Kvelling, by photos

Kvelling. It’s a verb. It means to be extraordinarily pleased or happy! We have our ups, we have our downs, but this week has been filled with a lot of, much appreciated, extraordinary happiness! I hope the same is true for all of you!

Working hard at what you love comes easy when you love it — I’m kvelling!
Frog and Toad — I love those guys (and she is reading, to me… I’m kvelling!)
“Mommy, can I learn to type on my computer, please!” Yes, I’m kvelling!
Forget Godot, we’re waiting for Barbara! Yes, kvelling! ❤
Watching the E-A-G-L-E-S fly! Kvelling for the underdogs! We moved to the big screen shortly thereafter!
Who’s kvelling more? Me looking at my boychik? Or Gatsby, dozing in the rays of sunshine?

And the Yiddish proverb I leave you with this week is:

Love your neighbor, even if he plays the trombone! Libh deyn khbr, afilu aiob er fyeses di trambone.

      

  

 

 

 

 

2018: Two weeks in

These past couple of weeks have left me verklempt (overcome with emotion). We’ve gone from tsuris (troubles) to nachas (joy) and back and forth a few times over. But hey, all is good. No kvetching (complaining) here… still quite grateful just to be… In my glass-half full world, the temples are gray, yet the mind is still childish (es iz groi di pai’eh un narish di dai’eh). Now look, sit! Enjoy some shots.

Ice crystals on the car window, early morning… sometimes, cold is beautiful. Who knew?
New Years Day T-Bone… not in the plans. And in one second, the car becomes bubkas (worthless, nothing, zero)
My left foot… this boot is made for walking? Oy! I needed this like I need a lochen kup (whole in my head)!
Okay, we can do this! And my bubbaleh’s (little one’s) , they are better than fine ❤
Blech! We had to have one more vermin sighting, right before we left… I was going to put a little chalk outline around him for management, but then I threw up (brechen) a little in my throat before I could do it…
Me and my Mrs., and that smile of hers. Gets me every time! Now that’s a “we have a new home” smile! Shana punim (beautiful face)!
My first cuppa in our new home… Mornin’ joe
Gatsby is the ruler of his domain, and after a squirrel, or a bird, or a piece of sky???

So friends, for today and this week, may you all be a mensch (decent and honorable person) and may you only run into mensches.

     

     

52 Smiles

Look at me! I’m #50 in the project! Photo courtesy of (c) Ben Bowens Photography

Yiddish phrase:

Lichticheh punim. It literally means a big, happy face that is lit up, from smiling!

Those of you who read this space, know how I feel about smiling. I am still in the midst of my experiment (with very good results) in The Chaos of the Smile Theory. Apparently, photographer Ben Bowens felt similarly and set out on a mission to capture 52 Smiles in 2017.

While he was doing his thing, I did a little of my thing, an interview. Here it is:

