Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Morning Rays

Chipinque Rays
Monterrey,NL, Mexico

A friend of mine from Hawaii purchased this print from me yesterday. Although I have many to choose from, she was drawn to this one. I had forgotten about this image but it was the last time that I got to climb in Chipinque park in Monterrey, Mexico. I always enjoyed my morning hikes up the mountain before the start of my business day.

The morning that I shot this, I found exactly what I was looking for, rays of hope. Through the morning fog, the rays cut their way to illuminate the journey path that lied in front of me. Hope is present when you least expect it. However, if you don't look up from your path in front of you, you will never see it's rays.

You and I, we still have some miles to climb and walk, but down the road and perhaps the next bend these rays are going to appear. I am open and ready to receive them. It's a rocky road but there's so much to see and learn along this journey. It makes it all worthwhile.

By the way, if you see some prints that you would enjoy for your home or office, all of my Daily Journey prints are for sale. There's a story behind each of them. No photos were taken at random.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Take It Easy

Chihuahua: Taking It Easy
Taos, NM

It took me 2,200 miles by car and one song to get it, but I think I understand now what I am suppose to do. "Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy."  I don't know how many times I had heard that song Take It Easy by the Eagles but this time, that particular phrase took a hold of me like the spirit in a Pentecostal revival service. 

For much of my trip, my wheels kept turning in my head and they blocked me from just enjoying all of the splendor. My wife, Kim, would nudge me to see where my mind was at. I couldn't stop thinking about all that was happening. The noise of my own wheels were keeping me from enjoying what was in plain view.

Look, I don't portend to know the future or how all of this will work out. I know I need to lighten up and just go with the flow. It's a lot easier than fighting the current all of the time. This is not about giving up but rather its about giving yourself a chance to just be. In time, it will all work out. You just have to learn to Take It Easy sometimes.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Palo Duro Canyon

Nature provides us the opportunity to enjoy each moment it brings.  Learning to live in the moment requires patience. As much as I try to plan for the future, I understand the differences between planning, controlling, and enjoying.

Today is the only day I have.  I can't live in the past and while I can plan in the future, I can't live in it.  Today, right now, is the only moment I can enjoy. The universe keeps reminding me of this fact. In order to enjoy my life fully, I need to enjoy right now. How many times I have heard this: "live in the now".

Once you have experienced the mountain tops and the brims of canyons or the vast expanses of the deserts, you can learn to appreciate the satisfaction that now brings. Now offers you the perspective of what is immediately at hand. It is real and tangible everything else either may not happen or already has happened and is in the past. You can't go back, you can only move forward.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

On Top of the World

On Top of the World
Rocky Mountain National Park

Yesterday Kim and I spent most of the day traversing through the winding roads of Rocky Mountain National Park.  As we climbed the roads in our vehicle we noticed the lack of guard rails. Our self preservation instincts kicked in as we navigated the winding roads. When we approached the summit, we knew the trip was worthwhile.

As we got out of the car, and looked over the expanse panorama, we felt as if we were on top of the world. There's no other experience like this. Its here that clouds form and rain succumbs to gravity. Lightning strikes here scare even the bravest. Nature reminds that it is greater than us.

The experience was a bit different this time than our previous trips to the park. Many of the beautiful pine trees throughout the park had been killed by the combined effects of global warming, a ten year drought, and the mountain pine beetle.  One whole side of the park has nothing but dried pine trees.  For those that remain skeptical about global warming like Gov. Rick Perry, I suggest they see first hand the damage to our forests. Fortunately, mother nature will try to replace the pines, first with aspens and then eventually in time new pine seedlings will tower over the aspens once again.  In the mean time, take a hard look at the pines because we are losing them quickly at our national park.

This past year both metaphorically and physically, I've been both on top of the world and the lowest point Death Valley. It seems that I learned from both. Both are a part of life and both have have wonderful views along the way. It's important to keep both your heart and your eyes wide open along the journey.

Friday, August 19, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Cadillac Ranch
Amarillo, TX

Sometimes you get a tune in your head and you just can't shake it.  The Rolling Stones "You can't always get what you want" keeps running over and over in my head today. For a generation that grew up on self gratification the message is somewhat odd to hear.

Buddhist believe that it is desire and self that are the impediments to personal happiness. I believe that their is some truth behind that belief. If we let go, we in fact improve our chances of being ok with ourselves.  This belief was perpetuated also by Henry David Thoreau. He stressed the value of simplicity and getting rid of what owns you.

