Deborah Key, L.L.C.: Blog en-us (C) Deborah Key, L.L.C. (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:48:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:48:00 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
Genius is Key to Salgado’s “Genesis” "Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty."

- John Ruskin, (1819-1900). parents


When was the last time you travelled to deliberately discover something truly epic on the scale of Ansel Adams with the humanity of, well, Sebastiao Salgardo?  How often do you see an exhibition of 200+ photographs in 2 countries 7 months apart and it touches you so deeply that you still pour over 520 pages in the companion book and reflect on how powerful a body of work is because it was created in 30 trips 8 months a year for 8 years but tells a story about thousands of years of habitation on this delicate planet. 


Are you feeling overwhelmed by the math in this opening paragraph?  Then become like Salgado and switch your mindset from data to imagery.  What were you doing in 1970? It was the year his wife gave him a camera and Salgado turned from a career as an Economist in Paris to become an esteemed photojournalist winning international acclaim for high calibre publications and agencies such a Magnum while exhibiting and producing books of his dramatic, confronting photojournalism imagery.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 22 Jan 2015 04:50:44 GMT
Inauguration Parades are a key tradition On a bleak bitter winter’s morning in Hartford the symbols of political power were honored in simple ceremonies dating back hundreds of years but few Connecticut residents witnessed these traditions firsthand.  It was an all American parade with Military honors, Police motorcycle riders, uniformed marchers stepping smartly in formation with flags held high, school groups and bands with batons twirling as the re-elected officials waved to the shivering few people along the short route from the soldiers and Sailors’ Arch to the Capitol Building.    


In a barren icy park the security and Army teams patrolled for a couple of hours before the “step off” but it was clear there would be no dissenting or riotous crowd.  Perhaps it was the frigid temperatures below 20s F, perhaps people are truly busy or perhaps the continuation of the status quo no longer causes a ruffle in the daily routine of people who are secure in the everyday.  In an era where wars are still fought to restore or introduce democratic processes to other countries I often wonder about the low voter turnout in this country and the small  numbers of people who actually observe the safe passage of government.  I hope they truly value how precious this process is.


I was there, questioning my sanity as my breath hurt and I tried to minimize the amount of skin exposed to the elements.  Why put my body and my camera through the discomfort?  Why try to keep camera batteries warm inside my jacket until just moments before they were needed?  Simple: I wanted to photograph the Horse Guards in their fine Oxford Blues formal uniform with gold lined capes swirling as they continued the tradition of accompanying the Governor in his inaugural parade.    


It was “now or never” so I persisted but the reward was that I virtually had the street to myself as the parade came up the rise towards me.  I could dart in and out without the normal jostle and, as I ran backwards up the hill in my quest to get a better photo a they advanced towards me, as the excitement of the heroic images came into focus in my lens, I forgot about the discomfort.  It must be the same sensation wildlife or artic photographers feel when the images are unfolding in front of them.


I couldn’t resist the opportunity to gain near exclusive images because I knew there would be few people willing to endure the cold in the quest for photos that would not be observed for another four years.  This is history, quite, dignified and real: a tradition to be preserved.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 15 Jan 2015 04:46:52 GMT
New Year, New Vision, New Vigor is Key New Year in New York is always special.  Holiday lights and windows give a glow well beyond Times Square where colored confetti continued to flutter 20 hours after the Ball dropped.  As the rain came and the crowds thinned, leaving glistening reflections on quiet streets, it’s time to savor the magic of this vibrant city.  It’s always exciting to stroll the streets, attend the best of Broadway, sample favorite restaurants then see world-class fine art and photography exhibitions.


A personal highlight was “Genesis”.  I love Salgado’s dramatic images so it was a treat to see his work again in the final exhibition at the International Center of Photography before the ICP relocates downtown.  It reaffirmed I always gravitate to strong black and white images so when I finish revamping my website in the next few weeks you will see my homage to his style.


This year has started strong with a series of meetings that are expanding collaborative projects I've already been involved with in recent years.  A very classy cookbook project has the green light to develop quickly; Hill-Stead has some exciting activities that will tie in with other areas of interest; two exhibitions are booked; and today I photographed the Horse Guards on parade as part of Governor Malloy’s Inauguration for a second term, despite the bitter cold. Who would have thought I’d literally be in the midst of this American tradition with all the marching bands, pomp and ceremony?


It’s very reaffirming to see how my style and confidence has crystalized in the past few years as these wild ideas converge into a more cohesive body of work.  I don’t have all the answers but I finally have the confidence to trust my instincts and follow the path that fires my imagination.  This is the year to deliver the dreams and really step it up.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:52:45 GMT
Key to a New Year "The artist is always beginning.  Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth".  Ezra Pound.


So another new year unfurls with all the promises of fresh beginnings and renewed focus.  However you celebrate the holidays and mark important milestones, remember to be accepting of yourself.  We all make plans and promises to do things differently but I am setting more gentle goals for 2015.  As ambitious and dedicated as I am, I know we can’t miss the little moments that matter.


I am proud that photography is my passion and my profession.  I have met some amazing people, visited awesome places and experienced touching insights into other ways of life.  As privileged and and demanding as some of these projects are, I also know that one can never take people or good health for granted.  Treasure the moments you have with the people you love.  Recent months have meant a shift in personal priorities but somehow we keep moving forward with purpose: it’s the challenge of living a rich life and coping with the unpredictable.


2014 was an incredible year.  I had 3 solo photographic exhibitions, was published in magazines and the press, my photos were shown on tv and in major art institutions, I gained some recognition in awards competitions, several long-term projects are expanding to form major bodies of new work and a new style of personal portraiture is  evolving.  I have met some truly inspirational mentors and teachers on this journey so thank you for the encouragement and friendship.


Whew.  Sometimes it feels like the vision and the possibilities are swirling faster than I can breath yet I am always striving to create something more beautiful at every opportunity.  It’s exhilarating, exhausting and energizing.  This year holds such promise I can barely contain my excitement.  I will try to post “World on Wednesdays” and “Food on Fridays” but am realistic enough to know life does not always follow the perfect schedule.  I invite you to follow along when it suits you too.


As always, I wish you joy and peace as you savor the beauty of life.  Deb

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 01 Jan 2015 17:35:41 GMT
My key to "Set 2 Celebrate" With 35 Designers, gardening aficionados and non-profit groups competing for the coveted “best in show” honors at the 4th annual “Set 2 Celebrate” at the gracious Town & County Club in Hartford, CT on Nov 13-15, it is clear this event is definitely becoming a favored feature to introduce the holiday season in style.  Each setting developed it’s chosen theme with such care and attention to detail that it was a pure delight to record their creations with my camera.  These creative interpretations showcased exquisite china, crystal, silverware, antique collectables and divine floral displays with a splash of the unexpected or whimsical.   


As a casual observer the previous 2 years I was already impressed by their ingenuity.  This year as the official photographer this year to help the Connecticut Valley Garden Club with its major fundraiser event this year I witnessed this metamorphosis at close hand to help capture the beautiful details before this 2.5 day event was gone, like an ethereal spirit.  It was a delight to see the ballroom, library and every significant room transformed by exquisite tablescapes.  CT based videographer, Alex Sauerbrunn, recorded the transformation with his time lapse while I concentrated on the still images. It’s always fun to share a project with someone new who offers complementary skills so we continually evolve as a profession to remain current.


It’s amazing to realize this fleeting showcase event for dedicated designers that delights 1,000+ visitors is orchestrated largely through their efforts, the T & C staff and by 35 active volunteer members of the CVGC.  Kudos to all who generously share their time and energy.  Monies raised help fund the Heritage Rose Garden project at Elizabeth Park, several community outreach programs and will help seed the Centennial activities (yes, pun intended).  I cannot imagine how 2015 will exceed this year’s experience but planning is already underway with 20 tables already booked so it promises to something to definitely anticipate. 


From this simple experience of helping a small group of committed individuals I have met selfless and talented creatives.  New projects are emerging on the horizon but that’s a topic for another day.  In the meantime, save the date for S2C Nov 13-14, 2015.  See you there.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 04 Dec 2014 04:52:46 GMT
Key to Thanksgiving "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

~ John F. Kennedy


Every country has its favorite rituals and Thanksgiving is certainly a major one for the US.  With very faint homage to it’s original purpose as a cause for Pilgrim immigrants to give thanks for their survival in an unfamiliar landscape for their first year completely isolated from everything familiar, now it’s a major holiday focussed on food (lots of it), travel (literally millions of people on the move, despite the vagaries of the weather), the overwhelming bargain shopping hype that leaves me unmoved and the unofficial launch of the holiday season.  


In New England, holiday decorating is truly an art form that creates an inviting atmosphere.  As a relative newcomer I am still in awe by the efforts many people devote to their decor.  In the past 2 weeks I have been busy in Hartford photographing a major fundraiser event “Set 2 Celebrate” for the Connecticut Valley Garden Club at the exquisite mansion now operating as the Town & Country Club and hanging garlands from a cherry picker in the esteemed Wadsworth Atheneum as part of the set up for the annual “Festival of Trees” feeling like I should be singing the famed balcony solo “Don’t Cry for me Argentina” from my elevated perch.  It’s all a little surreal for a girl from a small country town on the other side of the world to be in the midst of the premier social activities in this very traditional part of New England.


So now I am in another country on this Thanksgiving eve, appreciating my family and friends who have helped create so many superb experiences this year.  What are you thankful for?  I value our precious time together as we all evolve and pursue our passions, finding our own path in the world as new opportunities emerge in a changing world.   We all have opinions, foibles, fears and dreams yet we support each other as we continue to learn life lessons.  After nearly 5 months of health issues impacting our immediate family I am definitely thankful for excellent medical care and restored health.  As I spend more time with veterans and members of the military I am thankful for our freedoms in a democratic society.  As I work with more service organizations and people committed to improving the world, I am humbled by people’s generosity of spirit.


