Finding My Visual Language

Any handmade, small business adventurer will tell you the hardest thing about start up is choosing a name and choosing a brand.  Although I found my name almost two years ago and am still quite pleased, it’s been a process finding the visual language that is appropriate for the product, appropriate for me, and can be used in multiple ways to accentuate not just one product, but many.

There are more than a few Etsy shops that have a visual language that they stick with that truly works for them.  Two of my favorites (and Etsy superstars who also happen to be part of the “MaineTeam“) are Rocky Top Soap Shop and Long Winter Farm.  Just visit those links and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So when I was preparing displays for a craft show last week a big, fancy light bulb went on above me and all of a sudden I knew it!  It had been right there all along.  The finish on the back of my bottle caps is a dappled paint in a variety of colors meant to complement the image on the front.  If photography and that pattern exist side by side in my product why wouldn’t I feature it in my background?  Yes!  So I spray painted some tins from the holidays and set them up to sell last weekend with considerable success, since it was a super nice day and not a lot of indoor craft shoppers were milling around.

Then, this weekend when I sat down to shoot some more product to put in my Etsy shop I was pleased to discover the tins work just as well as a background!  Observe:

Milwaukee's Finest Set of 2 Barrettes - $10 at Little Eye Designs on Etsy

Beasts of Burden - Set of 2 Barrettes, $10 at Little Eye on Etsy

The Good Samaritan - Set of 2 Barrettes from Little Eye on Etsy $10

 So, see?  I think it works.  The cool thing is I can spray paint new backgrounds to change with the season and the items themselves as needed.  Really looking forward to playing more with this, but I finally feel like I’m on the right track with my shop ‘look’ and branding.

I would love to know what you think!

Love Like Hers and a Lobster Boat, too.

It wouldn’t matter if I went blind tomorrow because the ancient expression on her young, young face has been scratched in to my memory.  I don’t generally post little kid pictures on the internet because there’s this thing where they have no choice, yet, but already by the time they are ready to be interested in the internet they have an internet presence.  It’s weird!  Like a million little child stars or something.  But I had to make an exception because I like the composition, K’s expression, and the fact that even in bright mid-day sun one can still catch amazing light with enough tiny, little curls.

This picture comes from a series of images I took when the Northhaven/Isle au Haut branch of our family was in town.  Family visit got coupled with boat-buying excursion and my 15-year-old cousin purchased a lobster boat with the money he’d earned hand-hauling traps for the last three years.  Congratulations, Ethan!

Captain Ethan

We’re so proud of him and I’m looking forward to playing sternman for a day if I can manage to get over the bucket-as-a-bathroom system and invest in a gallon of sunscreen before we head out.  Either that or I can come along and take pictures like these:

The Wheel

Some Levers


From the Archives: Moody Art Student


Would that I could show you the rest of this picture without breaking some questionable content rules that WordPress most likely has.  This, a self-portrait, was taken in the Brighton apartment right off of Commonwealth Ave.  I’m glad of it and the reason are threefold:

1)  Being a photographer, I rarely have good pictures taken of me.  This is unfortunate, because I love looking good and having it frozen forever in time.  Even here, I had to do it myself.  Somehow I always end up dating musicians and not photographers…

2)  Look at my sassy attitude.  That was a good time for me because it was about three months after a break up so the bad parts were over and the good parts (being a sassy lassie) were starting.

3)  The part of this picture you can’t see is smokin’ and should be printed and posted somewhere around, on or near my running sneakers.  Seriously, what happened to my body in the last four years??  Buffalo chicken happened.

Metal Feathers in the Bollard

Local band and friends o’ mine, Metal Feathers, landed the cover of The Bollard this month with some photographs from Little Eye Designs (aka Audrey Hotchkiss).  Here are some shots from the shoot:

Cover Photo, on its side. Woops!

Althea and Jay

Destroy Derek!

Inside Photo (Original) that got chopped up (artfully)


For the record, photographing bands or really any number of people larger than ‘1’ and it’s pretty much like trying to wrangle cats.  I’d like to work on that (placing multiple figures in the frame) and see how their placements affect the overall product.  But, for now, I just have some awesome pictures of my friends.  That’ll do just fine!

A Heap o’ Accomplishments

Oooh-la, what a week.  About Wednesday (blizzard day) I got hit with the winter doldrums, big time.  Really honestly for the last four days it’s all I can do to get out of bed before noon and make food for myself.  I’ve been infected by Kate’s love of cheesy lifetime movies and it’s really not helping my case at all.  In fact, I’m watching one now.

While I learn the real life story of Andrew Luster, MAX Factor Heir (and sex criminal) I thought I’d jot down my progress this week… to remind me that no matter how lazy I am I’m still pretty darn productive!

Weddings! Oh, I’d like to book some more 2011 dates – if you know anyone getting hitched, send ’em my way — here’s what I’ve been working on this week:

Boutonierre Fastening

Newly Married!

All About the Details

I’ve been working on prints, framed pieces and albums from orders from a wedding I shot last year.  Fun!  It’s like reliving the day and all its touching moments — I’m not afraid to admit I am the wedding photographer that cries every time (every.time.) the bride walks down the aisle.  Hormones or just naturally sensitive – who knows?  🙂

New things. For awhile now I’ve been thinking about (and talking about) trying something new with the jewelry.  I love my bottle caps, and I’m going to be churning them out in magnets and pins to no end… but I wanted to class up the necklaces and rings a bit… and also try out earrings!  Here are some pictures from the first run:

Birches and Blue Sky Ring and Earring set – $18 by Little Eye Designs on Etsy.
Dill Shadows – The Herbalist’s Ring $9 by Little Eye Designs on Etsy.
Lights and Lines Filigree Pendant and Drop Earrings Set – $25 by Little Eye Designs on Etsy.

