Saturday, April 30, 2011

Under the Influence

A Fall at Kaaterskills Falls
Near Palenville, NY

My friend Harry Sandler and our mutual friend Teri Lou Dantzler at different times have had conversations with me regarding the influence of other photographers on our work.  All artists are heavily influenced by other artists but we are also influenced by our perception and experience and reaction with our environment.  Artists and writers have for generations influenced each other's bodies of work.  In fact many have studied with each other and have lived near each other.  Artist colonies facilitate creativity and stimulate better results.  All artists draw from their experience palettes.

Yes, I confess, I am under the influence of my personal relationship with life and its experiences and my relationships with other Artists including Dan Burkholder, Harry Sandler, and others.  My wife, Kim, also influences my fascination with vignette details.

My name is Al Hernandez and I am under the influence.  Keep influencing me, I've got plenty to learn along this journey.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Something Old

Stormy Skies Near Abandoned Hotel
Along the Hudson Valley,
New York
There were many abandoned buildings in my life.  It seemed that the nearby countryside and the neighboring towns all shared the same sense of abandonment.  Buildings now barely stand as symbols of a better time gone by.  In these towns, time stood still as gears of commerce ground to a complete halt; taking with it not only prosperity but hope.  Long gone are the clock shops, mills, thread shops, and independent machine shops.  Only the noise now heard in these structures are creaking planks and the whistling of wind through broken window panes.

Abandoned Catskill Hotel
Tannersville, NY
A long time ago, back in high school, I wrote a short story about finding beauty where there is none.  I've spent a life time trying to reconcile the ugliness of reality with the beauty of the details.   The eye wants to reconcile both and it wants to make things right within your heart.

You might say that I found beauty out of the necessity to survive.  The old New England tenements were not pretty.  It was my way of escaping the unpleasant facts surrounding me.  I learned to make sense out of nonsense.

 It doesn't have to be light to see the light.  Light can be seen best in absolute darkness.  The characteristic of light is the same.  Darkness enhances the characteristics and the appreciation of light.

Clapboards and Shutter
Tannersville, NY
Each day I choose to see images and pieces of images that I discern in fractions of seconds.  I find the core that draws me to them in the first place.  There is beauty in many things surrounding us.  We simply must explore beyond the surface.  It's then that our eyes can serve their true purpose as they discern what the heart yearns.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Sign

Sign on Abandoned Hotel
Tannersville, NY

After a week away from home traveling and shooting photos both personal and for a wedding shoot, I am exhausted and ready for my own bed.  I've been to stimulated to really sleep well.  I've worked way beyond my normal bed time each day and gotten up earlier too.

Yesterday as we headed back from the Catskills to our home base just outside NYC, I saw a sign on the porch of an abandoned hotel.  I took it personally.  It clearly had my name on it.  This time the journey takes me home to my wife.    Promises of new job opportunities loom on the horizon and new adventures await.  All my bags are packed...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Memories Forgotten

Remember When?
"Red Hook"
Brooklyn, NY

My friend Harry's been shuttling me around New York.  Taking me to places that jar my childhood memories.  I remember these briefly, as fractions of seconds, like a shutter speed on a camera.  My childhood happened all to quickly. It was hard and fraught with many economic down turns and interspersed with family illness.  Of course, the seasoning always was the family trips and feasts.  Regardless, my parents kept the family together and we miraculously survived.

The city is still glamorous but far different than the fear I harbored growing up in "The Bronx".  Twice our apartment was robbed in broad day light then Dad transplanted us to the safety of a small Connecticut town nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires.

It's been all good this life of mine.  Gone are the days of wishing things away and lusting for the future.  I cherish each awake moment frame by frame.  I am fortunate to be a photographer and I carry my camera with me like a painter has an ever ready canvas.  I live now and I am so ready to just enjoy what each moment brings.  It took me a while to understand what living is;  wise friends and shamans taught me along the way.  I like the fact that I can still write the ending to this play.  I choose where on the stage I want to be and listen patiently to the direction my spirit prompts.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Right Time

Flat Iron Building

It's been great exploring NYC with my urban guerilla guide and friend, Harry Sandler.  There's nothing like being with a kindred spirit.  We took our time taking photos around Madison Avenue where hundreds of tourists from all over the world gather to have their images taken around the famous landmarks surrounding the square in front of the Flat Iron Building.

It wasn't my first time in the square or in front of this building.  Nor was it my first time to photograph this landmark made famous by years of photography.  It was however the first time that I had the technology and knowledge to add texture to the sides of the building.  The image came alive and three dimensional by a simple handheld device, the iPhone.

Could it really be that some problems truly are solved by time?  There's no way that I could have rendered the same image several years ago or even several months ago.  Perhaps, just perhaps, time does solve all problems.  Only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Too Busy? Get a Life

Productivity Americano

When 9/11 struck my father-in-law, a Texan, drawled:  "there must have been something we did to piss those people off."  A glance at this picture, helps me come to that same conclusion.  You see Americans don't rest and we sure as hell don't know how to relax.  We are obsessed with staying productive and earning a living.  Both are of course noble causes.

The problem we have as Americans is that we assume that our way of living is the best.  In our haste to earn a living, we forget to enjoy our life.  So we in essence live to work so that at some point, perhaps now later than we planned on, we can retire and do everything we've always wanted to do.  I am sorry but sunbathing at age seventy really makes little sense.  My body might not be willing to cooperate with me to do all the strenuous activities I may have planned for post retirement.

Here's my humble advice:  do it now!!!  Stop postponing everything.  Live a lot and pack it all in.  Enjoy what you have and stop hoarding for tomorrow.  It's going to come but please try to enjoy today.  By the way, I am headed to Coney Island with my friend Harry today.  I plan on enjoying a delicacy called a Nathan's Hot Dog with everything on it.  Care to join me?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Time & Me

Time & Me

Someone once told me that it's all about you.  At the time, I really couldn't comprehend the depth of what that meant.  Today, I interpret that to mean its about me and my relationship with time.  The fact that time is moving quickly prompts me to do more and more in less and less time.  In some ways, its about quality and efficiency.

In the last year, I've packed in more living than I have my whole life.  No I don't have any known health issues, it's just that I realize that I've already deferred too much in life 401K bank.  That's right you can actually defer too much and render what you saved useless.

None of us has any guarantees as to what time in the future will give us.  We have to learn to live in the now as if I gigantic tsunami were to strike within the next few hours.  You do not know.  Each day and each hour of your life is equally as important as tomorrow. I am grateful for what I have today.  I endeavor to enjoy today as if there will be no tomorrow.  To that extent, I will squeeze joy out of my life and leave my worries behind me.  That's right it's all about you, it's all about me, and it's about time and me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Art Fairs in the Park

Mojitos and Cuba Libres
Ft. Worth, TX
Spring has officially arrived.  You can almost hear the vendors at local venues hawking their wares.  We are fortunate in this area.  Fort Worth provides a fantastic weekend of art filled fun.  Kim and I took some time off yesterday to check out the local art scene and to commune with other spring lovers.

We broke down and had a decadent moment as we feasted on beef tenderloin tamales so decadent that a priest held confession nearby.  Unfortunately, I had no beer to wash down my occasion of sin.  So many things to see this time of the year, so many tattoos to view.  I am thinking of getting one but only if I can find commercial sponsors.  The price has to be right.  My body is not cheap.

It's spring time for mojitos, margaritas, cuba libres, and palomas.  It's open season to celebrate and time to crank out those Jimmy Buffet tunes.  Don't know about you but every once in a while, I need a hedonistic moment or two.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And The Winner is...

Nice Ride and a Great Cause

Like most people, I always sat on the sidelines and never really participated in any real cause.  It's a pretty strange phenomenon given that I was part of a generation that caused changes to happen in civil rights and helped put a man on the moon.  My generation even shut down a whole war that we didn't know why we were fighting for.  It was almost as easy as one, two, three.

My father named me Eliazer (actually it was misspelled on my birth certificate, and it should have been, Eliezer).  The name in Hebrew means servant of God.  Literally, my father meant for me to serve others.  I was born to serve and recently joined the Southlake Lions Club whose mantra is "Born to Serve".

Take a Chance
Even though I don't like the silly looking vests, I am grateful that I didn't choose to be a Shriners.  I wouldn't look good wearing a fez or riding a small bike.  Here's the deal though, our club will be raffling off this brand new 2011 Harley Davidson.  The proceeds will go to purchase a trained "leader" dog for someone in desperate need of assistance.  This person doesn't have the benefits of eyes and will never see the motor bike we will raffle off.

I am asking my friends in the US to please contact our club or visit our Facebook link.  Take a small chance and make a big difference.  You will be a huge winner. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Not In the Picture

Not In the Picture Then

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the
Benjamin Franklin

This morning I woke up feeling more introspective than usual.  I decided to open up my senses and allow the universe's gravity to pull me away from myself.  There's something special about the power of music that does this for me and provides me with a healing salve.  I found on YouTube Paul Simon's Capeman album and the song I Was Born in Puerto Rico and listened to it.  If you get a chance pick up a copy of the album its contains great music.

I love music;  it plays a vital role in my life.  Not only does it soothe me, but it also enables me to celebrate.  It seems that I can find songs and scores for all occasions.  

Searching for what to write is not always easy.  Like most artists and writers I come up empty handed now and then.  Life problems get in the way and the well we draw from appears to be dry.  It's an illusion of course, the well is still the same, we just can't see it.  Today the well filled backed up after a second look.

For those of you who don't know me, my parents and my sisters were born in Puerto Rico.  Mom and Dad along with my two sisters came Nueva York to find a better life and work.  I ran into this old photo again. It must have been taken around 1951 in the Bronx.  The family is incomplete, my brother remained in Puerto Rico and was killed in an accident shortly after (March 26, 1953) and I was not even born yet.  No one knew how things would unfold.

Time has passed, Mom just turned 90 and denies it's true.  Dad has spent his 88 years taking care of his queen.  They both made huge sacrifices for us and overcame many obstacles.  Life was far from easy but we enjoyed each other and our cousins.

The music is playing in the background and I am soothed by both rhythms and lyrics.  I like the music so much that I find another tune.  This time it's Marc Anthony singing The Eagles, "Hotel California".  I am ready to face the morning and start my day.  I have some good tunes in my head.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Table Talk

Table Talk

Got bored during my photographer's meeting last night, there was a little too much table talk going on for me. I'm the type of person that needs to be either working on deals or creating something. Just as I was begining to feel guilty, I noticed a very famous photographer sitting at the next table doing exactly the same thing, fidgeting and shooting with his iPhone. This must be a common trait among creative people.

The speaker had some interesting points but I truthfully am not interested in taking a lifetime of images of children. Thats just not me. I prefer creating abstract images from simple details. Actually, I thrive on details. I love details and see them everywhere.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drawn by Simpler Times

Simpler Times
Jefferson, TX

I never could understand the fascination with antiquities.  In some cases, I thought it was nothing more than discarded junk.  Now as I look at the heaps of discarded treasures, I am drawn by the thought of simpler uncomplicated times.

Although time is still marked by sunrises and sunsets and by the changing of seasons and the earth still spins at the same velocity around the sun;  time seems to move faster now.  I like to stop and reduce time into bits and pieces and fractions of seconds.  It's as if I am eating a cookie in small deliberate bites down to the last crumb.  You know exactly what I am talking about because you have also done this.

As a photographer, I've grown to appreciate even the crumbs left behind by a hurried life.  I collect crumbs and interpret their unique cookie flavors.  Time may march on swifter than before, but I can always reach into my bag of crumbs and enjoy what once was.  If you've not reached down into your cookie back and sampled the last crumbs, you've not lived.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Point of View

Calla Submersed in Water

For many years, I never could reconcile my obsession with details.  I could understand my obsession with algebraic relationships because of my finance degree.  However, I could not comprehend why I gravitated to visual details.  I see the micro at times easier than I can see the macro.  Photography has become a perfect venue for mastering my attention to details.

Calla Lilies in Cylinder Vase
I was watching a pair of wedding photographers rush through the reception area that had been so carefully filled with floral surprises.  Some of the tables had tall cylinder vases filled with water and inside each were colorful Calla blooms.  I shot both through the glass to capture the bubbles attached to flowers.  Then I decided to get on top of a chair and shoot the vase from above.  I had to capture the details from several points of view.

The truth is that most of us go through life never noticing the pleasure that simple details provide.  I like to think that as a photographer, I cultivate and archive details much like a wordsmith collects verbal treasures.  I've come to realize that it's very okay to see things differently.  Life seems richer when I look at everything from a different angle.  What do you think?

Cakes and Flowers Along the Way

Marking Time with Cakes

We mark time and events along our journey with cakes and flowers.  Birth, birthdays, baptisms, death, Easter and weddings all have one or the other and sometimes both.  In fact right until death, each birthday is celebrated with cake.  In the West, we commemorate and have cakes to celebrate.

Celebration Bouquet
Life is nothing more than a passage of a collection of cakes, edible road marks along our journey.  Think of all the cakes you have tasted and the flowers you've sent.  It seems that our goal should be to season our life with as many cakes and flowers as we possibly can.  Memorable bouquets and edible memories make for a pleasant life journey.

Whenever possible have your cake and fill your life with flowers.  Don't wait for a special occasion simply celebrate your life and the role you play in it.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Bayou Bootleg Shack
Uncertain, TX

Sometimes the hardest part of photography can be looking back at what you've done.  There's always an underlying reason why you took the shot.  Interpreting requires retrospection.  How can you best make that image come to life? How do you make it resonate to others? 

 Cypress Trees and Light
Uncertain, TX
The eye explores what the soul inquires.  It discerns both beauty and truth.  The eye holds court and casts judgement on all it witnesses.  Each person's eyes hold different testimonies.  The witness is far from impartial and tainted by his own soul.  Each self incriminates his own testimony.  My testimony is simply how I saw it.  My soul interpreted it this way today.  Tomorrow, I may testify differently and perjure myself.


Caddo Tree and Marsh
Uncertain, TX

You can spend your life on the shore or you can get on a boat.  The view is totally different.  We live in a world where experience and longevity are discounted.  Personally, I like gathering stories from those who have gotten on the boat that perhaps, I've missed.

Nutria On Mud Flat
Caddo Lake is the type of place you have to get on a boat to witness all that it has to offer.  There are nooks and crannies that offer so much to see depending on the time of day and season.

Most of my life, I've spent thinking and planing about the future and what I would see and do.  Now I find myself switching gears and trying to cram in as much as I can each day.  Trying to live it fully with an open heart and an open mind.  Allowing my senses to absorb all of the light life offers and paints in our minds.

Our Guide Angie
Experience is nothing to be discounted.  If you can't witness it, the next best thing is to align yourself with someone who has it.  Let them mentor you and guide you.  I am glad that I opened my heart to the experience of our Caddo Lake guide, Angie.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thoughts On Caddo Lake

Overcast Sunrise Morn Over Caddo Lake
Uncertain, TX

Caddo Lake offers more than just photo opportunities.  The quietness of the lake provides an occasion to reflect on possibilities.  Not all days provide spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  There are also days filled with mist, clouds, and rain.

Impending Rain Shower On Caddo Lake
Uncertain, TX
Each day mornings and weather interject their nuances.  If you are alert and above all patient, you will capture them frame by frame.  It's up to you the photographer to discern and interpret each.  It's up to you to withstand the elements that time and weather provide.  You must be ready.  If you are not there, you certainly will miss out.

Life is about opportunities taken and strung together my memories.  I archive memories, print, and showcase them.  It's my gift to you and I am compelled by something outside of myself to do so.  I am a self proclaimed photographic cantor called to lead his congregation in worship and praise.  

An abundant life has room for both.  We are surrounded by nature's songs and registry.  It up to us to read the music and sing its hymns.  You must turn the pages and enjoy the music.