Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Transformation...Year of 2008...

I sat down and tried to write an entry for the end of this year, and I can’t seem to get it out how I want it. In the end, there are just a couple of things that I want to say:

I am deeply grateful for the way that my life has gone. There are many times when I feel like a chess piece in a grander scheme that I can’t even see. It’s a strange and amazing feeling, and I am really grateful to family, friends, business associates, teachers, and ultimately, to my Father in Heaven. The things that have happened in the last few years are nothing short of amazing to me. Most especially, the way that photography came back into my life and became more a part of it has been equally amazing. My opportunities to travel, do business, and take photographs, are the fulfillment of old dreams that I have had for many years.

One highlight of the year for me, and one of the most enjoyable moments of all, was my trip to Athens, Georgia. While I was there, I attended the NCAA gymnastics championships, which were held at the University of Georgia. For three days, I had a blast. From watching the events, to wandering the campus in the rain, to visiting old cemeteries and sitting in small restaurants, the whole thing was really enjoyable. I posted very few pictures from those events, and so I have posted a couple photos of Stegman Coliseum with this entry.

Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful year, that was so full of surprises and opportunities. Here’s to 2009, and here’s to the hope that we will be able to take every moment to live, love, share, teach, and learn. I wish my readers the best of luck, and I thank you for stopping by my blog on occasion.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The ring bearer at the most recent wedding. Cute little guy. :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Austin & Zavenda...

Saturday, I shot my sixth and final wedding for this year.

It had it’s interesting moments. Like when I was there setting up equipment and they decided to change the theme song right in the middle of the rehearsal walk through.

It's hard to believe that I have shot that many weddings this year. In some ways, I love shooting weddings, and in other ways, I don't like it at all. It will be interesting to see where I go in the future...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Light on the Horizon....

Last night, I went out to get something to eat and I was stopped at the drive up window by a man that asked for money to get something to eat. As I talked with him, I asked if he was out of work. He replied that he was. I asked what he had been doing and he replied that he had been in construction.

I live in Salt Lake, and if you go downtown then you are bound to run into someone asking for money. But this was different for some reason. This guy seemed pretty normal. Perhaps a bit rough, but pretty normal. And we could talk about what "normal" is, but I think that you understand me.

As I drove away, I sort of shuddered inside. I have no real idea how the recent economic meltdown has really affected people, but I imagine that it has been bad, and that it might get worse.

I recall being in Mexico on the edge of the ocean, and being asked by little kids if I would buy some little trinket. They were dirty, unkempt, and looked as though they were in real need.

I recall standing in Turkey, among the ruins of a city, and I observed the Turkish women selling whatever wares they could to the tourists, while at the same time a very young boy asked me to buy some sticks of a fragrant smelling plant. I recall as we drove through the cities, and looked at people living on top of people in less-than-perfect living quarters, and the guide told us that in some places the people had their animals living with them.

I recall walking up the steps of an old church in Rome, and off to one side, was a lady that had her face veiled, and she bent over in a prayer position. Next to her sat a small jar for coins.

And then I recall standing in a round building at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. A native man asked me three times if I would buy a dream catcher that his wife had made, so that he could get some diapers for his baby.

Some of these people were selling, and some of the were begging, but they all were in less then perfect conditions. And yes, it makes me shudder. I have tried to study, to learn, to work hard, and to make myself better, and I pray to God that at some point, it doesn't all fail me. I hope that I am never reduced to the point of standing on a street corner and asking for food to stay alive, 'cause if I ever get there, then it means that something went horribly wrong, and I suspect that life might not be worth living any more. Not for me.

But I chose this picture for one reason, everything in the picture is varying shades of dark, except for one area, the horizon right over the mountain. There is a spot there that is probably pure white. So although there are tough times, and there are tragedies, there always remains the hope for a brighter future. Opportunities of some sort will always exist. Especially if we have prepared ourselves. I believe this, and it is what I want to manifest in my life.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Meet Anya...

...and some of her brothers and sisters. My niece's dog had puppies in September and I went and took these about a month ago. I was going to post some of them and I just never got around to it. This little dog had a magic about her. She really stood out from the pack, so to speak. I dare say that if I can capture the spirit of a person, I can do it with a dog also.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Into the night...

This was taken a couple of miles south of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. I have been studying the Wounded Knee Massacre for a couple of years now. I took this picture, stopped by Wounded Knee and then drove the rest of the night to get where I was going. That's why the strange title.

In the show Thunderheart, a young FBI agent gets assigned to investigate a murder on the Native American reservation. Although he is half Sioux himself, it is a fact that he is not proud of and does not readily acknowledge. Once on the reservation though, strange things start to happen and his roots start to haunt him. He starts seeing things, and having dreams. At one point he has a vision where he is running with the "Old Ones" at Wounded Knee. He begins to sense that there is something more powerful at work, and that he has something important to accomplish.

By the end of the story, he ends up awakening to the fact that his blood is something that he cannot escape from, and he ends up reaching for, and then embracing his vision. He is offered money and power, but he turns away from them and decides to embrace honor, honesty, and follow his vision. He looses his job as an FBI agent, but he leaves the reservation a much different person. He no longer suffers from the same insecurities. He no longer clings to the material things that he once did. He leaves with the feeling about him that he knows what he is, who he is, and that he is not afraid of it any longer.

I suppose that in telling this story, I am emphasizing the need and the power of personal vision. I will even go so far as to say that it is the only thing that can create lasting, positive change.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Whenever I go to a funeral it always amazes me that in one minute, everything is perfect for one person, and yet in that same minute, life completely falls apart for another person. All their hopes and dreams gone. And yet each is oblivious to the pain, and/or joy of the other. Amazing.

"...sometimes to know what goes on beyond the end of a trail we have to go back..." (Stalking Wolf)

But sometimes, maybe we have gone back too much...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's Dance...

A cool shot from the wedding last Saturday.

I have a new obsession. It's social/ballroom & swing dancing, and I'm totally absorbed by it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big & Rachel...

I haven't posted anything in a while, because I've been crazy busy with several projects. The last two weekends I shot weddings.

The first one, was a disaster. Unfortunately, once again I allowed myself to be intimidated to the point that things just didn't go at all like they should have. But I'd rather not talk about it much.

This last one however, was probably the most enjoyable wedding that I have ever photographed. For the most part, it went pretty well. There were some things that I was not happy about, but we live and learn. "Big" as we call him, is my Nephew. He also used to work for me at the golf store, so we go a ways back. The photo above was one of my favorites from the event.

I bought four used Photogenic strobe lights the morning of the wedding. I got a great deal on them and they really saved the occasion. I shudder to think of how it might have turned out otherwise. But in any case, this is really cool, because I now have enough lights to completely set up a studio.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ocean Energy...

About a month ago, I was in LA for a few days to manage a project down there. One afternoon, I drove to Oceanside and spent the afternoon in the crashing waves.

