What I’ve Been Up To: An Update on Picture Birmingham.

If I’ve seemed not quite as present this summer, it’s because I’ve been working quite feverishly on restarting my other project, Picture Birmingham.

It’s not that I ever quit, really – or at least I didn’t quit taking pictures. But since the wreck (I know – like ancient history, right??) and resulting 5.5 months of recovery and Physical Therapy, I haven’t been able to devote myself to the actual project, which is selling said photographs in order to give 100% of the profits to The WellHouse. Picture Birmingham takes a lot of time and upkeep, and unfortunately, during that half a year, it was one of the first things that got abandoned for lack of time and energy.

And then, after my recovery, you may remember that I went a little manic. All I wanted to do was get outside and explore and LIVE again. And so, for a few more months, Picture Birmingham got put aside.

At the beginning of the summer, though, I felt very convicted to get it started back up. I so wanted to support The WellHouse – they’re in the middle of some big changes, like moving their facilities, and I know they need all the help they can get. And they do such amazing, mind-blowing work. They rescue slaves. Women and children. From being sold for sex. And not only do they rescue them, but they protect them, help them find healing, provide for them, give them the opportunity for a new education and life, and most of all, show them what love really is.

I want to be behind that. I need to be behind that.

And so, I started to try and catch up. Getting my site updated, my spreadsheets balanced, new prints created, new note card sets made, and designing all kinds of new photo products that had been in the back of my mind but just hadn’t made it into production.

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And so, I just wanted to give y’all an update with what all has recently been added at Picture Birmingham, in case you’re interested in being a part.

A coupon: just for you – you can use the code “summerjoy” in the Picture Birmingham online shop to take 20% off of your total purchase – because I love you and I’m super grateful for all of your support on this journey with me. This coupon is good until July 31.

New Products: So I’m pretty excited about all these new photo products I’ve created. They’re actually functional and don’t require frames! Coasters, notebooks, bookmarks, phone cases, and postcards. The coasters are my personal favorite, though.

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All of these items can be special ordered with any of my images.

New Note Card Sets: I’ve just released three brand new sets of 12 note cards that represent three different parts of our state – Birmingham, Alabama’s beauty, and Alabama’s flowers.

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As always, the note cards are printed on the same thick, artisan paper that we use for my prints, so they make a great gift. Here are the images on the new set of Birmingham Note Cards:

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The new Alabama set focuses on some of the things that make our state unique, along with our beautiful lakes and rivers:

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And the first floral collection includes some of our most beautiful blooms – from the ultra rare Cahaba Lily to the ever-common “interstate weed,” Queen Anne’s Lace. It includes Mountain Laurel, Bradford Pear, Japanese Cherry Trees, and more. This is a great collection for anyone that is not necessarily connected to Alabama.

2016 Floral Notecards

All eight sets of note cards can be found here. Note cards can also be special ordered for businesses, corporations, or any type of special set with or without private branding on the back – just email me at rachel@picturebirmingham.com for details.

New Prints: I’ve gotten out to take some specific pictures I’ve been after lately, and these are now available as prints, canvases, metal prints, or really whatever you want me to make them into. Here are some of my favorites:

This brand new picture of The Alabama Theatre accompanied by the spectacular work of the Blank Spaces Mural Project may be my new favorite image of our city. It embodies the old and new that is currently being beautifully mixed together to beautify and celebrate Birmingham.

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This beautiful gate above Birmingham has always fascinated me, and it’s never more stunning than late spring. The views available of our city are so unique and captivating – not all cities have a cliff right above their skyline, you know.

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I captured this photo of Railroad Park a few days ago. I have so many pictures from this angle, but the clouds in this one really stole my heart.

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I got special permission from Vulcan to offer this photo for sale, my one and only Vulcan shot available. I can either print it portrait or landscape, although I prefer portrait. It also looks pretty amazing on a metallic metal print, as well.

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I started this project as a sunset photographer, and every summer I get one sunset that becomes my new favorite. Here is this summer’s favorite sunset.

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My new favorite way to print all of my pictures is on free-floating metal prints. It looks crisp, modern, and is super easy to hang. I do not, however, have this option updated everywhere on the site, yet – but just email me if you’d like one and can’t find the option.

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In Person: There’s a Fantabulous Summer Sale at Naked Art starting last Friday night and going through August 27th. Art from all kinds of local artists will be on sale from 10% – 50% off, and my art will be from 10% – 30% off. I have all of my new and old products there for the sale, so it’s definitely a good place to go and browse!

IMG_2152 2I’m basically taking up half of this room right now, so I’m sure they’d appreciate it if you came and took some off their hands.

