Photography

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Humble Pie

Not blogging in the last seven months, I felt it was time again. Starting this blog as a form of documenting my journey as a photographer, then it was used as a class assignment. I had to remember what this was all about to begin with. Here’s a cute little experience:

 Trying to hurry in the gallery, posting title/artist tags on photographic art, which isn’t working well for her, she realizes it is time to cut her loses and move on. Late for a Scholar Donor Reception, she has to get a move on. Upstairs to check in with the boss, letting him know that she will re-vamp the tags in the morning, she heads out the door to the cafeteria building.

 Upon arrival in the hustle and bustle of an elegantly decorated cafeteria filled with 200 people, the events are underway and she is lost. Through the Rotunda, quickly checking in, grabbing her nametag and the booklet of Scholarship winners, she shuffles back to the cafeteria. Humbly quiet she tiptoes to the vacant buffet line to grab a bite to eat since she forgot to eat today. Making her way back to her table filled with six other complete strangers, she realizes the chair next to her is empty. Although, food, drink are placed on the table and a bag rests in the seat, yet the occupant is not there.

 Of course, when she sat down she realizes that she forgot a napkin! Getting up to fetch a napkin – UTTER HORROR STRIKES. Upon getting up, she is caught up in the tablecloth and just like a magic trick, she swoops the tablecloth with her. The empty chair next to her is now filled with cheese, food and soda all over the colorful bag. UTTER EMBARRASSMENT (did I mention 200 people?). Many come to her aid, assisting to clean up the mess and pick up the food gone wild. Cleaned up in less than five minutes.

 Stage right enters the occupant of the empty chair with a look on her face that says: “What the heck?” Repentantly the woman whispers profusely apologizing explaining what happened. Inadvertently, the occupant observes the woman’s nametag. After the guest speakers were done, the occupant introduces herself as the Editor of one of the schools predominant publications! “Oh Lord, now I’ve done it” the woman thinks to herself. The Editor reaches out her hand to shake and says, “You are the author of ‘Obscura’, aren’t you?” Humbly puzzled, the woman replies “Yes, how did you know?” The Editor smiles “Along with your two photographs, your poem will also be published.”

 Shocked and elated, I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or what to do after my dose of HUMBLE PIE! Bad enough I was nervous to begin with, then I soaked this poor girls bag and now she yields GREAT NEWS??? Totally excited over not only ONE of my photographs published, yet TWO and now the poem??? Can this night get any better? Yes it can! In the process, I was informed I was the only student awarded two scholarships!

Dear God or whatever forces continue to watch over me – THANK YOU does not even begin to express the gratitude in my heart rocked to my very core for all that is done for me!

Peacock in full bloom

Peacock in full bloom

WARNING: OVER CONSUMPTION OF IMAGES

Blount Lib WMOver consumption of Images may be a hazard to the reality of your daily life. Have you ever found yourself on the Internet where one link leads to another and before you know it, you have 20 tabs open? GUILTY HERE. I can stare for hours at other people’s images, not even my own images and before you know it: Time is gone. We are over inundated and overwhelmed with the mass choices out there in the cyber world. Sifting through hundreds of sites that are either trying to sell you their products or join an organization.

Photographers are all seeking new techniques, things that haven’t been done and perfecting the skills we possess as we look for inspiration for our next project. Obviously we know the trick is balance.

As I look around my cluttered house, housework, three boys ramming in a million directions, keeping up with a husbands business, TAX CRUNCH TIME, paying bills and final exams approaching; its time to set inspiration aside and engage in real world activities.

Where were we 30 years ago when the Internet was difficult to access and not even thought of being in every home or on every cellular device in the world? Interacting with the world! In today’s society, it’s still a welcoming thought to put a name to a face and comforting to realize that you actually KNOW and met the individual. We should remember that as we face the world and look for business outlets.

It’s comical to me to think that some believe that being in business for themselves will be a “cake walk” with flexible hours that will allow them to live their lifestyles making a ton of money with minimal effort. The reality is: Working a 9-5 job, you generally leave your problems at the door when you leave and when what you do on your personal free time generally doesn’t affect the old 9-5.

