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Wednesday by Leah: Sleep!

– Posted by Leah

If you are a sleep-deprived parent, please don’t read this blog post!

Everyone else – I am happy to report that I’m getting a decent amount of sleep! Which is probably the biggest surprise of this parenting adventure for me. I didn’t expect to be getting as much sleep as I do, but Jonah is a super easy baby – he wakes up generally once or twice to nurse for 5 minutes and then falls back to sleep. He’s been doing that for the past 3 weeks. Before then, he was still nursing every two hours, and peeing and pooping about as often. But as he’s grown, he’s started going longer between feedings in the evening and he also doesn’t pee or poop quite so often. Which means more sleep for both of us!

Before Jonah came, I thought we’d use the Arm’s Reach co-sleeper from the get-go. It’s set up right next to our bed, so Jonah can be close by. But then Jonah arrived and he was so tiny and precious, and nursing so often, that he ended up just sleeping on my chest. Even the co-sleeper was too far away – when I would put him in it, I couldn’t sleep. I would just watch him and make sure he was breathing. On my chest, I knew he was breathing because I could feel him. I would prop myself up with pillows, and could nurse him easily throughout the night. And that’s how we slept at first. No, it is NOT the recommended way to sleep. But even the slightest movement from him would wake me up, so I wasn’t worried about his safety – if anything, I felt like he was more safe with me than lying in a bassinet, because I could keep him warm and make sure he was breathing.

Now that he’s sleeping for longer stretches, he sleeps beside me. Still not in the co-sleeper, but I think sometime between 3 and 6 months we’ll transition him over there, and then between 6 and 12 months we’ll transition him to his room. What’s worked great for me and Mark is for me to sleep on my own for a few hours in the earlier part of the evening, while Mark hangs out with Jonah. Then I wake up for a snack (breastfeeding makes me more hungry than pregnancy did!!!), and I take Jonah while Mark’s goes to sleep. Jonah nurses and then we both fall asleep…then he wakes up 4 hours later and nurses again, and falls right back to sleep, and Mark usually gets a full stretch of sleep – 6 to 8 hours.

And that’s what works for us. Which is really the point of this post, other than me being really excited that Mark and I are both getting sleep, period! This is not how I pictured the whole sleep thing working out, but it most definitely is working out for us. This is not what the parenting books say to do, this is not what our pediatrician recommends, but it’s what works for us. And while I understand the concerns about co-sleeping, intuitively this feels right for us, for our family. And practically, it’s allowing us all to get a good night’s sleep. So that’s what we’re doing.

Weekly Newsletter Volume 12

I haven’t posted one of our weekly newsletters as an actual blog post before – but this one was so much fun (drawing on photos!) and a little informative as far as what’s in our heads when we take photos – so here you go in case you haven’t signed up for our newsletter! (Which you can do Right Here.)

Atlanta photographers

Lines, Shapes, and Composition

I know. Composition. Again – but look! This time we have drawings - sort of 🙂

We both take photos, but Mark is a natural at “seeing” the shot he wants. Leah – not so much. But composition can be learned. So once we realized this difference between us, we decided Mark should teach y’all some of his inner workings.

This is how Mark sees the world – even when he doesn’t have his camera:

Basically – straight lines framing or accenting/contrasting/stressing the shape of curved human bodies. I first started seeing things like this when I took an art history class and saw this painting by Parmigianino:

In my current Art History book – it says this about the painting: Parmigianino spent six years working on this painting. The length and slenderness of all the limbs is exaggerated but it is the Madonna’s neck, likened to the ivory-colored column behind her, that gives the picture its expressive power.

And yeah, it’s kind of a weird painting – but then I started seeing other paintings differently – like this famous one by Diego Velasquez: Las Meninas

Of course – there is more than one way to view any piece of art:

Now it’s one thing to compose a shot when you have time – but it’s another thing to be able to do it on-the-fly, during an event, when people keep moving:

The thing with lines is that you can’t just depend on them to frame things – you actually have to MOVE into a position where the lines work for you and your shot. If you examine our photos – we like people to be flat-on facing us.

Rarely do we take shots that are just ‘off to the side’ or at some weak diagonal angle. We’re very big on getting in position to get THE SHOT. Sometimes it’s just a foot to the left, sometimes we need to move across the room – but we rarely ‘settle’ for a shot due to our position. When we enter a room – we see the space, the lines and the available shapes (yes, even Leah can do this now – it just took some more practice for her). They stand out to us. Then we see people and where they’re moving within the space and the lines.

If you know where the lines are in a room – then you’ll know when to take your shot as people move about the space. If something is happening across the room – you’re able to size-up and frame the shot without blinking, and then you can focus on the action that’s going on. Because you might not have another chance to get the shot you want so you’d better be quick and know what you’re doing (or at least know what you’re trying to do.)

We try to always ‘ground’ our photos of people with strong lines and shapes. That’s the most simple way I can put it. It’s a formula we use – but people aren’t formulaic – so it works. They’re not static, even when our ‘framing’ IS static, and when you combine them, you tend to end up with strong photos that just ‘work’ – even if you don’t really know why, or spend the time to wax poetic and draw red lines all over them.

Now, go through your own photos – do you have strong lines that direct the viewer to your subjects? Or framing lines? Are the lines distracting and pulling your eye away from the subject? Do your lines contrast or emphasize what’s going on in your photos? Do you have a lot of diagonal lines showing frenetic excitement or energy? Do you have strong straight lines keeping everything stable and holding it all together? Do you have them both present, balancing out your composition?

Knowing your lines and shapes, and using them to effectively direct the viewer and balance out your composition, will help differentiate you from everyone else with an expensive camera. Look at the whole picture.

See you next week.

Thanks for reading.


Leah and Mark Tioxon

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Atlanta. Photographer. Children. Family. Portrait. Photography.