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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  1. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    I get the novelty of a new camera, it’s like archiving history in a single click. My family fled Somalia and had to leave all of our Life Artifacts behind. So I don’t know what my older siblings looked like as babies or never saw my parent’s wedding pictures or what my grandfather looked like. Because of this, I am that annoying person in my family who is always, always taking pictures and recording big, little and mundane moments.

    Sure it’s annoying NOW, but trust they’ll thank me in the highly unprobable likelihood we need to chase down another midnight flight out of mayhem.

    But yeah, beautiful photos. It isn’t necessarily a blog but a Flickr stream I subscribe in a folder I labeled: Inspiration.

    It’s called Dairy of a Book-Lover:


  2. Scott @ MusikPitch
    Scott @ MusikPitch says:

    My sister always has amazing photos on her blog. She uses an older camera that we got her for Christmas one year but it works well. They are always pictures of her crazy food so always make me hungry: http://heathereatsalmondbutter.com.

    I think her secret is good lighting and always getting close. She also takes a lot of pictures from outside trying to take advantage of the sunlight.

    Take care Penelope.

  3. A Gift Wrapped Life
    A Gift Wrapped Life says:

    I have been reading your blog for ages and find it quite entertaining and informative but I never once thought if I sent you one of my gift wrapped-to the-hilt gifts would you mention me on your blog. Hey, but let me know if you do ever need something gorgeous and special and I would be happy to send on to the farm. they really are kind of special and so are you (no mention needed). Happy Holidays and enjoy the new camera. XO

  4. Dave
    Dave says:

    Of course National Geographic is a great place to get awesome photographs that one can stare at endlessly, but instantly I thought you’d make reference to Annie Leibovitz. Especially the part where she’s either refusing to (or just not getting around to) paying her bills. I kind of admire her for that since always living by the banks’ rules seems to just feed the machine. If we could only capture greed on film…

  5. Jules Doty
    Jules Doty says:

    Check out this photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloughridge/

    Not only does she take amazing photos, but she tells you what equipment she uses, etc. Just looking at her pictures gives me great ideas for the kinds of images I’d like to have in my own life. Congrats on your camera. Don’t ever become a camera snob. The best camera is the one you have with you. Enjoy!

  6. Buckeroomama
    Buckeroomama says:

    I came over from Lisa’s blog. She is the definitely one of the most gracious bloggers that I know. Lovely roses!

    Congratulations on your new camera! My husband just got me my first DSLR, too, as an early Christmas gift. :)

    If you want to learn more about photography, I would highly recommend http://www.iheartfaces.com. I’ve learned so much from the wonderful community of photographers/photo enthusiasts and hobbyists found over there. They have weekly photo challenges and they have tutorials, etc. One of my absolute favorite photo blogs is http://thebonnie5.blogspot.com/. Her photos are always clean snd sharp and she offers wonderful tutorials as well. Happy surfing. :)

  7. lb
    lb says:

    I love dooce’s photos — their comical/whimsical nature seem to capture her personality perfectly.

    As for yours, I love the tranquil shots of the farm: they offer a nice, quiet counterpoint to my hectic DC ratrace. Also love the shots of your sons, esp the ones when theyre playing with the farmer or with the animals – just being boys growing up on a Wisco farm.

  8. Van
    Van says:

    Surely you’ve seen Soulemama’s pics? I don’t want even like kids much and I love her photos of her children and their daily colorful/crafty lives. (They live on a farm, too.)

    She uses natural light to capture clean, clear, and colorful photos. Daily “life as a full-time crafter” type blog.

    Another lifestyle blog written a successful young designer/boutique owner. Her blog became so successful that she was about to start her own brick and mortar business from it. Lots of photos of vintage things, very girly.

    I don’t like fashion blogs, but sea of shoes has consistent creative and high quality “outfit of the day” photos. All taken my the blog written herself with her DSLR and its corresponding remote.

    Looking forward to seeing your photos. Make “mistakes”, try unique angles and perspectives just like you do with your writing. This yields the best photos.

