Holiday Horses and their Human

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Sophia is a sweet, fun person. We worked together a few months ago for another type of session, and she was fantastic. When she inquired about another photoshoot, this time with her horses and her dog, I was over the moon excited! These photographs, she explained, would be used for her holiday cards this year. Fantastic!

Here are a few favorites from my time at her home, with her beautiful horses and friendly pooch!

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This wraps up 2017 for sessions for me! I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season! Keep an eye out for Montreal travel photos in December, and CONTACT me to book your 2018 session. xo SC

Faces of Mental Illness 1 : My struggle with Anxiety

Blog, Faces of Mental Illness

Everyone has their own perspective. We all see the world just a little bit differently than the person next to us. It is because of this that we all form opinions, one way or another, about other people. This isn’t inherently good or bad; It just is.

When I was approached for this project, I felt a deep creative spark. Rebecca, the woman behind the idea, and I spent hours talking and sketching out different ways to accomplish our goal. We wanted to show the difference between what people see on the outside, and what happens inside the person’s mind. Our goal is to interview and photograph people with different internal struggles to help show their daily life, inside and out. The first photograph will be of the person, as they are seen by the outside world. The second will be a composite, fine art picture showing what it feels like inside of them.

I wanted to start with myself for a few reasons. First, this allowed us to play with different ideas and start us off on the right path before interviewing others. Second, I wanted to show my own struggles before asking other people to share theirs. I chose Anxiety for myself, as it is the most prevalent mental illness in my life. I have dealt with other tendencies throughout my journey, but Anxiety has stuck around the longest. What I’m sharing today is deeply personal, as the future posts will be about others. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

Let’s start with the exterior. What do you see?

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My name is Sarah Chase. I am a photographer, an artist, a mother, a wife. My son is homeschooled, and I spend a lot of time guiding him through learning and driving him to play dates, co-op, and field trips. I work with photography clients to capture family connection, couples in love, and even boudoir to show women how beautiful they are. As a family, we love to travel. It was a dream of ours for years, and we are finally making it happen one trip at a time. When we’re home for long periods of time, we love to get out in nature and hike, or go to Boston for a field trip.

I have heard many opinions from other people about me. Some are kind, while others are not. In the past year’s examples I’ve been called cute, stylish, and talented. I paused, though, when someone told me my life was perfect. Okay, it was more of a burst of laughter than a pause, but you get my point. It’s not that my life is awful. We all live through things and can grow because of them. My life is great when I look around, though. I have a loving partner, a healthy child, and many adventures. I have a roof over my head and food in my stomach. That is all beautiful, and I’m grateful for it.

I’ve also had fellow mothers pick on me for “dressing up,” and various negative mentions of style, lifestyle, and even dietary choices. The one that has stuck with me though was being told that it “must be nice” to be able to do the things that I do. At first I was struck with guilt, but then I focused on my inner dialogue and thought, “It is nice.”

It is nice that despite my anxiety I am able to still do all that I want to. Despite my panic on airplanes, I am still able to get on one. Despite the three panic attacks while driving last year, I am still able to drive. Despite years of bullying I am still able to put time into how I look and feel, and learn how to love myself. Despite every fear of failure, I am able to have my own business. Despite my anxiety, I am still able to live my life. That, is nice.

What people can’t see are the struggles my marriage has survived in order to be as wonderful as it is now. They can’t see how much of a miracle our son is, after we were told we probably wouldn’t conceive naturally. They can see the pain, though, when they ask when we plan on having another, to which I answer “after 5 years of trying, we probably won’t.” They can’t see how even when things are great, I have 100 tabs of anxious thoughts open in my mind.

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My name is Sarah Chase, and I cope with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

I am not fragile. Though I feel like I could shatter at any moment I am not made of glass. From the moment I wake in the morning the thoughts pour in. My to-do list fills my mind all at once and I wonder if I will have the energy to complete it. While this is happening, my son sends his own requests. I am bombarded with more and more between the two of us until I feel like I’m going to break down, and the day has only been a few minutes long. I try my best to smile and reply as I make my way to the kitchen for coffee. I’m told that caffeine can make things worse, but without it I would be a puddle on the couch, stuck and unable to move. The coffee helps, but I rarely feel truly awake.

