Invoking Amber Ludlow

Monday, February 22, 2010

Amber was a photographer I looked up to when I first started the digital leg of my journey.... Someone I admired, followed on her blog, and even took an online class from in early 2007. She was one of the front runners of the digital photography moms-can-do-it-too-and-be-GREAT revolution. A style like Tara Whitney, some fresh Photoshop techniques, and a truly down-to-earth personality.

And one day, in October 2007, she disappeared.

At least, from the internet universe, she was GONE, baby, GONE.

No more blog posts.

No more Flickr photos.

No more.

And for a few months, I waited. People get busy. People get overwhelmed. She'd be back. Others always came back.

So I'd check her blog.

And again.

And again.

And nothing.


Over the years, I've formed a kind of overzealous worry about her. Like, WHERE DID SHE GO? WHY? What if there was a terrible, life-changing tragedy in her life? What if her world had completely fallen apart?

And then, I began to wonder--- what if she just...... CHOSE to disappear?

To leave the internet?

To live her life away from the strange, teetering, false-true world of blog adoration, rabid fans, semi-snarky MWACS and ProWACS and misguided quests for validation and flighty, undulating relationships and false faces and temporary pride and wishes and yearning and asking for the world to read and look and love...

What if she CHOSE TO LEAVE?

And is, instead, living a happy, rich, REAL life without the call of the cyberuniverse of photography/art/mothering/opinionating that seeks to be seen/heard/understood?

I learned recently that she has, since 2007, had two more children added to her oldest two.

Clearly, she is living a REAL life, full of carpools, diapers, and FAMILY. Clearly, there is NO TRAGEDY. Her family, her love, her new babies.... She has filled 2007-2010 with REAL LIFE.

Maybe she has eased off photography. I could see how that might take a back seat to the full house she has now.

Maybe she burned out.

Maybe she stopped and saw that we photographers all shoot to be SEEN, and if we're not careful, we begin to reach out for too much from others, and stop understanding what we can offer ourselves. We begin craving validation, praise, accolades...

And we lose a bit of our soul.

And a life lived too much online is time not spent with the little ones in our REAL life. With the lovers we share the home with.

Today, Noah woke from his nap a little fussy... cranky from his drowsiness. He clung to me and wanted me to hold hold hold him. So I held him... curled into my chest, his blanket and lamby sandwiched between my heart and his. And he pleaded, "Hon-gry? HON-gry?" We moved into the kitchen, slowly, gently, with many a kiss from my lips to his hair, and we sat on the old farmhouse stool next to the bowl of clementines. And I started ever-so-slowly to peel... then thought I'd let him learn this experience for himself. So I'd peel a piece a bit, then let him finish. We'd smell the ripe, tart smell of the clementine flesh under the peel, and then we'd peel some more.. a team. Slow. Not hurried. Him still clinging to me in a full hug. It was slow, and tedious, but in the best possible way. And when the fruit was fully peeled, I showed him the "belly button" and we poked and pulled the clementine apart. Segmented it. Ate each piece one at a time.

And then....

We ate another one the exact same way.

And then again a third time.

I was fully present.

I was not thinking about emails. Blogs. Money. Fame. Success. Popularity.

I was experiencing a clementine and a hug with my little love.

And so....Sunday is the end of my Wordless Week. I finally get to pop back on Facebook. Twitter. Message boards. And yet..... I can't quite explain why I have yet to actually write something on any of those sites. My online "homes"...

Part of me is fascinated with Amber Ludlow.

Why did she leave?

How did she do it? TRULY sever all ties?

Is she happier?

Life richer?


What if....


  1. When I think of how much time I spend every day, checking on the updates of friends and whether or not I got a reply to a quick note, scrolling down Google Reader entries (largely to manage the number of unread items that have piled up), playing word games on Facebook with a trio of friends, I remember days when that wasn't even an option. What did I do with my time? I certainly wasn't BORED. I wasn't UNFULFILLED. I'm more unfulfilled now, in fact, when I go online after a small absence to find that no one has posted on my wall, replied to a Twitter update, or commented on my last carefully-crafted status, etc. How many more books would I have read if not for this obsession? How many more movies would I have enjoyed with my husband? How many more times would I have taken advantage of a beautiful day? What would it be like to go back to the way I lived even 15 years ago, when I only checked for e-mail messages and used the internet largely as a reference tool and, soon after, an easy way to get my Christmas shopping done?

