Hey, look! I got a camera.

The farmer bought me a camera. It’s a big deal for us because the farmer agreed to date me only if his photo would never show up on my blog. It means a lot to me that he’s buying me a camera which, invariably, will mean more photos of him on the blog.

But also, owning a camera allows me to make photos a big part of my blog; until now, I have only published photos here that other people took. I am excited to see where this leads, but first, I am excited to get better at taking photos and creatively organizing them into photo books. 

My first picture was the morning view from my favorite window in the house.

The farmer’s first picture with the camera was of flowers that Lisa Carnochan sent me. Her blog, Amid Privilege, explores the costs and benefits of living in WASP culture , and the flowers are such a good representation of Lisa’s brand.

Everyone who sees the flowers looks at the farmer and says, “Oh, they’re beautiful, did you get them for Penelope for her birthday?” And he says, “No.”

He can’t believe anyone would buy so many flowers at once when they’re just going to die.

The morning the farmer gave me the camera, I took photos nonstop.

When I put the camera down to make lunch, my son took pictures of himself.

Then I took a picture of him.

After that, he said, about fifty times, “Take a picture of me doing this… take a picture of me now!” We do not have a video camera and we have never really used a camera regularly so my kids do not have that Generation Z sense that they are stars being photographed nonstop. As soon as my son got a whiff of that though, I said, “I don’t want to take your picture. Stop asking.” (So, if you’re wondering what it’s like to have a parent with Asperger’s, I think you just got your answer.)

The windchill that day was negative-thirty. But the farmer says you do farm chores no matter what.

So the kids ran out to pick up the eggs (the yolks were frozen) and make sure the ducks had warm enough water because ducks need to dunk their heads once a day, so you can’t allow the water to freeze.

Then everyone came in for a cozy dinner, at 5pm. And bedtime at 7:30. No kidding. This is life on the farm.

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    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Roberta. I just spent a half-hour on that blog. I found that learning about what her life is like was more interesting than the photographs. Though I confess I would have liked something a little more juicy. Like, why can’t she take pictures of the insides of her dresser drawers or something?


      • Roberta Warshaw
        Roberta Warshaw says:

        Yes, her blog is really interesting. I find it fascinating that she home schools 4 kids of varying ages. I tried home schooling once for about a week. Not my thing at all.
        Glad you are enjoying her blog!

  1. Leah Reynolds
    Leah Reynolds says:

    Penelope! I love the flowers and your photos. You sound happy. Love the colors you’ve chosen for the rooms. The colors say you are at peace. Hope you enjoy your Holiday season. Very warmest regards, Leah Reynolds

  2. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    The problem with Penelope’s posts is that they come to an end way before you want to stop reading them.

    I was also thinking that the flowers would look better in the room with the blue-coloured walls. I love what you’ve done to the place, by the way!

  3. Olivier
    Olivier says:

    I think you did a great job with the color scheme of the farm. I should hire you as a decorator! Unlike Liz, I love those red roses on a red wall: it has such a great “la vie est en rouge!” feel to it. And I second Wendy’s tip: Tim Bray is a good photographer.

  4. Cynthia Wood
    Cynthia Wood says:

    Hi Penelope. I read your blog like a fly on the wall. But I am a photographer so today’s post was especially charming to me. Almost every photographer gets their start because someone gave them a camera at some point in their lives — and you’re either off & running with it…or you’re not. I don’t have a photo blog (yet!), but I do have a website: http://www.cynthiawoodphoto.com, and I also post photos regularly (more like a blog) here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cynnersf/ and here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cynthia-Wood-Photography/318827861250

    Have fun with your new camera! Looking forward to more photos from the farm.

  5. Jeremy Nelson
    Jeremy Nelson says:

    I got back into photography when I bought a new digital camera a couple years ago.

    The sites that I like are DPReview http://www.dpreview.com/ for their equipment/accessory reviews, Strobist http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/ for lighting articles, Digital Photography School http://www.digital-photography-school.com/ has some really good tips on taking pictures and post production.

    I will also go to http://flickr.com and just browse through the latest pictures. When I see ones that I like I will look at the additional camera info to see what they used for settings to get the shot.

    Twitter: @jeremyjnelson

  6. Harriet May
    Harriet May says:

    I’m crossing my fingers for a camera for my birthday next week. My boyfriend keeps saying “I haven’t bought you a present yet, what do you want?” and I keep saying “Just a camera.” I hope that means he bought one ages ago. Also, I love that Lisa actually sent you flowers. I can’t wait for more of your photos.

  7. denise f in c'ville, va
    denise f in c'ville, va says:

    so the pioneerwoman has amazing photography ‘lessons’ and tips on her prolific site. see the photography tag. she has contests and ‘assignments’ for readers to work through.
    i have to say that photography can be as deep as you make it. there are so many ways to play with the settings on cameras now to work with light (besides the dreaded flash). I use ISO setting on my point and shoot a lot and if i can stand still it’s amazing how lit the scene can look.
    i hope photography becomes a passion for you because it’s so expressive and rewarding and you’re in a setting with people, animals, vistas and old wood …. perfect.