For a nation of consumers this message is at odds with the billions spent on advertising. We pin our happiness on obtaining more not less. Transportation is not transportation but rather a means of self expression. It's interesting to note that whichever vehicle brand you choose, it will eventually be shredded in less than five minutes.  Ironically, the scrap price will be about the same regardless of which brand you choose.

All of this should give you pause. What we think has value may have very little value and may be the impediment to your happiness. Keep it simple and see what happens.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Get On the Bus

Abandoned Bus Trolley
Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY

New Yorkers tend to be direct and to the point. Hesitation for a New Yorker means a loss opportunity. In seconds, a cab, a bus, or subway could be filled and you might have to wait for the next one. Time is precious for New Yorkers. You simply keep pace with everything around you if not you will get trampled. You move.

A friend of mine shared his New York wisdom with me.  "Hey, you can't get there if you are not on the bus." That made an awful lot of common sense to me. You can't get there if you don't make the effort.  You have to start somewhere.

Years ago, I watched the tail end of an iron man competition. The camera focus was on one man. The man was was several yards from the finish line but his body was completely depleted of energy.  He collapsed. Hardly a moment passed and he tried to get up again and run, but he could not. He tried again, this time he tried to walk to the finish line, but his legs were to wobbly. He knew he couldn't run to finish line and he new he couldn't walk. As the camera fixated more on the man, an incredible thing happened. The man with the little energy he had left, began to crawl to the finish line. He finished his race.

This happened nearly thirty years ago. I know its something that not only I have remember: If you can't run, you can walk, and if you can't walk, you can always crawl to the finish line.  "You can't get there, Al, if you aren't on the bus." There's nothing that precludes me from at least crawling, I want to finish.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Carpe Diem

Taking It In
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mx

It's been a year since I last set foot in San Miguel de Allende. It's a place that I enjoy for a myriad of reasons. San Miguel for me is a transcendental place. An oasis in the high desert for all of my senses. It provides me the fortune of not thinking and simply enjoying everything and everyone around me.

Whether I am sitting at the plaza waiting for the church bells to ring or for passersby to join me underneath the full shade of ficus trees, I feel at home. I take it all in the simple joy of watching life. The mornings I find full of the awakening sounds of street sweepers, cooing pigeons, and the aroma of coffee in the square. Usually, I find a spot in a nearby cafe, sit and gaze while I sip infinite amounts of coffee.  I repeat the ritual every day as long as I am there as if it were mass.

Sitting is not the best activity in San Miguel but it deafens the noises I have grown accustomed to north of the border. The best activity is simply walking. Walking is the preferred mode of transportation. You actually get to see more on foot. Each street has special surprises. San Miguel is a place to keep your eyes wide open. You don't want to miss anything at any time. The treasures are available everywhere.


The Joint: Burgers and Beer
Fort Worth, TX

Happiness is nothing more and nothing less than a series of memorable moments strung together over life. The impressionist artist we so fondly we recall captured life in detail with snippet scenes. Moments that the viewer would relate to, something familiar cast in an extraordinary way.

Deep down inside of me, that's really who I am. I have something I want to say. My current situation bogs me down and impedes my voice. The mundane intrigues me because if I take it a part I know I can find something beautiful in its composition. Light, shadows, color, objects, people, and textures each contribute to the image like ingredients and seasoning to chicken soup. Without these ingredients our soup would be bland.

This much I know, I have to keep looking and archiving those snippets to string together my own happiness. For what it's worth, I do try to practice what I preach. I choose to share the sojourn experience with you.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Happiness is: Simple Pleasures

Simple Pleasures: Nathan's Hot Dog
Coney Island, NY

All kinds of living has gone on this week and I am afraid that I've missed a good chunk of it.  This morning, I forced myself to listen to the much needed rain falling outside. I enjoyed listening to rhythms on my skylight as I sipped my coffee while searching and musing for both words, images, and songs that described what I was looking to explain.  You see despite my melancholy and disappointment I know that real happiness comes in very small packages wrapped in simple pleasures. That has always been true.

Take A Look
Coney Island, NY
A friend of mine who has had a life filled with American musical history that could fill a whole section in the Smithsonian, reminds me of the very small treasures he missed out on as a child.  He has spent a great deal of time archiving some of those moments that simply were not there as child.  Much to my surprise there was nothing complicated or expensive missing.  In fact, it was just some very simple things.  Things as simple as amusement rides and cotton candy,bicycles and tricycles.

He has tried to point out to me that my happiness is really not a function of what I have but rather of what I see and can experience and enjoy today.  This is difficult for me to grasp.  I've spent a lifetime planning for the future and working on achieving and accumulating more.

