Where has the time gone? Musings from the life of an adjunct professor, artist, and mother.

Ah yes, I had a baby (now one and a half years old) and I went back to work “on the adjunct circuit” as I like to call it. That’s where the time went! I’ll be posting some new photos soon and updating by Brood portfolio. In the meantime, I’m still here. Still making pictures, just finding it harder and harder to sit down and edit what I shoot. But summer is here so I hope to make progress in the next few months. As always, I’m available for your photographic needs.

Here’s a new photo: a closeup shot of my daughter’s two layers of teeth as her new teeth emerged despite the old ones still being in place. I’ve never seen anything like it. Adventures in motherhood.

I’ll be traveling to Pavones again this summer. I’m thinking of the many photographs I’d like to make while I’m there. I know my time will be limited and it gets harder to make the images with two youngsters in tow. But I also know that having a plan and shot list helps make things easier to accomplish.

This past semester was one of many high hopes and (ultimately) disappointment. I had some successes in my job search but I have not been able to lock in that coveted full-time position. I think if I see one more all-male search committee I will absolutely lose it. I am frustrated that if I point out this problem, it comes off as me simply complaining because I didn’t get the job. I have never seen an all-female search committee, nor have I ever seen a committee with anything close to equal representation between male & female members. It is so strange how something so glaringly obvious (and which creates an implicit bias) can go forward without notice, or if noticed, without correction. Once again I find myself stuck in a boys’ club with no chance of promotion.

But I count my blessings. I know there are many. Things could be much worse. But I know they can also be much better.

Family Photo Shoot

I recently had the privilege of photographing the Broers Family who are expecting their second child this October.  This was a really enjoyable shoot.  The expecting mom is a former student of mine.  When we were discussing plans for the shoot, we discovered we have a lot in common: the exact same due date and both expecting a baby boy! 


This fall, I'll be teaching for half the semester until my baby boy arrives, but I have a light course load which means I am available to shoot your family portrait session!  As crazy as it may seem, the holiday season is just around the corner.  Book your family photo session now, $100 for a 1 hour shoot.  This package includes edited full-quality jpg files ready for print or web.

March Madness

Night Swim, 2016 on display at Photo Pace Gallery


It's been a busy month.  I currently have 3 exhibitions on display and two print publications announced this month!  Here's the info, go see the exhibits if you are in the area!

Photo Place Gallery, "Color of Light" group exhibition juried by Arthur Meyerson. Includes an exhibition catalog.  Show is on display in Middlebury, VT through April 8th. http://photoplacegallery.com/color-of-light/

You can view and order the catalog here: http://www.blurb.com/b/7762148-color-of-light-softcover


A sampling of the work on display at Aurora Art Commission through April 15, 2017

A sampling of the work on display at Aurora Art Commission through April 15, 2017


The second exhibition includes 6 pieces from my current body of work, Brood.  The works are on display at the Aurora Art Commission in Aurora, IL through April 15th. The exhibition features work by 10 artists from the College of Dupage photography community including faculty, students, and alumni.  Located at 20 E. Downer Place, Aurora IL, the gallery is open Wed-Sat, 12-4 pm.



My third exhibition is an inviational group show curated by Beate Minkovski for the 25th Anniversary of Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.  Stronger Together: Celebrating Women Artists is on display through April 15th.  It is an excellent collection of works by women who have contributed to Woman Made Gallery over the years as exhibiting artists, jurors, or curators.  Check it out! http://womanmade.org/invitational-stronger-together/

Float , 2016 on display at Woman Made Gallery through April 15, 2017

Float, 2016 on display at Woman Made Gallery through April 15, 2017

Don't Smile handmade zine available now!



