Rinat Halon

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Archive for 'Photo Art Exhibit'

Due to an address mistake my CPP certification was late to arrive in the mail from the PPA. And when it arrived I realized that the frame I was going to use for it – was too small. I was going to buy a frame the right size, and then I saw a framed photograph sitting on the floor of my home office. It was a photograph I took when I was a photography student at the Ohio State University – one of my favorite shots to this day. It was a self portrait of my relationship with food at the time. I’ve wanted to hang this photo but couldn’t really find a good spot for it yet. And then it hit me – this self portrait needs to be behind the Certified Professional Photographer certification! It symbolizes perfectly where I came from – where I am today – and the journey that brought me here.

As I opened the back of the frame I saw how I put this frame together 20 years ago, and memories of that time came rushing back. I could feel the “me” I was 22 years ago, a young woman with a deep love to photography but with no idea how to make a future as a professional photographer. I could see me putting together this cheep plastic frame I must have found at the dollar store. The frame didn’t fit the size of the self portrait photograph perfectly, and I saw how back then I used the white paper that came with the frame – on its back side – to fill the space behind the photograph in the frame, using double sided tape to keep it all together. Then the memories of creating this photograph came back, from concept, to photographing using my first camera, the Canon AE-1 film camera. My college best friend Debra throwing the food at me and enjoying it a little too much (it’s ok, it was all part of the photo concept) in my small studio apartment’s living room. Developing this photograph in my college’s darkroom, seeing the blacks fill in on the pearl photo paper and bringing this self portrait to life.

 

 

 

When I placed the CPP certification over this self portrait, dusting off the worn out plastic “glass” of this old frame, I was in tears. Tears of joy. I could feel young Rinat in my heart, framing this self portrait as she was getting ready to take it to present at her college Photography 101 class, with no idea of where this road she chose will take her. “It’s ok”, I said to young Rinat in my heart, “You cannot even imagine where you will be in 22 years from now. Let me tell you: you will be standing in your beautiful home office. Your home where you live a joyful life with your husband who rocks Mike. Remember how you didn’t know how you will graduate with a photography degree because you were not accepted into the art school? Well, you graduated with a personalized honors degree in photography and visual merchandising. In the past 22 years you have been making a living as a professional photographer photographing internationally. And now you are also a certified professional photographer by the Professional Photographers of America – and you speak at their guilds.

So honey, rest your worry heart.

Everything will work out just perfectly.

And by the way – this self portrait you are framing? The whole series of these self portraits you created was chosen by your photography professor to be hung and displayed on the walls of the OSU Photography department. You did good my dear J

Remember this today when you don’t know what the future will bring. Remember where you came from. See where you are today. And as Rascal Flatts sings: “This much I know is true – that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”.

I always loved elephants. My ongoing joke was that I wanted an elephant in my backyard. Considering I did not have a backyard, I gave up that notion. But in all honesty, this joke had some truth to it. A lot of truth, to be exact.

I love elephants. They are wicked smart enormous joyful creatures. And I just cannot believe they may be extinct in a few years. Can you imagine a world without elephants? I cannot. It would be a sad world indeed.

Lucky for me, I live driving distance from Two Tails Ranch, – which is, in my opinion, an elephant haven.

I first made it out to Two Tails Ranch a few years back for my birthday. Needless to say this was an incredible experience. To see these huge creatures up close is humbling. Their sheer size alone helps anyone accept the reality of dinosaurs roaming the earth millions of years ago. Then Patricia, the ranch’s owner and elephant – Alpha -mother (as Patricia explains:” You have to be the alpha leader – or the elephant will be”) answered the visitor’s questions about elephants. To top it off, Luke, the poster child elephant  – painted a painting using a paintbrush he held in his trunk to the delight of the audience (you can purchase Luke’s original paintings in the ranch’s store). Then if you wanted you could get a ride on one of the elephants, and if you wanted more elephant quality time  – you could stay and alongside the ranch’s team give one of the elephants a bath.