As I am asked to create new images for organizations and clients I admire, I reflect on how fortunate I am to have this interesting and varied life.  My work is appearing in more publications, people are praising my images and I am succeeding in competitions as I venture forth with more confidence.  It has been a roller coaster of emotion to resume a career after a long hiatus but now it’s time to flourish.  As the ripples widen and I meet truly amazing people in my travels, the richness of these experiences is beyond energizing.  New projects are on the cusp of commission as I write so this truly is a year to be thankful.  I wish you the confidence to pursue your dreams too.  Bon chance mes amis.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 27 Nov 2014 04:34:47 GMT
Remembering Veterans is Key In the past year I have had the privilege of photographing many of Avon’s Veterans by invitation.  From accompanying them to ceremonies involving each of the five public schools in our town and listening to the heartfelt personal presentations at the library last year to witnessing the formal parades of Memorial Day and Veterans Day to the smaller observances at the Town Green and many other occasions, I have seen these private people honor their experiences with a quiet dignity and demonstrate patriotism with pride.


Yesterday was more sobering and confronting than many of these other public events.  The speeches recognized the passing of eleven members of VFW Post 3272 and the crowd was significantly smaller than in past years.  People united in quiet prayer, the children sang and read stories about events we hope they never know while Taps was played solemnly with its haunting echo. Fewer flags lined the streets, the newly paving at the memorial was unswept and there were no chairs for the aging Veterans while the Town Offices were closed while stores offering Veterans’ Day Sales were full.  It was a sad reflection of the imbalance in our priorities.  This was a day to reflect on sacrifice and overwhelming situations that tested people’s limits, not to celebrate empty commercial opportunism.


One hundred years ago 5% of this small town’s population had enlisted.  In today’s terms that would be nearly a thousand people but we know it’s only a small portion of that number.  When the soldiers returned from early conflicts they were honored until the Vietnam Veterans returned to a deeply divided nation.  They were often silent about their experiences and resumed normal life after abnormal experiences.  In recent conflicts PTSD has been  recognized as a medically valid condition but support in our communities is variable.  The shocking fact I heard yesterday on WNPR is that more recently returned service people take their own life than become casualties of war.  Think about those numbers again and know that is not acceptable.  Think how you can reach out to support someone who needs deeper understanding and practical help when it really counts.


In this year recognizing the centennial of the outbreak of WW1 there have been many profound opportunities to reflect deeply on the human cost of conflict, a sad reality that is still being reported in our media daily while the relentless scale escalates.  I sincerely hope my children are never called to fight but I hope they always have integrity and a sense of honor. 


I hope they always have a deep sense of appreciation for those served with valor.  I am deeply touched and I thank you.  We remember your stories and your service.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 13 Nov 2014 04:52:15 GMT
Key to a personal vision Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 06 Nov 2014 04:23:14 GMT
My Key to London “If London is a watercolor, New York is an oil painting” Peter Shaffer


What is your impression of London?  From the moment I first visited Britain’s capitol nearly 30 years ago I felt completely at home and I am still intrigued by city’s diversity.   


In my third solo show this year, I returned to my first love of travel photography to showcase a city that constantly evolves and reinvents itself, layering more memories like an archeological site  My current exhibition “London Through My Lens” is a small sampling of 40+ photos that portray some of the character of England’s vibrant city from the historic to contemporary urban landscapes.  It is still on view at the Gallery at the Avon Public Library, 280 Country Club Road, Avon from Sept 2 - Oct 26 2014 inclusive.


Marveling at the myriad of architectural details crowded into familiar scenes, I hope to bring a fresh perspective to this vibrant city.  Showing deserted streets in a crowded city throughout the seasons or at different times of the day or night, these images convey many moods of the third largest city in the world.  


With a mix of bold color choices and classic BW images, strong graphic lines and shadows capture the beautiful drama of London.  Of course photos can’t convey the atmosphere of a cosy crowded pub, fine dining in grand establishments, the intimacy of theater or Ballet in the West End or miles of Museum galleries waiting to savored leisurely as one wanders from one treasure to the next.  Somehow the crazy juxtaposition of old buildings with intricate architectural features sit comfortably with new glass creations crowding towards the sky. On each visit I discover something new and I always leave feeling that I haven’t finished sampling its riches fully so I am already planning a return trip.


As a bonus feature, there is also a small retrospective showing highlights from the Centenary Exhibit of the Royal Chelsea Flower Show as featured in the premiere issue of “Couture Flowers” magazine last month. 


This display is a departure from my recent photo exhibits of the First Company Governor’s Horse Guards.  Those large scale black and white portraits of the GHG were on view for 4 weeks at The Bushnell in Hartford to coincide with the sold-out theatrical season of the play “War Horse” with an encore hanging at the Avon Library for a further 6 weeks earlier this year.  I am still actively involved in this unique long-term photo-documentary project, confirming a third Horse Guards exhibition with new images and supporting programs has been scheduled for Spring 2015.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 16 Oct 2014 03:21:48 GMT
Key to Jerry Ghionis What’s the key to this amazing, world renowned inspirational photographer?  


  • A solid repertoire with more than 20 years of experience photographing weddings and portraits with a determination to continually improve


* Technical mastery of lighting to achieve dramatic portraits, even designing his own “Ice Light” for added impact 


* The ability to pose people fluidly with his mellifluous verbal instructions so they appear elegant yet plausible 


  • Willingness to walk away from a successful studio model to return to the essence of what is a manageable client list that still affords travel and financial security without sacrificing a balanced life of joy


  • The courage to reconnect with his passion and original inspiration that has led to the development of a new creative direction in a new city


  • A genuine commitment to sharing his expertise, experience and excellence to foster creativity and business acumen in others in person or via The I.C.E. Society.


  • A wicked sense of humor and natural warmth that sets people at ease


  • A candid honesty in sharing his learning experiences, mistakes and heartbreaks


  • The love of a beautiful woman who is a soul mate and companion in the truest sense.


* ... and so much more.  In case you cannot guess, I am a huge fan, having followed his career for more than a decade in two countries.  Although I am not a wedding photographer I always learn so much from his sessions because he’s a true Master and a really nice guy.  I attend many professional development programs every year to continually improve my craft but I have yet to meet anyone who delivers as much energy, passion, skill and inspiration as Jerry does in one day.  If you are fortunate enough to attend one of his intense 12 hour days during his 30 city tour “How to Wow” you will gain insights that propel you to another level and encourage you to exceed your expectations.  Tell him Deb sent you.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 09 Oct 2014 02:04:08 GMT
Authentic style is Key Craig LaMere’s artistic portraiture has a distinct fashion style which is in marked contrast to the man himself. CTPPA was fortunate to have him share his techniques and philosophies this Monday but we learnt so much more than lighting patterns.  I liked his non-pretentious manner: he doesn’t take himself seriously yet he is definitely serious about understanding his craft as was evident by his speed to become proficient in just 5 years from picking up a camera.  This is a man determined to succeed.  


I really enjoyed his quick slide show that contrasted his early work with current sophisticated images.  As he says, “we all start somewhere” so anything is possible if you have the determination he does.  Craig evolved from being a self-taught photographer to studying with the best so he can deliver edgy photos for his clients. Even when he doesn’t have scheduled bookings, he creates the opportunity to make new images and constantly try a different look.  


Thanks to the hard work and resources generously supplied by Peter Dylag and Yolanda Christine, those who stayed on for the hands-on workshop in the evening had the chance to photograph 6 lovely ladies in 5 different sets with a variety of costumes ranging from sassy and scanty to demure vintage. In this concentrated hands-on activity we could experiment with posing women and or using multiple light modifiers while our instructor guided us good naturedly. 


The workshop pushed me out of my comfort zone as intended and offered the opportunity to try new techniques with specific coaching.  While I appreciate the patience and co-operation of the models, personally I found it hard to relate to some of the stances or formality of gesture.  I know it’s my personal bias but some of the poses or outfits seemed like 1940s Vargas.  In my mind it was a little contrived.  I actually felt far more relaxed when I asked the beautiful model to kick her shoes off so she could move more freely and swoosh the dress.  


As the folds of fabric floated and draped in a more sensuous manner, I sense the model actually relaxed too and had more fun.  My style is definitely more natural and fluid.  Judging by the way her expression opened up and the tension left her body I think she was fully engaged too.  Remember, it’s just a photograph (hopefully a treasured keepsake) but you need to enjoy the creative partnership if you are going to discover that authentic style.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 25 Sep 2014 03:09:48 GMT
Key to artistry against the odds So when was the last time your conference was interrupted by a genuine tornado warning?  Following the instruction to stay inside in a safe area away from windows, we then had a second alert to evacuate and leave the building due to a fire which seemed incongruous in the middle of a downpour and tornado alert.  Stay inside?  Stay outside?  Stay safe!  Loss of lights and instruction from the staff made it clear it was time to assemble in the ballroom as instructed where we joined up with another group, a group of WWII veterans and their companions attending a briefing prior to their “Flight of Honor” to Washington DC later this month.  It was fascinating to talk to the old servicemen and women.  Anyway I digress.  So how does this all this preamble dovetail into a story about artistry against the odds? 


In the midst of all this chaos, Barbara Ellison, the first speaker for PPANE’s conference this weekend continued her instruction in the corridors to an avid group of photographers keen to learn how to take their craft to a new artistic level.  In her session “Creative Printing with Canon” Ellison shared her experiences with exquisite range of fine art papers from Hahnemuele, Canson, and hand-made fibers.  It was wonderful to touch the delicate papers and see how an artistic image can gain a different aesthetic by being printed on a new medium.  Between her talk supplemented by the tactile experience of feeling new fibers and learning how to print more precisely the following day, I can’t wait to experiment to take my images to a new level.


