Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In memory of Lorin G Naylor...

Last Tuesday morning, I got a phone call telling me that my brother Lorin had passed away. I was across the country at the time, and I was flying back to Salt Lake that day. The rest of last week was spent with funeral arrangements, burial plans, and spending time with family.

This picture is of Lorin and myself a few years back on a camping trip, and Lorin is the one on the right. He was two years older then me and we grew up together, sharing a bedroom and working together. Our father had a passion for moving, and one time there was a greenhouse that Lorin and I tore down and rebuilt in three different locations across the United States. He used to put his earphones on with his Walkman while we worked and I would have to yell at the top of my lungs to get him to hear me. I can still hear him singing, "...cold as ice, your willing to sacrifice..." while I was yelling and trying to get his attention.

Then there was the time that he and I stayed for a week by ourselves on a ranch we were building out on the Utah/Nevada line, near a small town called Garrison. A hundred miles out in the middle of nowhere, I swear that the wind never stopped blowing there, and it was cold. Lorin and I stayed in a small trailer for a couple of months. But the week that I mention is one particular week when we were supposedly preparing to leave the place for the winter. Our parents left for a few days and Lorin and I stayed out there to winterize everything. That included us sheetrocking a small building. Without scaffold. Or real ladders. Instead of a scaffolding, we used straw bales and we moved them around the building to stand on while we sheetrocked. Short as I am, it took at least two bales to get me tall enough to do the ceiling. It was the most frustrating job ever and it's amazing that we didn't kill each other before we finished. We cooked for ourselves and in some ways, we had a grand time. We had no phone, and our only means of communication was a ham radio that we had set up.

Lorin loved guns, and while we were out there in that remote place, we snuck out with our father's 38 special pistol and went shooting. And then there was the time that we thought we would be adventurous and we followed the stream about 5 miles to the nearest ranch. We got as close as we dared because we didn't want the ranchers to see us.

While we lived in that area, there was a period of time when we would go haul hay a couple of afternoons a week. Someone would drive Lorin and I into Baker, which was about 20 miles away and we would load up our small trailer as high as we dared with hay bales. The old rancher taught me how to run the scales, and we would usually stop and get ice cream on the way home.

Good times. If a few small things had been different, things might not have ended this way, but I suppose that it is pointless to think like that. In so many ways, he just wanted to be accepted and recognized. I didn't take many pictures of Lorin, it's sort of sad really.

When we sat down to write the obituary last Wednesday, I came up with some stuff but it was too long and complex. However, my mom liked it and asked me to finish it and read it at the funeral. Some of it is pretty cryptic, and it won't make a lot of sense unless you know our family, but a lot of people asked for a copy so I am posting it here.

Who was Lorin, really?

Simplicity is a word that comes to mind. He was childlike, and might have done better in an era when life was simpler.

To see who Lorin was, we have to try and step into his shoes. The shoes of a man that had experienced horrible things, had seen horrible tragedies. We must step into the shoes of a man that loved simply, yet deeply; and whose daughter Kalliann was one of the most important things in his life. We must see a man that had the dreams of ranching and gardening. A man that would have appeared un-religious, but had deep religious roots that he would frequently reference back to.

At face value, he was a hard guy. A person that had made choices in life that he wished he had not made, and that made life very difficult for himself. He was a man that had personal demons that were a constant struggle to him, that he wanted desperately to overcome. “Don’t ever do what I have done”, he would say.

Lorin had a core group of people that deeply cared for him and stood by him. Starting with his mother, who worked tirelessly to help him, especially in recent years. Then his brother Frank, who talked with him endlessly and tried to help him as much as he could. His employer Mark Tyson, who gave him a place to stay, and many other counselors and friends that looked out for him.

If we could step into the past for a minute, we would see Lorin perhaps as he truly was. We would watch him play board games as a child, vigorously shaking the dice with both hands. Or we might see him playing with a toy truck, and using lincoln logs to build a miniature cabin. Later on, we would see him as he became obsessed with well drilling. And then we would see how he would pour over hunting magazines, and memorize ballistic charts. We might see him pray, openly and freely to a God that he deeply believed was listening. And lastly, we might see him as he sat on his couch, and watched a TV cartoon with his little girl.

As a family, we would like to say: Would to God that his choices had not separated him from us. We would like to take him and tell him that we do care about him, and then we might ask the question: Do you realize that we will miss you? And lastly, yes last of all, we would whisper to him: “Lorin, we love you”.

