Flying the friendly Skies

Seldom do I share my personal Life on my business platform; however, an old friend once told me, “drastic conditions call for drastic measures, Lisa.”  I laugh at this today as we were coaching middle school, female, athletes at the time. EVERYTHING is drastic & dramatic in that realm.  lol.  This drastic time is different, and I feel an intense desire to share, so I’m rolling with it.  So many friends, near & far feel a weird “something” – sadness, strength, worry, fading hope, love, despair – something for sure and truly it bonds us All, we just don’t always talk about it.

As a pro-Photographer in Upstate NY, I travel through winter months as means to supplement my income.  If you’ve ever lived in an area where people hunker-down in the cold chill of Winter, this makes perfect sense as clients and neighbors begrudge facing the weather to buy essentials; forget about getting dressed up with their Family in tow for an updated portrait of their chilled-to-the-bone loved ones.  Let’s be realistic!

This year during my work travels, I honored a wild itch to further my education and within a 2 week time frame, I was smack-dab in the middle of an intensive program even farther from home.  Buried in studies, trying to re-establish some presence of a working office, this pandemic hit.  In my early 40’s, I made a paradigm shift in the way I choose to see & respond to most Life events. This World event challenged my newly found thinking and stirred a struggle I could barely mutter to myself.  My daily meditation, which always started with “We are all connected, We breathe the same air” veered from the path of enjoyment to the path of necessity to keep my focus on… Anything!  Let’s just be human and honest; I’m miles from home in an intensive “bootcamp,” my career is dangling on sketchy internet & a wobbly night stand/makeshift work station and my 78 year old Mother had been in & out of the hospital the entire month of February.  I was MEDITATING for far less than ENJOYMENT!

In this program, I was surrounded by a small network of people who became much like a Family.  This Family was from all over the US and World; Russia, Oregon, Alaska, Costa Rica, Vermont, Switzerland- you name it, one of them was from somewhere.  My roommate was a business owner from Seattle, Washington. Yes, ground zero for the US virus outbreak. If I needed information about COVID 19, I had reliable information in minutes.  Following the recommendations of the World Health Organization, we too were eventually closed down and given the option of staying put or returning home.

If things weren’t difficult enough in my internal struggle, the Universe just added coal to my fire – or rather I added it myself.  If you ever have the opportunity to know me, you’ll quickly learn I’m flighty and  have a lifestyle that allows me to follow my whims at the drop of a hat.  So, I’ve done a bit of traveling.  You’d think that’s amazing and truly, IT IS!  But in all my whimsical travel, I’ve gotten myself into predicaments I’d rather not been alone and so I’ve established a fear of flying.  Not the actual, “get up in the air and stay there until your final destination” flying.  No; more the logistics of security, the sitting on the plane for endless hours only for the flight to be cancelled nearing midnight, or the waking at 3 a.m. to make an early flight so you aren’t stranded in an airport late at night ONLY to wait the full day in the airport midway to your destination and then be stranded in the airport nearing midnight, this time EXHAUSTED.  You create the scenario, I promise, I’ve lived some form of that dilemma in the airport… Alone.Flying, International

My “Family” began to pick up on this Fear… might have been my pacing, maybe the incessant need for chocolate, or might have been my roomie overhearing me say, “I’d sit curbside in Newark, NJ all night before I would sit IN THE AIRPORT for 24 hrs during a World Pandemic!”  Who knows, who cares; I was freakin’ out and it wasn’t a matter of muttering it to myself anymore. It was a matter of spilling it all over the place and into the Peace of the people around me.

I reached out to my network all across the US and took my meditative practice to the next level by booking a Bee session with author, Juls Amor.  With the last of my money, except $20 I saved in cash for traveling, I laid atop a bed of stingless bees in effort to raise my vibration and shake the Fear long enough to ride a 2 hour shuttle, get on an airplane in an international airport and drive 4 hours in the midst of a pandemic in the mid of the night… Alone. Juls was as uplifting as an angel from the Heavens and I left the session with this mantra… “I’m protected- We are all protected.”

All of this sounds crazy as I type, but really, this is just a Life experience.  I can’t make any of it up because I’m living it, as are you. Why would I share this story as it seems I’m adding chaos to the current chaos?… because it’s Life.  It’s not that any of Us have perfect Life tools to manage because we added a mantra to our meditation.  It’s how we learn to see and deal with Life and how we connect with those we’re already fundamentally connected that changes the chaos.  This process for me is ever-evolving and today, You are apart of it.