I am eager to attend more in-depth sessions about the techniques of coating papers to create different finishes and new methods to display work, including hand-crafted book binding.  In an age of mechanized digital prints, it was soothing to think how I can incorporate these techniques into my range of art pieces for that unique personal touch.


Thank you Barbara for helping me fall in love with the artistry of my chosen medium again.  It's like having a darkroom in a digital era.  After an unpredictable start, the 3 day PPANE convention gave me many business insights but my stories about Clay Blackmore's "Pose It, Light, Love It" and “Portraits and Compositing” by multi-award winning Richard Sturdevant are topics for another day.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:53:26 GMT
Key to effective PPANE management The 113th Annual PPANE Conference returns again to Nashua, NH this weekend (Sept 6-8).  If you have already received your glossy program you will know that you can’t miss the experience of learning directly from Barbara Ellison, Madonna Lovett Repeta, David Mayheu, Gary Hughes, Clay Blackmore and  Richard Sturdevant where you can mingle with the presenters in an informal setting.  If you haven’t already booked, you may still be able to reserve a place if you act quickly.  If you are an active member of PPANE your convention cost is covered so all you need to do is invest the time to refresh your skills and reflect on changes in this fast-changing industry.


I am looking forward to viewing the display of winning prints from the Northeast District Print Competition hosted by PPANE back in May.  In an ideal world I would have entered and then attended the judging to understand how to continually improve my craft but I had personal priorities that needed attention back then.  That’s life.  However, I know I will be inspired by seeing the efforts of my 31 New England peers who did compete and earned 76 blues ribbons.  Congratulations to all.


If you haven’t been to PPANE before or have missed a few years, it’s also a good chance to get great gear at the Trade Show, enjoy the hospitality, see friends (old and new), kick up your heels at the Awards Party and try your luck to win a cool high tech prize or perhaps even a scholarship towards NEIPP Mar 29 - Apr 2 2015.  


PPANE offers so much more than this annual conference and NEIPP.  In the past few months there was a 1 day “summer safari” and each state in the PPANE region offered a new series of short “Summer Sizzlers”, in June.  CT’s own Tom Hurlbert ran a wonderful evening on June 10th at his intriguing home and studio while sharing the evolution of his personal fascination long exposure photography since student days to his current work.  While the fresh home made oatmeal cookies were a definite bonus, the chance to experiment with “Painting with Light” techniques was great fun with friends.


So what is the key to PPANE?  Know there is no pain unless you miss it.  Step away from the computer and the in-tray, open your mind, meet new people and learn from practitioners at the leading edge of their chosen specialties.  As my dear old dad says “No knowledge is a loss”.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 04 Sep 2014 04:07:38 GMT
Key to "Travel Photographer of the Year" Jeremy Hoare, British photographer and judge."Jeremy Hoare, esteemed British photographer and TV cameraman, one of 12 judges for the 2014 "Travel Photographer of the Year" for the Royal Society shows the way to new destinations What is the enduring allure of travel photography?  Perhaps we all fantasize about stepping away from our ordinary routines into a magical setting to suspend daily reality for just a little while.  We are intrigued by other ways of living and curious to learn about other cultures, whether it’s the language, food, music, traditions, clothing or simply to enjoy the images that “freeze” another world for a moment.  Therefore it seems fitting on a warm balmy summer’s night in London I was in the jasmine-scented gardens of the Royal Society in London chatting with Founder, Chris Coe and Jeremy Hoare, one of the distinguished judges for the prestigious “Travel Photographer of theYear” under the humorous signs, including one pointing to fictional Narnia.


As a child I grew up with the stories of grand expeditions funded by the Royal Society from David Livingston in Africa and Ernest Shackleton in Antarctica, the latter leading a team through an impossible ordeal.  I read about the latter’s struggle in great detail thanks to his written accounts enhanced by the enduring power of the photographs taken by Australian adventurer Frank Hurley ... but that’s a story for another day. 


I never dreamt I would be in London sipping a glass of wine in their grounds in sight of the Royal Albert Hall near Kensington Gardens and the grand museums of the Victorian era when scientific exploration was celebrated with pride.  This prestigious institution with it impeccable pedigree for objective scientific exploration and sharing understanding could have been quite intimidating but the people were warm and engaging. 


Fellow travelers (professional, amateur or air-chair travelers) seemed to revel in the range of images from wildlife to landscape to cityscape and surprising observations that left one puzzled or intrigued.  The creative efforts of all image makers were celebrated while also respecting their copyright.  The large free-standing panels were easy to view with time to read about the Finalists’ images and their makers without feeling crowded.   


TPOTY could be such an intimidating, almost grandiose title.  With billions of people whirling around this planet with unprecedented access to cameras in all their myriad of forms, how is it even possible to categorically announce who is the best?  I was impressed by the calibre of works displayed that I was pleased to invest in a couple of books.  Looking at the artistry again now I am home, particularly the BW images, I am in awe of the judging process.


So how does one become a Travel Photographer of the year?  By not being timid.  By submitting a single image or a series.  By having the courage to share one’s vision and observations in a changing world. Regardless if you are pro or amateur, the power of the image can transcend a place to reveal a universal story.  Follow the journey on  I know I am going to enter.  Wish me luck this October.



(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 28 Aug 2014 03:14:26 GMT
Key to Sustainable Nutrition In this convenience-obsessed era of mass produced food that is shipped around the nation or across borders regardless of the season, it’s all to easy to bemoan the state of quality of food, to decry the rising obesity epidemic in many countries or grumble about trading the taste of fresh seasonal produce bred to withstand the rigors of a carbon-foot print but it’s far harder to make a sustainable difference an an integrated way.  Two years ago at the Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Hartford I met an intriguing woman, Joan Palmer, a fellow classmate who had a vision for a holistic approach to teaching people how to grow and prepare healthy produce with a deep understanding of the medicinal properties of herbs.  At tonight’s Open House for The Institute for Sustainable Nutrition just a few days after their inaugural year long class, it was clear Joan had created her vision to nourish people in the fullest sense.


A winding drive along wooded country roads led to Holcomb Farm, a delightful clearing with iconic red barns trimmed with peeling white painted trim.  After a warm welcome before the summer light faded, we wandered to the vegetable garden where students had raised different plants during the season.  It was the first time I had ever seen bold amber heads of Amaranth, a protein packed seed in full bloom or some of the heritage tomatoes.  While the emphasis is on local sustainable crops, I was surprised to see lemon grass was thriving.  As a person who loved the convenience of picking fresh Asian herbs just outside my door in another country, I was very thrilled to know I can  replicate this herb in New England, even if it’s only going to be an annual in this climate.


Nigel Palmer explained how to restore life to tired soil by adding organic mineral powders and nutrient rich tinctures then measuring the quality of that bounty by testing the sucrose levels with a refractometer, a technique originally employed by vignerons in Europe in the 1800s.  With a strong science background, this barefoot teacher with a sense of humor encouraged us to be connected from the soil to the stars as he showed us where to look for Mars and Saturn then where to watch for Orian just over the horizon at 5am tomorrow. He also regaled us with stories of baby bunnies, snakes and a bear that clambered over the fence to reach the beehive.  Alison Birks then explained the health benefits for everything from milkweed to stinging nettles to red clover as she took the group of guests to the edge of the field to show us how to safely forage for wild edibles.


As the sunset waned over the barn it was time to gather on the stone patio while Terry Walters prepared a simple, colorful chickpea salad with fresh ingredients from her garden and the farm.  As an award winning author of the creative “Clean Food” and “Clean Start” books, I am always impressed by her perfect light balance of flavors.  I have known Terry since soon after we arrived in our little town almost 8 years ago and think it’s a blessing to have such a thoughtful, positive person in our midst.  It was delightful to share the celebration in such a peaceful setting with family and friends.


I declare I am not associated with this program but certainly I applaud their program and the efforts of local farmers who need your support at local markets throughout the year, not just at the peak of summer.  To learn more about the 12 month certification program or special events, please visit

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 21 Aug 2014 03:58:48 GMT
Why Sabbaticals are Key Sabbatical.  Even the word sounds like a sigh.  Sometimes it’s the perfect antidote to the “busyness of business”, especially when you feel that you can’t contemplate a break from everything that needs to be done.  Remember no one is indispensable, even in your own venture.  Take the time to pause and take your pulse, personally and professionally.  


I literally “skipped the country” to spend time with my closest friend and to break the routine of the everyday.  I needed some quiet time, some laughs, some good wine and the opportunity to share some deep discussion with a trusted mentor who truly understands my creative path.  If you don’t have a genuine partner, sounding board or executive coach, it can be difficult to objectively take stock of your achievements or to plan the next steps.  Celebrate with someone who cares and who is constructively candid because it’s easy to be too close and loose a little perspective. 


Not everyone can “disappear” for 6 weeks but I had the added luxury of a week completely on my own to follow the rhythm of my soul.  I indulged in all the activities I love: I read, went to a wide selection of theater, wandered museums, strolled in art galleries and meandered in a city I love while developing a fresh collection of photos.  I spoke to many creatives and took the time to research photographers I admire.  I scribbled ideas and now I am eager to apply this new perspective in my work.   


It’s your choice but I can heartedly recommend taking time out.  Reflect, refine, reinvent and recommit.  You’ll be amazed at the new reserves you have to draw from. 

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:18:55 GMT
Why Memorials are Key It’s been a profoundly touching month on a personal and professional level with many milestones.  Formal or not, these memorials mark the passage of time and of people.  As a family, we are preparing to enter a new phase as children grow toward independence and we approach the challenge of downsizing by choice; I lost friends to disease; and I quietly observed dignified commemorations that transcend our day to day concerns.