I close my eyes and breathe. Nothing is wrong in the present, but my brain takes me to the future that probably won’t happen. I worry about my list, I worry about my son, I’m anxious to get through the day but wanting to stay in each moment longer. Each passing minute is a push and pull between needing to move on to the next thing and not wanting to move at all. I go over all of the possible things that could go wrong at any time, even catastrophically so. I worry that I’ll panic in situations I panicked in before, then remind myself that the cycle of panic starts with the fear of it. I tell myself, again, how stupid this all is.

That’s the difference between anxiety and fear. Fear has it’s useful place in our survival. Fear happens in present, real situations and triggers a fight or flight response. Anxiety, however, lives in a false future and makes me worry about things that aren’t real, but still creates some very real symptoms. Chest pain and tightness, shortness of breath- the list goes on and on and is different for everyone.

When I grip the steering wheel of my car, I have to distract myself with music and mints. Panic has happened more than once here, the first time being the worst. My chest tightened and my hands went numb, which brought a very real fear of getting into a car accident. I give myself extra time to get to my destination, just in case it happens again and I need to pull over and rest. I don’t like being late, and I worry what people will think if I am. When I feel the anxiety bubbling up, I have to breathe deeply, eat a mint, and remind myself that there is no real danger.

When I get onto an airplane I start to shake. Before my son was born I went to Ireland with my husband and drank enough red wine to sing the song and pass out. As a parent, though, I need to be awake and aware. I started taking a medication to get me through it, so I could enjoy our travels on the other side. I don’t really like the way it makes me feel, but it’s still better than shaking or throwing up or feeling like I was falling, during the flight. It’s the only time I take anything for it, not for lack of trying. Another type of anxiety medication had me feeling suicidal after 4 short days of taking it. As someone who lost a friend to suicide, I figured it was best to cope naturally as often as possible.

Even with this post, I’ve been anxious. I could feel myself putting off the first step of our project out of anxious thoughts telling me I wasn’t ready. My words weren’t enough. The pictures weren’t enough. I had to improve, I had to wait. That is, until a good friend of mine sat me down and said “You need to just do it, instead of waiting for perfect.” She was right, and so here we are.

This is a small sampling of what my experience with anxiety has been like. It is in no way the only experience, as we all have our own perspectives. If you’ve made it all the way to the end, thank you. There are a couple more things I’d like to ask of you. First, if you could please share this post. Maybe there’s someone out there going through something similar, or someone who would like to be part of this passion project. Second, if you are someone who would like to join us, please CONTACT me and we can start the interview process. Not all applicants will be photographed, but we would like to make this project as diverse as possible.

Thank you, and I wish you much love.

-Sarah Chase

Dear Wild One

Blog, Family, Uncategorized

Dear Wild One,

I wanted to let you know that I see you. I see the frustration you feel when you’ve been inside too long. I see the way you cringe when your life feels micro managed, and I can see how blissful you are when you decide for yourself. I am learning, little wild one, to let go and allow you to be, as often as I can, while still keeping you safe. When the confinements of daily life are left behind you become free. I watch you transform before my very eyes as the stress floats away with the breeze.

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I watch as you remove your shoes and socks and touch the earth with your bare feet. The moment your toes wiggle in the dirt, I can see the ease flow over you. You relax, only for a moment, before walking those bare feet to a nearby tree.

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Your smile widens as you tell us the woods are enchanted. You invite us into your wild world, and we are happy to join you.

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I see you, wild one, so comfortable in nature. You sit at the base of the tree and exhale before curling into a ball. Your smile widens again as you tell us this is your new bed, and how you wish you could live here in this place. I can’t help but smile, too.

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When your skin touches the chilling stream, I think for sure you’ll want to bundle back up. I imagine you recoiling and shivering, but to my surprise you do not. Instead, the water beacons you to explore and play even more.

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I see you, wild one, bravely climbing the rocks we face. When you’re offered an easier route you decline. I can see the determination so clearly in your expression. With adults surrounding you, prepared to catch you if need be, you ever so carefully place each foot and hand before shifting your weight and climbing higher. I watch, in awe of you, as I follow you to the top.

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Dear Wild One,

I know that sometimes life can feel busy. We’re here and there, doing this and that. I feel it, too. On days like this, though, we can forget about the business and just be. I love watching you in your element. Thank you, my wild one, for reminding me to let go, slow down, and enjoy the nature that’s all around us.

I see you. I’m proud of you. I love you.

-Mom
(Sarah Chase)

Photographs taken during our family day at the Basin, New Hampshire. 

