Deborah Key, L.L.C.: Blog en-us (C) Deborah Key, L.L.C. (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:07:00 GMT Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:07:00 GMT Deborah Key, L.L.C.: Blog 90 120 Reflection is Key Pausing to contemplate where you are on your life’s journey and your place in the universe is worth doing at regular intervals.  Beyond reflecting on business or personal relationships, it’s also a chance to think about the many ways people choose to live, culturally or as individuals. I often find it easier to do when I remove myself from the daily hurly burly when I am traveling.


In a beautiful setting like the fabulous Golden Pavillion Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto I thought about how we can choose how we look at the world.  If one looked across the clam waters of the lake to the pavilion and the manicured garden you see a serene vista.  If you turned 180 degrees you saw the crowds of people being ushered to the “picture point” to take their snap or selfie then be hustled on the paths and back to the vendors outside.


 With a little imagination and a sense of history you can think how the site was when it was a private home and then a temple for quiet contemplation instead of a busy tourist destination with the masses jostling for their trinkets at the shrine.  Instead of rushing I found a quiet area to observe a graceful heron in a small pond. 


It was a good analogy that we need to find a peaceful mindset in the midst of our crowded daily lives too.  We just have to choose our view on the world: chaos or beauty.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Wed, 05 Aug 2015 23:07:02 GMT
Why Ocean Day is Key "You're not a wave, you are part of the ocean," Mitch Albom


Monday was “Marine Day” (also known as “Ocean Day” or “Sea Day”) here in Japan, this nation of islands, .  As you can imagine it’s a reflection of the importance of the sea for sustaining it’s population.  Fresh fish, shellfish, sea urchins and kelp are highly prized in a country that values the health-giving properties of the sea’s bounty.   The people are fastidious about freshness and food is prepared daily in its purist forms.


Of course everyone associates Japan with sushi and sashimi which I had always assumed was a style reflecting of the aesthetic principles of delicate proportions artfully displayed.  I just learnt that the origins of this distinctive food actually dates to the Edo period when Tokyo was first becoming a major city of influence within Japan’s borders.  The shallow bay meant shellfish were prevalent and fish were smaller so it was a practical way of sharing the flavorful protein with thin slivers laid over the staple of rice.  If you think about it, it was eminently sensible for the area but now popular around the world.


Talking of fish, this will be the last year the famous Tokyo Fish Market will operate here because it will be relocating out of the city in 2016.  In this populous city where land is at a premium and reclamation initiatives are a major undertaking this major facility will  close.  Even though it has been planned for years there is still debate from the restauranteurs and merchants who are already up extremely early every day to source the best quality fish from their favored suppliers.  If you have the opportunity to attend before it relocates I recommend making the effort to experience this bustling activity that is a model of efficiency on a scale that is quite impressive.  


Anyway, back to Ocean Day.  Celebrated as a national holiday on the third Monday in July since 1941 this is a busy weekend of travel when people go to the beach or visit family although many businesses and schools are still in session.  Since the Japanese don’t take long periods of Annual Leave like other countries, their 3 day breaks are definitely appreciated.  


Beyond the holiday itself, perhaps we should think of every day as Sea Day since 3/4 of our planet’s surface is ocean.  It’s a source of food, pleasure and recreation for many but increasingly it will have to be a source of precious water with desalination facilities and wave turbines to generate power.  Let’s cut back on the trash that finds its way into our oceans and protect this vital source of life.  That’s my goal for Ocean Day.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Tue, 21 Jul 2015 15:00:00 GMT
A New Perspective is Key “Sometimes a change of perspective is all it takes to see the light”.  Dan Brown


Sometimes we all need a little distance.  Sometimes it’s a new locale to see things from a new perspective, a chance to try new things or perhaps it’s simply quiet time to reflect on how things can be improved when you are not caught in the day-to-day activity.  


This view over Tokyo at dusk is a good analogy for taking the time to step away.  As I gaze over this wonderful, vibrant city I feel at peace, even though it’s a world away from my leafy green woods of Connecticut.  At street level there’s the bustle of people, traffic, sign, sounds, aromas as people navigate  their lives.  Sometimes you are actively engaged in the commerce and connections; other times you pass as an observer and that’s ok too.  Elevate yourself and notice the world around you.  There’s a hush and calmness that comes over people as they contemplate a sunset or watch the lights below with child like appreciation for the simple beauty that is repeated every day if we choose to see it.  