Memorial Day is a special event in this part of the world.  For some it’s the unofficial start of summer parties and shopping deals.  For others, it’s really time to reflect on those who served and to remember those who did not return.  In my little town, it’s like an iconic movie.  There are the Veterans from more than 60+ years of conflict: some still march with a young person’s vigor; others ride with dignity in classic cars and wave to the faithful flag-waiving crowd.  The parade includes Police, Fire Dept, Scouts, Brownies, school marching bands, town and school officials, and many more.  In the crowd you see all ages and nationalities, all united by respect.  From the reverberation of the rifles fired by the Detail from the Governor’s Horse Guards to the “Last Post” and it’s haunting echo played on the trumpet by local High School students to the speeches recalling the heroic actions of a brother who did not return, this was a day of words that called for deep reflection.  It’s not a movie about fictional small-town America: this is my adopted small-town America and I know these families gather on the Town Green who honor the past.


A week before Memorial Day I attended a more personal Memorial Service the Governor’s Horse Guards observes annually in tribute to those who passed.  In their ceremonial Oxford Blues and with fellow militia, the Footguards, the Troop marched to St Ann’s for a dignified service.  For those who have ever closely followed and heard the drum, fife or taps, you know there is something stirring in those timeless traditions.  In the formal addresses Lt Moore honored the former Troopers who passed this year, Lt Mazzaro shared his personal experiences of serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and now with the 2ndCoGHG but it is the poem read by Captain Gary Brooks that still plays in my mind.


Perhaps it’s more poignant for me this year because of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1.  As an Australian acutely aware of the centenary of the Gallipoli Landing next year, I recall contemplative early dawn services that honor the spirit and the loss.  Between the my photo exhibit that accompanied “War Horse” at the start of this year and that is currently on display again at the Avon Library, it seems an earlier fascination with that era has returned.  Those images are seared in my mind, such is the power of photography to stop a moment.  Perhaps that’s why I am drawn to the simple drama of black and white imagery.


Away from the military, I attended a simple but thoughtful service for a beautiful elegant artistic woman who succumbed to cancer.  She planned the tranquility of a  service that was peaceful as she intended.  Outside as we mingled with the other mourners I was touched when a woman thanked me for some photos I'd sent of her with that friend, now all the more precious.  At the time I merrily snapped away I had not known one of the women was profoundly ill.  I was simply enjoying a lovely dinner on a hill on a balmy Fall evening with new friends.  7 months later she was losing her fight with cancer so I shared happy memories with friends before the inevitable came.  Her words touched me and reminded me perhaps this is why I share this gift called photography.    


It’s not about striving for impersonal awards or external validation: it’s about real life with real people.  Perhaps it seems like an odd choice to dwell on this topic this week but it’s part of the same continuum of life’s journey from birth, first steps, prom, marriage and all the small moments in between.  It’s the laughs and the shared meals, the relaxing and everything else.  Make these moments count now.  Do what you love, do what is important and be with the people you want to be with.  Simple.  I urge you to dust of those photos and enjoy them.  It’s not about perfection or how we look.  Forget vanity: treasure humanity


My next post will be much more upbeat - I promise.  It’s about all the activities at Hill-Stead, a unique pace I am appreciating more with each passing month.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 05 Jun 2014 03:57:46 GMT
Lighting is key Effective lighting is one one of many factors that help create impact and drama in a good photograph.  Like many polished skills it takes a solid understanding of theory and plenty of practice to refine technique to develop a signature style.  


Thanks to his generous support for CTPPA I just spent 3 days attending a Doug Gordon Workshop at his studio in Lindenhurst, Long Island, NY as part of a scholarship prize he gifted for CT’s recent Print Competition.  Last week was a crazy time for me to go away in the midst of some massive personal and professional projects but I am pleased I invested the time to learn some new approaches.


Doug has taught in most states and many countries, has won multiple awards and last year he became a Nikon Ambassador so he knows his craft. While paying respect to fundamental lighting principles outlined by his teachers (including the late great Monte Zucker), Doug showed how he photographs for the current market.  With hands-on sessions in locations as diverse as the studio, the beach, a park or even transforming a blighted urban area into a woodland oasis, Doug showed us how  he creates stunning images quickly using “flow pose” techniques.  However, the most exciting aspect of the 3 days instruction was a portrait session with a fashion twist in Manhattan by the river at night.  I have walked those areas many times in the evening but never really known how to approach the mixed lighting scenarios so I really appreciate his clear instruction.  I can’t wait to experiment to create some new images using these tips.


In practical demonstrations with the help of fellow classmates and his staff as stunning models, I understood the essence of lighting and efficient artful posing in a way more meaningful than any book or virtual instruction can impart in isolation.  He shared efficient photo-editing practices that give his photos an edge, particularly the intimate boudoir images.  It’s not an easy location to get to and the studio is not fancy but I learnt some valuable lessons from a person who makes a profitable living for his busy team in a time where many traditional photography businesses are failing.


In my book, Doug is refreshingly candid and has a wicked sense of humor.  He’s quick to laugh or to make a risque comment to liven up the group or set a model at ease yet he is still very conscious of the need to be professional.  With a direct “no BS” manner, he doesn’t pretend to be perfect but he is proud of his honest approach to business, a welcome stance in an increasingly crowded industry.  


I feel I gained an insight into the man and what’s important: family, coaching baseball, running a viable business, and having a sense of personal vision in a changing world.  In that short time together I saw countless examples of a generous spirit that lurks beneath bluster and bravado.  Meet the man and form your own conclusion.


Perhaps I should confer an honorary Aussie citizenship as my way of saying thanks for offering me this chance to attend this illuminating workshop.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 22 May 2014 03:39:52 GMT
Key to a busy Spring Think spring and most people assume it's time to replant the garden, freshen up the house, add a pop of color to one's wardrobe and socialize with friends after an extremely long, cold winter.  Like most people, I am doing all of these things and truly delighted to be outdoors in the midst of all the blossoms.  The birds are darting with renewed vigor and purpose, keeping me company as I settle the new plants into their fresh beds while feathered friends serenade me.  I don't think I've seen such an array of birds on our property before so I know it's a good sign our woods are a  healthy habitat for them.

Instead of spending this morning at the computer I took a little detour to savor some quiet time down by the meadows near a local river.  As the early sun gleamed through new leaves, I wandered through mounds of daffodils and hyacinths.  The endless "to do" list could wait a little longer because it seems the blooms are passing too quickly.  This has been an incredibly hectic month so a little solitude between sessions was most welcome.

Spring heralds the beginning of many major fund-raising events and I am pleased to report the "Fine Art & Flowers" at the Wadsworth went well.  I had some lovely feedback for my slideshow that screened throughout the 3 day event and I also enjoyed a delightful Italian style 4 course dinner in the Avery Court near the fountain surrounded by stunning art and listening to Madama Butterfly performed by members of the CT Lyric Opera.  After months of work by the Museum and the Women's Committee, it was good to enjoy all the artistry that makes it a calendar favorite.  I am sharing a little slideshow of the evening.

That same weekend I was a participant at a Writers' Weekend at The Mark Twain House and Museum, a series of workshops that exceeded all expectations.  The experienced authors were generous in spirit as they shared their insights and encouraged us to pursue our projects.  I shared 2 specific projects and was heartened to take them to the next level based on the interested response.  Who knows how these projects may develop?

On Friday my "Guarding Tradition" photos that had hung at The Bushnell Theater in Hartford for Jan-Feb to coincide with the dramatic play "War Horse" were installed at the Avon Library for an "Encore" exhibition for 6 weeks.  If you missed these large black & white portraits of the 1st Company Governor's Horse Guards, you can see them until Friday 13th June when they "retire from active service".  There will be a new show in the Fall with some accompanying programs to share the history of this unique cavalry unit.

Looking ahead this month there are 2 major events at Hill-Stead, the May Market on 9th & 10th (this Friday and Sat) then the major Dinner Auction event on Thursday May 22.  I hope you can attend in person to enjoy a true treasure in this Farmington Valley (recently voted one of the top 20 destinations in New England).  Just in case you can't attend, I look forward to sharing some of those photos soon so you can see why spring is so special in this part of the world.








(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 08 May 2014 03:34:05 GMT
Fine Art and Flowers are Key Now in its 33rd year "Fine Art and Flowers" is a popular calendar highlight at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Main St, Hartford, CT.  During the course of 3 days held later this week (Friday April 25th - Sunday April 27th inclusive) nearly 13,000 people will enjoy floral interpretations of fine art held in the permanent collection of America's oldest public art museum.  With more than 40 original botanical displays plus a program of speakers and fine dining, it is not to be missed.  It is always fascinating to see how the form and color of flowers can suggest or echo the mood of a painting.     

So how is this event of interest to me?  While attending several events last year, including the farm to table dinner and the luncheon with guest speaker Mar Jennings who thought my photographs were "MARvelous", I met several exceptional energetic highly committed volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to host this major fund-raiser event for the Museum so I joined their Women's Committee (WCWA).  

To add to the atmosphere this year, I was invited to create a continuous slideshow featuring a small selection of my personal floral photographs will be projected between the great Morgan Hall and the Avery Court.  It will showcase the beauty of Britain's best-loved iconic floral festival in the grand setting of America's oldest public art museum.  How exciting to be part of this world-class event. 