My flight was cancelled 10 minutes prior to riding the shuttle and I was given a later, same day option or a next day option.  I turned to Brit in my educational Family…  “get on or stay?  Talk to me, please talk to me!”  “This shuttle gives you 8 of us in which to ride and walk through security… I say GO with Us now!”  On I go.  2 hours later, we zoom through security and 6 of the 8 board and fly away.  It’s down to Ellie and I.  Little does she know, the hug she gave me when it was time for her to board was so encompassing, it could have filled the airport.  She just didn’t let go and you guessed it, I felt “protected”… amongst travelers with face masks, 5 feet social-distancing announcements, disinfectant wipes and rubber gloves galore!  Hours later it was my turn and every Fear I had played into fruition.  If you’re thinking I melted to pieces, you’re dead-on accurate. It’s what happened next that carries today’s message.

The plane was almost full to capacity and we sat on the runway for just under 2 hours waiting for an extra, but unnecessary flight crew.  If 5 feet social-distancing was required, we shot that rule right out the window!  I tried to meditate, but felt stifled while breathing deeply as the woman behind me repeatedly tried to muffle her cough.  One hour and 45 minutes into the wait, I had closed my eyes and buried my hands in Juls’ book, “The Year of the Frog.”  “I’m protected, we are all protected,” I just kept saying it over and over and over.  The loudspeaker breaks my pattern, “Hey! This is Captain Andy again from your flight crew.  It’s occurred to us that you’re not aware of why we’re waiting so faithfully for this crew… You are on the LAST flight out for THIS airline from THIS airport.”  Behind closed eyes I begin to sob desperately – the kind of tears that if you weren’t silent would project from your eyes like an animated character in a children’s cartoon.  My thoughts are racing.  “This plane is NEVER going in the air!  I’ve done this before. They’re going to delay for as long as they can and then ship us back into an airport that will become a make-believe homeland of quarantined international vagabonds! Nooooooo way! No, NO, Nooooooooo!”

At that moment, at that very moment when I was debating frantically climbing OVER the refined elderly couple next to me and running hopelessly down the center aisle to WHAT – I have NO IDEA, but I was running anyway… I heard a voice, soft and even-toned, “Honey, are you ok?”  Unaffected but tuned in, I reply, “Hmmmm, no.”  “Are you afraid because I’m elderly and sitting next to you?” “Hmmmm, no.” “What can I do for you right now?”  Eyes still closed, trying with everything I have NOT to burst a spray of tears all over the back of the seat in front of us, “Hmmmm…”  Silence.  Nothing came out of my mouth!  Mind still racing, I think.. she’s waaaaay to kind for me to ignore – Who has this much kindness right now???  Eyes closed, “Ma’am, my name is Lisa… are you a therapist?”  All I could think was HOW on Earth did I land a seat next to a therapist?????  As calm as she began, she replies, “my name is Brenda and No, I’m not a therapist, I’m just old as can be.”  Opening my eyes to turn and look at this Being – fearless in her 70’s, it was as if someone shot a sedative straight through my veins. “You and I can’t swim home so I thought you should know, Honey, we’re going to New York… tonight!”  Without anything else from her, “I was protected.”

24 hours later I arrived at my front door in NY, exhausted but grateful… for Juls, Brit, Ellie, Brenda & and all of Us.  I’ve wanted to tell that story to all of Us for days, but I kept it to a select group of friends and family because I thought it was too chaotic to add to the uncomfortable reality we’re living.  Really though… it’s NOT.  It’s exactly what we need right now… to know that everyone of Us, US or Worldwide (that I’ve chatted with) is staying home, doing their part, and feeling “something.”  

Don’t be misled, I fully understand I’m including myself in those sentences above using the word, “Us.” In sharing with you, I’m reminding myself. The thing we’re NOT right now, is ALONE despite the reality that we’re confined to places that would make Us feel… Alone.  In isolation, whether warranted or welcomed… Fear grows. I was not Alone on that plane.  Some fascinating Universal energy sent Brenda to that seat next to me and with my eyes closed, I felt her Peace.  Yes, touch is a beautiful thing and I long to hug you All, but for now, “we are not only ALL Connected and Breathe the same air… we are Protected.”

