Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take A Chance

Young Girl with iPhone on Airplane
En route to Charlotte, NC

Taking chances has never been my forte.  In fact, I've spent a lifetime averting and mitigating risks.  My finance training added even more risk aversion.  Yet life requires that we set aside our risk aversion and that we venture outside of our comfort zone.  We  try different techniques and solutions and observe their outcomes.

Somewhere in between infancy and adolescence we learn to become risk averse.  The baby that once bounced on his Pampers while attempting to walk learns to not take any steps without support.  Why did we abandon our curiosity?  What benefit does risk avoidance provide?  When did fear overshadow curiosity?

Photography is about taking chances.  Sometimes what appears to be a mistake turns into one of our better prints.  If we eliminate all of our mistakes, some prints might never materialize.  That possibility that we might miss printing a great image motivates  us to shoot and print.  Without trying we will never know.  Failure may simply be research and development for our next successful print.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making It Happen

A Moment
Big Mango Trading Company
Dallas, Tx

There are times that we don't know exactly where our talents lie.  It doesn't mean that they don't exist; it may simply be that they are dormant.  We go through life and something awakens our talent our passion.  We feel the excitement and the energy.  It's very hard to ignore it.  Physically and emotionally we can sense the change in our spirit.

There's no reason why we should apologize for these feelings.  In fact, what we lack the most in our lives is simply the ability to feel.  We medicate ourselves and seek alternative stimulants just to avoid feeling.  We've become numb over time; sublimating most of our feelings, including those of passion and joy.

For the past several months, I've been visiting my friends at Big Mango Trading Company.  The vignettes that Lori and Arron have created truly catch my attention.  As a photographer, I am inspired by their creations.  The feelings surface and I take time to shoot.  I am beckoned and I respond to the call.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Do You have a Cookie?

Someplace Different
Caddo Lake

Years ago when we moved from the Bronx to the small town of Winsted, CT, my mother says that in order to make friends, I would offer them an Oreo cookie.  I spoke limited amounts of English but I overcame that handicap with my bag of cookies.  It seems that cookies were a universal language that most in my neighborhood understood.

It was a life lesson, I never forgot through out my sales and business career.  If you want someone to listen to you and you don't speak their language, it helps to have a cookie.  I mean why should someone want to listen to you, if you have nothing to offer?

Now of course, I didn't spend most of my adult life with a pocket full of cookies.  I learned that a cookie could also be differentiating yourself by what you know.  I chose to become an interesting person.  I morphed myself into the cookie.  All I did was put myself in the shoes of my customer.  Why should they want to meet with you?  I gave myself permission to be the person I am today, cookies and all.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tried by Fire

We are routinely tried and tested by fire.  The ordeal of the fire makes us stronger.  We learn from the experience of the fire and through that experience we develop the skills necessary to handle the next fire.  At will, we recall how we handled the prior crisis.  Our resolve, like steel is tested and purified by the intense heat and experience.

During the past six months, I've been emotionally tested, as has my family, by the fire of unemployment and the bitterness and anxiety that follows the loss of income.  I've anguished about the lack of opportunities and available employment in a recessed economy.  All the while, I had to go through the process of discovering what I truly wanted to do.

Yesterday, did indeed turn out to be a great day.  By the end of the day, several opportunities formed before my eyes, unexpectedly, but all as a result of availing my spirit to the circumstances at hand.  In a matter of minutes, I could visualize that I could survive without a corporate master.  In fact, I could wean myself away from the corporate teat.  Despair turned into hope.  I recognized that I had past the trial and drew from my resources as had my father before me.    

Dad started over many times in his life.  He started all over after migrating from Puerto Rico in '49.  He had a three children to feed and another one would follow seven years later.  With no employment, limited language skills, my father became a skilled machinists.  Years later, in his forties, he again rediscovered himself after losing his job.  He became a baker and soon after, started his own bakery.

Dad was worked hard at his bakery with my mom.  They never had much but they had tons of faith and hope.  The bakery never really made them much money.  They sold it in their sixties only to get it back in their early seventies.  The next six years proved to be the most successful for my dad.  Not only did he sell his bakery at age 76, but that person was able to grow the business to 35 employees.  That person today has a thriving business because of his partnership with my dad.

