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Preview: D. S. Brennan Photography

D. S. Brennan Photography

Fine art photography blog where artist Diana Brennan shares new photographs and techniques, glimpses of her daily life, and news about art shows, gallery openings, and other events.

Updated: 2017-07-29T02:42:59.224-05:00


I've Moved!


Please join me at my new home on Wordpress.  See you there!

Getting From There to Here - My Story


It's always difficult to stay on task during the summer, and this year was no exception. Art shows, visitors, a website redesign, and a whole host of other excuses are up my sleeve, but suffice to say I am back here on the blog and ready to go! If you've missed hearing about some of the latest news, you are welcome to sign up for my newsletter, here, which I send out about once a month.To get back in the swing of things, I'm participating in a challenge posed by the wonderful Brigitte of Unfettered Ink. I'd like to tell you one of my stories - how I got from there in 2006 to here in 2012.In 2006, I lived in Connecticut in a damp lakeside cabin with my brand new husband. I had a job that I simply wasn't experienced enough to do properly, and going to the office felt like failing every day. After many difficult days and a lot of thought, my husband and I decided I should leave that job, despite not having another lined up. I started looking for another position in my field of Environmental Science, but I needed something to do in the meantime. We had purchased a digital SLR camera in 2005, our first married Christmas gift to each other, and it rekindled my passion for photography. I decided to try my hand at being a "professional photographer".What a perfect plan! After all, I loved photography, all I had to do was figure out how to make some money with it. All I had to do...My husband was concerned that I might grow to hate photography if I turned my hobby into an actual job, but I was confident that my passion would not wane. We were both concerned about how to make money from photography. I hit the internet - researching up a storm about all the different ways to earn an income with my camera.The first few years were... eclectic. We figured the more pots I had a finger in, the better I would do financially. I took on portrait jobs and product photography jobs, all the while working on my true love, art photography. And much of the time, I really didn't like what I was doing. I'm very shy, not a people person - trying to draw people out to feel comfortable in front of the camera for a portrait was torture. Product photography bored me to pieces - product after product on a crisp background with perfect lighting and no soul.But, my passion was still there. I still loved taking art photographs. I was beginning to show my work at small gallery events, camera clubs, and local libraries. Feeling burnout coming hard on my heels, I decided I needed to ditch the excess baggage and focus solely on art photography, even though it seemed like the hardest way to earn money. Not all of my supporters thought this was a good idea. I held firm, believing that if I was to make a living at this, it needed done in the way that lit me up inside. Otherwise, this would just be really, really hard work with very little reward.Making this decision lifted a great weight. Now I could focus on one thing. I could be the best art photographer I could be, rather than being a mediocre portrait and product photographer that occasionally had time to take some artsy shots.Now, I love what I do. I developed a signature style that puts a piece of my soul in each shot. And, I make a profit. Nothing substantial yet, but ever growing and changing and moving forward.And, having created a narrower path in which to hone my skills and fuel my passion, I can branch out and play. I can take on that portrait photograph job, where it was my style that caught the eye of a family looking for candid shots. I can teach others about how to improve their own product photographs, and take a few that showcase my own work. I know that the core remains solid and strong, like the trunk of a tree, holding up those branches.The lessons I learned? Let go of what isn't working, and focus on what is. But never stop experimenting - that's what makes you grow.------Share your story in the comments, or on Unfettered Ink on August 1st.[...]

Finding Stillness in the Pursuit of Dreams


Dutch Island


This image conjures memories of the quiet companionship, joyful laughter, and happiness that the best of friends bring.

It's quiet and rainy this morning.  Just as it was quiet and foggy the morning I took these photos.  I'm sitting, and editing, and soaking in some music.  Today is a day for moving slowly and thoughtfully and purposefully.  For remembering that reaching for Heaven is what we're on Earth to do.  For remembering that we need to make time for quietness in all the frantic bustle of our lives.

(object) (object) Dear Believer by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros on Grooveshark

Here's to your dreams and the hope that they'll all come true.

Come with Me on a Journey


It's been pouring all morning.  I checked the weather last night - the rain will stop before I get to Little Compton.  I travel south along the narrow, waterlogged roadways, past farms and stately homes, into another world, another time.  The fog, rolling thickly in, obscures any traces of modern life.  All is soft, and wet, and dream-like.

Later, I walk across the soggy expanse of lawn that spreads down to Round Pond from The Stone House.  My blue rubber boots sink deep into the spongy, sodden turf.  A lone car splashes down the lane, and then stillness descends.  The mist obscuring the pond gives me a taste of infinity.  I hear the soft lapping of waves against the cattails, the swallows singing as they dance over the hedges.  Everything is saturated - the ground, the colors.  The salty smell of the sea washes over me with the breeze, mingled with the heady scent of beach roses.  Not another soul is around.

I think this might be the closest thing to heaven on earth, and I close my eyes to savor it.

