We are now in our 8th month of this global pandemic and, if predictions are right, we'll be fighting this battle well into 2021. It has been a difficult year of loss for everyone – loss of life, loss of jobs and income, loss of time with our families, and loss of many of the simple pleasures we took for granted. Add to that the political unrest, fires in the West, hurricanes and climate concerns – some days it all seems like too much.
Conferences and workshops cancelled, the photography world adapted and moved to online formats. I am very proud to have been involved in two very successful Out of Chicago online conferences, one in April, the second in August. Those conferences helped to contribute to income for photographers who suddenly found their livelihoods in jeopardy, and they provided attendees with some inspiring learning opportunities. I look forward to being a part of more online opportunities during the fall and winter. Although I deeply miss teaching others in-person, online teaching keeps so many of us connected and learning in a safe way for the time being.
When shelter-in-place was issued in mid-March and my beloved Chicago Botanic Garden closed, I wondered how I would continue doing what I love to do – photographing flowers and nature. I couldn't imagine missing my favorite season at CBG - the emergence of spring and the tulips blooming. If I wanted to continue photographing, I had no choice but to get out in my yard and my neighborhood and find spring. That's exactly what I did. My long walks with my camera in my neighborhood have been my therapy, my escape from all the worries and anxiety brought forward by this unsettled time. It centers me and fills me with hope. As a former art therapist, I understand the power of creating art to help us deal with adversity and to better understand our emotions. My personal photography is always centered around healing and bringing my heart and emotions into the process of creating. I am amazed at the treasures I found in a neighborhood I have lived in for over 30 years. I discovered many things I have never noticed before – crocuses in a church yard nearby, tulips in a public park and in neighbors' yards, magnolia and crabapple trees in bloom in many places in our village. Every walk brings new discoveries.
Tulip In A Neighborhood Public Park, Photographed With The Lensbaby Sol 45mm.
Ferns In My Yard – "We're In This Together" – Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Crabapple Blooms At Our Village Community House, Photographed With The Lensbaby Composer Pro II And Soft Focus Optic
During the summer, Chicago Botanic Garden reopened in a safe way, requiring tickets and limiting numbers, as well as urging mask use. It was wonderful to be back photographing the gardens filled with dahlias, zinnias, waterlilies and lotus flowers – all my favorite things to photograph. My happy place was once again open, and more beautiful than ever.
Lotus In Bloom In Morning Light – Chicago Botanic Garden, 70-30mm lens.
The Heart Of The Dahlia – Chicago Botanic Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Zinnia Patterns – Chicago Botanic Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Weekends proved to be a bit more crowded than I was comfortable with at the Garden, so I resurrected my neighborhood walks during the weekends. Something remarkable happened! One day I felt myself pulled in a direction I don't usually walk. I remember distinctly switching directions at several times during that walk and saying to myself, "let's go this way instead." I found myself walking down a street I had only walked down once before early in the spring and now being face-to-face with the most magnificent dahlia garden. As I am standing there on the sidewalk with my jaw dropped, looking at these amazing, prize-winning dahlias lining the sidewalk, Karin, the homeowner, drove up and greeted me. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship of two people with a passion for dahlias - one growing them, one photographing them. Karin is amazing. She has only lived in this house for a year, yet she has completely transformed her entire yard into a paradise of flowers, veggies, herbs, and so many other beautiful plants. She plans to start a dahlia farm and has already ordered 12,000 dahlia plants for next year. Her deep love of flowers, her expertise in growing them and, most of all, her passion will no doubt lead her to success. She sells many of her dahlias and donates the money to a food bank. She also gives many flowers to neighbors and friends, helping others to share in the joy of her beautiful flowers. She is one of the kindest, most generous spirits you could imagine. I am so honored to know her. I have been back to her garden several times and each time she shares tidbits of knowledge with me and I give her tips on photographing her dahlias. She has sent me home with dahlias to photograph at home and that has led to many, many blissful hours lost in those beautiful flowers. We hope to collaborate in many ways in the future. I feel so blessed and so fortunate that fate led me in her direction that Sunday in September. Here is a sampling of photographs I have taken of Karin's dahlias. Everyday I post new images on my Instagram page @annebelmontphotography and be sure and follow Karin's page @choosingcalm.
Dahlia 'Gitt's Perfection' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm
Dahlia 'AC Chelan' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Composer Pro II With Sweet 50 Optic
Lost In The Curves Of The Beautiful Dahlia 'Steve Meggos' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Dahlia 'Camano Buz' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
I have some exciting learning opportunities coming in November and I am busy preparing new presentations for these events. On Nov. 9th I will be doing a Zoom presentation for Morton Arboretum Photographic Society at 7 p.m. I have presented for this group before and I'm excited to do it again. MAPS is a wonderful and active photography group.
On Sat. November 14th at 1 p.m. CT, I'll be joining Harold Davis and Bryan Peterson for a Master Photographer webinar to benefit Center for Policing Equity. You can learn more about this webinar here.
On Thursday, November 19th at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT, I'll be doing a free webinar on Lensbaby lenses and flower photography for B&H Event Space: "Capturing the Magic of Flowers," sponsored by Lensbaby. You can register for this webinar here.
Remember that, as a Lensbaby Ambassador, I always have a discount code for you if you interested in purchasing anything from the Lensbaby website. Reach out to me and I'll provide you with the info and code.
I hope that each of you is doing well during this difficult time, continuing to get out in whatever way you can to photograph, and finding joy in the beauty of nature.