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.

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.