Working your own business is an entirely different animal. Until you establish a name for yourself: You are always reaching to new heights, setting goals and your personal image is everything. We do MORE appeasing to our clients than if we were working at Sears or Walmart Portrait Studios because “word of mouth” is our reputation. Whatever your field of photography is, whether it be fine art, travel, commercial/product, environmental or portrait photography: The bottom line is the same. When a client asks the question: “What beautiful custom photographs adorn your home. Where did you purchase them?” ~Or~ “OMG, I love your family portraits, where did you have them made?” If the client had them done at Sears or Walmart, this is their response “Oh, I just went to Sears.” If the picture or portraits were made at Sears/Walmart: THEY (generally) DO NOT CARE ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER THAT MADE THE PHOTOGRAPH AND 99.9% of the time, THEY DO NOT EVEN CARE OR REMEMBER THE PERSON’S NAME or THE ASSOCIATE THAT MADE THE PORTRAITS. However, if they had a good experience with a personal photographer: Guaranteed they KNOW YOU, remember your name, will call upon you for future events and refer you to others!

People care about what matters to THEM, not to you! People, places, things and experiences that hold great memories or taught them something is what clients want to surround themselves with in their homes. Remember that as you set forth into the world making your art. Your odds are better at selling your work or having others appreciate your art if you engage with the world, putting your name with a face because people are more likely to SEEK YOU OUT, purchase portraits, fine art or commercial photography from someone they know versus the hundreds of thousands of websites hosting images for sale!

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Blount Library

HDR Night Photography

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Free Falling

Free Falling

And here it begins, “closet blogger” no more. At the time of starting this blog, had an idea that my professors would most likely ask us to start one this semester.
What I didn’t anticipate was others reading it other than him/her. Not quite sure how I feel about others that I know reading about ME, or how interesting that will be to someone else? Sharing with a world of people who do not know me personally is one thing, still allowing me some anonymity.

Usually people have their own lives to be tied up in and I’ve noticed the world rarely cares about others in this day and age. Wish me luck and here I go….

Reflections -2

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Reflections Minus Two

The photos are of two of my children, minus two (my husband and older son) during an event at the college taken of the reflection of the glass window. The older my children get, it’s hard to keep us all together as we scatter in various directions. Makes you appreciate the times you spend as a family unit. The story you are about to read is reflections on the past and why I became a photographer.

ONE photograph that encapsulates tremendous meaning to you, having a story behind it and holds profound significance for you was the photographic assignment in Photo1100 for this week. Ironic……..

Thinking creative random thoughts, where do I go with this one in two days? Considering that I appreciate nearly every blessing I have in my life because I grew up with NOTHING. Astonishing how that works out, isn’t it? Don’t you find as a “rule”: most people who grow up with nearly nothing seem to appreciate everything more as they get older? Surviving childhood without the latest gadgets, name brand clothes, gazillion dollar sneakers and having just the basic necessities was REALLY a blessing in disguise. Had you told me this concept when I was a girl: surely I would have screamed, cried, left the room stomping with a dramatic twist concluding that my life had officially ended because I didn’t have the Atari, fashion Nike’s and latest Jordash jeans. Yes, I really am THAT old! The things that hold the most meaning for me NOW are NOT THINGS, they are memories. Memories can’t be taken from you, they can’t be replaced and they are PRICELESS beyond anything you can materially own! My most profound experiences can’t be photographed, or can they?

As I was sharing a story with my class about HOW profound a photograph can affect someone or WHY it has meaning: the 19-year old girl that sits next to me asks, “What’s a Shutterbug?” A few of us ancient dinosaurs in the class chuckled lightly and my Professor takes over explaining the definition of someone called a “Shutterbug”.

Ever since I was young, I had always been considered the “Shutterbug” of my predominantly male gang. Growing up building cars, doing auto-body work, racing, riding four wheelers and motorcycles: I was the tomboy girl, who was treated more of a brother versus just a girl. I’d never cross the lines of friendship because if I let them, then I always knew in the back of my brain, I’d end up one of their horror story conquers in their sea’s of women! If you knew me, you’d know I’m a very feisty and spirited dinosaur (LOL!), they all knew I’d give them all a run for their money. How we ever survived the years of antics, I will never know. We should ALL be dead, not just him and NOT the way he died………………

After 20 years of crazy escapades, ONE of our motor-head gang of many, he was gone in the blink of an eye.  Being the ONLY girl without a boyfriend in this gang (by choice), they came to me with their vulnerability. I’d developed this odd and bonding “mother hen” relationship with each one of them, each of them unique. We’d talk about whatever flavor of the month they were all working on, hours spent building motors to get the motors off our pissed parents dining room table, the nights that turned into mornings watching the sunrise (totally sober!) because we spent the evening STREET racing. The legendary cemetery, bon-fire fight, this taught me how protective they all became of me.