And lastly, I am so pleased and honored to be included in this handmade book published by Melissa Kreider and dont-smile.com.  It is a celebration of the one year anniversary of dont-smile.com, a website dedicated to showcasing works by women photographers. You can purchase a copy of this lovely book for only $12!  Get your copy today! http://dontsmile.tictail.com/product/yearonezine

New Brood Photos, Pavones edition

This year has been a whirlwind.  Filled with so many losses and so much joy.  I am thankful for my family who have supported me through all of the ups and downs.  And this roller coaster ride of life is my excuse for not blogging in 7 months.  Yikes!

I have many new photos to share, but hardly any time to post them.  I'm going to start with some of my newest photos.  Here's a sneak peak at new images from my Brood series.  I'm calling these the Pavones edition since they were made on my recent trip to Costa Rica. 

Assessing the Old & New Year

My goals for 2016 are pretty similar to last year: photograph every day, submit work for exhibition, getting a full-time gig.  2015 was a really tough year for me personally.  And when I think of the things that made it harder for me, it comes down to not trusting my intuition.  My intuition always seems to be right.  So this year, I really want to focus on listening to what my intuition is telling me.  Go with your gut!

Photo by Jim Mayfield

Photo by Jim Mayfield

Professionally, it was a great year for me.  I went through two grueling rounds as a candidate for a full-time job.   And although I like to "win", I'm glad I wasn't chosen for that job.  It just wasn't right for me.  I came out of the whole experience much more prepared for interviews and teaching demos in the future.  I also gave my first artist lecture at a conference, speaking to the largest group of people I have ever spoken to before.  And I'm proud of my preparation and performance.  Additionally, I received 2 grants in 2015 which enabled me to travel to New Orleans and Louisville for SPE conferences.  And I received another grant for this year's conference in Las Vegas!   Most importantly, I really focused on my new body of work.  I feel like I have still just begun on what may be a very long term project, but I know that I have made some major gains this year primarily because I took the time to photograph nearly every day and to review and print and study my work.  In 2016, I want to make this even more of a priority.  As a mom and super-commuter adjunct professor teaching at 3 schools in 3 cities,  it is really challenging to find a place and time for creative work.  But I also know that I can do it.


Midwest SPE Conference

Where did summer go?  I cannot say.  Only that it went too fast.  Well here we are with the fall semester in full swing.  I am staying in the Chicago area for the time being and I'm teaching 4 classes at 3 colleges this semester.  The life of an adjunct.  I have to remind myself that busy is good, busy is employment.  And that is a very good thing.

A flyer I made to promote the conference to students at College of Dupage

A flyer I made to promote the conference to students at College of Dupage

I am really excited to share that I will be giving an artist talk at the Midwest SPE (Society for Photographic Education) Conference in Louisville, KY.  It is just two weeks away (October 1-4) and I am already excited and nervous!  I hope I can pull this off!  It is hard when your project is still new and still very much in the works. 

Here is a link to info about my talk: https://www.spenational.org/conferences/schedule/2015/10/03/lily-mayfield as well as info on the full schedule: https://www.spenational.org/conferences/schedule 

I'm excited to hear Abelardo Morell speak again and to see his new work.  I met with him years ago as a grad student and I am inspired by the way he sees something truly extraordinary in the most ordinary objects and spaces.

My lecture is called, The Subject Before You. I will share my new series Brood and talk about how I look for artful moments in the everyday which often means opening your eyes to the incredible beauty right in front of you.  A philosophy that influences my life as well and helps me get through times of struggle and challenge.

July News & Updates

The last two months have been a whirlwind.  From the end of the semester on May 11th to interviewing for a full time job in Knoxville, then interviewing again in June... somehow I find myself in July. 

I am thrilled to announce that I will be exhibiting a new photograph at Woman Made Gallery in the exhibition Radiance July 10 - August 20.  The opening reception is July 10th from 6-9 pm.  Hope you will stop by!  Check the site for more info: womanmade.org

My students: Patti Mendoza, Lynn Anderson, Deb Wesley, Ethan Chivari, JoAnn Hartley, and Matt Levins

My students: Patti Mendoza, Lynn Anderson, Deb Wesley, Ethan Chivari, JoAnn Hartley, and Matt Levins

I am so proud of the students from my Spring 2015 Extended Photographic Project class who are exhibiting their works at Wings Student Art Gallery at College of Dupage through July 31.  We had a wonderfully small class who worked well together; brainstorming ideas for exhibition spaces, as well as unifying themes in their work, and exhibition titles.  And we utilized class time to draft artist statements, bios, and text for the exhibition proposal.  Best of all, the proposal drafted by the students was selected for exhibition! What a great semester!