Somewhere, far away on a white shore, in a place more beautiful then you or I can imagine, a young man walks into a new realm. His scars are gone, and he walks differently, in wonderment of his surroundings. As he looks around, he is approached by three men. The first smiles and says “hello” with an unmistakably German accent. The second, who is a bit shorter, with a small build, and dark dark eyes, smiles from the corner of his mouth. He embraces the young man. And then the third comes forward. He is tall, with a curl in his hair and deep brown eyes, he takes the young man in his arms. “There’s some things we need to teach you, and some work you need to do, but first... (and he smiles with that smile that only he can), we need to sweeten you up...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Shadows of the past...

As I walked through the woods one evening, I met this shadow from the past. Stories of happy times floated around, echos of laughter flitted on the breeze, and somewhere in the old leaves, I could hear the footsteps of children as they romped and played. I wondered what stories the old swing held, and what it would say if it could speak to me...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Softly falling snow?...check
Fog to filter the light?...check
Fine archetecture with really nice ligthing?...check
Towel to dry off camera? ...Hmm...
Heavy Coat?...uh-oh...
Hat?...not good...
Tripod? ...AARGGHHH!!! I LEFT IT HOME....

Yeah. There I was, looking at some of the nicest lighting and most magical scenes I have seen in a while, and I had left the tripod home. The bad thing was, I had the thought to throw it in the car and I didn't. And I was 100 miles from home.

Not to be deterred, I tried to buy a cheap one at Wal-Mart. Just for kicks, try screwing a D3 with a heavy lens onto a 18.99 plastic special from Wal-Mart. What a joke. It wouldn't even start to hold my camera in place. I ended up bracing the camera up against the fence to get this shot. After all that, I liked the way it turned out. Even despite my frozen fingers.

Looking at this picture later, I got thinking about rituals and structure. Rituals seem to be an important element in our lives. We learn through the symbolism, and the ritual helps us feel like we belong. Shoot, I like ritual enough that I tend to make up my own... :) But I'm not really fond of a lot of structure. If that seems like a contradiction, welcome to my world.

But it seems that there is a precious balance between rituals, symbols, and structure. In structuring things to firmly, it seems like we lose the true value of the symbol, and the ritual becomes merely a dead form.

Can we use the term flexible ritual? Hmm...I'll have to research this more...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bridges of transition...What are yours?

Sometimes, it is a struggle to come up with new posts for this blog. Quite often I will upload a photo into a blog draft because I want to use it, but it doesn't seem to fit at the time, so things just sit for a moment. And sometimes I will stumble onto an old photograph that I instantly know is the photo for my next post. Looking at this photo the other night, I finally had something to write.

As humans, bridges are an inherent part of our lives. They are used to cross obstacles that we could not cross otherwise.

Once in the High Uintas, I had to hike several miles out of my way to get to a bridge because the certain stream that I had to get across was to swollen.

But then there are things that happen in our lives that cause us to change our whole lives. These are also bridges. Bridges from one state of being to another. In Hebrew, the number 100 had a interpretive meaning that meant "passage from one side to another". In each one of our lives, there are things that serve as a passage to the other side. We arrive on the opposite banks a different person, with different views, purposes and lives.

For me, one of those things was my trip to the country of Turkey in 2005. When I booked my trip, I didn't even own a camera that worked. My old Cannon SLR had been broken for seven or eight years. I occasionally borrowed my sisters camera and took a few pictures, and that was about it. Sure, I had loved the subject of photography since I was a kid and back then I had obsessively poured over photography magazines and books. But as an adult, those dreams had been put to sleep and I wasn't really into it. I certainly wasn't very good at it.

Before I left to Turkey, I bought a new Nikon N80, a new tripod, and 40 rolls of pro film. In ten days, I shot about 35 rolls of film. Out of that, I walked away with about 10 shots that I considered good at the time. My trip to Turkey changed my view of the world, and it turned me onto international travel; but even more importantly then that, it got me to buy a new camera. It was so far away that suddenly, I felt that I could justify spending the money.

My pictures of Turkey ultimately led me to undertake the Sharsmith Project, which was really where I actually became a photographer. During my days and nights on that project, something inside me changed on an artistic level. And all of those things have led me now to publish this blog, and I don’t know where it will end, but I feel like it is just the beginning.

Turkey was a bridge that among other things, connected me back to deep dreams from my childhood. It changed me. At the time, because of work and other things, I wondered if I should really go. Deep inside though, I felt like I HAD TO GO, and it turned out to be a straight 100. If I had chosen not to go, who knows what life would be like right now, but I wouldn't be the same person.

What are your bridges? If they are staring you in the face, walk across them...


This photo was taken at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens, the same day as "The Grandfathers"...