 

 

5 Holiday Gifts That Aren’t Plastic Toys

Blog, Five Favorites

Okay, I know, It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m already mentioning the major Holiday season! But, my son has a December birthday, so between the two we start our planning early. Many parents love this time of year, but I’ve heard more and more that parents want to move away from the plastic overload and focus on something…. else…. but what?

I understand the worry completely. I’m looking around my home now at the abundance of toys that he’s received as gifts from various people, that he barely plays with. Of course he loves his legos and Minecraft figures, but he’s also the type to forgo the beach toys and play with sand and seaweed instead. He’ll pick up a stick in the woods and make it part of his pretend play, more than he’ll pick up most of the toys in his room.

So what do you get a child as a present, when you want to avoid the commercialized plastic toys that inevitably turn into clutter? Here are 5 alternatives that just might do the trick.

  1. An Experience. My parents get my son a membership to the Museum of Science in Boston for Christmas. This is the perfect gift for him, because we go several times a year for fun and for homeschool field trips. Your experience gift could be a museum, a trip, hiking, a day of paintball, a class – the list goes on. Basically, find something your child will love to do outside of the home. You can add to this idea with gifts that go along with the experience. Luggage and a new passport holder, a travel journal, a new paintball gun, a new apron for the cooking class. Really, the possibilities are endless!
  2. Art Supplies. If your child is an artist then you know how many times a year you need to restock supplies! For the holidays, think of things that are maybe more expensive, that would really make for a special treat. A brand new sketchbook, wrapped canvas for paintings, professional brushes, or Copic markers are just a few examples.
  3. Nature Exploration Supplies. This can tie back into experiences, but if there’s something your child will need for your outdoor adventures, this could make for a special gift as well! A well made compass, a nature journal, a container for observing and releasing bugs, and maybe even a tent! These gifts can be used again and again for camping, hikes, or even in your back yard.
  4. A Fort Building Kit. Remember the days of making blanket forts? I still do it! Of course, it’s now with my son. You can find pre-made fort making kits online, or you can put together your own with rope, sheets, twinkle lights, and other materials. Package it nicely, and presto!
  5. A Camera. Okay, so I’m a little biased on this one. But there’s something beautiful about seeing the world through your child’s eyes. There are cameras that are suited for any child from toddlerhood to adulthood.  Print the pictures they take and add them to an album or scrapbook, so they can look back on them for years to come. Their photographs can also make wonderful presents for grandparents! It’s a win-win all around.

I hope these tips helped in your holiday planning, and that you have a wonderful string of holidays.

-Sarah

PS: If you’d like to book a November session for holiday cards, please CONTACT me and book your day! I do not work in December, so the November dates are the last ones available for holiday cards and photo gifts. 

New Packaging – New Hampshire Photographer

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Natural. Organic. Genuine. Emotive.

 

These are the words I use to describe the types of images I’d like to take. When I thought about the type of packaging I’d like to use for photo orders, I wanted it to reflect these same words, or at least most of them. I’ve been playing with and tweaking some ideas for a while now, and I’m incredibly happy with the final result.

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How adorable is that? Now your photo orders will be wrapped in the same beautiful setup.

-Sarah

Nature Play – NH Photographer

Blog, Family

I learned something on our recent trip to Cape Cod. I noticed my son collecting nature items in the past, of course, but for some reason it really stayed with me on this trip. We were at the beach, and my son had said no to playing with plastic buckets and shovels. I shrugged and thought nothing of it, until I watched more closely. He picked up a piece of seaweed and played for a long time, seeing it blow in the wind and waving it around. He drew pictures in the sand and pretended he was a pirate leaving clues to a treasure. He had a fantastic time, and not a moment of it involved plastic toys.

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I was reminded of something I learned from Leah M, the creator of the curriculum we sometimes use in our homeschooling. Kids learn and grow creatively when they have open ended toys to use, and aren’t told how to use them. Loose parts in nature seem to be some of the best. A stick can be a cane, a bow, a sword, or a building tool. Rocks become beautiful treasures, and seaweed can easily become entertainment.

Our kids are connected to nature. We all are, really, but sometimes the daily grind of adulthood can make us forget. This beautiful reminder allowed me to let go of pressures and allow him, and myself, to just be and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. No plastic toys or electronics needed.

