Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fit to Compete

Fit to Compete
Hugh Charles
Keller, TX
You want me to do something...
tell me I can't do it.
Maya Angelou

At 5'8" tall and 190 lbs., Hugh Charles is not the typical profile of an NFL running back. That has not prevented Hugh from pursuing his passion of playing professional football. Instead of hanging his cleats, he chose a different path and chased his dream by playing in the Canadian Football League.

A Keller High School graduate, and starting running back at the Colorado Buffaloes, Hugh has kept his body in shape to withstand the challenges and punishment on the gridiron. He knows what is required to win and he dutifully faces his job both during the season and off.

Hugh is driven by the passion of a dream and an opportunity. Most would have given up, but Hugh knows that doors open up for those prepared to take the opportunity. Hugh lives for "the chance".

This season at age 26, he will finally get his chance. Barring any preseason injury or setback, Hugh will become the Edmonton Eskimos' starting running back. Not bad work, for a guy who was told he was not big enough to play. This brings back memories of another great athlete, Doug Flutie, who also played in the Canadian Football League. Flutie, the one time champ from Boston University, ultimately went on to become a starter with the NFL's Buffalo Bills.

Dreams and determination drive men like Hugh Charles. In an age of negative publicity surrounding scores of athletes, it's great to find a true role model like Hugh Charles. Who knows perhaps he will still have his chance at the NFL? Personally, I am rooting for his dreams to all come true.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Cypress Trees at Town Hall
Keller, TX

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Morning brings with it the joy of anticipation and a fresh start. Each is bundled differently in unique solitude. Within the stillness of solitude, we hear the serenades of serenity, peaceful refrains we long to hear. In the silence of the morning, I hear the melodies necessary to carry me through the day.

This morning as I go through my ritual of personal reflection, I think about my blessings. So often, I take them for granted: my family, my friends, and my health. Replacing fear and bitterness, with gratitude and hope truly requires being awake. We must be awake to receive the gifts that life brings us. Some come in the forms of arduous lessons and other times they appear as omens such as a stranger of a different shade with an automobile with a flat tire on a hot day.

Light comes in the morning; we choose to let degrees of it in. If we choose, we can pull back the blinds and let more of its radiance shine on us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Portrait of a Friend

Mike Herder
Personal Friend
Keller, TX
A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.

Some friends truly are there for you forever. Mike Herder is one of those friends. By most caste standards, Mike and I should never have met let alone had the opportunity to fraternize. At the time we met, Mike was my wife's boss and held a prestigious position with a major Fortune 500 company in nearby Las Colinas. From the very first time I heard about Mike, I knew that I would like to meet him.

Like me, Mike was born in New York and had lived in Connecticut, my home state. What intrigued me about Mike was his rapier wit and his raw NYC humor. Mike's voice was a mixture of Barnie on the Flinstones and the cowardly lion of the Wizard of Oz. Mike could make me laugh.

Although Mike has been a "big" man most of his life, the biggest thing about Mike has become his heart. After a major corporate reduction in force nearly fifteen years ago, Mike  managed not only to tread water but to also become quite adept at surviving and maneuvering in turbulent seas.

We met and truly became friends in 1990. He was walking his dog "Huggy Bear", a happy go luck retriever mix with a passion for wading in all things moist including septic ponds. I had just had been laid off and we were in the middle of a short recession triggered by the first Gulf War. Things were tough and my mother-in-law was losing her struggle with colon cancer. Nothing seemed to be going right. I rolled down the window of my car and greeted Mike. Mike stopped and smiled happy to chat. Before I knew it, he invited me to go flying with him the next day.

Before, I realized what was going on, I said yes. The next day we hopped on a Cessna 182 and flew around west towards Bridgeport and back to Northwest Regional north of Roanoke. For a moment, we rose above all of our anxieties and fears. When we landed, Mike looked at me and said "we laugh at death again." For whatever reason(s), I found that expression to be comforting.

By mastering flight school, Mike himself learned to face many fears including those that he would face down the road. He knew that within him he had the ability to soar above them all. Since then, Mike has continuously reminded me that I have the same potential. We challenge ourselves and rise to the occasion as required by our circumstances.

This morning, as I think about what I am grateful for, I add to my list a handful of friends who are like Mike. These friends are not only standing by you when things are good but also during the rough patches. They are like beacons on the shore helping us navigate the waters to safety.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Success: Keeping Score

San Miguel del Allende, GTO, MX
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." 
Winston Churchill 

If you hit a log jam, the only thing that you can do do is to get up and fix it. It requires action, nothing complicated. Started thinking again about San Miguel and its bells. The bells awaken and beckon me to participate in a very vibrant life. 

It could very well be that this log jam is more than about being stuck. The jam provides me time to reassess what counts and gives my life meaning. The part I've been stuck on has to do more with defining the measure my own success. My realization is that it can hold you back. I want to do and just be without keeping score. Just want to have the opportunity to continue to create and meet fascinating people along the way. 

