess in a movie they would be the outtakes or bloopers, like the too cool sister of the bride who gave us grief (including the bride) all day leaving the loo with her skirt tucked into her best Bridget Jones undies is a sight that still makes me chuckle…

How do you stay up to date with what is happening in the industry?
Being visual I research… well my research is magazines or web tutorials, forums, groups.I often find I have a random moment when I am meant to be editing that all of a sudden I realise I have clicked my way into a maze of interesting web links and blogs. I have also made a promise to myself that I will attend a workshop or professional development event annually, irrespective of how much I may ‘need’ it, they make for fabulous networking and I always think that its worth it if you come away with one thing…. just one new item, process, idea, thought, project, skill… at worst a peaceful nights sleep!

As an artist do you have photographers that you admire? How have they influenced your work?

Photography is a field that you can literally be inspired by all everyone, you can appreciate what it has taken to get that image.
A photographer that keeps my measure would be Meaghan Cook, whom I know and adore and has played a pivotal point in building my business and me as a photographer, she is also candid with her shooting style.
Jasmine Star who is a award winning wedding photographer in California USA, who I emailed many moons ago with a myriad of questions (some quite nosy) and was in ore when she not only replied but had taken the time to stop by my website, critique what I had asked and provide me with over 1000 words of wisdom and direction. Photographer Jodie Knell. We met about 4 years ago at a workshop and connected instantly, together we have had failures, accomplishments, tears, babies and we maintain a constant vigil at each other’s professional doors.

What can we expect from DT Photography in the future? How do you envisage your business developing in the next few years?

Well…..  I am currently in the process of finishing ‘The Outdoor Studio’ here in Tarrington. It has been a project over the last 12 – 18 months with a further 2-3 years ahead until fully complete.
Come this Spring you will be able to come visit for all sessions. On one large acre here in Tarrington set amongst our gorgeous bush setting. We have a range of settings perfectly designed for photography, with some very unique main features.
It’s very exciting to think that my clients will be able to arrive, walk through the gate and adventure around and I will just follow. It will offer a portrait experience that is unique to western victoria. Little people and families will feel relaxed and shoots will be candid and unposed. It will have very interesting settings that will be intriguing to little people, couples, singles, brides and grooms.  There are specific settings for newborn shoots that are naturally lit and wondrously whimsical.
Little Boys can adventure and Little Girls can skip and play. Couples can laze and relax and families can just be ‘families’

All the while I can stand back and let it all unfold, capturing the true essence of what their lives were like at that very moment. I am so excited about The Outdoor Studio.

If I could deliver anyone at all to your studio who would you most like to photograph?

Hugh Jackman. (remember I am visual. Not academic lol)

And finally, do you like having your photograph taken?

I don’t dislike it but I don’t loooove it. I really don’t do it enough, which was highlighted when Zane needed a picture of the two if us for kinder and I didn’t have one, we had to execute the less than perfect selfie. (note to self: get family portraits)

Danielle is offering blog readers a very special offer on a Family Session. (RRP $250) The session includes  a print gift pack (1 x20″x30″, 1 x 16″x20″, 1 x 8″x10″) for $200.
Conditions Apply: Location-Tarrington, Victoria. Book before 30th September 2012
Email Danielle with the code word : Tarrington.

danielle thomas photography
a: po box 85 tarrington, victoria, 3301
p: {03} 55711632 m: 0438803422

wander by my website  or follow me on facebook or pinterest

Interview with Jasmine Mansbridge Part 2

Yesterday I introduced you to Jasmine Mansbridge and her artwork. One of the things that I am really interested in is how busy, creative people find time to balance life. I am super impressed by her discipline to paint and the way the process of creating offers Jasmine peace and ‘quiet space’ to reflect. It is probably that quiet space you and I crave. Enjoy!
How do you find time to balance family life and the creative process?

Balance is something I have to work on daily to achieve. I exercise as often as I can, usually early in the morning; it clears my mind and gets me ready for the day. Without it I get grumbly and my head gets jumbly! I also try and paint every day, in the middle of the day when my little ones are napping. It is a matter of just stepping away from the house work etc… which will never ever be completely done anyway! Even just two hours a day equals 14 hours a week. My paintings are intricate and take a lot of time so I have to just be consistent and patient to see them completed. I also don’t over commit as that makes me a stress head, which isn’t fair on my family. 

At the end of a day I cook and we eat together as a family 90 percent of the time. This helps me unwind. I have a great husband who helps with the menial stuff and easily does his 50% at home. When the day is done I pretty much always pray and kind of review what has gone on in my day and thank God for my amazing, blessed life.

What project are you working on right now?

I am having a solo show opening this Friday 21st October. I have started two new pieces to help me transition when that’s done. I have lots of ideas, short term/long term, and then BIG dreams! I have loved working collaboratively with other textile artists using my fabric, for the Red Scissors Project. I would like to play around with this idea further, re upholstering retro chairs would be a good start. I would like to exhibit in Melbourne in the next 18 months, and also at 24hr Art in Darwin in the future. Big dreams are a show in Berlin & Tokyo and to travel and photograph houses/homes all round the world.. and that’s probably enough for this interview.