I absolutely adore the ocean. There is nothing quite like standing in water chest deep, and watching as a three or four foot wave approaches and then breaks over you, followed by the feeling as the tide rushes back past you and the sand erodes from under your feet. Words escape me to describe the elation and euphoria that I enjoyed for a couple of hours. As I went back to the car, I took this picture.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fall Colors at Saint Johns Abbey...

This last weekend I drove something like 1600 miles, and spent three days on the road.

I took a truck that we sold back to Iowa, and then I flew back to Salt Lake. In three nights, I had no more then 4 1/2 hours of sleep per night, and I spent most of the time driving. I circled through Wyoming, across South Dakota, into Minnesota and then down to Iowa. On the way I stopped at Martins Cove WY, Edgemont SD, Wounded Knee SD, and St Cloud MN.

It is sort of comical that this was the same truck that I drove back from New York earlier this year, and I stopped at most of the same places. It is a different time of year though, and I was in a much different frame of mind for this trip then I was back then. It made for a very different experience, and even with the sleep deprivation, I had a wonderful time.

The most memorable was my stop in St Cloud. The hotels were all full, so I drove out of town a ways and stayed in the back seat of the truck in some field. I had a good sleep, and the next day then I drove right over to St Johns Abbey.

St Johns is a Monastery/University about ten miles outside of St Cloud. It sits on 2,480 acres of prairie and forests with lakes and wetlands scattered throughout. Trails abound, and it is a wonderfully peaceful place to retreat. Although I liked it when I was there in April, I absolutely fell in love with it this trip. The fall colors and leaves turn the place into something of a fairyland. Originally, I was going to try and stay at the Abbey Guesthouse for two nights, but it didn't work out. I ended up wishing that I had tried a bit harder to make it all happen. As it was, I was there for about three hours. I wandered around to the far side of the lake (Lake Sagatagan) and visited the small Stella Maris Chapel on the far side. It was cooler weather, but nice with a light jacket. The wind would blow along and stir the leaves up around me, and I watched as families wandered around the trails, the children kicking the leaves as they went, laughing and playing.

I sat on a log next to the lake and the tall grasses rose all around me. The gentle sound of the breeze rustled through them. Out on the lake a sailboat drifted along, the sun wandered in and out of the cloud cover, and I was consumed by a sense of calm euphoria. I wished that I could stay, but I had to leave before it got too late to drive to Lake City, Iowa.

My opinion of Minnesota is drastically changed though. I was there in April and I didn't really care for it. (It was cold and still pretty dead a the time.) This time, as I drove along freeways and looked at the vibrant colors, I decided that I loved it. So the time to go there is in the fall. It really is beautiful. And as far as a retreat goes, St Johns is really nice if your looking for something woodsy, but a bit more civilized. (Beds, showers, etc. They even have meals if you want them.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I just couldn't think of a good title for this on a short moment...

I was on a photo shoot yesterday that was super important to me. Possibly one of the most important so far. It turned out okay. I am reminded of how much I need to learn and how much I know and yet need to do better at putting into practice. Anyway, on the way back down the canyon I stopped and took this. I had my niece with me as an assistant and I let her take some photos with my camera also. She doesn't know much about photography, and I sort of taught her as we went along. I really enjoy teaching. Especially on an individual basis.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The D3...

I'd like to introduce you to my Nikon D3. This thing is great. It fits my hand like a glove. Albeit a heavy glove, a glove none the less. In fact, that is my only possible problem with it, is the weight. The lens on it here is the smallest lens I own for it. My 70-200 2.8 (which it seems like I use the most) is four times that big, so you can imagine that it is huge. It's really quite a comforting feeling to have it hanging at my side with the 70-200 on it. I'm sure it sounds wierd, but I can't explain it any better. It's not so much the camera as it is what the camera allows me to do.

I sold my motorcycle to buy this and I have never looked back. I think the money I spent on it is quite possibly the best money I ever spent, except for maybe my old Toyota truck, which I bought brand new and has 345,000 miles on it so far.

Seriously, most people probably would never care, but a while back I sent my D3 in for cleaning, and while it was gone then I had to use my older D200 for an engagement photo session. I really missed the D3 and I was so excited when I got it back that I could hardly contain myself. So I went out and took this picture.

On another note, I sold an older D200 body and a 12-24 lens, and between the two I was able to get the newer Nikon 24-70 2.8 midrange zoom that I have wanted for some time. It arrived today. I really wanted to get it for the upcoming weddings that I am photographing next month. With this purchase, I will be retiring my Nikon 24-85, and it will be up for sale. Although I used to be really happy with the 24-85, the last couple of months it has failed to meet my expectations. I believe that I have started to push it more and that is why. I am demanding a lot more then I used to, and I can see the difference in the image quality. I have great hopes for this 24-70. Just like all the Pro Nikons, it feels...different. Very solid, and the response is very nice. I will be trying it out in the next few days and see what I think.

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's snowing! ...a little...

We got our first real snow on the valley floor Saturday night. I went out and walked around it in it a bit at about 1:00 AM. We got somewhere around an inch at my house, but it didn't last long. It was mostly gone by Sunday afternoon.

These were taken at Presidents Circle at the University of Utah. I was down there walking around Sunday morning, the snow was still falling, and it was sort of magical. Everything was so peaceful and serene that I had to get my camera out. There has been something in the air the last few days, as though everything is in harmony with everything else. It's really been nice.

I suppose that everything natural is always in harmony, but it is just us that loses that harmony with everything else.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Up against the wall...

It's funny to me, I had some shoots that went really badly, so I sort of stopped shooting anything for a while. As it turns out, that was a mistake. I've been shooting again the last few days and I'm having a blast.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Back shooting...

Last weekend on my way back from a project in Park City, I took the long way home and I stopped and took some pictures. It's the first time in over a month since I really took any pictures, and I have to say that it really felt good. I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of having a camera in my hand again.

It's really nice up there in the mountains right now. Really nice. I was actually looking for a good location for a couple shot that I have coming up, but I took this while I was going along. The time of day is not the best, and I might go back up and take it again in better light.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Trapped by what you say?

Trapped by our habits, thoughts, fears, and anything else that keeps us from doing what we feel inside that we should do. Trapped by whatever keeps us from fighting the good fight.

This was shot in Rome, Italy, at the Roman Forum.
An interesting story:

Friday afternoon I sat in on a promotion test at the Tae Kwon Do Dojang that I am a part of. I was not testing myself, but as a Black Belt, I was invited by the Master to sit in at the judging table during the test to learn about judging.

During a promotion test, the person testing will always have a board break as part of the test, and sometimes several boards depending on their level. I was holding the board to be broken by one of our younger students. He was supposed to break it with a front snap kick, using the ball of his foot. It is a very simple break really, and especially if you have already done it before. Back when I first did it, I was very apprehensive about it, and spent weeks doing toe stretches in preparation. (Who wants a broken toe?)

The student, bless his heart, kicked the board and didn't break it. I groaned inwardly, because he hadn't hit it near hard or fast enough. He tried again. And again. Try as he might, he didn't seem to be able to muster the power to break it. Not because he couldn't, but because he wouldn't. He began to kick it repeatedly, more timidly with each kick.

