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Hands down the best maternity session you’ve ever seen.

My best friends in the whole world had a baby this past weekend. Her name is Elsie and she’s the most precious thing I’ve seen since my little girl was born. Here’s a picture of her in all her newborn preciousness: A while back we decided to do a little impromptu maternity session while they were at our house. It turned out so well I think i am going to start offering these as a service. Feel free to email or call if you want a maternity session EXACTLY like this one. And other photographers: feel free to steal any of these ideas as I am sure they will quickly become the new trend. Enjoy!

Said take me home.

An abandoned house on a farm just outside of Lexington.

A couple weekends ago I had the rare occasion to go my hometown with nothing really on the agenda. Depending on your attention to sports (or my Twitter feed) you may or may not know that the University of Kentucky Basketball team played in the Final Four for the first time since I was a freshman in college. It was kind of a big deal, for me at least:) Edie was working a 12 hour shift so I packed the kids in the car and headed for my hometown of Lexington, Ky to watch the game with friends. Long story short, they lost and like any good UK fan I had an unbelievable “tough-loss-hangover” the next day. Without much to do except sit around and recount the loss (a favorite pastime of the Big Blue Nation) I jumped in my car and headed out to drive around town. Not expecting it, something significant happened inside of me that mild Lexington morning. As I drove, I found myself in the neighborhood of a grocery store that served as my first real paycheck job. Needless to say memories came back to me that I didn’t know existed. As I walked through this little store I started to remember all the little things that I had forgotten for so many years: the work friends, sneaking into the stockroom to hide from the manager, cleaning bathrooms, sitting in my manager’s office explaining why he couldn’t find me for the last hour…you know, the little things. Somehow the little things seemed very big as I absorbed everything that was rushing through my head. It led me to take a kind of “this is your life” trip around the city visiting all the places that held significance for me over the 19 years I spent there. I drove by old houses, churches, jobs, friend’s houses, schools, places where we skipped school and hung out trying to avoid being seen (sorry mom) and on and on. I realized that over the last 12 years I’ve been working so hard to put the past behind me and look to the future that I forgot how significant the past really is. That day was different. I got out of my car and walked around the neighborhoods where I played as a kid, the parks where my dad took us to feed ducks, the high school that I so desperately try to forget and all of those places I haven’t thought about in years. I bathed in memories that left me emotional maybe even changed. What started as a drive around town for novelty’s sake ended up as a drive for emotional health. It was powerful. My learning? Going home is important, even if only in your mind. I shouldn’t discount where I come from just because I am different now. Of course I am different. There aren’t many people who are the same person 10 years later (except that one stoner guy you hung out with in high school, am I right?). What I realized that morning is that I am not who I am in spite of where I come from. I am who I am because of those places, those people, those mistakes, those triumphs and those failures. It sounds obvious but when you spend a decade running from it, it isn’t as much so. So I embrace who I am…a born and bred Lexingtonian with a passion for basketball, a nostalgia for the horse races and a tiny little twang buried deep under the years of trying to unlearn it. I am made up of little pieces of Henry Clay High School, Pantry Fresh Market, Southern Acres Christian Church, Fayette Mall, Holmes Hall, Sundart Drive and so many other places. I can’t change any it and I am realizing I don’t want to.

Which photo is better?

***UPDATE*** So the contest is officially over (has been for a couple days) and I promised I would explain my take on it, so here goes: I obviously had a hard time picking between the two pictures because I like them both and I’ll tell you why. PHOTO 1 (or A or Left): I love the mood of this shot. When I went out that day I told myself I wanted an abandoned barn or house with a moody sky. Check and check. I love how the path leads you to the house but the gate keeps you out. Overall, I think this is a decent stock photography picture or something you might see in the “prints” section at your favorite big box store. Kind of a what you see is what you get type of picture. PHOTO 2 (or B or Right): There’s a mystery to this photo. If you saw this photo independent of the other you might have to guess a bit at what the foreground even is. I am huge fan of using things to frame my subject and strong lines in the picture, and this photo has both. I see this photo as less of a “popular” level photo, more arty and more of an aquired taste. For these reasons, this photo ended up being the one that I will hang if/when I ever get the chance to display some of these. Thanks so much for playing along and giving me some insight into why you like one photo over the other. Remember, art is subjective and there is no right answer and that’s why I love it! Based on it looks like Kristen from Five Dot Design is our winner and I will get in contact with her to get her new book out to her. Thanks again everyone! ***END UPDATE*** I recently photographed a few scenes along Route 52 here in Southern Ohio. I was driving through these tiny towns when came upon this abandoned house on a little vineyard. I loved the scene but I couldn’t decide how I wanted the picture to look. After going through the shots these are my favorites and I still can’t decide. If you’d be so inclined I would love your feedback as to which you think is a better photograph and why. After a week or so I’ll tell you which one I like better and why. I’m really interested to hear what you have to say. Just click the tiny little comment button at the bottom of this post to leave your comment. Oh, and I’ll pick one commenter at random to win a copy of Sebastiao Salgado’s amazing photo book “Africa”. He is one of my favorites and if you have never seen his work you are missing out. A couple details: only comments given before April 7, 2011 on this blog (not Twitter or Facebook) will be eligible for the book.

More than just an eyeball behind a viewfinder.

You clicked on the About Me button. You are officially a stalker. Since you want to be all creepy and learn more about me here you go… The most important part of my life is my family, so I’ll start there: I’m a husband to a woman who is entirely too good for me. Somehow I’ve tricked her in to staying with me for the last 8 years and I’m hoping she doesn’t get wise anytime soon. She has given me the two funniest little human children I have ever met. When my son Ryan says something inappropriate I put on a scolding face while my stomach hurts from the inside laughs. My little girl Lily has wild hair, speaks in broken 2 word sentences and screams when she doesn’t get her way. I think she’ll grow out of most of that.  I love them them all more than I could put sentences to. The rest of my non-business, non-family life is probably a lot like most of you…it revolves mostly around Apple products, good food and good music. I liked iPods, sushi & documentaries before it was cool. And I really like living in an more urban area. When Edie and I first got married we lived in the suburbs for 4 years before I realized that it made me question my reason for being everyday. So I convinced my wife that we should move closer to the city and now I feel like getting up in the morning.  Something about the city inspires me and gives me energy…maybe it’s the car break-ins and weird smells. My life has recently been defined by taking risks. Before 3 years ago, I lived a life that was full of safe. Then I started a business called Fyrefly Photography and safe went out the window. I tried to take pictures and create a business model that people hadn’t seen before. I wanted to be laid back, offer great service and take some of the stuffiness out of portrait & wedding photography.  It seemed to have resonated with a few people because I got really busy. I realized that if I ever wanted to see those people I talked about in paragraph 1, I would need to create a second business that allowed me to focus on only a few clients a year.  Fyrefly still exists, now it’s some of my friends/colleagues that I have trained and they help pick up the insane amount of work that Fyrefly generates. So Nathan Peel Photography was born. NPP is about being myself. I know that I am not for every couple and every couple is not for me. And that’s ok. NPP is about saying, “This is me. If you like who I am and what I do, then let’s work together. If you don’t then there are 7 billion other photographers out there (that estimate may be a little high) and I am sure you will find what you are looking for.” To sum it up, I am trying to do what I love and letting the rest work itself out.  One important thing I would want you to know is that life is less about what you are and more about who you are. Somedays I live like I believe that and somedays I don’t. So, creepy stalker person, that’s me. *If you want to really know who I am I often post meaningless things about my day on a social networking site called Twitter, maybe you’ve heard of it?  My Twitter name is @nathan_peel.

Stuff I love/want/need…