Posted in: 52 Project
The 52 Project: Week 5

I’m posting Week 5/52 a few days late.  I actually shot on Tuesday, but then had trouble finding time to download, edit and post.  I’m sure this won’t be the last time!  One day I was sitting on the floor in Caleb’s room, and I noticed a stream of light coming into the hallway through the bathroom window. I had literally never noticed it before and I knew it would be the perfect place to play with highlight and shadow. Caleb crawled up and down the hallway (he is really on the move now, but still mostly slithering on his belly) and I experimented with using the window light in different ways.  Not surprisingly, I have a lot of frames. This was the only one where he stopped and for some reason looked up at the window. I love that his face is lit and everything else is in shadow.  I did some minimal editing to burn the shadows (make them darker) and dodge the highlights (make them brighter.)  The image was shot at f/2.5, 1/100, ISO 640, 50mm.



The 52 Project: Week 4


I’m a recovering perfectionist.  Can any of you relate?  I work daily to embrace my flaws, quit comparisons (especially with other photographers),  and let go of unnecessary expectations,  Returning to this series of Liam again and again is allowing me to dive into the creative process and address my fears of not doing it perfectly.   With patience, I work towards creating the image I envision without judgement or time limits.  If the lighting isn’t quite right, I know I can try it again next week.  With each frame I shoot, I am learning.  And I continue to trust that if I just keep creating,  the vision in my mind will eventually show up in the lens.

{Week 4:  This week I explore the nuances of light and exposure. In comparison to the image shot on week 2, I’m trying f/2.8 instead of f/2 to see how I like the results.  There is more light coming through the south facing window directly behind me and as a result my ISO is 640 rather than 1600.  And I moved Liam closer to the window to get more fall off  and create a more dramatic contrast between the subject and the background.   Editing is still minimal and remains the same.}





The 52 Project: Week 3


The little one is crawling.  Or rather, he is dragging himself across the floor like a turtle through the sand. The effort is truly adorable.  Each day he makes it a bit further before he gets fed up and protests our game of keep away. These are the days.  So quickly all the big firsts will be over.  The transformation happening for our five year old is just as wonderful, but it feels much more gradual.  It no longer feels like if we blink, we’ll miss it.

Although documenting each new trick is important for record keeping, it is a challenge to make these shots both authentic and artful.  Honestly,  in the years since Liam was born, there have been a  handful of images that I felt documented every day life AND were worthy of being framed on the wall as art.  I believe my standards are high, but as Ira Glass says, I’ve got taste. And when it comes to photographs of my family, there is a gap between how I want them to look and how they actually look.  Capturing photographs of your own life is hard. Much harder, I can tell you, than capturing photographs of someone else’s life. And, much harder for me personally, than making a beautiful portrait.

So, I find myself a student again. Each week I give myself an assignment and I try to be open to mistakes.  It’s the mistakes that will teach me how to see in new ways and help me hone my point of view. Since I’m home a lot with Caleb, I’ve observed him slowly working up to crawling and thought about how best to tell the story. I put him in several spots, in different versions of window light and explored a variety of angles.  Through this process, I am finally learning which nooks in my house are best for photography.  Like my portrait work, I prefer storytelling images that are simple, clean and beautiful.  But in a home that is rarely tidy, with a subject that is constantly wiggling, how do I create something that is both authentic and pleasing to the eye?

After about 50 out-takes, here is my most recent in the 52 Project.  It was taken in Caleb’s bedroom with indirect light coming in a window to the left of the frame. It’s shot at f/2.0 on a 50mm lens.  I put the toy in front of him. I hung the blanket just where I wanted it on the crib.  But he did the rest. He lifted is butt in his baby-turtle-like-way and I clicked the shutter. One more family moment documented.  Artfully.


The 52 Project: Week Two



A while back I started a personal project with a simple intention; to explore the vulnerability of childhood through black and white portraits.  The images are slowly unfolding as I try to squeeze in time for personal work.  After photographing a number of sweet children of different ages, I became clear that 4-6 year olds are my perfect subject. There is just something special about this age when the tenderness of childhood is still visible on their faces and their eyes are still dreamy.  And, they can also sit still for a bit and ponder their thoughts.  I was interested in what kind of images could be created if I tried to just BE with the subject in front of my lens rather than direct.  What if I said very little? What if I didn’t pull out my puppets and elicit a smile? What if I told a simple, quiet story to help them feel at ease and then captured what happened in the process? I am still playing with the format of the session, the lighting, the backdrop and the settings.  And the beauty of personal work, is that I get to do just that…play. There are no expectations to meet or outcomes to achieve.  After 10 years of learning photography, I think I am finally understanding how essential this kind of exploration is for my growth. I hope 2015 will be a year filled with opportunities to explore the process and see where it takes me.

{Week Two: Liam sitting in the window light of our kitchen. My studio backdrop hanging behind him. Listening to me hum a tune while I take a few “practice shots.” He is just freshly 5. }


The 52 Project: Week One



Happy New Year All!

2014 was a big year for us. We welcomed sweet Caleb Ryan into our family in June and for the first several months, I did my very best to just take it in.  To savor each small moment; rocking him to sleep, singing to him on the changing table, enduring his screaming in the carseat, and mostly observing two brothers falling in love.  At almost 5, Liam was more ready for Caleb than I was. It was as if the two had met long long ago and arranged to rendez-vous again someday. They were smitten with each other from day one. Truthfully, I took very few pictures of these early weeks.  Fortunately, I have wonderfully talented friends who took portraits for us, but I didn’t feel especially drawn to pick up my camera and so I let go of expectations to record the everyday. And although much of those first weeks feels like a dream…like I can’t exactly pinpoint what we did or where we went…I hold a feeling in my heart, crystal clear, of my happiness.  I don’t need a photograph to remind me of how my heart split open and made room for more love than I could have ever imagined.

On Christmas Day, Caleb celebrated his 6 month birthday and suddenly I feel that familiar longing to record. Partly, for fear that the trivial moments will be lost as time marches on. And partly as an outlet for my need to create.

And so, when I stumbled upon the 52 Project, I decided to set an intention and join a community of photographers (professional and amateur) who are doing the same. One portrait every week for 52 weeks.  I went back and forth about whether this was a good idea. It feels like a lot and I’m scared that I will drop the ball and then feel disappointed in myself.  But, this year, my big goal is to stretch my creative boundaries and the only way to do that is to create.  To create, create, create and keep creating even when I think I have run out of ideas.  To keep creating when my inner critic starts to bark, and when I really just want to quit.  Will you join me?

{Week One: Caleb waiting in the car while I shoot a few landscapes of snowy trees. I love that you can see my camera in the reflection.}

Wedding and family photographer, Julie Afflerbaugh lives with her husband and two adventurous boys in Boulder, Colorado. For more than 10 years, she has worked as a professional photographer in Colorado capturing natural images of weddings and families in beautiful outdoor locations. Her approach to photographing newborns, children, families and weddings is to encourage her subjects to be present in the moment and forget the camera is there. The results are images that are relaxed, playful and real. Julie has earned a reputation as a premier wedding photographer in Boulder, Colorado and is available for travel to her favorite destinations. Get in touch if you are planning a crested butte wedding, a steamboat springs wedding or a Lake Tahoe wedding.