If you haven’t been to Tokyo before you will be delighted.  Despite being one of the most populous cities in the world with 12 million people living within its 23 prefectures and another 2.5 million commuting in to work, it is quiet and pristine.  There is a sense of order in every aspect of daily life.  Whether it’s how pedestrians walk on the left side of the pavement or how steadily so many people share the transit system to the appearance of stores, homes or cafes, everything is neat.  The quality of produce is impeccable and the flavors amazing while the people are gracious and polite. Nature is appreciated and celebrated.  There is a great sense of pride in this city and it’s justified.  


Perhaps that’s the allure of travel.  It’s the chance to step away from the ordinary routine and immerse yourself in another landscape, to tempt jaded tastebuds with new flavors, to learn how others live and to literally walk a new path.  


Take in the view from another perspective.  Sit on a hillside or gaze from a balcony over the rooftops and savor the stillness.  Think about the boundless possibilities then tackle the world afresh.  It’s exciting out there.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Wed, 15 Jul 2015 02:21:00 GMT
Why Not Being Free is Key “We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.” Taylor Swift in a letter to Apple challenging their intent not to pay royalties to musicians as it appeared on her Tumblr page recently.


When did we become a society that thinks it’s ok to take, take, take and not to remunerate for fair use of intellectual copyright or original content?  In the past decade there has been a proliferation of online sites that promote free downloads of music, imagery and the written word.  Improved gadgetry, storage capacity and the means to share digital copies in an unlimited capacity makes it hard to “put the genie back in the bottle”.  Just as the publishing, movie and music sectors have hemorrhaged, the photography profession has also been cut to the core.  


Books, newspapers and magazines are struggling as an industry while blogs push out so much free content it’s overwhelming.  Try making a living as a journalist, graphic designer or photographer contributing to traditional media or relicensing stock.  Unless you already have an established track record or deep contacts, it’s harder to freelance.  The world has changed but I am not sure it’s for the better.


Who coined the phrase “starving artist” was romancing the notion of creativity, not addressing the reality of earning a viable living.  We have mortgages, insurance, professional membership fees, equipment, software licensing costs, ongoing technical training, work premises to maintain, props, marketing materials, business overheads and taxes just like any other company.... and that’s not even placing a value on time or originality of creating art.  We are in business to stay in business so please respect and pay accordingly.


Do you photocopy architectural plans but not pay the architect for years of study and knowledge that underpinned that design?  Do you pay just for the cost of plaster to set a broken arm but not compensate the doctor for the investment in medical knowledge acquired over years of expensive academic training?  Just leave a few dollars on the counter for the new oil and spark plugs instead of paying the mechanic for the labor, tools and overheads that were essential to be able to service your car?  I don’t challenge my hairdresser’s fee because I know the cost of her scissors and the products she uses.  I happily pay for her skill and creativity, returning every 6 weeks for a new look or refinement, even tipping generously for the experience of being pampered by her service.  Yet many people continue to baulk at a professional photographer’s session fee, price for prints or management expertise for major projects because “they can do it with their iPhone”.  There’s a big difference between cutting your own hair or going to a professional: same for photography!  


I am dismayed by the number of requests I receive to photograph an event for free because it “will be good for me” yet these same fund-raiser or gala events have no hesitation paying for the venue, the caterers, the wait-staff, the cleaners, the bar, the flowers, the music, the printed invitations and all the decor while charging supporters a hefty ticket price.  For every service or product I purchase, whether it’s landscaping, home help or personal, no one assumes they have to provide it for free “because it will be good for them somehow in the future”.  There’s a cost, plain and simple.  Why assume the photographer is not needing to cover his or her costs and earn a living also?  


I was astounded a few years ago when a mother told me in great detail and with some pride how her daughter had downloaded one of my photos from a supposedly secure site then used photoshop to erase my watermark.  The irony is that proceeds from the sale of those photos were going 100% back to the team as a fundraiser so the act of cheating was hurting more than me.  There was no connection with the lack of integrity that simple act took: in her view it was a nuisance her daughter had to spend so long covering the traces of her theft because that’s what it really was.  Would the same parent be as open discussing her child’s talent at removing store security tags from a garment and leaving a store without paying?  The principle is the same: it’s just a question of degree.


Please don’t get me wrong.  I actually do a lot of pro-bono work in the community.  The difference is I chose where and how to share my talents to give back to help causes I believe in.  It’s just a question of balance and the commercial side of the business has to offset the complimentary offers.  Just think about the implications when you want something for free because there’s always a cost somewhere.  It just depends who pays as you go down the slippery slope.


