Mighty Life List
Aug 16 2010

Have Family Portraits Taken? Check!

The Masons from maile wilson on Vimeo.

These are the amazing photos Maile Wilson took of our little family. I couldn’t love them more, Maile is crazy talented, and she was working in the face of some serious challenges. My hyperventilation, for example.

Months ago, Maile spotted “have a family portrait taken” on my Mighty Life List, and made an offer. Maile had her own life list (which she just posted), and she wanted to photograph a family in Chinatown. After a few emails back and forth, we set a date a couple months out.

Then I got overwhelmed and completely forgot about it. This is a thing I do. All the time. I honestly avoid making appointments because I have to set 15 different alarms on my various electronic devices, and then the photo padding in my bag muffles them all, and then I unzip my bag (invariably in a church or library) and it sounds like a four alarm fire response team, but actually I was just supposed to meet a neighbor for yoga.

The Sunday afternoon the shoot was scheduled, Hank had just gone down for a nap. I changed into sweatpants, pulled my dirty hair into a ponytail, and climbed into bed.

The plan was to read a little PostSecret, maybe some Kottke, but my email happened to be open. At the top was a note from Maile, whom I’d never met, sent three mintues earlier. She didn’t have my number, but she was in Chinatown. I was in a stained tank top.

While my heart made a few desperate attempts to leap out my mouth and flop around on the bedspread, I thought about what to do. Throw my laptop out the window? Throw myself out the window? We’re only on the second floor. Perhaps I could trump up the injuries to an excuse-worthy level.

Instead, I sent Maile my number and sat very still.

When Bryan and I got engaged, I had to purchase a $20 white dress on eBay because I’d had weeks of dreams about waking on our wedding day with nothing white to wear. These were sequels to my “nothing to wear” dreams for prom, graduation, job interviews, friends’ weddings, trips to the DMV. In these dreams, I’m never naked, just dressed totally inappropriately for the occasion — wearing a straw boater and knee socks to a funeral or whatnot. Having to prepare my entire family for a portrait in 20 minutes or so is literally my recurring nightmare.

Fortunately Maile was very calm in the face of my hysterical apologies. She called to say Chinatown wouldn’t work for a shoot, and asked about a new location. I asked her to take a cab across town, and told her we would meet her. I said all this through the paper bag into which I had been breathing.

Next, I called Bryan who was across town at a bar reading — he was pleased. He told me how much he loves me, and how endearing it is when I interrupt his five minutes of downtime with appointments I’ve made for the whole family without telling him. I nodded and pawed through my closet for a dress I could wear with tights to hide my unshaven legs, plugged in the rollers, and ironed Hank’s shirt while shoving a banana in his mouth. Bryan came home and put on a clean shirt before pausing to make out with me. In the photos, he is wearing two different shoes. I did my makeup in the car.

Here’s Maile’s take on the shoot. Note how she didn’t even mention that I forgot about her? That’s because she is a professional.

Mar 26 2010

Ask Maggie: DSLR Case for Your Bag

Stephanie had a question about my gadget case roundup. She says:

Do you have something to hold your DSLR camera that you slip into a normal purse? I’m looking for something to protect my Canon xsi with the lens attached that I can use when I don’t want to lug an extra bag around with me. But it’s tough to find! Thanks for your recommendations!

Good question, Stephanie, I can’t believe I didn’t think to include one. Here are a few options:

Cloak Bag, $49

The Cloak Bag is a compact “shoot-through” camera bag that I think would work well to offer a little extra protection in a larger bag, but you can also use it as a stand alone when you’re traveling. The bag strap is actually your camera strap, so you just unzip the bottom and shoot, which means you can go from case to shooting much faster. I don’t own this, but I want it. (via Swiss Miss)

Zing 501-104 SG1 Standard SLR Cover, $19

Here’s a more standard neoprene case, and you can find all sorts of styles online by searching for“dslr neoprene case.” It also comes in black, grey, and plum, and they have a larger one if you want to use a big lens. (FYI, reviews seem to indicate that the color on the bag isn’t photographing well, and it’s a deeper green than it appears.) They also offer an ZING Large Universal that doesn’t look as cool, but might be more functional.

Ephiphanie Bags, $170

My final suggestion is to just use a camera bag as your day bag, which is finally, finally possible. A while ago, I was complaining that there were no attractive camera bags for women. Maile contacted me to say that she’d had the same problem, so she decided to make some. She sent me a one, and it’s fantastic. It’s excellent quality, allows for quick access, and there’s plenty of room in there for your camera, cell, a little clutch with essentials, and even a flash or extra lens. Best of all, you don’t have to wrap a towel around your camera and shove it it your bag when you want to go out to dinner.