As you might imagine, all that does is hurt your foot. The Master got sort of impatient with him, and I wondered why he was being so hard on him. It was then that I had the clear impression that there was a greater lesson in the works here. The student had plenty of power to make the break, but he was too afraid of the board for some reason. There was one kick when he almost did it, and I could feel the difference, but after that he reverted back to his weak kick.

Later on that evening as I sat and reflected on the day, I realized that the lesson had been for me as much as it had been for the student. I suppose that was why I got asked to hold the board. Not because the Master was trying to teach me, but some greater teacher was at work that afternoon. How many boards am I scared of? Scared of them even though inwardly, I have plenty of power to break them, if I just would.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


One early morning in Italy, the group went out to photograph and I went with them. After we had been out there a couple of hours then we stopped at a little shop to have breakfast. I wandered away from everyone else down this side street and I took this picture.

While I was standing there with the camera on the tripod, then I called my sister Naomi. Or she called me. I cannot recall for sure but in any case, I hugged the phone with one shoulder while I talked to her and continued to make adjustments to the settings of the camera for this shot.

She was getting married close around that time and I had helped her with some of the arrangments for the invitations, the location for the wedding, the reception, etc. I had set a lot of it up and then I left for Italy, so I was touching base with her to make sure of some minor details.

I had been in Italy for about a week, and the style of the photographers I was there with was driving me mad. It was totally different then how I did things, and as nice as they were, hanging out with them every day was really starting to wear on me. That morning, I was extra frustrated. To top it off, I felt very homesick. When I talked to Naomi then it was early morning for me, and it was late night for her. She had that characteristic late night giggle of hers, and it was really great to talk with her. It was really what I needed at the time. Yet at the same time, I knew that things were changing soon, beause she was getting married. Something of my feelings that day made it into this shot.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Colosseum...

Let's switch gears for a moment here. This is the Colosseum in Rome. I was there for four days and there was one photo that I was really after, and that was of the Colosseum. I guess it was because my dad always used to talk about how he visited it when he was a young man. Anyway, I spent a while getting this shot. As is normal, I found the spot the day before and came back the next evening and set up early and waited for the light.

The Colosseum was a lot different then I expected it to be. I just never realized that it was so surrounded by the city. A busy road drives almost all the way around it. I was in a taxi cab and as we were driving along, all of a sudden there it was. It just sort of jumped out at me.

Other shots from Italy:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Name Trama...

It's places like this that exist right in the middle of the city that fascinate me. I love them. This is a small, but peacful and serene little pond nestled in the little town of Greely, Colorado. It was so peaceful that I fell asleep sitting next to a tree for three or so hours.
I am having some name trama. As it turns out, there is a lady in Texas already running a business under the name of Spirit Photography. I could use it anyway, because I am in Utah, but I want to be original. So I have gone back to the drawing board for a company name. It is proving rather difficult to come up with what I want.

I the meantime, I will simply be doing business as Alma G Naylor, Photographer. My web address will remain the same for the present.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

In memory...

I wrote the following article a year or so ago in response to an email that I received that was so racist that it made me sick. I promptly sat down and wrote this piece, but then I never sent it out because it seemed too personal. It has never been published or sent out in any form, until today.

I look out the window at the Wyoming countryside. It seems more of a desert wasteland to me. "What a place to be buried, I mumble to myself." Perhaps she had liked it though.

The words of the obituary are still running through my head:

"Emelia ..., age 20, ... died Monday ... as the result of an automobile accident. She was born in 1981 ... Survivors are her parents ... six sisters, including her twin ... and a brother ..."

I couldn't get it out of my mind then and I cannot get it out now. I sat there at my desk and read it again and again. I was stunned. Now months later, I am still plagued by it all. So here I am, driving my old truck across the God forsaken Wyoming countryside. I glance over at the passenger seat, but the only thing there is a single red rose in a bottle of water. I look at the rose, and I wonder about it all. Why am I here? What am I doing all of this for? And even more of a question to me, why did she have to die? Twenty years old...

I pull up to the small cemetery and I sit there for a minute. Then I get out and I start to wander around in search of the gravestone. I cover the first half of the cemetery with no luck. "Where is she," I wonder out loud. Then I cross over to the second half of the cemetery. I stop to look at a particularly fancy headstone, and then I glance upward and out into the open end of the cemetery. There, about fifty feet away and all by itself, stands one lone headstone. It has a hanging flower basket next to it and I can read the wording from where I stand. My heart skips a beat and I catch my breath. "Emelia ... " the headstone reads. Simple, and alone. Out and away from all of the other graves.

I hesitate. Suddenly, I am not sure that I can go over there to it, but after a moment, I slowly walk over there and sit down about five feet away. I read the headstone again and again.

"To thine own self be true"
"Emelia ..."