Thanks for raising the debate again Taylor.  The principle of fair remuneration for fair work needs to be honored and you rock this message.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Wed, 01 Jul 2015 03:59:00 GMT
Collaboration is Key In a setting as beautiful as any National Trust property in Britain, this evening I shared a glass of sparkling wine and appetizers in the Sunken Garden at Hill-Stead, a historic colonial property.  One can imagine the family entertaining visitors or enjoying the peace of the garden in much the same way it’s a favored location for weddings, picnics, casual strolls and the ever popular Poetry Festival, a premiere event in the Hill-Stead program.


In the soft evening light protected by the lichen covered stone walls and evergreen hedges, the delightfully designed garden beds are a tribute to the vision of talented female garden architect Beatrix Farrand.  Her plans were discovered in California more than 25 years ago by Claire Edwards then painstakingly restored in a joint effort by the Hartford Garden Club and the Connecticut Valley Garden Club over many back-breaking years and still tended today by the active “Garden Gang” volunteers.  If I ever want to know what plants will do well in this climate I simply have to refer to the plants that thrive in this oasis and I am reassured.


Beyond the formal grounds, the property trails and fields are worth rambling.  If you are lucky, plan a walking tour with Betty Collins or simply stroll and discover on your own because the grounds are open longer.  Each month the character of the property changes and I never tire of exploring its seasonal charms. 


Most people know the Museum for its wonderful art collection and decorative arts but it’s the stories of the people who lived there that also capture the imagination.  The house is far from a dusty archive: the knowledgable guides and staff share the stories in a personal way.  The house is opened for tours, events and “white glove” behind the scenes experiences or evening functions when the paintings gleam.


Back to the reason for tonight’s small gathering.  It was a small celebration to thank the Chairs for the successful Dinner Auction in late May.  For me, it was a chance to step away from the computer after working some crazy long hours on the Annual Report and remember firsthand why this place is so special.  


As I cast an eye over the finished report tonight with it’s mix of archival materials and the images I created for the Museum and new perspectives on the property i had not seen before laid out by a designer I’d never met with words from dedicated people I am just getting to know better, it was proof that we truly are greater than the sum of our parts.  


In the past few years I have come to appreciate Hill-Stead for its beauty and for the friendships of committed individuals who share their talents to preserve this gracious property.  Most museums or historic properties have significant challenges in this era but Hill-stead seems to have an extra edge - a band of long term supporters who come together year after year in a very constructive, positive way to protect something unique.  


Come visit and then see how you can add your mark to history.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Hill-Stead World on Wednesday collaboration Thu, 11 Jun 2015 03:41:43 GMT
A Key Vote Today I rarely get political since I am a guest in this land: I am not a citizen so I can’t vote here, although I certainly pay my fair share of taxes and actively contribute to many organizations within my extended community.



However this is the first time I actively lobbied Legislators to protect institutions I value.  I do understand the need to have a balanced budget, to provide essential human services for people in need, to improve the infrastructure and support so many worthwhile programs that address the needs of this diverse state.  


In recent months it had seemed many arts, cultural and historic organizations have been targeted for their funding to be eliminated completely.  I don’t have all the detail too hand yet so I don’t know all that were slashed or retained but I believe the Governor’s Horse Guards was given a reprieve.


I often wonder why this group caught my imagination.  Perhaps it’s the unique traditions they observe....

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 04 Jun 2015 02:41:05 GMT
Key Moments this Memorial Day (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 28 May 2015 03:34:53 GMT Key to 237 years of Horse Guards Tradition Major Ed Henfey pins insignia to the lapels of Captain Chris Miller, promoting him to the rank of Major in the presence of his father, a former Major of the First Company Governor's Horse Guards  The Change of Command ceremony on the green drill fields at the GHG Headquarters at dusk last Thursday May 14 was the first time in the 237 years of continuous cavalry tradition that a father and son have held command of the Unit.

While this passing of responsibility and the Guidon is a proud tradition dating back to the time of General George Washington in the Revolutionary tumult of this country's early days, the future feels a little uncertain.  Proposed State budget cuts threaten the Unit's continued presence in Avon, despite the fact the land was granted to the Town in perpetuity 61 years ago.  Although the Troopers are volunteers and the horses are donated by the public, the cost of food and care for the animals is being debated at the Capitol on June 3.  Although they are an icon for the town there is no guarantee this arrangement will continue unless the Budget is restored and donations flow in soon.