In the final analysis, we are all survivors.  Like my Dad, I've been tested.  Dad understood his strengths and knew it was his responsibility to make it happen.  Finding our purpose and passion and moving ourselves in that direction are key.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Longhorn Calf in Meadow
Keller, Tx

Several days have passed since we've spoken.  I wish I could say that I've been overwhelmed with work and that it was my excuse.  Instead, I can only say that I've been underwhelmed and uninspired.   Since I've always criticized folks who spoke gibberish,  I've been reluctant to speak.  Nothing seemed to inspire me.

Today, my visual sense of inspiration resurrected itself of it's own accord.  Like Lazarus, it awoke from the dead.  With my iPhone in hand, I captured my friends the longhorns grazing in the meadow feasting on a morning breakfast of bermuda grass.

That was all I needed to get going again, a gentle prodding my old friend, photography.  My friend forced me to engage and create.   (There's nothing better that soothes my soul than the action of creativity.  I gather tremendous sense of worth when I create.)

Filling The Frame
As I waited and watched the cattle in the meadow, I noticed that they gradually mooved (pun intended) towards me.  Before I knew it, all sense of fear left the longhorns.  Their bashfulness vanished.  The herd was inches away from my iPhone and me.

I wonder how many opportunities I've missed by not being patient.  How many opportunities are simply inches away, if we only seek them.  It's important for me to avail myself to them.  Today, I am ready.

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Choice

Comfortable With My Thoughts
Taos, NM

Some think that I am too Pollyanna in my writing style and content.  Some feel that applies to my images.  Some would rather that I dig deep and go to the dark place that I dread of fear and despair.  To those I say, I choose to look for the hope and renewal in everything.  My nature is not optimistic and I fight to overcome that every day I breathe.  I do not see the world through rose tinted glasses, but I force myself to see what is good and beautiful.

The fact is that I talk and write my way through the despair and through the valleys.  More than losing my job, I dreaded the emotional torment that it would put me through.  This is the worse recession of my life and to lose a career at my age is extremely frightening.  Whole industries are built on this fear.  

I will share dark with you briefly and promise to see the light.  It's hard to valued  when you have been cast aside.  For nine years, I worked for a company that I felt would carry me over until my sixties.  Unfortunately, the ride came to an abrupt end at least seven  years shy.

They always touted what a valuable resource I was to them.  My language skills enabled me to transact business for them in Mexico and Puerto Rico and even Europe.  For the past two years, my finance skills provided them with incredible tangible savings of over $10 million dollars.  Even my photography skills were of value to them.  My images made it to last year's annual report and my photos still can be viewed on four floors at the corporate office and even in the president's personal office.

It all ended with the bad news given to me by someone much younger than me, with three years of tenure, and a "cheshire cat" like smile on her face.  "This is not personal",  she said.  It has nothing to do with you.  My finance job was given to someone without a finance degree.  Someone who hated finance and could not possibly understand the relationships, but she earned less money and that made her more valuable and in their eyes qualified. 

It pains me to think about it and rehash this broken record.  I would rather not share this with you because it has no value and meaning to you.  It will not uplift.  I know and believe in my heart that my pain is minimal and can be fixed.  There are other things that cannot be fixed.  It angers me that someone could cause this stress to my family.

The clock keeps ticking and I still feel that sense of inquietud, my sense of urgency, it haunts me daily.  I have a purpose and I have talents.  There are many things that I do well.  Yet as I look back, I am forced to look forward;  I know that somehow my journey is far from over.  There are many  things left to do.  Work is only one part of me.

Please don't ask me to go dark either with my images or my writing.  It's not where I want to be.   Fear is nothing more than ignorance.  I choose to not be ignorant.  It's a daily choice.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lost and Found

Discovering Self
San Francisco de Asis
Ranchos de Taos, NM

Some people find religion; they find "Jesus".  I've never fully been able to comprehend the notion.  I never knew that either religion or Jesus was ever lost.  What I know is this:  we do lose touch of who we are.  Things distract us along our journey.  Earning a living may very well keep us from enjoying life itself.

Self-discovery is an intimate personal journey.  It's not about "finding" but rather reacquainting oneself with yourself.  Do you know what you like and do you accept it?  Do you ignore those feelings of joy, sorrow, or even anger?  Do you accept those feelings as being part of who you are?   Do understand your creativity and uniqueness?  Do you value it?

The awareness that comes with self-discovery enables you to make smoother transitions in your life as you change and life changes.  You cope and you comprehend those intangible but very real feelings.  They are a part of you.  You learn to deal with and manage your feelings.