  9. Joni Thomas Doolin
    Joni Thomas Doolin says:

    Penelope I love the fact that you are using pictures in your blog – it makes your posts even more vibrant – the farm is beautiful, your home is beautiful, and even though you keep saying happiness doesn’t count – you do sound and look “happy” :-) I hope you have your most peaceful holiday season ever. Joni

  10. MikeS
    MikeS says:

    National Geographic has amateur photo winners in several categories combined with critiques from the pros… as they say a picture is worth a thousand worlds, especially those recognized to be of ‘excellence’.

  11. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    I frequent this blog with photos. Since her twins have gotten mobile and her job heated up she doesn’t post as much as she used to.

    And I find this photo salon community to be interesting: http://www.utata.org/

    I’m not much for fawning, but I’m afraid that I seem rude bursting in here without saying that I’ve just come across your blog recently and find it fascinating.

    • Hazel
      Hazel says:

      Here is another link:


  12. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    My tip: photograph what you love. After that, the rest is easy.

    I like photographing people – right now I am in India doing some public health work and if you click the link, starting around photo 20 (there’s only about 60 photos), you will find some photos of children who attend a local tribal school. I am blogging about the experience as well (just want to thank you for encouraging your readers to start a blog).

    Good luck!

  13. Green
    Green says:

    Chookooloonks does good photography: http://www.chookooloonks.com/

    I used to go for a walk every evening along the Embarcadero, from the Ferry Building up to Fisherman’s Wharf with this woman whose husband was a photographer. He’d come along sometimes and once I asked him what the most important, best piece of advice he’d give someone who knows nothing about photography is. He said, “Get closer. Get however close you think you should be, and then take a few steps closer. Less background, more of the subject.”

    So there ya go.

  14. Sarah Miller
    Sarah Miller says:

    Penelope, I live in a tiny town about 20 miles from Darlington. You’ve captured these winter mornings perfectly! Congrats on your new camera.

  15. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    This post made me think about the relationship of words and images on blogs. Ideally, the images will compliment the words on the page and keep the reader engaged. However, they have the potential to distract or add no meaning whatsoever. Images can be thought of as another element in the post that need to abide to rules similar to those of words to convey a message or story – brevity, focus, simplicity, and others. I decided other people much more experienced than myself have already thought and written about these things. I found the following very insightful and helpful articles –
    ‘Telling Your Story With Words and Images’ at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/06/15/telling-your-story-with-words-and-images/
    ‘Using Images to Take Your Posts to a New Level’ at http://www.problogger.net/archives/2007/11/13/using-images-to-take-your-posts-to-a-new-level/
    ‘The Art of Seeing: How Photos Can Make Your Blog Writing Better’ at http://writetodone.com/2009/10/06/the-art-of-seeing-how-photos-can-make-your-blog-writing-better/

    I also learned blog images are good for increasing traffic if done correctly on this post – http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/2010/04/helpful-reminder-using-blog-images-for-increased-traffic/

    A wide selection of images from various genres and time frames can be viewed at http://www.life.com/ .

    Also images include charts, graphs, and other pictorials that I think add quite a bit to a post when done correctly and judiciously to communicate an idea.

    Finally, my advice with the camera – experiment, be creative, and have fun!

  16. sophie
    sophie says:

    OK. I’ve been checking out everyone’s suggestions. Very cool. Except I don’t like this idea of overexposing photos. Why do that? They lack depth and color. Those blogs immediately have something off to me as soon as I click into them.

    Here’s my suggestion: http://nubbytwiglet.com/

    She’s a graphic designer whose niche is fashion. Her blog and photos are quirky, interesting and creative. She’s a marketing genius. Even though I’m old enough to be her mother and my business focus is polar from hers, I regularly emulate her strategies.

  17. Steve-Prospering With Aspergers
    Steve-Prospering With Aspergers says:

    Loved the post, Penelope. Good for you with stifling your kid’s desire for stardom :) I’m sure the farmer is good for your kids, putting them to work all the time. By the way, do you also get to do farm chores for the farmer? Just wonderin’ :) Happy Holidays to you!

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