It was a magical day. At the end of the day I offered Patricia that I come back and photograph the elephants so we can create a calendar,   but neither of us ever pursued it. We both are small business owners with our hands full, and between caring for 7 elephants (Patricia) and building my business (me) – it fell by the wayside.

When Luke met Rinat – My mom took this photo a couple of years ago when I first visited the ranch. Unfortunately this photo opp is not available any longer because people were taking advantage of it and would not stop photographing, never giving a chance for another guest to have their photo taken with Luke.

 

Lucky for me a couple of years later I got married. Well, the fact that I am lucky for marrying my husband who rocks Mike is not necessarily to do with the elephants – it’s something I am grateful for every day. But it did also re-connect me with Patricia and the elephants of Two Tails Ranch. That’s because my loving husband decided to surprise me with a visit to Two Tails Ranch. This time Patricia and I decided we are turning the calendar vision into reality.

This time I got to take an elephant ride!

For the calendarI wanted to capture the images visitors don’t see when they come to Two Tails Ranch. The “behind the scenes” of operating the Ranch. I wanted to capture the everyday life  images that tell the story of what it means to be an elephant caretaker. I wanted to show the deep bond and connection between Patricia’s family and the elephants. And mostly, I wanted to show that elephants, like human beings, are all very different from one another and each have their own personality. And so Patricia and I scheduled the calendar photoshoot.

I came back to the ranch on a very early October morning  – got up at 4am to be there at 7am. “It just had to be cold today” Patricia said when I arrived,explaining the elephants do not like the cold weather and may not want to come out. But in true Florida style the weather heated up quickly and I got to spend an unforgettable morning with seven elephants, Patricia, her son, daughter in law and three year old grandson Bjorn. I got to see the Two Tails Ranch daily routine. And let me tell you – it is not easy work. From haystacks to poop stacks – no matter the age, every family member and ranch team member picks up a shovel and helps scoop it up. It is quite a task to keep these elephants fed and bathed.

I’m photographing Patricia’s grandson 3 year old Bjorn as he is helping his parents give Patty a bath

I also got to witness Bunny the elephant playing around. “She always gets in trouble” Patricia said with a loving smile. It was amazing to witness these huge creatures respect Patricia who was looking so small next to the towering seven elephants standing beside her. I mean, if they wanted to, they could crush her. But you could just feel the love connection and respect between the elephants and Patricia.

And when I stood too close to Shell the elephant and she sent a curious trunk my way and gently squeezed my shoe with it, it took one “Back off Shell!” order from Patricia for Shell and she immediately folded back her curious trunk.

I got to witness gorgeous Luke enjoying his morning nature stroll, tusks still covered in paint from creating his last painting.

Luke and I – during the calendar photoshoot

It was a nearly “mission impossible” to narrow the calendar photoshoot captures to only 13 calendar photos – Patricia and I agonized over the decision – but we did it (side note: some of the other photos that did not make it to the calendar will be available for wall prints). We chose 13 photos, and next created text to go with each photo. I wanted the text to convey what I experienced during the calender photoshoot, and after a few revisions we came up with text that  complements the photo it was written about. Then my talented graphic and web site designer Jim Miller created the calendar cover page, and the text was proofread by my husband who rocks Mike (who told me he was tearing up the first time he saw the 13 calendar photos and text together – it was so touching) – and the calendar went to print.

the calendars should be printed and available for purchase by the second week of December.

I gifted this calendar to be 100% donation, all proceeds go to the upkeep of the elephants. I am only one person, and I know realistically I cannot prevent a whole elephant species from being extinct. But I can do SOMETHING and this something is using my photographic talent to capture the story of Two Tails Ranch for everyone to see. And you can do something too – by purchasing the calendar know you’re supporting Patricia and her elephants and helping keep Two Tails Ranch open. Patricia once told me that she opened up her ranch to the public because she wanted to give people the rare opportunity to learn up close and personal about elephants. “If you build it, they will come” Patricia quoted from the movie  “Field of Dreams”. “We are all the way out here in the middle of nowhere” she said ” but I was inspired by this movie and decided to build it. And sure enough – they came”. And they are still coming. You can visit Two Tails Ranch too – go on their website AllAboutElephants.com   to schedule your visit. I promise you, it will be a life changing experience.

