A decade ago today, I decided I had to do something.

I had to fight to get back my love of photography from the thieving emotional grip of post natal depression. Motherhood was something I had wanted for so long and I anticipated the arrival of this new stage in my life with nothing but excitement. The first four days after my daughter arrived were the ones of  dreams come true.

On the fifth day while my heart was wide open expecting only love, something sinister snuck in and began to steal everything. By the time I noticed the shadow hiding behind the familiar figure of exhaustion, depression had scattered little traps everywhere and I was stuck empty and waiting for my real life to begin again.  

It was an early spring day in Los Angeles when I finally noticed a small path beginning to clear through the darkness in my heart and I took one tiny step towards that light. It was a choice to to do something so simple that unintentionally changed the course of my life. 

Uploading an average – and I am being generous with that adjective – photograph of my three month old baby to Flickr after watching others share their images for months was one of the hardest things I had ever done. All I could hear was self doubt telling me I wasn’t good enough and that I had nothing of value to share with others. 

A decade of sharing my life in photos online began with this one shot.

That picture and the act of putting myself out there leads me to this moment in Melbourne Australia where I sit at my computer in tears of gratitude celebrating a career made from pouring my heart and life out online in images.

To truly say thank you, I am starting an entire year of Celebrating Living Online. There will be projects and contests and random acts of goodness. It is a time to set up the next decade and beyond. I had no idea what would come from that decision to actively join Flickr on March 25th, 2005 and I still have no idea what will come tomorrow. The difference is that today I have faith that it is going to be alright. I am confident in the worth of everyone’s stories and the importance in sharing life openly with others. I know the meaning and power of a connected collective to illuminate even the deepest gloom. 

Don’t miss out on the chance to win some great prizes, read other’s inspirational stories of sharing life online as well as so many additional fun projects that are being made possible only by the simple act of uploading a photo to Flickr one decade ago! Please join my mailing list for the easiest way to keep up to date on all the awesome things that will be happening this year. (Even receive some free content not found anywhere else!)

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Thank you for being a part of this connected collective for whatever part of the last decade. It just keeps getting better with you around.

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  • Maria Hybinette via Facebook - That is really nice and personal narrative of *you* I did discover you on flickr, and thanks for sharing your personal story.ReplyCancel

  • Erika Dyer Ray via Facebook - I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and properly read this.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Terrano Vossler via Facebook - you were the very first person I started following on Flickr – 9 years ago when I was pregnant with my first. Your stream inspired me to quit my job after my son was born and learn to take photos like you did. I’m now 7 years into a full-time photography career. I support my family of 6 while living in Orange County doing something that makes me happy. I also get the flexibility of being a hands on mom. I still admire your work and love seeing how much your children have grown. So grateful for finding you via Flickr those many many years ago!ReplyCancel

  • Ralph Nardell via Facebook - Happy Flickr-versary dear friend. I can still remember crossing paths with you there all those years ago. My 10 year flickrversary was about a month ago, and I can identify with so much of what you wrote. I never ever imagined how joining that ‘little’ site would impact my photography and even more so, my life. Still does. Can’t wait to follow along with your project Rachel, congrats again. Here’s to many more. XOXOReplyCancel

  • Amanda Michelle via Facebook - Like Melissa, you were the first one I followed on Flickr too! Gosh, Gemma was just a toddler.

    It’s remarkable to have ‘followed’ you for that long. But I just loved your story telling ability. I had no babies or kids to photograph, but I was very much into photography.

    I started on film, then transitioned to digital close to the same time you did.

    I learned so much from you. I couldn’t wait for Beyond Snapshots to come out! And boy, that book was just what I needed to ditch the presets and shoot manual. I remember not believing that I would ever be able to go full manual – now I don’t know how I did it any other way.

    You showed me what I needed to use my camera to capture what I was seeing in my mind. This took my photography to a whole new level.

    I just finished some food photography for a big Austrailian company. Some of my best work, being shown in your new Country.

    One of these days I’m hoping our paths will cross and I’ll try not to be a total fan girl!