During this process, I have found that there are many passions in my life.  I enjoy the companionship and friendship of my wife, Kim.  I enjoy my grown up children.  I also enjoy my friendships, old and new.  Of course I truly enjoy my photography, talking with people, and learning from them.  These traits and passions are all part of me and I choose to photograph and write about them.   The mixture of this chemistry is what makes me uniquely me.  It's uniquely mine.

I've not lost anything over the years in fact I've gained.  A more accurate statement for me is that I've chosen to reacquaint myself with what I like and who I really am.  There's more to me than meets the eye and that my camera lens can capture.  The speed of how I capture it really does not matter.  It simply is more important for me to capture it, embrace it, and harness the energy that is within.  Go through the exercise.  You will be pleasantly surprised.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Can You Come Out and Play?

Winds of Change
Colorado City, TX

A prophet once spoke and said:  "Behold I stand before the door and knock."  I am not sure if his next words were "can you come out and play?"  They could have been?

For the past six months,  I've been looking for those that want to come out and play.  There's a wonderful world to enjoy and explore.  There have to be many like me who have spent a life time earning but spending only several days a year enjoying it.

My journey is not solely personal.  I recognize that I meet many people along the way.  We share stories and experiences.  We foster thought and spread our hope and dreams.  Yes, life is not easy and we have some trying times along the way.  Yet our attitude and our resolve makes the difference between joy and despair.

Personally, I've experienced this extreme roller coaster ride since the end of my nine year stint with Commercial Metals Company.  Although, I never confessed it, the velocity of change in that company had taken its toll on me and my cohorts.  Over two thousand have been let go.  Most of these served  tenures longer than me.  It was not unusual for people with over twenty years of company experience laid off.

I made a very conscious choice to enjoy my time off while looking and studying what I would do next.  Some think I am crazy for not having an extreme sense of urgency.   Do not judge me.  I do not want to be going through this every year.  My best option, may very well be that I learn to be self-sufficient.  Photography will be part of my trade, but it will not be my only source of revenue.  Yet photography and writing are things that I have to do.  It's my nature and part of my passion.

In the mean time, I recognize that I have a certain amount of frames left in me to shoot.  There may come a time, as I mature, that I may not physically be able to do so.  Time is more valuable to me than just money. I can't buy time.

Yes, I've taken some chances because I know that even if I replace a job, it will take time.  Yet time the time ahead of me is less than the time behind me.  If that is in fact so, then it behooves me to practice my passion as much as I can; if not, it becomes time foregone.  

My question to myself and to my friends on whose doors I knock is simply this:  What are you waiting for?  The notion that you are going to enjoy everything once you retire is simply ludicrous.  My friends you will be older!!!!  Our generation needs to enjoy and live now.  It's not crazy.  It just makes good sense.  We will find ways to take care of ourselves with or without a corporation.

So I keep knocking at your door....like a good salesman and a great friend.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Get Rid Of: I and Why

Satori Moment

It amazes me where and how I find material to write.  For me it's a matter of keeping my eyes and ears open and my mind free from clutter and noise.  I met an interesting older (seasoned) gentleman at the coffee shop.  He joined in on the conversation a friend of mine and I were having.  His advice to me was very simple and direct.  He looked at me squarely in the eyes smiling the whole time and said "get rid of these two words:  I and why."

Certainly this was an omen.  My friend and I had just finished discussing how we needed to let go of our egos.  That it meant to stop thinking that everything revolves around us.  In order to do that we needed to take ourselves out of the equation.  To that extent, we had the "I" portion of the formula covered.

Now the "why, totally slipped my grasp.  It's simplicity amazed me.  We need to transition ourselves from why something happens to acceptance.  We cope and deal with the situation at hand.  Good God almighty, why didn't I understand this six months ago?

I get it now.  We can create our own happiness when we let go of our ego and learn acceptance of what is happening all around us.  If we accept that life is changing and we are changing and that we will eventually will die; life becomes less stressful.  We cope and deal with the situation at hand.   It's at that point that we can enjoy just being and living.  

Where was this shaman six months ago?  Would have I listened?  I am absolutely overwhelmed by such a simple thought.  It's as if a complicated algebraic formula had just been explained to me.  The light bulb certainly turned on today.  This was the best sermon I have ever heard and it was uttered in less than a minute.  The journey can be smoother when we forget that it's not just happening to us and when we learn to accept the changes that life brings.  We don't have to like them.  Truly an epiphany today, my own Satori moment.