How does one capture the spirit of the British love for gardening?  I feel this image succeeds due to its simplicity.  It conveys a sense of place and the nature of a unique event.  Of course I am referring to the Royal Chelsea Flower Show which celebrated its 100 year milestone in London, England last May.  I had the great pleasure of attending on Members' Day and delighted in the diverse exhibits (more detail to follow when I blog in late May).  In the interim I hope you have an opportunity to join us at the Wadsworth this weekend to enjoy the beauty of "Fine Art and Flowers", a classic combination that will lift your spirits.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Chelsea Flower Show Deb Key Fine Art and Flowers Wadsworth Atheneum World on Wednesday Thu, 24 Apr 2014 03:56:42 GMT
Key to NEIPP No, it's not a bizarre version of a Monty Python skit.  NEIPP, what's a  NEIPP you ask?  It's New England Institute of Professional Photography, a PPA Affiliate School held annually in Hyannis, MA for 53 years.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 10 Apr 2014 04:00:41 GMT
Key to that distinctive yellow border "Not all who wander are lost", J.R.R. Tolkein


We all recognize the distinctive yellow border on the cover of a National Geographic magazine.  It’s the famous “calling card” that transcends generations and language barriers to open doors into new worlds.  Those treasured piles of dusty magazines carefully stored in grandparent’s attics or family dens were probably the first introduction many photographers had to the enduring power of an exquisite image in an exotic location.


Last Sunday NG photographers Ralph Lee Hopkins and Bob Krist were in town to showcase their beautiful imagery while explaining how they compose photos to tell us the powerful stories of our changing world.  Although technology has impacted the way they work, they still retain the essence of their craft.  Bob weaves a visual narrative using a variety of pictures while Ralph specializes in creating iconic covers that truly encapsulate the essence of an idea in a single image.


I’m sure it’s a lifestyle we’d all secretly covert without realizing their profession is also changing as the print industry evolves.  “Life” and other classic photoessay magazines have faded but NG continues to evolve, just as they embrace new work opportunities.  


I was particularly impressed by Ralph’s recent work to raise awareness of the need to conserve the ecosystem in the fragile Baja region.  His stunning aerial shots and partnerships with local preservation groups struck a chord for me.  Ralph  encouraged us to all take a stand to protect this delicate planet in our own small ways and I commend him for that personal commitment.  


Ralph is off to Australia soon so I was pleased to provide him with some tangible tips and some contacts to help him prepare.  Hopefully our paths cross again somewhere in the world.  In the meantime I will enjoy his book of “Nature Photography” and marvel at the beauty we all share.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 27 Mar 2014 01:43:27 GMT
Key to great speakers “It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference” ZigZiglar.


Every so often you find someone who has a message that resonates with you, shakes you up and encourages you to take your craft to the next level.  It can be a little unsettling to “deactivate the cruise control of what you think you know” to realize a dream with new or more daring vigor.  Inspiring speakers supplemented with constructive mentorship helps propel you forward.  In the past week I was fortunate to attend several forums to meet several amazing speakers who shared their expertise and insights, each with a different key message.


With his candid, no-nonsense Aussie style of direct delivery, David Anthony Williams challenged photographers to make meaningful portraits of the people we love as well as clients.  Now based in Toronto, David’s erudite wit and lively program showed his work but also stirred a renewed appreciation for the skill of great painters and photographers in a beautiful homage.  The next evening Thom Rouse shared his incredible artistic creative process with humor and encouraged us to form something truly original.  His daring, complex creations caught my imagination.  Art appreciation is close to my heart so I valued their presentations.


Although the market is changing, commercial success does come from developing a strong style and cohesive body of work based on sound technical skills.  At CTPPA’s annual convention this weekend I appreciated the practical lighting workshops offered by Ty & Shannon Fischer and also by Stephanie Zettl.  Jeff Lubin and the Fischers shared their personal experiences while building strong studio presence, as did local photographers (Lynn Damon, Paulette Muertes, Art Rich). Clearly pursuing this passion demands prominence, profitability and persistence if we are to remain in business as professional photographers for the long-term.  It’s a lot to balance but “no pain no gain” applies to life outside the gym too.   


Thanks to the encouragement from Susan Wacht-Goralski and Tina Petta-Pelletier I  entered 6 images in the CTPPA Print Competition and they all gained merit ribbons with one “Excellence” but I know in my heart I still need to “up the ante”. Although I have only been in the organization for a year, I received some recognition for my photo "Nature Wins" in the unclassified (Open) category.  The prizes are very appealing this year (thanks for the lovely choices) but I need to challenge myself further.  Although I am gaining requests for my work, being published and they are even up on billboards, I know there’s so much more to master.  This is the time to learn, to strive and to push my boundaries for a bigger breakthroughs.      


Perhaps the real challenge is that little speaker within us that plagues us with self-doubt or hesitation.  It’s time to turn off the fear and to develop a truly unique sense of style.  As they say in the classics “watch this space”.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 20 Mar 2014 16:07:28 GMT
Key to supporting Women "The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better" Barbara Fletcher.  



(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 13 Mar 2014 03:53:33 GMT
Photos are key to our legacy In the midst of all the bustle of our daily life, I had reason to pause several times this week and think about the true value of photography.  Guess what: it’s not the price tag.


Yesterday I went to an event with a young widow at the CT Historical Museum and we toured the conservation areas behind the scenes.  Textiles, furniture, books and of course photos form a large part of their collection but obviously they were all part of personal everyday lives in an earlier time with no thought to possible historical significance.  As they carefully preserved these simple artifacts for future generations, I thought about the transience of our lives and what traces we may leave behind.


It seems that at every meeting this week I have been introduced to someone who is fighting a serious illness or caring for someone.  After months of declining health, a good friend’s husband was suddenly admitted to hospital in an emergency situation.  This morning as I was rushing to a meeting I opened a drawer and one of my mother’s scarves fell out.  I suddenly reframed an image of her in my mind, yes one of those casual “happy snaps” relaxing with family on Christmas Day when you think there’ll be time to make a nicer portrait later - except there wasn’t.  She was passed the next morning.  


Last week an old soldier passed away peacefully.  I didn’t know him but I heard wonderful tales of his love of horses as was evident by 61 years association with the Governor’s Horse Guards.  On a cold November morning at very short notice I was asked if I would like to photograph a special visit that touched my heart.  Because he was too frail to visit the horses, the cavalry came to him.  In a rare outing, a single gleaming horse and 3 troopers surprised him and delighted the crowd but the tears of the tender moments in this brief encounter were truly special.  I heard the photos gave him great joy in the past 4 months as he relived the glory days when he could ride the geldings without a care.  Photos of that reunion were mounted in a collage for the memorial service and I hope they give the family some peaceful memories as they see the joy in everyone’s faces that day.  I don’t know them but I am honored to share that small gift of a moment in time.   


Just a few moments ago I read that photographer Jeremy Cowart’s brother Mike died suddenly after a heart attack 3 days ago.  I saw Jeremy speak at PDN in NYC 2 years ago and was impressed by his sense of humanity that lead to projects such as his work in Haiti and the creation of the “HELP Portrait” project.  After offering such generosity of spirit to others, now he is dealing with his own loss but still has the grace to ask people to honor his brother’s love of music by purchasing his 5 song EP:  All proceeds go to Mike’s 2 young children.  It won’t replace a father but it will help them in a practical way.  It’s little steps to help them heal and to have an education.


Late last night I was writing to a person I’ve never met.  For 6 months I have been casually reading Jill Konrath’s business posts which have been interesting but yesterday she wrote a piece that was meant to stop us in our tracks.  Jill and I connected in an unexpectedly powerful way as we exchanged several emails about the senseless tragedy that results from preventable road accidents.  Jill asked that I share her husband’s story in Avoid This Killer Sales Strategy at All Costs in the hope that you don’t drive distracted either.  Considering there are 10 people injured for every fatality, we are inflicting damage far greater than 9/11 on our own roads every year.


So why all this “gloom and doom”?  It’s a wake up call to love yourself, the people around you and to love what you do because our time is too brief and uncertain.  Surround yourself with experiences and items that give you joy.  Don’t wait for the perfect moment or the perfect weight to have a portrait done.  Take every opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the day and the people you care for.


Many of the people in this blog have photos of their loved ones in prominent places in their home in a family jumble.  I have a pile of photo frames sitting on my floor waiting for “the right image” and help to hang them but it never seems to happen because I am too busy working on other people’ photos.  However, forget being precious and debating which one is “best” of the millions of photos.  This weekend I will finally whack holes in the wall and put my family up in pride of place.  They deserve it and so do I.  I want to celebrate my special people in my life by getting them on my walls and I encourage you to do the same.  Create your legacy.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 06 Mar 2014 04:15:51 GMT
Key to Theater (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Broadway Sneak Peek Deb Key The Bushnell Theater World on Wednesday Thu, 27 Feb 2014 05:00:58 GMT Color is Key "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." Ralph Waldo Emerson


Two words: Polar Vortex.  Alternative words: Key West.  After the intense cold and disruptions due to the arctic conditions in Connecticut recently, a short break in Florida was most welcome.  After the stark white on white against bare trees in a northern landscape, it was time for a pop of energizing color.  Instead of snow days, here are lazy days to unwind.  


I do love the seasons in New England and a fresh snowfall is stunningly beautiful but it was definitely time to change the scene.  Instead of layering up and limiting time outdoors to avoid frost bite, here are bare feet and outdoor showers or relaxed al fresco meals at sunset.  Instead of trees bowing with the weight of their icy crystalline mantle, delicate palm fronds flutter in the tropical breeze.  Instead of seeing your breath fog, deep relaxed breaths sooth the soul while tensions melt away.


An early morning stroll to the end of a pier for sunrise shared with the regulars reminds you there is a sense of companionship in the cool calm start of a day.  Fitness gurus stretch and power through their cardio routines, dog walkers greet familiar friends,  small groups share their morning coffees and conversation while birds flit for their morning feed as patient fishermen drop a line along with their worries.  As the colors change there is a quiet contemplation of the fresh beauty each day brings.   