Twenty years old. I am stunned and I feel like someone has hit me in the stomach. From somewhere inside, all the frustration, all the questions, and the extreme sense of loss just tumble out. I start to weep bitterly, and I look up and ask the simple question, "Why?" "Why did she have to die?" But the only response today is silence. Even the wind is perfectly still.
...I stand on the warm sand. In the distance, the sun is setting. In the shadowy dusk, there is a variety of activity in the small village. The gentle breeze is a relief from the heat of the day. As I walk down the village path, I am drawn to a lady that is sitting outside a hut with a child in her arms. I approach them. The woman watches me, wary and cautious. I try to talk with her. She indicates that the child is very sick. I gently feel the child’s forehead and the woman does not stop me. I am shocked as my hand touches the small head. The little girl has a burning fever. The woman eyes seem to wonder if I can help and my heart aches to help them. Later that night, as I sit against the wall on the dirt floor and hold the child, I wonder about it all. She is a beautiful little girl. The mother comes over and looks at the child, gently changing the damp cloth on the child’s forehead. The cloth is old and worn, more of a rag than anything. It all seems so hopeless. There is hardly food here for the child if she should live. I wish to myself that I could see her eyes. I doze off to sleep holding her in my arms. In the early morning hours, I hold the child as her spirit leaves her body. The mother is overcome with fatigue and grief. As I carefully pass the small bundle to the mother, I realize: She is a child of God. She is in good hands now.
...I walk through the airport. I am here to pick someone up from a flight and it has been delayed. I stand and watch as the people come off of the planes. I smile as an older lady is engulfed in embraces by her grandchildren. I watch as a young mother rushes to meet her husband, with her baby in her arms. I watch as a soldier in uniform walks towards a group of family. He embraces his mother first, and there are tears in her eyes. I watch as young and old alike stand in anticipation, looking down the corridor. There are cries of "I see him" and "there she is." The joy, the anticipation, and the happiness are tangible...and as I stand there, I realize, these are all children of God....They have kindred, ties, and they love others.
...I walk around the ruins of Perge. It is evening, and the setting sun sends rays of golden light dancing off of the ancient city walls. In the street, where there was once a bustling city, there are a few women and children trying to sell blankets and trinkets to the tourists. As I stand there, a young boy comes up and holds forward some short twigs of some very fragrant plant. He is speaking Turkish and I cannot understand him, but I gather that it is some sort of herb or spice. I pay him a quarter for one of the twigs and he allows me to take some pictures. He then goes off to rejoin his family, selling blankets in a dead marketplace. As the last light fades, I leave the city ruins and I wonder to myself, what will his life be? Will he be influenced by radical Islam? I realize that there are hardly any Christians in his country. Will he grow up to hate Christians? I cannot tell what his life will be like. But, he is child of God....
...I knock quietly and walk into the room. The young lady is laying in the hospital bed. The room is quiet and it is furnished nice enough, and yet I wonder to myself if it feels more like a tomb to her. A place that she would rather be rid of. I talk with her for a moment and offer my condolences. She has just had an infant die after living for a few brief moments. I wonder to myself what I could possibly say that would mean anything? Later in the hall, I speak with her husband. He is fighting to maintain his composure and I can see that it is all taking a toll on him. I wish that there is something that I could say, something that I could do...but I can’t. As I leave the hospital, I take comfort in knowing that they are children of God, and that he will help them.
...The nurse shows me to the bedside of the elderly lady. The lady notices me and reaches for my hand. She firmly grasps it with both of hers. "Thank you for coming," she says. I glance around the nursing home room at the walls and furnishings. The dear lady is in her eighties at least. I inquire how she is doing. "It’s pretty rough" she replies, "But they are taking good care of me here". We talk of her family, and her sister. She is Catholic, and has a Crucifix there close by. After some time, I go to leave and she seems reluctant to let go of my hand. A couple of weeks later, I hear that she has passed away...I wonder about it all, and I hope the best for her. I am happy to realize that she is a child of God.
...I step out of the shower and grab the ringing phone. "Jeff died on Saturday, can you make the viewing and funeral at 10:00?" says the voice on the line. "Sure, I’ll be there..." I reply. I switch out for my suit and tie. As I drive to the funeral, I wonder what I could possibly say to Kim, Jeff’s wife. Jeff has been battling with cancer for several months now, and some time ago the doctors sent him home to die. As I walk in, I am greeted by members of the family, tears in their eyes. On the table is a collection of family pictures. Pictures of family, friends, brothers, sisters, his wife. And his kids. Three beautiful children. The oldest is a six year old boy. In an awkward moment, I get trapped in the viewing room as they close the doors for the family prayer. I try and shrink into the corner, feeling that I don’t belong there. I watch as the young lady moves to the casket with her kids, their tears freely flowing, trying to be strong and brave. My heart aches for them. I wonder about her...will she be okay? I wonder about the kids. How will they turn out? Will they all be okay? Later on, I kneel down and shake hands with the oldest boy. "I’m sorry about your dad." I say. It seems lame to say, but what else can be said? He looks at me and simply says "Okay". He is trying to be strong and brave. As I walk out of the building, I wonder what life will hold for them. I can only take comfort in knowing that they are all children of God, and that he will be there for them.
...The father steps forward and takes the small baby girl from her mother. "Please join me," he asks the brethren present. I am pleased to be able to participate with her father, grandfather, uncles and cousins in blessing her with a name. Later on, I ask the mother if I may hold her. As I sit there and look at her, she is sleeping peacefully. I ponder over the wonder of it all. The little body, the individual fingers, the little fingernails. Her little nose, eyes and mouth. She is beautiful, and almost seems like an angel. Her hair is long and dark. I wonder to myself, what will life hold for her? What trials will she face? How will she deal with the issues that life will throw her direction? Will she be okay? As I gently hand her back to her mother, I take comfort that she is a child of God. The fact that she is here is evidence that there is still hope.
...I sit across from a little girl and I look at her. She is a beautiful little girl, about three years old. She is truly radiant, radiant with a light that seems almost to come from within her, instead of around her. Her eyes are captivating, her hair blondish in color. She has a small smile, and gazes evenly back at me. I can tell that she is happy, and truthfully, I marvel at it a little.

"Why would you want to come here?" I ask her. "Look at everything. It’s a mess. The wickedness, the evil, the heartache. Why come here at all?"

"Because of the opportunity to love," she replies. "The opportunity to love in a way that is not possible where I am right now."

Sunday, August 17, 2008


It was quite a week for our nation, for athletes all over the world, and for me. Let’s recap:

I watched last Sunday and as America took the Gold in the Mens 4x100m Freestyle Relay. It was an amazing and fitting end after the Frenchies had been talking smack. I couldn’t help but just laugh. Then I continued to watch as Michael Phelps won gold after gold, setting new records all along the way and breaking his own records.

Wednesday, I watched as the US won the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay – something like five seconds ahead of the next team and a new world record. Sitting in a restaurant Thursday evening, I watched as Phelps won his sixth gold medal for these games. The entire restaurant was riveted to the screen and proceeded to cheer and clap on the completion of the race.

Friday night, I stood in a crowded mall area and watched the big screen as Phelps won the 100-meter fly, by .01 of a second. Once again, everyone around me was clapping.

And last night, I fired up my Blackberry to see if he had made his eighth gold medal in the Mens 4x100m Medley Relay. Sure enough, he had done it.

Quoted from an NBC article by Alan Abrahamson:

"…Michael Phelps set out before the Beijing Games with the most audacious goal in the history of the modern Olympics, to win eight gold medals at a single Games."

"…I'm almost speechless," Peter Ueberroth, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee said Saturday after watching Phelps beat Cavic. "He's beginning to set a whole new standard for his sport and for America."

Way to go Michael Phelps!

And in another sport...

I sat in a restaurant and watched Nastia Liukin perform her beam routine during the US team prelims and I was stunned by the rhythmic and beautiful flow of it all. She is a testament to the fact that women’s gymnastics has always been, and hopefully always will be, an artistic sport and not just a technical one. She was a joy to watch with her graceful execution of routines in the all-around competition. I missed the end of the event and I was glad to hear later that she had won the Gold. Despite the ankle injuries last year and everything else, she made it, and it just rocked that she won.

Way to go Nastia Liukin!

I also enjoyed watching Shawn Johnson and I was really glad that she took Silver. And how about when the US Mens Gymnastics team took that Bronze when no one expected them to even medal?

It just makes me smile and laugh to think about it all. Yes sir, America rocks!

Of course, the Olympics are about people doing great things. They are about people doing better and better. They are about people doing the seemingly impossible.

I summoned a little piece of my own history for myself this last week. I received a contract in the mail for the largest deal that I have ever closed. Over a quarter of a million dollars. Over one quarter of my gross sales last year, but in a single contract. Almost double any previous contract landed by me. I have worked on this deal for almost two years. It has moved between three general contractors, and somehow, our company stayed in the game.

