Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coach

Todd Dodge
Head Coach
Westlake High School
Autstin, TX

Had an opportunity to take a few snaps of coach Todd Dodge now head coach for Westlake High School in Austin, TX. My neighbor Greg Hoy has been doing some freelance journalism and he invited me to photograph the piece. 

Todd Dodge, Chase Hargis, and Brandon Murdock
Since Greg had already written the piece he filled me in on Todd's story on our four hour trek to Austin. Greg said that that the former Southlake Carrol coach would return home on August 29th (his first game as head coach of Westlake) to play against Southlake and that the story would be featured in "Southlake Style" magazine in September. In fact, the coach and two of his former Southlake players and now assistant coaches would be coming home too.

With a sketch of the story in mind and knowing that we would be pressed for time; I tried to think of the best ways to tell the story. It was almost noon and the worst possible time of day to shoot outdoors and shooting indoors was not even a viable option. As we rolled in to the parking lot, I spotted an interesting hallway with reflective light that could help me. So I started to think of groups and a story: coach and prodigies.

"Oh don't forget to tie into his father-in-law's story too." Greg Added. Lots of work for two
Ebby Neptune Field
guys who 
are allegedly out of work, I thought. Over the hill and over qualified my ass; I smiled as I quickly rehearsed and choreographed what I was going to do.

Tell the story Al with the photo's. Stay true to the assignment. Get it done quickly without interrupting their first day on the job. Pick the lenses and locations. Use depth of field. Keep subjects out of the sun. Make the locations work for you. Try to be creative. 

This is sure a hell of a lot different than my corporate career and decades of cajoling clients to buy and or sell to me. Think quickly on your feet Al. Be precise and get it right the first time. There will be no do over. Tell the story. Get it done. 

Got it all done. Overcame my trepidations as I remembered that in Texas football is a religion. In Texas, stadiums are churches that all Texans want to attend and partake in holy communion.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbye Friend

Trusted Friend
"Buckley"
2001-2014

We were in Oahu, HI when we got the news that our son Steve had adopted a blue healer whom he named Buckley. Given that our son was alone back home and eighteen, we were relieved that in our absence and his loneliness he had not eloped and gotten married!

The cute little puppy was quite entertaining. He had a very distinctive walk but even more pronounced were his beautiful markings and his fur coat. He was discrete with his toilet habits and thanks to his dingo heritage would find the high grass to do his business.

As he grew older his true instincts took over. He was a cattle dog by nature who spent the remainder of his life herding his master, Steven and family surrogates, Kim, Paw Paw, and myself. We enjoyed him except for the fact that out of sheer instinct he would nip at your heals if he felt that you were encroaching on his turf.

It was that habit which actually created a bond between the nipper and me. You see when everyone else was gone and we were exhausted from playing an indefinite game of fetch the ball, we would talk. I would look at him he with the silver coat and me with the silver goatee. We had things in common besides the obvious silver exchange, he like me nipped at people but meant no real harm. If you step out of line we both were likely to nip at your heals, say our piece, not break any skin, and set you on your way.

It's befitting to pay tribute to such a noble family friend, Buckley. He was a steadfast friend and true to his master, Steve. The most intelligent dog we've ever had and a companion, a cantankerous curmudgeon, and a distant cousin. Suffer no more pal, you've been a "good boy".


Monday, July 21, 2014

Not So Common

Common Sotol
Pima Canyon
Tucson, AZ

For the great part of nearly two decades, I've been fascinated by the high desert ranging from San Miguel de Allende, GTO, MX to Tucson, AZ. The Sonoran desert has had its own special allure. The shapes of both mountains and sparse vegetation made me appreciate the order that dots it. The not so barren desert and sustains life and at the appropriate time, the desert blooms and serenades us with flowers for the eyes and nourishment for pollen seeking hummingbirds.

For months on my hikes, I walked by the "common sotol". It's symmetry  caught my attention along with the tall pipe like stalk which holds its bloom at some point after spring. The desert utilizes shapes from both planes and terrain as paint to a canvas. You can't help but notice the contrast against the sparse vegetation.

The image you see above is really not above its color but rather about the shape. I deliberately inverted the image to a negative like quality, and rendered it in black and white. The results yielded the real reason my eye was drawn to it. The light and the detail of the symmetric plant withstand my manipulation.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

La Volada

Sabino Canyon Oasis
Tucson, AZ

"I had to live in the desert
before I could understand
the full value of grass in a green ditch.
Ella Maillart

Today is a day that I've been long on advice. For my own benefit, I've decided to jot down some of my euphoric experiences that I witnessed during my desert exile. At first it was extremely arduous and lonely. I complained about my drama: the ordeal of broken job promises on my very first day. The idea of having to take a position far away from friends and family was not what I had envisioned. In my mind the job was supposed to be in Dallas. It wasn't.

Saguaro With Ample Breasts
Sabino Canyon
It took me a while but after many lonely nights and lonely days of solitude, I discovered why I was there. It gave me an opportunity to find myself in the canyons and mountains of Tucson and its outlying areas. So I began to hike each day. On weekends, when I had more time to kill, I hiked endlessly for nearly five hours on a Saturday or on a Sunday.