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{If you would like to visit this magical place yourself, we'll be having an open house at The Stone House on Friday, May 25th.  Details coming soon.}

Cast your Vote in the Click Wars!


The rules are simple.  Click the image below that most appeals to you.  Annnnnd.... GO!

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I will post an update in a week or so with the results.  :-)  Thanks for helping out!

Won't You Come Into My Garden?


It's been far too long since I spent an hour exploring the delicate world of my garden.  With May flowers blooming in force and an overcast sky blanketing them with lovely, soft light, how could I resist?  Which is your favorite?

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Help Me Embark on A New Adventure?


My brother-in-law told me today about - a new site where folks can buy their favorite photographs from Instagram photographers as stretched canvas prints.  Curious, I checked it out and set up my "gallery".  The catch is, I need your support before I can open the gallery and test the site out.  That's where I need your help!  If you could visit and click "Request Gallery Opening" I'd really appreciate it.

To say thanks, a glimpse of some of my lastest Instagram images :-)



Why Ikea and Home Goods Make Artists Happy


As an artist, framing art is a big part of my business.  At art shows, I create a portable photo gallery to showcase my art images.  When clients purchase prints to decorate their own interiors with, I like to recommend sources for affordable, attractive frames.  Framing your art work nicely can transform a boring, frustrating blank wall into an inspiring photography gallery.

That's where Home Goods and Ikea come in.


I found the frames shown above at HomeGoods.  They caught my eye because their ornate shape is modernized by their matte black finish (and because the price was so reasonable). They make a great, unexpected statement in my modern living room, the black popping off the white walls to accentuate the nature art.


This classic white frame is one of my favorite Ikea staples, a RIBBA frame.  Clean lines allow the fineart to take center stage, especially with the white frame on the white wall.  I find the simplicity of this frame soothing, especially since the picture showcases nature in art.

Do you have favorite sources for frames, particularly those suited to modern photography?  Please share them in the comments, I'd love to add more shops to my list of recommendations!

Out Upon The Sea


I went out deep sea fishing with my dad and my sister this past weekend. It was a gorgeous day out on the water. I watched the light play on the waves in the early morning, and watched the gulls squabble as they followed the boat home in the afternoon.  Both camera and fishing rod were well used that day.


Why I Won't Have to Switch to an iPhone...


As those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed, I'm quite excited that Instagram is finally available for Android devices! You can find me there under my usual handle, dsbrennan.  Please let me know in the comments if you're an Instagram junkie - I'd love to find some new folks to follow!


The Secrets of a Still Life


Into the Light


It's springtime!  That means ranunculus (Persian buttercup) are now readily available at local florists.  These beauties are possibly my favorite flower, both to place around my home and to photograph.  The kinky, curving stem and the ruffled petals are so organic and texturally rich.

This is one of my "secrets" of taking a good still life photograph - choose something you love.  My still life shots come together gradually as I explore the shapes of my subjects and notice how the light hits them.  It often takes many combinations, setups, and arrangements to get that perfect shot.  That process is so much more creative and satisfying when you photograph something you absolutely love and enjoy spending your precious time with.

An Unusual Start to Spring


Today marks the first day of Spring, the Vernal Equinox, in the northern hemisphere.  It also marks my first barefoot day of the year.  I have had the windows open all day, and tonight will grill dinner out on the deck.  It's blissful, yet odd.  There are no leaves on the trees yet, and here in New England we often still have a "wintery mix" looming in the forecast at this time of year.


Despite the strangeness of the weather, I fully intend to enjoy every sun drenched moment of warmth seeping into my bones.

How was your first day of Spring? 

The Beauty of Spring


Who could "say" it better than Vivaldi?

(object) (object) Spring by Antonio Vivaldi on Grooveshark (image)

Spring has come early to Rhode Island this year.  The frogs are croaking, the daffodils are blooming, the days are warm and sunny.  It's a beautiful time to get outside and enjoy this world we live in.

How are things looking in your corner of the world?

Wisdom for our Creative Brains: Staying Grounded


Today marked the start of week two of the fabulous Right Brainers in Business Video Summit (which I've mentioned on Twitter and Facebook) hosted by Jennifer Lee.  I participated last year in her first video summit, and loved it so much that I had to join in again this year.

Today's speaker was Elizabeth Marshall, and she definitely inspired.  One thing that particularly resonated with me was her closing statement about making an intention, every day, to stay grounded in the message of your business.  It's easy to get caught up in the day to day craziness of trying to run a business - it's important to remember the why behind what we're doing.  I think it boils down to connecting with others and sharing the gifts we are given, working together to improve the world around us.


While chatting with my fellow creatives during today's interview, I realized we could all use a way to remember this advice on a daily basis.  I decided to create a desktop wallpaper (free for personal use only, please) to help us all stay grounded and inspired.  Please feel free to download it and use it on your personal computer as a reminder of the whys behind what you do.