It's not about winning or losing its about engaging and living life. For me, It boils down to living a life filled with action verbs. Success for me is more about doing and less about the score.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Jody Humphrey
"Personal Friend"
Grapevine, TX

Jody and Her Sisters
Was wondering about my fascination with photography and I came across this Neil Young tune "Heart of Gold". Although some of my generation have given up their idealism, I've chosen not to and perhaps will not until I die. In the mean time, I will keep searching and choose to express it by any means that I can.

Peering on the Past
Got some melancholic theme pulsing through me this AM but I'm hell bent on reaching out to you and make it mean something. Again Neil Young is on my mind as is the little part time job I will be taking on. Thinking about old people and my new younger friends. Look at me and look at you we've got lots of similarities between us too. I was once a lot like you. We are both mirrors and shadows of each other. Knowing this we should be a lot gentler even kinder towards each other, mirrors without distortion and softer shadows.

Just let the acoustical strains of each other's tunes resonate in your heart and echo in your mind. Listen to the tune and you will hear the familiar strains of love and acceptance. We have so much more in common than each thinks.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Of Survivors and Surviving My Way

Joe McCombs
Friend, Sage, & Mentor

And now the end is near
And so I face the final curtain,
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and ev’ry highway,
And more, much more than this. I did it my way.
FRANK SINATRA, My Way (lyrics by Paul Anka)

Joe was a very close friend of mine. He taught me how anticipate my parents' needs in their old age. More than that Joe blessed my Sunday mornings by joining my wife and my father-in-law for breakfast at the local hangout, Dove Creek Cafe in Roanoke, TX. During each meal Joe would tell us: "Boy this is living; I wonder what the poor people are doing."

Little did I know then that Joe was teaching me valuable lessons about life, living and surviving. Joe had a purpose in life and he spread his joy and love with everyone he met. For Joe, the key to surviving was finding your purpose and having something to look forward to each day. Joe looked forward to sharing his time with us. We did too. He also cherished the fact that there were no other men at the senior center who could dance with all these ladies. They would line up to dance with this old crooner.

For months, I've been soul searching,debating, and anguishing over my plight and my future. My friends have witnessed my questions about success and surviving difficult times. Questions like how did you do it and how did you make it on your own? The answers were varied.

From the cancer survivors, I got answers that ranged from "I was not ready to give up or die" to "what choice did I have?" Others simply found that they had a real purpose to live unrelated to their occupation or financial status. The bests answers came from the mature experienced sojourners, you just live and let your heart guide you. Passion enables you to survive and weather storms. Pleasant memories and dreams maintain our spirit.

My passion and artistic outlet is photography both of people and inanimate objects. Through this medium I find that I can express the warmth that lies often times buried and bound by the mundane. This outlet enables me to find my voice and to touch others. Through it, I am able to survive and weather life's passing tempest. It allows me to transcend worries at hand. It soothes my soul to share with others the good and beautiful things that I also witness. Life is an experience you want to keep and its a pity we have to sleep.

My Dad, a survivor himself of many battles, reminds me "no one leaves this earth alive." The beauty of maturing is that we begin to comprehend the value of what truly is important. It's not the stuff that matters but the relationships and experiences we acquire on a daily basis through living. If you don't mind, I have something I wish to say to Joe.

Joe, you are not going to believe this, but I found the perfect job. It's a job that will enable me to continue to build my photography business because it's flexible. This is funny, Joe, but I will be driving seniors like yourself to airports, malls, and doctor's appointments!!! It will be like having you and Mom back again!!! I can't wait to hear their stories. Can you believe this Joe? You were part of my answer all along. Thank you for teaching me survive!!! I've come full circle. You remember I told you that to earn my way through college, I worked in the laundry room of a convalescent home. Now I get to give something back again. How lucky am I? Thanks Joe.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Journey Forward

Come Away With Me
Daytona Beach, FL

We just celebrated twenty-five years of marriage, a personal milestone and something few reach any more. I can't speak for others, but I think most marriages have the commodities luxury affords but lack the basic ingredient: friendship. Few marriages that I see near and around me have this one ingredient. To me, it's very important.

Last year, I witnessed a wonderful marriage draw to a close. A great man kept his vows to an even greater woman. Dad was by my mother's side the whole time trying to soothe death's passage. The image still haunts me. I've never witnessed so much love in my entire life. The vows, their original vows, were at play: "'Til death do us part." Dad was there for my mother even though she could no longer recognize him, I knew she could sense his presence and feel his adoration for his queen.

Dad's unconditional love and his steadfastness was also a result of the reciprocal love that my mother kindled for him. She loved him and understood his strengths, and worked around his weaknesses and calmed his anxieties. She was not only his friend but also at times his mentor and doctor. She was also his personal standup comedian. Those events that others would describe as turbulent where simply bumps along the journey according to Mom. All of this were lessons learned from Mom and Dad. Their marriage transcended a death of a child and many physical, emotional, and financial setbacks.They also experienced numerous triumphs of success and were blessed continuously by an abundance of friends and extended family.