-Sarah

PS: Let’s have a photoshoot based on your child playing in and enjoying nature, from a documentary standpoint! For information and to book, please CONTACT me.

 

Nobody knows your child as you do – NH Photographer

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Nobody knows your child as well as you do. You see them every day. You know their expressions, mannerisms, and quirks as well as your own. When we look back at their past with photographs, it’s usually the ones that showcase their personality well that become our favorites for nostalgic thoughts.

As an example, I’ll show you photographs of my son and explain why I see so much of who he is in each one. He’s the example, of course, because I know him best.

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Take this first image. Some may see a serious or a bored face.  However, I know that this is his thinking face. He’s deep in thought, contemplating something. I also see his wisps of hair floating away from his bun, and I smile knowing that his wild, long hair is such a big part of his identity.

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In the above image, some might assume that he was posed. After all, it would have been the perfect setup! But, This was purely a luck shot. I turned to see him swinging and moving the sword while looking around the mossy area, and happened to get a click before he ran off. One shot, of him pretending to be a viking. When he plays pretend, he’s very serious about each role, so it makes sense that his big imagination would show so clearly in an image, even in a lucky shot.

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Here he is laughing to himself, not long after he was scurrying around the beach with his hands in his pockets, pretending to be a piping plover. He cracks himself up, as well as others.

Those are just a few examples. To those who don’t know him, they’re pretty pictures. To me, each one represents a big part of who he is. When I work with children in a photography session, my focus is not on posing or creating the traditional family portrait. Instead, I offer a relaxed session that allows children to be themselves, so I can capture those traits you know so well as a parent. Sessions with me will give you images that you can look back on years from now, and remember those little things they used to do, or expressions they always made. These relaxed, documentary style sessions are about so much more than a photograph- they’re keepsakes of who they are now, as you know them.

-Sarah

If you’d like to book your session, please CONTACT me.

NOT back to school portraits – Cape Cod

Blog, Family, Travel

While I reside and (mostly) work in New Hampshire, it’s no secret that I love to travel. Cape Cod has become a family tradition, along with my parents. To add to the tradition, I started taking my son’s annual NOT back to school portraits on the beach. Our September trip normally happens during back to school time for New England, so I take advantage of the empty beaches to photograph my homeschooled child yearly.

Here are some of my favorites!

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-Sarah Chase

PS: I still have a couple of Saturdays open now in September for New Hampshire! If you are also a homeschooled family and would like to schedule a NOT back to school session, please CONTACT me!

PPS: For fall family sessions, I have 2 Saturdays available in October! Book one of them before they’re gone.

Imagination – NH Photographer

Blog, Uncategorized

Think back to your childhood.

Did you love to play dress up? Did you host tea parties, or create elaborate stories with toys? I sure did, and my son does, too. Imaginative play is an important part of childhood. Children constantly practice creative thinking and problem solving skills just by playing pretend.

Recently, my son wanted to dress up as a ninja. We didn’t have a ninja costume, so he went through his drawers and pulled out navy blue thermals. When he inquired about a mask, I invited him to think about another way to create one, since we didn’t have one on hand. He took another pair of pants and placed it on his head like a hat, then wrapped the pant legs around his mouth area. He then jumped on to his bed and did a roll, before ducking behind one of his pillows. I couldn’t help but smile as he happily played ninja in his room, coming up with the outfit and story line on his own.

This is just one of many examples of how my son has used his imagination and creative problem solving in order to bring his ideas to life. Be it pirates, a viking adventure, a cat, or a Minecraft character, he uses what he has to create his vision the way he wants it.

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I was also quite the imaginative child. Yes, I did end up in a creative field, but that’s not the only way creativity has shown up in my life. When I learned more about ADD and why I had a hard time retaining information, I was able to create new ways to study and remember. This especially helped me in college.  I love to think out of the box when it comes to solving problems, and I see possibility everywhere I look. Inspiration finds me in some pretty unusual ways. I can even take a seemingly ordinary moment and turn it into a memorable art piece, taking the viewer back to that real moment.

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Imagination, to me, is so much more than playing pretend or painting a picture. It is the fundamental stepping stone to creative thinking, in any medium and form. We encourage it in our home for our son and for ourselves, and I’d like to encourage you to get back in touch with yours!