There is history to absorb, art to appreciate, restaurants to sample, music to enjoy and strutting roosters to watch.  With a surprisingly good range of cinematic and theatrical performances on offer, Key West is a place to wander as the mood takes you.  It’s welcome walks past houses in various states of restoration or decoration with quirky, colorful touches of character.  Gardens delight with strong forms and bold blooms of vivid color.  You can be active on or in the water or simply wake when rested or roll over for another snooze on whim.  Books and magazines are read for pleasure in the privacy of a secluded garden or from the porch if you want to see the passing parade of people strolling by.  Simply drift in or out of the current as the mood takes you.


A slow fan makes playful patterns as the shadows slip across the wall to mark the gentle passage of time.  There is something quite blissful about shedding the layers and the stresses of our normal busy lives to savor quiet moments with family or to simply follow the rhythm of a day.  If you are sick of winter, I prescribe a dash of island color.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 20 Feb 2014 04:03:58 GMT
Key to Hill-Stead Susan Ballek and Monet's HaystacksSusan Ballek in November 2013 soon after her appointment as Director of Hill-Stead in front of Monet's "Haystacks", just one of many treasures to savor at the intimate Museum in Farmington njnflks

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Director of Hill-Stead Farmington CT Haystacks Hill-Stead Monet's Haystacks Susan Ballek World on Wednesday Thu, 13 Feb 2014 04:50:52 GMT
My key to "Year of the Horse" How many of you have been completely captivated by way star Joey and other puppets move gracefully to mimic real animals in the stage play ‘War Horse”?  From   the skittish and timid gestures of the young colt to the beautiful transition to the adult horse as the story moves from the peaceful English countryside to the horrors of the WW1 battlefield and back, these subtle movements engage and transfix you.  The breath, sound and delicate nuances the puppet masters employ convey emotion that carries the plausibility to unexpected levels.  Add clever staging, dramatic lighting effects, smooth dynamic acting and emotive music to a simple story based on fact and you have a truly memorable theatrical experience.  Even though I knew I would shed a tear, I shared the experience with my family and friends so they could appreciate this great drama


It was already such an honor to hang a solo exhibit at The Bushnell as a companion installation to this powerful play but the unexpected thrill was the invitation to see behind the scenes for the private pre-meeting between real horses and the life-like puppet.  It was truly special to see how the puppeteers come out quietly to let the horses sniff and sense them before returning in the guise of “War Horse”.  Watching the puppet horse step forward quietly, pausing, turning the head, twitching the ears, swishing the tail and steadily moving in a natural gait to finally engage in a nose to nose encounter was magical.  As a first time observer of this private moment the touring company always schedules, it was fascinating to see how everyone held their breath as the moment of contact came closer.  Would the real horse startle?  I know the horses from the Hartford Police Department are extremely well trained but they are not normally inside an enclosed building so there was an element of the unknown.  A collective sigh and smiles ensued once the horses sniffed, nuzzled and explored each other with gentle curiosity.  


Once “dress rehearsal with a difference” passed smoothly, it was time for formal introductions at the Media Briefing.  CEO of The Greater Hartford Arts Council and CT’s First Lady, Cathy Malloy, welcomed everybody while Scott Galbraith, VP of Programing for The Bushnell, said my photographs of the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard were “spectacular”.  As much as I appreciate his unexpectedly generous praise, I knew everyone in that grand marble foyer (including me) were anticipating the arrival of Joey.  As he came through the double doors everyone sat forward to engage with sheer unbridled excitement.  People’s faces changed as the horse “reared” and then came forward to nuzzle them in an intimate encounter.  Of course the moment everyone wanted was to see the interaction between the real and created horses.  The unique “nose to nose encounter of the equine kind” did not disappoint.


Once out of their heavy costume the puppeteers explained the history of the play’s development by the National Theater of Great Britain and the role of Handspring Puppet Company from South Africa in creating an original production.  The process to construct each frame of cane, aluminum, carbon fiberglass, tyvek and leather is fascinating.  I was intrigued by the way the 3 central puppet masters communicate with each other to coordinate their moves seamlessly.  Because they are “micced” to make the audible house sounds that resonate through the chambers of the horse’s body, they can’t actually talk so the manner they move fluidly together is quite a skill.  They talked about the physical strain of carrying the 120lb frame in a crouching position and how they brace for carrying a rider.  It’s not surprise they tour with a chiropractor and receive acupuncture to compensate for the strain.  I learnt so much from this brief encounter so I am happy to share some photos of this rare experience since I had front row access.


Although I wasn’t born in the “Year of the Horse”, I do think these personal projects herald an auspicious year.  Key qualities of this vital fire sign include travel (I definitely like that notion), fast action, decisiveness and also the value of patience.  Considering first say the play at The Lincoln Center in 2011 and then started the project last Fall with no expectation besides following a hunch for a good visual story and a desire to help raise the profile of the GHG, I could not have anticipated holding a solo exhibition at a high profile event viewed by 25,000 people with just 10 days notice


So after a thrilling week the touring production of “War Horse” has galloped out of town and the Horse Guards’ display of historical photos with saddles and original artifacts has been returned to its home in Avon.  My images will stay up at The Bushnell theater until Feb 25 when they move to a new location for March and an encore showing is already booked for Fall due to the strong interest in CT’s own “War Horse” Troopers.  The current recruits are nearing the end of their training and will graduate soon but the story of the Horse Guards will continue, adding to their impressive 235 year history.  


I am so pleased to have this special moment of time with the Theater and all these beautiful creatures in this Year of the Horse.     "War Horse" opens at The Bushnell in HartfordFirst Lady Cathy Malloy welcomes"War Horse" to the Bushnell "War Horse" opening at The BushnellJoey the star of "War Horse" at right meets 2 local Hartford Police horses before the Opening Night   Hartford Mounted Police supported the Media event for the Opening of "War Horse"One of the 3 puppeteers for "Joey" explains how close teamwork is essential to create the subtle movements and sounds

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) BW photos Deb Key Governor's Horse Guards Hartford Mounted Police The Bushnell War Horse World on Wednesday exhibit horses Thu, 06 Feb 2014 04:49:12 GMT
Key to "War Horse" in CT “War Horse” in our state and for our time


100 years after the outbreak of the First World War in Europe, that compelling drama is re-created with great impact in the internationally known play "War Horse”, an experience that still resonates and touches the heart.  Here in CT “The First Company Governor’s Horse Guard” is the living embodiment of “War Horse” for our time and in our own state. 


This week I was thrilled to install a companion art display at the Promenade Gallery at The Bushnell, the premiere theater in Connecticut.  This original exhibition makes the connection between the story of the play (set in England and France) and links it to the ongoing history of the cavalry in this country in a personal way.  


Growing up in Australia, I knew the proud tradition of our own Light Horse Brigade and other mounted regiments that served in WWI.  Over a million horses were involved, including 182,000 from the US and 136,000 from my homeland.  At the conclusion of the conflict 200 returned to America but only 1 returned to Australian shores.  I would touch the statue of Sandy near my last home in Canberra and feel the loss of these beautiful creatures.  At Cambridge University I studied poetry of that era and the profound words of those writers still haunts me.  Now I have this opportunity to combine my love of photography and drama at the historic Bushnell Theater in a companion exhibition to this world class theatrical experience “War Horse”.  


As a resident of Avon, CT for 7 years, I wanted to know more about the stories that lay behind the white fences of the First Company Governor’s Horse Guard.  I knew it was the oldest continually serving cavalry unit in this country formed by veterans of the American Revolution.  During the course of its 235 year history the Troop evolved from more than ceremonial duties to serving role with distinction in this country, in Europe and even in Asia-Pacific.  


I was intrigued to understand what attracts people to the cavalry in this modern era and how those proud traditions continue.  I have been privileged to be permitted access to follow the recruits as they learn military history and procedure, learn how to care for the horses and to ride like a soldier even though most had no prior riding experience.  Through my lens I have seen a genuine respect develop between the recruits, with the Troop and, of course, with the horses themselves.  


I hope you are touched by the play and by my images.  I am thrilled to be able to show a small selection of images as this photo essay continues to unfold and deepen through the seasons.  If you wish to purchase an image of the horses, a generous donation from each sale of the Horses series will be gifted back to the “Friends of The First Company Governor’s Horse Guards” to contribute to the care of their horses and also to The Bushnell to enable it to continue to bring excellent cultural experiences to our community.


For information about the Horse Guards, please visit or call 860 673 3525. Spring Recruiting campaign commences soon.  To purchase the art please call me on + 1 860 796 6244..  I invite you to follow this photographic journey which is simply an introduction to a much larger documentary project “Guarding Tradition: Past, Present and Future of the Governor’s Horse Guards”.  It's going to be a great ride!  

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) BW photos Deb Key First Company Governor's Horse Guards War Horse World on Wednesday horses modern era cavalry Thu, 30 Jan 2014 05:33:55 GMT
Key to a great conference So what makes a good conference?  Inspiring speakers?  Challenging content?  New trends and technologies?  Practical ideas to be more efficient or effective?  Connections with old friends or the chance to meet new people? Confidence to apply try new things or refine existing practices?  An opportunity to be inspired by beautiful imagery?  PPA (the Professional Photographers of America) just hosted its “Imaging USA” event in Phoenix, AZ last week.  It delivered all of the above and more, so much more including the chance to learn more about the charitable work done to make a difference to people’s lives via “Operation Smile”.  


Considering it was my first time in Phoenix and I’d left the treacherous black ice, freezing conditions of New England behind me, it was important to see some of the town before being caught up inside a conference venue.  I took the opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens to see the Dale Chihuly glass exhibition.  What an inspiring artistic vision to conceive an installation in this setting on that scale. If you visit before May 18 do go see it around dusk (4-8pm) when the colors of the sky take on brilliant hues and desert creatures become more active.  More significantly, the stunning glass sculptures seem to rise organically from the surrounding vegetation and glow with an inner light.  


