Blurring the Lines Pecha Kucha Style

Pecha Kucha by Paula Apro

I’ve been shooting “blurry abstracts” for a couple of years now and it took me well over a year before I even showed any of the work publicly. It takes a lot of guts for a photographer to proudly post ‘out of focus’ photos on social media and be proud to stand behind them. I knew that not everybody would ‘get it’ nor would they appreciate it. My own husband would constantly say, “Paula, if you want blurry pictures why not just give me the camera.” I would respond with a big sigh. Even my own husband doesn’t appreciate the art that I personally saw in my “blurry photos.” But I didn’t let this stop me. I persisted and kept going down my abstract path.

Every once in a while I would sneak a blurry abstract into my Facebook or Instagram feeds and then later get disappointed when its response would pale in comparison to a pretty landscape, a lighthouse, or a lobster boat. There is no question what the majority of people want to see . . . pretty scenery and I live in a place where that is abundant. But, for some reason, I wanted to strive for more. I craved being different, even if it was not the popular thing to do.

Last year I joined a little bookmaking group that inspired me to put into words what my blurry abstracts were all about and that was the greatest experience for me. When I forced myself to do it, I was finally able to figure out the motivation behind what I do. Putting words to the photos was such a powerful experience for me and something that I wanted to do for a long time. I created a short book that got some great responses and that book is was motivated me to create a Pecha Kucha-style presentation.

What is a Pecha Kucha you ask? Pecha Kucha is Japanese and literally means “chit-chat.” It is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds, advancing automatically as you talk along to the images. The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights all over the world. Here in the midcoast of Maine, we have 2 of these events per year and ever since seeing the first one four years ago, I dreamed of doing one myself.

Well, my time came. Shortly after writing my little book (and putting the desire out to the Universe that I wanted to do one) the Center of Maine Contemporary Art contact me and asked if I would speak. I was both thrilled and terrified. Would I really have the guts to stand up in front of hundreds of people and tell the story of my bizarre photos? Would people ‘get it?’ Would they appreciate it? Or would they think I’m crazy?

I’m happy to report that, not only did the audience ‘get it’ and appreciate it, but they loved it. I got so many amazing comments afterward that I have really inspired people to look at the world differently. Normally, it’s just photographers that I try to inspire to shoot differently, but the fact that I was able to inspire non-photographers to open their eyes to the world of possibilities made me the happiest person on earth for that one night.

Please click the image below if you would like to view the entire presentation. I do hope you enjoy it and that you find it inspirational as well. (And please pardon the fact that the MC pronounced my name wrong . . . 4 letters, but seemingly so complicated!)

If you would like to download a free digital copy of my photo book “Blurring the Lines” which features many of these photos, please click here.


Project 365 Back in Action

After completing a half dozen Project 365s in a row, last year I decided that I needed a break. 2017 was “The Year with a Project 365” and although it was quite a relief to remove the daily burden from my life, I have to admit . . . I missed it. There was an empty hole sort of feeling and I spent the last six months eager for the New Year to arrive to give myself another fresh start at a new project.

So what is a Project 365 anyway? It’s a commitment to take at least one photograph a day and record it as your “photo of the day.” Every year I picked and stuck to a particular theme and, as the years go on, it seems to be harder and harder to come up with something new and unique. The same struggle I find with giving gifts to loved ones that you’ve been buying for for years. I often feel like I’m running out of ideas.

Well, that is exactly why I should be doing a Project 365! The whole point is to keep my creativity sharp. Those days when there’s just nothing interesting to photograph are the days that require the most creativity. I decided that creativity itself should be this year’s theme and my goal is to really push myself every day to take a truly unique photo that I have to dig for. I’ve spent years documenting my life in one form or another and capturing moments that I wanted to remember. I used my phone to do just that and it was more about my life than my photography. This year, I’m committed to using a ‘real camera’ and I’m trying to capture things that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t looking through my lens. My hope is to capture and document an alternate universe that requires deliberate intent. The biggest challenge is stopping my normal life to step into another world – the creative world that I love so much. Once I’m there, with my camera in my hand, the possibilities are endless and that is exactly where I want to spend time hanging out. The best part is that I don’t even have to leave home to do it. So far, all photos were taken right inside my house, proving that you don’t have to go far to create beauty.

