Saturday, June 30, 2012

Daily Journey Revisited

Moon Over Hadley
Near Hadley, Tx

It's been an agonizing two years on this journey of self-discovery. Can't say I truly know where it will lead other than the obvious, none of us actually leave this world alive. However, we fill in the gaps between birth and death and that my friends is our journey. We neither choose our birth date nor when our life ends.

Originally, I thought that this blog would simply be about my photography. It has since taken many turns unlike a highway but more like a well worn country road. Country roads are more interesting wouldn't you agree?

While money always crops into the equation of my journey, I've found that at this stage of my life, it's more than that. What I've found is that for the first time in my life, I have to truthfully confront what I want out of my life. That's extremely difficult for someone who was programmed to fulfill the dreams of his parents and to take care of his family. Not once did I truly think about what I wanted for me. What fills me with pleasure?

During the past several years, I've found that I derive pleasure from meeting other people, photographing them, and listening to their stories. In addition, I find that I also receive pleasure from photographing landscapes and inanimate objects simple scenes. Deep down inside, I know that for me living life requires simplicity and a receptive heart. It also requires action.

Joy comes from letting go of what consumes and controls us. Our passion should drive and motivate us towards living lives beyond our wildest imaginations. If you are already doing something that rewards your passion and stimulates it, you are in an enlightened station in your life.

Truly, finding your happiness within you is well worth the journey. I've not given up. Since, starting my meandering, I've developed my own fledgling photography (commercial and fine art) business, do Photoshop work for other photographers, drive senior citizen for a nearby retirement village, and broker scrap metal. It's all about survival, passion, and living. Find your purpose and enjoy your journey.

Friday, June 29, 2012

256 Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey
Caddo Lake
Uncertain, TX

"You've got a fast car
I wanna a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero, got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
Me, myself, I've got nothing to prove"

Tracy Chapman

Sometimes I simply aspire to get away to just remove myself from the mundane and simply live in the present tense. I want to be awakened by pleasant dreams and not nightmares. 

When I look at my images, its as if I can get in that "Fast Car" and get away instantly.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mom's Hands

Mom's Legacy

It will be one year since Mom passed, July 15th to be exact. We actually lost parts of her over a span of two years. The final three months were almost unbearable for my father and my sisters. At the right time, we were all able to finally let go of the funny lady, the great cook, healer, and spiritual advisor we knew as Mom.

Several years ago, on one of my visits, I photographed her hands knowing that they would bring back pleasant memories long after she would be gone. Notice the crook of her finger. That was not only her cooking measuring device but if pointed in your direction, it was a warning to flee the premises.

The healing has been albeit slow, but recently I've been able to share my love for my Mom with other seniors. Oddly no one ever tells us that upon the death of a parent, we their survivors miss being someone's son or daughter. Healing takes time but we can heal quicker if we learn to help and assist other seniors like the parents we lost.

Didn't realize how important my role of teasing and storytelling with my Mom was to me. Now I find a way to brighten up other seniors. It turns out that they cheer me up more than what I do for them. It's a great feeling to know that I can keep my mother's memory alive long after by simply fulfilling my role as her son with other who need one. While I can't see my mother's smile any longer, I sure can feel her smile and the warmth of her love each day. Now, I pass it on to others just like her.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

Estes Park in Rain
Estes Park, CO

The thermometer rose to 105 degrees yesterday and we are only a few days into our north Texas summer. It was easy to think about cooler places like Colorado's cool mountains. The heat pretty much zapped me of my desire to do anything other than to down two ice cold Palomas (that's a jigger over white Tequila over crushed ice topped off with either Squirt or Fresca). Before long, I had assumed the horizontal position on my bed oblivious to the sweltering heat.

Still trying to think cool thoughts this morning so I've posted this image shot last year in Estes Park. Never had gotten before to see the rain falling beneath me. Felt as if I was living John Fogery's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?".

So many things happened that day. My wife and I never had seen the rain fall below us nor had we ever experienced a horrific thunder clap so close. It was as if we were in nature's own factory direct outlet store. We saw it all at a tremendous discount.

If you've never experienced the rain fall below or heard the thunder clap beneath you than you've simply not climbed high enough. There's so much living to do before the journey's end. Add witnessing the rain fall beneath you to your list.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Getting a Better View

Wide Open Space on the Mesa
Near Forrest, NM

Perspective is a funny thing. For instance, if you look at the problem of putting a man on the moon it seems like a very daunting task. Yet we did it with computers far less sophisticated than those we hold in the palm of our hands today. Thousands  of engineers and scientist were able to break the problem up into smaller manageable problems. They went from overwhelming to manageable and the probable. They were able to remove the obstructions.

