Monday, July 30, 2012

Right to Bare Arms

Right to Bare Arms
Roanoke, TX

Your body is a temple, but how long can you live in the same house before you redecorate?  ~Author Unknown

Our waitress at our favorite breakfast dive continues to amaze me with her tattoo puzzle. The tattoos I've previously posted and those posted today are all from the same arm!! 

Angel on Elbow
As she came by to wait on our table, I inquired about other tattoos on the arm and she told me about the fairy on her elbow. She asked me if I would like to see it and proudly modeled it for me, as if it would flap its wings and leave before I would get to view it.

Don't know if I am amazed more by the art, the surface of skin that she has covered, or by the amount of pain endured by the canvas. Regardless, the volume of human graffiti is actually quite stupefying on a lady.

As she was getting ready to leave our table, I saw one more tattoo, a pistol on the inside of the tender part of her right forearm. Without even thinking I thought and smiled, "this woman is packing heat". I knew she would once again have to be in my blog. Then I thought again about the symbolism of this tattoo and its placement and thought: "aha, this is about the right to bare arms!" Our waitress literally wears her beliefs on her sleeves. She says what she means and means what she feels. Pretty amazing if you were to ask me. Suppose we shouldn't be afraid of either regardless of someone else's opinion of us.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to My Roots

Nuestro Pane
Keller, Tx
iPhone and Ink

Without a doubt, I am a creature of habit. On Saturdays, my day consists of getting up early in the morning, making myself a stiff latte, and walking to local farmers market  where I browse vendor vegetable stalls to find a few perfect vine ripened tomatoes. (If you have perfect tomatoes then you must also find the perfect bread for a tomato or a BLT sandwich.) Now that I have tomatoes, I go and find the perfect loaf of bread.

As a baker's son, this tradition means much to me. It reminds me of the days I worked the flea markets with my dad selling bread. I remember the mixtures of vendors and customers I would see. It was a real basic reminder of a simpler way of living, a time when we had more interaction with our neighbors.

After a while of strolling,  I go to see the bread lady, Cinzia, an elegant warm Italian lady with a smile of Isabella Rossellini. For a moment, I feel that I am in a different country experiencing a life that's full: meeting interesting people with real lives and stories. I'm in a different space altogether.

Bread transforms me and brings me back. I take out my iPhone and compose my shot: bread in basket. The story is there; its for me to bring the romance out of the bread. There's a chance I just might have done that in this scene.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Creative Space

Beautiful Bride
Amanda Leger Fierro

In less than two weeks, I'll have another wedding to shoot. My assignment from now until then will be to think of new ways to capture the beauty of that day's moment and at the same time allow the bride and groom along with guests to enjoy the celebration.

The event will be held at a historic Fort Worth location with plenty of detailed charm. Somehow I want to incorporate all of it and use it as my props to make fantastic photos for my client. This is completely different than working under a controlled studio setting. The variables are endless and anything can happen that day. Regardless, the shots must be taken without hesitation and they must be second nature.

From now until then, there's a storyboard that needs to be plotted out. It must run seamlessly. I am excited about it including the vintage elevator complete with iron gate. let's see what happens. I'm sure I will dream about it many times before now and then.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Getting Ready

Reception and Shoes
Dallas, TX

I remember when I was in school, they would ask, 'What are you going to be when you grow up?' and then you'd have to draw a picture of it. I drew a picture of myself as a bride.

Before I shoot a wedding, I like to prepare mentally. It's as if I were an actor preparing my lines for a lead role. I try to envision the choreography of the day: preparation, ceremony, portraits, and reception. If possible, I try to get to know the wedding party and other cast members. If there's a story, I want to be able to tell it.

Plenty of detail goes into wedding preparation. Most of it has been mentally laid out since childhood. Now in the digital age, details appear on dream books in Pinterest and Facebook. My job is to notice all the details, to let my senses feel, and to capture them in fractions of seconds. I totally have to put myself in the mood of the scene and it's setting weeks beforehand.

In a few weeks, I will be casting another wedding. Already, I've tried to create my own storybook to shoot from. For the next several weeks, all of my thoughts will be focused on roughly eight to twelve hours of shooting. There will be no do overs and so I know that it has to be done right. My heart is ready as is my eye.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Hangout

Waitress Tattoo
Roanoke, TX

You think it, I ink it.  ~Saying of tattooists

Every Sunday we frequent a local hangout for our morning breakfast. It's the type of place where you really don't need to read the menu, you know that you're going to have:  some kind of omelet or a comfort food like biscuits and gravy. The place is a dive where the customers are somewhat country and the help is a little down on their luck.
Waitress Tattoo Part 2

On hot summer mornings the unchurched come here before the mega church folks appear. The Harley's and pickup trucks usually fill up the parking lot with the exception of the  handicapped parking and out number sedans.

It's the type of place where you go not as much for the food as for the scenery. You notice a different type of life one filled with one part hardship and two parts fun. Our waitress has several shades of hair color as if she ran out of one and added another. She's a big girl who has elected to have all of one arm filled with tattoo ink. I ask to take iPhone pics of her tattoos and she smiles full well knowing that there are more tattoos on her body that she's not revealed to me.