Part of the reason we chose to live in Connecticut is the unique character of this region.  We made a home here because it offered NE charm, has excellent school system and library, vibrant arts scene, easy proximity to major cities while retaining the benefits of a small town and because of the sense of history being valued.  In a show of support to preserve this precious link to the past, tonight the Town of Avon voted unanimously to seek State support for continued funding necessary to keep the Horse Guards active in it's current home on Arch Rd.  Heartfelt thank you.  Instead of passing more stores or homes like "Anytown USA", we have the pleasure of driving along West Avon Road and seeing horses graze peacefully, a reminder of our rural past in our busy present lives.

This Memorial Day weekend will be a special opportunity for the public to show their support as the Horse Guards take their place again in the popular Parade.  We hope you will come to honor the Veterans, cheer the bands and celebrate the Horse Guards.  Don't let this be the last home parade for the horses.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Change of Command First Company Governor's Horse Guards Thu, 21 May 2015 03:50:00 GMT
Key to Preserving NYC Highline (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 14 May 2015 03:21:26 GMT Gallipoli remains Key to Australia's identity (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Wed, 29 Apr 2015 23:58:12 GMT Key to Earth Day "Every day is earth day" Author unknown.

It's simple: our plans and aspirations are insignificant in the greater scheme if we don't have a healthy planet.  Clean water and air to sustain life.  Biodiversity to ensure healthy soil and non-sterile crops to feed our people, regardless of geography or color of one's skin.  Renewable clean energy rather than fracking our fragile planet's surface.  Alternatives to nuclear power that cannot be contained for the 1000s of years because building and regimes crumble before the half-life and potency expires.  Extreme weather patterns that sweep across our globe, wrecking lives, homes, infrastructure and creating economic calamity.  We are placing a terrible burden on this shared globe.  

Global warming is real people.  As Wendell Berry said "The earth is what we have in common" so turn down the thermostat, insulate your homes, put on a sweater, live simply, reduce waste, leave a smaller carbon footprint, take shorter showers, use public transport where available or walk, carpool, .... it all adds up. Reduce, reuse, recycle - and make everyday Earth Day.  

It's a beautiful planet but it needs our help now.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 23 Apr 2015 03:57:11 GMT
My Key to Lincoln’s Legacy 150 years on “War at the best, is terrible, and this war of ours, in its magnitude and in its duration, is one of the most terrible.”  Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Philadelphia on June 16, 1864.


Last night I sat in a small theater, surrounded by people dressed in Civil War era uniforms and civilian attire to see a moving tribute to the passing of a great President 150 years ago today.  Professor Matt Warshauer’s play “Assassination” started with the shocking event that mortally wounded Lincoln and then conveyed some of the Nation’s reaction in the 12 days that followed until Booth was arrested and the accomplices were hanged.  As his cast read the words of that time’s press we saw familiar photographs of the era, although omitting the more horrific medical documentary images or the confronting battlefield scenes recorded by Matthew Brady and his peers. 


The American Civil War exacted a horrendous toll on the soldiers as well as the larger population for the duration of the hostilities and for generations after as the nation slowly sought to rebuild.  The scale of the conflict was staggering with 650-750,000 casualties or 2.1-2.4% of the population.  In today’s terms that represents 6.3-6.44 million people so the human consequences are unimaginable in our pampered lives.


So why does this devastating event still linger in a nation’s pysche 150 years later?  Why are there so many preserved battlefields, monuments, museums and events?  Why so many re-enactors?  Are we glorifying war that has been sanitized by the distance of time or are we trying to learn from an era that tore basic principles of civilization to their core? 


Was it the shock of Lincoln enduring war to be murdered in peace that still haunts a country?  Perhaps it was the simple injustice of being attacked when enjoying a simple, positive personal activity for pleasure after the strain of carrying such a burden that seems unwarranted?  


So why do we recall Lincoln and Kennedy’s oratory skills but forget Garfield and McKinley’s assassinations?  In an article today the NY Times suggested Lincoln’s speeches are the ones all President’s seek to honor or emulate.  Was it that Lincoln was such an early adopter of photography that we can recall his image and feel we know the man behind his distinctly craggy features, even though his contemporaries and followers also employed the same technology? Is it his words?  Many of his preserved speeches are cumbersome by today’s casual standards but they wrestle with complex issues that divided as country.  His eloquent excerpts distilled the essence of the issues and bored into our consciousness.