Several years ago, as I travelled through the mesas of the Texas panhandle and on into New Mexico, I quickly noticed the distances my eye could see without the obstruction that I've grown accustomed to. Suddenly I could see endless miles: complete rain storms from start to finish.

Problems in life appear to be overwhelming in their entirety. When we remove obstructions and work on smaller problem segments, we can see solutions as we assemble the components back together again. It's not an easy task to retrain how we think but it's not impossible either.

As you journey, think about all you could see if you only remove the obstructions directly in front of you. Remember to divide the problems into smaller pieces and you will find that you can achieve your goals down the road. Problems and their solutions are all part of life. You will find both on your journey.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beautiful at Any Age

Beautiful at Any Age: "Char"

While most of the world reveres aging and the aged, we fear it and dismiss the "old". Americans are obsessed with youth. We glamorize the young and discount the experience that comes with age. Even before the age of sixty we choose to make folks irrelevant other than for the purchase of medicine, retirement homes, and general health care. In an age where seniors live longer and have more vitality this seems completely absurd.

The fact is this that "seniors" not only can be still beautiful beyond their prime, they have the patience and knowledge to guide us through difficult times and to contribute to our well being. Most have witnessed both good times and hardship. They know that neither good nor bad lasts forever. They also know enough to enjoy the present. We can learn from them.

Last night, I spent the evening with twenty-five people ranging from 70 to 92. We went out to enjoy gourmet pizza at a local restaurant in nearby Grapevine, TX. It was outrageously fun just to observe their enthusiasm. They truly know how to have fun and to just enjoy life the way it is.

As I enjoyed their company, in the back of my mind, I could not help but think about how this recession has truly put some of us in a category of unwanted and irrelevant. Our salaries according to boards of directors were to high and our experience did not matter. The economy has suffered because we've been denied income and jobs, therefore we cannot spend to aid in a consumer driven recovery. Instead greedy boards of directors have made short term decisions with long term ramifications; experience has been replaced by inexperienced youth. While the boards see fit to do this they have not considered to curtail their own bonuses and the salaries of senior corporate executives that have failed them. Instead they reward executives for disassembling complete workforces and hoarding cash.

It truly is a travesty of justice. Those laws that were put in place to protect us from age discrimination are rampantly being ignored. If you are a republican over the age of 50 and working in corporate America do not be surprised when you are dismissed before the age of 60. Neither republican or democrats are doing enough to stop the corporate genocide.

One young Republican by the name of Eric Cantor feels that by raising the retirement age we solve our social security issues. What Mr. Cantor and his constituents fail to understand is that people over the age of 50 are primarily the ones losing their jobs in this recession and aren't able to find them!!! How will raising the retirement age help in this new economy?

For someone like myself, I am now working at three different tasks to earn a living and to try to pay for medical insurance that only protects me from the catastrophic (perhaps). Quite frankly I am relying on my experience and creativity. The same experience that was discounted by my former employer. Now it's truly my turn to utilize all of my experience and get rewarded for it independently of any corporate employer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Evening at the Horse Races

Calling the Horses to the Post
Lone Star Park
Grand Prairie, TX

My life is quite a mixture of bits and pieces at the moment. One moment I am a driver for senior citizens and retirees, another moment I am a full time photographer, while other times I am an active member of Lions Club. These are all part of who I am now.

The person that I am today is a compilation of the various jobs and experiences I've had over my life span. Without a doubt however, I always come back and draw on my creativity. It always sustains me.

Last night, I was asked to drive a bus load of seniors to nearby Lone Star Park. The seniors spent a festive evening wagering on the horses and tallying up $2 bets on horses with names like "Hips and Lips" and "Denny Crane". By the end of the night each senior found his or her own methodology down for fun if not winning.

Although, I wasn't wagering, I did manage to go down to edge of the track to witness the excitement of the event first hand away from the box seats. The fanfare of the moment struck my attention; I watched and listened to the post horn player call the horses and  crowd to the gates and betting windows. With my iPhone, I began to take images of the musician with the liturgical duties. Suddenly, he struck a pose that was perfect for the art I wanted to compose.

It's good to know that although, I've been very busy finding ways to make a living and to sustain myself with my photography, my passion has not diminished nor has my creative desire. This is who I am, this is me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finding the Extraordinary

Mystical Mass
Amanda and Cory Fierro's Wedding
Keller, TX

When working behind the camera viewfinder, you enjoy a world of a 3x2 format. Everything is neatly framed from one corner to the next. What we capture can range from mundane to extraordinary. Truthfully in the digital age a greater number of captures fall in the "so what" category.