It’s important to me that you understand, I’m not sharing this Life experience and message from a seated, Guru position of enlightenment. Quite the opposite… I share it with Us as a way of processing it, as a way of connecting, and as a way of trying to see the Light I know is hidden in this time of chaos. In meditation today, tears quietly fell down my face as I realized every conversation I had yesterday was filled with COVID 19. If we aren’t infected, who are we kidding? Our minds are infected- or I’ll speak for myself – my mind is infected with Fear. I would praise a news channel to put a “Brenda” or a “Juls” on the prime time reporting hour and watch the Universe heal emotionally. For today, I encourage Us all to part with Fear, or to at least acknowledge it and let it sit in the Air to dissipate like the dark smoke it is. My tears in meditation are Fear and my resistance to sit in meditation is my resistance to that acknowledgement… I am afraid of what is happening around me.

… and with that honesty, the Fear lessens and the Reality sinks in… “we are not only ALL Connected and Breathe the same air… we are Protected.”

Heads Up Tioga – November 1st & 2nd in Owego!

Hey, Tioga County residents! Don’t miss this amazing event on November 2nd and November 3rd! The Camera’s Eye will be shooting portraits to be displayed and for sale as posters throughout downtown Owego during the month of December. All proceeds benefit the Tioga County United Way! Just bring $20 and your best smile. You’ll walk away with a hard copy and a digital file to show your community pride all over social media!

Thank you to our co-hosts: Farmer Brown’s Marketplace, Fuddy Duddy’s, Tom Ash Insurance, Tioga Tourism, The United Way, and The Tioga Arts Council! We are so thrilled to be supporting our local United Way and giving everyone a chance to be a part of the Tioga County community.

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Check out the Heads Up Tioga event page on Facebook! And if you’re a client of The Camera’s Eye from Tioga County, you KNOW I would love to see you again! Mark your calendars for this Friday and Saturday, and get ready to be the face of Tioga County!

 

Owego Custom Planting Auction This Week!

As the owner of The Camera’s Eye, I find networking with business owners vital to thriving in small upstate NY!  Last week, I shared my love of gardening with the owners of the soon-to-open Belva Lockwood Inn and scored a fun gardening project that exploded with creativity and opportunity for two other local shops! Read through to learn how THIS WEEK you can own a piece of our project and support The United Way at the same time 🙂
Belva Lockwood Inn by The Camera's Eye, Owego NY
Locals Julie and Ike Loveless purchased a dilapidated building at 249 Front St. Owego, NY and gained more than they bargained for with both a spot on the hit HGTV television show House Hunters AND a striking piece of history from the 1800s.

Belva Lockwood Inn by The Camera's Eye, Owego NY

When Julie asked me to “fancy up” the half-torn-down porch for an official tour by travel bloggers converging for an international TBEX conference in Corning NY, I was “game on!” I drew in Logan Keeney, the new owner of Farmer Brown’s Marketplace, not only because his flowers adorn my property; his brother-in-law designer, Adam Coney, also created a stunning arrangement across the street from my studio that I used as a photo backdrop all summer!

Belva Lockwood Inn by The Camera's Eye, Owego NY

Adam wanted to incorporate a shabby chic style to match the re-purposing of the old house, so off I went to Rusty and Jewel to beg owner Lisa Bystrak for wares that could create the look Adam desired.

#belikebelva, #belvalockwoodinn, #owego, NY, #IloveNewYork, #hgtv, #TheCameraseye
Adam named the custom arrangements “A Cinderella Story” because they literally came to life in one night! The event went off fantastically, and construction at the Inn is now back in full force.  Logan and I can’t handle seeing the Cinderella arrangements become covered in deck stain and wood-working dust, so we’ve decided to auction them off on Facebook with proceeds benefiting the United Way! Bidding is Friday and Saturday, September 28th and 29th – check out our sneak peaks all week!
#myflextbex, #belikebelva, #belvalockwoodinn, #owego, NY, #IloveNewYork, #TheCameraseye
Belva Lockwood Inn by The Camera's Eye, Owego NY

The Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY

I recently spent a weekend at The Country Living Fair in Rhinebeck, NY with two of my FAVE local Owego artisans – Lisa Bystrak of Lisa B. Contemporary Art and Chris Knickerbocker of Old Souls Home!

Some wares from Lisa B:

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And the lovely Chris Knickerbocker, recently featured in the local news:

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These two ladies filled out the applications for the Country Living Fair as a way to challenge each other and up their motivation. They made their applications as crazy and unique as possible, and it seems to have worked – they were both accepted to take part in the fair in Rhinebeck! I tagged along to photograph all sorts of art and antiques, and to meet awesome creative folk!