So, what do I do now?  Well, I am still waiting to hear about the job in Knoxville, so I might be moving... ?  Or not?  But I am trying not to focus on that too much until I hear something. 

Goals for July are:  1) continue photographing every day  2)  look into more exhibition opportunities for fall 3) set up a group critique with friends AND 4) RELAX! This is the calm before the storm of a busy fall semester either way! 


New Photos & Thoughts about SPE NOLA 2015

Here are a few brand new photos for my series, Brood.  Although I have two different spring breaks, I have really enjoyed my two days off this week.  I finally downloaded pictures I have been shooting for the last month. 

Breakfast, Jesse & Ruby

I really love the image of Ruby & Jesse eating breakfast.  The light was just magical.  I was happy with the detail I was able to get out of both the highlight and shadow areas. 

Yoga in the Park

Yoga in the Park



Searching, Ruby & Jesse

Searching, Ruby & Jesse

And lastly, here are a few things I learned at the SPE conference in New Orleans a few weeks ago.  I think perhaps they are worth sharing:

1) There are "transformational" inkjet papers beyond Hahnemuhle.  I'm looking forward to trying some! And watch out for those optical brighteners!

2) Best quote of a quote: Making a great portrait is "1% inspiration, 99% moving furniture." (Jessica Todd Harper quoting Arnold Newman).

3) The amazingly terrible things people will do to others who are suffering in an attempt to protect themselves.  (Rebecca Solnit regarding Katrina)

4) We absolutely MUST stop using so much plastic.  We must be mindful of our impact on the world around us. (Chris Jordan's imagery of birds on Midway Island)

5) Strengths of my work: beautiful light & color, sequencing, "luscious" printing.  Things to consider about my work: do I want to describe the stages of parenthood/childhood or communicate the extreme intimacy that is felt in relationships within a family?  My images describe obsessive love and joy.

6) There is great material in "all of the drudgery of everyday life" - Ashley Stohl.  If your images are true and deep, they will connect with others.  Images coming from a true place are universal.  (Lure of the Local panel discussion)

And there are many more... but these are some things that stuck out in my mind.  I am looking forward to attending my first Midwest Regional SPE Conference this October in Louisville!  And looking forward to another deadline to help me focus on developing my work!



15 Years ago today...

15 years ago today my life changed forever.  15 years ago today I was walking through the streets of Central Havana and photographing whoever was nice enough to look past my sloppy Spanish and spend a few minutes of their time with me.  15 years ago today I first became aware that there was an international holiday for celebrating the women in our lives.  Why had I never heard of this holiday?  Everywhere we went strangers, friends and family were recognizing the mothers, sisters, wives and female friends who made a difference in their lives.  Several people gave me flowers in recognition of this holiday.  On this day, 15 years ago, I took this photo (right) of a little boy buying flowers for International Women's Day.

Jesse and I, exactly 15 years ago in Havana, Cuba

Jesse and I, exactly 15 years ago in Havana, Cuba

15 years ago I became a photographer.  I have to thank so many people who helped me find my path.  My (now) husband, Jesse Ruff, who suggested I go on a mission trip to Cuba with him over Spring Break.  Alisun Donovan (now my mother-in-law) who allowed me to tag along on the trip she had organized.  And my photography teacher, Ray Hale, at Santa Fe College who was pleasantly surprised by the pictures on the 10 rolls of black-and-white film I brought back from Cuba, and who encouraged me to keep making photographs.