My Shortcomings

My Face Doesn't Fit on a Dollar Bill

Some people get encouragement when they are younger.  I can't say that I always did.  My favorite uncle was my best ally but he was also brutally honest.  I was a chubby kid growing up and Uncle Louie held no punches.  One day he said to me, "You could never be president."  My ego got deflated but I was a glutton for more punishment and pressed further.  "Why?"  I asked and he responded.  "Your face could never fit on a dollar bill."

Just like that my whole political future was taken away from me at the age of ten.  Can you imagine if that had been said to Obama?  "Son, your ears are too big and unless we have Mickey Mouse Money, you aren't going to make it."

My mentor, my handsome uncle's words crushed me.  I believed everything he told me.  It was okay though, a little mean, but ok.  He knew that I would be successful and that I was smart enough to overcome the adversity of discrimination.  In time, I grew to learn to be different with my words and my creativity.

My uncle's words were prophetic.  I never made it to President of the United States or even to president of a major corporation.   If I had, I wouldn't have experienced the full and interesting life that I have already lived.  I can't help but wonder though;  just, what if, my face got slimmer?  My life is not over yet!!!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Window in Summertime
Santa Rosa, NM

Took a few days off from my blogging.  It seems that the Texas heat has gotten to me.  It has stifled my creativity and all I seem to want is A/C and shade.   August days are really meant to just take it easy.  Tunes flash through my mind like Gershwin's "Summertime" or perhaps not as famous Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime".

When I think of childhood summertime's,  all that comes to mind is picture of me when I was about eight or ten years hugging my closest friend and next door neighbor Susan.  I still remember that she had handful of red licorice in her hand as she posed for the picture her mother took of us.  We were in the middle of our long summer.  Each day we played , road our bikes all over, or just watched her groom her mutt and always pregnant dog Hobo.  We were always sweaty, enthusiastic, and exhausted by the end of each day.  We spent our days sitting on the porch and staring from our hill perch at the town below.

Those were happy days.  The innocence of childhood was splendid.  We were like brother and sister.  Like a big brother, I always looked after her and cringed when she would get yelled at needlessly.  She was my pal until adolescence and high school got in the way.

Such a good friend.  As I got older and had a family of my own, I never could turn down my kids petitions for animals:  dogs, cats, and even a goat.  The reason was simple:  I recall how much Susan loved that yellow dog, Hobo.   Even though I never was a pet fanicer, I could not forget the joy and the bond shared between Hobo and Susan.  It was easy to reminisce and put myself in their shoes.
Store Front on Old Route 66
Santa Rosa, NM

It's been awfully hot here.  It's much easier for me to reminisce than to create some new memories today.  Then again, that's not all that bad.  I've got to decide if I will play some more Mungo Jerry or listen to Gershwin.  It's summertime either way.  I can enjoy both and think about quieter less stressful times.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Winds of Change

Windmills Outside of Colorado City, Tx

Dotting the Texas panhandle to the outskirts of Colorado City and Abilene, are towering windmills harnessing wind energy.  From the high plateaus to the plains, we see the coexistence of cattle, oil wells, and windmills.  Texas is again diversifying its sources of income led by oilman T.Boone Pickens.

These gentle giants are our future:  clean reliable and renewable sources of energy.  They may not be pretty but they sure hurt us less than an offshore oil spill.  Our consumption of energy carries with it real costs.  In the case of hydrocarbons these costs can be measured both by global warming, pollution, and the wars we fight to maintain the flow of energy.

If anything this recession has proven is that we can't consume beyond our means and the world does not want to pick up our tab.  My generation forgot the energy crisis of the 70's and contributed to the conspicuous consumption of the past two decades.  We cannot sustain it;  the world is competing for those same resources at an accelerated pace.  Regardless, it will no longer be cheap.  We may not like that fact but we do need to address it.  Unless we are prepared to sacrifice our sons and daughters to more skirmishes abroad, we will need to find both alternative and renewable energy sources.

Change is literally in the air.  We need to harness it's energy.  In the mean time, we should learn to consume less.  Our suburban lifestyle and the automobile are the single largest threat to our energy supplies.  We need to change how and where we live.  The logistics of living will be more important in the near future.  We should learn from our friends in Europe.  It's not that difficult to consume less.  We just need to allow free markets to modify our consumption.  High prices modify behaviors quickly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Window Panes of Old Abandoned Gas Station
Melrose, NM

An artist once told me that our eyes are drawn to windows and openings.  Our heart is curious about the possibilities.  All we want is simply a chance, an opportunity to explore.

