Thursday, December 18, 2014

Santa Pause

Vintage Santa Beating His Own Drum
Keller, TX
One must know not just how to accept a gift,
but with what grace to share it.
Maya Angelou

It's a crazy world and by virtue of the season and time of year, I will add "It's A Wonderful Life". Even global politicians the likes of US President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro seek the spirit of charity and fill the air with promises that perhaps a new major league baseball team might emerge: the Habana Castros. Even George Bailey would be impressed.

Photographer
Al Hernández
For nearly six decades like John Mayer I've been "Waiting on the World to Change" and it has. Hershey bars are no longer five cents and Cokes are not a dime and children are driven to school and no longer safe from lurking child predators, drug dealers and terrorists with extreme grudges. Our once cold war and communist enemies are now are our trading partners. The middle class keeps eroding as the same middle votes for the policies endorsed by top elite who exclude them and shrinks the size of the middle class and hides under the conservative banner while waging war both physical and economic that the same middle must bear. No one retires with a gold watch any more because a handful of CEO's have their own gold standard although few of them were the entrepreneurs risking everything to form these great companies they plunder.

Despite my cynicism, I remain hopeful because during the same period, I've seen enemies learn to not only come to the peace table but also eat together at it. The dawn of the age of transistors and television now touts high speed internet and compact mirror less cameras and Dick Tracy like FaceTime. We not only landed on the moon but were also able to land on a moving comet millions of miles away. It all makes me give pause and hope. What if the world is ready to change again once more?

So this is my Christmas list for this year in hopes that my grandchildren and their children get to see. Top on my list is more compassion. I want to see more people who are willing to physically help others than to simply send them prayerful thoughts. A hungry man wanting to feed his children needs more than your prayers. He may need money during the interim while he finds a job. A sick person needs more than your prayers they may require medical attention and can't afford to pay. Your neighbor without a job and depressed needs more than your prayers.

Prayer and meditation are wonderful things but human compassion is tangible. How often do people yearn to have a touch, a kind word of encouragement, and a meal? When was the last time you extended a hand out to someone perhaps a discouraged neighbor? A handout is not really against our nature in fact its our human/communal nature that requires it. It's something even cousin chimps do.

This season I am grateful for the humbling lessons of the past five years. Although part of me resents those who looked the other way and at times made me drift and become bitter; I choose not to change with respect to charity and continue to help others regardless. I will talk to the discouraged and help others. Perhaps its no coincidence that I have an opportunity to become a financial advisor to reduce the stress that others may face and to help them meet their goals. At some point, you will realize like I did we are in this together and we must share our faith and exercise compassion. This is the season to exercise charity (love). "So send I you."

Prints and cards available for sale at

Friday, November 14, 2014

Art in Making or Making Art


Lighthouse in Autumn
Saugerties, NY
Computers are useless-
all they can give you are answers.
Pablo Picasso

Nothing frustrates me more than the notion that photography should mirror reality. That notion is simply as absurd as the expectation that Monet's lilies should be precise or that Seurat's paintings should have brush strokes vs brush points. I suppose if either Monet or Seurat were not creating art and were furnishing their images as aid to local law enforcement that criticism would hold some water. They weren't; instead they were using their creativity to express themselves in their own voice. (Those who favored realism could simply view them from a distance.)

In addition to the time spent studying composition and techniques used to render art, unique life references and experiences come to play in my compositions. It's my choice to use intangible brush strokes judiciously applied which add feeling, something modern man avoids but seeks to soothe via countless drugs legitimate or otherwise. Let me stress this thought: my images convey my consciousness and my feelings.

Ultimately my sensations motivate me to shoot but my heart and mind collude to create, communicate, and render those sensations on a two dimensional piece of paper. Short of stamping words all over the photograph, I have to solve the communication puzzle with a repertoire of intangible experiences and memories while mixing them with photographic tools. The fished product is sum of life experiences (to that date) in my own voice.

The image you see above (Lighthouse in Autumn) could just as well have been entitled Lighthouse at Halloween. In fact you can feel and see the Halloween reference. If you also knew the history of this location and its proximity to Palenville, NY and author Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle you would understand. That's another photograph or two for sure for a later date.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Answered Question

Hikers On Abandoned Tracks
Hunter, NY
The answers you get
depend on the questions you ask
Thomas Kuhn

The past two and a half months have been taciturn for me. I sought refuge both in the high Sonoran Desert of Arizona and in the cloves of the Catskills. It was on purpose and on track to find myself. During this time I found more questions than answers only to find answers when I returned home.

My question, "will I survive?" Was answered by more subtly by the universe's response "you will not starve." The truth lies in the fact that for nearly four decades I've made money for those who employed me. If I could do that wouldn't the same happen if I chose to employ myself?

In many ways, my creativity and humor sustained me in the past. Now I am channeling it for my own benefit via my fine art photography and fledgeling commercial business. The shingle outside my door has been hung in fact it was hung before I went to Tucson to work in 2012. Today, however I will tell you candidly: all my work is available for sale.

This past week, I made some modifications to my website: www.photographybyalhernandez.com.  One ehnancement I added was an online store for my fine art photography. The store now features my Tucson Gallery images, my Lazy J2 ranch work, and work from New England as well as the Catskills. You can now purchase a variety of prints both on metal and canvas at various prices and sizes. Years of marketing has also taught that no customer should leave a store empty handed and thats why I am also offering affordable greeting cards of my images to my store patrons. These are perfect 5x7 miniatures of my prints. Of course if you need something larger, please go ahead and contact me. (This week one of my clients received their 72x40 original giclee print. Sometimes, size matters.)