For now, here is a sneak peek of the calendar’s cover page:

Two Tails Ranch 2019 Calendar cover page

We are now waiting on copies to come back from print so if you are interested in a calendar let me know in the comments and I will get your info to Two Tails Ranch.

Have I mentioned I love elephants?

 

 

 

 

I hate labels. They irritate my skin and make me itch all day. First thing I do when I buy a new piece of clothing is cut the label off. Here is a question for you: when is the last time you actually read what a label said? I can tell you for me I think it was the first time I learned how to do laundry – about 30 years ago.

Seeing this is March, which is my birthday month, I was going to write about being an Aries woman. Until I read what an Aries woman IS – according to astrology. The labels were less than flattering, and included words like “dominant”, “pushy”, impatient” and “trouble”. Wow. That sent me into a deep meditation about the subject, and when I was done meditating – I remembered.

I remembered how much I dislike labels. In clothing, as well as in life. Let me tell you what it means to be an “Alpha female” (another Aries women label). To me it does not mean being dominant and pushy, it means leading by positive example, being proactive and assertive.

“Pushy” is another label I have heard many times before. Who defines what is the right amount of time something is suppose to take until it happens? I believe there are people who are change makers, people who help create the new and the better in this world. And no, these people don’t wait.  I mean – why wait? When you know something can happen, why wait and not just make it happen? Can you imagine Ford got the idea about creating this new thing called “A car” – and said to himself: “Na, I’m gonna sit on it, I’m not going to do it right now. I mean – who really needs it?”

Right?

Another label Aries women, including me – hear – is that we are impatient. Well, we may be because the rest of the world is moving SO SLOOOWWWW.

But all joking aside, again, who is to say what is the right amount of time something should happen? And who is to say it is wrong to want something to happen faster – rather than wait for it to maybe happen one day. Time, after all – is an illusion.

By the way, in the dictionary the opposite for impatience is – apathy. For all the very patient people out there – how would you like to be labeled that? I am guessing not so much…

Here is my new definition for an Aries woman:

An Aries woman is a strong, brave, independent woman. She is willing to make mistakes because she knows that is the only way to grow, and so she takes chances and tries new things. She is also the first one to admit her mistake and will be the first one to apologize if she hurt you.  She cares and she is smart and fun and optimistic, and she accepts different people because she understands there is more than one way to have a human experience in this world.

She creates changes in a swift movement that seems effortless but truly has a lot of hard work behind it. And she moves so fast it catches most of the world by surprise. So she needs people around her who inspire her, communicate clearly and can handle movement forward through fear without backing down. “If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen” describes life with her best. Then again, a heated kitchen means there is cooking involved – and yes, she enjoys cooking good, healthy, delicious food she loves to share with family and friends.

Even though she can do pretty much anything a man can do – she can be a very feminine woman. She knows what she wants and she goes out to get it, and she is always honest, bringing her truth in a humble, loving way. She is passionate and funny. And she defines the word Optimism. 

FYI here are some of my fellow Aries awesome women, recognize any of them?

Aretha Franklin (Respect!)

Billy Holiday (Apparently we Aries women love to sing Jazz)

Robin Wright (“As you wish!”)

Reese Witherspoon

Kate Hudson

Maya Angelou

This month of March I ask to throw out the labels and instead look at them from another perspective. What are some labels you were labeled before? Instead of accepting them, how can you look at them differently?

Here is my birthday gift to you if you choose to accept it: write to me in the comments for this blog post one label you were given you do not like – I will write you back a different perspective of that label – and email  you a birthday present “The Gift Of Portrait” $50 gift card to go along with it.

 

Happy No Label March!