As a newcomer to PPA it’s a little intimidating to arrive at a conference not knowing who would be there amongst the 10,000+ attendees but PPA's welcoming team and programs eased the transition.  It didn’t take long to make new business connections or find friends from CTPPA, NEIPPP and PPANE (Susan Wacht-Goralski, Candace Pratt, Trish Logan, Ed Pedi, Jim Churchill to name a few).  It was fascinating to see the photographs selected for the Showcase and Loan Collections (including one of mine amidst the stellar work), just as it was exciting to see local CTPPA member Paulette Muertes gain recognition as a Master photographer in the Awards Ceremony for her sustained achievements.  I enjoyed Kenny Roger’s relaxed talk about his photographic journeys but was more in awe of John Sexton’s talk about his time as Ansel Adams’ assistant.  How fascinating to think I was in the same room as someone who worked with such an icon.  That's 6 degrees of separation… or should I say 9 zones of separation?


An unexpected highlight was the inaugural World Photographic Cup representing stunning submissions from 19 participating countries.  It was great to hear the familiar names: Nick Ghionis, Kelly Brown and Quinn Rooney featured prominently with their images winning 3 of the 6 key categories and Peter Lik was noted in Landscape.  I have followed the development of their work for many years plus there was an added bonus that Peter & Fran Howlett were also recognized as Vendor of the Year in a separate event the next evening.  Anyway, it was simply wonderful to be able to congratulate current AIPP President, Kylie Lyons after cheering as she accepted all those awards on behalf of “my mates”.  I am pleased to say Australia was only 1 point behind the host nation so watch out next year!


Next time I visit Arizona I will stay longer to visit Sedona and the Navaho territories, places I’ve dreamed of since childhood.  I know there’s far more to that vast exotic expanse for me to explore in the future but for now, I was pleased to wing my way back to CT over the forests, past the white steeple churches that are “every town”, and descend over familiar landmarks of Hartford towards sleepy little towns while the fading sun shed it amber glow over the languid icy river.  


Any journey is the anticipation of time away from the ordinary routines and the conference is a commitment to invest in oneself.  Travel time is always soothing for me because it gives me time to think with a refreshed clarity. Being temporarily disconnected from the day-to-day demands is a chance to sketch out new opportunities. It’s what I like to call my “blue sky dreaming”.  I must remember to do it when I am on the ground in the midst of chaos, not only at 30,000 feet.


Touch down and I am ready to put these ideas into action.  Read along next week to find out what happened “Day One” of my return.  It’s an unbelievable culmination of so many ideas finally forming a cohesive vision.  I feel home. Join me.


PS.  I don’t normally write so much but last week’s post “disappeared into the ether” so it’s double duty this week.. Aaah the joys of travel and technology.

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Chihuly in the desert IUSA14 Imaging PPA USA World on Wednesday Thu, 23 Jan 2014 04:41:12 GMT
Key Connections (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 09 Jan 2014 03:24:58 GMT Key to New Year

"Wherever you are is the entry point" Kabir

Like most people, this is the traditional time for reflection and renewal.  How many pivotal moments take your breath away?  I am sharing a favorite memory from a very special New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbor one magical night a few years ago.  I am fortunate to see many stunning places in the world but that one balmy night on the water surrounded by magnificent fireworks was simply breathtaking.  It’s a personal image I still treasure in my mind.


2013 exceeded my expectations on so many levels.  It was a year of special times shared with friends and family while travel opportunities expanded as my business evolved.  Long-term relationships in my community have deepened as meaningful new projects bear fruit so I am quite excited by the opportunity to help organizations I respect.  I have been busy with so many substantial projects I love that I must apologize for disappearing from the Social Media scene recently.  I needed a “digital detox” while I concentrated on building a new body of work to be revealed in the New Year.


These initiatives will build on the unexpected pleasures of being included in the esteemed “Showcase” book (one of 200 images chosen from more than 5,000 images submitted for the PPA’s International photography Competition in summer), being published in several CT papers and the thrill of seeing my photos on NBC30 TV in December.  2014 is already brimming with prospects for exhibitions and substantial publications so I invite you to share the journey.  


In my personal experience the even years have always borne the best opportunities so I am anticipating significant change in 2014.  I am so thankful for good health and my family plus the privilege of being able to pursue my passion.  Just as I reflect on my blessings, I wish readers every happiness and joy for their year ahead.  Follow your heart and make your dreams a reality too.


Please join me for fresh adventures and follow this little series I like to call “World on Wednesday”

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 02 Jan 2014 01:42:06 GMT
Key to Freedom “He who is brave is free" Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Tonight I was privileged to be included in a multi-media exhibition entitled "Freedom" which opened at the Farmington Valley Arts Center in conjunction with a solo exhibition by Josh Quint.  "Freedom Comes Home" is a collection of 40 photographs selected from 5,000 photographs Quint made while serving on active duty in Afghanistan.  His images captured the daily life of soldiers and Afghanis in a very personal way, made all the more tangible with the inclusion of his uniform and personal effects.  

I was proud to be considered as an entrant for the FVAC exploration of the theme "What does freedom mean to you?"  I was particularly thrilled to discover I had received an Honorable Mention for one of these images by the Juror, Anna Rogulina, who is the Assistant Curator of the New Britain Museum of American Art.  It is an innovative and thoughtful museum I visit often because I find their collection to be quite progressive and original.  I will leave it to you, my readers, to consider which image might have received your vote or which one prompts you to think about the high cost of freedom.  

If you want to understand more about my creative thoughts, here is an excerpt from my artist's statement.

Australia and America have shared the challenges and consequences of conflict or peacekeeping initiatives during many troubled times.  As Allies for nearly 100 years, our two countries have been “Comrades in Arms” and also in peace.  I took these photographs several years ago but the power of these images still touches my heart and shakes me to the core because the “unknown soldier” is truly a universal symbol.

Regardless of the color of the uniform or the flag we honor, we are all bound by a common humanity.  The same hopes, aspirations, dreams, fears, loves and losses touch us all.  Obviously we hope that every person who proudly serves comes home safely.  However, this series “Freedom’s Cost” is a quiet reflection in tribute to those who fought for our shared freedoms but did not return.

Freedom's Cost 1
(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Sat, 28 Sep 2013 02:40:12 GMT
Key to Competition (Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Sat, 31 Aug 2013 02:45:59 GMT Keys to home "Home is where one starts from". T. S. Eliot 

As exciting as the world is, and as alluring as the prospect of a new destination may always be, after nearly 12 weeks of straight travel there is nothing quite as appealing as one’s own bed.  When it’s late and you finally turn the key to home, you know there’s a special appreciation for the familiar sounds, scents and surroundings.  


As I write, the windows are flung open and the circadas’ symphony signals the pending end of summer.  Luggage is piled waiting for the unpack tomorrow and the empty fridge is beckoning to be restocked.  Tomorrow I will sort the mundane, open the mail, pay the bills, wash and settle in slowly while catching up on news or planning the next strategic moves for my business.  


However, just for a moment, instead of a flurry of activity, I am smiling as I see the evidence of a rich life framed on the walls and in the various objects in our personal sanctuary.  This evening, I am greeted by the collective reminders of family growing and changing, of shared experiences and of the unfinished projects that beg for attention after an extended absence.  I look forward to sharing photos and stories in the weeks ahead.


However, just for tonight the world can wait a little longer.  My pillow and I have a date."


A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."  George A. Moore

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Thu, 22 Aug 2013 02:43:22 GMT
Key Cambodian meals with Friends "Food for the body is not enough.  There must be food for the soul."  Dorothy Day.


If you haven’t tried Khmer food, you are in for a treat.  Without reservation I can commend “Friends” Restaurant for it’s excellent food and service.  It’s worth weaving around the jumble of streets near a Wat (Buddhist monastery) till you find the bright hand-painted mural on the adjacent wall and the welcoming line of potted palms at the entry.  Inside, the cheery blue and yellow walls of this cool airy cafe are decorated with children’s artwork but also feature black and white photo montages of some of the many young people who have had a chance to improve the course of their lives during their time with Mith Samlanh/Friends range of programs.  


With a light style of cooking similar to Thai but without the intense heat, the generous use of fresh herbs adds flavor and vitality to the dishes.  We sampled many dishes from the East-West style tapas menu but highlights included Khmer beef lok lak, Mango chicken, Asian style mango coleslaw with sesame and lime, several more vegetarian salads, a couple of yummy desserts, fresh frozen fruit drinks and a Pineapple and Chilli Margarita.  


While the quality of the meal definitely stands on its own merit, the knowledge that this non-profit restaurant founded in 2001 has helped hundreds of former street children acquire practical skills to start viable careers with dignity and confidence is impressive.  The concept is so successful that it has expanded with companion restaurants across Cambodia and recently opened new restaurants in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, each with a different theme and menu.


Eat well and tip better since proceeds shared equally amongst all staff.  Buy a book (I bought a couple so I can share them and try to recreate the dishes at home) or perhaps a painted brick so they can build more community facilities (you can hear the children’s laughter in the adjacent school).  Before you leave the original Friends, be sure to stop in their companion store next door to check out the hand-crafted items that are Childsafe Certified. We bought gifts for friends and treated ourselves too.  I love my new bag with it’s jaunty fringes: who would have thought old tyres could become so trendy with a clever makeover?  However the best outcome is that proceeds form “Friends N Stuff” support families so children can go to school.  Now that’s smart.