Please continue to follow my Daily Journey here. Tell others about it by copying Daily Journey as a link. Simply copy and past the html link and invite your friends. Visit the website and buy your favorite prints or better yet have your friends buy you a gift. If you have other questions feel free to contact me via my website.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Following the Crowd

Canine BFF's
Harding Trail
Palenville, NY

The one who follows the crowd will usually
get no further than the crowd.
The one who walks alone, is likely
to find himself in places no one
has ever been.
Albert Einstein

It's never been been an interest of mine to follow anyone other than my own ideology. There's never been a wake moment spent on feeling that I needed to be exactly where someone else had been. That simply is not me. It doesn't make me a better person or less to stand in the same place where someone greater than or less than me stood.

The same holds true with my photography. My images are not meant to replicate what I've seen but rather to move you to feel in my own voice and style. As a view you draw your own private conclusions. Your conclusions are private rendered by your own set of experiences.

Mimicking is not a form of intelligence, a parrot mimics. We seldom think that uttering "pretty bird" makes the parrot a genius. So I choose not to go the obvious places to indulge in my art or to simply mimic another photographer's style. I choose my own template and voice and it continues to evolve with my skill set. My art is personal and not mean to follow someone else's convention or standard.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sanity Check

Platte Clove and Pool
Saugerties, NY
"Never put the key to your happiness
in somebody else's pocket."

For nearly a week, I observed autumn in the Catskills, a place to view a glimpse of sanity not far from an insane world. I know to well how easy it is to get caught up in the "reality" of modern day living only to lose focus about why I live.

Life is about a living and the quiet enjoyment of very simple needs. Our industrialization and commercialization prods and suggests just the opposite; that life is about acquisition and retention of those acquisitions. Our life is spent both acquiring and sustaining (financing) our acquisitions and life styles. We worry endlessly about elements we cannot control but are taught that we can mitigate all risks and must plan accordingly.

How can we possibly mitigate the obvious that no one leaves this earth alive? If you don't know how long you will be here, then it behooves you to enjoy today and plan accordingly. Today is what you know. Time is the only possession you actually own right now this moment.

Outdoors, visual cues remind me of the beautiful world formed by colors, shapes, smells, sounds, and textures. A life with meaning is sensual. To experience life, you must have a capacity and tolerance for seduction. Seduction requires choice and consent. The life worth living is an open and blatant seduction of the senses. Living requires a willingness to engage and envelop yourself in seduction. It goes beyond voyeurism; it requires a participation beyond awareness. Living requires the cognitive capacity to enjoy all life which surrounds you. While it's different for everyone, for me it's the pleasure derived while being outdoors composing new images and observing the living cinema called nature.

Send print inquiries to: al@photographybyalhernandez.com


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Around the Bend

Around the Bend
Palenville, NY


I'm staying in a town, a throwback of the way life use to be, where the women are handsome, trees beautiful, and roads romantic. The type of place where on autumn days the past time is watching golden feathery leaf flakes make their way to the adorning quilted landscape beneath stately maples. A town whose past is not forgotten but whose future is questionable, where strangers are encouraged to pass through and greeted with one word responses until folks know they are not just visiting.

Images and scenes from some Norman Rockwell painting I suppose: a general store, boy scouts, and quaint white wooden colonial home styles graced with white picket fences and with women inside who still might knit and sew, married to husbands who still know how to fix things.

The general store and deli not only still serve creme sodas but also carries things like organic agave and gluten free pancakes mixes for New York City refugees. For those transitioning pilgrims the deli serves bountiful reuben sandwiches and if its Friday you might get to order a chocolate croissant but hurry they go fast.

The pace is slow but the minds are sharp as artists and intellectuals collude and converse at small tables suitable for great gossip and tales. Not sure if I qualify as a guest, a stranger passing through, or if I am considered someone that they would trust or a person of interest.

Someone asked how long I've been in Palenville and I can respond long enough to know that important stuff is posted on telephone poles and that Alfie Beers ran for highway superintendent a few years back, and the footbridge across the Kaaterskill Creek was wiped out by Irene (hurricane), that Laurie the big lady that lives in a "bungalow" at the bottom of Woodlane has a rescued blue healer that had wandered for days before she was captured. Long enough to be to tell you that Pat at the Circle W (the general store) makes the best lentil and buttersquash acorn soups and to die for chocolate croissants but they are served only on Fridays and on Sundays. And of course, there's Bob, the retired color lab guy twice divorced who hangs out every morning at the general store. Then there's now me. Hoping to find inspiration in a place that has stood still for a while.

Can't wait for my morning to begin all over again. Look forward to new walks and hikes along rushing creeks shared only with a few accompanied dogs. Look forward to be accepted not as someone just passing through but as someone "living" here. There's a life I've forgotten about somewhere between success and job loss.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Monsoon on the San Rafael Valley

The San Rafael Valley
Vacas Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Since most of you are scattered throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, I've made a clip highlighting my experience on the San Rafael Valley. Hope this conveys not only what I saw but also what I felt. In fact its what I feel each time regardless of the season. Please click on Monsoon on Lazy2. Give me your feedback, I would love to hear from you.

If you are interested in this slice of heaven and would like images from this series or from other recent posts please contact me at al@photographybyalhernandez.com.