Young and dumb, racing as we had done a million times before. June 23, 1991, ONE fatal night nearly ended many of our lives as I, in my newly built 1979 Copper Z-28 Camaro with 350 motor, bore 30 times over, Holly 750 double pumper carb complete with Hurst shifter was racing side by side, up a very slick and rainy stretch of highway as Lady Red Light by Great White played on cassette tape, racing against Tim’s 1980 Camaro. Rich driving Tim’s car, was losing, as we knew he would since his motor failed in comparison. We were just playing around, only hitting about 90-100 mph. Being just a nose ahead, I put her to the floor and he glided slightly behind as we passed the Chenango Bridge, NY exit heading for Port Crane, NY. Whvvvooomm….. What? Rearview, NOTHING! I can hear him but I CAN’T SEE HIM… Let my foot slightly off the pedal, where did he go? BAM… My rear quarter gets tapped… SHIT!!! HYDRO PLANE picking up speed to try to knock me straight, praying that the rubber catches grip and hits the pavement to coast us to safety!!!!! OMG…. Sending me FLYING to the opposite lane…. SMASHING into the full, thick 4-foot cement rails, shooting me to the opposite side, SMASH, flying to the other side, SMASH, hood flies up…. REARVIEW… He’s back there!! BRAKES tapping!!! Slowly drifting to a halt about 250 ft. up the road from where Tim’s Camaro sits in the middle of 88: lights in the wrong direction. “Shar, Shar, Shar” screams come running up the highway. I check on my stepsister sitting next to me that I had my arm out to make sure she didn’t soar out of her seat. All OK. They get to us, doors smashed in, unable to open. Tim pulls my sister from her passenger window. Couldn’t open mine even if I tried since the cement guardrail lay against my door. Rich gets to my door, pulling me out Dukes of Hazzard style.  And Jimmy, he’s up front attempting to close my hood, as I look up and against my still lit headlights, see his charming dimpled smile gleaming back at me! Because there wasn’t proper drainage under the overpass bridge of the exit we just passed, Rich had hydroplaned. The front tire grabbed the bottom edge of the cement rail and lifted them slightly off the road, as he quickly yanked the wheel to come off the rail so they didn’t flip, he slid sideways into my lane and his front end caught my rear quarter. True story and the marks from my Camaro still adorn the unyielding cement rails.

Later that night, laughing about cheating death once again, it was always about the adrenaline rush as a kid. My motor thankfully was in tact and I put the heart of her into another Z28 shell body. I wish it were that easy with people. We had no idea what was yet to come. As the years wore on, our lives significantly morphed into adulthood, priorities changed and seemingly overnight we were caught up in our children, relationships and careers. Tim supervised a full service mechanical automotive shop and on the weekends he’d turn to Pro-racing motorcycles as we all hoped he’d race amongst the greats like Angelle Seeling, which we both had met. Tim and I had several discussions about marketing, the business aspect of racing and picking up sponsors, and still calling me his “sister”.  Tim found my first bike, a Suzuki Katana 750 and he lowered it to fit my short legs. His children grew up knowing me, had been to my house and we’d all hung out time to time through the years.

January 14, 1964-July 26, 2004

Within ½ an hour, I received the call. The news spread like wild fire, probably faster than it went to Tim’s own family. Tony had called Matt. Matt immediately called me. I called Barney. From there, the message went forth. Tim died just 13 years after our racing adventure in an unfortunate work related accident. We would have accepted the news of “Tim died on his bike” as that would have been what we expected knowing Tim was happy doing what he loved. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, just fate. It was years later that this would come “full circle” for me, forever changing my life.

