hello there, friends,
i have the pleasure of introducing you today to deb achak. deb and i met through an online self-portrait class several years ago. since then, i have had the pleasure of meeting her twice in person. she is an amazing woman, kind and generous, with an eye for design and a gift for capturing both small snippets of daily life and the larger world through the lens of her camera. i know you will enjoy learning more about deb and seeing her work!!
Deb Achak is a photographer and filmmaker. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and two sons in a grand old house that was once a bed and breakfast. Deb makes memoir films of her life and family, and recently began a series of artist process films looking at the studio practices + inspiration of contemporary artists she admires. Her fine art photography explores natural elements of water and grasses. She hopes to launch her fine art photography work into the world in late 2016. You can find her at her website and on Instagram @debachak.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day begins with a double espresso (delivered to me in bed because my husband is totally awesome) and getting my boys off to school. Once they are gone, I tidy the house and make my way up to my attic studio. On a perfect day, I will meditate for 10-15 minutes before launching into my work. Now and then I have a perfect day.
I spend long hours in front of the computer editing my films or working on various photography projects. I am only able to work when my boys are at school so I try to use my time wisely. More and more, I am on location filming various artists for my Artist Stories film series, or spending time in the digital lab at a local photography school in Seattle learning to master the details of printing my fine art photography.
No matter where I am, everything comes to a screeching halt at 2:45 when I have to pick the boys up at school. The remainder of the day is spent shuttling them to sports or music lessons, dinner, homework and family time. I love to end the day with a glass of wine with my husband or to curl up on the sofa to watch a show together. Currently we are obsessed with Peaky Blinders.
What does gratitude mean to you and how do you incorporate it into your everyday life?
For me gratitude is found in noticing and being aware of the million large and small gifts that surround me in my everyday life. When I connect really deeply with my children, my husband, or a friend, even if it is only for a quick second, I am awash with gratitude.
Making art that is authentic and true is also a direct path to gratitude for me. Because my family is often the subject of my work, I spend hours and hours lingering over video footage or still photographs and I fall completely in love with my own life. I know that sounds odd or grandiose even, but something about separating out the noisy bits of motherhood -- the bickering, the messes and smells, the long hours -- into a few seconds of video footage or a sweet photograph of the boys always shines a bright light on the beauty in my midst and it completely fills me up. At the heart of my work is my love for my family and deep, deep gratitude for the life that I have. I’m told all the time that my films make people cry. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I hope it means that the gratitude that motivates my personal work is shining through to the viewer.
How do you stay connected to those you love?
I have a mental image in my head (although sometimes it is also literally true) of closing the front door of our house and communing with my people -- just our little tribe of four, alone in our home without the influences of the world outside.
My oldest son is a deep thinker, so we connect with soulful chats on all sorts of subjects. My younger son is kinetic and loves to have me play with him -- matchbox cars or kicking the soccer ball or silly games he invents. Both boys still enjoy being read to or taking a long bath so we do those things as often as we can. Our family meals are a huge source of connection that my husband and I try to prioritize. We sit down to a home cooked meal (fresh food but nothing elaborate) as a family most nights of the week. When our schedules get too crazy and this isn’t happening enough, we all feel it and we work to get back in sync.
My husband and I are passionate about food so we love to go out for a great meal sans kids a few times a month. We joke that the first 30 minutes of every date is like a staff meeting -- touching base about schedules, the kids, upcoming events, to-do lists -- but after that it's just the two of us remembering why we like each other so much.
I keep in touch with friends by phone, email, Instagram or the oh-so-precious (but rare) getaway. There never seems to be enough time to see my girlfriends but it is so important for me to stay connected. My friendships are essential to my mental health.
What’s inspiring you right now?
Perhaps because I am on the verge of launching my art career in the second half of my life, I am so inspired by people who have reinvented themselves (in any field) and are doing work they love. I get goosebumps (literally) when I hear of people combining their life experience with a deep passion into something new of their own inventing. Living authentically is so inspiring to me.
What is on your bedside table?
Honestly? A pile of dusty books. I’m so dead tired at the end of the day that I haven’t read much of anything in months. But, I have a few juicy reads hiding under all that dust. Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman are number one and two on my list this summer.
deb will be taking over the hello there, friend instagram feed on monday to share more with us and respond to your comments. we hope you take the opportunity to check in and say hello to her!
thanks so much, deb, for sharing with us today! we're so grateful for you! xo.