 To see more of Rinat’s work go to rinathalon.com 

 

 

 

Like any other young girl growing up, I looked up to Marilyn Monroe as the idol of beauty. Her perfect hair, her perfect smile, her soft voice, that sense of mystery her eyes reflected. She was the essence of what being a woman meant, all bottled up into one perfect looking model of femininity.

I never thought much about the influence Marilyn Monroe had on my definition of femininity until I had a photography job at a Marilyn Monroe spa. I was there to photograph the opening of this new spa location, and between the guests, the food, the drinks and the music just like in Susan Vega’s song, Marilyn’s face watched us from the walls. I was drawn into her photographs, all beautiful, perfectly depicting this ideal symbol of femininity. As oppose to my childhood when I only saw her outer beauty, now the mystery in her eyes pulled me in. It was almost like she was asking me to come in behind the perfect façade and meet the real Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe Spa Oviedo

Click here for the Marilyn Monroe Spa web site

Just as I was thinking that, Marilyn in the flesh came walking out into the spa, working the crowds, her presence so strong everyone stopped what they were doing to follow her outside and watch her perform “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” to the delight of the audience.

Singing Diamonds are a girl's best friends

Kelley Thomas Singing Diamonds are a girl’s best friends as Marilyn, click on the photo to see Kelley’s FB artis page

I have seen a few Marilyn impersonators over my career, but nothing like the quality Kelley, this Marilyn, brought to the most famous sex symbol in the world. It was as if she was channeling the real Marilyn. Right then and there I knew I wanted to get her into my photography studio for a photo shoot.

Having no idea of what I was going to do or what I wanted to photograph, when Kelley agreed to come to the studio I started researching Marilyn Monroe.

Knowing that before she was Marilyn Monroe she was Norma Jean. I searched to see what Norma Jean looked like. Coming across one of her earlier photographs, there she was: young, happy – and with a head full of brown curls, a cute smile revealing teeth that are not so perfect and playfully holding a camera. She looked nothing like Marilyn Monroe. She looked like, well, many cute Jewish girls next door, and could easily be mistaken for one of them. In fact, she reminded me of someone. Me. She reminded me of myself when I was 15. Before my TV show at 16. Before I became known. It was unbelievable, and made me even more curious about the mystery behind those eyes of the iconic Marilyn – how did she go from Norma Jean to being the world’s most known sex symbol?

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Norma Jean as photographed by her friend and photographer Andre de Dienes

First thing I learned is that the name Marilyn Monroe was given to her by the studios. In fact, when she first took on the name she had to ask how to spell it when she had to sign autographs. That tidbit of knowledge made me smile. Amusing enough as it is, it’s even funnier as I cannot seem to be able to spell the name Marilyn Monroe either. Every time I type it into this blog article the red spell check lines appear. On the other hand the name Norma Jean comes out naturally.

While researching online I came across a series of black and white photographs that stood out from the rest of the glamorized Marilyn Monroe photos. It was a black and white series shot by Alfred Eisenstaedt – the legendary life magazine photographers. Captured in 1953 at Marilyn’s back yard. As only good photographers can do in these photographs Alfred created portraits of her soul. Marilyn, wearing a black turtle neck, seems comfortable in her own skin. These are the only photos I ever seen of her looking real. Vulnerable. And a little sad. These are the only photos I ever seen of Marilyn where I could see Norma Jean’s soul reflected through her eyes.

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Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

alfred-eisenstaedt-portrait-of-actress-marilyn-monroe-at-home

Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

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Photographed by Alfred Eisenstaedt

I knew that is what I wanted to capture in my studio. I called Kelley and asked her to bring nothing but a black turtle neck.

When Kelley sat in front of my camera, Marilyn wig on and the black turtle neck, we started talking about Marilyn.