La Maestra

La Maestra

La Mujer Bella

Buying Flowers on International Women's Day

Buying Flowers on International Women's Day

La Familia

La Familia





I have so many fond memories of that week in my life.  It completely opened my eyes as a photographer and as a human being.  I hope some day to return to Cuba.  What a thrill it would be to track down some of these people and give them a copy of the photo I took so many years ago.




1. a number of young produced or hatched at one time; a family of offspring or young.


2. (of a bird) to warm, protect, or cover (young) with the wings or body.

3. to think or worry persistently or moodily about; ponder:

4. to dwell on a subject

I think I may have found a title for my new work about family and raising a child.  I love how Brood not only refers to family or having children but there is also the connotation of rearing one at a time as well as the slightly obsessive qualities of needing to protect, and the uncontrollable urge to worry.  Also through photographing, I am dwelling or "brooding" on the changes in my daughter and the significance of the everyday, ordinary moments of child-rearing.

On another note, I have added a new webpage including 22 images for my new series Brood.  I am still in the process of editing and shooting of course, so this is just my starting point.  But I think it is a good edit and a good number of images for now.


Critiques & Tim Archibald

I recently had a critique with some of my old friends from grad school.  What a huge help that was!  So many insights from very perceptive artists.  They pointed out many things I had wondered about myself but also new ideas and thoughts that had never occurred to me.  It made me remember how important it is to show your work to others and get feedback.  So, many thanks to Sarah Baranski, Krista Wortendyke, and Nate Matthews for sharing your feedback as well as your profound images and ideas. 

One really helpful suggestion was simply sharing the names few new artists for me to look at.  One of them was Tim Archibald (thanks Krista).  He makes these lovely collaborative portraits with his Autistic son.  These images are so poignant as they describe a father's yearning to connect with and understand his autistic child.  Yet they also describe the surprise and wonder of the lives of children in general.  It made me look forward to the days when my own daughter might be able to collaborate with me in how she chooses to present herself for the camera.  As of now, there is a lot of me observing her, often from the back as I try to keep up with her! 

New Year, New Images

One of my new year's resolutions is to be very disciplined about the production of my photographic work.  My goals are to photograph everyday and to make 5 new prints every month.  It doesn't sound that hard, but it can be surprisingly difficult, especially once the spring semester gets going.  So here are a few images I have made recently while trying to photograph everyday.  No prints yet, but that will be the next step! 

I was able to photograph my husband, Jesse, while he was home during the winter break.  I would like to work more images of him into this new series.  Still working on a good title... nothing set in stone yet. Motherhood was my tentative title, but the photographs are about more than just motherhood. They are about family as well and what it feels like to be a newly formed family unit.

Testing the Sony a7r: 36 mp mirrorless camera

Thanks to a great suggestion from one of my former students, I decided to rent a Sony a7r mirrorless  camera with a Sonnar 55mm lens.  I am debating about upgrading to either this small compact 36 mp camera or the Canon 5d Mark iii 22 mp camera.

Ruby's Hair

Features I love:

  1. Beautiful, crisp detail.  Lovely quality.
  2. Large file size (about 30" x 40" at 180 ppi without any upsampling)
  3. So lightweight and compact! I thought of Dorothea Lange and how she put on her camera in the morning as if it was a part of her wardrobe.  This is truly a camera that you can put on and wear all day.
  4. Really impressive at high ISOs.  Very little noise and what there is can be modified in Lightroom without major loss of quality.  On my old Canon T2i I had noticeable noise starting at 800, bad noise at 1600, terrible noise at 3200 and 6400.  With the Sony a7r, I really was blown away by how little noise there was at 1600 and 2000.  It became a little more noticeable at 3200.  But even at the higher ISOs at 12800 it was amazing.  Seemed to be less than if I had shot it on my Canon T2i at 6400.
  5. The Sonnar 55mm 1.8 lens (rented or purchased separately) is gorgeous.  I can see why some people love using a fixed focal length lens.  Really a fun lens to work with.  Exquisitely, extremely shallow depth of field.