To keep myself accountable I’ve decided to post my daily photos every week or so here on my blog and without any further ado, here are the first two weeks:

Day 1 – Metal sculpture

Day 2 – Snow in backyard from window

Day 3 – Home decor

Day 4 – Glass bowl

Day 5 – Starfish

Day 6 – Metal artwork

Day 7 – Wine glass

Day 8 – Dog fur

Day 9 – Pendulum sand

Day 10 – Home decor

Day 11 – Agave

Day 12 – Ice crystals on table

Day 13 – Yarn

Day 14 – Home decor


Photographing Ice Crystals

Normally, seeing ice on the ground on our hiking trails is not a good or pleasant thing. Many a hike has been ruined by icy conditions and during those instances I hate and curse the evil ice for making the trail impassible. But today was different. Yes, there was ice, but it was non-threatening pretty ice.



There were plenty of options to walk around the ice in most cases and even when our only choice was walking on it, it still wasn’t too bad. I guess it was cold enough to keep the ice dry, and in some cases even sticky so it wasn’t too slippery. And it wasn’t like I was walking very fast over it. I could barely bring myself to anything faster than a crawl because I was mesmerized by the beauty of the ice and what was trapped under it.



It was a whole new world under there beckoning to be gawked at.




I was kicking myself for not bringing my “real camera” and my macro lens. It seems I never have a use for that new lens and I’m not even sure why I bought it. I always wanted to fiddle with macro photography, this was my big chance, and I blew it.


But maybe it’s a good thing. I literally could have stayed in one place for hours exploring every nook and cranny of every ice formation. Without moving my feet I could have composed a hundred different photos. Instead, I took one quick photo like this one and moved on.


Then when I got home I simply cropped it and made other interesting images.



Now if I only had my ‘real’ camera with its huge megapixels . . . . OK, I need to get over it and move on.

My small camera wasn’t the only challenge. Every time I stopped at a nice spot on the ice that caught my ice I would start to shoot . . .


And then this would happen.


Some monster would barge in and try to eat my subject.

Day Trippin’ on Monhegan Island Maine

Monhegan Island Maine

I’ve been captivated by Monhegan Island since the first time I saw an advertisement for a yoga retreat out there. Not only are there tons of yoga and hiking retreats, but also endless art retreats. What was it about this island that lured so many artists and yogis? I was dying to find out. If painters came from all over to paint the landscapes around this island surely it was a photographers dream come true.

And it was.



I picked a spectacular day to go out. Well actually, I didn’t really pick it. My friend did and she was nice enough to invite me to tag along. How fortunate I was to have a tour guide to show me around!

Monhegan Island, ME

We hopped on a boat that wasn’t necessary a ferry boat, but it carries passengers back and fourth from Port Clyde to the island all day long. The ride out, like most trips out into the ocean, was a thrill. The scenery is just to die for. The water is magically blue and the distant landscape takes your breathe away. The closest I can come to comparing it to anything is to island hopping in Greece, one of my other favorite places on Earth. Not only did we enjoy the landscape, but we also got to see some dolphins (or are they called porpoises up North?) Either way, it was great to see them leaping out of the water along side the boat.

Monhegan Island, ME

Once we made landfall we grabbed a trail map and meandered through the village a short distance before we headed to the hiking trails. I couldn’t seem to walk more than 25 feet without having to stop to snap photos. There was something to shoot in every single direction.





The hiking was incredible. At least one entire side of the island is comprised of steep cliff walls that go straight into the ocean. What is more awesome than a scene like that?




We hiked straight to the beach where we found an old shipwreck that was fun to photograph.



Then we continued on a trail that followed along the top of those cliffs. The views from up there were terrific. We got treated to seeing a seal swimming along the shoreline and sailboats gently passing by. I just wish we could have spent more time just taking in those views.


The day positively flew by and before I knew it we were back in town, eating ice cream and making our way back to the boat. One day on Monhegan Island is some what of a tease and leaves you begging for more . . .

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New Logo Design

I recently decided to start the ball rolling on a long-standing dream. It took a recent vacation to Mexico for the idea to crystallize. I got so excited thinking about it that I couldn’t wait to come home and get started. I always wanted to host my own photography workshops and the only thing that held me back in the past was my full-time employment and the fact that I didn’t live in a sought after gorgeous location. Well, those two excuses were no longer valid. I picked out a name for my business and got to work on designing a logo.

I’m not sure I should admit this because it’s shameful, but I tried to hire somebody else to design the logo for this new business. Not sure what I was thinking, other than the fact that I’m really busy right now going in way too many directions. Well, I learned my lesson for trying to take the short-cut easy way out. It was a complete disappointment. I picked the name Maine Photo Adventures and directed the designer to create a logo that depicted both Maine and photography. This is what I got which left me very uninspired.