Sure I’m a little nervous, because getting a contract doesn’t mean the job is done, but I am excited. And I’m grateful. I’ve had to take some time to sit and contemplate how I got here, and where I am going. I used to dream of closing a deal this big, and now here it is. I’m a deeply spiritual person, and I can’t help but be thankful to a higher source for this success. I just sit here in awe and I wonder what else might be in store for my life.

I told someone that I didn’t really start on this deal a year and a half ago. I started on it at least ten years ago, when I first started in sales as a 20-year-old. It was some of the hardest stuff I had ever done and definitely the most depressing. I have been privileged to have had some of the best teachers and mentors that a person could have asked for, and I want to say thank you to them. People like David Mathews & Ken Bolinder; and great writers like Og Mandino, Steven R Covey, Vash Young, Napolean Hill, and a host of others that I don’t have the space to write here.

Over the last couple of months, and especially the last couple of weeks, I’ve rediscovered the books, the materials, and the ideas that I have studied for years. And suddenly, I am seeing them with new eyes, and I am excited to see where it leads. I feel almost as though I have been in the doldrums and I am awakening. It is almost as though a new me is emerging. And yes, it feels very, very good.

I just smile at how it all happened this week, with the Olympics and all. At the 2002 Olympics, here in Salt Lake City, I had just gone bankrupt with my Golf Store. I had been forced to close it down because of insufficient funding and I owed thousands of dollars to various creditors. I was a smashed person and the night of the closing Olympic Ceremonies, I came home and sat in my room. I took an old book from the shelf that I had never read. It was a book from my Dad titled, A Fortune to Share, by Vash Young. I read it clear through that night and, it changed my life.

So here we are, at another Olympics. And yes, life is changing. And you know what? ...It's going to be okay.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Deep Magic...

It's a good day today. The deep magic is very much alive and well! :)

But seriously, let's talk about number strings for a minute. Consider the string 72572. That has to be just about the coolest numerical string I have seen in a while. And while were talking about it, what do you think about the number 9? Nine has to be one of the coolest numbers around.

But before you think that I have flipped out, let's talk about this photo.

I took this in October of 2006. I went out for a Sunday afternoon drive and I ended up at the bottom of Wolf Creek pass. I went for a walk and took the camera. I took several shots as the sun was setting. It's really nice up there. I would love to live in that area, except for the commute.

In 2007, I submitted a black and white variant of this shot to the PPA International Print Competition. In this competition, a print either earns a merit or it does not. There is no limit on how many prints can earn a merit, regardless of the number of submissions. They did not merit ANY of my prints. Then in the review, they decided to pick them apart technically without ever even discussing the spiritual/emotional value. That was the day that I decided that I was done with PPA. I decided that I would have to care less what they thought about my work. I do wish that I had sent this one instead of the black and white one, maybe they would have liked it better.

I just decided that I wasn't going to modify my style just to please some commercial organization so that I could claim to be a PPA "master". My true style was more important.

"To thine own self be true." It's a motto I try and live by. Be true to your better self. Be true to your own style.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meet Paul...

Just for the record, this post has nothing to do with photography.

Saturday, I went wakeboarding for the first time. It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life so far. It was one of those times when your logical mind is telling you that you are fine, but your body is screaming at you that you are going to die. I've walked three story walls, jumped off of roofs, shingled on steep roofs without ropes or toe boards, worked on all kinds of truss systems way high in the air, hiked backcountry mountains all by myself in the middle of the night, and a myriad of other scary things, but I think this took the cake.

I went up with a few of my friends. I watched Andrew go first and he made it look pretty easy. Then Paul asked if I was ready. I figured what the heck. So I went to the back of the boat and strapped onto the board. "Okay, just jump out as far as you can from the boat, and fall forward, not backward."

I'm standing up, I have both of my feet strapped onto some piece of composite plastic that is four feet long. I looked at the water, and I looked at Paul. Jumping in wasn't quite what I had in mind. I wanted to slip gently into the water and slowly get used to the cold and the wet. "Just jump in?" I ask. "Yeah, just jump in" he replies. I look at the water again and suddenly, this just doesn't seem good. But, I couldn't see any other way, so I jumped out, as far as I could.

Let's just say that my initial reaction to jumping in was not pretty. Firstly, it was the deepest water I have ever been in. And I fell forward alright, with the cold, the wet, my face under the water. It just wasn't good. It was an all-out battle to try and get my mind rational and under control. The water was cold to me, and I had to get used to it for a minute so I could even talk. I was on my stomach, just holding my head above the water. Sure, I had a life jacket on, but my body was still telling me I was going to die.

The first order of business was learning how to flip the board around so that I was on my back. Looking back at it, it was a lot like when I took my sisters skiing and I had them fall over on purpose and then try to stand up. They always really struggle with it. It's the first exercise I do with new people, because they have to learn it before they can move on. Finally, I just had to grit my teeth and I was able to flip the board around. Then came my first tow.

It went okay for maybe a second, I was in no way ready for the massive force of the boat pulling me and I think I went clear over forward. I was determined to hold on and as a result, I got dragged for a second before I let go. I was on my face again. Choking and sputtering, I waited for the boat to come back to me.

I think on the second pull I got up for maybe a second and then lost it. I learned to let go a lot sooner and that helped. As the boat came back to get me, I told them that I wasn't a quitter but I just couldn't do this. They got me to keep trying though, and I went for it a couple more times. At that point, I just couldn't take it any more, I had to get out of the water. I had swallowed what felt like gallons of water, and I was shaking all over.

I sat in the boat while Paul went next and I took the picture above. I was so unnerved that I forget to set my camera right and I shot everything at f2.8, so most of them were blurry, but I had two that weren't.

We had problems with the wakeboard so I didn't go again that day. I want to learn it though. I think that it would be really fun once you got used to it. It reminds me again of when I learned to ski. The first day I only skied a couple of hours, and I was thrashed. The second time, I hurt myself and I almost stopped after the first hour, but I stayed and by the end of the day I had a pretty good time. The third time, I had a blast.

So maybe that is how it is with wakeboarding. Perhaps I just need to get a couple of times under my belt. It's important to me that I learn how, and I feel a bit bad that it didn't go better. I also need to get over my intense fear of water.

On another note, I think that maybe I work to much. By design, I spend most of my time working on one thing or another. If not on my job then I spend it on some project or class or something. It seems like I always have something going and I don't do a lot of recreational things or socializing with other people. It was great to go up there and just hang out with my friends, watch them with their kids, and play games. It really was good, and I had a really great time.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Badlands, South Dakota. It's amazing really, the difference that a little light can make. This is the same tree and field that was in the last photo. The composition is a bit different.

I spent Saturday looking at locations for an upcoming engagement shoot. I had a rush wedding shoot on Sunday, (they asked me Saturday night) and I photographed a very large family group (45 people) on Monday night. I am extremely busy at my real job, so it's crazy to say the least. I'm way behind on getting people's pictures back to them and I'm going to have to start turning people away.

The conclusion: I am in desperate need of an assistant.