This was more than a meal: it is supporting people in meaningful ways.  Check them out at and

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Cambodia Camera with a Conscience Food Photography Food on Friday Friends restaurant Travel Photography Sat, 10 Aug 2013 03:48:57 GMT
Key to Cambodia

I had not expected to fall in love with Cambodia from the outset: my impressions exceeded any expectations.  I have visited many Asian countries over the years but this was profoundly different in some intangible way.  Eight days was not enough and I know I have to return in the not too distant future. 


It is a visually splendid country with images of “old Asia” blending with building for their future.  The experience of seeing the remarkable archaeological treasures of Angkor Wat was matched by the gentle, positive people I met.  There is a palpable sense of peace that surely has to be a reflection of the culture based on their Buddhist beliefs.  Optimism seems to outweigh the tragic realities of recent history as the country moves forward.  


As a first time visitor I cannot profess to be an expert on this complex country but I am intrigued and hopeful for the country’s future.  I met some amazing people in tourism / hospitality roles or working with Foundations and NGOs to improve the circumstances of local people.  My sense is they can offer tangible solutions in grass-roots practical ways that are responsive to local needs and faster than any government program could ever be.  I look forward to sharing some of those stories in the weeks ahead.


Significant improvements for access to decent education, improved employment opportunities, quality healthcare, preserving the environment, developing a stable  economy with less corruption and a fair political process are all essential elements if the country is to conquer the overwhelming poverty that impacts the majority of its people.  


We were there during the recent election and it was fascinating to see how people were engaged in the lengthy process as town’s usual rhythms ebbed and flowed with activity for days. From the well-funded rallies of the ruling party to the noisy crowds of motorbike riders clogging the streets as they paraded with flags to my quiet discussions with people hoping for a new direction, it’s clear people want to be involved in choosing their leaders.  As people crammed into available vehicles of all varieties to travel back to their villages or homes to vote, there was a sense of occasion and commitment.  As an outsider it’s clear it’s not a perfect process yet but it is progressing.  Change is coming. 


I hope you enjoy some photos I’ve posted to the website and also submitted in to a “One Life” competition.  Please check out and give me a vote if it moves you.  Thanks

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Cambodia World on Wednesday travel photography Thu, 08 Aug 2013 04:00:56 GMT
Education is Key "Education is the movement from darkness to light" Allan Bloom.

April brought a whirlwind of conferences and courses that demonstrated the importance of life-long learning.  In a rapidly evolving profession, it is essential to constantly refine creative and technical skills while improving business processes.  However, as I reflect on all the key learning points, the most important lesson is to find my authentic voice.

The seaside town of Hyannis in pre-season is the perfect setting for a week long course known as NEIPP.  Last year I came as an outsider but soon felt accepted as a friend: this year I felt like family as I enjoyed the camaraderie and good humor.  Immersed in an intensive class with experienced photographers, photoshop legend Suzette Allen shared her technical knowledge and artistic vision.  She has a unique style for custom art for clients who prefer a more painterly effect.  I look forward to sharing some new work in this forum as I explore these new virtual brushes and filters.  In fact, Suzette covered so much information that I have already registered for next year to learn more, including hybrid techniques for blending motion and still images.


In a bonus class, I was delighted to learn how to form "Old Hollywood Glamor" portraits quickly.  Under the guidance of Stephanie and Peter Zettl and with the assistance of great models at the school, it was great fun to create film noir stylized images.  This photo is straight out of camera and I love the moody feeling it evokes. so I can't wait to experiment with this style.  NEIPP is a small and personal "hands on" photography school that will surely grow as the secret gets out so talk to me if you are interested in attending April 2014. 


In addition to the excellent quality ASMP webinars for working professional photographers, I was fortunate to attend a workshop at Yale's New Haven campus last week.  Bill Cramer, Founder of "Wonderful Machine", offered a candid session brimming with practical ways to improve my business processes.  Thank you for an excellent, detailed program Bill.


Inspirational Women's conferences and Networking opportunities also uplifted my spirits and showed new possibilities for business.  The 3rd Annual "CT Women’s Alliance" highlighted the need to have fair representation, access and equity while the 5th Annual "Total Woman’s Conference" showed diversity in action.  The inaugural “Mom Gets A Business Conference” in NY hosted by Patty Lennon was a dynamic day.  Closer to home, I was pleased to support and photograph the two launches for “BelieveInspireGrow”: the new B.I.G. Plus program introduced in Glastonbury and then Farmington Valley pod with 120+ women.  It has been a very positive and affirming process to meet so many strong, supportive and encouraging women.


To restore balance I stepped away from the computer and the classroom to apply some garden design principles inspired by a talk given by Mar Jennings at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art at their "Fine Art and Flowers" event but that’s the topic for another Blog later this Spring.


(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) ASMP B.I.G. Black and White portraits Mar Jennings NEIPP Portraits Fri, 03 May 2013 03:50:56 GMT
Hope is key  

"Cherish the liberty we have and be the voice for others" Laura Ling, April 9 2013.  


Laura Ling recently shared her personal response to the joys of being immersed in a culturally diverse environment during her college years and how that early experience influenced her curiosity about the world.  In her role as a TV journalist during the next 14 years she was fascinated by humanitarian struggles, witnessed peaceful protests against repressive regimes, covered the brutality of drug wars and human trafficking, and admired people’s quest for freedom.  In 2009 Ling lost her own liberty when imprisoned in North Korea for 140 days, a period that gave her ample time to reflect on how precious each day is.  Alternating between hope and despair, she took immense encouragement from small gestures of kindness and compassion.  Letters from family or messages of love gave her the strength to meditate to move forward gracefully with a sense of peace, purpose and gratitude - positive practices she still continues every day as she treasures time with her family.  


In the spirit of her thoughtful message, it was entirely appropriate that Ling was the keynote speaker for the YWCA’s 18th annual “In The Company of Women” luncheon at the Hartford Convention Center on April 9th.  Most of us will never face a challenge of that nature but we do  deal with unexpected hurdles while still having the capacity to offer support to people in need.  Ling encouraged us to truly value the opportunities we have while helping others overcome adversity in its many forms    


With its mission of eliminating racism,empowering women,and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all” the YWCA Hartford region offers a wide range of programs that help change people’s lives in practical ways in our own immediate area.  From emergency support to break the cycle of domestic violence or homelessness, to measures for improved economic stability (including access to affordable childcare and skills training including successful parenting support for teens) to leadership training to equip the next generation of influential change agents, education is the key to empowering women on so many levels.  


The YWCA should be proud of all it has achieved since its inception in 1867 as it continually develops crucial new initiatives to address emerging issues.  If you want to know how to support their work or to volunteer, please visit  If you want to know more about Laura’s experience you can read the book she co-wrote with her sister Lisa "Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home".  It’s fascinating.


We need leaders with a sense of integrity and purpose so I was fortunate to be in the midst of a room already filled with 1,300 inspirational accomplished agents for change.  It's always exciting to be surrounded by people who have vision, talent, determination and who care deeply about improving the world we are all privileged to share.  How can you reach out to someone who needs a little hope?

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Fri, 12 Apr 2013 02:37:02 GMT
Smiles are key "Peace begins with a smile" Mother Teresa.  

This is not a story about how to skillfully pose a person to achieve a flattering portrait with just the right expression or how to elicit a winning smile for that infamous “headshot”.  It’s about an extended community, a fresh start and generous professionals who demonstrated a beautiful smile truly comes from the heart.


For the past eight years my local dental practice closes its door for an afternoon and opens its heart to provide free dental care as part of the “Give Kids A Smile” initiative.  This is not about impersonal charity: it’s about caring and making a difference in a tangible way.  In the West we know good oral hygiene is vital for long-term health in so many ways but we forget that access to skilled staff, regular exams, x-rays, sterile conditions and even clean water are a luxury for far too many people.  


What do you picture in your mind’s eye when you think of a dentist’s office?  I bet it’s Novacane, not Ninjas.  I found a scene with children darting around the cubicles playing “hide and seek”, coloring books scattered everywhere, “Nemo” playing on the laptop, children nestling into a friend’s lap as they turn the pages of a picture book, huge hugs and lots of laughter. 


This family trekked from their village in Myanmar (formerly Burma) through the mountains and jungle to a refugee camp in Thailand before they were eventually were resettled in CT.  They now have the chance to start afresh in a safe environment and for their children to be educated with the support of the Church, Rotary International and a myriad of other supporters.  Heartfelt thank you to Rotary representatives from the Simsbury/Granby Rotary Club (Julie, Dorien and Lynn) but especially to Dr Jerry Graham’s entire team at Avon Wellness Center Dental Associates who volunteered their time and skills but gained so much affection in return.


Last year one of the young children had 15 cavities and needed root canal treatment at age 5.  This year the same child had a clean bill of health.  Surely that’s something to smile about!



(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Fri, 29 Mar 2013 03:44:23 GMT
Renewal is key

"Spring is the time of plans and projects"  Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina.  

According to the calendar apparently Spring arrived in the North East of the US this morning: it just doesn't feel like it yet.  After a bleak winter with far too many significant storms, the lure of warm days are still too distant  for my personal preference.  While there is an undeniable beauty and stillness in the hush of a white winter, I do concede the drama of the changing seasons is part of the attraction of living in this charming part of the country.


Seasons are a lovely metaphor for the phases of our lives and this is now time to emerge from "hibernation".  After an unexpected interlude of "career interruptus" I have an opportunity to grow in a new direction.  During my dormant days I had the luxury of quiet time to reflect, reskill and renew my commitment to my chosen career as a photographer.  

On the threshold of a visual journey, my key themes of People, Places, Food and Art will be at the heart of these Blogs.  However, life is always unpredictable so expect some detours or delightful discoveries ahead.  It's the Yin and Yang of the rich tapestry that embraces all of us.  Near or far, I invite you to share these personal experiences and observations. 

(Deborah Key, L.L.C.) Art Food People Photography Places Thu, 21 Mar 2013 02:50:15 GMT