  8. Debbie
    Debbie says:

    Hi Penelope, I love the photo of your son reading and the one of chores in the cold. Here’s a photographer I really like because of her incredible use of light and decision to capture “ordinary” moments: http://glennagordon.com/. They have an international development bent but may inspire you too. Have fun! And thanks for sharing your life. Your blog posts often make me think about mine as well.

  9. Siri
    Siri says:

    I really enjoy the pictures on the blog “my funny eye” Very inspirational and although this may sound odd, they relax me.

  10. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    I think I would probably like having a parent with Asbergers. I have a hard time reading indirectness. My husband always tries to do this thing where he asks me if I want him to do something, but what he really means is that he wants me to do it. And I never get it. And he always gets pissed.

  11. Kathy Brecklin
    Kathy Brecklin says:

    Hmmm…..how about a “Trunk” show in 2011??? I know a shop in a small, rural Wisconsin town that would Love, Love, Love to do that for you!!!!

  12. Tanya Lacourse
    Tanya Lacourse says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I have been reading your blog for years and the first time you posted pictures I was disappointed. Not to be an ass but I adore your writing and when you add photos it weakens the story and zaps the imagination.

    I am pretty sure I am better with my camera than with words. Here is a link to my website http://www.violetmarsh.com. I think I am starting a blog this Winter, but first I have to figure out why. I am really interested in color and the simple organization of space.

  13. Brigitte
    Brigitte says:

    Hi Penelope! Oh, you are about to get lost into a wonderful world!

    I learned how to take pictures by buying a book from Nicole Hill Gerulat, a very talented photographer. http://nicolesclasses.bigcartel.com/product/photo-101-textbook-preorder

    Here’s a shot I took while working my way through the book: http://www.flickr.com/photos/covetchicago/4907712853/in/set-72157622891266427/.

    I think Flickr is a wonderful resource for browsing and inspiration. You can join groups that have daily prompts, too, which helps inspire your creativity. Pioneer Woman has a very active group, as well as Mortal Muses.

    Happy shooting!

  14. Sue Miley
    Sue Miley says:

    I started subscribing to this blog just because of the incredible photography http://www.aholyexperience.com/. Really!! Ann married a farmer too. Here is part of her bio. I think you might relate:

    “I'm Ann Voskamp, a plain Ann without even the "e".
    I'm a bit of a mess. It's okay, really. Grace is the most amazing of all.
    I won a full-tuition scholarship to university and never finished.
    I married a Farmer instead & came home to gravel road & cornfields.
    I had babies.
    Half a dozen beautiful babies. My laundry basket is never empty. I lose library books.
    I homeschool our six exuberant kids and most days I feel just a tad bit overwhelmed and very crazy.”

    Well except 6 kids. Don’t do that. But her photography is truly incredible.

    Would love to know what you think?

  15. Kristy
    Kristy says:

    Do you use the eggs even after they’ve cracked and are frozen through? Here in Madison I’ve been throwing them out, but I’m just a new urban farmer, so maybe I don’t know any better.

  16. T.J.
    T.J. says:

    A couple of my favorites:

    * http://www.farmgirlfare.com/ – great farm & food picts
    * http://urbanhomestead.org/journal/category/homestead-happenings/ – highlights a great balance between picts of the farm & the people on it
    * http://safari.nat.org/ – a travel blog who’s pictures I find oddly compelling.

    On a side note, your blog has really been hard to classify – I used to have it filed with my Autism/Aspergers blogs, then it moved to my career/job search blogs, and I think you’re finally going to land with my Farm blogs. Very well rounded!

  17. Beth
    Beth says:

    I read http://mypapercrane.com/ everyday. Heidi Kenney’s a crafter (i am not), buyer of all things vintage and maker of yummy looking food. She is married, has two kids and is constantly updating her blog with what she’s crafted, and also what her most recent thrift store finds are, what types of things she’s baked or cooked lately, and the places she and her family have visited. Her photos are always great looking and really help to tell her story in her blog. Highly recommended.

  18. Judy Perkel
    Judy Perkel says:

    So glad you now have a camera! Taking pictures is an endless creative experience. There are so many photo ops and when you get PhotoShop you will discover a whole new world! Enjoy!

    Artiger aka Paw of the Tiger AKA Judy

  19. Ella
    Ella says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I like your question because I’m dealing with the same issue on how to improve my photography skills.

    I have lots of recommendations for you if you’re looking for cool blogs with beautiful photography. Here are just a few:

    1. pia jane bijkerk has lovely pics of Amsterdam and everything else she comes across.
    2. La Tartine Gourmande is pretty too.
    3. Jak and Jill for street/fashion pics
    4. epa epe from Argentina is neat too.
    5. David Lebovitz has amazing photos from Paris and his food
    6. The Photodiarist for beautiful photos of NYC – both in black and white and colour.
    7. La Flaneuse for an interesting fashion angle.
    8. Matt Bites for food photography, you can link to this from his blog.
    9. At Home At Home has some lovely interior design photography.
    10. What Katie Ate – has stunning food photography from Australia
    11. The Sartorialist and of course Garance Dore for fashion

    I hope that helps. I have links to all of these on my blog as well as many others.