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Both ladies bubble over with excitement and pride when talking about their experience at the Country Living Fair. It was a huge professional affirmation of their talents. There’s nothing like being supported and uplifted by other artisans with the same interests! It was a major instance of getting a foot in the door professionally, and it lets both ladies “take [themselves] a little more seriously” as artists.

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The fair features about 200 vendors from all over the country – a mix of artisans and those who purchase goods for a store, such as antiques dealers.
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So let me introduce you to a few of them! Striking Swedish country antiques from Jeffree Turney at Lone Ranger Antiques, South Florida/Sweden:

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Heart of Ohio Antique Center. Abbey Knight came all the way from Springfield, OH to showcase the goodies she buys and sells all over the country!

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GORGEOUS jewelry from Mary DeMarco /La Contessa, based in Baltimore.

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Stunning handmade jewelry from Andrea Lithgow / Dandy Craft, down in Texas!

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Meet Heidi from Hi Ho Home Market in Gardiner, NY:

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Beautiful (and often hilarious) fabric collage pieces by Sue Handman:

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The Camera’s Eye at the Mud Mountain Rock and Run 5K

I was on such a high after shooting the Mud Mountain Rock and Run 5K last month! Time to finally share some photos 🙂

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The Run is crazy, crazy fun….and funny at the same time. You see all kinds of runners – those who take it seriously, those who are there to laugh and maybe avoid some of the nastier obstacles, and a non-competitive group who could walk and have fun!

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The obstacles aren’t impossible, but they are HARD. I was glad to be behind the camera rather than neck high in mud, like some of the runners.

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At the end of the day, it’s an awesome cause. The money raised went to the Family Enrichment Network. All the runners get to wash off with hoses and enjoy some yummy food and great music. There’s a very communal atmosphere, where everyone gathers with friends at picnic tables.

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I get so jazzed by the energy at events like the Mud Mountain Rock and Run, and it’s really when I’m shooting something like this that I’m at my BEST!

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A Knight for a Princess 2015!

The Camera’s Eye recently had one of our FAVORITE yearly events to shoot – A Knight for a Princess at The Epiphany School in Sayre, PA! We had a blast last year, and this year was no different…

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I’ve been photographing A Knight for a Princess every year that it’s been around, and I always love seeing these ladies dressed up with their dads. Hard to believe that these ladies are going to be contenders for “Best Dressed” at prom in a few years!

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Some other people who make the magic happen at The Camera’s Eye – my mom (my #1 money-maker) and my assistant Patrick…

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…and my long-time friend Jason, wearer of AWESOME shoes and subject of hilarious photographs 🙂

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Of course, none of this would be possible without the organization and support of Epiphany’s AMAZING Sister Anne Quigley!

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It’s easy to tell how much everyone appreciates having A Knight for a Princess around, year after year.

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For the full gallery of candids, head over to the proofing page on our new and spiffy website! Password for viewing is Knight15.

Back to the Garden: The Camera’s Eye and VINES

With all the things to love about summer in the Southern Tier, one of my favorites has to be gardening. I have 13 (!) of my own garden plots at home and, despite a constant war with slugs, deer, and other foes, I love cultivating my own vegetables and flowers! That’s why I was so excited to learn more about VINES, a community gardening and education group in the city of Binghamton. My social media manager has a VINES garden plot, and invited me to a Saturday morning “work party” so I could learn more.

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The work party was at the Corbett Avenue garden in Binghamton’s south side, a site that’s been going strong for five years now. Members sign up to rent a plot for the season at a garden location of their choosing. The raised beds are already built and the soil is already cultivated – all that’s left to do is start growing!

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Dick Andrus, a professor at Binghamton University, manages the site. He gave me the grand tour before the everyone arrived, starting with a spot of particular pride – the newly developed compost pile.

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As I chatted with members and wandered between the beds to snap photos, it was clear that the name “VINES” was more than appropriate. There were vines EVERYWHERE!

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Yes, some of them were weeds, which the garden members were taking to task….

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…but many hinted at deliciousness yet to come!

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Even though the program is well established – and obviously popular…look at the turnout at 9 am on a Saturday to pull weeds! – it was a nice reminder that improvement, growth, and change is always possible. The group added a long-awaited official VINES sign to the front gate while I was there.