As we sat across the elegant dinner table, my wife and I, I thought about today, and I smiled about tomorrow, no turbulence, just a few bumps along life's journey. Two soul mates partnering and sharing life "'til death do us part". 

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Princess and The Photographer

Regal Simplicity

"Of course, I do have a slight advantage over the rest of you. It helps in a pinch to be able to remind your bride that you gave up a throne for her"

Once upon a time, in a land far away from New York, there lived a photographer who wanted to make young brides dreams come true. He had spent his life making corporate dreams and visions come true but the rewards left him hollow, void of feeling. He never knew why until he met an undiscovered princess.

The young lady, a princess in waiting, like the photographer  also didn't know her own qualities. She searched for the right photographer who would be able to capture her wedding day with her prince. When the day came for the photographer to meet the young woman, his eyes grew as he envisioned what the princess could not see. He would make her a princess before her own eyes.

Prior her wedding day, the photographer took the undiscovered princess to a dreamy castle, a place appropriate for a photographic coronation. He knew in his heart that this location would be befitting a princess in waiting. 

When the princess arrived at the castle in her simple chariot; she was amazed and nervous, a bit overwhelmed. The photographer was equally amazed but not at her nervousness but at her inner beauty that matched her regalness. Before she even changed into her wedding regalia he could see her majesty.

Inspired by what he saw and how he felt, the photographer began to photograph her majesty, fit for a prince. Together the princess and photographer worked along with their entourage to create with light what the photographer could sense and see.

"You are beautiful." The photographer whispered as he shot his frames. "You don't truly know how beautiful you are but I will show you and others forever." He worked quickly trying to use his allotted castle time wisely. They had started early in the morn but at the stroke of twelve, at noon, the proper owners of the castle would return.

After many visions, locations, and changes, the photographer and the princess's work came to a close. "May I see what you've done thus far?" She inquired. He held out his camera to the young uncoronated princess to view. 

"I hope these please your majesty; your beauty is worthy of a king." Your servant simply tried to capture you in the best possible light and how your majesty truly is. The princess smiled broadly as she viewed the images in awe. She never thought that she was a princess let alone worthy of a prince. Now she knew better.

All fairy tales end with happily ever after. I am happy to report that the both the new princess and photographer will both live happily ever after because they had the privilege of working with each other.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Newborn Ballerina and Tutu
Fort Worth, Tx

A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.
-- Carl Sandburg

Have found joy in my life again. It's the reward of knowing that I've done a good job; the satisfaction of knowing I've touched someone else's life with my artistic expression.

A friend and I were conversing regarding the world of business. He explained to me how his client rewarded a driven employee's hard work. The consequence of this employees work was worth millions to this financial company. For this the employee received a chunk of lucite with accolades written on it. We both laughed as we realized the insensitivity and absurdity. Lucite, even the best of its kind, does not hardly motivate or reward.

For me rewards come in the form of beaming smiles and heartfelt praise. It manifests itself as I am  touched each day by the satisfaction that others are moved by my captures. I may not have the financial means I once had, but I've got a trove of personal satisfaction. For the first time in many years, I feel alive and part of life again.

A fellow photographer once told me that he was excited each day by his work. At the time, I was envious, now I comprehend how he feels because that's exactly me now.

Some think that I've been unemployed for two years. That's not correct. I've been mastering my craft and determining the directions it will take, painstakingly devising my marketing plan. Now I am open for business and looking forward to waking up each day ready to go where the universe might take me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

View Through the Lens

Fort Worth, TX

"Father asked us, "What was God's noblest work?" Anna said, "Men", but I said "Babies". Men are often bad, but babies never are."
Louisa May Alcott

During a recent photo shoot of a newborn, the best of my emotions moved me. As I shot each frame, the same feelings which overwhelmed me at the birth of my own daughter, came back to me. They were vivid and heretical towards my own beliefs. The infant in front of me was perfect in every way and guileless. There were no noticeable flaws just miniature perfections from nose to toes.

Fort Worth, TX
Each frame reminded me of those thoughts that I held nearly twenty-nine years ago in the wee hours of the morning. I recognized the fact that the perfection of a child has value. For those who hold a judeochristian beliefs, it stands to reason that value comes not in our unworthiness but rather in our worthiness. The perfection of birth should in fact reinforce those beliefs of intrinsic value and our self-worth within this universe.

We sacrifice our lives for things that truly have value and meaning to us. As I took this frame and similar frames, I shared them with both the mother and grandmother of the newborn. My eyes teared up as I showed them what I captured. As I peered through the lens  again I was reminded of  those feelings I felt as a father twenty-nine years ago. "Oh my God, she's perfect."

Each one of us has value. We are born perfect and with significant redemption value. Its absurd to think otherwise. Personally, I know that I would never subject myself to hardship for anything or anyone that has no value.

As photographers, we are challenged to capture with integrity; as humans we are challenged to reveal emotions and feelings. My images, fine art and commerce, act as communication conduits, channels used to convey the experience of my senses.