Two weeks ago I listened to Yale University Professor David Blight debate why Lincoln’s narrative drew on the Founding Father’s Constitution but are still relevant questions today. In four years I have attended countless lectures, toured battlefields and even slept in General Lee’s headquarters at Gettysburg.  After four years of re-enactments, why does the fascination endure?


Last Thursday I photographed a small bell-ringing ceremony at a local church as part of a National Parks Commemoration to signal the surrender at Appomatix, heralding the beginning of the Confederate’s surrender process.  It was poorly attended.  Perhaps the rest of the country does not value the past or perhaps we are to busy to pause to reflect.  


Perhaps we are now numb to violence.  Civil wars abound in Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East.  News events stop us but them are swamped by the tsunami of new horror stories.  This may be heresy but why are guns still accepted as a right in this country when 10% of Presidents have been killed within a 102 year period and over 16,000 people lost their lives annually, more than 5 times the 9/11 attacks that still leave a scar to this day.  Perhaps the saddest legacy of this conflict is acceptance of man’s inhumanity to man is immutable.  


I truly hope this is not the case: I dedicate so much of my daily activity to trying to improve the human condition around me and make the world better. Next week I promise you a "feel good" story. to balance the profoundly sad reflections of the past week.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Legacy Lincoln's World on Wednesday Thu, 16 Apr 2015 03:56:17 GMT
Key differences matter "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference" Robert Frost. 

Ideas and opportunities are limitless but time is finite.  What path do we tread?  How do we change direction if we've overstepped or the path hasn't led where we thought.  Perhaps we just need to stop, pause, breath, reflect - and then continue on.

How to be memorable?  How to have a style that resonates for you and your customer?  How to stand out in a crowded market place?  How to create a body of work that has a message and matters?  How to make a living doing what you love?

How to choose which opportunities to pursue and which ones to let pass?  How to balance all the demands?  How to say no?  How to listen to the inner voice?  How to give ourselves permission to be original instead of doing what is expected.  


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 09 Apr 2015 03:55:41 GMT
Key Lessons from Lou Freeman With her own unique style, Lou Freeman immediately captivates with her confident approach to life and the business of photography.  Within an hour of arriving at Hyannis for a week of instruction at N.E.I.P.P. Lou had shared her experiences gained from three decades of a changing profession and had the class thinking deeply about what defines each of us as an artist.  With a simple exercise to become calm and still, she laid the groundwork for a radical shift in the direction I need to take.


A distinctive flair for styling and layering clothing was enhanced to an almost theatrical level with the addition of dramatic makeup and wigs that took beautiful models into the realm of fantasy.  Makeup artist Rosangela proved the value of collaborating with someone skilled who helps take the notion of a design to a carefully constructed  conceptual fantasy by creating significantly different looks for each model.


Simple sets were carefully lit to suggest depth and the models were directed with grace to create a truly distinctive series of images.  Lou’s technical understanding of lighting setups to “sculpt” people’s best features and to accentuate the positive one of the best hands-on seminars I have experienced.  I thought it would be intimidating to learn from someone of her stature in the industry but her instruction made sense, even in complex scenarios.  Besides Lou, it was great to learn from fellow students who also shared their knowledge willingly in an atmosphere of solid camaradeship.


With her candid no-nonsense approach to business, much of the tuition I have been taking in recent months now has clarity of application.  It’s clear a new game plan is required in the next 3 months to build momentum and to overhaul majority of my business.  It’s time to concentrate less on client work to be able to overhaul the minute details of my business in order to advance further.


I know it won’t be as effortless when back in my own studio but I have a new found confidence to continue pushing my understanding of what is possible.  After too many years out of the studio I am eager for construction to conclude so I can move in and create my own variation of these exciting themes.  I still can’t believe her generosity of spirit to share her work practices so clearly as she teaches around the country.  Lou’s creativity and vision is inspiring.  Thank you for sharing a new perspective.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 02 Apr 2015 03:35:34 GMT
Key to Helping Hill-Stead's New Look After many months of work behind the scenes by the Director, the Board, the staff and the creative team, Hill-Stead’s new website was officially launched on Monday.  So why is this this newsworthy for my blog?  Because I created a significant number of the images in the majority of the sections to help showcase the Museum at it’s best.