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VINES does a lot more than just provide gardening space for its members. At their Urban Farm, volunteers grow food that goes out to farm share subscribers. It’s also available for sale at the weekly Binghamton farmer’s market (9-2 on Fridays in downtown Binghamton).

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In addition, VINES hosts numerous events and workshops that anyone in the community can attend for free. Upcoming events include “Season Extension on a Budget” on August 16th, “Freezing Vegetables” on August 20th, and a “Lemonade in the Garden” social event at Corbett Avenue on August 27th.

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A big thank you to VINES for all the work they do for the community, and for letting The Camera’s Eye shoot some wonderful summer images!

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A Knight for a Princess at The Epiphany School

A few weeks ago, The Camera’s Eye photographed an event that is near and dear to my heart. Every spring, The Epiphany School in Sayre, PA, holds an event called “A Knight for a Princess.” And no, that’s not a misspelling – it does take place at night, but it is also an event full of royal luxury! Velvet ropes, a drawbridge, food almost too pretty to eat…I’ll let the pictures tell the tale:

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Girls in grades K-8 attend the event with their fathers, their effective knights for the evening – and beyond. More than just a night out, the event is devoted to the idea that your dad is the one who shows you how men should treat you right. These lovely ladies and their dads dressed to match the part – tiaras, corsages, the whole nine yards:

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Could these guys be any prouder of their girls? I’ve been photographing this event for all eight years of its existence, back when it started with first-graders. That makes this year especially poignant, since some of the beautiful young ladies graduating from eighth grade were also in attendance eight years ago – and arrived in high style this year!

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A few of them spoke about what the event means to them, and they were NOT shy about sharing what they learned. One explained that going to this dance every year with her dad definitely raised her standards. Another added that whoever it she ends up with, he “has to be able to dance.”  Good life lesson, don’t you think?

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A big thank you to Sister Anne Quigley and the rest of the organizers and participants for letting me share in this event year after year! I can’t get over how much everyone involved loves being there.
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It’s always fun to dress up for any reason but what I love about “A Knight for a Princess” is that these girls and their dads are spending time together, and everyone truly loves it!

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First Communion at The Church of the Epiphany

Springtime is here! The flowers are finally starting to bloom and we are packed with events to photograph – proms, senior sessions and, of course, The First Holy Communion at The Church of the Epiphany in Sayre, PA. On the first Saturday of each May, the children of Epiphany Parish receive the sacrament of First Communion, and I’ve had the honor of photographing candids and portraits for them for several years now.Card Front

This year, 18 children celebrated this sacrament, a mix of second graders from The Epiphany School and children from public school who are a part of the Sunday religious education program, taught by parent volunteers John and Cathy Moliski.

The Camera's Eye Studio

Holy Communion is a huge milestone for families and kids alike. Dressed all in white, the children receive the Body of Christ for the first time, along with a special set of rosary beads, traditionally handed down from a relative.  At The Church of the Epiphany, this event is organized by Sister Anne Quigley, who has taught for over 25 years at The Epiphany School, and presided over by Reverend Andrew Hvozdovic, who celebrated his Silver Anniversary last year. Clearly, we are a set of seasoned veterans here. I still have my own set of rosary beads from my First Communion at this same church, along with a tiny crystal set given to me by my aunt!

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

The Camera's Eye Studio

In addition to portraits, The Camera’s Eye offers customized necklaces and personalized thank you cards to commemorate this special day.

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For even more photos, check out the candids courtesy of Dr. Rick Rilloraza, one of the proud parents!

The Camera’s Eye is looking forward to more events celebrating growth, change, and renewal as we dive into spring and summer!

Athens ArtsFest This Weekend!

It may be Wednesday, but it’s never too early to ask – what do you have on tap for the weekend? I’m looking forward to the Athens ArtsFest in Athens, PA! There will be over 175 booths, featuring artisans who work with clay, fabric, metal – well, pretty much everything! The Camera’s Eye won’t have a booth there this year, but check out our inspired setup from 2011:

My trustworthy assistant Patrick hangs wall art in the "living room"

My trustworthy assistant Patrick hangs wall art in the “living room”

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Straight chillin’

A couch – why not? The motto we used “Are Your Walls Naked?” is still one that we work to at The Camera’s Eye. It also marks the point where I shifted my focus from simply creating prints to creating full-on wall art.

Naked wall? How embarrassing!

Naked wall? How embarrassing!

Right at home!

Right at home!

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Check out the festival this weekend, May 3rd-4th. Who knows what you’ll find to adorn your home!