We went to the funeral; people lined the funeral home by the hundreds. I’d never attended a funeral like this before. The line literally reached beyond the front doors of the funeral home, down its stairs and lined the block with people standing in line to pay respects. The death of a small town celebrity that had touched so many lives; I stand rattled to the core of my soul in awe.

The following day we buried my “brother”, the skies were lined with grey clouds. We rode our bikes to the funeral home early. We knew what was coming. An hour and a half later, they came in droves, bike after bike after bike, resulting in HUNDREDS. It was amazing! I had never seen anything like it. I could only pray that if God calls me home, for my life to be celebrated by so many, just as Tim’s is. During the service, the harsh cold and steady rains poured from the sky. Oh how he knew I hated to ride in the rain and how against it I was, almost like he was sending down his final challenge to me “Get on that bike and ride with me one last time girl!” It rained so hard that the front pouch on my Columbia windbreaker pullover was filled with inches of water, which rendered my cell phone inoperable! We were soaked, but we all did it blocking roads and traveling behind the hearse as a bonded group honoring him as we rode with him for his very last ride. It was majestic.

In 2007, my family packed up and moved from New York to Tennessee. Years later in 2010, I received a phone call from Dara, Tim’s daughter. Shocked and elated, we caught up on the years and Dara said she was getting married in May 2011, asking me if I’d come home for the wedding. There was only one answer “YES”. We talked about the great flood in New York in 2006 and again in 2011 where Dara lost all the pictures of her dad in the flood. Dara got quiet then she said “You know how much my dad loved you, right?” Through clouded watered eyes, I respond, “I always knew.” Dara said when she received his wallet back; “There were three pictures in it. A picture of me, my brother and the last one, a picture of you.” We went on to laugh about how hard it was for me to meet all of the girlfriends because they always thought there was “something more” between Tim and I. There never was and because of that, it made us stronger lifelong friends. Dara said “I knew that, my father always called you his sister.” Dara asked me to put the word out for pictures and I would give her what I had. NOW, at this minute it has come FULL CIRCLE… I’ve known this child since she was a little girl, watched her grow up, listened to Tim tell stories about her and her brother; It rips me apart that I am here to watch her grow up, watch her kids, to care about her and share her life – but Tim is not! We are driven to tears during this conversation because her daddy is not here to walk her down the isle! I felt her pain, stabbing my heart deeply, the knife resting there. Could Tim know how he possibly changed my life, even after he was gone?

As I go through over two decades of photographs, the times we shared, I noted one thing: I had a ton of hard copy photo’s from the days of film, photos from digital of Tim, Tim with others, Tim hanging out with our motor-head gang but NOT ONE PHOTOGRAPH OF HIM AND I TOGETHER!!!! Right now, that would be PRICELESS TO ME! I passed along the photographs to his daughter, went to the elaborate and gorgeous wedding, was blessed to sit at Tim’s family table along side his mom and brother, and making more “frozen in time” memories. The venue embellished with some of my blown-up photographs I’d passed along to her, of her dad on the walls. His presence clearly felt. I whispered in Dara’s ear “If I could trade just one minute of time right now; I would gladly switch places with your father, so he could be here to tell you how proud of you that he is and how much he loves you.”

Throughout my life, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. More than any one person should ever see or be exposed to in their lives. I’ve lost more people, been exposed to death hundreds of times over, watched Cancer up close and personal take it’s toll and realized how fragile life really is. In the blink of an eye, it can all be gone and change you forever. Everything changes in life. From the time we are born, we set forth to realize ONE END RESULT, we die. It simply IS. The lives we touch along the way, is the difference we made and IS an accomplishment. Its unseen, untouchable, yet makes all the difference. There will be a day; you lose your Grandparents, your parents, your family members and close friends that are dear to you. Some will pass on, SOONER than others and when least expected. It is a fact of life and it WILL happen to you. Touch as many lives as you can. The memories you are left with far outweigh the hurt if they pass on. Group pictures are priceless, family photos are priceless and NEVER FORGET to put yourself in the shot with those you LOVE! NEVER FORGET THAT! Don’t learn the hard way like I did?! It is the BEST advice I can offer to a YOUNG photographer! You will make photographs in your life and when you reflect at some point, some of those photographs will be minus some of the people you loved dearly.