I don't know if I will keep doing large group shots. I may just bag them altogether because I am having a lot of problems with getting them to look good. I am really struggling with them on everything from posing, to lighting, to stupid things like sharpness.

I need to go back and take some really serious photography courses to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. The problem: I need the time!
Maybe I will stop doing weddings, and stop doing large groups, and focus on individual, couples, and very small group sessions. I dunno. Something to think about.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Dark Magic...

Why do we fear the dark? Does God fear the dark?

"...This is a world you'll never understand. And you always fear what you don't understand. "

- Quoted from Batman Begins

I'm posting this picture out of sequence with my trip log, but I figure who really cares? Maybe tomorrow I'll throw on a picture from Italy, I don't know. In any case, this shot is taken in Badlands National Park. At the South end of the Northern Unit is a small and secluded little campground. It is very remote. A few other campers were there, but it almost seemed as though I was all by myself. I was out shooting pictures when the storm rolled in right before dark. The wind kicked up and rolled across the tall grasses. As I stood out there in the middle of the field with the tall grasses all around me, it felt strange. Between the wind gusts, it was perfectly still. The prairie dogs disappeared, and it was as if the mountain was bidding everything to be still for the approaching storm. In the distance, the lightening bolts lit up the sky. It was menacing and scary, yet it was calm and serene, in it all there seemed a strange sort of darkness. I felt completely alone, and for that moment, it felt good. Just me and the Badlands.

I went to sleep that night in the truck with a sort of calm serenity about me. During the night, it rain and rained. I remember stirring enough to realize that it was raining. In the morning, the sun came out and it was beautiful. It had rained a lot, and the river nearby was swollen. The clay mud caked up on my shoes as I walked around. The dry grasses were heavily laden with water droplets. I packed up and left, marking it down as one of my favorite stops on the trip.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sacred Grove on Smith Farm in Palmyra NY

I spent about twenty hours out of a 48 hour period right in this grove, wandering around, sitting and thinking, and taking photographs in an effort to catch a "definitive shot" that would portray the spirit and feeling of this place for those that have been here, and those that have spiritual roots attached to this place. I have several really great shots, but I think that this is the one shot I would pick if I could only pick one.

I had been shooting the night before and I was thinking to myself that it would be perfect if I could have some fog to filter the light. That night I set my alarm for abut 5:00 am with the intent of going out and catching some early morning light. On the drive from my hotel to the farm, I was surprised and elated to be immersed in some really heavy and dense fog. It felt like magic.

Upon reaching the grove, at first it didn't seem that the fog was in the grove very much. It seemed confined mostly to the fields. I was a bit disappointed, but I started shooting and I was getting some pretty good stuff. I had already been there an hour or so when I took this. Until I took this shot, I didn't really feel like I could leave Palmyra. I really wanted a good shot of this grove and I didn't get it until that morning. I did end up staying the rest of the day and taking some more that evening though, just for kicks.

When I left Palmyra, I was shot. I felt emotionally and creatively drained. I was sleep deprived and food deprived. It was almost like the time spent there and sucked it all out of me.

Given my personal investment in this photograph, I am intensely interested in the public response to it. I would welcome some feedback, but I want you to be totally honest about it. If it doesn't affect you, don't be afraid to say, "Dude, it's just trees and sunlight." I'll understand. :) Of course, your viewing it on a 3x4 computer image. You need to see it on a 24x30 canvass.

Check out these other shots of the grove and the Smith farm:

Tribute (My personal favorite)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Smith Farm in Palmyra, NY...

The first part of my trip really turned into a Mormon church history tour. I was right there, so I spent two and a half days at Palmyra. These shots are taken at the Smith farm one morning as the fog was dispersing. I spent most of my time in Palmyra right here on this farm trying to capture the intangible. I wanted to capture something in these pictures that would make them meaningful to people with Mormon background, who will tend to hold it as a sacred place. Hopefully it worked.

This shot has a lot of distance invovled, and I think that it might make a good large format print.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Back!!!

I'm back from my trip. The stats are in:

A couple thousand miles flown, 3,518 miles driven, 11 days on the road, 11 states, 1 province of Canada, and few a thousand photographs.

Pretty wild really. Many thanks to Sam for purchasing his truck in New York and letting me go and get it for him. It really made for an interesting experience. I will be posting a few pictures as I get to doing it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Answer....

Awhile back in this blog, I posed a question. I asked if it was really possible that a piece of art could change a persons life. I also wondered if it was worth pursuing its creation. Today, I got my answer to both of those questions.

I have a certain promise that I made once that I would accomplish a certain task for someone. I frequently have been in complete despair that the situation would ever be such that I could fulfill that promise. I have doubted, questioned, wondered, and about everything in between.

Close by Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada there sits a quaint little town named Niagara-on-the-lake. I have been in New York for a couple of days now, and I had planned to go to Niagara Falls while I was here. At the insistence of a friend of mine, I decided to visit this little town. I arrived here at about noon today and I found my way through the crowds of people and finally parked. I wondered what on earth I was doing here right in the middle of tourist season. I parked right next to a church with an adjoining cemetery and I walked through the cemetery.

For some reason, I stopped by a headstone and stared at it for some time. I read the names and dates several times. It was the grave of a man and his wife. I noticed that the wife was about ten years younger then him. For some reason, I just stood there and stared at it. He had died well before her. I wondered what their lives had been like. How they met, what experiences they had.

I wandered across the street where there was a sort of extension of the cemetery. There was a small area there that was fenced in and there were about twenty graves in there. The plaque that was mounted there explained that the area was a memorial dedicated to a group of Polish solders. Out of about fifty then 24 or 25 had died because of sickness during training. I thought for a moment about the ravages of war and then I snapped a picture without even trying to compose it and I wandered down the street. I wondered again why I was in this town.

I crossed the street and walked along the shops there. I went in a building that said it was a gallery. It was interesting, but there wasn’t much in it that I cared for. I continued down the street and I saw this very pleasant looking house there. I took a picture of it because I liked the way that it looked and then I realized that it had a sign on the door that indicated that it was a gallery also. The Trisha Romance gallery. Being the romantic that I am, I was intrigued. So I wandered up the path and walked in. On entering the house, I was immediately pleased. It was decorated nicely with the artist's paintings hanging on all of the walls. They had kept the feel of it being a house with individual rooms, but they had opened all of the rooms up, so there were wide doorways without doors. They extended the gallery to the upstairs. Most of the rooms were furnished with small side tables and soft chairs. It was very nice and felt like a home, except that there were paintings around on all of the walls and tables. The gallery even extended up the classic wood staircase and filled the upstairs rooms as well.

On a table by the front window was a book with the a lot of the artist's work in it. I flipped through it, and I was caught by a couple of images but one in particular really jumped out at me. I stared at the lighting and the people portrayed in it.

I wandered through the gallery, and then I ran into the same picture in a canvass edition, on one of the walls. I just stood there and stared at it. I wandered through the whole gallery for a couple of hours. I talked with the painters daughter, who was there and also had her own paintings for sale there. But I kept returning to the one painting. The scene seemed to reach deep inside me and touch an element of my soul.