It's not for me to determine why she has the tattoos my job is only to observe. There's a whole other life out there that I know very little about. It's just as equally important to note it as much as my own. In the mean time, I've chosen to share these samples with you. The lady literally wears her feelings on her sleeve or just underneath. Can't imagine how much flinching she must have done to amass all of this ink. All I know is that it's more pain than most would be willing to bear. Then of course her life is harder than most would want or could endure. One could do worse I suppose than sport many tattoos.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Stairway to an Illusive Heaven
iPhone Artistry

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
 -Maya Angelou

Had an opportunity to break away today from work. I noticed that my creative batteries were running a bit a low and I needed to recharge them. While I've been to both the Kimball and Amon Carter Museums in Fort Worth, I had never spent any time at the Museum of Modern Art.

There were many things that intrigued me including the exhibition of Lucian Freud's portraits. I admired his simple composition and his inclusion of ordinary people in his life as his subjects. The pieces were large and absorbed my attention. I found myself drawn to the details and wondered if I could eventually steer my portrait photography towards a similar candid realism.

After completing the tour of the Freud exhibition, I decided to also visit the museum's static exhibits. It was an impressive  collection ranging from Anselm Kiefer to Andy Warhol. However it was the sculptures of Martin Puryear and Anselm Kiefer that drew my attention most.

 Kiefer's Book on Wings, a sculpture made from lead, truly is ironic in many ways. Wings of lead simply make flying unattainable. The thought occurred to me that if knowledge some how bogs us down and keeps us from flying, then It could very well be that lightening the mind free us to soar.

Puryear's Ladder for Booket T. Washington also seemed to get the lead out of my own head. As I viewed the seemingly endless ladder I noticed the uneven path of the ladder's imperfections; the ladder's trajectory however was a gradual positive slope. I took some the liberty of thinking more about that ladder and played with it. Eventually, I found my own interpretation and created a unique vision: Stairway to an Illusive Heaven.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Year Later

How I Remember Mom
Died: July 15, 2012
"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep."
Robert Frost (1874-1963) 

There's been a very annoying lingering shroud over me these past few weeks. It's been difficult to find much joy inside of me even though I've tried. Although I know we all have mother's and eventually they die, I have always felt that mine was different. This lady and I were very close.

She in ways unfathomable to me kept going, kept the family going and on track, and to some extent kept me on my way and journey. I feel somewhat lost without her and at times with an overwhelming desire to pick up the phone and to talk to her. It seems like I've tried everything to bring her back by constantly and at time annoyingly reaching out to my sisters, my father, and you my friends. My confession is simply this I miss her and its just not her delicious recipes.

As I transition post Mom and rudder, I need to find my own way simply to honor her and to please myself. She would not like it if she knew that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. The best thing for me to do is to move on, accept her life and thereby honor her memory long after her death.

Mom was a beautiful lady with an outrageous sense of humor, tremendous faith, and a burning desire to make a difference in this world. She believed in helping the down trodden and forgotten: the elderly, the sick, and children of all ages. She certainly left us lasting memories and a remarkable legacy. After all these years, I still would hate to disappoint her.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Looking for Rainbows

Sorghum Field and Rainbows
Near: Post, TX

Some of us look for rainbows but refuse to venture outside of our comfort zone. To find them you have to go outside and look far enough from the rain and just the other side of the sun. You can't find them sitting inside your house.

Opportunities are similar to rainbows. You tend to find them after the rain but you do have to venture out to see them. You have to be ready; you can't photograph a rainbow without a camera. Think about how many more rainbows you can capture simply by being aware and ready.

Dusty Road
Canadian, TX
Sometimes we drive for distances without seeing one along the journey. Somewhere though, there's another rainbow, perhaps even a double rainbow waiting for you to discover. This morning I need to get myself moving again in the direction of rainbows and opportunities and find them. They are out there somewhere down the road and around the bend. I know it because I've have found them before.

Monday, July 9, 2012

In the Field

Fiance in Field
Roanoke, TX

It's been an interesting week capped off by a photo session filled with challenges. The couple that I shot also wanted their two dogs in their picture. This is their family.

Couple and Family: Not So Still Life
We made plans to shoot the images at the crack of dawn on location in nearby Roanoke so that we could avoid crowds and heat. While our intentions were good things started out poorly as the couple over slept and then became stressed over the whole situation. Things were far from ideal but I tried to relax them and the dogs. I wish I had treats for the humans too but all I could do was smile and to go with the flow to make them relax. My mission was to keep shooting

After a somewhat formal attempt at some portrait work in town, I decided to take them to a field of freshly rolled hay. The day was unusually overcast but I knew that would make the lighting better and less contrasty. The rest I knew I could enhance with my magic. The results were quite impressive and pleasing to my clients. You never would have known there was so much drama that day. I suppose it's something we learn as we mature, just don't sweat the small stuff. It's something that I've got to remember too.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Note On The Fourth

Watermere Steer
Southlake, TX

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Declaration of Independence
July 4th, 1776

On July 4th, we commemorate the birth of our nation and the anniversary of an American idea that others now refer to as democracy. Our form of democracy was founded by these remarkable words penned in the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Today the children of slaves and immigrants from all over the world, men and women, enjoy "these truths" within our fifty united states. But few realize that buried in the bowels of our declaration in the ninth paragraph is this grievance about the tyrant King George: "He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands."

Immigration legal or otherwise was already an issue on July 4th, 1776. Today, it remains a controversial issue. As Americans who believe in the democracy outlined by these self-evident "truths", its our obligation to strike a balance between what we believe in paragraph #2 (Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness) and paragraph #9 "Laws for the Naturalization of Foreigners".

It appears to me that 236 years into our history those "truths" are not as self-evident as many would like. It's our moral obligation to address them in the best interest of the principles of our own democracy. It's UnAmerican to do so without referring back to our own declaration of democracy. The answers lie within it.