Instead of standing behind a velvet rope or peering though a glass cabinet, I have the privilege of working closely with Melanie Anderson Bourbeau, Curator and Director of Interpretative Programming to photograph many of the priceless treasures at close range.  


Sometimes the photographs were taken in situ in the rooms (just as the occupants left them when the property was bequeathed) which meant dealing with the vagaries of the changing light as the weather played havoc, trying to control shafts of sunlight, trying to make an exposure in very low light or avoiding any risks of moving delicate precious objects.  It’s quite soothing to work quietly in these wonderful spaces, tuning in to the rhythmic, soothing tick of the heritage clocks.  One can almost imaging the family about to make a grand entrance after a fancy outing or striding on the grounds.  Oh yes, I photographed those glorious grounds and people enjoying events too but it was the interiors that required so much dedicated time to document properly.


In this context I was photographing the Monets’ Manets, Whisters, Cassats and other classic Impressionist Paintings in addition to detailed prints by Durer, Paranesi, Bracquemond, Millet and so many more.  Sculpture, clocks, furniture, textiles and fragile books make the home feel inviting because they are objects the family appreciated daily. 


Requiring considerably more equipment to set up for controlled lighting situations was the macro work to concentrate on the beauty of the Decorative Arts.  I really loved the challenge of lighting the silver and glass to control reflections.  Clocks and boxes have such intricate workmanship but I particularly liked the Asian souvenirs, especially since it’s a region I know well.  I expect most viewers won’t realize what goes into creating a well light staged set but it certainly took me back to college days in the studio as I earned my degree.  


In a future blog post I will show some of the set-ups we used to create the controlled light for the macro shots.  For now, it’s satisfying to see how my photography can help raise the profile of a museum I support in many other tangible ways.  Now I just need to upgrade my own website..... As they say, the cobbler’s children have no shoes.  Anyway I can’t dwell on what’s not there today because tomorrow’s clients deserve a fresh focus! Some sleep now and a new start tomorrow.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 26 Mar 2015 02:50:12 GMT
Key to Personal Projects Sometimes you don’t have to travel across the country to hear amazing speakers: they actually came to our home state during CTPPA’s 66th Annual Convention last weekend. 


“Between Light and Shadow” as the evocative title of the talk by Tony Corbell, a lighting guru I’ve often watched on webinars which is no substitute for hearing directly.  Tony shared his practical techniques, cinematic influences and personal projects such as “Lone Star Legacy” (his tribute to Texas) followed by a hands-on classic one-light portraiture workshop the next day.  


Canon “Explorer of Light” Tyler Stableford shared his stunning outdoor imagery of CO before seguing to “The Farmers”, a personal series that placed people in the context of their environments with great dignity.   Another original project “Into the Deep” (an imaginative sequence of a model swimming gracefully with whale sharks) was followed by a short climbing film about Stephen House “The Making of Shattered”.  “Donating with his camera” for pro bono projects in Ethiopia on behalf of “Little Baby Faces Foundation”.  It’s clear we can all continue to learn more.


Shalem Mathew and Mitch Kitter’s presentation “From Concept to Creation” proved original, sophisticated and quirky work can be created anywhere, even in Anchorage, AL.  From contemporary fashion to conceptual work such as “The Mother’s Earth”, their stand-out series “Love is Love” was beautiful and profoundly touching.  It was wonderful to talk with this couple after the convention and get to know them better.


John Stanmeyer’s impressive work from the last decade of National Geographic and Time Magazine were a thoughtful departure from the usual conference topics of weddings, portraits and newborns or business sessions (which were on offer too and well received).  I don’t have the courage to be an editorial photographer is some of those harsh conditions but he told their stories with such compassion and beauty.  It was fascinating to learn what research and resourcefulness underpins each photo-essay.


However the stellar session of the weekend was the final talk by Sandro (Miller) of Chicago which moved me to tears.  He wants people to be moved by art, just as he encouraged us to listen to our creative hearts and pursue personal projects without fear.  With a body of work spanning forty years, he covered publications such as “American Bikers”, “The Boxers”, “Human Faces”, “Reebok” campaign to the powerful “Finding Freedom”.  I was particularly drawn to the exquisitely beautiful new “Morroco” project and the precision of the “Malkevitch” project.  At a time when Sandro was questioning if he still had a deep idea within him as a legacy, he has won significant prestigious acclaim.  However his compelling motivator for new work is to reach out to do charitable work which dovetails neatly in to CT’s own charity gallery gala (details to follow soon)!