I’ve had many people approach me through the years, knowing the shutterbug that I am, ask me for photographs of their loved ones that have passed on. Between Tim’s daughter, Dara, asking me for photographs and the recent little year and a half baby girl our friends just lost (I’d taken photo’s of her since birth in the hospital), I finally realized this is what I needed to do with the rest of my life. These two experiences coming “full circle” meant the world to me and changed my life forever. I am a photographer. I document lives. How do I encapsulate this into a single photograph?

Rest in Peace my old friend Tim Davis January 14, 1964-July 26, 2004

Industrial Photo Art

Power Grinding

Power Grinding

Let the sparks fly purple!

Let the sparks fly purple!

Men and their power tools!

Men and their power tools!

Am I a photographer?

I am told I am. Although at times, I like to think of myself more of a Photo Artist :)

Perseverance

Car lot of old cars

Car lot of old cars

The rear end of a racing BelAir, complete with drag bars

The rear end of a racing BelAir, complete with drag bars

Oldmobile Grill

Oldmobile Grill

Daring to think “outside of the box” during my semester break, I experimented with the various new techniques I’ve learned, anxiously yearning for the day that I can meld all the skills together. My first professors were wonderful, personable, remarkably accomplished and skillfully talented, opening my mind to an immense plethora of notions! Most importantly my Photography teacher, who challenged me, bringing out the best in me, accomplishing things that I didn’t think were possible! She will never know exactly what her impact had on me, my life or my passion; it is beyond words and something I will forever remember and be grateful for.

Accomplishing a 4.0 average during my first semester. Elated with all straight A’s at my age and raising three trying boys (two troubling drama filled teenagers!) encourages me to continue to aim high.  The fact that I still yearn for more proficient abilities in this field, supports my assessment that this is more than a hobby for me: it really IS my passion, what drives me, what I look forward to every day when I get up and true happiness.

You see; I am still a “CLOSET BLOGGER”.  Neither close friends, Facebook family, nor my immediate family know that I blog. Why? Growing so much in five short months already, I am not willing to reveal the details until the sponge in me has absorbed every little nook and cranny of information, that all of my brilliant professors fill me with. Comparing the difference between my PAID work of a year ago, versus the abilities they’ve equipped me with now? Jaw dropping! Almost disappointing in a way, wanting to reshoot everything! Does every photographer feel that way from time to time? This semester? Full dedication to the field in different areas yielding more ideas, concepts and bringing them to life to share! Fast forward to a year from now? My thoughts will most likely be that my work of first year will FAIL in comparison to the second year!

Anxious for the coming semester, facing it with the same tenacity as I started my first semester with; I will strive for perfection to meet my professors expectations, achieve my goals that meet my own “success” factors and strengthen assurance in my novice work. When I am secure in filling my own “self-confidence” bucket, then I’ll be ready to display what I’ve learned in it’s entirety.

Life continues to bring struggles, conflict and turmoil that most people would NOT endure while trying to achieve this extensive goal. Turmoil and conflicts, which may lead to ultimate failure: if these complications roadblock my path and I am unable to complete my dream of fulfilling my passion. When you look back on the days of our Grandparents, Great Grandparents and etc, without the modern technology that we have the convenience of, they accomplished what we thought would be impossible by today’s standards. This gives me faith and encourages me to push onward. Until then, I will learn as much as I can learn, go as far as I can go, dedicate myself to meeting my GPA standards and eventually, ultimately persevere. In the end, I can foresee that there is a book waiting for the story to be told of the personal difficulties and secrets that lay within, beyond the walls of my education.

The day that I find victory is the day that I will release, unleash and say: “For those of you who condemned, judged, told me I wouldn’t do it, couldn’t do it, I was too old, those who recommended I should stick with my successful boring unhappy business career, suggested that I have too many personal family conflicts to achieve the GPA I have proved I can earn, those who were unsupportive, questioned why I would choose such a field, find photography ludicrous, absurdly unheard of as a career, stated it was a ridiculous gamble that is not lucrative, stated that it may make me happy but not secure because happy doesn’t pay the bills and said NO.” I will say “Watch me, I will, I did and here I am.”

Until then, this is my documented journey!

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Sparks fly Dozer

Sparks fly Dozer

New techniques while working on Industrial Art

Sharzhaven:

Interesting

Interesting

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