So today, I want to share these images and thoughts with you.  We really don't need more. Stuff doesn't make you happier, but damn a snow cone in the middle of a parched summer sure can do the trick.  I don't particularly like the circumstances under which I am having to learn all of this. Regardless,it's a lesson the universe is trying to teach me. Every day I resist it because I fear that I will stop trying. Resistance,however,impedes my happiness.  

It's hard to believe that Mom died almost a month ago.  As heartless as it sounds, I realize that life goes on. It's kind of catchy if you think about it.  Life is simple and life goes on.  Maybe John Mellencamp was on to something when he sang and wrote Jack and Diane. I really don't want to miss out on the simple pleasures any more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Happiness Together:  Erik and Kalee Wulfers

Last Friday, I had the unique pleasure of photographing a memory for two friends deeply and obviously in love. Although I dreaded the idea of shooting during the worst heat wave in Texas since 1980, my attitude changed as I got caught up in capturing the moment and emotion of the day.

Emotions of the Moment
Everyone was happy to witness this union of two special adults and their combined families. I looked around and tried to work quickly. Looking for just the right fraction of seconds to archive. I too was witnessing something extraordinary. At a time filled with self indulgence and pessimism these people surrounded themselves with people like themselves who shared their hope and optimism.  

Truthfully, although I can be gregarious, I don't do well in large crowds and parties.  However this was different.  I enjoyed every frame and every word I heard these two speak.  In addition I enjoyed their children.  

Happiness simply happens as an expression of joy.  It is there always underneath the surface sometimes blocked by what is going around us. People like me, need to be reminded and cajoled about what they experience every day. Happiness is theirs to harvest.

My family brings me happiness. My friends bring happiness too and always just in time. Our dog Buckley brings me happiness. As a photographer, I want to keep capturing those images one frame at a time, in my own voice. I am truly grateful to all those who remind me that happiness is all around me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Works of Mercy

San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mx

We hand folks over to God's mercy, and show none ourselves. 
George Eliot

Most recently, the American people were subjected to needless stress by the egos and blind ideologies of their Congressmen. Those elected to protect the people and the US Constitution instead saw fit to seize the bully pulpit to extol the views of their corporate benefactors. In the final analysis, none of us was in the equation.  You see most of us do not fit in to that cozy five percent who are extremely wealthy and choose not to pay more taxes.  The vary same responsible for the global financial disaster predicated on greed's cousin avarice do not want to share the burden of the wars and financial ruin they precipitated.  It's not a pleasant reflection on our society and government.

Today, however, I experienced a glimmer of hope. As I was standing in the express grocery lane, I saw something unusual; it gave my jaded heart hope and made me fight back tears.  There I was standing in line with only two items, sponges, and the lady in front of me had many items including a bouquet of flowers.  In my mind she was slowing up the process; I was indignant and impatient.  

There had to be a reason for all of this. Then I started to put the pieces together. On the other side of her, past the cashier loading up their cart was a middle aged lady in a wheel chair, her child, and her husband helping her.  The lady in front of me swiped her debit card but I noticed that it was not for her own bill.  She was paying for the groceries of this needy couple.

When I got to the cashier, I asked:  "Did that lady, just pay the groceries for those folks?"

"Yes", the cashier from India responded.  She added, "that lady doesn't even know them."  "God will bless this lady many times over."

There's something fundamentally wrong with a government that chooses not to demonstrate mercy towards its own people.  However, there is something truly right about what I witnessed today.  I wish I could say that the story ended at the store, but it didn't.  As I walked out, I saw the unidentified lady approach the couple again and gave them her bouquet of flowers she had intended for herself.

What would happen if each of us took it upon himself/herself to engage in random acts of mercy?  How would this change your perception of our world? What if you started to do more than just what was expected of you? What would happen if you actually demonstrated that you cared rather than just say I am sorry? Actions really do speak louder than words.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Change of Perspective

Ranchos Church
Taos, NM

One of my photography mentors reminds me to focus on perspective. By studying perspective, I can change my version of the image while still viewing the same image that someone else has shot. Perspective becomes a tool that I can use to distort and interpret my particular view of an image. None of us views exactly the same image in the same way.

Our own experiences, past and present, enable us to weave a unique image capture of reality according to our journey. As we study the great art masters like Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, Manet, and Matisse; we see how emotion influences the final image. Artists rely on that sense as another color on their palette. They dip into it and mix it readily with color. The brush stroke provides the mood and tempers the image.

We cannot escape emotion nor should we shun it. Emotion good or bad can be a source of fantastic art.  Instead of shunning it, we should embrace it as part of our identity. Our lives can be enriched by what we feel and sense if we learn how to harness its unique energy.