Shooting an event doesn't necessarily lend itself to the same skills required by fine art photography. Yet for me, finding that one image that could become something else makes the pursuit worthwhile. It provides me with a positive incentive.

After pouring over nearly two thousand frames from a recent wedding, I found one image that caught my attention. Not only did the image tell its own story but possessed a shroud of mystery.

As I processed the image, I worked towards enhancing the details captured by that moment. The priest's raised hands over the scriptures and sacrament were enhanced by the backlit altar and chalice. The scene of the Holy Eucharist came to life. The scene was made complete by the glow surrounding the Eucharist. It was as if the camera actually caught the aura of a sacred moment. It may very well have or so I would like to believe.

Faith and hope are intangible things. While despair brings us down and perhaps to our knees, faith and hope raise us up to our feet and spring us into action. Not one mother or father wants their child to have it worse than them. We live with the hope that it will be better someday, somehow, and somewhere. We have a choice: we can either be lifted up by hope or we can allow ourselves to live in despair. Both are equally real, but one motivates while the other drains us of our energy.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Now and Then

La Parroquia
San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mx

Every now and then, I have to remind myself of the simple joys that make life worth breathing for. Breathing in and out of itself is a simple miracle that we experience, on average, 23,000 times per day. Whether I am physically or spiritually present in San Miguel de Allende, it seems that I am acutely aware of my joy by 23,000 times. It seems that in that state of mind my joy and gratefulness is heightened.

Fray de San Miguel de Allende
Silhouette and Church
San Miguel de Allende
Like many Mexican towns the church is the heart of the city. If you observe it, you will see its vascular circulation as parishioners and visitors stream in and out of its chambers. In so doing, you witness life itself. Equally, you can enjoy both being in the stream or being a voyeur on a nearby park bench underneath neatly manicured ficus trees.

Doing is great but having or making the opportunity to enjoy what is around you is equally splendid. It too brings rewards. This morning as I ponder all that I have to do now to earn my keep, I am reminded of the why. Photography is not just a job, I do it also for the passion I enjoy and at times I know that I can experience it at least half of my awake time. On a good day, that could be 11,500 times or more.

It's important to enjoy the very simple details of living. It may not always be the way you want or even the way you have dreamt, but it nonetheless provides joy. Learning to be receptive to all of the experiences around you is a difficult lesson to learn. We are accustomed to striving and achieving, few of us have learned the lessons of receiving and enjoying. As I journey, I need to learn to be thankful for all 23,000 times each day. Don't want to be caught short of breath.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Been Busy

Aliana Lansing
Roanoke, TX

It's seems like forever since my last assault on the keyboards. Two back to back weddings and a quick photo job, plus my part time driver job, afforded me very little personal time. All of it is good, because it adds to the sorely needed cash flows. 

Al Hernández: At Work
Photo by Carter Love
For the first time in a very long while, I am utilizing all of my skills to stay afloat. The lifetime I spent keeping large corporations out of financial trouble is finally assisting me too. While I am an artist, I still understand the not so subtle financial art of surviving. I just would rather paint with images than deal only with financial matters.

Every opportunity that I have to invest in my passion and create images, I take on. It is something I truly enjoy. For the most part, I incorporate my fine art passions even in my commercial work. To me, it's all about creativity and self expression.

The two young ladies who posed for me in these images had very little clues just how attractive they were. It had nothing to do with their obvious youth, but rather their beautiful eyes and bright smiles.

Working with both ambient light and camera flash, I was able to render pleasing results that captured the anticipation they both felt on the eve of their friend's wedding. One was in the wedding party the other was helping the girls get ready. Before I knew it, I was able to create good captures without the benefit of a studio.

Life is good even when times are tough. The camera and my current situation have forced me to change my outlook and my attitude. It could also be the thought that my wife has written on one of her boards here at the house has finally taken hold:  "Just when the caterpillar thought it was all over; it became a butterfly." I must say there have been many times, I've thought it was all over. Now I recognize that it's far from over, I'm just metamorphosing. Suppose, I should prepare my wings. Sometimes the end of something is simply the beginning of something else greater.

No, I am not attempting to gloss over harsh facts or attempting to be Polyannic. It just seems to me that I am on a different trajectory than before; that the certainty of uncertainty is now a constant that I will have to be comfortable with. It could very well be that this where I need to be spending my energy, creating and doing something I enjoy for the rest of my life. No one will tell me again that I can't be part of the team or that my services are no longer required. It's my turn now. Yes, I've been busy, but it's all good.