It was simple really. A beautiful lady sits comfortably on a couch, there are windows letting a soft light into the room. A fireplace gives a feeling of warmth to the whole scene and there are bookcases stacked on either side of it. There are comfortable chairs in the room, and in the center of the room is a table with two little girls working at it. They are writing on some Christmas cards. The lady sitting on the couch reads other cards to them. One of the little girls looks up at her mother while she reads.

I cannot possibly put words to how this painting affected me. And it was there, while I stood in that gallery, that I was struck by what this lady had done. The old house was converted into a wonderful gallery. And each painting was filled with emotion and meaning. And while I stood there, I thought to myself that it was exactly what I wanted. Something that felt warm, inviting, and pleasant. Perhaps with a studio in the basement. I began to change my whole idea of what I though that I wanted in terms of a studio/gallery. Maybe a house rather then a commercial building. Something that could feel as warm and inviting as this place.

And there was the painting. I pulled her daughter aside and asked her to please tell her mom, that I was deeply touched by the whole experience and especially the painting. I explained to her that my question over the last few months had been thus: Was the pursuit and creation of art really worth it? Could it affect and change peoples lives? I told her that the painting had answered that for me, because when I looked at it,then I was reminded of some of the most important promises, hopes and dreams. It seemed to touch some of the deepest parts of my soul. And because of that, if I allowed it to, then it would change my life.

I didn’t buy that painting today, but I will own it someday. You can mark it down. I’m going to save some every month until I can buy it. It really changed my perspective on things. Somehow, that painting has embedded in it what it needs to remind me of my promise. It helps me realize the importance of that promise and it helps me believe that it is all possible.

So yes, art might very well change peoples lives. At the least, then it can remind them what really matters. And because of this, then it is worth pursuing its creation. I believe that I am finally persuaded of this. And the other thing that it did was help me to realize that it is okay to charge for your work. I would pay that lady for that painting. I would save if it took five years to buy that painting. And I think that it would be worth it. Because of what it does inside of me. I sat there in the store and I just looked at it for a long time.

I admire Trisha for her gallery, for what she has created and for the paintings that have the capacity to inspire. I was deeply moved by it all today, and I thank her for that. I will have a gallery like that someday with a studio attached. Just watch and see.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I had to post it. It was just too cool.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Kaimos Afosiosi

Some of my friends and family have seen this picture. It was taken at Southern Utah University, Upper Campus. This photograph is the capstone of the Sharsmith Project, and it reflects a small piece of my heart and soul. It is named Kaimos Afosiosi which is Greek.

See the Preface and Index for the Sharsmith Project here.

Probably no one will ever understand this photo, and that's okay.

Good Medicine.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

SUU campus - Into the Light...

There's not a lot to say here. The last photo of a long day shooting. I used to load up my camera bag with three cameras and start walking across campus at about 5:00 in the afternoon. I would usually finish at about 11:00.

My lesson learned today, and for the last couple of months, is that some things in life are worth fighting for. If we don't actually fight for them, we will quite possibly always regret it. So don't give in. Put yourself out there. If it seems to really matter then chances are there is a good reason why.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

SUU - Old Main

"...We younger fellows were loitering around and wondering what they might say or do that could make us face that deep snow and cold again, rather sure that they couldn't put it over. One and another of us drifted in and out, listening, arguing among ourselves. Who said it, when or how it was said I couldn't say, but something stirred us to a determination to go back, get to work and see the thing through.”

- Rob Will Bulloch, quoted in SUU: The First Hundred Years

The tremendous efforts of the citizens of Cedar City brought about the timely completion of the first building on campus, and it is loving dubbed "Old Main." It stands as a testament to a community that pulled together and sacrificed to complete a task that seemed impossible. They did it because they wanted better opportunities, and better lives for generations that would come. Most of them knew that they would not personally benefit from the school, but they took the opportunity to help others stand on their shoulders.

It makes me stop and think for minute to myself. What roads am I walking today that others may walk in the future? What am I doing so that others may stand on my shoulders? What am I doing to make better opportunities for those that may follow me? And in short, what difference am I making?

I have to add some creation data for this picture, because it was so nice the way it worked out. I was down at SUU for a late evening shoot and it was getting dark fast. I was shooting film. In shots like this where you are trying to balance artificial light with fading natural light, quite often my light meter is wrong and the shot requires overexposure. Long exposures also require exposure compensation when you are using film. This shot was about 20-30 seconds.

At the time, I really didn't know any of this. I had no clue how magical it can be to balance artificial and fading natural light. But I accidentally left my camera in a compensation mode so it was overexposing everything about two stops as I recall. I realized it later on that night as I was packing things up. I figured the shots would be wasted. Picture this: It's like 9:30 at night, the grass is wet so I don't want to kneel down. I'm doing 30 second exposures, which entails waiting patiently. I'm tired and I have to drive back to Salt Lake that night. And then my camera was set wrong. I just chucked everything in the truck and drove back to Salt Lake. A couple of days later when I got the film back from the lab, I was ecstatic with the results. So what I thought was a complete loss ended up teaching me new techniques that I used throughout the rest of the project and still use now. Interesting.

The next amazing thing about this photo is that I was back down at SUU the following weekend and they had set up construction barriers all around this building because they had started an extensive renovation project that lasted about two years. If I had not taken this shot and the others that I took the same weekend, I never would have gotten a good shot of Old Main for the Sharsmith Project. Sort of amazing really. If my camera hadn't been set wrong? Who knows...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Southern Utah University, The Founders Monument...

Southern Utah University has one of the most dramatic beginnings of perhaps any University in America. They received a charter from the State for the school, but then they were threatened with losing that charter if they didn't get a building built by a certain date. And it had to conform to the all of the standards of the buildings at the University of Utah. Because of the weather and the lack of funding, this seemed like an impossible task. The story that followed was one of an entire community pulling themselves together and doing whatever they could to see the task through. This included sending crews into the nearby mountains on an expedition to obtain lumber in the dead of winter, where they encountered serious difficulties with the cold and the snow. There arose a blizzard and the men were trapped out there in it. It was then that the story of this horse, now refereed to as "Old Sorrel", came into play. He would rise up and plunge into the snowbanks, breaking the trail for those that followed. The men later commented that they owed their lives to the horse. He is depicted here on campus in bronze, forever to be remembered as a part of SUU's history.

At one point in the lumbering expedition, the men were losing heart, and Cornelius Bladen, captain of the expedition told them: "We're not going to quit and don't get in into your heads that we are. We're going to go down and get bobsleds and then come back in here and get that lumber out!" He sounds like a determined soul. I would have liked to have met him.

The Founders Walkway extends from the Founders Monument across the campus to where Old Main stands on the east end.