    There is another reason why I let myself gradually stop blogging. At first I blogged for myself, as a journal--until people found it (or, if I'm honest, I encouraged it to be found). And then, if I didn't get "enough" comments (at first, one comment was great...but that became insignificant when I knew precisely how many people were following me...I spend an hour on this post, dammit! COMMENT!)...I was frustrated. Not validated. I hated that MY journal was no longer about ME, but about those who read it. (And, if I let myself think about it too much, that gets me down. How selfish am I being for getting upset that people aren't leaving a little note after my entry? They're already taking time to read my inevitably wordy posts; how dare I expect praise and sympathies in addition to that? I'm not saying I'm right for thinking's really just me beating myself up.)

    In regards to Amber, I think (for me) it would be easy to sever ties. Quit Facebook, quit commenting, quit Twitter, quit Google Reader, quit the Television Without Pity boards, and keep a private e-mail account for business matters and personal friends. I don't think I could quit the internet's too useful for too many things. But I could DEFINITELY stop living in it so much.

    The way I see it, this computer I'm staring into is not much better than another glowing screen that gets a helluva lot more flak. Sure, it's less passive. Makes us think, and riles us up more than the latest episode of Ugly Betty. It's an easy way to keep track of friends without making much effort (is that a good thing, necessarily?).'s still not's not babies' toes or snuggling or massages or cooking a fantastic meal.

    I admire you for doing this. I wonder if it was really hard, or surprisingly easy, and if it does change you. I might try it myself, Artist's Way or no.


  2. Wow...sorry. That was...really long. :)

  3. I admire your friend for being able to choose family over the internet. As for me, it is a very good thing I am single with no family around to neglect because of my interests...I am so scared of the day when I need to be selfless and sacrifice the things I want for the things that are right.

  4. It is a funny little cyber existence we've all built for ourselves, isn't it. It really bothers me when people seem insincere, or when I myself feel insincere in here. But I must say, you are as delightful in person as you are on here. And it is always fun for me to see "My Little World" in bold in my google reader :) I think we all just need to keep it in check--evaluate why we do it, you know?

  5. This is a really interesting post, and I've been thinking about this myself lately, as well. Personally, though, I think there can be balance. Online life can provide blessings--I've "met" people I would never, ever come across in real life, been able to interact while the dryer's running or I'm doing work. Those are times when I wouldn't be interacting with others that much, anyway. I think it can also get to be too extreme, if you're too tied to the Internet. I just try to keep a balance--the Net is a fun study break but not the center of my life.

  6. Emily... I've been a long time reader but I don't think I've ever commented. I was in your 07' BB on the old BBC.

    I just thought you should know that I always feel sooo refreshed each time I read your blog. My heart always seems to be smiling as I click away from your page.

    Enjoy your day with your little man! :o}

  7. excellent Emily

  8. I love lurking about your blog, admiring the gorgeous photos and thoughtful words.

    So I have selected you for a Beautiful Blogger Award.

  9. I think a lot about this too. I just got back from a week away from the computer and in the first 24 hours something I saw online has put me in a total sad, frustrated, mad funk. If I wouldn't have looked then I wouldn't be having to give myself refocusing pep talks every 5 minutes. Ug. I might dissapear tomorrow. Probably not.

  10. I totally 'stalked' AL too.. Loved her stuff.. and yeah.. had seen where myself and other photogs noticed her disappearing act. sad, but true , she is living life. I love how you talked about this whole internet thing.. so so true.. and in the end.. its family. its our art, its the ones we love. I love your style.. please don't leave, but its impressive for me to see those real people who are sharing their "truly" real selves. glad you are putting things in perspective , as we all should. life is too short. for real.

  11. oh my WORD but i love this post! You have the most beautiful way with words and I feel the exact same way - thanks so much for sharing! :-)


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