Cleaning the Viewfinder

Cleaning the viewfinder is an important practice for cameras - and for camera-people.

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A Teeny Tiny Love Story

A ring. And a pocket knife.

Two things I held dear because of the people who wore them.

Today, though I had misplaced the knife and was quietly tearing my house apart looking for it.

Although I was not saying I 'lost' it (since I could not bear to think that I might have lost it), I was saying "I'll find it,' an intuitive affirmation that set my inner 'hunting dog' in motion.

Looking in a bag of mismatched earrings and jewelry no longer worn, I found the school ring from Aurora University my mom wore on her little finger with pride all her life.

Mom went back to school after raising five kids, to become a teacher of other people's kids. She was an old school educator - she went from mimeographs to copy machines: no computer programs or online modules at that time. I remember the crates after crates filled with books, handwriting charts, art supplies and decorations that we lugged into her classroom the last week of August.

My mom taught third grade in the Aurora Public Schools because she said they still had some cheerfulness and innocence in them. (By the time she retired, that was no longer the case, sad to say.) She was one of those teachers that parents would thank when they saw her in the store, whose kids waved and hugged her when she saw them in public. Like a lion tamer, she did not show any weakness or fear while she was in the cage.

How great it felt to see someone who sat in the audience watching OUR recitals and performances, sitting on stage in her graduation cap and gown, watching all the people who came to see HER. At that time she was the only older person I had ever seen going to college, and it made a powerful impression on me.

Woman's college ring
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My Dad was a pocketknife carrying man; and his silver pocketknife was his companion his entire life. My dad was a quiet man (you'd have to be with six girls!) but though he was a bit of a loner, he was the Doer Of Dad Things: tending his pride and joy lawn, grilling (he was a terrific cook) watching the Wide World of Sports, especially when Pro Bowling came on.

He was not as big a book reader as my mom, but when he studied something that interested him, he made notes, studying what he had done and refining the process, drilling down on technique to create something that was distinctly his. This silver pocketknife was his lifelong possession, and still seemed to hold his energy.

So today with Mom's ring in my hand, I really wanted to find where I had put Dad's knife. Bags, boxes, drawers, bowls, under beds, in chairs, each time the guess came up empty, "I'll find it" put new wind in my sails.

And suddenly, I am led to a new direction, a new area, and the box where it was nestled, waiting for me to find it - and for a new purpose.

Not a new purse or project of mine, but with his companion of over 50 years, resting in a small bag of ashes in my home.

Touching the two objects gently on the altar caused a deep rush of feeling and memories for all the things I loved about them, and I said, "Hi, Mom and Dad" like I was greeting them in person.

So while some people keep photos of their parents to remember them, I am happy to have the mana of my parents’ here - and as they were in life - together again.

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Dorothy Perry Portrait | Chicago, IL Natural Light Portrait Photographer | On Location in Metro Chicago


Just The Two Of Us

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Within the mindset that what we do for others, we are working on in ourselves, I see the actions I am taking to help someone grow are the things that are my struggle to grow with as well.

My son and I have been a tight pair since he was born. He was not an easy boy to raise after vaccination sensitivity caused developmental regression at an important stage of life.

School, Aspergers, socialization, therapy: we had our roles: I was his cheerleader and advocate, tried to shelter him, anticipate what the issues were, ease him into trying new things -

and dust myself off when well-meaning experiments sometimes went south.

I loved him. I wanted to protect him, but over time, I came to realize that some of these well-meaning efforts ‘bubble-wrapped’ him against the work he needed to do to stand on his own feet…

Steps he needed to take himself.

I realize to be an advocate of his independence in this new stage of life, I needed to step back and let him

make his own decisions

set new expectations

disagree with me

fix his own dinner

handle his finances

figure out his own schedules

make mistakes.

Old habits die hard, and being a helicopter mom was second nature for twenty years. It’s still hard sometimes not to take the wheel for him when he is working things out.

But this is the work towards a measure of independence that we both have to do in our own lives.

It has taken longer in time than some young adults need, but that is what it took. It takes different types of strategies and preparations, and some hand-holding, but that is what it takes as well.

And with extra time, reassurance and ‘figure it out yourself’,

I see that he is feeling more assured, trying his wings at the end of the nest, making short flights.

And succeeding.

One thing, though never changes.

I have a little ritual in the mornings, where I watch him walking to work in the crowds, as far as I can see him, until he is out of sight.

And then, saying ‘thank you’ in tears of gratitude

for the marvel of a young man walking down the street to work -

a vision that looks so everyday and ordinary,

but is evidence of beautiful, positive growth that has happened in ours.

Windows to the Soul

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A valuable skill

in our sensitive, seeing world

is learning to relax the eyes' focus

(letting the eyes 'go fuzzy')

when waiting or resting.

It rests more than your eye muscles:

it also gives the ever-spinning wheels of mind a rest, too

and lets your intuition come through

to show you how to see




Chicago family photographer Dorothy Perry Portrait captures fine events in heirloom presentation. Inquiries and Booking here.