Here’s a complete list of where you can see my work around Birmingham, if you’re more of a shop-in-person kind of human:

  • Naked Art: prints, canvases, metal prints, phone cases, notebooks, note cards, coasters, bookmarks.
  • Smith’s Variety: note cards, postcards, notebooks
  • Alabama Goods: Bookmarks
  • Vulcan Gift Shop (coming soon): postcards, note cards
  • Silvertron Cafe: Metal Prints Collection (for sale via Naked Art next door)
  • John’s City Diner: Large-scale Canvas Collection (private dining room; not for sale but can be reordered.)

If you have any questions or special order requests, email me anytime at rachel@picturebirmingham.com.

Thank you for all of your support over the years, and also for being patient with me here while I’m spending more of my time at Picture Birmingham!

What was Said at Arby’s.

WHY ARE CRAZY PEOPLE ATTRACTED TO ME.

Like, for reals. If I had to rate myself on a scale of Super Approachable to “Hazardous Area – Stay Away”, I’d be on the “Nuclear Waste – Clear the Area” end of things. Not by choice or plan – I just think my resting unapproachable face scares people away.

But not the crazy people. For them, I’m like an out of context bible verse Facebook meme. I’m like aluminum foil and newspaper clippings. They can’t help but be drawn to me.

Today, I took my children to Arby’s, because I told Ali that she got to pick where we’d eat lunch because we were leaving the Orthodontist and she had a sore mouth. Furthermore, I broke one of my highly held tenets of my Motherhood Theology (my expanded Motherhood Statement of Beliefs and Doctrine will be coming soon to a post near you) and actually took my children inside to eat at a fast food restaurant.

My justifications for this unpardonable sin were tri-fold: it was ridiculously hot outside, we had a bit of time to waste before an appointment, and I was hungry and therefore weak in the faith. I was ripe to be tempted. I was in the wilderness. And I failed.

So we went inside. I ordered our food, gave Ali her cup, fixed mine and Noah’s cup, and grabbed our order from the counter. Noah had already found us a table and was waiting calmly. This is one of those moments where I remember yet again that 9 and 5 are seriously good ages.

But yet, despite the general helpfulness and calmness of my children, as I was passing by a table of paint-splattered blue collar men, one looked up, gave a low whistle, and said, “My GOODNESS does she have her hands full.”

Now if he meant literally, I guess he was right. I had a tray in one hand and a drink in the other.

But people never mean that literally. They’re always talking about the fact that I did what people have been doing for centuries and actually gave birth to miniature humans, and was, in fact, not afraid to venture into the outside world with my inconceivably difficult lot in life.

Every time someone says this to me, I really feel the need to stop and tell them about my friends who have five, six, and even SEVEN children, in hopes of making them pass out right there in the middle of their roast beef sandwich.

But nevermind. That guy wasn’t the crazy person that this story is about.

A couple of bites into our lunch, I heard a raving voice. It was a very distinctive voice – kind of hoarse, but overly loud. A minute later, the voice rounded the corner.

It was an employee.

She walked up into Arby’s curious little mezzanine so that she was directly above our table. She leaned over the railing right above our food and yelled in her hoarse, carrying-across-the-restaurant voice.

“You have some good kids!”

“Thanks…” I tried to take a bite of my sandwich and move on.

Then she pointed to the table ten feet from us.

“Those over there aren’t good. There are too many of ‘em. They’re too much work. But you have some good kids!”

I tried to disappear into my sandwich unsuccessfully. She walked away, and I stole a glance over at the “bad” table.

It was a mom, a dad, a grandparent, and three little boys – a baby, a toddler, and a kid Noah’s age. One entire mini human more than I possessed. They were all sitting there quite calmly, eating their roast beef and trying to pretend they hadn’t just heard Arby’s Insane Employee Of the Decade.

While we ate, I tried to pay attention to the goings on at their table, looking for clues as to how I’d so easily risen above them in the Arby’s Circle of Excellence in Children.

I couldn’t figure it out. They had a 1:1 adult/kid ratio, the baby had a couple loud noises but nothing unexpected and not even anything that could be considered a cry. The toddler was sitting in his chair better than Noah was (who spent most of his meal sitting above his seat on the Mezzanine floor, resting against that gold barrier that had blessedly been strong enough to keep Batsoid from falling onto our table during her rant.

A few minutes went by, and Nutty Beeffessor was at another table ranting, again about the bad table.

“Somebody needs to tell that Momma and Daddy that those kids need to SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP!!”

I looked over.

The kids WERE sitting down, and fairly shut up.

I was so confused.

Is this what too much Arby’s Sauce does to a person?

Or had too many people rung that bell at the door for good service and it had blown a circuit in her cerebellum?

Or….wait a minute…could she be seeing a table full of children that the rest of us couldn’t see?

This became my best theory.

In her head, the long table between me and the very quiet “bad” family was actually full of invisible brats – throwing chicken strips and squirting Horsey Sauce. They were screaming and jumping on the table top and practicing Pommel Horse on the sauce counter. They were walking that golden mezzanine railing like it was a tightrope, then falling off into people’s sandwiches!