The learning point for all these insights is to trust your instincts and find a way to pursue passions that truly speak to you.  Although I have been photographing for years in a few countries, my sense of self and artistry is evolving.


In the spirit of continual learning I head up to NEIPP for an intensive hands-on high fashion class with Lou Freeman in 11 days.  I first saw Lou present in CT last year so this will be an exciting opportunity to delve into her distinctive approach to photographing woman in a very glamorous style.  


PS.  As an added bonus I was thrilled to receive a “Best in Show” award for an urban portrait “Pulse of a City” and was sworn onto the Board which is wonderful considering I only resumed photography less than 3 years ago.  Dreams ... chase them, create them.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 19 Mar 2015 03:57:41 GMT
The key to “Reverberation” How do creatives work?  Where do ideas spring from?  How does a concept evolve?  How is it finessed for display or public performance?  What is drawn from life and what part does imagination play?  How does one pay homage to the past yet still create something original?


In the lobby of a darkened theater on Monday I had insights into the way a talented young man approached his third play “Reverberation.”  Reflecting on his time living and loving in NY, Mathew Lopez was deeply influenced by the 1959 novel “Another Country” by James Baldwin.  In a small group of theater supporters, the playwright and the Asst Director, conversation flowed freely around how a play is developed, nurtured, tested, revised, tweaked and evolves, even after the curtain opens for a new season.


As many of you know, I am a visual person and love photography however I am also intrigued by the power of the written word.  I like the way a story weaves into your thoughts, teases with a little tug, skips a beat and then lingers in your imagination to be replayed or reconsidered as new information is layered into the narrative.  


With the collaborative process of producing a play it’s not an isolating experience like other forms of writing.  Teams test the way the dialogue is developed and paced, the physicality of moving fluidly around the set is considered as timing is inevitably trimmed.  The visual effect is enhanced by the interplay of props, costumes, light and sound as the weave their magic so the audience is drawn into the experience.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:46:32 GMT
Key to celebrating a great 90th birthday with Mark Twain Firstly, I am not that old.  It was not my birthday being celebrated at The Bushnell in Hartford last night.  It was 90 years young Mr Hal Holbrook giving a consummate performance as his alter ego, Sam Clemens, at a fund-raiser on behalf of the Mark Twain House.  I can understand why this "one night only" event was a treat so here's a little recipe to share.

Start with a young person searching for an engaging senior year thesis and then imagine Mr Holbrook in the 50s as he developed a taste for Twain.  Add a surprise discovery of Clemen's classic writings and sprinkle in a handful of wit.  Oh go on: toss in another handful for good measure and perhaps flourish a further fistful into the air just as Twain would have tossed his finely crafted observations to listeners, not caring if they were eagerly absorbed or fallen to the floor because there was another wry comment following close behind.  

Mix a dash of religion with the merest pinch of politics because too much political clap trap would spoil anyone's appetite.  Twain's observations on both topics are just as relevant in 2015 as they were in 1905 when Holbrook's evening piece was set.  If you listen to the one liners and the engaging stories you realize you know so much more of his craft than you realized. How many of today's writers, humorists and social commentators will be recalled word-perfect in a hundred years? 

Back to the recipe.  Add a personal visit to the Mark Twain House because that is where the young student, Mr Holbrook, really understood the context for Twain's life, particularly the formative period when so many of his fine books were written.  There is such a lovely story to the restoration and preservation of this precious house that was nearly lost to the nation a generation ago.  Heartache and happiness seeps from the crazy brick patterns and flows over the wooden balconies, each with a different pattern and into the unique rooms with their "modern"innovations.  If you haven't been for a while, take a tour and fall in love with the stories again.

Stir all the stories with vigor, much as Mr Holbrook spun his yarns with perfect pitch and pause.  The first half developed as I expected with a loose collection of recognizable quotes and short humorous stories as he took the podium, strode the stage, sat in the chair and "nodded off" with the mannerisms we have absorbed by watching his performances on film or tv over the years.  What I wasn't expecting was the physicality and variety of voices as he recounted a chapter from Huck Finn.  Of course he's a talented actor but Mr Holbrook's sense of energy and emotion had me sitting upright at full attention.  How would anyone enthuse that portrayal with that verve would astound me, let alone doing it on your 90th birthday.  Mr Holbrook is the best advertisement for senior living without boundaries.