Some asked me if I minded being alone. The truth was that I found companionship in the inanimate bosom of canyons and the shapeliness of saguaro cactus dotting the mountains during my hikes. It was as if I had found my own non human companion.

My relationship was only consummated by my eyes and the explosive images that they beheld during long sessions of impassioned lustful hiking always wanting to reach my summit. There were times when it seemed that every object which appeared to me exposed itself sensuously seducing me with siren like melodies arousing all of my senses. I keenly became aware of my place in the universe and I  enjoyed my new found organic and earthy sensuality. My desire to acquaint myself with my passion became emotionally insatiable. At times, I found I could not stop even when I was exhausted by my sustained emotionally driven hikes.

By the time I reached my summit(s),  I was exhausted from my interludes and foreplay and the visual stimulation prior to reaching my summit(s). While the treks up were arduous coming down them
Peson de Pima Canyon
Tucson, AZ
were equally treacherous as exhaustion and weakened limbs made my body uncooperative and unsteady. My body was relaxed and tired. On the way down, I would consider my good fortune of finding such an accommodating mistress that would accept me and still leave me with more desire than what I had originally started out with. I found my purpose and to some extent my happiness in the shapes and forms of nothing, nothing but desert.

Perhaps it takes losing everything to find the basics of life and to restore passion and purpose into your life. What if what we thought we wanted fails to provide for us emotionally or transcendentally? What if what is required of us is to be willing to change or to accept change? What if instead of changing everything else, its really you who has to change inside? Just what if?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Too Long and Too Hot

Life atop the Kaaterskills
Near Palenville, NY


Look deep into nature,
and then you will
understand everything better.

Albert Enstein

It's been a while since I've penned a few lines of thought. Please don't confuse the absence with lack of thought. Life has gotten inexplicably more complicated in the process to simplify. Just as I had put together the financial pieces of my last work hiatus; another interruption/inconvenience surfaced.

This time, there's no bitterness on my part and my anxiety is a bit less. I've taken the necessary steps to get my networking in place with friends, LinkedIn, and industry specific headhunters, etc. Most importantly each day I wrestle with myself to stay positive and to dwell on what I can do and all the things that I learned from my last affliction. The most important thing is to do and live each day fully regardless of my career absence. My job is to live.

It may very well be that I will have to work again on my creative side or perhaps find several jobs that fulfill me. Truthfully, there are many things I have mastered over the years among them photography and my ability to connect with people. In fact some of you reading my words today are folks I've never met. We have connected simply because we are on parallel journeys and of course similar destinations but scheduled to arrive at different times. Passengers on a train called time and on  a revolving and circular track called earth. It's a finite journey laden with infinite possibilities.

So today, I write simply because its time to. It's also too damn hot outside and so I thought I would remember a cool damp autumn day in the Catskills. It's good to draw from the well of pleasant experiences. If you hadn't have enough of them you might spend your time filling up your reservoirs for those days when you are parched and thirst to recall a memory or two.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life in the Rough

A Noble Friend
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

When things get a little rough, I like to think about all of my good memories. Truly have many fond ones of Tucson and the surrounding area south and east of it. Was always looking for adventure and most of the time wasn't disappointed. Provided the drama required to make my life meaningful and stimulating.

Horsing Around
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
Instead of sitting on the sidelines or watching it unfold for me before a television, I had the pleasure of participating in my own reality show filled with people and places. For that experience I am unapologetic. To enjoy your life and find your happy place, you have to be willing to get off of your ass take chances, engage, participate, and live.

Honestly, if you chose to do nothing you have no basis to complain about your life. There's nothing we can do about yesterday, but we can and should simply enjoy today before tomorrow or it too will become yesterday.

Yes it's great to be philosophical. However, if I had to choose, I would choose to experience rather than muse about what once was or what could be. Doing and achieving are part of living. The rest I leave to philosophers and historians and accountants.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Moment in the San Rafael: A Summer Rain

San Rafael Rain Storm
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
"An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day."
Henry David Thoreau
The distances and landscapes of the Sonoran desert of south east Arizona catch my attention; it's panoramas leave me breathless and eager to be free from all the thoughts which rein me back and keep me from enjoying the moment.

What I feel is the desire to be a part of that nature and just exist and enjoy. If I was a hawk, I would want to catch a lucky thermal and soar above the mountains, over the expansive grasslands, and occasionally swoop down to catch my prey or maybe just swoop for the fun of it. There's a feeling inside of me that simply does not want to care about anything but just be.

They say that indigenous people that inhabited our country believed that the land was not theirs to own but rather theirs to share. Those views can easily be understood standing out in the grasslands of the San Rafael Valley near Patagonia, AZ.

Take a look at the rains onset over the mountains and onto the grasslands. It's the monsoon time in the San Rafael Valley. Time for things to green up and time for the spirit to refresh. This morning I want to be refreshed by the moment and rains of the San Rafael.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson