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.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Desert Storm Chaser

View of Storm from the Santa Ritas
Highway 83
AZ 

Heard that Odile was going to visit southeast Arizona and it was the only omen I needed to push me into action. Here was the perfect chance to see the tail end of the desert monsoon.

Some might wonder what's so special about a storm in the desert after all rain is rain. The abundance of cumulus clouds mixed with sunshine made for some interesting photography especially from the perspective of the high desert.  I navigated through plenty of rain and even waited for flooded roads to dry all for the sole purpose of getting a unique perspective of the greening of the desert and the high grasslands; no sunny skies for me.

Storm Heading East to Patagonia
Patagonia, AZ
There was more to my journey than even I knew. Had opportunities to renew and refresh my heart and soul by communing with my natural companion. She gave me an opportunity to enjoy her charms and rest in her arms after long interludes of play. I didn't tire although I had slept little and was always ready to engage again. Each time I knew it would be different but I never knew how or why.

Life got a hold of me again. Although my burdens didn't vanish, for a moment euphoria rushed through me and amazing releases of natural joy pulsed through me. I needed this. I needed to know that my purpose was not to simply work but rather to experience life, partake, and share my experiences with others. This knowledge restores me and provides joy.

Some of you will understand and some will simply think another mad artist. To me though the most insane thing is to not get anything out of your life and simply toil without taking time out to enjoy what is all around you. Find your balance and live.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Wandering I

Hereford Herd
San Rafael Valley
Patagonia, AZ

Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
 - Jackson Browne; Eagles, Take It Easy


There are times when the day to day stresses overwhelm. When the world seems to be spinning too fast and there's no way to get off the treadmill that's when it's time for me to fade out, pull back, and regroup. This month seemed to get the best of me and I had no choice but to seek refuge in my creative space.

Rather than completely retreat into a darker place and brood familiar themes, I sought adventure again in the desert of southeast Arizona. My goal was to find both solace and light although the clouds and rain of hurricane Odile threatened the desert. Timing in my mind was perfect; I would get to see the tail end of the monsoon and enjoy an abundance of cumulus clouds.

It took me a few days before I was able to unwind and forget. Several hikes up Pima Canyon and drives back and forth to places like Sonoita and Patagonia proved to be all part of the therapy. Before long nature was able to drown out the noises of my own wheels. Take it easy was not a choice but required and I did.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Packing

Lazy Living at the Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Trying to pack for an adventure back to southeast Arizona. From what I can tell my visit will coincide with the tail end of hurricane Odile which promises rain showers during my stay. Coordinating last moment details with the rancher's hand as my trip also coincides with the annual Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo in Sonoita.

My arrangements are last minute and spontaneous.  I prefer it that way. Just want to experience it the way it is not they way I contrive it. Need to get some things out of the way first. Ready to empty out my head and fill my heart.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gratitude

Windmill and Cattle
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
What makes the desert beautiful 
is that somewhere it hides a well
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It's difficult to overcome various ways of thinking. While I am behind the camera I know I truly change as I focus on what's immediately in front of me. After putting together my most recent series of images it came to me a second reason why I shot these images. Simply put it was the heart expressing not only the joy it felt but also gratitude.

Road to Rain
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
Beneath the pain of job loss and familial alienation (while in Tucson) laid a beating heart full of gratitude. You see it was there when I experienced the joy of rain in the desert. In fact, I waited for the monsoon to come and would not leave the desert until it finally came to replenish the parched and thirty grasslands of the high Sonoran desert.

It's the hope and promise of the rain which sustain us until the rain comes. Perhaps we should start by being grateful of that knowledge too. Gratitude and its precursors hope and promise meld ultimately into one. We wait to renew.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Scene From Dances With Wolves?

View From the Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

Many of us vividly recall those magnificent scenes from Dances With Wolves and the loneliness experienced by the movies' protagonist, John Dunbar. After a while Dunbar began to commune with the expansive wilderness and became a part of it and ultimately made a conscious choice to become a part of the native American experience driven by both the love of a woman and his romance with a harmonious natural lifestyle.

When I discovered the San Rafael Valley to the East of Patagonia, AZ, I too was made breathless by the unexpected panoramas. As I drove on the unpaved road and climbed towards a summit leading to it, I had no idea what awaited me on the other side. At the moment I reached the summit, it was as if someone had rolled back the movie curtains and began to play the most magnificent version of Dances With Wolves just for my personal viewing.

In my opinion, if there was a heaven on earth this was it. I experienced paradise and my heart was filled with joy and unexpected happiness know that I had a glimpse of something most people will ever witness in their lives.

For this reason, I've spent the last few blogs sharing these images with you. You see if something painful hadn't happen in my life such as my prior job loss and subsequent job finding, I never would have had the opportunity to have found my personal Nirvana.  This is the reason why I keep reflecting on it and continue to process my memories of those landscapes and my sensations.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

Friday, September 12, 2014

Life Goes On

Defiant Sotols
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

"How important is a constant intercourse with nature
and the contemplation of natural phenomena
to the preservation of moral and intellectual health!"
Henry David Thoreau

We often forget that nothing revolves around us. Mankind held the opposite view for centuries that all revolved around the earth. In time we discovered that only our moon revolved around us and that we revolve around the sun within our solar system while collectively we travel in the universe. Life moves on and so we do too in tandem.

Grasslands on High Dessert
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
It literally requires an act of nature for me to see this. As I hike the likes of the high dessert of southeast Arizona free from obstructions, a complete ecosystem teaming with life unfolds and curtains rise before me like some kind of existential revelation or dream. My mind is released from itself and I no longer view myself separately from nature but rather as a part of it. It's so easy to forget but nature reminds me otherwise; life goes on.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Desert High Plain Mood

Mustang Mountains and Biscuit
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

"Nature reminds me that in time inclement weather passes."
Al Hernández

A reading from nature's homily: "in time inclement weather passes, enjoy the scenery, peace be with you". I think about all the images inclement times bring. I turn to positive creative outlets which turn my energy into productive inspiration. It seems like I enjoy working with light and its shades in the context of the high dessert monsoon season with the absence of bright clear skies.

Something inside of me yearns to create and communicate my feelings while I really can't verbally express them well at all. In this space, photography takes holds and with my creative process tools in hand, I create what comes to me naturally: the poetic and romantic, those senses which I bury every day as I try to cope with the nonsense I experience routinely in the bustle of the numbing boredom of suburban life.

Some say life is about living. Perhaps so, but I can only relate when I commune with nature's own art gallery, it's landscapes, a personal affair and existential. It lingers in my mind and I can only recreate the experience as I render photographs filled with my memories both physically and spiritually.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Happy Place

The Promise of Rain
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

"My happy place resides here within the confines of my mind
and is only released by my  own creativity.
Photography is the key which sets us both free."
Al Hernández

It's comforting to know that within me resides a "happy" place whose well I can draw from during bouts of drought. I don't have to travel far all I have to do is search through thousands of images and select ones to process.

As I direct my creative energies and time to a more pleasant task; I recognize that I am responsible for my happiness. During the past five years I've learned to draw from fractions of seconds captured by lens and imagination. This process resets and restores my happiness completely as I connect with myself once again.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Showers on Lazy J2
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

"...You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need..."
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

There are people who expect sunshine everyday in all that they do. I've learned that life is not always about sunshine but also cloudy days and for folks like me, in warmer climes, also rain. I use to complain vociferously about things not going my way; life is forcing me to mellow and be philosophical and reflective. I think about the adage "things happen for a reason" an adage I truly hate. What does that mean?

To me it means take pause and heart that you can't always get what you want. If you wait and try you will find and get truly what you need. During the late summer monsoon in south east Arizona this plays out in nature as storm clouds roll in and drop the moisture the grasslands and ranchers need. I watch and enjoy the experience and the lessons between want and need and feel sorry for those who have never had to learn them.

Today will be one of those days. I may not get what I want but I may very well find what I need. The idea of finding what I need is more appealing as I think how clouds bring refreshing showers that will renew me.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Next Best Thing to Being There

Lone Oak On the Lazy J2
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ

"If you live your life the way you imagine
you will always please the audience of self."
Al Hernandez

I travel light but I make room for my camera. My camera captures images I wish I could paint but can't. I render them with emotion and season them to my liking for folks some of whom feel that my images are the next best thing to being there. So I submit them to the voyeurs who would rather see than to do or be.

Frequently people ask how did you get that image? I got that image quite simply because I was there. If I had not been there, there's no way I could have made the capture. Photography is about capturing an image but my processing is about creating a tone a dimension that a piece of paper simply reproduced cannot convey.

You choose each day to participate or not. I choose to do, see, and be. I don't want someone else telling me about what I should experience. It's for me to find out, explore, and live. We choose to either be voyeurs or participants in life. 




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I Can't Paint

Lone Red Tail Hawk
Lazy J2 Ranch
Patagonia, AZ
"I love nature and when I see her
my heart skips a beat or two."
Al Hernandez


Since I can't paint landscapes, I photograph them instead with how I would paint them in mind. A friend once told me that the painter has the upper hand because he/she starts with a blank canvas. Photographers however start with clutter and removes it simply to tell a story.

For the past four years, I've sought to find my creative voice both with portraits and my landscapes. I am trying to uniquely find my artistic DNA which will brand my images as mine. In the silence of the desert wilderness and its high plains I found it. It pleases me to me to be heard and listened to with the silent words of my photography.

Each image speaks volumes to me and I only use my digital tools to convey the messages I sense and experience so that vicariously you experience the same. Feel free to let me know how my images move you. Do they awaken you? Do they make you want to be there and experience a life you have not ventured?


Monday, September 1, 2014

Creative Space

Lone Tree on Lazy J2
Patagonia, AZ

Had hoped to get back to southeast Arizona in time for the monsoon but life kind of got in my way this year. Several life stresses instead have loomed over the horizon this month including the pending sale of our home and the irreverence of promised job interviews. Both have thwarted my short term plans. Instead of waiting to do something, I simply am waiting.

My mind has taken various detours on an unscheduled roller coaster; rather than succumb to the ride full of twists and lunges, I've chosen to find my quiet creative space where nothing really matters other than the perfection of memories of soothing landscapes which accompany me daily. I like to think that the recollection itself will remind me of the simplicity of happiness unencumbered by the shackles of accumulation, deadlines, and calendars.

When I started my journey in earnest in March of 2010, I wanted to experience the same feelings Whitman had when he announced that he celebrated himself and sang himself and what he assumed we would also assume. Four years later, I am still on a quest to find my happiness in a world troubled by the lack of it.

Happiness comes to me via the opportunity to create and when I am in that space nothing around me matters. Nothing moves me until I finish recreating emotional images I've captured. I am compelled to move viewers s by adding dimensions to my two dimensional images. I interpret the landscapes beyond what the camera physically captures and transcend to how I saw or felt about the image. That mood was there at that place at that time when I pressed the button and the shutter released.

There's lots left for me to see and even more to feel. I truly abhor the interruptions that life throws my way. I am impatient and ready to move on and to live, experience, and enjoy. So much to do still I feel. I don't like hurry up because each time I do, I know I've not savored that day the way I want.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cascade Meditation

Serene Cascade
Hunter, NY

"Do not go where the path may lead,
go instead where there is no path
and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

It's the tail end of summer here in Texas and I am already dreaming about the cooler weather; somewhere up in the Catskills of New York, not to far from Woodstock there's a place where I like to meditate while white cascades drown the noise of the busy wheels in my head. The constant roar of the rushing flow direct me to a life channel that otherwise I would not hear.

For a moment, as I close my eyes and drift and free fall with the natural shower, I only think about how I want to be carefree and just be. The soul thing I wish to strive for is to drown out all the other distracting noises and to enjoy my outdoor spiritual oasis and retreat.

I think about the times misspent trying to control things and outcomes and associated needless worry. The worry was inversely proportional to happiness forgone. I know I can't change what was but I think about letting go at least for a while choosing to follow the currents and cascade. Both have their own direction and seem naturally to know their preordained purpose to flow adventure around the stones and boulders along the way and ultimately to the sea.

I know that I am a part of this process and the only way for me to find myself is to truly go with the river and the current and to where it leads. My destiny is not to control and own but rather to let go in preparation for my final journey. On that journey, I will take very little more than what I was born with. There's no point in worrying about hoarding now, its time to enjoy. Time to float. Time to live.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson



Saturday, August 9, 2014

Innocence

Waiting for Wedding Debut
Dallas, TX

"When we are children we seldom think of the future.
This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can.
The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind."
-Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind


Last week on the spur of the moment a friend of mine realized that her bride wanted a second photographer to shoot her wedding too. Fortunately I happened to be on FaceBook when I saw her distress message to other local photographers for help. Given that I really had nothing else going on that Saturday, I volunteered to help.

When I got there I could see the relief on my friend's face. As I turned and looked at the bride, I could see that the bride was shall we say "intense".  I made my cameo appearance in front of the bride to assuage the situation and proceeded to go about my business of taking photos from a different perspective. 


Two of the subjects who completely got me relaxed and in the moment were two little girls in the wedding party. They were happy and content all dressed up daintily as if they were ready for some form of impressionist portrait session. I could not help but notice the pure innocence on their faces and simple beauty. They were totally wrapped up in the present and not in the least bit as fretful as the bride. Had I my druthers, I would have simply spent  my time with the two precious girls. The girls were simply playing make believe but as themselves: little princesses and Cinderellas.

The clock was moving and reality was setting in. It was time for me to find my perch in an unfamiliar Catholic church. Had to find out what the rules were for flash and if so when. Had to digest quickly what would work and what would not. My mind was busy and I could feel my stress and anxiety creep in.


Wedding
St. Thomas Aquinas
Dallas, TX
The only thing I could do was to start looking through my view finder and taking test shots to determine what would work. The lighting of course was poor and mixed between tungsten and some natural light. It was time to jack up the ISO and pray for the best; after all, it was a Catholic wedding so I should have plenty of time and notice in between homilies and communion and God knows what else. I began to shoot from my perch near the pipe organ. Scoped out my subjects: the bride and groom. What can I do to make this work?

Keeping in mind that for me I already had taken my best shots; I focused on the actual ceremony and worked my real assignment. Compared to what I had just captured it seemed somewhat anticlimatic. I focused and pressed the shutter release and kept looking for other drama to unfold. It was good it was all good. I kept thinking about the innocence of the little girls and I thought of my own grand daughter who now was walking and how soon she would grow up. No I didn't want to think about that.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Of Walls and Windows

Window and Adobe
San Elizario, TX

Begin challenging your own assumptions.
Your assumptions are your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in while,
or the light won't come in.
Alan Alda

Been fascinated by details my whole life. To that extent my photography suits me well as I get to showcase my curiosity. Simple details found in architecture and landscapes remind me of the value of observations. All details trigger my curiosity and act as catalysts for my imagination.

Wire Rope and Adobe
San Elizario, TX
Although I've been many times to San Elizario, TX ( a mission town to the south and east of El Paso), I had never noticed several adobe structures near the center of the town plaza.  Both the window and adobe wall made me think of the history of the settlers who once stood there. The adobe walls looked as if they had been riddled with bullet holes (perhaps my imagination) I supposed. It could easily just be weeping holes too, but my first story sounded better.

On an another wall, I saw hung some carefully rolled wire that looked like a cowboy's rope on a saddle. My imagination continued to roam. Suddenly I thought about some lyrics..."out in the west Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl..." Was this the home of Rosie's Cantina? Could Marty Robbins have sung about this place and the young maiden named Celina? Was I standing in his place?

Looked down at my cell phone and noticed the time. Realized that at this moment I was just passing through. Still had five hours left before journey's end in Tucson. Reminded myself "just passing through not my final destination" and gathered my memories and pressed westward back on my trail all the while thinking and singing "out in the west Texas town of El Paso... ." Can't seem to get the chord out of my head, just maybe I not supposed to either.

Represented by the Simon Gallery of Fine Art, Tucson

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.