Once the persona is perfectly formed by proofing and refining it for 2,000+ performances over 6 decades, let it rest for just a moment before the finishing touches while holding back the near-tears from Cindy Lovell, his friend and Executive Director of the House.  Garnish with a personal letter of congratulations from The White House from Michelle and Barrack Obama, sprinkle on some touching words from the Governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Sagardo (both of whom were quick to confirm they had never been in Congress, the topic of some lively Twainisms) and roll a large cake onto centre stage while the audience rose to sing Happy Birthday again.  

As heartfelt as the official words were, they were no match for the guest of honor's entreaty to turn off the tv and to read history to really comprehend the facts of the situation to understand people better.  Simple but true for our changing times.  

I don't know what passion you will pursue for 60+ years if you will be so fortunate to find a mission to craft and mold so it's inextricably tied to your persona.  It made me think deeply about the meaning of a real legacy.  Go back and revisit the writings (and of course the House, a treasure in our midst): you'll be glad you did.

As I drove home with a smile, I made certain to drive down Farmington Ave and give a little wave to his house, imagining it filled with lights, laughter, good food and wine (perhaps with two warm scotches) and stories - of course, always the stories.  


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 19 Feb 2015 04:50:24 GMT
Key to Inspiration How do you find energy and inspiration to move forward?  To try something different?  To develop or refine a skill?  To break out of old habits and create new momentum?  To fall in love with your original dream?  


There are many ways to get inspired by the great works of those who came before, by the leading edge progress of contemporaries  .....

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 12 Feb 2015 04:40:57 GMT
Key difference between Groundhogs and Kangaroos This week’s story is not a biology essay, despite first glance at the title.  Although each of these creatures has fascinating adaptive features to help it suit the relevant climate, it’s really an analogy for where I started and where I am now.


When we left Australia it was not uncommon to see huge mobs of kangaroos lazing in the shade at the local golf course or even right on our front lawn at dusk, nibbling at the tiny patch of tender green domesticated grass.  Some evenings I would roam the hills opposite amongst the tall straw-like grasses at dusk to gaze across the vast valley and soft undulating hills.  As the sky would reveal rich jewell-like colors while sunset deepened and the lights of the encroaching housing developments flickered with artificial abandon below I would sometime sit on the boulders to listen to the rustle of the landscape.  Thinking I was blissfully alone, I was often surprised by a large ‘roo or two poised just near me, alert but not alarmed.  Having usually finished all my film on the roll or accepting it was too dark to photograph these unique animals, I would just sit quietly again on the rocks and wait as the kangaroos would graze peacefully then slowly lop along with their ungainly legs and powerful tails.  The males can be quite large but they are surprisingly quiet so you would not hear them approach if they were not fearful.  If I knew then that my life was going to change dramatically I would have savored the experience at every opportunity and spent every possible evening on my hill.


Fast forward to 8 years on and Connecticut is now my usual base.  As I reflected on how my family and friends would be celebrating the Australia Day long weekend with all the heat and humidity I was preparing for the onslaught of a blizzard that was predicted to be historic.  Thankfully it wasn’t as severe as forecast but we do have more snow expected in the next few days that will probably disrupt usual activities, especially travel and school. It’s funny how it doesn’t take long to settle into a routine with the new seasons.  Falling trees, plummeting temperatures, power outages, stockpiling of supplies “just n case” has became part of the daily existence here.  Normal preparations are punctuated by reminders of major storms in years past like our loss of power for 12 days and so many fallen trees it literally was a natural disaster.  In this new environment, I now look for bears or deer in my yard, spot the fox stalking purposefully through the woods and perhaps hope to catch a glimpse of the lynx cat that has taken up residence under our back deck.  As the days finally lighten and we nudge closer to February we all hanker for the news to learn if “Phil” the groundhog will see his shadow or not, determining if we will have another six weeks of winter or an early spring.


This is a time for me to reflect on where I came from and what I now call home.  Is it the friendships and family that make a home; the memories and the aspirations; the cluttered souvenirs of a full life and the furnishings or books and paintings we transport to a new setting?  Perhaps we simply adapt to new surroundings and opportunities or cling forlornly to the life we once had.  


Looking forward, looking back?  Fearful or hopeful?  Reinventing ourselves or trapped in old narratives?  Is there ever a creature as complex and fascinating as people? Perhaps that’s really the key difference.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 29 Jan 2015 04:44:46 GMT