Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The story behind the picture: "Belfast 23"

I've just recently unearthed this photo from the thousands of images I've collected over the years. Originally taken with my Asahi Pentax on 35 mm Illford film, I scanned the negative and converted to a digital file...I know, snore! Get to the story bit, right? Okay.

This angel keeps watch over a beautiful cemetery in Belfast, ME. My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I were on vacation in Maine during August of 2000 - we'd been hiking for several days (not non-stop, I might add) and I was still wearing my thick-treaded trail boots when I saw this cemetery and begged to go inside. This statue was breathtaking....and she towered well above 10 feet tall on top of a hill. Even with my telephoto lens, I couldn't get the angle I wanted. Rather than give up, I asked my then-boyfriend (now husband) if I could stand on his shoulders. Me, my muddy hiking boots with the vicious treads, and my 900 pound camera, climbed up and stood precariously perched 6 feet above ground level on the shoulders of my then-boyfriend (now husband). He stood patiently while I clicked away, taking at least 20 shots before I agreed to remove my boots from his shoulders.

Now, just in case you all think he should be canonized for his patience and sacrifice, I must add that he owed me for putting out the fire HE accidentally started in the state park and for finding our way back to the tent the night before when he assured me he knew which way the trail was headed. It's amazing we ever got engaged after that trip...

Every time I see this photo, I laugh when I think of how I managed to capture the shot - I couldn't have done it without him.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The story behind the picture: "Holding Water"

An idea came to me last night: why not tell the story behind some of my favorite pieces? No one wants to hear about what I had for breakfast (cheerios the children didn't eat, in case you were actually wondering), but perhaps you'd like to know exactly what I was thinking when I created my pieces. Or not thinking, as is often the case...

This image is one I call "Holding Water," and is in fact a photograph of my son's hands. I took Danny outside in early spring when morning light was throwing some nice shadows (never photograph at high noon! Total washout!) and had him do all manner of crazy things with his hands - as he is only four years old, I could tell him to do whatever he wanted without fear of obscene gestures. After about 30 shots, I realized the lines of his pudgy little hands weren't showing up all that well, so I asked him to go find some dirt and rub it on his palms. He happily obliged :-) When I was through, I told him he'd been a great model and had to remind him to unlace his fingers - he was so sweet and kept standing there, hands together, waiting for me to take a few more pictures. Later that night I liked what I saw on the monitor, but thought it could use a little more texture. I accidentally clicked the "saran wrap" layer in Photoshop and this was the result: definitely the happiest computer mistake I've ever made. This is the image currently on display in the "Green Exhibit" at City Hall through January 23rd, 2009 and is available on:

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Thank you for visiting "mkc photography by Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes." Each week I invite my readers to go behind the camera with me as I share a different "story behind the picture."

I'm an award-winning fine art photographer and digital artist from Philadelphia, and my work has been featured in a number of venues, including the Tiberino Memorial Museum (PA), City Hall (Phila, PA), and the Straube Art Center (NJ). My photography appears on the cover of the 2009 "Paws for Charity" Art Book, and my whimsical collection of nursery art called "Alphabet Soup!" is now available as children's book by the same name. I photograph everyday things in extraordinary ways: come see the rest of my work at:

If you live in the Philadelphia area, you may also pop in to
Artista or This Little Gallery, as they both carry a wide selection of my art glass trinkets.

I have a number of exhibits and shows planned for 2010, so please visit my
news link for details and mark your calenders!

I accept custom, commissioned assignments from anyone who loves my style but wants me to create something to fit their exact needs. Please feel free to
contact me - I would love to hear from you.

Exhibitions and Publications:
The Tiberino Memorial Museum (Philadelphia, PA)
City Hall (Philadelphia, PA)
Milkboy Cafe (Ardmore, PA)
Landfillart Project (
Abington Memorial Hospital (Abington, PA)
Straube Art Center (Pennington, NJ)
Once Upon a Gallery (Philadelphia, PA)
Mew Gallery
(Philadelphia, PA)
Artista (Philadelphia, PA)
Steel City Coffee House (Phoenixville, PA)
This Little Gallery (Jenkintown, PA) (featured artist, January 2009)
Tattoo Highway Literary Journal
Paws for Charity 2009 Art Book benefiting the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade (cover art)
"Alphabet Soup!" by Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Readers are welcome to contact me through my artist website.

Please join me on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to my monthly newsletter if you would like stay up-to-date on new work and upcoming exhibits/receptions.

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best Wishes,
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