It was incredible to watch how our conversation was bringing Marilyn to life through Kelley right in front of my camera. Being the committed professional that she is, and such a sensitive soul, Kelley was able to follow my directions and at one point of the shoot I felt like it was Marilyn herself sitting in front of me, reminiscing on her days as Norma Jean.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

She told me that despite her world fame she was always very lonely. She told me about people she trusted manipulating and using her to their benefit. She told me how she had no idea she was going to become so famous, as no other actress before her ever got to be sp famous, and she felt she was not truly prepared for the pressures that came with the fame.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

That venerability, that sadness in her eyes that Alfred caught so many years ago – there it was in her eyes reflecting through my lens. We did it Kelley and me – we brought Norma Jean back to life.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I was a little embarrassed, but share with Kelley that the night before the shoot I dreamed about Marilyn. I don’t remember my dreams often, but this one was clear and concise. Marilyn said to me: “You and I have more In common than you think”. In my dream I looked at her puzzled, “Really?” I asked. She just smiled her mysterious smile and shook her head yes. “You’ll find out” she said.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Kelley and I looked at each other shaking our heads; we didn’t know what it could be. We laughed it off and kept photographing. Only later, when we were almost done with the shoot Kelley said: “You know, she really just wanted to be a mother. She had to get abortions 6 times. All the other actresses did as well back then, because they were considered to be owned by the studios. When she was finally ready to get pregnant her body couldn’t hold the pregnancy.” I was tearing up behind the camera. There it was. The answer to my dream, Marilyn was right, I did find out what we had in common. I never imagined her wanting to be mother, as many people who meet me can’t imagine I never became a mother because I could not, not because I didn’t want to.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

As we were wrapping up Kelley told me how when Marilyn died she still owed money on her house. It seemed everyone was making money on the iconic Marilyn – except her. “But she was just starting to take control of her own life” said Kelley “right before she died she started making changes, she started planning her future and deciding what to do next that would benefit her first. And then she was found dead.”

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

I named this blog post “I Am Norma Jean” in honor of this strong, uncompromising woman. This woman who until recently, like the rest of the world, I could only see her outer beauty. Thinking forward, my wish is that every young woman who finds out about the iconic Marilyn Monroe – is also taught about Norma Jean. Norma Jean, the face behind the façade. The lonely soul that just wanted to be loved. The woman who came from nothing, took her destiny in her own hands and despite her fears – kept bettering herself. Learning from her mistakes and making changes as she was walking life’s path. Because without Norma Jean – who she was, her personality, and the actions she took – Marilyn Monroe would not exist.

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

Photo by Rinat Halon, All Rights Reserved

 

  • We are currently looking for a space to exhibit these portraits seen here and more from the photo project “I Am Norma Jean. If you are interested in sponsoring the exhibit please contact Rinat at rinat@rinathalon.com.

The photo art project “Mothers & Daughters” happened as many other good things in my life do – thanks to my mother.

My mother was visiting me after a year we have not seen each other. A year which turned out to be one of the worst years of my life. Having my mother around after enduring all kinds of hardships alone was to say the least refreshing. During her visit she was just being my mom, as she always has been. I always loved my mother, and appreciated her, but this time her motherhood touched me deeply. For the first time in my 43 years on this earth I thought about what it meant to me to have a mother. How significant that love relationship between us is, and how no one else in the world loves me as my mother does. One word kept coming back to me as I was thinking how to describe that love connection, and that word was: Unconditional. My mother’s love to me is unconditional.

That made me wonder what words other daughters would choose to describe the love relationship they have with their mother – and the Mother’s & Daughter’s Photo Art Project came to life.

After an overwhelming response to a shout out I sent requesting mothers & daughters to come be part of this art project, I chose 11 to be photographed in the studio. My request was simple: The daughter has to be old enough to come up with a word by herself to describe her relationship with her mother, and write that word on the backdrop. I asked them to come in their everyday clothing. No makeup needed.

And all these wonderful, beautiful, inspiring mothers & daughters came into my studio one after the other, adding their word to the backdrop and letting the story of their individual love relationship unfold in front of my camera.

The final result was a backdrop filled with single words of individual daughters. But when changing perspective, looking at it as a whole, one can see how these words blend together smoothly and become a delicate texture of feelings. These individual words blend together, and now create a complete, universal definition of what a mother’s love means to a daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sharon & Roni

Sharon & Roni

16 year old Roni chose the word INDESTRUCTIBLE to describe her love connection with her mother Sharon. When asked to explain why, she said nothing can ruin it.

Susan & Ariel

Susan & Ariel

Ariel and her mother Susan could not stop laughing when Ariel explained the word she chose: “I chose the word LAUGHTER because whatever drama is going on in our lives – and there is always some kind of drama – my mom and I laugh it Off”.

 

Tali & Rinat

Tali & Rinat

My mother Tali and I sharing a love moment to reflect my word: UNCONDITIONAL, as my mother has been there for me through everything with no conditions and without judgment, she always believes in me, even when I don’t believe in myself.

 

Peggy, Wendy & Abigail

Peggy, Wendy & Abigail

Peggy’s daughter Wendy chose the word PARTNER, as she feels her mother is there as a partner for her in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to assisting with granddaughter Abigail. When her turn came Abigail chose the word NICE to describe the love relationship with her mother. “My mother is so nice to me” 8.5 years old Abigail explained to me.

 

Jill & Kaitlyn

Jill & Kaitlyn

6 years old Kaitlyn was ecstatic to be at the studio with her mother. I understood her choice of the words GIRL BUSINESS after she told me she never gets to be alone with her mother Jill. It turns out Kaitlyn is part of a triplet – she has two 6 year old brothers. The code word for quality time with her mother is when Kaitlyn hears Jill say the words “girl business” – and she cherishes every second of that “girl business” time.

 

Glenna & Krista

Glenna & Krista

To reflect the relationship with her mother Glenna, daughter Krista chose the word GROWTH. “Our relationship is always growing, as does the love and compassion we have for each other”.

 

Lynn, Cassidy & Smantha

Lynn, Cassidy & Samantha

Lynn’s two daughters, Cassidy and Samantha took their time thinking of a word each. When 17 year old Cassidy wrote LOVING, 13 years old Samantha wrote PROTECTIVE. The sisters then gave each other a hard time about their choice of word, as sisters do. “She is loving!” determined Cassidy. “Well, protective is a way of loving!” Samantha replied.

 

Toby & Faye

Toby & Faye

At 77 years young Toby is the oldest mother to be part of this project. Accompanied by her daughter Faye, who chose the word COMFORTING to describe their love relationship. Toby & Faye had fun reminiscing Faye’s wild childhood. But the chosen word came from the time Faye faced her toughest battle – cancer. Toby never left her side, and Faye is now a cancer survivor.

 

Liberty & Andrea

Liberty & Andrea

Liberty & daughter Andrea love spending time together, they always have a great time. From baking cookies together in Liberty’s kitchen to planning Andrea’s wedding – BEST FRIENDS best describes their relationship – and that is why Andrea chose it.

 

Clarissa & Nyla

Clarissa & Nyla

“Because mommy and all of mommy’s friends are always fun! See -she brought me here!” 8 year old Nyla explained to me with a mouth full of my homemade chocolate why she chose the word FUN to describe the love relationship she has with her mother Clarissa.

 

Shawneequa & Chelsea

Shawneequa & Chelsea

18 year old daughter Chelsea didn’t hesitate to write her word on the backdrop: SUPPORTIVE. When Chelsea could not get into the broadcasting studies in her high school, mother Shawneequa called and called the school until they gave Chelsea a chance. Well, it turn out Chelsea is a natural in broadcasting. Today Chelsea is her school’s morning news anchor, and wants to study broadcasting in college. “After they let her in the department the school said to Chelsea: your mother knows, right? Make sure she knows…they wanted me to stop calling”, remembers Shawneequa with a big smile.

 

Emma

Emma

This is 10 months old Emma. I wonder what her word will be to describe the love relationship she has with her mother?

WHAT IS YOUR WORD? Write it down in the comments. And tell it to your mother. If your mother had passed, write your word anyway, as the love relationship with your mother never passes, it is eternal.

 

 

 

This virtual exhibit will be unveiled on Mother’s Day, May 10…Stay Tuned!

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