Click here or on the image above to download the desktop background.  Enjoy!

Art and the Eternal Search for Truth


Art is about truth.  Not the literal appearance of what lies on the surface of the world, but the truth about a deeper reality.  The emotions, the nostalgia, the wonder, the curiosity, the calm, the connectedness...


What amazes me is the infinite ways in which that deeper reality can be expressed and revealed.  The photographer puts one perspective of truth into the image, the viewer can have a completely different interpretation.  It's a beautiful and mysterious phenomenon, don't you think?

What truths do you experience when looking at the image above?

A Business World I Can Relate To


This week and next week, I'm "attending" the Right Brainers in Business Video Summit, now in it's second year.  I got so much out of it last year that I just had to jump in for more.  Thankfully, the video recordings of the summit are left up for 48 hours after they go live, so I am able to keep up even with a busy schedule.  I really loved Monday's speaker - so now would be a great time to join in so you won't miss his interview.  The summit is free, and you can sign up here.


I'll leave you with some words of wisdom from Monday's speaker, Mark Silver, to whet your appetite! 
The human heart is made to be of service...

It's in the surrender of the human heart to the path that's in front of us that we get carried forward.

It's in walking the path that things that look ambitious or that look big become small and manageable through the surrender and the walking in love.

We don't need to reach out or grasp for those things. We just need to keep remembering and walking forward.

In Classic Newport Style


Today was a noteworthy day - I went to my very first polo match.  It was a brisk day, not terribly cold, but windy by the shore.  We bundled up, brought our folding chairs, and settled in to enjoy the show.  It took a bit of shifting before we found a spot with a good view, but once we did we really enjoyed watching the game.  My sister and husband even participated a few times, when the ball was knocked our way.  (The players asked us to retrieve it very politely, always with a "please".)



Polo is a bit of a posh sport, with the players trading out their thoroughbred mounts for fresh horses after each chukker (period).  Of course, Newport is the perfect setting for such a high-class game, and has a tradition of polo playing dating back to 1876. A drive along scenic Ocean Avenue after the match made for a pretty nice end to a lovely day.

Wordless Wednesday: Earth and Sky



Words Upon the Waves


My experiments with geometry continue.  I would love to hear your reaction to these.  Do you like one better than the other?  Can you explain why?

Flow in the Harmony

This Sky Where We Live

The Building of a Seascape


Today was an experimental, creative day.  I made a prototype of a new photo concept, based on a sketch of triangles that I drew a few months ago...



and paste


Sometimes work feels more like play.  The next step will be to try with "real" prints, not just quick printouts.

The Inspiration behind my Serene Winter 2012 Collection


My Winter 2012 series, which captures the misty moodiness of the seaside during the off season and the isolated, wild beauty of a deserted beach, is now available in my Etsy Shop.

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Learn about the inspiration behind the images in the video below.

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As mentioned, below is the Emily Barker "Nostalgia" music video.

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Last Minute Romance - A DIY Star Lamp


You may have seen the "DIY star projector" that was all over the interwebs around the Holidays.  The parts ship from China for you to assemble into a lamp that sprays constellations about the room.  So beautiful, right?

I wanted to do something similarly sweet for Valentine's Day, but of course hadn't thought to order the actual projector in advance.  After a bit of trial and error I came up with a true DIY mini-star lamp, made from elements I already had around the house. 

DIY Mini Star Lamp

Cheap aluminum-reflector work lamp (the ones I own cost about $7 at a big box hardware store)
LED flashlight (my husband always has several of these around the house)
Aluminum foil
Masking tape
Roofing nail (or similar punching tool)


(1) Unscrew the entire lightbulb base from work lamp, and insert the LED flashlight in its place.  (I used a bit of foil and tape to hold the flashlight in place.  It doesn't look pretty, but it does the job.)

(2) Print out a star map or photograph.  I used this one, courtesy of NASA

(3) Securely tape the star map to a flat sheet of aluminum foil.  Make sure the foil is larger than the paper.


Step 4: Place the star map over the front of the work lamp.  Crumple the excess foil over the sides of the lamp to hold it in place securely.



Step 5: Using your roofing nail or other punch, poke holes at all of the star locations.  For the larger stars, wiggle the nail in a circle to make it bigger.



Turn the flashlight on, and point the lamp at the wall of a dark room - you're done!  The lamp itself is a bit awkward-looking, so I'd suggest tucking it in the corner.  You can also experiment with colored LEDs or punching your own constellations rather than using a map as a guide.  Have fun, and enjoy a little romance today, for yourself or with your significant other.


p.s.  Feel free to share this tutorial with whomever you please, but I'd ask that you credit me with a link back to this post.  Thanks!

Ebb and Flow


"The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach -- waiting for a gift from the sea." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Click Wars - Which Do You Choose?


Let's play a little game, shall we?
Without thinking, click the first image that grabs your attention.  Then click "Vote". 

Thank you!

Coming up...