    Amanda from Ontario Canada.ReplyCancel

  • Jon Steen via Facebook - Happy Flickr-versary. I believe I started following you on Flickr just before you moved to Australia. To this day I read every blog post, scroll through every photo and simply find so much inspiration in your work. Thank you. I follow a lot of photographers because of their photographic expression and only a tiny handful for their informing/comforting/inspiring words. You are #1 one in that handful. Thank you again.ReplyCancel

  • Janet Palmer - You are a constant inspiration Rachel… love that Flickr led me to you :) xxReplyCancel

  • Cindy Shoemaker Clayton via Facebook - Happy 10 to you, Rachel! :-)

    My own Flickr decade is nearly here too–a friend set up the account for me as a way to share delivery-room snapshots online after Audrey was born. She’ll be 10 in a few weeks. Wow, does the time fly!

    Thanks for the fun and inspiration over the years . . . here’s to the next 10. *clink*ReplyCancel

  • Melbo Martin via Facebook - Congrats!ReplyCancel

  • valentina - i have “meet” you on Flickr :) i’m so happy to meet you and follow your amazing work!!

    xoxo from ItalyReplyCancel

  • Erika Biramontes via Facebook - Happy Flickr-versary Rachel! :)ReplyCancel

  • Karri Hall via Facebook - It can’t be that long ago! ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Karri Hall via Facebook - It can’t be that long ago! ;-)ReplyCancel

DAIRYLEA believes that food is best made with simple, honest ingredients. To support fun-loving mums of the world, we invented MUMMYHACKS – Mummy inspired ideas that take the ‘um’ out of being a mum. ​For more useful tidbits visit
mummyhacks.com.au.

mummyhack-worry-box

The other week a few mothers were asked by DAIRYLEA to come together for a creative brainstorming session – a HACKADEMY – and come up with some MUMMY HACKS that just might make life a little bit easier for parents of school aged kids. The day was fun, and in the end there were a lot of wonderful and simple ideas compiled. I think the favourite MUMMY HACK was using a glass splash back in the kitchen as a white board notice centre for the family. We are always in the kitchen so it makes perfect sense to leave reminders there. I came up with the idea of just drawing a smiley face on the inside of your child’s wrist before school each day to remind them to smile as friendly faces are great ice breakers for shy children. After I left, I was still thinking, but this time with a specific focus on my kids. There was one particular issue that had been creeping into our lives and I wanted a lasting quick fix. The 40 minute train ride home was the perfect amount of time to brew up a plan. I’m happy to say that it is in practice and helping! Click here to head on over to Mummyhacks.com.au to read my hack on how to get kids to sleep!

DAIRYLEA, THE DAIRYLEA DEVICE AND MUMMY HACK ARE TRADEMARKS OF MONDELEZ INTERNATIONAL GROUP USED UNDER LICENCE.

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.

DAIRYLEA believes that food is best made with simple, honest ingredients. To support fun-loving mums of the world, we invented MUMMYHACKS – Mummy inspired ideas that take the ‘um’ out of being a mum. ​For more useful tidbits visit
mummyhacks.com.au..

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  • Robin Troxell - what a great idea – for kids and adultsReplyCancel

mom-friends-reunitedWe have vacationed on a beach before, but it was a time share in Mexico with the big kids before our youngest ones were even on the radar. I am not sure where the photos are from the last time we were together, but that visit was more recent despite me travelling alone to LA. That means that the last time my friend Karin saw Gemma and the twins, was about a year after the black and white photo was taken. 

However I write it, what I am trying to say is that we are way overdue for some beach walking. Luckily, I won us a trip to do just that very thing. Together. Around the Bay of Fires in Tasmania. Right this very moment, my dear friend Karin is on a jet plane just starting her first ever trip to Australia!

I can’t wait to share the stories!

I just can’t wait!

And at the same time, I don’t want the time to rush by. It has been way too long and it will be altogether too short. 

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No matter how long we have been shooting, I am of the opinion that photographers can always stand to learn something new. Over the last few years, I have been fascinated with the water portraits of Deb Schwedhelm Photography​ as well as more recently Alix Martinez Photography​. At Clickin Mom’s conference, Click Away, last year I made sure that after my talk finished I had time to hear Alix speak. I came away with great information (and a wonderful group of new friends) from that one session (and the speakers cocktail party later that evening.) I also confirmed my desire to take a camera in the water and capture our beach life this summer!

underwater-stretcheyz

underwater-olympus-tg3

I have been playing around with the Olympus Stylus Tough Camera TG-3 for a few months now and am loving it more and more as I learn how I can control the essential bits like focus and exposure compensation values. I even got to see them actually test this very camera model at the super secret R&D department at Olympus headquarters in Japan. More on that trip and the incredible sights I recorded after I get a few more things done. It would be ideal to have something like this shoot in RAW, but for now, jpeg is my only option unless I want to invest in the real underwater housing for my OM-D E-M1 or my new E-M5 Mk2. Maybe this is the year that I can get Deb to come to Melbourne for a workshop… THEN I would have a reason to splash out. 