Craft fair. Super sweet!  The BIG THAW applications keep showing up on my doorstep and it’s amazing to see all the talented people who want to spend a whole day with me!  Click here for The BIG THAW website.

Also… I’m guilty more than anyone of keeping to myself in the winter time.  No matter how good your intentions of ‘finally taking up snowshoeing’ or ‘getting out more this year’ at the beginning of December you will always, always be holed up in your second-story apartment waiting, just waiting for the cold to go away.  This weekend I overcame!  It was Kate Sullivan-Jones‘ birthday and we had lots of fun (and whiskey) at her apartment.  Here’s a pic of me there with friends and wearing an awesome t-shirt (that got lots of compliments) that I traded a photograph for with Repurposeful Punk.

Click for Carmenmerie of Repurposeful Punk’s Shop.

Oh!  And here is a shot of my photograph in her living room.  Looks great, Carmenmerie!

Brighton Lights in Winter - $25 Framed Print by Little Eye Designs.

OK, everyone, back to work for me tomorrow morning so time to hit the hay.  What have you all been working on this week?  Leave links below, if you’d like!

Photography: Bringin’ it Back

Brighton Red Lights in Winter - 10 inch Framed Photograph

Happy snowy Wednesday to you all!  Yes, I am eating chocolate cream pie in bed.  Which usually leads my mind to wander.  Today it wandered to a place where I pondered the path I took to get where I am, creatively, today.

The road to arts (and crafts, still getting used to saying that without feeling a little self-conscious) started over a dozen years ago in a 6th grade classroom which by the grace of God had a darkroom in it.  With volunteers to help teach us to shoot.  Thank you, Yarmouth Public Schools.

And in brief, a high school curriculum laden with foundation arts in 2D and 3D, further darkroom experience/obsession and a whim of an application to the Massachusetts College of Art led me to 4 years of intense photographic study.

Pink Flower in Tree - Not Yet Listed

But when I was released something really surprising happened:  I had no desire to think about anything, develop concept, make artwork:  nothin’.  So I spent awhile in a very boring series of jobs (restaurant manager, furniture saleslady, and so on) before the urge started to bubble back up again.

I moved back to Maine in ’08, and all of a sudden wanted to shoot again!  Only after a couple years of cogitating and hemming and hawing about prices for various creations, a massive bottle cap diversion, and plenty of handmade afghans later I’m starting to list these bad boys on Etsy.

I Love You Outhouse - 10 inch Framed Photograph

Check back to my Etsy shop periodically for more listings.  Right now pink and red is all the rage because apparently we love each other so damn much.  But I’ll be putting little surprises in there every now and again, so don’t be a stranger!

ALSO.  I’ve got oodles of wedding photography experience. Over the next few days I’ll be adding a few shots from all the weddings I’ve manned with a camera and if you have any friends getting married in the Maine/New England area, send them my way!  I shoot alternately between medium format film (with a vintage camera) and digital.  Best of both worlds.  More to come on that…

Art Show Euphoria

In case you happen to be strolling down Congress St. in the month of October, in case you happen to luck up and see a big picture window with lush gray walls and a crystal chandelier, and finally in case you happen to see a neat little row of perfectly square photographs hanging on said wall, well why not go up there?

here's something you might see through that window

Because those are MY photographs hanging at the gallery above Harmon’s & Barton’s (at 584 Congress St., across from Paul’s) and you should definitely pop up and see.  Accompanying these 35-ish prints (all for sale, all affordable) is a selection of pins, magnets and jewelry by yours truly. No, I can never let anything be simple.  🙂  H&B will be selling both forms of artwork through the month of October.  Wow wow!  I am a lucky girl.

and here's something that will go around your neck!

I can’t say enough goodness about my experience planning, hanging and showing here.  The staff is amazing, accommodating and the night of the opening they designed floral arrangements to show alongside the work!  So even if you’re not in the market for a photograph or a necklace, why not just give those lovely people something to do and buy a bunch of mums for the porch or a bouquet of greens for someone you think is cute.  Flower artists, these people.  I am in awe.

Pictures of Behbehs!

Becoming an aunt came with lots of fun extras:  recapturing hide-and-seek as a normal passtime, random (free) babysitting opportunities, and diaper changing poo-review.  All these and more were worth it to have a 24/7 built in baby girl to take pictures of.

she cannot stop me from snapping!

My lofty goals as a an ‘art photographer’ have dissolved in the mid-to-late 20’s overload of weddings, births and kids growing up.  Dreams of showing cerebral work in underground galleries made way for snapping portraits of thoughtful babies for family photo albums.

C. doing "Kisses"

But because I can do both of these simultaneously (lofty goals, humble portraits) I’m feeling pretty excellent about spending time with these vertically challenged, incredibly observant fresh little human people.


Portrait sessions, FYI, are $120, last about an hour to an hour and a half at a location of your choosing and include a CD of high resolution images that you can print to your heart’s delight.  I photograph using a Mamiya C330 twin lens camera ca. 1970s-80s. using medium format film.  Negatives are available for purchase, in addition to the CD, if you’d like.

With the holidays coming up these might be a really nice something to slip in with the the gifts to Grandma, Grampy and everyone else.

And for the DIY crowd out there, some simple tips for photographing kids:  get down low, be on their level.  Try not to overly engage the child you’re photographing – images taken when they’re ‘doing their own thing’ will be a lot more honest and less forced.  Lastly, bring some props that the little bean won’t mind using – i.e. a big lollipop, a bubble machine or a radio flyer:  the list goes on.  Keep the composition simple and focused on what’s important and you’re sure to make some winners.