I was about two months into the Sharsmith Project when I had to go to Phoenix for business. I had two of my younger sisters with me along for the ride, and we arrived in Cedar City at about 10:00 PM. There were snow drifts a couple of feet deep all over the city and it was still snowing that night when we arrived. I settled them into the hotel and I told them that I would not be back for a couple of hours. I took my camera, which was a Nikon N80 with Fuji Pro160S film, and wandered out into the night. I remember being filled with a sense of extreme awe at the beauty of it all. The lights and the falling snow. I never really made it to the upper campus, and I wish that I had, because it was probably beautiful. The footprints in this photograph are mine, after I had wandered in and then wandered back out. I looked back and I loved the way it all looked. The lights, the snow, the footprints. It definitely seemed magical to me. I had no idea if anything had worked until I got back to Salt Lake, and processed the film because I wasn't shooting digital yet. I was out there taking shots on the campus until about 2:00 am and I was totally soaked with snow by that point. I was freezing, but I had a certain warmth in my soul. This is really when the Sharsmith project began. I think that these images are the earliest images that actually made it into the final collection.

Preface and Index for the Sharsmith Project

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Preface to the The Sharsmith Project...

Last week the Father-of-the-groom of my last wedding shoot called and asked me to photograph an event for him on the 20th. A group of 22-44 people. I told him I'd have to think and let him know. Try as I might, and scared as I am about it, I didn't feel like I could say no. So, why not?

Up until now, everything I have posted has been taken in the last six months, but I am about to post some older stuff. I stumbled into the Sharsmith folder the other day and I started looking at all of those images. The Sharsmith project was a collection of photos that I took in the early part of 2006. They are of the Southern Utah University campus and buildings. I feel like posting some of them, and so I am going to over the next few days. I am also going to add some commentary about how each shot was taken.

These images were my best work at the time, and are still some of my best work. I was shooting well over my ability in the capture of these images. I was just barely experimenting with scanning film, I had never shot slides before, I had just barely started playing around with 4x5 view cameras, and I started shooting with digital midway through the project.

They are dedicated entirely to Camela Mckee Hall, because she inspired me to take them. When the final collection of fifty images was presented to her, she looked through them four of five times and then said, "Alma, you seriously should do this on the side." It was some of the last words that she spoke to me. I guess that's one reason why I accept side assignments today. I always remember those words when someone asks me to shoot something for them.

Some photos from this project:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wandering roads...

Last December when I went to California around my birthday, I was on my way back from Santa Barbara and decided that I would stop by the Sequoia National Forest. I had an extra day to spend and I figured what the heck. Anyway, the day before I took this photograph I was driving up the coast and it rained all day. I got to Springville very late and stayed there at the Springville Inn that night, which was a charming and very nostalgic feeling cozy country inn. The next morning it had cleared off and the morning was beautiful. Springville is at the south end of the forest and I decided to drive to the Northern end to see General Sherman, the largest tree.

I took a dirt road up over the mountains and at one point I stopped and took this photograph. There were light clouds which filtered the light and made things seem a bit mystical. It really was wonderful country, and as I drove along I was filled with a calm serenity. I wouldn't mind going back there someday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Racing with the light...

Yeah, that's right. Yesterday evening I had a race with the light. I think the last time I did that was last May and I was in Italy. I was running through the streets of Rome at 4:00 in the morning trying to get to the Coliseum in time to catch the perfect light. I had overslept, and I was literally losing my chance at the right light. It turned out okay, and I might post that shot someday.

This time, I was running up the side of a mountain. The sad part is that I had been up there an hour before and I had looked at the clouds and the sun, and said to myself, "Self, if you go down and get the camera, hike back up and wait for an hour, there might be some magic here." I decided that I wouldn't. I was out to enjoy the woods and check out the Good Medicine area, not particularly to photograph anything. So I hiked down. At my car, I debated again with myself as I watched the sun lower. I even got out my camera and sat there on the curb for a minute looking at the sun. I took a quick picture of the church steeple next door and then I just left. About 15 minutes and five miles later I sat in the Arby's parking lot and the sun popped below the clouds. Suddenly, the light that I had suspected was coming was there hitting me right in the face and dancing off everything around me. The light was so pretty that I started to go nuts. I was stuck in the drive through lane wishing that I could get out. I simply could not resist, and I decided to go back. I drove back to the trail head, debated for a second what lens to take, decided by grabbing my whole camera bag and tripod, and proceeded to run up the trail. I quickly realized that I was not going to make it to where I wanted to be before the light was gone. So I stopped right there and took this shot. I almost missed it. I didn't have a tripod mount on my big lens, and when I tried to quickly put it on, I got the wrong hole and the the whole affair wouldn't mount on my tripod. In a moment of desperation I finally bagged the tripod and handheld this shot, which worked fine anyway.

The light didn't last long, but shooting over the tops of the trees made for an interesting shot. Two minutes completely changed the whole scene, and while sunset photos are a dime a dozen, I sort of like this one. I probably couldn't have timed it better if I had tried. It always amazes me how my mood bleeds into the photograph. I was in a most calm and serene state of mind, and I think it shows up here in this image.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"...Long ago in a land very far away, there was a young man who was fond of travelling the countryside. He would often encounter different people in his travels, and he often sought to distill a bit of wisdom from the people that he met and the experiences that he had.

It so happened that one day, he met a beautiful lady that was enchanting. As he talked with her, he found out that she was a single mother, with a son that was six years old. Her husband had become an alcoholic and their divorce had ensued. The young man had often talked with divorced people, and he had also made a study of grief and loss. He often wondered what it was that enabled people to move past these things. So, as he talked with the lady, he asked her if it still hurt. She replied that it didn't so much, but that what made her angry was what her son's father was doing to her son by not being there for him. Then the lady said something like this, "If he would focus on making his sons life better, and not worry about himself, then he would have what he needed." She went on that day to talk more about this idea, that people need to look outside of themselves and take care of others.

When they parted ways, the young man thought a great deal about what the lady had said. As he wandered the hills and valleys, he wondered who he was more concerned about? Himself, or others? And why was he doing the things that he was doing? For himself? He wondered how to change that for the better..."

I think about this story a lot lately and I wonder how it fits in with this website, my photography, and my life in general. I take pictures because I love to, but what does it really do for other people? And do I really love to do it, or do I just think that I love it? Is it reasonable to continue in this direction or am I just being silly? I have spent a great deal of time thinking about this idea of not worrying so much about one's own self, and what they want to do. It is not a new concept to me, to be sure, but reading this story brings it to my mind in a new way. It makes me begin to question why I do the things that I do, who I really do them for, and why I may have certain goals and dreams.

Some time ago, I donated a framed copy of one of my finest photographs to a fund raiser that my niece was involved with. She asked me to, and I thought it might be interesting to see the public response. Towards the end of the event, I had a lady come up to me fighting back tears, and she said that if that photograph was in her house, it would change her life. I've wondered a lot about that. Could it really be true? Does, or can, fine art change peoples' lives? And if it does, is it worth pursuing it's creation? Or is it better to focus on something else that more directly affects a person's life?

I dunno...I really don't.