Life is full of doors and windows.  Learning to find the ones that are open is a life long process.  Our soul continues to seek them as long as we reman curious.

An Open Window
Taos, NM
There are no shut doors and permanently closed windows.  At some point, they will open up again.  That's their destiny.  That's their purpose.  As I contemplate today about all the closed doors and windows of opportunity, I remind myself how they will in time open again.  

We will find many doors and windows along our journey.  Keep in mind that closed ones will open.  Be patient and keep looking for them.  There purpose is to open and close; your purpose is to find them.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hail Mary

"Hail Mary Full of Grace;
Blessed Art Thou Among Women"

In order to capture some soft light, I had to go early to San Francisco de Assis church in Ranchos de Taos, NM.  It truly became spiritual as I chose to shoot the details of the statues in the courtyard jardin entrance to the church.  Although I am not a Catholic, I was in awe of these statues and their serene countenances.  These images were made to make us feel a peace outside of ourselves.

As you study these images, you can begin to comprehend the belief that God is watching us "from a distance".   How an artist conveys this is still beyond me.  I know that the key is to find subjects that actually experience this peace so that he can interpret the image.

Today, I really don't have much to say.  I would rather simply share these images with you.  May you find peace in my interpretation of these images.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ranchos de Taos: San Francisco de Asis

San Francisco de Asis
Ranchos de Taos, NM

As part of my photographic pilgrimage, I elected to find my way to Taos, a place that I had heard of but never seen.  Taos itself was a bit to touristy for me.  Most of the fun was in getting there through the mountains, prairies, and grasslands of northeastern New Mexico.  Unfortunately, by the time I reached Taos, I was completely exhausted.  My sleep deprivation began to catch up with me.  I found myself not very inspired.

The next morning I packed early and headed back south.  Just on the outskirts of town I found the church made famous by Georia O'Keefe, San Francisco de Asis.  The structure is relatively small but its majesty is incredible.  The soft seductive lines and curves of the adobe structure are sensuous at all times of day.  It is a classical study of contrast and color.  You truly feel the reverence of the church and the parishioners who each year re-mud the exterior walls by hand.  The parishioners heal the church and it in turn heals them throughout the year.    There is a relationship between soul and structure.  An opportunity for both spiritual and physical renewal.

Each time I have an opportunity to capture one of these moments, I truly want to ring a bell or use a hammer or make some kind of noise.  Something that awakens you to the beauty that you might be missing.  If, only, "If I had a hammer."  Hopefully, my images make you feel the urgency that I feel.  I don't want to miss out and I don't think you should either.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Moonrise Over Hadley, Tx

It just so happened that I glanced into my rearview mirror and saw this magnificent moonrise over the highway on my way to Amarillo.  I pulled over on the side of the road, popped the trunk, and reached in for my camera gear.  I shot a few frames while the moon was still low over the horizon.

Inspiration comes in many forms, I realized that I had just casted my shot for the next day.  I was headed to Palo Duro canyon.  My new goal was to shoot a full moon over Palo Duro.  Quite the contrast for someone who didn't even know where he was headed  at the onset of the trip.

Things unfold as we take our journey.  We don't know the outcome and we don't necessarily know our destiny.  The most important thing is that we be prepared to capture what the journey brings.  This attitude grants us the opportunity to experience the joy that the journey provides.  Each day brings us something that the prior day may have only given us a preview.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

End Of The Road

Endless Road?

I travelled down dusty roads in the Texas "Panhandle" that I thought had no end.  All roads have a beginning and ending.  Our journey started when we were born and it will end when we die.  There is so much to experience in between beginning and ending!

On this past trip, I literally reached the end of some roads and the beginning of others.  I travelled on highway 120 in New Mexico on my way to Taos.  Someone forgot to tell Mapquest that the road ends and turns unpaved up into the mountains.  Unfortunately, I did not have a four wheel drive vehicle and I turned around and found another way to Taos, around the mountains.  The shortcut I thought I had found proved to be longer than what I had planned.

The are times we come to the end of the road.  We forge new roads like the Roman proverb:  "where there is no way, we will either find one or build one."   The journey leads us down many paths.   Necessity dictates that we find our own way.  There's too much opportunity ahead between beginning and ending.  I don't want to miss out.