I was just curious to see what somebody that wasn’t as close to the project as I was would come up with in the hopes that it would give me some extra inspiration. All it did was boost my confidence. I am a designer for Heaven’s sake. Who is going to do a better job at creating my logo than me? It had to be more appealing and catchy and, even more importantly, it had to reflect Paula. I am very pleased with what I came up because it does a great job at conveying both Maine and photography, and most importantly my personality. Here it is.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 5.18.40 PM

More news on the new business soon.

2015 Project 356 Part 1

For this year’s Project 365, rather than having one cohesive theme that I carry out throughout the year I’m breaking the year into 12 parts –one theme for every month. Another new twist is that I’m not going to wait until the end of the year to reveal the results. Not only does it make for an extra long video to watch, but it’s a lot more work when I procrastinate and save all the editing till December. So here is Part 1 of this year’s project. The first three themes are as follows:

January – Motion: long exposure shots all taken with my phone to capture the motion.
February – B&W: since the world here in Maine was mostly white during this month I thought it appropriate.
March – Abstract: if I wanted to see some color during this month I needed to shoot inside.

It’s Good to be the Boss

So what did I do during my first week of working for myself? Go on vacation. No better way to start my new career! But of course, I had to come back and start a new project with the photos and videos clips that I shot while away. When you’re doing something you enjoy it’s not work at all and I had a ball producing this little trip recap. When I need a little break from work I can just play this video and take a mental trip back to Mexico.

Embarking on a New Challenge


I just registered for a Professional Photography Certificate from the New York Institute of Photography. This is something that I’ve thought about and dreamt about for many years. So many reasons to go for it, and an equal amount of reasons to forget about it.  Do I really need to do this? What will I gain? I already get paid to take photos so technically I’m already a “professional photographer” but I know myself better than that. I needed to become a certified yoga instructor, not because I had any desire in the world to teach yoga, but because it’s something that I just felt the need to do. 

After reading this propaganda from the school I knew it was my time:

“The serious photographer eventually moves beyond the love affair with his or her equipment and falls for the art of photography. The photograph itself becomes the more coveted prize. The initial fascination with the camera recedes a bit, and the photographer’s concern becomes the subtlety of the image: the meaning, the composition, and the tiny changes that separate the good from the great. This is the ultimate higher ground, more difficult to master and infinitely more rewarding.”

It just felt right. I know that this is now where I am. I am so over buying more gear. In fact, after we moved and I needed to find a place to store the gear I already own I realized that I should never buy another photographic gadget as long as I live. It’s finally time to move past the gear and concentrate on the craft. My time has come.

So I’m very excited to sink my teeth into a new big project. This course should take me a year to 18 months to complete and hopefully I’ll be occasionally documenting the journey here on my blog.

The Brighter Side of Winter in Maine Part 2    


We got up nice and early on Sunday morning and jumped into the freezing cold car to head down to the Marshall Point lighthouse. We were amused at how much warmer it was at the shore (according to the car thermostat.) We left home where it was 0 degrees and when we got to the lighthouse it was a balmy 13 degrees. Well, numbers can be very deceiving because there are no words for how cold that wind was whipping off the ocean. I can’t even believe that I managed to snap some photos with no camera shake. This says wonders for the Nikon VR (vibration reduction) technology because I was shaking like a leaf!




Once again I had my eyes peeled for things that grabbed my attention from the car and here are a couple of things that made me jump out. Karlo stopped the car first in case you’re wondering.





We stopped by a river where there was a little dock with some frozen row boats. I marvel that these things were still in the water. Do people really go out in the Winter? Crazy!




I also marveled at the cool ice formations on the water. They were so pretty.



And also the ice on the side of the dock was artistic in my mind.


I can’t possibly pass up the chance to harass some ducks. I so love and miss ducks and I get such a kick out of watching them. I had two chances on this fine morning.




They didn’t seem to mind the cold one little bit. I need to invent some socks made of duck feet.

I had a ball, but the ducks on the other hand, were not too happy about my presence. This gave me a good chance to catch them in flight as they started to flee.


Our final stop was back in Rockland at a park off of “Snow Street.” How appropriate was that? Again, I marvel at the fact that these boats are laying on the shore as if they are being used daily. 



I’ll never tire of the cool juxtaposition of nautical beach meets frozen snow. They never belonged together in my mind before, but I guess they sort of do here in Maine and I should get used to it.