Features I don't love:

  1. Auto focus kinda sucks.  I missed several great shots.  Not easy to adjust an auto focus point. 
  2. Frames per second are slow. And lag time between when you press the shutter and the camera actually taking the picture seems like forever compared to what I'm used to with a Canon DSLR.  I missed several "decisive moments."  Not the best for photographing kids... definitely not what you want for sports or situations where you need to shoot fast like weddings or special events.
  3. Menus and dials feel a little clunky.  I'm sure you would get used to it eventually, but after using a Canon DSLR for so many years, this just didn't seem as intuitive for adjusting important things like auto focus, ISO, aperture, shutter.  I still have not found where to format my memory card in the camera.  This has always been easy to find on any Canon model.
  4. No optical viewfinder.  You can shoot by looking at the screen in live mode or through the viewfinder which shows you a digital image, not what you would actually see if looking through the lens.  This is not the end of the world, but it's a little odd and hard to get used to.  I have not noticed any major difference between how I composed the image and what I actually get in the file.

That's all for now.  I have the camera for two more days so I may post more findings.  If I could afford both the Sony a7r and a Canon 5D Mark iii, I would love to work with both.  But I'm leaning toward purchasing the Canon 5D Mark iii just because of versatility.

Motherhood (new images)

I've been working on a few more images for the Motherhood  series.  Sometimes I barely have time to shoot and download, let alone review and edit images.  But there may be some promise here.  

One of my photographs was accepted for an upcoming show at Woman Made Gallery, Document.  I am excited to be debuting these images in one of my favorite galleries in Chicago. The image to the right, 29 Weeks, was accepted. The exhibition opens in January.

New works

Busy day, I got a lot accomplished.  Photographed this morning, spent most of the day working on my class preparation and grading, then edited some work in the afternoon.  Here's a few new images for the In Shadow series. 

Jona Frank

I just discovered this artist.  I was reviewing video examples to show my Digital II students at Columbia.  Jona Frank's videos are interesting, but I was really fascinated by her still photography.  She seems to have a fascination with youth.  I love her series, High School.  I was struck by how obvious it became that each young person's identity was being "tried on" as if it was a costume.  How high school age kids are experimenting with who they think they are or who they want to be, or perhaps how they want others perceive them. 

I also really enjoyed her series Boys, Time-Lapse, Right, and Panoramas. You can view her work here: http://www.jonafrank.com/

More Sweetness

Looking back through images I shot this summer, I discovered I really like this one of Ruby crawling in the grass.  Yes, sure there is sweetness to it, but there is something else here too.  There is a connection/disconnection that I find intriguing.  I am obviously present and observing Ruby through my camera.  But I am also removed, outside the frame and Ruby is seemingly on her own to explore. 



In spending more time and thought looking at the image of Ruby's hand on my foot, I realized how this picture says a lot about connection through physical touch.  Real intimacy.  Perhaps it is what is at the core of my work: connection between people and the struggle to be fully aware and present in these connections with people.  And to make visible the depth of what I feel and want to feel in my relationships.

In Shadow

A few new images that may work their way into the series In Shadow.  Saw these while walking around my neighborhood in the morning.  The last image is my house.  I find the west side of my house endlessly fascinating.  It always looks different depending on time of day, weather, and season.

A few more pics from Pavones

Finally got through some more editing of photos I shot in Pavones.  I think I have been putting it off in a way because there was a finality to it.  It meant that in my mind the trip was over, done, behind me.  And maybe some fear and anxiety that I could've made better photographs.  Which if you think about it is always true, no matter how hard you work. Carrie Mae Weems said that fear is what keeps you from getting things done or finished.  I think she is right. 

I like that when I am anywhere, there are multiple projects I can be working on.  These images represent three different series all shot in one location.

This one fits into the new Motherhood series I am working on.

for In Shadow series

Marshall's Board for de Pavones series

Little Surfers for de Pavones series