It all made perfect sense now.

And could someone please sneak some antipsychotics into the Jamocha Shake machine?

Arbys Ring the Bell

How PokemonGo Will Make Your Momming Better.

As I purposefully shy away from trends and adamantly avoid hopping on bandwagons, I was ripe to avoid PokemonGo completely.

But I saw potential. Potential for entertained kids and interesting hikes.

I mean, I’m pretty dang good at making hikes interesting. Sometimes we even find abandoned boobs! But despite how AMAZING I am, and despite the fact that they (almost) always enjoy it, my kids still whine and groan every time I say we’re going on a hike or a walk.

Sure it’s July in Alabama and 456 degrees outside. But still. Exercise makes Mommy feel better, kids. Get on board.

So. PokemonGo.

I downloaded the free app Monday morning. Noah was already downstairs but Ali had yet to emerge from her room. I told Noah, “Oh look! There’s a Pokemon in our front yard! Let’s go out and catch it.”

We ran outside and sure enough, there on my phone screen, we could see the front yard and a Pokemon sitting in it.

I hadn’t read any directions or helpful posts about how to catch Pokemon yet, so we failed miserably on our first hunt. Noah lost interest and wandered away to complain about breakfast options, and I sat down to read a Wiki.

OOOOHH….you swipe quickly with your finger. I can do this.

So I gathered Noah again and we went outside and caught ourselves a Pokemon.

After breakfast, I told the kids.

“We’re going on a Pokemon Hunt. Get your shoes on.”

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Noah was thrilled, but Ali was skeptical. Usually my less whiny child, she had a problem with everything on this stroll. It was hot. It smelled bad outside. Where were the Pokemon? How long would this walk take?

Until.

We found our first Pokemon.

And she was the one who caught it.

Then it became the best walk we’d ever taken.

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There were none on our street, but Not-Crazy-Renee’s street was teeming with them.

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In fact, they seemed congregated around her house – perhaps they were attracted to her snake.

We came, we caught, and Noah even wore a couple Pokemon.

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And it really was the most delightful neighborhood walk we’d ever taken.

Ali, Now PokemonGo’s biggest fan, began naming all the places she wanted to go hunt.

I bet Oak Mountain has 223 Pokemon! Oh! And Aldridge Gardens! There are plenty of places to look there. And Pop and Gramamma’s house. We could find all kinds of Pokemon in their woods!

We decided on Gramamma’s house. It would be a family service, after all, to help her with her Pokemon Infestation.

So we drove out and took Gramamma on a hike, teaching her about the game as we traversed.

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See, you keep the app on your home screen, and it knows where you are, and you can click on the bottom right corner to see how close you’re getting to a Pokemon, and then when one shows up, you see it on the screen in the real world, and you’ve got to throw the ball at it to capture it.

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We found the ever-frightening Zubat,

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Ali slapped a Nidoran,

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Gramamma got viciously attacked by the butt end of a Slowpoke,

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And Shadow went after,

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And then carried away, a Charmander.

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We even checked the bridge – just to make sure it wasn’t covered in the monsters, you know.

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While on the hike, we found real, live, actual cool things as well, thereby making it totally educational.

Colorful spiders,

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Mushrooms,

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And the ever-charismatic Lady of the Corn.

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Anyone want to steal a veggie or two from her?

In total, we found another dozen or so at my parent’s house, therefore saving their property from the perils of loose Pokemon.

On the way home, we saw a PokeSpot and a PokeGym on the map, so we pulled off to get special rewards.

And, in the process, discovered the Alabama Veteran’s War Memorial.

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And our PokemonGo experience became even more educational.

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We talked about all the names and what they meant…

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And why no, we could not take any of the flags. Geez kids.

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And of course, when Chris got home, the first thing the kids wanted to do was go on a walk – to teach him how to play.

And so. In our first day’s journey of Pokemon catching, we:

– Hiked/walked a total of 5 miles four different places without a SINGLE KID COMPLAINT (at least after the first Pokemon was bagged.)

– Made it to Level 6 and joined Team Valor.

– Saw all kinds of actual nature (including a rabbit, too fast to be pictured.)

– Visited and learned about the Alabama War Memorial.

– Caught 53 Pokemon on my phone – I don’t know how many Chris caught.

– Took turns catching said Pokemon and cheered ridiculously loudly for each other when a successful catch was made.

– Ran my phone battery down four times. External chargers are a nice asset for heavy Pokemon hunting.

– Only tripped while staring at the phone screen a couple times. Each.

– And one fantastic diary entry was created via Ali, an entry that should be able to help if you’re still unsure how to play.

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Well, you get the picture.

You’re welcome, Moms of the world. Your summer just got exceedingly better.

Love,

Rachel