Darrah Parker » Slice of Life Photography

what doing the dishes taught me about beauty

“Fulfillment derives not from lofty achievements, but from ordinary feats.
It arrives not once in a lifetime, but every moment of the livelong day.”
~ Karen Maezen Miller, Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life

Sometime in my mid-twenties, I had a shocking realization: I was going to have to wash dishes for the rest of my life. It should be noted that washing the dishes is one of my least favorite things to do, with doing laundry and cleaning the toilets running close behind. I was living by myself for the first time so I didn’t have any roommates to worry about. It was just me and my mess. I had been doing dishes for years, but the thought of the never-ending nature of them had never occurred to me. Until now. What a bummer.

Fast-forward a decade and I still stare down the dishes like they are my arch enemies. Maybe if I don’t look at them, they’ll go away. Maybe if I don’t go in the kitchen, they’ll disappear. But as soon as they are clean, they collect again, one by one, reminding me that avoiding them will just lead to the inevitable: a pile of dishes. A pile of stress.

Recently, I was washing the dishes in the early evening (probably grumbling or wishing I was on the couch) when I looked up and saw the light. It was pouring in through the window above the sink and blessing the walls of my kitchen with golden rays. My eyes danced as I followed the light to the wall behind me. And that’s when it hit me:

There is beauty to be found – even when I’m washing the dishes.

I’m glad I came to my senses and opened my eyes. I may never make peace with having to wash the dishes for the rest of my life, but I can make peace with washing the dishes today.

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Join me in this daily practice of capturing the beauty in the mundane. My photography e-course, The Slice of Life Project starts September 22 and runs for six weeks. Early-bird pricing ends TONIGHT! Registration and class details here.

the slice of life project is back!

Sometimes I forget that not everyone knows the whole story. I assume you’ve been here since the beginning, but you may have just learned about me recently or maybe you only know about my Lens Mama class. But there was life before the Lens and the Mama. Life before I found photography and a whole lot of life before I became a mom. Sometimes even I forget.

But recently I was reminiscing with my husband about my past life and how photography saved me. And how it still saves me. Every day.

I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s the truth.

I remember the day so well. I remember what I photographed (a tulip) and how I felt (freedom). And I remember that I wanted more of that feeling in my life.

It wasn’t that I wanted to do something farfetched or unattainable. It was actually quite simple. I wanted to find beauty in my everyday life. And my camera was going to help me do it. That’s how my weekly blog posts called “Slice of Life Tuesdays” were born. A simple snapshot of my life to help me remember what was most important and that life was beautiful even when it was hard.

At the time, I was in a job that I was really good at, but didn’t love. My camera saved me. What started as a simple act of photographing a tulip on my lunch break turned into Slice of Life Tuesdays, which turned into a Slice of Life Tuesdays Flickr group full of people using my weekly prompts, which turned into my first e-course, The Slice of Life Project. Oh, and did I mention that somewhere in there I quit my job and started a photography business?

That was five years ago. In that time, I have gotten married and had a child. The “Life” part of my “Slice of Life” looks a lot different than it used to, but the feeling is still there every time I take a photo. Freedom.

Some time after Sadie was born, I put my popular Slice of Life e-course on a shelf, but I’m ready to bring it back. I feel it in my bones. It’s time. So I’ve taken it off the shelf and given it a lovely make-over. I can’t wait for you to see it!

In the Slice of Life Project, you will dig beneath the surface of your everyday life with your trusty camera by your side and unearth the beauty that has been there all along. You will receive two emails a week for six weeks and will have the option of joining a Facebook group where we will share photos, ask questions, and grow together. During the class, you will learn simple techniques that will help you see with a photographer’s eye and improve your photos.

If you have always wanted to take a photography class, but have felt intimidated, this e-course is for you. My approach is nurturing  and playful with a splash of practical. No prior photography experience required. All types of cameras welcome (yes, even smart phones!)

Class starts September 22. Early-bird registration begins today at $59. The price will increase to $79 at 9:00 p.m. (PST) on September 8.

Have a question? Check out the FAQ page.

The Slice of Life Project helped me find beauty in my life. I hope it will do the same for you. Join me?

lovely melissa | seattle portrait photographer

Earlier this week, I drove to Bellingham (about an hour and a half north of Seattle) to photograph Dr. Melissa McCreery. Through her coaching practice and book, she helps successful women “add more ease, success, and joy to their health, their businesses, and their lives.” We could all use more of those things, can’t we?

Melissa wanted headshots for her new website (coming soon!) that show off her personality – warm, approachable, professional, trustworthy. I found all of these things to be true within the first five minutes of meeting her. She really is a delight.

We spent a couple of hours walking and talking and getting to know each other. At one point, Melissa told me that she didn’t know being photographed could be so fun. Music to my ears!

I hope the photos illustrate just how much fun we had and just how lovely Melissa is.