1. How old were you when you first picked up a camera? I can remember playing with my family’s Polaroid camera when I was very little, maybe 6 or 7. I’ve always been interested in art and photography and my parents were good about letting me explore with paint and drawing, etc. I got my first 35 mm camera when I was in college and used it for my fundamentals of photography class where I learned about the magic and frustration of the dark room. In addition to that camera, all throughout college, I always had a digital camera on me just in case I wanted to take a quick picture. The same is true now, only my camera costs way more and it’s usually accompanied by two additional lenses, a flash, a cleaning kit and extra batteries!
2. What are some of your favorite things to photograph? I love to photograph people in their element. I’m a very hands-off photographer when I do portrait sessions. I like to settle on a location and let my subjects explore it on their own. Kids are great at being authentically expressive in new places. They wander around, pick things up, taste things, etc. I love to get photos of those little moments and I think most parents appreciate it, too.
3. How did 52 Smiles come about? 52 Smiles was a project I thought about during 2016. The presidential election was super depressing and it seemed like every week a major figure from pop culture died (We lost Princess Leia and Prince!). I felt a lot of negative vibes during 2016 and I just wanted a reason to smile again. I figured if I could take a picture of someone different smiling and share it every week (52 weeks in a year, 52 smiles, you get it) I would be doing my part to make 2017 a little bit brighter.
4. What/Who inspires/fascinates you? Why? I draw a lot of inspiration from Instagram. People I don’t even know, but whose accounts I follow and marvel at on a daily basis. There are some really talented photographers in the city of Philadelphia and around the world. I just try to emulate the techniques or visit the locations they’ve been and try to match some of their work or take photos to make something my own. 
5. Five years from now, you’ll be…. Possibly in another city, doing another job, surrounded by different people. Who knows! Looking back to the last 5 years, I don’t think I could’ve predicted that I’d be handling communications for the ACLU of Pennsylvania and running my own photography business. I have some ideas, but I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned and see where it all goes.
6. Can you share with us a few of your favorite/most memorable photos? Maybe, a little blurb too?
My girlfriend standing on the beach in Wildwood holding her sandals during sunset. It doesn’t get much better than that. Everything about this picture is my favorite. The lighting, the reflection, the subject. Everything.
I’ve heard and read that Cairns represent many different things to different cultures. They can represent love, or be used to mark the spot where a loved one died, but for me they represent balance. I took this picture during a getaway in Martha’s Vineyard where I was desperately trying to re-balance my life. I think this picture sums up that journey and that time in my life.
I often see things I want to photograph when I’m driving or don’t have my camera and the image will stick with me. Every morning during my commute up I-95 I used to see this smokestack blowing god knows what into the atmosphere from one of the many factories that dot the Philadelphia landscape and just in front of it a tree stood defiant to the toxins. I didn’t quite capture the image from my mind (mainly because that would require me to have a tripod on the middle of a 4-lane highway), but this was the first time that I went out of my way to track down a photograph and I was very proud of myself for following the idea.
It was my 33rd birthday and we hiked around Yosemite. Everyone was clamoring to take the iconic sunset photos of half-dome at glacier point and this girl just walked out beyond the barrier and sat on the edge of the cliff. She looked so peaceful and unfazed by the true majesty laid out before her.
7. With 2017 wrapping up, and 52 smiles coming to an end, what’s next for Ben Bowens? My girlfriend suggested that I take pictures of doors around Philadelphia. I think I might give that a go. It’s probably easier to convince a door to take pictures than my camera-shy coworkers.
8. What’s more important, your equipment, or your eye to the world? I think both go hand in hand. Without one, the other is useless. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said “I wish I had my camera” because I saw something I wanted to capture.
9. Where is home? Home is where the heart is. My heart is currently in Philadelphia.
10. Did you study photography? I took fundamentals of photography class my freshman year of college. It was all black and white and required 35mm film. I also took fundamentals of digital photography class in 2010 at Project Basho it was also all black and white, but all digital.
11. How important is Photoshop to your final images? Photoshop is essential to my work. I shoot in RAW and use the program to process my photos. I think “Photoshop” has a negative connotation associated with it when it comes to photography because it implies that an image has been “doctored” or altered in some way, but I think of it as the darkroom for digital photography (see also: Adobe Lightroom). Photographers in darkrooms are constantly altering their photos with burning and dodging, over-exposing or under-exposing techniques. The digital programs of today are basically streamlining that process.
12. Lastly, if you had one wish? It would be to somehow quit my job, risk-free, and travel the world photographing any and everything I could find. Got $1 million laying around I can borrow??? 🙂
Your contact info: Ben Bowens, Instagram @benbowensphoto, benbowens.com, info@benbowens.com, 267-838-0620
So my friends, may you all end this year and start the new one with your very own, lichticheh punim!

Yes, I promise!

My kinder (Big and Little) and me, we went for a nice walk in the ‘hood with our boychik (little boy), Gatsby. It was a gorgeous autumn day, not too cold and filled bright with sunshine. They were hesitant. A bit groggy from the previous nights’ festivities. Yes, I did the dreaded mom-fail move: I bribed them.

“Come with me to walk Gatsby and I’ll get you both vanilla steamers at High Point!”

Before I could say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, shoes, socks, coats and a, “We’re ready to go, Mommy! Aren’t you coming?” Here are a few snaps for our jaunt. What a lucky momma I am!

Yiddish proverb:

Never promise something to a child and not give it to them, because in that way they learn to lie.

Keynmol onzog epes tsu a kind aun nisht gebn es tsu zey, vayl in dem veg zey lernen tsu lign.

Dressed and obsessed with chicken bones, he’s ready to walk…
Fun in the autumn leaves heaps
The stop at High Point Cafe, for some Vanilla Steamers with whipped cream, as promised… who’s missing his momma here?
Ahhh… lovely cuppa for kinder! Worth the walk! I wonder why they look so pensive? Nu?
Always, we make friends along the way…
The beauty of nature’s own design — priceless.
      
      
  

Helping Hands

It’s been an ‘all hands on deck‘ kind of week. School is in full swing, dance lessons are back, and as they say in this Yiddish Proverb:

If you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm.  Aoyb ir alts darfn a helping hant ir vet gefinen eyner in di suf fun deyn orem.

Take a look at my kinder (Sweet kids) and their hantalehs (hands) at work play!

They were so fascinated by the typewriters! They didn’t want to leave! Azoi!

Shana Tovah to all who celebrate! May it be a sweet and happy new year ahead for us all.

    

      

Sunrise, Sunset

Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset!
Swiftly fly the years,
One season following another,
Laden with happiness and tears…

Songwriters: Lewis Bock Jerrold / Sheldon Harnick Sunrise / Sunset lyrics © Bock Ip LLC, Imagem Music Inc / Fiddler on the Roof

Sunrise sunset, sunrise, sunset! zunftang, untergang! zunftang, untergang!

      

      

 

He’s Gone… I got him!

After the run, my Gatsby is tired. Thank you, Benny!

He’s meditating on whether a flea has a bellybutton. Er klert tsi a floy hot a pupik.