    You can find them here http://www.bighugstudio.blogspot.com
    or just google them…

    Good luck.


  20. BrendaH
    BrendaH says:

    Of all the months I have read your blog, this is the most earnestly sweet thing I’ve ever read here. Have a happy holiday season.
    -from another freezing midwesterner.

  21. Erin
    Erin says:

    I love this blog half because of her topics and half because of her photography: http://www.emersonmerrick.blogspot.com/
    I love her pictures because she does a lot of close-ups. I like what she chooses to focus on – she sees that ordinary things become beautiful because of their surroundings, or the light they’re sitting in. She’s got an eye for the details. Plus, they’re just…beautiful pictures. :)

  22. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    Penelope, thank you so much. It is my privilege to be here on your blog. I too like the chores in the snow, as the running guy makes me feel just how cold it must be. I am very happy to see you turning your eye to photography, as I’m doing the same thing and I can’t imagine but that your perspective will be original, funny, and odd. Also full of good links. Speaking of which, my favorite photo blogs aren’t strictly photo blogs, but ones in which artists take pictures of what they do and love. In particular, http://bit.ly/gc8Xen, and http://bigbangstudio.blogspot.com/. On the other hand, http://bit.ly/eZJyzw takes classic interior shots and if you contact her she will be really helpful with advice.

    Again, thank you very much. Privilege is a concept that can be understood in many different ways.


  23. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    YAY! I love the few pictures of the farm that you’ve already posted before – it looks gorgeous. Can’t wait to see more. (Also, I didn’t know that ducks need to dunk their head every day – that’s the something new that I’ve learnt today!)
    Just wondering: a lot of bloggers use some sort of photoshop on their photos (just to fix brightness, contrast, etc) what’s your take on that? Or more specifically, do you think that you’ll use it too?
    Some of the blogs that I follow with A LOT of photos in them (though they’re not photography blogs) are http://healthytippingpoint.com and http://ohsheglows.com

  24. Maria
    Maria says:

    I couldn’t read all the comments, so if I’m redundant…sorry.

    Now you need to start a “my life on the farm” blog. But I think it requires you start to homeschool. Or go really cutting edge and unschool. Take pictures, blog it, write a best selling book sharing your lifestyle tips etc. I know, I know, it’s been done, but you could do it with quirk and sass.

    To the point: Your pictures made me homesick. You have snow, we don’t. You have below freezing. We don’t. You go to bed at 7:30. We don’t. Where is my winter season, anyway?? I never thought I’d say I miss cows and pigs, but I kind of do…..say ‘hey’ to them for me.

  25. LP
    LP says:

    Please, please don’t do that thing bloggers do where they turn their blog platform (which is usually built on some winning combination of good writing, good topics, and unique viewpoint) into a way of making people look at their photos – it’s so reminiscent of when your colleague gets back from vacation and makes you look at the 507 scenic photos they took out the car window. By all means, post your photos on Flickr or somewhere, and let people know where to find them.

    (I love this blog, but can’t possibly keep reading it if there’s going to be a slideshow with each post.)

  26. Jessie
    Jessie says:

    I can’t lie-this post, plus the Working Mom post earlier this week, looks like if you have became to that Pioneer Woman chick everybody here loves but I find lame.
    When are you going to spin off this blog from Brazen Careerist?
    PS – Nice pictures, though. It’s just that this is not my thing.

  27. Tzipporah
    Tzipporah says:

    I second the farmgirlfare recommendation, and add Blue Lily (http://bluelily.squarespace.com/). Granted, they’re professional photographers. What they do that I love:

    1. Take ordinary people, ordinary moments, and stop time. For the space of one photo, there is nothing in the world except that person in the camera sights.

    2. Create extraordinary moments. They also take people away from their ordinary surroundings and put them in new ones, so you can really see THEM, and not just the contents and clutter of their everyday lives.

  28. Mel Brackstone
    Mel Brackstone says:

    You’re doing great with the camera, but I have to say the farmer pushed it past it’s limit a little :) There is a minimum distance to get focus, and the camera hasn’t managed to get that focus on the flowers….once you get used to that you’ll be able to get proper focus….cameras these days are sooo smart, they think they know best, so it’s focussed on the wall behind and said, yup, that’ll do! You need to take charge and watch where that little light in the viewfinder is flashing….that’ll tell you wehre it wants to focus :) Love the scenery around your place!

  29. rb
    rb says:

    Like others, I love the photography on the pioneer woman and dooce. I think both slightly overexpose their shots, but that feels very modern to me.

    I am a terrible photographer – I mostly just use my blackberry camera. I worry my kids are growing up with only grainy, random shots of themselves when all of their friends have entire catalogs of photos to look back upon.

    Lastly, I love how the new paint colors turned out in your home. I had my doubts when you decided to paint the wood, but it ended up loking very fresh and put-together. I’m glad you went with what you thought would make you happy there.

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