A "photo journal" from the seat of my wheelchair

About

My name is Robin, I turned 50 this year. I’m a wife, mother and person with mobility related disabilities who lives in North Central Pennsylvania.

I was born and raised within 15 miles of the area where I now reside with my husband of more than a quarter century and my adult son. I share my home with two cats, Sylvester and Oreo Cookie and am constantly accompanied by my canine companion Kodiak, a Siberian Husky I’ve ‘owner trained’ as my Assistance Dog.

I first became interested in photography when I was in Elementary school, having sold greeting cards for the “Sales Leadership” organization, I chose as my ‘prize’ a camera. My parents bought me a roll of film and I set out for a walk, as it was Autumn, my favorite time of year, I took pictures of the beautiful trees that lined the streets of my neighborhood.

Excitedly I waited for the film to be developed, only to discover the film was ‘black and white’. Though I hadn’t captured the beautiful colors of Autumn, the trees were beautiful. Thus began a love of photographing nature that continues today.

I first became disabled in 1994, at relatively the same time I lost my father to Cancer. Shortly thereafter, my mobility deteriorated, making it difficult for me to walk significant distances. Over the years that have followed and many different diagnosis I’ve increasingly relied on the use of a scooter or power chair to travel any distance more than a few dozen feet.

My disability created chronic pain that’s kept me from working on pencil or pastel portraits, something I had previously won awards for. I began to search for a way I could use my creativity in an artistic way and returned to photography.

Not having any professional training in photography, armed only with a discriminating eye for composition and a FujiFilm FinePix S700 digital camera with 10x digital zoom, my power chair and Kodiak by my side, I began to venture out in my community in search of the beauty, colors and scenery often overlooked.

Inspired by Kodiak, I began to watch the way he communed with the world around him, closing his eyes and lifting his face to the warmth of the sun, stopping to sniff the air and enjoy the sounds and smells in abundance around him. My appreciation for nature and understanding that my ability to enjoy it in the future is limited and unsure drive me to photograph that which inspires me, a lasting memory when experiencing is no longer an option.

My hope is that others will see the things around them that they tend to overlook or take for granted in a way they hadn’t before.

Please feel free to comment on the photographs shared here.

Update: In October, 2011 I upgraded my camera to a Canon Powershot SX40 HS with a 24mm-840mm wide angle zoom lens. All photographs since that time have been shot with this camera.

15 responses

  1. I’m enjoying your blog, Robin- thanks for visiting mine! Keep the fine photographs coming πŸ™‚

    July 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    • Thank you, I will. Please do the same, I really enjoyed your pictures, I have more to look at and look forward to spending some more time there.

      July 21, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  2. Robin, thank you SO much for commenting on my blog so that I could know about you and your beautiful website! I’m so happy to have found it. I very much admire your outlook on life and how you have turned lemons into lemonade!

    I’m subscribing and look forward to following you and Kodiak on your photography adventures. He’s a HANDsome dog, and I love how you’ve learned from him about all the ways to experience and appreciate the world around us. Dogs are man’s best friend, for sure!

    God bless! πŸ™‚

    July 31, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    • Thank you, so much! I’m glad you enjoyed our photographs. Kodiak and I spend so much time together, he shows me so many things that I realized I’ve always taken for granted, that I never stopped to even look at, or to give a second look to. When I’m out now, I’m aware of the sound of leaves moving on the breeze, the smells traveling through the air, and all the little things he’s seeing, from his point of view. Since I now have to ‘walk’ with the use of a power chair, my perspective has changed, I’m much closer to the foliage, to the animals, I’m seeing things in ways I never had before. I’m also much more keenly aware of how fast time seems to be passing by, one season rolling into the next. We miss so many beautiful things because we’re always in a hurry, always on our way to some place else, thinking about where we will be, rather than enjoying where we are. I’m hoping my photo journal will give people cause to stop and notice all the life and wonder around them. πŸ™‚

      August 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

  3. I’m so glad I found your blog!! It’s fun!

    October 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    • Thank you… I’m glad you found me too. I’ll have to stop by your blog and check it out. I just wanted to share my view of the world around me, I’m glad others can enjoy it. πŸ™‚

      October 11, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  4. I too now live within fifteen miles of where I was raised (and born) amazing how much more deeply I appreciate the nature around me than when I was a kid… and how much there is to photograph. You have some very nice images. Keep shooting such enjoyable images

    October 30, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    • Thank you so much! I think there’s great beauty in the simplest of things. πŸ™‚

      October 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

  5. dianne - life as i see it

    wonderful : )

    February 8, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    • Thank You, I’m glad you enjoyed my photos. Thank you for visiting!

      February 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm

  6. hi robin! so good to read your blog and the pics! like you, im also self-taught..never been on a photo course in my life! BUT…unlike normal people, im a nerd…a film nerd that is! i try and use only film cameras…not to say i dont have a digicam, but i try and only use that as a reference point. and like yourself, ive got shera snoozing under my desk as i write this..(shera is my 3 yr old german shepherd…gentle as a lamb but people get scared of him cos he’s huge!). carry on the good work, robin!

    April 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

    • Thanks so much for your comment. Hi Shera!! I used to love film cameras, had a 35mm that went to Great Britain with me, but to be honest, the cost of film and processing was just too much for our budget. With the tremors I live with, it’s so nice to be able to see the shot on the camera so I know whether it’s in focus or not. I’ll be by to visit your blog. It’s kind of cool to know that you’re there with your pooch and I’m here with my pooch, working on the same hobby. πŸ™‚

      April 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

      • hi again, robin! thanks for the reply! yes, we just dont know what we’d do without shera….he’s a member of our family thru and thru! as for film cameras, well, i know exactly where ur coming from! film is expensive, but for me, somehow it still has a magnetic attraction. i do my own monochrome processing too, so i guess that saves a bit of cost. but you are absolutely right; digital does provide a very useful medium. pls do say a very big hi to husky for me….what a lovely guy he looks, too!

        April 18, 2012 at 11:40 am

  7. Bonita Portzlne

    Greetings, Robin, from Gettysburg! I admire your work and your spirit. We have several things in common, including nature photography. It allows me to feel more alive and able to coexist with pain, too. My primary focus (!) is bird photography. A car is more than transportation but also a perfect blind β€” especially with a bird roof. I use a 150-500mm Sigma lens to get me where I can’t go. This summer I’m looking forward to sharing a cabin with family at Worlds End State Park (probably our 30th year since 1967.) Sounds like you are near there. Have you ever visited that state park β€” or Eagles Mere and Laporte? Last August I was birding between Eagles Mere and Worlds End at a creek running through a swampy area which is a recovering forest that burned 40 years ago. I turned my head toward a splash, and when I knew I really was seeing a black bear 40′ away, my next thoughts were: “Do not mess up these photos because there never will be another moment such as this!” β€” and “Dad would be pleased that I’m thinking I must ‘get big’ with my canes and voice if this amazing creature decides to come toward me.” God bless you as you share earth’s beauty. β€” Bonnie

    June 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    • Hi Bonnie.
      Thanks for stopping by my blog. I haven’t been posting much here recently because I’ve reached my limit for content according to WP. Trying to decide what to do about that.
      I haven’t been to any of the locations you mentioned, though my husband has been to the park. I take the majority of my photographs in my neighborhood and local public park. I love photographing birds and nature, so pure, simple and calming. I would love to see your nature photography. I believe, as the Lakota did/do that all living things are related, are our relatives, therefore I get great joy and comfort from being outdoors and interacting with mother nature. Have a wonderful day. πŸ™‚

      June 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

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