I have been working on a new eBook for the last little while (We are not quite done with it all, but it should be out soon! That deadline is looming.) with a focus on Life in Natural Light. Helping people learn how to love photographing their life everywhere includes taking the camera to the beach for me, so I’m excited to share my experiences with you all! I have a long way to go in the artistry department, but I have finally got a handle on the exposure and technique. Now it will just take practice and more practice!

Yesterday we had dinner on the beach and ended up running into one of Clover’s friends and her family. They were more than willing to play, model and to let me practice shooting!  Back to the writing I go, as we are trying to get to the beach again tonight while the summer light lingers…

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  • Amber Rhodes - Amazing shots. Never attempted underwater photography! I must give it a go!
    Amber
    http://www.sweetwordsprettypictures.comReplyCancel

  • Monique@The Urban Mum - Hello Rachel, These images are divine; for me they are reminiscent of Martine Emdur paintings – I am glad I have found you (although now suffering much photography envy…makes my efforts completely pathetic in comparison). Looking forward to following your work. Thank you .xxReplyCancel

  • Marina Zavory via Facebook - Hi, did I miss that you are teaching a class? is it via CM? I d love to learn from you! Alix Martinez PhotographyReplyCancel

 

tween-diy-lipstick 

DIY Tween Lipstick

  • Non-toxic crayons 
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Tiny jars (or even a travel pill box)
  • Glass jar
  • Sauce pan
  • Plastic knife and spoon (& even a wooden skewer)

lipstick-diy-coconut-oil-crayonsThe girls decided on the colour of their individual lipsticks by colouring in on white paper combining different Crayola brand crayons until they found their perfect “blends”.  They discarded the wrappers of those crayons and then cut the coloured sticks up into thirds.

Rummaging through the recycling pile, they found two glass jars that they would use to melt their formula. Into these clean glass jars they put one and a bit teaspoons of coconut oil and the crayons they had chosen. With mom’s help (that’s me) they put these glass jars into a saucepan on the stove that was filled with just about a cup of near boiling water.

Stirring gently at the stove with wooden skewers (their choice of object so they could stay as far from the heat as possible…not necessarily the best tool for the job), they let the coconut oil and crayons melt together. As soon as they were completely blended, they removed the jar from the hot water and poured the coloured mixture into the waiting tiny jar. This also required a bit of help from a grown-up as the jar and mixture were both super hot and it has to be decanted quickly or it will begin to set!

DIY-lipstick-crayons-coconut-oil

When filled, the tiny jar of mixture went into the freezer to set for ten minutes.

girls love science too tween

In the end, the glass jars used for melting the mixtures were scraped as clean as possible and recycled. As for how long this lipstick will last, who knows. They made it on a whim and are not really regular make-up wearers, so I would say it might be forgotten by next weekend. It was a great Sunday experiment for these science loving tweens and that is all that really matters.

 More tween posts to come! Look for the “Judy Devine” feature to follow all the things that she is cooking up for Sesame Ellis! Check out the hashtag #thetweensagem to follow her tween life tips on social media!

thetweensagem 

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  • Mariana - But who is judy? Is your sister, Rachel? Also, the cute girl with Gemma is her cousin or what?
    Its great to see the girls having fun, I already saw many tutorials about this crayon lipstick, but I also saw some people who messed it up and it doesnt really worked, so I’m always with a foot behind trying to decide if the mess is worth c.c
    The last picture looks so precious, I’m sure they will treasure this memory!ReplyCancel

    • sesame - Judy Devine is the name that Gemma blogs under. The vote girl with Gemma is her BFF! The girls were able to make great lipstick with these simple instructions and the mess was minimal! It totally worked for them, so I wanted to share the fun project!ReplyCancel

  • Breanne - How great is this!! Love that she has a bestie that is just as creative and their lipsticks look awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - what cool girls. Totally impressed w/their creativity!ReplyCancel