-Sarah Chase

Our time in Iceland – Family Travel

Blog, Family, Travel

This past March I got on a plane with my husband, son, and my father. The purple aircraft was small, but well worth the coming experience. Months before, we found a deal for tickets to Iceland, and just like that, the country made it to the top of our travel list. I was nervous to fly, as I always am, but the excitement of the coming adventure got me to sit down on the plane. My son was over the moon excited- it was his first time flying!

We expected to sleep on our overnight travels. My son had different plans. He was too excited, and only closed his eyes for the last hour or so. We arrived at Keflavik airport in the early morning with tired eyes. We tried our best to drag our bags while holding our son, until a lovely person who worked there offered one of the airport’s strollers. I thanked them, put B in it, and we were off to find some Coffee.

There was fog outside in the parking lot. We walked around, looking for the license plate that matched the one on our paperwork. “Wow, you got the big car!” the woman had said to us, so we were looking for an SUV. We laughed when the smaller-than-my-forester car was parked in front of us, matching plates and all.

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Breakfast in Reykjavik was incredible on that first day, then we explored the west coastline near the city until it was time to grocery shop and check into our cabin. As we drove, my son fell asleep in his carseat. We expected it, with the little sleep he got on the plane and the time zone difference. It was impossible to wake him, even when we saw some of the famous, Icelandic ponies!

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The AirB&B cabin was the perfect place to hang our hats and rest. From every window we could see the beautiful, Icelandic landscape; mountains, Þingvallavatn (lake), and of course the intriguing and bouncy moss.

We went straight to seeing the sights. With only a week to spend and a long list of places to see, we couldn’t afford to wait. Rain was falling, but we didn’t want that to stop us. During our drive to the first stop, the rain fell away and made way for a rainbow over the road. I smiled as I watched us drive towards it, and took it as a sign of good things to come.

Strokkur, Geysir, and Gullfoss. Each site was incredible to view. The spray of Strokkur as it blasted from the earth, the deep color of the dormant Geysir, and the vast glory of Gullfoss had us in awe.

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The following day we made our way south. Skogafoss was the main event on our minds, but we also thought about stopping at the black sand beaches afterwards. On the way, we found plenty of other things to see, and made quite a few stops.

Skogafoss was beautiful. It’s hard to describe the feeling of calm that washed over me as I listened to the water crashing into the rocks below. We approached it together, ultimately getting soaked by the spray.

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After so much adventuring, it was time for a day to relax. We decided on the Secret Lagoon, over the more popular (but less natural) Blue Lagoon. The warm water led us all to a state of bliss. We waded and swam for hours.

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The following day, my husband and my father decided to go on a walking glacier tour. B was too young, so he and I stayed at the cabin together. The boys had an incredible experience, while B and I played outside, watched movies, and had some time to lay down. That evening, when they returned from their tour, we went to the fault line in Þingvellir, where the continents are drifting apart.

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It was time for another trip to Reykjavik. We needed to do a little laundry, as we packed pretty light, and Reykjavik had what was called the “Laundromat Cafe.” What we didn’t expect was the actual cafe on the top floor, with a Laundromat downstairs, and a large play area for kids. They served us our soy lattes while we watched our son play, and waited for our laundry to finish.

While we were in town, we decided to go to the Settlers Museum, which was about the vikings settling in Iceland. It was a fantastic learning stop, and B wanted to go around three times before going to the gift shop. He was excited to pick out a beautifully made, wooden sword and shield set. We watched as he played viking on the way back to the car, and only then did it occur to me that we may have an issue with our carry-on-only bags. Lesson learned. A $70-to-check-the-sword lesson to be exact.

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Well worth it.

On our last full day we decided to climb Miðfell, The hill that was in view from the Cabin, that we had passed by each day on our way to sight-see. The view was beautiful, and B loved to bounce on the mossy hillside. The day ended with a walk along Þingvallavatn. I tried my best to soak up the scenery as much as I could. I knew it was going to be hard to leave this beautiful country.

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Our time in Iceland was amazing. Beautiful sights during the day, and a dancing display of Auroras at night.

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While it wasn’t originally a country we talked about visiting, I’m glad we did, and I would love to go back again and see more. The people were friendly, and there was so much to see and do. If you’re thinking of traveling somewhere as a family, give Iceland a try.

 

 

 

WOWAir | AirB&B

 

-Sarah Chase

PS: You may notice a different URL at the end of the video. Travel photography and vlogging is one of my many brands that I am bringing together under this site! Keep an eye out here on schasephoto.com for future travel posts. xo